Monday 30 June 2014

VIDEO GAME NEWS: Artplant Interview and Entropy Game Shots - Artplant

Hail Mighty Readers and Followers of the Calloused Thumbs,
Our friends at Artplant have sent us some cracking screenshots from the forthcoming MMO Entropy.

In addition to this, we have an interview with Entopy's lead designer Andy Butcher who discusses storyline, inspirations, gameplay and economy:

Early access can be obtained here:

Hopefully we'll see you in the epic battles to come,

Gareth and Lady Eleanor

Saturday 14 June 2014

VIDEO GAME REVIEW: Bound in Flame - Koch Media

Release Date: 09/05/14
Publisher:  Koch Media


In the action/RPG Bound by Flame, you are a mercenary possessed by a flame demon in an ambitious Dark Fantasy universe. As a victim of this demonic influence, players will have to choose between the powers offered by this evil or rejection of the demonic influence in order to develop heroic talents instead. Dangers, and enemies becoming more terrifying and fearsome in battle, will be temptations to acquire more power by giving up part of the hero's soul to the demon. Progression of the demonic influence will be reflected by the transformation of the hero's body.

Through its different chapters, Bound by Flame offers many quests around a primary, epic adventure. Depending on the choices made by the player and the influence of the demon, some chapters will offer different scenarios and a different experience, adding important replayability to the game. If the player begins the game knowing only the basics of combat, fire magic, and assassination, he will be able to specialize by unlocking and improving many skills and powers, through three different skill trees.

Create and customize a powerful warrior, develop your skills combat, assassination and fire magic
Call upon the devastating powers of the demon within
Find, create and improve your weapons and armor
Develop special binds with your companions such as romance, friendship or rivalry


A new fantasy title that I had a lot of fun with. I loved the way that you had a certain amount of freedom in designing the character and with a few side missions to accompany the main acts, its something that will have the players glued to the console for a little while. I loved the storyline, the inventiveness of the world and of course the fact that they’ve brought explosives in (which in fantasy books is a huge trend right now.)

What also works well is the level progression and of course the chance for games to pick and choose fighting styles that suit their own individual needs. (Personally I felt that the Ranger skill set was far superior to the warrior one.)

Finally add to the mix a whole host of support characters (each with varying skills that will suit your gameplay style) that accompany you on missions (only one at a time sadly) and all round it’s a pretty solid title.

That said there are two things that let the title down. Firstly you have to be very careful in the skillsets you pick as well as on armour improvement to make sure that they all add to your own playing style. Pick-ups are limited and remember to spend cash on health potions as well as magic ones. Secondly I felt that the game was a little too short lasting a little over 15 hours for me.

All round I did have a lot of fun with this and learning to play with some of the other skills is going to be a lot of fun a second time round.

Friday 13 June 2014

DVD REVIEW: Ali G, Aiii - 2 Entertain Video

Release Date: November 2000
Publisher:  2 Entertain Video


The straight-talking star of the Staines Massive returns with a compilation of highlights and out-takes from 'Da Ali G Show'. Includes Ali in the USA, visiting NASA and the National Rifle Association, and interviews with Peter Stringfellow and Jarvis Cocker.


I’ve been a fan of Ali G for years so it’s always good to have a chance to dip into a bit of modern nostalgia and sit back to enjoy some alternate comedy, yet for all that the show does right, this series really was the end for Ali as big budget seemed to spell the doom for a character that worked better with very little.

Whilst I had a lot of fun with the show, the cracks begin to tell in this series as the character changes to try and be something that I felt he wasn’t intended to be to try and liven up the aspects for the series. Yes you had a lot of fun with guests, you could see how the comedy worked but when you threw in “rapping” it felt like it took it way to far showing the huge cracks in Sasha’s ability.

All round, this one is more for the fans than for the general consumer and whilst there is something for everyone within, it is dated. A great shame but there are golden moments within.

