Monday, 31 October 2011

A Kingdom's Cost (The Douglas Trilogy Book 1) - J.R. Tomlin

Title: A Kingdom's Cost (The Douglas Trilogy Book 1)
Author: J.R. Tomlin
Genre: Historical Fiction
Published: 2011
Formats: Paperback/Ebook

Available at:
Amazon UK

“A Kingdom’s Cost” is the first book of the Douglas Trilogy which continues the story of the Scottish Wars of Independence started in Tomlin’s previous book, “Freedom’s Sword”. The novel is mainly about James Douglas, who would become known as The Black Douglas, an important follower of Robert de Bruce. The story follows Douglas from his life in Paris where he was hidden by his father to avoid being used as a hostage, through his time as a squire to a Scottish Bishop and then to his service under the newly crowned King of Scots, Robert de Bruce. This progressed from the early military defeats, then on to some of the guerrilla raids and finally to the battle of Loudon Hill where the outnumbered Scottish forces proved they could beat the English in a battle.

As a Scottish person I was looking forward to reading this book and its depiction of a rather pivotal point in Scottish history. I was actually glad to see the story was being told from the view point of James Douglas as I will admit I didn’t know much about him beyond the fact he had been called The Black Douglas. As with “Freedom’s Sword” it was nice to see some detail and importance being given to someone that wasn’t Bruce or Wallace.

The plot really draws you along as you want to know what happens next to the characters and I enjoyed it immensely. The action sequences are gripping and I have to say that J.R. Tomlin once again describes the battles in a manner that really enables the reader to picture the horror of medieval warfare and feel part of it all. I would note that the violence detailed is all relevant to telling the story and none if it came across as being gratuitous or excessive. It isn’t just the battles that Tomlin has created well; she really brings out the individual experiences such as the weight of armour, the various smells and the difficult life that people in those ages would have suffered through.

One nice improvement I saw in this book over “Freedom’s Sword” was that there was more time spent exploring the personal lives of the characters and the build up to various events and battles. Whilst some of the character development was probably hampered by having to stick to some historical facts, the author has done well in creating characters who you are interested in. I think that the author has been able to do this by spreading the story of Douglas over a trilogy rather than trying to cram it all into one single novel. Simply put, the balance between the military encounters and the personal aspects is good and I think it will ensure the book appeals to more people.

In summary, I really enjoyed this novel and will be looking forward to the second instalment. After reading it, I was quickly on the internet to learn a little bit more about James Douglas, in my opinion that shows what a good historical fiction novel this is. It has inspired me to really try and learn more about this man and I hope it will inspire some other readers to also find out a little bit more about this very colourful and interesting period of history.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Halloween Hop

Well I decided to post something here in regards to the Halloween Hop that is running from 28th October to 31st October although there isn't any actual requirement. If any of you are interested in finding some more blogs involved in the hop then go check out the hosting site "Jeremy Bates Blog".

I am mainly going to use this post though to talk about some Halloween related facts about myself and hope that it may open some debate;

2011 Halloween Costume: Pirate
Favourite Horror Movie: The Evil Dead
Favourite Horror Novel: Phantoms by Dean Koontz
Favourite Horror Video Game: Aliens Vs Predator 2
Favourite Horror TV Show: Supernatural
Favourite Horror Board Game: Atmosfear

Anyway, as a little extra, here is a photograph of my wife and I in the pirate costumes that we are wearing tonight at a Ghost Tour & Party.

So why don't some of you tell me some Halloween related facts about yourselves.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

The Apocalypse Gene - Suki Michelle & Carlyle Clark (Review, Interview & Giveaway)

Well this is a triple first for me, it is the first blog tour I have taken part in, my first author interview and my first ever giveaway. The blog tour itself is being hosted by Unputdownable Books for "The Apocalypse Gene" by Suki Michelle & Carlyle Clark and I hope you all visit some of the other sites in the tour for further guest posts, intereviews, reviews and giveaways.


Title: The Apocalypse Gene
Author: Suki Michelle & Carlyle Clark
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Published: 2011
Formats: Paperback/Ebook

Available at:
Amazon UK

I wasn't that sure about this book at first to be honest, a YA Urban Fantasy book had me dreading that this book was going to be more like Paranormal Romance as I have seen in the past with YA Urban Fantasy books. I needn't have worried however as The Apocalypse Gene is an exciting fast paced adventure full of thoughtful twists that are both surprising and well executed.

The story itself is set in Chicago, on a future Earth that has been ravaged by a disease. This pandemic has changed life into something that is quite unrecognizable, and many families have actually turned their own homes into hospices for dying patients. One of these families is the Wright-Ono family comprised of the books main character, Olivya and her mother. Olivya has an attitude problem, stubborn, and to be honest, is a bit of a pain in the arse to her mother; in other words she is like many other typical teenagers. However, Olivya does seem to have a special psychic gift that enables her to actually see aura's of life energy around people.

Olivya herself has a crush on a boy named Mikah whom she goes to school with and seems to accept her revelation of psychic abilities without any issues. The only problem Olivya has is that they go to school online so they have never actually met in person. When the two of them finally decide to meet up, they become involved in a much bigger event involving quasi-demons and angelic like creatures that threatens the very existence of all life on Earth.

I loved the entire novel; it mixed so many different topics and ideas together brilliantly. There was no doubting this was a futuristic novel with a healthy dose of sci-fi but there were also dystopian, paranormal, romantic and humorous elements present throughout. In addition, the action and adventure present really kept the story moving at an enjoyably fast pace that kept me turning the pages to find out what was going to happen next.

