Place of birth: Timperley, Cheshire
Now living: Bury, Lancashire
3 favourite authors
- David Gemmell
- William Horwood
- Robin Hobb
3 favourite books
- IT/The Stand by Stephen King
- Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay
- Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien
3 favourite films
- Withnail & I
- The Fisher King
I hold The Bartimaeus Trilogy and stand-alone novel Heroes of the Valley to be amongst the finest fantasy books I have read. So when a new book from their author Jonathan Stroud arrives my expectations are very high. And I was not disappointed as Lockwood & Co - which is aimed at a slightly older audience than previous novels - proved to be another wonderfully entertaining read.
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is as much loved today as it has ever been and the advent of the ebook has led to the book being free to those who able to read them. First published in 1900 when it became an international bestseller it is a relevant today as it was then. Amongst the most-read and most-influential children's books of all time. And you can read it for free.
A Christmas Carol was published in December 1843, at a time when medieval Christmas traditions were in steady decline. Indeed, Dickens’s heart-warming tale has been seen as a major turning point; the popularity of its lamp-lit setting and its diverse characters – from the wonderfully wicked Scrooge to the crippled but optimistic Tiny Tim – helped ensure that family unity and ‘goodwill to all men’ once more became the appropriate sentiments of the Christmas season. Dickens used the poverty-stricken Cratchit family’s dependence on hard-hearted Scrooge to highlight the Victorian working class’s daily struggle against the indifference of the greedy.
"The book’s importance was cemented at Christmas 1852, when Dickens undertook public readings of it before both educated and working-class audiences. The success of these events led to public readings becoming a major part of his later career, usually featuring A Christmas Carol. The novella’s short length and strong moral message have ensured that it has become one of Dickens most well-know classics." Fantasy Book Review
I first read Matt Hiebert's work when he submitted an excellent short story to a competition we were running last year. So I did not hesitate at all when asked to read and review his latest novel, Blackhand, which tells the story of a banished prince who finds himself caught in a struggle between two warring gods; whose destiny leads to his being transformed into a being that is more than human with the strength of a god.
And so it with a fresh breath of salt air that the fifth instalment in the Stephen Donaldson's fantasy masterpiece begins. And rather than slowing down, or running out of ideas, like so many others do, this series has actually been getting better. Does The One Tree keep things on track? For me it is both a yes and a no.
I love Adam Nevill's work and will happily read everything he publishes. I feel like I'm guaranteed a well-structured, creepy and unsettling tale replete with people I can relate to. And I'm a simple man, it's all I ask for. I recommend Last Days highly, as I did Apartment 16 and The Ritual before it. Perfect for readers who like to be unsettled rather than grossed out.
The Four Realms throws the reader in at the deep end, challenging them to sink or swim. Those that swim will be treated to a rich and vibrant tale with a decidedly dark underbelly. I recommend this book most fully to those who are growing bored with the fantasy genre, those who are tired of reading derivatives of the classics they once enjoyed. If I had just one sentence in which to pass on my recommendation to another reader, I would say, "Imagine an action-packed fantasy book co-written by J. R. R. Tolkien, J. K. Rowling and H. P. Lovecraft - and then throw in some vampires, angels and demons, plus a healthy dose of science fiction then you should have an idea of what to expect from The Four Realms."
The Last Policeman makes for compelling reading, there is a pleasant feel of detective noir infused into proceedings and I struggle to remember many investigators sporting moustaches in the times between Magnum PI and Hank Palace. Winters instils his book with a grand sense of melancholy and his characters display the sadness and defeatism one would expect under the circumstances. I felt richer for reading this intriguing mix of murder mystery and dystopia and highly recommend The Last Policeman to fans of either genre.
The Toymaker is an excellent book, one of very few that I wish were longer, and the books ending is as chilling as it is unexpected. A superb debut in which everything fits together like a jigsaw.
