Tuesday, 30 September 2014

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: The Oversight - Charlie Fletcher

Release Date: 06/05/14
Publisher:  Orbit


Only five still guard the borders between the worlds. Only five hold back what waits on the other side. Once the Oversight, the secret society that polices the lines between the mundane and the magic, counted hundreds of brave souls among its members. Now their number can be tallied on a single hand. When a drunkard brings a screaming girl to the Oversight's London headquarters, it seems their hopes for a new recruit will be fulfilled - but the girl is a trap, her appearance a puzzle the five remaining guardians must solve or lose each other, and their society, for good. As the borders between the natural and the supernatural begin to break down, brutal murders erupt across the city, the Oversight are torn viciously apart, and their enemies close in for the final blow. This dark Dickensian fantasy spins a tale of witch-hunters, magicians, mirror-walkers and the unlikeliest of heroes drawn from the depths of British folklore. Meet the Oversight, and remember: when they fall, so do we all.


Ah Victorian London, the dark streets, the creeping chill of fog and of course the muffled sounds of things that go bump in the night in Charlie Fletcher’s first book in a new Urban Fantasy series. The writing within has a wonderfully dark undertone, the characters people I want to spend time with and with an overall atmospheric feel that really takes you there, I was more than a happy reader.

Back this up with top notch pace, some wonderful twists and all round I was sold. Great stuff.

Monday, 29 September 2014


Release Date: 22/05/14
Publisher:  Hodder


Lost meets The Passage in this incredible new thriller, for all fans of The Shining Girls and Stephen King. They're here ...The boy. The boy watch the boy watch the dead people oh Lordy there's so many ...They're coming for me now. We're all going soon. All of us. Pastor Len warn them that the boy he's not to---- The last words of Pamela May Donald (1961 - 2012) Black Thursday. The day that will never be forgotten. The day that four passenger planes crash, at almost exactly the same moment, at four different points around the globe. There are only four survivors. Three are children, who emerge from the wreckage seemingly unhurt. But they are not unchanged. And the fourth is Pamela May Donald, who lives just long enough to record a voice message on her phone. A message that will change the world. The message is a warning.


To be honest if you’re looking for something far from the norm in the genre then this is a book that you’ll be more than interested in reading, as author Sarah Lotz first solo title brings a fictional series of event together in a non-fiction concoction written by one of the characters.

It’s a book that has strange events within, blending mystery, science fiction and of course journalistic fictional interviews that help give the story a believability and of course a timeline that wends its way drawing the reader in deeper with each passing chapter. All round, it’s definitely a strange book and for me it’s one that I really enjoyed as I had the chance to depart from my normal reading. Great stuff.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

CRIME THRILLER REVIEW: Bruno Courreges: Children of War - Martin Walker

Release Date: 12/06/14
Publisher:  Quercus


Bruno, chef de police in the French town of St Denis, is already busy with a case when the body of an undercover French Muslim cop is found in the woods, a man who called Bruno for help only hours before. But Bruno's sometime boss and rival, the Brigadier, doesn't see this investigation as a priority - there are bigger issues at stake. Bruno has other ideas. Meanwhile, a Muslim youth named Sami turns up at a French army base in Afghanistan hoping to get home to St Denis. One of Bruno's old army comrades helps to smuggle Sami back to France, but the FBI aren't far behind. Then an American woman appears in St Denis with a warrant for Sami's extradition. Bruno must unravel these multiple mysteries, amidst pressure from his bosses, and find his own way to protect his town and its people.


The latest outing of Martin Walkers detective and one that continues to build upon the characters reputation as this tale brings Islamic Extremism as well as mystery featuring the hiding of children during the second world war that also gives the story a sense of depth and history.

It’s definitely a book that I had a lot of fun reading and whilst I’ve enjoyed the series to date, I’m starting to wonder how much longer the character can continue as to be honest, for me, he’s starting to stagnate. Don’t get me wrong, I love the prose, the twists and of course the dialogue however I’ve felt that in this book the character hasn’t grown and is starting to become unbelievable.

All round it is a book that will give you a good amount of mystery for your buck but at the end of the day, if a character doesn’t grow then that for me is the beginning of the end.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

VIDEO GAME TIE IN: Assassin's Kitties (Assassin's Creed: Unity Parody)

Hail Mighty Readers and Followers of the Calloused Thumbs,
As many know we're huge fans of the Assassin's Creed franchise and I have to admit to being a crazy cat man.  So when I came across this trailer that blends two of my passions in life I just had to share it with others.  Ubisoft, please give us an adventure like this with the Assassin's kitties. 

So without further ado, enjoy:

All the best gamers and keep you blades sharp but your minds sharper,   

Gareth and Lady Eleanor

SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: The Expanse 4: Cibola Burn - James S A Corey

Release Date: 05/06/14
Publisher:  Orbit


The gates have opened the way to a thousand new worlds and the rush to colonise has begun. Settlers looking for a new life stream out from humanity's home planets. Illus, the first human colony on this vast new frontier, is being born in blood and fire. Independent settlers stand against the overwhelming power of a corporate colony ship with only their determination, courage and the skills learned in the long wars of home. Innocent scientists are slaughtered as they try to survey a new and alien world. James Holden and the crew of his one small ship are sent to make peace in the midst of war and sense in the heart of chaos. But the more he looks at it, the more Holden thinks the mission was meant to fail. And the whispers of a dead man remind him that the great galactic civilisation which once stood on this land is gone. And that something killed them. Cibola Burn is the exhilarating fourth novel in the New York Times bestselling Expanse series, following the Hugo-nominated Leviathan Wakes, Caliban's War and Abaddon's Gate.


I’ve enjoyed quite a lot of the authors work from the various genres but for me this one has felt more than a little flat as is seemed quite simplistic plot wise as well as fairly predictable which took a lot of the fun out of the story. Add to this quite a slow pace and all round I wasn’t that impressed with this, the fourth offering in the series.

Whilst the prose was OK and the dialogue alongside the characters acceptable all round felt that this was more of a filler than taking the story to new heights almost as if it was to fulfil a contract over giving the reader something to enthuse over. Sadly a disappointing read for me but as I have enjoyed a lot of the author’s work before I will keep an eye on future outings but in this case if the next Sci-Fi is as flat as this I won’t be diving into it again.

