Saturday 31 August 2013

NEWS: Deja Review - August

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:





 

FANTASY REVIEW: Orcs: War Fighting Manual - Den Patrick

Release Date: 22/08/13
Publisher:  Gollancz

SYNOPSIS:

Written in the form of a soldier's manual on strategy, tactics and weapons THE ORCS WAR-FIGHTING MANUAL is an innovative and fun way for readers and gamers to add colour and excitement to their knowledge of fantasy's premier villains.

Translated from the original Orcish the book contains details on Orc strengths and weakness, key tactics, survival and field tips and accounts of notorious battles from Orc history as well as key tips on defeating Elves and Dwarves. Puny humans are not considered worth discussing.

With companion volumes for Elves and Dwarves, gaming and comics writer Den Patrick builds up his very own fantasy world and tells its history in a unique and entertaining way.

Illustrated throughout and comes complete with battle and formation maps.


REVIEW:

Ah, fighting manuals for the various races in the Fantasy world and something that is not only fun but imaginative. With the pointy eared ones and stunties to follow (Elves and Dwarves to most people) I’m a firm fan of the Greenskins who often get the bad side of the press except from authors like Stan Nicholls who gives them a whole host of adventures that are a joy to read.

Here within this book is an inventive history, battle tactics and of course details of them as a whole told from their own point of view. All round it’s a good bit of fun and a series that is going to hold price and place in my own collection for quite some time. (Provided I can make sure that some sneaky so and so doesn’t nip in and steal it.)



CRIME THRILLER REVIEW: Cainsville 1: Omen's - Kelley Armstrong

Release Date: 20/08/13
Publisher:  Orbit

SYNOPSIS:

Olivia Jones has lived a life of privilege and good fortune. But on the eve of her wedding she discovers two shocking facts. One - she was adopted. Two - her biological parents are notorious serial killers. And now the secret's out, she's in immediate danger.

Running for her life, Liv must face reality in the most brutal and terrifying way. But then she is confronted with a tantalising hope - is it possible that her parents weren't guilty of the murders after all? And if so, who did commit them?

Arriving at the remote town of Cainsville, Liv believes she has found the perfect place to hide while she uncovers the truth. But Cainsville is no ordinary town - and Liv's arrival was no accident.

Kelley Armstrong's brilliant new novel is a gripping and atmospheric thriller about a town where secrets are soaked into every stone - and omens should never be ignored . . .



REVIEW:

Whenever an author finishes a series that has had readers not only loving but talking to all their friends about, it’s always difficult to adapt to something new when all the rules that you’d come to know have changed. So it was with a bit of intrepidation that I picked up this title from Urban Fantasy Fan favourite Kelley Armstrong.

What unfurls within is a story that whilst different to the Otherworld series, gives you the firm flavours that made Kelley a favourite. You have a great lead character who whilst having lived a privileged life has plenty of foibles and hooks for you to get to like. Add solid prose, a great cast as well as dialogue that helps you get to know them all, generates a story that whilst hard to adapt to initially (for me at any rate) was one that as it developed gave me something that upon finishing had me wanting more. All round a great start to a brand new trilogy. Magic.

Friday 30 August 2013

VIDEO GAME NEWS: Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag Actors talk about their characters - Ubisoft


Hail Mighty Readers and Followers of the Calloused Thumbs,
Our friends at Ubisoft have sent us some footage of the actors talking about thier characters, just the thing for the weekend we think:




Remember that Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag is available 1st November 2013 on the following formats:           
Nintendo    Wii U      
PC      
Playstation 3  
Playstation 4     (When Released)   
Xbox 360           
Xbox One        (When Released)  

All the best,        


Gareth and Lady Eleanor 

FANTASY REVIEW: The Sundering 1: The Companions - R A Salvatore

Release Date: 06/08/13
Publisher:  Wizards of the Coast

SYNOPSIS:

This latest installment in New York Times best-selling author R.A. Salvatore's beloved fantasy saga, The Companions moves Salvatore's signature hero Drizzt into a new era of the Forgotten Realms. As Drizzt's fate hangs in the balance, he reflects on the lives of the trusted allies who stood by his side throughout his early life--the friends now known as the Companions of the Hall. Meanwhile, the first stirrings of the Sundering begin.


REVIEW:

Ah the sweet pleasures of my youth when I originally discovered Drizzt Do'Urden alongside his fellow companions, Catti-brie, Wulfgar, Bruenor Battlehammer and Regis the Halfling. I had many an adventure with some or all of them and loved the chance to get to spend time away from the real world in their realm.

SO when I discovered this new book coming out by Raymond, I couldn’t wait to get back to my “friends” to see what he had in store for them. As usual the pace is direct and with the story being told from various points of view, as all within embark upon a new adventure to aid the realm and one of the friends in the future. Its definitely a title that will span the turn of time which when added to a whole series that will bring top talent to the fore will generate something special all round. I can’t wait to see what the others have in store.