Today, to my horror, I realised that I had yet to write up a review for Stephen King's The Wind Through The Keyhole, a book that was one of - if not - the best books I read in 2012. Not all that is eagerly awaited meets the expectations but when this book arrived in April (pre-ordered, that's how keen I was) I read it in only a handful of days. It was magnificent and as I write this review I am tempted to say that it is the best book in the series But I think I should defer that accolade for a later date.
In conclusion, I do like Rob Knipe's work and I like the characters he creates but the overriding feeling I was left with was that I read about too much that simply was unnecessary, the removal of which would have not damaged the narrative in the slightest. I must stress that this is a personal opinion and others may disagree. So I would still recommend the books but with the caveat that you may, like me, find them a little over-long but there is plenty of good stuff in there as well, to make the effort more than worthwhile.
The latest offering from Price will be reviewed using the words of Edie and Elliot, as their thoughts are far more important than mine! So my first question to them, upon completing the book, was "Did you enjoy it?" and the answers where unhesitatingly "Yes" and "Yes".
One Little Christmas Tree: A Children's Christmas Picture Book is a festive treat ideal for ages 4+. With and engaging story and vibrant illustrations is it is sure to get both child and parent into the perfect Yule-tide spirit!
This book promotes faith but its main message is that love triumphs all, even faith. The Veil is a good old-fashioned ghost story, complete with characters you can root for and a well thought out story arc. I would recommend to those who prefer the creepy to the gore.
This book is by turns educational, inspiring, traumatic and humorous. It is also one of the best books I have read this year. So, if you are looking for an extremely alternate take on a Christmas Carol this festive period, then Andrea Bergen's One Hundred Years of Vicissitude is an absolute must.
As you will no doubt have already ascertained from the above sentence in bold, I enjoyed Matt Bone's Endless a great deal. I found it to be a skilful and ambitious merging of the epic fantasy and dystopian fiction genres by an author whose writing talents matched their impressive imagination.
I greatly enjoyed the tale told, and it marks a solid debut. Id like to wish Peter all the very best with his future writing and look forward to his future works. He is an author who has an excellent understanding of the genre and a fertile imagination which, if used to the best of his ability, should be a treat for fantasy readers in the future.
I greatly enjoyed the time I spent within the book's pages, both within the real and fantasy worlds. Numerous fantastical people, locations and objects are uncovered and older children and young teenagers will find themselves able to easily relate to the lead characters. I would recommend that readers from the age of nine upwards give this book a try, particularly if they have read and enjoyed the Harry Potter novels previously.
There is no denying that the concept behind The Children of Men is fascinating and one that is both believable and successfully explored by James. The book has numerous good points being well-written, often poignant and always encouraging the reader to think about diverse themes ranging from euthanasia to immigration. The greatest areas of interest to me were how the author showed that the understandable indulgence lent towards the last born children led to criminality in their behaviour and also how immigration is then used to fill labour gaps. But the most fascinating part of all was the look at how humankind's imminent extinction changes the behaviour and outlook of society in general.
I am a big fan of Kevin Price's work and never hesitate to recommend it. So, if you are a parent looking to teach your kids to read and learn about the natural world around them you must get hold of some Kevin Price books.
First came the days of the plague. Then came the dreams. Dark dreams that warned of the coming of the dark man. The apostate of death, his worn-down boot heels tramping the night roads. The warlord of the charnel house and Prince of Evil. His time is at hand. His empire grows in the west and the Apocalypse looms. For hundreds of thousands of fans who read The Stand in its original version and wanted more, this new edition is Stephen King's gift. And those who are listening to The Stand for the first time will discover a triumphant and eerily plausible work of the imagination that takes on the issues that will determine our survival.
