Wednesday, November 8, 2023

 Fancy Something A Little Different?

Vita Nostra

When I first began to read this story, I must admit, I had difficulty adjusting to its style and some of the phraseology used. But, remembering this is a translation from another language, (Russian), I persisted. And I’m glad I did, for what started off as a dissonant, tongue-tripping slog smoothed out into a magic carpet ride of an intellectual adventure.
Vita Nostra – Latin for Our Life – tells the story of Sasha Samokhina, a teenage girl living at home with her mother, who stands at a crossroads. She must soon decide her future. Does she go off to university as everyone expects to become a tiny cog in part of the big machine that is society, or should she strive for something better?
It’s as she ponders that conundrum that she meets the mysterious Farit Kozhennikov. A man who knows more than he’s letting on, and someone who seems able to compel her to carry out ridiculous tasks as a way of measuring her character.
Whatever that special something is, Sasha has it, and she is offered the opportunity of attending an obscure place of learning nobody seems to have heard of: The Institute of Special Technology.
Sasha accepts that placement against her mother’s wishes, and discovers to her cost how different the institute is.
I’m never one to give away the plot, so all I’ll say is . . .
What follows is a deeply intimate and skilful exposition that deals with – dependent upon your viewpoint and character – some of the major hurdles/stepping stones in life: the nature of reality; the influence of philosophy; the true magic of mysticism; the power of faith – and how all these factors combined can lead to a metamorphosis of self beyond our wildest dreams.
Far from tripping over my hypothetical tongue, I ended up skating through a thought provoking – if disquieting – tale, one that should appeal to the chrysalis in all of us

Friday, October 27, 2023

 359 Today!

28th October, 1664

A date no brother will ever forget.

Raising a glass - the wide world over 

Thursday, October 19, 2023

 The Stuff Dreams Are Made Of


As followers of my blog will know, I’m something of a Neil Gaiman fan. So, when I stumble upon a story that reminds me of his work? Well, I’m all in. And James Brogden does just that in, Tourmaline, a thoroughly absorbing novel that helps you to escape the confines of this life and its troubles . . .

As the blurb highlights:


The Tourmaline Archipelago is a place of wonder and grotesquerie which exists on the other side of our dreams. In our sleep we sail its seas and walk the streets of its cities like phantoms. Sometimes we bring back souls from the other side when we wake. Lost, confused, and possessed of powers which leak through from their home, these exiles are pursued by the mysterious Hegemony, which seeks to enslave them. When a woman appears who exists in both worlds simultaneously, she must run for her life from enemies who will tear apart the boundaries of existence and plunge each into chaos in order to possess her abilities.


Yes, how often have we wished it was possible to escape the troubles that crowd in on us every day, by escaping to a dream world where life exists as one great adventure?

Well guess what?

That dream world exists. But the thing is, if you do find yourself winding up there, there’s every likelihood you’ll be desperate to get home as quickly as you can.


Ah, I’ll let the blurb tease you – and James Brogden himself explain in detail as you go tread warily through the pages – because you’ll find Tourmaline to be an ethereal journey that twists reality in the most deliciously despicable way. (Think Clive Barker’s, Weaveworld & Neil Gaiman’s, Neverwhere, and you’ll be on the right track.

It’s abstract and compulsive; complex, yet easy to follow; and as delightful to read as it is refreshingly different. I loved the concept Brogden dreamed-up for this story. Action. Adventure. Damsels in distress. Heroes in the making discovering what they’re made of. Secret societies and mysterious government agencies out to get you. And insidiously deceptive monsters. NEVER forget the monsters . . . no matter how friendly they might appear.

And better still, a large part of the story is based in my hometown of Birmingham. I’ve walked, driven, visited the places mentioned in this story, so it helped me connect on a personal level to the events depicted within the pages. And you’ll be able to do that too, no matter where you call home, as Brogden’s writing style is as appealing as it is satisfying.

Why not treat yourselves to a trip into the Tourmaline Archipelago. It might be a one-way trip you’ll never regret.

amazon Review

Saturday, October 7, 2023

 Looking For Something Speculative To Read?

Then look no further
Legion Press

Filled with a smorgasbord of stories from a multitude of writers.
There'll be something here for everyone. So, don't be afraid to take a bit.

(Featuring my own little contribution - Hindsight)
A cautionary tale about looking before you leap

Thursday, October 5, 2023

 Time to Kill?

How About a God?

The Killing God

I’ve been a fan of Stephen Donaldson for forty-five years. (Yes, I’m old) So, as you can imagine, this final book of The Great God’s War series has been on my reading list for some time. And believe me, it was well worth the wait, as the blurb highlights. . .


They are coming.

The kingdoms of Belleger and Amika had been fighting for generations. But then they learned of a terrible threat moving through them to destroy the Last Repository, an immense hidden library. To face this greater enemy, King Bifalt of Belleger and Queen Estie of Amika allied their lands and prepared for war.

They are at the door.

Now the time of preparation is over. Black ships and sorcery test the cannon that defend the Bay of Lights. Treachery and betrayal threaten the kingdoms. The priests of the Great God Rile sow dissent. And Estie rides for the Last Repository, desperate to enlist the help of their Magisters-and to understand the nature of her own magical gift.

