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Parm (A bookshop near you)
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Day Four
Day Four
by Sarah Lotz
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £10.49

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Something different, 21 May 2015
This review is from: Day Four (Hardcover)
Review

Day Four is certainly not my normal reading fare, I’m not a fan of horror flicks and tend to avoid the sort of program that messes with your head. But Three was such a good book that it broke the mold for this genre, for me it sits somewhere between supernatural and thriller. Day Four didn’t disappoint and yet its a very different novel… i think the title lends the appearance of a sequel… it is in only the most tenuous way.

The plot is set aboard the Beautiful Dreamer, a budget cruise ship which gets stranded at sea. The story unfolds amidst the drama of various groups coping with the uncertainty of a bleak open calm sea and no sign of rescue, coupled with day after day of banal updates from “Damien” the crew director. Updates designed to keep passengers mollified but seem to just confirm that they are not going to be rescued. As conditions grow increasingly more rank and odorous, the passengers grow more and more desperate and order breaks down. Couple this with the desperate passengers who become more and more spooked by inexplicable shadowy figures and a distinctly fake showbiz medium suddenly gaining a habit of accurate predictions.

Day Four isn’t a lovable book, the passengers in general are what we all despise in modern society, the idle, the privileged over entitled middle class basting themselves in the sun, treating staff like serfs. When things go wrong and people are left to fend for themselves its all lord of the flies… and with the volume of poop…lots of flies. There is room in this carnage however for some very insightful engaging characters some engaging personalities among all the detritus of humanity. This is a book of clever description that plays out in the mind of the reader, the rank smells and dire straights that crew and passenger alike are in, seeps off the page, such is the skill of the writer.
I recommend it as a read, its not The Three… its different… good different though.
(Parm)

Novels
The Three (2014)
Day Four (2015)
Pompidou Posse (2015)

Collections
Dark Harvest (2014) (with Toby Bennett, Amy Lee Burgess, Autumn Christian, Sonya Clark, Carrie Clevenger, Nerine Dorman, Rab Swannock Fulton, D C Petterson, Anna Reith, Liz Strange and Donn Webb)

SL Grey
Novels
The Mall (2011)
The Ward (2012)
The New Girl (2013)
Underground (2015)
House Swap (2016)

Collections
The Lowest Heaven (2013) (with Archie Black, David Bryher, Jon Courtenay-Grimwood, Maria Dahvana Headley, Kameron Hurley, Sophia McDougall, Simon Morden, Mark Charan Newton, Alastair Reynolds, Adam Roberts, Esther Saxey, Jared Shurin, E J Swift, Lavie Tidhar and Kaaron Warren)

Lily Herne

Series
Deadlands
1. Deadlands (2013)
2. Death of a Saint (2013)
3. The Army Of The Lost (2014)

Novels
Ash Remains (2016)

Helena S Paige
Novels
A Girl Walks Into a Bar (2013)
A Girl Walks Into a Wedding (2013)
A Girl Walks into a Blind Date (2014)


Bite: The most gripping thriller you will ever read
Bite: The most gripping thriller you will ever read
by Nick Louth
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Itchy, 18 May 2015
Review

It helps though if a book has been fun, and in this case it was…. fun in that it left me with the itch you get from books about insects, the scratch of the bite, the paranoia from the potential for illness. It reminded me a little of Robin Cooks Outbreak, it gave that same paranoid feeling. But the book then has another surprising edge, a criminal tale, a war zone, a tale of revenge and a tale of love twisted by time and circumstance. I’ve not read anything by this author before but have to admit to being very surprised by how much he packed into what on first glance appeared a simplistic thriller.

The timeslip element keeps the reader on tenterhooks throughout, pulling you along from one scene to the next, constantly wanting to jump forward or back in time. The characters are well drawn, there are no super heroes here, Max our main character barely escapes a scene without injury, and despite the billing Erica only really exists in the past, the female in the present has just as many skeletons in her closet, and Nick Louth teases them out like a pro.

