Sunday, 23 October 2016

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: The Secrets of Time and Fate - Rebecca Alexander

Release Date:  02/06/16
Publisher: Del Rey


16th Century
Edward Kelley and his mentor Dr John Dee have come to a crossroads. At the mercy of Countess Elizabeth Báthory, they set out to find a cure for her unnatural condition.

21st Century
Jackdaw Hammond is living rough in London, blacking out and waking with a sense of dread. Can the lessons of the past help defeat the dark magic that threatens to steal her soul?


A book I couldn't literally wait to get my teeth into, especially when past names of not only the occult but supernatural tales were the center of the tale.  What is not to love?  Well to be honest, a story that brought them fully fleshed to life.  Each person named is unique and a larger than life character that needed a book all to themselves just to try and get an idea about their personalities, motives and ego.  Yet thrown together in one leaves each feeling like a weak 2d flat bitty player rather than the fully vibrant character that they were in real life.

All round, for me, this book needed to be gone through a few more times to help slicken the prose, get the pace steady and with more concentration upon personality development for the characters however I have to say that I did like the concepts and I think that perhaps that with this being the third title in the series, may have left the plot a little short in order to wrap a lot up..

Saturday, 22 October 2016

TRUE CRIME REVIEW: Undercover: A True Story - Joe Carter

Release Date: 12/06/16
Publisher: Century


Twenty years undercover - one man's true story of life as an undercover cop. A must-read for fans of Donnie Brasco.

For over 20 years Joe Carter has worked for the police as an undercover cop. He travelled the globe on different passports. He fraternised with thieves, international drugs and arms dealers. He worked alongside the most dangerous criminals. Always fearing that this life would come crashing down around him at any point.

His story is a gripping account of the secret, solitary work of an undercover officer and the many ‘sticky’ situations he found himself in, as well as the moving confession of the difficulty in reconciling his two identities with his family life. It’s a story of his beginnings from a being a young east end apprentice to the mean streets he walks today – it reveals the many highs and the painful lows of going undercover.

This book explores the resilience needed to lead a double life, the thrilling challenge of working with the biggest criminals in Britain, and maintaining a sense of justice through the many adventures he encounters.


Books like this are not only hard to read but also to process as to be honest you're reading a real person's life story. Not a fictional write up but the down and dirty gritty highs and low's that a flesh and blood person has had to deal with.

It's hardcore, dark and t times depressing as the reader gets to spend time with a man you feel is doing his best for communities and yet, the criminals aren't as clear cut as you'd like to think. Its harsh, not dressed up with any unnecessary dressing and to the point, which is pretty much what you'd expect from a police officer.

All round a title that whilst hard to read was a book that I was pleased I spent the time with, to see the real face of undercover work without the make up of Hollywood or TV to hide behind.

Friday, 21 October 2016

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge - Paul Krueger

Release Date: 07/06/16
Publisher:  Quirk Books


In this sharp and funny urban fantasy novel, booze is magic, demons are real, and millennial Bailey Chen joins a band of monster-fighting Chicago bartenders instead of finding a “real” post-college job.

Bailey Chen is fresh out of college with all the usual new-adult demons: no cash, no job offers, and an awkward relationship with Zane, the old friend she kinda-sorta hooked up with during high school.

But when Zane introduces Bailey to his monster-fighting bartender friends, her demons become a lot more literal. It turns out that evil creatures stalk the city streets after hours, and they can be hunted only with the help of magically mixed cocktails: vodka grants super-strength, whiskey offers the power of telekinesis, and rum lets its drinker fire blasts of elemental energy. But will all these powers be enough for Bailey to halt a mysterious rash of gruesome deaths? And what will she do when the safety of a “real world” job beckons?

This sharp and funny urban fantasy is perfect for fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, and grown-up readers of Harry Potter. Includes 14 recipes from a book of ancient cocktail lore.


This book for me, had the potential to be a new type of UF Comedy in the vein of Tom Holt, so when I originally read the premise, I was pretty hooked and looking forward to a light hearted romp that would not only entertain but help me laugh my troubles away.

Except, thats not what happened. The book tried to be a serious ouring with a new type of magical gift that is "alcohol fueled." The comedy options you would think would be tripping over themselves however for me, the whole book didn't even raise a smile. In fact I just got more and more annoyed as it went on trying to come up with believable circumstances etc that just made it go from weird to downright bizarre.

All round, whilst I saw the potential here, I didn't feel that it was a book that really hit home for me. I did like the odd character, I did like some of the concepts but overall when a book pushes things a little too far, I have to draw the line and let it go.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

CRIME THRILLER REVIEW: Tennison 2: Hidden Killers - Lynda La Plante

Release Date: 20/10/16
Publisher: Simon and Schuster


From BAFTA award-winning creator of Prime Suspect, starring Helen Mirren, comes the blistering follow-up to the bestselling Tennison. Jane Tennison, a young, inexperienced WPC, learns the hard way never to take anyone, or anything, at face value, whether in her dealings with her police colleagues or when confronted by seemingly innocent suspects.
Hidden Killers sees Jane acting as a ‘decoy’ prostitute, with the hope of capturing a suspect wanted for numerous sexual assaults. The attacker is drawn in and put under arrest. Commended for bravery in the case, Jane is given CID status and moves from Hackney to Bow Street Station as Detective. Her first call-out is to a non-suspicious death. The victim is a young mother, drowned tragically in her bath, leaving a bereft and doting husband and a young child.
The two storylines interweave as Jane begins to doubt the evidence against her assailant in East London, and becomes certain that the young woman in the bath did not drown in tragic circumstances. Two entirely different cases but one common thread - the lingering doubt in Jane’s mind around the evidence, and around her colleagues…


Jane Tennison has been a part of my life for a while now and I just love to spend time with her. She's gutsy, a challenger to the hierarchy and above all else a person who believes in the truth no matter how uncomfortable it makes either her or the reader feel.

As usual with Lynda's writing, the police work feels solid, the clues alongside their answers can mislead at times as often as they help solve the crime and above all else for me, its getting the time with a younger Tennison so we learn what happened to create the detective so beloved by the Prime Suspect audience.