The writing flowed incredibly well although the plot could get a little bit confusing at times due to the incredibly fast pace and the amount of information that was being put across. But all this information helps create a superbly fascinating world, full of its own slang, mysteries and wonders. It is a great world and story that the authors have created and I would love to read some sequels that can expand this Universe further.

The main characters themselves come across as being fresh and young, I can imagine many teenagers who the book is obviously aimed at could relate too and understand them well. The supporting characters themselves also all have their own merits and have obviously been written with care and attention from the authors, in particular I found the sim version of Olivya to be absolutely brilliant; I couldn’t help but laugh and enjoy her nuances and eccentricities.

In summary, this is thoroughly enjoyable original story full of action, adventure, thrills and some humour. Whilst the plot did get a little bit complex but the characters are fun and there is probably something in this book for everyone due to the superb mix of genre. Therefore, I just have to recommend that you go out, buy this book and enjoy.


Can you tell the readers a little bit about The Apocalypse Gene?

The Apocalypse Gene takes place in the near future during a time of global pandemic. Our protagonists (Olivya and Mikah) are a pair of highly gifted psychics, Olivya with aura-sight and Mikah an elite Empath from a clan of demon hybrids called the Kindred. Mikah learns that the Kindred are linked to the pandemic, but without initiation, he is barred from learning their truths. When Olivya’s mother falls ill, Olivya and Mikah embark on a quest to uncover Kindred secrets. In the shadow of the Kindred leader, a monstrous brooding immortal, and with the arrival of a long prophesied winged being, the two discover that the pandemic is far more than a mere disease.

What was it like co-writing a book compared with writing something on your own?

Suki: Carlyle’s greatest talent is to unwind a plot and knowing where to put “reveals”. I’m happier writing description and conveying emotion and “voice”.

Carlyle: I draft out a scene, the what-happens-next stuff. Suki writes it real time. Then we pass it back and forth, each tweaking and massaging until we’re both satisfied, and we never ever argue (cough).

Suki: When writing alone, Carlyle is free and wild. He lets it flow. By contrast, I can tweak a single sentence for hours.

Carlyle: With my wild energy and Suki’s obsessive perfectionism, The Apocalypse Gene couldn’t have been written by either of us alone.

Where did the inspiration for The Apocalypse Gene's plot, characters and setting come from?

Suki: I own a medical transcription company and type all day. With my wild imagination and low tolerance for boredom, I entertain myself with the what-if game. During a long day typing medical reports, I thought, what if the cure to a disease was far outside than realm of science and squarely in the hands of kids and mystics, and what if it went pandemic? That was the seed of the plot. Also, Olivya has been brewing in my mind for years, a gifted girl who would rather be like everyone else, but circumstances teach her to embrace her uniqueness. Mikah is based on a boy I once knew, sensitive and intelligent with magical qualities. The inspiration for setting is Chicago where joy, despair, beauty, and magic breathe on every corner.

The writing process differs from author to author. What are your writing processes?

Suki: When I’m about to write, I squinch up my eyebrows, stamp my feet, get a sweaty red face, and tell myself I cannot do this, I’ll NEVER be able to do it, I suck, why bother? Then I sit down and do it anyway.

Carlyle: I favor the spray-n-pray technique. I gush out everything that skitters across my noggin and then go back and scalpel out all the stuff that doesn’t work. Coming from opposite ends of the spectrum, our conversations about writing can get, shall we say, passionate, but that makes for passionate writing too.

What’s your favorite and least favorite part of being a writer?

Suki: Favorite part – Writing a kick-ass scene, an unusual turn of phrase, a subtle yet accurate metaphor, or an economical sentence. Least favorite – self-doubt.

Carlyle: Favorite part: Having the chance to share my imagination and birth something new into the world that other might enjoy. Least favorite: the time waiting from when the novel is done until it is published.

What’s next? What projects are you currently working on and what do we all have to look forward to?

Suki: We’re in the process of drafting out the sequel to The Apocalypse Gene, which Parker Publishing is eager to produce. Carlyle is also finishing up his novel, The Black Song Inside, a semi-finalist in the Faulkner Wisdom Competition. I have two novels in the works, one literary fiction and one YA speculative fiction.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Be open to criticism. Take what’s useful and shelf the rest but consider it all, good, bad, gentle, harsh. While praise is valuable and encouraging, the harsh stuff is the best teacher. Workshop your writing. Seek input from others more experienced, and be gracious and thankful, especially when their words hurt. When your tears dry, sit up and rewrite. The results are worth the pain.

Where can readers find out more about you and your books? (Primary Website) (Blog) (Olivya’s fan page) (Co-Author FB page)
http://www.Storymavens/ (Author blog)


The winner of this giveaway will recieve an Ebook copy of The Apocalypse Gene


The giveaway will finish at 23.59 GMT November 8.

Winners will be picked by and announced on November 9 by email & on this blog.

All entrants just need to leave a comment with their name and email address.

Good luck!

Learn more about The Apocalypse Gene at…
Goodreads | Website | Trailer | Facebook

Next stop on the blog tour: Unputdownable Books

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Read-a-Thon Wrap Up Post

Well that's the read-a-thon finished until 2012 and I enjoyed it hugely! So now I just need to post my final status and complete the final meme.

Completed Books:
  1. Predators of Darkness by Leonard D Hilley II
  2. Aaaarrgghh, Spider! by Lydia Monks
  3. Star Trek Enterprise: Shockwave by Paul Ruditis  
  4. Star Trek Enterprise: Surak's Soul by J.M. Dillard 
  5. Paradise - A Divine Comedy by Glenn Myers
Total Pages Read: 905

Total Time Spent Reading: 10hr 25 minutes

Final Event Meme:

1. Which hour was most daunting for you?
Had to be Hour 11, It was after 11pm my time and everyone else was asleep

2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year?
No, none of mine were that interesting to be honest unless you like Star Trek.

