Sunday 31 October 2010

NEWS: Early Nights et al

Hail Mighty Readers,
Well, with the nights closing in and darkness descending early, the publishing world is eeking its way to slumberland. As such we're going to be lowering the amount of reviews that we're putting up each day to just the one and we'll be taking weekends off so that we can cherry pick what we bring to make sure only the best gets to you.

Likewise, December will also see our recommendations for the big Christmas push so if you're wondering what to get for that family member book wise as things are getting a bit tough and time is not on your side. We'll help you with a recommendation or two.

All the best,


Gareth and Lady Eleanor

Saturday 30 October 2010

HUMOUR: Grave Humor - Editors of Family Tree Magazine

Release Date: 28/09/10

BOOK BLURB:

Who says death is a serious subject? Grave Humor celebrates the lighter side of death through photos capturing the most amusing and ironic monuments to the dearly departed. From amusing epitaphs ('I told you I was sick') to comical burials (the Maxwell-House plot), this irreverent anthology of cemetery humour proves you can laugh to death. It features: photos of more than 100 funny, ironic and ridiculous tombstones; colour illustrations and clever captions; and, DIY epitaphs for anyone who wants to go out with a laugh.


REVIEW:

Theres only two things certain in life, death and taxes. Well taxes really aren’t funny and to be honest with funerals being a sad affair a lot of people like to give friends and family a last laugh to remember them by which is looked at in this title.

There’s grave stone humour that will appeal to a lot of people and whilst some may see it as sacrilegious to do so, I personally love titles like this as believe that many people utilise the line of leave them laughing to the maximum. Definitely a fun quirky offering and one that is in the holiday spirit, Halloween.

Friday 29 October 2010

NEWS: 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:
Divine Misdemeanours - Laurell K Hamilton

If we've missed one please let us know,



Gareth

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:
GAUNT'S GHOSTS: Blood Pact - Dan Abnett

Hopefully you'll find this feature of use,


Gareth

ARTS AND CRAFTS: Art Book Review - Dragon's Domain - Bob Eggleton

Release Date: 29/10/10

BOOK BLURB:

This is the ultimate practical dragon art book from fantasy art legend Bob Eggleton, designed specially to introduce readers to the materials and techniques they will need to paint amazing dragons and monsters. It is packed with photographs, design drawings and notes, step-by-step projects and final artworks to help beginner artists master the essential techniques. Detailed Dragon Workshops show the development of Bob's classic dragon paintings, from conceptualisation through to final execution, including Eastern and Western dragons, sea dragons, space dragons, elemental dragons and other fantastic beasts. Fan favourites from Bob's back catalogue, as well as a wide selection of pieces painted specially for the book, make this a truly-must have title for dragon lovers everywhere.


REVIEW:

Impact, is a publisher who brings books to the artist that will not only improve their skill set but also aid them in improving their art to the next level with lessons that have taken years to learn. This time, the artist is Bob Eggleton who is very well known as well as one to set standards by. Unfortunately, with such an established and famed artist, the skill set required to begin this offering is a lot higher than a number of other titles. Beginners may still learn the lessons within, but they will soon become lost until they have a grasp of the techniques from earlier books. For example if you want to learn to draw dragons you may want to start with J “Neon Dragon” Pfeffer’s Dragon Evolution which is a great book to help you get started.

It is definitely a great book for reference as well as step by step guides for the each part of the piece in order to create something that you’ll be proud to hang on your wall. However, please remember it is for those who’ve advanced to a certain level even though a large number of the lessons within are beautifully constructed as well as demonstrated to back up each point made which overall makes this a title set for inspiration as well as aiding those further along the art trail than myself. Which means that overall it will be a title that I will return to as I gain more skills of my own from other Impact titles.

Thursday 28 October 2010

FANTASY REVIEW: The Last Chronicles of Thomas Covanent 3: Against All Things Ending - Stephen Donaldson

Release Date: 28/10/10

BOOK BLURB:

Desperate for help to find her adopted son, Jeremiah, Linden Avery has resurrected Thomas Covenant in a cataclysmic exertion of Earthpower and wild magic. But the consequences of her efforts are more terrible than she could have imagined. Sorcery on that scale has awakened the Worm of the World's End: the ultimate end of all Time, and therefore of all life, has been set in motion. And on a more personal level, the results are no less extreme. The stress of reincarnation so many centuries after his death has fractured Covenant's mind. He cannot tell Linden where to find her son. And his leprosy has renewed its grip on him, inexorably killing his nerves. The Ranyhyn had tried to warn her. Now, plunged to depths of desperation and despair for which she is entirely unprepared, Linden seeks radical responses to the dilemmas she has created. Searching for Jeremiah, and accompanied only by a few friends and allies - some of them unwilling - she takes chances that threaten her sanity, forcing her to confront the Land's most fearsome secrets. Dreadful futures hinge on all of her choices, and she and her companions are driven beyond the limits of their endurance. Yet she still walks paths laid out for her by the Despiser, and his forces are ready ...


REVIEW:

Fan’s of Thomas Covanent will be chomping at the it for this offering and at over 700 pages they won’t be disappointed. Beautifully executed, this, the third part of four of the Last Thomas Covanent series will definitely be snapped up.

The story arc is spellbinding (in more ways than one), the characters exactly what Donaldson does well and above all else, it’s the authors style of pace with his prose that won’t let you put it down. Whilst some may worry about the size (yes it is big and it is clever) it’s definitely a tale that adds to the full Thomas Covanent mythos although I personally wouldn’t advise reading this without having read the rest as you won’t get the full value or nuances from within.

Overall a great book and one that shows why Donaldson is a master although be warned that his story telling style may not be for everyone.

FANTASY REVIEW: Corvus - Paul Kearney

Release Date: 28/10/10

BOOK BLURB:

It is twenty-three years since a Macht army fought its way home from the heart of the Asurian Empire. The man who came to lead that army, Rictus, is now a hard-bitten mercenary captain, middle-aged and tired. He wants nothing more than to lay down his spear and become the farmer that his father was. But fate has different ideas. A young warleader has risen to challenge the order of things in the very heartlands of the Macht. A soldier of genius, he takes city after city, and reigns over them as king. What is more, he had heard of the legendary leader of the Ten Thousand. His name is Corvus, and the rumours say that he is not even fully human. He means to make himself absolute ruler of all the Macht. And he wants Rictus to help him.


REVIEW:

Having loved Paul’s Ten Thousand, I really couldn’t wait to embark on another novel set in the lands of the Macht. When this title landed after girding myself and preparing my own baggage train (hey I got a 2 litre bottle of Dandelion and Burdock and a selection of Sandwiches) I settled down to see what would befall the Dogshead.