"I first read The Stand in 1989 and I was completely blown away by it. The story, the characters, the tension - I had never read a book of its size so quickly. So, 23 years later I decided to read it again, finding that although I was able to remember certain parts, almost everything other than the memory of loving it had been forgotten. I found it interesting that King himself said, in the forward, that he doesn't think The Stand is amongst his best books, but the one he is asked most questions about. I would agree with the author here as books like It, Salems Lot and The Shining are better-written books but there is just something about The Stand, and if the reader connects with it they are in for a thrilling ride." Fantasy Book Review
Just as the body is capable of telling you what food it needs, so is the mind capable of telling you what it needs for nourishment. And mine told me it needed something nautical, I wanted to smell the salt on the air and hear tales of derring-do. And why not throw in some dragons too? And so my research brought me to Naomi Novak's Temeraire series and there can be no denying that it is a ripping yarn, a fun and easy read full of good characters and heart-warming friendships. Novik handles her alternate history with a steady hand, making it plausible (if you suspend belief a little of course) and her writing cleverly and purposefully mirrors the style found in the 19th century, which is when the book is set, during the Napoleonic Wars.
Italy is on the brink of collapse. Borders are closed, banks withhold money, the postal service stalls. Armed gangs of drug-fuelled youths roam the countryside. Leonardo was a famous writer and professor before a sex scandal ended his marriage and career. Heading north in search of her new husband, his ex-wife leaves their daughter and her son in his care. If he is to take them to safety, he will need to find a quality he has never possessed: courage.
"The Last Man Standing is a must read in the dystopian fiction genre, less bleak but no less moving than The Road and a book thats ending is nothing short of perfection. A disturbing yet strangely uplifting look at a future we can all only pray never comes to be. A special mention must go to Silvester Mazzarella who has managed to lose nothing in translation and every sentence is precise, crisp and a joy to read." Fantasy Book Review
I'm a little late getting to reading and reviewing the second book in the trilogy (it was released seven months ago) but am very glad to have at last found the time. Stewart & Riddell are two very talented gentleman, every book of theirs that I have read has been skilfully and professionally put together with the complete understanding of what the reader wants... and that is a damn fine story. They (as Riddell is a major part in the writing process, not just the man behind the beautiful illustrations) know when to put in tension, they know when to calm it down and they know how to portray believable relationships. I am an unashamed fan of their work and when I think excitedly of what new books are coming out each year, the Wyrmweald series is, along with William Horwood's Hyddenworld series, the ones I look out for most.
I found much to like in this book's pages and as well as paranormal fantasy there was a little horror (oh, the poor barman!) and lots of mythology to get my teeth into. Reading about Jen and the peculiar goings-on in Emerald Hills was a constantly interesting and often exciting experience and I would recommend this book to all fans of paranormal fantasy. There is romance but thankfully (from my standpoint) it was not overwhelming or as cringe-worthy as I have often found. Dark Confluence is definitely more about fantasy than romance.
An ancient evil has awakened in the lands of Kraawn. An evil that threatened the lands long ago, now stirs deep in the Black Lands of the north.
Cavaliers, the guardians of the righteous, have long been the protectors of Kraawn. Trained in combat and blessed with the powers of the gods, these warriors roam the lands using their skills to fight back the power of the Forsworn, a trio of evil gods whose ultimate goal is to blanket the world in a mist of darkness. But something has been slaying these warriors and now the lands of Kraawn are at risk, the path of invasion paved by the deaths of the only guardians capable of combating the dark powers of the Forsworn. But not all is lost. A young boy, a cripple raised in a small mountain town, will become Kraawns only hope. Jonas Kanrene thought his life was limited to helping his mother survive in the desolate Tundren Mountains. Then one night a stranger arrives, a powerful cavalier, bringing with him hope, life, and death, and becoming a catalyst for all the change that was about to dismantle Jonass world. Can the powers of good fight back the horde of evil amassing in the north? Can Jonas grow into the man, the warrior, the cavalier capable of stopping the Forsworn? One thing is certain. The lands of Kraawn will never again be the same.