HISTORICAL FICTION REVIEW: Empire VI: The Eagle's Vengeance - Anthony RIches

Release Date: 22/08/13
Publisher:  Hodder

SYNOPSIS:

The Tungrian auxiliary cohorts return to Hadrian's Wall after their successful Dacian campaign, only to find Britannia in chaos. The legions are overstretched, struggling to man the forts of the northern frontier in the face of increasing barbarian resistance. The Tungrians are the only soldiers who can be sent into the northern wastes, far beyond the long abandoned wall built by Antoninus, where a lost symbol of imperial power of the Sixth Victorious Legion is reputed to await them. Protected by an impassable swamp and hidden in a fortress atop a high mountain, the eagle of the Sixth legion must be recovered if the legion is to survive. Marcus and his men must penetrate the heart of the enemy's strength, ghosting through a deadly wilderness patrolled by vicious huntresses before breaching the walls of the Fang, an all-but-impregnable fort, if they are to rescue the legion's venerated standard. If successful their escape will be twice as perilous, with the might of a barbarian tribe at their heels.


REVIEW:

It’s no secret that I’ve loved the Empire series since the first book. The writing was crisp, the lead protagonist a joy to spend time with and the trouble that he got into (both on the battlefield as well as off) worked wonderfully well. It made for ideal reading so would I find that I would have the same experience with this book?

To be honest with you, yep, I did. Whilst the novel contains losses of friends, the reader is treated to a high octane story full of political machinations as well as top notch action. Back this up with solid prose, great pace alongside an arc where loose threads are tied up all round makes this a book that was a pure joy to sit down with.

Back this up with the return of some old friends alongside some new devious double dealing villains and all round I was more than happy. I can’t wait to see what Anthony hits back with next, especially when the darker side of a certain city is obviously going to be the key aspect as our heroes work with a new addition, who may or may not be friendly. Great stuff.

Thursday 29 August 2013

CRIME THRILLER REVIEW: Katie Maguire 2: Broken Angels - Graham Masterton

Release Date: 29/08/13
Publisher:  Head of Zeus

SYNOPSIS:

One cold spring morning in County Cork, two fishermen find a bundle of rags floating in the Blackwater River. It is the bloated body of Father Heaney. His hands and feet are bound, and his neck bears the marks of garrotting wire. Worse still, he has been castrated. When a second priest is found murdered, his body bruised and beaten and the same savage wound hidden beneath his soutane, Detective Inspector Katie Maguire finds evidence of a sinister cover-up at St Joseph's Orphanage. But the Catholic diocese still wields considerable power here, and the Garda are under pressure to close the case. Katie has to work alone if she is to catch the killer in time - but first she must shatter a wall of silence that for decades has hidden a terrible secret. A secret that is beyond belief...


REVIEW:

I loved Graham’s first Katie Maguire title, the way that the Irish sense of humour was brought across alongside characters that I really wanted to spend time around. The prose is sharp, the plot line wonderfully constructed which when added to a masters story telling style allows the reader to form attachments to all the players within.

It’s definitely a quirky crime novel and gives me a whole host of things to sit back and enjoy. Finally add to the mix the wonderful use of the accent alongside enough twists to keep you guessing all round makes this a series that I’ve made sure is top of my reading list for each subsequent release. Thank you Graham.

FACTUAL BOOK REVIEW: Witches: A Tale of Sorcery, Scandal and Seduction - Tracy Borman

Release Date: 29/08/13
Publisher:  Jonathan Cape

SYNOPSIS:
September 1613.

In Belvoir Castle, the heir of one of England's great noble families falls suddenly and dangerously ill. His body is 'tormented' with violent convulsions. Within a few short weeks he will suffer an excruciating death. Soon the whole family will be stricken with the same terrifying symptoms. The second son, the last male of the line, will not survive.

It is said witches are to blame. And so the Earl of Rutland's sons will not be the last to die.

Witches traces the dramatic events which unfolded at one of England's oldest and most spectacular castles four hundred years ago. The case is among those which constitute the European witch craze of the 15th-18th centuries, when suspected witches were burned, hanged, or tortured by the thousand. Like those other cases, it is a tale of superstition, the darkest limits of the human imagination and, ultimately, injustice - a reminder of how paranoia and hysteria can create an environment in which nonconformism spells death. But as Tracy Borman reveals here, it is not quite typical. The most powerful and Machiavellian figure of the Jacobean court had a vested interest in events at Belvoir.He would mastermind a conspiracy that has remained hidden for centuries.



REVIEW:

I love to read about events that I don’t really know much about and whilst I was aware of the Witch Hunts in England (specifically the ones in Lancashire) I wasn’t as up on the events that occurred within this title brought to the reader in a factual yet interesting way by author Tracy Borman.

Whilst explaining in great detail, the reader is never left to feel that they’re getting too much information at once, the author brings it over in an easy to comprehend manner and when added to an obvious passion by the author to bring history to life all round makes this a great book to enjoy.



Wednesday 28 August 2013

URBAN FANTASY CRIME REVIEW: Gods and Monster 1: Unclean Spirits - Chuck Wendig

Release Date: 09/05/13
Publisher:  Abaddon

SYNOPSIS:

Five years ago, it all went wrong for Cason Cole. He lost his wife and son, lost everything, and was bound into service to a man who chews up human lives and spits them out, a predator who holds nothing dear and respects no law. Now, as the man he both loves and hates lies dying at his feet, the sounds of the explosion still ringing in his ears, Cason is finally free.

The gods and goddesses are real. A many-headed pantheon—a tangle of divine hierarchies—once kept the world at arm's length, warring with one another for mankind's belief and devotion. It was a grim and bloody balance, but a balance just the same. When one god triumphed, driving all other gods out of Heaven, it was back to the bad old days: cults and sycophants, and the terrible retribution the gods visit on those who spite them.

