Wednesday 19 June 2013

King's Artesan by Cas Peace - Cover Reveal


Available August 2013

The race for the Staff has begun.

Rykan’s Staff is vital to Sullyan’s survival. In order to retrieve it, Robin Tamsen must cross the Veils into Albia and go to Taran’s village. He arrives too late.

Intent on reviving his own plans for conquest, Sonten forces Taran to reveal the Staff’s location. Outwitting Robin, he besieges the village of Hyecombe and takes possession of the Staff.

If Robin cannot stop Sonten taking the weapon back to Andaryon, Sullyan’s life and the lives of every Artesan are forfeit. Yet it is not just Sonten he must battle, but also one of his own. And the mysterious Albian Baron hasn’t abandoned his plans, either…
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Cas Peace was born in Hampshire UK, in 1957, and has lived there most of her life. Her first career was as a horse-riding instructor, and horses remain very close to her heart. She then spent 13 years working for the British Civil Service before leaving the UK to live in Italy for three years, 1991-1994. She speaks passable but by no means perfect Italian, and loves to return to Italy whenever she can.

Cas's other great loves are anything to do with animals, especially dogs and horses, (she supports many animal charities) and also singing. Cas loves folk songs and along with her husband, who plays guitar, has performed in many a Southern England folk club. Sometimes they even asked her back! She writes folk songs to accompany her fantasy novels, and offers them as free downloads from her website.

Monday 17 June 2013

Tethers by Jack Croxall (a review)

This YA novel by newcomer Jack Croxall is a wonderful story of adventure set in Victorian London.

Two weeks ago 13 year old Karl was caught trespassing in a village neighbours garden but before he is caught he sees, through the window, an engraved silver box which looks out of place among the clutter of the house. Although told by his mother to stay away, he returns with his friend Esther. There is no sign of the box, or Mr. Statham, the neighbour so Karl and Esther break in, only to find out they are not alone! They escape the other intruders, barely, but not before Karl discovers a note book under the floorboards.

This notebook is the start of a journey that will lead the two children from their tiny village of Shraye to the by land and by river to Nottingham, with peril at every turn and enemies round every corner Karl and Esther will need all the help they can get from their new friends to stay alive and out of denger.

I was quite surprised to find this is Jack Croxall's first book. The characterisation is a joy and the setting is such that rather than reading the story you, at times, feel you are there.

As a story it reminded me, as others have noted, of the Sally Lockheart novels of Phillip Pullman, by way of The Famous Five. A wonderful debut and hopefully the story is not over yet.

If you have a young adult reader, treat them to this book, if not, treat yourself

Friday 14 June 2013

The Demi-Monde (Winter) by Rod Rees - a review

The Demi-Monde - a computer simulation designed for the US military, peopled by some of the most dangerous and psychopathic characters from history, for training the US military in Asymmetric Warfare Enviroments. It is "the first simulation product ever to be platformed on and operated by the ABBA quantum computer" This computer has enough processing power to simulate sentience in the Dupes (the 'characters in the simulation') and herein lies the root of the problem. The US military want to shut the simulation down but the Dupe leaders have other ideas!

They have managed to trap Norma Williams, the daughter of the US President in the Demi-Monde and have shut down all but one of the access ports. Until Norma can be rescued the Demi-Monde continues to exist.

Enter Ella Thomas, an eighteen year old American who is the perfect match (indeed, the ONLY match) for a dormant Dupe in the Simulation, who has to go in, rescue the President's daughter and get her out.

The first section of this book sets the story up well, telling you all you need to know about the Demi-Monde, while having every alternative chapter actually set in the Demi-Monde. An appetiser, if you will.

The second section, though, really steps things up a gear as Ella enters the Simulation and we are introduced to more of the Demi-Monde's inhabitants such as Vanka Maykov, who takes Ella under his wing and, one of my favourite characters in the early sections, the disreputable club owner Burlesque Bandstand who has great comedy value.

The world of the Demi-Monde is a semi-steampunk victorian setting and very well realised. It is split into different sections representing various 'Real World' settings, all side by side with the five main sections (Noirville, The Coven, Rodina, The Rookeries and Quartier Chaud) seperated by five rivers. Each area has it's own belief systems and ideas for rule. This first book in the series deals only with events in The Rookeries and a small part of Rodina.

