Sunday 30 June 2013

HISTORICAL FICTION REVIEW: The Making of England 3: Anarchy - Stewart Binns

Release Date: 20/06/13
Publisher:  Penguin

SYNOPSIS:

Anarchy" is the knuckle-whitening third novel in Stewart Binns' "The Making of England" series. Ruthless brutality, greed and ambition: the "Anarchy". The year is 1186, the thirty-second year of the reign of Henry II. Gilbert Foliot, Bishop of London, has lived through long Henry's reign and that of his grandfather, Henry I. He has witnessed the terrifying civil war between Henry II's mother, the Empress Matilda, and her cousin, Stephen; a time so traumatic it becomes known as the Anarchy. The greatest letter writer of the 12th Century, Folio gives an intimate account of one of England's most troubled eras. Central to his account is the life of a knight he first met over fifty years earlier, Harold of Hereford. Harold's life is an intriguing microcosm of the times. Born of noble blood and legendary lineage, he is one of the nine founders of the Knights Templar and a survivor of the fearsome battles of the Crusader States in the Holy Land. Harold is loyal warrior in the cause of the Empress Matilda. On his broad shoulders, Harold carries the legacy of England's past and its dormant hopes for the future. Stewart Binns' "Anarchy" is a gripping novel in the great tradition of Conn Iggulden and Bernard Cornwell, and is the third in "The Making of England" trilogy, following "Conquest" and "Crusade". Praise for Stewart Binns: "Binns' stories are a terrific mix of history and human drama". (Celia Sandys: Author, presenter and granddaughter of Winston Churchill). "A fascinating mix of fact, legend and fiction ...this is storytelling at its best". ("Daily Mail"). Stewart Binns began his professional life as an academic. He then pursued several adventures, including a stint at the BBC, before settling into a career as a schoolteacher, specializing in history. Later in life, a lucky break took him back to the BBC, which was the beginning of a successful career in television. He has won a BAFTA, a Grierson, an RTS and a Peabody for his documentaries. Stewart's passion is English history, especially its origins and folklore. His previous novels in "The Making of England" trilogy are "Conquest" and "Crusade".


REVIEW:

The new Making of England title by Stewart Binns that keeps the reader going into a new period with cracking prose, wonderful pace and of course characters that the reader really does want to be around as they see the history come to life before their eyes.

The battle sequences are sharp, the combat direct and when added to an almost cinematic storytelling style really works well for the historical fiction reader. Throw into the mix solid prose alongside a beautifully woven arc all round makes this a series that has gone from strength to strength and whilst currently stated that it’s a trilogy, there is plenty more scope for it to open into future titles.





DEJA REVIEW: June 2013

Hail Mighty Readers,
Here are this months book reincarnations (covers may not match the new incarnation), please click on the cover to go to that titles review:





 

SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: Love Minus Eighty - Will McIntosh

Release Date: 11/06/13
Publisher:  Orbit

SYNOPSIS:

A NOVEL OF LOVE AND DEATH, IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER The words were gentle strokes, drawing her awake. "Hello. Hello there." She felt the light on her eyelids, and knew that if she opened her eyes they would sting, and she would have to shade them with her palm and let the light bleed through a crack. "Feel like talking?" A man's soft voice. And then her mind cleared enough to wonder: who was this man at her bedside? She tried to sigh, but no breath came. Her eyes flew open in alarm. The Minus Eighty ...Where millionaires browse the catalogue of icy women, judging on beauty ratings and revival costs. Where a freezer's gentle hum plays the background symphony for the world's most expensive first dates. Where death is only the beginning. Love Minus Eighty is a disquieting vision of our romantic future, as hopeful as it is horrifying, by a Hugo Award-winning author.


REVIEW:

This is a book that really caught my attention with the premise and to be honest it’s a book that each page I read drew me in more and more. I loved the idea of the future technology that Will brought to the fore and to be honest I loved the human emotion that he invested within to prove that love can happen to anyone at any time (even in death.)

It’s a great read, the characters were not only believable but people I wanted to spend time with and when added to the bizarre future possibility (one that I could actually see happening) all round generated a story that I blitzed through without realising it. Add to this great prose, some wonderful dialogue which all round, with the arc made this a book that I really can’t recommend enough to other readers out there looking for an alternate science fiction title.



Saturday 29 June 2013

HISTORICAL ROMANCE FICTION REVIEW: Mistress of the Sea - Jenny Barden

Release Date: 20/06/13
Publisher:  

SYNOPSIS:

Plymouth 1570 Drake's ship, The Swan, sets sail for the New World with a crew of pirates hell-bent on Spanish treasure. Among them is Will Doonan seeking both his fortune and revenge for the loss of his brother. But unbeknown to all, young Ellyn Cooksley has stowed away. And her presence aboard ship will prove to be more tempting to Will than gold ...


REVIEW:

OK, you’re looking for something specific, you want high sea’s action, a story of love and romance and mix it all up in Elizabethan England? Well that’s where this cracking title from Jenny Barden comes to the fore in this debut a long time in the making and to be honest the time that has been taken to polish it really does go to show the depth of not only research but love of the craft has gone into this book.

The history is believable with an almost miasma of the stench of the time attached. Its cleverly sculpted, grasps the reader deep into bossom of the title and really does give the reader a magical read that not only will thrill and enthral but makes the reader want to keep on reading long into the night. A great read.




ALTERNATE SCIENCE FICTION: Everness Book 2: Be My Enemy - Ian McDonald

Release Date: 06/06/13
Publisher:  Jo Fletcher Books

SYNOPSIS:

Everett Singh has escaped from his enemies with the Infundibulum - the key to all the parallel worlds. But his freedom has come at a price: the loss of his father to one of the billions of parallel universes in the Panopoly. E1 was the first Earth to create the Heisenberg Gate, the means to jump between worlds, but it was quarantined long ago. No one goes in...and nothing comes out. But E1 has something that Everett needs: the means to find his father. It's lucky that he has the support of Captain Anastasia Sixsmyth, her daughter Sen and the unique crew of the airship Everness, because Everett is about to discover the horrifying secret of E1 and, with it, his deadliest enemy.


REVIEW:

Ian McDonald is one of those authors who knows how to weave a story that not only brings you in but keeps you glued to the last page with top notch prose, some wonderful twists and of course characters that you just can’t wait to spend time around.

Here within the second book of his Everness series is a story that develops not only what has gone before but helps to bridge the alternate universes with a hidden puzzle within the multiverse that really is as cunning as it is brilliant. Add to this great pace and all round it goes to show why Ian is a name not to mess with. Satisfying and fulfilling, Ian really delivers for the reader in a way that many others don’t. Great stuff.




