Friday, 21 November 2014

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: The Revolutions - Felix Gilman

Release Date: 18/09/14
Publisher:  Corsair

SYNOPSIS:

THE REVOLUTIONS is a fantasy of the occult scene in fin de siecle London, the celestial spheres, and mystical Martian exploration. It follows two young lovers separated by the schemes and blundering of rival occultists, from the drawing rooms of spiritualist societies, through shady enterprises in Deptford warehouses, and magical war on the Isle of Dogs, and out to a hallucinatory, doomed Mars drawn from the fantasies of Edgar Rice Burroughs, the imaginings of Aleister Crowley, and the speculations of Victorian astronomers. Praise for Felix Gilman: "[Gilman] takes the brutality of the wild west and twists it into an epic fantasy that left me staggered. It brings the sense of wonder back to fantasy by creating a complex and visceral world unlike anything I've read...stunning." Mary Robinette Kowal, author of Shades of Milk and Honey "Refreshingly unlike any other novel I've read. Felix Gilman writes like a modern-day Dickens drunk on rich invention and insane war." Stephen Donaldson, author of The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant "A fantasy that Mark Twain would have been proud to write...Never has fantasy been darker, cleverer, more sly, or more touching in its refraction of our own world. I scratch my head in awe." Francis Spufford, author of Red Plenty "Gilman is one of the essential modern fantasists, and his latest book lives up to the expectations generated by his previous successes." Benjamin Wald, SF Revu "Like The Half-Made World that came before it, The Rise of Ransom City brings us a re-imagined tale of America's Old West, mixing steampunk and magic realism to great effect." Kirkus Reviews "Felix Gilman has a sly wit and an assured hand. He is a fresh and original voice in fantasy." Lavie Tidhar, author of Osama "Vivid and accurate prose, a gripping, imaginative story, a terrifically inventive setting, a hard-bitten, indestructible hero, and an intelligent, fully adult heroine---we haven't had a science-fiction novel like this for a long time." Ursula K. Le Guin


REVIEW:

I’m a huge reader and for me the blurb really sold the title, I loved the sound of Victoriana Martian invasions and when you throw a love aspect into the tale, it’s a book that really should have been a magical experience from start to finish. However that said, the book was sadly disappointing. Why?

Well it started out well enough, the prose was decent, the characters were reasonable and the pace worked wonderfully well, however a good way through, the book fell apart as the tale took a turn from the incredulous to the completely unbelievable which all round ruined the experience. Whether the evolution was due to helping expand the page count, I’m not sure but personally speaking the way that it changed really felt like it would have been way better had it ended sooner becoming more of a novella rather than the farce it felt like by the tales conclusion. All round, sadly a great disappointment for me.



Thursday, 20 November 2014

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: Ghosts of Manhattan - George Mann

Release Date: 12/09/14
Publisher:  Titan

SYNOPSIS:

The United States finds itself locked in a diplomatic standoff with a British Empire who has only just buried Queen Victoria, her life artificially preserved to the age of 107. The hub of both the excesses and power of the states, New York stands as a gaudy beacon for a country trying to drown its troubles in illegal gin. It's a society on the brink of destruction, where any low level crook could be the tipping balance into lawlessness and disorder.


REVIEW:

To be honest with you, I was more than interested in the book because of the concepts involved. I like the sound of how Steampunk, superhero and of course gritty noir would be blended together in a kind of Sin City amalgam that should have been nigh impossible to put down.

However for me this title was fairly flat. I didn’t like the principle character, I thought that the action was too unbelievable and when added to an overall arc that really didn’t travel anywhere for me as a reader, left me feeling more than a little cheated. Sadly not a world I’ll be revisiting at any time soon.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: Extinction Game - Gary Gibson


Release Date: 11/09/14
Publisher:  Tor

SYNOPSIS:

When your life is based on lies, how do you hunt down the truth? Jerry Beche should be dead. Instead, he's rescued from a desolate Earth where he was the last man alive. He's then trained for the toughest conditions imaginable and placed with a crack team of specialists on an isolated island. Every one of them is a survivor, as each withstood the violent ending of their own alternate Earth. And their new specialism? To retrieve weapons and data in missions to other apocalyptic versions of our world. But what is 'the Authority', the shadowy organization that rescued Beche and his fellow survivors? How does it access timelines to find other Earths? And why does it need these instruments of death? As Jerry struggles to obey his new masters, he begins to distrust his new companions. A strange bunch, their motivations are less than clear, and accidents start plaguing their missions. Jerry suspects the Authority is feeding them lies, and team members are spying on him. As a dangerous situation spirals into catastrophe, is there anybody he can trust? A riveting, action-packed post-apocalyptic survival story from master of SF, Gary Gibson.


REVIEW:

Gary has been an author I’ve followed since his first book was released, I like the way he takes novel idea’s, brings them to the fore and presents them to the reader in such a way that you really can’t let them go until you see how the tale develops.

Its definitely something different to a lot of the Sci-Fi out there and for me, this book has idea’s and concepts that I couldn’t wait to see how the tale played out as survivors of multiple earths are gathered together to raid the civilisations on behalf of the mysterious Authority.

All round the book is a tale that works wonderfully well, the idea’s explored something that will make readers think and when you add Gary’s identifiable writing style with cracking prose and wonderful pace to the fore, you know that you’re in for a treat. Great stuff.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

VIDEO GAME REVIEW: Skylanders Trap Team - Activision


Release Date: 10/10/14
Publisher:  Activision

SYNOPSIS:

Toys to life, life to toys

Players will experience an exciting new level of Skylanders innovation through the Traptanium Portal, a new ring of magical energy which reverses the magic of toys to life by letting players bring digital characters into the physical world. A built-in audio speaker allows players to magically hear the unique voices of the villains travel from the game into the real world and into the Trap, and vice versa. The Trap also lights up in sync with the villain speaking, adding even more magic to the experience. If you look closely, you can almost see the villain trying to escape from inside the Trap.
Two ways to play

In Skylanders Trap Team, you can play as a Skylander or capture Skylands' most wanted foes and unleash them for good. It's up to Portal Masters to find these villains, capture them inside the new Traps, and then transport the villains into the real world via the Traptanium Portal. Once trapped, players can return the villain to Skylands as a playable character. This exciting new play pattern gives fans the option to switch between playing as a Skylander hero and a villain at any time, creating fun and unique 'tag team' gameplay.
Elementally designed traps

Themed Trap designs add variety to the collectible Skylanders Trap Team experience. Each Trap is elementally aligned, letting players capture villains who fall under that element. For instance, when Portal Masters explore the world of Skylands and encounter a water villain, they can insert a water Trap into the Traptanium Portal to capture that villain, as well as bring that villain back into Skylands as a playable character who helps in the fight for good. With each new trap added to their collection, Portal Masters unlock an exciting world of possibilities!