3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?
Not at the moment, I may need to think about it over the longer term.

4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon?
The Mini Challenges were superb. They were all varied and entertaining to take part in and watch others taking part in.

5. How many books did you read?

6. What were the names of the books you read?
  1. Predators of Darkness by Leonard D Hilley II
  2. Aaaarrgghh, Spider! by Lydia Monks
  3. Star Trek Enterprise: Shockwave by Paul Ruditis  
  4. Star Trek Enterprise: Surak's Soul by J.M. Dillard 
  5. Paradise - A Divine Comedy by Glenn Myers
7. Which book did you enjoy most?
Predators of Darkness by Leonard D Hilley II

8. Which did you enjoy least?
 Paradise - A Divine Comedy by Glenn Myers

9. If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders?
Just keep those blog comments going, they help a lot!

10. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time?
I will be there for the next one and will probably take on the reader role again.

Read-a-Thon Update - Hour 22 Complete

That's the 22nd Hour of the read-a-thon now complete and time for the last update before we all get to finish!

Completed Books:
  1. Predators of Darkness by Leonard D Hilley II
  2. Aaaarrgghh, Spider! by Lydia Monks
  3. Star Trek Enterprise: Shockwave by Paul Ruditis  
  4. Star Trek Enterprise: Surak's Soul by J.M. Dillard
Currently Reading: Paradise - A Divine Comedy by Glenn Myers

Total Pages Read: 748

Total Time Spent Reading: 8hr 55 minutes

I just finished my latest Star Trek book and decided I will now take a break from Star Trek books for a while! For now until the end of the read-a-thon I think I have picked up Paradise - A Divine Comedy which I have been reading on and off for the last 2 weeks.

Read-a-Thon Mini Challenge - Reading Zombies

Well, the next mini challenge of the read-a-thon that will get it's own post on my blog is now up at the site Truth, Beauty, Freedom & Books. The aim here is for me to "zombify" one of the books I have read as part of the Read-a-thon.

Well, I have altered the cover for the book I am currently reading:

I suck at arty type things but I actually enjoyed this, I will need to remember the picnik site I used for the future.

Read-a-Thon Update - Hour 20 Complete

That's the 20th Hour of the read-a-thon now complete and time for an update!

Completed Books:
  1. Predators of Darkness by Leonard D Hilley II
  2. Aaaarrgghh, Spider! by Lydia Monks
  3. Star Trek Enterprise: Shockwave by Paul Ruditis 
Currently Reading: Star Trek Enterprise: Surak's Soul by J.M. Dillard

Total Pages Read: 628

Total Time Spent Reading: 8hr 00 minutes

Well I am getting through my latest Star Trek book quite quickly and suspect I can easily have it finished before the read-a-thon ends. In addition to reading the book though I have had some breakfast and even did a little yoga which was an interesting experience.

Read-a-Thon Update - Hour 18 Complete

Well, my loving son woke me up at 6.30am here so that's me up and reading again and now it is update time as the Read-a-thon has completed it's 18th Hour.

Completed Books:
  1. Predators of Darkness by Leonard D Hilley II
  2. Aaaarrgghh, Spider! by Lydia Monks
  3. Star Trek Enterprise: Shockwave by Paul Ruditis 

Currently Reading: Star Trek Enterprise: Surak's Soul by J.M. Dillard

Total Pages Read: 530

Total Time Spent Reading: 6hr 40 minutes

So between the last update I have slept and completed another book! Hoorah for me although I do feel like I cheated due to the sleep.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Read-a-Thon Update - Hour 10 Complete

Well, it's time for my next update for the Read-a-thon which has now completed it's 10th Hour so here it is.

Completed Books:
  1. Predators of Darkness by Leonard D Hilley II
  2. Aaaarrgghh, Spider! by Lydia Monks

Currently Reading: Star Trek Enterprise: Shockwave by Paul Ruditis

Total Pages Read: 460

Total Time Spent Reading: 6hr 20 minutes

Well, I am getting very close to finishing my current novel and will probably have it done within the next 30 minutes. After that though I think sleep will win out so there probably won't be anymore updates until Hour 18 or so.

Read-a-Thon Mini Challenge - Book Sentence Challenge

Well, the next mini challenge of the read-a-thon that will get it's own post on my blog is now up at the site Midnight Book Girl. The aim here is for me to take a photograph of some books from my library that I can form a sentence with out of the titles.

Well, I have take the following picture:

This sentence is: Man walks into a pub on green dolphin street dancing to armageddon.

I have to admit, I was struggling because I mainly use ebooks but I gave it a go!

Read-a-Thon Update - Hour 8 Complete

Well, it's time for my next update for the Read-a-thon which has now completed it's 8th Hour so here it is.

Completed Books:
  1. Predators of Darkness by Leonard D Hilley II
  2. Aaaarrgghh, Spider! by Lydia Monks

Currently Reading: Star Trek Enterprise: Shockwave by Paul Ruditis

Total Pages Read: 317

Total Time Spent Reading: 5hr 10 minutes

I completed another book in this period although I will admit it was only 24 pages long and was the book I read to my daughter at bed time. However, every book counts in my opinion and it was quite nice reading something light and fluffy.

I have now moved to the bedroom to read now as it is easier to relax there and I don't have to listen to the really bad singing on X-Factor.

Read-a-Thon Update - Hour 6 Complete

Well, it's time for my next update for the Read-a-thon which has now completed it's 6th Hour so here it is.