Friday 28 June 2013

HISTORICAL FICTION REVIEW: The Sword and the Throne - Henry Venmore-Rowland

Release Date: 20/06/13
Publisher:  Bantam

SYNOPSIS:

AD 69. Aulus Caecina Severus has thrown in his lot with the hedonistic Vitellius and prepares his legions for a gruelling march over the Alps. Driven by the desire to repay the treachery of his former patron, the Emperor Galba, and to keep his rival Valens in check, Severus leads his army against barbarian rebellions and against the mountains themselves in his race to reach Italy first. With the vast Po valley almost in sight, news reaches the army that Galba has been killed in a coup, and that Otho has been declared Emperor by the Praetorians who he had bribed to murder their own emperor. But there is no turning back for Severus, even if he wanted to. The Rhine legions want their man on the throne, and they won't stop until they reach Rome itself. Even once Otho is defeated, the battle for supremacy between Severus and Valens is far from over. The politics of the court and the mob is the new battleground, and Severus needs the help of his wife Salonina and his freedman Totavalas in this constant game of thrones. When stories spread of a new power in the east, Severus has to decide where his real loyalty lies: to his Emperor, to his city or to himself?


REVIEW:

I love a historical period that I really don’t know too much about as the events within come as a complete surprise to me. Being thrust into this world for the second time by Henry was something that I was a little worried about. Not that I didn’t expect a great read but the fact that book two for any author is the make or break for anyone.

What Henry does well is bring the time to life wonderfully, he gives the reader a principle character that they can really associate with, solid prose and of course a wonderfully woven tapestry of double dealing, political machinations alongside twists and turns that really do keep you guessing throughout. All round a cracking title and one that really has helped bring the author to the historical fiction scene.




FANTASY REVIEW: The Revolution Trade - Charles Stoss

Release Date: 06/06/13
Publisher:  Orbit

SYNOPSIS:

For one ex-journalist, the nightmare has just begun Miriam Beckstein has said goodbye to her comfort zone. The transition from journalist to captive in an alternative timeline was challenging to say the least. As was discovering her long-lost family, the Clan, were world-skipping assassins. Now civil war rages in her adopted home, she's pregnant with the heir to their throne and a splinter-group want her on their side of a desperate power struggle. But as a leader or figurehead? Meanwhile, unknown to the Clan, the US government is on to them and preparing to exploit this knowledge. But it hadn't foreseen a dissident Clan faction carrying nuclear devices between worlds - with the US President in their sights. The War on Terror is about to go transdimensional. But Mike Fleming, CIA agent, knows the most terrifying secret of all. His government's true intentions.


REVIEW:

The third and final compendium of Charles Merchant Princes titles and as with the others it’s a series that has been a joy to revisit as not only is it a cracking set of stories but its also for me the one that put the author on my favoured authors TBR pile. (The one that’s raided before anything else.)

As with the others the prose is sharp, the pace wonderful and when added to a plotline that keeps the reader guessing as well as trying to catch up in quite a few places all round gave me a blissful feeling as I turned each page. All round a cracking story and one that I was more than happy to revisit. Great stuff.




Thursday 27 June 2013

SCIENCE FICTION DVD REVIEW: Fringe Season 5 - Anna Tory, Joshua Jackson - Warner Home Video

Release Date: 13/05/13
Publisher:  Warner Home Video

SYNOPSIS:

All episodes from the fifth and final season of the sci-fi television drama, co-created by J.J. Abrams, following a team investigating cases of strange phenomena that exist on the fringes of science. In this season, which takes place in a dystopian world in the year 2036, the Fringe team attempt to carry out a plan to defeat the Observers but sacrifices will have to be made if they are to succeed. The episodes comprise: 'Transilience Thought Unifier Model-11', 'In Absentia', 'The Recordist', 'The Bullet That Saved the World', 'An Origin Story', 'Through the Looking Glass and What Walter Found There', 'Five-Twenty-Ten', 'The Human Kind', 'Black Blotter', 'Anomaly XB-6783746', 'The Boy Must Live', 'Liberty' and 'An Enemy Fate'.


REVIEW:

OK, I probably shouldn’t have watched this as I haven’t seen any of the other series. But thanks to certain online sites I was able to catch up with what has gone before and sit back with a least a vague idea of what was happening.

For me, the storyline was pretty good, I loved the twists, the focus on the characters both emotionally and as the series worked up to its climax and also the way that the story was brought across. Add to this solid acting with a cast that you could get behind and believe what they were bringing to you and all round as a viewer I was more than happy. Defintiely something I will watch again, however I’m going to wait for reruns to get the fuller picture from season one.



CUISINE REVIEW: Sushi at Home: The Beginner's Guide to Perfect, Simple Sushi - Yuki Gomi

Release Date: 27/06/13
Publisher:  

SYNOPSIS:

Yuki Gomi's Sushi at Home is a beautifully designed cookbook that will show, for the first time, how easy it is to make sushi at home. Do you love buying sushi for lunch, enjoy eating at Japanese restaurants for dinner, but think sushi is too difficult to make at home? Well, think again! In Sushi at Home, Japanese chef and sushi teacher Yuki Gomi shows you just how easy - and inexpensive - making delicious and beautiful looking sushi can be. Learn: everything you need to know about how to buy and prepare fish, from salmon to scallops, from tuna to mackerel; the joys of cling film and the technique of rolling step-by-step and why a hairdryer is essential for making the all-important perfect sushi rice; clever alternatives to traditional sushi styles (handball sushi; vegetarian sushi; soba sushi); and, fresh twists on classic recipes (miso soup with clams; prawn salad with tahini mustard dressing). Sushi at Home is all you need to master the art of making light, delicious and healthy sushi in your own kitchen. Yuki Gomi is a Japanese chef who has taught thousands of people how to make their own sushi. After studying at Le Cordon Bleu in Chicago, she trained under a master noodle chef, before moving to London and beginning to teach Japanese home cooking classes. Sushi at Home is her first book.


REVIEW:

I’m the type of person that loves to learn about different cuisines, sometimes I really want to spice things up so I go for Mexican or a good Indian and other times I want something that whilst healthy is very tasty, so I was quite pleased to pick up a book that explained quite a bit about Sushi so that I can make myself something that I just love to devour.

Whilst a lot of the techniques within all come with practice, for the uniniated who are only used to seeing the snack packs of sushi in the mainstream supermarkets, this book will open their eyes to a whole world of possibilities. It has great flavour combinations, a whole range of things you can make (including some vegetarian ones) and all round goes to show that you can make something not only beautiful when presented but something that you just can’t wait to devour.

For me, sushi is a treat that can be eaten at any time and whilst this may seem like a strange thing, I did actually make a load up earlier in the day and saved a few for my film night. It was great just to have a plate of this wonderful meal in front of me to dip into when the mood took me. Great idea all round and definitely something I’m going to take the time to master.


