Saturday, 27 May 2017

HISTORICAL FICTION REVIEW: Crimson and Bone - Mariana Fiorato

Release Date: 18/05/17
Publisher: Hodder

SYNOPSIS:

'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...


REVIEW:

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

SCIENCE FICTION FANTASY REVIEW: The Switch Justina Robson

Release Date: 18/05/17
Publisher: Gollancz

SYNOPSIS:

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.


REVIEW:

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

SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: Exodus - Alex Lamb

Release Date: 18/05/17
Publisher: Gollancz

SYNOPSIS:

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?


REVIEW:

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

SYNOPSIS:

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?


REVIEW:

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

SYNOPSIS:

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?


REVIEW:

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

SYNOPSIS:

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.


REVIEW:

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

SYNOPSIS:

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


REVIEW:

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

SYNOPSIS:

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.


REVIEW:

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

SYNOPSIS:

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 . . .


REVIEW:

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

SYNOPSIS:

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.


REVIEW:

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

SYNOPSIS:

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.


REVIEW:

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

SYNOPSIS:

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.


REVIEW:

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

SYNOPSIS:

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.


REVIEW:

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

SYNOPSIS:

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?


REVIEW:

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

SYNOPSIS:

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.


REVIEW:

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

SYNOPSIS:

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.


REVIEW:

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

SYNOPSIS:

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.


REVIEW:

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

SYNOPSIS:

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.


REVIEW:

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

SYNOPSIS:

‘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.


REVIEW:

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

SYNOPSIS:

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.


REVIEW:

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.

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: Cold Reign - Faith Hunter

Release Date: 04/05/17
Publisher: Ace

SYNOPSIS:

Jane Yellowrock is a shape-shifting skinwalker, and the woman rogue vampires fear most. As the Enforcer to Leo Pellisier, Master of the City of New Orleans, she walks softly and carries a big stake. But Leo's power over vast American territories is being threatened. A delegation of European fangheads has arrived, and Leo fears their influence. Jane is tasked with overseeing their visit. But when a revenant vampire is raised, and several humans are killed, she has to wonder if they're already making trouble


REVIEW:

I've been a big fan of Faith's work for quite some time so I've really been looking forward to Janes next outing to see how she would be tested by not only the author but the characters she was faced against.

What happens within the pages is a bloody battle for New Orleans and the New World as players from the Old one seek to take over with not only outright conflict but enough subtle nuances and chess like moves to make it not only difficult to see what they're up to but the overall goals.

Its well written, the principle characters work well together and when you throw into the mix the bonds of all concerned you care about each of them in the conflicts that occur within, so much so that you're heart is in your mouth as to whether they'll survive or not. Add to this top notch prose and of course villains worthy of our heroine and all round I was a more than happy reader.

My only real qualm about the while book was the sheer amount of clothing they went through, surely no one has the budget or the wardrobe space for so many to get ruined? Other than that though a pure joy.

Friday, 5 May 2017

CRIME THRILLER REVIEW: Day of the Dead - Mark Roberts

Release Date: 04/05/17
Publisher: Head of Zeus

SYNOPSIS:

Vindici is a hero to many. He is also the nation's most dangerous criminal... A gripping serial killer thriller, perfect for fans of Angela Marsons.

The man who calls himself Vindici broke out of prison last year. Now he's filmed himself torturing and killing paedophiles in Liverpool's affluent suburbs. Half the city are celebrating: the streets are safer for their children. But for DCI Eve Clay and her team at the Merseyside Police, it's a nightmare. Their job is to solve the crimes and lock up the killer – hard enough without being despised by the public they are trying to protect.

And now, just when they think they've cracked the case, they receive a photo of Vindici, at a Day of The Dead parade in Mexico. So if Vindici is 5,000 miles away, who are they hunting in Liverpool? DCI Eve Clay must draw on all her cunning to unmask a killer who is somehow always one step ahead...


REVIEW:

There are crime books that take a simpler route to the tale where you have police chasing killers and then you have books that take a premise and turn it around in such a way that you're left questioning whether you want the police to catch up with the tales "villain."

