Tuesday, 28 July 2015

VIDEO GAME REVIEW: Batman: Arkham Knight - Warner Brothers Interactive

Release Date: 23/07/15
Publisher:  Rock Steady Games

SYNOPSIS:

Batman: Arkham Knight brings the award-winning Arkham trilogy from Rocksteady Studios to its epic conclusion.

Developed exclusively for next-gen platforms, Batman: Arkham Knight introduces Rocksteady's uniquely designed version of the Batmobile. The highly anticipated addition of this legendary vehicle, combined with the acclaimed gameplay of the Arkham series, offers gamers the ultimate and complete Batman experience as they tear through the streets and soar across the skyline of the entirety of Gotham City.


Be the Batman
Live the complete Batman experience as the Dark Knight enters the concluding chapter of Rocksteady's Arkham trilogy.

Players will become the world's greatest detective like never before with the introduction of the Batmobile and enhancements to signature features such as FreeFlow Combat, stealth, forensics, and navigation.

In this explosive finale, Batman faces the ultimate threat against the city that he is sworn to protect, as Scarecrow returns to unite the super criminals of Gotham and destroy the Batman forever.


Introducing the Batmobile
The Batmobile is brought to life with a completely new and original design featuring a distinct visual appearance and a full range of on-board high-tech gadgetry. Designed to be fully drivable throughout the game world and capable of transformation from high-speed pursuit mode to military-grade battle mode, this legendary vehicle sits at the heart of the game's design and allows players to tear through the streets at incredible speeds in pursuit of Gotham City's most dangerous villains. This iconic vehicle also augments Batman's abilities in every respect, from navigation and forensics to combat and puzzle-solving, creating a genuine and seamless sense of the union of man and machine.

The epic conclusion to the trilogy
Batman: Arkham Knight brings all-out war to Gotham City. The hit-and-run skirmishes of Batman: Arkham Asylum, which escalated into the devastating conspiracy against the inmates in Batman: Arkham City, culminates in the ultimate showdown for the future of Gotham.

At the mercy of Scarecrow, the fate of the city hangs in the balance as he is joined by the Arkham Knight, a completely new and original character in the Batman universe, as well as a huge roster of other infamous villains including Harley Quinn, The Penguin, Two-Face, and the Riddler.


Explore the entirety of Gotham City
For the first time, players have the opportunity to explore all of Gotham City in a completely open and free-roaming game world. More than five times the size of Batman: Arkham City, Gotham City has been brought to life with the same level of intimate, hand-crafted attention to detail for which the Arkham games are known.


Most Wanted side missions
Players can fully immerse themselves in the chaos that is erupting in the streets of Gotham. Encounters with high-profile criminal masterminds are guaranteed, while also offering gamers the opportunity to focus on and take down individual villains or pursue the core narrative path.


New combat and gadget features
Gamers have at their disposal more combat moves and high-tech gadgetry than ever before. The new 'gadgets while gliding' ability allows Batman to deploy gadgets such as batarangs, the grapnel gun, or the line launcher mid-glide, while Batman's utility belt is once again upgraded to include all-new gadgets that expand his range of forensic investigation, stealth incursion, and combat skills.


REVIEW:

OK, this review has taken me a while to get done. Not because I wanted to complete the game before doing so (although I have done) but mainly because, with it being the third and final outing (at the moment for Rock Steady games) felt that it was missing something that the other two titles had.

Don’t get me wrong, the game had great graphics, cracking combat sequences and you also got to use the batmobile (for the first time) but it seemed to lack something which for me translated as top notch storyline, relying more on repetitive combat alongside ruining the whole batmobile with overuse.

All round, whilst it was a solid game to play, I would have preferred is if the Arkham Knight had been more of a side line with our favourite bat villain taking centre stage again (although he couldn’t have previously died in the last title) all round really didn’t give me the goose-bumps and farewell I’d expected in a trilogy. It was more of a damp ending rather than a huge bang and all round sadly left me disappointed .

Friday, 24 July 2015

DIGITAL RELEASE NEWS: Smosh: The Movie Available Digital Release

Hail Mighty Readers and Followers of the Calloused Thumbs,
Our online friends have asked us to let you know about the Smosh movie (out of Digital DVD yesterday), which brings the online You Tube duo to the masses in this Alex Winters (Yes he of Bill and Ted fame) to the big screen (or rather bigger than the PC monitor. LOL)

Here's the trailer:


Hopefully you'll enjoy,



Gareth and Lady Eleanor

Thursday, 16 July 2015

SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: Armada - Ernest Cline

Release Date: 16/07/15
Publisher:  Century

SYNOPSIS:

This is the new novel from the bestselling author of ready player one. It's just another day of high school for Zack Lightman. He's day dreaming through another boring math class, with just one more month to go until graduation and freedom-if he can make it that long without getting suspended again. Then he glances out his classroom window and spots the flying saucer. At first, Zack thinks he's going crazy. A minute later, he's sure of it. Because the UFO he's staring at is straight out of the video game he plays every night, a hugely popular online flight simulator called Armada-in which gamers just happen to be protecting the earth from alien invaders. But what Zack's seeing is all too real. And his skills-as well as those of millions of gamers across the world-are going to be needed to save the earth from what's about to befall it. Yet even as he and his new comrades scramble to prepare for the alien onslaught, Zack can't help thinking of all the science-fiction books, TV shows, and movies he grew up reading and watching, and wonder: Doesn't something about this scenario seem a little too...familiar? Armada is at once a rollicking, surprising thriller, a classic coming of age adventure, and an alien-invasion tale like nothing you've ever read before-one whose every page is infused with author Ernest Cline's trademark pop-culture savvy.


REVIEW:

Ah having loved Ernest’s original release, I really couldn’t wait to see what he’d return to the fold with and as with the original you can tell his passion of video games is not only heavily influential within but also brings a nostalgic look to the reader alongside using tropes from throughout the genre that really helps build a history for the world.

Its definitely quirky, has a ton of geek jokes within (including many film references) as well as presenting a principle character that you just really can’t let go of let alone want to spend time away from (so much so that you’ll find putting the title down nigh impossible.) All round a cracking title and for me, a definite Sci-Fi favourite of the year alongside being one that will make many a summer reading list. Cracking.