HISTORICAL FICTION REVIEW: The Tournament - Matthew Reilly

Release Date: 30/01/14
Publisher:  Orion


England, 1546: A young Princess Elizabeth is surrounded by uncertainty. The Black Death stalks the land and with it deadly conspiracies against her. She is not currently in line for the throne, but she remains a threat to her older sister and brother. In the midst of this fevered atmosphere comes an unprecedented invitation from the Sultan in Constantinople. He seeks to assemble the finest players of chess from the whole civilised world and pit them against each other. The prize? Fabulous wealth but also the honour of Christendom. Roger Ascham, Elizabeth's teacher and mentor, is determined to keep her out of harm's way and also continue her education in the art of power and politics. Ascham resolves to take Elizabeth with him when he accompanies the English chess champion to the Ottoman capital. But once there, the two find more danger than they left behind. There's a grotesque killer on the loose and a Catholic cardinal has already been found mutilated in the grounds of the palace. Ascham is asked by the Sultan to use his razor-sharp mind to investigate the crime. But as he and Elizabeth delve deeper into the murky world of the court and the glittering chess tournament, they find dark secrets, horrible crimes and unheard-of depravity. Things that mark the young princess for life and define the queen that she will become...


I love something a little different and to be honest whilst it was a little slow to start, it was a book that I had a lot of fun with as I loved the way that the author built up the principle characters where we, the reader get to see a different size to Elizabeth 1st as the young Princess is given one hell of an education from a master of strategy, tactics and thoughts.

The prose works wonderfully well and when the reader is taken on an almost unthinkable journey for many of the time period, it’s a tale that works deeply into the psyche. All round I was more than engrossed with this title and when added to some great twists alongside cracking characters it was a book that more than hit the spot. Great stuff.

Thursday 12 June 2014

SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: The Spider Wars 1: The Burning Dark - Adam Christopher

Release Date: 25/03/14
Publisher:  Titan


Captain Idaho Cleveland has one last mission before he retires: decommissioning the Coast City, a distant research outpost orbiting the toxic star Shadow, only connected with the outside universe via ham radio. When a voice begins speaking to Ida just as the station is attacked by mysterious forces, Ida realizes he is about to face an enemy far more evil than any he's ever fought before.


If you’re after a space horror with eerie world building alongside solid character building then this title from Adam Christopher is definitely going to be one for you. As usual mankind is at war in with the alien machine intelligence known as the Spiders, and when added to some subtle prose alongside great concepts all round made this a hyperspace title that readers really should spend time with.

All round a whole host of fun and one that many really should sit back and enjoy, especially if you can’t wait to get scared in the dark. Great stuff.

Wednesday 11 June 2014

VIDEO GAME REVIEW: Wolfenstein: The New Order - Bethesda

Release Date:  20/05/14
Publisher:  Bethesda


Armed with a mysterious advanced technology, the Nazi's unrelenting force and intimidation brought even the most powerful nations to their knees. Awakened from a 14-year coma to a world changed forever, war hero B.J. Blazkowicz emerges into this unimaginable alternate version of the 1960s. One in which the monstrous Nazi regime has won World War II, and now rule the globe with an iron fist.

You are B.J. Blazkowicz, the American war hero, and the only man capable of rewriting history.


The Action and Adventure: Wolfenstein's breath-taking set pieces feature intense mountain-top car chases, underwater exploration, player-controlled Nazi war machines, and much more – all combined to create an exhilarating action-adventure experience.

The Story and Characters: Hi-octane action and thrilling adventure weaved together into a tightly paced, super immersive game narrative featuring memorable characters.

The History and Setting: Set against a backdrop of an alternate 1960s, discover an unfamiliar world ruled by a familiar enemy—one that has changed and twisted history as you know it.

The Arsenal and Assault: Break into secret research facilities and heavily guarded weapon stashes to upgrade your tools of destruction. Experience intense first-person combat as you go up against oversized Nazi robots, hulking Super Soldiers and elite shock troops.


Wolfenstein has been a hard game to review, firstly because along with Doom its seen as the originator of the FPS (First Person Shooter) and with having played the series for years, you want to like it as you have a lot of fond memories of various play through’s.

Yet in the modern times, the gamer is not content to just have something linear, they like to be able to think, the like good storytelling as well as having characters that they care about, its more about having a game in film format where there are surprises that jump out into the readers imagination and having something so basically linear will turn a lot of gamers off, regardless of whether they have nostalgic moments or not.