What you get with Kearney is a story told at a blistering pace with graphic battle sequences, decent dialogue and above all else cracking characterisation with a Spartan descriptive style so that the reader knows that theirs no extra padding. In short a title that is combat fit with a hard toned literal wall of muscle that will kick the hell out of a lot of other titles on the shelves.

All in I loved this book which was a welcome escape from the real world into a clearer black and white one of the fantasy ilk. Great stuff.

Wednesday 27 October 2010

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: If I Stay - Gayle Foreman

Release Date: 13/05/10

BOOK BLURB:

Life can change in an instant. A cold February morning ...a snowy road ...and suddenly all of Mia's choices are gone. Except one. As alone as she'll ever be, Mia must make the most difficult choice of all. Gripping, heartrending and ultimately life-affirming, If I Stay will make you appreciate all that you have, all that you've lost - and all that might be.


REVIEW:

This offering is a tale that will appeal as a bridging gap between the world of young adult and the adult offerings out there. It’s emotional, it has a strong principle character and to be honest it will leave the reader wondering which way it will go right through to the last few pages. This offering is beautifully told, the characters make this offering stand out and the dialogue is something that will clutch at heartstrings alongside producing a believable protagonist that the reader will latch onto. Definitely a title I’d recommend but only to the teen market who will understand a lot of what plays out.

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: The Bride that Time Forgot - Paul Magrs

Release Date: 28/10/10

BOOK BLURB:

An outrageous adventure with the most terrifying villain Brenda has ever faced - her best friend, Effie.

Something is biting people on the streets of Whitby. In an ordinary town, this would be worrying. Here, it’s disastrous, and only Brenda has guessed why. She’s also trying to prepare for a packed festive break at her B&B, but her best friend Effie is in distracted mood: she just hasn’t been the same since her suave gentleman friend Alucard reappeared.

Meanwhile, Penny has joined a book group in the new mystery bookstore, the Spooky Finger. As she is drawn into the strange and fantastic works of Edwardian lady novelist Beatrice Mapp, she makes some very surprising discoveries. Discoveries that will soon impact upon the lives of all the ladies of Whitby. When unexpected help from the shadows of the past arrives to illuminate the dangers awaiting them all, Brenda realises that unless she can find a way to save Effie, the consequences may be eternal.


REVIEW:

Whatever you say about Paul Magrs, whether you are a fan or not, you know that he can weave a story very well. Whilst I’m not going to find this title in my top ten Urban Fantasy books of the year, I can still admire the way that he weaves his threads in this long established series.

What Paul also does well, is his characters, they’re fully rounded and whilst a bit beyond the norm, they are people that you would love to hang around and do want life to work out for them. Back all of this up with a sparse descriptive style as well as acceptable dialogue and it allows the tale to wend its own merry way.

One word of warning however, is that whilst you can jump in on this series here, you won’t get the full flavour of the characters and will be short changed by not having started at the beginning where a lot of hard work done to establish the cast alongside his interpretation of their world. All in a reasonable offering and one that will keep established fans of Effie and Brenda happy, even with a few heart stopping moments within.

Tuesday 26 October 2010

MIND, BODY AND SPIRIT: Paranormal Powers - Brian Haughton

Release Date: 01/09/10

BOOK BLURB:

Explore the extreme power of the mind from clairvoyants and poltergeist activity to teleportation and levitation. "Paranormal Powers" is an expert reference guide to mystical abilities, where you will discover the secrets of mind readers, mediums, astro projectors and many more. Seven chapters cover everything from the dark world of secret programmes, to those claiming to possess particular powers, including the controversial Natalya Demkina - The Girl with X-Ray Vision. This title teaches us about psychology and the motives controlling our behaviour.


REVIEW:

Fans of the Paranormal will absolutely love this book. Why? Well to be honest its pretty comprehensive with some great fun tests for the reader to do in order to see where their own gifts lie. Add to this a whole host of information, some interesting facts and also where people who’ve purportedly been gifted have failed in tests to give a rounded opinion on the whole subject.

It’s exciting, it’s a title that deals with the subject matter and all in, its put together beautifully so that the reader can quite easily dip into each of the subjects that interest them. A great book and an ideal gift for Halloween or Christmas.

SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: Afterblight Chronicles: Children's Crusade - Scott Andrews

Release Date: 19/05/10

BOOK BLURB:

The orphaned children of post-Cull Britain have always been easy prey for gangs, cults and killers. But now something has changed. Organised teams are roaming the country, taking children from their homes and villages, spiriting them away into the night. Jane Crowther is willing to risk everything to rescue them, but to save the children, Jane must confront the woman she used to be, and the man who killed her.
This is the third and final year of St Mark's school for Boys and Girls. But it's not going down without a fight!


REVIEW:

If you love an apocalyptic world with a difference then you’re probably going to fall in love with the Afterblight series. It has great characters, some intriguing plots and demonstrates that Mankind is as brutal and combative as the reader suspects. Whilst these negative traits seem to have the lion’s share of the survivors in their thrall, there are some that seek to promote the positive traits of friendship and so are drawn into a darker world that many would ever wish to see. Scott’s writing fits this set up to a tee, it’s got great characterisation, it has some serious pace and above all else the way in which the story’s lead character interacts with the reader makes them someone that you really care about. Great stuff.

Monday 25 October 2010

CRIME REVIEW: The Devil's Garden - Richard Montinari

Release Date: 19/08/10

BOOK BLURB:

Michael Roman is finally living the life he always dreamed of - he has a successful career, a beautiful wife and adorable twin daughters. But his idyllic life is about to come crashing down around him - because Michael is a man with a past. A rising star in the New York District Attorney's office and on the cusp of enormous success, Michael's perfect life begins to unravel when he finds himself the target of a depraved madman, a man who covets everything Michael has and will stop at nothing to take it all away. In a desperate fight to survive, Michael is forced to confront the dark secrets of his past in order to save his family. He must hunt down the psychopath who is targeting his family and, before it is too late, face the devil himself...


REVIEW:

Fan’s of Richard’s work will be sadly disappointed with this novel. It’s slow, the characters are more 2D than 3D, the description is pretty dire and to be honest the overall plot feels like its missing a hell of a lot. In fact, I’d even go so far as to wonder how this made it to publication when his Balzano and Byrne series is so much more vibrant. All in a novel that whilst it is a standalone, is one that I’d suggest that readers miss in order to concentrate on his more established work.

