Sunday 29 October 2017

VIDEO GAME REVIEW: Shadow of War - Warner Brothers Interactive

Release Date: 10/10/17
Publisher: Warner Brothers Interactive


Middle-earth: Shadow of War is the sequel to the critically-acclaimed Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, winner of more than 50 industry awards, including 2015 Game Developers Choice Awards’ Game of the Year, Outstanding Innovation in Gaming at the 2015 D.I.C.E. Awards and the BAFTA for Game Design. In Middle-earth: Shadow of War, players wield a new Ring of Power and confront the deadliest of enemies, including Sauron and his Nazgul, in a monumental battle for Middle-earth. This open-world RPG is brought to life through the expansion of the award-winning Nemesis System. The robust personalization from Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor is now applied to the entire world where the environments and characters are all shaped by player actions and decisions, creating a personal world unique to every gameplay experience.

Nemesis System Evolved

Players turn all of Mordor against Sauron by leading their personal Orc army created by the award-winning Nemesis System. The robust personalization from Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor is now applied to the entire world where the environments and characters are all shaped by player actions and decisions, creating a personal world unique to every gameplay experience. The Nemesis System has been expanded with the introduction of Followers, who bring about entirely new stories of loyalty, betrayal and revenge. Through Nemesis Fortresses, players utilize different strategies to conquer dynamic strongholds and create personalized worlds with their distinct Orc army.

Pick up the Season Pass to gain access to the Slaughter Tribe Nemesis Expansion, Outlaw Tribe Nemesis Expansion, Blade of Galadriel Story Expansion and Desolation of Mordor Story Expansion.

Beyond Mordor

Players experience the epic scale of the open-world in a number of ways including new regions and gameplay modes, larger environments, enriched visuals, expanded dialogue and more ways for players to create their story.

Enhanced Combat

Harness the power of Talion and Celebrimbor as the Bright Lord with enriched varieties of combat to take down enemies, include duality, the new Ring of Power, enhanced stealth, melee and more.

Enemy Diversity

Defeat Sauron’s deadliest warriors, including new varieties of Orcs, Olog-hai (war trolls), fire-breathing drakes (dragons), armored caragors and many others. Orcs belong to Tribes, which extend their influence and culture throughout the open-world, creating a rich ecosystem of missions, exploration and a dynamic Orc society.

Original Story in Middle-earth

Taking place in the time between The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, the original story continues with Talion and Celebrimbor, known as the Bright Lord, who must go behind enemy lines to build an army, forge a new Ring of Power and turn all of Mordor against the Dark Lord, Sauron.


Having loved Shadow of Mordor, I couldn't wait to return to Middle Earth and see what was next for Talien and Calembrimbor the forger of the Rings of Power. The storyline works wonderfully well and with a humanised Shelob adds more mythos to this already packed world.

Storywise the player continues the quest for vengeance against the Dark Lord and with a new feuding system as well as new ways to establish your own army with sieges all round makes this a game that will not only take you quite a bit of time to do but will also give you many hours of pleasure as the storyline is revealed.

Whilst there is the niggle of you being able to "pay to win" by purchasing bonus boxes, I found that I didn't see the point in that option personally as they can be come by whilst engaging in online vengeance missions. Yes you can make the game easier with these but you cut down your gaming time by quite a lot and make a lot of the fun redundant which is the whole point of playing a game.

All round I was very happy with the new systems in place (which included various Orc tribes which gave specific bonuses alongside a rework of the nemesis system) and when added to cracking storyline, top notch animation with good voice acting, made this a game that I was more than happy to sink many hours into.

Tuesday 17 October 2017

TV TIE IN SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: Electric Dreams - Philip K Dick

Release Date: 14/09/17
Publisher: Gollancz


Based on the stories contained in this volume, the ten-part anthology series, Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams is written and executive produced by Emmy-nominated Ronald D. Moore (Battlestar Galactica, Outlander) and Michael Dinner (Justified, Masters of Sex), with Oscar nominated Bryan Cranston (Trumbo, Breaking Bad) both executive producing and appearing in the series.

Each episode will be a sharp, thrilling standalone drama adapted and contemporised for global audiences by a creative team of British and American writers. The series will both illustrate Philip K. Dick's prophetic vision and celebrate the enduring appeal of the prized Sci-Fi novelist's work. Other guest stars include Janelle Morae, Anna paquin, Timothy Spall and Benedict Wong.