This thriller is more than a poolside make weight, its deserves some reading. (in fact i wouldn’t read it anywhere you need to wear mossie spray)

Recommended

(Parm)


Eagles at War: (Eagles of Rome 1)
Eagles at War: (Eagles of Rome 1)
by Ben Kane
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £7.00

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars By the end of the book i was forced to agree that this book is Ben Kane’s best work, 23 April 2015
Review

I am somewhat torn by this book, on the one hand the writing is simply brilliant, as ever Ben Kane has impeccable attention to detail and history, driven by his knowledge of marching in roman kit, and having walked the ground in Germany, couple that with his passionate research of the subject and empathy for the subject, all you can expect is brilliant writing.

But: and this is purely personal, i think every person will experience this in their own way; I found that i was being led down an inevitable path and for me it robbed the plot of some of its power and pace. Couple that with the absolute certainty that Arminius was destined to betray the legions it took some of the sinister edge and suspense, you know he isn’t going to get caught. The foil to this is the simply brilliant character of Tullus, who i’m personally convinced is Tony Riches given life in AD9. A man bigger than the room, who you want to follow, who inspires, a man who lifts others with the weight of his personality and presence. (don’t tell him i said so)

This character powers the reader through the lead up to the inevitable ambush, and then at this point the story explodes into life for me. The story can enter the realm of unknowns, allowing the author to finally break the bounds of history and give free reign to his story telling talent. It was the slog through the dark boggy forest, dragging the remnants of his dying legion that made me love this book. The reader bleeds with every mile, suffers the horror of putting friends down to save them from the Germanic tribes, and the shame of leaving behind their pride and their friends, its the hope that kills you with every page.

By the end of the book i was forced to agree that this book is Ben Kane’s best work, (my fav is still Forgotten Legion though).

you must buy this book, and begin this wonderful journey. Because this is a story so powerful it leaves a mark

(Parm)


Wulfsuna (The Wolf Spear Saga)
Wulfsuna (The Wolf Spear Saga)
by E S Moxon
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great potential, 23 April 2015
Review

A debut book is always a privilege to review, its also a tough responsibility. You can do untold damage if enough people read your blog, as well as give plenty of benefit with a good review. Ultimately my view is that you need to walk a fine line. bridge the gap. Give and honest review, but also factor in the fact the writer is beginning a career. I’m not arrogant enough to yet know what impact my review has, but i’m honest enough to know it has an impact….

So … what does that mean for Wulfsuna? well happily for me Elaine can write, she has clearly spent many long hard hours, days and nights pouring her passion for a subject into a novel. She has chosen a period in time that is very underwritten, and seems to be gaining popularity at the moment, that period when Rome has pulled out of Britain and the populace has been left to fend for its-self against the ever migrating hordes from the the mainland.

The story follows the Sons of the Wolf as they look to meet up with past members of their group, people who have settled the land, farmed it. The plot follows the leader of this band and a young woman, a seer. Both suffer personal tragedy, She expelled from her village, forced to fend for herself, He the loss of family to betrayal. Fate has their lives interwoven, and she will have her fickle way.

The authors love for her characters and her time period clearly shine through on every page, i did feel that the book was perhaps over polished, when you have too much time to finish a book, its easy to go back and tweak a phrase, add a description, and i think Elaine has perhaps suffered that first book wobble where she had that extra time. To her credit she finished a book, and made it a decent plot, one which really pulls the reader with it. I think knowing her as i do (for quite some time online) she will be taking on board all her feedback to make book 2 really hit home. Also she has set herself a much shorter window to write the book, thus removing the habit of polishing.

The book i would rate as a 3/5, it has lots of charm and plenty of action and great characters, but more than anything it has potential, so i will be back for book 2. I hope you will also give this a go and join the journey, because if we don’t support new authors…. we lose anything new and different.

(Parm)


The Pasha's Tale (The Ottoman Cycle Book 4)
The Pasha's Tale (The Ottoman Cycle Book 4)
Price: £2.04

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Culmination of a truly excellent series., 17 April 2015
Review

Regular blog readers / review readers will be aware of this, but for anyone new, full disclosure, Simon Turney is a good friend as well as some one i enjoy reading. I have been a friend and fan since before book one and have been privileged to have seen, enjoyed and been a small part of his journey. This is a Journey that seems to reach new heights with every book.

