Sunday, 25 June 2017

HISTORICAL FICTION REVIEW: Eagles of Rome: Eagles in the Storm - Ben Kane

Release Date: 23/03/17
Publisher: Preface Publishing


AD 15. The German chieftain Arminius has been defeated, one of the lost Roman eagles recovered, and thousands of German tribesmen slain.

Yet these successes aren’t nearly enough for senior centurion Lucius Tullus. Not until Arminius is dead, his old legion’s eagle found and the enemy tribes completely vanquished will he rest.

But Arminius – devious, fearless – is burning for revenge of his own.

Charismatic as ever, he raises another large tribal army, which will harry the Romans the length and breadth of the land.

Soon Tullus finds himself in a cauldron of bloodshed, treachery and danger.

His mission to retrieve his legion’s eagle will be his most perilous yet…


I love spending time with the Roman Legion and one of the foremost authors featuring this band of soldiers is Ben Kane. He brings history to life with each outing and whilst this is the end of the road for this particular group of warriors in Ben's world it means that all bets are off and anything can happen.

Ben always bring top notch action to his writing and when blended with a cracking understanding of pace, wonderful prose and of course dialogue that makes it sing, all round gives the reader what they want. I'm sad to see these guys go for now, but also looking forward to seeing what Ben will return with. Great stuff.

Saturday, 24 June 2017

CRIME THRILLER REVIEW; The Legacy - Yrsa Sigurdardottir

Release Date: 23/03/17
Publisher: Hodder


The first in an exciting new series from the author of THE SILENCE OF THE SEA, winner of the 2015 Petrona Award for best Scandinavian Crime Novel.

The murder was meant as a punishment - but what sin could justify the method?

The only person who might have answers is the victim's seven-year-old daughter, found hiding in the room where her mother died. And she's not talking.

Newly promoted, out of his depth, detective Huldar turns to Freyja and the Children's House for their expertise with traumatised young people. Freyja, who distrusts the police in general and Huldar in particular, isn't best pleased. But she's determined to keep little Margret safe.

It may prove tricky. The killer is leaving them strange clues: warnings in text messages, sums scribbled on bits of paper, numbers broadcast on the radio. He's telling a dark and secret story - but how can they crack the code? And if they do, will they be next?


I love spending time between the sheets with a dark crime novel and when it come to bringing the topography of the land to the fore, there are few better authors out there than Yrsa. I love the way Iceland is brought over to the reader, the harsh landscape, the ever changing weather and of coursse a stoic people that deal with the good and the bad of thier home.

Its a pure delight to read and when Yrsa's dialogue appears it really helps draw me into her story by allowing me to get to know the characters. All round a cracking read and one that will keep me company for some time to come.

Friday, 23 June 2017

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: A Psy-Changling Trinity Novel: Silver SIlence - Nalini Singh

Release Date: 15/06/17
Publisher:  Gollancz


Control. Precision. Family. These are the principles that drive Silver Mercant. At a time when the fledgling Trinity Accord seeks to unite a divided world, with Silver playing a crucial role as director of a worldwide emergency response network, wildness and chaos are the last things she needs in her life. But that's exactly what Valentin Nikolaev, alpha of the StoneWater bears, brings with him.

Valentin has never met a more fascinating woman. Though Silver is ruled by Silence - her mind clear of all emotion - Valentin senses a whisper of fire around her. That's what keeps him climbing apartment buildings to be near her. But when a shadow assassin almost succeeds in poisoning Silver, the stakes become deadly serious . . . and Silver finds herself in the heart of a powerful bear clan.

Her would-be assassin has no idea what their poison has unleashed . . .


I originally read Nalini's work thanks to a friend on a forum (yep, there you go Jade, a mention) who told me I absolutley must read her work. As after all if I liked Kelley Armstrong, then Nalini would soon make a grab for my affections with her work in Urban Fantasy.

What unfurled was a whole set of novels that took me on journey after journey where romance leads the way and at the end of the day, we all know that love is the most powerful force in the universe. (Or if not it should be.)

OK yeah, that made me sound a bit mushy, but I love to be taken on an emotional rollercoaster, I want to see characters break from their comfort zones, to learn what makes them tick and to get under the covers to get to thier emotional aspect.

Here within this title we're treated to a tough kick ass heroine who seeks to recover and get back for vengeance but as she is in rehab we get to see her softer side. One that accompanied by a skin walker works wonderfully well as we get to see all sorts of changes along the way. I'm not going to say its for everyone, but if you want escapism wrapped up with romance and a good solid dose of whupass then give Nalini a go.

The only thing left is to filk a certain teddy bear show: "I wanna be a Were-Bear, like you...." LOL

Thursday, 22 June 2017

FANTASY REVIEW: You Die When You Die - Angus Watson

Release Date: 22/06/17
Publisher:  Orbit


You can't change your fate - so throw yourself into battle, because you'll either end the day a hero or drinking mead in the halls of the gods. That's what Finn's people believe.

But Finn wants to live. When his settlement is massacred by a hostile nation, Finn plus several friends and rivals must make their escape across a brutal, unfamiliar landscape, and to survive, Finn will fight harder than he's ever fought before.

The David Gemmell Award-nominated author of Age of Iron returns with You Die When You Die - an epic fantasy adventure in which a mismatched group of refugees battle animals and monsters, determined assassins, an unforgiving land and each other as they cross a continent to fulfil a prophecy.


I love a story that takes me on a journey and Angus has always done that for me, so I had high hopes with this his latest novel after having loved his Iron Age Trilogy. Thrust into a fantasy world with Norsemen we are taken on a journey of survival against the odds where every battle seems stacked against our hero and his companions.

Its edge of the nails stuff with cracking prose really adding to the tension as we see each event play out. The pace is breakneck, the dialogue solid and for me, its the action sequences that really make this a title that is hard to put down. Finally throw into the mix a lead hero that I wanted to hang around and all in I wa s a ore than happy bunny. Great stuff.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

FANTASY REVIEW: The Fall of Shannara 1: The Black Elfstone - Terry Brooks

Release Date: 15/06/17
Publisher:  Orbit


The first book of the triumphant and epic four-part conclusion to the Shannara series, from one of the all-time masters of fantasy.

