Thursday 30 June 2011

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:
02/06/11 HILL, Joe - Horns
09/06/11 DEL TORO, Guillermo and HOGAN, Chuck - The Fall
09/06/11 GLUKOVSKY, Dmitry - Metro 2033
09/06/11 McNEILL, Graham - The Chapters Due
09/06/11 NOVIK, Naomi - The Tongue of Serpents
09/06/11 ODEN, Scott - The Lion of Cario
09/06/11 REYNOLDS, Alastair - Terminal World
09/06/11 WOODING, Chris - The Black Lung Captain

16/06/11 ANDERSON, Kevin J - The Map of All Things

If we've missed one please let us know,


URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: Hit List - Laurell K Hamilton

Release Date: 07/06/11


A serial killer is hunting the Pacific Northwest, murdering victims in a gruesome and spectacular way. The local police suspect monsters are involved, and have called in Anita Blake and Edward, US Marshals who really know their monsters, to catch the killer. But some monsters are very real. The Harlequin have been the bogeymen of the vampire world for more than a thousand years; they are a secret so dark that even to speak their name can earn you a death sentence. Now they are here in America, hunting weretigers, and human police. The Harlequin serve the Mother of All Darkness, the first vampire. She was supposed to be dead, but only her body was destroyed. Now she needs a new one, and she's decided that Anita Blake's is the body she wants. Edward thinks the serial killings are a trap to lure Anita closer to the most dangerous vampire they've ever hunted. The vampires call Edward Death, and Anita the Executioner, but Mommy Darkest is coming to kill one, and possess the other, and she doesn't care how many others have to die along the way.


OK, to be honest I used to be a fan of the Anita Blake series, then I was hit by book 13 and started to wonder what the hell happened. Since then I’ve followed the series and prayed that Anita would make a break from the mattress and fresh wipes and get back the serious business of being “The Executioner”, but, as each tales developed it really does feel that all that seems to happen is that Anita gets mind blowing orgasmic sex about twenty times a day, the plots thrown out the window and the interesting arc is pretty much sorted out in about five or six pages.

Luckily in this title there’s only the one sex scene but a lot of the recurring themes are starting to get a little repetitive so much so that a lot of the readers will be able to say it with me. Anita questions her principles, Anita gets a new addition, Anita gets mind-blowing sex, Anita fights supreme evil (Mommy Dark), Anita wins, title swiftly wraps up.

All in this series did start out with so much promise, however as its progressed it has sadly started trying to shock the reader and catered to a minority and as such has now sadly suffered. If it doesn’t pick up soon, a certain “Executioner” needs a trip to the headsman themselves which, all in is a sad ending.

FANTASY REVIEW: Dragon's Time - Anne and Todd McCaffrey

Release Date: 23/06/11


Although Lorana cured the dragons' sickness so many died from the disease that there are no longer enough dragons to fight the deadly Thread, and more dragons and their riders die each Threadfall. With their numbers dwindling, Lorana made the decision to fly forward in time in a desperate bid to bring dragons from the future to fight Thread. She knew that jumping so far in time would result in her losing her baby, but without her jump all life on Pern is doomed. Back at Telgar Weyr Fiona, Kindan and T'mar realise what Lorana has done. They are desperately sad, but two things give them hope. The first is that Fiona is expecting twins, and the second the fact that all the dragonriders are exhausted, a sign that they are Timing it - existing elsewhere in space and time - which gives them hope that Lorana has found a way through time to help them. Sure enough, led by messages left for them by Lorana, they fly through space to the Dawn Sisters, the ships hanging in space that brought their ancestors to Pern. From there they look down at the beautiful planet and see a previously undiscovered continent - this is where they are Timing it and where they are reunited with Lorana. Now they can increase the number and strength of the dragons before going back to their own time to fight Thread. Although Lorana found she couldn't break time, she has found a way to cheat it.


Whilst this series is relatively new, to be honest I’m not the biggest fan of the McCaffrey’s style of storytelling, yes its an inventive land, yes it has all the right elements to keep fantasy readers happy on paper, but for me it’s still sticking within the original remit of the stories that were originally started back in the 60’s. Yes you get a sense of comfort from going back to basics buts that just it.

For me fantasy writing has moved on and rather than the plain a-b journey the reader likes something a little more complex these days, they love politics to confuse the issues, they love threats of life and limb and writers who play for keeps and whilst there will always be a place in many people’s hearts for the older tales, they need something to help keep them fresh for the readers memories, something that allows the reader to form new stronger bonds to the worlds in which they visit and to be honest that’s just not present in this series for me. Which sadly left me feeling slightly cheated which, all in, was a great shame as I really had hoped for something spectacular.

Wednesday 29 June 2011

CRIME REVIEW: The Quarry - Johan Theorin

Release Date: 23/06/11


As the last snow melts on the Swedish island of Öland, Per Morner is preparing for his children’s Easter visit. But his plans are disrupted when he receives a phone call from his estranged father, Jerry, begging for help.

Per finds Jerry close to death in his blazing woodland studio. He’s been stabbed, and two dead bodies are later discovered in the burnt-out building.

The only suspect, Jerry’s work partner, is confirmed as one of the dead. But why does Jerry insist his colleague is still alive? And why does he think he’s still a threat to his life?

When Jerry dies in hospital a few days later, Per becomes determined to find out what really happened. But the closer he gets to the truth, the more danger he finds himself in.

And nowhere is more dangerous than the nearby quarry...


I love a good crime story and whilst it’s the exotic and unusual that attract the majority of readers, its refreshing to get one that goes back to good old fashioned basics to present the reader with a story motivated mystery that can have echo’s with true crime.

What makes the genre particularly exciting for me currently is the influx of Scandinavian authors who not only devote the time to crafting meticulous stories but also present the reader with a whole landscape to envisage that is as hard as those decended from the original inhabitants. What works very well with this title by Johan is the characters who endear themselves to the reader, in this case, I had a particular affinity to Gerlof Davidson, who whilst he wasn’t the story linchpin was a cast member to helped make this story more than memorable.

