Tom Hiddleston reads J. G. Ballard’s High Rise

High Rise audiobook coverYesterday saw the release of the audiobook edition of High Rise, J. G. Ballard’s unnerving tale from 1975 of life in a modern tower block running out of control.

Tom HiddlestonRead by Tom Hiddleston (best known for playing Loki in Thor and The Avengers) the audiobook is set within the concealing walls of an elegant 40-storey tower block, the affluent tenants are hell-bent on an orgy of destruction. Cocktail parties degenerate into marauding attacks on ‘enemy’ floors and the once-luxurious amenities become an arena for riots and technological mayhem.

We are massive fans of Ballard (who isn’t) and Audible have very kindly supplied us with a 25 second clip to whet your appetite.

Credit: Audible Studios, 2015

For more information on this audiobook, visit Audible UK.

Spotlight: A Time of Kings by Sean Moran

First in a planned trilogy, A Time of Kings takes places 600 years after the fall of the Roman Empire, in an alternate history when the descendants of Arthur Pendragon reign over half of Western Europe. On the eve of the wedding of Prince Arthur to the daughter of the Byzantine Emperor, a usurper emerges to challenge the Pendragons and the world. Meanwhile, Merlin searches for answers to an ancient mystery.

A Time for Kings book cover

Sean Moran is a hardworking, creative, and driven individual with a passion for writing. He has been writing since he knew how and before that, a child storyteller in the oral history tradition. A lover of history and student of the world, Sean currently lives and studies at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US.

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Competition: Win a copy of The Devil’s Detective by Simon Kurt Unsworth

The Devil's Detective book cover imageWelcome to hell… … where skinless demons patrol the lakes and the waves of Limbo wash against the outer walls, while the souls of the Damned float on their surface, waiting to be collected. When an unidentified, brutalised body is discovered, the case is assigned to Thomas Fool, one of Hell’s detectives, known as ‘Information Men’. But how do you investigate a murder where death is commonplace and everyone is guilty of something?

Those lovely people at Penguin Random House UK have given us 3 copies of The Devil’s Detective to give away. The competition is open to UK residents only  and here is how you can enter:

Simply tweet @FanBooRev with the name of the book you are currently reading and as many words from the first chapter as you can fit into 140 characters. For example:

@FanBooRev The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien
When Mr. Bilbo Baggins of Bag End announced that he would shortly be celebrating his…

The competition will close this Friday (March 6, 2015) and winners will be notified via Twitter and their UK mail address will be requested, so that a winning copy can be dispatched.

Good luck to all who enter.

For more information on The Devil’s Detective and its author Simon Kurt Unsworth, and to read an excerpt, visit the Del Rey UK website.

My most anticipated novel of 2015

I’ve been asked to select my most anticipated novel of 2015, to be included in a special feature on the tombola Times, The Top Ten Book Releases of 2015. I thought this might be difficult, very difficult. It wasn’t, it was incredibly easy and took less than ten seconds. The novel that I am most eager to read this year is Fool’s Quest, the second instalment in Robin Hobb’s Fitz and the Fool series.

Fool's Quest cover image

Often, when you look forward to the second book in a trilogy/series it is because you have enjoyed the previous instalment so much. But that doesn’t tell the full story here; it goes much deeper than that. You see, Robin Hobb has been writing wonderful novels set within the Realm of the Elderlings for twenty years now. I have, like Fitz, grown from a child, to a teenager, and now an adult with children of my own. The novels have been a constant and enjoyable part of my life and I’m hoping that the journey will continue for some time yet, particularly if the books remain as good as Fool’s Assassin, the predecessor to Fool’s Quest.

So why are they so good? Well, characterisation and story/plot stand out for me. As an author Robin Hobb takers her time, to me she doesn’t seem to feel the need to progress a story as much as en-richen it, adding layer upon layer of back-story and delicately placed details that build worlds and peoples both believable and vibrant. And these characters are just like us, they are flawed and they are very human. And in the previous book she literally took my breath away, causing me to re-read a certain page to make sure I had indeed read what I thought I had read. I can’t remember the last time that had happened.

I am confident that thousands of fantasy fans are similarly impatient for this novel’s release but if you are in the position of not having read any novels in the Elderlings series then I envy you – you have a glorious journey ahead of you and I would like to point you in the direction of Assassin’s Apprentice, the first novel in the Farseer Trilogy. And from there the directions would include the Liveship Traders, Tawny Man and Rainwild Chronicles.

Roll on August 2015 and may the journey never end.

Celebrating #libraryshelfie day

January 28 was #libraryshelfie day. A day to celebrate books, reading and your own precious bookshelves. Here at Fantasy Book Review a bunch of us reviewers got out our camera phones and snapped our pride and joy, the number one bookcase, containing all those books we have read and loved over the years.

The celebration was carried out on Twitter, Facebook and Google+ but it was so much fun, and the images so memorable, that we have brought everything together in this post.