They are here.

Bifalt hates sorcery as much as he loves Estie, and the discovery that she could become a Magister shatters him. But he must rally and fight. Belleger and Amika are all that stand between the Great God's forces and his ultimate goal: the destruction of the Last Repository and its treasure of knowledge.


The blurb paints a bleak picture for the people of Belleger and Amika. As well it should. Rile has been planning this war for decades, and during that time, has insidiously inserted his agents throughout the land in preparation for the arrival of his forces.

An apt analogy, as it conveys the vibe of the entire story perfectly. Donaldson is the master of the slow burn, as he so aptly demonstrates throughout the first two books of the series: Seventh Decimate and The War Within. And here, in The Killing God, he continues that vibe, but with a delicious twist.

Relentless, building tension and rolling action. Action that actually maintains its momentum throughout the entire story without becoming exhausting. So, kudos there!

Yes, the great god Rile has arrived, and within a few chapters, we are plunged into a war of attrition where the seemingly endless wave of invaders can afford to waste themselves against King Bifalt’s defenses. A tactic that soon overwhelms everything Bifalt and Estie have fought so long to build.

I absolutely adored this story. As always, Donaldson manages to capture the anguish each of his characters have to face; their fears; their own shortcomings and desperation as they struggle to meet challenges they can’t possibly hope to survive. Yet meet them they do – not always successfully, mind you – in a battle for survival that is as rich, detailed and unconventional as you could imagine. In doing so, Donaldson draws you into the struggles of those characters, so that you end up cheering for them, or, as the case may be, cursing their weaknesses and failure to live up to what’s expected of them. Superb stuff. And therein lies the magic.

This is an epic fantasy, after all. Yet Donaldson works his arts, so that make-believe becomes believable. Credible, even, in a profoundly satisfying way.

If you’ve never read Stephen Donaldson, then make sure you add him to your list. It’ll be a lifelong commitment you’ll never regret.

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Latest Review for The IX

Ever wondered what happened to those lost Roman Legionnaires? What about the US cavalry, engaged in a secret mission for President Lincoln? And whatever happened to the Special Forces Unit from a future time who disappeared during their mission to stop a nuclear disaster?

The IX has the answers and they are out of this world. Literally.

I gotta say, this fascinated me. What a great way to explain the disappearance of thousands. And what a world the author built.

At the point of death, these people were whisked away to a distant galaxy by an alien race. The inhabitants of that planet are being killed off and face extinction. They need warriors, now. Told they fight or die, these people must work together, live by the code, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” if they are going to survive.

There’s no going back. There’s only the the Horde, an enemy that doesn’t hesitate to die by the thousands. They must be stopped or all perish. And what’s to stop them from finding Earth and doing to us what they are doing to these beings? And then to another planet, and another.

What a movie this would be! I’d kill, just kidding, to have a part in it. Even as an ugly Kresh!

My description is simplified. There’s so much happening. This book comes in at a whopping 565 pages. But don’t let that deter you. By the time you reach the end, you’ll be wishing it was longer.

Though I stumbled over some of the alien names and terms, laughed at my own attempts to pronounce them, I quickly came to recognize them, along with the numerous human characters. There are a lot, yet it doesn’t take long to recognize the individual voices.

The plot for The IX is mind blowing. The author gives you many sub plots, plenty of history, and an amazing world to explore. He was able to make this all flow easily. You’ll fly through this in to time.

The writing is superb. Ever read a book and see the entire story play out like on the big screen. Except for not being too sure what those nasty Kresh looked like, I could see this in vivid color and detail. Imagination is a wonderful thing, as is this authors talent.


See the Review on Site Here

Friday, August 25, 2023

 Do YOU Like Stories With Bite?

Mutation – When Darkness Falls

This second installment of the When Darkness Falls series – Mutation, deals with the immediate aftermath of the creature outbreak, as the blurb highlights:


Since the appearance of the alien creatures the world has drastically changed. Electricity still has not been restored and people are panicking. The creatures that hadn’t fled the area to chase the moon, were hiding in the shadows while guarding their offspring.

Infected people are growing ill and morphing into something sinister. Losing their humanity, their only instinct is the primal need to feed their insatiable hunger.


Yes, if ravenous, bloodthirsty creatures and their taserlike little offspring weren’t enough of a problem for the survivors to deal with, they now have to contend with the consequences of getting bitten.

Fever sets in, highlighting the spread of an infection that turns normal everyday people into savage automatons with only one thing on their minds: feeding. 

As you can imagine, this allows the fast and furious pace of the first novel to continue, and as the number of main characters begins to gradually decline, you’re better able to keep track of where the overall story arc is heading. Yes, there’s obviously more to this ‘invasion’ than meets the eye. However, Hollstein has wisely avoided the temptation to give everything away too quickly. Instead, we get enticing clues as to bigger picture, and what’s in store for the dwindling number of survivors who don’t seem to have a hope in hell of seeing another day. . .

Or do they?

Find out for yourselves in a story that definitely has bite!