Wednesday 26 June 2013

SCIENCE FICTION DVD REVIEW: Falling Skies Season 1 and 2 - Noah Wyle, Moon Bloodgood, Drew Roy, Will Patton - Warner Home Video

Release Date: 02/07/12
Publisher:  Warner Home Video

SYNOPSIS:

Falling Skies opens in the aftermath of an alien attack that has left most of the world completely incapacitated. The few remaining survivors have banded together. Each day is a test of survival as citizen soldiers work to protect the people while engaging in a campaign against the occupying alien force, whose purpose remains a mystery. Starring Noah Wyle, Moon Bloodgood, and Will Patton.


REVIEW:

This was something new to me and whilst I remember seeing it advertised on Fox, it was something that I wasn’t 100% sold on originally even though I knew that it starred the talented Noah Wyle (of Librarian fame.) What unfurled within is a story of human survival against an overwhelming alien foe. Its cleverly written, has a great overall arc and when added to the twists keeps the viewer emotionally engaged during each encounter as the humans try their best to figure out what’s happening.

All round a solid, though provoking show and whilst there is an absolute plethora of other similar themed shows out there, this one has great acting talent backed up with descent scripts which is where the money needed to be spent to keep the viewers attention. Yes the effects are limited within but I’d rather have something that kept my attention and made me care about the cast than something that was all show and explosions with no real plot.

A solid series and one that I’ll definitely be following from now on.




Release Date: 08/07/13
Publisher:  Warner Home Video

SYNOPSIS:

Falling Skies opens in the chaotic aftermath of an alien attack that has left most of the world completely incapacitated. In the six months since the initial invasion, the few remaining survivors have banded together outside major cities to begin the difficult task of fighting back. Each day is a test of survival for these citizen soldiers against the occupying alien force, whose nature and purpose remains a mystery. The mystery deepens for the remaining survivors of the massive alien invasion as Falling Skies returns for its second season with mysterious new creatures.

Three months have passed since former college professor, father of three and unlikely leader of the civilian resistance group Tom Mason (Noah Wyle) went willingly with the aliens on one of their ships to free his son and learn their plans. Nobody has seen or heard anything from him during this time, and his absence has taken its toll on his sons. Ben and his older brother, Hal, have stepped up as fighters but quickly clash as they both seek to secure their roles as leaders in their father's absence. Many lives have been lost since Tom left, but the survivors of the 2nd Mass still struggle on with courage and resilience. In the first season, our heroes coped with the trauma of losing their world; this season, they take action and fight back.


REVIEW:

Luckily for me, I have been fortunate enough to be able to watch the two current seasons (as three is getting ready to air) on DVD back to back. It kept me in the loop as to what had gone before so I wasn’t having to rely on long term memory as well as trying to focus on current events.

As with the original series the script writing is not only solid but gives the viewer more of what they want, personal interactions as well as moving the story forward concentrating more on taking the planet back from the invaders as new unseen foes make their appearance.

All in, it was a show that I had a lot of fun with, I loved the twists with Noah’s reappearance and of course I also loved the way that the other cast members helped bring the 2nd Mass onto an even keel with the loss of their leader at the end of the last season. A cracking show and one that I can’t wait to watch the third season for.




FACTUAL REVIEW: Eavesdropping on Jane Austen's England - Roy and Lesley Adkins

Release Date: 06/06/13
Publisher:  Little Brown

SYNOPSIS:

Jane Austen, arguably the greatest novelist of the English language, lived from 1775 to 1817. Her fiction focuses on the gentry and aristocracy, and her heroines are young women looking for love. Yet the comfortable, tranquil country that she brilliantly devised is a complete contrast to the England in which she actually lived. For twenty-nine of Jane Austen's forty-one years, the country was embroiled in war. Eavesdropping on Jane Austen's England explores the real England of that time. Roy and Lesley Adkins vividly portray fascinating aspects of the daily lives of ordinary people, from forced marriages and the sale of wives in marketplaces to boys and girls working down mines or as chimney sweeps, this book eavesdrops on the daily chore of fetching water, the horror of ghosts and witches, Saint Monday, bull baiting, sedan chairs, highwaymen, the stench of corpses swinging on roadside gibbets and the horrors of surgery without anaesthetics. Giving a voice to these forgotten people and revealing how they worked, played and struggled to survive, Eavesdropping on Jane Austen's England is an authoritative and gripping account that is sometimes humorous, often shocking, but always entertaining.


REVIEW:

Whilst a lot of people have a romanticised view of this time period, it is often overlooked that during Jane Austin’s life we only had 12 years of peace. Yet for many, her work remains the favoured view of the time and to be honest to have an overall look at the time through experts was not only refreshing but also a great way to explore the reality behind the rose tinted version that we all know to some degree or another.

What Roy and Lesley bring to the fore is a book that has not only solid research but also one that takes the reader by the hand bringing the events of the day to the fore in such a way that its not only friendly but also something that is informative without being an infodump. The prose is strong, the overall piece a joy to sit down with and to be honest whilst I was intrigued I was surprised at how much I was drawn into their work. All round a good piece of research. Great stuff.



Tuesday 25 June 2013

URBAN FANTASY DVD REVIEW: Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters - Jeremy Rener, Gemma Atherton - Paramount Home Entertainment

Release Date: 24/06/13
Publisher:  Paramount Home Entertainment

SYNOPSIS:

Get ready for a twisted take on the classic tale as Hansel (Jeremy Renner) and Gretel (Gemma Arterton) have turned pro, coping with the trauma of their childhood captivity by slaying witches for hire. But when the seemingly unstoppable bounty hunters meet their match in an enemy so evil, it'll take all their training, weapons and courage to survive.

Special Features:
The Witching Hours



REVIEW:

OK, this was a film I’ve been looking forward to for quite some time. I loved Jeremy Renner in roles he’s played before and with the addition of Gemma Arterton and the beautiful Famke Janssen I thought it would be a pretty good film all round. That unfortunately was as good as it got as to be honest I felt that the script was pretty poor. Don’t get me wrong, the actors do a reasonable job with what they’re given but all round the film was slow in places and didn’t really seek to explore any number of themes that could have not only made it better for the viewer but also made you care about the various fates of the cast within.

Effect wise they were reasonable and for this film this is where the majority of the money was spent I suspect and as a viewer whilst I was entertained to a certain degree, I really won’t be watching it again any time soon as I felt that it was all visual with very little else. All round a great disappointment and if they were to make a sequel I would suggest something that focuses more on the cast helping them to grow rather than just another action flick with Van Helsing style weaponry.




