Tuesday, 31 January 2012

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:
05/01/12 ABNETT, Dan - Embedded
05/01/12 JUNGSTEDT, Mari - The Dead of Summer
05/01/12 MIEVILLE, China - Embasseytown
19/01/12 BROWN, Nick - Agent of Rome: The Siege
19/01/12 KRISTIAN, Giles - Odin's Wolves
19/01/12 LOWE, Helen - The Heir of Night
19/01/12 SPURRIER, Simon - A Serpent Uncoiled
26/01/12 ERIKSON, Steven - The Crippled God

If we've missed one please let us know,


GUEST BLOG: How Much History? How Much Fiction? - Nick Brown

Hail Mighty Readers,
Friend of the Blog Nick Brown has been kind enough to do a guest blog for us in celebration of the paperback release of his debut title, Agent of Rome: The Siege (released 19th Jan by Headline.)

So without further ado, Nick's post on How Much History? How Much Fiction?...

For anyone embarking on a work of what is sometimes now known as HF, the two key elements are clear. What is less clear, and what must be decided fairly early on, is how of much of each to include. Fortunately, even when I first started work on what would become the Agent of Rome series, I was pretty clear on my approach.

Although I wanted to place my story in a realistic and convincing setting, I didn’t want to include historical figures as major characters. I suspected I would find it restrictive, mainly because I didn’t feel comfortable with significant manipulation of “the known facts” (not to say there’s anything wrong with that; it’s just not for me).

As I was keen on telling a fairly small-scale story anyway, this didn’t seem likely to be a problem. My decision to avoid the grand sweep of history was, somewhat bizarrely, clarified by Star Wars. Bear with me; I shall try to explain. For me, the most compelling section of the series is the first part of Episode IV. All that good stuff on Tatooine – Mos Eisley, meeting Han Solo, outrunning the Imperials and so on. I considered why I liked it so much and decided it was because of the feeling that Luke Skywalker et al. were on the on edge of this vast canvas, with only hints and suggestions of the broader picture. When we actually saw the rest of the universe in the later “prequels”, I couldn’t help but feel slightly underwhelmed. In summary, for me, less is definitely more.

But which first – the history or the fiction? Right at the beginning, when formulating my initial concept, it was the fiction. Or rather, the narrative. I had always wanted to do a siege story, a Roman Zulu, with a small cast of characters I could follow throughout the tale. Next I needed my backdrop; and here came the first dip of the toe into history. It wasn’t long before I encountered Queen Zenobia of Palmyra – a colourful character whose third century rebellion would provide the opposing force for my heroic defenders. (One literary agent who I sent an early draft of the book to admonished me for not placing such a compelling figure centre stage. A fair point perhaps, but I stuck to my guns, preferring to present her as seen from afar by my antagonist, the Palmyran swordsman and strategos Azaf.)

But what about the protagonist? At first, my main character – fish-out-of-water young gentleman Cassius Corbulo- was to be a centurion. Back to the history again - is this possible? Of course most centurions were seasoned veterans promoted after years of service, but some were also directly commissioned from the upper classes, so in theory, yes. Further research then led me to what is often known as Rome’s “secret service”: the frumentarii - so named for their original role in distributing grain. These operatives often acted independently of the regular army but could still be granted a rank equivalent to a centurion. In this instance, the history guided the fiction. By making Cassius a “grain man” I knew there were endless story possibilities for an “agent of Rome”. In The Siege, with every officer needed on the front line, Cassius must pose as a “real” centurion. In the sequel, The Imperial Banner, he is in full agent mode, investigating the theft of a sacred Persian flag.

But back to The Siege - a fictional small-scale story set within a real historical context; with a cast of fictional characters accompanied by a few historical figures confined to the periphery of the narrative. But a few mentions of a few real characters and a few real events aren’t going to be enough to create a compelling piece of historical fiction. The real work starts here.

Historical research can be hard going. I’ve been through entire books and picked out maybe a dozen things I can use - could be a photo of a building, a list of foodstuffs, an extract from a letter, perhaps just an interesting name. Five might make it into the first draft, one or two to the finished piece. But unless it’s on a completely unrelated subject, the chances are some gems will turn up. For The Siege, I needed to know about a lot about the Roman army of the 3rd century, but along the way I also found about everything from the origins of glassware to the advantages of the four-horned saddle, from the rise of barrels over amphorae to contemporary fashions in facial hair. Finishing a historical novel is a bit like finishing your A levels; your head is full of a vast amount of information you are unlikely to ever use again (unless you can find a place for it in the next book!) But the hope is that these details combine to form a real sense of time and place; a convincing, authentic setting in which to tell the tale.

Wherever possible, I tried to ensure that the detail was accurate. Inevitably I have made “errors”, though given the scarcity of information on some issues, “historical accuracy” remains a nebulous concept. In the author’s note, I felt compelled to identify those few occasions when I had knowingly gone against “the facts”. It’s perhaps worth looking at a couple of examples to illustrate what happens when faced with a choice between history and fiction.

From what I’d read, I knew that most of the legionaries at the fort Cassius takes command of would have been local; that is to say Syrian. But I also wanted to include a group of native auxiliaries. So, for the sake of the story, I therefore had the legionaries hail from Italy, Greece and several provinces other than Syria. The narrative was undoubtedly improved by having the two distinct groups together in the fort and the tensions that arose from the situation. Dramatically essential, historically dubious. I doubt I’m the first.

Another example; Queen Zenobia is usually described as a woman of unsurpassed beauty who rode around with one breast exposed and inspired great loyalty in her followers. Some modern historians put this image down to overzealous contemporary reporting and an eagerness to compare her to her illustrious predecessor Cleopatra. My (admittedly male) view: great stuff! Why not present her in this way? Ultimately the queen’s effect on her troops, one in particular, became a crucial strand of the story. Accurate? We’ll never know.

So, I made my choices, and I’m still pretty happy with them. Others, depending on their attitude to such things, may not be. Ultimately, we writers and readers all have our own take on this. Should the facts get in the way of a good story? Should a good story get in the way of the facts? The debate will continue for as long as historical fiction is popular which, at the moment, seems likely to be a very long time.

SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: Dark Eden - Chris Beckett

Release Date: 19/01/11


"You live in Eden. You are a member of the Family, one of 532 descendants of Angela and Tommy. You shelter beneath the light and warmth of the Forest's lantern trees, hunting woollybuck and harvesting tree candy. Beyond the forest lie the treeless mountains of the Snowy Dark and a cold so bitter and a night so profound that no man has ever crossed it. The Oldest among you recount legends of a world where light came from the sky, where men and women made boats that could cross between worlds. One day, the Oldest say, they will come back for you. You live in Eden. You are a member of the Family, one of 532 descendants of two marooned explorers. You huddle, slowly starving, beneath the light and warmth of geothermal trees, confined to one barely habitable valley of a startlingly alien, sunless world. After 163 years and six generations of incestuous inbreeding, the Family is riddled with deformity and feeblemindedness. Your culture is a infantile stew of half-remembered fact and devolved ritual that stifles innovation and punishes independent thought. You are John Redlantern. You will break the laws of Eden, shatter the Family and change history. You will be the first to abandon hope, the first to abandon the old ways, the first to kill another, the first to venture in to the Dark, and the first to discover the truth about Eden."