None of which is going to stop Cason from getting back what's his...


REVIEW:

I love an Urban Fantasy Story that’s a little different to the norm, some are cutting edge, some take the reader into a world that they never expected and some lead the way in a new direction. What this title by Chuck does is delivers a murder mystery to the reader by bringing in a whole set of characters that leaves the reader feeling uncomfortable, not purely because of the otherness about them but because of their abilities to mess with the minds of mankind.

It’s hard hitting, it’s straight to the point and thrusts the reader into a tangled web right from the get go. It’s definitely hardcore and whilst this book wasn’t for me, I think that there will be a fair few out there that will love this style (perhaps the best way to describe it is a Marmite book, you’ll love or hate it.) The lead character within has flaws, he’s made hard choices, sacrifices and above all else indentured himself into this dark world for pure motives.

Throw him into the darkening despair that the opening sequence gives to him alongside the wonder of whether he’s mad or not all round gives the book a flair for the dramatic.

HISTORICAL FANTASY: Blood of Tyrants - Naomi Novik

Release Date: 13/08/13
Publisher:  Del Rey

SYNOPSIS:

Naomi Novik’s beloved Temeraire series, a brilliant combination of fantasy and history that reimagines the Napoleonic wars as fought with the aid of intelligent dragons, is a twenty-first-century classic. From the first volume, His Majesty’s Dragon, readers have been entranced by the globe-spanning adventures of the resolute Capt. William Laurence and his brave but impulsive dragon, Temeraire. Now, in Blood of Tyrants, the penultimate volume of the series, Novik is at the very height of her powers as she brings her story to its widest, most colorful canvas yet.

Shipwrecked and cast ashore in Japan with no memory of Temeraire or his own experiences as an English aviator, Laurence finds himself tangled in deadly political intrigues that threaten not only his own life but England’s already precarious position in the Far East. Age-old enmities and suspicions have turned the entire region into a powder keg ready to erupt at the slightest spark—a spark that Laurence and Temeraire may unwittingly provide, leaving Britain faced with new enemies just when they most desperately need allies instead.

For to the west, another, wider conflagration looms. Napoleon has turned on his former ally, the emperor Alexander of Russia, and is even now leading the largest army the world has ever seen to add that country to his list of conquests. It is there, outside the gates of Moscow, that a reunited Laurence and Temeraire—along with some unexpected allies and old friends—will face their ultimate challenge . . . and learn whether or not there are stronger ties than memory.


REVIEW:

OK, I loved the original books in the series and sadly missed Crucible of Gold, so when I started reading this, it was fairly obvious that I’d missed an epic adventure. This tale however was something that I found sadly lacking. Don’t get me wrong it was great to adventure with Temeraire and Laurence again as well as spending time with their friends but this book felt a little flat, as if it was designed more to be a series of short stories that was suddenly decided to be bound together to make a novel. I felt cheated and a little disjointed as each time I felt I had a handle, the events within seemed to jump partly to a new location finally taking us to Moscow for the main part of the book.

That said, I do love the authors writing style, I love the prose, the pace and the way that the combat is not only handled but delivered to the readers imagination but when its delivered in such a way I had a hard time accepting this as an overall title. I really would suggest that they sell this more as a couple of shorts and a novella rather than one book.



Tuesday 27 August 2013

VIDEO GAME NEWS: Assassin Creed Naval/Fort Gameplay - Ubisoft


Hail Mighty Readers and Followers of the Calloused Thumbs,
Our friends at Ubisoft have let us have footage fresh from Gamescom in Germany.  Here for your viewing pleasure is brand new gameplay exploring some naval/fort aspects of the game:





Remember that Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag is available 1st November 2013 on the following formats:           
Nintendo    Wii U      
PC      
Playstation 3  
 Playstation 4     (When Released)   
Xbox 360           
Xbox One        (When Released)  
All the best,        


Gareth and Lady Eleanor 

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: Burton and Swinburne Novel: The Secret of Abu El Yezdi - Mark Hodder

Release Date: 08/08/13
Publisher:  Del Rey

SYNOPSIS:

Having successfully discovered the source of the Nile, Captain Richard Francis Burton returns to London expecting to marry his fiance, Isabel Arundell, and be awarded the consulship of Damascus. However, when he's unexpectedly knighted by King George V, his plans go awry. The monarch requires an agent to investigate a sequence of disappearances, and Burton, whether he likes it or not, is the man for the job. Engineering and medical luminaries - such as Isambard Kingdom Brunel and Florence Nightingale - are among the missing, but the most significant absence is that of Abdu El Yezdi, an inhabitant of the Afterlife who, in the two decades since the assassination of Queen Victoria, has been Prime Minister Disraeli's most trusted advisor. The search for the missing ghost soon becomes the least of the explorer's concerns, for it quickly becomes apparent that he himself is at the centre of increasingly bizarre and interconnected events, and that someone - or something - is intent not only on meddling with history, but also on harming the people Burton values the most.


REVIEW:

Welcome to the Urban World of Yesteryear in this fourth exciting outing for Burton and Swinburne. As with the other titles in the series it brings together a whole host of elements There’s a whole host of twists and turns, has some thrilling action sequences and when added to characters that will twist your comprehension of not only time but personality quirks all round makes this a book that is a joy to sit back with.

