Monday 30 September 2013

VIDEO GAME NEWS: Assassins Creed IV: Pirate Heist Trailer - Ubisoft


Hail Mighty Readers and Followers of the Calloused Thumbs,
Our friends at Ubisoft have sent us a cracking new trailer featuring other characters from the game including Calico Jack , Anne Bonney and others:



We're really getting excited with the final month countdown and we've also managed to get the dates for the release for the Playstation 4 as well as the Xbox One.    

Remember that Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag is available 1st November 2013 on the following formats:             
Nintendo    Wii U          
PC          
Playstation 3    
Xbox 360     
Playstation 4     (22nd November)         
Xbox One          (22nd November)  


All the best,          



Gareth and Lady Eleanor 

CRIME REVIEW: The Long Shadow - Liza Marklund

Release Date: 12/09/13
Publisher:  Corgi

SYNOPSIS:

A violent robbery has killed an entire family on the Costa Del Sol. Annika Bengtzon is assigned to cover the story for the Evening Post. But when she arrives in Spain she discovers there was a third child - a teenage daughter - who is unaccounted for. Annika makes it her mission to find the missing girl. But as she delves into the mystery she becomes embroiled in a far darker side of Spanish life than she'd envisioned, as she begins to piece together a terrifying story of violence, abuse and murder.


REVIEW:

Liza is an author that I love to spend time with, I love the way she brings the crimes to the fore and whilst this one is set in the sunnier climes of Spain her dark touch works wonders to bring the darker, seedier side of life to the fore. As with her other books the pace is a delight to sit down with, the prose cracking and when added to her own unique writing style that readers can identify quickly all round makes this something special.

All round a great read and a great way to spend a few days. Magic.

Sunday 29 September 2013

URBAN FANTASY DEBUT REVIEW: Pax Arcana 1: Charming - Elliott James

Release Date: 24/09/13
Publisher:  Orbit

SYNOPSIS:

John Charming isn't your average Prince...

He comes from a line of Charmings — an illustrious family of dragon slayers, witch-finders and killers dating back to before the fall of Rome. Trained by a modern day version of the Knights Templar, monster hunters who have updated their methods from chainmail and crossbows to kevlar and shotguns, he was one of the best. That is — until he became the abomination the Knights were sworn to hunt.

That was a lifetime ago. Now, he tends bar under an assumed name in rural Virginia and leads a peaceful, quiet life. One that shouldn't change just because a vampire and a blonde walked into his bar... Right?


REVIEW:

An unusual and fun type of Urban Fantasy that brings a wonderful touch to the fore as the world of Fae-rie tale and our own collide in this new book by Elliott James. The principle character is a lot of fun, is witty, has some sarcastic moments and when the reader gets to know him sees the vulnerable side brought to the fore as he fears not only what he is but events from his past catching up.

The story has some great twists, brings other outsiders into a cohesive group as well as giving the reader a team that they just can’t wait to spend time with. All in a great start and I definitely look forward to seeing how the “Knights” will cope with one of their own returning.




Saturday 28 September 2013

YOUNG ADULT REVIEW: Ashes Trilogy 3: Monsters - Ilsa J Bick

Release Date: 26/09/13
Publisher:  Quercus

SYNOPSIS:

Alex is tough. She has survived the EMP blast, she has lived among the flesh-eating Changed, and she has been separated from Tom for months. And she hasn't given up. But on the brink of starvation and in the grip of a winter that just won't end, Alex discovers a new and terrible truth: The Changed are still evolving. And...they've had help.


REVIEW:

To be honest having not loved the first two, I approached the final one with not only kid gloves but a great deal of apprehension. After all, in a book where I have problems not only making my way through it but struggling against characters that I can’t get to grips with really makes it an epic fight to the end. What unfurled within was a book that yet again really didn’t do anything for me. The author had a cast of shadows (far too many with not enough flesh), the principle characters were unbearable for me and whilst the pace was OK in places it all round left me feeling flat. A great shame all round but you can’t please everyone.

Friday 27 September 2013

URBAN FANTASY CRIME REVIEW: Sherlock Holmes: The Stuff of Nightmares - James Lovegrove

Release Date: 30/08/13
Publisher:  Titan

SYNOPSIS:

It's the autumn of 1890, and a spate of bombings has hit London. Sherlock Holmes believes Professor Moriarty is behind the campaign of terror, but to what end? At the same time, a bizarrely garbed figure has been spotted on the rooftops of the capital. Known only by the name Baron Cauchemar, he appears to be a scourge of crime and villainy. But is he truly the force for good that he seems?


REVIEW:

Whilst the Holmes novels from Titan are a step in the fantastical, I love the way that they allow others to play in the world bringing it not only to life but adding a touch of Urban Fantasy so that the reader is in for a real treat, in this case the Steampunk character of Baron Cauchemar who is not only delightfully dark but with a mysteriousness that really does deserve the world’s greatest detectives mental acumen. It’s a joy to read as James takes you not only a journey of this alternate Victorian London but brings all the components to life that works so well for me as a reader.