"Although quite a heavy read, this book sets up a long and rewarding trilogy journey for the reader laced with spells, battle scenes and the plight of Jonas against the rising dark forces. I look forward to the next phase as Jason L. McWhirther has done an effective job in leaving us all hanging at the end of this book. This is a promising first novel from a self-published author. I am very much looking forward to the next instalment." Fantasy Book Review
As silly and sentimental as it sounds, Dolphin Way was clearly written with a lot of heart and ambition. Caney is clearly enthusiastic about his books subject matter. Unsurprisingly so, since Caney is a sailor, world traveler and dive instructor (sometimes) to Arab Sheiks. One cant help but think that an autobiography from Caney might be more interesting than a novel, but if thats a possibility at all its on the back burner. Touches The Skys Odyssey will continue in Dolphin Way Part Two: Captured.
His name is Farden. They whisper that hes dangerous. Dangerous is only the half of it. Something has gone missing from the libraries of Arfell. Something very old, and something very powerful. Five scholars are now dead, a country is once again on the brink of war, and the magick council is running out of time and options. Entangled in a web of lies and politics and dragged halfway across icy Emaneska and back, Farden must unearth a secret even he doesnt want to know, a secret that will shake the foundations of his world. Dragons, drugs, magick, death, and the deepest of betrayals await.
"I immediately liked this book. I think the word that best describes my initial reading experience would be comfortable. When you read a good fantasy book or a good book from any genre to be honest you are able to relax as soon as you pick it up, safe in the knowledge that you are in capable hands and about to follow a story that is sure to allow an enjoyable escape from the real world whilst you are lost within its pages. Every David Gemmell book did and still does this for me, so did The Written. Ben Galley is not yet as good an author as Gemmell but the thing that I find exciting is that I honestly think that he could be." Fantasy Book Review
The story is original and very engaging. The fast-moving adventure in a new world, which sparkles with visually captivating creatures and imaginative technology, has already begun by the first line. He faces many challenges of which the main one is to hold onto his independent view and his compassion for those affected by the actions of others. The search for his father, his mainstay throughout the story, ends in a way which is credible yet astonishing. The book does not pull its punches about the way in which people (and aliens) treat each other. In engaging with real-world troubles which don't have tidy solutions, it offers more than than we normally expect from the fantasy genre.
So, if you are looking for Shakespeare with a contemporary feel, injected with detective noir and strictly for adults then look no further. Queen Morgana and the Renfairies was a breeze to read and that main feelings I take away from it is of the passion and wry sense of humour that was prevalent throughout. If Willie S was asked to write pulp fiction this could well have been the result. I recommend this book with a large and genuine smile.
Cursed with endless drowsiness, Enchantress Hiresha sleeps more than she lives. Since she never has had a chance to raise a family, she sometimes feels like every woman is pregnant except for her. This time, she is right. From virgin to grandmother, all the women in her city have conceived. One unexpected pregnancy is a drama; fifty thousand is citywide hysteria. A lurking sorcerer drains power from the unnatural pregnancies, and Hiresha must track him by his magic. Unfortunately, her cultured education in enchantment ill equips her to understand his spellcraft, which is decidedly less than proper. The only person uncivilized enough to help is the Lord of the Feast, a dangerous yet charming illusionist. Associating with him may imperil Hireshas city, yet refusing his help will allow the sorcerer to leech godlike power from the mass births.
"If you are a fan of fantasy literature and want to read something new and exciting in the genre then you really should read Brood of Bones. It is a book that impressed me in all areas, from the glorious cover to the complex and involving story. I will sign off this review with the words on Steven Erikson: "Ambition is not a dirty word. Piss on compromise. Go for the throat. Write with balls, write with eggs. Sure, it's a harder journey but take it from me, it's well worth it." And Im sure A.E. Marling would heartily agree with his sentiments." Fantasy Book Review
I also liked how F.T. McKinstry tied the beginning scene into the overall plot of the story. That was well done. All in all this was a good read for me. There were times where my focus wavered due to the large amounts of terms and metaphorical writing, and other times where I was impressed with McKinstrys beautiful poetic style and eagerly waiting to see what happened to Lorth on his adventure.