Completed Books: Predators of Darkness by Leonard D Hilley II

Currently Reading: Star Trek Enterprise: Shockwave by Paul Ruditis

Total Pages Read: 213

Total Time Spent Reading: 3hr 50 minutes

Well I managed to cook dinner, eat, clean the dishes, clean up a very messy 2 year old and still finish my first book. Therefore I am going to call the last 2 hour period a resounding success.

I will admit that I have also had two beers but it hasn't affected my reading so far!

Read-a-Thon Update - Hour 4 Complete

Well, it's time for my next update for the Read-a-thon which has now completed it's 4th Hour so here it is.

Completed Books: None

Currently Reading: Predators of Darkness by Leonard D Hilley II

Total Pages Read: 156

Total Time Spent Reading: 2hr 50 minutes

I am actually only about 50 pages away now from completing Predators of Darkness so hopefully it will done before the next update. Then again I have to cook and eat between now and then so it may be tight to get it all in!

My wife has also bought me some beer to "help" me through the read-a-thon although I think this is more likely to sabotage my reading to be honest :-)

Read-a-Thon Update - Hour 2 Complete

Well, it's my first actual update for the Read-a-thon which has now completed it's 2nd Hour so here is a quick status update.

Completed Books: None

Currently Reading: Predators of Darkness by Leonard D Hilley II

Total Pages Read: 75

Total Time Spent Reading: 1hr 20 minutes

I haven't gotten through as much of this book as I was planning but I did have to take a break to change a nappy (diaper) before so I will just have to be happy with what I have achieved.

Read-a-Thon Mini Challenge - Character Pictures

Well, the first mini challenge of the read-a-thon is up at the site At Home With Books. The aim here is for me to take a photograph that represents characters from one of the books I am planning on reading today.

Well, I have take the following picture:

It is a spider to represent the many spiders within the book Aaaarrgghh, Spiders! by Lydia Monks that I will be reading with my daughter later.

Read-a-Thon Underway!!

Well, my first ever read-a-thon is underway and I managed to make it back from softplay with my children this morning in time for the start! I really am not sure what my overall aim is going to be for the read-a-thon but I will probably just progress through my personnal reading list rather than my review queue as I think that is the best way to make sure I can keep on reading. In addition, I will probably maybe read a few of my children's books with them as well to mix things up although the longest most of these books will last is 5 minutes.

Anyway, I will be posting some updates as the day progresses so there will be a lot more posts today than normal. However don't get too worried as I will be back to normal by Sunday afternoon with my regular posting rate!

All I can now say is good luck everybody who's reading (and cheerleading) today! Hopefully I will be able to pay some other readers a visit a later on.

Now lets get on and answer the questions that have been asked for the kick-off

1)Where are you reading from today?
My living room in Armadale, Scotland. The movie "Cars" is currently on TV to entertain my daughter whilst I lie back on the sofa.

2)Three random facts about me…
I am a scotsman who married an english woman.
I am a big Sci-Fi Geek
I am a Kilmarnock FC fan (Hence my online nickname Killie)

3)How many books do you have in your TBR pile for the next 24 hours?
Including the book I am currently reading, only 3 and I will be happy if I can complete them.

4)Do you have any goals for the read-a-thon (i.e. number of books, number of pages, number of hours, or number of comments on blogs)?
I think if I can get my total reading time upto about 8 hours or so I will be more than happy considering the mad house I live in :-)

5)If you’re a veteran read-a-thoner, any advice for people doing this for the first time?
I am a read-a-thon virgin!!! So please go easy on me!

Now I am going to start my reading with the book I was in the middle of reading already Predators of Darkness by Leonard D Hilley II.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Book Blogger Hop #10

Book Blogger Hop Book Blogger Hop is a weekly meme hosted by Crazy for Books

This week’s question is;

“What is your favorite type of candy?”

I have to admit that I really hate the word "candy", I can only assume it is some weird British sensibility of mine, but it sounds like nails on a chalkboard to me whenever I hear it.

However, I can still answer the question and my favourite sweet (see what I did there... :-p) has to be a Cadbury's Wispa Bar. The interesting thing about this chocolate bar is that it was originally launched as a trial the same year I was born, so maybe there is some secret voodoo involved that makes me love them.

The Wispa has an interesting history and it was originally discontinued in 2003 which of course left me gutted. However, thanks to the power of the internet, a campaign was put in place that led to the re-release of these amazing chocolate bars in 2007 and I can now pick one up whenever I fill my car up with petrol.

Anyway, do any of you have a favourite of your own or have any of you ever tried a Wispa? I would love to hear your own comments.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

2012 E-Book Reading Challenge

Runs from January 1, 2012 - December 31, 2012
Hosted by The Eclectic Bookshelf

The Rules:
  • Anyone can join. You don't need a blog to participate. Create a post about the challenge and link your challenge post up in the linky on the hosting blog. 
  • Non-Bloggers: Post your list of books in the comment section of the wrap-up post on the hosting blog.
  • No Audio or Print books.
  • No need to list your books in advance. You may select books as you go. Even if you list them now, you can change the list if needed.

There are four levels:
  • The Mini E-Book Challenge – Read 5 E-Books.
  • The "Fun Size" E-Book Challenge – Read 10 E-Books.
  • The Jumbo Size E-Book Challenge – Read 20 E-Books.
  • The Mega Size E-Book Reading Challenge - Read 25+ E-Books.

My Quota
I'll be doing the Mega Size challenge which shouldn't be very difficult as I usually only read eBooks. The challenge will actually be how quickly I can actually get there. I think I will be aiming for trying to complete it by the end of May.

You can track my progress on my 2012 Challenge Page.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Dewey's Read-a-Thon

Well I have decided to sign up for Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-Thon that is occuring on October 22nd. I have never taken part in a read-a-thon before so this is a whole new experience for me. I will admit that I won't take part for the full 24 hours due to family commitments but I will do as much as I can.