New cast of characters

A brand new group of Skylanders, known as Trap Masters, lead the charge armed with their oversized crystal weapons in the fight against the most wanted villains and returning nemesis Kaos. The game introduces more than 50 new playable Skylanders heroes, including:

New Trap Master Skylanders
New Core Skylanders
Reposed fan-favourite Skylanders

Exciting new adventure

Skylanders Trap Team features an all new adventure-filled story with fun and interesting new characters as well as returning franchise favourites. The game delivers a diverse and dynamic story-driven gameplay experience, filled with adventure, combat, puzzles, mini games, activities, platforming, and drop-in/drop-out co-op play, all set within a variety of new compelling environments. With each new addition to their Trap Team collection, Portal Masters unlock exciting new gameplay possibilities within each level. Seasoned fans can play Skylanders Trap Team with their entire collection of 175 forward-compatible characters from Skylanders SWAP Force, Skylanders Giants, and Skylanders Spyro's Adventure.
Box Contains

1 x Video Game
1 x Traptanium Portal
2 x Skylanders Figures
2 x Traps
1 x Character Collector Poster
2 x Sticker Sheets with Secret Codes
2 x Trading Cards



REVIEW:

OK, I was originally introduced to Skylanders by two of my nephews, who have been playing it for quite some time. I was fascinated by the way that you could get extra characters and put them on the “portal” and voila, there’s your new guy on screen. Wow. Multiple characters for masses of playthrough and whilst I’ve been the sort of gamer that tends to wait for prices to go down on a few things, this was something I got into very quickly. So when my nephew (way back in March) started telling me about Skylanders Trap Team I became very excited as I loved the idea of being able to capture the villains and then play through with them.

Its definitely something quirky, something that has a lot of playtime behind it but my one major gripe is that with each new set you have to buy a new portal (which whilst back compatible seems unfair when you’ve had to buy them for each release.) All round I had a lot of fun with this game and to be honest when my nephews saw that I had it, Uncle Gareth was the best thing since sliced bread.

Nephew (7) review:
I really, really, really like this game. It’s the best present I’ve had for ages. Daddy and Uncle Gareth showed me how to play it and they wanted to play it but I beat them and play it all the time. I love the bad guys even though I shouldn’t but the good guys are better Daddy says. The bad guys go into the trap key and I caught both of them. I love this game and there is no way my Daddy and Uncle Gareth will be able to play. Me and Benni with play!!!!!! Hope Santa brings me more keys and good guys to play with.

CRIME THRILLER REVIEW: The Victim - Kimberley Chambers


Release Date: 11/09/14
Publisher:  Arrow Books

SYNOPSIS:

This is the final instalment in the thrilling trilogy which began with The Feud and The Traitor - perfect for fans of Martina Cole and Jessie Keane. Life is looking bleak for Frankie Mitchell - not only has she lost custody of her two children to their sadistic, gypsy-bred father, Jed O'Hara, she is also pregnant and banged up in Holloway awaiting trial for attempted murder. In Frankie's absence, her father, underworld boss Eddie Mitchell, is determined to get his own back. He wants revenge not only for his daughter's imprisonment, but also for the death of his beloved wife, Jessica. Determined to get his grandchildren back home where they belong, Eddie plans the O'Haras demise slowly and precisely. But then he finds out a secret and learns the real reason why his daughter is in the slammer and all hell breaks loose. Essex had never seen anything like the bloodbath that followed, but were either family actually capable of winning this long running feud, or would they all become the victims of their own past mistakes?


REVIEW:

Murder, death, mystery and of course characters that you can’t help but love to spend time with. Why?

Well they’re fully rounded and whilst this is the third book by Kimberly it’s one that shows how an author with the right combination can quickly entrench themselves not only into the readers minds but also their TBR pile. In addition to cracking characters the prose and pace work wonderfully well and all round I was more than surprised when I turned the final page. I can’t wait for the next book and to see what else Kimberley brings to the fore. Magic.

Monday, 17 November 2014

SCIENCE FICTION SHORT STORY COMPENDIUM REVIEW: Solaris Rising 3 - Ed Ian Whates


Release Date: 14/08/14
Publisher:  Solaris

SYNOPSIS:

Following the exceptionally well received Solaris Rising 1, 1.5 (e-only) and the Philip K. Dick Award-nominated Solaris Rising 2, series editor Ian Whates brings even more best selling and cutting edge SF authors together for the latest extraodrinary volume of new orginal ground-breaking stories. These stories are guaranteed to surprise, thrill and delight, and continue our mission to demonstrate why science fiction remains the most exiting, varied and inspiring of all fiction genres. In Solaris Rising 1 and 2 we showed both the quality and variety that modern science fiction can produce. In Solaris Rising 3, we'll be taking SF into the outer reaches of the universe. Aliette de Bodard, Tony Ballantyne, Julie Czerneda, Ken Liu, Alex Dally McFarlane, Gareth L Powell, Adam Roberts, Cat Sparks, Benjanun Sriduangkaew, Ian Watson, and Sean Williams are just some of the exciting names set to appear.


REVIEW:

In a modern world where we travel seems to take a huge chunk out of our day, having a book that you can dip into with great writing, tiop notch authors alongside a good price seems like a dream come true and for me, Solaris, is a publisher who delivers on this.

Within this book, author and editor Ian Whates presents the readers with a plethora of stories that will suit all tastes and also gives reader the cracking opportunity to try authors that they may not have had the possibility to beforehand. All round a cracking offering and one that will, with the solid prose alongside pace, generates a book that was a pure joy to read. Great stuff.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

FANTASY REVIEW: The Three Powers 3: The Sword of Feimhin - Frank P Ryan


Release Date: 04/09/14
Publisher:  Jo Fletcher Books

SYNOPSIS:

The Tyrant's control of the Fail has increased so much that now he threatens Earth as well as Tir. In a violently dystopic London, where Mark and Nantosueta are searching for Padraig and the Sword of Feimhin, Penny Postlethwaite, a gifted teenager, is mapping two Londons, the tormented 'City Above' and an eerie 'City Below'. On Tir, Alan's Shee army is intent on attacking Ghork Mega, the Tyrant's capital city, but obstacles obstruct his path at every turn. And in Dromenon Kate finds herself entering the Land of the Dead in her hunt for the serpent-dragon Nidhoggr. Day by day and hour by hour, the looming threat grows.


REVIEW:

To be honest with you, I’ve not read the other books in the series and I suspect that my review may be a little unfair but for me the big had a lot of problems with it. Firstly I felt that it was more than a little slow, the pace was sadly lacking, the prose really didn’t help and whilst some of the characters were reasonable, I did end up feeling that it was a little too little too late for me as a reader.

Add to this an overly abundant cast which made it a little hard to keep track of who was who all round left me feeling that there wasn’t enough time devoted within to keep them rounded or deep within the readers mind.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

THRILLER REVIEW: Jack Reacher 19: Personal - Lee Child

Release Date: 28/08/14
Publisher:  Bantam Press

SYNOPSIS:

Jack Reacher walks alone. Once a go-to hard man in the US military police, now he's a drifter of no fixed abode. But the army tracks him down. Because someone has taken a long-range shot at the French president. Only one man could have done it. And Reacher is the one man who can find him. This new heartstopping, nailbiting book in Lee Child's number-one bestselling series takes Reacher across the Atlantic to Paris - and then to London. The stakes have never been higher - because this time, it's personal.


