Thursday 30 September 2010

SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: The Quantum Thief - Hannu Rajaniemi

Release Date: 30/09/10

BOOK BLURB:

Jean le Flambeur is a post-human criminal, mind burglar, confidence artist and trickster. His origins are shrouded in mystery, but his exploits are known throughout the Heterarchy - from breaking into the vast Zeusbrains of the Inner System to steal their thoughts, to stealing rare Earth antiques from the aristocrats of the Moving Cities of Mars. Except that Jean made one mistake. Now he is condemned to play endless variations of a game-theoretic riddle in the vast virtual jail of the Axelrod Archons - the Dilemma Prison - against countless copies of himself. Jean's routine of death, defection and cooperation is upset by the arrival of Mieli and her spidership, Perhonen. She offers him a chance to win back his freedom and the powers of his old self - in exchange for finishing the one heist he never quite managed ...The Quantum Thief is a dazzling hard SF novel set in the solar system of the far future - a heist novel peopled by bizarre post-humans but powered by very human motives of betrayal, revenge and jealousy. It is a stunning debut.


REVIEW:

Whilst I do tend to keep a very close eye on the Fantasy genre, there are times when an author of huge talent almost slips me by in the Science Fiction genre. What drew my attention to Hannu, was thankfully a recommendation from friend John Jarrold, an agent, well known for spotting alongside nurturing talent.

Hannu’s writing style is pretty unique as he blends what could be science fact skilfully with a mystery, a heist and above all else a cast of characters that you want to be around. They are fully rounded, each serves their own ideals alongside code of morals and they definitely add more to this offering than many other titles out there. The peaks and lulls of the author prose make this a title that you have to read and whilst there are quotes from notables within the genre, they really do not do this author justice to their own individual skill. It is definitely a title that I am backing to the hilt and one I think will soon be grasped by a bevy of awards and a whole host of readers demanding to know who this author is. Trust me, you won’t regret it.

THRILLER REVIEW: Worth Dying For - Lee Child

Release Date: 30/09/10

BOOK BLURB:

Has Jack Reacher finally met his match? 61 Hours ended with Reacher trapped in a desperate situation from which escape seemed impossible. Even for him. Was that really the end of the road for the maverick loner?


REVIEW:

Child is back with an explosive offering that will more than satisfy the many Reacher fans out there which picks up from where 61 hours left off. It’s got a key set up and one that when the touch paper is lit really is on a fast track to destruction for which the reader will have to hold onto. It’s beautifully constructed, it’s got great additional characters and Reacher is the type of hero that every reader wishes they could be at some point in their lives. A real gem of a title and one that clearly demonstrates why Lee is top of his game. Finally, each title in this series can be read as a standalone (except for this and 61 hours which have to be read together), but why waste the pleasure that each book can bring you. Start from the beginning and enjoy the Roller-Coaster series from start to finish. You won’t regret it.

Wednesday 29 September 2010

GRAPHIC NOVEL REVIEW: Simon and Kirby Superheroes - Joe Simon and Jack Kirby

Release Date: 29/09/10

BOOK BLURB:

Simon and Kirby set the standard for costumed heroes with Blue Bolt and Captain America. This title introduces some of their most exciting characters: Fighting American, The Fly, Lancelor Strong and The Stuntman.


REVIEW:

Comic book aficionados have long held Simon and Kirby in great esteem and whilst their names have echoed in the hallowed halls of the mythic Superhero genre since the forties, a number of their titles have long been lost to the reader. Here, in this offering, Titan have not only located a number of these comic holy grail releases but brought them back for the modern reader beautifully restored to appear in this offering, even bringing in modern masters to colour some of the original black and whites to give the reader the ultimate experience.

It’s definitely an offering that will be worth purchasing for the graphic novel fan in your life as they not only get to see the ancestors of the modern interpretations but also visit the world that has had readers glued since it’s inception. Simon and Kirby, it has to be said were the first to amalgamate the worlds of serious storytelling with the action panels that brought the fans to the fold in the first place, setting themselves as the standard for others to follow becoming the archetype that has held sway ever since. In fact, I’d even go so far as to say that without Simon and Kirby the genre wouldn’t be what it is today as these pioneers brought many of the key ingredients that can still be seen years later.

To some this item may seem very expensive but when you learn that you’re getting titles that have not only been long out of print and presumed lost, but also the forebear’s of many of today’s heroes by the creator’s of Captain America (amongst many others including the original sandman that Gaiman would re-envision in the Eighties) leaves you know with a history book that your “fan” just can’t live without. Failing all else, the artwork mixed with the storytelling backed up with names to guarantee quality by will also provide inspiration for their own artwork and creativity, a serious title and one that will have pride and place in my own collection. A true gem and one that I’ll lay odds will soon be adorning the shelves of modern artists and storytellers in the comic industry. After all if they’re backing it, how can you not?

AUTOBIOGRAPHY: A Journey - Tony Blair

Release Date: 01/09/10

BOOK BLURB:

In 1997, Tony Blair won the biggest Labour victory in history to sweep the party to power and end eighteen years of Conservative government. He has been one of the most dynamic leaders of modern times; few British prime ministers have shaped the nation's course as profoundly as Blair during his ten years in power, and his achievements and his legacy will be debated for years to come. Now his memoirs reveal in intimate detail this unique political and personal journey, providing an insight into the man, the politician and the statesman, and charting successes, controversies and disappointments with an extraordinary candour. "A Journey" will prove essential and compulsive reading for anyone who wants to understand the complexities of our global world. As an account of the nature and uses of power, it will also have a readership that extends well beyond politics, to all those who want to understand the challenges of leadership today.


REVIEW:

Whilst you may not agree with the politics or choices that Tony Blair made during his time as Prime Minister, here the reader has the opportunity to get to into Blair’s mind and see how he ran the country from his point of view.

It’s well put together and to be honest I found it fascinating to read about things as they were developing at the time, which goes to prove that hindsight is a wonderful thing.

All in, it’s a title that will have people talking, a book that will explain modern historical points and above all else a novel that gives the read a clear view on how events can spiral out of control as well as seeing things without them being coloured or hidden by the media to influence the readers thoughts.

Tuesday 28 September 2010

HORROR REVIEW: The Djinn - Graham Masterton

Release Date: 30/09/10

BOOK BLURB:

It had all begun with a curious investigation of an ancient Arabian jar and the strange legends of sorcery symbolized by it. Then legend and logic decide that the jar must be opened. The secret of the Djinn must be exposed to the light of reality...


REVIEW:

The second novel by Graham Masterton and his writing style was accomplished early on as there was no padding with the reader thrust straight to the heart of the tale. As I’d come to expect from Graham, the story was creepy and whilst Genies hadn’t done anything to me in the past, I found it to be quite horrific as the darker side of these creatures came to the fore.

