Saturday 28 February 2015

VIDEO GAME TIE IN: The Art of Alien Isolation - Andy McVittie

Release Date: 07/10/15


The Art of Alien Isolation is a high-end art book featuring over 300 images from the latest game in the critically and commercially acclaimed Alien franchise. Taking players back to the survival horror atmosphere of the first film, Alien Isolation features Amanda Ripley as the hero trying to survive on a wrecked space station. This book is the ultimate gallery of the game, a must-have for any fan.


In recent years gamers tend to have a lot of splatterfests and whilst this can be a lot of fun, one of the tings that seems to have slipped by is the concept that things are scarier when you don’t see them. Take Jaws or Evil Dead for example, not seeing what is causing the fear, allowed your imagination to run rampant and scare the hell out of you.

What this book does is bring the dark and eerie space to creep in and chill you to the marrow, the artworks dark area’s atmospheric really help build the atmosphere and whilst many people tend to overlook some of the details from concept art right through to finished product all round gives you the chance to see how such things are put together. All round a cracking book and one that I’ll be looking at quite a few times.

Friday 27 February 2015

SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: Star Wars: Tarkin - James Luceno

Release Date: 06/11/14
Publisher:  Century


"Of power, I could tell you much. One must seize the moment, and strike." Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin. He's the scion of an honourable and revered family. A dedicated soldier and distinguished legislator. Loyal proponent of the Republic and trusted ally of the Jedi Order. Groomed by the ruthless politician and Sith Lord who would be Emperor, Governor Wilhuff Tarkin rises through the Imperial ranks, enforcing his authority ever more mercilessly...and zealously pursuing his destiny as the architect of absolute dominion. Rule through the fear of force rather than force itself, he advises the Emperor. Under Tarkin's guidance, an ultimate weapon of unparalleled destruction moves ever closer to becoming a terrifying reality. When the so-called Death Star is completed, Tarkin is confident that the galaxy's lingering pockets of Separatist rebellion will be brought to heel - by intimidation or annihilation. Until then, insurgency remains a genuine threat. Escalating guerrilla attacks by resistance forces and new-found evidence of a growing Separatist conspiracy are an immediate danger the Empire must meet with swift and brutal action. And to bring down a band of elusive freedom fighters, the Emperor turns to his most formidable agents: Darth Vader, the fearsome new Sith enforcer as remorseless as he is mysterious, and Tarkin - whose tactical cunning and cold-blooded efficiency will pave the way for the Empire's supremacy...and its enemies' extinction.


Ah, one of my favourite characters (because I watching Peter Cushing) from the Star Wars Universe and of course one that now has his own chance to step to the front and allow readers the chance to get to know his own dark personality. Whilst he’s not a force user (as so many of them seem to be) the reader gets the chance to delve deeply into a side of the Empire that we’ve never really had chance to get to know.

As expected from James, the book has great pace, really allows Tarkin to step out on his own and when added to solid prose and a cracking art is perhaps one of my favourite Star Wars titles to date. A good book for the Star War’s fan in your life and one I’d definitely recommend as a Christmas gift.

Thursday 26 February 2015

VIDEO GAME NEWS: Batman: Gotham is Mine Trailer is now Live - Warner Brothers Interactive

Hail Might Readers and Followers of the Calloused Thumbs,
Our friends at Warner Brothers, DC and Rock Steady Games have sent us the latest trailer for the forthcoming Batman: Arkham Knight (due for release on the 2nd June 2015.)

“Gotham is Mine” features a closer look at some of the story’s most infamous super-villains. As Scarecrow unites the Rogues Gallery, including Two-Face, The Penguin, the Riddler, the Arkham Knight, Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy, they bring all-out war as they try to take down The Dark Knight, and claim Gotham City as their own.. 