Friday, 26 September 2014

VIDEO GAME NEWS: Pagan Min: King of Kyrat - Ubisoft

As a huge fan of the Far Cry franchise, we can't wait to embark on any adventure.

Its one that really keeps you on your toes and with all the cracking graphics as well as storyline, we can't wait to get started.

Our friends at Ubisoft have sent us the latest trailer featuring Pagan Min, despot of Kyrat:

Finally here's all the latest info on the game for you:

Welcome to Kyrat!

Built from the legendary DNA of its award-winning predecessor, Far Cry 4 delivers the most expansive and immersive Far Cry experience yet in an entirely new and massive open world, with integrated drop-in/drop-out co-op play. Hidden in the towering Himalayas lies Kyrat, a country steeped in tradition and violence. You are Ajay Ghale. Travelling to Kyrat to fulfill your mother's dying wish, you find yourself caught up in a civil war to overthrow the oppressive regime of dictator Pagan Min. Explore and navigate this vast open world, where danger and unpredictability lurk around every corner. Here, every decision counts, and every second is a story.
Explore an open world filled with possibilities
Discover the most diverse Far Cry world created yet. With terrain spanning from lush forests to the snowcapped Himalayas, the entire world is alive... and deadly!
  • From leopards, rhinos, black eagles, and vicious honey badgers, Kyrat is home to abundant wildlife. As you embark on your hunt for resources, know that something may be hunting you.
  • Scout enemy territory from above in the all-new gyrocopter and then plummet back to earth in your wing suit. Climb aboard the back of a six-ton elephant and unleash its raw power on your enemies.
  • Choose the right weapon for the job, no matter how insane or unpredictable that job might be. With a diverse arsenal, you'll be prepared for anything.
Pagan Min
Pagan Min is a raging narcissist with a God complex. He's always been a fan of his own image and the presentation of himself as a brand. Ambitious and ruthless, the self-proclaimed King of Kyrat was every bit the charismatic leader. He conquered Kyrat slowly, pulling people to his cause – including the Golden Path rebels. Quickly enough, idealism surrenders to reality. Pagan Min believes that Kyrat's problems lie in its connection to the past. In trying to sever those connections, Pagan Min causes a split in his own camp. He may control much of Kyrat, but in making enemies with the Golden Path a rebellion is born.
Co-op: bring a friend
Not every journey should be taken alone. Far Cry 4 allows for a second player to drop in and out at any point, re-imagining the cooperative experience in the true spirit of Far Cry for the next generation. You'll now be able to discover and explore the living open world of Kyrat together.
The arena: what will you become?
Prove your combat prowess and fight for survival and fame in the arena. Earn the respect of roaring crowds and test your will to survive, battling man and beast alike, until only one contestant remains standing.
Get a taste of Kyrat's embattled history in a brand new adversarial multiplayer mode. Play as a heavily armed soldier of the Golden Path rebellion, or as a member of the ancient Kalinag warrior tribe equipped with the lethal power of nature.
Map editor: deathtrap designer
Create and share your own maps using the most powerful and intuitive map editor ever offered in the Far Cry franchise. Your creations will get the attention they deserve thanks to its enhanced tools, improved interface, and the ability to publish and share your maps with the community. Hopefully this will keep you up to date with the latest Ubisoft developments. Gareth and Lady Eleanor 

VIDEO GAME NEWS: Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor: Everything you need to know - Warner Brothers Interactive

Hail Mighty Readers and Followers of the Calloused Thumbs,
Our friends at Warner Brothers Interactive have put together a special guide to Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor letting all gamers what the title will entail for the games release on the 3rd October.

The title will be released for the following formats:
Xbox 360
Xbox One

Here's the guide:

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

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: Iron Druid 7: Shattered - Kevin Hearne

Release Date: 27/06/14
Publisher:  Orbit


The acclaimed author Kevin Hearne returns with a brand new novel in his epic urban fantasy series starring the unforgettable Atticus O'Sullivan. For nearly two thousand years, there was only one Druid left walking the Earth - Atticus O'Sullivan, the Iron Druid, whose sharp wit and sharp sword kept him alive while pursued by a pantheon of hostile deities. Now he's got company. Atticus's apprentice Granuaile is finally a full Druid herself. What's more, Atticus has defrosted an archdruid long ago frozen in time, a father figure (of sorts) who now goes by the modern name Owen Kennedy. And Owen has some catching up to do. Atticus takes pleasure in the role reversal, as the student is now the teacher. Between busting Atticus's chops and trying to fathom a cell phone, Owen must also learn English. For Atticus, the jury's still out on whether the wily old coot will be an asset in the epic battle with Norse god Loki - or merely a pain in the arse. As the trio of Druids deals with pestilence-spreading demons, bacon-loving yeti, fierce flying foxes, and frenzied Fae, they're hoping that this time ...three's a charm.


I’m a huge fan of this series and every book to date has been a hit with me. I love the way that the author brings the world to life, has superb plotlines but for me, the key selling point is the characters that people his writing. They’re not only a blast to hang out with but they also feel individually crafted, with each having their own emotions, feelings and beliefs that not only help gel the plotline but gives everyone an unique voice.

Back this up with some magical prose and of course a pace that doesn’t let you go for one minute and all round I was a more than happy reader. Great Stuff.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: Touched - Joanna Briscoe

Release Date: 03/07/14
Publisher:  Hammer


1963: Rowena Crale and her family have recently moved into an old house in a small English village. But the house appears to be resisting all attempts at renovation. Walls ooze damp. Stains come through layers of wallpaper. Ceilings sag. And strange noises - voices - emanate from empty rooms.

As Rowena struggles with the upheaval of builders while trying to be a dutiful wife to her husband and a good mother to her five small children, her life starts to disintegrate. And then her eldest and prettiest daughter goes missing. Out in the village, a frantic search is mounted - while inside the house reveals its darkest secret: a hidden room with no windows and no obvious entrance. Boarded up, it smells of old food, disinfectant - and death...