While im a big fan of his Marius Mules series, his latest work for me is his best work, both in the roman world with Praetorian and even more so his Ottoman Cycle series. This series following Skiouros the thief, the adventurer, the explorer fighter and spy. A boy who had to quickly grow, and become a man, haunted by his dead brother, hunting retribution. A retribution that takes him across the globe and back.

Pasha’s tale will see him return home, to face up to his past and help guide the future of the world as Islam and Christianity clash over the succession of the Ottoman throne. Aided by his friend Parmenion, and his sword master Diego and guided by the mysterious Dragi the trio bounce from one perilous situation to another as they try to outwit their enemies. As a book it has everything, pace, action, wonderful character and the authors deep empathy for the trade-off between religions , walking the tightrope between christianity and Islam, so fraught with danger and yet so well accomplished while not compromising the plot one bit.

As a series it culminates with a beautifully poetic ending, with shades of butch and Sundance, seeing Parmenio sailing off into the sunset, hopefully his version of Bolivia gives him peace and Skirouros neatly closing off so many of the stories threads. It’s not often a series leave you satisfied and yet still longing for more. I will miss these friends, and yet it only leads me to wonder what Simon can do next outside of the Roman world.

very highly recommended

(Parm)

Series
Marius’ Mules
1. The Conquest of Gaul (2009)
aka The Invasion of Gaul
2. The Belgae (2010)
3. Gallia Invicta (2011)
4. Conspiracy of Eagles (2012)
5. Hades’ Gate (2013)
6. Caesar’s Vow (2014)
7. The Great Revolt (2014)
Prelude to War (2014)

Tales of the Empire
1. Interregnum (2009)
2. Ironroot (2010)
3. Dark Empress (2011)

Ottoman Cycle
1. The Thief’s Tale (2013)
2. The Priest’s Tale (2013)
3. The Assassin’s Tale (2014)

Novels
Praetorian: The Great Game (2015)

Collections
Tales of Ancient Rome (2011)


The Serpent Sword: Volume 1 (The Bernicia Chronicles)
The Serpent Sword: Volume 1 (The Bernicia Chronicles)
by Matthew Harffy
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.00

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a new voice!, 3 April 2015
Review

Once again its been one of those occasions where i feel privileged to be asked to read and review a book by a debut author, anytime someone trusts you with something which has been their passion and that has consumed hours, days weeks and months of their life is something you should and i do cherish. At the same time it does not earn you a free pass to a good review.

What does earn you praise is something new, something set in a period where many others have not gone before, when you can couple together plot, great characters, scene setting and action packed fight scenes. This is just what you get with Serpent Sword.

Beobrand is a well thought out totally rounded character, the author builds his personality slowly and carefully and provides lots of depth and emotion to really tie the reader to his fate. He then couples this with something many authors fail at, which is bringing the supporting cast to life, spending as much time bringing to life the characters who are destined to die. Its this level of commitment to characters that pays off with a powerful rich story that sucks you in and drives you to turn the next page and the next until you suddenly notice its 2am.

The antagonist in the plot Hengist is the perfect foil for our protagonist Beobrand, someone who impacts multiple aspects of his life, someone truly nasty that the reader can dislike and wish to see destroyed. The author plays out that inevitable conclusion with care and precision, taking you to the edge and back more than once, until you are champing at the bit to see him gutted on the end of Beobrand’s sword.

The time period being Dark Ages allows the author a large amount of scope to round his plot using history as a guide and not a restriction. As someone who reads a lot of Roman fiction its fun seeing the Romans viewed as giants of the past, people of myth almost. with an incredulity towards the structures they left behind. At the same time there is a rich culture of sights sounds smells and society that the author draws you into and makes you a part of.

this is an excellent debut… and i can promise an better follow up (I’ve been fortunate enough to see that also) so add this to the list of an excellent new voice who will be a fast riser.