It is obvious from early on that there is more going on than meets the eye and later books will open the story out even more. Thankfully I have volume two (Spring) near to hand as Winter finishes on three seperate cliffhangers.

There is a lot of 'derring-do', capture and escape and general rollicking adventure in this book, which means the story rattles along at a good old pace - I reveiwed from the Hard Back edition and though it is a chunky doorstop of a book it was over far too soon. The characters are very well defined and believable (the transformation of Trixie Dashwood is especially well done). The world comes to life off the page and feels real, and it also reminded me of the gaming worlds of, for example, Grand Theft Auto, where you are only allowed to play in one section until you have completed set tasks. The other areas are there, you can see them, but you can't get into them yet - I am looking forward immensely to visiting these places in the remainig three books of the series

Wednesday 5 June 2013

Park Avenue by Christopher Smith (a review)

This, the 6th book in the Fifth Avenue series, is up there with the best of thrillers.

The story centres around Leana Redman and her family. And what a family they are - she is all but estranged from her father, mother is in jail for murder, her cousin Pepper (one of the best characters here, just for comedy value) wants to head the family business and Leana's partners dad is the head of the New York Mafia.

In the past Louis Ryan has made it his business to destroy the Redmans. He is dead now, but that isn't going to stop him! He had a plan B and now that plan B is in place - two assassains are hired to finish off the Redman's and people around them. There are 10 names on the list, Leana, her brother Michael and her father are the final 3. There is a lot of quite inventive murder on the way to the final three, all of it quite nasty.

The finale comes at the opening of two massive new Manhatten hotels on the same night - one by Leana, her first project the other by her father (wouldn't you just know he'd have to open on the same night!). Will anyone survive? I'll leave that for you to find out.

This is a story of greed, revenge, big business, rivalry and family - if Jackie Collins and Mario Puzo got together to write something like Dallas - this book is what they would only dream of.

There are faults - mainly with one of the characters who, every time she appears, someone has to bring up the fact that her husbands ex-wife caught them 'on the job', but these are only tiny things that do not detract from the fact that this is a corker of a book. I read it on holiday and was constantly thinking "oh, just a few more pages" and before you know it half the afternoon is gone.

I have not read the previous books in this series (this was a review copy) but you can be sure I will be getting to them the first chance I get

Highly Recommended

Tuesday 4 June 2013

Shaman of Stonewylde by Kit Berry (a review)

So, we reach the end of the Stonewylde story - and what a way to finish this wonderful story.

These are dark times indeed. The spirit of Magus is still around, waiting for the chance to pounce, several old faces try to return and some want a return to the Hallfolk/ Villagers way of living. Yul and Sylvie are still struggling with their relationship problems - every time they seem close to working things out something else drives them apart.

The story, as ever is very involving and beautifully told. Kit Berry paints a vivid picture that makes the people and places of Stonewylde come to life - and that, for me, was the problem with this book - I kept putting it down because I didn't want to get to the end, knowing that this is the last book ever in the series.

But, eventually I bit the bullet and finished it. I was astounded, amazed, saddened and stunned. The last section of this book may well be the most wonderfully written and moving end I have ever read - after finishing the last page I think I just sat for 10 minutes or so trying to take in what had just happened.

Bravo Ms. Berry, you've done a wonderful job. The gates of Stonewylde may now be closed but I will be going back to these books for many years to come.

I am planning to do an overview/lookback of the whole Stonewylde series in the next week or too so please check back here if this would be of interest.

Monday 3 June 2013

The Waiting Room by Catriona King (a review)

The Waiting Room - the 4th book in the to feature DCI Marc Craig and his team at Belfast Combined Crimes Unit and the best yet.

The story begins with the discovery of a young girl's body left hanging upside down and mutilated on a church altar. The girl is the daughter of a diplomat. On investigation the team discover a trail of depravity that reaches to some of the most powerful people in the Belfast area. Can DCI Craig and co. find and stop the members of the Library Club (it'll become clear!) before any more girls are killed?

Once again this is a very well told tale by Catriona King and the crime is by far the most unsettling. As in the previous books in the series what sets this apart for me is the team working on the case - they have lives outside the CCU and are people you can care about - a prime example being one of the team (I'm not saying who - SPOILERS!) has something going on that you are aware of but the details are not revealed until later on in the book - and this actually had me concerened for the character in question.

As I've said, this book is the darkest in the series, the criminals are the most despicable of people and the book is the best so far - MORE PLEASE!