Thursday, 31 May 2018

CUISINE REVIEW: Berber and Q - Josh Katz

RELEASE DATE:  31/05/18

Ditch burnt, joyless burgers for bold, flavoursome and wonderfully surprising barbecue food.

Here are over 120 of the very best, lip-smackingly good barbecue recipes from ex-Ottolenghi chef, Josh Katz. Perfect for sharing and pairing in different combinations, all of the recipes are a celebration of flavour. A book that is not just for meat-lovers, equal status is given to vegetables so that they are never treated like a sideshow. Instead each and every component of the meal is big, bold and completely unforgettable.

Meats, fish and vegetables are left to marinate and are then smoked, grilled, slow cooked or burnt (on purpose); while essential extras such as punchy pickles, fiery sauces, creamy dips and fresh salads are prepared ahead and ready to be heaped onto the plate. Taking inspiration from East to West, from the modern to the traditional, these barbecue recipes are like nothing you have ever encountered before – mashing tastes and techniques from New York, the Middle East, London, North Africa and beyond.

With recipes including Cauliflower shawarma with pomegranate, pine nuts and rose; Harissa hot wings; Blackened hispi cabbage with lemon crème fraiche; Honeyed pork belly with pineapple salsa; Monster prawns with a pil pil sauce and Saffron buttermilk-fried chicken with tahini gravy, you will be inspired to grab a bag of charcoal and a lighter, and create your very own barbecue feast.

In a modern world, we tend to take food for granted more as a fuel rather than sitting down and enjoying it with friends and family and this book by Josh Katz brings the primitive man to the fore as huge flavours are packed into bbq style foods that are a feast for the senses.

Packed into the delightful title are loads of easy to follow recipes, beautiful colour photo's and tips alongside tricks to maximise the star of the meal as well as wonderful accompaniments to make it a real sharing time.  All round a great book for any home cooking fan and a title that will more than inspire your own experiments with these huge flavour profiles.  Magic.

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

HISTORICAL FANTASY REVIEW: Lancelot - Giles Kristian

RELEASE DATE:  31/05/18
PUBLISHER:  Bantam Press

The legions of Rome are a fading memory. Enemies stalk the fringes of Britain. And Uther Pendragon is dying. Into this fractured and uncertain world the boy is cast, a refugee from fire, murder and betrayal. An outsider whose only companions are a hateful hawk and memories of the lost.
Yet he is gifted, and under the watchful eyes of Merlin and the Lady Nimue he will hone his talents and begin his journey to manhood. He will meet Guinevere, a wild, proud and beautiful girl, herself outcast because of her gift. And he will be dazzled by Arthur, a warrior who carries the hopes of a people like fire in the dark. But these are times of struggle and blood, when even friendship and love seem doomed to fail.
The gods are vanishing beyond the reach of dreams. Treachery and jealousy rule men’s hearts and the fate of Britain itself rests on a sword’s edge.
But the young renegade who left his home in Benoic with just a hunting bird and dreams of revenge is now a lord of war. He is a man loved and hated, admired and feared. A man forsaken but not forgotten. He is Lancelot.

Set in a 5th century Britain besieged by invading bands of Saxons and Franks, Irish and Picts, Giles Kristian's epic new novel tells - through the warrior's own words - the story of Lancelot, that most celebrated of all King Arthur's knights. It is a story ready to be re-imagined for our times.

I love an author who can take something that's been done before and add not only a different flavour to it, but gives it a whole new twist and for me, that's what Giles has done with this, his latest offering.

Taking inspiration from Roman times and moving the King Arthur myth to the Arthurian period (I kid you know that's what the historians know the 5th century as) we get a tale that not only has a feel of believability but also gives an established myth a new founding.

Its quirky, it has top notch action and when blended with a principle character who the reader will not only like to spend time with but also see grow up as he becomes the man of legend, all round gives the reader one hell of an adventure within the pages.

Back this with Giles own unique brand of storytelling, great prose and dialogue that just trips from the page all round gives the reader a book that was not only hard to put down but one that will become a firm favourite for years to come.  Legendary.