What Wolfenstein brings to the fore, in this, is latest incarnation is a good story and brings back to the gamer the return of old friend B.J. Blazkowicz who this time is more rounded, a complex character with emotions thrust into a world that he doesn’t understand. It works very well and for me as a gamer I loved the complexity, yet for all that, the player is given the same thing to do time and again, find the villains, kill them and move onto the next with the only real option being whether you choose to do it silently or go in all guns blazing (although when one is alerted the rest of the level is pretty much a free for all blasting mayhem.)

All in its pretty much the same sort of thing that those who have a history with the game will expect with a better story. Its very repetitive but if you love the chance to blow the living daylights out of things a lot of gamers will find it satisfying.

SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: Painkillers - Simon Ings

Release Date: 08/05/14
Publisher:  Gollancz


Tells the tale of Adam's odyssey into a nightmare of corruption and violence, where it is his forlorn hope that he is helping his autistic son Justin.


I love a book that tries to do something a little different and whilst this Sci-Fi title is set in the near future, it was one that had a very intriguing concept that when explored presented a solidly thought-out title that will stay with the reader long after the final page is turned.

The concepts are fascinating and whilst there will be quite a few people out there that will hate the book, I liked the way that Simon brought across the characters alongside the dialogue. For me, this was solid, intelligent writing and is definitely something that has left quite a bit for my mind to puzzle over, which perhaps, in this books case, is a sign that it deserves to be read.

Tuesday 10 June 2014

VIDEO GAME REVIEW: Watch_Dogs - Ubisoft

Release Date:  27/05/14
Publisher:  Ubisoft

All it takes is the swipe of a finger. We connect with friends. We buy the latest gadgets and gear. We find out what’s happening in the world. But with that same simple swipe, we cast an increasingly expansive shadow. With each connection, we leave a digital trail that tracks our every move and milestone, our every like and dislike. And it’s not just people. Today, all major cities are networked. Urban infrastructures are monitored and controlled by complex operating systems.

Welcome to Chicago

In Watch_Dogs, this system is called the Central Operating System (CTOS) – and it controls almost every piece of the city’s technology and holds key information on all of the city’s residents.
Aiden Pearce

You play as Aiden Pearce, a brilliant hacker and former thug, whose criminal past led to a violent family tragedy. Now on the hunt for those who hurt your family, you'll be able to monitor and hack all who surround you by manipulating everything connected to the city’s network. Access omnipresent security cameras, download personal information to locate a target, control traffic lights and public transportation to stop the enemy… and more.

Hack the city
Watch_Dogs takes place in a fully simulated living city where, using your smartphone, you have real-time control over the city’s infrastructure. Trap your enemy in a 30-car pileup by manipulating the traffic lights. Stop a train, and then board it to evade the authorities. Narrowly escape capture by quickly raising a drawbridge. Anything connected to the city’s CTOS can become your weapon.

Street justice
Living in inner city Chicago where violence is best answered by violence, you have the skills to take the fight to the streets. Take down enemies by delivering devastating blows with your baton, or experience a shoot-out like never before with a physics simulation that rivals anything in the shooter category. Use a combination of shooting and hacking to gain advantage in any given situation. The streets are designed for you to create your own plan of attack.

High octane driving
Ubisoft Montreal has partnered with studios such as Ubisoft Reflections, the acclaimed studio behind the award-winning Driver series to bring you a game bursting with horsepower. Get behind the wheel of more than 65 vehicles, each with state of the art physics and handling, and explore the massive city while completing missions.

Everything is under control
Disrupt, the all-new game engine dedicated to Watch_Dogs, uses advanced processing and graphics to deliver a stunning visual and an incredibly realistic experience. Disrupt gives you the power to affect the story, the city and the life of the population with your choices creating a ripple effect throughout the city.

Seamless multiplayer experience
Discover new levels of interaction, cooperation and confrontation between players thanks to a brand new multiplayer game system that links the single and multiplayer modes into one seamless experience. That means no menus, no loading screens, just instant open world multiplayer action.