Overall, Im giving Dance of the Goblins seven out of ten stars. The characters, the realm, and the prose in this story were wonderful, and there are many underlying themes on racism, environmentalism, and tolerance that can be gleaned from the story. The way that mankind moves on a constant cycle of destruction during the story holds a deeper meaning that we could all listen to, and the issues involved in the book are definitely something that anyone could relate to. Still, the novel falls a bit short of exciting, so it loses a few points for me there. If youre looking for a story that is interesting and deep while still being set in a fantasy realm, then Dance of the Goblins has what youre looking for.
As well as being an engaging story, Turn The Tides Gently will give you a feeling for the obvious affection that Matt Wingett holds for Portsmouth and would make you want to visit the area to try to find some of the settings described in this book.
I greatly enjoyed the Legacy of the Eldric, David Burrowss first foray into the genre, and my words at the time, this is solid fantasy; exactly what a fantasy doctor would order for those looking for an enjoyable escape from reality fans of Tolkien, Hobb and Moorcock will love what they find here, holds as true for his latest work as they did for his debut. Fans of high fantasy that features an eclectic array of races, strong plot and lots of well-realised battles should look no further as Drachars Demons will satisfy in all areas. I greatly look forward to watching this authors catalogue grow in the future.
Simon Burns is fired from his job without warning. Reluctantly, he takes on the role of stay-at-home dad for his three-year-old son but this pushes his already strained marriage to the limit. Things take a seeming turn for the better when he meets a tight-knit trio of dads at the playground. They are different from other men Simon has met, stronger and more confident, and soon Simon is lured into their mix. But after a guys' night out gets frighteningly out of hand, Simon feels himself sliding into a new nightmarish reality. As he experiences disturbing changes in his body and his perceptions, he starts to suspect that when the guys welcomed him to their "pack", they were talking about much more than male bonding
The Rain Wild Chronicles have developed into a superb continuation of the Liveship Traders trilogy and I highly recommend that you join the Lords of the Three Realms in the City of Dragons and experience the same reading delights that I did.
Patrick Patterson is a decent book. It has a strong narrative drive, plenty of conflict, good pacing, and complete clarity. It has a heart, in the form of Patrick's bittersweet longing for the girl next door, an underdeveloped subplot which promises to be more meaningful in future books, but which for me has more interest than any of the frenzied combats and chases the author has offered to an audience in whom he anticipates a taste for the cinematic. Furthermore, the novel has a fairly fresh concept in that it substitutes for magic (the trope preferred by most contemporary fantasists including me) the concept of entire hidden cities of unearthly beings from outer space, and a galaxy-wide conflict in the offing for future books. In other words, there are aliens instead of wizards (although magic exists also). There is even a nod to Roswell, New Mexico, in that Patrick comes from Farwell, Texas, a real town that comes across in the book like a fictionalized imitation. (Roswell, it should be understood, is where worldwide UFO theorists believe the alien spacecraft wrecked in the 1960s.)
I can earnestly recommend Grey Falcons Fall for both readers that have an interest in classical history and those tired of the medieval period popularised by the vast majority of fantasy. They will enjoy this story, especially if they love vivid action and violence. As for the narrative style, readers can get a good sense what to expect from the opening chapter, which I hope they will read before deciding.
Dragon Haven is an excellent novel that benefits from prior hard work in the previous instalment. A tale rich in plot and characterisation it forms a worthy and exciting addition to Hobbs delightful world of the Elderlings.
I was left with the impression that here we had a fine writing style, an imaginative and resourceful mind but a lack of editing rigour, not proofreading attention to detail which was generally good, I hasten to add, but an objective and critical voice representing the readers interest. A bit of gentle but firm guidance could have delivered a highly readable and engrossing work with a far wider appeal.
