Archive for September, 2015

Book Swap Challenge

September 10, 2015 - 7:50 pm No Comments

Literacy Day

To celebrate International Literacy Day, firstly, check out the data above courtesy of who are donating an amount to a literacy charity on my behalf.

So, how can we improve our literacy, or our breadth of reading perhaps?

Easy! Take part in the ‘Book Swap Challenge’

Pick a friend who reads a different genre from you. Challenge each other to read a book in a genre that you know they would normally never touch. Then ask for a small review to be posted on Amazon (and I’ll carry them on my blog) to encourage a wider reading of other genres and support the author with a review.

I’ve already got a bunch of readers signed up to read a book by 31st Dec 2015. I’ll be reading a fantasy novel, Guy Gavriel Kay’s Under Heaven whilst I have challenged Michael R Brush to read Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch.

Mags and I have swapped and are both going to read a Georgette Heyer book, whilst her mum Helena will read a piece of literary fiction (I recommended Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Love in the Time of Cholera) and I’ll be challenging myself with The Martian by Andy Weir. Tony is reading a Western, Cat is reading a Hilary Mantel, Anne Nicholls has taken Discount Armageddon by Seanan McGuire and I’ve taken Redbird Christmas. And that’s just for starters. So cone on, join the book swap challenge and diversify your reading.

Twelve Kings

September 9, 2015 - 3:53 pm No Comments

12 Kings in Sharakhai –
Author: Bradley Beaulieu
Publisher: Gollancz
Release date: 3rd Sept 2015
Page count: 592pp

Review by Andy Angel

One thing you need to know before you pick up this book Р12 Kings In Sharakhai is a big book, one of those that will eat away at your free time and keep you up well into the night. Forgive me the clich̩ please but 12 Kings really does put the Epic in Epic Fantasy.

Usually I’d start a review with the characters but the desert city of Sharakhai deserves pride of place this time. Sharakhai is huge, a massive trade and diplomatic hub in the middle of the desert peopled by the vast array of differing peoples you would expect. Luckily Bradley P Beaulieu has the world building skills to bring such a city to life. You get the feel of the desert’s heat, the dust and sand, the narrow streets and the imposing buildings. When the story starts out we are in the fighting pits and I swear it was just like reading in 3D Surround Sound.

It is in the fighting pits we first get to meet our hero Ceda, who fights as The White Wolf, a popular figure amongst those who come to watch and gamble on the outcome of the battles. Right from the start it is clear that Ceda is a bit special as she easily defeats an opponent much bigger than herself. Ceda is a strong, independent warrior type, maybe a bit Xena-like at times but she isn’t over cocky with it which I liked. She still needs her friends around her and they round off her character well.

Back to Sharakhai; The city is ruled by the 12 seemingly immortal kings that give the book it’s title. Many people live in fear of them, many hate them. Ceda is one of those people. As it turns out the Kings have secrets, secrets they want to keep at any cost. We find out through flashbacks that Ceda’s mother discovered one of those secrets when Ceda was only 8 years old. When she tried to make use of her knowledge she was taken by the Kings, executed and her body hung from the city walls as an example to others.

Ceda is not about to let them get away with it and 11 years later she wants her vengeance.

I’ll admit, this book had me excited from the minute I heard of it. I’m a sucker for a big sprawling epic and this certainly doesn’t disappoint. It’s good to get away from the pseudo-medieval settings that most fantasy epics go for – the setting here being more Persian in feel. Beaulieu does a good job of bringing the desert to life and although the city is bustling and the characters are many the narrative doesn’t feel crowded. There is a lot of mystery in this story and you aren’t always sure who is in the right, who is in the wrong – at times there are groups against each other who are actually both aiming for the same ends – but it all makes for what is probably going to be one of THE fantasy books of the year and a series that will surely be up there with the Big Boys


Dark Room

September 4, 2015 - 7:54 pm No Comments

Author: Tom Becker
Publisher: Stripes Publishing
Release Date: 10th Sept 2015
Page Count: 352pp
Reviewer: Theresa Derwin

Darla and her dad are looking for a fresh start, but when they wind up in affluent Saffron Hills, Darla has very little chance of fitting in or becoming popular with the selfie-obsessed teens at her school. Just as she thinks things couldn’t get any worse, she starts to have visions; dark and twisted visions of a killer on the loose. She’s actually seeing the future. And the camera never lies.
This suitably grim and gruesome YA horror is yet another strong addition to the new Red Eye series from Stripes Publishing. Darker than the Darren Shan Zom-B series yet not so dark as to ostracise the younger reader, the whole series so far has been a joy to behold. The covers, which are
Inked, are plain yet wonderfully realised, and Dark Room is no exception. The novel itself hits just the right tone and level of horror and is enjoyable enough to keep the most avid reader hooked. There are twists, turns and Darla herself is a fully relatable character who you want yo survive the journey.
Truly a great addition to the series. I want to discover more of Becker’s writing.