Monday, 30 April 2012

The Brazen Spindle

Time once more for my bi-wheneverly update to this blog! Yes real life has jumped up and kicked me right in the teeth once more, overwhelming my time and my sense of creativity as it throws more crap at me. Also a lot of good things too, but they just need a hell of a lot more effort to achieve!

So today I bring you a review of The Brazen Spindle by T.R. Pippin.

This has to be quite honestly one of the best tales of magic, fairy tale worlds and gender altering spells I have come across. Hell even without the last bit it would have been a damn fine read!

The author was able to craft a fantasy world that was both in depth, well thought out and almost alive in the way it was set out. The scenes were set so well that it was easy to imagine them in your mind as you read the text. The characters are well crafted and not the frankly horrible two dimensional ones you often find in modern fiction.

All the characters explore what it means to be of each gender, the expectations one has to deal with, the challenges it brings and even the differences in generations as new ideas and thoughts come into play. The main character is almost trapped by the expectations and beliefs of the age he/she was brought up in and the thoughts and desires of her new body. After all, it certainly takes a lot of working out as to just how you need to be when you're a penniless skilled weaver turned cow turned beautiful woman!

I enjoyed it from start to finish, the sort of period drama that I would love to see more of, but the style that most authors would be afraid to write. The bad guy is a total cad, which is as lovely as it always is especially when they get what is coming to them, the friends of the protagonist are the type you'd like to have yourself and it has the usual selection of uppity types period tales are packed to the gunwales with. Well no gunwales in this book, that sort of thing is left for Hornblower!

So if you're looking for a book to spend a rainy day with (which there have been a lot of over on this side of the Atlantic of late!) then this is a great one to pick up and have a giggle with!

Five out of five.

The Brazen Spindle by T. R. Pippin

Available from

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Black Library's 15th Anniversary

Ah time for my semi regular update to this review blog! Well its not that I don't read anything, just that when I do, I can't think of something to say in review, or just move straight onto the next book and get absorbed with that instead. That's even worse now I own a kindle and a new book is just a few clicks away!!

So anyway, instead of just reviewing one thing, I thought I'd do a little thing for the whole event going on over the the Black Library at the moment. 15 years in the business. Not bad for what many might call a niche market. Or at least it would have been if they hadn't managed to make the Dawn of War series a success and then get a game that was actually good onto the Xbox! Well two in fact if you count the xbox arcade game....

So anyway, as you might have guessed from what I've said here in previous reviews, I'm somewhat of a fan of the fiction produced to go along with the games of the warhammer universes. It makes the whole thing far more enjoyable and gives life to otherwise dull 2d characters. Well they're not exactly 2d but you should get what I'm on about..... maybe.

Well for the last fourteen days they've been producing a bunch of short stories to be downloaded directly from their website, each one written by a different author in their collection, each one dealing with a different aspect of one of the two universes. Sometimes we see established characters out for another jaunt, the first appearances of a brand new one soon to get their own novel/audio drama (their latest thing and I must say they are enjoyable to listen to, just not to wake up to at 3am to the sound of plague beasts howling!!). We even get brand new ones out for a visit as well.

Now, I'm not going to go through each one, partly because I have yet to download them all and partly because that would take forever to do, but so far, I have enjoyed everyone I have read. From the Crimson Fists returning to a grave of an old comrade in arms, to seeing a crazy Dwarf free a beast from the bloody pits of an arena, they each hold something a bit special that adds greater depths to the universes created by the company.

My only complaint is they end sooner than you think they would, but hey, thats a great marketing trick to get you to buy more books from them!!

So with one day left to go in the promotion, I highly suggest you head over there and pick them up! Great way to fill those ten minutes in the day when you're not sure what to do!

Five Stars

The Black Library

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

The Walking Dead: Rise Of The Governor

Ah the not so fantastic delights of wheneverly updates! Comes down to reading a lot, but not having ideas about what to put together as a review for you. But since I read a lot of cult stuff or those with a very small fan base, what's the point in writing about it if you don't recognise it?
But todays review comes down to the fact that yes I have an idea for a review and also because it's twenty past five in the morning, I have work in a few hours and I haven't been able to get any sleep, despite having worked last night and spending an hour in the gym beasting my lazy muscles back into some semblance of shape!

So without further sleep deprived ramblings, here is the review of The Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor by Jay Bonansinga and Robert Kirkman.