GHOST STORIES: Ghost Chronicles - Various

Release Date: 01/09/10

BOOK BLURB:

Delve into some of the scariest and mysterious ghostly legends of our time with this collection of ghost stories. Each of the three books in the set contains around 15 of the very best ghost stories ever told, from the most haunted house in England at Borley Rectory, to the ghosts that roam the Tower of London, and the creepy goings-on aboard the Mary Celeste. Enter the eerie world of the ghosts who roam our railway stations, or learn where to encounter the headless horse, or the ghost of London's theatreland. Packed with classic tales from yesteryear and more recent ghostly happenings from across the world, "Ghost Chronicles" is the ultimate accessory for any Halloween party or paranormal enthusiast.


REVIEW:

Now this is one of my favourite titles of this year as it is not only beautifully presented (three hardbacks in a slipcase) but also split into easy to find area’s within the titles. In this case: Ghostly Tales on land and Sea. Tales of Haunted places and Tales of the Supernatural which allows the reader to find what they want quite easily.

Whilst some of the stories are quite short, it’s a great way to get the basics of some folklore so that if you want to research it you can. Especially when you add some virtually unheard of tales alongside some of the more well known.

One thing that I would suggest for future editions would be to perhaps sort the tales out by area so that you can find the local supernatural stories and go to visit the locations to which they’re based. All in, it’s a great offering for someone who loves these types of books and a great gift for any time of year (especially when that time of year involves snuggling up in a duvet when its pitch black outside.) Lots of fun, a great selection of tales and above all else something that you’d think would cost a lot more.

Sunday 24 October 2010

FICTION REVIEW: Paradise - Katie Price

Release Date: 27/07/10

BOOK BLURB:

When glamorous model Angel was forced to make a life-changing decision and choose between a Ethan, the laid-back Californian baseball player, and giving her marriage to football star Cal another go, many were stunned when she picked Ethan. But life in LA is good: Ethan adores her and Honey and their life could not be more glamorous. But nothing is perfect, and after a year together problems are beginning to surface: a stalker seems to have singled out Angel; Ethan's agent Benny despises her, and isn't always good at hiding it; and when Ethan faces financial ruin the couple are forced to star in a reality TV show about their life together. Despite everything, though, Angel is convinced that Ethan is the man for her. So why does she always feel breathless when Cal is around? And why can't she stop thinking about him and his new girlfriend? But as the tabloid headlines have always been quick to point out, the path of true love for our sexy celebrity has not always been smooth. So when her dad falls dangerously ill Angel rushes back to England to be by his bedside, throwing her and Cal back together. But Ethan loves her and Cal has a girlfriend, and she made her choice a year ago. It's too late to go back now, isn't it...?


REVIEW:

Katie strikes back with her latest offering in her fictional account of a “model” world. If you like this sort of thing you’ll get pretty much what you want, some titillation, some romance and a strong willed female lead who won’t let life grind her down. It is a reasonable offering and whilst the majority of readers will be Jordan fans this title demonstrates that the ghost writer and Katie are getting more in sink with each other to put together a more complete release.

It’s not going to set the literary world on fire but it does what it says on the tin and sells on Katie’s name.

Saturday 23 October 2010

HISTORICAL FICTION REVIEW: Blood Ninja - Nick Lake

Release Date: 01/09/10

BOOK BLURB:

Taro is a boy from a coastal village in rural Japan, fated to become a fisherman like his father. But in just one night, Taro's world is turned upside down - and his destiny is changed forever. Skilled in the art of silent and deadly combat, ninjas are the agents of powerful nobles who rule sixteenth-century Japan. So why did a group of these highly trained assassins creep into a peasant's hut and kill Taro's father? And why did one ninja rescue Taro from their clutches, saving his life at enormous cost? Now on the run with this mysterious saviour and his best friend Hiro, Taro is determined to learn the way of the ninja to avenge his father's death. But if they are to complete their perilous journey, Taro must first evade the wrath of the warring Lords, decipher an ancient curse, resist forbidden love - and come to terms with the blood-soaked secrets of a life lived in moonlight.


REVIEW:

To be honest this is a strange title. In some respects is has elements of an adult book, in others it could quite easily be a Young Adult one in much the same vein as Chris Bradford’s Young Samurai series. The main difference however is that Nick has introduced vampires into the mix. It’s certainly novel, it definitely has its own twist on the whole Ninja mythos and to be honest was something that I got quite a bit of fun from.

Add to this a writing style that’s reasonable, a host of interesting supporting cast members and the reader can quite happily immerse themselves within this world. Definitely one that’s perhaps geared more for the adventure reader than one who loves the whole vamp angle although it does have elements to please both sets of readers. Finally add to the mix that this is the first part of the series and one that sets the background which gives the author a whole host of additional things he can work on in the second instalment. It’s certainly going to be interesting to see which way it goes.

AUTOBIOGRAPHY: The Killer Within - Philip Carlos

Release Date: 05/08/10

BOOK BLURB:

As research for his acclaimed true-crime books, Philip Carlo has interviewed at length some of the most infamous criminals and killers of our times in prison and on death row. He has been able to forge a trusting relationship with his subjects, enabling him to extract the facts behind their infamy and identify what motivated them to commit their horrific crimes. His successful books reveal the truth about notorious characters such as LA serial killer Richard Ramirez ( The Night Stalker ), Mafia contract killer Richard Kuklinski ( The Ice Man ) and crime-family boss Anthony Casso ( Gaspipe ), and, working closely with the DEA, Carlo also wrote the definitive account of Bonanno Mafia family assassin Tommy 'Karate' Pitera ( The Butcher ). Carlo's investigative achievements are remarkable, but what wasn't known to his readers is that, while working on The Ice Man , he learnt he had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a terminal illness that causes all of the muscles in the body to atrophy over time. Suddenly, after years of penetrating the minds of killers, Carlo was himself being pursued by the grim reaper. But rather than lying down and succumbing to the disease, Carlo continues to work; and his books are published to critical and commercial acclaim. In The Killer Within , Carlo documents his difficult experiences with ALS and explains how he has managed to continue working as a true-crime author in the face of adversity. He provides an intimate account of his relationships with Ramirez, Kuklinski and Casso and reveals intriguing information about writing his bestsellers, while simultaneously coping with the numerous challenges that ALS presents as it slowly begins to steal his life away.


REVIEW:

Having read a couple of his other titles, I expected something more about the serial killer angle rather than a title based more on the author. That said, it’s fascinating to see how he copes day to day with his illness as well bringing his experiences to the fore. It’s a brave offering from the author and one that will hopefully get the readers to understand things a little clearer. If however you want a book more on serial killers and understanding them then this perhaps isn’t the best title for you and I refer to you some of Philip’s earlier works instead.