Rupert Thompson's Divided Kingdom is a good book that would likely benefit from repeated reading. The author's brilliant concept - which provided such promise - was never fully realised though and the reader may ultimately be left thoughtful, yet unsatisfied.
11.22.63 finds Stephen King on top form. A compelling tale of alternate history and time travel showcasing King’s skill as a storyteller as he effortlessly weaves together fact and fiction, highlighting the benefits of meticulous research.
First, let me give you the premise. A young wizard named Hadrian works as a janitor employed by a school that trains students in the art of magic. He lives in the city of Karbala which appears to be a sea-merchant town and eavesdrops on the teachings of the professors during the day and studies ancient tomes at night. Across the river from Karbala is the Old City which is full of nasty things and has been abandoned for a century and a half. The two cities are connected by a series of bridges and, in particular, a bridge known as the Seventh bridge. Hadrian, with the help of a few friends, discovers that some potentially illegal smuggling may be afoot and they believe the crimes are taking place in an ancient temple in the Old City. Is it really smuggling or something far more sinister?
The narrative is well-written and for a self-published book, very precise. The sentence structure is firm and there are amazingly few typos. The setting for the novel is 20th century Europe and while the time is excellently reproduced there are times when the feel was more that of America than Europe. This may be in no small part due to the Americanised spellings of favour, honour etc which always has the effect on Americanising a narrative.
Mike Cannon's debut novel, Demon Gate - Book 1 of the Grey King Saga, boasts a setting that many readers of supernatural fantasy fiction may find unusual: tenth century Japan, against the backdrop of the battles waged between two powerful samurai clans. As the author explains in the afterword, it was a time when the newly-shaped shogun class emerged as a power, and the image of Japan that would fascinate the Western mind was born. It was also a time when people believed that demons were as real as anything else in nature. It is fertile ground for an epic fantasy not rooted in the usual European medieval tropes, and what grows from it is a compelling tale with just the right amount of period detail, with a flawed hero at its center.
I loved the book's structure. It begins at the end. A haunted man called Snowman, the last human being, living in a tree and hearing voices. What has happened to the world? What happened to the boy that was Jimmy? Well, that is what the book is all about and the finding out always made for compelling reading. It was a bravely written book in that none of the characters are actually likeable and all are flawed, even by human standards, but very real. And Atwood does not judge, even when covering such difficult and emotive subjects as child prostitution and pornography. The hook of the book, and what kept me reading so enthusiastically, was to find out how the Earth had become what it was and who was responsible. It made for a great and eerily plausible story, one that highlighted human malice, greed and stupidity.
So I will repeat my sentiments from three years ago, you simply must go out and buy Keeper of the Realms, the story and artwork are excellent and they compliment each other in the same way as Chris Riddell 's artwork and Paul Stewart's storytelling do on their wonderful Edge Chronicles. The improvements that were needed in the initial book lay in the editing department, which is of course always the most difficult and expensive problem that self-published authors face. But now that the mighty Puffin behind the book readers will find that all these issues have been ironed out and the book is better than ever! Book of the Month for 2009 and and 2012!
Where Leiyatel's Embrace scores highly is in the care paid to the depiction of the castle environs and the people who inhabit them. History and geography are excellently thought out, the place names are authentic-sounding, and the author's deeply evocative descriptive language provides us with a beautiful vignette of a time and place. The vistas, great and small, are splendidly detailed. The characters are gleefully eccentric, keenly observed and develop satisfyingly as the story progresses to a surprising conclusion.
There is something in this picture book for everyone, be they young or old, male or female. Younger kids will enjoy learning about the planets and their names and older kids and parents will be surprised to discover the wealth of detailed and fascinating information in there that they were not previously aware of. And there is a very handy glossary at the back that made me appear a lot more knowledgeable than I actually was! So I thoroughly advise you all to join the famous astronomer, Patrick McFuddy and his son, Jacob, on their poetic journey through our solar system.