Corvus is one of those publishers that always brings something to the fore that not only hits the readers desires for their genres of choice but generates questions in the way that the title is presented. Having previously enjoyed Chris’ writing in The Holy Machine, I was more than intrigued to see what he’d present with this new story.

Its one of thought, one that requires the reader to look through the eyes of the characters within and also gives them a chance to understand as well as get to know them on not only a personal level but how their own society sees them. It’s clever, it something that really generates depth and of course when you add the struggles and pitfalls associated with a survival situation, it’s a story that really does grab you from the first page to the last.

Finally add to this an authorly voice that is not only authoritative but one that guides you by an unseen hand and it’s a tale that will stay with you after the final page is turned. Great stuff.

Monday, 30 January 2012


Release Date: 29/09/11


After her world is shaken by a series of unexplained events, young widow Sarah Grey soon comes to realise that she is the victim of a terrifying haunting by her 19th century namesake!A classic ghost story with a modern twist by a talented new writer in the genre. Relocated to a coastal town, widowed teacher Sarah Grey is slowly rebuilding her life, along with her young son Alfie. But after an inadvertent seance one drunken night, her world is shaken when she starts to experience frightening visions. She tries to explain them as But Alfie sees them too and Sarah believes that they have become the targets of a terrifying haunting. Convinced that the ghost is that of a 19th Century local witch and namesake, Sarah delves into local folklore and learns that the witch was thought to have been evil incarnate. When a series of old letters surface, Sarah discovers that nothing and no-one is as it seems, maybe not even the ghost of Sarah Grey!


To be honest with you this isn’t a horror story, it’s a tale for those who want a little scare with a “yummy mummy” type of character which really doesn’t do the genre any favours. The writing was clichéd, with no real attention to pace with a story arc that has been done too many times already without any real concentration almost as if it were done as a challenge to see what would get published.

Sadly for me, this title didn’t pick up and the first impressions I had after the first third were sadly confirmed by the last chapter which overall left me wondering who would spend their finances in this cash strapped time on this when they could get a Graham Masterton or early Shaun Hutson or even a James Herbert that will more than give you that decent chill. If you must read this, wait for it to appear in a cheap bookshop or perhaps borrow it from the library, trust me, you’ll appreciate the warning.

Sunday, 29 January 2012

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: Makayla Lane 5: Shadowfever - Karen Marie Moning

Release Date: 12/01/11


Recommended by Charlaine Harris, author of the series that inspired HBO's hit series TRUE BLOOD, this new #1 Bestselling series will take readers by storm! In an epic battle between humans and Fae, the hunter becomes the hunted when the Sinsar Dubh turns on Mac and begins mowing a deadly path through those she loves. Who can she turn to? Who can she trust? Who is the woman haunting her dreams? More important, who is Mac herself and what is the destiny she glimpses in the black and crimson designs of an ancient tarot card? From the luxury of the Lord Master's penthouse to the sordid depths of an Unseelie nightclub, from the erotic bed of her lover to the terrifying bed of the Unseelie King, Mac's journey will force her to face the truth of her exile, and to make a choice that will either save the world ...or destroy it.


Having felt like the previous title, Dreamfever was a bit of a filler, I was really hoping for something special as a climax to this series and boy was I in for a ride. As with the other titles in the series, this book continues to work on a lot of levels with the freshness of mixing Celtic mythology with a modern world. Its inventive has some great characters and above all else it’s a tale that is story driven as the readers yearn to find out the result of the investigation into the principle characters sisters death. (Which is revealed within.)

That said however this title is huge and with some extra padding (I assume to help give the fans the maximum of reading pleasure) it’s a story that felt that some of the elements could have been dialled down more to give the principle aim a bigger impact for the reader. It is wonderfully descriptive, the prose ideal and when you add Makayla’s dialogue to the mix, it’s a series that you can forgive a lot for. All in a wonderful sense of Urban Fantasy and definitely something that gives it a bit of new wave to the reader. Cracking.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

FANTASY REVIEW: Malazan Empire 4: Orb, Sceptre, Throne - Ian C Esslemont

Release Date: 19/01/12


The tumult of great powers colliding has passed and the city of Darujhistan and its citizens can at last get on with what matters: trading, bickering, politicking and enjoying all the good things in life. However, not all are ready to leave the past behind. A treasure hunter, digging amongst the burial grounds that surround the city, is about to uncover a hidden crypt. He will open the last of a series of sealed vaults - the one that no other dared touch - and, in so doing, set free something so terrifying that the knowledge of its internment may have been systematically wiped from all history.

Fortune hunters are also at work far to the south. When a fragment of Moon's Spawn, once the home of Anomander Rake, Son of Darkness, crashed into the Rivan Sea it created a chain of small islands. Legends and rumours already surround them. The most potent of these is that here is hidden the Throne of Night, claimed by some to be the seat of Mother Dark herself. Either way, all who seek this ancient artefact - renegade mages, hardened mercenaries, even a Malazan army deserter - believe it will bestow unlimited power upon the eventual possessor. The stakes are high, greed is rife, betrayal inevitable, and murder and chaos lie in wait...

Epic and exciting, Ian Esslemont's new novel is an enthralling new chapter in the thrillingly imagined world of Malaz.


Since his first Malazan Title Night of Knives, Ian’s writing has just gotten better and better. The key ingredients that made the world so fascinating in Steven Erikson’s epic ten book series still enthuse the reader as well as explore the world in greater depth as war wreaks it’s terrible vengeance as treasure hunters seek ultimate power.

Its cleverly written, Ian’s author voice strong as well as clear and when backed with a great sense of pace, style of inner conflict between the protagonists it’s a story that will keep you guessing. All in, this title is lots of fun which when added to a huge plot, a whole host of adventure alongside perhaps best of all a story that keeps on giving to the world as a whole, you know that a real treat is in store for all. Cracking.

Friday, 27 January 2012

VIDEO GAME NEWS: DEEP SILVER Risen 2 and Summer Stars 2012

Hail Mighty Readers,
We have two game updates from our friends at Deep Silver who've let us know about their new sports game, Summer Stars (compatible with Kinect™ for Xbox 360), PlayStation®3 with PlayStation®Move support, and Wii™) which will be out in the second quarter of the year (just in time for the Olympics.)

There will be more than 18 different disciplines & challenges, which will cover the whole range of summer sports where players can prove their talent in disciplines like Triple Jump, Mountain Biking, Diving or Sprinting and become a top athlete in the career mode.