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

FANTASY REVIEW: The Iron Ghost - Jen Williams

Release Date: 26/02/15
Publisher:  Headline


From Jen Williams, author of highly-acclaimed fantasy debut THE COPPER PROMISE, comes a brand-new epic fantasy adventure in THE IRON GHOST. Beware the dawning of a new mage...Wydrin of Crosshaven, Sir Sebastian and Lord Aaron Frith are experienced in the perils of stirring up the old gods. They are also familiar with defeating them, and the heroes of Baneswatch are now enjoying the perks of suddenly being very much in demand for their services. When a job comes up in the distant city of Skaldshollow, it looks like easy coin - retrieve a stolen item, admire the views, get paid. But in a place twisted and haunted by ancient magic, with the most infamous mage of them all, Joah Demonsworn, making a reappearance, our heroes soon find themselves threatened by enemies on all sides, old and new. And in the frozen mountains, the stones are walking...


If you’re after something a little different that has some cracking twists, a good size cast and hidden agenda’s aplenty then you really should give this book, Jen’s second a go. It has all the things that made the first one stand out (great characters, some wonderful twists and of course a tale that gives fantasy readers what they want) alongside cracking pace and prose.

It’s a cracking addition to the Headline stable and for me, is making Jen a name to watch in the fantasy genre. After all, for me, whilst the first book announces the author to the audience, its always the second that demonstrates whether they were a one hit wonder of if they are able to cope with a professional writing schedule. All round this is a cracking outing and one that I feel will have many readers sitting up and paying attention. Magic.

Wednesday 25 February 2015

FILM TIE IN: The Science of Interstellar - Kip Thorne and Christopher Nolan

Release Date: 06/11/14 
Publisher:  Titan


Interstellar, from acclaimed filmmaker Christopher Nolan, takes us on a fantastic voyage far beyond our solar system. Yet in The Science of Interstellar, Kip Thorne, the physicist who assisted Nolan on the scientific aspects of Interstellar, shows us that the movie's jaw-dropping events and stunning, never-before-attempted visuals are grounded in real science. Thorne shares his experiences working as the science adviser on the film and then moves on to the science itself. In chapters on wormholes, black holes, interstellar travel, and much more, Thorne's scientific insights-many of them triggered during the actual scripting and shooting of Interstellar-describe the physical laws that govern our universe and the truly astounding phenomena that those laws make possible. Interstellar and all related characters and elements are trademarks of and (c) Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. (s14).


When you go to see a film, you’re often left wondering why there is such a huge production list at the films conclusion from the actors to the set designers, from eh SFX through to the lighting and this book from Titan goes to show exactly why the list is so long as it takes a hell of a lot of people to make something that not only wows your imagination but also leaves you with the possibilities of what could be.

Whilst the book is partly concept art, the bits that I really love is how they put it together, from the music that adds another level to your appreciation through to the actors who make you believe and of course from the hundreds of people that help pull it altogether for your viewing pleasure, even though, at times, you won’t even know what they did.

All round a cracking book and one that really added to the whole experience and is one that whilst it’s still my book, has been half-hitched by my twin to help present a number of things to his art classes. Magic.

FILM TIE IN: Interstellar - Greg Keyes

Release Date: 07/11/14
Publisher:  Titan


From acclaimed filmmaker Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight Triology, Inception), this is the chronicle of a group of explorers who make use of a newly discovered wormhole to surpass the limitations on human space travel and conquer the vast distances involved in an interstellar voyage. At stake are the fate of a planet… Earth… and the future of the human race.


I love Greg Keyes and as a fan of Christopher Nolan, it did feel to me that it could be a great partnership and whilst I haven’t seen the film yet, I hate it when a concept relies so heavily on Science goes into what I like to think of gobbled-gook so that I don’t understand how it functions.

Here in this rather short book, Greg manages to get to the heart of the matter without bogging the reader down with all the technical detail explaining the concepts rather succinctly. The prose is solid, the pace OK and when added to an arc that manages to get to the characters makes this a book that will allow the reader the chance to get the story without the expensive trip to the picture.