As the day began we found ourselves in Australia with three long-time reviewers, Josh, Ryan and Fergus (who is a Northern Irishman living abroad).

As you can see, Josh loves his books and he is deservedly proud of them!

Impressed by the organisation, UK reviewer Michelle tweeted her own three mighty bookshelves.

Staying in Australia but moving into black-and-white photography Fergus shows his incredibly neat, tidy (and if rumour is true, alphabetised) bookshelves.

And Ryan shows his horizontal approach to book stacking. I will quiz him about this next time we speak – there will be reasoning  behind his actions.

Next we visited travelswithadiplomat in Thailand, and the crate full of classics he takes everywhere with him.

At this time a great photo came in from @jankensan on Twitter, who is studying abroad in Japan.

Back in a chilly, snow crusted UK we were treated to Cat’s fantasy books within a lovely old bookcase.

And I got to show off my favourite book shelf, guarded by the terrifying Bagpuss.

And then @DanMoran89 won the not-so-tidy bookshelf award.

Jo unveiled her Terry Pratchett shrine.

Before her Zen Pencils framed art proved to be the most popular tweet of the day.

And then, as dusk began to fall, we welcomed our latest reviewer Sam Wood and her extremely heavy looking bookcases.

And @RRakato42 posted us this lovely #libraryshelfie to bring the day to a perfect end.

I would just like to thank all who took part in our #libraryshelfie celebration. It’s good to love books.

Spotlight: CrossOver by Paul Proffet

“A promising, deeply satisfying debut full of action, wit and heart.” Kirkus Reviews

When a mystical warning from a vulnerable girl helps Len Doyle avoid a bloodbath, he wants answers.

If there’s one thing a professional killer doesn’t like, its loose ends.

In return for her secrets, the young girl wants shelter and protection.

But in hindsight, perhaps Doyle should have found out what she needed protecting from…

Drawn in equal parts from David Gemmell and Quentin Tarantino, CrossOver is a fresh and edgy take on epic/dark fantasy.

Set both in modern times and alternate realities, the main characters do battle with Underworld Killers and High Daemons, but through it all is a sense of humour as dark as it gets.

After a journey at break-neck speed our group arrive at a tense showdown, but before the smoke clears, several kettles will have died.

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CrossOver by Paul Proffet book cover

Biography

Paul Proffet lives in Cheltenham with his wonderful partner Tanya and a seemingly constant scuffle with indigestion. He works full-time in the private security industry and writes whenever he can. CrossOver is his debut novel and he has recently picked a fight with the sequel.

Buying options

CrossOver is available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle edition.

Children’s Laureate out to find UK’s best young writers

This week saw the launch of Project Remix – current Waterstones Children’s Laureate Malorie Blackman’s nationwide competition to find the UK’s best young writers and creatives. Blackman’s second, and final, major Children’s Laureate project celebrates the art of storytelling, in all its forms, and is being hosted on the teenage story-sharing community Movellas.com. The competition, open to UK residents aged 13-19 years, will be judged by Blackman, with entries published on the website and the winners announced at an exclusive event in April 2015.

Project Remix banner

To enter, teenagers are asked to make their own creative work in response to a selection of acclaimed literature – featuring fiction, poetry, graphic novels and short stories from some of the bestselling contemporary and classic authors, including: John Green, Suzanne Collins, Philip Pullman, Benjamin Zephaniah, Jane Austen, Arthur Conan Doyle and Bram Stoker. Entries can be submitted into five categories: Music, Book Cover Design, Book Trailer, Creative Writing, and Comic Strip.

The aim of the competition is to engage young people with literature, using it as a creative springboard into other storytelling mediums, and to open doors to the arts and the creative industries. It was inspired by the growth of online fandom, including fan fiction and fan art and the surge in related digital communities.

“Teenagers are some of the most passionate, dynamic and creative people I know. Yet too often this creative spark is left to flicker precariously and sometimes fade entirely.  Project Remix is all about fuelling that inventive spark, encouraging young people to view literature in fresh and exciting ways, putting creative control directly back into their hands.  Imagine Austen’s Pride and Prejudice remixed into a drum and bass anthem or saxophone solo, Collins’ The Hunger Games reimagined as a vibrant comic strip, and Ness’ The Knife of Never Letting Go brought to life as a suspenseful book trailer,” commented Blackman.

”As well as celebrating story in all its forms, I hope Remix will shine a light on the vast range of opportunities that there are in the creative industries for our young people – so often overlooked within traditional careers guidance.”

Project Remix will go live on the Movellas website at www.projectremix.co.uk, with further information about the competition, plus resources to help young people create their entries, including guidance and insider tips from top industry experts from each category.

