Friday, 29 July 2016

CONTEMPORARY SCIENCE FICTION: Lament for the Fallen - Gavin Chait

Release Date: 28/07/16
Publisher:  Transworld


'Father, tell me a story?' asks Isaiah, moments before a strange craft falls from the sky and smashes into the jungle near his isolated West African community. Inside the ruined vessel the villagers find the shattered body of a man. His name is Samara and he is a man unlike any the villagers have seen before - a man who is perhaps something more than human.

With his city home of Achenia hiding in the rubble left by a devastating war, Samara has fallen 35,000 km to earth in order to escape the automated hell of an orbiting prison called Tartarus. As he struggles to heal himself, he helps transform the lives of those who rescued him but in so doing attracts the attention of the brutal warlord who rules over this benighted, ravaged post-21st century land. He is not a man to be crossed, and now he threatens the very existence of the villagers themselves and the one, slim chance Samara has of finding his way home and to the woman - and the world - he loves.

And all the while - in the darkness above - waits the simmering fury that lies at the heart of Tartarus . . .


I love spending time with new authors from different walks of life as I feel that they bring something not only new to the genre but also bring some quirks that work delightfully well to the fore. Whilst this is definitely a different type of Sci-Fi title, I was more than a little smitten with the characters within. I loved spending time with them and whilst there were a few language turn of phrases I had to research, I thoroughly loved the whole experience as Gavin brought solid world building into the mix alongside cracking pace as well as dialogue that just tripped off the page.

All round a great read and one that I was more than happy to spend time with. I can’t wait to embark on the next outing with Gavin to see what other turns he’s going to throw my way. Magic.

Thursday, 28 July 2016

FANTASY GRAPHIC NOVEL REVIEW: Terry Pratchett's Small Gods - Ill Ray Friesen

Release Date: 28/07/16
Publisher:  Transworld


'Just because you can't explain it, doesn't mean it's a miracle.'

In the beginning was the Word. And the Word was: 'Hey, you!' This is the Discworld, after all, and religion is a controversial business. Everyone has their own opinion, and indeed their own gods, of every shape and size, and all elbowing for space at the top. In such a competitive environment, it's certainly not helpful to be reduced to appearing in the form of a tortoise, a manifestation far below god-like status in anyone's book.

In such instances, you need an acolyte, and fast: for the Great God Om, Brutha the novice is the Chosen One – or at least the only One available. He wants peace and justice and brotherly love. He also wants the Inquisition to stop torturing him now, please...

Now adapted into graphic novel form with new artwork by Ray Friesen.


I grew up with Terry’s Discworld book, looking forward every year for a new one and enjoying each one multiple times as I loved the humour, his wacky world as well as the way the characters came across. So when I heard about a graphic novel I wasn’t sure if it would translate quite as well. After all in order to get a story across in graphic novel format, they have to be heavily edited with some of the minor lines removed in order to make it accessible.

What this title from Doubleday does is pair the humour of Terry’s work with the enthusiastic artwork of Ray Friesen. It’s a great combo as the brightness and flow beautifully compliment both styles. Back this up with cracking storytelling and of course the “small gods” all round makes this a great addition to any Pratchett collection. Cracking.

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

HISTORICAL FICTION REVIEW: New World Rising 1: Son's of the Blood - Robyn Young

Release Date: 28/07/16
Publisher: Hodder


In the dying days of the Wars of the Roses a secret war is born. The battle for a crown is about to become a fight for the world.

Bastard son, mercenary soldier, protector of the rightful king, seeker of a secret more treacherous than any in Christendom: Jack Wynter is destined to live in dangerous times.

In England, the Wars of the Roses ended a decade ago with the fall of the House of Lancaster and the victory of King Edward of York. But peace sleeps uneasy in this divided realm and when the king dies unexpectedly it isn't long before old blood feuds and ambitions are awoken.