Thursday, 24 May 2018


RELEASE DATE:  24/05/18

From one of the most original new voices in modern fiction comes a startling vision of a world where you can get away with anything . . .

Theo Miller knows the value of human life - to the very last penny.
Working in the Criminal Audit Office, he assesses each crime that crosses his desk and makes sure the correct debt to society is paid in full.
But when his ex-lover is killed, it's different. This is one death he can't let become merely an entry on a balance sheet.
Because when the richest in the world are getting away with murder, sometimes the numbers just don't add up.
From the award-winning Claire North comes an electrifying and provocative new novel which will resonate with readers around the world.

I've enjoyed some of Claire's books in the past but for me, she has come across at times as a marmite author, you'll either love the title or you'll hate it.  There really is no middle ground.  For me, this title from Claire, whilst interesting was a tale that I had a hell of a time getting into, I wasn't enamoured of the writing style in this case, I felt it was a little to disjointed for me and when I had a hell of a time getting to grips with the principle character I felt that it lost me as a reader.

I'm not saying that its bad, just that I wasn't a fan, there will be those that will love it to pieces.  For me, what this book could have been was more of a Sci-Fi version of Falling Down but due to lack of character empathy and the prose being not to my taste, it just wasn't for me.

All round, Claire is a prolific author and for me, my firm favourite to date is The End of the Day.

Friday, 18 May 2018

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW; The Hatching 3/3: Zero Day - Ezekiel Boone

RELEASE DATE:  01/03/18
PUBLISHER:  Gollancz

The world is on the brink of apocalypse. Zero Day has come.
The only thing more terrifying than millions of spiders is the realization that those spiders work as one. But among the government, there is dissent: do we try to kill all of the spiders, or do we gamble on Professor Guyer's theory that we need to kill only the queens?
For President Stephanie Pilgrim, it's an easy answer. She's gone as far as she can-more than two dozen American cities hit with tactical nukes, the country torn asunder - and the only answer is to believe in Professor Guyer. Unfortunately, Ben Broussard and the military men who follow him don't agree, and Pilgrim, Guyer, and the loyal members of the government have to flee, leaving the question: what can be more dangerous, the spiders or ourselves?

Having read the previous novels I was wondering how the whole thing was going to go and to be honest I have to say that I felt a little bit short changed with this tale as it felt that it was more a conclude the main arc and leave supporting cast members arcs unfinished which for me made it a bit cheap.

Don't get me wrong, the first book was a great kick off but with this last one, it felt more of a damp fizzle than a good explosion that I was expecting.  Sadly as the books have gone on, the pace has slowed and in certain places become a little predictable and if I'm honest could have been cut down quite a bit to be more of a novella or perhaps finished the story in two books rather than the third and would have been tighter for it.

Thursday, 17 May 2018

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: The Testament of Loki - Joanne M Harris

RELEASE DATE:  17/05/18
PUBLISHER:  Gollancz

Ragnarok was the End of Worlds.
Asgard fell, centuries ago, and the old gods have been defeated. Some are dead, while others have been consigned to eternal torment in the netherworld - among them, the legendary trickster, Loki. A god who betrayed every side and still lost everything, who has lain forgotten as time passed and the world of humans moved on to new beliefs, new idol and new deities . . .
But now mankind dreams of the Norse Gods once again, the river Dream is but a stone's throw from their dark prison, and Loki is the first to escape into a new reality.
The first, but not the only one to. Other, darker, things have escaped with him, who seek to destroy everything that he covets. If he is to reclaim what has been lost, Loki will need allies, a plan, and plenty of tricks . . .

A wonderful book from an author who not only gives the reader a cracking read but does so with cracking humour and demonstrates that her talents translate wonderfully from the YA field into adulthood with this top notch title.

The characterisation works on so many levels, the characters with foibles and flaws which when added to the way that Joanne tackles the various complications makes the read even more entertaining.  Back this up with a top notch plot and prose that just stick in the mind all round make this a top notch read that you have to have on your shelf.