All round another cracking outing and with dialogue that not only fits the lady she is to become but the character feeling her way though the difficult machinations of a male orientated job generates a book of tensions that really give the pace a serious kick in order to keep that blood pumping. Top notch.

FANTASY REVIEW: The God Fragments 1: Stranger of Tempest - Tom Lloyd

Release Date: 16/06/16
Publisher:  Gollancz


Lynx is a mercenary with a sense of honour; a dying breed in the Shattered Kingdom. Failed by the nation he served and weary of the skirmishes that plague the continent's principalities, he walks the land in search of purpose. He wants for little so bodyguard work keeps his belly full and his mage-gun loaded. It might never bring a man fame or wealth, but he's not forced to rely on others or kill without cause. Little could compel Lynx to join a mercenary company, but he won't turn his back on a kidnapped girl. At least the job seems simple enough; the mercenaries less stupid and vicious than most he's met over the years. So long as there are no surprises or hidden agendas along the way, it should work out fine.


Tom for me is an author that I've loved for quite some time. His world building is impeccable, the cities populated with diverse cultures, cracking prose and all bound together with an arc that picks you up from the very beginning not letting go until the final page.

Add to this dialogue that works well, and perhaps best of all, characters, both principle and supporting, that you want to spend time with really makes it something special. All round a cracking title and one that I've absolutely adored. Can't wait to see whats next in the God Fragments series.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

BOOKS NEWS: David Gemmell New Novel and Reprint of White Knight Black Swan - Gollancz

A piece of news for all David Gemmell fans and something we've been pretty excited about for quite some time.  Here you go:

A brand new, never before seen, novel from the late David Gemmell

Gollancz, an imprint of the Orion Publishing Group, is thrilled to announce the acquisition of a never before seen novel from bestselling author David Gemmell recovered from his archives. RHYMING RINGS is a crime novel that long lay forgotten amongst the author’s personal effects until it was recently rediscovered by his widow, Stella Gemmell.

RHYMING RINGS tells the story of an ambidextrous killer who is murdering women in London, leaving virtually no evidence behind. Struggling local journalist Jeremy Miller wishes he was covering the case, but instead he’s stuck with heart-warming local stories about paraplegic teenagers and elderly, psychic ladies. When his news stories and the murder case start to converge no one is more surprised than Jeremy, or - it turns out - more at risk. Sure to delight Gemmell’s many ardent fans, RHYMING RINGS promises to be a thrilling new work in the crime genre, hitting shelves for the first time in May 2017.

Gollancz Commissioning Editor, Marcus Gipps, acquired UK and Commonwealth rights including audio from Howard Morhaim of the Morhaim Literary Agency through Caspian Dennis at Abner Stein.

Gollancz will also be supporting the publication of RHYMING RINGS by returning to print for the first time in 25 years the long-forgotten WHITE KNIGHT, BLACK SWAN, a crime novel originally published by David Gemmell under the pseudonym Ross Harding. WHITE KNIGHT, BLACK SWAN will be published September 2017.

Marcus Gipps said: “We’re delighted to be presenting David’s legions of fans with both a brand new, completely unpublished book and a reprint of a very hard to find one. We’ve worked closely with Stella Gemmell, and although these books may be set in a different genre to that which made his name, the core of what made David such a popular author shines clearly through. Both are crime novels with a supernatural tinge, and draw heavily on David’s life as a reporter in 80s London. They display his trademark deftness with character – especially damaged heroes - with a sense of pace and flair for action, and will be snapped up by his devoted fanbase.”

About David Gemmell: David Gemmell was one of the UK's number one fantasy and historical novelists, penning more than 30 novels before his death in 2006. The author of the ground-breaking LEGEND as well as the Drenai novels, the Rigante series, the Troy sequence and the hit Jon Shannow sequence; he was one of the most influential novelists in the fantasy genre. The prestigious David Gemmell awards are named in his honour.

About Gollancz: Gollancz is the oldest specialist SF & Fantasy publisher in the UK. Founded in 1927 and with a continuous SF publishing programme dating back to 1961, the imprint of the Orion Publishing Group is home to a galaxy of award-winning and bestselling authors. Through our long-running SF and Fantasy Masterworks programme, and major digital initiative the SF Gateway, Gollancz have one of the largest ranges of SF and Fantasy of any publisher in the world.


Hardback £14.99 | eBook £7.99 | Audio £19.99


Hardback £14.99 | eBook £7.99 | Audio £19.99

SCIENCE FICTION NEWS: Century announce Star Wars Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel - James Luceno

Our first news article of today and osmething for all Star War's Fans:

Star Wars: Catalyst: A Rogue One Story by James Luceno
Published by Century on 17th November, priced £19.99

War is tearing the galaxy apart. For years the Republic and the Separatists have battled across the stars, each building more and more deadly technology in an attempt to win the war. As a member of Chancellor Palpatine’s top secret Death Star project, Orson Krennic is determined to develop a superweapon before their enemies can. And an old friend of Krennic’s, the brilliant scientist Galen Erso, could be the key.

Galen’s energy-focused research has captured the attention of both Krennic and his foes, making the scientist a crucial pawn in the galactic conflict. But after Krennic rescues Galen, his wife, Lyra, and their young daughter, Jyn, from Separatist kidnappers, the Erso family is deeply in Krennic’s debt. Krennic then offers Galen an extraordinary opportunity: to continue his scientific studies with every resource put utterly at his disposal. While Galen and Lyra believe that his energy research will be used purely in altruistic ways, Krennic has other plans that will finally make the Death Star a reality. Trapped in their benefactor’s tightening grasp, the Ersos must untangle Krennic’s web of deception to save themselves and the galaxy itself.

We can't wait to get our hands on it,

Gareth and Lady Eleanor

SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: Wolf's Empire 1: Gladiator - Claudia Christian

Release Date: 13/07/16
Publisher: Forge


When her mother and brother are murdered, young noblewoman Accala Viridius cries out for vengeance. But the empire is being torn apart by a galactic civil war, and her demands fall on deaf ears. Undeterred, Accala sacrifices privilege and status to train as a common gladiator. Mastering the one weapon available to her - a razor-sharp discus that always returns when thrown - she enters the deadly imperial games, the only arena where she can face her enemies. But Fortune's wheel grants Accala no favours - the emperor decrees that the games will be used to settle the civil war, the indigenous lifeforms of the arena world are staging a violent revolt, and Accala finds herself drugged, cast into slavery and forced to fight on the side of the man she set out to kill. Set in a future Rome that never fall, but instead expanded to become a galaxy spanning empire, Accala's struggle to survive and exact her revenge will take her on a dark journey that will cost her more than she ever imagined.