(Parm)


Thunder of the Gods: Empire VIII
Thunder of the Gods: Empire VIII
by Anthony Riches
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £10.49

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant series, 2 April 2015
Review

Whenever there is a new Anthony Riches book in the offing it always create an air of anticipation in my reading schedule, Its very easy for me to say Tony is a fun read but really he is so much more than that. His early books were just that, great fun, but I always felt that this squad of Tungrians could be from any time period, they were/ are the epitome of what I expect squaddies to be, they are just the same as many soldiers I have known…. Only tougher and more dangerous, purely by dint of the time period they live in, where life is cheap, Tony captures the essence of the men on the front line so well and the fatalistic approach to much of their everyday life. What is so easy to miss in the early books is the subtle web that Tony weaves to draw the reader in, to create the Roman world and the politics that surround the people in the book, its so fun and the language so irreverent that its easy to miss the subtlety, but its there, and he orchestrates ii in what appears an effortless fashion, to build a world and a group of men that capture the imagination, and hold on for grim death.

Then comes Tony’s real talent as a writer, again something quite subtle, but when I find myself talking books and using him as an example to all and sundry on the right way to do something then surely that means he must be one of the best? (at least for me). Its his characters, its very easy I think for a writer to spend time on his key characters, his hero(es), to build them up so we worry about them, so we are invested in them, but many writers do this at the expense of the supporting cast. Tony treats all the characters as the main character, there is no supporting cast, you become invested in everyone. He does this I think with a malicious glee, because then he becomes the Atropos, holding the abhorred shears over the thread of each characters life, leaving you to worry over the fate of everyone, adding a heightened sense of anticipation to each and every scene. This delivers so much more than the average book for the reader, because you do not know who will survive the book, I honestly don’t think a single character is safe, he will kill anyone if the story calls for it, unlike many writers who protect their heroes. I have read more than one book of Anthony’s that has left me shouting “no F—ing way” at the fate of a character, he is the only author who does that to me.

Thunder of the Gods reproduces all this fantastic skill and does it against the dangerous backdrop of the Parthian empire, a part of the world in the forefront of everyone’s minds at present with ISIS and the destruction of historic sites that someday may only be left in the wonderful descriptive and imagination of writers like Tony. This book takes us on a tour of the edges of this territory, into the heart of the empires deadly politics. Having been a fan of Tony’s since book one I have no qualms in saying that this is his best work to date. It may not have had me swearing at him like the last book, but it is wonderfully descriptive, highly emotive and just a sheer pleasure to read. As ever he will without doubt appear in the fight for my end of year top 10.

Highly recommended, (this book and this series, so prev reviews below)

(Parm)
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 22, 2015 10:38 AM BST


Praetorian: The Great Game
Praetorian: The Great Game
Price: £1.99

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars great book, 16 Mar. 2015
Review

When Simon said he was writing a new Roman series i worried that it would be Fronto by another name, something so easy to do when you have a series as successful as Marius Mules. Simon very generously involved me in his writing process, sending me the book in very early stages for comment and feedback (he knows i love that sort of thing, and pretends i add value). This allowed me to See Rufinus evolve, and soon dispelled any concerns about a carbon copy of Marius Mules, this was something new, something sharp and intelligent, full of intrigue, but still laden with Simon’s sharp wit and mischievous humour.

Rufinus takes the reader from the Legion to the Guard, from battles to the deep intrigue of court, Praetorian: The Great Game is packed with great characters, wonderfully researched locations and a powerful plot that fans have come to associate with Simon Turney.

This truly is the start of something new and special i highly recommend it

(Parm)

Series
Marius’ Mules
1. The Conquest of Gaul (2009)
aka The Invasion of Gaul
2. The Belgae (2010)
3. Gallia Invicta (2011)
4. Conspiracy of Eagles (2012)
5. Hades’ Gate (2013)
6. Caesar’s Vow (2014)
7. The Great Revolt (2014)
Prelude to War (2014)

Tales of the Empire
1. Interregnum (2009)
2. Ironroot (2010)
3. Dark Empress (2011)

Ottoman Cycle
1. The Thief’s Tale (2013)
2. The Priest’s Tale (2013)
3. The Assassin’s Tale (2014)

Novels
Praetorian: The Great Game (2015)
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 5, 2015 10:21 PM BST


Dodger of the Dials
Dodger of the Dials
by James Benmore
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dickensian England and characters with a modern humour, 10 Mar. 2015
This review is from: Dodger of the Dials (Paperback)
Review

2013 saw in my (humble) opinion a very daring debut novel, in the form of James Benmore and Dodger . To take on writing the continuing saga of characters originally penned by Charles Dickens had a confidence that bordered either a deep love of the subject or insanity. Thankfully it was the former and for me the book was a real triumph.