I am actually looking forward to this and as it starts at noon (GMT) which is when my youngest is asleep I will probably manage to at least be there right at the start. I will probably just trundle through my review queue and make a real effort to get it reduced.

Is anyone else out there taking part? If so, what are you planning to read?

Star Trek Enterprise: By The Book - Dean Wesley Smith & Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Title: By The Book
Author: Dean Wesley Smith & Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Genre: Sci-Fi
Published: 2002
Formats: Paperback/Ebook

Available at:
Apple iBookstore US
Amazon UK
Apple iBookstore UK

By The Book is the 2nd novel in my marathon Star Trek Challenge to try and read all the books in as close to chronological order as I can fathom. This book is actually the first original novel that was written for the Enterprise novel, so I was looking forward to reading this as it would be something new.

The story itself is actually fairly standard for the Star Trek Universe, but it was still reasonably enjoyable. The Enterprise and its crew encounter a new planet which seems to have two distinct species. Unfortunately Captain Archer blows first contact with one of the species due to his enthusiasm and lack of patience. Things then go downhill from that point and when a crew member is incapacitated during contact with the planet's 2nd species it seems like humanity's attempts at peaceful communications with these two races may be doomed before they really have begun.

The first comment I am going to have to make about this story is that alongside the first contact plotline there is a sub-plot going on which follows a selection of crew member that are playing a table top role play game. I have to admit that this sub-plot did at times distract from the main storyline and it almost felt like the authors were rushing through some sections of the story so they could get back to talking about the game. It didn't bother me hugely but I just found it hard to get excited or overly interested in some characters in a fictional universe pretending to be some other characters in another fictional universe. The role play game plot did dovetail with the main first contact storyline if you really delved into it and grasped that both the game and what they were going through on the planet were making the same point in regards to not just jumping into things but I don't think it was really required. I may have accepted the need for the game more if it really enhanced some of the characters but it is mainly secondary characters playing the game and none of them are really expanded upon anyway.

Outside the role play game I did fine the story to be quite interesting and enjoyable but it was definitely a cerebral story with very little action or suspense involved. A large portion of the story covered the crew trying to understand the two species on the planet below and what protocols and structures they should be following in regards to both first contact and the running of the ship itself. This does means the story can move along quite slowly which does make it quite hard to get into. However, once the story was in full flow, I did find the debates and discourse between the various characters to be rather thought provoking and engaging.

The biggest issue though with the novel though is probably the characters; some of them seem to act in very strange ways that don't really match what I know of them from the TV series. This is probably understandable though, as when the book was written the TV series itself hadn't had enough time to produce any real character development to assist the authors. I did feel that the characterization was at least slightly better than the previous novel, Broken Bow. Therefore, I am expecting that as these books progress the ability of the authors to capture the characters will improve.

In addition to that I also felt that some characters were mentioned at various times to make sure that they would be in the book. The main one I am thinking about here is Trip; he just seemed to spend the entire novel hanging around the bridge for no real reason. It just got a little bit irritating constantly seeing pointless narrative about Trip standing there or making some inane comment.

In summary, no matter the issues I have detailed above, I did actually find the book to be a reasonably enjoyable afternoon read. The small issues with the how the characters acted compared with what a reader may have seen on the TV show was understandable and it didn't really affect my enjoyment of the book anyway. If you don't normally read Star Trek then the characterization aspects won't mean a thing to you anyway, so if you want to try out a first contact storyline in an established Universe then consider this but be aware that this book is more about the ideas and thoughts than the action. For Star Trek fans, I believe that if you enjoy the more thoughtful and slow paced stories then you will probably enjoy this book as long as you take into account when this book was written.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I Read Because Of The Cover Or Title

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish which I am taking part in. 

This weeks Top Ten was in regards to books I have decided to read because of the cover or the title. I usuall use the synopsis to pick a book although I do admit covers & titles can pull me in so that I do actually read the synopsis and then decide to read the book. Anyway, the books I have read because of the cover or title are listed below;

Star Trek: First Frontier by Diane Carey & Dr. James I. Kirkland
This Star Trek book had what looked like a dinosaur on the cover alongside Kirk & Spock, I just couldn’t resist Star Trek & dinosaurs so I picked it up. A rather simple reason for buying a book but when there were so many Star Trek books out there it felt like as a good a reason for reading this one over any of the others.

 Monster by Christopher Pike
I have spoken about Christopher Pike before and how his books got me into reading. This was actually the first of his book I read and it was the simple title that attracted me as I wanted to read a horror book and at least I knew that this book would probably have monsters in it.

The Reality Dysfunction by Peter F. Hamilton
The title of this book didn’t actually appeal to me much, however the cover seemed to have loads of spaceships on the front and I assumed it could be a big Space Opera styled story. I was actually correct and since this book I read Peter F. Hamilton books no matter the title or cover.

Chernobyl by Frederik Pohl
Quite simply I was interested in Chernobyl, and the title of this book implied it would be about Chernobyl so I picked it up.

2010: Odyssey Two by Arthur C. Clarke
I will admit that I had already seen the movie, but this superb cover art persuaded me that I had to read the book as well.

Ruled Britannia by Harry Turtledove
This title attracted me as it was an interesting take of the saying “Rule Britannia” and I was intrigued in the thought that this book would about a conquered Britain.

Under The Dome by Stephen King
This cover is stunning in my opinion, I would probably have read this book anyway as I do read Stephen King but when I saw this in the library I just couldn’t resist picking it up then and there.

Armageddon: The Musical by Robert Rankin
Quite simply, the title of this book intrigued me; any book that tried to make fun of Armageddon by calling it a musical sounded like it might me funny.

