Friday, July 31, 2009

A Sealed Fate by Lisa Gordon


A Sealed Fate is a debut novel by Astrologer Lisa Gordon who poses at the centre of her story, the question of fate versus free will.

To escape the pain of failed relationships and careers, both Valda and Larissa take themselves to Dubai seeking not only success but a reason and purpose in life. Valda does indeed find success and to her astonishment, love, but all is threatened when she is introduced to a billionaire Sheikh. Her clandestine relationship with the Sheikh propels her into a murky web of deceit and she turns to Larissa for help.

As an astrologer, Larissa predicts that Valda and the Shikh’s destinies were sealed from the moment of their first meeting: however she keeps the dire fate that she reads in the charts a secret. Together, Valda and Larissa take a gamble in a game of cosmic Russian Roulette where the stakes are their lives and their adversary, fate itself.

Spiritual in its theme, this debut thriller also looks at the depth of personal relationships and the lengths two women would go to, to protect each other.

I received a copy of Sealed Fate a while ago and read it shortly after but then realised that I was doing it a disservice and that I should really re-read it again, which I did at the beginning of July. This is also why I chose it to be one of our Summer Reads books.

For a slender offering, it is a complex novel, written with great care. It is also one of the hardest books to categorise as it fits in both in the thriller genre as well as the much-overlooked esoteric fiction genre. It makes you ponder about things such scary things as destiny, fate and karma.

The two main characters are well written but there is a hesitancy about the author at first as they are introduced, slowing the novel down a bit. But you can tell when the author finds her feet and decides to run with the story.

It is an intriguing read as the two characters are almost mirror images – Larissa’s needs are spiritual whilst Valda is more materialistic and these opposites are used to contrast them very well.

The author has taken great care in describing Dubai and the city’s culture. She has an affinity for “place” in this and it turns A Sealed Fate into something a bit more complex than I initially thought. It’s pace again is a tad slow initially but it picks up and drags you along with Larissa and Valda’s story, spinning an ending that would satisfy the hardiest of thriller readers.

As I mentioned earlier, this is the debut novel by Lisa Gordon and it was a very competent one. I do however think that we will be knocked off our socks by her next offerings. A Sealed Fate shows tremendous promise and I score this at a very adequate 6 out of 10 stars and am looking forward to seeing more of her work in the near future. Find her publishers, Janus Publishing here . A Sealed Fate was published in January 2009 and should be available online and all good book stores.

Thursday, July 30, 2009


To spread the word of Marjorie M Liu's awesome new book, The Fire King, her US publishers, Dorchester Publishers have agreed to let MFB run a competition for 3 lucky US citizens to win copies.

The rules are simple - all you need to do to enter is send us an email with "THE FIRE KING' as the subject, and your name and location (e.g .Jill from New York) before 6pm GMT on Thursday, 6th August.

We'll pick the winner at random (with a little help from and post the announcement here on Thursday evening and we will also Twitter it. So if you enter this from Twitter, make sure to tell us your Twitter Name and we'll tell the world there too! We'll contact the winners directly by email to confirm the other bits.

Good luck!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

++ Salamander Competition ++

To celebrate the forthcoming launch of Nick Kyme's fantastic new novel 'Salamander', the awesome crew at the Black Library have donated two signed copies for us to give away.

The rules are simple- all you need to do to enter is send us an email with 'Salamander' as the subject, and your name and location (e.g Bob from Exeter) before 6pm GMT on Tuesday 4th August. We'll pick the winner at random (with a little help from and post the announcement here on Tuesday evening.

We'll contact the winners directly by email to confirm the other bits

Good luck!

Salamander is released in September and is also available on pre-order from the Black Library.

The Fire King by Marjorie M Liu


Long ago, shape-shifters were plentiful, soaring through the sky as crows, racing across African veldts as cheetahs, raging furious as dragons atop the Himalayas. Like gods, they reigned supreme. But even gods have laws, and those laws, when broken, destroy.

Zoufalství. Epätoivo. Asa. Three words in three very different languages, and yet Soria understands. Like all members of Dirk & Steele, she has a gift, and hers is communication. When she is chosen to learn the dead language of a shape-shifter resurrected after thousands of years of icy sleep, she discovers a warrior consumed with fury.

Strong as a lion, quick as a serpent—Karr is his name, and in his day he was king. But he is a son of strife, a creature of tragedy. As fire consumed all he loved, so death was to be his atonement. Now, against his will, he has awoken. Zoufalství. Epätoivo. Asa. In English, the word is despair. But Soria knows the words for love.

Short Review:

Buy the book, read it, love it.

Long(er) Review:

I can't remember the last time two characters gripped me quite this much. Karr and Soria's relationship is obviously very much the focus of the novel. You become involved with them individually as well as a couple as they run for their lives from a variety of factions bent on destroying Karr or capturing him for examination and then destroying him. I couldn't shake the feeling like I was being allowed to spy on something very special indeed. (But not in a creepy way!!)

Karr's character is well defined and as the author deals out snippets of information about Karr there is a sense that he is even more than what is being hinted at. Soria's characteri is fully formed - severely hurt just over a year ago, she is still fragile and you understand where she comes from, what her motivations are and as her relationship with Karr develops as they flee, you start liking her more and more. Clever, competent and level-headed in the face of adversity and someone with bucketload of courage, Soria is definitely someone you want on your side in a fight.

