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Parm (A bookshop near you)
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Kingmaker: Broken Faith (Kingmaker 2)
Kingmaker: Broken Faith (Kingmaker 2)
by Toby Clements
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £11.89

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books you will read in 2015, 2 July 2015
Review

Book two, that terrible, fateful demand on the author, especially on an author who has produced something as exceptional as Winter Pilgrims. Can the author recreate that magic, meet it, and hopefully surpass it?

The beauty of Winter Pilgrims was always in the simplicity, in avoiding the major players as much as possible, or staying on the fringes, but still allowing the horror of the war of the roses to playout in the imagination of the reader.

Broken Faith has to go further, it is by the nature of history forced closer to the major events and players of the period, Its the only way to get our key characters into places like Bamburgh Castle at the right time.

Thomas and Katherine are slowly drawn back together in this book, the shifting perspectives both driving the plot and drawing the reader in. The shifting male and female perspectives so well written, with a keen eye on the differing perspectives and motives. The simplicity remains because this despite its harrowing backdrop and blood drenched landscape is to all intents and purposes a love story, the gradual realisation and coming together of Katherine, who works through her grief to eventually find Thomas again, and Thomas who finally comes back to himself and hunts across the country to track down the woman he needed, and then realised he loved, very hard for a man who had dedicated himself to god.

Behind this love story is also a story of revenge, revenge against the Rivers, the machinations of this family once against at the center of the woes for the King, and also the previous king. Both father and son create the perfect protagonists for Katherine and Thomas, out of their social strata, but also tied by a shared history of desired revenge.

Once again the author provides a monster read, at 464 pages and yet the book glides along effortlessly, its a simple excellent love story, bursting with action, intrigue and history. a real contender for book of the year.

I highly recommend this and cannot wait to see what Toby writes next.

(Parm)


Defiant Unto Death (Master of War)
Defiant Unto Death (Master of War)
by David Gilman
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £10.49

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gilman plays them like a maestro., 25 Jun. 2015
Defiant Unto Death unlike Book one (which was still an excellent novel), feels to me a much more complete novel, from pitched battles like the bloody Poitiers (one of the 3 great English victories) to the aim / thrust of this book the bloody and twisty vendetta between the savage priest and Thomas Blackstone. This novel can be dark, there are blood and guts a plenty, and it encompasses everyone in Blackstone’s life (no one is safe), yet the author writes his scenes so powerfully it literally drags the reader from being sickened to heart broken to utter relief and from page to page as fast as reading allows. Its that’s level of writing skill that helps this book stand apart from the crowd.

The setting of the 100 years war gives the author so much fodder for action and adventure, and with the jaw dropping back drops both scenic and historic, Gilman plays them like a maestro.

As with book one this will be a book up for discussion in the 2015 Top 10 come year end.

(and roll on book 3 Gate of the Dead)

(Parm)


Into The Fire
Into The Fire
by Manda Scott
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £10.49

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is on the shortlist for book of the year, its that good., 21 Jun. 2015
This review is from: Into The Fire (Hardcover)
Review:

Into the Fire by Manda Scott is one of those rare books that comes along only occasionally, politely sits you down and proceeds to submerge you in the authors imagination. It’s a stunning piece of story telling, almost two books in one, intertwined around one central figure Jeanne d’Arc. The key story set as a contemporary political crime thriller follows the trials both personal and emotional and Police inspector Capitaine Ines Picault battle to solve the mystery of the arson attacks and murders in Orleans. The second part of the tale follows the History/ the myth busting exploits uncovering the story behind Jeanne d’Arc. But as with life, in this tale the modern always needing the historic to make it all make sense, and the present tense of both periods making both feel in the now.

It doesn’t need me to tell any reader of Manda’s work that the writing is exemplary, as if each word has been chosen and sculpted before being added to the page, only the right ones being allowed to survive the final cut for the final draft of the book. The result being a book that pulls you back and forth in time, blending seamlessly. Creating an utterly plausible account for both tales and investing you totally in all characters.

The scope of the research is amazing, the book taking you from hacking and the dark net to 15th century France and knights on horseback storming castles and dying in the blood and muck of battle. The battles are utterly uncompromising and at the same time never gratuitous, but always showing the fight for what it was; death covered in blood, s*** and muck, only for the victor can the tales be polished to remove that grime of war and add that tint of rose to the vision of honour and battles won.