Stay connected with a new way to play
Take your experience beyond the console with a groundbreaking, real-time, companion game. This innovative mobile platform allows players to connect and compete with friends, even when away from their home console. The Watch_Dogs companion game delivers revolutionary dual-screen gameplay that enables you to play from anywhere, at any time.

This is a title that has been on our radar for quite some time. The concept was fascinating with gamers controlling a modern city with their wits, hacking ability which clearly demonstrates that the more complex we make something the easier it is to break.

It’s cracking good fun, has a whole host of things to do and the further you progress the more options you have as your skills improve. The key for this, as far as I was concerned was figuring out what key aspects the gamer requires originally and picking the key ones that work for your gameplay style is essential to start with. Its tricky but for me, I originally went with a skill point in hacking to help me evade the police and a point in gun skills as the game is something that will see you doing a lot of driving as well as involved in a lot of shoot outs.

Hacking is also a key aspect and to be honest you need cash and lots of it within the title (mainly to buy things like weapons and ammo.) It works wonderfully well and whilst many gamers will find the combat system a little tricky, its one where ducking behind cover and evasive maneuvers are going to win hands down against charging down the middle blasting. (You’ll end up dead very quickly with the later tactic.) Also your choice of guns is going to be key here and personally I’m a huge fan of the silenced weaponry option (unless you’re taking out cars or heavily armoured opponents in which case I love the extremely subtle grenade launcher. LOL)

The game does work well on quite a lot of levels but as a player you will find yourself repeating certain quests trying to beat the system as your tactics have to change on the hop depending on what you’re doing. Yet for what was there, for me key aspects were missing. (Such as a silenced sniper rifle.) In addition to this, the gamer will die when they try to chase down some suspects that they have to beat down due to getting shot and for me, I’d have liked some sort of weapon that would aid the gamer such as either a beanbag gun to knock the person down for say 10 seconds or a taser to help you gain ground. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of fun to be had and you can work your way round the problems, but there were a few times when I ended up having to redo things purely because the character didn’t quite do what I wanted.

All round, it’s a game that for me works very well and I would like to see some additional weaponry aspects in future releases, perhaps a smoke grenade to help when you’ve been spotted and a whole host of people come at you alongside the previous suggestions and for me, Ubisoft have gone on to prove that they are the masters of massive gameplay options (with me already clocking up over 60 hours of gameplay) including other players entering your world. A cracker all round and one that’s going to take a hell of a lot to beat for this year’s other release.

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: House of the Rising Sun - Kristen Painter

Release Date: 13/05/14
Publisher:  Orbit


Every vampire has heard rumours of the mythical place where their kind can daywalk. But what no vampire knows is that this City of Eternal Night actually exists. And its name is New Orleans. For centuries, the fae have protected the city from vampire infestation. But when the bloodsuckers return, the fragile peace in New Orleans begins to crumble. Carefree playboy Augustine, and Harlow, a woman searching for answers about her absent father, are dragged into the war. The fate of the city rests on them - and the responsibilities their fae blood brings can no longer be denied.


I’m a person who loves to lose myself in urban fantasy. I love the way that the impossible can happen and when the reader is given a story that not only strikes the imagination but gives you a chance to know an area within the real world that has the fantastical about it.

What Kristen does well is give the reader a story that is full of imagination, has some solid twists which when added to good prose generates a book that has a lot going for it which when added to a principle character like Augustine really polishes the work within. Yet for all that, I really hated spending time with Harlow, reading the pieces around her really was a struggle and whilst she changed within the title, it felt like a little too late to save her for me. I kept expecting her to change back to the original without much prompting.

All round it is a solid enough book and whilst I disliked one particular character I will be more than willing to see what occurs with the second outing.

Monday 9 June 2014

SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: The Empire of Time 1: Roads to Moscow - David Wingrove

Release Date: 10/04/14
Publisher:  Del Rey


There is only the war. Otto Behr is a German agent, fighting his Russian counterparts across three millennia, manipulating history for moments in time that can change everything. Only the remnants of two great nations stand and for Otto, the war is life itself, the last hope for his people. But in a world where realities shift and memory is never constant, nothing is certain, least of all the chance of a future with his Russian love...