The age of peace that has reigned across the Four Lands is now at an end. An army of invaders, wielding a terrible new magic, is cutting a bloody swathe across the far north . . .

The fate of the world now rests on the shoulders of an exiled druid, a conflicted warrior and a young woman struggling to master a powerful magic. As the conflict grows, they will face dangerous adversaries and deadly challenges - and the consequences of their actions will determine the future of the Four Lands.

Through twenty-eight novels written over the course of forty years, Terry Brooks's Shannara series has entranced millions of readers around the world. Now, with the Black Elfstone - the first book in the Fall of Shannara - Terry begins to bring his epic vision to a grand conclusion.


I always have a soft place in my heart for Terry Brooks and his Shannara series, as after David Gemmell, he was an author that I always shared with my Dad. We constantly vied to see who would get the next book first and as our saying went "He who buys it gets first read." (Although to be fair my Dad cheated as he'd nick my book when I went to school and read it for a couple of hours before he had to go to work.)

Each new addition to the series has added flavour and depth and with this new series we get to see the world fall as everything has a lifespan. How this will occur and whether this is a final death knell we'll have to wait and see but we know that the heroes within won't let it go without a fight.

As with his other books we get good solid pace, a good story arc and for me characters I not only care about but want to spend time around. Terry brings his A game with this outing and whilst its going to be gripping whatever happen in the future titles in the series, if this is the true end its going to be the closing of a large part of my life. All round a cracking start and one that will have me on tenterhooks until the final page.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: Xeelee: Vengenace - Stephen Baxter

Release Date: 15/06/17
Publisher:  Gollancz


Half a million years in the future, on a dead, war-ravaged world at the centre of the Galaxy, there is a mile-high statue of Michael Poole.

Poole, born on Earth in the fourth millennium, was one of mankind's most influential heroes. He was not a warrior, not an emperor. He was an engineer, a builder of wormhole transit systems. But Poole's work would ultimately lead to a vast and destructive conflict, a million-year war between humanity and the enigmatic, powerful aliens known as the Xeelee.

The Xeelee won, but at a huge cost. And, defeated in a greater war, the Xeelee eventually fled the universe. Most of them.

A handful were left behind, equipped with time travel capabilities, their task to tidy up: to reorder history more to the Xeelee's liking. That million-year war with humankind was one blemish. It had to be erased. And in order to do that, a lone Xeelee was sent back in time to remove Michael Poole from history . . .


Stephen is one of those authors whose writing hooks you from the beginning, His prose is wonderful, the pace ideal and when added to an arc that really delivers what you want from one of his titles, all round generates a title that is hard to put down.

Here in his latest title we have a real treat as we get to observe the Xeelee as they try to eradicate a "blip" on thier history by taking out the man who made it all possible. Its engaging and with the authors ability to bring the characters (both human and alien) across makes this more than approachable. The only thing I'll say is remember to read the original novel first (Xeelee: Endurance). You don't have to but you won't get the full flavour or the pleasure by missing it.

Friday, 9 June 2017

VIDEO GAME NEWS: Agents of Mayhem: Gat is Back - Koch Media

Hail Mighty Readers and Followers of the Calloused Thumbs,
Our friends at Koch Media, have let us know about the latest trailer for the forthcoming Agents of Mayhem.  We can't wait to get our hands on it and to be treated to the return of our old friend Johnny Gat from Saints Row, means that we're in for a real treat.

Get your fill of Gat in this trailer:

Finally Agents of Mayhem will be released 18th August 2017 from Koch Media.

Get those guns warmed up people,

Gareth and Lady Eleanor

VIDEO GAME NEWS: Kingdom Come Deliverance Release Date and Story Trailer - Deep Silver

Hail Mighty Readers and Followers of the Calloused Thumbs,
Our friends at Warhorse Studios and Deep Silver, let us know that this title that we've been watching for quite a while will be out 13th Feb 2018.

We can't wait to see what these developers have in store for us.

Here's the story trailer:

We hope that you're getting as excited as we are,

Gareth and Lady Eleanor.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

VIDEO GAME ANNOUNCEMENT: Strange Brigade - Rebellion

Hail Mighty Readers and Followers of the Calloused Thumbs,
Here at Falcata Times we love to find the weird and wonderful and Rebellion seem to have brought all that to the fore with this announcement trailer for The Strange Brigade.

We love the fact that it has a feel of all the old B-Movie Creature Features and can't wait to get our hands on it but here, check out this awesome trailer:

All the best,

Gareth and Lady Eleanor

VIDEO GAME REVIEW: The Surge - Koch Media, Focus

Release Date: 19/05/17
Publisher: Koch Media


Set in a heavily dystopian future as Earth nears the end of its life, those who remain in the overpopulated cities must work to survive as social programs become saturated by an ageing population and increasing environmental diseases.

As the intelligence of technology incrementally increased over the years, many jobs for the human race had been made redundant, forcing Earth's citizens to head out into the suburbs seeking labour, aided by exoskeletons to improve their efficiency. The world of The Surge offers a very grim vision of the future, where the evolution of our technology, our society and our relation with the environment led to a decadent state of the Human civilization.

The Surge features innovative combat mechanics and an original character progression system based on modular upgrades gained through tight, visceral combat.


To be honest, I'm a gamer who likes to take their time when playing, I like to make sure that I don't rush my review and give the game not only a fair play but also allow myself the chance to explore various options with the gear and items before deciding on my favourite combo for my style of play.

So after giving the game a huge amount of time here's what I have to say Firstly before purchasing there are a few things you have to know. The first and perhaps most important is that this is a title in which you will die, a hell of a lot. If you don't like that in a game bypass this title now. Secondly if you're a fan of this type of game and love a Sci-Fi post apocalypic future then this title is all the candy that you can eat and then some.

Yes the camera can be a little clunky in places but that beginning animation where you get set up for your suit is not only gruesome but oddly satisfying letting you know just how much you're going to have to go through.

I was hooked.

I loved a lot of the game, the way that the enemies upped in difficulty, how even the smallest foe could kill you and the way that you had to strategise for each combat prior to taking part, working out how to deal with multiple foes and their strengths and weaknesses. However my biggest gripe was if you found certain fights way to hard, the best you could do was up your power (which only gave you access to more "chip" slots and access to doorways and you have to settle for basic gear and couldn't upgrade it if you found fighting the bosses too hard to begin with.