This is my first Marjorie M Liu book and although I know little to nothing about the Dirk and Steele Organisation this did not prevent me from falling into The Fire King with unashamed abandon. It is book nine in the series! I should have been struggling to keep up with all the back story, but this is where the book turns into something excellent. As far as I understand it, each book deals with another agent within the Dirk and Steele Organisation which is a covert organisation with members of the magical and shapeshifting kind mingled with humans - some of whom are normal and some of whom have bit of magic.

Having just checked on Ms. Liu's website it transpires that these novels are catergorised as "paranormal romance thrillers" and it is probably one of the most apt descriptions I've read for something like this that almost defies any of the genres I usually read. Marjorie M Liu breaks the mould when it comes to a) style and quality of her writing b) plotting, storyline and story arc c) characterisation and d) world building, throwing in some fantastically mysterious modern day location few of us would have the chance to visit.

I irrevocably loved The Fire King and would recommend it to those who may not be too excited about touching a book about shapeshifters, secret organisations etc. Read The Fire King and change your mind. For those who are already fans of this excellent genre which is revived by Ms. Liu's writing, buy the book! The quality of the writing is what lifts it from its fellows in the same genre along with the author's ability to create two characters whom you actually care about. The romance is perfectly pitched and it never becomes lewd or gross - Karr and Soria would never allow that to happen, not whilst we're watching anyway! But the tension and heat is there and yes, Karr does sound simply scrummy. He gentles Soria beautifully and his reaction to his fierce new friend made me smile quite a few times.

I won't gush anymore as it will become a bit tedious but I'm happy to say that The Fire King has to be one of my top-top adult reads of 2009. I am now keen to read the other books by Ms. Liu. Even if they are out of sequence!

The Fire King is published by Dorchester Publishers over in the States. Find Marjorie M Liu's website here. The Fire King should be available online both in the US and the UK and for those who are interested in purchasing it in the UK, why not run off and support our favourite indy booksellers, Murder One. If they don't have it in stock, they can happily order it for you directly.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Salamander - Nick Kyme

Hailing from the volcanic world of Nocturne, Space Marines from the Salamanders Chapter are in search of an ancient artefact that leads to a world overrun by Chaos. They are the fire–born: implacable warriors with iron hard determination. But all is not what it seems as far more dangerous foe is revealed. As bitter rivalries break out amongst the Salamanders their endurance will be tested to the limit. Will the Salamanders survive long enough to discover the truth about this world and the revelations that will shake the very foundations of this Chapter forever?

Salamander (book one of the Tome of Fire trilogy) follows the Marines of the 3rd Company as they recover from their loss of their captain at the hand of traitor marines. It's a loss that draws simmering tensions and rivalries to the surface, threatening to undermine his replacement and weaken the company as they follow a trail of strange portents that lead to a doomed world and a 10,000 year old engima.

Nick wastes no time in bringing on the action and manages to sketch the cast of characters in the midst of introducing a Space Marine company on the verge of crisis. The two principal characters, the noble Tsu'gan and the loner Dak'ir, while genetically enhanced to be superhuman, retain a definite humanity that flavours their thoughts and actions, emphasising rather than diluting the scope of their actions.

I sat for a while and tried to quantify what it was that kept me turning the pages in a blur; fact is, there's no single element- it's the combination of the action, pace, tension and mystery that creates the buzz that keeps you hooked.

It's a cracking read and, if this is what we have to look forward to from the Tome of Fire, bring it on!

You can read an excerpt here.

Circle of Fire by Keri Arthur (A Damask Circle Novel)


Sixteen teenagers taken from their homes. Eleven bodies recovered, each completely drained of blood. Some believe vampires are responsible. Jon Barnett knows its something far worse, and while in Taurin Bay to stop the killers, he quickly becomes enmeshed in a web of black magic. He needs help but fate gives him only one choice.

Madeline Smith has retreated to an isolated farmhouse, afraid of the abilities she cannot control - abilities that have killed. But when a ‘ghost’ brings a warning of danger and her nephew goes missing, Maddie has to leave her haven and learn to control the abilities she fears.

As Maddie and Jon’s search for the teenagers becomes a race against time, the greatest danger to them both could be the feelings they refuse to acknowledge.

Circle of Fire is my first Keri Arthur novel in a little while. I keep meaning to read some of her other novels but keep getting distracted. This however, was not the case. The book arrived in the post on Thursday evening and I spent Saturday on-and-off reading it from cover to cover.

I liked Maddie's character and found her an intriguing new heroine. She's not kick-ass, she's a recluse who has locked herself away from the world, spending most of her time tending the plants in her greenhouse and doing her best not to get into contact with her brother in law who dislikes her intensely.

When the novel opens Maddie is having a bit of an episode in her lonely ramshackle house in the middle of nowhere. Someone's appeared to her, in the guise of a ghost, asking for her help. As she puts the pieces together, and she just manages to think she's not going insane, he appears again, asking for her help, asking her to drive across the county to come and rescue him as he's trapped in a well, busy dying.

Heavy stuff. It's only when Jon (the guy in the well) reveals that her nephew may be in danger, as he visited the same area as all the other teenagers did before they went missing, that she genuinely gets what he's saying to her. Then, when it transpires that her nephew did indeed disappear from his room, without a trace, does Maddie get her butt in gear. She travels cross country, rescues Jon and discovers one of the creepiest inns since the Bates Motel.