I only managed 8 it seems, but why don't you all tell me some of the books you have read due to the cover or title.

Sunday, 16 October 2011 - A Philanthropic Book Related Website

I recently recieved an email from Bradley S. Wirz, Founder & CEO of Gone Read­ing Inter­na­tional, LLC. He asked me if I could bring the website to the attention of my blog readers and highlight to you all that 100% of their prof­its go to fund new read­ing libraries in the devel­op­ing world, as well as other lit­er­acy projects.

I have to admit that normally I don't tend to post requests like that, however, once I read a little about the company I felt I should put something up on my blog. Because, in my opinion, any person, group or company that wishes to try and spread the joy of reading to those who can not normally access books deserves to be mentioned.

Anyway, GoneReading fea­tures many book­ related gifts which have orig­i­nal designs and slo­gans that should appeal to any book lovers out there. So if you are looking for gifts or something for yourself then please go and check out their won­der­ful col­lection and know that if you could be helping the less fortunate experience a joy that many of us take for granted.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Farthing (Small Change Book 1) - Jo Walton

Title: Farthing (Small Change Book 1)
Author: Jo Walton
Genre: Alternative History
Published: 2006
Formats: Hardback/Paperback/Ebook

Available at:
Apple iBookstore US
Amazon UK
Alibris UK

Farthing by Jo Walton was chosen as the October read for the Women of Science Fiction Book Club. I have to admit that personally I wouldn't really have defined this book as being Science Fiction. I understand that some people always classify Alternate History as being Science Fiction but I don't and I would probably have placed this novel in the Mystery/Crime genre. Either way though I am glad it was included in the book club as I really did enjoy it.

The story is set in an alternate Britain, one that had made peace with Nazi Germany in 1941. Now in the late 1940's Britain is enjoying it's peace with Germany and the people who helped create this peace are some of the mover's and shakers of society. However, their position is not absolute as is proven when one of them is found murdered during a party at Farthing Hall on the eve of their attempts to take further control of the governing Conservative Party. Even though the evidence all seems to point at communists and Jews as the culprits, a thoughtful detective from Scotland Yard keeps investigating and uncovers secrets and a conspiracy that lead to the very heart of government.

To be honest, Alternate History books about Nazi Germany are rather common; it probably has to be the greatest "what if" scenario of the twentieth century. A fair number of these books tend to mainly speculate on the big international picture and how it affects everyday people. Farthing however seemed to concentrate on the lives and outcomes for the very people who had actually created the peace with Germany which I found to be rather refreshing.

In addition I found that the Britain she had created was rather realistic and frightening in the way that you could actually understand and see why Britain was heading the way portrayed in the novel. It isn't a Britain any reader will recognise as the class system within Britain has actually been reinforced by the earlier peace. There is no NHS, the rich and the poor are as far apart as always and the government was talking about banning anyone who had not been to private education from going to University.

In regards to the story, it actually reminded me at times of a country-house murder mystery of the type you could have expected from Agatha Christie. It is very atmospheric and well set up so that it really evoked the feeling of the very period where the country-house murder mystery was so popular a genre. I did note that some of the regular aspects of this genre are visible such as the huge amount of logic involved in every part of solving the crime, to the rather simple and contrived way the truth ends up being revealed. However, in all honesty the mystery aspects of the story I think are more a side show to the characters and the world that Jo Walton has created.

The plotline itself is progressed by switching between two alternating perspectives, the first of which is a the third person narration of the actions of the Scotland Yard detective, Carmichael and the second is a first person recollection of Lucy Kahn, who is the daughter of the family that own Farthing House. I found that this alternating narrative ensured you never got bored and I loved how both characters came to their own conclusions about the murder via the use of different methods and ideas. It really ensured that the reader knew more that either of these characters individually knew and could therefore come to an all around appreciation for what had actually occurred and why.

In regards to the main characters, I really liked both Lucy and Carmichael as they came across as being authentic and believable. I really loved how Lucy for example comes across a slightly absentminded woman of her time, but underneath this a strong willed individual with common-sense and a decent level of morality. Carmichael also showed some decency at his core as he strove to uncover the truth and gain justice even when others were taking the easy route out.

The other characters however weren't developed to any great detail and were more used as a caricature of prejudices and the different classes in society to enable the reader to understand more the type of world they were living in. Many of them didn't actually come across as really being good or evil; they just accepted what was happening and accepted it because that was how society "worked". These characters and some of the overall political information being fed to the reader I think were being used to show how Britain itself was slowly slipping into a fascist state.

The end of the novel did leave a rather nasty taste in my mouth, and actually left me a little disheartened. It does fit with the tone and feeling of the overall novel, but I can't say I was really expecting it. I really think the future for Britain itself was looking bleak and dangerous by the final pages. I suspect I will now pick up the remaining books in this series just to see if there will be some sort of light at the end of the tunnel or not.

Overall, I really did enjoy reading this book; it was interesting to read a mystery novel set in this fascinating and well written alternate Britain that Jo Walton had created. The book does have quite a slow pace as you can sometimes expect in mystery novels, however it isn't dull, the world and characters are slowly fleshed out as you progress which did manage to keep me reading. I do think this book will appeal to quite a lot of different people, obviously I think that people who enjoy Alternate History books should enjoy this book on at least some level. In addition, I also think people who enjoy non-contemporary crime writers such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle or Agatha Christie will also enjoy this book even.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Book Blogger Hop #9

Book Blogger Hop Book Blogger Hop is a weekly meme hosted by Crazy for Books

This week’s question is;

“What is your favorite spooky book (i.e. mystery/suspense, thriller, ghost story, etc.)?”

