Sunday, 24 February 2019

FANTASY REVIEW: Someone Like Me - MR Carey

Release Date: 08/11/18
Publisher: Orbit

SYNOPSIS: Liz Kendall wouldn't hurt a fly. Even when times get tough, she's devoted to bringing up her kids in a loving home.
But there's another side to Liz, one that's dark and malicious. She will do anything to get her way - no matter how extreme.

And when her alter-ego takes control, the consequences are devastating.

Someone Like Me is the intoxicating new thriller from the phenomenal M. R. Carey. A modern take on the Jekyll and Hyde tale, think Gone Girl meets Stephen King - but you won't have read anything quite like this before . . .

REVIEW: Mike is an author that I fell in love with during his Felix Castor novels and to be honest it was his writing style that really struck a chord with me. I loved the gritty darkness within, the odd piece of humour to lighten it slightly and the way that he wove fantasy elements into a world we all recognise so after reading the book blurb, I couldn't wait to begin.

What unfurls within is a story of a person with two minds literally it is a book that has you asking questions and for me, the principle characters had hooks that made you care as well as wonder about them.

The prose is solid, the dialogue works well and for e the paces lulls and peaks were ideally placed to allow you to grab a breath before the next sequence happened so that you could again question what you knew.

All round another cracking outing from Mike and I can't wait to see how many other modern myths he brings fresh blood to. Magic

Saturday, 23 February 2019

FANTASY REVIEW: Legion: The Many lives of Stephen Leeds - Brandon Sanderson

Release Date: 24/09/18
Publisher:  Gollancz/Tor US

SYNOPSIS: From #1 New York Times bestselling author Brandon Sanderson comes a new novella collection, including a brand new, never-been-published story.
Stephen Leeds is schizophrenic (. . . probably . . .) and he's in demand. But not for his own skills - his clients want to tap into the imaginary experts that populate his mind - and it's getting a bit crowded in there.
One of his many 'aspects' is a trained soldier, another a psychological expert, a third is a librarian, and all of them want to help him solve problems, making him an exceptionally versatile intelligence agent. If you need a stolen corpse retrieved or a missing inventor found, Stephen Leeds is the man - or rather, the team - for the job. But managing a team is a challenge in itself, all the more so when some of the team feel they know better than Stephen himself . . .
The Many Lives of Stephen Leeds is an omnibus edition of the three amazing Legion novellas: Legion, Legion: Skin Deep and Legion: Lies of the Beholder.

REVIEW: An epic fantasy that works wonders from the fast paced and prolific mind of Brandon Sanderson that really feels like it can do no wrong with the writing. Whilst this is a compendium of the three novella's its a book that has many twists and turns, a cracking concept and of course protaongist(s) that really help move the tales along.
Its got great pace, wonderful prose and to be honest I was surprised at the loss of time when I turned the final page thinking that not long had passed. Add to this a supporting cast that works wonders, a fleshed out world that we can believe in and all round I was a more than happy reader. A real treat, however do not confuse this with the TV series Legion, its completely different both story and character wise.

Friday, 22 February 2019

SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: Dr Who: Scratchman - Tom Baker

Release Date:  24/01/19
Publisher:   BBC Books

In his first-ever Doctor Who novel, Tom Baker’s incredible imagination is given free rein. A story so epic it was originally intended for the big screen, Scratchman is a gripping, white-knuckle thriller almost forty years in the making. The Doctor, Harry and Sarah Jane Smith arrive at a remote Scottish island, when their holiday is cut short by the appearance of strange creatures – hideous scarecrows, who are preying on the local population. The islanders are living in fear, and the Doctor vows to save them all. But it doesn’t go to plan – the time travellers have fallen into a trap, and Scratchman is coming for them. With the fate of the universe hanging in the balance, the Doctor must battle an ancient force from another dimension, one who claims to be the Devil. Scratchman wants to know what the Doctor is most afraid of. And the Doctor’s worst nightmares are coming out to play…  

As a kid growing up Tom Baker was my Dr Who. So when I found out that the fourth doctor had written a book set in the Whovian universe I couldn't wait to see what was in store. 

What you get in this book is a story that fits well into the Doctors story arc and whilst it feels like a product of the time that Tom served (1974-81) it is a story that really works well. It will appeal to readers both young and old and in addition to this Tom does a wonderful reading on the audio title. 

All round, the prose was solid, the pace pretty much what you'd expect from a Dr Who tale and above all else the childish excitement came flooding back to me as I sat on the sofa wondering who the Dr would face that week. All round a cracking outing and one I'd recommend to others.