2014 see's the next step and probably the hardest one, i have heard from a fair few writers that the second book is the hardest, you need to make sure book one isn't a flash in the pan, you need to grow as a writer, add everything you have learned and come up with a new interesting, credible second idea/ plot. Did he succeed?

Well given i don't review books i don't like, damn right he did! But more than that, he did it in style. Dodger of the Dials blows its predecessor away, it retains the audacity of characters and brings even more of the original cast of Dickens Oliver Twist back to life. More importantly it brings growth to the cast, a development of Jack Dawkins (The artful Dodger) it brings Oliver twist himself back, an older grown up more mature Oliver Twist, the meeting of these two old acquaintances is something to behold, emotive, cathartic and inspired.

There are many parts to this book, the crimes, the underworld, the gangs and their Sawyers (leaders), but the real triumph for me was the time spent in Newgate Prison. You could feel the age of the stone, the despair of the men due to hang, the desperation of the inmates. That tempered with the ever present devil may care always optimistic outlook of Jack give's conflicting yet perfect synchronicity to the time spent there. I was taken from truly humorous moments to cuffing away a tear for the loss of a brave man (that's me not giving away the plot) .

How James Benmore has managed to mix Dickensian England and characters with a modern humour and outlook on the world and retain that feeling of the original is a marvel. I wish him all speed to his pen for book three because i'm already desperate to get my hands on it.

Highly recommended

(Parm)


Knight's Shadow (The Greatcoats)
Knight's Shadow (The Greatcoats)
by Sebastien de Castell
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £12.74

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Modern day Dumas, 6 Mar. 2015
Review

In 1844 Alexandre Dumas wrote the Three Musketeers, in 2014 / 2015 Sebastien de Castell wrote Traitors Blade and Knights Shadow. Never have I wanted to compare any book to The Three Musketeers, one of the stories I attribute to my love of history and my love of heroic fiction too, where I gained that love of seeing flawed heroes win over extreme odds. I’m not sure even after all these years of reviewing I can adequately express how much I enjoy this series new series. But I will Start with something at the end of the book, the author acknowledges the boost provided to him from his publisher at a time when book two was holding all the terror a second book does, but I personally think also coupled with the success of book one, it must have been a daunting prospect.

I’m a firm believer in talent coming through no matter what it is your skill/ Talent is. In the case of Knights Shadow it comes through in spades, extra spades in the case of this second book, Traitors Blade (in my best of 2014 Blog) was a comfortable and splendid 384 pages, a tidy book for a debut, but book two Knights Shadow is an epic 624 pages, and it needs each and every one, by the end you are exhausted but still wanting more, and whatever Jo Fletcher said, well it worked a treat.

Our group of intrepid, very real and down to earth Greatcoats are once again in it up to their necks, book two continues directly from book one, the relentless pace is still there, but what comes to the fore in book two is the more of the soul of the great coats and what the Kings plan might have been. We have learned so much about Falcio, Kest and Brasti and we will learn more about the depths and drivers of the new arrivals but most of all we get to feel why our key characters are who they are.

Most especially Falcio, his journey in this book is chronicled covering every possible emotion. The author really puts this character to the test, yet as a reviewer who just hates spoilers I cannot give any insight except to say that coupled with the writers talent for writing dialogue, his situational and emotional awareness means that when reading this book you are right there experiencing all the pain , emotion and exhaustion that Falcio does. I was a wreck at the end of this book, and not just because I could not put the book down until the early hours. Sebastien De Castell manages to wring every heart wrenching moment and ounce of anticipation from every scene, his fight scenes contain dark humour, explosive action and a great awareness of the art of sword fighting, all of which has you hanging on the edge of every page. (there are also some truly laugh out loud moments in this book).

This really is an exceptional book and series, and I apologise for any additional pressure added to the author for book three and the very high expectation I have. This is going to be a very very hard book to topple from my number one spot for this year, whatever comes out this year this book is clearly going to be a stand out title.

Buy the book, buy the series… you will not regret it.

(Parm)

Series
Greatcoats
1. Traitor’s Blade (2014)
2. Knight’s Shadow (2015)


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