An unusual title and one that I just absolutely loved to spend time with as Claudia not only gave me one hell of adventure to set the stars on fire but delivered a principle character that I felt that i not only had a connection with but wanted to see her achieve her goals no matter how insurmountable they seemed.

The writing was crisp, the prose delightful and for me it was how Accala Viridius grew as the tale developed taking what was initially a quest for vengeance into something bigger as she starts to see the bigger picture of what she faces. All round a great start to a series and one I can't wait to see what will happen next. Magic.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

CRIME THRILLER REVIEW: The Dying Detective - Leif Persson

Release Date: 30/06/16
Publisher: Transworld


Retired Chief of the National Crime Police and Swedish Security Service Lars Martin Johansson has just suffered a stroke. He is paying the price for a life of excess - stress, good food and fine wine. With his dangerously high blood pressure, his heart could fail at the slightest excitement.

In the hospital, a chance encounter with a neurologist provides an important piece of information about a 25-year-old murder investigation and alerts Lars Martin Johansson's irrepressible police instincts. The period for prosecution expired just weeks earlier and that isn't the only limitation. Lars Martin Johansson is determined to solve the atrocious crime – from his deathbed.

The inimitable style, distinct voice and dark humour of Leif GW Persson, along with the fascinating exploration of a long-cold murder case, serves to make The Dying Detective a true masterpiece of the genre.


It probably comes to many readers as no surprise that I love to spend time in the Scandinavian Crime genre. There's soemthing so moreish about the landscape and the culture that populates it that really has you glued from start to Finnish (sorry for the pun. LOL)

Here Leif goes to prove why, if you love crime thrillers, you really need to delve into it and in particular, if this is your first outing, why you should make this book your starting point. As the title states its the story of Lars Martin Johansson, the dying detective, who in his final days seeks to resolve a case that has been ongoing for a quarter of a ventury. Its well written, the characters not only beleiveable but people you feel you could actually meet and when its all bound up with cracking dialogue as well as beautifully written prose, you know that you're on to a winner.

ITs a delightful dive into a dark world but for me, what makes this story more than compelling is the principle character coming to terms with what is to come, hoping to clear his mind and conscience of that one case that has been there since it originated before his death. ITs dark, brings the world into startling colour and whilst I can't vie for all the procedures within, feels like its correct with other titles I've read.

If you only read one Scandinavian crime, please meke sure that its this one. You won't be disappointed and I get the feeling that it will open up a whole new set of titles that will take you away as well as chilling your marrow.

Monday, 17 October 2016

DVD REVIEW: Dr Strange (1978) - Universal Pictures UK

Release Date: 17/10/16
Publisher:  Universal Pictures UK


Philip DeGuere writes and directs this fantasy adventure based on the Marvel comics character. After predicting the return to Earth of the evil sorceress Morgan LeFay (Jessica Walter), shaman Lindmer (John Mills) trains young psychiatry resident Dr Stephen Strange (Peter Wooten) in the ways of the mystic arts in order for him to take control of the elements and save the world.


I've agonised over writing this review as to be honest I didn't want the Marvel fans to jump down my neck for slating a film that is utterly terrible, but with the soon to be Cinema Revamp release under the Marvel name coming in November, I was given the chance to view the original Tv movie so thought what the hell.

What occurs within is a sheer mess, its overly long for what little plot they have, the characters are poorly 2d and sadly never give you what you would expect of the character from the comic books as he has no personality what so ever as opposed ot being charismatic and a charmer.

The plot is drivel, written to bring in the Arthurian mythos and sadly doesn't make any sense when looked at from an outside point of view. Back this up with dire acting, character twists that were nonsensical alongside dialogue that had more wood in it than the Amazon and all round I was very disappointed. IT really is not a surprise that this didn't get a TV series from it.

FANTASY NOVELLA REVIEW: The Augur's Gambit and The King's Justice - Stephen Donaldson

Release Date: 30/06/16
Publisher: Gollancz


From the international bestselling author of The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant comes an extensive and all original new fantasy novella.

Augur's Gambit is a tight and action-filled novella of more than 40,000 words. A novella with all the rich word-building and acute characterisation that readers have come to expect from the man who re-invigorated the whole genre in the 1980s and went on to write one of Fantasy's landmark series.

Revelling in the sense of freedom that comes from writing a new creation after the massive, controlled effort of the ten book epic of the Chronicles this is a novella that will both delight existing fans and win new readers for Donaldson's uniquely rich and intelligent fantasies.


A novella by Stephan in his Thomas Covanent series and is a title that fans will devour in a short time. IIt's delightful, has a solid story arc and for any fan will be a little gem to help escape from the real world. As usual with Stephen you get magical dialogue, top notch prose and its all welded together with an arc that will more than fire the imagination. Cracking.

Release Date: 30/06/16
Publisher: Gollancz


Stephen Donaldson devoted many years to his epic creation The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant. Now he is back with an all new novella; 40,000 words of richly imagined fantasy with beautiful world building and intense characterisation. The perfect read for existing fans and new readers alike.

A man on a horse, confident in his powers but alone, rides a long and lonely road through rain-soaked woods. But he is on a path that he knows and he is bringing much needed justice with him. Four guards stop him. But not for long.


The second Novella by Stephen Donaldson that fan's of his Thomas Covanent series will love to own. As usual with his storytelling its beautifully written, has cracking storytelling with prose that just trips off the page. back this up with wonderful pace and all round you'll be a more than happy reader. Finally throw into the mix that its a hardback and its a book that you'll be able to enjoy quite a few times. Magic

Sunday, 16 October 2016

FANTASY REVIEW: Empire of Storms 1: Hope and Red - Jon Skovron

Release Date: 20/06/16
Publisher: Orbit


HOPE, the lone survivor of a village massacred by the emperor's forces, is secretly trained as a warrior and instrument of vengeance.