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

FANTASY REVIEW: Kingdom of Grit 1: The Thousand Deaths of Ardor Benn - Tyler Whitesides

RELEASE DATE:  15/05/18

Ardor Benn is no ordinary thief - a master of wildly complex heists, he styles himself a Ruse Artist Extraordinaire.
When a mysterious priest hires him for the most daring ruse yet, Ardor knows he'll need more than quick wit and sleight of hand. Assembling a dream team of forgers, disguisers, schemers and thieves, he sets out to steal from the most powerful king the realm has ever known.
But it soon becomes clear there's more at stake than fame and glory - Ard and his team might just be the last hope for human civilisation.

To be honest I was really looking forward to this title, I loved the synopsis and couldn't wait to see how the whole thing would pan out, however rather than being a high octane fantasy heist  title, the book was rather a bit of a damp squib due to rather two dimensional stereotypical cast members with no real hooks to get the reader to care about their fates.

The writing was a little lack-lustre for me, the book could have been heavily edited to cut out a lot of fluff and of course that way would have allowed for solid pacing rather than a lot of running about with no real gain for the reader.

Back this up with basic dialogue and sadly all round, its a book that I can forget quite easily.  A great shame.

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

FANTASY REVIEW: Gods of Blood and Powder 2/2: Wrath of Empire - Brian McClellan

RELEASE DATE:  15/05/18

The country is in turmoil. With the capital city occupied, half a million refugees are on the march, looking for safety on the frontier, accompanied by Lady Flint's soldiers. But escaping war is never easy, and soon the battle may find them, whether they are prepared or not.
Back in the capital, Michel Bravis smuggles even more refugees out of the city. But internal forces are working against him. With enemies on all sides, Michel may be forced to find help with the very occupiers he's trying to undermine.
Meanwhile, Ben Styke is building his own army. He and his mad lancers are gathering every able body they can find and searching for an ancient artifact that may have the power to turn the tides of war in their favor. But what they find may not be what they're looking for.

Another cracking novel from a favourite author who not only brings guns to the fore in his fantasy world but also brings complicated political situations whilst cleverly weaving action sequences into the book.

Its high octane moments have you running for cover with your favoured heroes, the politicla machinations have you wondering how its going to be twisted and when enemies move alongside counter strike, it really keeps you glued page after page.

Throw into the mix, characters that continue to grow through the ordeal's that they've undergone alongside living with choices they've made, all round makes this a series that I really can't find fault with.  A magical read and one I'd heartily recommend to other fantasy fans.

Monday, 14 May 2018

SCI-FI REVIEW: Rise of the Jain 1: The Soldier - Neal Asher

RELEASE DATE:  15/05/18

Her mission is vital. Her failure is unthinkable.
A corner of space swarms with alien technology, a danger to all sentient life. It’s guarded by Orlandine, who must keep it contained – as it could destroy entire civilizations. An alien intelligence shares her vigil. But she doesn’t share everything with Dragon . . .
Orlandine is hatching a plan to obliterate this technology, removing its threat forever. For some will do anything to exploit this ancient weaponry, created by a long-dead race called the Jain. This includes activating a Jain super-soldier, which may breach even Orlandine’s defences.
Meanwhile, humanity and the alien prador empire also watch this sector of space, as neither can allow the other to claim its power. However, things are about to change. The Jain might not be as dead as they seemed and interstellar war is just a heartbeat away.
The Soldier is the first novel in the Rise of the Jain series, by bestselling science fiction author Neal Asher.

I've been a fan of Neal's writing for years as I love the way he brings high octane action ot the fore with cracking characters, complex ideologies as well as a carefully crafted universe for everything to occur within.

In this the latest work set in his Polity Universe we get to see things from the point of view of a cracking principle character, I love the way that he gives them human traits that allow you as a reader to get a hook into them and care about thier fate which when backed with solid prose and good dialogue makes this space opera a great read and one I've recommended to quite a few people. 

Sunday, 13 May 2018

SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: Star Wars: A Han and Lando Novel: Last Shot - Daniel Jose Older

RELEASE DATE:   19/04/18


Even the fastest ship in the galaxy can’t outrun the past. . . .