Now zombie apocalypse media has become one of the more recent fetishes for hollywood and apparently the mainstream American media culture, if what I've seen as an English girl is any indicator, over the last few years and it has seen the rise of some real gems across the media. From books, to tv programmes, films, video games and even comic books, it seems that the unquiet dead are becoming more popular than David Beckham and Jordan/Katy Price/whatever the fuck the slut is calling herself these days. Good thing too as they tend to make more sense than those brain dead cretins.

Now, I don't particularily like the whole living dead thing, find it pretty gross really but as I have said here in the past, or at least I think I have if my memory serves, is that what I do enjoy about this genre is the survival aspect. The idea that the world has gone to shit and you have to try and survive with just your wits and what you can pull from the ruins. Its why I like Fallout more than Left 4 Dead. However, there are some real gems in the zombie genre I do really enjoy. I love the mixed bag that is Max Brooks' 'World War Z' despite its naive stereotypes, I thought zombieland was a slice of crazy fun, and I enjoyed the first Left 4 Dead game a lot and Resident Evil has had my vote for everything I've played in it (mainly 5 but I tried the earlier games I could find) and I'm REALLY looking forward to Operation Raccoon City and number 6 (the trailer for which looks fucking immense and just hope the game stands up to it). I also liked the first series of The Walking Dead and the balls up in their advertising for it they did on this side of the Atlantic still has me giggling like a schoolgirl in her first pair of grown up tights! So when I saw this book I was holding out great hopes for it matching the series.

Yet at this point the old adage of 'don't judge a book by it's cover' really should have shot through my mind like a 9mm parabellum. I expected Rise Of The Governor to be the absorbing character driven narrative of the tv series, but to be honest as soon as I started reading it on my kindle, I was sadly disappointed.

The writing style is confused, making it feel as if you are reading the arsewater writing of a fourteen year old with several important parts of their brain missing. There is no creativity or flair to it, and the author couldn't seem to settle on any style, be it third or first person or anything for that matter and the final result was more someone trying to describe a visual event while off their face on a few bottles of damn strong vodka. This trend of not settling into a narrative structure continued throughout the whole book, leaving it feeling mismatched, disjointed and wholly unsatisfying. I find it hard to describe the actual way the book was written as I don't think that way and the only comparison I can draw for you is reading an essay of a classmate who didn't have a good grasp of the subject matter or a strong grasp of the english language. Stumbling in the dark if you will.

The characters are two dimensional, not emotional depth to them, no scope, no proper interaction. You cannot connect to them on any level and are left more with the hope that the damn walking dead will end up just fucking eating them and doing it quickly so the damn book will end! Minor characters are brought in and vanish quickly, and most of the damn time any attempt at building up who they are only happens before they bow out of the narrative one way or another. So what is the point in even having them in there if you're not going to develop them, especially when the characters you keep don't see ANY development?

Another point that bugs me is that the author just had to play the fucking religious card. Oh whoop de fucking do, a god botherer character like we haven't seen that in just about every other piece of fricking american media! Now ok, I get it, religion is a big thing for you guys, or at least seems to be with the way elements of your entertainment industry wax lyrical about it, but do we need it in everything? And do we need such a character to be built out of one who at the start of the book showed absolutely no religious bent at all? Seriously, find another method of dealing with your characters than making one into a bible bashing retard, especially for an apocalyptic storyline where its really just not needed because its been used in everything from computer games (Half Life 2 springs to mind first of all) to movies, Independence Day for example.

Perhaps this book was aimed at fans of the comic books, and maybe the narrative and its sense of structure makes more sense to them than just someone who might just happen to pick it up off the shelf, but I'm not sure about that.

All in all, I think it was a book that had so much potential to be awesome and take its place amongst the best of the genre, but it just let itself down at every possible stage. If you are a fan of everything Walking Dead, then this might be for you, if you're not a fan, liked the series or just after something to read, forget this and find something better to spend your money on.

I give this, two out of five stars.

The Walking Dead: Rise Of The Governor by Jay Bonansinga and Robert Kirkman.
Available through bookstores and the Amazon Kindle service.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Fair Game

Disgustingly late with my updates to this blog aren't I? Well I blame it on reading a lot but not finishing much. That and I'm lazy when it comes to doing commitments!

