Wednesday, 31 July 2013

So today just got a little more awesome...

Not that today hasn't been good in it's own way (pancakes and Hope being a 'Pink Jedi'...) but when a book like this pops through the door... Well, everything just jumps up a notch :o)

Bobby Dollar has a problem or four of epic proportions. Problem one: his best friend Sam has given him an angel's feather that also happens to be evidence of an unholy pact between Bobby's employers and those who dwell in the infernal depths. Problem two: Eligor, Grand Duke of Hell, wants to get his claws on the feather at all costs, but particularly at all cost to Bobby . Problem three: Bobby has fallen in love with Casimira, Countess of Cold Hands, who just happens to be Eligor's girlfriend. Problem four: Eligor, aware of Problem three, has whisked Casimira off to the Bottomless Pit itself, telling Bobby he will never see her again unless he hands over the feather.

But Bobby, long-time veteran of the endless war between above and below, is not the type of guy who finds Hell intimidating. All he has to do is toss on a demon's body, sneak through the infernal gates, solve the mystery of the angel's feather, and rescue the girl. Saving the day should just be a matter of an eon or two of anguish, mutilation and horror.

If only it were that easy.

I've been a big fan of Tad's books since I came across a copy of 'The Dragonbone Chair' in nineteen eighty something or other (feeling old...) and he hasn't let me down since. I have a couple of books that I want to review first but don't be too surprised if this one pops up in the next couple of weeks (if not a little sooner). The day may have just peaked, in terms of awesomeness, but that's ok. I now have something to treat myself to once I've finished writing my latest 'Black Company' post.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

'Pandemonium: 1853' - Edited by Anne C. Perry & Jared Shurin (Jurassic London)

I think I'm falling in live with my Kindle app a little more each day (not quite enough to buy the real thing but not too far off). Chances to read have been few and far between but the Kindle app has sorted me out with bite sized chunks of fiction to keep me going. Bite sized chunks of fiction like '1853' for example.

While I never seem to have the money to indulge in Jurassic London's rather lovely looking books (damn you mortgage and double damn you massive crack in the wall...) I will pick up their chapbooks as a free download. I was a little wary of '1853' at first, wondering how I was going to get the most out of this chapbook when I hadn't read the preceding 'Pandemonium'; especially as '1853' is meant to show us that the weirdness of that year wasn't just confined to one small town in the American west. Turns out that I didn't need to worry at all. You don't need to know anything about the setting that birthed '1853' (although I'm sure it would help) and you don't even really need to know that much (if anything) about the real life events the chapbook riffs off. All you really need is the ability to be entertained, for a few minutes, by good storytelling and we all have that, don't we?

'1853' is basically three 'snapshot' stories that show the reader a world where horror and weirdness can be as close as just past the corner of your eye. Pretty close then and Laura Graham shows you just how unsettling this can be with 'Island to Auld Reekie'. Something is killing the poor people of Edinburgh and the closest you ever get to it is a sound in the dark or a scratching on a tenement door. No-one knows what it is and you will share in that fear as you don't know either. Add in a masterfully abrupt ending and 'Island to Auld Reekie' becomes a superb read, hinting at a dark future all the more chilling as you can only guess at what it holds.

Jonathan Green's 'Bat out of Hell' decides not to play the long game that 'Island' excels at, opting instead to deliver a frantically paced burst of deadly pursuit, blood and the promise of more blood to come. When 'Bat out of Hell' is done that's it, there's no lingering aftertaste to dwell on afterwards. What you get in the meantime is more than enough though. You can tell that Green has previous experience of writing dark encounters in empty museums as he uses those dark shadows to hide some nasty stuff, revealing it all at just the right time...

Marc Aplin's 'Son Of' tells of a man faced with the toughest of choices, could you kill someone who might just be the son of God if it will save the lives of millions? Given that the story is clearly aimed at its conclusion (pardon the slight pun) I was left wondering whether the choice was that tough after all. What stays with me, even now, though is how Aplin takes that moment of choice (and the outcome) and slows it down into something that feels almost cinematic in its imagery and style. Nice work there Mr Aplin.

I could waffle on about how great '1853' is but I would say give it a read (free download and all that) and let it speak for itself; I think that you'll be glad that you did.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Short Story Sunday, ‘Carniepunk: Parlor Tricks’ – Jennifer Estep

Ever since I downloaded the Kindle app onto my phone I’ve become a bit of sucker for anything on Amazon that’s a free download (and a lot of stuff that isn’t although not so much these days). A couple of hours ago, in fact, I downloaded Jonathan Green’s ‘Dark Heart’ (free download for the rest of today) and I’m actually downloading ‘Pandemonium: 1853’ as we speak. I told you I was a bit of a sucker for anything with ‘£0.00’ next to it :o)

I’d heard about the ‘Carniepunk’ anthology, via Twitter, and it does sound like a more refreshing take on the old Urban Fantasy tropes (don’t get me started again…). When I heard that ‘Parlor Tricks’ was a free download (thanks again Twitter!) it seemed like a great way to score some free reading and get a little taste for the anthology as well (‘Parlor Tricks’ comes with samples of all the other stories). Can’t lose, right? Well, kind of…

Readers who are familiar with Jennifer Estep’s ‘Elemental Assassin’ series will already know all about the exploits of Gin Blanco and her sister Bria. For those who don’t, Gin Blanco kicks all sorts of ass as ‘The Spider’; an elemental assassin in the city of Ashland. That’s all you need to know really as that’s all Gin does here. Another layer of story for long term fans then and a short sharp dose of action for newcomers like me. That’s about all it was though for me. If Estep is looking for new readers then I won’t be one of them.

That’s not to say ‘Parlor Tricks’ isn’t fun to read as it is. Gin and Bria have a missing girl to find in the midst of a carnival that is drawn very well in such a relatively short space. There’s also a nice bit of action, at the end, to round things off with a bang. This one just felt a little too lightweight for me. Not only is the plot very straightforward but it also seemed to feel like there wasn’t enough plot to go round; like it was being stretched to fit with all the atmospheric ‘carnival prose’. I was left in the position where I wouldn’t have minded finding out more about Gin and Ashland but ‘Parlor Tricks’ didn’t quite sell itself well enough to make me actually want to get up and do it. Are there any fans of Jennifer Estep reading? Maybe you could let me know what you think of her books.