Wednesday, 15 July 2015

SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: Roboteer - Alex Lamb

Release Date: 16/07/15
Publisher:  Gollancz

SYNOPSIS:

The starship Ariel is on a mission of the utmost secrecy, upon which the fate of thousands of lives depend. Though the ship is a mile long, its six crew are crammed into a space barely large enough for them to stand. Five are officers, geniuses in their field. The other is Will Kuno-Monet, the man responsible for single-handedly running a ship comprised of the most dangerous and delicate technology that mankind has ever devised. He is the Roboteer. Roboteer is a hard-SF novel set in a future in which the colonization of the stars has turned out to be anything but easy, and civilization on Earth has collapsed under the pressure of relentless mutual terrorism. Small human settlements cling to barely habitable planets. Without support from a home-world they have had to develop ways of life heavily dependent on robotics and genetic engineering. Then out of the ruins of Earth's once great empire, a new force arises - a world-spanning religion bent on the conversion of all mankind to its creed. It sends fleets of starships to reclaim the colonies. But the colonies don't want to be reclaimed. Mankind's first interstellar war begins. It is dirty, dangerous and hideously costly. Will is a man bred to interface with the robots that his home-world Galatea desperately needs to survive. He finds himself sent behind enemy lines to discover the secret of their newest weapon. What he discovers will transform their understanding of both science and civilization forever...but at a cost.


REVIEW:

I’m a reader who loves to spend time in far flung future and every chance I get, I can be found travelling the various galaxies alongside intrepid heroes whatever their origins (terrestrial or extra-terrestrial.) What Alex does well in this title is bring his leading protagonist to the reader. He’s a person who stands out and whilst perhaps not the best example of humanity has foibles that allow ourselves to connect so well. Back this up with cracking storytelling, top notch prose and a good helping cracking universe building all round gives the reader a book that is fun to spend time between the sheets with.


Friday, 10 July 2015

SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: The Empresss Game - Rhonda Mason

Release Date: 10/07/15
Publisher:  Titan

SYNOPSIS:

The Empress Game, the tournament that decides who fills the final seat on the intergalactic Sakien Empire's supreme ruling body, has been called. The seat isn't won by votes or marriage. It's won in a tournament of ritualized combat. Kayla Reunimon, a supreme fighter, is called to battle it out in the arena.


REVIEW:

This first novel in what looks to be an epic series really takes the reader on a rollercoaster of a ride as an exiled Princess with psy abilities seeks to hide her identity whilst trying to keep her brother and herself alive in an epic game of life, death and double dealing in a universe of complexity and manipulation.

It’s a well written novel and whilst the plot at times feels like the author is trying to cram a bit too much into the one title, it’s a starter that will keep you demanding more as each page is turned. Add to this a principle character that will strike a great many chords with the reader at how she deals with the hand life’s dealt her and all round it’s a book that made me pay attention. I look forward to future outings.



Thursday, 9 July 2015

VIDEO GAME NEWS: Lego Dinemsions Announces The Doctors Arrival - Warner Brothers Interactive


Hail Mighty Readers and Followers of the Calloused Thumbs,
Our Lego buddies (as well as our Warner Associates) have let us know about the latest addition to the Lego Dimensions Universe with this cracking new trailer featuring "The Doctor."

Here's what they have to say about it:
"Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment revealed today at San Diego Comic-Con details about Doctor Who™ in LEGO® Dimensions™, the upcoming entertainment experience that allows players to expand their imaginations beyond traditional gaming to merge physical LEGO brick building with interactive console gameplay. Peter Capaldi, who plays the 12th Doctor, Jenna Coleman, who plays Clara Oswald, and Michelle Gomez, who plays Missy, will voice their respective characters from the long running British science fiction television series in LEGO Dimensions.

In a new trailer giving the first look at the Doctor Who gameplay, worlds collide in ways only possible in LEGO Dimensions, such as the TARDIS popping up in Gotham City and Hill Valley, the Doctor battling alongside Homer Simpson in Aperture Science, riding a haunted mine car with Scooby and Shaggy, or fighting alongside Kai and Cragger in a Ninjago battle arena.

Doctor Who, which has never before been in a LEGO videogame, will be playable in the LEGO Dimensions Starter Pack with a complete Doctor Who level where the game’s heroes continue their quest while encountering Daleks, Cybermen and other adversaries from the Whoniverse.



Fans who want more Doctor Who in LEGO Dimensions will be able to purchase the Doctor Who Level Pack which includes an additional mission-based Doctor Who level, along with a LEGO minifigure of the 12th Doctor and LEGO models of the TARDIS and K-9, all playable in the game. When the 12th Doctor is defeated in the level, he returns as the 1st Doctor and then regenerates back up to the 12th Doctor again. The interior of the TARDIS will reflect the corresponding Doctor the player embodies or can be manually selected. There’s even a jukebox inside where players can choose among different versions of the Doctor Who theme music. The TARDIS and K-9 models can each be physically built and then rebuilt twice to do entirely different things in the digital game for massive variety.

There will also be a Doctor Who Fun Pack, which includes a playable Cyberman minifigure and Dalek model which can be physically built and then rebuilt twice for a total of three different objects.

Launching 29th September 2015, LEGO Dimensions will be available for Xbox One, the all-in one games and entertainment system from Microsoft and the Xbox 360 games and entertainment system from Microsoft, PlayStation®4 and PlayStation®3 computer entertainment systems and the Wii U™ system from Nintendo."

Our only disappointment so far is that we haven't been offered a Jelly Baby!

We'll see you in the Lego Dimensions Universe,



Gareth and Lady Eleanor

BOOK NEWS: Orbit Online Writing Workshop for Fantasy with Karen Miller - Orbit

Hail Mighty Readers,
Our friends at Orbit have got a great announcement for writers out there, here they are to tell you more:
"The international science fiction and fantasy publisher Orbit Books will be launching an online fantasy writing workshop this summer, hosted on OrbitBooks.net. It will be led by Karen Miller - a million-copy bestselling author who rose to fame with her debut The Innocent Mage, and whose most recent release is the critically acclaimed epic fantasy The Falcon Throne.

The free week-long event, which starts on 27th July 2015, will invite aspiring authors to take part in a communal online “write-along” challenge, during which they will each be encouraged to pen their own sample of a new fantasy novel. They will also be invited to submit this sample into a competition at the end of the week.

Miller will be kicking off the writing workshop by setting a writing challenge for aspiring fantasy authors on 27th July, and will be providing advice and words of encouragement throughout the week. She will also taking part in a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” session, during which time participants will be able to put their own questions on writing to her.

Miller said: “One of the hardest things about starting a writing career is the feeling that you're alone, that nobody understands what you're going through, and that it's really hard to figure out how to do it right! That's why I'm so excited to share a little of what I've learned since I wrote my first fantasy novel. It's been a wild ride, these past few years, and if a new writer can be helped by something I've said, it will make all the hard work worthwhile.”

Any aspiring authors interested in taking part should follow @OrbitBooks on Twitter for details and updates."