REVIEW:

Lee Child is a guilty pleasure of mine and with this being the 19th novel in his Jack Reacher series, you know that he has to have something special to his work to keep the readers glued for such a long time. As with the other stories, Jack is in his element as events unfurl on a world scale with him chasing a would be assassin through the streets of London as the French President appears at the G8 Summit.

All round the prose is sharp, the pace wonderfully fast and when added to a cracking overall arc, the reader is treated to not only a high octane story but one that is nigh impossible to put down. I love the way that it unfurls and the way that Lee keeps you glued throughout.

All round a cracking new instalment and one the is definitely friendly for all fans of cracking high paced stories. Magical.

CRIME THRILLER REVIEW: One Kick - Chelsea Cain

Release Date: 14/08/14
Publisher: Simon and Schuster

SYNOPSIS:

Kick Lannigan, 21, is a survivor. Abducted at age six in broad daylight, the police, the public, perhaps even her family assumed the worst had occurred. And then Kathleen Lannigan was found, alive, six years later. In the early months following her freedom, as Kick struggled with PTSD, her parents put her through a litany of therapies, but nothing helped until the detective who rescued her suggested Kick learn to fight. Before she was thirteen, Kick learned marksmanship, martial arts, boxing, archery, and knife throwing. She excelled at every one, vowing she would never be victimized again. But when two children in the Portland area go missing in the same month, Kick goes into a tailspin. Then an enigmatic man Bishop approaches her with a proposition: he is convinced Kick's experiences and expertise can be used to help rescue the abductees. Little does Kick know the case will lead directly into her terrifying past...


REVIEW:

As a fan of Chelsea’s Gretchen books I fell in love with the way that she managed to bring the gore alongside cracking story telling into a title that was nigh on impossible to put down, so when an author goes into a new series I’m always a little wary in case what made the previous titles magical is missing from the new books.

What unfurls within is a story that has not only a kickass heroine but a tale that really kicks the butt of a lot of other books out there. It’s a whole host of fun to sit back and whilst the principle player is physically tough its her emotional aspect that is heavily flawed that allows the reader to get a real handle upon her.

All round a book that I had a lot of fun sitting sown to read and one that I was more than pleased I devoted the time to.

Friday, 14 November 2014

LADY ELEANOR VIDEO GAME REVIEW: The Evil Within - Bethesda

Release Date: 14/10/14
Publisher:  Bethesda

SYNOPSIS:

Developed by Shinji Mikami – creator of the seminal Resident Evil series – and the talented team at Tango Gameworks, The Evil Within embodies the meaning of pure survival horror. Experience a disturbing reality as you try to break free from warped machinations that could only exist in the most horrifying worlds. Face twisted creatures and experience true terror, all heightened by cutting edge lighting and animation made possible by a customised version of the id Tech 5 engine.

While investigating the scene of a gruesome mass murder, Detective Sebastian Castellanos and his partners encounter a mysterious and powerful force. After seeing the slaughter of fellow officers, Sebastian is ambushed and knocked unconscious. When he awakens, he finds himself in a deranged world where hideous creatures wander among the dead. Facing unimaginable terror, and fighting for survival, Sebastian embarks on a frightening journey to unravel what's behind this evil force.

Pure survival horror returns

Shinji Mikami, the father of survival horror, is back to direct a chilling new game wrapped in haunting narrative. Tension and anxiety heighten dramatically as you explore the game's tortured world. You'll have limited resources at your disposal as you fight for your survival and experience profound fear in this perfect blend of horror and action.

Brutal traps and twisted creatures

Face unthinkable horrors and cruel traps as you struggle to survive against overwhelming odds. Turn evil against itself by using the same diabolical devices against overwhelming deadly creatures.

Unknown threats in an uncertain world

Mysterious and wicked fears loom ahead in a world that warps and twists around you. Corridors, walls, doors, and entire buildings change in real time, ensnaring players in a reality where threats can appear at any time and from any direction.

The new face of horror

Highly crafted environments, horrifying anxiety, and an intricate story weave together to create an immersive world that will bring players to the height of tension. Defeat insurmountable terror and experience the ultimate thrill by discovering The Evil Within.


REVIEW:

As a gamer for a fair number of years I’ve had fun with all sorts of platforms as well as multiple genres, yet the one thing that I remember most was my introduction to Resident Evil 2 (yep way back on the original Playstation.) I died a lot, but improved and loved jumping at each reveal with my favourite being when you see the Licker for the first time (on the Police Station ceiling.)

So, as a huge fan of the horror genre, I’ve always got my ear close to the ground to see whats not only new but what is going to give me the next big scare and hearing about The Evil Within, I thought that I’d find something special, the fact that it was done by Horror Master Shinji Mikami made it all the sweeter.

So what did I get? Well, to be blunt, a lot of game time with multiple scares, cracking dialogue and perhaps best of all multiple deaths as I fought my way through each scenario, I loved the fact that it dived into multiple horror scenario’s from the chain saw wielding butcher through to Zombies with cracking sound effects as well as visually visceral graphics that really push the console to the boundries.

All round it’s a great game and one that I’ve had a lot of fun playing, with the delicious chills that stayed with me as I climbed into bed each night. My only real gripe is that it does feel like quite a short game and that’s where the problems occurs, when you’re dealing with top notch photorealistic graphics something has to give and sadly that’s usually the game play time. Don’t get me wrong I’ve had a hell of a time with it, but when you’re spending £40 a game you want the maximum amount of time for your buck (or in my case pount.)

SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: Legion of the Damned 2: The Final Battle - William C Dietz


Release Date: 08/08/14
Publisher:  Titan

SYNOPSIS:

Far in the future, condemned criminals and the fatally ill have two choices: to die, or to join the Legion of the Damned, an elite fighting force made up of human legionnaires and cyborg soldiers. If they enlist, their bodies will be destroyed and their minds implanted in gigantic armored killing machines, programmed to fight for the Human Empire. Decades ago, the corrupt Imperial government was overthrown and the Hudathans defeated. But peace with such an aggressive alien race could not last, and war has broken out once more. The Hudathans, imprisoned on the very planet they devastated, are on the rise - and this time they have a cyborg army of their own.


REVIEW:

Having read the original story, I couldn’t wait to embark on a new adventure to see what events would unfurl in this Sci-Fi Military Space Opera and to be honest with you, I had a blast sitting back, girding my loins and preparing for action. The story was a real kickass tale with cracking dialogue and of course with the political machinations alongside high octane action.