Set in a world where appearances are everything, and nothing is as it seems, Touched is unsettling, claustrophobic, and utterly gripping.


OK this is a novella rather than a full blown novel and to be blunt, its one that sadly doesn’t work for me. It’s convoluted, the plotline a little all over the place with elements that seem to have been added to extend rather than add anything to the tale. Back this up with a slow pace and characters that didn’t become fully realised which left me feeling cold.

Sadly not a book I’ll be rereading again anytime soon and whilst I will give the author another try if the next one leaves me feeling like this I won’t be reading any other titles in the future.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

URBAN FANTAY YOUNG ADULT REVIEWS: Clanless 1: Senior Year Bites and Tales of the Traveller 1: Sebaska's Tale - Julie A Campbell

Release Date: 05/07/14
Publisher:  Untold Press


Senior year is supposed to be fun: boys, dances and graduation. It's significantly harder to enjoy it when you're dead.
Thanks to an innocent game of Truth or Dare, I wound up sleeping in a graveyard. Probably not the brightest thing I've ever done, but thanks to a couple of well-placed fangs, I'm here to tell the tale.
Vampires might stalk pop culture, but they’re just myths, right? Yeah. Not so much...
Everything seems a lot more difficult when you’re a nocturnal creature of the night, especially school. I was managing, but couldn't keep it hidden from my friends. Steph decided that we should be cool, like superheroes, and fight crime.
I’m a vampire, not a hero. Living in a sleepy New England town, crime is a little harder to come by. At least it is until a serial killer moves into the area. He’s got the authorities stumped, but then again, the cops don’t have a teenage, blood-sucking, non-hero on their team. It doesn't take long for me to discover the world is full of monsters. I may be one of them…but will I turn out to be the hero, or the killer everyone is looking for


The first of Julie’s books that I sat back to read and whilst I knew that Sabaska’s Tale was the first, it was the premise of this one that really fired my imagination. What occurs within is a story that the reader will love to sit back to and enjoy as she weaves supernatural elements into a realistic world wonderfully and when added to the authors prose that keeps you turning the pages alongside cracking pace all round made this a book that I just couldn’t put down.

Finally add to this dialogue that not only sells itself but weaves the characters emotional aspects richly alongside the friends relationship into a pure joy to read all round gave me a cracking experience. 

Release Date: 05/07/13
Publisher:  Untold Press


To Anna, horses were more than a fascination, they were everything. Luckily, she had the opportunity to spend every summer on her grandmother's horse ranch in Colorado. Life was perfect, until she received the devastating news that her grandmother had been tragically killed. Anna knew she was the only member of her family who could take over the ranch and hopefully find new homes for her grandmother's beloved Arabians.
Anna wasn't alone for long. Her grandmother had hired a local teenage boy to help tend the horses for the summer. Anna didn't stand a chance against Cody's quiet charm and the two rapidly become friends. However, even with the responsibilities of the ranch, Anna quickly discovers the secrets her grandmother had been hiding and a legacy that sends her on an adventure she never thought possible. An adventure in the saddle of a horse that wasn't a horse at all. Sabaska, her grandmother's favorite Arabian, was a Traveler; a magical being that could travel between worlds. With Anna at the reins, they find themselves trapped in a fight against evil with the highest of stakes… Their very survival.


I love something a little different so when I got to read a book by horse lover Julie, I couldn’t wait to see how her passion would translate into an Urban Fantasy tale. As with the authors other writing that I’ve read recently (Senior Year Bites) she brings the readers great characters that have a likeable factor that really creates that special bond. You care about them and you want them to achieve their goals, dreams and of course the mission to which they’re undertaking.

The prose is solid, the concepts wonderfully rich and when added to dialogue that just trips off the page all round gave me an experience that I just loved to sit back with. Add to this a heartwarming sensation at the books end and all round I was more than pleased with this experience.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

YOUNG ADULT REVIEW: Afterworlds - Scott Westerfeld

Release Date: 23/09/14
Publisher:  Simon and Schuster


Darcy Patel has put college and everything else on hold to publish her teen novel, Afterworlds. Arriving in New York with no apartment or friends she wonders whether she's made the right decision until she falls in with a crowd of other seasoned and fledgling writers who take her under their wings…

Told in alternating chapters is Darcy's novel, a suspenseful thriller about Lizzie, a teen who slips into the 'Afterworld' to survive a terrorist attack. But the Afterworld is a place between the living and the dead and as Lizzie drifts between our world and that of the Afterworld, she discovers that many unsolved - and terrifying - stories need to be reconciled. And when a new threat resurfaces, Lizzie learns her special gifts may not be enough to protect those she loves and cares about most.


We’ve been huge fans of Scott here since Lady Eleanor originally read his Uglies series and loved them. So we’re always quick to grab the next time as soon as we could so that we could sit back, relax and enjoy our next adventure. He became a name that made it straight to the top of the TBR pile (in fact it never made it there as it was started straight away) so we’ve always come to expect a certain quality from him.

Now to be honest here I am a little bit in the dark on the publishing world to a certain degree and whilst I do know authors who have talked me through their journey through to publishing, this book was in stark contrast to that. It seemed too easy for her (the protagonist) and it felt unrealistsic, so much so that it threw the rest of the book into doubt and when you have something that delves into the unreal you need something to help ground it and help give you chance to find identifying markers with the character.

All round, I found this book a little flat, I didn’t get on with the principle character and for me, I was left feeling cheated by the whole thing almost as if it were a debut novel. All round a great shame for me.

URBAN STEAMPUNK: Jani and the Greater Game - Eric Brown

Release Date: 31/07/14
Publisher:  Solaris


It's 1910 and the British rule the subcontinent with an iron fist - and with strange technology fuelled by a power source known as Annapurnite - discovered in the foothills of Mount Annapurna. But they rule but at the constant cost of their enemies, mainly the Russians and the Chinese, attempting to learn the secret of this technology...This political confrontation is known as The Greater Game. Into this conflict is pitched eighteen year old Janisha Chaterjee who discovers a strange device which leads her into the foothills of the Himalayas. When Russians spies and the evil priest Durja Das find out about the device, the chase is on to apprehend Janisha before she can reach the Himalayas. There she will learn the secret behind Annapurnite, and what she learns will change the destiny of the world for ever...Jani and the Greater Game is the first book in a rip-roaring, spice-laden, steampunk action adventure series set in India and featuring a heroine who subverts all the norms.