CRIME THRILLER REVIEW: The Hanging - Lotte and Soren Hammer

Release Date: 06/06/13
Publisher:  Bloomsbury

SYNOPSIS:

On a cold Monday morning before school begins, two children make a gruesome discovery. Hanging from the roof of the school gymnasium are the bodies of five naked and heavily disfigured men. Detective Chief Superintendent Konrad Simonsen and his team from the Murder Squad in Copenhagen are called in to investigate this horrific case - the men hanging in a geometric pattern; the scene so closely resembling a public execution. When the identities of the five victims and the disturbing link between them is leaked to the press, the sinister motivation behind the killings quickly becomes apparent to the police. Up against a building internet campaign and even members of his own team, Simonsen finds that he must battle public opinion and vigilante groups in his mission to catch the killers. A nerve-wrenching look at justice and retribution, The Hanging is a spectacular crime tale straight from the heart of Scandinavia.


REVIEW:

I’ve been a huge fan of Scandinavian Crime fiction for a number of years, they’ve known how to wind me in, give me a cracking story and for me the landscape fits the culture wonderfully giving each story its own feeling behind the lines.

Add to this a story arc that just grabbed me and to be honest this book was thrust to the top of my TBR pile before anything else. What unfurled sadly was a story that felt like the old fashioned Video’s where the blurb is so much better than the actual product. In short, the pace was jumpy, the prose misplaced so that you would even have to reread lines to get them to make sense and sadly the suspense that I was expecting was over to fast as the criminals were revealed way to early. All in, this could well have been a book that would have been better as a novella rather than the full fledged book that arrived. A great shame all in.




Monday 24 June 2013

FANTASY SERIES REVIEW: Acts of Caine 1-4: Heroes Die, Blade of Tyshalle, Caine Black Knife, Caine's Law - Matthew Stover

Release Date: 27/05/13
Publisher:  Orbit

SYNOPSIS:
Two worlds. One killer.

Renowned throughout the land of Ankhana, the assassin Caine has killed his share of monarchs and commoners, villains and heroes. He is relentless, unstoppable, the best at what he does.

At home in the real world, Caine is Hari Michaelson, a superstar whose adventures in Ankhana command an audience of billions. Yet he's shackled by a rigid caste society, bound to ignore the grim fact that he kills men on a far-off world for the entertainment of his own planet.

But now Michaelson has crossed the line. His estranged wife has disappeared in the slums of Ankhana. To save her, he must confront the greatest challenge of his life: a lethal game of cat and mouse with the most treacherous rulers of two worlds.

Welcome to the world of Caine: Assassin. Hero. Superstar . . .


REVIEW:
OK this is the first book in a series that has been released in the US quite a while ago and whilst I was sold on the premise I found it a little difficult to get into to begin with due having to adapt to the set up. Don’t get me wrong it’s a story that has a lot going for it, you’ve got great action sequences, magical spells, assassinations and of course poltical double dealing that will not only make your head spin but also open the viewers eyes to a world that they wouldn’t have expected.

Its cleverly written, the prose is sharp and of course being set in the first person mode (not only from Caine but when we also view events through other “players” eyes_ it’s a book that works great on so many levels.

Yet whilst I did enjoy this and got really into it, the bug bear of the original set up (where we’re flitting from fantasy world to “real” world was what took me a while to figure out especially when you’re just jumping and wondering why a lot of what’s just occurred doesn’t seem to make sense until you’ve read quite a bit further. All in, don’t let this little hiccup put you off, it’s a cracking start to what I hope is going to be a great series but I can only wait and see.




Release Date: 27/05/13
Publisher:  Orbit

SYNOPSIS:
The perfect assassin, the perfect revenge.

On Earth, Hari Michaelson was a superstar. But on Overworld, he was the assassin Caine. Real monarchs lived and died at his hands and entire governments were overthrown - all for the entertainment of millions back on Earth.

But now Hari, stripped of his identity as Caine, must fight his greatest battle: against the powerful corporate masters of Earth and the faceless masses who are killing everything he loves. Enemies old and new array themselves against him. And Hari is just one man - alone, half-crippled, powerless.

They say he doesn't have a chance. They are wrong.

Welcome to the world of Caine: Assassin. Hero. Superstar . . .


REVIEW:
The second title in the series and one that goes to show that Caine is in for not only a world of hurt but one that will have him ducking and diving, utilising all his hard earned skills to aid his survival. As with the first the characters are stunning, the pose sharp and all round with the story arc was something that I just couldn’t put down.

Add to this almost magical storytelling, some great twists and an author who knows how to hook the reader not only with the stunning set up but emotionally into the character all round makes this a must read for me as a fantasy fan. Great stuff.




Release Date: 27/05/13
Publisher:  Orbit

SYNOPSIS:
Redemption casts a bloody shadow

On Overworld, Caine was an assassin without peer - a legendary killer known as the Blade of Tyshalle. Back on Earth, Caine was Hari Michaelson, an actor whose bloodthirsty adventures in the Overworld made him superstar. In his last adventure, Caine almost single-handedly defeated and exterminated the fiercest of all tribes: the Black Knives. But the shocking truth of what happened during that vicious battle has never been revealed . . . until now.

Years later, Caine returns to the scene of his greatest triumph - some would say greatest crime - at the request of his adopted brother, the last of the Black Knives. But where Caine goes, danger follows, and he soon finds himself fighting for his life against impossible odds, with the fate of two worlds hanging in the balance. Just the way Caine likes it.

Welcome to the world of Caine: Assassin. Hero. Superstar . . .


REVIEW:
OK, this one takes a slightly different direction as fantasy meets old fashioned detective storytelling as the tale is told from two separate viewpoints. It’s got some cracking twists, amalgamates both types of stereotype wonderfully and as usual gives the readers characters that they will not only care about but follow to the ends of the earth.

Add to the mix solid pace, almost cinematic prose and all round, when added to what has gone before will leave the reader demanding more especially with that final twist. A great book all round.




Release Date: 27/05/13
Publisher:  Orbit

SYNOPSIS:
Some laws you break. And some break you. And then there's Caine's Law.

The assassin Caine: a civilized man who embraced savagery, an actor whose life was a lie, a force of destruction so potent that even gods thought twice about crossing him. Now the legendary killer is back for his most stunning and bloodthirsty performance yet.

Caine is washed up and hung out to dry, a crippled husk kept isolated and restrained by the studio that exploited him. Now they have dragged him back for one last deal. But Caine has other plans. Those plans take him back to Overworld, the alternate reality where gods are real and magic is the ultimate weapon. There, in a violent odyssey, Caine will face the demons of his past, find true love, and just possibly destroy the universe.

Welcome to the world of Caine: Assassin. Hero. Superstar . . .


REVIEW:
The final part in the series for me for now and to be honest it’s one that I’ve devoured with quite a pace. Yet for all the glee I’ve had at holding each title, Caine, the principle character, has been getting not only a bum deal but has been getting life with a bigger handful of crap on each outing.

Its deplorable what an author will do to a character that readers love, yet it not only works well in the book but gives the reader a semblance of control as they get to see the “hero” fight against the machine that holds not only the fate of Overworld in one hand but the minds of those within our own.