We hope you'll join us in joining in,



Gareth and Lady Eleanor

Monday, 6 July 2015

VIDEO GAME REVIEW: Lego Jurassic World - Warner Brothers Interactive

Release Date:  12/06/15
Publisher:  Warner Brothers Interactive

SYNOPSIS:

LEGO Jurassic World: Following the epic storylines of Jurassic Park, The Lost World: Jurassic Park and Jurassic Park III, as well as the highly anticipated Jurassic World, LEGO Jurassic World is the first videogame where players will be able to relive and experience all four Jurassic films.


REVIEW:

OK, with lego you tend to either be a huge fan or someone who hates it and whilst I’m the former, I have to say that I do expect a lot from each of the outings to make it not only fun but also something that entertains me as an adult.

This time we embark into the world of the Jurassic films and to be honest I’ve had a hell of a good time. There’s something extremely rewarding about smashing lego bricks with either a car or with a dinosaur. Yep, you read that right, smashing the hell out of stuff with Dino charges or stomps. It’s a great lot of fun and when you throw Lego humour into the mix all round generates something that will entertain for quite some time. All round a wonderful piece of fun that has a lot going for it and a lot of replay value as you return to freeplay levels to get the maximum points and of course picking up all the bonus’ that you couldn’t without some additional characters. Great fun.



Friday, 3 July 2015

FANTASY REVIEW: The Hollow Gods 2: The Hunter's Kind - Rebecca Levene

Release Date: 02/07/15
Publisher:  Hodder

SYNOPSIS:

Krish once believed himself but a humble goatherd, but now knows he's the son of the king of Ashanesland - and the moon god reborn, as foretold. Now, with his allies Dae Hyo and the mage Olufemi by his side, Krish has begun to sieze control of Ashanesland... and receive the worship he is due.

But Kirsh has many enemies, including Sang Ki, the bastard lord, who has discovered the key to Krish's overthow in the distant Moon Forest. There lives a girl named Cwen, a disciple of the god known only as the Hunter. And she has made it her life's mission to seek out Krish and destroy him.

If Krish has any hope of defeating his enemies, he must travel to the forbidden Mirror Town and unlock the secrets of its powerful magic. And the price of his victory may be much greater than the consequences of his defeat.


REVIEW:

OK, this is the second book in the series and whilst I haven’t read the first (a problem I will correct soon) I thoroughly enjoyed the book. I loved the way that the author brought the principle characters across, wove a rich tapestry of a world and then populated it with cultures that made this book pretty unique in its own right.

Told from multiple points of view the tale generates such complexity within that you can’t help but take notes to make sure that you don’t miss anything. Back this all up with solid prose, good dialogue and of course an overall arc that just keeps giving to the reader and you know that it’s a series that really does beg to be read by a great many. Absolutely cracking.



Thursday, 2 July 2015

FANTASY REVIEW: Cursed Kingdoms 3: The Blood Curse - Emily Gee

Release Date: 02/07/15
Publisher:  Solaris

SYNOPSIS:

Those who drink the water shall thirst for blood. They shall be as wild beasts. A blood curse is ravaging the Seven Kingdoms. Fugitive Osgaardan prince, Harkeld, is the one person who can destroy it. Guarded by Sentinel mages, pursued by Fithian assassins, he begins the final-and most dangerous-stage of his quest: entering the cursed kingdom of Sault, where drinking even one drop of water means madness and death. But the mages aren't the only travellers heading east. Princess Brigitta, abducted by Fithian assassins, is also bound for Sault-unless she can escape. And in close pursuit is her loyal armsman, Karel. Young orphan, Jaume, is also headed for Sault-where he will be forced to make decisions that will change the fate of the Seven Kingdoms forever.


REVIEW:

A return to a fantasy world that is not only imaginative but one that grows with each outing. Its definitely a world that readers want to not only get lost in but enjoy spending time within as its full of vivid colours, a kickass over arc and one that’s also backed with a writing style that for me is identifiable as characters fight foes without alongside within as emotions war with duties.

The book is full realised and when the reader adds cracking prose alongside dialogue that really helps the characters become fully realised within the mind all round generates a book that has such a strong cast both major and minor. All round a magical read and one that whilst authors hate to hear, was one I just devoured as I couldn’t allow it to rest. I can’t wait for a whole series reread.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

FANTASY REVIEW: Darkhaven - A F E Smith

Release Date: 02/07/15
Publisher:  Solaris

SYNOPSIS:

Ayla Nightshade never wanted to rule Darkhaven. But her half-brother Myrren - true heir to the throne - hasn't inherited their family gift, forcing her to take his place.

When this gift leads to Ayla being accused of killing her father, Myrren is the only one to believe her innocent. Does something more sinister than the power to shapeshift lie at the heart of the Nightshade family line?

Now on the run, Ayla must fight to clear her name if she is ever to wear the crown she never wanted and be allowed to return to the home she has always loved.


REVIEW:

A novel that introduces readers to not only a world of wonder but full of dark intrigue, murder and mystery as events unfurl that throws a city out of balance. Its definitely a book that thoroughly captivated me which when added to solid prose alongside an arc that has a lot of room to grow for future outings, all round gives the reader a thoroughly enjoyable read.

All round whilst this is my first read of Smith’s writing I really can’t wait to embark on other outings as it’s not only friendly but a style that is so engaging you’ll eagerly await the next time that you pick it up for your next read. Cracking.



Guest Blog: World Building - A F E Smith

Worldbuilding and plot are like the chicken and egg of fantasy: people often want to know which came first. Do authors create a fascinating new world and then figure out a plot to fit inside it? Or do they come up with a plot first and then build a world around it?

For me, at least, the answer is something in between. When I wrote Darkhaven, it started with an initial idea that was really just a vivid scene – the scene that’s still the opening of the book. So there was a vague suggestion of plot, a little bit of setting, but not much of either. After that, I probably came up with the basic elements of the main plot, which in turn suggested a certain kind of setting – and then that setting, in turn, suggested further refinements and additions to the plot. So the worldbuilding and the plot evolved together, each influencing the direction of the other.


Consider the city of Arkannen, which is where the events of Darkhaven take place. I started out with Darkhaven itself, the tower at the heart of the city, because that’s where my character Ayla is fleeing from at the beginning of the book. I knew she was trying to evade the law, and I didn’t want to make it too easy for her. In a modern city her obstacles would be video surveillance, cell phone tracking, use of credit cards; in an industrial revolution era city, where it would be far easier to go undetected, the solution was to make Arkannen very structured. So it has seven ‘rings’ or concentric walled circles, each with a single gate. Each of the city’s rings also has its own purpose and character, allowing me to present Ayla with various different environments to navigate. And in turn, this highly structured setting suggested new plot points, particularly when it came to the final act of the book.