Friday 22 October 2010

HISTORICAL FICTION REVIEW: Hart of Empire - Saul David

Release Date: 05/08/10

BOOK BLURB:

George Hart, back in England following his heroics in the Zulu Wars, scarcely has time to gamble away his meagre fortune when he is summoned to a secret meeting in Whitehall. There, Prime Minister Disraeli himself asks George to undertake a dangerous mission to Afghanistan. Mistrust and dislike for the local ruler chosen by the British is growing and Muslim extremists threaten to overthrow the local government. The British cannot allow the loss of Afghanistan, which would put at risk India, the jewel in the Imperial crown. Although he suspects that the Establishment sees a part-Zulu officer as expendable, George can see that his dark skin will help him go undercover, and soon, accompanied only by a Pathan guide, he is descending the Khyber pass into a strange and violent land. On the way he meets Yasmin, an alluring Afghan princess, and together this unlikely trio find themselves in a race against time to prevent a tribal uprising and head off a catastrophic British invasion.


REVIEW:

Having missed the original fictional outing of George Hart (Zulu Hart) by renowned historian Saul David, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect.

Whilst I knew it was historical fiction it is set in a time I really don’t know that much about historically so I knew that I was going in on the wrong foot but strangely excited to see what occurred.

What makes this story different is the author’s closeness to historical fact and whilst the odd little fact is twisted to fit the tale, the majority of it has the plausibility to have a ring of truth about it that will enchant many a reader.

The characters are fantastic, the tale building and weaving beautifully and with some seriously good dialogue as well as characters to meet within (some real some fictional) made this title very hard to put down. I’m definitely going to have to get my hands on the first book sooner rather than later to have a visit to Roukes Drift and review the carnage at “first hand.”

FANTASY REVIEW: Runescape: The Betrayal of Falador - TS Church

Release Date: 22/10/10

BOOK BLURB:

In the kingdom of Asgarnia, though the Knights of Falador defend the land and protect the people, they face threats that clamor from all sides. A young woman's stormy arrival launches a chain of events that endangers the very fabric of magic. The knights must solve the riddle of Kara-Meir or everything they hold close may be lost. Their one hope may lie with an untested squire named Theodore.


REVIEW:

To be honest I’ve not played the MMO game that has inspired this offering which left me completely in the dark as to what to expect from this outing. That isn’t a bad thing but at times conversions from one world to the other have proved to be sadly disappointing to either the gamers or readers.

What unfurls within is a tale where the reader can get behind the world and heroes who populate as they fight for survival in the brutal harsh reality that they inhabit.

The prose is reasonable, the characters quirky and it’s the dialogue and overall arc that makes this a bit of pure escapism. If anything this tale feels a little too simplistic and doesn’t require much in the way of thinking but that’s not a bad thing as at times that’s exactly what the reader wants from a title. I’ll keep an eye out and see what TS turns up with next time, it should be another fun romp to a world with simpler views.

Thursday 21 October 2010

MYSTERY REVIEW: Dark Matter - Michelle Paver

Release Date: 21/10/10

BOOK BLURB:

'What is it? What does it want? Why is it angry with me?' January 1937. Clouds of war are gathering over a fogbound London. Twenty-eight year old Jack is poor, lonely and desperate to change his life. So when he's offered the chance to be the wireless operator on an Arctic expedition, he jumps at it. Spirits are high as the ship leaves Norway: five men and eight huskies, crossing the Barents Sea by the light of the midnight sun. At last they reach the remote, uninhabited bay where they will camp for the next year. Gruhuken. But the Arctic summer is brief. As night returns to claim the land, Jack feels a creeping unease. One by one, his companions are forced to leave. He faces a stark choice. Stay or go. Soon he will see the last of the sun, as the polar night engulfs the camp in months of darkness. Soon he will reach the point of no return - when the sea will freeze, making escape impossible. And Gruhuken is not uninhabited. Jack is not alone. Something walks there in the dark.


REVIEW:

Having read Michelle’s Young Adult Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series I knew that she could write but I was wondering what she’d bring to the table for the adult reader in this, her first ghost story for the adult market.

What unfurls not only goes to prove Michelle’s talent but the way in which she beautifully describes the isolation made this a book more about keeping sane in a desolate climate over a ghost story. It is a cracking read with the reliance on xenophobia as well as utilising the readers brain to create the terror without having to do anything, in much the same way Spielburg did it in Jaws without the reader actually seeing it until late in the film.

Add to this some great use of character by making the principle protagonist someone that the viewer will like, a great touch of pace as well as utilising a number of tricks picked up from her years as a YA author and the reader will definitely have a great read all in. The only downside is the relative shortness of the offering which at 212 pages may be a better title to use as a bridging gap for the Young Reader to Adult titles.

FANTASY REVIEW: Glitter Rose - Marianne De Pierres

Release Date: 20/09/10

BOOK BLURB:

The Glitter Rose Collection features five short stories by Marianne de Pierres – four previously published and one new story. Each copy of this limited edition print run is signed and presented in a beautiful hardbound cover, with internal black and white illustrations.

The Glitter Rose stories are set against the background of Carmine Island (an island reminiscent of Stradbroke Island, Queensland) where a decade ago spores from deep in the ocean blew in, by a freak of nature, and settled on the island. These spores bring fierce allergies to the inhabitants of the island. And maybe other, more sinister effects. As we follow Tinashi’s journey of moving to and settling into island life, we get a clearer picture of just what is happening on Carmine Island.

Glitter Rose is named after the glitter rose dusks that happen at certain tides on the island – when the last of sunset has fallen, a strange phosphorescence can be seen on the sands of the beaches. Colourless at first, it rapidly changes to a “carpet of tiny, shining, rose-coloured grains” as the sky darkens.


REVIEW:

Brought together in this compendium for the first time, a collection of short stories that helped to launch Marianne’s writing career which demonstrate beautifully the talent behind her work.

All appeared in print in various compendiums over the years and yet when you read them back to back you get an eerie sense of beauty as well as the lovingly crafted characters that inhabit this world. Each individual tale builds upon the previous making it pretty hard to put down and whilst this offering is quite short there is a bonus title at the end that demonstrates an almost Poeish twist to the author that allows the reader to wonder where her talents end. A seriously delightful collection and one that I can’t recommend enough to the reader. Great stuff.

(For more details on where to purchase please see the authors own website.)

Wednesday 20 October 2010

SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: Afterblight Chronicles: Arrowland - Paul Kane

Release Date: 15/09/10

BOOK BLURB:

In the years since the Hooded Man emerged from the forest to defeat the new Sheriff of Nottingham, his reputation has spread. Now a new threat has risen and The Dragon and The Widow must be tackled by Robert and his band. But when an assassin is dispatched, just as skilled as Robert with a bow and arrow, the Hooded Man finds himself once more fighting to survive!