Its cleverly written, has an absolute ton of magical moments within and the reader will feel that they more than get their money’s worth by tales end which when added to the authors no holds barred style of storytelling really makes you, as the viewer, feel very specially to have been allowed to be part of it. All round a cracking book and a series that has been an absolute star from the start.




Saturday 22 June 2013

GUEST BLOG - Characters on the Preservation - Jack Skillingstead

In the June 2006 issue of Asimov's Science Fiction my story "Life On The Preservation" appeared in print for the first time. It was more Big Idea SF than I was accustomed to writing. Alien forces have devastated the Earth and simultaneously erected domes over various representative environments, preserving those environments and their inhabitants in time loops. One such Preservation Dome stands over the city of Seattle. Inside, the population is clueless about their new status as museum pieces for alien tourists. Meanwhile, Kylie, a teenage girl surviving in the blasted ruins of civilization outside the dome, penetrates into the city on a mission of destruction. She means to destroy the museum and release the trapped souls. Once inside, though, she is seduced by the illusion of a pre-apocalyptic world.

I had taken Kylie's point of view to tell the story -- the point of view of a teenage girl raised by "old men" in the ruins of civilization. This background remained largely undeveloped, as I concentrated on the quirky love story between Kylie and a boy she meets inside the Seattle Preservation. I got away with it because the story was all forward motion painted in the received language of science fictional imagery. The story performed well, making a couple of Year's Best anthologies and even attracting a whiff of Hollywood interest.

A couple of years later when I decided to expand this premise into a novel I discovered that in order to make the story larger I first had to make it smaller. By "smaller" I mean more personal. Big Ideas without a personal context are Big Bores. Also, the difference between a six-thousand-word short story and a ninety-five-thousand word novel are vast -- and not simply in terms of word count.

"Life On The Preservation" wouldn't be my first novel. I had written six or seven by the time I started LOTP. The last of those, "Harbinger," would eventually wind up published by Fairwood, an independent specialty press. The writing of "Harbinger" had been a liberating experience, but I wasn't sure I wanted anymore of my intensely personal exercises in public view.

John D. MacDonald once wrote that you will find a piece of yourself in everyone you meet. That was exactly right. He was talking about writers, observation, and the creation of believable characters. When I read that -- I think it was part of the introduction to King's "Nightshift" collection -- a connection sparked in my brain. Like Strasberg-trained "method" actors, writers must find the emotional jigsaw piece in their own heart and fit it to the empty shape inside their character's. It takes something private out of you and puts it on public display, which can be uncomfortable. I was a long time arriving at this approach to writing, but when it finally started working, the puppet people inhabiting my short stories became enlivened. Finally, I wasn't just making up shit about people who didn't exist. Instead, I was lending vital parts of myself to the intense endeavor of energizing new life on the printed page.

Many, many factors must come together to make a novel work on even a rudimentary level, but none of them mean anything unless your characters exhale the breathe of life. In my short stories, which began to sell almost immediately, my characters were exhaling all over the place. "Tortured lonely guy," as my wife likes to call him, made routine and occasionally memorable appearances. But he was conspicuously absent in my short story about alien Preservation Domes.

Partly I chose LOTP as my next novel-length project because I thought I could tell the story as a straight up science fiction adventure in which I would not be required to lend out pieces of my jigsaw heart. Instead my characters would be "archetypes" or some such bullshit, called to forward action in service of a plot designed to steamroll over readers and drag their flattened bodies to the end of the narrative. "Preservation" would be kind of like Independence Day, full of spectacle and characters who performed without getting too deep -- a quick read, a beach book. In other words, I thought I could tell this story without giving up too much of myself.

Ah, well.

Even adventure-type story engines grind to a halt without the magic of living characters. At least, they do for me. I wrote several versions of LOTP. They stood like massive roller-coasters, de-energized and inert, intricate structures of looping, plunging track, with empty cars frozen against the sunset. At the end of two years I took a deep breath and started from scratch. It was that or give up the whole thing.

In the short story version of LOTP, the only point of view character is Kylie, the teenage girl from outside. I knew her well enough for six thousand words, but now, as my writing process discovered her life and history, she required a bigger piece of me. Finally, I was willing to surrender it, and I learned Kylie was a victim who fought to define herself as something other than that. She was also a romantic who needed to believe in the kind of love she had seen in the movies. Kylie longed for the things she couldn't have, because those things didn't exist anymore -- except on the Preservation.

In the short story Kylie meets a fairly clueless young man and falls in love with him in a clueless movie way. It wasn't really a love story; it was about how Kylie needed the illusion of the Preservation to be real. I kind of thought the book would run in a similar direction, but it didn't.

In the novel, instead of a clueless boy, she meets Ian Palmer, a young man of the troubled variety. Ian has only one friend, works a job ten floors beneath his abilities, is an outlier by temperament, with father issues and a paranoid streak. He is estranged, lonely and angry, and he believes, or used to believe, in the transformative power of his outlaw art. In short, he is 'tortured lonely guy."

Writing the first half of this novel was exhausting. But when these two characters met, about midway through "Life On The Preservation," they handed me back the puzzle pieces of my heart and filled their own empty spaces with each other. What a joy and relief that was. 

Life on the Preservation by Jack Skillingstead was released on the 6th of June 2013 by Solaris and is available at the book vendor of your choice.

SHORT STORY FANTASY REVIEW: Fearsome Journeys - Ed. Jonathan Strahan

Release Date: 06/06/13
Publisher:  Solaris

SYNOPSIS:

An amazing array of the most popular and exciting names in epic fantasy are set to appear in the first in a brand new series of anthologies from the celebrated master anthologist Jonathan Strahan. Featuring original fiction authors such as Trudi Canavan, Daniel Abraham, Saladin Ahmed, Elizabeth Bear, Kate Elliot, Glen Cook, Jeffrey Ford, Ellen Klages, Ellen Kushner & Ysabeau Wilce, Scott Lynch, K.J. Parker and Robert V.S. Redick. The entire range of the fantastic is set to appear on this first Fearsome Journey!


REVIEW:

With money being tight these days, readers tend to stick with well known and established favourites to spend their money on. After all you want a quality read to help you relax and to escape the real world, yet there are times when you wonder whether to risk your cash on an unknown.

Usually this sort of thing only happens when a reader either has a little extra cash or their favourite author’s don’t have a new title out, so what are they going to do?

Well in short I’m a huge fan of the compendium, you get cracking stories from authors you love and then you get a chance to try some that whilst you’ve heard of, you’ve just not been sure enough to spend your cash on. All round, a great title and with some releases from some top talented names, all round give the reader an experience to savour.