Its damn frustraing and whilst a good many gamers will give up with their lack of progress it was a game that I did have a lot of fun with all in. Yes it took me a lot of time to get past that initial baddy but the high I got when I finally kicked his ass was immense. All round a solid game and whilst its going to be a marmite title for a good few gamers, I happened to love it. Magic

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

VIDEO GAME REVIEW: Injustice 2 - Warner Brothers Interactive

Release Date: 19/05/17
Publisher: Warner Brothers Interactive


Injustice 2 continues the epic cinematic story introduced in Injustice : Gods Among Us as Batman and his allies work towards putting the pieces of society back together while struggling against those who want to restore Superman's regime. In the midst of the chaos, a new threat appears that will put Earth's existence at risk. Players can play from the biggest DC roster ever offered in a fighting game, from classic fan favourites such as Batman, Superman, Supergirl and Aquaman, to astonishing new villains like Atrocitus and Gorilla Grodd. Battles will take place across arenas that have evolved in scale and span across iconic locations such as Metropolis, Gotham City and Atlantis.


OK, I'm going to be honest here, the main fighting games that I've picked up before were Tekken and whilst many would say that the war for the king of fighters is generlaly won by Mortal Kombat I love a game that gives me not only fun but the chance to compete against not only my other half or the AI but with people the world over.

This title from Warner does not only bring all those elements together but brings it with a flair that I have to say was near perfect for me. The graphics are beautiful, each polygon making it look flawless with each character having multiple costumes and gear items that improve certain traits over others. Yes my review is behind quite a few others, but I'm not a guy to rush through things and wanted to give it a through play through (with multiple characters) in order to give it a fair review.

Add to this great sound with solid voice acting and accompanying music alongside a playable story arc all round gives you a title that was a pure joy to play. FInally add to this great end sequences for each of the characters and all round I was a more than happy gamer. Cracking.

Monday, 29 May 2017

NEWS: Topps Release Star Wars Universe Sticker Collection - Topps

Hail Mighty Readers and Fans from from a galaxy far far away,
Our friends at Topps have let us know about the new Star Wars Sticker Collection released on the 25th May. Here's what they had to say:

On the 40th anniversary of the very first Star Wars film, Topps, the UK’s leading collectibles company, is proud to present their biggest and most immersive sticker collection yet: Star Wars Universe!

The latest collection from Topps spans all eight Star Wars films from the past 40 years, including the recent Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. The collection of Star Wars Universe stickers is the ultimate compendium for collectors of all ages.

Fans will be able to explore the world of Star Wars from the time of the Clone Wars through the rise of the First Order, discovering the history of the Jedi and seductive power of the dark side along the way.

Additionally, there will be added incentives including special foil stickers, die-cut shaped stickers, and even historic movie stickers.

With 344 stickers to collect, Star Wars fans will learn about all the weapons and ships from the franchise including the Death Star, the evil Sith, and the heroic Rebel Alliance.

Louise Ramplin, Entertainment Marketing Manager at Topps, comments: “Star Wars was unleashed to the world and changed the cinematic landscape forever on May 25th, 1977. Now on the 40th anniversary, we are proud to celebrate the thrilling space saga with our biggest Star Wars collection yet. We’re confident the collection will be an instant hit with collectors and movie goers alike.”

The Star Wars Universe collection will be on sale May 25th. Starter Packs will retail at £2.99 including six packets of stickers. Individual packs of five stickers will retail at 50p."

So whether you're a Rebel or with the Republic, nows your chance to get started.

Gareth and Lady Eleanor

Saturday, 27 May 2017

HISTORICAL FICTION REVIEW: Crimson and Bone - Mariana Fiorato

Release Date: 18/05/17
Publisher: Hodder


'A rich jewel of a story, full of desire and danger' - Julie Cohen. A dark, gripping tale of love and obsession perfect for fans of The Crimson Petal and the White.

London, 1853. Annie Stride has nothing left to live for - she is a penniless prostitute, newly evicted from her home and pregnant. On the night she plans to cast herself from Waterloo Bridge into the icy waters of the Thames, her life is saved by Francis Maybrick Gill, a talented pre-Raphaelite painter - and her world is changed forever.

Francis takes Annie as his artist's muse, elevating her from fallen woman to society's darling. With her otherworldly beauty now the toast of London, her dark past is left far behind.

But Annie's lavish new life is not all it seems - and there are some who won't let her forget where she came from...


If you want a story that brings to the modern audience a truly wonderful Gothic adventure with some cracking romance then you have to pick up this title. The principle characters is one you want to spend time around with each chapter giving you the chance to get to know her better.

The writing is crisp, the prose delightful and with the way that the story is character driven all round makes this a real tale of love and loss felt by the reader. All round a magical tale that was a pure joy to spend time with.

Friday, 26 May 2017


Release Date: 18/05/17
Publisher: Gollancz


This groundbreaking new novel from one of the genre's most respected authors is a thrilling mix of science, magic and politics.

In Harmony, only model citizens are welcome.

A perfect society must be maintained. The defective must be eradicated. For orphans like Nico and Twostar, this means a life that's brutal, regulated and short.

But Nico and Twostar are survivors, and when they're offered a way out of the slums, they take it.

Unfortunately, no one told Nico the deal included being sentenced to death for the murder of one of Harmony's most notorious gang leaders.

Or that to gain his freedom, first he must lose his mind.


A new novel from one of my fav Sci-Fi authors who manages to blend into the equation magic, as usual with her work its quirky, has top notch characters whom you love to spend time around alongside a real kickass tale that doesn't let up.

Back this up with solid prose as well as a plot that just keeps giving from start to finish and all round I was a more than happy reader. Here's hoping that Nico and Twostar have many more outings. Magic.

Thursday, 25 May 2017


Release Date: 18/05/17
Publisher: Gollancz


The Photurians - a hivemind of sentient AIs and machines - were awakened by humanity as part of a complex political trap. But they broke free, evolved, and now the human race is almost finished. Once we spanned dozens of star systems; now only four remain, and Earth is being evacuated.

But the Photes can infect us, and among the thousands rescued from our home world may be enemy agents. Tiny colonies struggle to house the displaced. Our warships are failing. The end of humanity has come.