RED, an orphan adopted by a notorious matriarch of the criminal underworld, learns to be an expert thief and con artist.

Together they will take down an empire.


I read this title a while ago and whilst I enjoyed it I wanted time to think it through. There were so many things I loved about if from the outstanding cast of members with their own individual personalities helping to form the world in which they inhabitted, the colourful underbelly of society and of course the almost purity of one of the heroes of the tale.

Its dark, has some deliciously tantalising action sequences, cracking dialogue and of course not forgetting the top notch prose and a pace that if I had to pick a problem with the book whilst OK could be worked on so that we didn't have so many action scenes tightly packed with barely a moment to gather your breath.

It is well written, I have loved spending the time in this world and I really can't wait to see what the evil Biomancers have in store for our heroes next or how their actions will shape the world. Cracking.

Saturday, 15 October 2016

SCI-FI REVIEW: The Hatching - Ezekiel Boone

Release Date: 05/07/16


Deep in the jungle of Peru, a black, skittering mass devours an American tourist party whole. FBI agent Mike Rich investigates a fatal plane crash in Minneapolis and makes a gruesome discovery. Unusual seismic patterns register in a Indian earthquake lab, confounding the scientists there. The Chinese government "accidentally" drops a nuclear bomb in an isolated region of its own country. The first female president of the United States is summoned to an emergency briefing. And all of these events are connected.

As panic begins to sweep the globe, a mysterious package from South America arrives at Melanie Guyer's Washington laboratory. The unusual egg inside begins to crack. Something is spreading...
The world is on the brink of an apocalyptic disaster. An virulent ancient species, long dormant, is now very much awake. But this is only the beginning of our end...


Upon originally reading the book blurb, I have to say that this title from Ezekiel sounded like my sort of thing, a Syfy Spidery title of Sharknado proportions. OK, to a fair few of you that might sound awful, but its a book that really gave me a feel of one of those types of films and to be honest I love them.

My twin and I often see who can find the most outlandish film that suspends belief, has absolutely weird premises and of course delivers action as well as typical archetypical characters. Its a delight to escape the real world with something like this and for me the author really delivered.

I had good action sequences, the hair on the back of my head was more than quivering and as a guy who doesn't have a problem with spiders, it took me right back to watching Arachnaphobia for the first time. Its deliciously macabre, delightfully outlandish and for me celebrates the old B-Movies in a modern way. Great fun and a book that my twin is not only going to love but a story that just deserves to be Syfy fodder. OK, its not high art writing but if you want some fun, something that is there to entertain and a story that will have you enjoying each scurrying wave then this could well be the book for you. Great fun.

Friday, 14 October 2016

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: Deadlands 2: Thunder Moon Rising - Jeffrey Mariotte

Release Date: 13/10/16
Publisher: Tor/Forge


Fear is abroad in the Deadlands as a string of brutal killings and cattle mutilations trouble a frontier town in the Arizona Territory, nestled in the forbidding shadow of the rugged Thunder Mountains. A mule train is massacred, homes and ranches are attacked, and men and women are stalked and butchered by bestial killers who seem to be neither human nor animal. Meanwhile, a ruthless land baron tries to buy up all the surrounding territory and possibly bring about an apocalypse. Once an officer in the Union Army, Tucker Bringloe is now a worthless drunk begging for free drinks at the corner saloon. When he's roped into a posse searching for the nameless killers, Tuck must rediscover the man he once was if he's to halt the bloodshed and stop occult forces from unleashing Hell on Earth ...when the Thunder Moon rises.


I loved the first book in the series and because I remember playing Deadland's when it originally came out (I'm showing my age here) I've always loved spending time in an Alternate History of the world especially when as a gamer or reader you get to spend time in the saddle emulating your childhood heroes. (All those John Wayne and Clint Eastwood movies I watched with my Dad as a kid.)

What Deadlands does well is bring the supernatural into play and whilst its set in the world of Deadlands, it feels free of commitement utilising just the world and history as background in order to tell its won tale.

The book is delightfully fast paced, action sequences about and when added to a principle archetypal hero to spend time around alongside solid dialogue all round gave me goosebumps as I made my way through the book. Back this up finally with a cracking kick-ass plot and I was a more than happy reader. I wished more books based on roleplay games followed this type of writing.

Thursday, 13 October 2016

HISTORICAL FICTION REVIEW: The Last Horseman - David Gilman

Release Date: 11/08/16


Dublin, 1899. On a foul night in a troubled city, lawyer Joseph Radcliffe watches the execution of a young Irish rebel. Radcliffe, together with his black American comrade Benjamin Pierce, has made a living defending the toughest cases in Dublin, but is haunted by the spectre of his defeats, the loss of his wife and child and his difficult relationship with his surviving son, Edward. While Ireland smoulders with rebellion, war breaks out in South Africa and when, after an argument with his father, Edward runs away to join the Irish forces fighting there, Radcliffe, accompanied by Pierce, sets out to find him and bring him home.

South Africa, 1900. Both Radcliffe and Pierce have known war. Former cavalrymen in the US army, they have seen enough killing to last them a lifetime. But eight hundred miles north of Cape Town, amid the trackless veld, they experience the bloody brutality of a conflict that the British generals are shocked to discover they are losing. Under fire from Boer snipers and artillery, distrusted by the British forces, the two old soldiers will find their survival skills tested to the hilt as they search for the missing boy in this epic tale of heroism and treachery, love and loyalty.


I've loved David's Master of War series and to be honest I put off reading this as I worried that I wouldn't like his writing style with more modern weaponry yet when I did eventually pick up this book I have to say that I was more than happy with my reading time.

As with his other work, the writing is sharp, contains some great characterisation, builds upon events in the past as our heroes face their future in the Boer War and helps give this time period a realistic feel to me as a reader.

Back this up with top notch action sequences, more than a few heart in mouth moments, backed with good pace and all round its a series for me to savour with each new offering. Cracking.