Friday 21 June 2013

GUEST BLOG: Hawthorn Moon Event: Making Magic - Gail Z Martin


Hail Mighty Readers,
We've been lucky enough to be asked to appear on Gail's Mighty Sneak Peak Event: The Hawthorn Moon.  So we've been lucky enough to get a wonderful guest blog and the art for the forthcoming novel: Reign of Ice (released 1st April 2014 from Orbit.)

So without further ado, we'll turn you over to Gail:


"Which comes first—the mage or the magic?

If you’re an author, the magic system you develop for your world determines a lot about who becomes a mage, and how your mage functions.  And that’s the fun.

Between my Chronicles of the Necromancer/Fallen Kings series and my Ascendant Kingdoms Saga books, I’ve created two very different magical systems—leading to two very different types of mages.

Where do you begin?  It depends on where you want to end up.

It helps to start by thinking about the role magic plays in the world you want to build.  Where does magic come from?  Is it something that comes from inside an individual, like a talent, or is it a natural force that some people can channel better than others?  How many people can do magic?  A society in which everyone can do a little magic is going to be very different from one in which only a few people can do very powerful magic.

Is magic an open fact, or something hidden?  Are magic users accepted and valued, or feared and persecuted?  This will make a big difference for your character.  And if magic is largely accepted or largely punished, are there places where there’s an exception to the rule?  Do some parts of society feel differently about magic than other groups?

What does magic cost the mage?  If there isn’t some kind of personal limitation or cost to doing magic, mages become all-powerful.  There must be limits.  Maybe magic causes a severe physical reaction, like headache or weakness that limits how much a single mage can do without dying.  Perhaps magic can burn a person up if handled wrong.  Maybe a mage must study for decades to learn spells and potions, or perhaps the mage doesn’t need any tools or fancy words at all, using only the power of his/her mind.

How does your character feel about magic?  Does he/she possess any magical ability?  If so, does he see it as a good thing?  If not, does she wish she had ability?  Is power a blessing or a curse, or just a tool to be used?  If magic is rare, does the character feel special?  If it’s more like a talent, does the character take it for granted?

Once you have a clear idea about how magic works in your world and how mages function, it becomes a lot easier to develop your mage characters and set them in a world that functions with logical rules.  I’ve found that it also helps to do your homework and read up on magical beliefs in the real world, both past and present, and understand the tools and rituals that practitioners believe summon or enhance power.

Writing about magic and mages is part of the fun of creating a fantasy world, one of my favorite parts.  Whether you write magic or just read about it, the next time you come upon a magical system, pay attention to how it works.  After all, that author worked hard to make magic!

The Hawthorn Moon Sneak Peek Event includes book giveaways, free excerpts and readings, all-new guest blog posts and author Q&A on 21 awesome partner sites around the globe.  For a full list of where to go to get the goodies, visit www.AscendantKingdoms.com.
@GailZMartin Book Giveaway on Twitter—Every day from June 21 – June 28 I’ll be choosing someone at random from my Twitter followers to win a free signed book.  Invite your friends to follow me—for every new 200 followers I gain between 6/21 – 6/28, I’ll give away an additional book, up to 20 books!"


Gail Z. Martin is the author of Ice Forged in her new The Ascendant Kingdoms Saga (Orbit Books), plus The Chronicles of The Necromancer series (The Summoner, The Blood King, Dark Haven & Dark Lady’s Chosen ) and The Fallen Kings Cycle (The Sworn  and The Dread).  She is also the author of two series on ebook short stories: The Jonmarc Vahanian Adventures and the Deadly Curiosities Series.  Her books are available in bookstores worldwide and on Kindle, Kobo and Nook. Find her online at www.AscendantKingdoms.com.

Guest Blog: Mother, Maiden, Who? - Freda Warrington

A few weeks ago I was the Fantasy Guest of Honour at Eastercon (UK) and we had a panel entitled, “Maiden, Mother, Who?” discussing the invisibility of older characters, specifically older women, in fantasy fiction. This is a subject very dear to my heart. By sheer coincidence I had pulled down a book from my attic – one I first read in the early 1990s – to reread. That book is The Crone by Barbara G Walker. Ms Walker explores how the figures of the Crone, the Wise Woman, the Witch, indeed older women in general, have become invisible in our culture. And not only invisible but – not so very far in the past – reviled as evil, and even mass-murdered, hanged, burned at the stake. Her thought-provoking study examines how women were once attributed with supremacy over life and death – naturally so, since it’s women who give birth, and have always acted as midwives, healers, layers-out of the dead. Terrifying, dark goddesses such as Kali were believed to have the powers both of Creation and Destruction, the power to destroy all other gods and to consume everything into her black Abyss at the end of time.

Walker dissects how male religions arose and set about rejecting the dark goddess – far too terrifying! – by crushing all aspects of female wisdom, sacredness and autonomy. This was in a futile urge to deny Death itself. Female religion was circular, a churning cauldron of life, death and rebirth. Male religion was linear: one life, one God, one afterlife in eternal bliss or torment. In the process, the Crone figure was demonized until she became virtually invisible.

We’re still living with the consequences today. In spite of a long battle for equal rights, there remain societies – not excluding our own – in which women are treated like scum.

The Crone, and numerous other books on female spirituality, helped me understand how the idea that women are naturally secondary and subservient to men is a Great Big Lie. What a relief to learn that! However, the idea is distressingly persistent. We seem to be taking backward steps, if anything, as young girls are treated as sex objects and women still fight to be taken seriously. The term “witch” is still used as an insult, and there are countries where “witches” are still persecuted and murdered. Sometimes you’d hardly know we were in the 21st century!

So for years, in my novels I’ve been doing my tiny bit to redress the balance. On the question of older characters, Midsummer Night (Tor) revolves around Juliana Flagg, a sixty-something grande dame and famous sculptor, a legend in the art world, who becomes entangled with problems both practical and supernatural. (She also appears in my new Tor novel, Grail of the Summer Stars). Juliana was one of those characters who leapt into my head fully formed: a tall, strong woman, silver-haired, bohemian, usually dressed in pale grey silks and velvets, like a tower of silver. She’s sharp-tongued, confident, intolerant of fools. That’s not to say she lacks warmth, or insecurities, or has no fear of ageing. Yet she faces the future with courage, remarking that when she dies, they will have to fell her like a tree and lash her to the back of a truck!

Perhaps Juliana isn’t yet old enough to be a full-on Crone, but she’s certainly an older woman of wisdom and power. The Crone figure also morphs into the concept of the Hag goddess, who has many incarnations in many cultures. She’s a goddess of death and war, such as Kali, the Cailleach, the Morrigan, Morgana, Lilith and many others. Again she represents the demonic aspect of the woman who cannot be controlled, and must therefore be Evil. And this brings me to the connection with vampires.