Tuesday 24 February 2015

FANTASY REVIEW: Shadowdance 5: A Dance of Ghosts - David Dalglish

Release Date: 11/11/14
Publisher:  Orbit


IN A CITY KNOWN FOR DARKNESS, THE UNDERWORLD TREMBLES AT THE RISE OF THE SUN...A night of fire and blood heralds Muzien the Darkhand's arrival to the beleaguered city of Veldaren. With him comes the might of the Sun Guild, eager to spread their criminal empire to the east. Left blind and vulnerable after being attacked by the Widow, Alyssa Gemcroft struggles to hold together the remnants of the Trifect as the Sun Guild's arrival threatens to shatter whatever future her son might have left. Veldaren's only hope is in the Watcher, but Haern is no longer there. With his father, Thren Felhorn, he is traveling to the Stronghold, an ancient bastion of the dark paladins of Karak. Will they find the answers they seek? Or will the Stronghold be their final destination? Killer or savior; the line can no longer remain blurred. Fantasy author David Dalglish continues his tale of retribution and darkness, and an underworld reaching for ultimate power in this never-before-released novel in the Shadowdance series following A Dance of Mirrors.


OK, so you want hardcore action in a fantasy world, you want a lead character that you love to spend time with and of course you want a tale that gives you an arc that allows you to sink your teeth into. So what are you going to do? Well if you’re like me, you’ll pick up the latest instalment in David’s series to ease that need within you.

As you’d expect with such a deliciously dark character events can often turn a multitude of ways for the reader so you’re kept guessing as to what will occur, which when blended with such a dark arc all round generates something deeply satisfying by its conclusion. All round a great read and one that will keep me wanting more.

Monday 23 February 2015

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: Rivers of London 5: Foxglove Summer - Ben Aaronovitch

Release Date: 13/11/14
Publisher:  Gollancz


In the fifth of his bestselling series Ben Aaronovitch takes Peter Grant out of whatever comfort zone he might have found and takes him out of London - to a small village in Herefordshire where the local police are reluctant to admit that there might be a supernatural element to the disappearance of some local children. But while you can take the London copper out of London you can't take the London out of the copper. Travelling west with Beverley Brook, Peter soon finds himself caught up in a deep mystery and having to tackle local cops and local gods. And what's more all the shops are closed by 4pm...Sales for BROKEN HOMES in trade leapt by 50% over WHISPERS UNDER GROUND, confirming that Ben Aaronovitch is an author with an unrivalled eye for a bestselling story.


The latest from Ben and of course one that continues on the success of the series that gave Britain its own unique flavour of magician far from the usual type that readers may expect. Add to this police themes, dealings with the supernatural and of course a heavily undermanned unit to deal with that aspect and all round the reader in is for a treat.

Back this up with a trip out of the big smoke, a set of new mysteries for our lead cop to investigate upon his own with the help of a certain London River and I was more than happy with the title. Back this up with an arc that just keeps on giving, allowing he reader to get a fuller flavour of Ben’s wonderful world and you know full well that you really have to give this series a go.

Sunday 22 February 2015

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: Zombie Apocalypse! Endgame - Stephen Jones

Release Date: 20/11/14
Publisher:  Stephen Jones


Human Reanimation Virus (HRV) has spread around the globe and most of the major cities have fallen or been destroyed. As a new race of intelligent zombies rise to power, the remaining pockets of human resistance make a last, desperate stand in the ruins of a world on the brink of unimaginable change. With the final pieces of the epic puzzle falling into place, a centuries-old Endgame is revealed through a series of interconnected documents - emails, articles, reports, diaries and eyewitness accounts - as past and future hang in the balance. In this third and final volume of the original best-selling Zombie Apocalypse! trilogy, Thomas Moreby's plan for world domination is finally revealed in all its mad glory, as the very fabric of time and space is ripped apart and history itself is about to be changed forever ...