Manda’s demanding attention to historical accuracy shines through in this book, but this book is so much more than that, the detail makes it feel real, but its the imagination that drags the reader in and wraps you in the plot.

This is on the shortlist for book of the year, its that good.

(Parm)


Hearts of Stone
Hearts of Stone
by Simon Scarrow
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £9.00

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great stand alone from this author, 8 Jun. 2015
This review is from: Hearts of Stone (Hardcover)
Review

I have been waiting for this book from Simon Scarrow since 2012, because when ever he steps away from the Roman world he manages to produce something special. The last time was Sword and Scimitar , a fantastic view of one of histories great turning points.

This latest book is set during a much more recent, more sensitive era, both pre WW2, during and post WW2. An era filled with so many atrocities and horrors that don’t often translate to a book and yet with so many tales of courage and sacrifice that should be remembered.

For me that’s what this book has at its core, a retelling of the type of heroism and sacrifice that existed in Greece during the war, a remembrance of the level of horror visited down to the level of one small group of friends in one small community on one small island. The backdrop of youthful friendship is a fantastic foil for the war-time age of the characters, the change caused by war and impact it has had on each of the core group of friends and family, how they are all irrecoverably changed by circumstance and situation. The setting and device of the search for the tomb of Odysseus adds a level of romanticism to the plot that’s coupled with the young love of Eleni and Andreas and the bitter-sweet sense of missed opportunity for Peter. How many of us have had grandparents / Great Grandparents lost in the wars, or returned but with painful memories? how many of them have shared those stories even a little bit, sanitised to protect us from the enormity that was war? Simon delivers that experience in a realistic and emotive fashion, showing the power of those memories and the importance of not forgetting, and learning from our collective pasts, and how much brighter the flame burned because of the simpler yet harsher times.

Simon as always has managed to bring all of the plot elements and characters together into a well researched, sympathetically told tale, add to this his usual impeccable research and awareness of the landscape and the end result is a highly engaging, very personal account of War torn Greece. The element that drives the story forward without it being “just another war story” is the time-slip device, the plot told from present day, Eleni looking back and retelling her experiences to her granddaughter, sharing that glimmer of the past, the hardships, the life lived, against the modern world of her granddaughter determined to not let the past slip away. It’s the constant drift back and forth in time that drives the reader to want to turn just one more page… and then suddenly the book is gone, finished.

If i had one niggle with the book its at the start, there are some very jarring, for want of a better phrase ” digs” at modern society, modern devices etc, the social commentary of modern times.. and i have to say i agree with just about every single one of them, i just didn’t feel they added to the book, in fact i didn’t think they worked in the book, they felt a little like a soap box moment before the book. (sorry Simon, agreed with pretty much every word though), they pulled me away from the story. When i wanted to be drifting into the world Simon had created i kept jarring back to reality, for me the points would have worked much better in the afterword, at this point the poignant finish of the book leaving the reader reflective and open to reading about why the world needs history, why we should learn from it, why we need to switch off from the internet etc..But this was a small quibble in what is another really good book, one where every character is someone, and you care what happens to them.

I’m very interested to see what stand alone novel Simon produces next. and recommend that you buy this one immediately

(Parm)


The Emperor's Silver: Agent of Rome 5
The Emperor's Silver: Agent of Rome 5
by Nick Brown
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £16.58

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars another wonderful tale, 4 Jun. 2015
Review

For me this is one of the stand out series in Roman fiction, something different, not built around battles, it follows the exploits of Cassius an officer of the “Grain Men” or the Frumentarii. In this tale we follow our due of Cassius and Indavara on what should be a more quiet and sedate posting to uncover a counterfeiting ring, something more cerebral and more suited to Cassius talents than Indavara’s (the ex gladiator who has saved them from more than a few life threatening escapades). Only things never go quite how our young scholarly soldier hopes, and more often that not he has to rely on Indavara’s prowess and size to get them out of trouble.