My main gripe with this offering was the lack of character building from the author and whilst he goes to correct this later on in his writing was a complaint that I felt I should being to the fore here. You still get a great offering and a title that will impress but perhaps most of all you get to see a writer at the start of his career with a story that is still just as powerful nearly 40 years later.

THRILLER REVIEW: The Tenth Chamber - Glenn Cooper

Release Date: 16/09/10

BOOK BLURB:

Abbey of Ruac, rural France: A medieval script is discovered hidden behind an antique bookcase. Badly damaged, it is sent to Paris for restoration, and there literary historian Hugo Pineau begins to read the startling fourteenth-century text. Within its pages lies a fanciful tale of a painted cave and the secrets it contains - and a rudimentary map showing its position close to the abbey. Intrigued, Hugo enlists the help of archaeologist Luc Simard and the two men go exploring. When they discover a vast network of prehistoric caves, buried deep within the cliffs, they realise that they've stumbled across something extraordinary. And at the very core of the labyrinth lies the most astonishing chamber of all, just as the manuscript chronicled. Aware of the significance of their discovery, they set up camp with a team of experts, determined to bring their find to the world. But as they begin to unlock the ancient secrets the cavern holds, they find themselves at the centre of a dangerous game. One 'accidental' death leads to another. And it seems that someone will stop at nothing to protect the enigma of the tenth chamber...


REVIEW:

Whilst I do enjoy a piece of escapism in the Thriller titles you’re never sure what to expect. This one had excerpts from three various time periods which added to the mythos, however part of the problem with this book is that parts of it felt that they were added just for padding and really didn’t add to the overall story arc.

The characters are interesting, the plot intriguing and the concept within something that has a lot of merit for the reader but with a touch too much padding the reader can easily become distracted which for me was a shame.

Monday 27 September 2010

HISTORICAL FICTION - Quest for Honour - Sam Barone

Release Date: 02/09/10

BOOK BLURB:

At the dawn of history, an epic war is about to begin in the deadly quest for honour. The city of Sumer, ruled by a brutal murderer and his vicious, power hungry sister, is poised to give birth to the mightiest empire in history. No one stands a chance as it brings a bloody war to all those who stand in its way, determined to crush and enslave those on its borders. The little city state of Akkad must prepare its fledgling nation to fight for its very survival. Akkad's warriors are a loyal and courageous brotherhood, but this is not a battle of villages or of roving warrior bands; it is a battle for Empire and a fight to the death...


REVIEW:

Fan’s of Barone really can’t get enough of his prehistory civlisation titles. Here, in this, his third outing, readers are treated to an all out bloody war to the death.

Add to this a touch of Howard’s heroic Cimmerian to the mix and you know that it’s going to be something special.

Whilst firmly in the historical fiction genre this is a book that will appeal to fans of fantasy and if you’re looking for something a little different or even a new series to occupy their time this year you really can’t go wrong with this one as it will more than impress with the authors writing style. Just don’t blame us if you get ignored from Christmas day onwards until completion.

GRAPHIC NOVEL REVIEW: Batman: Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader - Neil Gaiman and Andy Kubert

Release Date: 27/08/10

BOOK BLURB:

New York Times Number 1 best-selling author Neil Gaiman takes on The Dark Knight! Neil Gaiman, co-creator of The Sandman and writer of The Graveyard Book , re-teams with his collaborator on Marvel's 1602, superstar artist Andy Kubert, to tell the story that delves into life, death and the afterlife, leaving no stone unturned and exploring every aspect of The Dark Knight's life and crime-fighting career. This tale parallels the classic Superman: Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow? epic, written by Alan Moore.


REVIEW:

Gaiman is often said to be a man who takes a tale a new route to the previously expected offerings. Yet here in this one about Gotham’s crime fighting hero you get a story that’s more of a backtale (or bat tale if you prefer) that pays homage to the various incarnations of Batman alongside the Villains he fought. It’s definitely something that’s a tribute to all that’s gone before and with the beautiful artwork of Andy Kubert to back each panel up you know that it’s a story that will add to the rich history of what has gone before. Definitely a tale that is more nostalgic than anything else and one that fans will love especially with a number of references that those old enough to remember the TV series will love make this a story that will endear itself hopefully to new readers in this beautifully scripted offering.

Friday 24 September 2010

DEJA REVIEW

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:
Souless - Gail Carriger
Mr Shivers - Robert Jackson Bennett

Hopefully you'll find this feature of use,


Gareth

POETRY BOOK REVIEW: Werewolf Haiku - Ryan Mecum

Release Date: 24/09/10

BOOK BLURB:

These pages contain the heartbreaking story of a repressed man who slowly loses control of his inner beast after he's bitten by a werewolf. As he wrestles with the monster inside, he chronicles his feelings and urges in a haiku journal. The resulting poems are gross, strange, dark and hilarious. Together, they tell the story of a mailman who is in love with a woman on his route, but has never had the courage to tell her. As the beast comes out, wreaking havoc on his life, the man learns that his werewolf side might actually be able to help him in his quest for love.


REVIEW:

Having read the previous titles by this author (Zombie Haiku and Vampire Haiku) I knew pretty much what I was getting. The poetry is apt for the supernatural reader and is something to buy the intellectual Loup Garou about town. It’s quirky, it’s funny and to be honest, I had a blast reading it (although perhaps a Silver Bullet might have be worth having to hand if a number of these Haiku’s seem awfully familiar. LOL) Great stuff.

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: The Unit - Terry DeHart

Release Date: 01/07/10

BOOK BLURB:

Jerry Sharpe is an ex-marine and, for him, survival means protecting his family by any means necessary. Susan is learning just how far a mother will go for her children. But how far will she go for a man she doubted before the bombs fell? As Jerry's training and instincts take over, she is certain of one thing - her children need her. Melanie was going to go to college. Now, she is struggling to find a way to live in a world gone mad without losing sight of what she believes in. Scotty has a new mission - more than survival. He was saved, and he'll be damned if he won't fight for what's right. And Bill - Bill was locked up, but the power went out and the guards left. Now he and his fellow inmates have realised that everything is free for the taking ...if you're strong enough to hold on to it.


REVIEW:

To be honest not a tale that really did much for me as I really didn’t like the group of people that we followed in this offering. It is well written, the concept pretty standard and topped off with some acceptable dialogue but without characters that I really care about, it was a tale that I felt I could have done without.

Not that Terry isn’t a good author. What is done with the cast is acceptable and felt more like a film script than a tale but for me it just didn’t scratch that itch that I expect to be satisfied with a tale that the book blurb promised. Although I was a tad upset with this title I will keep an eye out for this authors future work but I think I’ll be avoiding this apocalyptic world for the time being.