The story strands are tied together really well and Ms. Arthur's writing is rapidly paced. I read the book in a few sittings in one day. There is a lot of action and adventure for the two main characters to get themselves knocked around in. Maddie and Jon's relationship is sweetly rendered. It moves from each of their perspectives throughout the novel and although it should have been jarring it works really well. You come to understand their characters quite well - even if you want to shake them a little - and it is with a satisfying sigh that you read the last few pages.

The romance is handled with a light hand and I loved the love scene - written sympathetically and with a skill which made it romance as opposed to porn. And yes, it makes a big difference!

I am very keen to read the next two novels and to find out more about the Damask Circle as they sound a very interesting group. Find Keri Arthur's website here. Circle of Fire is published by Piatkus in the UK and is due out in August.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Hidden Currents by Christine Feehan

Hello everybody!

I hope you're all having a fab weekend. Liz and Mark kindly invited me to join the review team at MyFavouriteBooks, so here I am, adding a touch of romance to Teen Action, Fantasy Flair and Sci-Fi Battles. This is my first post and I'm just getting used to blogger, so please bare with me should the post turns upside down or everything is written in pink with hearts floating above the text. Also, despite my ferocious reading, spelling and grammar are not my strong point, so please read forgivingly.

And without further ado, on to my first review:

Hidden Currents by Christine Feehan

In case you’re not familiar with this series, let me give you a little background. The Drake women are seven sisters who all have psychic powers. One sister, for example, can heal, another has a magical voice and a third can control the weather, wind in particular. Each sister has her own story, check out Christine’s website or the UK publisher Piatkus . As the youngest of the seven sisters it falls to Elle to continue the legacy. This means she has all the powers and she will have the seven daughters who will inherit the magic (talk about pressure).

Here is the blurb:

From afar, Sheriff Jackson Deveau has always loved Elle Drake, the youngest telepath of seven magically gifted sisters. After a long time away she's finally returning home to the small coastal village of Sea Haven. But someone has been following Elle, someone who doesn't want her to make it back. And when Elle fails to arrive, her disappearance strikes fear in the hearts of everyone who loves her. Now it's left to Jackson to uncover the mystery of Elle's vanishing, and rescue her from an unseen danger. But Sea Haven is no longer safe for anyone, and it'll take the powers of all the Drake sisters and their men to survive the coming storm.

What this dramatic sounding blurb doesn’t say is that Elle has been kidnapped by a man thought to be involved in human trafficking. Elle worked undercover, trying to find proof, but Stavros, who also has psychic gifts, tricked her into believing he is harmless. Which, believe me, he is not. I will not spoil the story and give away the tricks up his sleeve but, trust me, he is not somebody you want to meet in a dark alley.

The first 100 pages are not an easy read. Christine Feehan doesn’t hold back any of the pain and trauma Elle has to endure at the hands of her kidnapper and shows clearly the fragility of Elle’s mental state. It is only after Jackson finally manages to ascertain Elle’s location and helps her escape, that you can take a breath and relax (a little bit).

Elle’s and Jackson’s relationship is at the heart of this beautifully written story. Both have experienced heartbreak and trauma, and you follow these two damaged souls as they struggle to find their way together. I have to say, for me, their chemistry and connection jumped off the pages (one of the most important important aspects of a romance novel). That doesn’t mean that the book is all heart-ache and kisses. On the contrary, evil Stavros doesn’t give up and pursues Elle with his psychic powers, putting her whole family at risk. Magnificent magical battle ensues. The way Christine Feehan plots the final confrontation is pure genius and not something you could have ever imagined (well, at least I wouldn’t have thought of it).

I have read and re-read every single book ever written by Christine Feehan and I have to say that “Hidden Currents” is one of my favourites. The way Jackson and Elle grow as a couple, the heartbreaking as well as funny moments along the way really kept me glued to my seat and reading. If you’re looking for a book that has you biting your nails with anxiety, crying with the character’s pain, laughing out loud at the banter between Jackson and Elle and on the edge of your seat, skim-reading to find out what’s going to happen next, well, I’d say this is the book for you. I know for sure that, despite having read it twice already, on the next rainy day I'll be curled up in my chair and re-reading "Hidden Currents".

(For any younger readers who are reading this review, “Hidden Currents” is an adult romance novel and includes bad language and sex.)
Hidden Currents is published by Piatkus and out now.

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Enemy - Charlie Higson

Am very excited about this as it sounds and looks...pretty frigging scary, i.e. right up my/our street.

Meet Tina - Newest MFB Member

I first met Tina at the Murder One Book Club and was drawn to her quiet ways - sharp mind, dry wit, wicked sense of humour. Then the inimitable Kaz Mahoney revealed that Tina, like me, is an aspiring writer. Then we discovered that not only do we share the love of reading and writing, but that we lived quite close to one another too. Serendipity. But then Tina decided to leave me. And the UK. And reloate to Canada. I was devastated. But Tina pointed out that the world so small via email and Twitter, there is no need to feel like she's too far away. Tina used to work at Waterstones and did a lot of reviews for them in store and for their excellent magazine, Books Quarterly...and this made me think to invite her to join our tiny team. But, here's Tina in her own words - oh, I made her write this in third person as a proper bio - no better way to test your skill as a writer:

Tina just loves to read. From a very early age she was a nightmare for her mother to shop with, because she would invariably disappear only to be found in the book department, going through everything her little hands could reach. Nothing much has changed and you can see she has her priorities straight: when moving to Toronto, Canada, 8 out of the 12 boxes shipped, contained books and let’s not get started on the extra charge for the overweight luggage.