Ancient folklore is full of night-flying demons who copulate with sleeping men (and women) stealing their seed and blood. In Dracula by Bram Stoker, the female vampires are shown as being lascivious, wanton, dangerous – everything a “good Christian woman” should not be. The only way to control them is to pin them with a stake through the heart! In A Taste of Blood Wine, this idea is turned on its head as my protagonist Charlotte moves from the shadow of her controlling father into becoming her true self. Mirrored externally by the social changes of the 1920s, and internally by her encounter with the irresistibly gorgeous vampire, Karl, she discovers that she’s not destined to be an obedient mouse, but someone strong, independent, sensual, and… certainly not evil, but with a very different set of values.

Karl is far from the patriarchal, controlling figure that’s still encountered in modern vampire novels. (Personally, I don’t buy the idea that women secretly want to be dominated, so if I meet a fictional “hero”, vampire or not, who’s in any way macho and bullying towards his lady love, I just feel turned off and slightly sickened). And so it’s possible for Charlotte to enter a relationship of loving equals, without being “diminished” by her man, or incomplete without him. Still, she’s an old-fashioned girl compared with Violette – a very different character whom we meet in the second Blood Wine novel, A Dance in Blood Velvet.

Violette was another who leapt into my head fully-formed: an ice maiden with jet black hair. I knew she was a ballerina, and that she had a connection with the dark goddess Lilith. First appearing as a demon in Babylonian legends, Lilith was refigured (in some Jewish traditions) as the first wife of Adam. She refused to submit to him, disobeyed God, and ran off to copulate with demons instead. She had the audacity to want to be Adam’s equal! And so Lilith came to personify everything that women should not be – angry, disobedient, sexual, powerful, unrepentant. With a propensity for eating children, of course. Now Violette assumes that her mysterious connection with Lilith makes her wicked… but is this actually true? Violette’s path of discovery is deeply painful, and touches on a lot of deep questions about the nature of good and evil – especially when it comes down to questions of female autonomy.

Feminists have reclaimed Lilith. She represents the strength and wisdom that’s been viewed as such a threat to male power. It’s time for the Crone, the Hag, the Witch, the Lamia, to come in from the cold. They may not always be “nice” and “good”. They may be reviled for telling the truth. Sometimes they may drink blood or bring death. But they are necessary.


Returning to the start of this post – the panel discussion left me somewhat optimistic as we uncovered lots of examples of strong, powerful, older female characters in SF and fantasy. The situation’s not as dire as I’d thought! In the ‘real world’ too, more attention is being paid to older females – usually in the shape of Helen Mirren, Judi Dench, or Sophia Loren! Which raises the question, can you only remain visible as you grow older by being a glamorous film star? The TV academic Professor Mary Beard has come in for irrational criticism for refusing to glam up, having unkempt grey hair and crooked teeth. For goodness’ sake! She is a Professor of Classics at Cambridge University and a fantastic presenter! But I think the tables are turning. People of discernment love Mary Beard. And folk the world over adore the Queen, who seems to be admired more and more the older she grows. Truly a woman of wisdom, compassion and power.

So let’s hope we can look to a future where the older female – both in real life and in fiction – is no longer denigrated for her lack of youth and fluttering eyelashes, but celebrated for her long, rich life and simply for her magnificent self.




A Taste of Blood Wine by Freda Warrington (released 3rd May 2013) is now available in all good bookshops published by Titan.

SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: Warhammer 40K: Down Amongst the Dead Men - Steve Lyons

Release Date: 14/03/13
Publisher:  Black Library

SYNOPSIS:

On the nightmare world of Krieg, the elite Death Korps practise their killing arts against the only enemy they have available: those among the population unsuitable to join the regiments of the Imperial Guard. In the midst of a live-fire exercise, one of these human targets disobeys orders and follows the trail of a mysterious alien beast, one that could spell doom for all of Krieg if it is not stopped...


REVIEW:

I love a 40K story that takes the reader deep into the human side of the eternal wars of Mankind in the name of the Emperor and for me as a reader that’s exactly what this tale by Steve Lyons does well. Whilst this title has been out for a while, its great that some of the amazing back catalogue is being brought to the reader through their e-reader.

It’s solid, has a cracking pace and when added to characters that keep you not only grounded but moving towards the goal all round makes this a book that really helps bring the Imperial Guard to the fore. Great stuff.



SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: Warhammer 40K: Fire Caste - Peter Fehervari

Release Date: 14/03/13
Publisher:  Black Library

SYNOPSIS:

In the jungles of the Dolorosa Coil, a coalition of alien tau and human deserters have waged war upon the Imperium for countless years. Fresh Imperial Guard forces from the Arkhan Confederates are sent in to break the stalemate and annihilate the xenos. But greater forces are at work, and the Confederates soon find themselves broken and scattered. As they fight a desperate guerrilla war, their only hope may lie in the hands of a disgraced commissar, hell-bent on revenge.


REVIEW:

A lot of the time when you sit back to read a war story it’s a straight forward man vs xenos type of affair. Yet here within this title we get to see a force dispatched to destroy human traitors who sided with the Tau only to have their own military force smashed asunder forced to fight a war using hit and run tactics alongside Guerilla warfare. It’s definitely a story that I found not only intriguing but different to the norm and when you see the Imperial Guard standing up to be counted, goes to show how the Emperor’s forces have stood so against what the darkness of space has had to throw at them.

As usual with the Warhammer worlds the prose is sharp, very crisp pace and when added to an author who takes you on the journey trekking side by side with the soldiers, all round makes this a book that will be savoured for quite some time. All round a great read and I really can’t wait for Peter’s next title as he really does hit the spot for me.


Thursday 20 June 2013

VIDEO GAME NEWS: Assassin's Creed 4: E3 Official Commentaged Gameplay - Ubisoft


Hail Mighty Readers and Followers of the Calloused Thumbs,
Whilst we weren't able to attend E3 outselves our Spies managed to get this footage back to us with in game comentary from Game Director, Ashraf Ismail:



We have to say that from this, we really can't wait to take to the high sea's and see what we'll get our hands on as it unveils.

All the best,


Gareth and Lady Eleanor,

URBAN FANTASY CRIME REVIEW: Reviver - Seth Patrick

Release Date: 20/06/13
Publisher:  Pan Macmillan

SYNOPSIS:

Revivers. Able to wake the recently dead, and let them bear witness to their own demise. Twelve years after the first reviver came to light, they have become accepted by an uneasy public. The testimony of the dead is permitted in courtrooms across the world. Forensic revival is a routine part of police investigation. In the United States, that responsibility falls to the Forensic Revival Service. Despite his troubled past, Jonah Miller is one of their best. But while reviving the victim of a brutal murder, he encounters a terrifying presence. Something is watching. Waiting. His superiors tell him it was only in his mind, a product of stress. Jonah is not so certain. Then Daniel Harker, the first journalist to bring revival to public attention, is murdered, and Jonah finds himself getting dragged into the hunt for answers. Working with Harker's daughter Annabel, he's determined to find those responsible and bring them to justice. Soon they uncover long-hidden truths that call into doubt everything Jonah stands for, and reveal a threat that if not stopped in time, will put all of humanity in danger ...