Multiplayer will allow you to take on three other people on split screen to see who's the best.

In our second piece of news, Deep Silver has released some details on one of the new characters in the forthcoming Risen 2: Dark Waters. So without further ado, we bring to you Patty Steelbeard...

Armed with a sabre, a pistol and a very sharp tongue, Patty has boldly stood by the nameless hero since Faranga. She is the astute daughter of probably the most famous and most notorious pirate of all time: Gregorius Emanuel Steelbeard. She has spent most of her life searching for her missing father.

To help in her search, she follows in the footsteps of her father and earns her living as a pirate bride. She has certainly managed to hold her ground in the male-dominated pirate world and has earned the respect of her male counterparts. To help survive she has developed a rough and sassy manner.

But Patty also has a loving and charming side to her which only her friends get to see.

Her relationship to the “nameless hero” in particular is very special…

"Perhaps you can pick me a special new outfit, for any other jobs you can want to rent me out for?"

Risen 2 will be released in April and will be available for the following formats:
Xbox 360® video game
Windows PC,

For more information please check out the relevant sites at the following locationsL
Official Website

GRAPHIC NOVEL REVIEW: Tank Girl: Bad WInd Rising - Rufus Dayglo and Alan Martin

Release Date: 27/01/12


A brand new graphic novel from the exciting new "Tank Girl" creative team: Alan Martin and Rufus Dayglo!
A holiday. A hold-up. A murder. A car chase. A very large vodka. A fistfight. An earthquake. A mutant surfer. A lorry heist. A tiny moped. The return of a much loved secondary character - and a gang of killer kangaroos after Tan Girl's scalp.
Don't miss Tank Girl's latest twisted action adventure!


Ah, memories of my youth came flooding back when I opened this title in the recent relaunch of the 90’s icon alongside snippets of the film starring Lori Petty. As with the original it has a kick ass storyline, top notch humour and of course the usual amount of groinal shots that amuse the masses. Add to this cracking artwork, a twisted vision of the future which when added to the coupling of Tank Girl and Booga allows the reader to escape the dull real world for quite some time.

All in this was, rather than a truck, a tank load of fun. Great stuff.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

GUEST BLOG: Spiritualism - Chris Womersley

Hail Mighty Readers,
We;ve been lucky enough to get a guest blog from the wonder Chris Womersly (whose latest book Bereft we reviewed earlier), who has let us know about the strange and teh wonderful world of writing. So without further ado, his piece on Spiritualism...


One of the (many) strange and wonderful things about writing a novel is the occasional outbreak of good fortune. The premise of my novel Bereft was always something of a ghost story, in which a man called Quinn Walker meets a girl he comes to believe is the ghost of his dead sister. A novel, then, about love and longing.

Around the time of starting to write Bereft, I became fascinated by millennium movements, in which people believe the end of the world is nigh and I felt compelled to set the novel in a period in which it might seem plausible the end of the world was close at hand. The year 1919 presented itself as a likely candidate; not only had World War One just finished but the Spanish flu pandemic was sweeping the globe, eventually taking more lives than had been lost during the war. For those of a religious persuasion, it might indeed seem as if the Horsemen of the Apocalypse were urging their steeds into a furious gallop.

I already relished the notion of a London wartime séance forming a crucial part of the narrative of Bereft (had, in fact, already written an early draft of the scene) when I stumbled across the curious fact of the rise in Spiritualism and spirit photography (in which photographers capture the image of dead loved ones hovering in the background of portraits) during the years of World War One.

Spiritualism, by this time, was not a new phenomenon; Victorian-era Great Britain had managed to fuse the seemingly contradictory interests in mourning and scientific inquiry into a ‘scientific religion’, which flourished upon its transportation from America in the 1850s. Despite its occult trappings – not to mention stern Biblical prohibitions against talking with the dead — Spiritualism was at the time not considered antithetical with Christianity and the new-fangled beliefs soon took root in Australia, where a young Alfred Deakin was among its most active adherents. During the 1870s, Australia’s future prime minister was an active member of Melbourne’s Spiritualist Motherwell Circle. He married a powerful medium and even acted as amanuensis for the spirit of author John Bunyan who, through him, dictated a book titled A New Pilgrim’s Progress, which was published in 1877 under a pseudonym.

Although interest in Spiritualism had faded in the early years of the 20th century, it gained a new lease of life, as it were, during World War One, when those freshly killed — and their corollary, those who mourned them — numbered in the millions. Grief on such a global scale was unprecedented; this most modern and industrial of wars had the curious consequence of sending those widowed and orphaned by it scurrying back to more superstitious modes of mourning. Among the more traditional religious notices of Australian metropolitan newspapers during the period are countless advertisements for séances, talks and presentations in suburban halls and churches. HOME OF RATIONAL SPIRITUALISM. Open platform. 7.15. Address by Mr Deacon from England. SPIRITUALISM FOR THE WORKING MAN.

Spiritualism had a number of powerful adherents in the UK. Prominent among them were: the Scottish creator of the rationalist detective Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle; the physicist Sir Oliver Lodge; poet WB Yeats; and Alfred Russell Wallace, the co-discoverer of the theory of natural selection. Doyle — whose son Kingsley had been killed during the war — toured America and Australia and lectured to tens of thousands both during and after the war.

Belief in the afterlife was not confined to those on the home front. Among men in the trenches, stories of ghosts and spirits were rife. The most famous example is the 1914 tale of the Angels of Mons, in which hundreds of bowmen from the 1415 battle of Agincourt had appeared hovering over outnumbered British troops, provided them with covering fog and even inflicted arrow wounds on German soldiers. The tale began as a short story by writer and occultist Arthur Machen, but quickly took on a life of its own, to the point where soldiers present at the Battle of Mons reported seeing the Agincourt angels with their own eyes.

The novel I had in mind suddenly had several factual hooks on which I could hang my tale, not to mention the historical precedent of those so desperate to believe their loved ones had not been undone by death that they wrestled them back to life. As his mother asks of the main character Quinn Walker in Bereft: ‘Would you think it possible to imagine someone into being? With nothing but love?’

Do we require something from our dead? Ulysses, vainly attempting to embrace his mother in the underworld, cries out: ‘If we could throw our arms around one another we might find sad comfort in the sharing of our sorrows…’

And that, in the end, might just be enough.

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: Sea Haven Series 2: Sisters of the Heart 2: Spirit Bound - Christine Feehan

Release Date: 26/01/12


Six women of varying age meet in special grief counselling group composed of victims of violent crimes. Each has suffered unbelievable loss. Working through their grief, they learn to love one another and trust only each other. Pooling their resources, they purchase a large farming community. Each has their own home and five acres, sharing the rest of the farm. Though not related by blood, they form a loving family, calling themselves sisters of the heart. These stories are of the sisters and the men who dare to love them.