Never a simple tale Nick Brown manages to twist and turn the plot, keeping you guessing as to if, how and when he might catch the leaders of the counterfeiting ringleaders. The author throughout the book manages to keep the reader not only on the edge of their seat, but wanting to flick that next page, page after page after page, meaning that you may lose sleep (please note health warning here) you may well be tired at work (watch that heavy machinery) and you will finish it before you know whats happening, and like me when you read the last paragraph you will probably have the odd expletive. The book keeps you guessing and hanging to the end, and leaves a hook in you for the next book. But deeper than the crime story and the adventure is the relationship building of our main characters, Simo (the man-servant / slave) included. The close proximity of the three, often undercover, leads to a blending of personality types, a shared learning and as the books have progressed character growth. Cassius has learned to view others views and feelings, Simo has pushed forward with his beliefs but learned to moderate his pushing of the faith, and Indavara is learning who and what he is, and how he truly feels about things (given he has no memory prior to the arena)…. I feel we will soon learn more about Indavara and his past, and i am very excited by the prospect.

I find myself as always struggling to find the right niche for this author, it’s not just Roman fiction, it’s not just historical crime, it’s not just adventure and action, it seamlessly combines all elements into a perfectly rounded and highly entertaining book.

i cant wait for the next book

(Parm)

Other titles

Agent of Rome series

Series
Agent of Rome
1. The Siege (2011)
2. The Imperial Banner (2012)
3. The Far Shore (2013)
4. The Black Stone (2014)
5. The Emperor’s Silver (2015)
The Flames of Cyzicus (2015)

Novellas
Death This Day (2012)
The Eleventh Hour (2013)


The Liar's Key (Red Queen's War)
The Liar's Key (Red Queen's War)
by Mark Lawrence
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £16.15

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A writer who just gets better and better, 2 Jun. 2015
Review:

For those who have not read it, the Broken Empire series is an excellent fantasy series, one that take the reader right to the edge, page after page…. and yet i have found myself enjoying the Red Queens War much more, i cant quite pin down why, it may be the more general appeal of the series. I feel it spans a broader age spectrum? It may be the utter Britishness of the of the humour on the book? either way the characters rapidly win you over in this book, and then drag you along on a wild ride.

This is no fantasy that sets out to to give you a muscle bound hero or the slightly flawed hero, this series gives you an out and out unabashed coward, in the form of Prince Jalan, a character who while a coward has many redeeming characteristics. He is funny, heroic when there is absolutely no way out of it, and ultimately a friend to his direct opposite Snorri (well as long as the friendship doesn’t put him in danger), Snorri, a Viking, Huge muscle bound, deadly, and with courage enough for all, is the perfect foil for all that nervous cowardliness.

Liars Key isn’t as dark as Prince of Fools, we still face a race against the undead/ unborn. But we start to unravel and learn more about the past that has led our two protagonists to this point, which great wheels are in motion, how the great politics work, and we get to enjoy the growth of Jalan and his friendship with Snorri and the rest of their group. This time the group travel south, back to and through Vermillion. Jalan learns about the red Queen, the silent sister and more of his family, and more than anything he gets angry, he learns about his mothers death, and this ignites a desire for revenge, all this tempered with his individual style of self preservation.

The more books i read by Mark Lawrence the more hooked i become on his style. Another wonderful comparison has been the ability to read this series alongside Joe Abercrombie’s Shattered Sea series. Both very different in style to their own other work, and from each other but both wonderfully compelling and absorbing. I cant decide who has the better series here…. but i think Mark is leading by pure dint of the dry humour of Jalan.

This is a series i very very highly recommend to readers of all books, don’t be tied by genre, this is exceptional writing, so pick up and oar and row the whale road with Snorri and Jalan, everything is set up for a fantastic book three.

(Parm)

Series

Broken Empire
1. Prince of Thorns (2011)
2. King of Thorns (2012)
3. Emperor of Thorns (2013)
Mark Lawrence 2-Book Bundle (omnibus) (2013)
Sleeping Beauty (2014)
The Complete Broken Empire Trilogy (omnibus) (2014)

Red Queen’s War
1. Prince of Fools (2014)
2. The Liar’s Key (2015)


Day Four
Day Four
by Sarah Lotz
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £11.29

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

11 of 12 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: £11.98

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)


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