REVIEW:

I love a crime novel that has supernatural blended within and this book really shocks as well as grabs the reader with the first few chapters. Throw in an almost voyeuristic view for the reader and before you know it, you’ll have devoured a good part of the story.

The prose is sharp, the lead character a person that the reader can easily associate with, which when backed with some great descriptive text backed up with some cracking sleight of hand, all round makes this a book that was a pure joy to read. Throw into the mix a hidden conspiracy alongside agenda’s which have yet to be unveiled with an author who plays for keeps and all round this is a great opening to what I hope is going to be a series.



Wednesday 19 June 2013

SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY REVIEW: The Best of Hammer and Bolter Volume 2 - Ed. Christian Dunn

Release Date: 20/06/13
Publisher:  Black Library

SYNOPSIS:

Hammer and Bolter is Black Library's digital magazine, bringing you the best in Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 short fiction every month. Now, for the first time in print, the editors are proud to present the best stories from the second year of issues, with contributions from Black Library veterans like Graham McNeill, Nick Kyme and Rob Sanders, through to some rising stars and a host of new talent. Featuring stories from across the Warhammer World and the grim darkness of the far future, The Best of Hammer and Bolter: Volume Two is an essential collection of sci-fi and fantasy shorts from the dark vaults of the Black Library.


REVIEW:

A selection of titles that have previously appeared in the Digital Magazine Hammer and Bolter and whilst a lot of fans won’t be buying the book as they own the material already, I for one couldn’t wait to get it as I love the sheer talent that is so tightly wrapped within the electrons of this offering.

Whilst I don’t receive this absolutely mega magazine this title really does make me wish that I did as each story not only left a deep impression upon me but also gave me something pretty unique with each turn of the page. Add to this the opportunity to try some of the various talents that are now at the forefront of this publisher all round makes this more than value for money as well as a great way to fill up your travel time or lunch break. Magic.


FANTASY REVIEW: Warhammer Fantasy: Gilead's Blood - Dan Abnett, Nik Vincent

Release Date: 11/04/13
Publisher:  Black Library

SYNOPSIS:

Gilead Lothain, shadowfast warrior and last of the line of Tor Anrok, travels the land slaking his thirst for vengeance on the dark creatures that stalk the forests and mountains of the Old World. With his faithful retainer Fithvael at his side, the doom-laden Gilead battles corrupt humans, beastmen, warriors of the Dark Gods and more in this collection of action-packed tales.


REVIEW:

Another early cracker from the Black Library brought from the past to the reader which demonstrates why Abnett is such a huge talent in the industry. Add to this great storytelling, a crackingly polished lead character that the reader will just want to spend time around which when added to solid prose, great pace and of course enough combat to keep all readers sated all round makes this a cracking release. A great read and one that I was more than pleased to enjoy again.


Tuesday 18 June 2013

CRIME THRILLER: The Boyfriend - Thomas Perry

Release Date: 03/06/13
Publisher:  Head of Zeus

SYNOPSIS:

A killer is on the loose...Joel is fascinated by the art of Rithmatics - with its lines of power and ability to bring chalk drawings to life - but only a few have the gift and he is not one of them. When Rithmatic students from Joel's school start disappearing, he is keen to investigate. Since he's not a Rithmatist, Joel seems to be safe - but others are dying. Can he find the killer before the killer realizes just what a threat Joel really is?



REVIEW:

To be honest I do love a cracking crime thriller but for me something about this book just didn’t gel with me as a reader, whether this was because I felt that certain aspects were more “told” rather than “shown” I can’t say but I really had problems getting into the title when it feels that the author tries to gloss over somethings to get to the bit that they really want to write.

Don’t get me wrong, some of the plot aspects were solid and in places even good but I found the pace lacking in places, almost as if the author stalled and rather than generating a book that I couldn’t put down the only thing it did was make me struggle through in case it got better at the end. All round a title I was disappointed with but I will try again in case this was just a one off that didn’t hit the spot.




Monday 17 June 2013

YOUNG ADULT REVIEW: The Rithmatist - Brandon Sanderson

Release Date: 23/05/13
Publisher:  Orion Childrens

SYNOPSIS:

A killer is on the loose...Joel is fascinated by the art of Rithmatics - with its lines of power and ability to bring chalk drawings to life - but only a few have the gift and he is not one of them. When Rithmatic students from Joel's school start disappearing, he is keen to investigate. Since he's not a Rithmatist, Joel seems to be safe - but others are dying. Can he find the killer before the killer realizes just what a threat Joel really is?



REVIEW:

To be honest upon reading the books blurb I was left wondering what the hell? This idea doesn’t sound like its going to work. The concept feels a little flat and perhaps a little childish. Had this been anyone other than Brandon Sanderson, well I might well have given it a miss. And boy was I pleased that I did pick this up.

The characters within were interesting, the magicks when they happened were wonderful and when added to the usual gripping writing style of Mr Sanderson alongside a good solid pace, all round made this a really enjoyable book to escape with.





Sunday 16 June 2013

VICTORIAN THRILLER: Carver's Quest - Nick Bennison

Release Date: 04/06/13
Publisher:  Atlantic Books

SYNOPSIS:
It is 1870. When amateur archaeologist Adam Carver and his loyal but obdurate retainer Quint are visited in their lodgings in London's Doughty Street by an attractive young woman, their landlady is not pleased. The visitor's arrival pitches Carver and Quint headlong into an elaborate mystery which comes to centre on the existence (or not) of a lost text in Ancient Greek, one that may reveal the whereabouts of the treasure hoard of Philip II of Macedonia. Two deaths soon ensue as master and manservant follow what clues they can grasp in the roughest and most genteel parts of the teeming metropolis, with the whiff of cordite and blackmail never far from their nostrils. The scene shifts to Athens and the wilder fastness of a Greece gripped by political unrest as Carver and Quint join forces with Adam's former Cambridge tutor in an attempt to track down the elusive text. But nothing is quite what it seems, and no one involved is prepared for the final, shocking denouement amidst the extraordinary hilltop monasteries of Meteora...


REVIEW:

Now this was a book that I picked up on a whim. After all I love a story that takes me on a journey, I love spending time in Victorian London, I love having a build-up where action meets brains and of course I love a story that takes me on a break neck pace as matters of importance take the principle player is thrown into a historical mystery all round makes this something that I’ve really been looking forward to.

However upon starting this, I had two major problems, firstly I didn’t like the principle character and secondly the pace was dragged down so much by detailing that it slowed to a crawl. It didn’t grip me as it should have done and all round when I lose interest due to disappointments the book is a real struggle to get through. On the whole it was OK but sadly all round not enough to save me,