The same was true when it came to the kind of time period in which to set the book. I didn’t want to give it a medieval setting, but I still wanted to have swords and horses alongside the steam trams and factories. So industrial revolution was perfect for me, because it’s always a time in history when new and old coexist. And once I’d made that decision, when I was seeking an unusual weapon to give my female mercenary an advantage over her competitors, the obvious choice was a pistol: a new technology to set against the old ‘technology’ of bladed weapons. In turn, that opened up a whole new strand of the plot, because – not to get all spoilery about it – it turns out that pistols have very specific effects in my world that other weapons don’t. In fact, those effects will play a significant role in Darkhaven’s sequel. So once again, a general bit of worldbuilding led to a new plot point, which fed back into the worldbuilding again.

I don’t know about other authors, but for me, I think it’s pretty much inevitable that worldbuilding and plot should be intertwined like this. In fact, perhaps it’s a mistake to think of them as being separate entities at all. Like the chicken and the egg, neither could exist without the other. Something similar is true of plot and character – it’s impossible to develop the characters of a novel and develop its plot independently of each other, because the plot has to be consistent with how the people in it would behave. After all, you can’t have a plot that exists without characters. And you can’t have a plot that exists without worldbuilding, either. Things happen to people, in places.

One of my favourite parts of writing is how exciting it can be when a previously underdeveloped aspect of the world or strand of the plot comes to life and brings something I hadn’t thought of to the story, or turns out to be connected to another strand I thought was unrelated. I imagine it would be possible to design a fully complete world and populate it with fully developed characters, then set them in motion; the plot would follow from the characteristics of the people and their setting, as inevitable as the laws of physics. Or you could come up with a detailed and clever plot, then build the people and their world around it, retrofitting their characteristics to suit the requirements of the story. But neither of those approaches would hold any surprises for the author. Letting the story and the world grow together, and develop organically, is much more fun – and, in the end, probably more satisfying for the reader too.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

URBAN FANTASY CRIME REVIEW: The Devil's Detective - Simon Kurt Unsworth

Release Date: 12/03/15
Publisher:  Del Rey

SYNOPSIS:

Welcome to hell...

.... where skinless demons patrol the lakes and the waves of Limbo wash against the outer walls, while the souls of the Damned float on their surface, waiting to be collected.

When an unidentified, brutalised body is discovered, the case is assigned to Thomas Fool, one of Hell's detectives, known as 'Information Men’. But how do you investigate a murder where death is commonplace and everyone is guilty of something?

A stunningly original blend of crime, horror and suspense, The Devil’s Detective is a bold new thriller that will shock and amaze.


REVIEW:

A different type of detective story for a different type of setting and one that is not only complex but full of imaginative twists, chock a block with deceptions and backed all up with a principle character who goes from a man who doesn’t care to one who really wants to solve this mystery as it could be his ticket to redemption.

It’s definitely a novel type of book and definitely one that will more than have you glued as each clue is unveiled with aplomb alongside a principle character whose detective work has reasonable deductions, solid leads and of course by the titles end a story that will not only have entertained but given you something that goes to show that multi genre mixing can work extremely well.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: Her Majesty's Psychic Service 1: The Hanged Man - P N Elrod

Release Date: 19/05/15
Publisher:  Tor/Forge

SYNOPSIS:

On a freezing Christmas Eve in 1879, a forensic psychic reader is summoned from her Baker Street lodgings to the scene of a questionable death. Alexandrina Victoria Pendlebury (named after her godmother, the current Queen of England) is adamant that the death in question is a magically compromised murder and not a suicide, as the police had assumed, after the shocking revelation contained by the body in question, Alex must put her personal loss aside to uncover the deeper issues at stake, before more bodies turn up.

Turning to some choice allies--the handsome, prescient Lieutenant Brooks, the brilliant, enigmatic Lord Desmond, and her rapscallion cousin James--Alex will have to marshal all of her magical and mental acumen to save Queen and Country from a shadowy threat. Our singular heroine is caught up in this rousing gaslamp adventure of cloaked assassins, meddlesome family, and dark magic.


REVIEW:

A new Urban Fantasy series from an established author and one that really hits the spot as it grabs you from the opening pages presenting a Steampunk version of Sherlock Holmes that works delightfully well. The prose is pretty solid, the dialogue a real treat and when added to a whole host of characters that readers will want to spend time around all round generates something that was a pure joy to read.

Back this up with an arc that has a whole heap of twists and turns alongside an author that thoroughly knows how to throw not only a few spanners in the works but does so in such a way that the reader isn’t quite sure which way its going to turn all round gives you something that’s a real treat.



Monday, 22 June 2015

HISTORICAL FICTION REVIEW: Agent of Rome V: Emperor's Silver - Ncik Brown

Release Date: 04/06/15
Publisher:  Hodder

SYNOPSIS:

Still recovering from his previous assignment in Arabia, imperial agent Cassius Corbulo has been spending most of his time and money on women and wine. Unfortunately for him, word of his achievements has reached the emperor Aurelian's deputy and he is sent north, tasked with smashing a counterfeiting gang.

Cassius tracks the criminals to the city of Berytus, where his investigations are hampered by civil unrest and uncooperative officials, not to mention the personal problems of his servant Simo and bodyguard Indavara. Despite this - and intense pressure from his superiors - the young officer eventually closes in on the gang.

But his enemies will do anything to protect their profits, and Cassius and Indavara soon find themselves fighting not only for the emperor, but for their very survival.


REVIEW:

The fifth outing for Nick Browns Corbulo and one that makes not only the reader think about events within but also the cast of characters. Its definitely a book that has some high octane moments, wonderfully woven around a solid plot but as with the others, the thing that really strikes me each time I read one of the series is the character interaction. The dialogue is wonderful, the way that each of the principle cast members add their own strengths and weaknesses to the group and when taken as a whole, allows the reader to see that even the strongest have chinks in their emotional and personal armour at times.

All round another cracking story and one that really does give me a title that is not only a pure joy to read but one that goes to show that by allowing characters to grow rather than staying with a rigid formula gives better results all round for readers to savour. Cracking stuff.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

FANTASY REVIEW: Legends of the Alfar 2: Devastating Hate - Markus Heitz

Release Date: 04/06/15
Publisher:  Jo Fletcher Books

SYNOPSIS:

They are the enemies of the dwarves and control the darkest magics, but even then power of the Älfar has its limits. To save their own people, they must enter into an unwinnable war.