It’s one of the galaxy’s most dangerous secrets: a mysterious transmitter with unknown power and a reward for its discovery that most could only dream of claiming. But those who fly the Millennium Falconthroughout its infamous history aren’t your average scoundrels. Not once, but twice, the crew of the Falcon tries to claim the elusive prize―first, Lando Calrissian and the droid L3-37 at the dawn of an ambitious career, and later, a young and hungry Han Solo with the help of his copilot, Chewbacca. But the device’s creator, the volatile criminal Fyzen Gor, isn’t interested in sharing. And Gor knows how to hold a grudge. . . .


It’s been ten years since the rebel hero Han Solo last encountered Fyzen Gor. After mounting a successful rebellion against the Empire and starting a family with an Alderaanian princess, Han hasn’t given much thought to the mad inventor. But when Lando turns up at Han’s doorstep in the middle of the night, it’s Fyzen’s assassins that he’s running from. And without Han’s help, Lando―and all life on Cloud City―will be annihilated.

With the assistance of a young hotshot pilot, an Ewok slicer prodigy, the woman who might be the love of Lando’s life, and Han’s best and furriest friend, the two most notorious scoundrels in the New Republic are working together once more. They’ll have to journey across the stars―and into the past―before Gor uses the device’s power to reshape the galaxy.

To be honest with you, having seen the trailers for Solo, I wasn't really holding out much hope for the book (in my opinion they should have cast Anthony Ingruber as he sounds and looks very similar to Ford) and sadly for me, this was born out by the tale I was presented with.

It was sadly predictable, the story slow and whilst built as a Han and Lando novel, it was more about Lando with Han being a secondary two dimensional cast member which grated on me quite a lot.  All round sadly disappointing and a title I won't be returning to at any time soon.  A massive shame as it had so much potential to be something outstanding.

Saturday, 12 May 2018

FANTASY REVIEW: The Winnowing Flame 2: The Bitter Twins - Jen Williams

RELEASE DATE:  08/03/18

PUBLISHER:  Headline

The Ninth Rain has fallen. The Jure'lia are awake. Nothing can be the same again.
Tormalin the Oathless and the fell-witch Noon have their work cut out rallying the first war-beasts to be born in Ebora for three centuries. But these are not the great winged warriors of old. Hatched too soon and with no memory of their past incarnations, these onetime defenders of Sarn can barely stop bickering, let alone face an ancient enemy who grow stronger each day.
The key to uniting them, according to the scholar Vintage, may lie in a part of Sarn no one really believes exists - a distant island, mysteriously connected to the fate of two legendary Eborans who disappeared long ago.
But finding it will mean a perilous journey in a time of war, while new monsters lie in wait for those left behind.
Join the heroes of THE NINTH RAIN as they battle a terrible evil, the likes of which Sarn has never known.

I love a fantasy book that takes me not only on a journey but also throws in self discovery for the characters about their own needs as well as desires and how they learn to live with the consequences of their choices and for me Jen is an author that has delivered on this time and again.

Starting not long after the first outing in this series (The Ninth Rain) we get to see how the characters have been changed alongside how they're coping now that they've seen exactly what lies in wait for them.

They're strong, they have flaws and for me, I just love it when new cast is added to help create new tensions as well as possible misdirection's within the series.  All round a cracking read with top notch prose and dialogue that just trips off the page.  Magic.

Friday, 11 May 2018

CUISINE REVIEW: Well Seasoned - Russell Brown and Jonathan Haley

RELEASE DATE:  08/03/18

f you've ever wanted to know exactly when the asparagus season starts, this book is for you. If you like the idea of foraging for elderflowers but aren't sure where to begin, you're in the right place. And if you're looking for fantastic recipes that make the most of Britain's seasonal ingredients every month of the year, it can definitely help you. This is the complete guide to seasonal living with fantastic recipes that make the most of Britain's seasonal ingredients every month of the year. Dive for scallops, fish for mackerel, and hunt for mushrooms – and learn how to cook them.
Structured month by month, Well Seasoned features the finest and freshest natural ingredients that are available throughout the year and how to make the most of them. Perfect for anyone interested in living a holistic, seasonal life.

I've always been a fan of good food and using whats at hand to make something wonderful, so finding a book that not only does that but helps let you know whats in season and at its best at which time of year is a cracking revelation. 