Wow, this one was actually quite tough because I have read so many spooky styled books over the years. Picking my favourite hasn't been easy and to be honest there are two I would really to mention, but as I have to pick one then it will have to be Phantoms by Dean Koontz.

This is probably the first book that I actually felt chills down my back as I read it. The scenes of horror that are slowly revealed to the characters really built up the tension and creepy factor. The story is just great fun and I have always recommened it to anyone looking for a good horror story.

And for anyone that is interested, the 2nd book I mentioned that is probably equal with this one was It by Stephen King. Another superb horror story that I would always recommend to people.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Heartbeasts - Rick Boven

Title: Heartbeasts
Author: Rick Boven
Genre: Graphic Novel
Published: 2011
Formats: Ebook

Available at:
Amazon UK

Heartbeasts is a collection of three short stories told in graphic form that try to bring across some strong emotional points. These three stories are some of the first that Rick Boven produced and I have to admit the imagery didn't seem quite as refined as what I saw in his later book, The Last Pict which I have previously read and reviewed. Although, I actually think this has worked quite well as some of the stark imagery created does a good job at conveying the tales of heartbreak and woe that are being presented.

I won't really go into the stories themselves in any depth as I don't want to spoil it for anyone that does decide to pick up the collection. However, they do all touch on some of the darker aspects of love and relationships and therefore I felt that the stories can come across as being very angst ridden and "emo" in their style and message which may not appeal to everyone. What I did like though was the way that all three of the stories varied in relation to length and the level of usage of text and artwork to convey the story. It meant that each story felt slightly different, both in substance and style.

The minor issue I did have with this collection though was in regards to the formatting of the eBook on the Kindle. Some of the sections of the story had some very small text which forced me to really concentrate and strain my eyes so that I could actually read it. The only other option seemed to be for me to change the aspect between portrait and landscape which did increase the font size slightly but doing this was a little bit irritating. I still managed to read the story but some people may find the text is rather hard to read in sections if they are using a standard Kindle.

In summary, I do like the use of a graphic medium when creating short stories such as those present here. The limitations of low word counts are counteracted by the ability to use imagery to really convey some of the stories aspects. Personally, I have to admit that the stories felt a little bit too "emo" for me, probably due to the time in his life when Rick Boven was writing them. However, the stories are an impressive collection of graphic work and I suspect there will be plenty of teenagers out there who can relate well to some of these stories much better than I could.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I Wish I Could Read Again For The First Time

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish which I am taking part in. 

This weeks Top Ten was actually a little bit of a challenge for me. Mainly due to the fact that when I really sat down and thought about it, I would probably love to read everything again for the first time. Nearly every book has that little something that you can never get back once you complete it. However, I was able to find ten that left a mark of my reading life more than any others and I think it is them that I would love to read again for the first time. Anyway, they are listed below;

The Lord of The Rings by JRR Tolkien
To get back the joy and interest of reading this Epic Fantasy series for the first time would be superb.

The Gap Series by Stephen Donaldson
Probably still my all time favourite Space Opera series, the manner in which the cruel villian could become an anti-hero who you wanted to win and felt sorry for is superb.

Monster by Christopher Pike
The book that ignited my love for reading when I was a young teen, I would really enjoy having that early feeling of "Wow, this reading thing is great" back again

The Stand by Stephen King
An amazing Dystopian Apocalyptic novel that I loved as a teen which had so many moments of suspense, drama and chills.

Magician by Raymond E Fiest
The Riftwar Saga seems to have gone on for ever, but this was the first book in the collection and by the far the most magical as you get introduced to a great world and great characters

Sahara by Clive Cussler
A book that introduced me to a new genre, I loved the excitement, thrills and action alongside a little bit of humour

Mort by Terry Pratchett
I still remember having this book recommended to me by a friend, James Gould, I salute you! It introduced me to the amazingly funny Discworld.

Harry Potter Series by JK Rowling
When I first read this, I couldn't believe the fun, enjoyment and excitement available in this magical world.

It by Stephen King
Another Stephen King book, but this book was so amazingly powerful and memorable that I still have vivid memories of what it was like reading it.

War of the Worlds by HG Wells
I picked this up at the library and it was brilliant, it showed me that the classic novels could be just as exciting, inventive as anything modern.

So feel free to share you own thoughts and ideas on this topic. I suspect some of these may be in your own list, but there maybe some that I have never heard of.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

The Jaguar's Heart - James Morgan Ayres

Title: The Jaguar's Heart
Author: James Morgan Ayres
Genre: Adventure
Published: 2009
Formats: Ebook

Available at:
Apple iBookstore US
Amazon UK
Apple iBookstore UK

When I first started reading this book I really wasn't sure what genre to describe it as: at times I would have said thriller, then I would think it was more fantasy. Finally though I have settled on describing it as a fast paced exciting adventure story that reminded me of the Indiana Jones franchise. For example, the book is set in an historical setting and there are exotic locations, archaeological discoveries, political intrigue, occult sorcery & some really enjoyable action scenes.

The story itself follows Jesse J. Rideout, a former covert operative who is hiding in Mexico after an altercation with his US governmental employer. His amateur interest in archaeology leads him to uncover a secret society full of politicians and criminals who believe in the sorcery once practised by the pre-Columbian natives in Central America. The reader then gets taken on an enjoyable journey across Mexico as Jesse attempts to get revenge for the death of a close friend and understand what this secret group are really up to and why they seem determined to get a hold of an artefact he has uncovered.

I have to say that I really enjoyed this book; it was delivered brilliantly with a superb mix of thrills, mystery, fantasy, action and drama. More importantly though, it had a gripping plot that was fun to read: I struggled to put it down several times and found that it really was a page-turner. In addition, it really felt like the author knew Mexico, it was wonderfully detailed and there was a love and warmth for the country that really came through in the novel.