The ten stories included are:



A compendium of Philip's tales that helped inspire the new Channel Four TV series. As you'd expect they're full of observations, accompanied by witty interpretations and for a new reader, is a great way in the mind as well as worlds of the author.

Back this up with solid prose, a good understanding of the human condition and a tale that asks more questions of the reader than it answers, all round goes to show why this author is held in such high esteem by many readers. Cracking.

TV TIE IN POETRY BOOK REVIEW: Doctor Who: Now we are Six Hundred - James Goss

Release Date: 14/09/17
Publisher: Harper Design


With illustrations by Russell T Davies, original showrunner of the new-era Doctor Who, the first ever Doctor Who poetry collection--a charming, funny and whimsical illustrated collection of verse that celebrates the joys and pitfalls of getting older . . . Time-Lord older.

Like many of us, the older they get, the more Time Lords realize how little they understand the universe around them. This delightful collection of poems--the first volume of Doctor Who verse published--offers moments of insight, wit, and reassurance for the maturing inhabitants of Gallifrey (and everywhere else), including such delights as:


When I was One

I was not much fun

When I was Two

I was barely through

When I was Three

I liked strong tea

When I was Four

I hated a bore

When I was Five

I was really alive

When I was Six

I somehow could never quite fit in to what was expected of me, well, not exactly but that was because things weren't neat and there are no easy rhymes in the universe and scansion, my dear Peri, is a thing that's really overrated and you only have to look at a sunset to realise that creation itself is a poem and oh no wait, got it, of course, Fix! The line needed to end with Fix!

(Or tricks. That's works too.)

When I was Seven

I sent the gods to Heaven

When I was Eight

Kissing was great

When I was Nine

I had forgotten time

When I was Ten

I began again

When I was Eleven

I totally got even

When I was Twelve, I became as clever as clever

And now I think I'll be Twelve for ever and ever*

(*Unless, of course, there is a terrible catastrophe involving explosions, radiation, or heights. And then I guess we'll find out what comes next. But the eyebrows won't be as good.)


A poetry book based on Dr Who and one that is a bit of a weird book for me as I don't often sit down and read this type of thing. Its a book that for me is designed purely for the fans as an addition to thier collections and whilst its OK, its nothing that really stands out and to a certain degree feels like a cash in. Don't get me wrong, for the fan there are some good pieces in there, but overall, I don't thing it's a book that'll be read over and over again.

Monday 16 October 2017

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: Sweet Dreams - Tricia Sullivan

Release Date: 21/09/17
Publisher: Gollancz


Charlie is a dreamhacker, able to enter your dreams and mould their direction. Forget that recurring nightmare about being naked at an exam - Charlie will step in to your dream, bring you a dressing gown and give you the answers. As far as she knows, she's the only person who can do this. Unfortunately, her power comes with one drawback - Charlie also has narcolepsy, and may fall asleep at the most inopportune moment.

But in London 2022, her skill is in demand. And when she is hired by a minor celebrity - who also happens to be the new girlfriend of Charlie's lamented ex - who dreams of a masked Creeper then sleepwalks off a tall building, Charlie begins to realise that someone else might be able to invade dreams...


A story that I've been looking forward to for some time as I remember reading the synopsis in the Orion catalogue and thought wow, so much so, that I made a note on my calendar to keep an eye out for it. What was delivered wa a kick ass story that I loved. It was novel, it had a character I loved to spend time with and whilst she had a great many of her own problems, the overall arc really delivered with a good understanding of pace alongside plot.

For me, a great story and one that I hope will generate other future outings for our heroine. Magical.

Sunday 15 October 2017

THRILLER REVIEW: The One that Got Away - Annabel Kantaria

Release Date: 24/09/17
Publisher: HQ


Everyone has one. An ex you still think about. The one who makes you ask ‘what if’?

Fifteen years have passed since Stella and George last saw each other. But something makes Stella click ‘yes’ to the invite to her school reunion.

There’s still a spark between them, and although their relationship ended badly, they begin an affair.

But once someone gets you back, sometimes they’re never going to let you go again…


A book has to have a good few elements to make it work, firstly it has to have a solid story mixed with a good understanding of pace, it has to have full described characters to you fall in love with and care about and for me, it has to be delivered in such a way that whilst certain elements within may be fantastical, it has to be believable.

A book can to a certain degree get away with two out of the three, but for me, the cardinal sin and one that really makes a book a struggle for me, is when I can't stand the characters. After all, if I can't form a bond with them, why should I care about thier fates or what their own actions have wrought within the tale?