Thursday 23 September 2010

NEWS: RIP Jennifer Rardin

It's with great regret and sadness that we have to let you know that friend of the blog and talented author Jennifer Rardin passed on Monday, September 20th.

Plans are still set to publish the 7th Jaz Park novel in November with teh final book (already completed) set for publication in June 2011.

Our thoughts are with her family, of whom, she always had a wry smile and cheeky anecdote to share.

SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: Nova War 3: Empire of Light - Gary Gibson

Release Date: 02/07/10

BOOK BLURB:

The nova war has begun to spread as the Emissaries wage a fierce and reckless campaign, encroaching on the area of space occupied by humanity and forcing the Shoal into a desperate retreat. While Dakota goes in search of the entity responsible for creating the Maker caches, Corso, left in charge of a fleet of human-piloted Magi ships, finds his authority crumbling in the face of assassination attempts and politically-motivated sabotage. If any hope exists at all, it lies in an abandoned asteroid a thousand light-years beyond the Consortium's borders, and with Ty Whitecloud, the only man alive with the skill to decipher the messages left behind by an ancient race of star travellers. Unfortunately Whitecloud is locked in a prison cell aboard a dying coreship adrift in space, awaiting execution for war crimes against Corso's own people. But if humanity has any hope of survival, Corso is going to have to find some way to keep him alive - and that's only if Dakota doesn't kill him first...


REVIEW:

Gary, for me, has always been an author who has taken new directions and provides the reader with the unexpected. Here, within the third part of the Nova War series, is a title that takes the reader not only into the unknown but does it with bags of talent. Beautifully written with a great story arc, colourful characters and a talent to tie threads together in a minimalist way that just screams of the sheer talent within alongside an overall sensational round up to help give the series a rounded feel. Finally back all that up with great pace, some memorable villains but perhaps most of all with a scope that is nearly as big within the pages as the universe itself and you know that you’ve had a really satisfactory read. Great stuff.

SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: Twisted Metal 2: Blood and Iron - Tony Ballantyne

Release Date: 02/07/10

BOOK BLURB:

Appointed Commander of the Emperor's Army of Sangrel, Wa-Ka-Mo-Do of Ko tries to establish relations between the existing robot population and the humans who have recently arrived on Yukawa. On the continent of Shull, Kavan forms the Uncertain Army and is marching to Artemis City. Upon discovery that the city's generals have made an alliance with the humans, he retreats to Stark where he plans the eventual overthrow of Artemis and the humans. Meanwhile, Karel is heading South, hoping to be reunited with Susan, his wife. As he walks, he hears more of the stories of the robots, and begins to understand something about his place on the world of Penrose. But with limited resources and tensions growing between robot and human it's only a matter of time before problems arise. And it's becoming more and more apparent that the humans are a lot more powerful than the robots first expected...


REVIEW:

Science Fiction tales often have to break the mould and present the reader with something new. You definitely get that with Tony Ballantyne. With this offering Tony brings the second tale from the Penrose series to the fore and ups the anti with every passing page. The characters have human traits whilst still retaining their metal forms backed up with an overall arc that is really breathtaking. A real treat and one that I hope to enjoy again shortly. One word of advice is to reread the original offering, Twisted Metal, prior to starting the second. I failed to do this and was confused for a little bit until I reread the original and had a lot more fun with this second book.

Wednesday 22 September 2010

FACTUAL REVIEW: Leadership Secrets of Genghis Khan - John Man

Release Date: 08/07/10

BOOK BLURB:

Genghis Khan has a very strong claim to be the greatest leader the world has ever seen. As a teenager he was an outcast fleeing enemies on a mountain in northern Mongolia, an exile, a nobody. Yet it took only twenty years for Genghis to build the largest land empire in history - four times the size of Alexander's, twice the size of Rome's. How did he do it? What lessons does his life reveal about the nature of leadership? What is 'greatness' in leadership?What traits did Genghis possess exactly? Were they unique, or might some apply in other times and other places - even here and today? In Leadership Secrets of Genghis Khan , John Man re-examines the life of Genghis Khan to discover the qualities, characteristics and strategies that made him the great leader that he was. The answers are sometimes surprising. Genghis was far from just the tyrant that history records, but rather a leader of exceptional vision and modernity. And many of the secrets of his success are as valuable and applicable in today's competitive business world as they were in rallying the Mongol hordes.


REVIEW:

Whilst the title of this book may seem a bit of a joke, the subject matter is fascinating and has practical uses for the modern businessman. (Not that we’re saying you should rampage across Europe and making about 2 Million people your personal descendents in approximately 800 years.) Through the use of modern analyses, the author looks at traits that made Genghis the man he was against the backdrop of the modern world alongside practices that led to people being promoted through talent rather than birth.

It’s well thought out, it has great lessons and above all else it goes to show that solid foundations can make an empire. An ideal gift for the business minded reader.

THRILLER REVIEW: The Messiah Codex - James Becker

Release Date: 08/07/10

BOOK BLURB:

AD 72: A band of warriors march across a mountainous wasteland. Only they know what they carry. And once they've reached their destination, they must all die to protect it. AD 2010: In a crumbling mansion deep in the English countryside a piece of ancient parchment has been found. Written in arcane code is the answer to a mystery that has explosive implications. Enter Chris Bronson. Determined to solve the mystery that has puzzled scholars and thinkers for nearly two millennia, he embarks on a journey to one of the most remote and hostile parts of the world. But someone is following him. Someone desperate to protect the centuries-old secret. And who is far more dangerous than he could ever have imagined...


REVIEW:

Fans of the Urban Thriller will absolutely love this offering, and whilst it’s perhaps Dan Brown that’s the name that’s most established with it, there are authors out there that bring solid offerings to the fore that will engage as well as thrill the reader.

What James Becker does is good solid fare, has great idea’s and manages to back them up with a believable duo who work well together and bring strengths to each others weaknesses that make them a great couple to follow. Whilst it is a secondary excursion for this duo, it’s not done in any way that you have to have read the original which makes it more pleasing to the reader. I’m really looking forward to future titles from this author as the sheer escapism is magnificent. Great stuff.