The pace is wonderful constantly leaving the reader on the back foot as the case is unravelled and when added to the authors usual style of twisting the readers perceptions alongside a great way of delivering a story all round makes this something that you just can’t ignore.

Back that up with some wonderful background characters as well as a constant feel for Holmes and Watson, all round makes this a pure joy. I deduce that this was a title of great fun.



Thursday 26 September 2013

VIDEO GAME NEWS: Batman: Arkham Origins News - Warner Brothers Interactive and DC


Hail Mighty Readers,
Our friends at Warner Brothers Interactive and DC have let us know about a couple of things.  Firstly about the Origins Season Pass:

The Batman: Arkham Origins Season Pass (for PlayStation®3 system, Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system from Microsoft, Wii U™ system or PC) will be available at launch for £15.99 (£27.99 value) and grants purchasers access to five of the game’s upcoming downloadable content packs, one of which includes two exclusive skins.

And Secondly about the exclusive KnightFall pack, we have to say it looks pretty sweet, although with the original costume (we're talking Adam West here) it looks a little unusual without a few Pow's and Thwacks here and there.  LOL  But have a look, this does look really cool, I would however perhaps have liked Steampunk Batman added.  Now that would have been mega:



Batman: Arkham Origins is out on the 25th October in all the usual formats.

All the best, .  



Gareth and Lady Eleanor 

VIDEO GAME NEWS: Infamous Pirate's Vblog - Ubisoft


Hail Mighty Readers and Followers of the Calloused Thumbs,
New footage has arrived from 18th Century Caribee, voiced by Edward Kenway himself (Matt Ryan) taking the viewer on a quick tour of the people you'll meet within the game.  Here take a look:

 

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 

COMEDY FACTUAL TRUE CRIME REVIEW: Crap Crimes - Simon and Martin Toseland


Release Date: 26/09/13
Publisher:  Random House Books

SYNOPSIS:

As long as there has been crime there has been crap crime. From the Garden of Eden onwards, most criminals must ave been at least a bit crap - or else they wouldn't have been caught, right? OK, some real-life rogues like Bonnie and Clyde, or fictional villains like Moriarty, make breaking the law seem pretty glamorous. But not the failed felons banged up inside this book. Crap Crimes is a hilarious compendium of criminal stupidity - from the woman who went to the police to complain that she had been sold poor-quality cocaine, to the burglar who left his phone charging in his house. If you need proof that crime does not pay - or you just want a good laugh - then this is the book for you.


REVIEW:

This title for me, is what I would call a bathroom book, a title that you can quite happily leave in the smallest room of your house to dip into whenever you need (and a great way to distract guests). The stories are all from the real world and when you see how incompetent some of these “masterminds” are you cannot believe that the book wasn’t made up. (Think of this as perhaps a non-death Darwin Award for Criminals.)

It is fun, it has a good few bits in there to make you laugh and with some moments that will have you scratching your head wondering why these people did the things they did. Finally throw into the mix the chance to see this as the Jerry Springer Book of Crime (if you want to describe it to friends) and you’ll find that the odd break you take from day, can be something to cheer you right up. Great stuff.

Wednesday 25 September 2013

GRAPHIC NOVEL REVIEW: Fashion Beast - Alan Moore, Malcom McLaren

Release Date: 05/09/13
Publisher:  Titan

SYNOPSIS:

In the 80s Alan Moore wrote the most acclaimed graphic novel of all time - Watchmen. His next project, working with Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren, was for a screenplay ultimately never produced. Now that screenplay comes to life as an incredible comic book series - a classic re-telling of the fable Beauty and the Beast set in a dystopian future city!


REVIEW:

Alan Moore is a strange beast and to be honest you can never be sure what you’re going to get when you open a book written by him, after all he loves to throw in twists, at times the macabre and at other times leave the reader thinking what the hell.

Here in this title, is a story that brings elements of Phantom of the Opera, a world on the brink of apocalypse giving the people the only break in the monotony of their lives with fashion. Its definitely quirky, its beautifully illustrated and having sat back and read it cover to cover, I’m not really sure what I was expected to take away from it other than Alan poking fun at the ridiculousness of the fashion world.

All in definitely something unique, something differing far from the norm and I suspect something that’s going to be collectable more from the name attached than for what unfurls within.

Tuesday 24 September 2013

YOUNG ADULT REVIEW: Allies and Assassins - Justin Somper

Release Date: 19/09/13
Publisher:  Atom

SYNOPSIS:

They killed his brother. Now they're coming for him...As the second prince of Archenfield, Jared never expected to rule. But behind the walls of the castle is a dark and dangerous court where murder and intrigue are never far below the surface. Now his older brother is dead. The kingdom is his. And the target is on his back. Can he find the assassin before the assassin finds him?


REVIEW:

A new fantasy series from the author of Vampirates and to be honest whilst I was expecting something a little different I wasn’t quite sure if the book would live up to the expectations that I had, after all when you’ve got used to one series and loves what’s been done its always hard to adjust your feelings when something new lands.

