Tuesday 31 July 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:
05/07/12 JACKSON, Douglas - Defender of Rome

If we've missed one please let us know,


HISTORICAL FICTION REVIEW: Saladin Trilogy 2: Kingdom - Jack Hight

Release Date: 19/07/12


1164. The young warrior Saladin joins a Saracen army headed for Egypt. He finds there a land of wonders - from the ancient pyramids and the towering lighthouse of Alexandria, to the caliph's luxurious palace - but also a land of unparalleled danger. In Egypt, no one can be trusted, not even his family. Saladin is surrounded by enemies and haunted by a secret that threatens to destroy him. Meanwhile, in Jerusalem, Saladin's closest friend, the former crusader John of Tatewic, has been branded traitor. Spared execution on condition that he serves King Amalric, he soon finds himself embroiled in court intrigue. Dark forces within Jerusalem conspire to seize the throne. As John confronts them, his loyalty to Amalric, and to his old friend Saladin, is put to the test.


What grabbed me originally with the first book in this series was the way in which the author managed to bring the complex world of the time in which the series is set to the readers imagination where one wrong word from a translator could result in not only bloodshed but full scale warfare.

It’s cleverly crafted, the combat where applicable carefully controlled but it’s the dialogue alongside the personalities of the characters that really bring the series to the fore. Add to this a more rounded view of the world at large alongside giving the reader a wonderful arc to follow and all in I was hooked. Great stuff.

Monday 30 July 2012

VIDEO GAME NEW: Dishonored Pre-Order Bonuses - Bethesda

Hail Mighty Readers and Followers of the Calloused Thumbs,
Our friends at Bethesda have let us know about the various UK preorder bonuses that you'll get dependent upon your provider of choice. 

Whilst the game isn't out until October if you order now this is what you'll get:

GAME & GameStation Special Edition – includes a 72 tarot card deck with instructions to play the ‘Game of Nancy’  & the Arcane Assassin Downloadable Upgrade Pack, which includes:

    VOID CHANNEL: Powers duration and damage bonus {exclusive}
    WHITE RAT FRIEND: White rats will not be hostile {exclusive}
    GUTTER FEAST: White rat consumption for mana {exclusive}
    WHALE IN-GAME STATUE: Unlocks one additional slot for bone charm bonuses {start with an extra slot earlier on}
    UNHIDDEN BOOK: “Filed Notes: The Journal of Granny Rags” {exclusive}

TESCO – Shadow Rat Downloadable Upgrade Pack, which includes:
        DELICATE TOUCH: Breaking Glass noise reduction {exclusive}
        VOYEUR: Key-hole peeping magnification {exclusive}
        DEEP BREATHER: Underwater breathing capacity bonus {exclusive}
        GOLDEN RAT STATUE: Unlocks one additional slot for bone charm bonuses {start with an extra slot earlier on}
        UNHIDDEN BOOK: “Filed Notes: The Royal Spy” {exclusive}
        500 BONUS COINS

Shop.to.net – Backstreet Butcher Downloadable Upgrade Pack, which includes:
        FENCER: sword vs. sword advantage bonus {exclusive}
        FIRE WATER: increased whiskey bottle explosions {exclusive}
        BLAST RESISTANT: reduced explosion damage taken {exclusive}
        WOLFHOUND IN-GAME STATUE: unlocks one additional slot for bone charm bonuses {start with an extra slot earlier on}
        UNHIDDEN BOOK: “Early Life and Times: Slackjaw”
        500 BONUS COINS

Amazon.co.uk – Acrobatic Killer Downloadable Upgrade Pack, which includes:
        RAVEN: Health bonus for drop-down assassination {exclusive}
        QUICK DODGE: Bolt / arrow dodging bonus {exclusive}
        RIVER AFFINITY: Increased swimming speed {exclusive}
        HAGFISH IN-GAME STATUE: Unlocks one additional slot for bone charm bonuses {start with an extra slot earlier on}
        UNHIDDEN BOOK: “Rumours and Sightings: Daud”
        500 BONUS COINS

All the best and may your blade be sharp,

Gareth and Lady Eleanor

FANTASY REVIEW: Sharps - KJ Parker

Release Date: 19/07/12


For the first time in nearly forty years, an uneasy truce has been called between two neighbouring kingdoms. The war has been long and brutal, fought over the usual things: resources, land, money ...Now, there is a chance for peace. Diplomatic talks have begun and with them, the games of skill and chance. Two teams of fencers represent their nations at this pivotal moment. When the future of the world lies balanced on the point of a rapier, one misstep could mean ruin for all.


As a huge reader, KJ Parker is an author I always make time for, the books have solid characters, wonderful plot lines and of course some magical twists that are as deft as a fencing match which is quite appropriate considering the manner of this tale. Whilst it does start off slow, the reader is given a wonderful introduction to the key players as they wend their merry way to the key point in the tale.

Add to this the fact that it’s a rich tapestry of description and play which when added to sharp prose alongside solid dialogue all in makes this a cracking read for any fan of fantasy tales. Great stuff.

Saturday 28 July 2012

ART BOOK REVIEW: Dragonart Drawing Workshop - J Neondragon Peffer

Release Date: 27/07/12


From the creator of the best-selling DragonArt titles! Now viewers can learn to draw dragons from start to finish with this video workshop that includes everything from shapes, to specific anatomy and even minute details. Instructions progress from a simple dragon to details such as heads, horns, wings and more.


OK you want to learn how to draw dragons but you’re not quite sure where to start. What this relatively small title offers is advice from a well-known artist as well as accompanying it with a DVD to help you not only get the practice but also allows the reader to start to create a piece that looks similar in a very short time.

All in its easy to follow, the advice given is helpful and at the end of the day to find a way to create something that I’d love to hang on my wall then it is a book that works wonderfully for the user. Great stuff.