As it stands. ‘Parlor Tricks’ was an entertaining twenty minute read but that was about it. If the publisher was looking to stir up some interest in the anthology maybe they would have been better off picking another tale for a freebie…

Saturday, 27 July 2013

'Judge Dredd, Day of Chaos: The Fourth Faction' - Various (Rebellion)

Sometimes comic book continuity can really trip you up (I'm looking at you Marvel) but, on the whole, I'm a big fan of storylines that can be traced right back into the dim and distant past. Just as long as the 'present day story' is still fairly accessible.
A lot of what has happened in the world of Judge Dredd can be traced back to events arising from the Apocalypse War and Dredd being directly responsible for the death of an entire Russian mega-city. Even though 'they started it first', that's still a hefty death toll to place on one man and Sov revenge has been in the offing for something like the last thirty years...

The 'Day of Chaos' storyline is the tale of that revenge; a tale that will eventually leave Mega City One utterly broken and in, well... chaos. It's interesting then that this first volume seems to shy away from that plotline entirely, relegating it to equal status with other tales of crime and mayhem in the Big Meg. I get the reason behind this approach, the 'slow build up' is a great way to really spring an earth shattering event on readers and, in this instance, it's also an effective way of showing that the Big Meg is in a bad enough state already. I'm just not sure that the approach works when the stories are all collected in trade like this, not when the headline event doesn't really get top billing... Or maybe it does, I'm totally undecided at time of writing :o)

It's a good job then that 'The Fourth Faction' carries some very strong supporting stories,
presented by heavyweights such as John Wagner and Henry Flint. I've become a bit of a fan of Ben Willsher's art as well which really captures some of the harsher aspects of Mega City One. But anyway, the stories.

Any tale where Dredd brings law back to the streets is an essential read and it's no different here. Dredd's typically heavy handed methods effectively illustrate the totalitarian regime while criminals he faces show why such methods are justifiable. Or are they? That's the debate and I come down on the side of 'yes'; when you have a man skinning fellow citizens to make clothes what else can you do but shoot first? Especially if he has you marked down for a nice suit?

There's also the return of fan favourite P.J. Maybe, serial killer amd former mayor of Mega City One. While there's no surprise in his escape, the real fun comes in watching him constantly stay one step ahead of the Justice Department through clever use (he would say genius!) use of face changing technology. Here is a character who has been nicely placed to do big things when the main event kicks off.
Talking of which, the Sov agent's mission is perhaps a little too understated for me but does raise an interesting ethical question for the senior judges (and by extension, us) to ponder. That we already have a pretty good idea where things are headed just lends a nice sense of inevitability to it all.

I always seem to have my doubts about the effectiveness of collecting 2000AD stories in trade and 'The Fourth Faction' is no different. When you look at each story individually though there is a lot of good here and I will definitely be posting my thoughts on the next trade 'Endgame'.

Friday, 26 July 2013

Books in the Post and a Theme...

One of the things that I promised myself about this here new blog was that it would be a case of 'finishing what I started'. Far too many promising series fell by the wayside, last time round, as my head was turned by one book or another and I don't want that to happen again (I've got a feeling that I missed out on a lot of great stuff doing that...)

While I can't ever promise that I'll finally finish the Malazan books (although, maybe...) there are some series that look totally finishable (What? It's a word, erm... now) and, as luck would have it, certain books came through the door that will give me a kick in the right direction. Check em' out,

I've been looking forward to seeing this, for a long time now, as I read the unedited manuscript on work experience last year. If you're a fan, you are going to love this book (I guarantee it). I am currently four books behind, with the series, and seeing as they're all on the shelf (and not exactly thick reads) I don't really have much of an excuse any more. Here's the blurb (if you squint really hard you can see some of the cover copy that I wrote),

Relentlessly advancing towards Collegium, the Empire is again seeking to break down its walls. The mighty imperial armies have learnt from their failures, and Empress Seda will brook no weakness in her soldiers. However, Stenwold Maker has earned his title, and the War Master has strategies to save his city. His aviators rule the skies – but the Wasp Kinden Empire has developed a terrifying new aerial weapon. Yet the campaign may be decided far from marching armies and the noise of battle. In an ancient forest, where Mantis clans pursue their own civil war, the Empress Seda is seeking lost magic. Some dangerous shadow of old night is locked up among these trees and she is wants its power. Cheerwell Maker must stop her, at any cost, but will their rivalry awaken something far deadlier? Something that could make even their clash of nations pale into insignificance ... 

I actually read 'Lamentation' way back in the day but never got round to reading the other two books (what with one thing and another... again) This was a real shame as 'Lamentation' was excellent and, with 'Requiem' now officially roaming the wilds, I thought it was long past time I got caught up :o)

I'm still working my way through 'King of Thorns' (with 'Emperor' to follow) and have the 'Black Company' re-read marching onwards as well. Don't be too surprised though if you see these books (and the preceding 'Shadows of the Apt' books) pop up every now and then...

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Cover Art! 'Blood of Tyrants' (Naomi Novik)

Now I have no interest in finishing this series; not when it became a travelogue that was more interested in showing us the 'dragon du jour' than actually telling us the story it had set out to tell. I'll say one thing though, I don't think I've seen a bad dragon yet on the covers. This one is a slight disappointment but still very cool...

And here's some blurb for those who are still interested (possible spoilers, I don't care anymore but you might)...

Shipwrecked and cast ashore in Japan with no memory of Temeraire or his own experiences as an English aviator, Laurence finds himself tangled in deadly political intrigues that threaten not only his own life but England’s already precarious position in the Far East. Age-old enmities and suspicions have turned the entire region into a powder keg ready to erupt at the slightest spark—a spark that Laurence and Temeraire may unwittingly provide, leaving Britain faced with new enemies just when they most desperately need allies instead.

For to the west, another, wider conflagration looms. Napoleon has turned on his former ally, the emperor Alexander of Russia, and is even now leading the largest army the world has ever seen to add that country to his list of conquests. It is there, outside the gates of Moscow, that a reunited Laurence and Temeraire—along with some unexpected allies and old friends—will face their ultimate challenge ... and learn whether or not there are stronger ties than memory.

Is anyone else still reading these books? Is it worth picking them up again?

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Ghost Volume 1: 'In the Smoke and Din' - DeConnick/Noto (Dark Horse)

I've been reading 'Ghost', on and off, for years now so the news that Dark Horse were rebooting Elisa Cameron's story was a really big deal to me. 'A chance to be in right in at the beginning' vs 'the fact that it just wouldn't be the same as the Ghost I'd already invested so much in'. I'm still totally undecided on that score but what I read in 'Dark Horse Presents' asked enough interesting questions that I knew I'd be back to see where the plot went next. Last night saw me finally saw those questions answered and, while I'll always prefer the original Elisa Cameron, I think I've just found another series to collect.