Sadly a book that whilst being the third and final part of Stephen’s series was one that completely failed to deliver on the titles synopsis promise from the publisher. It was sadly flat, spent way too much time filling itself with unnecessary filler which when backed with an incredibly slow pace as well as unanswered questions all round left me feeling heavily disappointed. Not a book that I’d recommend to anyone and if you have to read it, borrow it from either the library or wait for it to appear in the pound shop to save yourself a few quid.

Saturday 21 February 2015

SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: Ultima - Stephen Baxter

Release Date: 27/11/14
Publisher:  Gollancz


Fresh from his latest collaboration with Terry Pratchett on the Long Earth sequence Stephen Baxter now returns to the mysteries and challenges first hinted at in his acclaimed novel PROXIMA. In PROXIMA we discovered ancient alien artifacts on the planet of Per Ardua - hatches that allowed us to step across light years of space as if we were stepping into another room. The universe opened up to us. Now in ULTIMA the consequences of this new freedom make themselves felt. And we discover that there are minds in the universe that are billions of years old and they have a plan for us. For some of us. But as we learn the true nature of the universe we also discover that we have countless pasts all meeting in this present and that our future is terrifyingly finite. It's time for us to fight to take back control. This is grand scale, big idea SF of the best possible sort. It is set to build on the massive success of PROXIMA and define Stephen Baxter's work going forward.


Space, whilst not quite the final frontier is perhaps one that we, as readers, love to explore with our favourite Science Fiction authors and for me, I have Stephen Baxter at the top of my TBR pile when I want that exploration. As you’d expect from the author the tale is one of wonder, brings cracking thoughts to the reader and when it ties in to hi previous title Proxima, all round helps expand the universe in so many different ways.

Add to this a cracking arc, wonderfully descriptions and a set of characters that really step off the page all round makes this a cracking read and one I was more than happy I spent the time working my way through. The only real warning I’ll put on this is that you should read Proxima prior to this otherwise you won’t get the full experience.

Friday 20 February 2015

URBAN FANTASY REVIEWL The Darkest Prt of the Forest - Holly Black

Release Date: 05/02/15
Publisher: Indigo


Near the little town of Fairfold, in the darkest part of the forest, lies a glass casket. Inside the casket lies a sleeping faerie prince that none can rouse. He's the most fascinating thing Hazel and her brother Ben have ever seen. They dream of waking him - but what happens when dreams come true? In the darkest part of the forest, you must be careful what you wish for...NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Holly Black spins a dark, dangerous and utterly beautiful faerie tale, guaranteed to steal your heart. Holly Black is a NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author, co-creator of The Spiderwick Chronicles and author of YA novels including the widely acclaimed THE COLDEST GIRL IN COLDTOWN.


Ah the delicious dark temptation of Holly Black and whilst for quite a few readers she’s more of a YA author, I do love to delve into her worlds as she is not only imaginative but also gives the reader cracking descriptions that work wonderfully within the mind but just trip off the page.

As you’d expect the tale is well written, the prose are sharp and when added to an overall arc that moves along wonderfully well all round gives you that magical experience. Back this up with a great set of characters and for me, if you only get one stocking filler for your YA reader make sure its this one. Cracking.

Thursday 19 February 2015

CRIME THRILLER REVIEW: Obsession in Death - JD Robb

Release Date: 12/02/15
Publisher:  Piatkus


A crisp winter morning in New York. In a luxury apartment, the body of a woman lies stretched out on a huge bed. On the wall above, the killer has left a message in bold black ink: FOR LIEUTENANT EVE DALLAS, WITH GREAT ADMIRATION AND UNDERSTANDING. Eve Dallas is used to unwanted attention. Famous for her high-profile cases and her marriage to billionaire businessman Roarke, she has learned to deal with intense public scrutiny and media gossip. But now Eve has become the object of a singular and deadly obsession. She has an 'admirer', who just can't stop thinking about her. Who is convinced they have a special bond. Who is planning to kill for her - again and again...With time against her, Eve is forced to play a delicate - and dangerous - psychological dance. Because the killer is desperate for something Eve can never provide - approval. And once that becomes clear, Eve knows her own life will be at risk - along with those she cares about the most.