It means that a lot of the stars of your dishes are cheaper and of course gives you ways of preparing them that you might not have thought of to make them even tastier.  Accompanying the recipes (sorted by month) are simple to follow instructions and wonderful photographs that show just what can be achieved.  I can't wait for the next time my parents visit to whip up a few of these dishes and see the sheer delight on their faces.  A real gem of a find.

Thursday, 10 May 2018


RELEASE DATE:  22/03/18
PUBLISHER:  Mulholland Books

Two men seeking the bones of a martyr stumble upon the crimes of a devil in the stunning historical crime novel by bestselling author David Mark.
Hull, 1849: a city in the grip of a cholera outbreak that sees its poorest citizens cut down by the cartload.
Into this world of flame and grief comes former soldier Meshach Stone. He's been hired as bodyguard by an academic hunting for the bones of the apostle Simon the Zealot, rumoured to lie somewhere in Lincolnshire.
Stone can't see why ancient bones are of interest in a world full of them. Then a woman he briefly loved is killed. As he investigates, he realizes that she is one of many... and that some deaths cry out for vengeance.

As a reader and fan of historical crime, I love to be presented something that is not only deliciously dark but also works well for the time period into which its set.  Here within this title is a tale that whilst featuring murder for me is a story about the principle character as we get to see the human side of them.  He's got foibles, he's got a past that in ways he trying to atone for and of course with the way that the plots written, it leaves you guessing as to whom the villain of the piece is.

All round a cracking read and one that I got a  hell of a lot from as I loved walking side by side with not only the principle character but treading the streets of the past in a city I have visited.  Cracking.

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: Provenance - Ann Leckie

RELEASE DATE:  28/09/18


Following her record-breaking debut trilogy, Ann Leckie, winner of the Hugo, Nebula, Arthur C. Clarke and Locus Awards, returns with a thrilling new story of power, theft, privilege and birthright.
A power-driven young woman has just one chance to secure the status she craves and regain priceless lost artefacts prized by her people. She must free their thief from a prison planet from which no one has ever returned.
Ingray and her charge will return to their home world to find their planet in political turmoil, at the heart of an escalating interstellar conflict. Together, they must make a new plan to salvage Ingray's future, her family, and her world, before they are lost to her for good.

Multi-award winning author Ann Leckie returns to her universe established in the Ancillary series with great aplomb in this new (currently) standalone novel that takes a more personal interest in her principle character.  Its well written works wonderfully well into the established rich tapestry of imagination and of course brings top notch plot to the reader.

Whilst you can read this without having read her previous work, if you won't have a good understanding of the universe as worldbuilding is less in this title having already been established in other books.

All round a cracking title and one that delivers what the reader wants.  Its easy to see why she's won so many awards.  Magic.

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

SCIENCE FICTION FILM TO BOOK ADAPTATION: Star Wars: The Last Jedi Expanded Edition - Jason Fry

RELEASE DATE:  08/05/18


Written with input from director Rian Johnson, this official adaptation of Star Wars: The Last Jedi expands on the film to include scenes from alternate versions of the script and other additional content.

From the ashes of the Empire has arisen another threat to the galaxy’s freedom: the ruthless First Order. Fortunately, new heroes have emerged to take up arms―and perhaps lay down their lives―for the cause. Rey, the orphan strong in the Force; Finn, the ex-stormtrooper who stands against his former masters; and Poe Dameron, the fearless X-wing pilot, have been drawn together to fight side-by-side with General Leia Organa and the Resistance. But the First Order’s Supreme Leader Snoke and his merciless enforcer Kylo Ren are adversaries with superior numbers and devastating fire power at their command. Against this enemy, the champions of light may finally be facing their extinction. Their only hope rests with a lost legend: Jedi Master Luke Skywalker.

Where the action of Star Wars: The Force Awakens ended, Star Wars: The Last Jedi begins, as the battle between light and dark climbs to astonishing new heights.

Featuring an 8-page color photo insert of thrilling images from the hit movie

The latest book in the Star Wars' franchise and whilst I've still not seen the film, I have to say that for a film to book translation, its OK.  I like the way that Jason has delved more into the characters minds bringing them further development and hopefully giving answers as to why certain choices were made as well as furthering the story.

