James Rollins: The Kill switch (review)

James Rollins

rollins

(James Czajkowski)
(1961 - )

aka James Clemens

James Rollins was born in Chicago, Illinois, is 1961. With his three brothers and three sisters, he was raised in the Midwest and rural Canada. He graduated with a doctorate in veterinary medicine from the University of Missouri and went on to establish his own veterinary practice in Sacramento, California. An amateur spelunker and a PADI-certified scuba enthusiast, he’ll often be found either underground or underwater.

Book Description

kill switch

Who does the U.S. government call upon when a mission requires perfect stealth, execution, and discretion? Meet the newest recruits to the expanding Sigma Force universe–former Army Ranger Tucker Wayne and his stalwart companion, Kane, a military working dog of exceptional abilities — in:

THE KILL SWITCH

The mission seems simple enough: extract a pharmaceutical magnate from Russian soil, a volatile man who holds the secret to a deadly bioweapon. But nothing is as it appears to be. A conspiracy of world-shattering scope unravels as Tucker and Kane struggle to keep one move ahead of their deadly enemies.

From the frozen steppes of Russia to the sun-blasted mountains of South Africa and Namibia, a biological threat millions of years in the making strikes out at the heart of America. All that stands in the way from a global apocalypse: one man and his dog. But can even Tucker and Kane thwart an ecological menace out of the ancient past to save the world’s future?

Review

Every Rollins is a thriller I look forward too, but when I saw this one I was slightly concerned, the Grant Blackwood link smacked of a James Patterson change of pace. I liked Patterson in the early years, but his “shared books” were always slightly wrong, not quite up to the class of the solo books.

The Kill Switch isn’t the best book i have read by Rollins, but it is a really fun, Interesting and powerful thriller, it still has the Sigma spin and drive. The co-authoring doesn’t diminish the writing, it feels like a Rollins through and through.

This book has an interesting POV style with the switch from Tucker our main character to his partner, a dog, in the form of Kane. The dogs POV could have been a really dodgy gimmick, but it think the authors get the tone just right, smart but still an animal. The plot has plenty of twists and turns and the feel of the co-locations of the book is impeccable. From Russia to South Africa, the author has clearly done his research, i froze in Russia, i cooked in Africa. One of the regular triumphs of a Rollins book is that every side character is complete and one you feel emotinally tied too, from traitors to sub drivers, to the brothers who assist Tucker in Africa all are so well written you could enjoy a book about any of them.

The wild apocalyptic plot as ever has the right amount of plausibility in it to add the fear factor and the “what if” niggling doubt. All in all it is a well rounded fun thriller, one that will delight Rollins fans.

Recommenced

(Parm)

Sigma Force

1. Sandstorm (2004)
2. Map of Bones (2005)
3. Black Order (2006)
4. The Judas Strain (2007)
5. The Last Oracle (2008)
6. The Doomsday Key (2009)
6.5. The Skeleton Key (2011)
7. The Devil Colony (2011)
7.5. Tracker (2012)
8. Bloodline (2012)
9. The Eye of God (2013)
10. The Sixth Extinction (2014)
The Doomsday Key / The Last Oracle (omnibus) (2011)
The Sigma Force Novels (omnibus) (2013)

SandstormMap of BonesBlack OrderThe Judas StrainThe Last OracleThe Doomsday KeyThe Skeleton KeyThe Devil ColonyTrackerBloodlineThe Eye of GodThe Sixth ExtinctionThe Doomsday Key / The Last OracleThe Sigma Force Novels


Jake Ransom

1. Jake Ransom and the Skull King’s Shadow (2009)
2. Jake Ransom and the Howling Sphinx (2010)

Jake Ransom and the Skull King's ShadowJake Ransom and the Howling Sphinx

Order of the Sanguines (with Rebecca Cantrell)
0.5. City of Screams (2012)
1. The Blood Gospel (2013)
1.5. Blood Brothers (2013)
2. Innocent Blood (2013)

City of ScreamsThe Blood GospelBlood BrothersInnocent Blood

 

Tucker Wayne (with Grant Blackwood)
1. The Kill Switch
 (2014)

The Kill Switch

 

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Giles Kristian : Book Trailer…..Watch it here!

Its here…. the vikings have arrived…at least on film

GoV

 

 

Read a review of the books

Go behind the scenes of the film shoot

 

 

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Kristi Belcamino: BLESSED ARE THE DEAD Excerpt: Chapters 1-2

The Author

belcamino

Kristi Belcamino is a writer, artist and photographer who makes a tasty biscotti. She grew up in a Northern California town called Paradise.

After graduating from Paradise High School she moved to L.A. where she received an associate of arts degree in business administration from Fullerton College and later, received a bachelor’s of arts in Journalism from California State University, Long Beach.

During those wild college years, she lived with four Australian Rugby players in a house a block from the beach. They loaned her a wetsuit and surfboard and attempted to teach her to surf, but gave up because she was too afraid of sharks. (Blame watching Jaws as a kid.)

During college she also lived in a Mara Salvatrucha gang neighborhood with the now-famous singer Beck and his family. (Hi T! Hi Bibbe and Sean!)

During college she had internships The San Gabriel Valley Tribune newspaper, EMI Records, and Rolling Stone Magazine where she got to hob nob with rock stars — or at least be in the same room as them, including the time Eddie Van Halen bumped into her spilled her drink, but he smiled at her and she forgave him.