Tina is also an aspiring writer with a tendency to always end up in the future. No matter how hard she tries to write a historically accurate account, for some reason the heroine steps through a portal and has to fight off robots. She’s currently trying to whip her first book into shape and would love to give Nora Roberts a run for her money. She reads anything and everything but has to have a happy ending (and romance doesn’t hurt either).

Her favourite authors include J.D. Robb, Angela Knight, Nalini Sing, Patricia Briggs, Lora Leigh, Christine Feehan, Devon Monk, Michelle Sagara, (she had to be stopped here, otherwise the list would go on without end). She never goes anywhere without a book in her bag, and waits for that time when her favourite authors are able to produce a fantastic book every month.


Please welcome Tina to My Favourite Books blog. Mark and I are very excited to have her along for the ride. This means we are expanding our repertoire as Tina is not only a fast reader but she also likes a wide variety of books including romance and urban fantasy. Yes, this translates to us featuring romance, people! Something I know the blog lacks severely.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

My School Book Club

I - personally - am a huge fan of the written word, as you can tell from the blog. Reading has never been a chore, always a pleasure and for that I am very grateful. But I do understand that some kids don't like reading for a variety of reasons, amongst them are cost of books which their parents can't afford or even that they've never found something that could hold their attention as their school libraries carry limited stock.

When I got an email through from Gav at NextRead about something he thought I may be interested in, I read the email with pure pleasure. A new project is underway and although I don't have kids, I'm not a parent, a teacher or a child (no matter how immaturely I behave at times) I genuinely support this as it can only do good.

I copy the Press Release details below, verbatim, from the email which Flint PR sent onto me at Gav's request.

My School Book Club is an innovative new literary initiative that benefits children, parents and schools.

The My School Book Club project represents the 21st century evolution of the familiar school book club concept. This new online service provides children with an engaging interactive literary community, offers parents direct access to a wide range of quality assured and competitively priced titles, whilst also delivering a significant new revenue stream for schools.


My School Book Club offers free registration and the development of a personalised school book club website. The site is free to run and is automatically updated each month with new titles. Significantly, the school earns 20% of the value of each purchase through its My School Book Club site in redeemable book vouchers.


My School Book Club offers a hassle-free, online book club service. The books are competitively priced, with discounts of up to 50% off the most popular titles, and quality-assured, with each title individually selected by a panel of experienced literacy professionals and leading children’s authors. The books, which include perennially popular classics and the latest works from contemporary authors, are divided into categories covering Baby and Toddler to Age 9 and Upwards, with Pocket Money books for as little as 99p and Graphic Novels for less confident readers. The service allows parents to actively participate in the literary development of their child, whilst also providing the opportunity to enhance the literary environment of their school.


My School Book Club presents a child-friendly, interactive literary community aimed at engaging children with books and reading. Each site includes downloadable audio and video clips, informative and entertaining articles on all aspects of reading and literature, competitions, access to signed copies from popular authors and illustrators and a range of carefully vetted literary links.

‘A brilliant way of accessing 60 fantastic titles each month’ – Jacqueline Wilson

The Founder

My School Book Club is the brainchild of David Teale, who founded the hugely successful Red House Children’s Book Club in 1979. He has four daughters and six grand-children and is available for interview and comment.

For further information please visit WWW.MYSCHOOLBOOKCLUB.COM or contact Digby Halsby at Flint Public Relations on or 0207 224 8191
Please do spread the word about this new project and if you have the chance to do so, support it and market it yourselves. Literacy is never a bad thing.

A Madness of Angels by Kate Griffin


When a man is tired of London he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford - Samuel Johnson In fact, Dr Johnson was only half right. There is in London much more than life - there is power. It ebbs and flows with the rhythms of the city, makes runes from the alignments of ancient streets and hums with the rattle of trains and buses; it waxes and wanes with the patterns of the business day. It is a new kind of magic: urban magic. Enter a London where magicians ride the Last Train, implore favours of The Beggar King and interpret the insane wisdom of The Bag Lady. Enter a London where beings of power soar with the pigeons and scrabble with the rats, and seek insight in the half-whispered madness of the blue electric angels. Enter the London of Matthew Swift, where rival sorcerers, hidden in plain sight, do battle for the very soul of the city ...

I have waited a long while to finish reading this for one purpose only: knowing how much I would like it...I didn't want to have too long to wait for the second novel by Kate Griffin to appear. And The Midnight Mayor is due to grace our bookshelves around September, so it's not too long a wait.

Quite a few things are immediately apparent to anyone picking up a copy of A Madness of Angels - firstly, Kate Griffin loves London, she knows it inside out and she is a walking encyclopedia of small streets, graffiti and bridges. (I am sure she secretly works at the offices who produce the London A-Z.) Something else which is apparent is her storytelling prowess - the girl shines. Like Marie Brennan in Midnight Never Come, she has scratched the surface of the myths of the city and come up with a brand new set of archetypes which suit London and its residents perfectly. She twists and turns the storyline in interesting (and sometimes confusing) but always entertaining ways and makes you look past what you see every day as you commute into work and walk around in your all too brief lunch hour.