But on a distant planet shielded from both humanity and the Photurians, one hope may still live. The only person who might be able to intervene. The roboteer. He is trapped in a hell of his own making, and does not know he is needed. And so a desperate rescue mission is begun. But can he be reached in time? Or will he be the last remnant of humanity in the universe?


The second book by author Alex Lamb who brings Hardcore Sci-Fi to the fans with top notch twists, cracking prose and of course characters you just want to spend time with. The writing is delightfully crisp, the pace full of lulls and peaks to allow you chance to take a breather and all round the way that the plot is devised the reader will be kept guessing until the final page is turned.

For me this was a cracking read and I can't wait for the next title by Alex, as well as to see what treats he has in store. Get on the train now before the hype hits, you will be pleased that you did. Cracking.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

FANTASY REVIEW: The Kharkanas Trilogy 2: Fall of Light - Steven Erikson

Release Date: 23/03/17
Publisher: Bantam Press


Before the Malazan Empire, there was a time that set the stage for all those tales yet to be told . . .

The winter is bitter. Civil war threatens Kurald Galain for the warrior Urusander’s army has begun its march on the city of Kharkanas. Led by the ruthless Hunn Raal, it intends to cast aside Mother Dark’s consort, Draconus, and set Urusander himself on the throne beside the Living Goddess. Those who would stand in the way of the rebels lie scattered and weakened – leaderless since Anomander went in search of an estranged brother. In his stead, Silchas Ruin resolves to gather the Houseblades of the Highborn families to him, and to resurrect the legendary Hust Legion, but time is not on his side.
Far to the west, an unlikely army musters. It seeks an enemy without form, in a place none can find. And yet Hood’s call has been heard and the long-abandoned city of Omtose Phellack is now home to a rabble of new arrivals: Dog-Runners from the south, Jheck warriors, and blue-skinned strangers from across the Western Sea have come to offer Hood their swords. From the distant mountains and isolated valleys of the North, Thel Akai arrive to pledge themselves in this seemingly impossible war. Soon, they will set forth with weapons drawn under the banners of the living in pursuit of Death itself.
Such events presage chaos, and now magic bleeds into this realm. Unconstrained, mysterious and savage, it begins to run loose and wild and following its scent, seeking the places of wounding and hurt – new and ancient entities gather.
In a world becoming rotten with sorcery, can honour truly exist?


I've been a fan of Stevens since I read the original Malazan title and with each subsequent book I knew that I was onto something truly wonderful as the characters were not only vibrant but the storyline had wonderfully woven twists, beautifully create prose and of course was so full of colour alongside characters you cared about that it was perhaps one of favourite series of all time.

I love complicated aspects in some fantasy and when its done well it really does give the reader something that they can not only get thier teeth into but generates a hell of a lot of thought as we all try to work out what events will transpire as well as seeing how certain things have been revealed due to the previous books.

However I have to say that whilst I love the fact that Steven has returned to the complex world, I feel that this book left me thinking what the hell for most of it. It was a real struggle to get through and whilst it does have a lot of work and detail within, its the delivery aspect that really has let me down as I feel it was more of a tell rather than show, almost using the book as a way to develop tension for future outings whilst just filling it with dialogue that serves more as a filler than anything else.

All round, not a favourite for me and whilst I will read the next part as I love the Malazan series I just hope it really makes up for this tale that I felt could have been heavily edited with a certain amount of chat slashed in order to let the reader see more than having them sit there praying for top notch action to kick in.

Monday, 22 May 2017

SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: Transformation 3: Infinity Engine - Neal Asher

Release Date: 23/03/17
Publisher: Tor


Infinity Engine is the third and final novel in the Transformation series, by bestselling science fiction author Neal Asher, following Dark Intelligence and War Factory.

A man battles for his life, two AIs vie for supremacy and a civilization hangs in the balance . . .

Several forces now pursue rogue artificial intelligence Penny Royal, hungry for revenge or redemption. And the Brockle is the most dangerous of all. This criminal swarm-robot AI has escaped its confinement and is upgrading itself, becoming ever more powerful in anticipation of a deadly showdown.

Events also escalate aboard the damaged war factory station where Penny Royal was constructed. Here Thorvald Spear, alien prador, and an assassin drone struggle to stay alive, battling insane AIs and technology gone wild. Then the Weaver arrives - last of the Atheter, resurrected from a race that suicided two million years ago. But what could it contribute to Penny Royal's tortuous plans?

And beyond the war factory a black hole conceals a tantalizing secret which could destroy the Polity. As AIs, humans and prador clash at its boundary, will anything survive their explosive final confrontation?


I've been a fan of the author for years now and to be honest, if there's one thing I know, its that I've never been really disapointed by him as each book gives me cracking storytelling backed up with characters that I not only love to spend time around but cheer as they scrape through each personal struggle whethers its physical or mental.

Here in the final part of the Transformation trilogy you have a tale that is carefully wrapped up, has magical universe building and of course evenly matched opponents vying for supremacy. Its been a top notch journey and when backed with skills that have been hard earned over multiple books all round demonstrates that whilst this is a top rated book that the best is perhaps yet to come from this author. Magical.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: Luna 2: Wolf Moon - Ian McDonald

Release Date: 23/03/17
Publisher: Gollancz


Corta Helio, one of the five family corporations that rule the Moon, has fallen. Its riches are divided up among its many enemies, its survivors scattered. Eighteen months have passed.
The remaining Helio children, Lucasinho and Luna, are under the protection of the powerful Asamoahs, while Robson, still reeling from witnessing his parent's violent deaths, is now a ward - virtually a hostage - of Mackenzie Metals. And the last appointed heir, Lucas, has vanished from the surface of the moon.
Only Lady Sun, dowager of Taiyang, suspects that Lucas Corta is not dead, and - more to the point - that he is still a major player in the game. After all, Lucas always was a schemer, and even in death, he would go to any lengths to take back everything and build a new Corta Helio, more powerful than before. But Corta Helio needs allies, and to find them, the fleeing son undertakes an audacious, impossible journey - to Earth.
In an unstable lunar environment, the shifting loyalties and political machinations of each family reach the zenith of their most fertile plots as outright war between the families erupts.


Ian is an author who not only an author who brings books in on time for fans but an author who has managed to create many believable worlds as well as bringing characters that you just love to spend time with.