What this book does is bring a story of a young prince to the fore, thrust into the seat of power at an early age with no real training where political machinations vie against and also the maintain of peace is a case of carefully juggling a whole host of poisonous snakes praying that one doesn’t choose to bite.

Its definitely something different to what has come before yet the Somper magic is within, the prose is great, the pace solid and the crime aspect with the twists and turns works well on so many levels. Add to this a solid lead character that the reader will not only sympathise with but also root for and you think you might have it all but for me, it’s the supporting cast that really make this book. Everyone has secrets that they don’t want revealed and the hunt for the truth will shine light into the dark places where those in power do not wish. All round a great book and definitely a magical new offering that will more than entertain especially with its cliffhanger ending. Damn you Justin, I want the next outing now…

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: The Baskerville Affair 1: A Study in Silks - Emma Jane Holloway

Release Date: 24/09/13
Publisher:  Del Rey

SYNOPSIS:

Evelina Cooper, the niece of the great Sherlock Holmes, is poised to enjoy her first Season in London’s high society. But there’s a murderer to deal with—not to mention missing automatons, a sorcerer, and a talking mouse.

In a Victorian era ruled by a council of ruthless steam barons, mechanical power is the real monarch, and sorcery the demon enemy of the empire. Nevertheless, the most coveted weapon is magic that can run machines—something Evelina has secretly mastered. But rather than making her fortune, her special talents could mean death or an eternity as a guest of Her Majesty’s secret laboratories. What’s a polite young lady to do but mind her manners and pray she’s never found out?

But then there’s that murder. As Sherlock’s niece, Evelina should be able to find the answers, but she has a lot to learn. And the first decision she has to make is whether to trust the handsome, clever rake who makes her breath come faster, or the dashing trick rider who would dare anything for her if she would only just ask.


REVIEW:

Sherlock’s niece takes the lead in this tale that brings the deductive skills to the fore alongside magicks that are questioned by the masses and often lead to prosecutions. Its cleverly written, and whilst the lead character was interesting certain parts of the story ironically felt like it was running out of steam leading to a conclusion that felt a little bit flat by the final conclusion.

Don’t get me wrong, I did like the principle character but overall the story didn’t have enough going for it to keep my glued in a way that I like to be when I sit back to be entertained. It is OK and as long as you don’t want something with multiple twists within you should be OK. But overall, its one that you may feel happier about renting from your library.



Monday 23 September 2013

DVD REVIEW: Arrow Season 1: Stephen Amell, Katie Cassidy - Warner Home Video

Release Date: 23/09/13
Publisher:  Warner Home Video

SYNOPSIS:

After being marooned for five years on a remote island, billionaire Oliver Queen returns home with a mysterious agenda and a lethal set of new skills that he uses in a war on crime in this hard-hitting action series. Reinventing the DC Comics character for a modern-day audience, the Arrow is not a superhero ... but a hero -- every bit as dangerous as the criminals he's hunting. After suffering unimaginable ordeals on the island, the Oliver returns to Starling City a new man -- determined to right the wrongs of his father and sworn to bring justice to those who've corrupted his city. But Oliver finds his crusade complicated by his friends and family. Overjoyed by his miraculous return, the Queen family nevertheless still trades on secrets that conflict with the Arrow's agenda. Oliver's return also affects his best friend, Tommy Merlyn, who will ultimately travel down a dark path; and the love of his life, Laurel Lance, who must somehow forgive Oliver before she can ever love him again. A dark and dangerous crime procedural with edge, intrigue and action, Oliver's story will be told from three perspectives: the Queen family, Oliver's harrowing ordeal on the island and the Arrow's adventures in Starling City. Showing all facets of the mysterious loner, this action drama follows the Oliver that disappeared, the one that returned and the one known as Arrow.


REVIEW:

With a lot of modern retelling of a fair number of superhero origns I’ve always wondered when Oliver Queen would get a chance to step out into the fore on his own. After all being a person with powers might be fun, but it’s the guys that have to rly on human strengths as well as ingenuity that really whet my appetite, its one reason that I love Ironman, Batman and of course The Green Arrow.

What this series does is bring it up to modern times with a solid cast and of course a storyline that kicks butt. Yes the first few episodes were hit or miss but as the series progressed it was something that I not only looked forward to but seeing how they would deal with a whole range of options within, especially when you add modern policing into what is essentially a vigilante hunt. It works wonderfully well, the script is fast paced and when you also add into this the screen chemistry between the cast members it’s a series that you can get behind right from the get go.

All round a whole heap of fun and for me, the flashbacks to the island were definitely something that I enjoyed seeing as you got to understand how he became the man he was when he returned to society at the series beginning. Great stuff.