This is the problem with this book for me. Yes it has a good story arc, the pace is delightful and of course the twists and turns make it a car crash read as you wait to see what moves and counter-moves each of the principle players to do get their own way, however because they're so detestable, it was more a case of "Meh, why should I care about these two, they deserve each other."

All round, it is on a technical scale a solid offering, but for me, its more of a middle of the road title that won't stay with me for too long as a lot of what occurs within has been done before. A shame really as I really wanted so much more.

Saturday 14 October 2017

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: The Guild Hunter 10: Archangel's Viper - Nalini Singh

Release Date: 28/09/17
Publisher: Gollancz


Enter New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh's breathtakingly passionate Guild Hunter world with the story of a woman who isn't a vampire or an angel . . . or human . . .

Once a broken girl known as Sorrow, Holly Chang now prowls the shadowy grey underground of the city for the angels. But it's not her winged allies who make her a wanted woman - it's the unknown power coursing through her veins. Brutalised by an insane archangel, she was left with the bloodlust of a vampire, the ability to mesmerise her prey, and a poisonous bite.

Now, someone has put a bounty on her head . . .

Venom is one of the Seven, Archangel Raphael's private guard, and he's as infuriating as he is seductive. A centuries-old vampire, his fangs dispense a poison deadlier than Holly's. But even if Venom can protect Holly from those hunting her, he might not be able to save himself - because the strange, violent power inside Holly is awakening . . .

No one is safe.


Nalini has a huge following for her Guild Hunters series and when she returns to characters that readers have come to love throughout the books and seems to be giving them exactly what they want, it should have been a title that would not only have made them very happy but something that should have been a firm fan favourite for years to come.

However, whilst she did deliver a story, the book never really took off and left me feeling, as a long term reader, that I was cheated and that certain events were forced almost as if the characters just didn;t want to play. OK, so the overall arc is OK, but when you're not giving whats expected until a very late stage and even then its almost an heavy handed after thought then all round it leaves it feeling very jarring. Sadly for me, its not going into my favourite list of the author and for many others, its going to be more of a meh when asked about it. A great shame.

Friday 13 October 2017


Release Date: 13/10/17
Publisher: Tor Books US


Humanity's last hope of survival lies in space...but will we even get there?

Helt Borresen is an Incident Analyst. What that means is that aboard the seed ship Kybele, he is the closest thing that the organization has to a security officer. But he doesn't think that it'll be a big part of his job, as all the candidates have been carefully screened.

Why the need for a seed ship? Because our planet is toast and the colonists that leave our world are the best shot that we have for our species to continue.

Everything is set...and then someone is found hanging dead just weeks before the launch. Fear and paranoia spread as the death begins to look more and more like a murder. The authorities want the case settled quickly and quietly so as not to cause panic.

And Helt is the one to prevent a murderer from sabotaging the entire mission.


If you love murder mystery in a sci-fi setting then this is a book for you, with top notch prose, good twists and of course a lead protagonist that steps off the page whilst delving deep into personal matters that make him question things as personal conflict intervenes with his investigation into the murder aboard his ship.

Its well thought out, brings some interesting characters to the fore and all round delivered a title that I very much enjoyed. All round a great book for me and one that has now added Sage to my TBR list.

Thursday 12 October 2017

FANTASY REVIEW: Iskari 1: The Last Namsara - Kristen Ciccarelli

Release Date: 12/10/17


Destroyer. Death bringer. Dragon-slayer. I am more weapon than girl.

Asha is a dragon-slayer. Reviled by the very people she's sworn to protect, she kills to atone for the wicked deed she committed as a child - one that almost destroyed her city, and left her with a terrible scar.

But protecting her father's kingdom is a lonely destiny: no matter how many dragons she kills, her people still think she's wicked.

Even worse, to unite the fractured kingdom she must marry Jarek, the cruel commandant. As the wedding day approaches, Asha longs for freedom.

Just when it seems her fate is sealed, the king offers her a way out: her freedom in exchange for the head of the most powerful dragon in Firgaard.

And the only person standing in her way is a defiant slave boy . . .

THE LAST NAMSARA is an extraordinary story about courage, loyalty and star-crossed love, set in a kingdom that trembles on the edge of war.