To be honest I wasn’t sure what to make of this novel. It had some great points about it, such a the inventiveness where the author manages to blend alien worlds with Victoriana Steampunk alongside some fun stereotyping with the various cultures involved. However apart from a rip-roaring adventure pace,, that’s where the book falls flat as it felt that in parts of the book were way to coincidental a pieces fell together a little too fortuitously as well as in an unbelievable jammy way.

All round, whilst I did have fun with the book, I did feel that some of the supporting cast were a little flat and when added to a sadly lacklustre overall arc all round left me feeling that this one was a bit of an average book without standing out like it should have done. A great shame for me however I will read others as I liked a few of the concepts within.

Monday, 22 September 2014

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: The Return of the Discontinued Man - Mark Hodder

Release Date: 07/08/14
Publisher:  Del Rey


Burton and Swinburne return in a new wildly imaginative steampunk adventure, and this time they're facing their greatest foe...Leicester Square, London. Blood red snow falls from the sky and a strange creature, disorientated and apparently insane, materialises out of thin air. Spring Heeled Jack has returned, and he is intent on one thing: hunting Sir Richard Francis Burton. Burton is experiencing one hallucination after another; visions of parallel realities and future history plague his every thought. These send him, and his companions, on an unimaginable expedition - a voyage through time itself...


As a huge fan of Steampunk, this has been one of the series that I’ve been keeping a close eye on as the preinciople characters within this work are people that I love to spend time with. I like their roundedness, the way that they step of the page and also the way that Mark brings cracking dialogue to this extraordinary world.

Yet for all that, this book felt a little lacklustre compared to others in the series (and on a side note you do have to read the others to get the fuller picture here.) With the pages, it felt almost rushed with confusion taking the reader somewhere different to the norm. All round, it was a fun plot to spend time around and whilst for me the pace was off key and the prose not as quite as sharp as they have been it was a book that gave me a wonderful escape from the real world.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

HISTORICAL FICTION REVIEW: The Last Crusaders: Ivan the Terrible - William Napier

Release Date: 07/08/14
Publisher:  Orion


After the final defeat of the Ottoman Empire at the great naval battle of Lepanto, it seems that Europe is safe. But one day Nicholas Ingoldsby is summoned to London for an audience with the Queen herself. He is to go on a diplomatic mission to Constantinople, the heart of the old enemy - and then onward, to a little-known but rising power called Muscovy. Here the Russian Czar has just proposed marriage to Elizabeth herself. Such a bold offer should be no surprise, for this is no normal leader: Ivan IV Vasil'evich is known to his people as Ivan the Terrible. But this rising new Christian power in the North has also caught the attention of the Ottomans; and their allies, the wild Tatar horsemen of the Asiatic steppes, Russia's ancient enemy. And soon Nicholas and his fellow travellers, Smith, Stanley and the faithful Hodge, are caught up in their most dangerous adventure yet, trapped in a doomed Muscovy ruled by a deranged but cunning Czar Ivan, and with a vast army of Tatar tribesmen riding down upon them, vowed to burn the city to the ground and extinguish Russia forever...


William Napier is an author that has been on my list of trusted writers for quite some time. I love the way he brings the action of the period alongside cracking portrayal to give the reader not only an experience but adventure within the period in history.

Whilst a lot of historical authors tend to stay in one area, William can flit throughout cherry picking the times and people that have had historians fascinated for years and will do the same for the modern reader. Whilst some of the facts within the book have been adapted to make for a better reading experience, within this book, the madness of Ivan is clearly present.

As with William’s other work, the prose is sharp, the pace wonderful and when added to the authors clear love of his work all round gave me a cracking experience. Magic.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

ARTS AND CRAFTS REVIEW: Sew Fabulous - Stuart Hillard

Release Date: 28/08/14
Publisher:  Weidenfeld and Nicolson


Stuart Hillard reached the semi-final of BBC2's GREAT BRITISH SEWING BEE, bringing a fantastic sense of invention, passion, creativity and style to all things fabric. Stuart's first love is sewing for the home - transforming everything from tablecloths, cushions and curtains to garden chairs and quilts. He is an enthusiastic home sewer and teacher and his mission is to make sewing for the home accessible and aspirational, and his message is clear: sewing is for everyone. He introduces the novice sewer to the basic skills, kit and trimmings and also endeavours to teach even the most experienced sewer a new range of techniques. Ranging from the super-easy, no-sew projects for those who are enthusiastic about fabric but are under-confident, to gorgeous quilts that take a few basic sewing skills, Stuart's brilliant designs and simple-to-follow approach will help everyone to sew for their own home, their own way.


Arts and Crafts are a great way to help make things for gifts for people whether you like to make jams or sweets or are gifted enough with a needle and thread to create wonderful items that will give every time they’re used. What this book does is give the reader a lot of different idea’s for projects, includes easy to follow instructions and also gives you patterns. It’s a great item for everyone from Teen’s upwards and can turn a hard up Christmas into one where everyone gets a special gift made just for them.

All round a cracking book and one that can be used all year round. Just get it early so that you have plenty of time to get materials without having to rush the job.

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: Libriomancer and Codex Born - Jim C Hines

Release Date: 06/03/14
Publisher:  Del Rey


Isaac Vainio is a Libriomancer, a member of a secret society founded five centuries ago by Johannes Gutenberg. As such, he is gifted with the magical ability to reach into books and draw forth objects. But when Gutenberg vanishes without a trace, Isaac finds himself pitted against everything from vampires to a sinister, nameless foe who is bent on revealing magic to the world at large...and at any cost.


Something new and wonderful for me as a reader as I loved the concept of the story from the book blurb. Yet whilst a blurb can sell the book, it can occasionally be like the old Video’s that appear to deliver something that sadly is lacking when you get to the meat of the matter. What this title delivers from Jim is a book that has some great characters, solid supporting cast that works wonderfully well with the principle hero and when added to dialogue that just trips off the page all round gives the reader a great tale.