CUISINE REVIEW: Momfuku Milk Bar - Christine Tosi and Chang David

Release Date: 24/02/12


The highly anticipated complement to the "New York Times" bestselling "Momofuku" cookbook, "Momofuku Milk Bar "reveals the recipes for the innovative, addictive cookies, pies, cakes, ice creams, and more from the wildly popular bakery.
A runaway success, the "Momofuku" cookbook suffered from just one criticism among reviewers and fans: where were Christina Tosi's fantastic desserts? The compost cookie, a chunky chocolate-chip cookie studded with crunchy salty pretzels and coffee grounds; the crack pie, a sugary-buttery confection as craveable as the name implies; the cereal milk ice cream, made from everyone's favorite part of a nutritious breakfast--the milk at the bottom of a bowl of cereal; the easy layer cakes that forgo fancy frosting in favor of unfinished edges that hint at the yumminess inside.
Momofuku Milk Bar" finally shares the recipes for these now-legendary riffs on childhood flavors and down-home classics--all essentially derived from ten mother recipes--along with the compelling narrative of the unlikely beginnings of this quirky bakery's success. It all started one day when Momofuku founder David Chang asked Christina to make a dessert for dinner that night. Just like that, the pastry program at Momofuku began, and Christina's playful desserts helped the restaurants earn praise from the "New York Times "and the "Michelin Guide "and led to the opening of Milk Bar, which now draws fans from around the country and the world.
With all the recipes for the bakery's most beloved desserts--along with ones for savory baked goods that take a page from Chang's Asian-flavored cuisine, such as Kimchi Croissants with Blue Cheese--and 100 color photographs, "Momofuku Milk Bar" makes baking irresistible off-beat treats at home both foolproof and fun.


If there’s one food style at which I fail, its deserts and puddings in general. Don’t get me wrong, I can make solid starters, great main courses but sweets? Forget it. That’s why this book from world famous Momfuku Milk bar comes in. The recipes are full of flavour and bring together great combinations, some of which I wouldn’t have thought of.

Add to this the fact that its clearly written by people who love to make others happy and all in it’s a great book. That said, what let it down for me was that in places it felt confusing, having recipes before what I thought was something that I’d have to make first which added firstly to the complication of the recipe and added expense that had you not noticed it, would have left you caught short.

Don’t get me wrong its variety has something for everyone from homemade cereals through to wonderfully decadent desserts but if you’re to make any, check it all through thoroughly first.

Friday 27 July 2012

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: Sadie Walker is Stranded - Madeleine Roux

Release Date: 19/07/12


Sadie Walker fights for survival as the undead close in... In the months since The Outbreak, Seattle has become a walled citadel - the Infected are kept at bay but the city is rife with kidnappings, religious cults and black-market dealings. And things are about to get much, much worse. A group of frustrated religious fanatics, the 'Repopulationists', destroy part of the wall and zombies swarm the city. Devastated by the brutal kidnapping of her nephew, illustrator Sadie Walker flees Seattle with her best friend Andrea and secures passage on a boat with no destination. The ragtag bunch aboard the ship are thrown ashore by a storm and stumble across what appears to be a thriving survivors camp. The shipwrecked group, relived to find food, shelter and friendship, relax into the rhythm of the community's existence. But then people start to disappear...


When she arrived on the scene with her first book (Alison is Trapped) I really loved the way that she brought the characters to life throughout the pages with humorous quirks alongside the dread of the situation. It worked wonderfully well for me, so much so that I really couldn’t wait to get my hands on the second title Sadie Walker is Stranded.

What unfurls within is a title that works to Madeleine’s strengths, solid characterisation, a wonderfully seemingly simple disaster that is complicated by mankind and a plot with a serious pace that keeps you chugging along.

All in this book was great fun to read and a real joy to escape some of the more serious titles I’ve been reading, add to this a lead character I could get behind as well as root for and I was a really happy reader. Great stuff.

Thursday 26 July 2012

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: Charlotte Markham and the House of Darkling - Michael Boccacino

Release Date: 20/07/12


Feisty young governess Charlotte Markham discovers a dark alternate world called The Ending, the place for things that cannot die, in which the deceased mother of the two boys under her care has been waiting. She invites them into the ominous House of Darkling, a wondrous, dangerous place filled with enchantment, mystery and strange creatures that are not quite human...


I love a story that not only takes you on a journey but verbally paints it across the imagination in such descriptive prose that it transports you to the world. That’s exactly what Michael does in this title with the use of a dark imagination and a world of almost Lovecraftian proportions.

For a debut novel its superb, the overall arc wonderful planned and when added to a cracking cast alongside an author with a clear vision, made this a title that I really couldn’t put down. Great stuff.

Wednesday 25 July 2012

VIDEO GAME NEWS: Darksiders All Gameplay Trailer - THQ

Hail Mighty Readers and Followers of the Calloused Thumbs,
Our friends at THQ have let us have a peak at the new Darksiders 2 trailer, the first to feature all game play shots.

As you'll see from the ad, its something thats definitely grabbed our attention and we're looking forward to massacring our way through the evil to help save mankind as Death's right hand man/woman (in Lady E's case.)

So without further ado, the new trailer, we hope this gets you salavating as much as it has us.
Finally please remember Darksiders 2 is released on the 21st August for the following consoles: Xbox 360 Playstation 3 PC All the best, Gareth and Lady Eleanor

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: Jane True 5: Tempest's Fury - Nicole Peeler -

Release Date: 19/07/12


Supernatural halfling Jane True's not happy. She's been packed off to England to fight a war when she'd much rather be getting busy with her boyfriend Anyan. Unfortunately, Jane's enemies have been stirring up some major trouble and attracting a lot of attention - making it rather tricky for Jane and Anyan to get any alone time. Catapulted into the role of Most Unlikely Hero Ever, Jane must lead supernatural races in a desperate battle to combat an ancient evil. But she'll also have to fight her own insecurities, as well as the doubts of those who don't think she can live up to her new role as Champion - the most powerful supernatural leader of all ...


Nicole Peeler, for me, was an author that brought humour to the Urban Fantasy novel with her wise cracking heroine that whilst not the kickass lead that most writers lead with, has learned skills alongside burgeoning in relationships as her world has unfurled throughout the series.