Sinthoras and Caphalor, two very different Älfar, watch as their plans come to fruition: the hidden land - the home of the dwarves - has fallen to their army of trolls, barbarians and Älfar, and now the lands of the hated elves are within their grasp.

But the alliance is beginning to crumble as greed triumphs over obedience. And Sinthoras and Caphalor face another threat: an enemy from the empire of the Älfar, thought to be defeated, has resurfaced, and while their best warriors fight in the hidden land, the Älfar homeland lies almost defenceless...

This edition contains bonus material!


REVIEW:

Markus’ world continues to grow as the Alfar continue their march on their hated enemies, the Dwarves and as they continue to work, the world darkens. It’s definitely a different type of tale as its told from the darker sides aspects and for me as a reader, that’s always a challenge for an author to not only give the reader characters that they like but ones that they can understand when in previous outings they’ve been the out and out villains.

Treading the boundaries is a fine line and a good many other authors tend to take a step too far either turning it partly comical or keeping the darkness so that you don’t want to spend time with them.

All round, this book is a title that has great prose, a solid arc and where book two by many authors flail a little, this one keeps the throttle going throughout and when backed with solid dialogue kept me glued to the last page. Magic.



Saturday, 20 June 2015

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: Dave Vs The Monsters 2: Resistance - John Birmingham

Release Date: 25/05/15
Publisher: Titan

SYNOPSIS:

When a dragon brings down the Vice President's plane and fresh demons emerge across the United States, monster slayer Dave Hooper realises that the Battle of New Orleans was just the beginning. Holed up in a swanky Las Vegas hotel, Dave is enjoying the perks of his newfound celebrity. But deep in the UnderRealms, the monsters are regrouping, and it isn't long before Dave and his splitting maul are hauled into action once more. While his agent fields offers for movies and merchandise, Dave is tasked with ending a demon siege in Omaha, protecting the skies from a dragon horde and deciphering the UnderRealms plans to take over the earth. As an ancient and legion evil threatens to destroy mankind, Dave may not be the hero humanity deserves, but he's the only one we've got.


REVIEW:

The second title in the series and one that continues to build on the war from the original where the UnderRealm have been defeated by Earth’s Hero Dave. Its definitely quirky and for me the original was a fun read yet instead of expanding the universe in this second outing, the title seemed bent on destroying the principle character into a totally deplorable and thoroughly dislikable guy rather than the hero who we had in the original who had to face the changes on the run.

It’s a bit of an upset for me and whilst I will read the final outing, currently I don’t care whether the UnderRealm enslaves Dave and mankind as opposed to routing for them like I should be. All round I was disappointed with this outing and for me, this title let me down as a reader. A huge shame.


Friday, 19 June 2015

VIDEO GAME TIE IN: Assassin's Creed: Unity: Abstergo Industries Emploment Handbook

Release Date: 25/11/14
Publisher:  Titan

SYNOPSIS:

Crafted to resemble a set of Abstergo case files, this immersive and interactive book provides a glimpse into the technology that allows characters to inhabit the lives of their ancestorsa cornerstone of the Assassin's Creed narrative.In-depth and beautifully illustrated, the Assassin's Creed Manual will grant a never-before-seen look at the inner workings of the fictional corporation at the heart of the blockbuster franchise.


REVIEW:

Ah, as an infiltrator into the Abstergo family, I was more than pleased when I received my Handbook to help me with my day to day job. Its informative, gives you a lot of information and is accompanied by cracking artwork and script that helps further the AC universe.

Its definitely something that fans will love and as a gamer its little touches like this that really keep me glued to each outing. Back this up with a book written from the Assassin’s foes point of view and you know that the hints within go to show that there is so much more to come. Cracking.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

VIDEO GAME NEWS: E3 Brief Roundup

Hail Mighty Readers and Followers of the Calloused Thumbs,
Ok so you’re probably wondering why we haven’t had an article up currently about E3, well to be honest whilst we weren’t in attendance we were glued to all the feed coming out and have had a lot to sift through as well as some research to do in order to make sure that we bring you all the most up to date news, especially since some of the titles that were expected to make an appearance didn’t.


Titles such as Scalebound and of course Quantum Break which were two that we were really interested in.  Now whilst you may be worried due to this, don’t be, Xbox have issued a statement that said that this year’s E3 was so packed that not every game would get the time during the event that they deserved so they’re saving these two (along with quite a few other new announcements) for the forthcoming Gamescon in August.  We hope to bring you more on what’s happening at that time.

However at this years E3 there have been quite a few titles that we are more than interested in and hopefully will more than keep you as a gamer twitchy on the trigger fingers and eager to play.

Forthcoming expected titles include:
Fable Legends
Star Wars Battlefield
Rise of the Tomb Raider
Assassin Creed: Syndicate
Tom Clancy’s The Division

With new announcements on the following:
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Wildlands
For Honor
Dishonoured 2
Fallout 4

 


Each of them looks pretty good and one that we’re especially looking forward to is the brand new For Honor (Ubisoft)  which allows you and team mates to fight through various battlefields in different times from Knights to Samurais as well as Vikings.  Its pretty novel and whilst I’m not sure on the right stick control for sword play, I l do really like the idea as well as the chance for epic battles where you can face off against so many others.




All round, its been a pretty full show and for me, was something that has left me not only salivating but demanding so much more.  I can’t wait to get my hands on so many of these titles.


Gareth

HISTORICAL FICTION REVIEW: Into the Fire - Manda Scott

Release Date: 18/06/15
Publisher:  Bantam Press

SYNOPSIS:

February 2014: Police Capitaine Ines Picaut is called out to investigate a blaze in the old town of Orleans. This is the fourth in a series of increasingly brutal arson attacks, and at the centre of the conflagration lies a body. An Islamic extremist faction claims responsibility, but Ines and her team cannot trace its whereabouts, or any evidence of its existence. And a partly melted memory card found in the victim's throat is the only clue to his identity. September 1429: Joan of Arc is in the process of turning the tide of The Hundred Years' War. English troops have Orleans under siege, and Tomas Rustbeard, the Duke of Bedford's most accomplished agent, finally has her in his sights. But he knows that killing 'The Maid' - the apparently illiterate peasant girl who nonetheless has an unmatched sense of military strategy and can ride a warhorse in battle - is not enough. He must destroy the legend that has already grown around her. And to do that, he must get close enough to discover who she really is. More fires rage and the death toll mounts while Ines fights to discover what connects an expert in the analysis of war graves, the unquenchable ambitions of the Family which seeks to hold the city in its absolute power, and the discredited historical theories of her own late and much lamented father. When Tomas risks everything to infiltrate the hotly defended inner circle of the Saviour of France, he finally discovers a secret that will prove as explosive nearly six hundred years later as it would do if revealed in his own time. As each thread of Manda Scott's immaculately interwoven narrative unfolds, Ines and Tomas's quests become linked across the centuries. And in their pursuit of the truth, they find that love is as enduring as myth - but can lead to the greatest and most heart-breaking of sacrifices.