HISTORICAL FICTION REVIEW: Arena - Simon Scarrow and TJ Andrews

Release Date: 15/08/13
Publisher:  Headline

SYNOPSIS:

A Sunday Times bestseller, ARENA is a novel of Rome, gladiators and revenge from the author of CENTURION, THE GLADIATOR and PRAETORIAN. It is AD 41. The city of Rome is a dangerous place. Optio Macro of the Second Legion, recently decorated for courage on the battlefield, can't wait to leave the teeming city behind. He's dismayed when he's compelled to stay in Rome to train Marcus Valerius Pavo, a young gladiatorial recruit. Though fearless Pavo has fought for his life before, he's a novice in the arena. But he's a driven man, with a goal dearer than survival - to avenge his father's death at the hands of a champion gladiator. Will he live to face his nemesis? ARENA has previously been published as five separate ebook novellas. This print edition brings the complete series together.


REVIEW:

To be honest I’m a huge Simon Scarrow fan so when I learned of this co-authored title, featuring a young(er) Macro I couldn’t wait to see what unfurled within. I was expecting top notch action, some great twists and when added to the cracking way that he brings ancient Rome to life, was really looking forward to settling down wondering around that time period.

What unfurled whilst containing an “old friend” was a title that for me, was sadly lacking, it felt flat, the action, whilst there didn’t have his usual passion behind it, almost choppy and really didn’t do what I hoped for. Yes it had gladiatorial combat and it was bloody but it just didn’t have me caring about the lead protagonist enough to actually want him to win.

Add to this twists that you could sadly see coming for quite a lot of the book, political machinations that felt uncomplex alongside a pace that slacked off quite a few times, all round left me feeling fairly flat. A great shame.

Sunday 22 September 2013

FACTUAL REVIEW: The King in the North - Max Adams

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

SYNOPSIS:

Oswald Whiteblade lived one of the most influential and colourful lives in early English history. Before his death in battle against the pagans of Mercia cut short his reign as king of Northumbria (634-42), he remodelled his northeastern English homeland as a Christian kingdom, founded the monastery of Lindisfarne, introduced a culture of learning which influenced all Europe, and became the most powerful ruler in Britain. Max Adams's thrilling account rescues Oswald from Dark Age obscurity to reveal an unjustly forgotten English hero - a king whose return from exile to reclaim his birthright was the inspiration for J. R. R. Tolkien's Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings. But THE KING IN THE NORTH is more than just a biography of the first great English monarch; it is a stunningly researched, wide-ranging, beautifully written and revelatory portrait of early medieval England in all its aspects.


REVIEW:

An historical title and one that whilst I had heard of the subject (Oswald) was not one I knew too much about and to be honest in a culture where a lot of the heroes we get to read about are from invaders such as the Anglo Saxon’s Beowulf, here we get the story of a home grown hero, a man who took his birthright, brought his kingdom under Christianity and won as well as lost his kingdom by the sword alongside having influence throughout the UK.

It’s a tale that is an absolute epic on its own and deserving of the time to be brought to the fore. What Max does is sort out fact from fable, delves into the historical writings and brings this to the modern reader in a friendly as well as understandable manner. All round a great book and one that, whilst it took a while to get through, was one that I was more than happy I spent the time reading. Great stuff.

Saturday 21 September 2013

CUISINE REVIEW: Gordon Ramsay's Ultimate Home Cooking - Gordon Ramsay

Release Date: 29/08/13
Publisher:  Hodder

SYNOPSIS:

'My rules are simple. Home cooking has to be easy. It got to be fast. It's got to be delicious. If you think you can't cook amazing food at home, think again. I'm going to prove that however busy you are it's still possible to cook stunning food. These are the only recipes you'll ever need.' GORDON RAMSAY Gordon Ramsay's Ultimate Home Cooking is a collection of over 120 delicious new recipes that are infused with Gordon's expertise and skill gleaned from his years in professional kitchens. Divided into chapters to see you through the whole day from weekday breakfasts through to Saturday night dinners, the book is all about the pleasure of cooking and sharing the very best home-cooked food with family and friends.


REVIEW:

I’ve watched Gordon for years and whilst he’s a very outspoken chef I loved trying his recipes and cook alongs so that I get to make meals that not only taste fab but bring together flavours that I wouldn’t have thought of. After all in a world where we see food as something that’s just a fuel rather than looking at it as something that should be savoured, tasted and perhaps most importantly share with friends.

Here in Gordon’s latest book is a whole load of recipes for different times of the day. So far I’ve tasted a number of the dishes but I have to say my favourite is Gordon’s stuffed Rib of Beef with me really looking forward to trying the Beef Stew with Mustard Suet Dumplings (and with the cold part of the year coming up, its going to be great.) Add to this a whole selection of soups, tasty sandwiches and additions that you might not of thought of such as anchovies on toast to go with your boiled egg, all round gives you a whole range of things to enjoy.