As for the story: it starts off a little chaotically and made me re-read it a few times. Until I got what was going on and then off I went; following Matthew Swift after two years of being dead, as he discovers why he's back, who brought him back, what's going on at the moment and how to survive in a world that he doesn't quite recognise all that much anymore. The reason for his confusion: he died an awful death. And thought himself dead...until he found himself alive again. Make sense? *sly wink*

I felt a bit ill during the course of the book as the creatures he comes across are not at all pleasant - for instance, he encounters the Litterbug and it is hugely reminiscent of the creature in Constantine (the movie) but quite a bit worse. It freaked me out, no end. A highlight of sickening creatures has to be the Hunger - whose sole purpose it is to feed. Hunger's "character" is written well and although I suspected how things were linked it was fantastic to see how Kate ties it all up. Especially when it came to the blue angels - the odd surreal moments in the novel where the narrative goes from I to we is a brilliant trick Kate uses to indicate the otherworldly nature of who Matthew Swift is and what he is becoming.

The magic used in the novel is very cleverly thought out. Sadly, saying more on the subject will make it sound trite but trust me when I say it is fresh and different and, once you think about it, you go "bloody hell, she got it right on the nose!" and hate/love Kate Griffin even more.

I would recommend A Madness of Angels to readers of the Jim Butcher Dresden Files, the Mike Carey Felix Castor books, along with fans of Neil Gaiman's books and Sandman graphic novels. Anyone who has ever played World Of Darkness RPG in any of its guises would love this too - it is taking world building and concepts to a different level. In fact, I would say that A Madness of Angels is on par with Neil Gaiman's American Gods...and probably more accessible as the archetypes dealt with in Madness is easier to access.

As this is one of our Summer Reads List, I am happy to score it a high 8 out of 10 stars!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Heart of Rage - James Swallow

Aboard the Imperial Navy frigate Emathia, Brother–Librarian Nord and Brother–sergeant Kale of the Blood Angels make a startling discovery – an alien tyranid hive ship, half–destroyed and drifting through space! Under orders from the Magos Xeren, the Blood Angels board the ship to locate a lost scout team. But their fate is far from straightforward. Little do Nord and Kale realise the horrors awaiting them. For they not only risk their bodies, but their very sanity as well.

I stuck Heart of Rage in the CD player the same day I received it and listened while I did a bit of painting. I really wasn’t sure what to expect, since this was my first ever audio book.

It was quite interesting hearing someone else doing the voices and sound effects- the performer, Toby Longworth, has a rich, easily listened to voice and his timing is spot on (the voice & effects for Magos Xeren, the tech priest who leads the mission, were particularly satisfying).

Running at 75 mins, it does not requiring a serious investment of time, making it perfect for listening to while travelling, while managing to administer a solid, satisfying fix of heroism, horror and that special kind of violence that only Space Marines boarding a Tyranid hiveship can deliver!
It’s atmospheric, fun and worth the extra couple of quid for the experience alone. I’ve got it stashed to listen to again on my drive up to Games Day in September!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Thornthwaite Inheritence by Gareth P Jones


Ovid and Lorelli Thornthwaite have been trying to kill each other for so long that neither twin can remember which act of attempted murder came first.

But whoever struck first, trying to take each other’s lives is simply what they do. Until one day a lawyer arrives at their house to take stock of its contents, and his accompanying son attracts their attention. Soon a new battle evolves – one in which the twins have to work together to solve the mystery of their parents’ deaths.

Can Lorelli and Ovid overcome their old animosities, and will they ever get to finish that game of chess?

I love how The Thornthwaite Inheritance is further described on Bloomsbury's site:

A gothic novel featuring twins with a deadly rivalry, mysterious deaths, a fortune to be inherited and any amount of dodgy dealings.

This is utterly the correct elevator spiel and it works fantastically to sell the novel.

Lorelli and Ovid are two very different kids. I did not expect to like them, at first - I thought they were going to be a bit distant and cold and a bit mean and mouthy, but the author cleverly bypasses that to give us two obviously intelligent characters who are logical, dedicated (to offing one another) and maybe a little spoilt but actually, very likeable in their slightly Gothic and twisted way.

Having said that, they come from a privilidged background as the Thornthwaites are an old noble family. The people in the area do not like them very much due to the trouble previous generations had caused. Lorelli and Ovid are kept almost under house arrest by their servants in the Manor - they are allowed to roam the grounds and they do so, but they have never gone further than the actual village and then it was only briefly.

The cast of characters are kept small and as the mystery surrounding the twins' parents unfold I was at a loss - who was to blame for what? As far as I could tell every single person in the book, bar the twins, had something to gain, not just at the death of their parents (shortly after they were born) but also at the death of the twins!

The author has taken great care to keep the cards close to his chest - it plays out in a classic whodunnit and also a whydunnit way, complete with everyone gathering in the portrait room to denounce each other. But even then things take a turn for the worse as there is yet more to be revealed. In my opinion, a very solid story which would make Sir Arthur Conan Doyle sigh in relief - someone out there is keeping the flame alive!

I sincerely hope that there is more to come from Gareth P Jones about Ovid and Lorelli - they have been perfectly set-up in this for a series of books featuring them both. It is going to be interesting to see how they come to grips with real life when they get to watch tv (they've never seen tv), computers and computer games, food that actually tastes like something (they have always only ever eaten unspiced dull food) and to wear something that's not just black - as the house had been in mourning for fourteen years, since the death of their parents.

An excellent and fun read with just the right amount of sinister to make you feel a bit like you should check your bicycle chain, in case it was tampered with!