I'm the type of reader who is often found in fantastical kingdoms and worlds where mystical creatures live and magic is in abundance so when I get the chance to try a Young Adult title that will help get the love out there for the younger reader I jump at the chance in order to help pass on my love of reading to my nephews and niece. (So that when I'm old, they'll know the right sort of books to buy me. LOL)

So I had high hopes for this although to a certain degree the blurb sounded pretty generic and I thought was something that I'd read before in titles such as McCaffrey's Pern series. I finally picked up the book and settled down awaiting to see what would occur. The story pretty much went the way I expected and whilst there were quite a few elements that worked well, the whole thing was centred more around two characters placing them in a fantastical setting and following a certain linear path. That's not to say it wasn't well done, it was, but for me, there was no surprise and when you also throw in supporting cast that felt pretty flat I was left a little disappointed with the overall book.

All round it was OK, and the parts that I liked were well done, however for me there were other avenues that needed to be explored so I'm hoping that in future outings the writing will have not only improved but that the character development continues with fuller fleshed out cast members.

Tuesday 10 October 2017

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: The Furthest Station - Ben Aaronovitch

Release Date: 28/09/17
Publisher: Gollancz


A brand new novella in the PC Grant series!

There's something going bump on the Metropolitan line and Sergeant Jaget Kumar knows exactly who to call.

It's PC Peter Grant's speciality . . .

Only it's more than going 'bump'. Traumatised travellers have been reporting strange encounters on their morning commute, with strangely dressed people trying to deliver an urgent message. Stranger still, despite calling the police themselves, within a few minutes the commuters have already forgotten the encounter - making the follow up interviews rather difficult.

So with a little help from Abigail and Toby the ghost hunting dog, Peter and Jaget are heading out on a ghost hunting expedition.

Because finding the ghost and deciphering their urgent message might just be a matter of life and death.


I've been a huge fan of PC Grant since the first novel Rivers of London back in 2011, and whilst its always a hard wait between novels, I love it when you get little extra treats like novella's that whilst perhaps not a full length story, give the reader a hit of what they've been hankering for.

Within this novella, PC Grant faces a tough challenge, solving a case where a short time after the encounter people have forgotten all about it. Its definitely going to be a challenging case for our detective and one that more tha piqued my interest upon reading the synopsis.

As usual the writing is crisp, the prose wonderfully addictive and when you throw into this good pacing all round gives me a story that I was sad to finish. It was everything I hoped for with some great moments within taking the reader through a range of emotions and all round is making is a title I'll be rereading again soon to see what I missed on my original read. Cracking.

Monday 9 October 2017

FANTASY REVIEW: Age of Dread 1: Mageborn - Stephen Aryan

Release Date: 05/10/17
Publisher:  Orbit


Thousands died when mages sundered the earth and split the sky.
It was a war that devastated entire kingdoms.
Now one man believes eradicating magic is the only way to ensure a lasting peace. He and his followers will do anything to achieve his goal - even if it means murdering every child born with the ability.


Returning to Stephen's world set ten years after his original Age of Darkness Trilogy, we are thrown into a chaotic world where those born with the "ability" to weild magic are murdered in hopes of keeping the fragile peace established after the events in the original series.

As with the first set, its well written, the characters are fun to be around and when thrown in with solid twists, some great story plotting alongside characters I want to spend time around and I have to say that I was more than pleased with this title. Add to this solid prose and of course dialogue that works wonderfully well all round gives me a great beginning to the new trilogy. Magic.

Thursday 5 October 2017


Release Date: 05/08/17
Publisher:  Head of Zeus


100 of the best crime stories written by women, selected and introduced by Sophie Hannah.

From Agatha Christie and Daphne du Maurier, to Val McDermid and Margaret Atwood, women writers have long been drawn to criminal acts. Here, award-winning author Sophie Hannah brings together 100 of her favourite examples.

Deadlier includes prize-winners, bestsellers and rising stars, so whether you take your crime cosy or hard-boiled, this big, beautiful anthology will keep you reading long into the night.


A cracking set of crime short stories from female authors across time as picked by crime author Sophie Hannah and to be honest I love to read stories from various time periods to not only see how the craft has developed but also given the opportunity to read some cracking outings without having to spend a pretty penny on older titles.

Its full of genre famous names from those of yesteryear alongside modern ladies seeking to hack as well as slash thier way to the top bringing top talent to the reader. The book was wonderfully rich, was wonderful to dive into and savour each revelation in short story format during lunch breaks or even long journeys. All round a top notch title and one that whilst its great to have in Hardback as you'll be delving in time and again, with the thickness and weight may be better suited to a digital read. (Unless of course you want a bludgeoning weapon on hand for anyone interupting your reading time. LOL) Magic.