It has a great supporting cast and when added to the skills that really keep you glued to the last page (and I have to say damn you Nicole for that cliffhanger) really makes this a series that’s been a pure joy. Back this up with a kickass pace, full throttle arc that keeps you riding by the seat of your pants and wrapped up with the big red bow of romance, makes this a title that really will have readers reaching for the Voodoo Doll to get her writing. All in solid with the only downside being the ending which will mean that the wait for the next part will be even harder. (Please let there be another instalment.)

Tuesday 24 July 2012

FANTASY REVIEW: Outcast Chronicles 1: Besieged - Rowena Cory Daniels

Release Date: 05/07/12


Sorne, the estranged son of a King on the verge of madness, is being raised as a weapon to wield against the mystical Wyrds. Half a continent away, his father is planning to lay siege to the Celestial City, the home of the T’En, whose wyrd blood the mundane population have come to despise. Within the City, Imoshen, the only mystic to be raised by men, is desperately trying to hold her people together. A generations long feud between the men of the Brotherhoods and the women of the sacred Sisterhoods is about to come to a head.

With war without and war within, can an entire race survive the hatred of a nation?

Rowena Cory Daniells, the creator of the bestselling Chronicles of King Rolen’s Kin, brings you a stunning new fantasy epic, steeped in magic and forged in war.


Rowena is one of those authors who created a world that as a reader I want to get lost in. Whilst this tale moves on from the King Rolen’s Kin series, this one hits back with a society war that is not only thought provoking but one that brings lot of politicking alongside questioning by the reader as it wends it way.

Whilst this is a little of a slow starter, it is one that allows you to get to grips with the current situation through the eyes of the key protagonists. Its wonderfully written, the prose sharp and with the dialogue engaging the reader it’s a solid starter for a new series. But with it being a slow burner, I’m going to wait until the second book in the series before passing judgement as to be honest this one is mainly the set up for the series.

FANTASY REVIEW: The Dragons of Pern 21: Sky Dragons - Anne and Todd McCaffrey

Release Date: 05/07/12


After a vicious plague swept through the world of Pern, there are no longer enough dragons to fight off the current onslaught of Thread, the deadly spore that falls like rain from the skies and devours everything organic in its path. Pern's last best chance to rebuild the decimated dragon population lies with a group of young dragonriders and their dragons left stranded on an unexplored island. Leadership of these dragons and riders falls to Xhinna, female rider of a blue dragon, who, as the most experienced dragonrider in the new Weyr, must earn the respect of all who follow her, as not everyone is ready to accept a female wingleader. She must solve the problem of how to get sufficient numbers of dragon eggs, although her newfangled ideas, like letting green dragons mate and lay eggs to hatch new dragons, cause uproar. All the while she must protect her people and baby dragons from the predators and, worse, traitors or all hope for Pern will be lost.


With this being Anne’s final foray into the world of Pern with her son Todd, I was expecting great things, firstly because I thought that it would be polished to a diamond shine in her memory and secondly because of the overall threads that were available to develop.

What unfurled sadly was a disappointment as it felt disjointed, the characters forgettable and with so many similar sounding names, it caused no end of trouble until I started keeping a record of who was who. This only lead to greater pauses in reading and when added to an overall arc that really didn’t accomplish much in my opinion, left me feeling cheated as well as let-down. A great shame all in.

Monday 23 July 2012

FANTASY REVIEW: Dragon Aocalypse 2: Hush - James Maxey

Release Date: 05/07/12


The invulnerable, super-strong warrior Infidel has a secret: she’s lost her magical powers right at the moment when she needs them most. To keep a promise to a fallen friend, she must journey to the frozen wastelands of the north.

Her quest leads her through the abstract realms of the Sea of Wine, where she uncovers a conspiracy that threatens all life. Hush, the primal dragon of cold, has formed an alliance with the ghost of a vengeful witch to murder Glorious, the dragon of the sun, plunging the world into an unending winter night.

Without her magical strength, can Infidel possibly survive her battle with Hush? If she fails to save Glorious, will the world see another morning?


I’ve had a lot of fun with James Maxey with his Dragon titles prior to this, the second instalment of the Dragon Apocalypse. What unfurls within is a story that fantasy readers will love with solid prose, some decent swordplay and did I mention the high point of magnificent breasts, I mean beasts. (Then again with James Maxey either applies. LOL)

Add to this a high octane pace backed up with an author who knows what the reader wants and gives it to them in spade which all in gives you a good bit of fun for your buck that will take readers of a certain age back to the Forgotten Realms days.

FANTASY REVIEW: The Fate of the Dwarves - Markus Heitz

Release Date: 05/07/12


For the last time, the dwarves are going to war - and the outcome will decide the fate of their race. There has been no word from the brave warrior Tungdil since the vicious battle at the Black Abyss. Dragons, magicians, and the malevolent alfar have advanced far into the kingdom of Girdlegard, ruthlessly seizing vast areas of land. The dwarves seem to be facing their next battle with little hope of survival. But then the inexplicable happens. A dwarf dressed in black armour returns from the abyss with a formidable army in tow. He calls himself Tungdil, and for his most loyal friend Ireheart and his allies, this means a new hope. But soon doubts begin to arise ...Could this really be Tungdil, or is this warrior following his own dark agenda? It is a question of the future of Girdlegard - and the future of all the dwarves.


I’ve been a huge fan of Markus’ inventive world, I’ve loved spending time there as the world has unfurled with the characters fates being played out in the great scale of things and when added to the wonderful descriptiveness alongside solid world-building has been one of the series that I’ve had to have as soon as its out.

The prose is sharp, the action sequences bloody and all in this has been a real joy to read, throw into the mix some cracking double dealing, some political machinations and all in this is a solid title. All in this series for me has been a pure joy from start to finish and definitely one I’d recommend to other fantasy fans.