'In the Smoke and Din' collects the first four issues of 'Ghost' where Elisa Cameron must not only discover who she is but also decide what to do with that knowledge when she does. There is more to Chicago than anyone knew, apart from the mayor and his demonic friends that is...

While the plot is fast paced yet dairly straight forward (questions answered, justice meted out etc albeit very well drawn, more on that in a bit), the real fun comes in watching Elisa piece her life back together. I mentioned before, over at the other blog, that Elisa is relegated to a bystander in her own story as she doesn't know what it is. As this changes, Elisa gradually achieves more prominence until she is finally in control of her own destiny; it all feels very natural and adds a real spark to the climactic scenes.

DeConnick has a real skill then for drawing her characters (Vaughn's arc is predictable but his character has enough pathos for you to move past that and root for him anyway). What I also loved about DeConnick's treatment of 'Ghost' is that she strikes a real balance between new and old readers. A new reader will be able to leap into 'In the Smoke and Din' with no difficulties but long term fans will see a lot of little nods to the original setting and I just love that touch. This may be a brand new 'Ghost' but not only has DeConnick not forgotten the long term fans but the way she draws these old threads into the mix is very cleverly done. They are 'nods' but they all serve the immediate story. I'm sure I wasn't the only one wishing for another slice of continuity to be added in when Vaughn had that 'X' cut into his chest...

Noto's art took a bit of getting used to but the amount of expression he puts into a character's face (often just by a slight adjustment to the eyes) is just phenomenal. 'In the Smoke and Din' is a book about discovery and Noto leaves his readers in no doubt as to what this means.

I think I will always prefer the 'original Ghost' but DeConnick and Noto have really caught my interest with their offering and I will continue to follow the story. If you're a longtime fan give this book a chance, it is definitely rewarding.

Monday, 22 July 2013

Blogging elsewhere today...

Bit of a short post today as I need to get my job hunting done so I can go and help Hope make a zombie pinata. Yep, that's how we roll here (and having had a zombie pinata for my birthday, I can totally recommend them!)

So where am I blogging today? Well, it's a Monday so that means (despite completely missing the deadline last week...) I am over at for another chapter in my...

Today sees me talking about 'The Silver Spike', why it doesn't fit with the rest of the series but also why it is an important book nevertheless. Head on over Here to see what I have to say, any comments are always welcome ;o)

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Short Story Sunday - 'The Garden of Fear' (Robert E. Howard)

It really shouldn't do but it still always surprises me just how much Robert E. Howard wrote in his relatively short life. Everyone here should know by now that Howard was about far more than Conan, Solomon Kane and even Kull. I just didn't realise that there were a whole load of short stories completely unconnected to any of his main characters; at least until I was looking at the contents of 'Conan's Brethren' and got a little introduction. What made me choose 'The Garden of Fear' for todays short story post? No idea other than that the title suggested 'Sword & Sorcery' (which is a real staple of my reading diet right now) and sounded really cool all at the same time. It was also only ten pages long and that pretty much sold the deal for me. It almost felt like an afterthought but 'The Garden of Fear' was an exciting read as well...

James Allison can remember every life he has ever lived, right back into the dawn of pre-history and beyond... 'The Garden of Fear' recalls James' life as Hunwolf, a warrior of the Aesir, and his fight to recover his love from a demonic birdman and his garden of carnivorous plants...

I’m only a little way into what I suspect is an extensive back catalogue but I have yet to find a short story etc by Howard that isn’t well written and entertaining. ‘The Garden of Fear’ maintains this standard nicely although there is a little waffle here and there, not ideal for a story that is only ten pages long… Having said that, I guess this would depend on how interested you were in the migratory patterns of the Aesir tribes. I wasn’t particularly interested (reminded me of the more tedious parts of his essay about Conan’s world, didn’t get on with that particularly well either).

There’s enough of a hook to get you past these opening passages (i.e. the mystery of James Allison, was this where Michael Moorcock got his idea of the Eternal Champion?) and it gets a lot better after that. While I liked the concept of James Allison, I did question Howard’s use of his modern day knowledge to explain things that Hunwolf could not fathom. This took away some of the mystery for me although Howard more than makes up for this right at the end with questions left unanswered.

Overall though, ‘The Garden of Fear’ offers high adventure and chills in equal measure with a typical ‘Howardesque’ hero fearlessly going up against a monster beyond his comprehension. The carnivorous plants are really creepy and I had to admire Hunwolf’s nerve and ingenuity in getting rid of them as well as the ‘barbarian instinct’ that allows him and Gudrun to dispatch the winged man. All of this is set against a wide open landscape that reeks of pre-history and this helps the reader see just how old the winged man really is. It’s an atmosphere that weighs heavily on the reader and all credit to Howard for creating this atmosphere in such a short space of time.

Not a perfect read then but the good outweighs the bad to such an extent that it almost is. You can’t ask for much more than that can you?

Saturday, 20 July 2013

‘X-Men, Age of Apocalypse: Volume 2’ (Marvel)

On days like yesterday, when it was actually too hot to read a book, I thank the good people at Marvel, DC, Image and Dark Horse (amongst others) for giving me comic books to read. Good stories, great artwork (most of the time); you can’t ask for too much more than a comic book to go with that ice cold beer you are stirring yourself to get from the fridge :o)

Yesterday was all about the classic X-Men story line ‘Age of Apocalypse’, one of the first comics I picked up at college and the comic that had me searching out more to read. Well, I say ‘story line’ but it’s more like a quarter of the storyline as I’m now collecting it in trade. And I’ve started reading at Volume 2 as Amazon told me that’s where the story actually starts; Volume 1 being more along the lines of ‘filler’ stories that plug the gap between ‘Age of Apocalypse: Prelude’ and the main event.
Whatever, ‘Volume 2’ is an absolutely awesome read and was a fine way to pass some time in the sun (never got that ice-cold beer though).

For those of you who don’t know the story, ‘Age of Apocalypse’ is an alternate timeline where Professor Xavier died twenty years ago (killed by his son) and Apocalypse rose to power, turning North America into a wasteland and killing those he deems too weak to survive. Magneto now leads the X-Men in a series of desperate rear guard actions designed to save as many human lives as possible. At Apocalypse’s side stands Cyclops, Havok and the Beast, all currying favour for a role in Apocalypse’s new world order. Treachery is stirring in both camps though and who is the man called Bishop? A man out of time and with visions of a world where Professor Xavier never died…

‘Age of Apocalypse: Volume 2’ takes everything you ever knew about the X-Men and turns it all completely on its head. Not only that, it then proceeds to throw everyone against each other with the kind of earth shattering power that you would only expect to find in one of the ‘Big Two’ comics. There’s nothing too deep here in terms of plot, not only because of this but also because things are clearly being set up to play out in future volumes.  That’s not a huge deal though, not when you have a whole bunch of super powered mutants going up against each other and not pulling any punches.