Back this up with a principle character that I just loved to spend time around and of course emotional aspects alongside an old fashioned belief of honour and all round I was a more than happy reader. Great stuff.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

CUISINE REVIEW: Wicked Cupcakes - Luisa Zissman


Release Date: 17/07/14
Publisher:  Bantam Press

SYNOPSIS:

Luisa Zissman shot to fame when she became the runner-up in the 2013 series of the BBC's The Apprentice. A baker by trade, Luisa has been running her hugely successful St Albans cake shop, Dixie's Cupcakery, since 2011. It is her mission to show the world that you don't need a lot of time or complicated ingredients to create show-stopping cupcakes like hers. In true Luisa style, her cupcakes are bold and brassy - a treat for the eyes as well as the tastebuds. Whatever the occasion, she has a cupcake that's the perfect fit: cocktail cupcakes for a girls' night in; ooh la la cupcakes for romantic liaisons; Dixie cakes, which are perfect cakes for busy mums to cook with their kids; vintage cakes for a stylish soiree and quirky cupcakes with unusual flavours, such as the genius Love Me Hate Me Marmite and Chocolate cupcake. Packed with helpful advice on how to make and decorate your cakes, Luisa's book will put the fun and sparkle back into your kitchen!


REVIEW:

No, its not a book about how to tempt people with evil food but a book on how to create delightfully tasty treats hat not only look wonderful but taste divine.

Within this book are easy to follow recipes, that will help you boost the options available as well as giving you a whole host of recipes to create with your young bakers. (And lets face it, the best bit about that is the licking of the bowl after. Hey, there has to be some chef perks. LOL) It’s a great way to have fun in the kitchen and when you’re done you can sit back with pride and admire the work before devouring. Finally add to this tips and tricks to get that wonderful professional finish and I’m more than happy with this book.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

VIDEO GAME REVIEW: Styx Master of Shadows - Focus Home Interactive

Release Date: 07/10/14
Publisher:  Focus Home Interactive

SYNOPSIS:

Styx: Master of Shadows is an infiltration game with RPG elements taking place in a dark fantasy universe, where you sneak, steal and assassinate your way through as Styx, a Goblin two-centuries of age.

Deep inside the vertiginous and multi-layered forsaken Tower of Akenash, where Humans and Elves protect the World-Tree, source of the Amber – a powerful and magical golden sap – is hidden Styx’ chance to understand his true origin... and to make a fortune at the same time.

Prowl through the huge, miles-high Tower of Akenash, completing various missions (assassination, information recovery, etc.) and avoiding detection. Progress in the shadows, assassinate your targets in close combat, or orchestrate «accidents». RPG mechanics let you unlock new powerful skills, impressive special moves, and an optimized equipment. Amber will grant you spectacular powers such as invisibility, «amber vision», and the ability to clone yourself. Explore the levels to discover every bit of information about your past, and steal prized treasures to acquire equipment upgrades. Embrace the shadows!

Rock Paper Shotgun “Pleasantly surprised by how focused it is, by how systemic its stealth appears, and by the physical way the player moves through the world.”

Gamespot “Styx could be one of the most competent stealth games since Dishonored itself.”

KOTAKU “Styx: Master of Shadows is an upcoming stealth game that looks awesome."


REVIEW:

I’m a huge fan of the stealth game, I love hiding, sneaking out and to be honest with you being a backstabbing sneak git. (Yeah, that’s a Gobbo reference right there. LOL) Here in this title, the gamer plays the role of Styx, Master Assassin (originally seen Of Orcs and Men) on his own quest.

Whilst there’s a few Assassin games out there to choose from (obviously the Assassin’s Creed series and the more recent Shadow of Mordor) Styx offers the gamer a title where you get to play what most people would consider the villain. Its definitely a quirky title and with his smart asides Styx is character that’s a huge amount of fun to hang around plus with multiple free roaming options available it allows the gamer the chance to really do something that the designers may not have been expecting.

Now whilst I’ve had fun with this game, there are a number of points that I need to make. Firstly I don’t feel that the control system is as refined as it needs to be, it feels a little clunky and its quite easy to either over or undershoot a jump that will either lead you to a violent death at the hands of the guards or a very long drop. Its something that I found more than a little annoying and when added to a system where the character can easily be spotted when you think he’s hidden all round makes this a difficult as well as frustrating title to play at times especially when you add a combat system that see’s you dead with no real chance to beat it.

All round, it is a game that I had really high hopes for as I love the character, sadly the execution (no pun intended) feels more than a little lacking.



THRILLER REVIEW: The Corners of the Globe - Robert Goddard


Release Date: 03/07/14
Publisher:  Bantam Press

SYNOPSIS:

Spring, 1919. James 'Max' Maxted, former Great War flying ace, returns to the trail of murder and treachery he set out on in The Ways of the World. He left Paris after avenging the murder of his father, Sir Henry Maxted, convinced the only man who knows about the mysterious events leading up to Sir Henry's death is elusive German spymaster, Fritz Lemmer. To find out more, he enlists in Lemmer's network under false colours and is despatched to the Orkney Isles, where the German High Seas Fleet has been interned in Scapa Flow. His mission: to recover a document secreted aboard one of the German battleships. But the information it contains is so explosive Max is forced to break cover and embark on a desperate and dangerous race south, pursued by men happy to kill him to recover the document. The breathless chase will take Max from the far north of Scotland to London and on to Paris, where the world's governments are still bartering over the spoils in the aftermath of the Great War. The stakes could not be higher. It is life and death for all concerned.


REVIEW:

The second title that follows on from Robert’s Way of the World which not only helps expand the readers understanding of the time but gives the reader characters that they’re not only invested in but care about as they try to find their place. It’s definitely a cracking book and for me, this series so far feels like Roberts best work ever.

The research that has been conducted is clear for all to see and the fact that it doesn’t bog down the story telling is a clear sign of a talented author. Back this up with a third part to come and all round I can’t wait to get my hands on it. It’s going to be a long wait and to be honest I’ve got a Granddad who is already making demands. A book for all generations.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

DVD REVIEW: Witches of the East End - 20th Century Fox

Release Date: 27/10/14
Publisher:  20th Century Fox

SYNOPSIS:

Witches of East End stars Julia Ormond as Joanna Beauchamp, an ageless mother trying to keep a supernatural secret from her daughters, Freya (Jenna Dewan-Tatum) and Ingrid (Rachel Boston), so they can lead a normal life. But when Joanna's estranged sister (Mädchen Amick) arrives to warn her of an evil entity out to destroy them all, Joanna is forced to reveal the truth about her family's magical legacy. Co-starring Virginia Madsen, Eric Winter and Daniel DiTomasso, this powerful and enchanting drama series will cast its spell on you!

Special features:
Falling Under Their Spell
Deleted Scenes
Gag Reel
Cat Blooper


Episode List:
Pilot
Marilyn Fenwick, R.I.P.
Today I Am a Witch
Few Good Talismen, A
Electric Avenue
Potentia Noctis
Unburied
Snake Eyes
Parching Imbued, A
Falling Under Their Spell


REVIEW:

OK, I am aware of the books that this series is based on and whilst I haven’t read them, I jumped into this having seen the adverts for series two being advertised (Ed note: the TV series has been cancelled after the conclusion of the second season with multiple threads lest open.)