In this, the second book in the Luna series I loved the way that whilst we think that the more advanced we get the better we become, Ian manages to prove how the nature of mankind is still at the forefront of the detriment of human development. Its a cleverly crafted title, has some great prose and of course characters that feel believable enough for you to care about their fates.

Back this up with a cracking arc and the chance to revisit the lunar wild west and all round I was a more than happy reader. Definitely a guilty pleasure for me and one I'm going to savour with a reread of both titles shortly. Cracking.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

VIDEO GAME REVIEW: Prey - Bethesda

Release Date: 05/05/17
Publisher:  Bethesda


Prey is a first-person sci-fi action game from Arkane Studios, creators of the award-winning Dishonored series. In Prey, you are the first human enhanced with alien powers aboard the Talos I space station. Improvise and innovate as you fight your way through the alien infested station in your search for the truth Cosmonaut Shotgun Starter Pack Pre-order Bonus: Fans who pre-order Prey will receive the exclusive Cosmonaut Shotgun Pack. The pre-order bonus consists of Morgan Yu's family heirloom Margrave shotgun and tools to fight threats aboard Talos I including: three Neuromods players can spend to acquire new abilities, two Medkits, a Fabrication plan to create Shotgun Ammo, a starter kit for building tools and weapons, and a unique upgrade to help players preserve their limited resources


OK, so I'm not the first to get a review up, however to be honest I'd rather get it up later and have had a ton of fun playing it and not having to feel rushed rather than lose a lot from having to speed through which to me means yo u don't get the full flavour.

Prey has a lot going for it, provided you like a lot of the mechanics from the two Dishonored titles (which I do.) The weapons are varied and to be honest my fav was the Huntress Boltcaster, OK it does no damage but as a distractor and a means to hit buttons that I couldn't reach really was a lot of fun.

There's a lot to see, a lot to do and when you can face a lot of surprises from disguised Typhon within atmospheric scenary all round made this a lot of fun for me. Finally add to the mix great sound, solid graphics and a good story all round made me a happy gamer.

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: Alex Verus 8: Bound - Benedict Jacka

Release Date: 06/04/17
Publisher: Orbit


Alex Verus can see the future. But he never thought he'd see this day.

Manoeuvred by forces beyond his control, the probability mage has made a terrible choice: he's agreed to work for his old master once more.

Richard Drakh, the sadistic dark mage Alex escaped as an apprentice, has him in his clutches again. And this time, he won't let go so easily.


If you're looking for a deliciously dark title that has a solid principle character, careful plot twists alongside an overall arc that will have you turning left and right as you try to figure things out, then you may want to pick up this book from Benedict Jacka.

The principle character is one you want to spend time with, has good prose alongside a cracking understanding of pace which in turn makes this a top notch read. The only problem is that this is the eighth book in the series so I wouldn't advise you to start here and lets face it why would you when you've got chance to see how the character has changed from the humble beginnings. OK, so yes it wasn't a must read for me at the beginning of the Alex Verus tales but as its developed so too has the writing of Benedict and for me that is the sign of an author really taking the time to make sure that their readers get the best they can possibly give. Magic.

Friday, 19 May 2017

FANTASY REVIEW: The Never King - James Abbott

Release Date: 18/05/17
Publisher: Tor


A new legend begins . . .

Xavir Argentum is rotting in gaol. Sentenced to life in the squalor of Hell’s Keep, punishment for an atrocity he didn’t commit, the once legendary commander is all but forgotten. His elite band of warriors are dead – and the kingdom he was poised to inherit is oppressed by the tyrant who framed him. For half a decade now, Xavir has ruled nothing but a prison gang.

Yet vengeance comes to those who wait. When a former spymaster infiltrates the Keep, bearing news of his old enemy’s treachery, plans are forged. A few are compelled to restore peace – an exiled queen, an outcast witch, and an unlikely alliance of rogues and heroes. But peace and vengeance make poor companions. And first, Xavir must make his escape . . .


This is a book that I'd quite been looking forward to and if I'm honest the blurb just sold it so well. A deposed ruler jailed for an attrocity he didn't commit, spy masters, political machinations all were helping to make the title sound like it was going to be a modern Dumas full of daring do, hard fought battles and of course the disposition of a tyrant.

All sounded damn fine to me as a reader so it was with great joy that I'd sat down to devour this title to see what it would present for me. What unfurls within is a story that does have solid characters, it has just enough world building to make it real and with the other elements mentioned in the blurb, it definitely had moments of pure joy especially with the action sequences, however for me as a reader, its the rest of the book that went wrong, feeling more like a selection of pasting to get from one sequence to another rather than a full realised story.

All round it was an OK read but with some duff lulls alongside parts feeling a bit piecemeal all round left me feeling a flat. A great shame but there is enough here for me to try James' next title and see what he's learned from this one.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

FICTION REVIEW: Rhyming Rings - David Gemmell

Release Date: 18/05/17
Publisher:  Gollancz


David Gemmell was the UK's number one fantasy and historical novelist until his death in 2006. A regular Sunday Times bestseller, and international sensation, his legacy lives on through his novels, his influence on the genre, and through the David Gemmell Legend awards.

Rhyming Rings is a never-before-seen Gemmell novel, discovered in his papers by his widow, Stella Gemmell. Merging autobiographical details of Gemmell's life as a journalist in South London with a serial killer and a tinge of the supernatural, this is perfect for fans of David's work, as well as readers of gritty crime novels. Set against the backdrop of a London simmering with poverty, change and racial tension, this taut thriller is a fitting legacy for the great writer.

This book includes a brand new introduction from massive Gemmell fan Conn Iggulden, and an afterword by Gemmell's friend Stan Nicholls.

An ambidextrous killer is murdering women, leaving virtually no evidence behind, and struggling journalist Jeremy Miller wishes he was covering the case. Instead, he's stuck with heart-warming local stories about paraplegic teenagers and elderly psychic ladies.

So when his stories and the murder case start to converge no one is more surprised than Jeremy.

Or, it turns out, more at risk.


Many readers know I've been a fan of David's work for a number of years and whilst a lot of people remember key parts of thier life through music, I've always been one to remember them by books with David's forming a huge chunk of my own history.