Sunday 22 July 2012

THRILLER REVIEW: The Last Man Standing - Davide Longo

Release Date: 05/07/12


Italy is on the brink of collapse. Borders are closed, banks withhold money, and the postal service stalls. Armed gangs of drug-fuelled youths roam the countryside. Leonardo was a famous writer and professor before a sex scandal ended his marriage and career. Heading north in search of her new husband, his ex-wife leaves their daughter and her son in his care. If he is to take them to safety, he will need to find a quality he has never possessed: courage.


If there’s something that you can say about Maclehose, it’s that they bring a lot of titles that would otherwise have skipped the English market to the fore and give us something that really becomes a special reading experience. That something is this new title by Davide Longo, translated from the Italian by Silvester Mazzarella.

It’s thought provoking, the emotional context comes over wonderfully and when added to a writing style that works it way deep into the readers psyche I suspect that it will be something that would work very well for the film market. Add to this solid prose, an almost adult hand guiding you through this dark future and all in it’s a wonderful book. Great stuff.

Saturday 21 July 2012

HISTORICAL FICTION: Pirate Devlin 3: Blood Diamond - Mark Keating

Release Date: 19/07/12


Each Devlin novel is a standalone adventure. In BLOOD DIAMOND the fearles pirate captain Devlin is invited to London by the Prince of Wales, no less, and offered an amnesty if he will carry out a daring crime. Devlin is tasked with going to Paris to steal the biggest, most valuable diamond ever found - the Pitt Diamond - now in the possession of the French Prince Regent. Set against the unsure frenzy of speculation known as the South Sea Bubble, with action and suspense on the filthy streets and great palaces of London and Paris, not to mention an epic confrontation with the French navy in the English Channel, BLOOD DIAMOND is sthe most exciting novel yet in the Devlin series.


They say, all the good girls love a sailor, so obviously the bad ones, must love a pirate and to be honest its not just the bad girls, it’s the bad guys, so when Mark’s latest book landed I ripped the packaging off, grabbed a bottle of rum, so hard tack (OK, I’ll be honest it was ice cold Cherry Cola alongside a selection of choccy biscuits) and sat down.

What unfurled within was a story of high adventure, cracking action and of course the continual development of our lead hero as he seeks to grow in his own role. As with the previous instalments Mark continues to grow in his writing skill as each title continues to push him and its clear to see how its gone. The prose is top notch, the pace solid and with a character like Devlin on hand how can you not fall in love with the high seas. Great stuff.

Friday 20 July 2012

HISTORICAL FICTION: Hereward: The Devil's Army - James Wilde

Release Date: 19/07/12


It's 1067. The battle of Hastings has been lost; Harold Godwinsson is dead. The iron fist of William the Bastard has begun to squeeze the life out of England. Villages are torched and men, women and children put to the sword as the Norman king attempts to impose his cruel will upon this unruly nation. But there is one who stands in the way of the invader's savagery. He is called Hereward. He is a warrior and master tactician and as adept at slaughter as the imposter who sits upon the throne. And he is England's last hope. In a Fenlands fortress of water and wild wood, Hereward's resistance is simmering. His army of outcasts grows by the day - a devil's army that emerges out of the mists and the night, leaving death in its wake. But William is not easily cowed. Under the command of his ruthless deputy, Ivo Taillebois - the man they call 'the Butcher' - the Norman forces will do whatever it takes to crush the rebels, even if it means razing England to the ground. Here then is the tale of the bloodiest rebellion England has ever known - the beginning of an epic struggle that will echo down the years...


Having loved the original Hereward title I really couldn’t wait to get my hands on the second outing for this hero, after all in a war to save his people there are going to be hard choices to make and how he makes them will decide whether he’s a hero or a villain.

Set against the English Rebellion after their defeat at Hastings, this is a tale of a native son who at times has been thought of as the basis for Robin Hood with some of his own tales being incorporated into the mythical hero’s legend. As with the original its full of blood rending action, follows a flawed hero trying to do his best for his people and of course gives the reader a story that they can get between their teeth alongside savour.

Add to this solid no nonsense prose with top rate action sequences that really will keep you glued and all in a story that shows determination against the odds alongside bravery can break mountains. Cracking stuff.

Thursday 19 July 2012

HISTORICAL FICTION: Warrior or Rome: The Wolves of the North - Harry Sidebottom

Release Date: 19/07/12


In the fifth novel in Harry Sidebottom's acclaimed and bestselling "Warrior of Rome" historical fiction series, Ballista returns in "Warrior of Rome: The Wolves of the North" to undertake yet another epic mission - while the Roman Empire reels in chaos around him. AD 263 - the Roman Empire is close to turmoil, violent uprising threatening to shatter the fragile balance of power. In the north, the tribes are increasingly bold in their raids on the Imperium - their savagery unlike anything Rome has known before. Ballista must undertake his most treacherous journey yet - a covert attempt to turn the barbarians against each other. He must face the Heruli - the Eaters of Flesh, the Wolves of the North - the most brutal tribe of them all. As Ballista and his retinue make their journey, someone - or something - is hunting them, picking them off one by one, and leaving a trail of mutilated corpses and terror. Ballista is in a strange land, among strange people, but is it possible that the greatest threat may come from within his own familia? Harry Sidebottom's "Warrior of Rome: The Wolves of the North" is a nail-biting, action packed epic tale of rebellion and terror set in the Roman Empire. "A book to keep you up well past your bedtime". ("Evening Standard"). "Blazes with searing scholarship". ("The Times"). Dr Harry Sidebottom is a Fellow of St Benet's Hall and lecturer at Lincoln College, Oxford - where he specializes in ancient warfare and classical art. His previous books in the "Warrior of Rome" series, "Fire in the East", "King of Kings", "Lion of the Sun" and "The Caspian Gates" have all been bestsellers and are all published by Penguin.


Harry is one of those authors that I really love to spend time with. He takes me far away from our own world and throws me back to the ancient days of Rome as his principle hero seeks to help keep order in the Empire. Its creative, its wonderfully written and with great prose alongside high octane action sequences, he’s an author that really does deliver.

Add to this great research and an ability to keep you informed without the use of an info dump and all in this book was a pure joy to read. Magical writing and of course an author who sets standards for readers to follow.