Such is the way with this book by Mark Roberts where DCI Eve Clay alongside her team have to track down a killer who the public want to defend due to his targets. Its well written, the twists delightfully delivered and when added to solid description alongside characters that you can believe in as well as get a handle upon, all round make this a book that was a pure joy to read as each clue was revealed.

All round a cracking tale and one that has made sure that Mark's next outing will be top of my TBR pile. Cracking Crime Drama.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

HISTORICAL FICTION REVIEW: The Bernicia Chronicles 1: The Serpent Sword - Matthew Harffy

Release Date: 04/05/17
Publisher: Aria (Head of Zeus)

SYNOPSIS:

AD 633.

Beobrand is a young man with a shadowy past. As an outsider in the kingdom of Bernicia, he is compelled to join his brother, Octa, as a warrior in the household of King Edwin. He must learn to fight with sword and shield to defend the war-ravaged kingdoms of Northumbria.

In a period of great upheaval for Dark Age Britain, all he finds is death and war. Men and women strive to seize control of their destinies in a time of despair, and the land is rife with danger as warlords vie for supremacy and dominion. Amongst the blood and the betrayals, Beobrand learns of his brother's near-certain murder. Inexperienced but ruthless, Beobrand must form his own allegiances and learn to fight as a warrior with sword and shield.

Driven by a desire for vengeance and a relentless pursuit of his enemies, he faces challenges which transform him from a boy to a man who stands strong in the clamour and gore of the shieldwall. As he closes in on his kin's slayer, can Beobrand mete out the retribution he craves without sacrificing his honour... or even his soul?


REVIEW:

I love books that take me on an adventure and when they coincide with a landscape to which I'm familiar its not only easy to visualise but also helps you get your bearings but brings the tale to life as you can walk the landscape with the heroes of old.

The book is a solid treat for fans of Historical fiction and gives enough action to keep your heart in your mouth as this tale of vengeance alongside honour keeps the pages turning. Back this up with cracking prose, top notch sequences alongside an overall arc that furthers the characters development all round makes this a book that is hard to put down.

Finally throw into the mix the second title The Curse and Cross coming from Aria in November and you know that the wait won't be too long to see what else happens in our heroes timeline. Magic.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: Burned Man 3: Damnation - Peter McLean

Release Date: 02/05/17
Publisher: Angry Robot

SYNOPSIS:

Don Drake is living rough in a sink estate on the outskirts of Edinburgh, doing cheap spells for even cheaper customers while fending off the local lowlifes. Six months ago, Don fled from London to Glasgow to track down his old girlfriend Debbie the alchemist. With the Burned Man gradually driving him mad, Don meets with an ancient and mysterious tramp-slash-magician, with disastrous consequences. Now his old accomplices must step in to save Don from himself, before he damns himself for good this time.


REVIEW:

The third tale in the Burned Man series and one that take the reader from the lows of previous events and the principle players descent into drugs as he struggles to come to terms with what has gone before.

Its well written, the lead character believable and you can understand how he has been shaped by previous titles. The writing is addictive, the prose apt and when you throw into the mix a kick ass plot that has our hero alongside his friends forced into a situation that no one likes, we get to see just how dark his world has become with his only light against it being used as a pawn. Future outings are going to see one hell of a reckoning (literally) and I for one can't wait to see how events will play out. Definitely a series to read with similar echoes to the Mike Carey Felix Castor series.

Finally whilst you can pick this up without having read previous outings, you really ought to as this title has a lesson in how to help your reader not only associate but root for the lead hero no matter how bleak things seem.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

GUEST BLOG: Writing Tips with Robyn Bennis

Here at Falcata Times we love to chat to new authors and hear what they have to say about not only their work but the writing world at large. This time we were lucky enough to chat to debut author Robyn Bennis and see what writing tips she thought were passing on to writers around the world. Some may surprise you and others may be familiar, but for now we pass it on to Robyn to have her say:

"I have no love for broadly stated writing advice. In my experience, that sort of advice sits on a spectrum that runs from "utterly useless in respect to my writing" to "utterly useless in respect to anyone's writing."

There are a few nuggets of wisdom, however, which I've collected over the years, and which might just help you out. I offer them now in the dearest hope that you'll take them skeptically—but not so skeptically that you hurt my feelings.