So when he passed back in 2006 it felt tha tI'd had a huge part of my reading world pulled out from under me leaving me lost and bereft mourning characters I'd never gotten to know and stories that were lost yet to be told.

Upon learning of Stella had found an unpublished title that wouldn't to quote David himself "curdle milk" I was more than interested to see what would be presented. A new Fantasy, an epic historical release or perhaps even a new fictional title in much the same way that the fans Holy Grail novel "White Knight Black Swan" was. (Incidently being rereleased on the 21st September 2017 by Gollancz.)

What is presented within is a story that will be devoured appealing to crime readers alongside fans of his fantasy titles. The principle character is delightfully familiar to those who know David's work as well as those who've had a glimpse at the man himself and brings the magic that he was known for into a modern fiction setting. Its well written, the prose is sharp and all round the story is developed with the usual Gemmell magic that leaves you lost in time, wondering what happened to the world around you as the final page turned.

Its thought provoking, its a cracking experience and as a fan I really hope that there's other hidden gems out there. I can only congratulate the estate as well as the publishers for bringing this to the fore and allowing us fans another chance to experience the magic of a new novel. Finally, to sum up, its a cracking jaunt into the murky seedier world of a London wrapped up with a delightfully crafted story that has great prose and lulls, proving that the Gemmell magic is alive and well. Cracking

Monday, 15 May 2017

HISTORICAL URBAN FANTASY: The House of Binding Thorns - Aliette De Bodard

Release Date: 06/04/17
Publisher: Gollancz


The multi-award-winning author of The House of Shattered Wings continues her Dominion of the Fallen saga as Paris endures the aftermath of a devastating arcane war....
As the city rebuilds from the onslaught of sorcery that nearly destroyed it, the great Houses of Paris, ruled by Fallen angels, still contest one another for control over the capital.
House Silverspires was once the most powerful, but just as it sought to rise again, an ancient evil brought it low. Phillippe, an immortal who escaped the carnage, has a singular goal--to resurrect someone he lost. But the cost of such magic might be more than he can bear.
In House Hawthorn, Madeleine the alchemist has had her addiction to angel essence savagely broken. Struggling to live on, she is forced on a perilous diplomatic mission to the underwater dragon kingdom--and finds herself in the midst of intrigues that have already caused one previous emissary to mysteriously disappear....
As the Houses seek a peace more devastating than war, those caught between new fears and old hatreds must find strength--or fall prey to a magic that seeks to bind all to its will.


Whenever I pick up a title I want something that is going to blow me away and Aliette has not only achieved that with previous outings but really has come up with something unique in this series that will not only grab fans of fantasy around the world but also presents it in such a way that the world is accessable to readers of other genres.

Its well written, the world development cracking and when backed with principle players that you just have to cheer on in their efforts despite the oppression all round makes this a series that should become a modern classic.

Finally throw into the mix an exotic setting for many English speakers (Paris) and all round when added to top notch prose as well as some wickedly magical twists all round gives you a pure reading pleasure that just gets better with subsequent rereads. Just remember to read the first book in the series (The House of Shattered Wings) prior to this to get the absolute best from this hopefully future classic series.

Sunday, 14 May 2017

THRILLER REVIEW: Beyond the Ice Limit - Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

Release Date: 06/04/17
Publisher: Head of Zeus


Five years ago, the mysterious and inscrutable head of Effective Engineering Solutions, Eli Glinn, led a mission to recover a 25,000-ton meteorite – the largest ever discovered – from a remote island off the coast of South America. The mission ended in disaster when their ship foundered in a vicious storm and broke apart, sinking – along with its unique cargo – into the abyss of the Hesperides Deep. One hundred and eight crew members perished, and Eli Glinn was left paralyzed.

But now, two miles down in dark Antarctic waters, something is growing. A vast, grotesque structure is simultaneously reaching up towards the waves and burrowing deep into the sea floor. Eli Glinn's worst fear has been realised. He has no choice but to return to the Southern Ocean with the right team and the right weaponry and attempt to annihilate an entity that threatens the existence of the planet.

But, as he will discover, the entity has no intention of going quietly.


Recently I've been spoilt with a huge range of books to sit back and choose from. I love having variety but when it comes to certain genres I do have firm favourites that make thier way up my TBR list so that I get maximum pleasure for my time.

One duo who always earn my time as Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child who always give me a tale that I love to devour and spend time with. The characters are delightful, easy to firm bonds with and with writing that is so seemless that you can't tell who wrote which bits really makes it a pure joy.

As with thier other works, the prose is sharp, the overall arc filled with some wonderful twists and all round delivered a book that for me was perhaps thier best yet. Finally throw into the mix an entity that is unpredictable as to its wants as well as abilities and all round you know you've got some sleepless nights ahead. Cracking.

Saturday, 13 May 2017

CUISINE REVIEW: Junk Food Japan - Scott Hallsworth

Release Date: 06/04/17
Publisher: Bloomsbury


Packing a heavy punch and offering a fresh new look at Japanese food, Kurobuta prides itself on reworking the 'Iazakaya', Japanese pub style of relaxed eating and drinking. Kurobuta serves 'insanely delicious delicacies' (Jay Rayner, The Observer). Food that is both Incredibly inventive yet comfortingly familiar – signature dishes include Barbequed Pork Belly, with a Spicy Peanut Soy Sauce, Tea Smoked Lamb, and Kombu, Roasted Chilean seabass – food full of flavour, achievable to create at home and guaranteed to wow friends, family and hungry gatecrashers.

Chapters with titles such as Snack, Junk Food Japan, Significant Others, Something Crunchy and On the Side give an idea of the gastronomic fun that is to be found within. Featuring approximately 100 recipes brilliantly showcasing Scott's wild and inventive style, Junk Food Japan will present Japanese classics with twists and turns, even in the Sushi and Sashimi sections, alongside a selection of new, stunning Scott-conceived dishes, including Tuna Sashimi Pizza and Wagyu beef sliders.

Superb photography from legendary photographer David Loftus will feature throughout.


In todays modern world, I love the chance to try not only what many refer to as foreign food but get to revel in the various flavours that are brought to my palette.

This book from Scott, is a title that really has opened my eyes to Japanese Cuisine with a huge selection of recipes (demonstrating that its not all sushi) as well as an easy step by step guide to make it a real household treat. Its beautifully put together with beautiful photography to show the food off and of course presented for ease by catagory.