Whilst I wasn’t sure what to expect the first episode took me back to watching the original series of Charmed and whilst it was only the witchcraft that was the same theme throughout the two the supernatural characters in this one felt more than a little out of sink with the others sharing their screen time.

Don’t get me wrong, it was definitely something that after a few more episodes that I got into however if I’d just watched the first and left it at that I may well have thought not much to it. It does get more interesting and gripping the further into it that you get. All round something a little different and whilst it has a familiarity that supernatural fans can get into.

FANTASY SHORT STORY COMPENDIUM REVIEW: Shattered Shields - Ed. Jennifer Brozek

Release Date: 11/11/14
Publisher:  Baen Books

SYNOPSIS:

Original military themed high fantasy anthology featuring hard-hitting stories from Elizabeth Moon, Larry Correia, Sarah A. Hoyt, Glen Cook, and more.

Swords and Shields. Faith and Magic.

Grab your weapons and prepare, for the enemy is on the move.

High fantasy and mighty conflicts go hand-in-hand. In great wars, armies rise to fight evil hordes and heroes struggle to push beyond their imperfections to save the day. These stories include more than just epic landscapes and characters…they also feature epic battles.

Imagine a doctor struggling to identify the spy who has infiltrated his company’s ranks and poisoned his colleagues or a boy suspected of murder by a king yet protected by a princess as he helps her father against his own people. Imagine a butcher discovering that he’s called to lead an uprising, or a First Born knowing that she must betray her own in order to save humanity.

The possibilities are endless, but at the heart they have this in common: soldiers—ordinary and otherwise–struggling against extraordinary odds to survive the day. They must withstand dark magic, dodge enemy blades, and defy the odds to survive SHATTERED SHIELDS.


REVIEW:

Ah the pleasure of short stories to escape the modern world and fill up those awfully short breaks you get in every day life with the fun of modern travel or lunchbreak. After all lets face it, with a world as mundane as ours, how can you not want to wrench open the covers and disappear into a world of swords and sorcery, where good triumphs and the reader is left feeling sated after completing the story.

But when we’re all heavily limited with money, how do we know who to spend our money on, which new authors hit out reading demands and which established names can you count on to deliver? Well for me, that’s where short stories come in, as you get a hell of a lot in a compendium and for me, whilst I may not be as up on the names as I’d like, I get to see what sort of world they created, how they tell the story and of course what the characters are like who lead the way, backing up my shield arm as we step onto the battlefield together.

All round, this release from Baen, has given me a chance to try a few new authors from the States that whilst I knew the name, I wasn’t familiar with their writing and now have been safely added to my TBR pile. A great success all round and for me a cracking way to fill those horrible everyday soujourns without having to worry about what’s gone before when I initially put the book down. Great stuff.

Monday, 10 November 2014

DVD REVIEW: Sleepy Hollow Season One - 20th Century Fox

Release Date: 27/10/14
Publisher:  20th Century Fox

SYNOPSIS:

In this modern-day twist on Washington Irving’s classic, Ichabod Crane (Tom Mison, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen) is resurrected and pulled two and a half centuries through time to unravel a mystery that dates all the way back to the founding fathers. Revived alongside Ichabod is the infamous Headless Horseman who is on a murderous rampage in present-day Sleepy Hollow. Ichabod quickly realizes that stopping Headless is just the beginning, as the resurrected rider is but the first of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and only one of the many formidable foes that Ichabod must face to protect not only Sleepy Hollow, but the world. As Ichabod finds himself in 2013’s Sleepy Hollow, he discovers a town he no longer recognises and grapples to understand. Teaming up with Lieutenant Abbie Mills (Nicole Beharie, 42, The Good Wife, Shame), a young cop who has her own supernatural experiences, the two embark on a mission to stop the evil that has awoken along with Ichabod and that now is seeping into this once-sleepy town.


REVIEW:

Ah a title that conjures up the image of a backwater village in Westchester County, where an educated man comes face to face with superstition and whilst this series is set in the same town, the whole concept has a new twists as Icabod Crane awakens in modern times facing his old nemesis The Headless Horseman.

It’s a quirky series and for me, I love the principle actor, Tom Mison, brings this literary character not only to life but as a man out of his time with old fashioned values trying to find his way in a modern world whilst facing an ancient evil that no one believes in any more.

Its wonderfully written, with witchcraft fantastic plot lines and of course and overall arc that keeps readers watching from episode to episode as they try to fathom some of the darker mysteries to be revealed. All round a cracking series and one that I am more than happy to watch a few more times. A great idea for a Christmas present for those who like something darkly delicious over the holiday period.



FACTUAL HORROR REVIEW: First Scream to the Last - Adrian Roe

Release Date: 06/08/14
Publisher:  Lulu.com

SYNOPSIS:

First Scream to the Last offers an intriguing insight into the horror movies of the Eighties. Extremely comprehensive without being bloated, this essential companion is supported with various interviews from filmmakers and writers of the time, amongst others. An often misunderstood and under appreciated genre, the '80s was arguably its golden era. With the creation of iconic characters and visual images never seen before on film, it remains a special time for anyone involved and the avid horror enthusiast alike. From giallo to slasher, First Scream covers the highest (and not so high) moments of this genre, leaving no question unanswered. Objective, Unbiased, Independent, Informative. www.firstscreamtothelast.com


REVIEW:

As a child of the 80’s I was raised on horror films, or rather to be more particular the sub-genre entitled Video Nasties (some of which were hunted for by Greater Manchester Police) by my Dad who Mum said was “too scared to watch them on his own.”

As such these felt like bonding time between us and as I watched the zombies munch their way through a small town, or monsters butching their way through the teenage population it was something that we shared.

So as a huge fan of a lot of these films, I was always surprised that no one tackled a book on the subject, that was until now. Here in Adrians novel, is a set of not only amazing horror movie facts but also interesting information such as the budget of the film vs the gross. Full of fun and with reminders of films that I had so much pleasure watching, this title took me back to my childhood and of course in the modern age of DVD’s has given me a great playlist to pick up for the Holiday period. Add to this interviews with some of the stars as well as one with Horror Master Wes Craven, all fans of the genre will have a treat in store. A very well written book, hope to see more by this author


URBAN FANASY REVIEW: Premonitions - Jamie Schultz


Release Date: 01/07/14
Publisher:  Roc

SYNOPSIS:

TWO MILLION DOLLARS...

It's the kind of score Karyn Ames has always dreamed of—enough to set her crew up pretty well and, more important, enough to keep her safely stocked on a very rare, very expensive black market drug. Without it, Karyn hallucinates slices of the future until they totally overwhelm her, leaving her unable to distinguish the present from the mess of certainties and possibilities yet to come.