Christine is a writer that is not only prolific but also an author that gives the reader what they want, a story with a huge plot, a tale of magic, and of course a tale of passion to last the ages as we return to Sea Haven in the second novel of the second series.

It has solid characters, great prose and of course all the elements that have kept Christine at the top of most readers TBR piles. That said, as a fan, I did feel a little disappointed with this title as for me, it spent way too much time on the emotional feelings rather than getting to the heart of the matter, almost as if it were used as padding to make the story full length. Don’t get me wrong, it is well written, it will fulfil the brief but when you’re reading a tale and keep thinking about how much you could have slashed, it’s a sign that perhaps the title needs a rework and perhaps would have been better as a novella.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

NEWS: Angry Robot Open Door Submissions 2012

Hail Mighty Readers and Writers,
Our friends at Angry Robot have let us know about thier forthcoming Open Door Policy which brought about a huge amount of submissions last year.

Well they're doing it again this year (between 16th and the 30th April) for authors without an agent. Yes you read that right, your chance to get your manuscript in with a major publisher with no need for an agent.

Now before you go rushing off to submit please view thier submission page here, to check that you qualify. In addition to this, in case you're already thinking "But I have a Young Adult Fantasy story" well worry not, for thier new YA Imprint, Strange Chemistry, is also looking, so come one come all, dust off that story, neaten it up and get it in there, theres really no better time to do it.

All the best and remember if you sell remember who let you know and we'd love to do an interview.


LADY ELEANOR URBAN FANTASY REVIEW; Haters 3: Them or Us - David Moody

Release Date: 17/11/11


Movie rights in the HATER series were snapped up by PAN'S LABYRINTH/HELLBOY director Guillermo del Toro and producer Mark Johnson (The NARNIA movies). Perfect for fans of HBO's THE WALKING DEAD, the series reaches a shattering conclusion...The war which has torn the human race apart is finally nearing an end. The population has been devastated, and the earth has been reduced to a poisoned ruin. Most of the towns and cities are uninhabitable, and with the country in the grip of a savage nuclear winter, both Haters and Unchanged alike struggle to survive. Hundreds of Hater fighters have settled in the east, in the relatively undamaged coastal town of Lowestoft, under the command of the ruthless Hinchcliffe. His fledgling society is harsh and unforgiving, and he'll stop at nothing to eradicate the last few Unchanged and consolidate his position at the top of this new world order. Danny McCoyne is the exception to the rule. His ability to hold the Hate has given him a unique position in Hinchcliffe's army, for he uses his unique skill to hunt out the remaining Unchanged. But as the enemy's numbers shrink, so the pressure on McCoyne increases, until he finds himself at the very centre of a pivotal confrontation. The outcome will have repercussions on the future of everyone who is still alive. It's down to him alone: will it be Them, or Us?


As people know I’m a huge fan of the horror genre, and I love a good scare as much as the next person. What the first book in the series did was set up the whole zombie scenario from a different point of view, as if the inhabitants of the body were still there but a chemical change made them hate anyone dissimilar to others of their kind. It was cleverly thought out, it had great scope for the author to play with and overall it gave the reader a real thriller to hang on for.

Yet the second book really didn’t further the concept and unfortunately whilst it had moments that I loved within, the third really fell into the same category when, had I been writing it, I’d have condensed the series into a duology rather than the trilogy to keep it sharp and snappy. Don’t get me wrong the writing is decent, the authors use of prose nicely done, but the overall plotline structure felt a little flat and almost padded out rather than getting to the meat of the matter for me. All in a reasonable read but one that won’t stay with me for long as it didn’t have enough going for it to keep the pace at the level I expected.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

HISTORICAL FICTION REVIEW: Perdition - James Jackson

Release Date: 05/01/12


Almost two hundred years have elapsed since the Crusader armies took Jerusalem. Now it is the turn of the Saracen to seek revenge and send an overwhelming force against the last Christian enclave in the Holy Land. In Acre, the defenders await their fate. Knight and bishop, mercenary and merchant, all will be tested and all may perish. For this is the endgame. No quarter will be given and no mercy shown. William of Beaujeu, Grand Master of the Templars, will stop at little to secure the city and preserve his legendary military order. He knows that final judgement is approaching and that time is running out. But among the garrison are allies - the adventurer de Flor, Theobald, the young Hospitaller, the court dwarf Amethyst, the camel master Selim and the orphan boy and spy Benedict - who must stay alive in the chaos to be unleashed. In their midst prowl the feared Assassins and sinister enemies from among a rabble army of Italians. Deserted by the pope and the princes of Europe, it seems as if Acre faces annihilation - but perhaps something can still be salvaged from perdition ...


I love a story of swords, of bravery and of course a historical setting so when I heard about this story in the catalogue it was ordered pretty quickly for me to enjoy arriving just prior to Christmas. Alas what I got, whilst reasonable didn’t set my world on fire purely for the fact that I didn’t like the principle character and due to this had a hard time getting into it. Don’t get me wrong, the author has done a lot of work, has put a lot of time and energy within to get the feel, but without that personal connection it was a struggle from start to finish for me. Which, for me, was a great shame all in although I will definitely look into more by this author in the future as I did see the architectural promise beneath the pages.

Monday, 23 January 2012

NEWS: Iain M Banks Makes World Book Night List

Hail Mighty Readers,
After the last World Book Night, Science Fiction and Fantasy Fans the world over complained at the lack of any titles featured within the genre.

This year, on the 23rd April, Iain M Banks, The Player of Games has made it to the list. So we urge you to join the campaign and let others know about it as well as sign up on the board to help promote your love of the genre.

So come one, come all, stand up and be counted and let your voices be heard.

And just to whet your appetite in case you haven't already read the title heres the book blurb:

The Culture - a human/machine symbiotic society - has thrown up many great Game Players, and one of the greatest is Gurgeh. Jernau Morat Gurgeh. The Player of Games. Master of every board, computer and strategy. Bored with success, Gurgeh travels to the Empire of Azad, cruel and incredibly wealthy, to try their fabulous game ...a game so complex, so like life itself, that the winner becomes emperor. Mocked, blackmailed, almost murdered, Gurgeh accepts the game, and with it the challenge of his life - and very possibly his death.

And on a final note just because we love reading, heres a direct link to the website.

CRIME THRILLER REVIEW: Total Immunity - Robert Ward

Release Date: 12/01/12


Smart, tough Los Angeles FBI agents Jack Harper and Oscar Hidalgo breathe sighs of relief after violent diamond smuggler Karl Steinbach is finally arrested in a complex sting. Vowing vengeance on the agents who brought him down, Steinbach is imprisoned - only to be offered a release with total immunity in a dodgy deal with Homeland Security. As Jack and Oscar's team of agents start to die, it becomes clear that Steinbach's is no idle threat. But when the pair investigate their slain comrade's lives, they discover that what looked like retribution is actually tied to a web of deceit that stretches to the highest echelons of the FBI. Navigating car chases, shootouts, and even venomous reptiles, Jack and Oscar furiously pursue clues scattered throughout the underbelly of Los Angeles, in a desperate attempt to find the killer - before he finds them.