The Thornthwaite Inheritence published by Bloomsbury is out now.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz


When his guardian dies in suspicious circumstances, fourteen-year-old Alex Rider finds his world turned upside down. Forcibly recruited into MI6, Alex has to take part in gruelling SAS training exercises. Then, armed with his own special set of secret gadgets, he's off on his first mission to Cornwall, where Middle-Eastern multi-billionaire Herod Sayle is producing his state-of-the-art Stormbreaker computers. Sayle has offered to give one free to every school in the country - but there's more to the gift than meets the eye.

I know, I know - this is not one of our summer reads novels...but I am allowed to be led astray. Bought this at Oxford Street Books in Whitstable on Saturday and read it in one sitting.

I saw the movie first, ages ago, and was intrigued by the storyline. I regret putting off reading Stormbreaker because I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. It may not have been high brow literature but it did what it said on the box: it introduced a cool new teen character in a modern day setting and it was chock full of adventure. It also serves to set up Alex and the the MI6 people quite well.

Bits are tremendously over the top and tongue in cheek, with nods to the 007 and Bourne books and movies. Instead of finding this jarring, I quite enjoyed it - it was like you were being let into a secret club of coolness.

I've - obvious from the above statements - not read any of the Alex Rider novels, and can only assume his character becomes fully developed throughout the series. Stormbreaker shows much promise and the world Mr. Horowitz creates for his protagonist is an interesting one. He goes a long way to show of Alex's independence and go-get-'em spirit whilst maintaining a repsonsible attitude - to a certain extent.

I tore through the book at a rapid pace - there is just enough introspection by Alex to keep the story balanced with the all out action happening. You root for him all the way through and the climax at the end of the novel is a no holds barred cinematic John Woo moment.

I look forward to reading some of the other books once I get my grubby paws on them. And although it's not a summer reads list I'll give it an honourary seven out of ten stars as it is crammed full of daring do and adventure. Find Anthony Horowitz's website here.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The First Law trilogy: The Blade Itself, Before They Are Hanged & Last Argument Of Kings - Joe Abercrombie

My original idea was to do three separate reviews for the trilogy, looking at each book separately.

However, I found myself unable to stop after The Blade Itself; I had kind of suspected that this would be the case by the end of Chapter 1, to be honest. I had opened TBI without any expectations or pre-conceived ideas about what to expect and man, Joe’s gritty and hopelessly addictive style was a revelation, as was the seemingly effortless way that he deals with the various threads and points of view, keeping them tight and lean.

The story evolves as it progresses, building a cast of characters that are sympathetic, likeable and complex, without ever threatening to bog things down with excruciating lumps of exposition. The trilogy covers little over a year in the life of the characters, and crams in two different wars, a (almost) heroic quest to the Edge of the World, murder, intrigue, betrayal, ungainly sex, cannibals, feuding mages from the dawn of civilisation and the occasional exploding henchman.

Say one thing for Joe Abercrombie, say he can write!

Some people might feel the trilogy is a bit light on the world building side of things, but any perceived shortcomings in this respect are more than compensated for by the fluid storytelling and irresistible pace. It’s a thoroughly entertaining body of work and deserves a prominent place on anyone’s bookshelf.

As this is one of our Summer Reads List books I have to give it 9 / 10 stars as it is just that blindingy good a read.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

**RF Long Competition Winner**

Huge congrats to Ayla Fenton (not sure where she's from YET) on winning a copy of RF Long's Soul Fire in e-book format AND also the super cute acorn pendant. Please make sure to email me your address so I can pass it onto Ruth so she can send you on the pendant.

Monday, July 13, 2009

What's happening?

I am aware that things have been quiet over here at MFB with few reviews these past few days and I apologise! I have been doing some (a lot! of) work on my WIP and also writing reviews for another site I review for (a new appointment) called:

I have got Joe Abercrombie's newest standalone novel BEST SERVED COLD reviewed over at - this is the link. It is a stonking read but I would warn those who do not like violence or the descriptions of violence to steer clear of the novel - it's brutal in that respect but Joe writes like an absolute dream.

Next, a review will be going up for Suzanne McLeod's The Cold Kiss of Death over at on the 1st of August. As it is one of our Summer Reads List I can quite happy reveal that it is an absoloute blast to read - excellent work and growth from the author of The Sweet Scent of Blood. Also, keep your eyes peeled for an upcoming competition and guest blog by Suzanne.

Thirdly, this Wednesday, 15th July, I get to review: Principles of Angels by Jaine Fenn over at The Booksmugglers - this was a dare to review a science fiction novel. I was intitially asked to review Hyperion by Dan Simmons but my brain got a cramp and I went the easier route and chose Principles instead. Pop over to read the review on Wednesday along with a chance to win both Principles and the follow up novel: Consorts of Heaven. As Principles of Angels is part of our Summer Reads List I'll put the link up on Wednesday along with out starred rating.

Mark is busy ploughing through the Joe Abercrombie First Law trilogy and is currently on the third book. I keep finding him tucked in on the couch with the little dog nestled next to him reading, or hunched over some coffee at the dining room table with the book open, busily reading. So keep an eye out for those three reviews coming up soon.

Am currently reading Age of Ra by James Lovegrove whom we met on Thursday night at Forbidden Planet. Yes, it's sci fi too and let me just say, BUY THE BOOK. It is fantastic and I think I maybe have around 100 pages to go. Again this review will be for BUT I will be linking to it and offering a competition.
I have got a few other things cooking for the site, so do keep stopping by!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Twisted Metal by Tony Ballantyne (Guest Review)

We have teamed up with Dave Brendon of Dave Brendon's Fantasy & Sci-Fi Weblog to not only bring you a review of Tony Ballantyne's newest offering - Twisted Metal - but we are also running a pretty unique competition. Check out the details below the review.