Back this up with good pace as well as top notch prose and all round I was a more than happy reader and to discover that the second part was out shortly after finishing the first, all round gave me goose-bumps as the wait would soon be over to see what was next in store for the characters I’d come to love.

Release Date: 07/08/14
Publisher:  Del Rey


They're back. And they want revenge...Sent to investigate the brutal slaughter of a wendigo in the north Michigan town of Tamarack, Isaac Vainio and his companions find they have wandered into something far more dangerous than a simple killing. A long established werewolf territory, Tamarack is rife with ancient enemies of Libriomancy who quest for revenge. Isaac has the help of Lena Greenwood, his dryad bodyguard born from the pages of a pulp fantasy novel, but he is not the only one in need of her unique and formidable powers...


The second outing for Isaac and for me, the tale gets so much more interesting as the principles have been already established and we can get more to the character interactions alongside the development of the overall arc for the series. Whilst not as fast paced as the original and at times feeling not as fresh, I did love the way that Jim kept it going without it feeling like it was just filler.

As with the original I liked the pace and the saving grace was the dialogue. All round a solid read.

Friday, 19 September 2014

CRIME THRILLER REVIEW: A Trick of the Mind - Penny Hancock

Release Date: 11/09/14
Publisher:  Simon and Schuster


Have you committed a crime ... or are you the victim of one?
Driving down to the cottage in Southwold she's newly inherited from her Aunty May, Ellie senses she is on the edge of something new. The life she's always dreamed of living as a successful artist seems as though it is about to begin. So excited is she that she barely notices when the car bumps against something on the road.
That evening Ellie hears a news flash on the radio. A man was seriously injured in a hit and run on the very road she was driving down that evening. Then Ellie remembers the thump she heard. Could she have been responsible for putting a man in hospital? Unable to hold the doubts at bay, she decides to visit the victim to lay her mind to rest, little knowing that the consequences of this decision will change her life forever.


To be blunt here, this isn’t a book that I thought much to. What didn’t help was for me that I couldn’t associate with the principle character who felt like a woman that had everything, which whilst I’m not saying is impossible, for me put this as a person with no real understanding of real life.

Don’t get me wrong, the concept was strong, it followed a linear chain of thought and did have immense potential but when you can’t identify with a character you really don’t care what happens to them. All round, Penny is an author who has had a lot of success with other books she’s written but for me, this book felt fairly flat, a little too simplistic and the messages contained within aren’t strong enough for today’s modern person. A great shame.

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: The Remaining 2: Aftermath - DJ Molles

Release Date: 24/06/14
Publisher:  Orbit


A SOLDIER'S MISSION IN A WORLD GONE TO HELL: SURVIVE, RESCUE, REBUILD Nothing has gone according to plan. To Captain Lee Harden, Project Hometown feels like a distant dream and the completion of his mission seems unattainable. Wounded and weaponless, he has stumbled upon a group of survivors that seems willing to help. But a tragedy in the group causes a deep rift to come to light and forces him into action. In the chaos of the world outside, Lee is pursued by a new threat: someone who will stop at nothing to get what he has. This is the second book in the bestselling Remaining series, telling a gritty tale of survival, perseverance and fighting to get back what has been lost.


Whilst this is the second instalment for the reader, it’s a cracking outing for zombie officionado’s the world over as hard line combat, survival as well as emotional conflict keep the reader not only on their toes but gripped to the pages as the story wends its way through the dark recesses of your mind.

Whilst there’s a lot of error with spelling within the book, if you ignore this and concentrate on the overall arc, you’ll soon find yourself on one hell of an adventure which when accompanied with solid pace will give you that special read that can leave you seeing the sun rise at the end of the book.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

CUISINE REVIEW: Meal in a Mug - Denise Smart

Release Date: 07/08/14
Publisher:  Ebury Press


If you like eating delicious, balanced meals but can't cook/won't cook/don't have any time to cook, then this is the book for you. All you need is a large mug and a microwave, a handful of ingredients and a spoon. Forget retro microwaving of the 90s, these are bang-up-to-date, imaginative recipes for busy people. Every meal time is covered with 80 recipes, so whether you're a student on a budget, stuck at the office and starving, or just can't be bothered to dirty a saucepan and preheat the oven, you'll find an idea to satisfy every hungry moment and all your flavour cravings.


There are plenty of times you’ve got some leftovers and not enough to make a huge meal, so rather than throw them away in a time when we all know the price of food, you try to be inventive to find ways to make the best of what you have.

Whilst this isn’t a full banquet type of book, its one that helps use those left over scraps and gives you something hot with just a few minutes work. It’s tasty, its very simple to follow and all round, in my opinion would be a good book to give to students or those looking to help extend a few ingredients.

All round a solid book, one that provides some sweet treats as well as savoury meals and something that will help you make the most of what you have.

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: A Discovery of Witches 3: The Book of Life - Deborah Harkness

Release Date: 15/07/14
Publisher:  Headline


THE NO.1 SUNDAY TIMES AND NEW YORK TIMES HARDBACK BESTSELLER Fall under the spell of Diana and Matthew once more in the stunning climax to their epic tale, following A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES and SHADOW OF NIGHT. A world of witches, daemons and vampires. A manuscript which holds the secrets of their past and the key to their future. Diana and Matthew - the forbidden love at the heart of it. After travelling through time in SHADOW OF NIGHT, the second book in Deborah Harkness's enchant-ing series, historian and witch Diana Bishop and vampire scientist Matthew Clairmont return to the present to face new crises and old enemies. At Matthew's ancestral home in France they reunite with their families - with one heart-breaking exception. But the real threat to their future is yet to be revealed, and when it is, the search for the elusive manuscript Ashmole 782 and its missing pages takes on a terrifying urgency. Using ancient knowl-edge and modern science, from the palaces of Venice and beyond, Diana and Matthew will finally learn what the witches discovered so many centuries ago.


I’ve been a huge fan of this series for quite some time and whilst a lot of others have read it previously to me, I wanted to wait for that special time when I could devote a lot of my time to the experience especially having waited quite a while for this title. Its nothing new to me and whilst a fair few people complain about it, my philosophy is that I’d rather wait for a book that the author was happy to release that have something that followed a schedule and was upset with the finished result. Rushing tends to have a lot of errors, continuity errors and also leaves the reader more than upset.