The client behind the heist is Enoch Sobell, a notorious crime lord with a reputation for being ruthless and exacting—and a purported practitioner of dark magic. Sobell is almost certainly condemned to Hell for a magically extended lifetime full of shady dealings. Once you're in business with him, there's no backing out.

Karyn and her associates are used to the supernatural and the occult, but their target is more than just the usual family heirloom or cursed necklace. It's a piece of something larger. Something sinister.

Karyn's crew and even Sobell himself are about to find out just how powerful it is... and how powerful it may yet become.


REVIEW:

I love a book that has something that is not only fun but takes a different tack to a lot of the others out there. Here within the pages, the reader gets a cracking crime title (with a feel of Ocean’s Eleven within), some wonderful prose and top notch pace all tied up in the Urban Fantasy genre.

It’s quirky, it has some cracking principle players and for me the real pay off are the villains. It’s a great counter to the heroes and really adds something novel to the title. Back this up all round with a cracking overall arc and the fact that the reader has the chance for future releases featuring this cast and all round it’s a cracking start to a new series. Magic

Sunday, 9 November 2014

SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: Psionic Earth 1: Fires of Man - Dan Levinson


Release Date: 15/06/14
Publisher:  Jolly Fish Press

SYNOPSIS:

In a world where a gifted few can manipulate reality with their minds, two great nations -- Calchis and Orion -- employ these psionic powers in a covert war for global superiority. In the heart of Calchis, a young psion named Aaron is kidnapped and forcibly conscripted into the Calchan army. To the north, in the capital, a dastardly plan is hatched to decimate Orion, to be carried out by the ruthless operative known only as "Agent". Meanwhile, across the vast desert that separates the two warring states, Orion recruit Stockton Finn finds himself thrown into a new world of incredible powers he has never dreamed of. And Orion officers Nyne Allen and Kay Barrett navigate the aftermath of their shattered love affair, oblivious to the fact that Calchis is drawing ever closer to destroying the tenuous peace between their two lands. Finally, in the arctic land of Zenith, Calchan archaeologist Faith Santia unearths a millennia-old ruin that may shed light on the history of psionic powers and a deeper mystery that could shake the foundations of all mankind.


REVIEW:

To be honest this is a book that’s taken me a little while to write the review for. Its one that sadly I put on a back burner as for me I didn’t feel that the book blurb was strong enough to move it up the TBR pile and boy that was a mistake.

What occurs within is a book that has some top notch high octane action which when blended with some cracking prose alongside pace really demonstrates that Dan knows how to craft a good book. Added to the mix solid dialogue and all round you know that it’s a book with all the right ingredients to keep readers happy.

The concept within of a psi-war in an alternate earth works very well although at the ned of the day, had I had a choice, I’d have preferred to stick with the tales principle villain as I loved the way he came across. That said, all round though its still a cracking title and one that is an opening that will have a good few readers glued. It’ll be interesting to see what occurs next.

Saturday, 8 November 2014

FANTASY REVIEW: Warhammer Fantasy: Wolf of Sigmar - CL Werner

Release Date: 30/01/14
Publisher:  Black Library

SYNOPSIS:

The Black Plague has done its work, and the ravaged Empire is ripe for the picking. As the dread armies of the skaven sweep across Sigmar's realm, each of the great cities looks to its own defence - except Middenheim. As he gathers warriors to his banner and liberates towns and villages from the verminous menace, Graf Mandred begins to embrace his destiny as the future leader of a united Empire - if he can survive the trials to come.


REVIEW:

A title that I’ve been meaning to get round to for quite some time as I’ve been enjoying the tale around the Ratkin and how they almost brought the empire down with the plague. As with Clint’s other work, he knows how to get to the meat of the matter, carefully blending high octane action with political double dealing keeping both in equal measure so that one doesn’t overpower the other.

It’s a tricky balance to maintain and when added to solid prose and a pace that really keeps you glued, all round allows the reader to have a cracking story well told. Great stuff.

Friday, 7 November 2014

CRIME SHORT STORY COMPENDIUM REVIEW: Death Sentences - Ed. Otto Penzler


Release Date: 09/10/14
Publisher:  Head of Zeus

SYNOPSIS:

'What treats you have in store!' IAN RANKIN. Sigmund Freud deals with an unwelcome visitor; Columbo confronts a murderous bookseller; a Mexican cartel kingpin with a fatal weakness for rare books; deadly secrets deep in the London Library: who knew literature could be so lethal? Here are 15 short stories to die for from the world's best crime writers. With an introduction from Ian Rankin, DEATH SENTENCES includes original, specially commissioned stories about deadly books from Jeffrey Deaver, Andrew Taylor, Laura Lippman, C.J. Box, Anne Perry, Ken Bruen, Thomas H. Cook, Micky Spillaine & Max Adam Collins, Nelson DeMille and John Connolly.


REVIEW:

As a reader who loves to spend time enjoying a good crime story it can sometimes be really frustrating when you’re trying to enjoy a tale and keep an eye on the facts as they’re laid out and you have to take a break to either get back to work or to put the title down so that you can make your stop.

Here, Otto, once again brings together a whole host of cracking tales, by top notch authors allowing readers to have something that will give them that crime hit on a break or a journey without having to take any stops. In addition to this for me, this is also a great opportunity to read authors who you may of heard of but worried about the financial outlay in order to get the maximum pleasure for your money. All round a great offering and one that really will be cracking for Crime Fans in the UK as well as becoming a top notch gift for Christmas this year.

ROMANTIC FICTION REVIEW: Hard Time - Cara McKenna

Release Date: 06/11/14
Publisher:  Piatkus

SYNOPSIS:

Annie Goodhouse doesn't need to be warned about bad boys; good sense and an abusive ex have given her plenty of reasons to play it safe. But when she steps into her new role as outreach librarian for Cousins Correctional Facility, no amount of good sense can keep her mind - or eyes - off inmate Eric Collier. Eric doesn't claim to be innocent of the crime that landed him in prison. In fact, he'd do it again if that's what it took to keep his family safe. Loyalty and force are what he knows. But meeting Annie makes him want to know more. When Eric begins courting Annie through letters, they embark on a reckless, secret romance - a forbidden fantasy that neither imagines could ever be real...until early parole for Eric changes everything, and forces them both to face a past they can't forget, and a desire they can't deny.


REVIEW:

OK, I don’t tend to spend a lot of time reading Romance novels, however when asked by a few of our readers to give this one a go, I thought that it might be a refreshing change. What occurs within is a tale that is interesting as the romance and passion burn hot within the pages and whilst it was a solid enough read, I did feel that there was one major problem with the book, that a lot of the threads within weren’t fully completed by the time the story ended.