As a fan of a solid crime story I was interested in this title released by Corvus in the UK as I remember Robert’s writing from the TV show Miami Vice and thought I’d be in for a nostalgic trip down memory lane with hardened criminals and even harder cops. And boy was I right about that.

The principle characters are not just fun to hang around but are characters that many readers would want to go for a drink with. Add to this some great prose and a sense of pace that really doesn’t let up from the word go and the readers in for a treat. That said there are some clichéd phrases within, but when you’re enjoying a story to this degree you’re more than happy to let that slide by. All in a good bit of fun but don’t expect anything to make you think too deeply.

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: Frankenstein 5/5: The Dead Town - Dean Koontz

Release Date: 19/01/12


The cataclysmic conclusion to Koontz’s brilliant reworking of the classic tale.The war against humanity is raging. As the small town of Rainbow Falls, Montana, comes under siege, scattered survivors come together to weather the onslaught.Victor Frankenstein’s nihilistic plan is to remake the future: a future in which mankind will be annihilated. To accomplish this aim he has created nothing less than the shock troops of the Apocalypse.Now the alliance of the good must make their last, best stand and do battle against overwhelming odds. And Deucalion, Frankenstein's original and flawed attempt at replicating life, must finally confront his evil creator. In a climax that will shatter every expectation, the fate of humanity hangs in the balance…


OK, you’ve been twiddling your fingers and thumbs, joined Boris and the Cryptkickers with Pans People as well as watching the dates slide by awaiting this, the final title in the Dean Koontz Frankenstein series. So what will you get for your money? Will it be worth the wait and perhaps most importantly will it give the reader the conclusion that they’ve been looking for in this modern take on the classic story?

What Dean presents as usual is well written, the cast continues to impress and perhaps best of all it’s a story that has an almost epic conclusive feel that the readers have been wanting since they first discovered this author’s series a while ago. It has great prose, the usual Koontz flair that will not only keep you occupied but engrossed and when mixed with the authors clever use of misdirection the reader is in for a treat.

Finally throw into the cauldron an epic battle of good versus evil and it’s a story that I really had a hard time putting down making this high voltage title a cracking end to a top series.

Sunday, 22 January 2012


Release Date: 10/11/11


A compelling tale of love, lust and murder which traces the evolution of Catherine de Medici ? the great-granddaughter of Lorenzo the Magnificent ? from an unloved, timid orphan to France's most cunning monarch A cold, ruthless murderess and occultist, or a loyal wife and mother, and the most competent monarch France ever knew? In The Devil?s Queen, Jeanne Kalogridis examines Catherine de'Medici?s attraction to astrology and the dark arts, as well as the political, religious and personal forces that converged during her life. Catherine de'Medici was one of France's most notorious and blood thirsty monarchs, feared by some as an occultist, seen to be consorting with the likes of Nostradamus and thought to have been responsible for the brutal St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre. For many she was loved as a monarch devoted to bringing about peace during the Wars of Religion. Others saw her as an unfortunate victim of circumstances, struggling to come to terms with the death of her own husband whom she loved dearly, as well as the tragic death of her own parents at an early age. In Kalogridis' most passionate and thought-provoking novel yet, we follow in the footsteps of France's orphan queen and her rise to power in the tumultuous climate of sixteenth century France.


Having been attracted to Jeanne’s writing with The Borgia Bride, I was more than interested to see what she’d come up with for this, her version of the life of Catherine De Medici which is not only fascinating but also one of intrigue double dealing, murder and of course politics. Yet what would Jeanne bring to the fore and having recently enjoyed CW Gortner’s version (The Confession of Catherine De Medici) how would this author change the facts to generate not only a story of interest but one of history.

What this tale brought to the fore was the age to which it all pertains, its lively, it has a great level of understanding for the principle character (especially when dealing with her husband’s infidelity) as well as delving in the mysticism alongside witchcraft with people of interest like Nostradamus. But perhaps most importantly it brought a character to the fore that the reader can associate with and understand whilst viewing all the intrigues of the era where rumour never lost anything in the telling. All in this story is well written, the author maintains the reader’s interest and apart from a few places where the pace lulls, it’s a very tight tale of love, romance and of course the darker aspects that haunted the principle characters life. Great stuff.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: Ragnarok 2: Transmission - John Meaney

Release Date: 18/01/12


The second volume of Meaney's epic Ragnarok space opera trilogy. The dark matter in the universe is alive and is seeking to pervert human history to its own ends. Its influence has reached back into the dark ages, to the centre of the 3rd Reich and 600 years into the future. The Ragnarok universe not only provides a stunning SF rationale for Norse mythology but posits a world where pilots are locked into symbiotic relationships with their ships and the cities can come alive.


John Meaney is one of those authors that you either love or hate. I love the guys writing, the hard combat, the speed of thought and the idea’s that seem to keep flying around and hitting you like neutrino’s. It’s cleverly plotted and of course it has a pace that few authors can manage to keep up with let alone emulate.

Add to this an almost adult by the hand guide through the work as it wends it way through numerous characters and timelines as well as a great use of prose and it’s a title that I absolutely adored as there’s something for everyone within be it good old fashioned Scandinavian mythology or even an honour system alongside a dark future.

All in this is a cracking piece of fiction and a pure joy to read, just prepare to leave grip marks within the titles pages.


Release Date: 12/01/12


A CRIME UNSPEAKABLE. Australia, 1919. Quinn Walker returns from the Great War to the New South Wales town of Flint: the birthplace he fled ten years earlier when he was accused of a heinous act. A LIE UNFORGIVABLE. Aware of the townsmen's vow to hang him, Quinn takes to the surrounding hills. Here, deciding upon his plan of action, and questioning just what he has returned for, he meets Sadie Fox. A BOND UNBREAKABLE. This mysterious girl seems to know, and share, his darkest fear. And, as their bond greatens, Quinn learns what he must do to lay the ghosts of his past, and Sadie's present, to rest.


Many historical fiction titles tend to take the reader back quite a way time wise so that you’re clear of anything within living memory (although this setting is close to being outside that remit) so when this title from Chris arrived I really was looking forward to it to read a story set with a character suffering the aftermath of the effects of time within the trenches of the first world war. What Chris’ writing does is take the reader to a setting that is almost cinematic with a principle character that you can not only imagine but see as if they were flesh and blood.

Add to this a wonderful story which whilst quite short, fulfils the key points for me as a reader with a solid character, well thought out description and an overall arc that presents a tale that keeps you interested from start to finish. All in this is a wonderful read and whilst I think it may be missed by a lot of others it’s well worth your time to search it out. Great stuff.