Anyway with my crazy long delay to one side, I want to wish you all a very happy and productive 2012 and I hope you all enjoyed your Christmas celebrations. I know I did, I had a week off for one thing!!
And since the festive period always brings me some new pieces to wrap my eyes around (three books given to me this year, and time to read them!!), I sank myself into some proper reading, finishing the book I had been reading, which I won't be writing a review of simply because it's about book six of a series (David Weber wrote a lot for that series and I've been trying to dig into it. Good reads though. Hornblower in space is already a winner!), another warhammer 40k book, Salvation's Reach the latest in the Gaunts Ghosts series by Dan Abnett that I had really been looking forward to reading and yep, it was a damn fine read at that, and I know what is going to happen to a few of his characters in a book or two. He does tend to follow predictable lines after a while, downside to writing a long series really.

The final book I was given is the focus for the review today, Fair Game by Stephen Leather.

Now this book is a real departure from what I normally read, which if you haven't guessed yet is mainly military sci fi, general sci fi and girl on girl romance, as this book is modern day military fiction, but I have to admit that I did enjoy it, far more than other similar books I have tried and failed to get on with in the past.

The story follows Daniel 'Spider' Shepherd, a former SAS soldier now working as an agent for MI5 and the tasks he is put onto. We join the action in Ireland where he is undercover in the Real IRA, where he is forced to shoot two of the bad guys to save the life of an undercover cop, thus blowing his cover.
On his return to England, his break is cut short when he is brought in on a case involving the pirates of Somalia, and is asked to find out who might be leaking data from a shipping company to a particular band of pirates.
Bit of a boring and shitty job for a guy used to kicking in the door and chucking a flashbang in eh? Well you'd be right, but things don't stay that way for long when a yacht is captured by the pirates where one of the captives is the God-daughter of the PM. Uh oh.
So without giving much more of the plot away, there's action on the high seas (no buckles swashed, but something more akin to Seagal and Under Siege) an international terror plot and some high paced adrenaline action in Africa and the UK itself, you have a story worthy of a Hollywood blockbuster, just with a hell of a lot less technical errors.

Now I quite literally just finished this book (bout half an hour ago) and I have to say that I did enjoy it. The main character isn't some 2d action hero, but a far more well rounded character and the other characters in the book are pretty well fleshed out too, which does make a nice change from what we seem to be getting in a lot of modern media. I found myself quite absorbed in it, finishing it in just a couple of days between bouts of heavy drinking and eating and yelling at my TV as some fucker snuck up behind me on Battlefield 3 or Ace Combat Assault Horizon (yes that is this girl's preferred sort of video game.). I found myself associating with the characters a lot more than I would have expected to given my previous history with such books and spent most of the time hoping that the various bad guys would meet their end in a very messy way, my own personal feelings about the groups they belong to aside, which as you can probably guess I have increasing levels of hatred for.

The narrative is quite well paced and as I've said, rather involving, the ending pretty satisfactory as well which also seems to be a rare thing. My only complaint about the ending is that the bad guy at that stage as a far to clean an ending and for my money needed a much nastier end, but that is just me and I'm sure others would find it fine. For the bulk of the book however, my only complaint is that it takes ages to truly get going, most of the action happening in the last hundred or so pages of the book. Annoying, but something you can live with. Just.

However, this book is actually the eighth in the series the author has written for this particular character, which I hadn't realised till I was some way into it and I'm pretty sure the person who gave it to me hadn't noticed either. Yet this is not a problem at all. The book is well written enough for this not to matter, allowing you to jump straight into the action of this book without the need for you to have read the books preceeding it. You do feel as if there are a couple of details you might have missed, but in the end its not a major problem and doesn't distract from the enjoyment of this narrative.

With everything this book has to offer, I give it a solid five stars. A damn fine read all told.

Fair Game by Stephen Leather.
ISBN: 978-0-340-92498-3
Author website:

Monday, 21 November 2011

Bioshock: Rapture

Well I've managed to break through the frozen wall that went up around my imagination of late and get some proper reading done, actually reading a book through from start to finish without breaking it up and reading several others all at once (which I have been doing of late. Reading two paperbacks [My Friend The Mercenary and Imperial Glory] and numerous books on my new kindle which I got as a birthday present just over a month ago is pretty damn crazy) and well Bioshock Rapture was that one!

Set in the world of the computer game Bioshock, the book covers the events that lead up to the start of the first game covering the construction, inhabitation and decent into shit the city is when you play through it in the first game.

It brings in all the various characters that appear either as NPCs or on the tape recordings found about the city, such as Andrew Ryan the city's creator, Frank Fontaine/Atlas the crazy badguy, Dr Tannenbaum the scientist behind the discovery of ADAM the genetic altering chemcial that is the route of the powers available in the game.