In the sun-baked city of Seville, unaware of the clouds of war rising over England, Jack Wynter is cursing his fortune. Sent here by his secretive father, king's man, Sir Thomas Vaughan - with a locked chest he has been ordered to guard with his life - Jack wonders if this mission was simply a ruse to get an illegitimate, inconvenient son out of the country. But when a stranger arrives with news that his father has been arrested for treason, Jack finds himself thrust into the heart of a deadly conspiracy.

What is the secret Jack has been guarding? Is it the reason for his father's fall? The only place he is going to find answers is back in England, where young Prince Edward is due to become king . . . unless his uncle Richard, Duke of Gloucester, decides to make a move for the throne. It is also where Jack's half-brother, Harry, broods bitterly over their father's apparent preference for a bastard son.

Jack Wynter is coming home, to a realm of intrigue and corruption, mystery and war. Somehow, he is connected to a secret that can kill him - or make him. Its influence spans Europe and will draw him towards the very edge of the known world, and beyond, in Robyn Young's dazzling new epic.

The old world is turning.

A new world is rising.


In recent years, a lot of authors are taking inspiration from the War of the Roses (Aka, The Cousins War). It’s a pretty harsh time to be alive, where the nobility faces death as easily as a serf with each choice leading to possible death, treachery and at times the loss of lands and titles.

Its well written and whilst I did have problems with some of Robyn’s earlier work, this title for me, has gone to show that she has not only matured as a writer but manages to balance the story with great prose, top notch pace and also brings relatable characters together with fictional ones to create a new dynamic.

Add to this solid dialogue as well as a hugely epic over arc and all round, its going to be a series to savour. Thanks Robyn.

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

CRIME THRILLER REVIEW: Alexandra Cooper 18: Killer Look - Linda Fairstein

Release Date: 26/07/16
Publisher:  Sphere


New York City is one of the fashion capitals of the world, well-known for its glamour and style. Yet high fashion means high stakes, as Alex Cooper quickly discovers when businessman and designer Wolf Savage is found dead in an apparent suicide, days before the biggest show of his career. When Savage's daughter insists his death was murder, the case becomes more than a media sensation.

With her own job at the DA's Office in jeopardy, and spiralling into a reliance on alcohol, Alex is not anyone's first choice for help. But she is determined to uncover the grime - and the possible homicide - beneath the glitz. Soon she and police detectives Mike Chapman and Mercer Wallace are investigating the family secrets Savage kept so well hidden, even from those closest to him - just as things are about to get deadly on the catwalk.


This was my first outing with Linda as well as her principle heroine Alexandra Cooper (although there are seventeen titles prior to this) and as a new reader I was left wondering if all the books were like this one and sadly lacklustre. Yes I could have just picked up a title that lags within the series but if you want to establish your series you can’t rely on a title selling itself on whats gone before alienating new readers as they won’t return for more.

OK, so the story whilst acceptable wasn’t something that stood out for me and with a principle character not one I cared about left me feeling more than a little flat as I didn’t have the relationship that other fans may well have had with her. Back this up with pace that was OK and all round I’ll leave tackling Linda again for a while and hope that I was just let down by an offering that just didn’t stand out.

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

CRIME THRILLER REVIEW: Will Trent 8: The Kept Woman - Karin Slaughter

Release Date: 14/07/16
Publisher:  Century


A body is discovered in an empty Atlanta warehouse. It's the body of an ex-cop, and from the moment Special Agent Will Trent walks in he knows this could be the most devastating case of his career. Bloody footprints leading away from the scene reveal that another victim - a woman - has left the scene and vanished into thin air. And, worst of all, the warehouse belongs to the city's biggest, most politically-connected, most high-profile athlete - a local hero protected by the world's most expensive lawyers. A local hero Will has spent the last six months investigating on a brutal rape charge.

But for Will - and also for Dr Sara Linton, the GBI's newest medical examiner - the case is about to get even worse. Because an unexpected discovery at the scene reveals a personal link to Will's troubled past. The consequences will wreak havoc on his life and the lives of those he loves, those he works with, and those he pursues.