OK, against a lot of the other Star Wars titles its not the best, but when you're so heavily constricted in having to follow movie script and dialogue you really need to look at them differently rather than comparing them. 

All round I did  enjoy the book but Kylo is really starting to grate on me with his itchy feet.  For godsake man, you killed your father, there's no real turning back after that.

Monday, 7 May 2018

HISTORICAL FICTION REVIEW: Matthew Hervey 13: The Passage to India - Allan Mallinson

RELEASE DATE:  03/05/18
PUBLISHER:  Bantam Press

It is 1831, riots and rebellions are widespread . . .

In England, the new government is facing protests against the attempts of the Tory-dominated House of Lords to thwart the passing of the Reform Bill. In India, relations are strained between the presidency of Madras and some of the neighbouring princely states.

Having taken command of the action in Bristol to restore order after one of the bloodiest and most destructive riots in the nation's history, Lieutenant-Colonel Matthew Hervey is out of favour with the new government. But then his old friend, Sir Eyre Somervile, offers him a lifeline. Somervile has persuaded the Court of Directors of the East India Company to approve an increase in the Madras military establishment. Hervey and the 6th Light Dragoons are sent to the princely state of Coorg. The Rajah is in revolt against the East India Company’s terms and Hervey’s regiment is called upon to crush the rebellion. With the stakes raised by an unexpected visitation from his past, for Hervey the question is whether he and his men will get out of this brutal war unscathed?

 The thirteenth  book in the series and whilst some would say that its a number unlucky for some, it definitely is, in the case of Matthew Hervey and his men.  WIth top notch action sequences, the clever use of scene setting and of course a plot with all sorts of twists and turns the reader is in for a treat.

Add to this, the fact that the author brings the exotic nature of India as well as concerns of the inhabitants against these foreign invaders as well as a whole host of interesting supporting cast all round makes this a wonderful read.  Great stuff.

Saturday, 5 May 2018

CRIME THRILLER REVIEW: Caselli and Torres 2: Kill the Angel - Sandrone Dazieri

RELEASE DATE:  03/05/18
PUBLISHER:  Simon and Schuster

The second novel from the acclaimed author of Kill the Father, a Richard and Judy 2017 Bookclub pick and Sunday Times bestseller, this thriller is multi-layered, complex, full of twists and turns and satisfyingly dark - one of those novels you just have to read late into the night.

A high-speed train from Milan draws into the station in Rome, and an horrific discovery in one carriage rocks the city. Preliminary investigations are put in the hands of Deputy Police Commissioner Colomba Caselli.

The police receive a message claiming responsibility for the act and announcing more murders to come, and they duly turn their attention to a small terrorist group of Islamic extremists. But investigator Dante Torre does not believe this angle. For him, this feels like a smokescreen concealing the actions of a killer who has a far more terrible motivation to continue.

The trail leads to Berlin and Venice, where the waters of the Venetian Lagoon will turn blood red ...

Having loved Kill the Father, I couldn't wait to embark on another criminal investigation with Columba Caselli and when I heard of this title coming out, I couldn't wait to get my mitts on it.  What unfurls within is another story that is high octane from start to finish with an ending that just leaves you absolutely breathless. 

The author knows how to present cracking twists and turns, deliver a support cast that help further the story and of course keeps a few surprises in store to the very last.  That said, my major problem was that I felt that there wasn't any real character development for our lead protagonists, yes I was still gripped, yes I loved seeing them uncover information but I wanted growth especially after the first novel, events like that leave a mark and change personalities and future choices, here I felt that didn't happen.

All round I did have a great read but the next novel really needs to add some character growth for me to keep going.

Thursday, 3 May 2018

PSYCHOLOGICAL CRIME THRILLER: Our Kind of Cruelty - Araminta Hall

RELEASE DATE:  03/05/18

Mike and Verity have a special game. The Crave.

They play it to prove what they already know: that Verity loves Mike. That she needs Mike.

Even though she’s marrying another man.

Now Mike knows that the stakes of their private game are rising.

This time, someone has to die…

To be honest I love a book that tries to do something a little different and at times its quite fun to see the thriller from the villains point of view as the events that are going to be central to the plot unfurl.