Read broadly in genre, but selectively in quality.

If there's a prerequisite to being a writer, it's this. When people ask me how to become as good a writer as I am, I tell them… Okay, okay, let's be honest here. If people ever start asking me that, I will tell them to start by reading every good book they can get their hands on, especially in genres that they don't usually enjoy. The "good book" part of that advice, while admittedly subjective, is absolutely critical. Lucky for you, your writing is going to be just as subjective, so spend some time figuring out what sort of "good" you want your writing to be, whether that means mass-market appeal, critical acclaim, or something else entirely. In this way, you will gradually acquire a sharp instinct for quality in your chosen niche, build a foundation for frankly recognizing the strengths and weaknesses in your own writing, and avoid poisoning your mind with crap.

Invest in a whiteboard.

There was no single event which levelled-up my writing from merely good to big-five book deal quality, but if there was, it would be mounting a giant whiteboard on my apartment wall in direct contravention of my lease agreement. I placed it on a wall I no choice but to look at it every day, and whenever I ran into a seemingly unfixable plot hole or other impossible issue, I simply wrote the problem on the big board, leaving space below it for possible solutions. The effect was nothing short of magical. With the contents of the board always simmering in the back of my mind, intractable problems melted away and elegant solutions popped into my head at odd hours.

The other bit of white-board related advice I'll give is this: throw out your markers when they've run dry. Don't put dried-out markers back with the other ones, or a year from now you'll have to hunt through a dozen dry markers to find the only one that still works. I cannot comprehend why otherwise intelligent people do this. Sorry to be the hard-nosed realist here, but those spent markers are gone, they are not coming back, and keeping them around is just you being an asshole to your future self.

Don't let anyone dictate your voice and style.

This is not to say that you shouldn't listen to criticism, or that you should eschew all advice, but you should never take advice that pushes you out of your own style. This is especially true regarding advice which pushes you toward the advisor's style. I don't know why so many writers

want everyone else to write exactly like them. You'd think they'd value their own individual style enough to keep it unique. I can't imagine why they don't, but I have a working theory involving the Borg.

Don't write other writers' stories.

Similarly, watch for critique, criticism, and advice from people who had an inspiration for an entirely different story while reading yours, and now want you to reshape your story along the lines of their inspiration instead of damn well writing it themselves.

Always listen to criticism, and frankly consider it.

At first glance, this appears to be at odds with some of my previous admonitions, but notice how I didn't tell you to take the advice that's given. I've gotten a lot of terrible advice on my writing, and I've found that even terrible advice often conceals legitimate insight. The vapid critique partner who tells you not to use adverbs in your writing, but who is incapable of expressing that rule without using one himself, is someone whose advice ought to be taken with a big grain of salt. Then again, there might be something wrong with your prose if they were so bored that they stopped to count every instance of whatever the hell they imagine an adverb is, and it might be worth considering what that defect is.

None of this advice, I'm afraid, will make you a better writer. I know, I know, now she tells me. However, these tips may help you learn how to make yourself into a better writer, if you follow this one final piece of advice: write like it’s the only thing keeping you alive. If you have to, take an hour every day and make it your sacred writing time, during which you are not to be disturbed under pain of angry lecture. If writing is something you love—and it surely must be, if you've read so far into such a snotty article—you'll jealously guard the personal time it's going to take to improve your craft.

And if you should ever waver in your commitment, should you ever despair that your writing isn't yet good enough, should you look ahead to the long years of slow improvement and lose heart, just think of the snotty article that you're going to write once you're published, and take heart. "

You can learn more about Robyn Bennis at http://www.robynbennis.com or follow her @according2robyn and RobynBennisWriteringPun on Facebook.

SCIENCE FICTION FANTASY REVIEW: Signal Airship 1: The Gun's Above - Robyn Bennis

Release Date: 02/05/17
Publisher:  Tor/Pan Macmillan

SYNOPSIS:

In the tradition of Patrick O'Brian and Honor Harrington, Bennis's THE GUNS ABOVE is an adventurous military fantasy debut about a nation's first female airship captain.

They say it's not the fall that kills you.

For Josette Dupre, the Corps' first female airship captain, it might just be a bullet in the back.