REVIEW:

Ah Manda Scott, an historical author who not only always finds a way to keep me glued but presents tales in a way that very few others seem to be able to do so. Here, within this book is a tale told from two points of view, the rich world of modern day Orleans with the time of Joan of Arc

Its definitely a richly woven story and when added to her cracking prose as well as characters you want to spend time around generates a book that really won’t let you go until the final page is turned.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

YOUNG READER PUZZLE BOOK: Horris Henry's Big Bad Puzzle Book - Francesca Simon and Illustrated by Tony Ross

Release Date: 07/05/15
Publisher:  Orion Children

SYNOPSIS:

This new edition of a classic Horrid Henry puzzle book contains 64 pages of fun - a perfect purchase for the summer holidays. There are holiday howlers to tell, secret messages to crack, crosswords, mazes, wordsearches and spot the differences to solve - all with a uniquely Horrid twist! There's something for every Horrid Henry fan.

Are you as clever and tricky as your hero Henry? Find out this holiday - we guarantee you'll never be bored again!


REVIEW:

There are times when you want to occupy a young mind and would rather give them something to do rather than having them get all their toys out on the floor. Rainy days are a prime example and lets be honest some summers are just so wet that you sadly don’t get to do half the days out you wanted let alone give yourself a break from home which can lead to boredom for your young active minds.

Horrid Henry is a firm children’s favourite not only through his various misadventures on the TV but also through his books that have entertained a generation. Here within this book you get an absolute ton of puzzles that will bamboozle, please and of course get them to think. All round a good bit of fun and one that if you photocopy the puzzles beforehand will last you quite a while.

YOUNG READER REVIEW: Demolition Dad - Phil Earle, Illustrated Sara Ogilvie

Release Date: 07/05/15
Publisher:  Orion Children

SYNOPSIS:

This is the story of Jake Biggs and his dad, George. George spends all week knocking down buildings ... and all weekend knocking down wrestlers. He's the Demolition Man, and Jake couldn't be prouder. But when Jake hears about a pro-wrestling competition in the USA, and persuades his beloved dad to apply, things don't quite turn out the way he expected...

This is DANNY THE CHAMPION OF THE WORLD in Spandex, a hilarious, warm-hearted story from a talented writer.


REVIEW:

An adventure for young readers as Wrestling, demolition and a cunning Dad collide in a tale that is not only funny but one that my oldest nephew loved. It was quirky, it was wonderfully written and when added to illustrations that help the reader visualise the story.

Its definitely a story that was fun to read, has some twists and when added all round to a writing style that flowed generated a book that for me is one that will give each of my nephews (and niece) a story that will entertain alongside stay with them for quite some time in much the same way Roald Dahl did for me. Cracking.

YOUNG READER REVIEW: Early Reader: Dinosaurs - David Long, Illustrated by Nicola O'Byrne


Release Date: 07/05/15
Publisher:  Orion Children

SYNOPSIS:

Early Readers are stepping stones from picture books to reading books. A green Early Reader is a first factbook.

It's never too early to find out about... DINOSAURS.

Did you know that the biggest dinosaurs weighed more than 13 or 14 elephants put together? Or that the EORAPTOR is the oldest dinosaur we know about and could run faster than an Olympic runner?

Discover a world of incredible prehistoric reptiles in this brand new non fiction Early Reader from David Long, with full colour illustrations from Nicola O'Byrne on every page.


REVIEW:

Getting your child into reading can at times be nigh impossible however the key to helping them is to find a subject that they will just love to learn more about and for one of my nephews, its deep sea fish as well as Dinosaurs. This new range of books from Orion’s Early Reader series is becoming an ideal set for him. He can’t wait to learn new words, loves looking at the bright illustrations and keeps bringing the book out whenever my parents visit him as he loves showing Gran and Grandad the new words he’s learned as well as informing them of facts that we not only didn’t know but were very interesting.

All round, with a happy young reader in tow alongside a book that has multiple reads within as well as encouraging his love of learning for me makes this series not only a life saver but one that will keep him curious which for me is a huge gift in itself.

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

THRILLER REVIEW: The Agent Runner - Simon Conway

Release Date: 23/09/14
Publisher:  Pembury Publishing

SYNOPSIS:

Ed found it difficult to explain why he felt such a strong allegiance to Britain, perhaps because he found it difficult to define what it meant to be British. British by birth, foreign by descent and agnostic by conviction, Edward Henry Malik is an MI6 agent-runner. For four years he has been running an agent codenamed Nightingale inside the ISI, Pakistan’s Hydra-headed spying agency. Then, in the aftermath of the death of Osama bin Laden, Nightingale is unmasked and Ed’s world dramatically falls apart. Dismissed from MI6 and with his reputation in tatters, Ed returns to his roots in the immigrant enclave of Whitechapel in London’s East End. He finds a job at a freight forwarding office and unexpectedly falls in love with the proprietor’s daughter. It seems as if he has finally found respite from his demons. But you can’t escape your past. Ed knows too much and he has come to the attention of the Hidden Hand – Pakistan’s legendary spy of spies – Major-General Javid Aslam Khan. From the teeming city of Lahore to the anarchic tribal areas bordering Afghanistan, with a plot to detonate the dirtiest bomb imaginable, The Agent Runner carves a dramatic arc across modern Pakistan and reaches a thunderous climax in the mountains of the Hindu Kush.


REVIEW:

OK, whilst we do love a thriller here at Falcata Times a lot of the time they’re written by people who just look at what they think makes a great thriller. Here we have a book that not only hits all the marks for genre fans but one that is written by a man that has lived a military life and knows how the various institutions within work. Whilst for some, this title with its themes may be a little close to the bone, the author has created a thriller that not only will have readers glued to the pages but one that will generate a lot of thoughts as some of the current news articles meet head on within the titles pages.

All round a book that has the clipped prose of a military man that works exceedingly for the title alongside an overall arc that has a great many twists will al round give you a read that whilst making you feel a little uncomfortable as a voyeur all round will hopefully give you a better look at a secret war that many can allude to but few can comprehend on such a scale. Magic.