Friday 20 September 2013

VIDEO GAME NEWS: Assassins Creed IV: Black Flag Multiplayer Feature - Ubisoft


Hail Mighty Readers and Followers of the Calloused Thumbs,
Multiplayer battles have been a fun addition of the AC franchise and for the latest release, it looks not only fun but super sweet.  Here take a look:

 

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: Zombies: A Hunter's Guide - Joseph A. McCullough

Release Date: 20/09/13
Publisher:  Osprey Adventures

SYNOPSIS:

Osprey's hugely popular, Zombies: A Hunter's Guide returns in this deluxe, limited-edition hard cover. Bound in black leather with silver embossing and silver, gilt edging, this beautiful book is sure to be an instant collector's item. Zombies: A Hunter's Guide contains all of the information necessary to recognize and combat this growing threat. Beginning with an explanation of the historical origins of zombies, it follows their history through to the threat they pose to the world today. All varieties of zombie are catalogued and examined, giving their strengths and weaknesses, with a special emphasis on recognition and elimination. Finally, the book covers the tactics and equipment used in zombie fighting, from the man on the street with his sharpened hockey stick to the latest fully automatic grenade launchers and anti-undead armor employed by top-secret government "Containment Teams." Accompanied by numerous full-color reconstructions to help with identification, this book is a must for anyone on the frontlines of the Zombie Wars.


REVIEW:

This title is a good bit of fun for fans of the shuffling undead. It’s written to give them a huge running alternate history alongside giving the reader the chance to see the countermeasures placed by the governments of the time.

Its quirky, it’s a whole lot of fun and when added to the cracking illustrations really brings the whole thing, to life. Finally throw into the mix a writing style that just invites you in with its allure and all round it’s a book that I’m going to get a whole lot of fun from as well as some cracking Urban Fantasy writing project idea’s. Great stuff.

Thursday 19 September 2013

FANTASY BOOK REVIEW: Elves: War Fighting Manual - Den Patrick

Release Date: 19/09/13
Publisher:  Gollancz

SYNOPSIS:

A manual, complete with illustrations, that looks at the Elvish race and the way they fight war. With a history of the race, an assessment on how they, as immortals, face death, and accounts of famous engagements, this is the perfect companion for any fantasy wargamer or roleplayer, as well as being a door into a wonderful and original fantasy world.


REVIEW:

Having read and loved the Orc Fighting Manual, I really couldn’t wait to see what Den would bring to the fore with the pointy eared ones. OK, so they’re a different flavour to the Orcs but the way that the book is put together works really well. I love the way that the manual is modified for the various strengths of their culture and of course works wonderfully well on all levels.

Add to the mix a strong voice in bringing it all together alongside some cracking artwork, all round gives you something fun to sit back and enjoy. A definite collection that will be tons of fun for the fan and fantasy writer in all of us.



Wednesday 18 September 2013

GRAPHIC NOVEL REVIEW: Monster Massacre Vol 1 - Ed. Dave Elliott, Sharky - Dave Elliott and Alex Horley

Release Date: 10/09/13
Publisher:  Titan

SYNOPSIS:

AUTHORS: ALAN MOORE, RON MARZ, DAVE ELLIOTT, ANDY KUHN, DAVE DORMAN, MARK A. NELSON, W. H. RAUF AND MORE... (Writer), DAVE WILKINS, SAMI BASRI, ALEX HORLEY, TOM RANEY, GARRIE GASTONNY, MARK A. NELSON, STANLEY ARTGERM LAU, GARRY LEACH, TOBY CYPRESS, BARNABY BAGENDA, SAKTI YUWONO, DAVE DORMAN, ANDY KUHN, PHILIP TAN, RHOALD MARCELLIUS, MICHAEL T. GILBERT, SUNNY GHO, DOUG BRAITHWAITE AND MORE... (Artists) From all around the world, the greatest comic talents are given full and free rein to explore the universe, to seek out new life and new civilizations... to boldly go where no one would dare let them go before! No matter your tastes in science fiction and fantasy, you will find something here to love.


REVIEW:

A compendium of artwork and stories from a few of the big names and a few names you might not be quite so familiar with all wrapped up in a cracking presentation title that really gives you something magical. The Artwork within works wonderfully, the story telling is right up there and when you add it to solid editing by Dave Elliott really gives you something to sit back with.

Add to this that it’s the first of the series and it really kicks off with a boom. Cracking.




Release Date: 10/09/13
Publisher:  Titan

SYNOPSIS:

You're 16 years old. All your life, you've been raised by your mom, with no idea of who your father was. Now you've hit puberty, and you're about to find out that the "no-good-S.O.B." who contributed to your genes is none other than ODIN! Not to mention your mother is a child of ZEUS! Now, whenever something sets off your hormones, you transform into the demi-god SHARKY!


REVIEW:

A graphic novel that I’d not come across before and whilst it isn’t one of the “big boys” it’s a whole lot of fun to sit back and read. The underlying thread has some great twists which when added to the beautiful artwork really generates something that will more than amuse.

Dave’s story telling really takes you on an adventure and with some great sub characters appearing to give the world a fuller picture (and we’re not just talking about “Max”) which when brought together with some of DC’s well know characters, really brings the whole thing together. Great stuff.