If you’re after ‘deepness’, this comes in those quiet moments (between battles) when people are able to step back and just be themselves for a rare moment. The most interesting character in this respect is Bishop, a man whom (when he is not fighting for survival) is struggling not to go insane with memories of a time that cannot be. Those opening scenes of Bishop climbing across a mound of corpses really lay it on the line regarding just what he has to deal with on a daily basis. There is also the relationship between Magneto and Rogue and how this has driven Gambit off and… There’s the problem really. A lot of this will only have an impact if you’re a fan and know even a little about previous X-Men history. The story on its own is more than enough for the casual reader, especially with how well it’s drawn. You do need that background knowledge though if you are going to get the most out of the book.

Like I said, Volume 2 is really about laying the foundations for events to play out down the line. The way the book goes about it though is a lot of fun and even though I was going to be around to see this one conclude (gaps to fill in etc) the way Volume 2 treats its subject matter would have persuaded me anyway. I just need to be able to afford to buy those volumes but that’s another story…

Friday, 19 July 2013

Telos to publish new Robert Rankin novel

From the Press Release...

Stephen James Walker and David J Howe, Editorial Directors of Telos Publishing have acquired world rights in a new fantasy novel by bestselling author Robert Rankin. The novel, entitled The Abominable Showman, will be published in 2014.

'We're absolutely delighted to welcome Robert Rankin to Telos Publishing,' said Howe. 'I have admired and been a fan of his work for many years, and we intend to bring Telos' commitment to quality and enthusiasm for good writing to bear, and to make the release of The Abominable Showman one of the most talked-about fantasy books of 2014.'

The novel concerns the celebration of Queen Victoria's 90th year on the throne - and is set on a vast steampunk space liner in the year 1927. 'The book embodies all that is loved and celebrated about Rob's writing,' said Howe. 'It has a magnificent sense of the absurd, combined with characters which leap off the page. Rob's fans are in for a real treat!'

'I was delighted when we agreed that Telos Publishing would take this novel,' explained Rankin. 'I have long been an admirer of their catalogue of authors and books, and the enthusiasm and excitement that they bring to the publishing process. It's something of an honour to join them in this adventure, with a novel of which I am very proud, and had a great deal of fun writing.'

I'm a little bit behind with my Robert Rankin reading (ok, a lot) but it's always good to hear that a new book is on the way. Interesting choice of publisher as well, I thought Rankin was pretty well ensconced with Gollancz... I'm hoping that Rankin will also continue the trend of designing his own covers; I guess we'll find out in 2014...

Thursday, 18 July 2013

'Plague Nation' - Dana Fredsti (Titan)

A really quick review today as I've been really busy with bits and pieces (including something that I'm very excited about) and, to be honest, it's too hot to be doing much more than reading. Hot weather and I don't get on all that well...
There's also the fact that some books don’t really come with a lot to talk about. You open them up, they do their job and you close them once you’re done. Nice story maybe but you can move onto the next book very easily and without much of a backward glance. Some books really are just about a ‘quick fix of story’ and ‘Plague Nation’ is one of those books. Have some blurb…

Ashley Parker was a ordinary woman who was also a wild card, immune to the emerging zombie plague, drawn unwillingly into a shadowy paramilitary organization. Having stopped the wave of the undead that swarmed their facility, the worst is yet to come, as the plague begins to manifest in key locations worldwide.

When you can sum up a book that easily you know it’s not carrying a lot of meat on its bones and that’s not necessarily a bad thing (just a thing really). ‘Plague Nation’ does its job well enough, delivering a whole load of action and chills that entertained me but didn’t stay with me afterwards. You could say that the book did its job when it mattered and those fans of the first book would enjoy this one too.

The one thing that did bug me was the uneven split between horror and urban fantasy tropes resulting in a book that felt like it wasn’t sure what it wanted to be. I’ll be honest and say that, as a fan of horror, the ‘snapshot moments’, where people were being attacked countrywide, really did it for me and delivered some nasty moments (as did one particular ‘zombie kill’). It just felt like these moments didn’t mesh well with the ‘urban fantasy moments’ which are shaping up to have Ashley decide between her half zombie lover and a dashing stranger. Sometimes a book just needs to decide what it wants to be and stick with it.

What it boils down to is that while there was enough there to leave me waiting to see how it all concludes; I’ll be reading out of a urge to complete a series rather more than anything else. Sometimes that’s just the way it goes.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

The Mediocre Cover Posts… ‘On the Razor’s Edge’ (Michael Flynn)

Is there really any such thing as ‘bad cover art’? I don’t think so… The whole point of a cover is to catch your eye and make you pick the book up. If a cover hasn’t been drawn particularly well yet still catches your eye enough to make you read the blurb, well… that’s half the battle won in terms of you getting your wallet out. The cover art has done its job well.

What I can’t stand is half hearted, mediocre cover art where your eye naturally drifts over it to find something more interesting. Where is the point in that? Especially in today’s market where selling books sometimes feels more important than ever.
Mediocre cover art doesn’t do its job, it’s just there so that the book doesn’t look like an advance copy of itself (even that would be better, loads of plain white is certainly eye catching). Covers like ‘On the Razor’s Edge’ really wind me up…

The title may be striking but having it made up of all those little dots? That just made my eyes want to move on as quickly as possible. The only problem is, what you’re left with is an uninspiring cityscape drawn with no depth whatsoever and a distinctly uninterested looking spacecraft just, well… hovering there really. And that’s the whole thing, there’s not a whole more you can say about it really over than… meh.
This is a real shame as the blurb does its job a whole lot better than the cover does.

The secret war among the Shadows of the Name is escalating, and there are hints that it is not so secret as the Shadows had thought. The scarred man, Donovan buigh, half honored guest and half prisoner, is carried deeper into the Confederation, all the way to Holy Terra herself, to help plan the rebel assault on the Secret City. If he does not soon remember the key information locked inside his fractured mind, his rebel friends may resort to torture to pull it from his subconscious.