All round if you like the romance genre this one will more than hit the spot for you. However my sojourns into this genre are going to be few and far between and personally I prefer them with a more supernatural twist.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

HISTORICAL SHORT FICTION REVIEW: A Day of Fire: A Novel of Pompei - Stephanie Dray, Ben Kane, E Knight, Sophie Perinot, Kate Quinn, Vicky Alvear Shecter

Release Date:  04/11/14
Publisher:  Knight Media

SYNOPSIS:

Pompeii was a lively resort flourishing in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius at the height of the Roman Empire. When Vesuvius erupted in an explosion of flame and ash, the entire town would be destroyed. Some of its citizens died in the chaos, some escaped the mountain's wrath . . . and these are their stories:

A boy loses his innocence in Pompeii's flourishing streets.
An heiress dreads her wedding day, not knowing it will be swallowed by fire.
An ex-legionary stakes his entire future on a gladiator bout destined never to be finished.
A crippled senator welcomes death, until a tomboy on horseback comes to his rescue.
A young mother faces an impossible choice for her unborn child as the ash falls.
A priestess and a whore seek resurrection and redemption as the town is buried.

Six authors bring to life overlapping stories of patricians and slaves, warriors and politicians, villains and heroes who cross each others' path during Pompeii's fiery end. But who will escape, and who will be buried for eternity?


REVIEW:

As a huge fan of Roman Historical fiction, I love it when I get to try new authors alongside firm favourites and for me, this title released by a cohort of talent from within the genre. Whilst I normally wouldn’t read a self pubbed title, when I see firm favourites and friends amongst the group I just have to dive in and see what is on offer, and boy, was this a title that more than took my breath away.

Firstly within this book, the reader is treated to the final days of Pompeii as that is the central theme of the title, it’s thrilling to read the diversity of people that inhabit the town and whilst you know what’s going to occur, it’s fascinating to see how the various characters deal with the disaster. It has great prose, the editing works wonderfully well and when added of course to solid dialogue and believability, you really have to pick this book up. Absolutely cracking.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

VIDEO GAME NEWS: Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham New Trailer - Warner Brothers Interactive

Hail Mighty Readers and Followers of the Calloused Thumbs, 
Today, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment has sent us the latest trailer for LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham – featuring Comic Officionado Kevin Smith and also the talented Green Arrow, Stephen Amell. 

It's definitely looking pretty sweet and with the cracking Lego Humour coming through we can't wait to embark on the adventures with the full DC crew.  Also our friends at WBI have asked us to remind you about the season pass for the title.



The Season Pass includes:

● The Dark Knight Pack (available 14/11/14)
Experience the heart-pounding chase scene from the iconic film complete with cool vehicles and explosive action. Play as the legendary Dark Knight and Commissioner Gordon, as well as the Joker and his goons as they chase down Harvey Dent’s police escort. Bane and Catwoman from the third film are also playable.

● Man of Steel Pack (available 14/11/14)
Help Jor-El, his wife Lara and their robot Kelex send the infant Superman “Kal-el” into space towards the safety of Earth as Krypton falls into chaos. Find a way inside Jor-El’s home, fight General Zod’s invading forces and battle against Zod himself to save Superman.

● Batman 75th Pack (available 14/11/14)
Play as Joker and Harley, setting up a variety of celebration set pieces. Be the Batman and play as some of the most iconic faces of Batman through the years, including his first appearance in Detective Comics #27.

● Access to Future DLC Content
Gain access to three additional game packs, featuring new playable characters, vehicles and levels. Details about the additional content will be revealed at a later date.

Download images for The Dark Knight, Man of Steel, and Batman 75th packs at the following link: games.premiercomms.com/release.asp?i=1834

In LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham, the Caped Crusader joins forces with the super heroes of the DC Comics universe and blasts off to outer space to stop the evil Brainiac from destroying Earth. Using the power of the Lantern Rings, Brainiac shrinks worlds to add to his twisted collection of miniature cities from across the universe. Now the greatest super heroes and the most cunning villains must unite and journey to different Lantern Worlds to collect the Lantern Rings and stop Brainiac before it’s too late.

LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham, the ultimate super hero game for the entire family launches on 14th November 2014 on Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, PS Vita, Wii U, 3DS and PC.


VIDEO GAME NEWS: The Evil Within - Bethesda

Hail Mighty Readers and Followers of the Calloused Thumbs,
Our friends at Bethesda have brought some interesting information to our attention with yesterdays release of "The Evil Within."  Here's what they had to say:

"Research by One Poll reveals that fear of the undead is on the rise in the UK.  The poll, conducted in partnership with The Evil Within’s publisher, Bethesda Softworks, showed that 27% of the population admitted that they have considered what they would do if there was a zombie attack.  Some have even taken it a step further with more than 11% formulating an actual survival plan.

Matthew Hall-Turner, 29, from Cheshire said: “I’ve thought long and hard about what I’d do in light of a zombie attack, I think my best bet would be pretending to be one of them, walking really slowly, then escaping when the opportunity arises.”

The research polled 2000 UK adults and looked at British attitudes towards fear and evil.  It's not just a zombie attack that's leaving Brits quaking in their boots. According to this research, 31% of the population believe in ghosts, 22% in aliens, and an astonishing 4% in fairies. A surprising 46% of people surveyed confessed to feeling scared on a daily basis with more than 36% of those declaring that they enjoy being scared, and therefore turn to movies and video games such as The Evil Within to entertain themselves."



In addtion to this, we wanted to reveal that Lady Eleanor has her own plans for the Zombie Apocalypse.   


We hope you're looking forward to getting as scared as us with the title,

 
Gareth and Lady Eleanor

Sunday, 12 October 2014

URBAN FANTASY CRIME REVIEW: Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streets - Ed. David Thomas Moore

Release Date: 09/10/14
Publisher:  Abaddon

SYNOPSIS:

The world's most famous detective, as you've never seen him before! A dozen established and up-and-coming authors invite you to view Doyle's greatest creation through a decidedly cracked lens. Read about Holmes and Watson through time and space, as they tackle a witch-trial in seventeenth century Scotland, bandy words with Andy Warhol in 1970s New York, travel the Wild Frontier in the Old West, solve future crimes in a world of robots and even cross paths with a young Elvis Presley...Set to include stories by Kasey Lansdale, Guy Adams, Jamie Wyman, J E Cohen, Gini Koch, Glen Mehn, Kelly Hale, Kaaron Warren, Emma Newman and more.


REVIEW:

Ah a wonderful set of short stories based around Holmes and Watson in a multitude of worlds and identities. Its well written, there’s a whole host of cracking tales and when added to the fact that you can dive in for short journey’s or a lunchbreak.

For me, I loved the sheer variety of the tales within, I enjoyed the prose, the dialogue alongside the pace which when added to cracking editing alongside the pleasure of being able to try authors that I hadn’t read before all round gave me a great experience. A pure joy.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

CRIME THRILLER REVIEW: You - Caroline Kepnes

Release Date: 09/10/14
Publisher:  Simon and Schuster

SYNOPSIS:

Love hurts...

When aspiring writer Guinevere Beck strides into the East Village bookstore where Joe works, he’s instantly smitten. Beck is everything Joe has ever wanted: She’s gorgeous, tough, razor-smart, and as sexy as his wildest dreams.