I originally came across David’s writing when I read his Chung Kuo series and to be honest it was something that was not only epic but huge. It took time to get into the story and when added to the sheer scope kept the reader going long after the final page as they wondered what would happen in the next instalment.

Here in his newest series readers are taken on a tale of “what if” as the world revolves round a conflict between Russia and Germany over three centuries. Its captivating, it has a cracking set of characters and when added to a rich deep feeling to the piece all round generates something that I had a very hard time to put down. Back this up with great pace as well as some great dialogue and all round I was a more than happy reader.

Sunday 8 June 2014


Release Date: 10/04/14
Publisher:  Scribe


INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLING AUTHOR LIAD SHOHAM MAKES HIS ENGLISH-LANGUAGE DEBUT IN THIS COMPELLING, SUPERBLY PLOTTED CRIME THRILLER. After a brutal rape disturbs a quiet Tel Aviv neighbourhood, baffled detectives find no clues, no eyewitnesses, and no suspects. But the father of the shattered victim refuses to rest until justice is done, and begins his own investigation. Keeping watch over his daughter's apartment from the street, he notices Ziv Nevo lurking in the shadows, and hands him over to the police. All circumstances - and the victim - point to Nevo's guilt, and it appears the case is closed. Detective Eli Nachum is eager to wrap up this high- profile case, which has threatened to thwart his career. But why does the suspect keep silent during the interrogation? What secret is he hiding? What unfolds is a brilliant, fast-paced story that will keep you guessing until the very last page. Lineup is a twisted tale of mistaken identity, organised crime, a disgraced detective looking for redemption, a tireless young reporter, and an innocent man with a not-so-innocent past. Which lines will they cross, and what will they be willing to risk, as their worlds begin to collapse? This seamless, gripping novel introduces a powerful new voice in crime fiction.


I love reading something a little different and whilst I can often be found with my head in a crime book, I’m not normally taken to Israel within the pages. Here in a cracking police investigation that has a feel or solid reality alongside is a story that kept the pages turning as things are found and uncovered in a step by step story that keeps you going.

The prose is sharp, the principle character one that you really want to spend time with even though he’s subtle shades of grey and when backed with some cracking twists all round generated something I was more than happy to spend time with. Whilst Liad is well known in Israel, this (as far as I’m aware) is the first book to be released outside. Definitely an author to watch and I hope that his other titles follow suit. Great stuff.

Saturday 7 June 2014

YOUNG ADULT CRIME REVIEW: The Edge of the Water - Elizabeth George

Release Date: 24/04/14
Publisher: Hodder


On Whidbey Island, secrets never stay buried. A mysterious girl who won't speak; a coal-black seal named Nera that returns to the same place every year; a bitter feud of unknown origin - strange things are happening on Whidbey Island and Becca King is drawn into the maelstrom of events. But Becca, first met in The Edge of Nowhere, has her own secrets to hide. Still on the run from her criminal stepfather, Becca is living in a secret location. Even Derric, the Ugandan orphan with whom Becca shares a close, romantic relationship, can't be allowed to know her whereabouts. As secrets of past and present are revealed, Becca becomes aware of her growing paranormal powers and events build to a shocking climax anticipated by no one. Acclaimed author Elizabeth George brings her extraordinary talents to this intriguing story that blends mystery and myth.


OK I read the first one and thought that it was solid so much so that when this, the second landed I couldn’t wait to start spending time with the characters from the original. Whilst the story has some wonderful twists and the principle character is a joy to be around, the author seems to have made a pretty fatal flaw with the ending, so much so that it felt like the book had been building to something pretty special only to be dashed within the last couple of pages.

Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy it, however when I get short changed on an ending that feels pretty damning then I tend to get not only annoyed but frustrated about the time I spent with it. I just hope that the next outing is better although at the moment, its going to take time for me to cool off from how I feel at this one.