Add to the mix a cracking overall arc, some top notch dialogue which when backed with the authors own identifiable writing style all round makes this a book that will give you a wonderful time between the pages. Great stuff.



CRIME THRILLER REVIEW: A DCI Banks Novel: Children of the Revolution - Peter Robinson

Release Date: 15/08/13
Publisher:  Hodder

SYNOPSIS:

A disgraced college lecturer is found murdered with 5,000 pounds in his pocket on a disused railway line near his home. Since being dismissed from his job for sexual misconduct four years previously, he has been living a poverty-stricken and hermit-like existence in this isolated spot. The suspects range from several individuals at the college where he used to teach to a woman who knew the victim back in the early '70s at Essex University, then a hotbed of political activism. When Banks receives a warning to step away from the case, he realises there is much more to the mystery than meets the eye - for there are plenty more skeletons to come out of the closet ...


REVIEW:

OK, you want a crime story, you want some clever weaving of deceit (not just from the case but also the author) and you love to sit back letting it dazzle your brain alongside giving you characters that are a pure joy to spend time around. Well in the British market, I have to go with Peter Robinson. He knows how to deliver everything that the reader wants.

This latest title, brings an interesting backstory to the fore, brings the time period to life wonderfully and when added to some great prose and dialogue all round makes it a book that not only delivered on what it promised but did so with bags of style to spare. All round a great book and one that I was more than happy to spend the time with.



Monday 26 August 2013

CRIME THRILLER REVIEW: Temperance Brennan 16: Bones of the Lost - Kathy Reichs

Release Date: 15/08/13
Publisher:  William Heinemann

SYNOPSIS:

This is the gripping new Temperance Brennan novel from the world-class forensic anthropologist and Number 1 bestselling author Kathy Reichs. The body of a teenage girl is discovered along a desolate highway on the outskirts of Charlotte. Inside her purse is the ID card of a local businessman who died in a fire months earlier. Who was the girl? And was she murdered? Dr Temperance Brennan, Forensic Anthropologist, must find the answers. She soon learns that a Gulf War veteran stands accused of smuggling artefacts into the country. Could there be a connection between the two cases? Convinced that the girl's death was no accident, Tempe soon finds herself at the centre of a conspiracy that extends from South America to Afghanistan. But to find justice for the dead, she must be more courageous - and take more extreme action - than ever before.


REVIEW:

As a fan of Kathy’s for quite some time I always look forward to her books landing. I love the mystery that she brings to the fore, the twists and turns alongside bringing real life experience to the fore to help give it a realistic flavour that will more than grab the reader. Its for these reasons that she’s always been so popular with readers and whilst osme of the books have felt a little bit flat, they still entertain in oh so many ways.

What this latest book brings is a story that has a lot of emotional context within, some great character interaction which when added to the various cases within really gives you something to sit back and savour. My only real gripe is that I do feel, at times, that having so many seemingly unrelated cases come together can take it a little too far however in this book it does work wonderfully well. All round I had a lot of reading pleasure with this, whether it’s sitting there and letting the story take me away or even sitting back, looking at the clues and trying to figure it out on my own, it’s there for the taking. Great stuff.

FANTASY REVIEW: River of Stars - Guy Gavriel Kay

Release Date: 18/07/13
Publisher:  Harper Collins

SYNOPSIS:

In his critically acclaimed novel Under Heaven, Guy Gavriel Kay told a vivid and powerful story inspired by China's Tang Dynasty. Now, the international bestselling and multiple award-winning author revisits that invented setting four centuries later - a world inspired this time by the glittering, decadent Song Dynasty. Ren Daiyan was still just a boy when he took the lives of seven men while guarding an imperial magistrate of Kitai. That moment on a lonely road changed his life-in entirely unexpected ways, sending him into the forests of Kitai among the outlaws. From there he emerges years later-and his life changes again, dramatically, as he circles towards the court and emperor, while war approaches Kitai from the north. Lin Shan is the daughter of a scholar, his beloved only child. Educated by him in ways young women never are, gifted as a songwriter and calligrapher, she finds herself living a life suspended between two worlds. Her intelligence captivates an emperor-and alienates women at the court. But when her father's life is endangered by the savage politics of the day, Shan must act in ways no woman ever has. In an empire divided by bitter factions circling an exquisitely cultured emperor who loves his gardens and his art far more than the burdens of governing, dramatic events on the northern steppe alter the balance of power in the world, leading to events no one could have foretold, under the river of stars.


REVIEW:

I loved the original book Under Heaven and for some time I’ve been thinking my way through various plots that Guy could have thrown into the world and left wondering why a new title hadn’t been forthcoming for quite some time, so when this book landed I was more than happy so much so that the title I was reading prior to this was put back on the shelf to make space within my brain for this outing.

As usual with Guy the book has wonderful pace, some great twists and with characters that really leap from the pages really work wonderfully together. Add to the mix an author who loves to lead you around the world whilst spinning a wonderful tale on a scale that went far beyond what I had imagined all round gave me something great to sit back with.

Finally throw in some magical action sequences and all round I was a more than happy reader. Great stuff.