Its definitely something a little quirky and whilst for me the second half of the book was very pacey with little pause for breath, its the first half I found the better of the two as I liked the way you got to "hear" the characters inner thoughts which helped explained how he worked and gave you something to get hold of to keep you interested.  

Yes the second half dealt with more of the courtroom side of things with a few twists and turns but for me, it was the first half I enjoyed way more as for me, the tale sadly fell into a certain pattern that was almost too formulaic.  All round it was an OK read due to the later part of the book but for me what I'll remember it for more was that deliciously creepy feeling of being behind the perpetrator's eyes. 

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

VIDEO GAME NEWS: Conan Exiles: How would you survive in his world? - Koch Media

Hail Mighty Readers and Followers of the Calloused Thumbs,
With Conan coming to consoles on 8th May, our friends at Koch Media and funcom, have gone ahead and asked the question, how would Conan, cope in our world.

So here for your amusement are three possibilities as to how he would manage:
 So having seen how our friends think he would survive in our world, perhaps the ultimate question is:

How would you survive in his?

We can't wait to embark on the 8th and find out,

Gareth and Lady Eleanor

THRILLER REVIEW: The Underneath - Melanie Finn

RELEASE DATE:  03/05/18

Ex-journalist Kay and her family are spending the summer in a rented farmhouse in Vermont. Kay is haunted by her traumatic past in Africa, and is struggling with her troubled marriage and the constraints of motherhood. Then her husband is called away unexpectedly on business and Kay finds herself alone with the children, obsessed by the idea that something terrible has happened to the owners of the house. The locals are reticent when she asks about their whereabouts; and she finds disturbing writing scrawled across one of the walls.
As she starts to investigate she becomes involved with a local man, Ben, whose life is complicated by his own violent past, his involvement in a drug-trafficking operation, and his desire to adopt an abused child. Their two stories collide and intertwine, heading towards a dramatic denouement.
The Underneath is a tense, intelligent, beautifully written thriller which is also a considered exploration of violence, both personal and national, and whether it can ever be justified.

To be honest this is the sort of book that sounds downright depressing when you read the blurb, but its the fact that it has such a feeling of hopelessness that makes it resonate with me as a reader.

The principle character is a complex lead as she struggles to make sense of things both professionally as well as personally during what is initially thought of as an escape from the real world in order to put her life in order.

its a complex story and whilst we have an arc that leads from real world horrors to an area where you'd think you'd be safe, it goes to show that some things that are closer to home can hit way harder than atrocities thousands of miles away.

Back this up with solid prose, an organically grown plotline and characters that shape the world for the reader, all round makes this a book that will stay with you for a long time.

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

FANTASY REVIEW: The Drifting Lands 2: Dragon Road - Joseph Brassey

RELEASE DATE:  01/05/18
PUBLISHER:  Angry Robot

A murderous plot aboard a city-sized flying ship must be averted before a crazed cult sends a million people to their deaths When portal-mage Harkon Bright and his apprentice are asked to help select a new captain for the immense skyship Elysium, they quickly find themselves embroiled in its Machiavellian officer's court. Aboard the Iseult, the warlord Azrael, saved by his former enemies, struggles to adapt to his unexpected gift of life while suffering dark dreams of an ancient terror. As the skies darken and storm-clouds gather on the Dragon Road, the crew of the Elysium come face to face with deadly intrigues, plots from beyond death, and a terrible darkness that lurks in the heart of a thousand-year storm.

The second book in Joseph's Drifting Lands series and one that really does deliver as our intrepid characters face adversity, distrust and a new crew member seeks to find his place in this city sized skyship.  Its definitely a book that works well with the plot line and when you throw into the mix characters that you want to spend time with political machinations alongside double dealing and backstabbing all round leaves the reader at times wondering which way is up and if those within seek the cities downfall rather than its continual existence as death threatens many aboard.

All round a great read and a title that more than kept me interested as I loved the concept and the explanations as to why the functionality alongside "science" of the ship which help make much more sense of things for me as a reader. 

Finally throw into the mix a solid understanding of pace and it lets you breath just enough to prepare for the next endorphin filled scene.