What I received was a book that kept me not only glued but one that delivered what I was expecting, a kickass tale that had romantic elements, great pace and of course prose that just leapt off the page. Back this up with dialogue and cracking emotional aspects and I was a more than happy reader. A real treat all round and one that I was pleased that I set aside to give it my full attention and would advise others to do the same. You won’t be disappointed.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

HISTORICAL FICTION REVIEW: Hereward: Wolves of Rome - James Wilde

Release Date: 31/07/14
Publisher:  Bantam


1072 - The great battle has been lost. King William stands victorious. And for the betrayed and abandoned English rebels, the price of their crushing defeat is cruel: exile. Cut adrift from family, friends, home, their hopes of survival lie with one man, their leader Hereward. But can even that now-legendary hero navigate a safe course across a world torn by war? Their ultimate destination is the jewelled heart of the Christian emperor in the East, the New Rome - Byzantium. Here the English hope to find gold and glory by joining those pledged to protect the emperor, the elite and savage Varangian Guard. But this once-mighty empire is slipping into shadow. Beyond the vast walls, the endless Turkish hordes plan for an attack that could come at any moment. And within the sprawling city, rival factions threaten bloody mayhem as they scheme to seize the crown. Here begins a new chapter in the stirring tale of England's forgotten hero. But now the enemies are hidden, their methods bloodier, the battlefield and weapons unfamiliar and to stay alive in this cauldron of plot, betrayal and murder, Hereward and the English must fight as never before.


OK, so here Hereward is out on his own away from any other ancient tales surrounding him from books that have gone before and boy, what a cracking tale we have with the hero. As usual with James’ writing the reader is in for a tale of heroics, of daring and of course action that doesn’t let up as enemies from the past merge with new foes.

Back this up with prose that just leaps into the readers imagination gives the reader a tale that will be hard to miss and if you haven’t tried the series to date, where have you been, its cracking British Heroism at its best. Magic.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: The Rain-Soaked Bride - Guy Adams

Release Date: 31/07/14
Publisher:  Del Rey UK


How do you stop an assassin that can't be killed? When several members of the diplomatic service die in seemingly innocent, yet strangely similar circumstances, it seems a unique form of murder is being used. Toby Greene is part of Section 37, known as The Clown Service, a mostly forgotten branch of British Intelligence tasked with fighting exactly this kind of threat. However, the Rain-Soaked Bride is no ordinary assassin. Relentless, inexorable and part of a larger game, merely stopping this impossible killer may not be enough to save the day...


OK, I wasn’t overly enamoured with the first book in this series, The Clown Service, I wanted to give this title a go as I know that a lot of others out there have had a lot of fun with it, I thought I’d try the second in case I wasn’t fully in the right frame of mind with the original reading.

So settling back and opening the pages, I began to read. What happens within the book is a story that really didn’t strike me as original, it felt yet again like I’ve seen something like it before and whilst the characters were solid enough, I did feel that the author extended the story without giving the reader really anything new that hasn’t been seen before. All round I was a little disappointed and whilst I still like a number Guy’s series, this is one I’m going to let fall by the wayside.

Monday, 15 September 2014

GUEST BLOG: The Lies of a Father - Edward Cox

Here at Falcata Times we love to feature guest blogs from authors both new and established.

Edward Cox tells us how he smashed the ice when moving from a busy city to the country and how a lie can sometimes make a huge difference:

"As a responsible parent, I’m trying to impress upon my five-year-old daughter the importance of telling the truth. She likes to lie sometimes, as children must, so she can do the things she shouldn’t be doing and avoid getting into trouble for it. My daughter has lots of spirit. I love that about her and don’t want her to lose it, but she needs to understand the difference between right and wrong. She must learn to take responsibility for her actions.
“Always tell the truth,” I tell her, “and everything will be all right in the end.” She doesn’t believe me. She knows there are some lies that will make daddy very angry before everything is all right again. And I must confess to feeling guilty as I explain to her how lying is wrong, while knowing deep down that her daddy is a liar himself. Because daddy knows that some lies can be of immense benefit to a child, especially if that child is desperate to improve his social position. Even if that means telling a big fat whopper to an entire school.
When I was eight, my family moved from the squalid and sinister east end of London to the sprawling green freedom of a country village. For a city kid, the change of surroundings was perfect, and in my new home I thought I’d discovered paradise. This feeling lasted until I started my new school.
On my first day, the teacher stood me in front of the whole class and introduced me. “This is Edward,” she said. “He comes from London.” So far so good. But then she added a warning: “People from London are terribly tough, so you all need to be very careful around him.”
Outstanding work, right?
For the next two weeks I spent nearly every break time running and hiding from a gang of boys who wanted to prove themselves against this supposedly rough and tough kid from London. I ate lunch on my own, sat at the back of the class reading Tin Tin books, hoping that I wouldn’t get noticed or picked on. I had no friends, no one would talk to me, and all because of a stupid statement (itself a lie) spouted by the stupidest teacher who ever taught. It became clear that if my situation was to improve, I needed to take matters into my own hands. But how?
Salvation came the day Stupid Teacher was telling the class about meteorites, and an idea came to me. You have to understand that what I did next was driven by desperation and flawed logic. Firstly, I put up my hand and kept it in the air until all eyes were upon me. Secondly, with a straight face, I proceeded to tell everyone in that classroom that a meteorite had once landed in the back garden of my house in London. A big one, too, I assured them, as big as a car, and it crashed to the ground with a thunderous roar loud enough to break a window.
Outstanding work, right?
Now, I take responsibility for lying to every person in that room, but a part of the blame has to be laid at the feet of my teacher’s gullibility. She didn’t know that my only point of reference to meteorites was a Steve McQueen film called The Blob; she didn’t find it strange that I didn’t know meteorites weren’t just lumps of cosmic rock. She didn’t question the fact that I’d just described a strike by meteorite so large that it probably would’ve levelled a hundred mile radius, but, according to me, did no more damage than create a smoking crater in the back garden of a terraced house, which my dad contained with a bloody garden hose.   
No. Instead of calling bullshit, she acted like she had just struck oil. She couldn’t believe that one of her pupils had such a fascinating story to tell, and she demanded that I write it down there and then. A lot of what happened next is lost to my memory, but I do remember that my dubious tale sort of got away from me, uncontrollably snowballing until it reached the ears of the headmaster. Amazingly, he believed me too! And he was so impressed that he insisted I present my story at the next school assembly. I have to confess, I loved the attention, and Stupid Teacher looked so gratified while I stood proud and lied to the entire school.
Outstanding work, right?
But here’s the moral. After my school assembly gig, I admitted to the gang of boys who had been trying to beat me up every break time that my story was a lie, not a word of it true. Not only did they find that hilarious, but they also admired what I had done. The ice had been broken, I now had friends, was even a little famous, and school was so much easier from that point onwards. All because I solved my problems with a lie.
Nowadays, I like to think of that whole experience as the beginning of my development into a novelist. But one thing is for damn sure – it will be many years before I tell this story to my daughter.