The so called three ages of Rapture the book is broken down into cover each stage of the city's development as well as the characters present and sets up the action well for the game that is a direct sequel in the universe's timeline. We are presented with Fontaine's attempts to take the city, Dr Lamb's (the villain from the second game) methods of controlling the populace of Rapture and Ryan's slow descent into totalitarianism and tyranny.

Now I did enjoy the start of the book, how they came to be there, how the went about building the city and so forth, but I quickly lost my enjoyment for it as it progressed. Points were overstretched, characters became two dimensional mockeries and then even less than that. The story line became depressing and outright annoying and the ending left so much to be desired I'd have given it a F if it had been presented to me as a twelve year old's first attempts at writing fiction.

What is it about modern books that have to create this atmosphere of depression and killing off characters you've grown to love over the course of the book? What is the fucking point of doing that because surely all it would do is lose you future readers? Bloody irritating really.

For this book, if it was spilt down into several books instead of just one, I'd give the first part four stars, the second part three and because of the ending the last part would only get two stars.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Sabbat Worlds Anthology

Never let it be said that I forget things completely. Ok so it might take me a few months to remember them, but I always get it sorted out in the end. Usually....

Anyways after my somewhat long hiatus for reviews here, which I don't have any excuse that would stand up in court, but mainly boils down to the fact that I've been reading about eight books at once and not finished one or have finished one but was removed from a computer to actually write a review on, today I bring you a review on the Sabbat Worlds Anthology, from various authors at Games Workshop's literary branch, the Black Library.

Yes I know, another Warhammer 40,000 book review, shock horror and all that, but hey, I started writing fan fiction for them more than five years ago now so my heart is always kinda with them, if not my purse.

The Sabbat Worlds Anthology is a collection of short stories based in the insanely popular region of the 40k 'verse created by the god himself, Mr Dan Abnett. Mr Abnett happens to be one of my favourite authors (his book, Xenos, the first of the Eisenhorn trilogy was the first bit of 40k fiction I ever read and occupies a special place in my heart and on the book shelf). The collection has pieces from some of the biggest authors from the dark and dusty halls of the Library and with names such as Sandy Mitchell (author of the Ciaphus Cain series) and Graham McNeil (author of the Ultramarine series of books, Storm of Iron and several of the Horus Heresy series) you can be pretty much assured that the anthology is going to be a good read before you get started.

Set in the Sabbat Worlds, each short story takes a shot at events outside the main Gaunt's Ghost story arc (apart from the two pieces written by Abnett of course), and we are taken to places such as a world under the rule of the archenemy and the resistance fighters against them (ala Traitor General style) to aerial combat with the Apostles (the elite Navy wing introduced in Double Eagle) to combat with the arrogant Volpone Bluebloods.

Each story has it's merits, but I did find that some of them were far better than others, and tended to be more enjoyable as a result, while a couple of them felt like a chore to read and just something to get through to reach the next story. Also, like a lot of material from the Black Library and Games Workshop in general, they borrow so heavily from other sources it feels like you're just seeing the original set in a sci fi environment. With one of the tales pretty much Third Man In Space, I already knew what was going to happen and was half expecting Carol Reed to jump out of his grave and complain bitterly to the Daily Telegraph!

Despite this, the Anthology on the whole was pretty enjoyable and filled in a few gaps in the story arc of the Sabbat Worlds crusade and brought back a few characters, that if not favourites were good to hear from once again.

So if you feel like diving into the dark universe of the 40k worlds and the war torn hell of the Sabbat Worlds, then this is a must buy before you pick up the new Gaunt's Ghosts novel (Salvations Reach, which I have yet to buy) as it will ease you back into the region created and the characters and locations we have seen in the series to date, even if at times it makes you want to slap the authors for their lack of complete originality.

All in all, four out of five stars. Enjoyable but a few places that drag.

Sabbat Worlds Anthology
Available from the Black Library website ( as ebook format or from places such as Amazon for paper copies.

Saturday, 8 October 2011


Sorry that I haven't uploaded any fresh reviews to this blog in the last month. My life has been rather hectic of late what with work, demands of my department at my second job, courses to organise, and being away for a fortnight in a foreign country as part of my job do tend to leave very little time to sit down, read a novel and write a review on it.
Fear not, however. I am still reading things, just taking me a little longer with my time sapped steadily away, and will be uploading new reviews here, hopefully in the near future. So please keep watching this blog and if you have any comments on the reviews or the books I've already gone through, or any suggestions for things I should read, please post them here. Any feedback is always appreciated.
So till next time, take care and keep reading, sweeties!