Add to this a wonderfully flowing translation from the original language, a great plot line alongside a whole host of characters that I’d like to meet and it’s a story that really will create something special for the reader. Back that up with a wonderful sense of prose alongside decent dialogue and it’s easy to see why, in crime circles, the ancient warning again echoes throughout the land “The Scandinavians are coming…”

SCIENCE FICTION REISSUE: Fugue for a Darkening Island - Christopher Priest

Release Date: 09/06/11


Survivors of a terrible African war flee their blighted continent, and look for refuge in the countries of the West. But Britain is falling into civil war and anarchy. One of Christopher Priest's earliest novels, FUGUE FOR A DARKENING ISLAND is a powerful work whose subject matter has become increasingly relevant in recent years.


When you get the chance to go back and sample an established authors earlier titles you are either heavily delighted or disappointed that its not quite met the standards of later titles. Why people fall into one of these two camps I’m not sure but its something I’ve observed on more than one occasion. Whilst this one doesn’t have quite the polish or character development of later works such as The Extremes or The Quiet Woman, the concepts and dystopian ideas are present in this, his second novel.

As you’d come to expect its well written, the plot line thought provoking which when blended with what I term as a distinct vocal idiom really hooks the reader into this disturbing vision. Add to this decent dialogue some great twists and this really is a title that’s hard to put down. Hopefully more will get to enjoy this title and develop their love for his work from there.

Tuesday 28 June 2011

INTERVIEW: Jenn Bennett

Here at Falcata Times, we love to bring you an author's debut whenever possible. Originally we heard about Jenn from Blog Friend Suzanne McLeod, who let us know that this lady was one to watch.

So without futher ado we give you to (or throw to the wolves or in the case of her protagonist, demons) if you prefer) Jenn Bennett who chats to us about classic Horror film references, hot bartenders and about getting to do what you love...

Falcata Times: Writing is said to be something that people are afflicted with rather than gifted and that it's something you have to do rather than want. What is your opinion of this statement and how true is it to you?

Jenn Bennett: "Affliction" is pretty dead-on. I come from a creative background, having studied art/painting in college and grad school. Painting was always something I wanted to do; I enjoyed it, was good at it, but when I wasn't painting, it didn't bother me. When I'm not writing, I go a little insane. Okay, a *lot* insane.

FT: When did you realise that you wanted to be a writer?

JB: Two years ago, I was working in creative development for a mid-sized American company, and I was utterly miserable. During lunch with my coworkers, my boss asked us all what we'd be doing if we weren't working there --- our dream job. "Author" popped out of my mouth before I could think about it too much. A few months later I wrote my first novel.

FT: It is often said that if you can write a short story you can write anything. How true do you think this is and what have you written that either proves or disproves this POV?

JB: I've never written short fiction. Does that make me less cool? Probably. I have a few ideas for novellas, but I'm not sure if I'd want to write something shorter than that. It seems too . . . restrictive.

FT: If someone were to enter a bookshop, how would you persuade them to try your novel over someone else's and how would you define it?

JB: I would most likely try to woo them with humor. Urban fantasy tends to sound rather silly when you try to explain it to strangers . . .

FT: How would you "sell" your book in 20 words or less?

JB: The "official" 20-word sell from my publisher would be this:
A magician and daughter of accused serial killers must clear their names—or pay for their crimes with her life.

However, my personal (overly excited) version would be this:
Occult societies! Earthbound demons in human bodies! Ceremonial magick! Tiki bars! A Hellfire Club! Classic horror movie references! Unconventional romance!

FT: Who is a must have on your bookshelf and whose latest release will find you on the bookshops doorstep waiting for it to open?

JB: Kim Harrison's Rachel Morgan series is an auto-buy for me, but I'll always, always get Diana Gabaldon books on the day they release because I'm addicted to her characters and they feel like old friends.

FT: When you sit down and write do you know how the story will end or do you just let the pen take you? ie Do you develop character profiles and outlines for your novels before writing them or do you let your idea's develop as you write?

JB: I've been both a Plotter and a Seat-of-my-Pantser. The more I write, the less I prefer to start with an outline. I find the story to be more exciting when I allow myself to be spontaneous. Knowing the main characters, setting, and a general idea of how I want it to end is enough for me. However, at a certain point in the middle of the book, I start making a roadmap that takes me a few chapters ahead. Nothing strict --- just something to help me keep track of loose threads.

FT: What do you do to relax and what have you read recently?

JB: My favorite way to relax is treating myself to acupuncture; I'm a big fan of being stuck with tiny needles. If I could afford it, I'd get it done weekly. But I also like to cook and play with my pugs, go to movies…typical stuff. As far as what I've read recently, I'm always reading. Every day. I'm currently reading The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. I recently re-read several F. Scott Fitzgerald books, Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins, and the latest copy of Bon Appetite magazine. I'm all over the place as a reader.

FT: What is your guiltiest pleasure that few know about?

JB: Sitting in the reserved handicap seats in the movie theatre. I would never sit there if a disabled person needed them, mind you, but they're usually empty and they have lots of room to stretch out.

FT: Lots of writers tend to have pets. What do you have and what are their key traits (and do they appear in your novel in certain character attributes?)

JB: I have two dogs: purebred pugs. They are a huge burden and super-bad, and half the time I wish I could buy them bus tickets to Mexico and never see them again. But then they do something adorable and I'm a sucker. I'm not sure if any of my characters possess their traits or not…possibly a character named Jupiter, who is the teenage son of my book's hero.

FT: Which character within your latest book was the most fun to write and why?

JB: That would be Jupiter again. He's 14, geeky, chatty, and cocky. That's a bad combination, but he pulls it off. After I wrote the book from my protagonist's POV, Arcadia, I almost wished I would've written it from Jupiter's. Maybe one day I'll get to write a teen series with him as the hero. That would be a blast.

FT: How similar to your principle protagonist are you?

JB: Arcadia keeps a lot of secrets. I think that's about the only thing we have in common. If I was a hot bartender living in coastal California who could make magical elixirs and summon demons, I wouldn't be a writer, that's for sure.

FT: What hobbies do you have and how do they influence your work?

JB: As I've already mentioned, I'm an artist, so there's that. I also have a collector's mentality, so I like to shop for curios and vintage finds in antique shops and flea markets. I cook (rather well) and I'm very interested in food science and experimentation. I like to travel, and have a soft spot for All Things Scandinavian, because my mother's family is from Sweden, and Germany, because that's where I was born. I like museums and aquariums and amusement parks, and I used to spend a lot of time going to concerts but I'm getting old and cranky about standing for long periods of time, and I detest inhaling stale cigarette smoke. I think all of my interests weave their way into my books in one capacity or another.