The characters were well defined and quite memorable with Jesse himself really coming across like a mix of Indiana Jones and James Bond. But it was more than just him, all the characters seemed to have clear motivations that made sense with everyone having a purpose and specific drive. There were no ornamental characters; the female characters especially were strong, independent women who knew what they wanted and how to achieve it which was nice to see as sometimes I have seen adventure books use the women screaming, moaning side-kicks.

In summary, this book was an enjoyable, entertaining, fast paced adventure story that has me turning the pages with anticipation. In addition, the writing itself was decent and the author has crafted some superb characters. Simply put, if you like adventure stories then I think you would love this book and should therefore pick it up for a read.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

North of Sunset - Henry Baum

Title: North of Sunset
Author: Henry Baum
Genre: Thriller
Published: 2006
Formats: Paperback/Ebook

Available at:
Apple iBookstore US
Amazon UK
Apple iBookstore UK

North of Sunset is a rather enjoyable thriller set in the rather self-obsessed celebrity world of Hollywood. It mainly focuses on two characters, the first is gifted movie star Michael Sennet who is world famous, has a gorgeous wife and lives a life where pretty everything revolves around him. However, he has become bored and is already looking for the next big thing to take him to a new level of fame and experience. Then there is Curt Knudsen, a follower of a group that talks about the perceived ills of the world, but secretly he is a serial killer that the media have named the Vanity Plate Killer. He randomly targets and kills people based on their vanity plates and his personal feelings on the person. The story follows these two characters and the various people they interact with over a couple of weeks in which various actions lead these two people from very different worlds towards each other.

The story is engrossing, with scandal, sex, murder and deceit visible throughout. However, it is more than just a exciting thriller, the author also takes a very satirical look at the obsession with celebrity culture and the dark underbelly of Hollywood. The prime example of this is that even though there is a serial killer on the loose, everyone in the novel seems to be thinking about how great a movie it would possibly make rather than about the loss of lives or the possible risk to their own.

At first I wasn’t that sure about the characters, I didn’t really like them that much due to the vain and arrogant attitudes constantly on display. However, I can actually believe that these people would really act like that and I am sure that many other readers could easily imagine the people of Hollywood acting in this manner. In addition they are well written and due to the nature of the writing, you really feel like you get into their heads and understand what they are doing and why.

One warning I do have to make is that Henry Baum has included a fair amount of strong profanity throughout the novel. Whilst I felt the characters and their attitudes fitted this language, I know that some readers may find this to be rather unappealing.

To be honest, the only thing that I wasn’t fond about in the novel was the ending. Whilst I will admit I was surprised by the route the story took, I felt that it was all a little bit too clean and contrived for my liking. Funnily enough, the ending actually reminded me of something you may see in a movie but perhaps that was actually the point.

In summary, North of Sunset is an exciting thriller told in a fast pace with an entertaining mix of sex, scandal and deceit that would actually probably make North of Sunset a decent movie. However, this book is more than this, with the satirical look at Hollywood and the excellent narrative enhancing the novel and making it a great page-turner.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Star Trek Enterprise: Broken Bow - Diane Carey

Title: Broken Bow
Author: Diane Carey
Genre: Sci-Fi
Published: 2001
Formats: Hardback/Paperback/Ebook

Available at:
Amazon UK
Alibris UK

I have to admit that I have let my geeky tendencies out with this latest review. Basically I decided that I will try and read through all the Star Trek novels I can obtain in as close to chronological order as I can work out for a challenge. I suspect some of these books will be bad, I suspect some will be good, but it will be an adventure either way! Anyway, the first book to read was Broken Bow by Diane Carey which is actually a novelization of the Star Trek Enterprise pilot episode of the same name.

The story itself is set 150 years from now and humanity has basically made contact with a few other races but they haven't ventured out much into the Universe yet. However, the newly formed Starfleet is getting it's latest high speed ship ready to head out and explore the cosmos, even though their allies and more advanced mentors, the Vulcans don't believe they are mature enough. When two alien species start a fight on Earth, the crew of this new ship are drawn into an adventure involving time travel, genetic engineering and political intrigue.

I have to be honest here and say that I was a little bit disappointed in this novel. I felt that this was a good opportunity to try and enhance what was a rather average episode but instead it is just a basic retelling of the pilot without anything original in terms of characters or some storyline enhancement. It is a shame really as an improved story could also have been used to try and draw new people into this series.

The main issue I did have with the story though were the characters, I am aware that they do improve and grow to be quite likeable as the series progresses but at this stage I didn't really like them. I just felt they were all quite weakly developed and rather petty to be honest. The bickering, talking behind backs and basic childishness that goes on is all rather pathetic and I found it irritating. I understand there is obviously some issues that humanity has regarding aliens and the way they have been treated but I believe they would have been a bit more professional than what we see here.

After all this you would probably expect me to say that I disliked the entire novel but that isn't actually true. The story itself wasn't that bad and had an enjoyable mix of adventure and political intrigue. There also isn't any real techno-babble here and it does feel a bit more down to earth feel than some of the other Star Trek series set in future years. If you have never seen the TV series then it is perfectly adequate introduction to the universe and the characters.

In summary, I have to say that this book was a mildly interesting sci-fi adventure that does at least ensure the reader is introduced to all the new characters that will be involved in the Star Trek Enterprise series. I felt that it didn't really add anything new the Star Trek universe and an average TV episode has just become an average novel. Basically if you want to read every Star Trek book then go ahead and read this, but to be honest if you have seen the TV episode already then I wouldn't bother picking this up.