Beck doesn’t know it yet, but she’s perfect for him, and soon she can’t resist her feelings for a guy who seems custom made for her. But there’s more to Joe than Beck realizes, and much more to Beck than her oh-so-perfect façade. Their mutual obsession quickly spirals into a whirlwind of deadly consequences . . .

A chilling account of unrelenting passion, Caroline Kepnes’s You is a perversely romantic thriller that’s more dangerously clever than any you’ve read before.


REVIEW:

Books can take a reader to a number of different places, you can end up in the past, spend time in the future and of course you can spend time in the present with the voyeuristic attitude of getting to see get to see the people behind the curtains. Here within this book by Caroline is an uncomfortable story where we get to meet Joe, an altogether average man, apart from the fact that he’s a stalker. He’s easy to like and to be honest at times you can end up wondering how this happened. It makes you question previous held connotations as well as leaving you wondering how many people you know could also be stalkers.

Its definitely quirky, it has a solid storyline behind it and whilst I spent quite a bit of time within the pages, there were parts that I wanted to speed read as I didn’t like a number of the supporting characters. All round, whilst it has a fair few flaws, its definitely a title that will make you think and that in itself is an experience and a half for the reader.

Friday, 10 October 2014

SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: A Vision of Fire - Gillian Anderson and Jeff Rovin

Release Date: 09/10/14
Publisher:  Simon and Schuster

SYNOPSIS:

The first in a series, A Vision of Fire is the thrilling science fiction debut of actress Gillian Anderson, best known for her role as Scully on The X-Files with David Duchovny and for The Fall. Renowned child psychologist Caitlin O'Hara is a single mum trying to juggle her job, her son, and a lacklustre love life. Her world is suddenly upturned when Maanik, the daughter of India's ambassador to the United Nations, starts having violent visions. Maanik's parents are sure that her fits have something to do with the recent assassination attempt on her father - a shooting that has escalated nuclear tensions between India and Pakistan to dangerous levels - but when children start having similar outbursts around the world, Caitlin begins to think that there's a stranger force at work. With Asia on the cusp of nuclear war, Caitlin must race across the globe and uncover the supernatural links between these seemingly unrelated cases in order to save her patient - and perhaps the world.


REVIEW:

Ok a different type of book and one that really relies on the authors name to help sell it. Don’t get me wrong, I liked the idea’s within, I loved the principle character however for me the execution wasn’t as good as it could have been with it feeling fairly flat and to the point rather than with any real embellishment, almost as if it had started out as a screen script rather than a story.

Whilst the prose is OK and the pace acceptable, the key thing with this book it the characters, they breathe, they feel alive to the reader and when you add emotional contexts alongside personal struggles the reader is given a great experience for it. All round an OK book but not a title that demands to be read and one I suspect will sell more for the curiosity of Gillian Anderson rather than the talent within.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

VIDEO GAME REVIEW: Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor - Warner Brothers Interactive

Release Date: 03/10/14
Publisher:  Warner Brothers Interactive

SYNOPSIS:

In Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor, gamers take on the role of Talion, a valiant ranger whose family is slain in front of him the night Sauron and his army return to Mordor, moments before his own life is taken. Resurrected by a Spirit of vengeance and empowered with Wraith abilities, Talion ventures into Mordor and vows to destroy those who have wronged him. Through the course of his personal vendetta, Talion uncovers the truth of the Spirit that compels him, learns the origins of the Rings of Power, and ultimately confronts his true nemesis.

Every enemy that players face is a unique individual, differentiated by their personality, strengths, and weaknesses. Through the Nemesis System, enemy relationships and characteristics are shaped by player actions and decisions to create personal archenemies that remember and adapt to the player and are distinct to every gameplay session. Gamers are able to craft their own battles, enemies, and rewards within the dynamic world, which remembers and adapts to their choices, delivering a unique experience to every player.


REVIEW:

OK, I’ve a person who over the last few years has spent days in the Lord of the Rings world. Whether I’ve been trekking along with Bilbo, riding beside Aragorn or even pootling round the Lego recreation world, I’ve definitely served my time with the relative armies.

Now hear for the first time, the reader gets to explore Middle Earth with a totally new tale, one that takes the side of Gondorian Ranger Talian who is stuck between life and death after being struck down by Sauron’s Necormancer.

It’s definitely a dark tale and one that delves into the rich history in such a way that the gamer is in for a real treat. It’s hard hitting, has some great twists but the real kicker is in the Nemesis system where any Orc that you’ve previous met will remember your encounters complete with scars, burns etc.

Add to this, a whole host of assassin like skills and all round it’s a title that will give the gamer hours of pleasure. However, whilst my review is positive, I do feel that I have to say a few things to other gamers out there. Don’t expect to be able to wade in sword blade swinging, and take out swathes of Orcs. It won’t work and to be blunt, you’ll see why you’re called Gravewalker time and again. You will die, you will be massacred and overall you won’t get very far before getting very annoyed with it. So how do you cope?

Quite simply you utilise your sneak skills, you learn to carefully map out your area, to sneak around and plan your attack’s and perhaps most of all you utilise your wraith abilities. Its definitely a game that you’ll have to spend time getting to know, it’s a title that you’ll have hours of careful manoeuvring and overall it’s a title that will give you a lot of frustrating situations but the payoff when you do manage to negotiate and take out your targets will be a huge rewarding feeling. Great stuff.

URBAN FANTASY SHORT STORY COMPENDIUM: Otherworld Nights - Kelley Armstrong

Release Date: 07/10/14
Publisher:  Orbit

SYNOPSIS:

Sunday Times bestselling author Kelley Armstrong captivated readers with her Women of the Otherworld series of supernatural thrillers. In this new anthology, favourite characters return in stories of drama, danger and desire. Legendary werewolf partners Elena and Clay stalk the pages of this book, along with vampires, witches, half-demons and sorcerers. Filled with fan favourites and rarities, Otherworld Nights concludes with a brand-new novella, 'Vanishing Act'. This thrilling longer story is set after series finale 13, and features much-loved characters Savannah and Adam as they begin a new life - and a mysterious new case - together.


REVIEW:

I’ve been a huge fan of Kelley’s for quite a number of years and whilst she’s always made it to the top of my TBR pile when a new title landed she has written some short stories that I haven’t had the pleasure to read as either I wasn’t aware of it being released or it was in a foreign release that I’ve not been able to get hold of.

So as a reader I’m always happy when an author releases a compendium of the short stories that they’ve written as it means you don’t have to worry about either tracking down way overpriced limited edition multi-author releases or that you’ve spent a lot of money for just the one story.

Here Orbit have compiled a number of her short stories in the first volume and whilst there has been a short tale compendium before, this one is part of a trilogy (if memory serves correctly) that will bring them altogether in a must own series. All round it’s a great book to dip into for journeys or lunch breaks and coming from Kelley (and focussing on her Otherworld tales) will give the reader the chance to spend more time with some of their favourite characters. Great stuff.