Monday, 15 June 2015

FANTASY REVIEW: The Chronicles of the Exile 1: When the Heaven's Fall - Mark Turner


Release Date: 22/05/15
Publisher:  Tor/Forge

SYNOPSIS:

A power-hungry necromancer has stolen The Book of Lost Souls, and intends to use it to resurrect an ancient race and challenge Shroud for dominion of the underworld.Shroud counters by sending his most formidable servants to seize the artefact at all cost. However, the god is not the only one interested in the Book, and a host of other forces converge, drawn by the powerful magic that has been unleashed.


REVIEW:

A fantasy of dark tellings and one that will not only grasp you by the throat but generates a story that will have you denying that its time to close the covers for sleep. It’s definitely a book that I enjoyed reading and when you throw into the mix a writing style that really helped not only push the story through but allowed you to feel fully involved in the world generates something that really will make you take notice of Mark as an author.

The prose is sharp, the characters engaging and when added to dialogue that helps the story move forward all round made this a book that I didn’t have the inclination to put down what so ever. Al round a great read and a world that I just didn’t want to leave. Great stuff.

Sunday, 14 June 2015

FANTASY REVIEW: Trial of Inentions - Peter O'Rullian

Release Date: 14/06/15
Publisher:  Tor/Pan Macmillan

SYNOPSIS:

The gods who created this world have abandoned it. In their mercy, however, they chained the rogue god - and the monstrous creatures he created to plague mortalkind - in the vast and inhospitable wasteland of the Bourne. The magical Veil that contains them has protected humankind for millennia and the monsters are little more than tales told to frighten children. But the Veil has become weak and creatures of Nightmare have come through. To fight them, the races of men must form a great alliance to try and stop the creatures. But there is dissent. One king won't answer the call, his pride blinding him even to the poison in his own court. Another would see Convocation fail for his own political advantage. And still others believe Convocation is not enough. Some turn to the talents of the Sheason, who can shape the very essence of the world to their will. But their order is divided, on the brink of collapse. Tahn Junell remembers friends who despaired in a place left barren by war. One of the few who have actually faced the unspeakable horde in battle, Tahn sees something else at work and wonders about the nature of the creatures on the other side of the Veil. He chooses to go to a place of his youth, a place of science, daring to think he can find a way to prevent slaughter, prevent war. And his choices may reshape a world.


REVIEW:

OK, after a recent set of books that left me feeling a bit disappointed when I opened this title I really found myself not only immersed into a world of adventure but one where I just loved the careful world-building that had gone into it. The use of magic was wonderfully creative, the manipulation of circumstances delightful and when you throw in not only action sequences but a character who is trying to halt war by using brains over brawn all round goes on to make this a read that was hard to put down.

Back this up with a subtle grey scale tone over all (rather than it being plain black and white) left me feeling that this delightful book was a bright light in the fantasy stakes and is a novel that readers should sit down and take notice of. Finally back this up with great prose, solid storytelling as well as cracking dialogue as well as characters that I wanted to spend more time with all round left me feeling more than happy as the final page turned. I can’t wait to return in the future. Cracking.

Saturday, 13 June 2015

SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: A Quantum Mythology - Gavin Smith

Release Date: 19/03/15
Publisher:  Gollancz

SYNOPSIS:

Praised by Stephen Baxter and Adam Roberts, reviewed ecstatically by SFX magazine, Gavin Smith is one of the brightest stars of space opera.

In the far future, many years after the loss of earth, humanity has changed. Strength is the only way to survive. And the most vicious man alive has a new con in mind...

Here and now, a man with unnatural powers hunts down a killer with impossible abilities. Infused with a barely-understood alien technology, the two are merely pawns in a bigger game...

A long time ago, the last tribes of Northern Britain face an unimaginable enemy. Demons risen from the sea, absorbing and twisting everything they touch. But there are some among the tribes who have power, who will fight...

And all of these times are connected...

Gavin Smith's new epic space opera is a wide-ranging exploration of the past, present and future of mankind.


REVIEW:

Continuing on from Gavin’s Age of Scorpio title, the book delves into a the continual bleak outlook where even the darkness of the surrounding void seems brighter than the future and yet, the book then takes a step back with its second plotline that keeps the reader glued as we see how events of the “now” would go on to effect the time of the future.

Its well written, the prose sharp and when you add high octane action as well as an author who really doesn’t want to leave the reader a moments peace all round gives you something to truly enjoy. A great read and one that I’m pleased I took the time to do so with.

Friday, 12 June 2015

VIDEO GAME NEWS: Batman: Arkham Knight TV Trailer and Bloodbowl 2: Campaign Trailer

Hail Might Readers and Followers of the Calloused Thumbs,
With E3 just a few days away we're all getting pretty excited but to keep you in the loop we've been asked to bring you the new trailers for Blood Bowl 2 and Batman: Arkham Knight.

After an introduction to the Chaos and Human teams in their gameplay videos, Blood Bowl 2, the sequel to the video game adaptation of Games Workshop’s famous board game that combines American football with the fantasy world of Warhammer, reveals its release date, two additional races, and a new video dedicated to its solo campaign!

We can now officially announce that Blood Bowl 2 will be releasing September 22 on PS4, Xbox One, and PC. The game was delayed by a few weeks compared with its initial release planned this June, in order to ensure that players would enjoy the most polished foundations for the next generation Blood Bowl experience as possible. As a thank you for your support and patience, players will receive an extra Blood Bowl 2 race (including its own AI, design, skills, and their Star Players): the Lizardmen or the Wood Elves during pre-order campaign on consoles and PC. PC players who will pre-order the game on Steam will also be able to enjoy the multiplayer beta demo a few weeks before the release of the game.








 

More information is coming soon with regards to the pre-order bonuses and the different offers available, but until then, enjoy a video outlining Blood Bowl 2’s campaign game mode.



Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and DC Entertainment today unveiled the new TV spot for Batman: Arkham Knight. The video features highlights from Rocksteady Studios’ much anticipated video game, set to the brand new track “Mercy” from Muse’s seventh studio album, Drones. According to Matt Bellamy, the record “explores the journey of a human: from abandonment and loss of hope, to indoctrination by the system to be a human drone, to eventual defection from the oppressors." Reminiscent of The Dark Knight’s own journey, it will inspire fans to be the vengeance, be the night and be the Batman.

URBAN FANTASY SHORT STORY COMPENDIUM REVIEW: Dark Detectives - Edited by Stephen Jones

Release Date: 20/03/15
Publisher:  Titan

SYNOPSIS:

CRIMES OF TERROR AND DARKNESS! In the battle between good and evil, the supernatural investigators form the first line of defense against the unexplainable. Here are eighteen pulse-pounding tales featuring uncanny sleuths battling against the weird, written by Clive Barker R. Chetwynd-Hayes Basil Copper Neil Gaiman William Hope Hodgson Brian Lumley Brian Mooney Kim Newman Jay Russell Peter Tremayne Manly Wade Wellman Featuring the entire Seven Stars saga by Kim Newman, pitting the Diogenes Club against an occult object with the power to ultimately annihilate mankind!