On top of patrolling the front lines, she must also contend with a crew who doubts her expertise, a new airship that is an untested deathtrap, and the foppish aristocrat Lord Bernat, a gambler and shameless flirt with the military know-how of a thimble. Bernat's own secret assignment is to catalog her every moment of weakness and indecision.

So when the enemy makes an unprecedented move that could turn the tide of the war, can Josette deal with Bernat, rally her crew, and survive long enough to prove herself?


REVIEW:

Discovering a new author is always a magical moment for me, especially when I sit down, embark upon thier adventure and have a thoroughly enjoyable time as the pages weave thier own magic into my mind.

This was the case with Robyn who designed not only a believable world but also generated characters that I loved to spend time around from the dupicitous to the brave, from the loyal to the treacherous. Each one was wonderfully realised, felt like you would want to be in the bar drinknig with them and when the time for battle arose you worried about injuries and the possible fatalities of each of the crew men.

ITs a delightful jaunt full of action and daring do with cracking lulls to allow you to gather your breath before the next piece of fast flowing combat began. All round a cracking read and definitely something that already has me demandnig more with it feeling like a long wait to see what the Mistral's crew will undergo next. Cracking.

Thursday, 27 April 2017

SCIENCE FICTION DYSTOPIAN REVIEW: Void Star - Zachary Mason

Release Date: 27/04/17
Publisher: Jonathan Cape

SYNOPSIS:

Not far in the future the seas have risen and the central latitudes are emptying but it’s still a good time to be rich in San Francisco where weapons drones patrol the skies to keep out the multitudinous poor. Irina isn’t rich, not quite, but she does have an artificial memory that gives her perfect recall, and lets her act as a medium between her various employers and their AIs, which are complex to the point of opacity. It’s a good gig, paying enough for the annual visits to the Mayo Clinic that keep her from ageing.

Kern has no such access; he's one of the many refugees in the sprawling drone-built favelas on the city’s periphery, where he lives like a monk, training relentlessly in martial arts, scraping by as a thief and an enforcer. Thales is from a different world entirely – the mathematically-inclined scion of a Brazilian political clan, he's fled to L.A. after the attack that left him crippled and his father dead.

A ragged stranger accosts Thales and demands to know how much he can remember. Kern flees for his life after robbing the wrong mark. Irina finds a secret in the reflection of a laptop’s screen in her employer’s eyeglasses. None are safe as they’re pushed together by subtle forces that stay just out of sight.

Vivid, tumultuous and propulsive, Void Star is Zachary Mason’s mind-bending follow-up to his bestselling debut The Lost Books of the Odyssey.


REVIEW:

Sad to say that I was expecting quite a lot out of this book and was sadly disappointed with a tale that was very cold and a bit too clean almost as if a super computer had written it and removed all warmth from within. Thats not to say its a terrible book, it was just a title that didn't gel with me purely for the fact that I couldn't find a character within that I liked or wanted to spend time around.

Whilst it will appeal to a number of readers out there, it really wasn't my bag of *micro" chips and whilst I could see some good solid writing with decent prose all round it just didn't want to keep me engaged with what was happening within. A great shame.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: Elemental Assassin 16: Snared - Jennifer Estep

Release Date: 25/04/17
Publisher: 

SYNOPSIS:

The sixteenth book in the New York Times bestselling Elemental Assassin urban fantasy series that RT Book Reviews calls, “An extraordinary series…[containing] one of the most intriguing heroines in the genre.”

If you don’t know Gin “the Spider” Blanco, you don’t know dangerous female heroines.

Irony 101—The Spider herself snared in someone else’s web…

Another week, another few clues trickling in about the Circle, the mysterious group that supposedly runs the city’s underworld. Gathering intel on my hidden enemies is a painstaking process, but a more immediate mystery has popped up on my radar: a missing girl.

My search for the girl begins on the mean streets of Ashland, but with all the killers and crooks in this city, I’m not holding out much hope that she’s still alive.

A series of clues leads me down an increasingly dark, dangerous path, and I realize that the missing girl is really just the first thread in this web of evil. As an assassin, I’m used to facing down the worst of the worst, but nothing prepares me for this new, terrifying enemy—one who strikes from the shadows and is determined to make me the next victim.