Tuesday 21 September 2010

THRILLER REVIEW: The Mayan Codex - Mario Reading

Release Date: 01/08/10

BOOK BLURB:

Six months ago, Adam Sabir risked his life to find the legendary lost prophecies of Nostradamus. Now he's racing against time to unlock their secrets as the events foretold begin to come true. But he's not the only one looking for answers. Hot on his heels is the Corpus Maleficus, an ancient cabal devoted to placating the Devil. Disfigured since birth, orphaned, and groomed to cruelty and violence by their adoptive mother, the twelve remaining members of the Corpus are deadly competition. Except for one. Lamia has escaped the clutches of her twisted siblings and is on the run with Sabir, following the prophecy to the Yucatan, deep in the heart of Central America. Meanwhile, a volcano erupts in Mexico. A simple man gathers up his precious cargo, and begins his journey to the hallowed Mayan site of the Palace of the Masks -


REVIEW:

OK, I’m coming at this from a blank background and with this being the second title in the series, I was left wondering what I’d missed from the original. Not that this didn’t stand alone but purely for the detail as well as reading pleasure alongside hidden facts just brought the whole piece to life. The author has not only conducted a great deal of research into his subject matter but made sure that the reader also inherits some of the passion for this ancient culture. It’s got some great prose, some interesting characters and to be honest I had a blast reading this book. A great thriller with a good sense of pace and one that will definitely have me looking for the first novel sooner rather than later.

HISTORICAL FICTION REVIEW: The Road to Rome - Ben Kane

Release Date: 12/08/10

BOOK BLURB:

Having survived the perils of a journey across half the world, Romulus and Tarquinius are press-ganged into the legions, which are under imminent threat of annihilation by the Egyptians. Meanwhile in Rome, Romulus' twin sister Fabiola lives in fear for her life, loved by Brutus, but wooed by Marcus Antonius, his deadly enemy. Soon after, Romulus fights at Zela, the vicious battle where Caesar famously said, 'Veni, vidi, vici'. Tarquinius, separated from Romulus in the chaos of war, hides in Alexandria, searching for guidance. But mortal danger awaits them both. From the battlefields of Asia Minor and North Africa, to the lawless streets of Rome and the gladiator arena, they face death daily, until on the Ides of March, the twins are reunited and must decide either to back or to betray Caesar on his day of destiny.


REVIEW:

As a reader of this series from the beginning, I’d hate to think how new readers would react to trying to start from here. Not that they couldn't but they really will have a large number of problems putting things together alongside having missed a lot of development for the characters concerned. It is a great overall arc and whilst this tale is just a small snippet of the story of the twins Romulus and Fabriola along with their companions you know that it’s a key part of their development. Beautifully written and with enough action to keep the blood thirsty happy its definitely a tale that will impress those who’ve followed from the beginning as Ben keeps developing alongside improving his weaker area’s of writing. A great overall offering and one that will definitely have me baying for the next title sooner rather than later.

Monday 20 September 2010

FACTUAL REVIEW: Immortal Last Words - Terry Breverton

Release Date: 30/07/10

BOOK BLURB:

Immortal Last Words is a fascinating, diverse collection of history's most uplifting, entertaining and thought-provoking dying remarks and final farewells. The 370 entries in this book have been drawn from some of history's greatest statesmen, poets, scientists, novelists and warriors the eminent men and women who have shaped events over the last four and a half millennia and whose final recorded words have often inspired great deeds or shed light on the nature of the human condition. There are also entries are from less well- known individuals who did not make such an impact on history but whose dying words are equally noteworthy as they encapsulate the spirit of the times or simply reflect the character of the speaker. And finally, the pages of this book contain the last words of some of most ignoble personalities in history the monsters and maniacs whose final defiant utterances prompt us to reflect on the nature of evil and man's inhumanity to man. Arranged chronologically from antiquity to the present day, each entry is accompanied by contextual information giving a brief biography of the author and an explanation of the circumstances that gave rise to the quotation. Some of the sentiments expressed are unbelievably sad while others are optimistic; some final words have become famous while others have remained obscure, but all reflect the follies and greatness of mankind its heroes and villains, war and peace and the absolute power of language to change our feelings and challenge our minds.


REVIEW:

When I was at school, we were utilising the old pinwheel printer and we did have a holy printed scrap book that contained wise words, quotes and almost ironic last words that was a great item to dip into every so often. Here, published in this offering, are the final purported words of many a famous person but also accompanied with a brief biography of each one concerned. It’s quirky, its definitely something that you can dip into and to be honest a bathroom book that will have you chuckling at the irony of a number of the attributed quotes.

Overall great fun and with a huge selection of quotes definitely a title that will be a fun book to buy for the person who has everything else as you really can’t beat this unusual book. Who would I buy it for? Well my Mum or Grandfather, its unusual, it’s got interesting snippets and above all else it will give them a title that’s so fascinating its almost creepy.

ARTS AND CRAFTS: Art Book Review: How to Draw and Paint Warriors and Heroes - Alan Lathwell

Release Date: 30/07/10

BOOK BLURB:

Ten extremely gradual step by step fantasy art projects show artists how to conceptualize, draw and paint a great selection of warrior hero characters. The projects include all classic male and female warrior archetypes - from Thor, Achilles and Conan to a Ronin Samurai and female Amazon. First part of the book provides general guidelines on basic concepts and art techniques such as rendering combat, armour, weapons and wounds. This book is filled with Alan's high-impact art to create a true celebration of the heroic might of the warrior, and is suitable for all fantasy artists, from young teens up.


REVIEW:

As a fan of these how to draw titles, I really do love getting a new title in order to help improve my understanding of the craft. Not only do you get taught how to improve the skills that you have with lessons from modern masters of the craft who make a living from their talent, but you also get invaluable advice that would have taken years to learn. Its really a spectacular title and one that really will help the artist to improve.

What I will say about this title before we go much further is that this is not one for those just starting out, its quite advanced and to be honest whilst a little above my current skill level there are invaluable lessons that will hopefully get you up there sooner rather than later. If you’re a beginner I’d advise that you start with Fantasy Art for Beginners by John Hodgson before moving up to this book.

Finally with advice on differing techniques, organisational tips as well as different tacks for the medium of choice and it’s a title that will see use time and again, a solid reference guide for the heroic fantasy artist which also gives lessons on perspective that will prove invaluable for all.

Sunday 19 September 2010

CRIME FICTION REVIEW: Broken - Karin Slaughter

Release Date: 08/07/10

BOOK BLURB:

When the body of a young woman is discovered deep beneath the icy waters of Lake Grant, a note left under a rock by the shore points to suicide. But within minutes, it becomes clear that this is no suicide. It's a brutal, cold-blooded murder. All too soon former Grant County medical examiner Sara Linton - home for Thanksgiving after a long absence - finds herself unwittingly drawn into the case. The chief suspect is desperate to see her but when she arrives at the local police station she is met with a horrifying sight - he lies dead in his cell, the words 'Not me' scrawled across the walls. Something about his confession doesn't add up and deeply suspicious of Lena Adams, the detective in charge, Sara immediately calls in the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. Shortly afterwards, Special Agent Will Trent is brought in from his vacation to investigate. But he is immediately confronted with a wall of silence. Grant County is a close-knit community with loyalties and ties that run deep. And the only person who can tell the truth about what really happened is dead.