Wednesday 18 July 2012

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: Laundry Files 4: The Apocalypse Codex - Charles Stross

Release Date: 19/07/12


Bob Howard used to fix computers for the Laundry - the branch of the British Secret Service that deals with otherworldly threats - but those days are over. He's not only been promoted to active service but actually survived missions against cultists, enemy spies and tentacled horrors from other dimensions. Willingly or not, he's on his way up in this dangerous organisation. When a televangelist with connections to 10 Downing Street seems able to work miracles, the Laundry takes an interest. But an agency that answers to the Prime Minister can't spy on him themselves, and Bob's shadowy superiors come up with a compromise - they hire 'freelancers', with Bob in charge. British citizens who discover the occult are either forcibly recruited by the Laundry or disposed of, and Bob's never heard of freelancers before. Officially they don't exist. Anyone who's big and bad enough to remain independent is going to be hard to handle, and Bob's not too sure that the one-week 'people management' course he was sent on in Milton Keynes is going to be enough ...


If like me you’ve been enjoying the lighter side of the Urban Fantasy genre, then you’ve more than likely read the other Laundry books by Charles Stross (The Atrocity Archives, The Jennifer Morgue and The Fuller Memorandum) and been awaiting the next outing for the principle player and hero of the series Bob Howard.

What occurs within the pages is another light hearted romp that has some great characters, a new addition to the Laundry and of course a whole heap of trouble to challenge the newly promoted Bob. As usual with Charles’ writing, its crisp has a great sense of humour coming through and when added to razor sharp prose, top notch pace and backed with an author who clearly has affection for his world, makes this a title hard to put down with the humour cheering you up despite whatever type of day you’ve had. All in a cracking story and one I wished had gone on longer.

Tuesday 17 July 2012

VIDEO GAME NEWS: Metro Last Light: E3 Footage - THQ

Hail Mighty Readers and Followers of the Calloused Thumbs,
Our friends  at THQ, have let us have Gameplay Footage that demonstrates why its earened over 20 E3 2012 Game Nominations.  

As you'll see its slick, intense atmospheric graphics and for us, is going to be a game that will be hard to beat next year.

Currently scheduled for release on 13th Jan 2013, for the following consoles:
Playstation 3
Xbox 360
it will bring hours of nerve intensive action to your home.

But why take our word?  Have a look yourself:
Here's what the game blurb:
It is the year 2034. Beneath the ruins of post-apocalyptic Moscow, in the tunnels of the Metro, the remnants of mankind are besieged by deadly threats from outside – and within. Mutants stalk the catacombs beneath the desolate surface, and hunt amidst the poisoned skies above. But rather than stand united, the station-cities of the Metro are locked in a struggle for the ultimate power, a doomsday device from the military vaults of D6. A civil war is stirring that could wipe humanity from the face of the earth forever. As Artyom, burdened by guilt but driven by hope, you hold the key to our survival – the last light in our darkest hour… Key Features:     A gripping, story-driven first person shooter, Metro: Last Light is the hugely anticipated sequel to 2010’s critically acclaimed classic Metro 2033.
    Experience thrilling combat with an exotic arsenal of hand-made weaponry against deadly foes – both human and mutant – and use stealth to launch attacks under the cover of darkness.
    Explore the post-apocalyptic world of the Moscow Metro, one of the most immersive, atmospheric game worlds ever created.
    Fight for every bullet and every last breath in a claustrophobic blend of survival horror and FPS gameplay.
    Next generation technology boasting stunning lighting and physics sets a new graphical benchmark on both console and PC.

    Wage post-apocalyptic warfare online, as Last Light delivers an intense multiplayer experience amongst the dark Russian ruins. We look forward to fighting by your side in the dark future.  Ваше здоровье!   (Vashee zda-ró-vye!)

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: Bitter Seeds - Ian Tregillis

Release Date: 19/07/12


The year is 1939. Raybould Marsh and other members of British Intelligence have gathered to watch a damaged reel of film in a darkened room. It appears to show German troops walking through walls, bursting into flames and hurling tanks into the air from afar.

If the British are to believe their eyes, a twisted Nazi scientist has been endowing German troops with unnatural, unstoppable powers. And Raybould will be forced to resort to dark methods to hold the impending invasion at bay.

But dealing with the occult exacts a price. And that price must be paid in blood.

Ian Tregillis' Bitter Seeds is a chilling masterpiece - a tale of a twentieth century like our own and also profoundly different.


If you’re after something where Cthulhu meets Science and heads for a battle to the finish then you really might want to try this title by Ian Tregillis where UK Sorcerer’s seek to defeat Nazi experimental super soldiers in a no holds barred battle to the finish novel. The blurb grabbed me straight away so I really couldn’t wait to start this debut so what did I get for my time.

What unfurls within was sadly a tale that really promised a lot and whilst it did deliver to a certain degree suffers sadly for a lack of pace. Trundling along at a sedate pace rather than the action packed title that I was expecting. Don’t get me wrong, when the action hits it is fast but the majority of the book feels more like a question of the morals behind what they’re doing rather than the nitty gritty of what I was expecting.

All in, for a debut it’s a solid enough title but without a change of pace, it’s a title that may fizzle in my opinion more than bang and for a debut author its something that will have to happen in the second book or else they may not have anywhere else to go.

Monday 16 July 2012

CUISINE REVIEW: How to Bake - Paul Hollywood

Release Date: 05/07/12


At last, the star of BBC2's The Great British Bake Off reveals all the secrets of his craft in How to Bake. The son of a baker, Paul Hollywood is passionate about busting the myths that surround baking, sharing his finely honed skills, and showing that with the right guidance, anybody can achieve success time after time. With this in mind, he has filled this book with easy-to-follow, clearly explained, utterly delicious recipes. Having taken you through the basic techniques, Paul explains how to make an abundance of breads, pastries, cakes and biscuits including wholemeal loaf, tin bread, ciabatta, focaccia, sour cherry and chocolate loaf, Roquefort and almond bread, fresh croissants, milles feuilles, quiche, classic Victoria sponge, lemon drizzle cake, chocolate temptation cake, buttery shortbread and fiery ginger biscuits. Time to get baking ...