Friday, 20 January 2012

NEWS: Strange Chemistry Books Announces First Two Authors

Hail Mighty Readers,
Our friends at Angry Robot's YA Imprint Strange Chemistry have let us know about thier first two signings. Here is the article for your enjoyment:

Shift by Kim Curran

About The Book: When your average, 16-year old loser, Scott Tyler, meets the beautiful and mysterious Aubrey Jones, e learns he’s not quite so average after all. He’s a ‘Shifter’. And that means he has the power to undo any decision he’s ever made. At first, he thinks the power to shift is pretty cool. But as his world quickly starts to unravel around him he realises that each time he uses his power, it has consequences; terrible unforeseen consequences. Shifting is going to get him killed. In a world where everything can change with a thought, Scott has to decide where he stands.

About the Author: Kim Curran was born in Dublin and moved to London when she was seven. After studying Philosophy and Literature at Sussex University her plan of being paid big bucks to think deep thoughts never quite paid off. She became an advertising copywriter instead, specialising in writing for video games. She lives in SW London with her husband, if they’re not both off travelling. When she’s not writing she fences and plays guitar, both very badly.
Visit Kim online at http://www.kimcurran.co.uk/

Kim Curran says: “When I saw Angry Robot was launching a YA imprint I literally said I would kill to be published by those guys. So to have signed with Strange Chemistry is everything I could have wished for and then some. To say I’m excited is a massive understatement. I just hope I won’t be expected to actually kill anyone!”

Amanda Rutter says: “We’ve signed debut novelist Kim Curran for two books in a new YA SF thriller series. The first title – Shift – will be published in September of this year, with the second to follow in 2013. The deal, concluded with Sam Copeland, of Rogers, Coleridge and White Ltd, includes world English rights in physical and electronic formats.
“As soon as I read the first page of Shift, I absolutely knew I wanted Kim on board. The novel is fast-paced, exciting and a real page turner. I simply cannot wait to introduce the world of Scott and Aubrey to YA readers!”

Poltergeeks by Sean Cummings

About the Book: Julie is an apprentice witch – or so she believes. When a dark power comes stalking out of the past to haunt her and her mother, Julie learns that she is far more than just a witch. With the help of her best friend Marcus and a rather unusual Great Dane, Julie has to race against time to ensure she can defeat the bad guy, save her mother and avoid being grounded – again!

About the Author: Sean Cummings lives in Saskatoon, Canada. He’s a comic book geek, superhero junkie, zombie fan and a total nerd. His interests include science fiction, the borg, cats with extra toes, east Indian cuisine and quality sci-fi movies/television. Sean has been writing since 1978 (as a means of liberating his “inner nerd”) and his published works for adults include Shade Fright, Funeral Pallor and Unseen World, all published by Snowbooks. Poltergeeks is his first book for Young Adults.
Visit Sean online at www.sean-cummings.ca and www.darkcentralstation.com.

Amanda Rutter says: “We have signed Sean for two novels in the Poltergeeks universe, the first to be published in October of this year with the second to follow in the summer of 2013. The deal, concluded with Jenny Savill and Ella Kahn of Andrew Nurnberg Associates International Ltd, includes world English rights in physical and electronic formats.
“Sean has written a wonderful book with a title that made the whole AR office sit up and take notice – who wouldn’t want to read a novel called Poltergeeks?! As you read further, you just become gripped by this sassy and sarcastic apprentice witch who has to face down the darkest of powers. It’s just a tremendous story, and I’m thrilled that Strange Chemistry is bringing it to you.”

Sean Cummings says: "I'm a huge fan of Angry Robot Books and when I heard they were starting a Young Adult imprint I just knew they'd be publishing some of the best in YA fiction. I'm thrilled that Poltergeeks has found a home with Strange Chemistry and I look forward to working with Amanda. (Did I mention that Angry Robot has fantastic cover art, too?)"

To keep up to date please subscribe to Strange Chemisty's Updates on their main page.

GUEST BLOG: Spartacus - Ben Kane

Just how did the ancient rebel and war leader Spartacus become a modern symbol of the struggle against oppression?

The list of figures from ancient times who are still universally known is vanishingly small. In my mind, it totals just five men and one woman. Tutankhamen. Alexander the Great. Hannibal. Julius Caesar. Cleopatra. Spartacus.

Spartacus is unusual because he is the only one of the six who is known not for what he did ‘for his race’ or in the interests ‘of his people’. (Technically, I know that neither Julius Caesar and Alexander were acting in this manner ― one could argue that they were megalomaniacs ― but they were at least operating within the norms of what was done by other generals and leaders of their respective peoples.) Spartacus is also the only one of these icons who was not just an ordinary person, but a slave. This makes his lasting fame even more remarkable.

As with any controversial figure, there are those who rush to downgrade the scale of Spartacus’ success. The only legions in Italy were newly raised and poorly led, they say. If the veteran legions from Spain or Pontus had been recalled, his forces would have been defeated far more quickly. And so on. While there is some validity to these arguments, I also think that it’s possible to stand back and be amazed by what Spartacus did. I’ll list just a few of the details that survive in the ancient texts.

Having escaped from the gladiator school in Capua, he and his seventy-odd companions were besieged on Mount Vesuvius by about three thousand Roman soldiers. These may not have been crack troops, but consider the odds. In a daring night attack that involved scaling down a cliff on ropes made from vines, Spartacus and his men put the Romans to flight.

In the ensuing months, tens of thousands of slaves ran away from their masters to join Spartacus. Another military force was sent from Rome to deal with him, but he roundly defeated its three parts in separate battles. Marching north, he was pursued by one of the two consuls. Having laid an ambush for the consul’s legions, he and his men drove them from the field. A month later, they did the same to the second consul and his army, and shortly after that, annihilated two more legions who garrisoned the Republic’s northern border. After Spartacus had made the fateful decision not to leave Italy, he was confronted by the united legions of both consuls. Again the slaves won a decisive victory.

Events after that began to go wrong for Spartacus, but I defy anyone to say that what he did was not extraordinary. In a short space of time, he trained and armed thousands of men who had either never handled weapons, or who, as herdsmen, had only hunted wild animals. He forged his men into an army that was capable of standing up to, and roundly defeating, full-size Roman armies. They may not have been made up of veteran soldiers, but they were still properly trained, fully armed legions, forces which would have been well capable of dispatching just about any other opponents.

Typically, however, all is not as it seems. Spartacus’ achievements were astonishing, but he has not been constantly remembered since the first century BC. When one does a little digging on the subject, it soon becomes apparent that after more than a thousand years of obscurity, Spartacus’ memory was resurrected in France in the mid to late eighteenth century. This was a time of great social change, when the notion of political freedom was being born, and when slave uprisings were regularly sweeping the European powers’ colonies. For those downtrodden individuals who were dreaming of success or freedom against unassailable odds - whether that be an absolute monarch or a slave master, Spartacus’ story must have seemed like a message from the gods.