REVIEW:

A compendium of dark Urban Fantasy that really gives the reader not only the goosebumps but a deliciously dark selection that allows readers to try authors that they may not have had the money to before. It’s a very well put together title with tales for all tastes and when you add some cracking editing alongside a plethora of top notch authors all round gave me a book that I loved to spend time with.

Back this up with the option of having a book that will give you a great way to spend lunch breaks or even journey time with and all round it’s the type of book that may just save your sanity from the real world.

Thursday, 11 June 2015

YOUNG ADULT REVIEW: Gerry Anderson's Gemini Force 1: Black Horizon - M G Harris

Release Date: 17/04/15
Publisher:  Orion Children

SYNOPSIS:

After the tragic death of his father, Ben Carrington's mother teams up with a wealthy entrepreneur to form an elite, top-secret rescue organisation - Gemini Force.

Ben is determined to become part of the team, but can he prove he has what it takes to face dangerous situations and save lives?

Impossible rescues. Maximum risk. This is Gemini Force 1.


REVIEW:

A tale originally conceived of by Gerry Anderson and one that thanks to his son, saw the light of day with author MG Harris. Obviously this is a young adult novel and having spent a lot of my childhood with all the GA classics from Fireball XL5 through to Stingray, Thunderbirds, Joe 90, Terrahawks as well as Captain Scarlett, I owe this man a hell of a lot for my entertainment.

So to have the chance to relive some of that vigour I was lucky enough to be sent this book. What I originally notices was that essentially it is Thunderbirds for the more modern era but what really worked well with it was the way that the principle character came across, he had real world school problems that needed addressing, emotional issues and when added to an arc that allowed him to blossom as well as further the aspects within, all round generated a tale that I was more than pleased I took the time to read.

All round it looks like a solid start for a new series and one that I’m definitely going to be passing on to other family members to enjoy.



Wednesday, 10 June 2015

HISTORICAL FICTION REVIEW: Empire VIII: Thunder of the Gods - Anthony Riches

Release Date: 02/04/15
Publisher:  Hodder

SYNOPSIS:

The eighth book in the Empire sequence takes Centurion Marcus Aquila and his Tungrian legion on a dangerous mission to the heart of the Parthian empire

With Rome no longer safe Marcus and the Tungrians are ordered east, to the desolate border lands where Rome and Parthia have vied for supremacy for centuries.

Ordered to relieve the siege of an isolated fortress, their task is doomed to bloody failure unless they can turn the disaffected Third Legion into a fighting force capable of resisting the terrifying Parthian cataphracts.

And Marcus must travel to the enemy capital Ctesiphon on a desperate mission, the only man who can persuade the King of Kings to halt a war that threatens the humiliation of the empire and the slaughter of his friends.


REVIEW:

Anthony is an author that for me is a must have. I love the way his characters come to life, the way that he manages to weld beautiful storytelling with cracking top notch action and then blends it all with prose that just stand out from anything else.

Back this up with dialogue that furthers the reality of the characters alongside an overall arc that keeps giving as the principle character not only room to emotionally grow but also furthers his own goals for vengeance and all round you know that you’re in for a real treat. I just can’t give enough praise for this author.



Tuesday, 9 June 2015

FANTASY REVIEW: The Defenders of Shannara: The Darkling Child - Terry Brooks

Release Date: 09/06/15
Publisher:  Orbit

SYNOPSIS:

From New York Times bestselling author Terry Brooks—the second stand-alone Shannara novel in the Defenders of Shannara series, following The High Druid’s Blade, easily accessible to new readers.

Paxon Leah has joined the Druid Order as a paladin, tasked with protecting the Druids with the aid of his magical sword. But Paxon’s toughest assignment will come when he must track down a young musician with newly-manifested magic before a rival sorcerer can corrupt the boy.


REVIEW:

Having been a huge Shannara fan for years, I always love the chance to return to Terry’s world to spend time with not just the characters but events that help shape it. Whilst many of the books are tied in to various series, this is the authors only second stand alone (although personally as a reader I still reread the whole set fitting the new one into the correct place in the timeline.)

As usual with Terry you’re drawn in with cracking prose, solid storytelling and perhaps best of all flawed heroes who seek to uphold their ideal’s whilst not only remaining true to their ideal’s but managing to grow despite what their choices throw at them. Its definitely a series that will have you cheering, have you reading long into the night alongside giving the reader the chance to share their successes and of course their losses.

Its definitely a series I can’t help but love but when you also add the way that Terry manages to add extra layers to what we already know, generates quite a unique experience. Absolutely cracking.


Monday, 8 June 2015

HISTORICAL CRIME REVIEW: Flavia Alba 3: Deadly Election - Lindsey Davis

Release Date: 09/04/15
Publisher:  Hodder

SYNOPSIS:

In the blazing July heat of imperial Rome, Flavia Albia inspects a decomposing corpse. It has been discovered in lots to be auctioned by her family business, so she's determined to identify the dead man and learn how he met his gruesome end.

The investigation will give her a chance to work with the magistrate, Manlius Faustus, the friend she sadly knows to be the last chaste man in Rome. But he's got other concerns than her anonymous corpse. It's election time and with democracy for sale at Domitian's court, tension has come to a head. Faustus is acting as an agent for a 'good husband and father', whose traditional family values are being called into question. Even more disreputable are his rivals, whom Faustus wants Albia to discredit.

As Albia's and Faustus' professional and personal partnership deepens they have to accept that, for others, obsession can turn sour, and become a deadly strain that leads, tragically, to murder.


REVIEW:

Ah a book that might feel like a timely read for those of us in the UK although to be honest whilst I do enjoy reading the Alba titles, I did feel that this one felt a little flat and sadly suffered from a few problems. Firstly, that there were way too many people with the same name so that you had problems telling which one was who.

Secondly I found quite a few errors within the text and as such left me wondering what had happened to the editing time that books normally go through and perhaps more importantly I was left feeling that I had no real stake in the title as there would be no consequences for the principle character so that he had no real point in exercising his remarkable abilities in such a stifling summer.

All, whilst it was a solid enough read, against a lot of Lindsey’s other work this is perhaps one of the weaker titles and whilst against a great many others it still stands heads above their writing, to find so many problems with one text may well have readers asking why so many errors got through which in turn, can ruin their own enjoyment.