Release Date:18/09/14
Publisher:  Gollancz

Magic caused the war. Magic is forbidden. Magic will save us.

It was said the Labyrinth had once been the great meeting place, a sprawling city at the heart of an endless maze where a million humans hosted the Houses of the Aelfir. The Aelfir who had brought trade and riches, and a future full of promise. But when the Thaumaturgists, overlords of human and Aelfir alike, went to war, everything was ruined and the Labyrinth became an abandoned forbidden zone, where humans were trapped behind boundary walls 100 feet high.

Now the Aelfir are a distant memory and the Thaumaturgists have faded into myth. Young Clara struggles to survive in a dangerous and dysfunctional city, where eyes are keen, nights are long, and the use of magic is punishable by death. She hides in the shadows, fearful that someone will discover she is touched by magic. She knows her days are numbered. But when a strange man named Fabian Moor returns to the Labyrinth, Clara learns that magic serves a higher purpose and that some myths are much more deadly in the flesh.

The only people Clara can trust are the Relic Guild, a secret band of magickers sworn to protect the Labyrinth. But the Relic Guild are now too few. To truly defeat their old nemesis Moor, mightier help will be required. To save the Labyrinth - and the lives of one million humans - Clara and the Relic Guild must find a way to contact the worlds beyond their walls.

FANTASY REVIEW: The Ballad of Sir Benfro 1: Dreamwalker - JD Oswald

Release Date: 14/08/14
Publisher:  Penguin UK


Dreamwalker is the first spellbinding novel in the new epic fantasy series from J. D. Oswald - The Ballad of Sir Benfro. In a small village, miles from the great cities of the Twin Kingdoms, a young boy called Errol tries to find his way in the world. He's an outsider - he looks different from other children and has never known his father. No one, not even himself, has any knowledge of his true lineage. Deep in the forest, Benfro, the young male dragon begins his training in the subtle arts. Like his mother, Morgwm the Green, he is destined to be a great Mage. No one could imagine that the future of all life in the Twin Kingdoms rests in the hands of these two unlikely heroes. But it is a destiny that will change the lives of boy and dragon forever...And so begins The Ballad of Sir Benfro - the unputdownable tale of the great dragons returning to the kingdom of men. Breathtakingly compulsive and beautifully written, The Ballad of Sir Benfro is for readers hooked to the world of George R R Martin's Game of Thrones and those longing for the next Tolkien film adaptation. Dreamwalker is followed by The Rose Cord and The Golden Cage. J. D. Oswald is the author of the epic fantasy series, The Ballad of Sir Benfro. Currently, Dreamwalker, The Rose Cord and The Golden Cage are all available as Penguin ebooks. He is also the author of the Detective Inspector McLean series of crime novels under the name James Oswald. In his spare time James runs a 350-acre livestock farm in North East Fife, where he raises pedigree Highland Cattle and New Zealand Romney Sheep.


A weird and unusual story and one that whilst following some of the many used tropes in the fantasy genre, concentrates more on the characters than on the overall arc, allowing you to get to know them before the adventures really begin. Its definitely something quirky and whilst at times it feels like its poking its tongue at the genre, its one that not only keeps you glued due to caring about the characters but wondering how the tale would end up.

Overall its definitely something different and whilst I wasn’t that enamoured of the “human” characters the dragons filled my imagination enough to see what occurs next for them.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: Midgard 1: Black Ice - Susan Krinard

Release Date: 01/09/14
Publisher:  Tor


New York Times bestselling author Susan Krinard continues the thrilling urban fantasy series that began with Mist in Black Ice.

Centuries ago, all was lost in the Last Battle when the Norse gods and goddesses went to war. The elves, the giants, and the gods and goddesses themselves were all destroyed, leaving the Valkyrie known as Mist one of the only survivors.

Or so she thought.

The trickster god Loki has reappeared in San Francisco, and he has big plans for modern-day Earth. With few allies and fewer resources—but the eyes of the gods and goddesses of an old world upon her—it’s up to Mist to stop him before history repeats itself.


Whilst I’m a huge reader of Fantasy, there are times when I just can’t get into a book. Sadly this was one of those times as I had a hard time getting into it. The start was a bit jumpy, the pace for me was all over the place and when you add into this a principle character that I felt was a two dimensional space filler rather than someone I could get behind and want to spend the time with really left me feeling flat.

Back this up with an arc that felt a little bit too predictable alongside dialogue that really didn’t sell the whole situation and all round I was left feeling a little cheated.


Release Date: 19/06/14
Publisher:  Headline


The first part in an epic sequel to M.K. Hume's King Arthur trilogy The legend of King Arthur lives on...King Artor lies slain and Ector, a mere boy, is acknowledged as the legitimate heir to the kingdom. But the land of the Celts is weakened and Ector grows up torn between a sense of doom and duty. Meanwhile, in the Forest of Arden, it is revealed to young Arthur that he is the Bastard Prince, son of King Artor and Lady Elayne. Trained in the skills of a warrior, Arthur cannot challenge the position of his ruler and childhood friend, but nor can he stand back and watch Briton crumble under the threat of invasion. As the Last Dragon, he must ensure that his father's legacy lives on...