Friday 6 June 2014

FANTASY REVIEW: The Powder Mage Trilogy 2: The Crimson Campaign - Brian McClellan

Release Date: 06/05/14
Publisher:  Orbit


'The hounds at our heels will soon know we are lions.' Tamas's invasion of Kez ends in disaster when a Kez counter-offensive leaves him cut off behind enemy lines with only a fraction of his army, no supplies and no hope of reinforcements. Drastically outnumbered and pursued by the enemy's best, he must lead his men on a reckless march through northern Kez to safety, and back over the mountains so that he can defend his country from an angry god. In Adro, Inspector Adamat only wants to rescue his wife. To do so he must track down and confront the evil Lord Vetas. He has questions for Vetas concerning his enigmatic master, but the answers might come too quickly. With Tamas and his powder cabal presumed dead, Taniel Two-shot finds himself alongside the god Mihali as the last line of defence against Kresimir's advancing army. Tamas's generals bicker among themselves, the brigades lose ground every day beneath the Kez onslaught and Kresimir wants the head of the man who shot him in the eye.


Every so often there’s an author that doesn’t so much arrive as detonates with a story that hasn’t been seen before leaving the reading audience not only gasping for breath but demanding to see what occurs next so much so that they not only have a countdown on their calendar for its arrival but take great pleasure in pestering their bookseller to see how quickly they can get their hands on it. (OK I have to admit I did that.)

SO when I finally got chance to sit back for an epic adventure and having had a pretty shoddy week, I decided that it was time to crack open a bottle of single malt, get my comfy on the sofa and have a lazy night in Brian’s wonderfully inventive world. Whilst the first book is always the entrée, as with meals, it’s the main course (or the second part of a trilogy) that really has to blow them away, and boy, did this one ever.

The danger was immense, the characters not only faced adversity but grew emotionally for the events within and when added to a storyline that must have had a lot of planning within to exact the military precision all round didn’t give the reader time to breath, let alone have a quick sip of their drink. Yes I stayed up way later than my bed time, yes the sun had risen long before I finished that final page, and yes I was caught finishing my drink at breakfast time. But hey, I don’t regret one moment of that time and to tell the truth I’ll be doing it all again for when the third part is out. You really have to read this series, definitely one that deserves to become a modern classic.

Thursday 5 June 2014

VIDEO GAME NEWS: Warner Brothers Interactive Release E3 Trailer Gravewalker - Warner Brothers Interactive

Hail Mighty Readers and Followers of the Calloused Thumbs,
Our friends at Warner Brothers Interactive have sent us the latest Trailer for Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor thats being unveiled at E3.

The title will be released on the 7th October 2014 for the following formats:
Xbox 360
Xbox One

Also remember that fans who pre-order  Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor will get access at the game’s launch to  The Dark Ranger exclusive bonus pack. Available at all participating retailers, the pack will provide exclusive content and challenges for players including:  
  • Dark Ranger Character Skin
    • Begin your own quest for vengeance with a new Dark Ranger character skin that embodies Talion's darker side
  • "Test of Power" Challenge Mode
  • Face Sauron's Captains and defeat them to earn powerful Runes and gain a head start in the game
  • Test your speed, skill and strategy and measure yourself against your friends on the leaderboards 
  • Access to Exclusive Leaderboards for "Test of Power" Challenge Mode
    • Test your speed, skill and strategy and measure yourself against your friends on the leaderboards in this challenge mode

    Hopefully this will have whetted your appetite so remember to keep your blades sharp and your wits sharper.

    Gareth and Lady Eleanor

FANTASY REVIEW: The Rage of Kings 2: The White Towers - Andy Remic

Release Date: 05/06/14
Publisher:  Angry Robot


Vagandrak is broken, and a new threat has arisen that threatens to defeat even the mighty Iron Wolves. The twisted, deviant Elf Rats have gathered in the toxic realm beyond the White Lion Mountains - swiftly they invade the troubled land of Vagandrak, killing for profit and pleasure. The now-disgraced Iron Wolves are the realm's only hope, but there's a problem: they've been sentenced to death by the insane King Yoon for the dark sorcery in their blood. In the mountains of Zalazar lie the White Towers, pillars of legend said to contain the Heart of the Elves. The Iron Wolves must journey north to steal the Heart, and purify the evil in the land, but the land belongs to the Elves - and they won't give it up without a fight!


Andy returns with his hard hitting fantasy world bringing no nonsense action to the reader wrapped up in cracking prose and stunning pace as our heroes seek to not only survive but face the gratitude of kings for all their hard work. It’s a cracking title and for me, I love the way that characters interaction really helps bring the world to life.