In DB's words:

Picture this: you’re sitting at your desk, in front of the PC or with a notepad and a pen, fleshing out the characters for a book you’re writing. Whether or not the characters came before the plot doesn’t matter – you still need to make the characters engaging enough that readers will see themselves in the characters, otherwise the effort is wasted. Been there? I’m still there! ;-) Now, picture this:

None of the characters are remotely human. So how do you go about doing this? How do you create characters that will resonate with readers when those characters aren’t us? Well, let me tell you, Tony Ballantyne found the answer. Somehow.

I was honestly worried about the characters when I picked up Twisted Metal and began reading –I admit that freely; I’m sure you would be, too- but Tony proved my fears unfounded about 3 pages in and I settled down to enjoy an extremely well-told tale with some cool (and creepy) robots.

Twisted Metal: the city of Artemis is expanding, violently so. The philosophy of its people is leading the world into war and death as once-free states fall to the single-minded invaders; they have numbers, they have a purpose, and they will not rest until the whole continent belongs to Artemis – until the whole continent is Artemis. One of the last cities to be targeted by the Artemisian robots, Turning City is the home of free-thinking robots and one special robot in particular. Karel isn’t like other robots – people talk behind his back, look at him strangely, but most respect him. And when Artemis turns its attention to Turing City, Karel will take center stage in a conflict that will lead him to a legend, a legend that might just spell the end of life as robots have lived theirs.

Let’s dive into the book: Tony doesn’t beat about the bush or layer his prose with information – the tale flows so well that you’ll have finished 50 pages before you realize it, and Tony does well to reveal nuggets of info about the characters and their world, so much so that in practically every chapter you find out something new about something you thought you already knew; not only does this bring the world to vivid life in your mind, but it also keeps the tale interesting and fresh. Tony also manages to lead the reader exactly where he wants you to go, and then promptly knocks you upside the head with yet another final surprise that drives the point home: expect the unexpected, and trust that it’ll be cool.

Another reason I enjoyed this book so much was that Tony also makes robots a fresh and interesting concept – these robots are damn cool! They may not be able to stand up to a T800 (then again, they don’t have to) but they are a damn sight more interesting! Yet each robot is also unique, and the concept behind the creation of robots, how they are conceived, is utterly unique, cool and creepy at the same time. Oh, you will also wince in the battle scenes – Tony isn’t afraid to bring the pain!

So, worth a read? Definitely! Everybody is interested in robots, and to be given a glimpse into an entire world of them is something very cool – Tony has ventured into territory unclaimed and uncharted and made it his own, and even if you haven’t read any of his work before (Twisted Metal was my first Tony Ballantyne) and are looking for an interesting new look into what makes SF so cool, original, and immortal, then pick up Twisted Metal; you’re in for a very different, very cool ride!

DB Rates this at: 8.5 / 10


**Competition News**

DB and I have thought about this and we've decided to do the following. There are TWO copies of Twisted Metal up for grabs: 1 paperback and 1 hardback.

We are throwing the competition open ONLY to British peeps AND South African peeps. The UK peeps get the chance to win the paperback and the South African peeps get to win the hardback - this is of course due to postage costs.

Here's what you do: email us with your name and address to EITHER of the following addresses: ours - myfavouritebooksatblogspot(at)googlemail(dot)com or DaveBrendon's email: davebrendon(at)gmail(dot)com. Duplicate entries will be disqualified! Put TWISTED METAL in the subject line. The two winners will be chosen (via from the combined list of entires we get. Competition ends next week Friday: 17th July 2009.

Good luck and yes, be EPIC.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

**RF Long Guest Blog and Competition**

I am so very pleased to welcome my new Twitter friend, R.F. Long to MFB. Today - 7th July 2009 - is the release date of her e-book (by Samhain Publishers) Soul Fire. When she mentioned this today, I leapt at the chance to get her to guest blog and run a competition - because I am greedy and I like pretty things. Sadly, I won't be allowed to enter the competition...*does puppy eyes*

In Ruth's own words:

A new release is always a time for great excitement, but I particularly feel it with the release of Soul Fire. Why? Because the story is grounded in something I love, the folklore of the Sidhe, the Irish fairy folk. These aren't the cute little winged figures the Victorians gave us. The Sidhe are more dangerous by far, often hostile. They don't quite understand humans and though they can love human beings, even that love can be fatal.


Iron born and iron bred.
Trust not iron, it will see you dead.

Rowan Blake could really use a magic wand to keep her struggling art gallery afloat. But the faerie key she stumbles across is far from a lucky charm. It’s a magnet for danger, and by touching it she’s unwittingly put herself in the middle of a war between the forces of light and dark. And in the arms of its rightful owner, Prince Daire.

While searching for his brother, Daire finds himself trapped in the Iron World with a mere mortal woman who ignites his passion like no other. Each stolen kiss deepens their attraction and sends him spiraling closer and closer to the edge of his inherent dark desires. Desires that act as a homing beacon for the Dark Sidhe, who are intent on forcing him to fight on their side.

The longer he lingers in her arms—and in her bed—the closer his enemies get to her door. And the greater the risk that the gateway to the Faerie Realm will shift, destroying not only his power to protect her, but his very life.