REVIEW:

Kane ups the ante as Post-Apocalyptic Britain is under siege from enemies within as well as outside its borders.

The series is an absolute must have as Paul’s version of the Robin Hood Legend brings it refurbished and renewed to a modern audience. Seriously addictive writing backed up by stark realistic brutalism all wrapped up in clever yet simple prose painting a picture of many colours as well as presenting scents to the audience so that they can walk the world with the tales heroes.

The only downside to this title is for new readers. This is the third outing for Robert (the other two being Arrowhead and Broken Arrow) that must be read first to get the full flavour of the new Hood. Great stuff all in and I really can’t wait to see what comes next.

AUTOBIOGRAPHY: Out of the Woods but not Over the HIll - Gervase Phinn

Release Date: 14/10/10

BOOK BLURB:

For Gervase Phinn growing old is not about a leisurely walk to the pub for a game of dominoes or snoozing in his favourite armchair. As this sparkling collection of his very best humorous writing shows, he may be 'out of the woods' but he is certainly not 'over the hill'.Looking back over more than sixty years of family life, teaching, inspecting schools, writing and public speaking, Gervase never fails to unearth humour, character, warmth and wisdom from the most diverse of experiences, whether they be growing up in Rotherham with the most un-Yorkshirelike of names or describing why loud mobile phone users get his goat.Brimming with nostalgia, gently mocking life's absurdities, never shy of an opinion, this is Gervase Phinn at his wittiest, twinkly-eyed best.


REVIEW:

If you want witty observation that looks back from the everyman’s point of view, then you really have to read Gervase Phinn’s books. Told from an Ex-Teacher, School Inspector and public speakers memories, the general observations really do hit the mark with you so much so that you’ll find yourself chuckling along on his journey.

It’s definitely something unique and whilst we’re not talking comedian humour here we are talking about a title that will make you laugh. There is definitely something for everyone within this title with excerpts that everyone of a certain age will identify as well as appreciate. All in a fun novel and one that the odd wedding speech may borrow from with ease.

Finally, if you get the chance to meet Gervase at a signing or a talk, take the opportunity, it’s a wonderful night out, you’ll laugh and a great night out will have been had. If you’re worried, take a friend, they’ll find it as funny as you and soon be a fan of the author. A man who can truly talk the birds from the trees.

Tuesday 19 October 2010

GRAPHIC NOVEL REVIEW: Odd is on our Side - Dean Koontz, Queenie Chan, Fred Van Lente

Release Date: 30/09/10

BOOK BLURB:

The second graphic novel adventure featuring Dean Koontz's hugely popular character, Odd Thomas. It's almost Halloween in Pico Mundo, and that means it's time for the annual Safe Halloween Party, hosted by Police Chief Porter. All seems perfectly normal -- until Odd catches sight of the ghost of a young girl who seems to be trying to join in the festivities. Odd's next clue that something threatens his peaceful town is the appearance of a swarm of bodachs -- supernatural beings who herald some deadly event. With the help of his girlfriend, Stormy, and some vital information from the ghost of Elvis Presley, will Odd be able to forestall disaster?


REVIEW:

An Odd title with an Odd lead character. Yep, that’s the characters name and whilst most people are aware of the Odd titles by Dean Koontz, a great many haven’t yet come across the graphic novel versions (of which this is the second) which are just as delightful. It’s definitely something quirky; it’s a title that I got a lot of fun from and it’s one that adds to the rich tapestry that Dean has woven within his writing. A seriously good piece of escapism that will please, as well as occupy the reader’s thoughts when away from its pages. Back that up with a Moreish attitude and you know that the previous novels won’t be far off a reread.

SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: Version 43 - Philip Palmer

Release Date: 18/10/10

BOOK BLURB:

The odds of surviving quantum teleportation to the Exodus Universe are, more or less, fifty/fifty. The only ones crazy enough to try it are the desperate, the insane and those sentenced to death for their crimes. Belladonna is home to the survivors and, in a planet run by criminals and desperados, death is commonplace. But a particularly horrific (and improbable) killing attracts the Galactic Police force, and a cyborg cop is sent to investigate. Version 43 has been here before, and has old scores to settle. The cop was human once, but is now more programme than man. And he intends to clean up this planet, permanently, whatever the cost.


REVIEW:

If there’s one thing you can say about Philip its that you never get what you fully expect from one of his titles. Here in this, his latest offering is a story where the reader is engaged on one man/cyborg’s quest to solve a number of crimes any which way he can whilst “dying” a number of times.

It’s definitely something special, it’s definitely something unusual and when backed with an unpredictable writing style, the reader will be wondering how many incarnations will survive. Finally add a touch of Robocop, a good helping of sarcasm and of course adding personality to a cyborg which makes him unique and you know that the offering is definitely something to keep you glued to the last page.

Monday 18 October 2010

SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: Lightborn - Tricia Sullivan

Release Date: 07/10/10

BOOK BLURB:

Lightborn, better known as 'shine', is a mind-altering technology that has revolutionised the modern world. It is the ultimate in education, self-improvement and entertainment - beamed directly into the brain of anyone who can meet the asking price. But in the city of Los Sombres, renegade shine has attacked the adult population, resulting in social chaos and widespread insanity in everyone past the age of puberty. The only solution has been to turn off the Field and isolate the city. Trapped within the quarantine perimeter, fourteen-year-old Xavier just wants to find the drug that can keep his own physical maturity at bay until the army shuts down the shine. That's how he meets Roksana, mysteriously impervious to shine and devoted to helping the stricken. As the military invades street by street, Xavier and Roksana discover that there could be hope for Los Sombres - but only if Xavier will allow a lightborn cure to enter his mind. What he doesn't know is that the shine in question has a mind of its own ...


REVIEW:

To be honest this is more of an acid trip into the world of tomorrow than anything else. It’s definitely intriguing, the supporting characters fascinating and they really help take the reader into this world so that the story is revealed at its own pace. Add to the mix a very interesting long story arc with a touch of humour added within and the reader will get something pretty unique for their money. Whilst this won’t make my top Sci-Fi titles for the year I did appreciate the hard work that went on to create this as well as enjoying the few light moments within that allowed the authors descriptive prose the chance to “shine.” I’ll definitely watch out for other books by her and hope that they pick up a bit more on character concentration and development.