It will probably not come as a surprise but I have a major weakness in the supermarket, I love the smell of fresh baked bread, so much so that my mouth waters and I’ve often been tempted to rush off to the butter isle, grab one and rip into the soft doughy middle of many loaves.

But why buy an E-Numbered laden version when you can bake so many varieties at home yourself?

What this book by Paul does, is bring skills and recipes learned the hard way to the home baker. It’s easy to follow and whilst time consuming well worth the effort for that rewarding feeling inside. Add to this something for everyone and it’s a great addition to your own range of books after all bread is one of the basic staples of life so it should be something that is celebrated. Great stuff.

Sunday 15 July 2012

FACTUAL REVIEW: The English Lakes - Ian Thompson

Release Date: 01/04/12


With more than 20 million visitors each year, the Lake District retains its fascination for people from all over Britain and abroad. Ian Thompson, who grew up in nearby Barrow-in-Furness and went fell-walking from an early age, is well-equipped to reveal the area's allure. He tells how it was the chance combination of a fascination with the Alps and the outbreak of the Napoleonic wars that provided the spark for a national obsession. And in brief elegant chapters he shows how Wordsworth, Coleridge, Southey and De Quincey transformed the perception of the region from one of 'horrid mountains' to 'vales of peace'. Later the work of J. M. W. Turner, John Ruskin, Beatrix Potter, Arthur Ransome and Alfred Wainwright, the great populariser of fell-walking, all in their different ways contributed to making the region what it is today. Crammed with fascinating detail and illustrated with Thompson's own superb colour photography and more than 80 other colour illustrations, The English Lakes is sheer delight.


Having spent a lot of my formative years in the Lake District I’ve grown up with not only the heritage but the sheer beauty of the area and even met some of the characters including Tony Warburton as well as Alfred Wainwright. This book by Ian Thompson is a wonderful tribute to the area taking you through the history as well as allowing people to see the sheer abundance of places to visit when they made either their day trip plans or their holiday ones.

Add to this a book that is written with great affinity to the area by an author who clearly wanted to bring the subject to the masses and with great description and wonderful photography alongside image reproduction and all in this is a book that will be thumbed through quite a few times.

Saturday 14 July 2012

CUISINE REVIEW: River Cottage 10: Herbs - Nikki Duffy

Release Date: 01/03/12


Herbs are the most liberating and confidence-boosting of ingredients: grow some and you feel like a proper gardener, bring some into the kitchen and you feel like a proper cook. They allow you to experiment and bring individuality to your cooking while, at the same time, anchoring you in sound culinary tradition because herbs are often responsible for those key flavours that 'make' a dish. Not only that but they are a step on the road to a more self-sufficient, homegrown, organic way of eating. In the first part of the book, Nikki explains how to get the most from herbs. She outlines the basic choosing, picking and using guidelines. The second part is a catalogue of herbs, each with grow-your-own notes, flavour descriptions and mini-recipes. Among the forty herbs that Nikki describes are basil, bay, bergamot, chives, coriander, dill, fennel, horseradish, hyssop, marigold, marjoram, mint, parsley, perilla, rocket, rosemary, sage, scented geranium, tarragon, thyme, wild garlic and winter savory. Following this are over fifty wonderful and adaptable recipes for everything from herb-scented cakes and biscuits to soups, stuffings and tarts, where more than one herb is, or can be, used. With an introduction by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and full-colour photographs, Herbs is a must-have book for every kitchen.


Recently when purchasing herbs to make a casserole I was shocked at how much these few additions cost. Not tha they’re a one use item but when you add them up over the course of a year it can be quite a tidy sum.

Growing up I remembered having a Bay Leaf Tree, fresh Chives and a few other fresh herbs around the garden, so when this book from River Cottage arrived I thought why not grow my own. After all, fresh is best and after a little outlay, provided you look after them, you can have fresh herbs for life.

Provided within are tips on how to cultivate you own supplies alongside some wonderful recipes for their usage. All in this is a great book all round and something that will add flavour to your meals and that, is rewarding in itself.

Friday 13 July 2012

VIDEO GAME NEWS: Lego Lord of the Rings - Warner Brothers Interactive

Hail Mighty Readers and Followers of the Calloused Thumbs,
Our friends at Warner Brother Interactive have let us know about some new screen shots from the forthcoming Lego Lord of the Rings game.  

We realise just how precious these items are and we are pleased that they agreed to share them with us so that we could let you know.

In addition to this, we're really looking forward to playing the game and look forward to playing with the various available characters.

So far, not that much is known about the game other than it will be available for the following formats:
Nintendo 3DS 
Nintendo DS 
PlayStation 3 
PlayStation Vita 
Xbox 360

And now, a couple of teaser shots for you:

More on this story as it becomes available.

CUISINE REVIEW: The Weekend Cookbook - Catherine Hill

Release Date: 12/07/12


From celebrated food stylist and writer Catherine Hill, comes this sumptuous collection of recipes for all home cooks who love celebrity chefs such as Nigel Slater. From stews to slow-cooked joints to mouth-watering veg dishes, this is a fully illustrated cookbook to be relied upon for delicious, original and low-maintenance meals. With chapters from Friday Night Easy to fabulous Sunday lunches, this is the only cookbook you'll need when the weekend comes round. Catherine Hill's unique cookbook is aimed at everyone who wants to cook at the weekend, whether you have a few friends over for a casual Friday night supper or are going away for a self-catering mini-break. Choose from quick, clever recipes like Tomato and Tallegio Tart or Sticky Mango Chicken Salad when you get in late on a Friday night. With a bit more time, impress on a Saturday with Prawn and Chorizo Stew or Marmalade Glazed Barbecue Ribs. And for a Sunday lunch to round off the weekend choose from lots of slow-cook, low maintenance ideas like Moroccan Leg of Lamb with Chickpeas, or Horseradish and Sugar-crusted Beef with Watercress Pesto - perfect for heading home to after a Sunday walk or drink at the pub. With a relaxed approach and packed full of delicious recipes, ingenious tips and advice, make your weekend cooking something to remember.