Meanwhile, Bridget ban has organized a posse—a pack of Hounds—to go in pursuit of her kidnapped daughter, despite knowing that Ravn Olafsdottr kidnapped the harper precisely to lure Bridget ban in her wake. The Hound, the harper, and the scarred man wind deeper into a web of deceit and treachery certain of only one thing: nothing, absolutely nothing, is what it seems to be.

If it wasn’t for the fact that ‘On the Razor’s Edge’ is ‘book x in a series of y’ then I would be tempted to give it a go based on the blurb. As far as the cover goes though…

Monday, 15 July 2013

'Prince of Thorns' - Mark Lawrence (Harper Voyager)

If you cast your mind a couple of years ago you'll remember that every man and his blog were all singing the praises of Mark Lawrence's debut novel 'Prince of Thorns'; everyone apart from me that is. It wasn't that I didn't enjoy the book, I just couldn't get into it far enough to decide one way or the other. When the focus shifted onto the sequel, 'King of Thorns', I was still stuck on the starting line and slowly coming to the conclusion that perhaps some books just aren't meant to work for certain people.

Fast forward to a couple of nights ago... It's three in the morning and I've already been awake for an hour with little chance of going back to sleep. That's ok though, I've been itching to find out how 'Prince of Thorns' ends (couldn't put it down the day before) and now I have the ideal opportunity to polish off those last few pages.
So what happened there then? I'll tell you in a minute but what I'll say now is that I really regret not pushing on with 'Prince' two years ago amd finishing it then. I missed out on some superb reading then but at least I get to play catch up now. If the next books are as good as 'Prince' then it won't exactly be a chore.

I'm pretty sure that I must be the last person to read 'Prince of Thorns' but, just in case there are any other stragglers, here's some blurb to kick things off.

From being a privileged royal child, raised by a loving mother, Jorg Ancrath has become the Prince of Thorns, a charming, immoral boy leading a grim band of outlaws in a series of raids and atrocities. The world is in chaos: violence is rife, nightmares everywhere. Jorg has the ability to master the living and the dead, but there is still one thing that puts a chill in him. Returning to his father's castle Jorg must confront horrors from his childhood and carve himself a future with all hands turned against him.

You know what it's like. You're casually reading a book and your mind is on other things; what dinner will involve for example or (in my case) just exactly what will it take to find a job... And then it happens; a light goes on in your head and you can practically see the 'world of the book' opening up before your very eyes. Not only are you into the book but there is no way that you will be putting it down until you are finished. Well, that was me and 'Prince of Thorns', a thoroughly absorbing read that has to rank as one of the best debut fantasies I have ever read.

That's not to say 'Prince of Thorns' is a perfect read however. Jorg's life is under the control of an outside agency which makes for a nice little twist to the plot when you find out just why he has given up his search for revenge. An unfortunate side affect though (at least until you find out) is that Jorg is a little bit 'too good to be true'. The right decisions are made a little too easily and he enjoys more luck than perhaps he should (although given what his father does to him you could argue exactly the opposite). It's not a huge deal but can grate a bit.

And there's also the reason why I couldn't get into the book first time round. In my opinion, Lawrence reveals the real nature of his world a little too soon and not particularly subtly either (trying my hardest not to give too much away for those who haven’t read it). I would have liked to have seen more ‘slow reveal stuff’ (like the spirit in the mountain which was superb) rather than having famous philosophers etc thrown in just as the world building was getting interesting. The end result was my being jarred out of the read just as I was about to really get into it.

I’m glad that I stuck with it though as once Lawrence adjusts the pace of the ‘big reveal’ he paints a haunting and bleak world with some nice little echoes of King’s ‘The Gunslinger’; I’m hoping for more of this in the next two books.

Lawrence doesn’t just deliver with the world building either. ‘Prince of Thorns’ has a compelling plot that reveals hidden layers just as you’re starting to think that you’ve got the hang of it. There is a lot to get you hooked here and that bodes well for the next two books. ‘Prince of Thorns’ is perhaps light on the action but when the reader looks at the repercussions of what Jorg is doing then this becomes totally excusable. Jorg’s world is in a poor enough state as it is; Jorg’s actions could ultimately tear it apart all over again.

Which brings us to Jorg Ancrath himself, an incredibly strong lead character to hang a plot off and one that I am looking forward to following further. I would argue that Jorg is the complete and utter psycho that people have made him out to be; I certainly didn’t see any real evidence (over the course of the book) that he is the new heir to the ‘Grimdark Throne’. While it is true that Jorg is a damaged individual he is also a driven one who will do whatever it takes to achieve his aims. One of the reasons I hung around was to see just what he would do next; Jorg is a character who will surprise you but one that very rarely disgusted me with his actions (although that poor Bishop…)

‘Prince of Thorns’ is an amazing read then and one that I wish I had persevered with a couple of years ago. I won’t be hanging around so long with the next book (look out for a review next week in fact)…

Sunday, 14 July 2013

‘The Coral Heart’ – Jeffrey Ford

I love it when I post my thoughts on a book and the author pops a comment next to the post (or emails) a few days later. It’s like another little window into the world I’ve just been reading about and a far cry from the days when it was just me and the book. No blogs, no comments, no forums; the world seemed quite a lonely place when I was growing up…

With this in mind then, I’m going to add a little extra paragraph here before I get going with the review itself…

Dear Jeffrey,

Please write more stories about Ismet Toler; write a whole novel if you have the time. I’d read them and I’d tell everyone else to do the same.



Sorry about that, everyone else, but I really enjoyed reading ‘The Coral Heart’ and ‘Spirits of Salt’ (in ‘Fearsome Journeys’, review to come once I’ve finished reading the rest of the book). Hang around a little while and I’ll tell you why. Before we get started though, I read ‘The Coral Heart’ in Tachyon’s ‘The Sword and Sorcery Anthology’ but you can also find it in ‘Eclipse Three’ (edited by Jonathan Strahan). Either is good :o)

Ismet Toler is very much the 21st century of Elric, a wandering swordsman with a powerful sword (the slightest cut will turn a person into coral) and no real moral compass guiding him in its use. ‘The Coral Heart’ sees Toler stay in a palace where he will fall in love and confront the repercussions of a chance swing of his own blade…

I’ve read a few ‘Sword and Sorcery’ tales, in my time, and ‘The Coral Heart’ is one of the more thoughtful ones that I have come across; preferring to take the focus away from the ‘Tribulation and certain death’ of the left hand path and place it on the right hand path where love awaits. It's like Ford is deliberately steering us away from typical 'Sword and Sorcery Tropes' (although he doesn't ignore them entirely) and onto something a little different instead.That’s not to say that nothing happens at all, there is plenty going on here with a neat little twist coupled with a tense stand off between Toler and… that would be telling. It’s ‘Sword and Sorcery’ that we’re looking at here, no doubt about it. I really appreciated the slight change in focus though which makes ‘The Coral Heart’ stand out from the rest of the pack. Toler is a man clearly used to having whatever he wants and long past caring about the fate of the people that he has cut with his blade. The machinations of the Lady Maltomass rob Toler of all his power and it’s fascinating to see him suddenly full of indecision, wanting to leave but kept in thrall by the promise of… Well, you know what ‘Sword and Sorcery’ heroes are after once they have filled their pockets with treasure.