FT: Where do you get your idea's from?

JB: Everywhere. Anything is fodder for writing.

FT: Do you ever encounter writers block and if so how do you overcome it?

JB: Never from a lack of things to write about, or a lack of ideas. The only thing that stops me from writing is a lack of confidence in what I'm doing. I can write half a book and think it's the best thing in the world, then hit a point where I consider tossing it and starting something new. It often takes multiple pep-talks from my husband to get me to change my mind and get back on track.

FT: Certain authors are renowned for writing at what many would call uncivilised times. When do you write and how do the others in your household feel about it?

JB: Ideally, I prefer to write from midnight to nine in the morning --- which I often do when I'm trying to finish a project. But it's hard to stay on that schedule when the rest of the world is living in daylight. My husband works in the day, but he's very tolerant of my kooky schedules.

FT: Sometimes pieces of music seem to influence certain scenes within novels, do you have a soundtrack for your tale or is it a case of writing in silence with perhaps the odd musical break in-between scenes?

JB: I cannot listen to music and write --- period. I need quiet or I'm distracted. I listen to music in my car or on my iPod when I'm not writing, and I have very eclectic tastes.

FT: What misconceptions, if any, did you have about the writing and publishing field when you were first getting started?

JB: The biggest misconception I had was that things would get magically get easier once I had a publishing contract. Wrong! Now I have a whole new set of things to worry over, people to please, battles to fight. Publishing is a strange business and it moves slower than a snail. If you are an impatient person who doesn't like being in the dark about details of your career, publishing is not for you.

FT: If music be the food of love, what do you think writing is and please explain your answer?

JB: Dear God, I have no idea! Writing is a solitary act, and I think the only thing it feeds is a writer's ego, which is invariably enormous, no matter how humble and nice they seem.

FT: What can you tell us about the next novel?

JB: The second book in the Arcadia Bell series is called Summoning the Night, and it comes out April 2012. It takes place a few weeks after the events of the first book, and centers on something horrible and creepy happening around Halloween.

FT: What are the last five internet sites that you've visited?

JB: An etymology dictionary,, an online Hermetic library, a site about blasting rock with explosives to create monuments (research for the book I'm currently writing), and Twitter.

FT: Did you ever take any writing classes or specific instructions to learn the craft? If so please let us know which ones.

JB: I think I took some general creative writing classes in college, but nothing intensive, and it was too long ago to remember. I mainly learned by trial and error and reading good books. I filled in the details by absorbing any information I could find on blogs about the craft written by literary agents, editors, and other writers.

FT: How did you get past the initial barriers of criticism and rejection?

JB: Sheer tenaciousness. All creative people face rejection, but the rejection that aspiring authors face is like nothing I'd ever experienced. It's a tough, tough business, and you've got to be willing to look at your work objectively and realize that sometimes you're just going to screw up and fail. You can either dust yourself off and try again, or you can stop writing. (And if you can stop, you're probably better off doing something else anyway; I couldn't stop.)

FT: In your opinion, what are the best and worst aspects of writing for a living?

JB: Best: getting to do what you love. Worst: not being able to eat at expensive restaurants anymore.

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: Arcadia Bell 1: Kindling the Moon - Jenn Bennett

Release Date: 28/06/11


Being the spawn of two infamous occultists (and alleged murderers) isn’t easy, but freewheeling magician Arcadia “Cady” Bell knows how to make the best of a crummy situation. After hiding out for seven years, she’s carved an incognito niche for herself slinging drinks at the demon-friendly Tambuku Tiki Lounge.

But she receives an ultimatum when unexpected surveillance footage of her notorious parents surfaces: either prove their innocence or surrender herself. Unfortunately, the only witness to the crimes was an elusive Æthyric demon, and Cady has no idea how to find it. She teams up with Lon Butler, an enigmatic demonologist with a special talent for sexual spells and an arcane library of priceless stolen grimoires. Their research soon escalates into a storm of conflict involving missing police evidence, the decadent Hellfire Club, a ruthless bounty hunter, and a powerful occult society that operates way outside the law. If Cady can’t clear her family name soon, she’ll be forced to sacrifice her own life . . . and no amount of running will save her this time.


New authors have a lot to prove with their debut, after all you never get a second chance to make a first impression so they tend to come out swinging. Some are heavy hitters, some are all bravado and some punch well above their weight. Of the three, Jenn Bennett definitely fits into the last category as this debut is one of the most spectacular of the year to date. There’s a lead character who has emotional as well as literal demons to deal with in this fast paced action packed outing.

Add to this a lead character who whilst not the all action girl that many authors like to go for, certain knows how to protect herself to a certain degree but isn’t above asking others for help as dark secrets from her own past emerge to be dealt with in the cold light of day. Finally add to this some wonderful prose, great dialogue and a good helping of sleight of hand which overall makes for a very pleasing title, especially when you consider this a debut, it’s going to be a very interesting ride for this new author and I’ll await the next book with eager anticipation.

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: Nekropolis 3: Dark War - Tim Waggoner

Release Date: 02/06/11


Meet Matt Richter. Private Eye. Zombie.

From his first arrival in the deathless city of Nekropolis, ex-cop Richter has found himself embroiled in disputes with the city’s vampiric rulers, shapeshifters, golems and other monstrosities. But Nothing has prepared him for the Dark War.

Discover the explosive third book in the Matt Richter series, the stunning follow up to Nekropolis and Dead Streets.


What do you get when you cross film noir, urban fantasy and a good (or bad depending on how you look at it) helping of humour? Well you get this far out creation from Tim Waggoner featuring Zombie Gumshoe, Matt Richter whose hard line is disconcerting in a world full of monsters.

Add to this some great twists, a cracking world for the character to tread the beat and it’s all in a very satisfactory read. What Tim brings to the genre is mystery with some great twists, a wickedly twisted sense of humour and an imagination that were the project to be filmed could well break a film studio. All in a great read and one that the only real downside was the cliff hanger ending which spells a more imminent problem for our detective hero and those he works with. Great stuff.