Tuesday 17 September 2013

LADY ELEANOR VIDEO GAME REVIEW: Diablo 3 - Blizzard

Release Date: 05/09/13
Publisher:  Blizzard

SYNOPSIS:
Blizzard Entertainment’s epic action-RPG Diablo III is moving the eternal war between the High Heavens and the Burning Hells to a new battleground--Xbox 360! Armed with a controller and a custom-designed interface tailored for consoles, players will step into the role of one of five powerful character classes—barbarian, witch doctor, wizard, monk, or demon hunter--and embark on a dark journey to save the world of Sanctuary from ancient demonic forces. As these heroes adventure from the humble town of New Tristram all the way to the Diamond Gates of the High Heavens, they’ll engage in pulse-pounding combat with hordes of monsters and challenging bosses, grow in experience and ability, and acquire items of incredible power.

Features 

Five powerful character classes to choose from: barbarian, witch doctor, wizard, monk, and demon hunter.

Direct character control and console-focused changes to character abilities and combat mechanics thrust Xbox 360 gamers into the action.


Four-player online co-op and four-player local co-op for seamless cooperative play.


Four different difficulty modes--Normal, Nightmare, Hell, and Inferno--that progressively increase the challenge and reward players with more powerful armor, weapons, and abilities.


Hardcore mode for players who seek the thrill of constant peril that comes with the possibility of permanent death for their character.


Completely reimagined interface and new dynamic camera designed specifically for console play.


Interactive environments with dangerous traps and obstacles, and destructible elements.


Randomized settings, events, and loot deliver endless, dynamic gameplay.
A wide variety of fiendish monsters, with unique attack patterns and behaviors redesigned for console.


Features like the Paragon system, Monster Power, Infernal Machine and Brawling add substantial replayability.


Connect with friends, send game invitations, and access voice chat through the Xbox Live.


REVIEW:
Ah, for a great many gamers the name Diablo conjures up a whole host of fond memories, although I did know the game name, I wasn’t sure what I was going to get although having heard about marathon gaming sessions from others reliving the nostalgia I was hoping for a title that would not only entertain but give me a whole host of fun in the process.

What unfurls if you’ll pardon the layman in me is a more modern game of Gauntlet, you have a whole range of characters to choose from and to be honest, if you’re playing on your own, finding the right one for your gaming style can be tricky (The Barbarian didn’t suit me although I did have a whole host of fun with the Demon Hunter), but when you get a back up buddy such as a Templar or a Thief etc. you have a great fun gaming through the challenges. It’s fun, the chance to upgrade your inventory/items gives you great looks and when you add the different skill upgrades, finding something to suit your gameplay really does give you so many choices. However just because you can have an upgrade doesn’t mean that it will suit your style of gameplay, so tinkering around a little will help you find what does work well.

OK, this title is fun to play on your own and whilst some may feel that it’s a little limited, the character graphics a little clunky with acceptable sound, the real gem of this game is the ability to play it in your home with your friends all round, it’s a great way to have a whole heap of fun whilst battling the enemies of darkness grabbing levelling goodies and sharing the spoils round. (Unless you have a tightwad buddy that believes in hogging all the good stuff for themselves.)

All in, it’s a game with quite a few options and to be honest the one addition I’d have liked would have been able to modify the faces, bodies so that you can tailor the things more to your own likes. That said it’s a whole heap of pleasure all round and one that I’d advise to get in when you have your friends round. Just prepare for it to be a lost weekend. 



Lady Eleanor is Falcata Times Mistress of Mayhem, be it in the Horror Genre or on the console, she gives it her all and loves to blow the hell out of anyone who gets in her way.  You can often find her perusing the game sites to get the latest gossip on what’s arriving next or checking out the latest movie/book releases to see what grabs her attention.

In addition to this Lady Eleanor is a lifelong fan of pin up and in particular the Fetish Queen of the 50’s Bettie Page and whilst the name is an alias, its due more to her love of a song by the same title by the group Lindisfarne rather than her dominating presence when she lays down the law.

(Artwork by Isis Sousa for Falcata Times)


FANTASY REVIEW: The Riyria Chronicles 1 & 2: The Crown Tower and The Rose and the Thorn - Michael J Sullivan

Release Date: 06/08/13
Publisher:  Orbit

SYNOPSIS:

Two men who hate each other. One impossible mission. A legend in the making. Hadrian, a warrior with nothing to fight for, is paired with Royce, a thieving assassin with nothing to lose. Together they must steal a treasure that no one can reach. The Crown Tower is the impregnable remains of the grandest fortress ever built and home to the realm's most prized possessions. But it isn't gold or jewels that their employer is after, and if he can only keep them from killing each other, they might just get him his prize.


REVIEW:

I had a lot of fun reading the original series when it was picked up by Orbit so as a reader I was more than intrigued to see what Michael would produce in the prequel that explains how the heroes from the original series came to forge their alliance. As with the series it works wonderfully well, brings a whole new area of trouble to the fore and when added to a whole host of chaos really gives the reader chance to get behind familiar friends.