CRIME REVIEW: Epitaph - Shaun Hutson

Release Date: 18/10/10

BOOK BLURB:

He sucked in a deep breath full of that strange smell he couldn't identify. He trailed his hands across the satin beneath him and to both sides of him and, when he raised his hands, above him too. He knew why it was so dark. He understood why he could see nothing. He realized why he was lying down. He was in a coffin. A distraught couple thinks you've killed their daughter and they want a confession. If you say you did it, they'll kill you. If you say you didn't, they'll leave you to die. It seems hopeless but there is one way out...What would you do?


REVIEW:

Shaun borrows heavily from films such as Last House on the Left as the parents of a murdered child seek vengeance upon the perpetrator. However whilst this sounds pretty descent the major problem with the title is that the reader will more than likely latch onto the twist a lot earlier than the author intended which, to be honest, really lets it down. This eventually leads to a damp fizz of a conclusion, which really left me feeling that I had wasted my time. Parts were a tad graphic with Shaun trying to shock the reader but unfortunately Shaun is showing his age as a writer and with adding parts that really weren’t required or in character left me feeling it was more about satisfying his own expectations rather than listening to the players of the tale.

Overall, it is OK, it is readable but personally I’d recommend picking this up as a paperback as you will save a few quid.

Sunday 17 October 2010

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: Circus of Sins - Natasha Rhodes

Release Date: 13/05/10

BOOK BLURB:

When young vampire-hunter Kayla Steele is bitten by a werewolf, she thinks it's the end of her world. However, little does she know that the real end of the world is not that far away. Master vampire Harlequin has made a deal with the Devil and is now planning to commit the ultimate sin, killing an angel, which will trigger an ancient curse and bring about war in Heaven. If that happens, it will be the end of mankind forever. Kayla's only hope now lies in a mysterious stranger named Niki, who knows where the angel is being kept. Together, they must rescue the angel before midnight on Sunday in order to stave off Armageddon. But unless Niki is who he claims to be, the stakes just got one hell of a lot higher...


REVIEW:

Authors within the Urban Fantasy genre are taking some big risks with characters with some of the flaws that they’re adding, but they seem to pay off in the long run as it allows the reader to get to grips with their foibles which then allows a more human countenance. What Natasha has done, which may be a bit difficult for a number of readers to swallow is have an addiction to heroin that really does give the character realistic traits. Her writing is hardcore, her style of storytelling brutal but it’s the way in which the characters come across that make you stay for the duration of the story. It’s well written, it definitely something different although to be honest I wouldn’t advise jumping into this without having read the other titles in the series first. If you have gentle sensibilities this may not be the best author for you, but if you’re looking for something fresh and different then she’s definitely worth a punt.

FANTASY REVIEW: The Ambassador's Mission - Trudi Canavan

Release Date: 13/05/10

BOOK BLURB:

Sonea, former street urchin, now a Black Magician of Kyralia, is horrified when her son, Lorkin, volunteers to assist Dannyl in his new role as Guild Ambassador to Sachaka, a land still ruled by cruel black magicians. When word comes that Lorkin has gone missing Sonea is desperate to find him, but if she leaves the city she will be exiled forever, and besides, her old friend Cery needs her help. Most of his family has been murdered - the latest in a long line of assassinations to plague the leading Thieves. There has always been rivalry, but lately it seems the Thieves have been waging a deadly underworld war, and now it appears they have been doing so with magical assistance ...


REVIEW:

Trudi came to my attention with her Black Magician trilogy and whilst at times I wasn’t with some of the characterisation I did see the sheer talent and passion behind the piece. Here in her first book in a brand new series (Traitor Spy) the reader is thrust back into the world and will soon be screaming as the events unfurl at a break neck pace.

Well written with a great lead character, the author has more than generated an offering that will please the fantasy pantheon. Add to the mix reasonable prose, solid description and you know that it’s going to be a solid offering. Personally, I think this is perhaps some of Trudi’s best work and when an author continues to learn and push their own boundaries, you know that they are worth following. A real delight to read and hopefully something a few will pick up to enjoy.

Saturday 16 October 2010

SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: The Winds of Dune - Brian Herbert and Kevin J Anderson

Release Date: 03/06/10

BOOK BLURB:

Between the end of Frank Herbert's Dune and his next novel, Dune Messiah, lies an intriguing mystery: how a hero adored by a planet became a tyrant hated by a universe. Paul Atreides is the man who overthrew a corrupt empire and then launched a terrible jihad across the galaxy, shedding the blood of trillions. The now-hated tyrant, the blind emperor Paul Muad'Dib, has walked off into the endless desert of the planet Arrakis, known as Dune, leaving his turbulent empire without guidance. It is up to his mother Jessica, with her daughter Alia, the brave troubadour-warrior Gurney Halleck, the resurrected Duncan Idaho, the Fremen leader Stilgar, as well as Paul's wife-in-name and biographer, Princess Irulan, to try and hold an empire together even as it tears itself apart from within and without.


REVIEW:

Since the series began, many people have often wondered how Paul Atreides went form hero to tyrant. Here in this offering we get this untold offering and when it fits so well into an already well established universe, it’s a tale that many fans will be more than satisfied in receiving.

What Kevin and Brian do is bring a voice to the fore that has long since been silent and whilst it may have differed from what the original author had planned it is something that works well. The characters step from the page, the prose is damn good and the dialogue with the spartanesque descriptiveness is what this tale needed. A treat and definitely one to be enjoyed when you have the time.

SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: Twilight of Kerberos: Engines of the Apocalypse - Mike Wild

Release Date: 14/04/10

BOOK BLURB:

Giant dwarven sirens rise from the ground and all across Twilight, magic stops. Blamed for the emergence of these machines, Kali Hooper faces execution until a mysterious stranger offers her a deal. In order to keep her life, Kali is to help find the tyrannical head of the Final Faith, Katherine Makennon. Kali joins old enemies and unexpected allies in an epic quest that pits her against the dark machinations of the Pale Lord and reveals secrets not even she could have guessed at.


REVIEW:

A fantasy series unlike any other as the elder races have disappeared with mankind struggling to cope and learn of the ancient past through tomb raiding. As with Mike’s other tales in this series Kali Hooper returns to add her own take to events as they unfold and prove something that all dwarven fans have known for years, that the pointy eared ones are backstabbing, double-dealing, greedy sons of guns.

Within is a mystery wrapped in an enigma and the tales pace works wonderfully, there’s moments of darkness, moments of humour and backed up with familiar friends. Whilst you can read this without having read the other titles, you’ll miss some of the references and not get the full flavour. All in, a great piece of escapism and to quote Kali, one “farking hell” of a journey. Great stuff.