Monday 27 June 2011

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: Kitty Norville 6: Kitty Raises Hell - Carrie Vaughan

Release Date: 09/06/11


TOO DARN HOT! Kitty and Ben thought they were done with Las Vegas, but it's beginning to looks like Vegas isn't done with them. A sadistic cult of lycanthropes and their vampire priestess have laid a curse on Kitty, revenge for her disrupting their rituals, and now an invisible evil that smells like brimstone and plays with fire has followed them home. The next full moon triggers danger and destruction in the form of fire, and it's not just targeting Kitty, but the pack of werewolves she's sworn to protect. Kitty needs help if she's going to be able to extinguish the terror that's threatening to torch them all!


Having missed out on this book first time round, I really felt lucky to get it now as I absolutely love the Kitty Norville series. What you get with this series is a sassy heroine who whilst tougher than the average hero (due to her supernatural side) backs that up with humour, likeability and of course an unnerving need to get to the bottom of any mystery thrown her way.

Add to this Carrie’s trademark snappy prose, cracking one liner’s and of course a storyline that will keep you glued to the last page. Yes there’s a body count, yes there’s danger but best of all it’s a story that really will keep you up to the midnight hour.

URBAN FANTASY REVISIT REVIEW: Kitty Norville 1 and 2: Kitty and the Midnight Hour and Kitty Goes to Washington - Carrie Vaughn

Release Date: 09/06/11


Kitty Norville is a midnight-shift DJ for a Denver radio station - and she also happens to be a werewolf. One night, sick of the usual lame song requests, she accidentally starts 'The Midnight Hour', a late-night advice show for the supernaturally disadvantaged. Almost immediately she's deluged by calls from desperate vampires, werewolves and witches from all across the country, wanting to share their woes and ask her advice. Kitty's new show is a raging success, but it's Kitty herself who could use some help, not least because her monthly change is a deep and dark secret to all but a very special few. And when she finds one very sexy werewolf-hunter on her tail, not to mention a few homicidal undead, she realises she may just may have bitten off more than she can chew . . .


OK, I admit it, I've come late to Carries writing and to be honest I really don't think that it's a bad thing. Whilst others have been struggling and counting down the days, waiting for each successive story I've managed to just waltz in, sit down and enjoy a day or two of pure book gluttony. As this merry little series has poured through my fingers leaving me with no sense of time. Its been a treat to enjoy the books this way and as such its something I can recommend for others.

Book One, if you'll pardon the pun, throws the reader to the wolves, literally and as such through the careful use of Kitties Radio show allows the reader to get a real feel for the world as a whole with Kitty being the type of character that is the only one really suited to guide you through. Whilst not a combat driven character she does learn to handle herself and generally allows her smart mouth to get her out of trouble (even though 9 times out of 10 it puts her into even hotter water.) Witty, personable and above all a flirt, Kitty is going to become a big star in the Urban Fantasy series and one that I suspect will become the model for many others.

Release Date: 09/06/11


Celebrity werewolf and late-night radio host Kitty Norville prefers to be heard and not seen, but when she's invited to testify at a Senate hearing on behalf of the country's supernaturals, her face gets plastered all over national TV. Before long Kitty's inherited a brand-new set of friends and enemies, including the vampire mistress of the city, an uber-hot Brazilian were-jaguar, and a Bible-thumping senator who plans to expose Kitty as the monster he truly believes her to be. Kitty quickly learns that in this city of dirty politicians and backstabbing pundits, everyone's itching for a fight - and she's about to be caught in the middle.


The Second novel in Carries Supernatural series and one that now that we've been introduced properly in book one, really doesn't pull any punches as the tale unwinds. Elements that were floating round in the first novel come back to haunt this second allowing for a bigger picture as well as allowing us to explore the world further.

Idealistic, entertaining and above all a pleasurable way to burn up sometime I'd recommend that you get a bottle of your favourite drink in as you're going to have a hard time putting this novel down. Great stuff.

Reviews are from earlier readings when reported in PDF format.

Sunday 26 June 2011

CRIME THRILLER REVIEW: Fun and Games - Duane Swierczynski

Release Date: 23/06/11


By suffocation: 3,300
By poisoning: 8,600


Ex-cop Charlie Hardie's latest job is guarding an isolated mansion in LA's Hollywood Hills. But it comes with an unwanted guest - a D-list actress who says she's being hunted by professional hitmen.

Charlie thinks she's just high and paranoid.

But he's wrong.

The killers are real.
They've tracked her to the house.
And they're not letting anyone out alive.


The second book release from the newly formed Mulholland Books and one that demonstrates that they’re not prepared to take prisoners. This title is high octane from start to finish, it’s outspoken, it has solid lead characters and when backed with solid spartanesque prose it’s a title that is all about the journey of survival without any fancy twiddly bits.

Add to this that it makes no bones about being a crime survival story from start to finish and whilst the lead male character takes knock after knock it’s a title that would translate well to the big screen. Finally, if you want a story that is gripping, has similarities to a Jack Reacher or Joe Hunter, but pulls no punches with a hero who believes that any which way you can survive is acceptable, then this title is definitely one for you. Great stuff.

HISTORICAL FICTION ROMANCE REVIEW: The Smythe-Smith Quartet 1: Just Like Heaven - Julia Quinn

Release Date: 02/06/11


Honoria Smythe-Smith, the youngest daughter of the eldest son of the Earl of Winstead, plays the violin in the annual musicale performed by the Smythe-Smith quartet. She's well aware that they are dreadful. In fact, she freely admits (to her cousins) that she is probably the worst of the bunch. But she's the sort who figures that nothing good will come of being mortified, so she puts on a good show and laughs about it. Marcus Holroyd is the best friend of Honoria's brother Daniel, who lives in exile out of the country. He's promised to watch out for Honoria and takes his responsibility very seriously. But he has his work cut out for him when Honoria sets off for Cambridge determined to marry by the end of the season. She's got her eye on the only unmarried Bridgerton, who's a bit wet behind the ears. When her advances are spurned, can Marcus swoop in and steal her heart in time for the musicale?


OK, this title was a complete surprise for me when it landed. I don’t usually read this type of book and when it was sent as part of a book gift bag from the publisher I thought, what the hell give it a go.