All in a great second title for a top notch series and one that really does help establish Andy as perhaps fantasy’s bloodiest author with high body count.

Wednesday 4 June 2014

CRIME THRILLER REVIEW: The Carnivia Trilogy 2: The Abduction - Jonathan Holt

Release Date: 08/05/14
Publisher:  Head of Zeus


A teenage girl is kidnapped in Venice. The race to save her will uncover a conspiracy powerful men will kill to keep hidden. THE HOSTAGE: The teenage daughter of a US soldier disappeared in Venice last night. Now clues are appearing on anonymous website - and the police are always one step behind. THE INVESTIGATORS: Kat Tapo of the Venice Carabinieri and US intelligence analyst Holly Boland are working together to find the girl. The deeper they dig, the darker the case becomes. THE WEBMASTER: Daniele Barbo, creator of Carnivia, never allows access to his servers. But then secrets are unearthed from Italy's dark wartime past. Secrets that could put them all in danger...THE ABDUCTION has begun.


I loved the first book by Jonathan and to be honest I couldn’t wait to see what he’d bring for his second book in this series, after all, the first is the one that sets the scene, the second is the one that’s there to prove that the concept has not only legs but draws the reader in even deeper.

Taking inspiration from some cold war titles, this book has a wonderfully rich tapestry that the author draws upon to help generate not only a believable past but also allows the characters to come to the fore. And whilst the prose is sharp and the pace has both lulls and peaks for me, it was the characters that really stole the show. They were people I wanted to spend time with and for me, even if a plot isn’t as rounded as this offering, is what will keep me stuck to a book long after others will have given up. This is definitely a trend setter and one I’d advise others to start sooner rather than later.

Tuesday 3 June 2014

VIDEO GAME NEWS: Murdered: Soul Suspect Launch Trailer Live - Square Enix

Hail Mighty Readers and Followers of the Calloused Thumbs,
Our friends at Square Enix have sent us the final trailer, the launch trailer for the forthcoming Murdered: Soul Suspect (released Friday 2nd June), which has been on our radar since the first trailer earlier in the year.

This Video shows not only in game action but also some of the powers that you can unlock wihin.  We hope to be playing it shortly so we can bring you our full report.  So for now heres the trailer:

In addition to this, please remember that there is a Limited Edition that will include a copy of the journal used by Ronan and Joy to hunt down the killer and features written and visual clues about the murders terrorising Salem. 

It will also include free access to an Interactive Digital Strategy Map. With the aid of the map, you will be able to seek out hundreds of collectibles, detect side quests and find all of Salem’s haunting landmarks.  The map will be accessible via computer or tablet. 

The Limited Edition will be available while stocks last. Please check with your local retailer to see if they're participating.     

Gareth and Lady Eleanor

VIDEO GAME NEWS: Batman: Arkham Knight: Sneak Peak at the New Batmobile - DC, Warner Brothers Interactive

Hail Might Readers and Followers of the Calloused Thumbs,
Our friends at Warner Brothers, DC and Rock Steady Games have been quite cheeky and sent out a brief taster to tantalise Batfan's with a look at the new batmobile in combat mode.

With clips promised at E3 of the Dark Knight's motor in action we can't wait to see whats in store for the full release of Batman: Arkham Knight, the debut gameplay trailer. 

Please remember that if you preorder you'll also get to play Harley Quinn. as well as the fact that this title is next gen and will only be released on the following formats:  
Xbox One  

All the best,  

 Gareth and Lady Eleanor

YOUNG ADULT REVIEW: Storm Chaer - Sheila Rance

Release Date: 08/05/14
Publisher:  Orion Children


Silk whispers. Clouds gather. A storm is coming. Many years ago, a storm brought Maia to the cliffs. Now she is Sun Catcher in the land of Khandar, but when her father, Tareth, needs silk, Maia must go back to the clifftops she once fled. Danger awaits her every step of the way: assassins, thought-stealers, the Marsh Lord - all greedy for her power. And Razek, who deserted his people to follow her, must pay a high price as he tries to bend wind and rain to his will - and chase away the storms.