If you’re a fan of crime the odds are you’ve read one of JD Robb’s books before and the fact that this is the fortieth book in the series goes to show that the author not only keeps the book fresh but also manages to help the recurring characters within growing so that they keep the readers interest.

The prose is sharp, the pace wonderfully delightful and when added to top notch romantic interest all round generates a book that fans will not only love but also allow new readers to delve into an established world without worry.

Wednesday 18 February 2015

MILITARY SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: Empires: Extraction, Infiltration - Gavin Deas

Release Date: 13/11/14
Publisher:  Gollancz


This groundbreaking collaboration between two Gollancz authors tells of the invasion of Earth by two different alien races - at the same time. Two men become aware of the threat, and must work to sabotage the invasion plans and see off the aliens. Each book follows one hero, uncovering the threat to humanity and the world from their point of view. Each book can be read on its own, and will give the reader a complete, kinetic, fast-paced military SF story. But read both books and the reader gets something else - another view of (some of) the same events and crossover points, culminating in a bloody battle at Canary Wharf. The two books can be read in any order, but together they tell the story of humanity caught in the crossfire between two deadly alien races, who have made Earth their battleground...


A tale of two halves as a war against two alien species is told from two separate points of view by the amalgam of two top authors from Gollancz, Gavin Smith and Stephen Deas. Both titles are well written, have some solid twists and when added to an overall arc that is not only massive but really gives the reader a chance to see one established piece from both sides. Its definitely unique, has some great twists and whilst this is solid in itself, it’s the way that the authors bring the individual characters to life that really helps this series step out into its own.

All round a cracking piece of fiction and something that a lot of Science Fiction fans can really get behind especially as the tales not only keep you hooked but leave you wondering throughout if mankind can triumph against such odds. Magic.

Tuesday 17 February 2015

FANTASY REVIEW: Wolf Chonicles 3: Spirit of the Wolves - Dorothy Hearst

Release Date: 04/12/14
Publisher:  Simon and Schuster


Set in Southern Europe at the end of the Ice Age, Spirit of the Wolves follows the visionary young she-wolf Kaala in the Wide Valley as she attempts to bring peace between wolves and humans, for the sake of both species. When some of the Swift River pack resists the attempts at bonding with mankind, Kaala and her closest friends must travel beyond the valley for the first time in their lives in order to find her long-lost mother and bring the Promise of the Wolves to reality. Meanwhile, TaLi, Kaala's faithful human companion, is being ruthlessly pursued by a rejected lover, and Kaala must balance keeping her safe with completing her quest. And with a rival wolf plotting to thwart their plans, Kaala must rely on her loved ones more than ever. But there are many dangers outside of the valley, and the young wolves have much to learn about the world outside their pack. This stunningly detailed journey, seen through the mind of a wolf, details the origins of the relationship between the human race and man's best friend.


I’ve been a fan of this series for quite some time and so when I had the chance to read the concluding part of this trilogy I couldn’t wait. Whilst its different to a lot of the fantasy out there, its own unique look at thing as well as an outstanding lead character point of view that has made this series a real treat to sit down with.

The prose is wonderfully imaginative, the arc something that has really kept me glued and when topped off with characters that I want to spend time around I really couldn’t put the book down. All round one of my top series in more recent times. Cracking.

Monday 16 February 2015

DVD FEATURE: Michael Bay: A Life in Pictures - Paramount

This month legendary American film director and producer Michael Bay turns 50. His talent directing big-budget action films with stylistic visuals and extreme special effects has allowed him to make a name for himself as one of Hollywood’s boldest and most bankable feature film directors. 

The Blu-ray and DVD of his latest work Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is out today, the 16th February, just in time to be added to his successful portfolio before his milestone birthday. To celebrate, we’re taking a look at his career in pictures. 

Bad Boys and Bad Boys II 

Released in 1995 Bad Boys starred Will Smith and Martin Lawrence who played best friends and detectives of the Narcotics Division of the Miami Police Department. The film was followed by the sequel Bad Boys II in 2003. 