The full list of Project Remix selected works of literature:

  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (Vintage Classics)
  • Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman (Random House Children’s Books)
  • Tamsin and the Deep comic strip by Neill Cameron and Kate Brown (The Phoenix Comic)
  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic)
  • ‘Hear and Now’ poem by Laura Dockrill (unpublished)
  • Say Her Name by James Dawson (Hot Key Books)
  • The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle (Vintage Classics)
  • Heroic by Phil Earle (Penguin Children’s Books)
  • If I Stay by Gayle Foreman (Random House Children’s Books)
  • Coram Boy by Jamila Gavin (Egmont)
  • The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (Penguin Children’s Books)
  • ‘Oh, Whistle and I’ll Come To You My Lad’ short story by M. R. James (Vintage Classics)
  • ‘The Alumni Interview’ (short story from How they Met) by David Levithan (Egmont)
  • Split Second by Sophie McKenzie (Simon & Schuster)
  • The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness (Walker Books)
  • Wonder by R J Palacio (Random House Children’s Books)
  • Northern Lights by Philip Pullman (Scholastic)
  • (Un)arranged Marriage by Bali Rai (Random House Children’s Books)
  • Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell (Macmillan Children’s Books)
  • She is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick (Orion Children’s Books)
  • ‘Ozymandias’ poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley (Vintage Classics)
  • Geek Girl by Holly Smale (HarperCollins Children’s Books)
  • Dracula by Bram Stoker (Vintage Classics)
  • ’We Refugees’ (poem from Wicked World) by Benjamin Zephaniah (Penguin Children’s Books)

Competition category requirements:

  • Creative writing: write your own piece of fiction inspired by your chosen book, story or poem. Word limit: up to 2,000 words
  • Comic strip: create your own comic strip inspired by your chosen book, story or poem. Limit: up to three A4 pages
  • Cover design: design or illustrate your own alternative cover for your chosen book
  • Book trailer: produce a book trailer – a short piece of film, like a film trailer – for your chosen book, story or poem. Limit: up to 2 minutes
  • Music: write and perform a song or a piece of original music inspired by your chosen book, story or poem. Limit: up to 3 minutes

Virtual Science Fiction Festival–Nov 15 and 16 2014

A free Virtual Science Fiction Festival called #BFIVoyager will be taking place on the 15th and 16th November. A collaboration between HarperCollins and the BFI, the festival takes place as part of the BFI’s major three month celebration of Science Fiction, Days of Fear and Wonder. The festival takes place at BFI Southbank and venues across the UK until December, full of science fiction films and television, including Brazil, A Clockwork Orange, Barbarella, the cinema rerelease of Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey and a programme of talks, lectures and discussion with film and TV directors, actors and screenwriters.

Virtual Sci-Fi Festival logo

The aim of the BFIVoyager Science Fiction festival is to explore the link between Science Fiction literature and film and the program will reflect the 3 main themes of the BFI’s film season:

  • Tomorrow’s World – from post-apocalyptic wastelands to megacities to far-flung dystopia
  • Altered States – the science fiction of ‘inner space’ mad scientists, mutants, man-machines and mind-bending trips
  • Contact! – time to explore life from all corners of the universe and across multiple dimensions

The festival will be free to ‘attend’. Register now to be sent the full programme closer to the time and receive 2 free science fiction ebooks.

Spotlight: Scions of the Storm by Alan Scott

‘Scions of the Storm’ is the second instalment in the ‘Storm Series’ trilogy, and covers the next sixteen years of this epic tale. It concludes the tale of Nathanial and his daughter, details the rise of the ‘Midnight Man’ and for the first time reveals hints about the two deadly, but hidden, forces that are using the Twin Kingdoms as a pawn in their eons old game of domination.

As ‘Scions of the Storm’ draws to an end, it prepares the reader for the final episode of this dark bittersweet trilogy and sets the ground work for the final story ‘A Dark and Hungry Storm.’

For more information and updates search Facebook for ‘EchoesOfAStorm’ or visit www.alankscott.com.

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Scions of the Storm book cover image

Sandman Slim Nursery Rhymes

Send your child to bed the right way!

As you lay your head to Sleep (Metallica, Enter the Sandman inspired)

When I lay my head to sleep,

I pray to Samuel, my soul to keep.

Beast below the things that bite,

No more day, no more light.

Beneath my bed, eternal night, Dream of hands griping tight,

What’s that noise behind door,

Speak his name dead forever more.

Sandman Sandman, I see you there,

Sandman Sandman, have a care,

Sandman Sandman, my life you take,

Sandman Sandman, I must awake.

One , Two, Sandman is Coming for you! (Freddy Krueger inspired)

1, 2, The Sandman is coming for you,

3, 4, lock your door,

5, 6, grab your crucifix; rocket launder; tactical nuclear warhead; WHATEVER,

7, 8, better stay up late,

9, 10, never sleep again

Sleep baby Sleep (Inspired by an old nursery rhyme)

Sleep, baby, sleep, Sandman guards your dreams tonight;

His Kiss blessed arm holds the door, Gun and knife and a lot more.

Rest your head on dreams shore;

The Sandman is going to count to four.

Sleep, baby, sleep.