The only real problem with this book, as far as I’m concerned is that because this is a prequel we know that our duo are never in any real danger which takes a lot away from the book in my opinion. Don’t get me wrong it’s a lot of fun, the pace is solid and with good action sequences I was more than happy but the best bit, the internal conflict between the heroes.



Release Date: 17/09/13
Publisher:  Orbit

SYNOPSIS:

Two thieves want answers. Riyria is born. For more than a year, Royce Melborn has tried to forget Gwen DeLancy, the woman who saved him and his partner Hadrian Blackwater when all other doors were closed against them. Unable to stay away any longer, they return to Medford to a very different reception - she refuses to see them. Once more she is shielding them, this time from the powerful noble who abused her. She was right to suspect Royce wouldn't care about rank and privilege or fear any repercussions from reprisal. What she didn't realise is what he was capable of - until now.


REVIEW:

The concluding part to the prequel duology and as with the first, I had a lot of fun reading this. The characters are great to hand around, have some wonderful movements of humour and levity and when backed with great pace alongside plot aspects all round works delightfully well.

Add to the mix a whole host of dilemma’s, some cracking twists and an authors writing style that really does keep you glued all round makes this something that’ll deliver on all your reader demands. As with the first book in the series my gripe still stands but with everything else that I’ve enjoyed within it can be quite a minor one.



Monday 16 September 2013

PREHISTORY FICTION: Ice Age 1: Shaman - Kim Stanley Robinson

Release Date: 03/09/13
Publisher: Orbit

SYNOPSIS:

An award-winning and bestselling SF writer, Kim Stanley Robinson is widely acknowledged as one of the most exciting and visionary writers in the field. His latest novel, 2312, imagined how we would be living 300 years from now. Now, with his new novel, he turns from our future to our past - to the Palaeolithic era, and an extraordinary moment in humanity's development. An emotionally powerful and richly detailed portrayal of life 30,000 years ago, it is a novel that will appeal both to his existing fans and a whole new mainstream readership.


REVIEW:

Kim is an author that’s always given me a great book before so when I heard that he was writing a tale set in the far past I really wanted to see what would be generated , after all I loved the Northland trilogy by Stephen Baxter so I was hoping for something similar.

What unfurled within was a tale that really worked well for me as the tales lead character took steps towards finding his way within the ancient world as Shaman of the Raven tribe. Its full of conflict, both emotional as well as physical and with a story that seeks to demonstrate the spirit of man throughout as is so often the theme within science fiction titles, really worked well for Kim as an author.

All round, when you add in some great prose, a lovely touch of pace with the Palaeolithic era brought wonderfully to life generates a story that will stay with you for quite some time. A wonderful adventure for me and definitely one I’ll be recommending to others.

Sunday 15 September 2013

SCIENCE FICTION AUDIO BOOK REVIEW: Warhammer 40K: The Horus Heresy: Honour to the Dead - Gav Thorpe


Release Date: 29/08/13
Publisher:  Black Library

SYNOPSIS:

As Calth burns, the Battle Titans of the Fire Masters legion take to the streets of the city of Ithraca, ready to massacre the fleeing civilian population in the name of their new, dark masters. But the remaining loyalist engines of the Legio Praesagius - the True Messengers - still stand ready to defend the Imperium, even in the face of almost certain death. With the nearby Ultramarines forces scattered and lost, the people of Ithraca must fend for themselves as gigantic war machines unleash apocalyptic weaponry across the ravaged skyline...


REVIEW:

The audio books from the Black Library are always good fun to listen to and whilst they usually are told from a quite small point of view of huge epic battles, bloodshed as well as wonderfully acted by the talent, this one is a little different as we get the story partly from a civilian point of view.

Its wonderfully descriptive, the dialogue works wonderfully and the sound effects generate a story that will have the listener on tenterhooks as it slowly unveils itself, told from multiple points of view including Space Marines, Chaos, civilians as well as from the War Machine Gods that stride the Battlefield of death. Its definitely different and Gav Thrope really has captured the terrible confusion of a war being fought. All round a great piece of Audio fiction and one that I’ll be listening to again in the near future. Magic

Saturday 14 September 2013

FILM TIE IN ART BOOK REVIEW: Elysium: The Art of the FIlm - Mark Salisbury

Release Date: 06/08/13
Publisher:  Titan

SYNOPSIS:

From Neill Blomkamp, the director of the acclaimed District 9, comes Elysium, an eagerly awaited sci-fi epic starring Matt Damon and Jodie Foster. All will be revealed in Elysium: The Art of the Film, which will feature a Foreword by Blomkamp, and a wealth of stunning production art and photos, including the input of legendary designer Syd Mead (Blade Runner, Tron).


REVIEW:

I love art books that pertain to films and whilst I haven’t yet seen Elysium I love seeing how the imagination of the artist is captured to bring this almost alien world to the fore. Here within this book is a whole set of artwork that brings the dark vision of future earth to the fore alongside an area of heaven where the privileged can live in luxury whilst the rest of mankind suffers a hand to mouth existence.