In the nineteenth century, revolutionaries from the Haitian leader Toussaint L’Ouverture to the Italian Giuseppe Garibaldi used Spartacus’ name to rally support for their causes. Karl Marx regarded him as one of his heroes, so it’s no surprise that Spartacus was also adopted by Lenin and Stalin as the ultimate symbol of class struggle, and the model whom the proletariat should emulate. More recently, politicians on the other side of the divide, notably former U.S. president Ronald Reagan, have also commented favourably on his fight for freedom.

Yet for all the portrayals of Spartacus by politicians, revolutionaries, writers and filmmakers, it is very likely that he was not a man whose mission was to end slavery. To think that he was is to look back at history with all of our modern sensibilities, which abhor slavery, the mistreatment of women and so on. To put it simply, slavery was embedded as deeply in ancient life as having a washing machine to wash our clothes is for us today. People who lived two thousand years ago would have simply accepted it for what it was, not tried to stop it.

With this in mind, I have portrayed Spartacus as a courageous fighter, a charismatic leader and skilled general, but not as a revolutionary in the modern sense. In my opinion, this doesn’t make his story any less appealing. If anything, it makes it more so. I hope that my readers agree!

HISTORICAL FICTION REVIEW: Spartacus: The Gladiator - Ben Kane

Release Date: 19/01/11


In historical terms we know very little about Spartacus the man - partly because most contemporary Roman historians were keen to obliterate his memory and prevent him from attaining mythic status. This ofcourse is grist to the novelist's mill. Ben Kane's brilliant novel begins in the Thracian village to which Spartacus has returned, after escaping from life as an auxiliary in the Roman army. But here he quickly falls foul of his overlord, the Thracian king, who has set his heart on Dionysian priestess, Ariadne - later to become wife of Spartacus. Betrayed again to the Romans by his jealous king, Spartacus - and with him Ariadne - are taken in captivity to the school of gladiators at Capua. It is here - against the unbelievable brutality of gladiatorial life - that Spartacus and Crixus the Gaul plan the audacious overthrow of their Roman masters, escaping to Vesuvius, where they recruit and train a huge slave army - an army which will keep the might of Rome at bay for two years and create one of the most extraordinary legends in history. "Spartacus: The Gladiator" takes the story up to the moment when the slave army has inflicted its first great defeat on Rome.


I’ve enjoyed Ben’s writing for quite some time so when I heard he was tackling Spartacus I had to hope that he was bringing something new to the fore especially when most people will be thinking either of Kirk Douglas or the recently deceased Andy Whitfield. Also tricky when theres seems to be a whole host of Spartacus titles out there from other authors for the Young Adult market.

So what has Ben produced? Is it worth the money? And perhaps most importantly, is it any good?

Well to be honest it’s a title that has a realistic feel which isn’t surprising when you consider that the author has done a lot of in depth research and when blended with a feel of David Gemmell’s Connovar (from the first Rigante Book, Sword in the Storm) and the reader is in for a real treat.

Add to this great prose, top notch action and when backed with Ben’s own authorly voice, it’s a story that, in subsequent books, will help bring the rebel to life.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

VIDEO GAME NEWS: Developer Video: Darksiders 2 - THQ

Hail Mighty Readers and those of the Calloused hands,
Our friends at THQ have let us know that they've uploaded a development video for Darksiders 2 (out later this year) to whet you appetite.

If like us you can't wait to play as Death and charge against the hordes against your fellow Horseman Brother, then this will hopefully go some way to act as a balm on your gamers soul.

Have fun and remember to keep tuned to see further developments.


SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: Blue Remembered Earth - Alastair Reynolds

Release Date: 18/01/12


One hundred and fifty years from now, in a world where Africa is the dominant technological and economic power, and where crime, war, disease and poverty have been banished to history, Geoffrey Akinya wants only one thing: to be left in peace, so that he can continue his studies into the elephants of the Amboseli basin. But Geoffrey's family, the vast Akinya business empire, has other plans. After the death of Eunice, Geoffrey's grandmother, erstwhile space explorer and entrepreneur, something awkward has come to light on the Moon, and Geoffrey is tasked - well, blackmailed, really - to go up there and make sure the family's name stays suitably unblemished. But little does Geoffrey realise - or anyone else in the family, for that matter - what he's about to unravel. Eunice's ashes have already have been scattered in sight of Kilimanjaro. But the secrets she died with are about to come back out into the open, and they could change everything. Or shatter this near-utopia into shards ...


OK do you like a book with a huge scope? A title that will grab you, shake you up and throw all sorts of twists and turns so that your view is like Escher’s Relativity? Well search no longer as this new title in a cracking new series by Alastair Reynolds hits not only the shops but the readers minds in such a way that you’ll be confused as you wend your way through.

It’s clever, it has an almost mind blowing scope and when you add to the mix an author who knows what they’re doing with sleight of hand, it’s a title that will stay with you long after the final page is turned. Finally add to this the makings for a trilogy to be long remembered and it’s clear why this author is high up on most fans lists of must buys. Great stuff all in and a real treat although for me, it’s going to be a long wait for book two.

GUEST BLOG: Julie Campbell

Friend of the blog, Julie Campbell is on a whirlwind blog tour and we were lucky enough to grab some of her time as its all about her new book available on Amazon (in the US, UK) as either an E-Book or a hardcopy.

So without further ado, we give you OWGer (one of the Kelley Armstrong Forum writers) Julie Campbell to take you on a journey with a different twist in its tail...

Gareth, thank you for having me here today for my blog tour.

My novella, Doc, Vampire-Hunting Dog is about a Border Collie who… hunts vampires. Bet you didn’t see that coming. Well, the second part anyway. You may not have guessed Border Collie unless you’ve already seen the cover. Then the breed of the MC is kind of obvious. Border Collies aren’t exactly known for being the most blood thirsty of breeds. Normally people think of Babe, the movie about a pig who herds sheep like the dogs do. They are cute, smart and a little grumpy with sheep sometimes, but not hunters.

Well, that’s true. But they do have that pretty cool eye. The Border Collie eye was developed early in the breeds history and they use it to control the sheep (and vampires). Yes, they literally stare at the sheep. It’s an intense gaze, and if you’ve ever had it turned on you, it can be intimidating. You can actually feel it even when you don’t know the dog is looking at you. They are also super smart. This is the blessing and curse of the breed. I won’t get on my soapbox here, but let me tell you, most people aren’t prepared to deal with a smart dog that might as well be a perpetual energy machine.

To me Border Collies make the perfect vampire-hunting dog. They’re smart enough, intense enough, loyal enough, and boy do they love to have a job and work with their human partner to get it done.