All in I wasn’t impressed, whilst the concept seemed pretty decent the execution felt a little flat, almost half-hearted with the comedic moments overly staged just to fit them in. Add to this a lead character that didn’t really step beyond the pages, dialogue that felt forced and overall a story arc that felt padded from the outset.

Whilst this title wasn’t for me, I have heard from friends who are fans of Julia’s titles that this isn’t her finest and whilst this was an ordinary release I’d have been better had I started with something like An Offer from a Gentleman. To sum up, this title was distinctly uninspiring and a disappointing let down all round, almost like a soufflé that didn’t rise, you know it had the right ingredients but sadly something went wrong in the baking.

Saturday 25 June 2011

URBAN FANTASY CRIME REVIEW: Curse Workers 2: Red Glove - Holly Black

Release Date: 16/06/11


Cassel has discovered the dark secret of his past, the secret that set him apart from his family. Now he must take his new knowledge and his new powers out into the world. A dark and twisting contemporary fantasy set in a beautifully rendered, subtly different world this is a wonderfully nuanced and involving fantasy, at once melancholy, ironic and terrifying. It is perfect for fans of Neil Gaiman.


Having enjoyed Holly’s writing for years, it is with great delight when I read the first of the Curse Workers series last year, so when I had the chance to get ahead with the second book I really couldn’t wait, after all the world was inventive, there were great powers for the magic users and whilst there were huge benefits for utilising your power, many came with great costs.

Add to this a lead character who the readers can get behind, who whilst he’s unsure of himself to a certain degree as he knows that his powers were abused by family members, Cassel disguises his gift with humour as well as cunning. As usual with Holly’s writing, the pace is decent, the dialogue is addictive and when backed with mysterious overall arc it’s a series that will soon become ingrained in the readers psyche. Great stuff.

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: Newsflesh 2: Deadline - Mira Grant

Release Date: 02/06/11


Shaun Mason is a man without a mission. Not even running the news organisation he built with his sister has the same urgency as it used to. Playing with dead things just doesn't seem as fun when you've lost as much as he has. But when a researcher from the Centre for Disease Control fakes her own death and appears on his doorstep with a ravenous pack of zombies in tow, Shaun's relieved to find a new purpose in life. Because this researcher comes bearing news: the monster who attacked them may be destroyed, but the conspiracy is far from dead. Now, Shaun hits the road to find what truth can be found at the end of a shotgun.


OK, so you’re in downtime for the next Romero film, you’ve read pretty much every zombie book out there (even the one about a Zombie Autopsy) and are looking for something new, something novel and something pretty epic that will glut you fuller than a zombie at an all you can eat brain buffet. So what are you going to do?

Well, have you heard of Mira Grant? You haven’t? You mean you missed that original release of Feed (reviewed here)?

Worry no longer then, for Mira Grant (aka Seanan McGuire) is back with a vengeance in this, her second novel in the Newsflesh trilogy which has something for everyone. You want conspiracy, yep, you want some top zombie action, you’ve got that as well and if you want high octane action blended with hyper charged sexual tension, well you’ve got that thrown into the mix.

All in this title is a satisfactory addition to the Zombie genre and one that the reader will thrill, chill and perhaps even spill to get their hands upon. A great offering and one that really will please that inner zombie. BBbbbbrrrraaaiiiinnnnsssss.

Friday 24 June 2011

SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: Blackout - Connie Willis

Release Date:


Oxford in 2060 is a chaotic place, with scores of time-traveling historians being sent into the past. Michael Davies is prepping to go to Pearl Harbor. Merope Ward is coping with a bunch of bratty 1940 evacuees and trying to talk her thesis adviser into letting her go to VE-Day. Polly Churchill’s next assignment will be as a shopgirl in the middle of London’s Blitz. But now the time-travel lab is suddenly canceling assignments and switching around everyone’s schedules. And when Michael, Merope, and Polly finally get to World War II, things just get worse. For there they face air raids, blackouts, and dive-bombing Stukas—to say nothing of a growing feeling that not only their assignments but the war and history itself are spiraling out of control. Because suddenly the once-reliable mechanisms of time travel are showing significant glitches, and our heroes are beginning to question their most firmly held belief: that no historian can possibly change the past.


Whilst Connie has written other titles previous to this one, this was my first “journey” with her and as such I love the concepts, characters as well as overall arc, yes it moved slowly in places but that added to the atmosphere and confusion of the time period which felt to me like it added a touch more authenticity to the piece. Whilst this is the first part of one huge book (the second currently is down for release in October) it does take the reader on a journey of discovery, enlightenment and personal evolvement for the characters concerned who, while they do not all gel together allows the reader to understand as well as discover the full beauty of this title.

It has something for everyone and while a few may claim that it wasn’t quite up to her previous titles, I think judgment has to be held off until the second title is released in order to gain the full picture. I really can’t wait to see what she has in store.

SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: Avery Cates 5: The Final Evolution - Jeff Somers

Release Date: 16/06/11


The world is dying. With avatars replacing humans and the birth rate non-existent, the human race is almost extinct. Only one man could save it - and it's not Avery Cates. In the end, it comes down to Canny Orel, Avery's long sought after nemesis - transformed now into something other than human - and Cates. And when Cates chances on a way to trick the advantage away from the old master, he suddenly has a choice to make: get his long-delayed revenge, or save the world.


Having originally come across Jeff as a recommendation from Lilith Saintcrow I was more than pleasantly surprised at the depth of character, the rich world building and of course the depth of human depravity to which the world has sunk. It’s cleverly constructed and with so many positive lead characters in the literary world, its always refreshing to have the antihero at the centre of the story.

Over the series Avery has battled his way through, struggled for each breath and come damn close to death a number of times. Yet whilst realising that there were only so many stories to which a hero can lead it was always going to be interesting to see which way Jeff would take it. Here, everything collides in this fast paced Sci-Fi thriller as old enemies are at the centre as Avery struggles against the odds, the enemies and himself.

All in, with solid pace, good prose and cracking characterisation is a tale that readers of the series will devour and love to pieces. Great stuff and it’s with a sadness to see Avery’s last adventure as it really has been a highlight from start to finish.