REVIEW:

I've loved this series since i discovered it a little while ago. Jennifer always gives me a story that is high octane action mixing it with softer emotional elements and brings it all together with a kick ass plot that doesn't let go.

The writing is friendly, crisp and when you throw into the mix a principle character that you love to spend time with alongside a supporting cast that you care about all round means that its hard each time you turn the final page knowing that it'll be a while before you embark on their next story.

All round a great piece of fun although I really want to know whats in Gen's BBQ sauce so I can make some up before embarking on the next tale. Magic.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

FANTASY REVIEW: Skullsworn - Brian Staveley

Release Date: 20/04/17
Publisher: Tor/Pan Macmillan

SYNOPSIS:

Pyrre Lakatur doesn’t like the description skullsworn. It doesn’t capture the beauty of her devotion to Ananshael, God of Death. And she’s not an assassin, but a priestess. Or she will be, if she can pass her final trial. The problem isn’t killing, as Pyrre has spent her life training for this. The problem is love. To pass the trial, she will have fourteen days to kill seven people detailed in an ancient song, including one true love, ‘who will not come again’. However, Pyrre has never been in love, time is short, and if she fails she’ll be given to her god.

Pyrre’s not afraid to die, but she hates to fail. So a month before the trial begins, she returns to the violent city of her birth, where she once offered an abusive father to the god. Here Pyrre hopes to find love – and end it with the edge of her knife.


REVIEW:

Having enjoyed the authors previous work, I was rather looking forward to returning to the world and spending time with one of the cast members, this time in the lead role. However to be honest I had a hell of a job getting into the book. I found the character detestable and to be blunt, if you hadn't read the previous titles in the series (although this is the start of a new one) you may well find yourself more than confused and wondering how long you'd persevere with the book.

I'm not saying its bad, but the first chapter feels more than a little clunky and almost lost as if it were a later add on or a start that wasn't returned to later and polished to keep it smoother. The writing is solid enough, the story arc one full of reasonable twists and turns which when added to dialogue that helps further it, generates a book that is more OK than anything else.

All round, I will stick with Brian as I feel that there's a lot more behind the scenes waiting to come to the fore in later outings for the world, however as a standalone I do feel that this one is more of a middle of the road title than a standout must read book.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

SCIENCE FICTION CRIME REVIEW: From Darkest Skies - Sam Peters

Release Date: 20/04/17
Publisher: Gollancz

SYNOPSIS:

After a five year sabbatical following the tragic death of his wife and fellow agent Alysha, Keon Rause returns to the distant colony world of Magenta to resume service with the Magentan Intelligence Service. With him he brings an artificial recreation of his wife's personality, a simulacrum built from every digital trace she left behind. She has been constructed with one purpose - to discover the truth behind her own death - but Keon's relationship with her has grown into something more, something frighteningly dependent, something that verges on love.

Cashing in old favours, Keon uses his return to the Service to take on a series of cases that allow him and the artificial Alysha to piece together his wife's last days. His investigations lead him inexorably along the same paths Alysha followed five years earlier, to a sinister and deadly group with an unhealthy fascination for the unknowable alien Masters; but as the wider world of Magenta is threatened with an imminent crisis, Keon finds himself in a dilemma: do his duty and stand with his team to expose a villainous crime, or sacrifice them all for the truth about his wife?


REVIEW:

OK, a book that to be honest could have done without the Westworld addition to the cover, yes I know, it will sell the book and help put it into a niche that people can identify with but for me it feels like cheap shot that detracts from the story within.

Yes there's AI, and yes it has sentience alongside being "better than the original" but for Skynets sake, AI is so much more than that.

Right that said, lets onto the nitty gritty, the book has good prose, an interesting principle character and a Crime Thriller theme that works wonderfully well in this genre. What doesn't work however is the female cast members around him. They felt cheap and nasty, rather 2D rather than fully realised as they all seemed to be cut from two stereotypical cloths that for me made me feel that a lot of hard work was thrown way just to keep the author focused on the story.

Yes at the end of the day its a solid story and one that I did have a lot of fun reading but when an author alienates half of the readership due to poor insight into the feminine psyche then you really have to pull up a chair and ask why.