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

YOUNG ADULT REVIEW: Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children 1: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children - Ransom Riggs

Release Date: 01/08/16


The #1 New York Times Best Seller is now a major motion picture from visionary director Tim Burton, starring Eva Green, Asa Butterfield, Ella Purnell, Samuel L. Jackson, and Judi Dench.
Bonus features
• Q&A with author Ransom Riggs
• Eight pages of color stills from the film
• Sneak preview of Hollow City, the next novel in the series

A mysterious island.

An abandoned orphanage.

A strange collection of very curious photographs.

It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive. A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows.


To be honest I book I hadn't heard of until I saw the trailer for the Tim Burton film and a title that I was more than interested in upon reading the premise as I love something different and finding gems not only for myself to love but also my younger relatives who at times fall out of love with reading.

What this book will give them is a story that has great characters, demonstrates that whilst you're different, friendships and trust can be built and backing up your friends can help you find strengths you didn't know you had.

Its beautifully written, has good dialogue, allows good character development as our hero learns to cope with the death of his grandfather and for me, demonstrates that cracking storytelling reaches all generations.

Back this up with a whole series to sit back and enjoy and all round I was a more than happy reader. The only thing I would suggest is read the book before seeing the film as personally (whilst I haven't seen it yet, I tend to get way more from books.) Great stuff.

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: London Tau 1: Poison City - Paul Crilley

Release Date: 11/08/16
Publisher: Hodder


The name's Gideon Tau, but everyone just calls me London. I work for the Delphic Division, the occult investigative unit of the South African Police Service. My life revolves around two things - finding out who killed my daughter and imagining what I'm going to do to the bastard when I catch him.

I have two friends. The first is my boss, Armitage, a fifty-something DCI from Yorkshire who looks more like someone's mother than a cop. Don't let that fool you. The second is the dog, my magical spirit guide. He talks, he watches TV all day, and he's a mean drunk.

Life is pretty routine - I solve crimes, I search for my daughter's killer. Wash, rinse, repeat. Until the day I'm called out to the murder of a ramanga - a low-key vampire - basically, the tabloid journalist of the vampire world. It looks like an open and shut case. There's even CCTV footage of the killer.

Except... the face on the CCTV footage? It's the face of the man who killed my daughter. I'm about to face a tough choice. Catch her killer or save the world? I can't do both.

It's not looking good for the world.

Poison City is the first in a fantastical new series for fans of Ben Aaronovitch, Lauren Beukes, Sarah Lotz and Stephen King.


Some books follow trends, others step out not only to forge a different path but to burn their own way through the literary jungle. It's this second group that Paul's stunning Poison City falls into.

It has cracking characters, good solid growth and when you get the backstory for those involved you can see how hard some of the choices are that they have to face. It's definitely quirky, fun to read and gave me a wonderful sense for the part of world where its set. All round its a pure joy to read and with great pace, magical dialogue all round leaves me demanding more. Definitely a book I'm buying for quite a few UF fans I know this year. Magic.

Monday, 10 October 2016

SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: Outer Earth 3: Impact - Rob Boffard

Release Date: 25/08/16
Publisher: Orbit


Following Tracer and Zero-G comes Impact, the explosive conclusion to the Outer Earth trilogy - a heart-pounding thriller set in space where the hero moves like lightning and the consequences for failure are deadly.

A signal has been picked up from Earth.

The planet was supposed to be uninhabitable. But it seems there are survivors down there - with supplies, shelter and running water. Perhaps there could be a future for humanity on Earth after all.

Riley Hale will find out soon enough. She's stuck on a spaceship with the group of terrorists that is planning to brave the planet's atmosphere and crash-land on the surface.

But when the re-entry goes wrong, Riley ends up hundreds of miles from her companions Prakesh and Carver, alone in a barren wilderness. She'll have to use everything she knows to survive.

And all of them are about to find out that nothing on Earth is what it seems . . .


Having had the characters set up in the original two books and taking the reader to Earth in the final title in the series, the readers have been expecting something pretty damn epic from Rob in the conclusion, so perhaps the question should be more than anything else is does he deliver?

Well in short, yes he does. Its hard hitting, barely lets you grab a breath as one action sequence leads into another and when you throw in top notch prose and plotlines that keep you engrossed all round makes this a cracking end to the series.

Back this up with some solid dialogue and all round its pretty good. The only downside for me is that I did feel that I didn't get any character growth and that it was more based around getting to the tales end rather than anything else. That said it is a niggle for me but having had some solid character development before it can be forgiven to a certain degree. Overall a good bit of fun and whilst practicalities have to be thrown out of the window when reading the series, all round it is good fun and if you know an action fan wanting to embark on something new, its a great trilogy to allow them the escapism that they'd want. Cracking.

Sunday, 9 October 2016

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: Night Watch 6: The Sixth Watch - Sergei Lukyanenko

Release Date: 01/09/16
Publisher: William Heinemann



For a millennium, the Others, a supernatural race of magicians, shape-shifters, vampires, and healers, have maintained an uneasy peace between Light Others and Dark Others that has protected both our world and the Twilight, a shadowy parallel world beneath our own. Now, these rival factions must unite against the ultimate enemy.

A Light magician and high-ranking member of the Night Watch, Anton Gorodetsky fears nothing. But lately the threats are mounting. A reincarnated vampire has been terrorizing Moscow, and is using the victims to send him a message. His daughter s school is ambushed by a chimera unlike any he has seen. And the Prophets have all reached the same chilling conclusion: Our world is running out of time.

If we are to stand a chance, the rival factions of Others must unite against this evil as the Sixth Watch. But can they put aside their grievances with the world at stake? Will it be enough? Journeying from Russia to Paris, the Alps, and New York City, Anton comes in peace but he is prepared for war. For if he fails, no one is safe.


I've been a fan of this series for a number of years and whilst I've pretty much loved spending time with the characterrs and world they inhabit, all good things have to come to an end. Sadly for me I felt that this book wasn't as good as a lot of the others. Why?

Well for me, I wasn't happy with the flow of the book. The language felt stunted and I was left wondering if this was down to the author himself or the translation being not as thorough as perhaps that others were. That said, I did get a cracking story, I did get to see things through with a fair few favourite characters and I felt like we got a book that wapped a hell of a lot up nicely enough without leaving us demanding more.