REVIEW:

As a huge fan of crime, I always get butterflies in my stomach when a well known author brings out a title. Why? Well it’s due to the fact that I know that I’m going to get a certain level of book, I like to savour it as at some points of the year I really get some titles that don’t hit my reading tastes and these books are real pick me ups.

Within this, the latest offering from Karin, is a tale of murder, of blackmail and above all else a beautifully written piece of prose with a descriptiveness that takes the reader by the hand to the location. You get great characters, you get fully rounded emotional context and just when you think you’ve got things fathomed, you get smacked around the face with a verbal baseball bat that leaves you just as confused as you were originally. It’s a great way to take the reader on a tale, it’s a magical way to give them what they want and above all else there’s no prison term at the end for the reader to suffer. Great stuff.

WRITING GUIDE: The Writer's Guide 2011 - Robert Lee Brewer

Release Date: 30/07/10

BOOK BLURB:

"Writer's Market" provides more than 3,500 publishing opportunities for freelance writers, in addition to a completely updated freelance rate chart. The 2011 edition will be the 90th annual edition to give writers the tools they need to get published and get paid for their writing. In addition to the thousands of market listings, "Writer's Market" also includes up-to-date articles that outline how to find success as freelance writers, from how to write query letters to launching a freelance business.


REVIEW:

Apart from practicing my artwork I do have a lot of fun writing. Whilst I may not currently be up there for publication, this title is one that will prove invaluable for all authors out there. Within this book are tips on what to do before you make a sale, through to a clinic on making sure that after the time that you’ve spent polishing your novel that the query letter doesn’t let you down.

Add to the mix tips on advancing your skill set as well as marketing your work and you know that it’s a good solid reference guide that will help you take your next step. Finally with a list of publishers/agents/magazines/journals that you can then utilise to make sure that you’re writing gets to the right place and with a bit of luck you know that you’re well on the way to getting your first title on a shelf near you

It is a serious guide, so much so that if you really are serious about your writing then you can ill afford to let this book go by, if you do, the road to that gleaming contract will be a hell of a lot longer and you’ll kick yourself from not having utilised all the tricks of the trade. Writing, as many successful authors will tell you, is as much about luck as the skills that you’ve utilised and with agents/publishers looking forward. a title that may sell now may not sell in six months time, so getting it there quicker is perhaps the best thing you can do.

After all, why break your own back when this tome is pretty much the writers holy grail and map all rolled into one. Defintiely a title that will help you navigate this hidden world so much so that the trail will be a lot shorter than one that so many others have to tread.

Saturday 18 September 2010

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: The Strain and The Fall - Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan

Release Date: 01/04/10

BOOK BLURB:

High-concept thriller with a supernatural edge from world-famous director, whose films include Pan's Labyrinth and Hellboy. A plane lands at JFK and mysteriously 'goes dark', stopping in the middle of the runway for no apparent reason, all lights off, all doors sealed. The pilots cannot be raised. When the hatch above the wing finally clicks open, it soon becomes clear that everyone on board is dead -- although there is no sign of any trauma or struggle. Ephraim Goodweather and his team from the Center for Disease Control must work quickly to establish the cause of this strange occurrence before panic spreads. The first thing they discover is that four of the victims are actually still alive. But that's the only good news. And when all two hundred corpses disappear from various morgues around the city on the same night, things very rapidly get worse. Soon Eph and a small band of helpers will find themselves battling to protect not only their own loved ones, but the whole city, against an ancient threat to humanity.


REVIEW:

Fame film director Guillermo Del Toro has brought the tale of his latest adventure to the world of literature and whilst he wrote the original premise for Chuck I can’t help but feel that the tale has been more of a homage to the vampire tales of old than anything else. For example we have the trip via the airplane that felt like a hark to the ship that Dracula travelled on to get to Grimsby. That said, it has some great moments of horror, some serious moments of heart in mouth syndrome for the reader leaving the reader believing that Chuck had a lot more to go on than just twelve pages of work by Del Toro. Add to the mix, some novel twists on Vampires alongside a few touches to titles like I Am Legend and the reader will have a good bit of fun reading this you can definitely see this title imagined with the visual and visceral aspect of film and I got exactly what I wanted as a reader, some chills, some thrills and plenty of spills (hey there’s a body and blood count.) Good fun and a tale with plenty of bite. I really am looking forward to the second novel.



Release Date: 16/09/10

BOOK BLURB:

The tension-filled sequel to The Strain, from the world-famous director whose films include Pan's Labyrinth and Hellboy. Humans have been displaced at the top of the food chain, and now understand -- to their outright horror -- what it is to be not the consumer, but the consumed. Ephraim Goodweather, director of the New York office of the Centers for Disease control, is one of the few humans who understands what is really happening. Vampires have arrived in New York City, and their condition is contagious. If they cannot be contained, the entire world is at risk of infection. As Eph becomes consumed with the battle against the total corruption of humanity, his ex-wife, Kelly, now a vampire herself, is ever-more determined to claim their son, Zack. As the Biblical origins of the Ancient ones are gradually revealed, Eph learns that there is a greater, more terrible plan in store for the human race -- worse even than annihilation!


REVIEW:

The second novel by the duo that picks up where the first one left off. It’s beautifully creative and where the first one paid homage to other Vamp titles this one has struck out on its own in a similar sort of vein as the film Daybreakers has.

It’s dark, it has mystery alongside a scarily high body count and relies on mankind’s paranoia to do most of the work. The two author’s work well together and I really am looking forward to seeing what occurs in future instalments.

SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: Guardians of Paradise - Jaine Fenn

Release Date: 02/09/10

BOOK BLURB:

Most people believe the Sidhe are long dead, exterminated centuries ago when the males of the race rose up and fought alongside the humans subjugated and enslaved by the female Sidhe. But Jarek Reen knows better: he's discovered, the painful way, that the Sidhe are alive and well, and still screwing over humanity. They've already killed his sister, so he's not surprised when he discovers an old friend and her partner are next on the Sidhe's hitlist. He helps not only to foil the assassination attempt, but also to muddy the scene of the crime, leaving the Angels Nual and Taro sanMalia presumed dead - and free to join his crusade to expose the insidious influence of the Sidhe, and their evil plans to enslave the human race again. Their mission takes them across human-space, from utilitarian hub-points to rich, exotic planets - where they discover that a brilliant vacation spot hides some of the darkest secrets of all. And that's when they discover how easy it is for the hunters to become the hunted ...


REVIEW:

For me, Jaine has become a bit of a guilty pleasure. I love her prose, I really enjoy her characters but perhaps most of all, it’s her inventive story arcs that keep me clamouring for more.

Whilst the last offering was more fantasy based with just a hint of sci-fi, this one remains firmly in the latter’s bosom which helps keep the tale moving.