It wouldn’t be a ‘Sword and Sorcery’ tale without a little ‘Sword’ and ‘Sorcery’ though and Ford delivers this at just the right moment in the tale. While the result is inevitable, Ford injects the fight scene with just enough uncertainty to have us appreciating Toler’s quick thinking in the heat of battle.
Toler then takes his revenge (never kill a hero’s horse…) and heads off into lands unknowm. There is the promise of his return though and I for one hope that it is sooner rather than later.

At the beginning of ‘The Coral Heart’, Ford appeals to our sensibilities (and perhaps our vanity as well) by saying,

‘Your average citizen enjoys a tale of slaughter. You, though, if I’m not mistaken, understand as well the deadly nature of the human heart and would rather decipher the swordsman’s dreams than the magic spell engraved upon his blade.’

I’d say that Jeffrey Ford certainly delivers on his side of the bargain and ‘The Coral Heart’ is a tale that I think will see me search out more of his books (not just the ‘Sword and Sorcery’ tales either). Well worth a look if you ever come across it.

Saturday, 13 July 2013

A 'Slightly Sheepish' Update post...

So I've just looked and realised that I haven't posted anything here since last Tuesday (and I am horribly, horribly late with my next Black Company post for; time for an update then :o)

It's been a mad crazy week what with one thing and another. Wednesday saw me being interviewed for a job; it didn't go too badly but there were lots of other candidates in the queue behind me... We'll see how that one goes (fingers crossed) Thursday saw me head off to the job centre to be told that I'm going to be investigated because I missed a course to attend said interview... Still a bit grumbly about that one but an epic lightsaber battle with Hope, in the back garden, went a long way towards making me feel better :o)
And yesterday was far too nice to do anything apart from listen to some free music being played at the Royal Albert Hall before going to Kensington Gardens and finding what must be the best playground in the whole of London. Any playground that has a massive pirate ship to play on (erm... for the kids of course) pretty much wins at everything in my book.

The weather looks like it is going to be gorgeous for the next week, at least, so posts might well be a bit thin on the ground as I'll be taking Hope out more and (hopefully) attending interviews. That's what this blog is about though; less posts but hopefully better quality ;o)

'Short Story Sunday' will be here tomorrow but until then, have a look at some books that arrived in the post over the last few days...

'King' and 'Emperor' arrived as I have finally (finally) read 'Prince of Thorns'; it was awesome and I didn't want to hang around getting hold of the next two books. There will be a review some time this week. 'The Darwin Elevator' turned up unsolicited and is looking like the kind of fun, summer read that weather like this demands. Can't tell you when I'll finish it but 'The Darwin Elevator' will get a review here as well. Have some blurb,

In the mid-23rd century, Darwin, Australia, stands as the last human city on Earth. The world has succumbed to an alien plague, with most of the population transformed into mindless, savage creatures. The planet’s refugees flock to Darwin, where a space elevator—created by the architects of this apocalypse, the Builders—emits a plague-suppressing aura.

Skyler Luiken has a rare immunity to the plague. Backed by an international crew of fellow “immunes,” he leads missions into the dangerous wasteland beyond the aura’s edge to find the resources Darwin needs to stave off collapse. But when the Elevator starts to malfunction, Skyler is tapped—along with the brilliant scientist, Dr. Tania Sharma—to solve the mystery of the failing alien technology and save the ragged remnants of humanity.

I was a little worried that this might be another zombie story but I've been pleasantly surprised so far. That's me for today then. Have a great one, whatever you're up to, and I'll see you all tomorrow :o)

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

My 'Essential Zombie Fiction Reading List'

I know I said I was going off zombies (still am a little) but I see things like The Essential Zombie Fiction Reading List (on the Barnes & Noble blog) and it's like a little red flag goes up in my head... And then I find myself posting here :o)

Don't get me wrong, I haven't got anything major against this reading list; lists like these are subjective and so on... I'd query the inclusion of the 'Newflesh' books (never got what all the fuss was about), Rhiannon Frater's trilogy is worth a read and when I finally get round to reviewing 'Plague Nation' I suspect I'll have a lot of good things to say about it. It's just that there are other zombie books out there that do the job a lot better and should have been included. What's that? Lists are subjective? Well, yes but... This time I know I'm right, I've read a lot of zombie fiction and know what I'm on about ;o)

So here's my list then, full of books that you can actually pick up right now this very second (in one form or another). If you want to get into zombie fiction then you could do a lot worse than check these out...

'The Rising' (Brian Keene) - These 'zombies' aren't technically zombies (being demon possessed corpses) but they still eat the living and the wider breakdown of society is depressingly well covered. 'The Rising' is the book credited with kick starting the zombie genre and it's where you need to start if you haven't already.

When you're done here, read...

'Dead Sea' (Brian Keene) - We're dealing with 'proper zombies' here and Keene does just as well here (even better I think) as he did with 'The Rising'. Read it! This one is underrated (I think) and deserves a wider audience.

'Pariah' (Bob Fingerman) - The zombie apocalypse isn't just about people getting eaten; it's about survival whilst dealing with a constant feeling of being trapped. 'Pariah' really nails that atmosphere with one apartment block of survivors surrounded by a Manhattan crammed full of eight million zombies. You can almost touch the claustrophobia here and Fingerman charts the downward spiral of certain characters in such a way that it stays with you for a long time afterwards.

The 'Autumn' series (David Moody) - If you've ever found yourself wondering how a 'British Zombie Apocalypse' might pan out then pick up 'Autumn' (which might still be free online, I think..) and read on from there. The plot is compelling but it's the background that Moody paints which is the key here. Everything is soul-crushingly bleak with little or no hope of salvation, just like all good zombie apocalypses should be.

'The Reapers are the Angels' (Alden Bell) - I almost didn't include this one as the character studies are so well done that you almost don't notice the zombies at all. 'Reapers' makes the cut though as I don't think I've read a zombie book that handles its characters as well. Hard times make for hard choices but you can still have a shot at redemption.