In a world that is so busy finding time to make that home-made meal can be often be like waging war with all the other chores that are required during your time off. That’s where this book by Catherine Hill comes in, its full of quick, easy to follow recipes and whilst some of it is simple food full of flavour there are some more complex recipes if you feel like pushing the boat out.

Now, personally I’m a huge fan of stick to your ribs cooking, so when I saw her Casserole I had to give it a go. It tasted divine and whilst I made a modification (I cooked it in my slow cooker and put dumplings in with it instead of a pie top) it made a wonderful accompaniment with fresh new potato’s and provided a meal for six of us although it mentioned that it should do four.

All in, this is a wonderful book and definitely something I’ll be flicking through quite few times to try out other wonderful recipes.

Thursday 12 July 2012

VIDEO GAME NEWS: Borderlands 2 - Take 2 Interactive

Hail Mighty Readers and Followers of the Calloused Thumbs,
Our friends at Take 2 Interactive have let us know about the latest advert for the latest game in the Borderlands cult franchise.

Its got guns, big guns and of course ridiculously huge guns.  Add to this a whole host of characters to play, quirky beasts to slay as well as some really cool vehicles but all with the capacity to slay.

It looks like our sort of game, and with Lady Eleanor being all ready to go Guns Blazing, its definitely going to be something that she'll be getting a blast (or rather blasting) from.

So for your amusement, here is the trailer thats got us so excited:
Hope you look forward to this as much as we are and remember, if you happen to see us coming at ya online prepare for glory or failure with Lady Eleanors outright charging, whilst I snipe on her behalf.
Borderlands 2 is available on the 21st September for the following formats:
Xbox 360
Playstation 3
Product Description:
Borderlands 2 furthers the distinct blending of First Person Shooter and Role Playing genres to create the true evolution of the Role Playing Shooter. Team up with up to three other players for four-player online goodness or go old-school with two-player split-screen couch sharing mayhem as you spend hours leveling up your character and equipping them with one of the millions of badass weapons. Borderlands 2 features a new visually stunning array of procedurally generated guns, shields, grenades, artifacts, enemies and more. Choose one of the four new character classes to be taken through a carefully crafted and connected story to all new and surprising environments across the living planet of Pandora. Make new friends, arm them to the teeth and fight alongside them on your relentless quest for revenge and redemption.
  • Gunzerker Leads a Cast of All-New Characters and All-New Classes: Step into the role of the Gunzerker, whose highly deadly skills allow him to dual-wield any two weapons found in the game. Not only that, you will build on that skill to do more things with two guns than you ever imagined possible. Dual machine guns? Cool. Dual rocket launchers? Of course! Dual Sniper Rifles? Sure, if that’s your thing! Want to try other styles? More tactical perhaps? There are multiple classes to choose from!
  • Dynamic Co-op online, split-screen and LAN: Share your adventures with friends both online and via LAN. Borderlands 2 features a seamless system enabling you to drop in and drop out of a campaign without ever having to restart the game. On top of that you can even take your new gear from any game to any other!
  • World Connected Story: You will find yourself left for dead in the frozen tundra of Pandora as you begin your quest of revenge and redemption. Expose the evil surrounding the Hyperion Corporation and take on the perpetrator of a universe-wide grand deception -- the nefarious Hyperion CEO, Handsome Jack. (Oh, also: he's stolen credit for the opening of the Vault.)
  • New Badass Gun System: An entirely new take on the groundbreaking procedural system means millions upon millions of possible weapons. The variety and style of guns in Borderlands 2 is staggering, and you’ll see tons of new and innovative ways to engage foes on Pandora. Fire, electricity, corrosive acid, and much more will all be at your disposal as you fight your way through the Hyperion Corporation’s forces!
  • 87 Bazillion...Everything: In addition to the new gun system, you will lust after procedurally generated shields, grenades, Alien Artifacts, class mods and much, much more. And you thought the original Borderlands had a ton of loot!
  • Brand new environments on Pandora: Hunt through entirely brand new areas of Pandora that are more alive than ever! From the arctic tundra, through the dangerous grasslands, past the mysterious corrosive caverns to beyond, you’ll be surprised by the unpredictable world of Pandora at every turn!
  • Brand new enemies: A whole slew of new enemies are out there to kill you in Borderlands 2. Hulking, gorilla-like Bullymongs, vicious predatory Stalkers and the Hyperion mechanical army, run by Handsome Jack, are just some of the new enemies you will be facing off against on Pandora. New strategies will need to be created for every fight, as enemies now interact and aid each other to ensure you don’t get far in the world of Pandora.

HISTORICAL FANTASY: Wolfsangel 3: Lord of Slaughter - MD Lachlan

Release Date: 28/06/12


On a battlefield strewn with corpses, a ragged figure, dressed in wolfskin and intent on death, slips past the guards into the tent of the Emperor and draws his sword.

The terrified citizens of Constantinople are plagued by mysterious sorcery. The wolves outside the city are howling. A young boy had traded the lives of his family for power. And a Christian scholar, fleeing with his pregnant wife from her enraged father, must track down the magic threatening his world.

All paths lead to the squalid and filthy prison deep below the city, where a man who believes he is a wolf lies chained, and the spirits of the dead are waking.

The Norsemen camped outside the city have their own legends, of the wolf who will kill the gods, but no true Christian could believe such a thing.

And yet it is clear to Loys that Ragnarok is coming. Will he be prepared to sacrifice his life, his position, his wife and his unborn child for a god he doesn't believe in?

And deep in the earth, the wolfman howls...


Having read the previous two tales I really couldn't wait to see what MD would bring to the table for the third and final part of the Claw Trilogy. As with the others its compelling reading with cracking lead characters, solid supporting cast and of course a tale worthy of the Saga's of old coming to the fore.