Sunday 25 August 2013

FANTASY DEBUT REVIEW: The Shadow Campaign 1: The Thousand Names - Django Wexler

Release Date: 14/07/13
Publisher:  Del Rey

SYNOPSIS:

In the desert colony of Khandar, a dark and mysterious magic, hidden for centuries, is about to emerge from darkness. Marcus d'Ivoire, senior captain of the Vordanai Colonials, is resigned to serving out his days in a sleepy, remote outpost, when a rebellion leaves him in charge of a demoralised force in a broken down fortress. Winter Ihernglass, fleeing her past and masquerading as a man, just wants to go unnoticed. Finding herself promoted to a command, she must rise to the challenge and fight impossible odds to survive. Their fates rest in the hands of an enigmatic new Colonel, sent to restore order while following his own mysterious agenda into the realm of the supernatural.


REVIEW:

A debut author from Del Rey that not only brings a brand new world to the fore but really picks up on the whole Flintlock Fantasy that fan’s have been crying out for. The world is imaginative and with a tale that feels like it’s the beginning of an epic series (with the careful world-building alongside giving the reader chance to know the world through two of the main characters initially) all round is set to give you something special.

As with Erikson’s Malazan Book of the Fallen, the scope is huge, the cast massive (with something for everyone) and when added to pace alongside prose that will more than keep you glued all round makes this something pretty unique. Throw into the mix that this debut is massively impressive alongside the twists and turns within really is giving people the chance to get in on the ground level so early on. With luck, Django will continue to work on the success of this, learn lessons from some of the problems within and won’t be struck down with the infamous book two curse.



URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: Fiend - Peter Stenson

Release Date: 04/07/13
Publisher:  William Heinemann

SYNOPSIS:

When Chase sees the little girl in umbrella socks savaging the Rottweiler, he's not too concerned. As someone who's been smoking meth every day for as long as he can remember, he's no stranger to such horrifying, drug-fueled hallucinations. But as he and his fellow junkies discover, the little girl is no illusion. The end of the world really has arrived. And with Chase's life already destroyed beyond all hope of redemption, armageddon might actually be an opportunity - a last chance to hit restart and become the person he once dreamed of being. Soon Chase is fighting to reconnect with his lost love and dreaming of becoming her hero among the ruins. But is salvation just another pipe dream? Propelled by a blistering first-person voice and featuring a powerfully compelling anti-hero, Fiend is at once a brilliant portrait of addiction, a pitch-black comedy, and the darkest, most twisted love story you've ever read - not to mention one hell of a zombie novel.


REVIEW:

OK, you’ve had a summer of Zombies (both books and also World War Z) and are looking for something a little different but still fulfils your need for gore and munchies. So what are you going to reach for?

Well as far as Lady Eleanor was concerned she went straight for this book. It sounded different from the description and with the blending of characters with major problems having to face a world changing situation, she felt it was the sort of book she really wanted to sit down and spend a grey day with.

What the book did really well with was the characters, they had flaws, they had courage and with the author descriptive process they came across wonderfully well as they were the type of people that you could find chinks within to want to spend time with. The prose was wonderful and when added to a good arc really kept the story moving forward and whilst she felt that some of the sequences within could have been glossed over with a fade to black option, overall she did enjoy the whole thing in the long run.



Saturday 24 August 2013

FANTASY REVIEW: The Legend of Broken - Caleb Carr

Release Date: 25/07/13
Publisher:  Sphere

SYNOPSIS:

Some years ago, a remarkable manuscript long rumoured to exist was discovered: The Legend of Broken. It tells of a prosperous fortress city, Broken, where order reigns at the point of a sword - even as scheming factions secretly vie for control of the surrounding kingdom. Meanwhile, outside the city's granite walls, an industrious tribe of exiles known as the Bane forages for sustenance in the wilds of Davon Wood. At every turn, the lives of Broken's defenders and its would-be destroyers intertwine until secretly, and under pressure from their people, four leaders unite. Together, they hope to exact a ruinous revenge on Broken, ushering in a day of reckoning when the mighty walls will be breached forever in a triumph of science over superstition. Breathtakingly profound and compulsively readable, Caleb Carr's long-awaited new book is an action-packed and enthralling masterpiece.


REVIEW:

I love a story that has solid research, wonderfully woven historical context to give it a fuller flavour but the real danger here is information overload which detracts from the pace and readers are left wondering what happened to the tale as huge pauses are hacked out to explain a lot of details that could have been glossed over to keep the tale on track.

The tale suffers greatly for this and for me the pace is too slow, the characters people I didn’t really form attachments to and all round left me feeling greatly saddened as the book blurb was so much better than the tale within. A great shame.

FANTASY REVIEW: Cale and the Sanctuary of the Redeemer 3: The Beating of His Wings - Paul Hoffman

Release Date: 15/08/13
Publisher:  Michael Joseph Ltd.

SYNOPSIS:

The Beating of his Wings by Paul Hoffman is the final instalment in his epic Cale and the Sanctuary of Redeemers series. Thomas Cale has been running from the truth. Since discovering that his brutal military training has been for one purpose - to destroy God's greatest mistake, mankind itself - Cale has been hunted by the very man who made him into the Angel of Death: Pope Redeemer Bosco. Cale is a paradox: arrogant and innocent, generous and pitiless. Feared and revered by those created him, he has already used his breathtaking talent for destruction to bring down the most powerful civilisation in the world. But Thomas Cale is weak. His soul is dying. As his body is wracked with convulsions he knows that the final judgment will not wait for a sick boy. As the day of reckoning draws close, Cale's sense of vengeance leads him back to the Sanctuary - and to confront the person he hates most in the world. Finally Cale must recognise that he is the incarnation of God's rage and decide if he will stand against the Sanctuary of the Redeemers and use his unique skill of laying waste to all things. The fate of mankind rests on Cale's decision


REVIEW:

To be honest I’m not the biggest fan of Paul Hoffman’s writing, although I have to admit that each book has been an improvement on the one before and this title is no exception. (Although this could be because I’ve gotten used to the writing style in question.) The writing has a crisp authoritive voice, a solid sense of prose which when added to a lead character that is pretty much unstoppable all round makes this an OK read. Back that up with a whole set of fantasy twists (some of which you see coming) alongside a supporting cast that does the job makes this an OK book for me and whilst not quite up there with a lot of the others is definitely demonstrating that Paul is improving all the time.