All round it is a solid title but when I feel a little cheated without flowing language and chopped up prose, then it does ruin my reading pleasure quite a bit.

Saturday, 8 October 2016

CRIME THRILLER REVIEW: In Death 42 and 43: Brotherhood in Death and Apprentice in Death - JD Robb

Release Date: 04/08/16



Edward Mira is a powerful man, with a lot of enemies. But when the former senator is violently abducted, Lieutenant Eve Dallas suspects his kidnap is more personal than political. Someone is seeking justice; the bloodier the better.

Edward's cousin Dennis was injured during the abduction - and that makes things very personal for Eve and her husband Roarke. Dennis is a beloved friend, married to NYPSD's top profiler Charlotte Mira.

But as Eve delves deeper into the case, dark secrets emerge that could tear the family apart. Edward Mira has friends in high places - and they all seem to be hiding something. As her investigation takes a shocking turn, Eve finds that not all victims are innocent, and that some bonds are forged not in friendship, but in blood.


I've enjoyed this series for quite some time, loving the way that JD brings the characters to life in such a way that they're not only believable but friends. The writing is crisp, the prose sharp however this time, with this outing, I did feel that the plot wasn't as good as a lot of the others that have gone before. I just didn't feel the excitement of a new adventure or that the character shone as much as they usually do.

All round a bit of a disappointment against her normal fair but still a solid read for people to sit back with.

Release Date: 06/09/16
Publisher: Piatkus


The shots came quickly, silently, and with deadly accuracy. Within seconds, three people lay dead at Central Park's ice skating rink. There's a sniper loose on the streets of New York City, and Lieutenant Eve Dallas is about to face one of the toughest and most unsettling cases of her career.

Eve knows that only a handful of people could have carried out such an audacious but professional hit. Even more disturbing: this expert in death has an accomplice. Someone is being trained in the science of killing - and they have a terrifying agenda of their own. With a city shaken to its core, Eve and her team are forced to hunt not one but two killers. Worse still - this talented young apprentice has developed an insatiable taste for murder...


The 43rd book in JD's In Death series and one that continues to build upon not only the success of the previous but allows characters to continue to grow not only professionally but personally which is what keeps me coming back for more.

The story is sharp, has greet prose and of course a wonderful sense of pace. Baxk this up with great dialogue, top notch one liners and of course characters that feel like family and all round you're in for another treat.

Friday, 7 October 2016

THRILLER REVIEW: The Brother - Joakim Zander

Release Date: 06/10/16
Publisher: Head of Zeus


Smart, gripping and urgent, the new blockbuster from the bestselling author of The Swimmer.

Growing up poor, Yasmine vowed she would always protect her little brother from harm. She broke her promise on the day she left home, abandoning Fadi to his life in the Stockholm slums.

Now, five years later, Yasmine still carries the guilt of leaving him behind. Then she hears a rumour that he is dead, killed by a US drone in Syria. What happened to turn her sweet-natured brother into one of the CIA’s most wanted men?

The answer will shock her. It will shock you too.


Joakkim is an author that likes to get the reader eased into his titles with a slow burn accompanied by multiple cross story plots. They work well and as a reader of the Thriller, at times I want the careful built as it makes the impact of what is to happen all the more tragic. Its well written, the prose sharp and whilst for some it may feel like it takes to long to get where its going, I found the chance to get to know the characters involved better refreshing.

Back this up with a realistic feel and players you can identify with in some ways due to their foibles and all round I was a reader that loved having a slower read in amongst a whole host of fast paced action sequences. Cracking.

Thursday, 6 October 2016

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: Thomas Fool 2: The Devil's Evidence - Simon Kurt Unsworth

Release Date: 06/10/16
Publisher: Del Rey


A new case of unsolvable murders brings Hell to Heaven in the explosive sequel to The Devil’s Detective.

Hell is burning out of control. Thomas Fool, Hell’s first Information Man tasked with investigating the endless stream of violence in Hell, has been promoted to the head of the newly expanded Information Office. Now in command of a legion of Information Men, his new position finds him hated by demons and almost revered by humans. He alone has survived the wrath of demon and angel alike, but he stands alone and at the center of a brewing crisis. New on the scene is the Evidence, a shadowy department whose officers do not investigate; they punish and spread fear. And its leader, Mr. Tap, is gunning for Fool.

Fool is ordered to accompany a political delegation to Heaven, and his arrival coincides with an impossible—and sinister—discovery. A dead body. Murder in Heaven. Violence, corruption, and fear are the currency of Hell, and how does one investigate a crime where these concepts are paradoxes? As the bodies pile up, Fool sees disturbing connections between Heaven and Hell. He must follow clues in a strange land where nothing is as it seems and danger can present itself in any form.

What follows is a phantasmagoric, mind-bending thriller as exciting and unsettling as anything in recent fiction. The Devil’s Evidence is an electrifying, provocative novel filled with stunning set pieces and characters who will live on in your deepest nightmares.


The second book in the Thomas Fool series and as with the previous really helps establish this series in a world of its own as there is nothing else like it on the market. Its well executed, the authors writing style really helps it stand out but its the principle characters alongside the supporting cast that makes this truly unique as the flavours they add really helps bring the authors visions to life.

Back this up with some cracking slight of hand, wonderful twists and a pace that doesn't really let up and all round I'm a very happy reader. I can't wait to see what is in store for our heroe's next case.

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: A City Dreaming - Daniel Polansky

Release Date: 05/10/16
Publisher: Hodder


M is a drifter with a sharp tongue, few scruples, and limited magical ability, who would prefer drinking artisanal beer to involving himself in the politics of the city. Alas, in the infinite nexus of the universe which is New York, trouble is a hard thing to avoid, and when a rivalry between the city's two queens threatens to turn to all out war, M finds himself thrust in thrust in the unfamiliar position of hero. Now, to keep the apocalypse from descending on the Big Apple, he’ll have to call in every favor, waste every charm, and blow every spell he's ever acquired - he might even have to get out of bed before noon.