Otto Penzler's 'Zombies' Collection - I haven't made it all the way through this book but any anthology that has the first ever zombie story inside is essential reading for fans, no argument.

Last but not least, Joe McKinney's 'Dead City' is a favourite of mine with a great mix of citywide meltdown, intriguing questions and human drama. I think you'll like it and McKinney has written three more books (I think) following it.

It's clear then that my work is not yet done in terms of pointing out all the great zombie fiction out there ;o) While I'm not going to be reading all the zombie fiction that comes my way, I'm definitely back in the game here as well :o) Would anyone else like to add their recommendations?

Monday, 8 July 2013

Cover Art! 'Seven Forges' (James A. Moore)

It's been a busy day today and it's shaping up to be an even busier week with an interview on Wednesday (go me!) along with the deadline for my next 'Black Company Re-Read' post (could be a late night on Wednesday...) I've got stuff that I want to write about here but finding the time to do that is proving problematic...

What you have instead then for today is some slightly disappointing cover art from our friends at Angry Robot. I say 'disappointing' as they are usually a lot better than this...

While I do like the suspiciously metallic looking hand, I'm not too keen on the hood that cannot decide whether it's a hood or, in fact, human hair. I'm also not too sure about Angry Robot's approach to the whole 'too many hooded characters on fantasy covers' either ("Lets give him a big scarf, then it will be totally different from all the other 'hooded covers' out there...") They are only little things but it is the little things that count, for me anyway, and the end result is a cover that although well drawn isn't as easy on the eye as it could be.
It's a good job then that the blurb does its job a lot more effectively...

The people of Fellein have lived with legends for many centuries. To their far north, the Blasted Lands, a legacy of an ancient time of cataclysm, are vast, desolate and impassable, but that doesn't stop the occasional expedition into their fringes in search of any trace of the ancients who once lived there - and oft-rumoured riches. Captain Merros Dulver is the first in many lifetimes to find a path beyond the great mountains known as the Seven Forges and encounter, at last, the half forgotten race who live there. And it would appear that they were expecting him. As he returns home, bringing an entourage of the strangers with him, he starts to wonder whether his discovery has been such a good thing. For the gods of this lost race are the gods of war, and their memories of that far-off cataclysm have not faded.

Just let me get this week out of the way and I'll be having some of that I think. Has anyone else read 'Seven Forges' yet?

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Short Story Sunday - 'Six From Atlantis' (Gene Wolfe)

Because lets face it, there's no better way to steel yourself against the horrors of the coming week than with a quick blast of epic fantasy or sword and sorcery. I don't know how often these posts will happen which is why the best way to describe is as an 'occasional series'. What I can tell you though is that (at least to start off with) the majority of these short stories will be from Tachyon's 'The Sword and Sorcery Anthology', a book that I've finally got round to picking up and am enjoying reading very much.

Gene Wolfe's 'Six from Atlantis' is up first, purely because I am balking at the amount of reading required for 'The Book of the New Sun' but still wanted to get a feel for his writing. This tale of an Atlantean slaver captain's confrontation with a monstrous ape (and its human concubines) was not only originally written for an anthology celebrating the work of Robert E. Howard but also set in the world of Conan (if not Conan’s time). These influences are clearly evident then with a 'man’s man' hero, savage female warriors and (of course) the great ape all evident. There are no real surprises in terms of the plot (although I always appreciate a hero willing to rely on brains as well as brawn) but, given the tales celebratory nature, that is perhaps to be expected. Also, to be fair, 'Six from Atlantis' is only six pages long. With the best will in the world there's only so much anyone can do with that many pages and so 'Six from Atlantis' is a short sharp tale of action and consequences; the best kind of tale that a sword and sorcery adventure can be.

What I really liked about ‘Six from Atlantis’ are the little touches that Wolfe adds to the proceedings, giving the reader some idea of just how old the setting is. Atlantis has only sunken fairly recently and one of the ladies that Thane meets has already been under the influence of soporific vines for hundreds of years. There is a real sense then of a world that is almost familiar to us but so old as to be utterly alien.
There’s also a nice touch of horror as well (just like all the best stories by Howard) with the ‘ape greater than any ape’…

‘Huge and hairy, swag-bellied and fanged like the nightmare dragons a million years dead, it leered and sneered.’

And how long had that beast been alive to grow to such a size…? The atmosphere that Wolfe suffuses ‘Six from Atlantis’ is rich to say the least and it combines with the plot to form something that is greater than the sum of its parts. Recommended reading if you come across this tale; I still don’t know when I will get to read 'The Book of the New Sun' but it just got bumped up the pile a little more.

Friday, 5 July 2013

Some Warhammer 40K ebooks...

It was the short stories in 'White Dwarf' magazine that really got me into the Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 settings. By the way, when I say short I mean it; some of those tales might only be a couple of paragraphs long and could probably be better described as 'passages'. What I loved was the way that these passages were all windows looking out on a particularly bloody moment in time (I was that kind of teenager...) that begged to be explored further. And I did, and here I am now.
Black Library's 'e-shorts' series is like an opportunity to step back in time then, for me, and there's nothing I like more than getting all nostalgic these days. When I was offered the chance to read/review a few of these I was eager to get going.

A warning note for newcomers to Black Library e-reading. The three stories I read all made for nice little bite sized chunks of Warhammer 40k reading; they were just the right size for 'phone reading' and are a great way to check out an author before you buy more of their books. Having said that, 'The Carrion Anthem' can be found in the 'Treacheries of the Space Marines' anthology whilst I think 'Hunted' and 'The Strange Demise of Titus Endor' can be found in the 'Hammer and Bolter' collections. Basically, do yourself a favour and make sure you're not buying the same story twice (unless you want to of course).
But onto the stories themselves...

‘Hunted’ – John French.

‘Hunted’ is a difficult tale to talk about at length, not only because it is so short but also because it is so good at what is does; getting to the point really quickly and delivering two killer twists that totally threw me. Thaddeus’ journey back across enemy lines is full of an urgent energy that makes the plot speed along quickly, likewise Tarl’s mission to find and extract Thaddeus. What happens when these two men meet takes ‘Hunted’ to another level entirely and will have me keeping an eye out for more of John French in the future.

‘The Carrion Anthem’ – David Annandale.