The second book in the Sun Catcher Trilogy and to be honest its one that I was more than intrigued to see how the tale would advance, after all, with the characters being physically fleshed in the original, the second outing really has to flesh them out mentally in such a way that the characters seal themselves in the readers memory.

Whilst the overall book had reasonable pace and solid twists, the main let down for me was that it was a hell of a slow starter for the first few chapters which for a young adult book, can be the death of them as the younger reader may not have the patience that this required. All round it is an OK book but I think its going to the third that really decides whether its hit or miss.

Monday 2 June 2014

YOUNG ADULT REVIEW: The Forbidden Library - Django Wexler

Release Date: 10/04/14
Publisher:  Doubleday Childrens


Do you remember the first time you climbed into the wardrobe with Lucy and emerged in Narnia? Flew on the back of Falkor the Luck Dragon with Bastian? Followed Alice down the rabbit hole? Welcome to your new favourite adventure. Late one night Alice Creighton hears her father having an argument with a fairy - a snarling, bald beast with warts and needle-like teeth. It is threatening her father, insisting he accept a mysterious offer, or else. When Alice's father goes down in a shipwreck, she is sent away to live with distant relative Mr Geryon, owner of a huge, dark library that is off limits to Alice. After meeting a talking cat who is willing to sneak her in, Alice opens a book and suddenly finds herself inside it - and the only way out is by conquering the dangerous creatures within. Alice has stumbled into a world where all of magic is controlled by Readers through books - she must open more books, face increasingly powerful foes, be the lead character in the quest to find a happy ending.


I’ve been a fan of Django’s for quite some time and to be honest whilst I know he writes cracking adult fantasy titles I was more than intrigued to see how he would handle a book for a younger audience.

Whilst still a fantasy, the book doesn’t talk down to the younger reader, it gives them a crackingly complex story that keeps them not only glued but also allows them to have a story that is beyond simple linear tales that they’re normally exposed to. For me I loved it as I thought it was not only refreshing but something that entertained as well as fascinated the reader whilst giving them a great set of concepts to explore and whilst as an adult I can easily digest things, for me the proof was in the pudding when I was reading it to one of my nephews who couldn’t get enough.

All round, Django has brought an idea that’s fresh to a younger audience and treating them as he would his normal audience. Finally wrap up, great pace, great twists and a solid lead character all round sets this up as something special. Great stuff.

Sunday 1 June 2014

HISTORICAL FICTION REVIEW: God of Vengeance - Giles Kristian

Release Date: 24/04/14


Norway 785 AD. It began with the betrayal of a lord by a king...But when King Gorm puts Jarl Harald's family to the sword, he makes one terrible mistake - he fails to kill Harald's youngest son, Sigurd. On the run, unsure who to trust and hunted by powerful men, Sigurd wonders if the gods have forsaken him: his kin are slain or prisoners, his village attacked, its people taken as slaves. Honour is lost. And yet he has a small band of loyal men at his side and with them he plans his revenge. All know that Odin - whose name means frenzy - is drawn to chaos and bloodshed, just as a raven is to slaughter. In the hope of catching the All-Father's eye, the young Viking endures a ritual ordeal and is shown a vision. Wolf, bear, serpent and eagle come to him. Sigurd will need their help if he is to make a king pay in blood for his treachery. Using cunning and war-craft, he gathers together a band of warriors - including Olaf, his father's right hand man, Bram who men call Bear, Black Floki who wields death with a blade, and the shield maiden Valgerd, who fears no man - and convinces them to follow him. For, whether Odin is with him or not, Sigurd will have his vengeance. And neither men nor gods had best stand in his way...


OK, I like Giles’ writing and to be honest with you, I like to sit back with a tankard of mead, a roaring fire and a few hours of peace and quiet to devour a tale of vengeance, hard hitting action and bloodshed and with Giles’ that’s exactly what you get. Here in this outing is a book that has a cracking lead character, some double dealing and of course a pace that really doesn’t let up from start to finish.

As a reader it gives me everything I want and whilst for some it’s a little light on the time period detail, it’s the overall arc that really will sit with you. All round a great offering and one that I was more than happy to spend my time with. Magic.