Friday 23 August 2013

FANTASY REVIEW: The Marching Dead - Lee Battersby

Release Date: 25/03/13
Publisher:  Angry Robot

SYNOPSIS:

The sequel to The Corpse-Rat King. Find the dead a King, save himself, win the love of his life, live happily ever after. No wonder Marius dos Helles is bored. But now Keth, his one love, is missing. Gerd has re-entered his life, and something has stopped the dead from, well, dying. It's up to Marius, Gerd, and Gerd's not-dead-enough Granny to journey across the continent and put the dead back in the afterlife where they belong. But someone has the dead riled up and spoiling for a fight, and now the dead are marching


REVIEW:

To be honest this title has been on my kindle for a while and when more books moved in, it was sadly moved further back only to be rediscovered when I was doing some clearing out. I’m so annoyed with myself as this second book from Lee was one that I not only thoroughly enjoyed but one I devoured in a single sitting.

As with the original Lee brings a great duo back together and also throws in Granny for not only comical value but as a voice of reason (although a great many would argue against that.) Its quirky, has some wonderful twists and with characters that are larger than life (and in this case death) all round makes this a book that if you want something a little different in the fantasy genre, will more than meet your needs. A great book all round.

FANTASY DEBUT REVIEW: The Long War 1: The Black Guard - A J Smith

Release Date: 05/08/13
Publisher:  Head of Zeus

SYNOPSIS:

The Duke of Canarn is dead, executed by the King's decree. The city lies in chaos, its people starving, sickening, and tyrannized by the ongoing presence of the King's mercenary army. But still hope remains: the Duke's children, the Lord Bromvy and Lady Bronwyn, have escaped their father's fate. Separated by enemy territory, hunted by the warrior clerics of the One God, Bromvy undertakes to win back the city with the help of the secretive outcasts of the Darkwald forest, the Dokkalfar. The Lady Bronwyn makes for the sanctuary of the Grass Sea and the warriors of Ranen with the mass of the King's forces at her heels. And in the mountainous region of Fjorlan, the High Thain Algenon Teardrop launches his Dragon Fleet against the Red Army. Brother wars against brother in this, the epic first volume of the long war.


REVIEW:

To be honest this is a fantasy book that I had some trouble getting into. It didn’t feel as smooth as it could have been but as the story developed I became more and more engrossed in this wonderful inventive world by AJ Smith. It is a story of a great many twists, has some solid prose and when added to a supporting cast of interesting characters really makes this a starter for a fascinating series.

Yet all said, for me, it was the principle characters that stole the show, they were fully rounded, had some great flaws alongside strengths and when added to what I would have thought of as realistic points of view took this book to a new level. All round a solid start and I’ll definitely be watching out for the second title in the series to see what lessons are learned alongside having the chance to check that the second book curse doesn’t strike.


Thursday 22 August 2013

VIDEO GAME NEWS: Assassins Creed IV: Black Flag Stealth Gamescom trailer - Ubisoft


Hail Mighty Readers and Followers of the Calloused Thumbs,
Our friends at Ubisoft have let us have footage fresh from Gamescom in Germany.  Just get a look at this wonderful trailer, the scenary is beautiful, the action looks magnificent and we really can't wait to sail the Caribee:



 
Remember that Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag is available 1st November 2013 on the following formats:         
Nintendo    Wii U    
PC    
Playstation 3  
Playstation 4     (When Released) 
Xbox 360         
Xbox One        (When Released)

All the best,      

Gareth and Lady Eleanor 

HISTORICAL FICTION REVIEW: The Kings Exile - Andrew Swanston

Release Date: 01/08/13
Publisher:  Bantam

SYNOPSIS:

Spring, 1648. When Thomas Hill, a bookseller living in rural Hampshire, publishes a political pamphlet he has little idea of the trouble that will follow. He is quickly arrested, forced on a boat to Barbados and condemned to life as a slave to two of the island's most notoriously violent brothers. In England war has erupted again, with London under threat of attack. When news of the king's execution reaches the island, political stability is threatened and a fleet commanded by Sir George Ayscue arrives to take control of the island for Cromwell. The threat of violence increases. Thomas finds himself witness to abuse, poison, rape and savage brutality. When a coded message from Ayscue to a sympathiser on the island is intercepted, Thomas is asked to decipher it. A disastrous battle seems inevitable. But nothing turns out as planned. And as the death toll mounts, the escape Thomas has been relying on seems ever more unlikely.


REVIEW:

The second book in this series and one that continues to build upon the success of The King’s Spy. As with the original its wonderfully written, the background wonderfully rich and when added to a writing style that really does bring the time period to the modern reader all round gives you a story to sit back and savour.