It’s fast paced with old friends returning and overall it is a very pleasing story. Whilst you can read this without having read the previous novels I’d luckily enough undergone a reread prior to starting this and noted not only the authors style improve with each successive story but I got so much more out of the hidden agenda’s as well as character interaction. Beautifully written, artistically creative and an overall story that really did tick all the right boxes for me, makes Fenn a woman to watch.

Friday 17 September 2010

THRILLER REVIEW: The Lost Symbol - Dan Brown

Release Date: 22/07/10

BOOK BLURB:

It was the Capitol Building, Washington DC. Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon believes he is here to give a lecture. He is wrong. Within minutes of his arrival, a shocking object is discovered. It is a gruesome invitation into an ancient world of hidden wisdom. When Langdon's mentor, Peter Solomon - prominent mason and philanthropist - is kidnapped, Langdon realizes that his only hope of saving his friend's life is to accept this mysterious summons. It is to take him on a breathless chase through Washington's dark history. All that was familiar is changed into a shadowy, mythical world in which Masonic secrets and never-before-seen revelations seem to be leading him to a single impossible and inconceivable truth.


REVIEW:

OK, I’m a little late to this title and whilst I absolutely loved the Da Vinci Code, I fell that this book wouldn’t have been worth shelling over hardback prices for. Don’t get me wrong, it has great mysteries along with some serious puzzles but it’s nothing I haven’t seen before.

Brown is good at what he does and amongst the upper echelon of mystery thriller writers but I feel that with such a long break between titles that I wanted something a bit more special than was present.

Overall, fan’s of Brown will more than likely have already brought this title and so what I say is incidental but for the price of a paperback it’s definitely worth serious thought and, in my opinion, worth saving for a stressful time when you want your chance to escape ie Christmas. With Brown you know there is a guaranteed level of storytelling backed with a competent writing style and at the end of the day, that’s what every reader deserves.

CRIME FICTION REVIEW: The Death Instinct - Jed Rubenfeld

Release Date: 16/09/10

BOOK BLURB:

Ten years on from THE INTERPRETATION OF MURDER, Stratham Younger and James Littlemore embark on a thrilling new adventure in the aftermath of a terrorist attack in New York; it is a story that will lead Stratham to the heart of war-ravaged Europe, where he will once again encounter Sigmund Freud. 12.01pm, September 16, 1920. A quarter ton of explosives is detonated on New York's Wall Street, the deadliest attack in the United States' 150 year history. Stratham Younger, recently returned from the battlefields of Europe, witnesses the explosion alongside Captain James Littlemore of the NYPD and Colette Rousseau, a brilliant and beautiful young disciple of Marie Curie. Littlemore's investigation will lead him into conflict with the FBI, and to the centre of a dangerous web of corruption that links Wall Street and Washington. Meanwhile Stratham and Colette embark on a perilous journey that will take them to Vienna, where Freud will shed light on his theory of the human desire for destruction, even self-destruction, which he terms 'the death instinct'.


REVIEW:

Whilst I may not fall in love with a writers style, I can appreciate the skills behind it. Here Jed delves into a piece of American History that I was completely ignorant of, the Bombing of Wall Street in September 1920. Whilst this crime was never solved, the mystery woven within offers a plausible reasoning behind it.

The characters are intriguing and whilst they don’t tick all the boxes for me, they suit the world that they inhabit beautifully. It’s their personal interactions that help the reader adapt to the time period, it’s the character smarts that drives the story forwards and it’s their caring natures that help to sell the final part to the reader.

It is well written, the pace is satisfactory and the author knows what they’re doing and how to do it well. It was definitely interesting and whilst it won’t make my personal top reads for this year, for the reader of Historical Fiction Crime stories there are a lot worse tales that you can spend your hard earned money on.

Thursday 16 September 2010

HISTORICAL FICTION REVIEW: The Fool's Crusade - Pip Vaughn-Hughes

Release Date: 16/09/10

BOOK BLURB:

King Louis of France is about to invade Egypt on his vainglorious Seventh Crusade. The Pope and the Emperor are at each other's throats. And where greed and ambition cross, blood soon follows. Caught in the middle of this is Petroc of Auneford, or Patch to his friends. After years aboard the Cormoran, a ship of relic-traders and adventurers, Patch has finally returned to living on dry land. Now a rich man, running a bank in Venice, life should be easy. But money and liberty are not the same thing - and all too soon, Patch is being called on by all sides to do their bidding in this deadly game of power and glory. As the rulers of Europe crush lives like beetles underfoot, Patch knows if he, his friends and his beloved Iselda are to stay alive, he must go to the blistering heart of the crusade, where zealot, infidel, mercenary and heretic fight to the death. He must outwit the cunning, outrun disease and death and find a way to true freedom. And all the while, cling on to a precious dream of home...


REVIEW:

Historical Fiction usually fits into two subcategories, a love story or hard military, yet Pip’s latest offering defies both and is proud to stand-alone. Within the pages is a tale of love, there is also some double-dealing and with a main character who goes crusading to avoid the entrapment that politics tends to lead to shows that we have a savvy protagonist.

Not just content to make the adventure, Pip also demonstrates what whilst money may be the root of all evil, that it can accomplish some good deeds as well as proving that his pace is excellent with moment s of levity mixed against the harshness of war.

The combat within is acceptable but it is the lead character, Petroc, which really stands out. He is smart, he is handy but it is his sense of acumen that wins the day proving that brain overcomes brawn. A thrilling read and one that will have me seeking out more titles by this author when I want something different to the norm.

FANTASY REVIEW: The Alchemist in the Shadows - Pierre Pevel

Release Date: 16/09/10

BOOK BLURB:


Welcome to Paris, in 1633, where dragons menace the realm. Cardinal Richelieu, the most powerful and most feared man in France, is on his guard. He knows France is under threat, and that a secret society known as the Black Claw is conspiring against him from the heart of the greatest courts in Europe. They will strike from the shadows, and when they do the blow will be both terrible and deadly. To counter the threat, Richelieu has put his most trusted men into play: the Cardinal's Blades, led by Captain la Fargue. Six men and a woman, all of exceptional abilities and all ready to risk their lives on his command. They have saved France before, and the Cardinal is relying on them to do it again. So when la Fargue hears from a beautiful, infamous, deadly Italian spy claiming to have valuable information, he has to listen ...and when La Donna demands Cardinal Richelieu's protection before she will talk, la Fargue is even prepared to consider it. Because La Donna can name their enemy. It's a man as elusive as he is manipulative, as subtle as Richelieu himself, an exceptionally dangerous adversary: the Alchemist in the shadows ...