Add to the mix an author who know's what the readers want and provides it in spades which will leave you in no doubt as to the either the talent or the skills involved. Finally throw into this great pace, magical prose and of course an ending that befits such an epic and all in as a reader I was more than sated. Great stuff all in and I'll eagerly be awaiting to see what Mark turns up with next.

Wednesday 11 July 2012

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: Immortal Empire 1: God Save the Queen - Kate Locke

Release Date: 05/07/12


The Year is 2012 - and Queen Victoria still rules with an immortal fist.

She's the undead matriarch of a Britain where the Aristocracy is made up of werewolves and vampires, where goblins live underground and mothers know better than to let their children out after dark. A world where technology lives side by side with magic, where being nobility means being infected with the Plague (side-effects include undeath) and Hysteria is the popular affliction of the day.

Xandra Vardan is a member of the elite Royal Guard, and it's her duty to protect the Aristocracy. But things get complicated when her sister goes missing. Xandra will not only realise she's the prize in a dangerous power struggle - but she'll also uncover a conspiracy that threatens to topple the empire itself.


OK I love a solid Urban Fantasy but when you blend in some Steampunk, vamps and of course Were’s, then you know its going to be something special. This book, the first of the Immortal Empire series introduces the reader to heroine Alexandra Vardan, Royal Guard to her Majesty Queen Victoria who is celebrating 175 years on the throne.

Alexandra is dark, is a serious ass kicking heroine and when you add to the mix emotional entanglement with the Alpha of the Were’s of the UK, you know it’s going to hit the fan fast, especially when she’s brought into the underground movement that seeks to bring the experiment on Halvies (those with blood of one of the ruling elite without being fully changed) into the cold light of day. It’s a complex plot line, has some wonderful twists and when it all goes down with the conspiracies coming out, you know damn well that it’s going to hell in a hand basket pretty quickly. It’s only a matter of time and for some, its running out faster than others.

All in I had a lot of fun with this book, I loved the characters (both supporting and main), the author brought this new vision of London to life and when backed up with a cracking pace as a reader you know that it’s just what you want. I can’t wait for the next instalment.

Tuesday 10 July 2012

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: All Soul's Trilogy 2: Shadow of Night - Deborah Harkness

Release Date: 10/07/12


It began with A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES. Historian Diana Bishop, descended from a line of powerful witches, and long-lived vampire Matthew Clairmont have broken the laws dividing creatures. When Diana discovered a significant alchemical manuscript in the Bodleian Library, she sparked a struggle in which she became bound to Matthew. Now the fragile coexistence of witches, daemons, vampires and humans is dangerously threatened. Seeking safety, Diana and Matthew travel back in time to London, 1590. But they soon realise that the past may not provide a haven. Reclaiming his former identity as poet and spy for Queen Elizabeth, the vampire falls back in with a group of radicals known as the School of Night. Many are unruly daemons, the creative minds of the age, including playwright Christopher Marlowe and mathematician Thomas Harriot. Together Matthew and Diana scour Tudor London for the elusive manuscript Ashmole 782, and search for the witch who will teach Diana how to control her remarkable powers...Fall under the spell of Diana and Matthew once more in this stunning, richly imagined, epic tale.


The second instalment in the addictive All Souls series and if like me you’ve been waiting with baited breath for this you’ll have a clear idea of how long the title sat on my table before I cracked open the pages and began reading. What unfurls within is a story that is just as twisted as the original with the characters learning to adapt to the changes in not only their personal lives but also in their time travel ones.

As with the original the prose is sharp, the pace wonderfully addictive and when added to an author who has obviously conducted research into the time period and brought it over without the use of info dumps also allows the reader to fully immerse themselves within the pages.

Finally add to the mix a deeper hidden theme that’s unveiling itself to be dealt with in the third and final part and all in I was a satisfied reader. Great stuff all round and a real joy to read. Cracking.

Monday 9 July 2012

FACTUAL SURVIVAL BOOK: Build the Perfect Bug Out Bag - Creek Stewart

Release Date: 20/04/12


Be Ready When Disaster Strikes

If an unexpected emergency or disaster hits, are you prepared to leave your home—fast? You will be if you follow the advice in this book.

This book shows you how to create a self-contained disaster preparedness kit to help you survive your journey from ground zero to a safer location. Survival expert Creek Stewart details from start to finish everything you need to gather for 72 hours of independent survival—water, food, protection, shelter, survival tools, and so much more.

You'll find:A complete Bug Out Bag checklist that tells you exactly what to pack based on your survival skill levelPhotos and explanations of every item you need in your bagResource lists to help you find and purchase gearPractice exercises that teach you how to use almost everything in your bagDemonstrations for multi-use items that save pack space and weightSpecific gear recommendations for common disasters The book even includes special considerations for bugging out with children, the elderly, the physically disabled, and even pets.

A disaster could strike your home at any moment. Are you prepared to face the devastating aftermath? Protect yourself and your family by building a Bug Out Bag today!


OK, so perhaps this title may be a little extreme but in a world where you have to look out for number one it’s a book that helps you prepare in case the world goes to hell in a hand basket. Whilst some of the advice in this title isn’t pertinent to those living in the UK (for example owning a firearm) the book really helps give the reader some serious advice on how to make a bag to the best of your ability (and in this case your wallet) so that you can carry enough to keep you going for 72 hours.

Personally whilst I won’t be making it as a Bug Out Bag, I do like to make sure that I’m prepared for hiking in case things go bad. After all you never know when you might have a fall, when you may end up reading your map wrong and find yourself out on the fells overnight or if you come across someone else who’s had an accident.

This title by Creek Stewart helped me make sure that I had a number of fire lighting sources, the ability to make a hot meal as well as having communications in case I need to make that emergency call. It also allows me to have a medical kit that will pretty much cover me for basics as well as giving the user the chance to check that they’re as prepared as they think they are. One addition that I would add to the kit that Creek hasn’t is a one serving bottle of either brandy or whiskey. It can be used as a steriliser for stitches as well as an emergency fire starter.