Add to the mix some great prose, a wonderful turn of phrase and of course a lead character that readers will love to spend time with all round generates a story that is an absolute joy to read,. Throw into this that is the second novel in a trilogy and one that gives the readers just as much flavour alongside enjoyment as the original alongside building upon its foundations and for me, it means that the third part is going to be explosive.

HISTORICAL FICTION REVIEW: Roman Empires 6: The Curse of Babylon - Richard Blake

Release Date: 01/08/13
Publisher:  Hodder

SYNOPSIS:

615 AD. A vengeful Persian tyrant prepares the final blow that will annihilate the Empire. Aelric - the young adventurer from England - is now almost as powerful as the Emperor. Seemingly without opposition, he dominates the vast and morally bankrupt city of Constantinople. One step at a time, in his fortified palace, he is pushing forward reforms that are the Roman Empire's only hope of survival, and perhaps restoration to wealth and greatness. But his domestic enemies are only waiting for their moment to strike back. And the world's most terrifying military machine is assembling in secret beyond the mountains of the eastern frontier. The plot to destroy the English upstart begins with an ancient and apparently accursed Babylonian treasure - and continues with kidnap, revolution and a brutal invasion. Can Aelric overcome his greatest challenge yet? Can he call on new and unexpected forces to save the Empire? And can he find a personal happiness that has so far eluded him?


REVIEW:

I love an anti-hero as you’re never sure which way things are going to go. After all they’re unbound by the usual set of ironclad rules that most have to stand by and for that reason the wonderfully dark as well as delicious Brother Aelric is a cracking change from the nrom.

In this historical adventure (the sixth title for our hero) we get to see his own brand of trouble in Constantinople as a man of rank. It has great prose, some wonderful twists and of course with a lead character that you’re never 100 percent sure on then you know that its going to be a whole lot of fun. The only problem that I have with this type of book, and its been a bug bear for years to me, is that I hate books being a look back on a characters life from their own point of view. It means that there’s no danger to the characters person, that they’re always going to get out of a situation which really does take a huge edge off the plotlines.


Wednesday 21 August 2013

VIDEO GAME NEWS: New Watch_Dogs Dedsec Trailer - Ubisoft


Hail Mighty Readers and Followers of the Calloused Thumbs,
With yesterdays announcement of the forthcoming film for Watch_Dogs, we thought that to a certain extent that would be the end of the latest news for a little bit.  But no, hot on the heels of this is the latest trailer from our Friends at Dedsec have sent us this warning for you, the gaming public to be aware of.




So remember keep a sharp eye on the world, you never know when someone may be watching you electronically,     Don't let this warning come too late.



Gareth and Lady Eleanor

VIDEO GAME NEWS: Lego Marvel Brick Building Gamescon Reveal & Batman: Arkham Origins Gamescon Trailer

Hail Mighty Readers and Followers of the Calloused Thumbs,
We love the Lego titles and lets just say that this new trailer from Marvel/Warner Brothers Interactive has brought all heros and villains to the fore (we had tons of fun seeing who could name them first.)  But looking at this trailer you can be damned sure that its going to be not only a hot trailer (thanks to the Human Torch) but also one that will more than grab the players attention.  

Still not sure, well look at this trailer:



  
Hopefully you'll be looking forward to this as much as we are, after all you've got Marvel, a whole host of heroes and of course lego, whats not to love about the whole thing?   
Hail Mighty Readers, Our friends at Warner Brothers Interactive and DC have let us know about the latest trailer for Batman: Arkham Origins currently set for release on the 25th October 2013. We really can't wait to get our hands on this title and know that its going to be one hell of a slug fest not only towards the end of the year but for the Christmas market.  We hope that this trailer will more than meet your expectationa and with luck will help provide you with hours of batastic fun for those cold winter months. Still not sure?  Well take a look at this:
For more information visit the official website.    


Gareth and Lady Eleanor  

VIDEO GAME NEWS: Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag: Live Action Trailer - Ubisoft


Hail Mighty Readers and Followers of the Calloused Thumbs,
Avast and Belay that Order Mr Jones, our friends at Ubisoft have sent us some of their live action feed for the forthcoming Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag title.  Its wonderfully put together and really makes us want the title now.  Just thank the Order that its not going to be a wait for much longer:

 

So get that console ready, stow that other title and remember that Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag will be available 1st November 2013 on the following formats:         
Nintendo Wii U    
PC     
Playstation 3   
Playstation 4  (Upon Release)    
Xbox 360         
Xbox One  (Upon Release)

All the best,      

Gareth and Lady Eleanor 

CRIME THRILLER REVIEW: Plastic - Christopher Fowler


Release Date: 30/07/13
Publisher:  Solaris

SYNOPSIS:

June Cryer is a shopaholic suburban housewife trapped in a lousy marriage. After discovering her husband’s infidelity with the flight attendant next door, she loses her home, her husband and her credit rating. But there’s a solution: a friend needs a caretaker for a spectacular London high-rise apartment. It’s just for the weekend, and there’ll be money to spend in a city with every temptation on offer.

Seizing the opportunity to escape, June moves in only to find that there’s no electricity and no phone. She must flat-sit until the security system comes back on. When a terrified girl breaks into the flat and June makes the mistake of asking the neighbours for help, she finds herself embroiled in an escalating nightmare, trying to prove that a murderer exists. For the next 24 hours she must survive on the streets without friends or money and solve an impossible crime.