All round a wonderful book and one that I'll be using for quite some time to come.

Friday, 12 May 2017

THRILLER REVIEW: Ararat - Christopher Golden

Release Date: 18/04/17
Publisher: Headline


In Ararat, by New York Times bestselling author Christopher Golden, an ancient evil inhabits a cave on the snow-capped, dormant volcano, in the most Eastern reaches of Turkey, that is Mount Ararat. Golden's writing is 'the real deal' (Stephen King) and Ararat will thrill and fascinate in equal measure.

Meryam and Adam take risks for a living. But neither is prepared for what lies in the legendary heights of Mount Ararat, Turkey.

First to reach a massive cave revealed by an avalanche, they discover the hole in the mountain's heart is really an ancient ship, buried in time. A relic that some fervently believe is Noah's Ark.

Deep in its recesses stands a coffin inscribed with mysterious symbols that no one in their team of scholars, archaeologists and filmmakers can identify. Inside is a twisted, horned cadaver. Outside a storm threatens to break.

As terror begins to infiltrate their every thought, is it the raging blizzard that chases them down the mountain - or something far worse?


Christopher is not only a prolific author but one that generates a whole host of stories that thrill and entice the reader deep into his own eldritch spell until the final page it turned and such is the case with his latest novel.

The book has cracking prose, a return of reader favourites Meryam and Adam, and of course a plot that blends ancient tales with a twist for modern readers. As with his other work, the tale takes the reader on not only a journey but one that has you questioning beliefs all whilst keeping a high octane pace going with some top notch twists. Its addictive, it has you gripped to the final page and all round was a title that more than sated my thriller need. Cracking.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

FANTASY REVIEW: Great Coats 4: Tyrant's Throne - Sebastien De Castell

Release Date: 20/04/17
Publisher: Jo Fletcher Books


Would you - could you? - uphold the law at the cost of those you love?

Falcio val Mond, First Cantor of the Greatcoats, is on the brink of fulfilling his dead King's dream: Aline is about to take the throne and restore the rule of law once and for all.

But for the Greatcoats, nothing is ever that simple. In neighbouring Avares, an enigmatic new warlord is uniting the barbarian armies and even worse, he is rumoured to have a new ally: Falcio's old nemesis Trin. With the armies of Avares at her back, she'll be unstoppable.

Falcio, Kest and Brasti go racing north to stop her, but in those cold, treacherous climes they discover something altogether different - and far more dangerous: a new player plans to take the throne of Tristia, and the Greatcoats, for all their determination and skill, may not be able to stop him.


The final book in the series and one that really does pull the whole thing together as events from the previous novels all lead up to this. As with the previous books its well written, has solid world building and of course top notch action sequences within.

However for me, the bet thing that the author does well is the characters. They breathe, feel like friends and of course have been allowed to develop as plot lines have taken them through the wringer.

Add to this a cracking conclusion to a huge arc alongside a wonderful sense of fulfillment at the tales end all round has made this a real treat to enjoy. I'm only sad that its finally finished but eagerly await to see what Sebastian comes up with next and I for one wish him well as well as continued success.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

FACTUAL REVIEW: 24 Hours at the Somme - Robert Kershaw

Release Date: 27/04/17
Publisher: WH Allen


The first day of the Somme has had more of a widespread emotional impact on the psyche of the British public than any other battle in history. Now, 100 years later, Robert Kershaw attempts to understand the carnage, using the voices of the British and German soldiers who lived through that awful day.
In the early hours of 1 July 1916, the British General staff placed its faith in patriotism and guts, believing that one ‘Big Push’ would bring on the end of the Great War. By sunset, there were 57,470 men – more than half the size of the present-day British Army – who lay dead, missing or wounded. On that day hope died.
Juxtaposing the British trench view against that from the German parapet, Kershaw draws on eyewitness accounts, memories and letters to expose the true horror of that day. Amongst the mud, gore and stench of death, there are also stories of humanity and resilience, of all-embracing comradeship and gritty patriotic British spirit. However it was this very emotion which ultimately caused thousands of young men to sacrifice themselves on the Somme.


The Somme is the worst day of war on record and whilst you learn about numbers and casualties in history, things are often told from the point of view of choices made by those who weren't there, relying on the accounts of the generals who made so many errors.

This title from Robert is for me one of the best books out there as it tells the full bloody history from the front lines with words from both sides of the battlefield. You get the gore, the devastation and also terror of those who faced it all. Its not a book of blame, its a book of cold hard facts and for that I applaud the author who has brought this to the fore with it no becoming more history and recently slipping out of living memory.

All round well written, carefully explained with solid prose to keep the reader engaged making this a factual title that helps bring events to life.

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

URBAN FANTASY SHORT STORY COMPENDIUM: The Djinn Falls in Love and Other Stories - Ed. Mahvesh Murad and Jared Shurin

Release Date: 23/03/17
Publisher: Solaris


Imagine a world filled with fierce, fiery beings, hiding in our shadows, in our dreams, under our skins. Eavesdropping and exploring; savaging our bodies, saving our souls. They are monsters, saviours, victims, childhood friends. Some have called them genies: these are the Djinn. And they are everywhere. On street corners, behind the wheel of a taxi, in the chorus, between the pages of books. Every language has a word for them. Every culture knows their traditions. Every religion, every history has them hiding in their dark places. There is no part of the world that does not know them. They are the Djinn. They are among us.
With stories from: Neil Gaiman, Nnedi Okorafor, Amal El-Mohtar, Catherine King, Claire North, E.J. Swift, Hermes (trans. Robin Moger), Jamal Majoub, James Smythe, J.Y. Yang, Kamila Shamsie, Kirsty Logan, K.J. Parker, Kuzhali Manickavel, Maria Dahvana Headley, Monica Byrne, Nada Adel Sobhi, Saad Hossein, Sami Shah, Sophia Al-Maria and Usman Malik.


I love books that get to take me on various journeys and the ones that are perhaps dearest to my heart are short story compendiums where I get to try a great many authors to see if I like thier writing style.