Thursday, 21 February 2019

GUEST BLOG: Books with meanings: Cavan Scott and Tom Huddleston

With their own books out today, Cavan Scott (author of Warhammer Adventures: Attack of the Necrons) and Tom Huddleston (author of Warhammer Adventures: City of Lifestone, wanted to talk to us about three books each that have meaning to them, here is what they had to say:

Cavan Scott here, author of the Warhammer Adventures: Realm Quest series of science fiction stories for younger readers. Like Tom, I was asked to pick three that I love, so here goes.

Malcolm Hulke - Doctor Who and the Cave Monsters
It’s fair to say that Doctor Who got me reading as a kid. Back then, we didn’t have DVDs or iPlayer (yes, I know I sound old), so if you missed a story on TV there was no way to ever see it again. However, you could still find out what happened by reading these short, exciting novelisations. This was one of the first I ever read, and I was really happy to see that BBC Books recently reissued it with the original cover illustration. Based on a TV serial called ’Doctor Who and the Silurians’, Hulke’s novelisation sees the Doctor discover a race of lizard men hibernating beneath the Earth’s surface. It soon becomes clear that they ruled the planet long before humans even evolved and now want the world back from the upstart apes!

Neil Gaiman - The Graveyard Book
I’m a big Neil Gaiman fan and I think this book for younger readers is actually one of his best. When his parents are killed, Nobody ‘Bod’ Owens is raised by ghosts in the nearby graveyard, growing up surrounded by all manner of creepy and ghoulish friends. As you can imagine, his is not a normal childhood, Bod even learning how to haunt people. Over a series of adventures, Bod discovers the terrible truth about his family’s murderer, coming to terms with who he really is.

Justina Ireland - Dread Nation
This is actually the latest book I read, and I’ve been raving about it to anyone who will listen ever since. It’s a YA novel so aimed at slightly older readers than Warhammer Adventures, but even though it deals with a zombie outbreak isn’t particularly gory. It tells the story of Jane McKeene, a teen in an alternate nineteenth-century where the American Civil War ended up with the dead rising from their graves. Like all black teenage girls, Jane is taught how to be a bodyguard, protecting wealthy white ladies from what they call ’shamblers’, but gets into trouble when she uncovers a plot by the bigoted mayor of her local town. Horror stories have always been a great way to examine prejudice and discrimination and, while the action never lets up, Dread Nation handles big questions in a thought-provoking way.

I’m Tom Huddleston, author of the Warhammer Adventures: Realm Quest series of fantasy stories for younger readers. I was asked to pick three fantastical books that inspired me as a kid or that inspire me now, so here goes.

Joan Aiken - Black Hearts in Battersea
Joan Aiken’s series of stories about the exploits of Cockney troublemaker Dido Twite are part history and part fantasy, set in a parallel England populated by wolves and artists and rebels plotting against the crown. This has always been my favourite of the books - Dido is a wild, irrepressible heroine, and the story rattles along in such a madcap, unpredictable fashion.

Philip Reeve - Fever Crumb
Philip Reeve’s Mortal Engines quartet are well known - they even made a blockbuster movie out of them (though sadly, it wasn’t that great). But I’m not sure that as many readers are familiar with his prequel trilogy, set centuries before Mortal Engines and following the adventures of a young woman called Fever Crumb. In some ways I actually prefer them - they’re simpler, more human stories and the world Reeve creates is magical, his imagination seems absolutely limitless.

Ursula Le Guin - The Earthsea Quartet
These are books I read every few years, and find new things in them every time. Ursula Le Guin’s series of tales about a wizard called Ged don’t follow the usual heroic fantasy template - Ged is only the main character in two of them - but the world she fashioned is so unique and believable. They’re also the perfect gateway to Le Guin’s more grown-up novels like The Left Hand of Darkness and The Dispossessed, some of the best science fiction and fantasy stories ever written.

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY REVIEW: Warhammer Adventures: Attack of the Necron - Tom Huddleston, City of Lifestone - Cavan Scott

Release Date:  21/02/19
Publisher:   Warhammer Adventures

Zelia Lor’s life changes when Necrons attack her home planet and rip it apart! Separated from her mother, Zelia must escape the doomed world, her only hope a scrambled transmission promising safety at a mysterious place known only as the Emperor’s Seat. She is joined by a rag-tag group of survivors – the street-tough Talen, gadget-obsessed Martian boy Mekki and super-intelligent alien-ape, Fleapit.  

With Warhammer 40K always aimed at a more adult audience, I was wondering how they were going to translate it for a younger reader and still keep the dark sense of foreboding against the grim reality of a universe full of death and disaster without leaving the audience scared and wanting to continue reading. What has been presented is a cast of characters that not only suit the younger audience but give them hope and a real sense of adventure throughout the danger and death as they use their skills to face one of the deadliest foes known to mankind. Its a great read, it keeps the thrills and excitement going and for me this was a wonderful trip into a familiar world that was not dumbed down for younger readers but gives a different take on the dangers within which all in, really made this a great page turner. Cracking. 