So what does my vampire-hunting dog in training do while I’m writing? A lot of the time she sits right under my feet. Sometimes I’ll come up for air and find I’m surrounded by her toys and she’s staring at me, hoping I’ll throw them. Sometimes she goes and sleeps on the couch. Poor dog. It’s a huge challenge to live with a Border Collie, especially since I also work 40+ hours a week out of the home, and write as much as I can. I have to keep her exercised and mentally occupied. If I lived on a farm she’d be outside working all day, every day, because that’s what BC’s do. They go and go and go. Since she’s a companion dog, I have to dedicate large amounts of time to doing things with her. I trail ride with her and my horse, play a lot of fetch, do a dog sport called flyball and we do herding. It’s kind of like having a kid… all her lessons and spending time with her. It’s wonderful though because a happy active BC means a happy active author – at least in my case.

Kira is my inspiration for Doc. Even Doc’s love for his lazy chair… Kira loves to sit in my lazy chair. So do the cats actually. Sometimes they even let me sit in it. She’s had a huge impact on this novella. I hope, if you decide to read it, that you’ll be able to see the real Border Collie behind the fictional one.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

CRIME REVIEW: Tideline - Penny Hancock

Release Date: 05/01/12


One winter's afternoon, voice coach Sonia opens the door of her beautiful riverside home to fifteen-year-old Jez, the nephew of a family friend. He's come to borrow some music. Sonia invites him in and soon decides that she isn't going to let him leave.
As Sonia's desire to keep Jez hidden and protected from the outside world becomes all the more overpowering, she is haunted by memories of an intense teenage relationship, which gradually reveal a terrifying truth. The River House, Sonia's home since childhood, holds secrets within its walls. And outside, on the shores of the Thames, new ones are coming in on the tide...


I love new authors, so this one when it landed (earlier today) was something that I was surprised at when I started as it became a novel that hooked me in from the beginning with beautifully rounded characters, wonderful plot line and a deeper hint of mystery to be uncovered as you watched the pages fly by.

Add to this a great authorly style where the prose and pace are of a high standard which when backed with a writer who is clearly out to impress and it’s going to be a tough crime debut to beat in 2012. This year really has started out highly and I really can’t wait to see what Penny hits back with next.

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: Magic in the Blood - Devon Monk

Release Date: 01/01/12


Allie Beckstrom knows that there's a price to pay for using magic ...She's suffered her fair share of migraines and gaps in her memory during her time working as a Hound, tracing spells back to their casters. But now Allie's been visibly marked by magic with a mysterious iridescent tattoo. She's not only lost all memory of how she got it, but also of the man that she's supposedly fallen in love with. Oh, and as usual, she's completely broke. So when the criminal magic enforcement division of the police asks her to consult on a missing person's case, things start to look up. At first, it seems to be a fairly straightforward way of earning some money - but like most things in Allie's life it soon turns into a dangerous mix of underworld criminals, ghosts and blood magic. This time Allie is going to discover it takes more than magic to survive...


OK, I love a good Urban Fantasy story and when you add a price into the mix for the use of the characters magic it has extra danger for the use of power, however coming into this series with the second book, I was left wondering for quite a while what I’d missed in the previous as it kept being alluded to throughout.

Don’t get me wrong, I did have fun with this title, but I felt that something was missing for me as a reader as I hadn’t gotten to know the character prior to the consequences that seem to have affected her in the end of the previous story which left me wondering about her associations alongside having to figure the world and her role out in greater detail. The writing is crisp, the character was interesting but without the background I felt I was on the backfoot from the beginning. I’ll reread this book when I’ve read the original story Magic in the Bone.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

LADY ELEANOR FACTUAL REVIEW: The Women of the Cousin's War - Philippa Gregory, David Baldwin and Michael Jones

Release Date: 15/09/11


Elizabeth Woodville, The White Queen (2009), Margaret Beaufort, The Red Queen (2010), and Jacquetta, Lady Rivers, The Rivers Woman (2011) are the subjects of the first three novels in Philippa Gregory's Cousins' War series, and of the three biographical essays in this book. Philippa Gregory and two historians, leading experts in their field who helped Philippa to research the novels, tell the extraordinary 'true' stories of the life of these women who until now have been largely forgotten by history, their background and times, highlighting questions which are raised in the fiction and illuminating the novels. With a foreword by Philippa Gregory - in which Philippa writes revealingly about the differences between history and fiction and examines the gaps in the historical record - and beautifully illustrated with rare portraits, The Women of the Cousins' War is an exciting new addition to the Philippa Gregory oeuvre.


Knowing Philippa’s name from the historical fiction part of the bookshop, I had high hopes for this, the factual representation of the female characters to which the current series pertains. What unfortunately happens is a presented title that is a little higgledy-piggledy with no real background and some of the facts that for me were quite important missed out almost as if they weren’t important when in a factual historical document lineage and wills can shape the future of all. Add to this that there isn’t a lot of detail known and perhaps it’s a title that would have been best to leave well enough alone and stick to historical fiction where a certain amount of leeway is acceptable and where for me, the Philippa’s talents lie.

LADY ELEANOR HISTORICAL FICTION REVIEW: The Cousin's War 3: The Lady of the Rivers - Philippa Gregory

Release Date: 15/09/11


Jacquetta, daughter of the Count of Luxembourg and kinswoman to half the royalty of Europe, was married to the great Englishman John, Duke of Bedford, uncle to Henry VI. Widowed at the age of nineteen she took the extraordinary risk of marrying a gentleman of her house-hold for love, and then carved out a life for herself as Queen Margaret of Anjou's close friend and a Lancaster supporter - until the day that her daughter Elizabeth Woodville fell in love and married the rival king Edward IV. Of all the little-known but important women of the period, her dramatic story is the most neglected. With her links to Melusina, and to the founder of the house of Luxembourg, together with her reputation for making magic, she is the most haunting of heroines.


I’ve been a fan of Philippa’s since I originally read her story, The Other Queen, which not only enchanted me but gave me all the things that I look for in a story, a character I want to spend time with, emotional involvement and of course a setting where no matter how much you wished for a different outcome you know what will happen in the end.

Yet sadly for me, the currently series set in the Cousin’s War really isn’t giving me what I want. There isn’t enough available material for the author to utilise to help bring it altogether (a fact that Philippa admits as most of the historical texts are about the male lineage rather than dealing with the female) and with the same timeline told from various points of view, the reader will feel that they keep reading the same thing in each title. Add to this, that for me, this book about Jacquetta should have been released before the White Queen to get the full effect and I was left feeling a little cheated, especially when I wanted the author to delve into the characters emotions about her husband and son’s beheading which was completely ignored.

That said, the authors writing style is there, its gripping with decent pace, but with no real substance to help back it up (a fact backed up sadly with the Cousins War Historical Title) it felt that it floundered pretty early on. All in, I’ll read a few more of Philippa’s titles but unless they head more towards the factual and documented which will allow her to present the principle character to a modern audience then I won’t be staying with her for much longer.