Thursday 23 June 2011


Release Date: 12/05/11


‘The decision to publish this book has been very difficult, and taken with heavy hearts … My reason for writing it is simple: to give an account of the truth … Writing this memoir has entailed recording some very personal, intimate and emotional aspects of our lives. Sharing these with strangers does not come easily to me, but if I hadn’t done so I would not have felt the book gave as full a picture as it is possible for me to give. As with every action we have taken over the last four years, it ultimately boils down to whether what we are doing could help us to find Madeleine. When the answer to that question is yes, or even possibly, our family can cope with anything …

What follows is an intensely personal account, and I make no apology for that …

Nothing is more important to us than finding our little girl.’

Kate McCann, May 2011

‘It is a sad fact that not a single police force anywhere is proactively looking for Madeleine (as is the case for many other missing children). I am sure this book will re-energize the search for our daughter and the public will get behind the Find Madeleine campaign once again. It is simply not acceptable that the authorities have given up on Madeleine – especially when no comprehensive review of the case has been undertaken. Our daughter, and whoever took her, are out there. We need your help to find them.’

Gerry McCann, May 2011


This title has been a hard one to review due to the complex issues raised within and due to the media attention the world over. Whether you think Madeleine’s parents are guilty or not of the crime that has yet to be proven in a court of law, it’s their version of events that led up to as well as after the disappearance of their daughter.

What this title will do however is counteract the book released by Gonçalo Amaral (the Portuguese Police Chief who led the investigation) entitled Maddie. La verità della menzogna. First of all the main problem that I have with this book by Kate is that it didn’t do anything to change my POV to the case prior to reading this, in fact in places some of the issues raised did lead to more questions and whilst the title did put forward a chain of events that they believe happened it did leave me wondering exactly how carefully this book has been viewed by lawyers as there is no real emotion behind it, presenting more a staged front rather than an account from the heart.

Add to this randomisation to the title where one minute she’s on one thread and then switches into a huge piece of text about someone else, the book could end up an unfinished coffee table piece rather than a title to put their point of view forward. All in an interesting read but as I’ve said it’s a title I feel won’t influence people’s thoughts on the case in one direction or the other.


Release Date: 23/06/11


1062, a time many fear is the End of Days. With the English King Edward heirless and ailing, across the grey seas in Normandy the brutal William the Bastard waits for the moment when he can drown England in a tide of blood. The ravens of war are gathering. But as the king's closest advisors scheme and squabble amongst themselves, hopes of resisting the naked ambition of the Norman duke come to rest with just one man: Hereward...To some a ruthless warrior and master tactician, to others a devil in human form, Hereward is as adept in the art of slaughter as the foes that gather to claim England's throne. But in his country's hour of greatest need, his enemies at Court have made him outlaw. To stay alive - and a freeman - he must carve a bloody swathe from the frozen hills of Northumbria to Flanders' fields and the fenlands of East Anglia. The tale of a man whose deeds will become the stuff of legend, this is also the story of two mismatched allies: Hereward the man of war, and Alric, a man of peace, a monk. One will risk everything to save the land he loves, the other to save his friend's soul...James Wilde's thrilling, action-packed debut rescues a great English hero from the darkest of times and brings him to brutal and bloody life.


With a huge amount of historical fiction titles currently being set around the 1066 mark, an author has to find something new to bring to the mix in order to generate memorable characters as well giving the reader a plot to keep them not only engrossed but thrilled and entertained throughout. Such is the volume of these titles to date that it’s a wonder that none of the characters have charged headlong into each other on the battlefield.

Currently in this muddied and historically rich period James Wilde strides with his debut title which takes the reader onto the battlefield with Hereward which, is a tale for the modern audience with a tip of the hat and homage to the 1963 Victor Comic (Hereward the Wake, Saxon Chief) as well as Charles Kingsley’s Hereward the Wake published in 1865. Whilst the title is all of the authors devising it’s one that will thrill the modern audience from its hard-line bloodthirsty opening that sets the tone of the story (which incidentally has a very Gemmellesque feeling due to its Waylander type opening.)

All in the story moves at a wonderful pace, the combat is clearly thought out and with Howardesque touches, great swathes of bloodletting and overall kickass arc; it’s a title that for a debut will make one hell of an impact to the Historical Fiction audience which makes Wilde an author to keep an eye on and one to pick up now prior to the hype and for me would have been ideal holiday reading and if you happy to be in Hereward country one that would generate an exploration of the surrounding area in closer detail. Great stuff.

Wednesday 22 June 2011

HISTORICAL CRIME FICTION REVIEW: The Ghost of Lily Painter - Caitlin Davies

Release Date: 02/06/11


The first time Annie Sweet sees 43 Stanley Road, the house is so perfect she almost feels as though it has chosen her. She longs to move in, but with her husband seeming more distant, and her daughter wrapped up in her friends and new school, Annie is left alone to mull over the past. Soon she becomes consumed by the house and everyone who has lived there before her, especially a young chorus girl called Lily Painter, a rising star of the music hall whose sparkling performances were the talk of the town. As Annie delves further into Lily's past she begins to unravel a dark episode from Edwardian London, that of two notorious baby farmers, who lured young unmarried mothers with the promise of a better life for their babies. Until Annie solves the mystery at the heart of the scandal, the ghost of Lily Painter will never be able to rest. Based on a real period from London's rich history, Caitlin Davies skillfully blends fact and fiction to bring to life part of our sinister past. Spanning an entire century, from the journals of an Edwardian police inspector to a doomed wartime love affair, The Ghost of Lily Painter is an engrossing and poignant novel from a hugely talented writer.


If you love a story of investigation and discovery then this could be a title that you’ll love. Whilst many may feel that the title has a supernatural element to it, it is more a literal haunting of the modern cast member than a genuine haunting, where she becomes intrigued as well as fascinated with the occupants of her house from the 1901 census in particular the daughter, Lily Painter.

Its cleverly devised and whilst there is a trend to have a title set in more than one time period with two lead protagonists, it’s a title that works extremely well to help give the title a great sense of pace as well as allowing the reader to get the full flavour of the Edwardian period. All in the title is clever, haunting in its own respect and when the threads all collide it’s a title that will stay with you long after the final page is turned. Wonderful.