Release Date:  21/02/19
Publisher:   Warhammer Adventures

SYNOPSIS: Raised as a slave, Kiri dreams of a better life. That day comes when her barbarian captors are attacked by the noble Stormcast Eternals. Seizing her chance, Kiri flees through a mysterious realmgate to the fabled city of Lifestone! There she meets a special group of children – Thanis, the fighter; Alish, the inventor; Kaspar; the sneak and Elio, the healer. Together, they must lift a terrible curse and save the city from darkness.  

A cracking opener to a series that really will hook younger readers into the Warhammer Fantasy world with a lead character who is tough and able to look after herself whilst also being self reliant with a fear of trusting others in the grim world to which she inhabits. Its well written, has great prose and brings the dangers to the fore without concentrating too much on the detail but allows the viewer to see how harsh life can be. Add to the mix a character who will grow, allows the reader to form bonds and care and all round i was a more than happy reader and can't wait to see what will happen in future outings.

Thursday, 20 September 2018

SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: The Wormwood Trilogy 1: Rosewater - Tade Thompson

RELEASE DATE:  20/09/18


Rosewater is a town on the edge. A community formed around the edges of a mysterious alien biodome, its residents comprise the hopeful, the hungry and the helpless - people eager for a glimpse inside the dome or a taste of its rumoured healing powers.
Kaaro is a government agent with a criminal past. He has seen inside the biodome, and doesn't care to again - but when something begins killing off others like himself, Kaaro must defy his masters to search for an answer, facing his dark history and coming to a realisation about a horrifying future.

I love books that take convention and add some new pieces ot the puzzle and to be honest I've been enjoying Afrofuturism for quite some time (N K Jemisin and Nnedi Okorafor) and this novel is no exception.

Taking place in Nigeria in 2066, the book brings the land to life for me in my imagination, the cultures within, the supporting cast and perhaps best of all a lead character that I wanted to spend time around as he weaves his way through double dealing and danger to get to the truth.

its well written, the prose is wonderful and when added to solid storytelling alongside dialogue that helps you get closer to the characters all round gives you something  a little special.  Back this up with some clever twists and turns alongside foibles for the cast all round makes this futuristic outlook a must read for all genre fans.  A great book and one that I'm pleased to have had recommended.

Friday, 7 September 2018

FANTASY REVIEW: Poison wars 1: City of Lies - Sam Hawke

RELEASE DATE:  23/08/18

PUBLISHER:   Bantam Press

I was seven years old the first time my uncle poisoned me . . .

Only a handful of people in Silasta know Jovan’s real purpose in life. To most, he is just another son of the ruling class. The quiet, forgettable friend of the Chancellor’s charming, irresponsible heir. In reality, Jovan has been trained for most of his life to detect, concoct and withstand poisons in order to protect the ruling family.

His sister Kalina is too frail to share in their secret family duty. While other women of the city hold positions of power and responsibility, her path is full of secrets and lies – some hidden even from her own brother.

Until now, peace has reigned in Silasta for hundreds of years. But when the Chancellor succumbs to an unknown poison and an army storms the gates, the so-called Bright City is completely unprepared. It falls to Jovan and Kalina to protect the heir and save their homeland – but first they must make their way through a new world of unexpected treachery, a world where the ancient spirits are rising . . . and angry.

This fabulous epic fantasy debut will appeal to readers of Joe Abercrombie and Terry Brooks, Robin Hobb and Mark Lawrence and all points in between.

I've been hearing a lot of good things from various friends at Bantam about this book for quite some time, so I was more than happy to dive in when a copy landed upon my doorstep. 

What Sam brings to the fore, in this her debut book, is a tale that has a lot of the elements that I love in modern fantasy, intrigue, double dealing, ruthless ambition blended with solid action sequences and of course morals that give the characters within not only their own codes but their own outlook on their existence that leads to more than some interesting points of view.

The book is delightfully written with great prose and pace that keeps the story moving, also reflecting on presenting a believable world and when you add into this characters that feel fleshed enough to pass on the street, all round makes this a book that was not only hard to put down but for me presented a title that was so much of a highlight that I'm sure it will make my top five books of the year.

I really can't wait to see what Sam has in store for future outings and if the following match this one for quality and development, all round will make her a firm name on fan's buy lists for quite some time to come.  Trust me, get this title now, I really can see the book getting optioned for something soon and personally is a book I can't recommend enough to fantasy fans.