Friday 15 October 2010

NEWS: Free Black Library E-Book


Hail Mighty Readers,
We've had word from our Snotling Spy's that the Black Libary has the next free E=Book available now for you. To get your copy click the Black Library Link or their logo.

This Week it's Graham McNeill's (2010 Winner of the David Gemmell Legend Award) Nightbringer, the first book in his Ultramarine series.

FANTASY REVIEW: City of Ruin - Mark Charan Newton

Release Date: 04/06/10

BOOK BLURB:

Villiren: a city of sin that is being torn apart from the inside. Hybrid creatures shamble through shadows and barely human gangs fight turf wars for control of the streets. Amidst this chaos, Commander Brynd Lathraea, commander of the Night Guard, must plan the defence of Viliren against a race that has broken through from some other realm and already slaughtered hundreds of thousands of the Empire's people. When a Night Guard soldier goes missing, Brynd requests help from the recently arrived Inqusitor Jeryd. He discovers this is not the only disappearance the streets of Villiren. It seems that a serial killer of the most horrific kind is on the loose, taking hundreds of people from their own homes. A killer that cannot possibly be human. The entire population of Villiren must unite to face an impossible surge of violent and unnatural enemies or the city will fall. But how can anyone save a city that is already a ruin?


REVIEW:

Bursting onto the writing scene a little over a year ago this series by mark has impressed not only new readers but established fans with the sheer scope presented within this offering. It’s got intrigue, its got action but most of all its got an overall story arc that will grip you in the writers own indomitable style that really is going to take some beating.

Tor really have gotten themselves one hell of an author with this offering and if the rest of the series pans out with as much skill alongside progression as this title, it won’t be long before Mark is a name to set your standards by.

FANTASY REVIEW: Valisar Trilogy 3: King's Wrath - Fiona McIntosh

Release Date: 15/10/10

BOOK BLURB:

The third, and last, instalment of Fiona McIntosh's gripping epic fantasy, set in a world torn by revenge, love and ancient magic. Loethar the Tyrant has established himself as the King of the Devona Set. No longer seen as a tyrant, his reforms and peace-making efforts have won over a section of society, especially since over the last 15 years, his people from the steppes have migrated and integrated into the Devona kingdoms. Loethar no longer believes Prince Leo, the rightful heir to the throne, to be dead and hunts him and his outlaw allies; but another heir also exists - one the usurper should fear more than a prince on the run! and she has possession of the ancient Valisar enchantment. Having learnt the truth of her parentage, her world and her family's fate, she must decide whether to stay and face the King's wrath, or escape back into the world she has hidden within for so many years.


REVIEW:

Fan’s of Fiona’s writing have been chomping at the bit for this offering since completing their read of the second title in the series (Tyrant’s Blood.)

Whilst most authors tend to work out a plan many titles in advance, sometimes many titles ahead, each excursion into her world for Fiona is as much as an adventure for her as it is to the reader as she doesn’t plan and discovers events as they happen and is often surprised at what does occur.

It’s beautifully written, the characters grow and develop and with an ending that will possibly surprise as well as impress the reader, makes this a title you can’t ignore. That said however, please make sure you start at the beginning or confusion without the full reading pleasure will only be a matter of time and a greater shame that the full reading experience will not be there.

Thursday 14 October 2010

SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: Engineman - Eric Brown

Release Date: 14/10/10

BOOK BLURB:

Once they pushed bigships through the cobalt glory of the Nada-Continuum. But faster than light isn’t fast enough anymore. The interfaces of the Keilor-Vincicoff Organisation bring planets light years distant a simple step away. Then a man with half a face offers ex-engineman Ralph Mirren the chance to escape his ruined life and push a ship to an undisclosed destination. The Nada-Continuum holds the key to Ralph’s
future. What he cannot anticipate is its universal importance – nor the mystery awaiting him on the distant colony world. Engineman is a thrilling action adventure by the author of Helix and Kethani. Also in this volume are nine stories set in the Engineman universe, including the Interzone award winning ‘The Time-Lapsed Man.'


REVIEW:

There’s no doubt that Eric Brown can spin a yarn in a similar way to a spider as they’re spinning their web and as similiarities go, it is pretty apt, as once within his arc, you’re pretty much trapped until the end. With a prolific amount of titles to his name, I know that the Science element is always going to be intriguing, that I’m going to get great characterisation alongside superb dialogue and you know that it’s a sure fire reader pleasing overload for your money.

Compiled within this offering by Solaris is the original engineman tale and the whole host of short stories associated with the universe that was originally published in magazines such as Interzone, REM and the Lyre. It’s definitely value for money, it’s definitely quality writing and above all else it’s the pace backed by the prose that will keep you coming back for more. A real gem.

CRIME FICTION REVIEW: Red Wolf - Liza Marklund

Release Date: 14/10/10

BOOK BLURB:

An Accidental Death? - Reporter Annika Bengtzon is working on the story of a devastating crime when she hears that a journalist investigating the same incident has been killed. It appears to be a hit-and-run accident. A Series of Murders - Several brutal killings follow - all linked by handwritten letters sent to the victims' relatives. When Annika unravels a connection with the story she's writing, she is thrown on to the trail of a deadly psychopath. The Hunt is On - Caught in a frenzied spiral of secrets and violence, Annika finds herself and her marriage at breaking point. Will her refusal to stop pursuing the truth eventually destroy her?


REVIEW:

Whilst a lot of the crime tales written by the English speaking world are becoming more predictable, foreign author’s are managing to not only carve their own bloody niche but create a real reading experience.

Here Liza Marklund takes the world of crime, throws in some politics alongside aspirations and delivers something unique. The characters are fresh, they have a believability about them and overall the story arc is more than satisfactory. Add plausible scenario’s, a fully realised leading lady alongside some no frill stark prose which leaves the reader into a sub world that scares the hell out of you.

It’s different, it’s gory and it’s definitely something that deserves to be turned into a film. A real gem of a title that will keep the reader up longer than you really should be, with the phrase of “just a few more pages” becoming a regular occurrence. Overall, don’t blame us if you’re too tired for work and please don’t tell the boss it was our fault for recommending this to you.

Wednesday 13 October 2010

SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: Gears of War: Anvil Gate - Karen Traviss

Release Date: 19/08/10

BOOK BLURB:

With the Locust Horde apparently destroyed, Jacinto's survivors have begun to rebuild human society on their island stronghold. Raiding pirate gangs take a toll - but it's nothing that Marcus Fenix and the Gears can't handle. Then the terrifying life-forms they thought they'd left behind - the Lambent, creatures even the Locust feared - begin to advance across the planet. Gears and gangs must fight side by side to stop their deadliest enemy yet, falling back on the savage tactics of another bloody siege: Anvil Gate.