I’ve been a huge fan of the Arthurian series by this author and for me, it was a thoroughly enjoyable modern retelling that worked wonderfully well.

The skills that MK learned from that series, has transferred wonderfully to this new one. The characters spring to life from the pages, the prose is wonderfully descriptive and transports the reader into this world to the forefront of the battles, the descriptions and when added to cracking dialogue all round gives you a tale that that is hard to put down.

MK really is a delightful author to spend time with and if you’re looking for something a little different to a lot of the other HF authors out there with a story that concentrates more on characters with some action rather than the usual other way round. Then give this author a try. You won’t regret it.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

FANTASY REVIEW: The Falcon Throne - Karen Miller

Release Date: 09/09/14
Publisher:  Orbit


EVERY CROWN IS TARNISHED BY THE BLOOD OF AMBITION. In a divided Kingdom, some will do anything to seize the crown. A BASTARD LORD, rising up against his tyrant cousin, sheds more blood than he bargained for. A ROYAL CHILD, believed dead, sets his eyes on regaining his father's stolen throne. A DUKE'S WIDOW, defending her daughter, defies the ambitious lord who'd control them both. And TWO BROTHERS, divided by ambition, will learn the true meaning of treachery. All of this will come to pass, and nothing will remain as it once was. Royal houses will fall, empires will be reborn, and those who seek the Falcon Throne will pay for it in blood. WITH THE FALCON THRONE, A MAJOR NEW EPIC FANTASY BEGINS.


A new fantasy series from Karen Miller and whilst it follows the tropes of the fantasy genre, it also seems to have taken a leaf out of the highly successful Song of Fire and Ice series with the nobles fighting for power. Its pretty basic and whilst its nowhere near as complex as George RR Martin, following a fairly basic and predictable plot line, right down to an expected twist within the novel.

All round, its nothing that stands out from the crowd for me and at times it feels that the characters are only there to fill a gap rather than to add a fully rounded personality alongside intrigue for the reader.

FANTASY REVIEW: The Splintered Gods - Stephen Deas

Release Date: 19/06/14
Publisher:  Gollancz


Praised by the likes of Joe Abercrombie and Brent Weeks, Stephen Deas has made dragons his own. Captured by an unknown enemy and forced to wage war on his rivals, the Dragon Queen has found herself hated and feared by all the people of this new land. There is little they can do to hurt her while she has her dragon, but she cannot escape while the magic necklace she is forced to wear remains active - or it will throttle her. And the enemies of her new master are gathering for revenge...Lost in a body that isn't his own, Berren - the Bloody Judge - continues his search for the man who stole his life. Accompanied by a single Adamantine soldier, they scrabble to survive in a world shaken by the Dragon Queen's attack and suspicious of all those who are strangers. But there is another power inside Berren, one which escapes when he is in danger and has the habit of disintegrating those around him. And that power has its own agenda...One that will lead it to the Dragon Queen, and battle. The critics, fellow authors and readers alike are agreed - if you love dragons and epic fantasy, Stephen Deas is the writer for you. The man who brought dragons back to their full glory, might and terror.


I’ve read Stephen since he burst onto the scene with the Adamantine Palace in 2009. I love his writing, the hard gritty combat, the difficult choices made by individuals (be they beast or man) and overall, I love the way that the double dealing of those in power as they seek to fulfil their own agenda’s rather with the problems of the people a secondary problem to deal with.

The writing is always to the point, it gets to the meat of the matter and with some of the subtle hints and wordplay within generates a story that is pretty unique out there. A great read and definitely a series as well as author who is surfing the new British wave of Fantasy.

Friday, 12 September 2014

VIDEO GAME REVIEW: Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls - Activision

Release Date: 19/08/14
Publisher:  Blizzard/Activision

Diablo III Reaper of Souls Ultimate Evil Edition XBOX One contains Diablo III and the expansion Diablo III Reaper of Souls


Over 13 million players have battled the demonic hordes of Diablo III. Now, it’s your turn to join the crusade and take up arms against the enemies of the mortal realms. This Ultimate Evil Edition contains both Diablo III and the Reaper of Souls expansion set, together in one definitive volume. So stand ready. Something wicked this way comes.

Call upon your allies - Play solo or form a party of up to four other heroes - either with local players together on the same screen or online with players via Xbox Live.
Rise as a champion - Stand as one of humanity’s last defenders - crusader, barbarian, witch doctor, demon hunter, monk, or wizard - and level up with devastating powers and legendary equipment.
Lift the demonic siege - Lay waste to hordes of evil throughout all five acts of the Diablo III storyline. Or explore the open world in Adventure Mode to hunt bounties on the elder evils that lurk throughout the mortal realms


Deluxe edition contains Diablo III and the Reaper of Souls expansion pack
Form a party of up to 4 other heroes, either locally or via Xbox Live
Play as a crusader, barbarian, witch doctor, demon hunter, monk, or wizard
Lay waste to hordes of evil throughout all 5 acts of the Diablo III storyline
Explore the world in Adventure Mode to hunt bounties on the elder evils


OK, I played the original Diablo 3 on the Xbox 360 and whilst I had fun with it, I did wish I could have done more with the character and achieved higher levels. So when this update landed I couldn’t wait to try not only the new Crusader class but also to see how far I could push my favourites (the Demon Huner and Monk) to the max to see what I could manage to do with so many new skills as well as items to unlock.

Whilst it was a little strange getting back into it, what the game designers have done is to modify some of the existing levels so that you get new monster attacks or area’s to discover that weren’t available in the original. It adds a bit of variety and as a veteran of Diablo 3, I loved this as it showed me that they really care about giving the gamer the best experience possible.

Add to this a whole new set of problems for the gamer to embark upon alongside levels to achieve all round gave me a whole heap of fun as some of the skill runes I didn’t manage to unlock which I spent quite a bit of time testing.

All round I had a whole heap of fun with this game and when you add all the extra’s, it made this a great experience to go through, add a friend or two online and it becomes even better which when you can send gifts to each other allows the player the chance to boost their own levels. Magic.