But Sara's scene-of-the-crime diagnosis is that they only have a few hours to find the missing woman before she bleeds out . . .


Ah, Karin Slaughter, an author who brings a whole world of cracking characters to the fore to not only populate her world but give the reader people to love, people to hate but always with a cracking story. Here in this title we get to see Will’s Ex Angie Polaski as the star of this title and get to understand her in a way that none of the other people in her life will do.

It’s definitely a book that I loved spending time with and whether you love or hate Angie, she’s fascinating any which way you look at her. As with Karin’s other books the prose is sharp, the dialogue adding a layer of believability and when backed with top notch pace all round generates a real treat all round. Cracking.

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

FANTASY REVIEW: The Dragon Round - Stephen S Power

Release Date: 19/07/16
Publisher:  Simon and Schuster


For fans of Scott Lynch and Naomi Novik comes a high fantasy epic that blends swashbuckling adventure with a dark tale of vengeance--when a ship captain is stranded on a deserted island by his mutinous crew, he finds a rare dragon egg that just might be the key to his salvation and his revenge.

He only wanted justice. Instead he got revenge.

Jeryon has been the captain of the Comber for over a decade. He knows the rules. He follows the rules. He likes the rules. But not everyone on his ship agrees. When a monstrous dragon attacks the Comber, his surviving crew, vengeful and battle-worn, decide to take the ship for themselves and give Jeryon and his self-righteous apothecary “the captain’s chance:” a small boat with no rudder, no sails, and nothing but the shirts on their backs to survive.

Marooned and fighting for their lives against the elements, Jeryon and his companion discover that the island they’ve landed on isn’t quite as deserted as they originally thought. They find a rare baby dragon that, if trained, just might be their ticket off the island. But as Jeryon and the dragon grow closer, he begins to realize that even if he makes it off the island, his life will never be the same again. In order for justice to be served, he’ll have to take it for himself.


To be honest this has been a fairly hard book to review. Firstly I wasn’t quite sure what the author was attempting but as the tale opened up, I could see that it was a story that was full of vengeance alongside demonstrating the destructive nature of mankind, his cruelty alongside a feeling of the Count of Monte Cristo within.

As an opener its solid and whilst a bit of a slow starter as you get to know the principle players within, allows you to form bonds as well as seeing how what should have become a beautiful relationship is driven by a selfish need from one of the protagonists. It is well written, the prose solid enough and for me it’s the dialogue that sells the book.

All round it’s a good opener for a series and whilst I worry about how the book leaves the world at its climax, I have to say that its going to be interesting to see what Stephen hits back with in the future.

Monday, 4 July 2016

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: The Last Days of Jack Sparks - Jason Arnopp

Release Date: 28/07/16
Publisher: Orbit


Jack Sparks died while writing this book. This is the account of his final days.

In 2014, Jack Sparks - the controversial pop culture journalist - died in mysterious circumstances.

To his fans, Jack was a fearless rebel; to his detractors, he was a talentless hack. Either way, his death came as a shock to everyone.

It was no secret that Jack had been researching the occult for his new book. He'd already triggered a furious Twitter storm by mocking an exorcism he witnessed in rural Italy.

Then there was that video: thirty-six seconds of chilling footage that Jack repeatedly claimed was not of his making, yet was posted from his own YouTube account.

Nobody knew what happened to Jack in the days that followed - until now. This book, compiled from the files found after his death, reveals the chilling details of Jack's final hours.


If you want something different then you may well want to give Jason Arnopp a go. Why? Well for me this is a book that has a whole heap of things to offer. It is full of humour, has great prose and when added to a storyline that just keeps you going all round offers something that is pretty unique.

Pack this with a principle character who is not only believable but generates reader responses as things start to go upside down alongside cracking dialogue all round makes this a book that finished way quicker than I was expecting as I just flew through the pages. Its solid, it’s fun and above all else, it’s a book that really is a cracking read that goes to show he’s a unique voice on in his own worlds. Magic.