REVIEW:

Fan’s of the Gears of War Games will have been chomping at the bit for the next offering which has sadly been delayed until next year. Our Spy who has been to and about and had a quick play has told us that it’s going to be phenomenal.

So whilst the rest of us are sadly having to wait, here’s a little something that might make you feel a little better, the next title in the book series by Karen Traviss.

Whilst I’m not the biggest fan of the author’s Star War’s series, I have to admit that she does GoW well. Readers will be more than pleased to hear that the fan’s favourite COG’s are back in action with the odds stacked against them firmly in the thick of things.

Its brutal, its got a body count and above all else it sets a blistering pace. Beautifully written it will occupy the reader and fill their Gear quota for a little while longer. Whilst you can join the series here, I’d only recommend this for the serious Gearheads, after all they know the backstory, they know what’s happening and they know the world. For those who’ve yet to pick up their weapons and join the fight, well you’ll get lost pretty quickly so if you want to start with the books pick up the first one. All in great fun and definitely something to keep you going.

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: Dead in the Family - Charlaine Harris

Release Date: 10/06/10

BOOK BLURB:

If you think your family relationships are complicated, think again: you haven't seen anything like the ones in Bon Temps, Louisiana. Sookie Stackhouse is dealing with a whole host of family problems, ranging from her own kin (a non-human fairy and a telepathic second cousin) demanding a place in her life, to her lover Eric's vampire sire, an ancient being, who arrives with Eric's 'brother' in tow at a most inopportune moment. And Sookie's tracking down a distant relation of her ailing neighbour (and ex), Vampire Bill Compton. In addition to the multitude of family issues complicating her life, the werewolf pack of Shreveport has asked Sookie for a special favour, and since Sookie is an obliging young woman, she agrees. But this favour for the wolves has dire results for Sookie, who is still recovering from the trauma of her abduction during the Fairy War.


REVIEW:

Fans of Sookie, be it from the TV series, True Blood, or from Charlaines established series will really love to get their hands/teeth upon this offering. As usual it has her instantly recognisable writing style backed up with a whole host of lead as well as supporting characters. Add to that great prose, wonderful dialogue and character growth that can be surprising as well as emotionally upsetting for the reader and you know that its definitely a book that is going to garner a reaction. Great stuff.

Tuesday 12 October 2010

ART BOOK REVIEW: Oil Painting for the Absolute Beginner - Mark and Mary Willenbrink

Release Date: 24/09/10

BOOK BLURB:

This title includes easy-to-follow techniques, tips and step-by-step demonstrations that provide guidance and encouragement for beginning artists to paint with oils. Familiar subjects, simple compositions and a realistic style build confidence in beginning artists giving them the skills they need to create finished oil paintings. The reader will enjoy the 10 mini demonstrations and 12 complete painting demonstrations. The bonus DVD features a complete painting workshop with the authors.


REVIEW:

To a lot of people, art has always been something that completely escapes them, not that they don’t have an interest but the question of where to begin feels to big a piece for them to tackle. Looking at it in the perspective of a mountain that has to be moved rather than looking for the first rock and going from there.

What Mark and Mary do in this title is break it all down into manageable chunks so that the reader has a chance to get started and begin to get their own footing into the world of oil painting. This title covers everything from gathering your materials (which includes help setting you up with paints alongside brushes and easel etc.) through to some basic art principles so that you can break your subject down and make a start. Add practical techniques and then step by step guides to some paintings and you can see how it all begins to work and gather a useful set of skills to begin learning on your own. Finally add a comprehensive DVD to help and its pretty much an ideal tutor.

All in, I found this a great book, it was informative, the subject matter was easily broken down and comprehensive to understand and I’ve gained a few new skills (alongside some paint stains on clothing) to begin my own exploration. It’s a great way to get started and if I’m honest will open the way so that many people can start to create their own artwork which will make ideal presents for friends and family.

SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: Mass Effect: Retribution - Drew Karpyshyn

Release Date: 19/08/10

BOOK BLURB:

Humanity has reached the stars, joining the vast galactic community of alien species. But beyond the fringes of explored space lurk the Reapers, a race of sentient starships bent on 'harvesting' the galaxy's organic species for their own dark purpose. The Illusive Man, leader of the pro-human black ops group Cerberus, is one of the few who know the truth about the Reapers. To ensure humanity's survival, he launches a desperate plan to uncover the enemy's strengths - and weaknesses - by studying someone implanted with modified Reaper technology. He knows the perfect subject for his horrific experiments: former Cerberus operative Paul Grayson, who wrested his daughter from the cabal's control with the help of Ascension project director Kahlee Sanders. But when Kahlee learns that Grayson is missing, she turns to the only person she can trust: Alliance war hero Captain David Anderson. Together they set out to find the secret Cerberus facility where Grayson is being held. But they aren't the only ones after him. And time is running out.


REVIEW:

Having read the original Mass Effect novel I looked forward to reading the next one. So whilst I haven’t currently played the games, I’m a least clued up on what’s what in order to make the most of this title.

Drew is perhaps best known for his forays into various established series, I do have a weakness for well written science fiction that is more character driven rather than science. Don’t get me wrong, I admit that the hard science does have a place but when you start dealing in complex jargon I don’t have a clue what they’re going on about and I’m the type that’s more than willing to accept that the technology does work in order to enjoy the story.

All in a fun excursion to an alternate universe with great characters and of course some serious action. Great stuff.

Monday 11 October 2010

FANTASY REVIEW: Legend of Eli Monpress 1: Spirit Thief - Rachel Aaron

Release Date: 07/10/10

BOOK BLURB:

Eli Monpress is talented. He's charming. And he's a thief. But not just any thief. He's the greatest thief of the age - and he's also a wizard. And with the help of his partners - a swordsman with the most powerful magic sword in the world but no magical ability of his own, and a demonseed who can step through shadows and punch through walls - he's going to put his plan into effect. The first step is to increase the size of the bounty on his head, so he'll need to steal some big things. But he'll start small for now. He'll just steal something that no one will miss - at least for a while. Like a king.


REVIEW:

Fantasy is often a genre that takes itself way to seriously, so it’s always enjoyable when you find an author that takes a step into the imagination and turns conventions upon themselves. IN part this title has similarities between Karen Miller’s (aka KE Mills) Rogue Agent Series and the Gentlemen Bastards of Scott Lynch fame. It’s definitely quirky, it’s got some great characters and the way in which the world is built really will give the reader a great experience. Finally back that up with some top notch story arc, some great dialogue and a rogue hero who you’ll just love to hang out with and I look forward to seeing where Rachel will take the series.