Enter a world of Wall Street wolves, slumming scenesters, desperate artists, drug-induced divinities, pocket steam-punk universes, hipster zombies, and phantom subway lines. Because the city never sleeps, but is always dreaming.


Daniel has aways been an author whom has trodden his own path being literally the proverbial author of Forrest Gump's Box of Chocolates (you never know what you're going to get) and this title goes to prove that as whilst it is an Urban Fantasy its also so much more as the magical people of NYC come to light in this strange and unusual title.

Its quirky, has many wonderful scenes that make up a picture of the whole rather than focusing on the one character becoming more like a guide to the UF New York that has such a charm about it that its hard to put down. Add to this some wonderful phrases, great mis-en-scenes as well as dialogue that takes you through all round generates a book that was a pure joy to read. Finally back thi up with a writing style that is instantly identifiable alongside a masterly understanding of pace and all round I was a more than happy reader. Magic.

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

URBAN FANTASY SHORT STORY COMPENDIUM: Otherworld Chills - Kelley Armstrong

Release Date: 04/10/16
Publisher:  Orbit


In this thrilling and hugely entertaining collection of novellas and short stories, Kelley Armstrong returns one last time to her bestselling Otherworld series. Among other tales, the werewolf pack is on the hunt for an old and very dangerous enemy; two very different vampires attempt to settle an old feud; a supernatural date turns hot enough to burn down a building and - in a brand-new novella - Paige and Lucas have a huge decision to make about their future.

Featuring much-loved characters, this final collection completes several important storylines, making it a must-have for Kelley Armstrong's many fans.


An author I not only like to spend time with but one that always give me goosebumps with her otherworld series as I get to spend time with characters that I've loved over her Women of the Otherworld series. As with other more recent offerings, its a book of short stories and is easy to dive into whether its on travel time or just to help get away from the real world during your lunch.

Each story feels complete, has great characters and dialogue that I just love as Kelley's sassy ladies and sarcastuc gents really give fans that welcome home feel. All round another gem and one that will be read quite a few times during my rereads as I love to intersperse the full books with the short stories when I get in the mood to start the whole series over again. Cracking.

Monday, 3 October 2016

HISTORICAL FICTION REVIEW: Master of War 3: Gate of the Dead - David Gilman

Release Date: 08/09/16
Publisher: Head of Zeus


Tuscany, 1358: Thomas Blackstone has built a formidable reputation in exile, fighting as a mercenary amid the ceaseless internecine warring of Italy's City States. Success has bred many enemies, who will seize any opportunity to destroy the man they cannot overcome on the field.

When a dying man delivers a message recalling Blackstone to England, it seems almost certain to be a trap. Yet Blackstone cannot decline - the summons is apparently from the Queen.

Blackstone will brave the terrors of the High Alps in winter, face the Black Prince in tournament in Windsor, confront the bloody anarchy of a popular revolt in northern France and submit to trial by combat.

And every step of the way, he will be shadowed by a notorious assassin, a killer who has been instructed to inflict the maximum pain on his target before he despatches him to hell.


To be honest I've loved David's writing since he burst onto the scene with his original title in Master of War. Set during the beginning of the 100 years war the reader is treated to a tale that, if you love authors like Bernard Cornwell, Conn Iggulden or even Simon Scarrow, will become a firm favourite on your shelves.

Back this up with top notch prose, a character who is larger than life who steps from the pages and demonstrates that nobility is more than just being born on silk sheets and all round I was a very happy reader. Add to this the character comes full circle, has grown and been affected by previous choices as well as having an author who delivers not just on action but top notch dialogue and all round its been a pure joy. A cracking series to pick up for that Historical Fiction fan in your life and a gift that they'll reread quite a few times. Magic.

Sunday, 2 October 2016

CRIME THRILLER REVIEW: The Borrowed - Chan Ho-Kei

Release Date: 08/09/16
Publisher: Head of Zeus


From award-winning Hong Kong writer Chan Ho-kei, The Borrowed tells the story of Kwan Chun-dok, a Hong Kong detective who rises from constable to senior inspector over the span of several decades, from the 1960s to the present day, and becomes a legend in the force, nicknamed “the Eye of Heaven” by his amazed colleagues. Divided into six sections told in reverse chronological order — each of which covers an important case in Kwan’s career and takes place at a pivotal moment in Hong Kong history — the novel follows Kwan from his experiences during the Leftist Riot in 1967, when a bombing plot threatens many lives; the conflict between the HK Police and ICAC (Independent Commission Against Corruption) in 1977; the Tiananmen Square Massacre in 1989; the Handover in 1997; and the present day of 2013, when Kwan is called on to solve his final case, the murder of a local billionaire, while Hong Kong increasingly resembles a police state. Along the way we meet Communist rioters, ultraviolent gangsters, stallholders at the city’s many covered markets, pop singers enmeshed in the high-stakes machinery of star-making, and a people always caught in the shifting balance of political power, whether in London or Beijing.

The Borrowed reveals just how closely everything is connected, how history always repeats itself, and how we have come full circle to repeat the political upheaval and societal unrest of the past. It is a gripping, brilliantly constructed novel from a talented new voice.


To be honest this is a novel of a number of tales wonderfully interwoven around a dying man who hopes to solve the cases prior to his passing. Its well written, wonderfully descriptive and for me I have to say that the translation kept the story beautifully fluid as well as allowing subtle nuances to be kept within.

Back this up with good understanding of pace, top notch supporting cast and of course a mind that can work intrinsically detailed sequences together in one book that doesn't feel like a short story compendium and all round its led to a very positive reading for me. I can't wait to dive into more books from the far east. Cracking.

Saturday, 1 October 2016

HISTORICAL FICTION REVIEW: The Stolen Queen - Lisa Hilton

Release Date: 01/10/16
Publisher:  Corvus


The year is 1199, and King Richard the Lionheart is dead, leaving his brother John to inherit both his French and English lands. Young Isabelle of Angouleme is betrothed to the son of her father's enemy, Hugh de Lusignan, and taken to his castle to be educated, where she is initiated into the 'Old Religion'. Isabelle is then told that she is to be married not to Hugh de Lusignan but to King John of England, in a complex and treacherous plot to gain the English succession. The Lusignans envisage an empire ruled by their young puppet queen, which will eventually oust Christianity and restore the Old Religion to Europe. But when Isabelle takes matters into her own hands, passions will rage and dynastic fortunes will rise and fall. Set against the vivid backdrop of the great political struggles of medieval Europe, The Stolen Queen will delight lovers of intrigue and adventure.