REVIEW:

Having read the original novel by this French author, I really enjoyed his Dumas style alongside his characters, who whilst flawed, did their best to follow their own codes of honour. It’s stylistic, it has a flowing script and, to top it all off, it has dragons thrown in. What Pevel does well, and probably what helped him win the David Gemmell Morningstar Award, is his dialogue, its got ton’s of formality that help place the characters into the timeline and backed up with emotional content that has added to the mythos that he helped establish back in the Cardinal’s Blades.

Finally add a thrill seeking roller coaster of plot twists and you know that it’s an adventure you’d best hold onto. Of my concerns with the original, this one does bring the dragons more to the fore in this offering which adds new layers and helps explain why they really had to be there as the original story laid the background, this one adds more context. A well written piece and I can’t wait for the final part.

Wednesday 15 September 2010

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: Blood Oath - Christopher Farnsworth

Release Date: 08/07/10

BOOK BLURB:

'There are worse things in this world than al-Qaeda and North Korea, Zach. And they are just waiting for their chance at us.' Sharp and ambitious, Zach Barrows is on his way up. But when he gets a call from the White House, it's not quite the promotion he expected. Zach is to be the new political liaison officer to America's best kept secret: Nathaniel Cade. The President's vampire. And Cade is the world's only hope against a horrifying new terrorist threat advancing from the Middle East. The fight is deadlier than ever, and time is running out ...


REVIEW:

Vamps have wormed their way into all levels of society within the genre, so its always going to be interesting when they work their way up to the secret agent level. It has been done successfully by author’s such as Jennifer Rardin but if you want something a little more different, more of a spy thriller in the (pardon the pun) vein of Bourne, then this is perhaps the title for you. It’s got some great twists, its got some great characters and above all else its got some great witty one liners. Back that up with a whole host of characters that the reader will just love to hang out with, some pretty great descriptive analogies and finish it up with a touch of Hellboy and you know that its something a bit special.

SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: Warhammer 40k: Path of the Warrior - Gav Thorpe

Release Date: 08/07/10

BOOK BLURB:

The ancient eldar are a mysterious race, each devoting their life to a chosen path which will guide their actions and decide their fate. Korlandril abandons peace for the Path of the Warrior. He becomes a Striking Scorpion, a deadly fighter skilled in the art of close-quarter combat. But the further Korlandril travels down this path, the closer he gets to losing his identity and becoming an avatar of war.


REVIEW:

The Eldar rise with this, the latest offering from Gav Thorpe. Add to the mix his own special blend of combat mixed with the aesthetic almost feline manoeuvres from this xenos race and you know that the Eldar army is on the march. What you also get from Gav is ideal combat descriptiveness, some good solid dialogue and all bound together with a plot arc that will just enthuse itself to the readers psyche. Its inventive, its got emotional context and it is a tale that many fan has been demanding. Bring on the war.

Tuesday 14 September 2010

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: Henry VIII: Wolfman - AE Moorat

Release Date: 08/07/10

BOOK BLURB:

HENRY VIII: WOLFMAN DIVORCED. BEHEADED. DIED. MAULED. SAVAGED. SURVIVED? Henry VIII was the best and bloodiest King ever to have sat on the throne of England. This fast-paced, exciting, gory, inventive and just plain gross retelling of his reign will bring to light the real man behind the myth. When it came to his size, Henry VIII was known for being larger-than-life, with a fearsome temper and bloodthirsty reputation to match; more beast than human, some might say...Be dragged kicking and screaming back 500 years into Tudor England...


REVIEW:

Urban fantasy is a genre that’s fast on the rise, but authors need something new, something innovative and of course something different to the many titles out there to make their work stand out. In this, the author’s second novel, they’ve gone back in time to Henry VIII and reinvented the six foot monarch as a werewolf. It’s quirky, its definitely entertaining and of course, the author plays with established history to make it fit to their novel. Overall its fast paced, has plenty of action and with a comic flair of a natural comedian all blend together to make this a real joy to read.

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: Water Bound - Christine Feehan

Release Date: 29/07/10

BOOK BLURB:

For Lev Prakenskii, the last thing he remembers is being lost in the swirling currents of the ocean and sucked deeper into the nothingness of a freezing black eddy off the coastal town of Sea Haven. Just as quickly, just as miraculously, he was saved - pulled ashore by a beautiful stranger - but Lev has no memory of who he was - or why he seems to possess the violent instincts of a trained killer. All he knows is that he fears for his life, and the life of his unexpected saviour. Her name is Rikki, a sea-urchin diver in the small town of Sea Haven. She always felt an affinity for the ocean and the seductive pull of the tides - and now, for the enigmatic man she rescued. But soon they will be bound by something even stronger - each other's tantalising secrets that will engulf them both in a whirlpool of dizzying passion and inescapable danger.


REVIEW:

Whilst Christine is very well known for her plotting alongside great dialogue, the main focus with this title is the characters within which may not please all the fans of her Drake Sisters series (of which this is set in the same world but with a whole host of new cast members.) It does have an interesting premise and whilst I do love the fact that it’s a great piece of experimentation for the author with the characterisation it doesn’t quite fulfil what will have sold this title to a great many of her fans as the plot for this was a little bit too simplistic. It is interesting, it does have some magical moments but I hope that future offerings expand a bit more as this I feel that this offering was more of a set up than anything else.

Monday 13 September 2010

ART BOOK REVIEW: Dreamscapes Myth and Magic - Stephanie Pui-Man Law

Release Date: 30/07/10

BOOK BLURB:

Much of what modern writers and artists depict follows in the footsteps of ancient tales and imagery. Dreamscapes Myth & Magic explores these ancient origins while demonstrating the author's proven techniques for creating stunning, ethereal fantasy characters, creatures and settings. Readers will learn to create wonderful fantasy scenes step by step, including basic materials and techniques. Readers will also learn about planning and sketching; figure construction and how to vary it to create fantasy characters; and, how to make their fantasy characters unique by learning how to create clothing, settings and backgrounds.


REVIEW:

Fan’s of Art titles are always looking for books that will help them improve their own personal style. What Stephanie does in this offering is cover the watercolour medium for the fantasy artist.

Whilst she does cover basics such as what type of paper, blending techniques, washes, glazes and a whole host of other tips to help you get the most available, the artwork standard is quite a bit higher than other titles in the Impact range, relying heavily on a modicum of talent in order to take them to the next step. Unfortunately this mean that rank amateurs who make matchstick men look deformed probably won’t get the most out of this title although valuable lessons are contained within. (Sadly I fall into the later category.)

It is interesting, there are lessons to be learned and if you have the talent, it will definitely help you regardless of the subject matter you prefer to paint. Definitely a solid title that will become a much favoured reference guide to help you expand your skill set to a whole new level.