ALTERNATE SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: Afterblight Chronicles: America - Simon Spurrier, Rebecca Levene, Al Ewing

Release Date: 23/06/11


The Blight arose from nowhere. It swept across the bickering nations like The End of Times and spared only those with a single fortuitous blood type. Hot headed religion and territorial savagery rule the cities now. Somewhere amidst the chaos, however, there are groups of people fighting to survive. Heroes determined to create a better world. But can these warriors of the apocalypse hope to rediscover the humanity lost long ago in the blood and filth and horror of the Cull? The Afterblight Chronicles Omnibus features three action-packed novels set in a dangerous, broken America ruled by crazed gangs and strange cults.


A compendium of some of the earlier titles released in this apocalyptic Abaddon series which if you don’t already own will add something a little different for you to try. Whilst I usually prefer a number of these type titles to stick this side of the Atlantic, this book more than gives the reader a treat.

Add to this the chance to try three authors for one price, alongside value for money and the bliss of not having to wait for the next instalment and it’s a title that will generate a lot of interest. Finally, whilst a number of readers would clamour for the inclusion of zombies (which you’ll get if you select the companies Tomes of the Dead Series), it is a great to read the human struggle within. Top notch writing, top notch authors and to be honest a series that really has to be read to be believed.

Tuesday 21 June 2011

CRIME REVIEW: Now You See Me - SJ Bolton

Release Date: 26/05/11


Despite her fascination with Jack the Ripper, Detective Constable Lacey Flint has never worked a big case or seen a dead body up close. Until now...As she leaves a south London estate one night, she is horrified to find a woman has been viciously stabbed, right next to Lacey's car. Thrown headlong into her first murder hunt, Lacey's quiet life changes overnight. Then Lacey receives a familiar hand-delivered letter, written in red blood, and it is clear the police have a Ripper copycat on their hands. Lacey must be the bait if they are to prevent a second, brutal murder. But can this inexperienced DC outwit a killer whose infamous role model has never been found?...


I love a story that takes me on an adventure and when they also blend into it an almost mythical even at its centre then it’s a title that more than grabs my attention. Here, in her latest release, SJ brings Saucy Jack back (Jack the Ripper) and brings it bang up to date for the modern audience. Add to this some deliciously twisted events, a lot of careful planning and a masterful use of sleight of hand which will leave the reader gripping the pages wondering what will happen next.

All in when you back this up with solid prose, a fast paced plot as well as solid characterisation and it will leave the reader in no doubt that if you love a scare SJ knows what she’s doing which made this a title that I thoroughly enjoyed although to be honest I won’t be visiting certain districts of London any time soon.

FANTASY REVIEW: Shadow's Lure - Jon Sprunk

Release Date: US 21/06/11,
UK 21/07/11


Danger lurks in the unforgiving Northlands, and a sinister magic lurks in the shadows waiting for it's moment to strike. It's the worst place to be searching for something, even for an assassin with no loyalties and even fewer scruples ...In Othir, he was at the top of the food chain. An assassin beyond compare. A dark shadow in the night. But Caim left that life behind when he helped an empress claim her throne. And now his past has come calling again. Searching for the truth behind the murder and disappearance of his parents in the bitterly cold Northlands of his birth, Caim finds himself in a land in thrall to the Shadow. A wielder of the darkest kinds of blood magic imaginable holds his homeland in their iron fist, crushing all opposition beneath their tyrannous boot. Haunted by temptations from the Other Side, by turns in control of his magic and at the mercy of the Shadow, Caim becomes mired in a war he does not want to fight. But there are some things a son of the Shadow cannot ignore, and some battles from which he can't run. If Caim is going to survive - and if he's to uncover the truth about his own magic and his parent's death - then he is going to have to fight. But will his strength and skill be enough? Can anyone resist the Shadow's Lure ...?


Having enjoyed Jon’s first novel I really couldn’t wait to see what he’d do with a second outing in his fantastical world. What unfurled within is a tale that not only builds upon the success of the original but also allows the reader to become more involved with the principle hero as more of his dark past is revealed. It’s cleverly written, the characters pop from the page and above all else it’s the sense of fun and pace that really makes this a story worth the time of any fantasy reader. Whilst the original arrived to some mixed criticism, I’ve had an absolute blast and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a wonderfully woven story. Back that up with some decent prose, a twist of fate alongside some clever authorly magic and the reader really is in for something different which makes this also a great tale to help wean your reader from YA to full adult material.

Monday 20 June 2011

NEWS: David Gemmell Legend Award Winners Announced

This past weekend saw the world of fantasy collide in London as luminaries from all aspects of the publishing industry mingled with fans at the prestigious Magic Circle in the West End to see some popularly newly crowned royalty at the third award ceremony for the David Gemmell Legend Award, named after the much missed genre author who passed in 2007.

Whilst not all the winners were in attendance, the evening’s event (hosted by Stan and Anne Nicholls) continued in the tradition of the previous years to help promote the best that the genre has to offer as well as reward the fans with the chance to meet and greet the authors and artists that they voted for in their thousands.

According to reports, emotions ran high and with sterling performances from James Barclay (who’s reading from Shield of Thunder kept the audience in rapture) was also greeted with cheers as well as humour during the auctioning of the lots this year organised by Gollancz’ Gillian Redfearn and a great time was had by all. Yet the key to the nights events were the big winners, those who’d won each of the three nomination categories.

For the Morning star Best Newcomer Award (presented by Juliet McKenna) the winner was Darius Hinks for his novel Warrior Priest (reviewed here) published by Black Library. On hearing of his nomination Darius said that it was “…an honour to even be nominated for the Morningstar award…”

Whereas the winner for the Ravenheart Award for Best Cover Artist (presented by Anne Sudworth) was taken by Icelandic Artist olof Erla Einarsdottir for the cover of Power and Majesty by Tansy Rayner Roberts published by Harper Collins Australia who was “… thrilled to be among the top in this incredible pool of talent.”

The final award of the night (and the most coveted, the Legend Award for Best Novel which was crafted by Simon Fearnhamm of Raven Armoury) was presented by last year’s winner Graham McNeill and went to Brandon Sanderson for his novel Way of Kings (reviewed here) who said that the award “… means a lot to me...” as it was fan nominated.

Congratulations to the winners and long may fantasy reign supreme.