As a fan of historical novels, I often like to take time out with authors like Philippa Gregory as I love to see a different side to the genre. Whilst I still love my hard hitting action, there are times when I can't wait to get into the nitty gritty of seeing how the ladies of the day interacted in the world. Its not only an eye opener but also gives you a different view of history.

So picking up this book by Lisa I was expecting a hell of a lot, not just because it set around a time period I love but because I wanted to see the world protrayed after the death of RIchard the Lionheart.

So picking up this title, I settled back for something epic. Except that wasn't what I got. What unfurled within this title was a book that to me felt quite messy. I didn't like the principle character of Isabelle, as I felt i didn't get to grips with her as for me she didn't have any traits that I could form a bond with. The authors choice of language was convoluted, way to flowery for me and at the end fo the day seemed to take an age to say something simple that could easy have been written in a line or two.

Back this up with a tale that really doesn't do too much and all round I was a pretty annoyed reader as I felt that so much more could have been done with a woman who was a historical centre piece rather than the character protrayed here.

Friday, 30 September 2016

FANTASY REVIEW: The Long War 4: The World Raven - AJ Smith

Release Date: 08/09/16
Publisher:  Head of Zeus


All that was dead will rise. All that now lives will fall. The final, epic battle for the Lands of Ro.

The dead god is waking. His power-mad priestess has deployed a mass of men and beasts onto the plains of Ro Weir. Faced with this black swarm, the last remnants of a nation crumbles and falls. This is the final battle for the mortal lands of Ro.

Far to the north, the ice men of Rowanoco muster their Exemplars against the witch's assassins. In the blistering southern deserts, a squire with no master walks unscathed through a poisoned city. And, in the halls beyond the world, a thrice-born man dares to tread the path of Giants...


I've not always been the biggest fan of Smith's Long War series however as its continued I've gotten behind it more and more. I love the characters, the way that the story has developed and backed it with real emotional content as choices made have to be faced in the final instalment. Its hard hitting, pulls no punches and for me, alongside the detailed action sequences also gives the reader some great lulls to allow them to regain thier breath.

All round a cracking ending and with dialogue that feels realistic for the characters and helps you to form a real bond. I can't wait to see what AJ retuns with for his next series.

Monday, 26 September 2016


Hail Mighty Readers and Followers of the Calloused Thumbs,
Recently we've been asked to add some V-blog options to our Reviews, so here you go.  Here is our first attempt and to be honest we were more than happy to take the time with For Honor's Alpha Gameplay.

All round its been a great bit of fun and please let us know what you think:

Thank you,

Gareth and Lady Eleanor

Thursday, 22 September 2016

THRILLER REVIEW: Nick Stone 17: Detonator - Andy McNab

Release Date: 22/10/16
Publisher:  Transworld


Ex-deniable operator Nick Stone has spent a lifetime in harm's way - but when someone he cares for very deeply is murdered in cold blood, he can no longer just take the pain.

A high-level internecine conflict at the dark heart of the resurgent Russian Empire and an assassin's bullet on an isolated Alpine pass propel him from an apparently run-of-the-mill close-protection task into his most brutal and challenging mission yet.

As the body count increases, Stone becomes one of Europe's Most Wanted. He must evade the elite police forces of three nations in his pursuit of faceless men who trade in human misery, and a lone wolf terrorist who threatens to unleash the Western World's worst nightmare.

Vengeance of the most explosive kind is top of Stone's agenda. The fuse has been ignited - but who really holds the detonator?


OK, you like Thrillers and want something spectacular, you also want something with a historical context alongside a huge sense of danger accompanied by consequences for choices made throughout. So where are you going to go? Well, this recommendation from me is from an author I’ve not read before and whilst I know he has a back catalogue, it was the premise of this title that really grabbed me. Taking us back to the days of World War 2 with a tale of a daring rescue from Auschwitz. Its gripping from page one. Has a cracking protagonist and keeps you glued throughout as the knowledge that it’s all being done for could end the world.

The dialogue is cracking, the time period brought to life and really lets you feel that you are walking through that dark period of history which when backed with a good sense of pace really does deliver a book that I’d put top of any Thriller fans list for the Christmas period. Yes it’s a little early to be thinking that far ahead but this book really was that good. Cracker.

THRILLER REVIEW: The One Man - Andrew Gross

Release Date: 22/09/16
Publisher:  Pan


Auschwitz, 1944. Alfred Mendl's days are numbered. But he has little left to live for - his family were torn away from him, his life's work burned in front of his eyes - until a glimmer of hope arises as he watches a game of chess. To the guards Mendl is just another prisoner, but in fact he holds knowledge that only two people in the world possess. The other is working hard for the Nazi war machine.

Four thousand miles away, in Washington DC, intelligence lieutenant Nathan Blum decodes messages from occupied Poland. After the Nazis murdered his family, Nathan escaped the Krakow ghetto and is determined to support his new country - and the US government knows exactly how he can. They want to send Nathan on a mission to rescue one man from a place no one can break in to - or out of.

Even if Nathan does make it in and finds him, can they escape the most heavily guarded place on earth?


OK, you like Thrillers and want something spectacular, you also want something with a historical context alongside a huge sense of danger accompanied by consequences for choices made throughout. So where are you going to go? Well, this recommendation from me is from an author I’ve not read before and whilst I know he has a back catalogue, it was the premise of this title that really grabbed me. Taking us back to the days of World War 2 with a tale of a daring rescue from Auschwitz. Its gripping from page one. Has a cracking protagonist and keeps you glued throughout as the knowledge that it’s all being done for could end the world.

The dialogue is cracking, the time period brought to life and really lets you feel that you are walking through that dark period of history which when backed with a good sense of pace really does deliver a book that I’d put top of any Thriller fans list for the Christmas period. Yes it’s a little early to be thinking that far ahead but this book really was that good. Cracker.