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: Rajmund - DB Reynolds

Release Date: 30/07/10

BOOK BLURB:

New York City vampire Rajmund Gregor is the undisputed master of The Big Apple. He bows to no one but his Sire, the Vampire Lord Krystof, who has ruled the Northeast for hundreds of years. But when Krystof summons Rajmund to his headquarters in Buffalo, Raj finds his master slowly descending into madness and his territory crumbling around him. Raj is the only one of Krystof's children strong enough to seize power, but he'll have to save his master before he can destroy him. Several women have gone missing and the local police are convinced a vampire is behind it. Is Krystof so lost to reality that he's capturing and murdering human women? Is a rogue vampire moving into Krystof's territory for the kill? Or is it something far more insidious, something that could threaten the existence of vampires everywhere? Sarah Stratton is living a lie. Her past holds a secret she shares with no one-not even her good friend Cynthia Leighton, the West Coast vampire lord's mate. It's a secret that could destroy her carefully constructed life as a professor at a Buffalo university. It's also a secret that could save the lives of the missing women. To save them, however, she must enter Buffalo's vampire community and put herself into the care of Rajmund Gregor. But can she trust Raj, the dangerously seductive vampire who wants to lay claim to far more than her secrets?


REVIEW:

Having read Donna’s writing before she was published, I have been lucky enough to keep up with things as she’s gone from strength to strength. What makes this, Donna’s third title so successful however is that the author seeks to satisfy the reader’s lusty demands, blending dialogue that is not only gripping but also enveloped an overall arc that is deliciously desirable for the reader that will keep you entrenched within the hypnotic world of Dark Urban Fantasy.

If you haven’t yet had the chance to try one of Donna’s books I’d advise you to give her a go as you get something for everyone within. There’s Sara, our sexy leading lady, buff Ubervamps (Kristoff and Rajmund), a lot of sexual chemistry and above all else a lot of temptation within the covers. A great way to spend a few hours within the imaginative world of DB Reynolds although don’t be surprised if the wicked thoughts inspired within last long into the night as you swap your allegiances between the villain and the heroes.

Sunday 12 September 2010

HISTORICAL FICTION REVIEW: The Brothers Boswell - Philip Baruth

Release Date: 01/08/10

BOOK BLURB:

30th July, 1763. Two striking figures part the heaving crowd at London Bridge. Peddlers cease their haggling, ferrymen grow quiet, beggars stop and stare. Even the stink of the Thames seems to fade in the presence of Dr Samuel Johnson and James Boswell - history's most famous friends. Boswell, as charismatic and meticulously coiffed as Johnson is bullish and badly dressed, is eager to advance himself in literary society. Today he is to accompany the great Dr Johnson on an excursion up the Thames - and he is determined that nothing will go wrong. But another Boswell is watching from the shadows, insanely jealous of his elder brother's meteoric rise through London's coffeehouses and whorehouses, tenements and theatres, soirees and salons. He has two golden pistols in his pocket, a ferryboat at his disposal - and murder in his heart.


REVIEW:

An imaginative and pretty engaging historical crime novel set in the 18th Century featuring Dr Samuel Johnson and James Boswell. Whilst the arc really does grip you, it’s the author’s portrayal of London in 1763 that will stick with you, the everyday scenes that fascinate a modern reader also pass by with a believability that demonstrates the author’s skill with their craft. Finally back it all up with a great sense of pace and as a piece of escapism it is pretty resolute. Definitely a debut novel in the Historical Fiction genre that leaves me wondering what the author will do next as I’ve marked their name down to keep an eye out for future offerings.

CRIME REVIEW: Veil of Night - Linda Howard

Release Date: 12/09/10

BOOK BLURB:

Jaclyn Wilde is a wedding planner who loves her job - until the bride whose wedding she's organising is brutally killed, with everyone involved pointing fingers at everyone else. Jaclyn, at least, isn't a suspect, but only because she has an alibi. The others, from the cake-maker to the florist to the wedding-gown seller, are practically dancing in the streets because Carrie Edwards, a bridezilla of mythic nastiness, has met her end. Eric Wilder is the detective assigned to the case. There's too much evidence implicating too many people and compounding his problems is Jaclyn Wilde who keeps interfering with him, distracting him and somehow fouling up everything. To top things off, somehow she becomes the focus of the killer, and he finds himself with a completely different problem.


REVIEW:

Whilst a lot of murder stories are hinging more towards the darker edge of the macabre, its always interesting when you get a lighter tale such as the one presented by Linda Howard. This tale centres around a wedding planner who ends up being the focus of a murder investigation when the Bridezilla from Hell (and that’s putting it mildly) is murdered. The plot is not only light but fun, the characters crisp and definitely people that you’d love to hang out with the overall effect, whilst at times comical, give the reader that they can dip into and savour for the story as it wends its merry way. It’s great fun, it has some magical moments although my one piece of advice is never go out for coffee is Linda’s about. LOL

Saturday 11 September 2010

THRILLER REVIEW: The Levels - Sean Cregan

Release Date: 05/08/10

BOOK BLURB:

An explosive debut novel - THE LEVELS is a dark, urban gothic thriller guaranteed to appeal fans of Child and Kernick. On the outskirts of Newport, on the US East Coast, lies an abandoned housing project: the Levels. Inhabited by Newport's homeless population, the Levels are run by the all-powerful Sorrow. As THE LEVELS opens, ex-CIA agent Nate Turner, who is in the Levels to find out who has just tried to kill him, meets a 14-year-old girl Ghost. Ghost is a Fury, one of Sorrow's trained, teenage assassins looking for a way back to her normal life. Also in the Levels is Kate, a suspended cop, who has been told that she has only days to live after being attacked, and infected, by the Beast, a serial killer working the streets. The Beast is out for revenge on Kate's new employer, who he believes created the infection that's killing him, an infection that has also been released into the Levels. Now Ghost is trying to escape Sorrow, Kate is looking for the Beast and Turner is looking for answers. One thing's for sure, some people aren't going to survive the fallout...


REVIEW:

What is truly gripping about this title is the blurb, it feels that it has everything a fan of thrillers would desire. You’ve three great lead characters, you’ve got an underground area where the poor and mad congregate and above all else you’ve got a serial killer lurking in the background that each of the “heroes” has to seek for their own goals.

On paper this seems ideal but to be honest, the tale fell far short of the potential and turned what could have been a five star title to a pretty standard three. The characters felt like standard stereotypical cardboard cut outs, they had no real depth and to make matters worse no real hooks to keep the reader routing for them. Whilst this was a major downside for me, the redeeming feature was the tales pace as the author fully understood about building crescendo’s and adding moments for the reader to catch their breath. Add to the mix a high body count alongside an overall arc that was acceptable but without characters to care for, its always leads to a tale that the reader can pretty much switch off from when you want to hope that each survives their next encounter. A great shame.