REVIEW:

Chris is one of those authors that really does satisfy me as a reader. He gives me a cracking storyline, some great twists but personally, it’s the characters that he brings to the fore that really sells his work as they’re believable, are people that I hope will survive and all round gives me a book that is really hard to put down.

Throw into the mix some cracking prose and dialogue as well as some red herrings that will leave the reader wondering what is going to happen all round makes this a book that I can’t help but recommend to others.

FANTASY SHORT STORY REVIEW: Warhammer Fantasy: Wind of Change - CL Werner

Release Date: 30/05/13
Publisher:  Black Library

SYNOPSIS:

The dark elf land of Naggaroth is bitter and inhospitable, and the distant north even more so. Belithi – a beastmistress of Karond Kar – and her hunting party venture into this frozen wasteland, the border of the dread Chaos wastes. But unimaginable dangers wait in these northern climes, and even the power of the druchii may not be enough to resist the power of the Wind of Change.


REVIEW:

A cracking short story that readers of the Warhammer world will last as things that you expect are twisted beyond your imagination as this title brings all sorts of wonders to the reader as the dark elves learn to deal with things beyond their normal beliefs. Its quirky, it has some great twists and with solid action alongside top prose really makes this a short story that you can get behind. Add to the mix a wonderful turn of phrase with an author who really likes to deliver a killer punchline all round gave me something to make me smile with its final line.

Tuesday 20 August 2013

FILM NEWS: Watch_Dogs to get Own Film - Sony Entertainment, New Regency and Ubisoft


Hail Mighty Readers, Followers of the Calloused Thumbs and Sticky Fingered Cinema Goers,
Our friends at Ubisoft, New Regency and Sony Entertainment have let us know this:
"Today at the Sony Computer Entertainment press conference at Gamescom, Ubisoft® announced that its film and television division, Ubisoft Motion Pictures, is collaborating with Sony Pictures Entertainment and New Regency on development of a feature film based on Watch Dogs™, Ubisoft’s highly anticipated open-world action-adventure video game. Ubisoft and Sony also showed a first look at the exclusive Watch Dogs gameplay that will be available for PlayStation®4 computer entertainment system later this year. 

“Since both Sony and Ubisoft have movie and video game branches, this deal creates exceptional opportunities for us to merge the realms of the story-based cinematic experience with the interaction of the video game,” said Jean-Julien Baronnet, chief executive officer, Ubisoft Motion Pictures. “In addition, Sony Pictures and New Regency have deep production expertise and are letting us maintain a strong creative voice in the film’s development. Together, we’re confident we can deliver a movie that builds upon the excitement that the game is already generating.”

Commenting on the announcement, Hannah Minghella, president of Production for Columbia Pictures, said, "The themes and open gameplay of 'Watch Dogs' lends itself perfectly to the big screen. The game has intense action and adventure, but the story focuses on information and the control of information, which we think will lead to an exciting thriller. It has tremendous potential as a motion picture and we're thrilled to have the opportunity to work closely with Ubisoft's internal creative team on the development of the project."

Watch Dogs centers on Aiden Pearce, a brilliant hacker bent on revenge and inflicting his own brand of justice after a violent family tragedy. Using all of his skills, Pearce hacks into Chicago’s Central Operating System (ctOS), which controls the city’s infrastructure, including security cameras, traffic lights, and public transportation, as well as databases containing key information on the city’s residents. In the game, Pearce turns the entire city of Chicago into his ultimate weapon. The game received many awards at E3 2012, including Best of Show from GamingExcellence and three awards (Biggest Surprise, Best New Franchise and Best PC Game) from IGN. The game also won GameSpot’s People’s Choice Most Exciting Game of E3 2013.

The project will be overseen at Ubisoft by Ubisoft Motion Pictures. At Columbia, Minghella and Sam Dickerman will oversee development while Alexandra Milchan and Andrew Calof will work on the forthcoming film for New Regency."

We hope you'll look forward to this as much as we do,


Gareth and Lady Eleanor.


CRIME THRILLER REVIEW: Maeve Kerrigan 4: The Stranger You Know - Jane Casey

Release Date: 04/07/13
Publisher:  Ebury Press

SYNOPSIS:

He meets women. He gains their trust. He kills them. That's all Maeve Kerrigan knows about the man she is hunting. Three women have been strangled in their homes by the same sadistic killer. With no sign of a break-in, every indication shows that they let in their attacker. But the evidence is pointing at a shocking suspect: DCI Josh Derwent, Maeve's colleague. Maeve refuses to believe he could be involved, but how well does she really know her partner? After all, this is hardly the first time Derwent's been accused of murder...


REVIEW:

I love a story that tends to get away from the normal PC (please pardon the pun) point of view and get back to a certain amount of the old school boys in blue who rather than being sensitive and sweet, believe in saying what they think whilst solving the crime. That’s what you get in this title and whilst it’s part of the Maeve Kerrigan series it’s a book that centres mainly around the cracking DI Josh Derwent (who for me is someone akin to Gene Hunt.)

The prose is sharp, there’s some solid twists and whilst this is more of an emotional title its one that will deliver the reader a story that they can not only sink their teeth into but one that they can sit back and enjoy as the tale unfurls. All round a solid book and one that I had a lot of fun with.