The Rock 

Michael Bay directed this action film about Alcatraz Island in San Francisco, in 1996, starring Sean Connery, Nicolas Cage and Ed Harris.  



Starring Ben Affleck and Bruce Willis Armageddon was an international box-office success in 1998. Bruce Willis plays Harry Stamper who leads his team in a mission to destroy an asteroid which is threatening to wipe out existence should it collide with Earth in 18 days. 

Pearl Harbour 

This 2001 film starred Ben Affleck, Josh Hartnett and Kate Beckinsale and is a dramatic retelling of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. 

The Island 

Michael Bay directed this American science fiction action thriller in 2005 starring Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson.   

The Hitcher 

Michael Bay partnered with Sean Bean for the second time on this feature film. Released in 2007 this horror thriller told the story of a couple driving across New Mexico and their run-in with a hitchhiker.   


Michael Bay has directed four transformers blockbusters from 2007 to the present day with the franchise grossing over $2.4 billion. The latest film Transformers: Age of Extinction took $300 million globally when it opened and broke box office records in China. 

Michael Bay’s most recent work is the action-packed and highly entertaining comedy, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which comes to Blu-ray, DVD and VOD today, 16th February. The legendary heroes Shredder, Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael and Michelangelo take to the streets to defend their home, New York, which is under attack. The film stars Megan Fox as an intrepid reporter. 


FANTASY REVIEW: Widdershins Adventure 4: Covenant's End - Ari Marmell

Release Date: 03/02/15
Publisher:  Pyr


The thief Widdershins and her own "personal god," Olgun, return to their home city of Davillon after almost a year away. While Shins expects only to face the difficulty of making up with her friends, what she actually finds is far, far worse. Her nemesis, Lisette, has returned, and she is not alone. Lisette has made a dark pact with supernatural powers that have granted her abilities far greater than anything Widdershins and Olgun can match.

Together, Widdershins and Olgun will face enemies on both sides of the law, for Lisette's schemes have given her power in both Davillon's government and its underworld. For even a slim chance, Shins must call on both old friends--some of whom haven't yet forgiven her--and new allies.

Even with their help, Widdershins may be required to make the hardest sacrifice of her life, if she is to rid Davillon--and herself--of Lisette once and for all.


Ari is an author who really comes up with interesting premises and whilst I may not always love the writing, I do appreciate all the hard work alongside intriguing background that goes on within. What this, the fourth outing of Widdershins brings to the table is a book that has everything a young fantasy reader could want to the table, there’s high octane action, cracking dialogue and of course characters who must face their own consequences for what has gone before.

Its definitely a book that I enjoyed and when you throw into the mix a complex lead character relationship all round makes this something that the reader will more than enjoy. However I will state that you need to read the other three prior to starting this one.

Sunday 15 February 2015

FANTASY REVIEW: The Six Gun Tarot 2: The Shotgun Arcana - R S Belcher

Release Date: 31/10/14
Publisher:  Titan


1870. A haven for the blessed and the damned, including a fallen angel, a mad scientist, a pirate queen, and a deputy who is kin to coyotes, Golgotha has come through many nightmarish trials, but now an army of thirty-two outlaws, lunatics, serial killers, and cannibals are converging on the town, drawn by a grisly relic that dates back to the Donner Party...and the dawn of humanity.


Ah a strange and wonderful book that follows on from the cracking Six-Gun Tarot. Whilst there’s a lot of people out there that think the y have a grasp on this series, for me its one that once you pick it up all bets are off as to what will happen. Its definitely something quirky, something that I hard hitting and when you throw into the mix a virtual river of blood, top notch fight sequences which when backed with a powerful mythos set of characters all round generates something entirely unique on its own.

It really is a difficult series to explain but lets just say that if you want the biggest and the baddest knocking around in a huge conflagration of personality and action then this series is one for you. Magic.