Whilst I'm going to admit that I really didn't enjoy the vast majority of tales within, I do have to say that there are a fair few authors that I'm paying attention to for future outings. Yes the tales weren't outstanding as far as I was concerned but I could see the architecture of the creation beneath them. All round not a book I'd recommend at the moment but at least I have some new names to watch out for in future endeavours which for me is worth the price of the book.

Monday, 8 May 2017

SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: The Collapsing Empire - John Scalzi

Release Date: 23/03/17
Publisher: Tor


In the far future, humanity has left Earth to create a glorious empire. Now this interstellar network of worlds faces disaster - but can three individuals save their people?

The empire''s outposts are utterly dependent on each other for resources, a safeguard against war, and a way its rulers can exert control. This relies on extra-dimensional pathways between the stars, connecting worlds. But 'The Flow' is changing course, which could plunge every colony into fatal isolation.

A scientist will risk his life to inform the empire's ruler. A scion of a Merchant House stumbles upon conspirators seeking power. And the new Empress of the Interdependency must battle lies, rebellion and treason. Yet as they work to save a civilization on the brink of collapse, others have very different plans . . .

The Collapsing Empire is an exciting space opera from John Scalzi.


John's always been an author that I've not only loved to spend time with but generates a tale that takes me not only on a journey through time and space but also through multiple characters as they learn to cope with the events around them.

They're incredibly well written, the top notch prose helps transport you and when you throw into the mix political machinations alongside death dealing consequences all round gives you a futuristic world where the wrong word or sentence can lead to a swift dead.

Finally throw into the mix characters that really help bring it all to life makes this another outing that gives readers pure sci-fi excellence. Cracking.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

CRIME THRILLER REVIEW: David Hunter 5: The Restless Dead - Simonn Beckett

Release Date: 06/04/17
Publisher: Bantam


‘Composed of over sixty per cent water itself, a human body isn’t naturally buoyant. It will float only for as long as there is air in its lungs, before gradually sinking to the bottom as the air seeps out. If the water is very cold or deep, it will remain there, undergoing a slow, dark dissolution that can take years. But if the water is warm enough for bacteria to feed and multiply, then it will continue to decompose. Gases will build up in the intestines, increasing the body’s buoyancy until it floats again.
And the dead will literally rise . . . ‘

Once one of the country’s most respected forensics experts, Dr David Hunter is facing an uncertain professional – and personal – future. So when he gets a call from Essex police, he’s eager for the chance to assist them.

A badly decomposed body has been found in a desolate area of tidal mudflats and saltmarsh called the Backwaters. Under pressure to close the case, the police want Hunter to help with the recovery and identification.

It’s thought the remains are those of Leo Villiers, the son of a prominent businessman who vanished weeks ago. To complicate matters, it was rumoured that Villiers was having an affair with a local woman. And she too is missing.

But Hunter has his doubts about the identity. He knows the condition of the unrecognizable body could hide a multitude of sins. Then more remains are discovered – and these remote wetlands begin to give up their secrets . . .

With its eerie, claustrophobic sense of place, viscerally authentic detail and explosive heart-in-mouth moments, The Restless Dead offers a masterclass in crime fiction and marks the stunning return of one of the genre’s best.


The latest book from Simon to feature Dr David Hunter and one that really tests not only his ability to deal with the crimes he's asked to help with but how he deals with things on a personal level when events spiral out of his control.

Its well written with the tale taking the reader on a journey not only of crime but of the heart. Add to this some great twists, an isolated community where no one wants to talk about events as well as families seeking answers all round makes this a book that was a pure joy to spend time with.

All round I did love this book however one of the key points within did leave me wondering if the author was a little outdated for the reasoning as I didn't think it was one worth killing for. However all round, I was more than happy with the authors writing as well as the way the tale was woven so I've overlooked that one niggle. Superb.

Saturday, 6 May 2017

SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: Star Wars: Thrawn - Timothy Zahn

Release Date: 06/04/17
Publisher: Century


In this definitive novel, readers will follow Thrawn’s rise to power—uncovering the events that created one of the most iconic villains in Star Wars history.

One of the most cunning and ruthless warriors in the history of the Galactic Empire, Grand Admiral Thrawn is also one of the most captivating characters in the Star Wars universe, from his introduction in bestselling author Timothy Zahn’s classic Heir to the Empire, through his continuing adventures in Dark Force Rising, The Last Command, and beyond. But Thrawn’s origins and the story of his rise in the Imperial ranks have remained mysterious. Now, in Star Wars: Thrawn, Timothy Zahn chronicles the fateful events that launched the blue-skinned, red-eyed master of military strategy and lethal warfare into the highest realms of power—and infamy.

After Thrawn is rescued from exile by Imperial soldiers, his deadly ingenuity and keen tactical abilities swiftly capture the attention of Emperor Palpatine. And just as quickly, Thrawn proves to be as indispensable to the Empire as he is ambitious; as devoted as its most loyal servant, Anakin Skywalker; and a brilliant warrior never to be underestimated. On missions to rout smugglers, snare spies, and defeat pirates, he triumphs time and again—even as his renegade methods infuriate superiors while inspiring ever greater admiration from the Empire. As one promotion follows another in his rapid ascension to greater power, he schools his trusted aide, ensign Eli Vanto, in the arts of combat, leadership, and the secrets of claiming victory. But even though Thrawn dominates the battlefield, he has much to learn in the arena of politics where ruthless administrator Arihnda Pryce holds the power to be a potent ally or a brutal enemy.

All these lessons will be put to the ultimate test when Thrawn rises to admiral—and must pit all the knowledge, instincts, and battle forces at his command against an insurgent uprising that threatens not only innocent lives but also the Empire’s grip on the galaxy—and his own carefully laid plans for future ascendency.


With many having celebrated May the Fourth as Star Wars day, us Sith supporters like to go with May the Sixth as our own celebration. So its with pure joy that I sat back to enjoy the tale of Thrawn through his rise to power as a military strategist alongside his having to learn how to deal with political double deadling.

Originally introduced way back in 1991 by the author in Heir to the Empire, its been a long time coming for readers who have dreamed of reading about this legendary characters exploits. Its well written, with cracking twists and whilst certain events are known alongside thier outcomes, the author manages to keep it fresh as well as addictive.

All round a cracking title and for me a book that was a pure joy to read. Cracking fun and definitely a title that fans around the world will love.