I spent most of ‘The Carrion Anthem’ thinking that I was sure I had read it somewhere before. It turned out that I had (see above) but I was still happy to read it again. ‘The Carrion Anthem’ (where a new kind of chaotic plague strikes the Imperial World of Ligeta) is a lot more straightforward than ‘Hunted’. There were no real twists at all here but what you do get is a sense of horror that grows as Corvus realises the true extent of what he has to face. It’s all topped off with a battle between beleaguered Imperial Forces and Traitor Marines that sums up life in the forty first millennium. Brave men go out shooting but, in the end, it makes no different at all.

 ‘The Strange Demise of Titus Endor’ – Dan Abnett.

This tale of Inquisitor Titus Endor’s last days is one that grows on you slowly; almost too slowly for me. I also had to try and remember who Titus actually was before I could get the most out of this one. As I read on though, the questions that Abnett poses to his reader suddenly cast the tale in a whole new light and made it essential reading. Is Titus Endor a washed up ex-Inquisitor slowly drinking himself to death? Is Titus in the final throes of a cruel dementia or is he about to uncover a plot that is truly horrific? The only certainty is in the title and ‘The Strange Demise of Titus Endor’ is a tale that still has me pondering even as I’m writing this. It’s my pick of the bunch and, at only £1.50, more than worth picking up if you don’t have it already.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

The 'Wishing It Was A Hangover' Competition Winner's Post!

If it was a hangover, at least I'd know that I'd had a good time and a few beers last night. No beers though, just a really sore head... :o( Oh well, once this post has been posted I shall be curling up with a (hopefully) good book so that should take care of it.

Thanks to everyone who entered the 'Man of Steel' competition; your tales of woe had me feeling very sorry for all of you and I hope you get to go to the cinema real soon! There were three people whom I felt the most sorry for though and they were...

Lisa Pepper, Cambridge, UK (Hopefully this will keep you going until the DVD comes out)
Amy Woodhouse, Chesterfield, UK (It was like you were describing my life...)
Jayne Bojang, Hertfordshire, UK (And you sounded like you could really do with some good luck)

Your books should hopefully be with you very soon. Better luck next time everyone else; I don't know how often competitions will run here but I'm sure that there will be more to come.

Now if you will excuse me, I'm off to find some paracetamol. See you tomorrow :o)

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

‘Wasp’ – Eric Frank Russell (Gollancz)

I really don’t read enough of the SF Masterworks books as I should. This is especially the case as I haven’t found a book in the series yet that isn’t thought provoking on one level or another. I say ‘thought provoking’ though… Sometimes the thoughts provoked do send me off on a tangent; for example, how did ‘The Difference Engine’ make the ‘Masterwork cut’ while ‘Neuromancer’ hasn’t? Anyway…
‘Wasp’ is a title that has intrigued me, ever since I saw it as a ‘forthcoming release’ a few months ago, not least because I am scared of wasps so naturally have a morbid fascination with them. The blurb is also very intriguing, check it out…

The war had been going on for nearly a year and the Sirian Empire had a huge advantage in personnel and equipment. Earth needed an edge. Which was where James Mowry came in.

If a small insect buzzing around in a car could so distract the driver as to cause that vehicle to crash, think what havoc one properly trained operative could wreak on an unsuspecting enemy. Intensively trained, his appearance surgically altered, James Mowry is landed on Jaimec, the 94th planet of the Sirian Empire. His mission is simple: sap morale, cause mayhem, tie up resources, wage a one-man war on a planet of eighty million.

In short, be a wasp.

A tale of espionage, one man against an entire planet? What’s not to like there? I’ll bet that, right now, you’re thinking that you wouldn’t mind giving this book a go yourself. Am I right?
I would say definitely give ‘Wasp’ a shot; I read it in a single sitting last night and was happy to pay the price of feeling dog tired this morning. Approach it with caution though, ‘Wasp’ isn’t the book that you might think…

‘Wasp’ is a book very much concerned with it’s concept, that one man (suitably equipped) can bring an entire planet to a standstill and so cause repercussions for an entire galactic war. The problem I found was that Russell is so pleased with his concept that he never really tests it. Agent Mowry is too well equipped and the Sirian Secret Police are always at least one step behind; everything that Mowry turns his hand to succeeds and the planet falls. Yes, the concept works but it does so at the expense of the story to a degree. Mowry has a few close shaves here and there but nothing that really makes the plot twist and turn like I’d have wanted it to. Russell attempts to address this by talking about the kind of questions that might be asked (in the aftermath of a ‘wasp sting’) but might ask is a long way from something that actually happens.

But I still kept reading. Like I said, I couldn’t put the book down.

While concept is clearly prioritised over plot, there is no doubt that it is fascinating to see Mowry in action and how his actions affect his environment. Russell does go into this in a little too much detail (for a book that is only a hundred and eighty pages long) but the exploration does make for interesting reading.

‘Wasp’ is also an interesting read in terms of what we find out about Mowry himself (with a little extra dash of humour added by Russell). Here is a man who doesn’t want to fight but reluctantly agrees to when confronted by the inevitability of his files.

‘James Mowry, twenty six, restless and pigheaded. Can be trusted to do anything at all – provided the alternative is worse.’
The affects of long term infiltration are also explored to good affect in Mowry; he gets the job done but even he can only take so much of being the only Terran amongst eighty million Sirians. There are some bittersweet moments of what is almost homesickness that are then followed by some slightly odd moments where everything is made better by well cooked ‘earth food’. I didn’t think that would be all it took to make Mowry feel better. Whatever works I guess…

‘Wasp’ is essentially a great concept that doesn’t quite make the jump into being a great story (and I think this was done purposefully). Not a ‘Masterwork’ in my book then but still a gripping read in its own right and a lot of fun. I’d definitely pick it up again.

Monday, 1 July 2013

Bits & Pieces

It's been a funny kind of day today... Trying to mend a garden hose, getting utterly ear-wormed by the music they put you on hold to (although I have heard worse...) and having Hope try to use my spine as a diving board. Oh yes, and chasing job agencies as well (they're all really friendly until you try to call them...)

There were a couple of books arrived in the post though; one of which I won't be reading at all while I will reading the hell out of the other one. Have a look at the picture and see if you can guess which one is which. Here's a clue... Actually, you don't need one ;o)

Yep, you were right the first time ;o)

In other news, it's that time of the fortnight again...

I'm over at again today where I am talking about 'The White Rose'. Have a read of the post and leave a comment. All being well, I might even have time to reply (it's been one of those weeks).

What can you expect to see here this week? More than likely a review of 'Wasp' and possibly a review of 'Fearsome Journeys', don't know about the rest though. Why don't you come back and see? I will probably be as surprised as you are :o)