The artwork is beautiful, the designs wonderfully imaginative and when added to the exo-suit that features in so many of the adverts really brings the whole thing to life. It’s a great book and when you add to the fact that Weta really do put 110% behind it really gives you something that will be looked at quite a few times. Definitely a book that I’d recommend to not just film fans but artists and those looking for inspiration all round gives you something cracking.

Friday 13 September 2013

FACTUAL REVIEW: Myths and Legends: Thor: The Viking God of Thunder by Graeme Davis

Release Date: 12/09/13
Publisher:  Osprey Adventures

SYNOPSIS:

In the stories of the ancient Vikings, Thor is a warrior without equal, who wields his mighty hammer in battles against trolls, giants, and dragons. He is the god of storms and thunder, who rides to war in a chariot pulled by goats, and who is fated to fall in battle with the Midgard Serpent during Ragnarok, the end of all things. This book collects the greatest myths and legends of the thunder god, while also explaining their historical context and their place in the greater Norse mythology. It also covers the history of Thor as a legendary figure, how he was viewed by different cultures from the Romans to the Nazis, and how he endures today as a popular heroic figure.


REVIEW:

With all the interest in the Norse god since his recent film exploits, its always good to get to see the source material as well as having the tales explained to make sense to not only the modern reader but also gives you some solid factual information without th need for an info-dump. It’s well written, the method of bringing it over methodical and when added to a whole host of illustrations really make this a book that is one that’s going to be hard to beat. All round a great book and I really can’t wait to see what else Osprey will bring to the table.


Thursday 12 September 2013

VIDEO GAME NEWS: Assassins Creed IV: Black Flag: Improvements to the AC4 World - Ubisoft


Hail Mighty Readers and Followers of the Calloused Thumbs,
Our friends at Ubisoft have sent us a VBlog by Sylvian Troottier that takes you through the improvements that they've made to the sceneary on the new Assassins Creed title:  

 

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 SHORT STORY REVIEW: The Age of Godpunk - James Lovegrove

Release Date: 12/09/13
Publisher:  Solaris

SYNOPSIS:

THREE NOVELLAS IN ONE OMNIBUS VOLUME! James Lovegrove presents three novellas with three different gods and their appreance in the worlds of man. Age of Anansi: Dion Yeboah leads an orderly, disciplined life... until the day the spider appears. What looks like an ordinary arachnid turns out to be Anansi, the trickster god of African legend, and its arrival throws Dion s existence into chaos. Age of Satan: A politician ushers in a new age that promises enlightenment and tolerance... Age of Gaia: A billionaire businessmen is about to find out his future is very different from the plans he has laid.


REVIEW:

A collection of short stories set in James’ Pantheon series that have previously been released as e-books. The stories are fun, bring James’ talent to the fore and really give the reader a set of stories that are a lot of fun to sit back with and enjoy, especially if you’re already a fan of his work.

As usual he gets to the meat of the story by giving the reader a solid principle character, some wonderful twists and of course a pace alongside arc that will entertain as you make your way through. All round a nice bit of fun, however be cautious as you may already own this collection individually.



Wednesday 11 September 2013

VIDEO GAME NEWS: Unboxing of Watch_Dogs DedSec Edition - Ubisoft


Hail Mighty Readers and Followers of the Calloused Thumbs,
Our friends at Ubisoft have sent us footage of the unboxing of the special Dedsec edition.

The Special edition will be available from your usual outlets for £80.99
It also comes with the following:

  • Watch_Dogs Game
  • Aiden Pearce Figurine
  • Steelbook
  • Artbook
  • Original Soundtrack to the Game
  • Map of Chicago
  • Set of 4 Augmented Reality Collectible Cards
  • Set of 3 Exclusive Badges
  • X3 Single Player Missions



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: Assassins Creed IV: Black Flag - Creating Defy - Ubisoft


Hail Mighty Readers and Followers of the Calloused Thumbs,
Our friends at Ubisoft have sent us a cracking trailer going behind the scenes of the live action trailer:  

 
   
To capture the true values of the brand: authenticity, idealism, and exploration, Ubisoft® and Sid Lee have emphasized the darker aspects of liberty and the brutal struggle to break free from the restrictions of society. Set during the assault of a Spanish Galleon, the film showcases one of these struggles, as the pirates strike a blow against the Spanish Empire. Starting in the serenity of the water, the camera rises vertically, passing through different levels of the Galleon. Each new level decides the fate of the soldiers, but it also reveals something else, the struggle for freedom. The further up the galleon, the closer we get to the ultimate liberty, symbolized by Edward, standing on the top of the mast. Adam Berg, a multi-award winning director who has worked with Nike, Ikea and Philips, directed the film. His vision and attention to detail brought each scene not just authenticity, but also real tension. From lowering a whole section of the ship under the water, the wild fights of the stuntmen and explosions on the deck, the film was created as real as possible, without any short cuts.   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