CRIME REVIEW: The Dead of Summer - Mari Jungstedt

Release Date: 14/04/11


Mari Jungstedt's compelling series of novels featuring Inspector Anders Knutas continues to go from strength to strength with, The Dead of Summer , the fifth crime adventure set on the island of Gotland. Her trademark combination of rich characterisation, taut crime plots and the continuing unfolding drama of her series characters' lives add up to a mix that rivals Henning Mankell's Wallander series. The murder of a jogger on the beach at Faro is an opportunity for Anders Knutas' newly-appointed deputy, Karin Jacobsson, to prove her worth while her boss is on holiday. But when a second body is discovered, murdered in the same style, Jacobsson's investigations point to a horrifying conclusion.


To be honest I’ve enjoyed Mari’s writing for a little while now and whilst she’s a little different to a lot of crime writers out there the plots are always tight, they have some decent twists and bring the whole thing together in the setting of Gotland, an area of Sweden where the natives are as tough as the landscape.

Add to this reasonable pace, police procedure that allows the tale to unfurl and whilst it isn’t outlandish reasoning, it does follow a pattern that I believe to be more of a typical police investigation than a lot of the other titles out there. Back that up with a high emotional charge between characters and it was a title that I enjoyed purely for the fact that it was different to a great many other books out there.

CUISINE REVIEW: Food Britannia - Andrew Webb

Release Date: 01/06/11


British food has not traditionally been regarded as one of the world's great cuisines, and yet Stilton cheese, Scottish raspberries, Goosnargh duck and Welsh lamb are internationally renowned and celebrated. And then there are all those dishes and recipes that inspire passionate loyalty among the initiated: Whitby lemon buns and banoffi pie, for example; pan haggerty and Henderson's relish. All are as integral a part of the country's landscape as green fields, rolling hills and rocky coastline. In Food Britannia , Andrew Webb travels the country to bring together a treasury of regional dishes, traditional recipes, outstanding ingredients and heroic local producers. He investigates the history of saffron farming in the UK, tastes the first whisky to be produced in Wales for one hundred years, and tracks down the New Forest's foremost expert on wild mushrooms. And along the way, he uncovers some historical surprises about our national cuisine. Did you know, for example, that the method for making clotted cream, that stalwart of the cream tea, was probably introduced from the Middle East? Or that our very own fish and chips may have started life as a Jewish-Portuguese dish? Or that Alfred Bird invented his famous custard powder because his wife couldn't eat eggs? The result is a rich and kaleidoscopic survey of a remarkably vibrant food scene, steeped in history but full of fresh ideas for the future: proof, if proof were needed, that British food has come of age.


Whilst I’m just an amateur cook, I do love to hear about regional delicacies and where to get the best to try. As such whilst some have been on my scope for a while (such as Mr Fitzpatrick’s Cordials in Rawtenstall) some I’d never heard of such as the Manchester Sausage.

As such to have a title that details some special treats to look out for when I’m out generates something a little special for your own culinary pursuits. After all finding that something special not only increases the options you have at your own meal times but also allows you to discover a few thing that you never know about (or are regional secrets) prior to reading this title.

All in this book was a wonder and I’ve more than got a few things that I want to try and with friends visiting from other area’s I know what to ask them to bring for me to utilise which makes this, whilst not a book of recipes, one that brings the joy of quality products that are lovingly prepared that aren’t available in the supermarket which not only keeps local business alive but tradition as well. Great stuff from Andrew Webb and a title that I’ll have to guard as I already know one or two who are eyeing it up for “borrowing” on a permanent basis.

Sunday 19 June 2011

FANTASY REVIEW: Destiny's Star - Beth Vaughan

Release Date: 09/06/11


Bethral is a mercenary, wise in the ways of weaponry and warfare, but not so good when it comes to dealing with people. Ezren is a quick-witted storyteller, a weaver of mesmerising tales - and more, for the rarest magic, wild magic, runs through his body. But wild magic is rogue, uncontrollable and deadly, and if Ezren is to survive, he will have to rid himself of it, or learn to wield it. And the unlikely couple find they have other, equally pressing concerns, for the portal that wrenched them from their home has dropped them in the middle of the Plains, leaving Bethral badly injured. And not only are the people of the Plains warriors, with their own code of honour and their own rules of pleasure and partnership; they are also in the middle of a civil war. To stay alive, Bethral and Ezren must learn new customs, confront their enemies, and conceal Ezren's fiery power . . . for the wild magic in Ezren is also of the Plains. And when they find that out, they will want it back - even if they have to kill Ezren to do so.


Having loved Red Gloves by Beth I really had been looking forward to this title. As with the former the lead characters stand out, there’s an epic battle and the emotional journey is just as gripping as the physical as the tales two lead characters take the reader back to familiar territory in this no holds barred story.

As usual with Beth, in addition to strong characterisation, the plotline is fast paced, the battle sequences gripping and when backed with a colourful turn of phrase alongside solid storyline, the reader is kept up in the maelstrom from start to finish.

All in a satisfactory title to enjoy and whilst I haven’t yet had the pleasure of Warprize, I think it’s going to be a title I’m going to have to obtain and devour when time allows. Thanks for a great read.

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: Black Swan Rising - Lee Carroll

Release Date: 12/05/11


Jeweller Garet James isn't the same as everyone else. She just doesn't know it yet. With her fair share of problems - money (lack of), an elderly father, a struggling business - Garet should be just like any other young, feisty, single New Yorker. If only it was that simple...It begins with the old silver box that had been soldered shut. All Garet has to do is open it. A favour for the frail owner of the antiques shop. Who wouldn't help? Only it's then that things start to change. Garet doesn't notice at first, the shifts barely perceptible. But the city in which she grew up is beginning to reveal a long-hidden side - darker, and altogether more dangerous: parallel world of chaos, smoke and blood. And now it's out of the box...and it has no intention of going back in.


To be honest I put off reading this title as I was a little apprehensive as to what to expect from this new author. What actually unfurled was a huge epic urban fantasy tale that has dug into the surface of an unknown world, blended it with modern interpretations and also added more than a handful of characters that the reader will come to love. Each is clearly lovingly created, each has their own role to play and when added to the huge overall arc scheme within, creates something pretty unique and special.

Add to this a great turn of pace, some wonderful dialogue and a lead characters that readers will not only associate with but also explore the unknown with and its clearly a title that is special. Finally whilst some of the training feels a little like an 80’s montage, it is well thought out and clearly defined which makes this, the first in a multipart series definitely one to enjoy.