Warning: Contains enchantments, danger, some very scary monsters, a trip to the dark side and hot, soul-transforming sex with an immortal prince.

Read an excerpt online

Writing about Daire and Rowan brought me back to the folktales I heard as a child, that of the Leanán Sidhe (the fairy lover), of fairy mounds and tree lore, of people spirited away because of their talents who only returned years later, changed, or sometimes never returned at all. They are not the heroic figures of legends, nor are they demonic. They are, in a sense, very like us, trying to make sense of their world and of us. Terrible things could befall those who crossed them, or disrespected them, and great rewards could be won by pleasing them. But please them too much and they might just want to keep you.

You can never tell with the Sidhe. You never know which side they stand on or what their reaction might be.

In writing Soul Fire I was very lucky. I wasn't just writing what I know, I was writing what I love. A key thing for writers, I believe, because if you can't feel the emotions and interest you want to create in your characters and your world, how can you convey them in the story? New writers are often told "write what you know" but that's become a maxim that has slid away from its meaning. You can research anything you want to the extent that you know it. But if you don't love the subject you're writing about, don't feel the passion that your characters feel for each other, don't have to force yourself to step away from the research (as I do, frequently), that will show in the words you write.

Write what you love.

That way you'll make your wordbuilding consistent. You'll want to get those details right, to include those elements that spark a reader's interest. Of course its a balancing act. The temptation is to put in all those wonderful finds, to overload the book with facts at the expense of the story. Which is why I believe you have to love your story just as much, to want to tell it to the best of your ability. To love it.

Write what you love.


Ruth has kindly agreed to let me give away ONE e-book copy of Soul Fire and ONE accompanying acorn pendant. To be clear: this is one prize and not two, so there will be one winner for both items. The competition is open world-wide. Email me at: myfavouritebooksatblogspot(@) for a chance to win. The competition runs till Tuesday, 14th July 2009.

Good luck!

Monday, July 06, 2009

Eye of the Serpent by Philip Caveney


Egypt 1923.

Fifteen-year-old Alec Devlin is on his way to the Valley of the Kings. Accompanied by his faithful valet, Coates, Alec is to spend his summer holidays working on his Uncle Will’s archaeological dig. It’s not the first time he's spent his summer this way . . . but this year things are different.

Uncle Will and his young assistant, Tom Hinton, have recently made an amazing discovery – an ancient tomb hidden deep below the earth. But only hours after opening its doors, Uncle Will falls mysteriously ill and Tom seems to have disappeared without trace.

Together with Ethan Wade, the young American soldier of fortune who is managing the dig in Uncle Will's absence, and a pretty French woman called Madeleine Duval, Alec sets about unravelling the tomb’s mysteries. Seemingly harmless animals have turned into rabid killers . . . long dead mummies are rising from their tombs . . . the spirit of a powerful High Priest is claiming the bodies of the living as his living hosts . . . Together Alec and Ethan must confront a terror that has waited three thousand years to be reborn.

This novel for younger readers really does hold a flaming candle for the action adventure pulp stories from days gone by, recently resuscitated by Stephen Sommers and the Mummy franchise.

Although the novel is aimed at 9 - 11 year olds, the author does not stint on the horror or his storytelling. In fact, it is a little over the top and perfectly pitched to hold your attention.

I did like the main character, Alec Devlin, and am hoping to see more of him. He is one of those intelligent creations that you enjoy reading - he does not become tedious and too good for his own boots and unbelievable in his actions.

The setting of the novel is also well thought out - with the famous archaeologist Howard Carter making a cameo/guest appearance. His discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb in the Valley of the King gives Alec's uncle the perfect excuse to "fly under the radar" as such as the world's eyes are turned on Carter's amazing discovery.

I was quite shaken by the scene which turns Uncle Will insane - not pleasant at all and quite terrifying but I am sure the kids will lap it up. The action and adventure is non-stop and with the amount of creatures attacking Alec and Ethan and the camp, I'm surprised they've not fled for the hills. Especially the bats! - shudder -

One point of great interest to me was how Caveney used language and dialogue to form a clear differential between the English, French and American characters in this book. Ethan's character comes through very well with his use of the words "okay" and other Americanisms. Compare him with Alec's almost formal way of speech and with Ms. Duval's hesitant English, and it makes for interesting reading.

Eye of the Serpent set Alec's character very well for further adventures. The era is also perfect for this "boys own" adventure and I am looking forward to seeing what else Mr. Caveney has up his multi-talented sleeve.

As Eye of the Serpent is one of our Summer Reads I am happy to score it at:

7.5 stars out of 10

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

**China Mieville Events**

Peeps, some final opportunities to see the lovely, handsome, erudite, funny, handsome, charming, charismatic and handsome China Miéville talk about his newest release, The City & The City.

7th July - Upstairs at The Pineapple Public House

51 Leverton Street, London, NW5 2NX

For further details, email Richard

9th July - The Wapping Project, 7.30pm

The Greenhouse, Wapping Hydraulic Power Station Wapping Wall, London, E1W 3ST

For further information, click here

11th July – Bookmarks Bookshop, 2pm

1 Bloomsbury Street, London, WC1B 3QE

For further information, telephone 020 7637 1848

16th July - London Literature Festival, 7pm

Level 5 Function Room, Southbank Centre

For further information, click here

29th & 30th August - Edinburgh International Book Festival

For further information, click here