After graduation, she and her boyfriend headed south and camped along the Baja California beaches in a flimsy orange tent for weeks on end. A few months later, they packed all their belongings in a hatch back and drove to Seattle to chase the grunge scene for a few months before reducing all those belongings to what would fit in a backpack and headed to Europe.

After tromping through Europe, Belcamino landed in her boyfriend’s home town of Minneapolis and began her first job in journalism working for the state medical journal and then getting hired as a reporter at a small newspaper in White Bear Lake.

Sick of Minnesota winters, she took a reporting job at the Carmel Pine Cone for a few months before getting her first big break at a daily, The Monterey Herald, where she started covering crime. Her highlights working in the Monterey Peninsula include getting to speak to Clint Eastwood, flying above Big Sur in an FA/18 fighter jet, racing a Dodge Viper at Laguna Seca, being sneered at by a crabby Jerry Seinfeld and having Hall-of-Famer Reggie Jackson ask to be introduced to her because he loved a story she wrote about a naked, masturbating, car-accident-causing driver.

Belcamino then moved to Oakland when she was hired as the police reporter at a larger daily, the Contra Costa Times. While there, she covered every horrific crime anyone could imagine, but the one that haunts her the most involved her efforts to find out what happened to a missing little girl by spending numerous hours interviewing a convicted kidnapper who told her tales of his exploits as a long-time serial killer.

Then, she had a baby. Within nine months, she and her husband had packed up and moved to Minnesota to be around his large Irish family. Within a year, she had another baby. When her youngest started kindergarten, Kristi started writing a novel inspired by her dealings with the serial killer. Within four months, she had her first draft. About a year later she signed with Stacey Glick at Dystel & Goderich Literary Management.

A year after that her first novel, Blessed are the Dead, based on her experiences as a crime reporter, sold to HarperCollins in a two-book deal.

Kristi lives in Minneapolis with her husband and her two fierce daughters.

Find out more by clicking this link www.kristibelcamino.com

The book

BLESSED ARE THE DEAD Excerpt: Chapters 1-2

BlessedAretheDead

BLESSED ARE THE DEAD pits Italian-American Bay Area Crime reporter against a serial killer who preys on children. When they were little girls, Gabriella Giovanni’s sister was kidnapped and killed. Twenty years later, Gabriella spends her days on the crime beat flitting in and out of other people’s nightmares and then walking away unscathed. That changes when a little girl disappears and Gabriella’s quest for justice and a front-page story leads her to a convicted kidnapper who reels her in with tales of his exploits as a longtime serial killer and promises to reveal his secrets to her alone. Meanwhile, Gabriella’s passion for her job quickly spirals into obsession when she begins to suspect the kidnapper also killed her sister. Gabriella won’t hesitate to risk her life to garner justice for the dead

BLESSED ARE THE DEAD Excerpt: Chapters 1-2

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Paul Fraser Collard: Blog Tour (The Inspiration for Jack Lark)

Banner

Many thanks to Paul and Headline for allowing me to host a leg of the blog tour for the wonderful Maharajah’s General.

Author:

collard

The Inspiration for Jack Lark

The idea for my colourful protagonist, Jack Lark, began to emerge when I read the excellent history of the British soldier in the age of Brown Bess called Redcoat written by the peerless historian, Richard Holmes. I had started to read Redcoat as a part of my research for the novel that would eventually become The Scarlet Thief. At the time I was not sure who my protagonist would be but I knew I needed to create a character that was very different from the crop of young officers featuring in similar fiction being written by other authors. There was one chapter in Redcoat that really stood out. It was called “Epaulette Gentry” and it stated that many of the young men, who purchased their commissions in the army, and most especially those buying their rank in the regular line infantry regiments, did not hail from the highest echelons of Victorian society. In fact many came from rather ordinary backgrounds and their newly purchased commission was very much their only evidence of respectability.

 This fascinating chapter led me to recall a BBC TV series that I had watched in my teens called The Monocled Mutineer, which was based on the life of a rogue called Percy Toplis. Percy hailed from a northern mining town but he found his place in history during the turmoil of the First World War when he turned a childhood ability to mimic others into a life of crime and debauchery as he masqueraded as a British officer. Percy’s exploits allowed him to live a life very different to the one being experienced by his fellow soldiers and it inspired me to attempt to create an imposter of my own.

 Identity theft in the nineteenth century was really very much easier than it is today. People tended to be judged on appearances and so a young gentleman who was dressed correctly who both spoke and acted properly would be readily accepted into the society of other officers who, thanks to Richard Holmes, we know were not perhaps quite the upper-class popinjays of popular perception. So the idea for Jack was born and I started to conjure up the circumstances that would allow Jack to be able to become an officer.

 Of course, the life of an imposter can only go on for so long. At some point, being found out becomes almost inevitable and Jack cannot rely on an endless stream of convenient identities falling into his lap to allow him to thrive in his new life. Yet he is a resourceful fellow and I reckon he will find a way to survive as he struggles to find a place where he truly belongs. I can see him turn up in all manner of places during the events that shaped our modern world. Jack has a varied and thrilling life ahead and I for one cannot wait to see how it turns out in the end.

Review of Maharajah’s General

The Scarlet Thief review

 Now go buy both the wonderful Jack lark books

Buy Scarlet Thief

Buy Maharajah’s General

 

 

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Giles Kristian: God of Vengeance (Review)

Author

Author Website

GK-watch-1

Giles has led a varied life to say the least. During the 90s he was lead singer of pop group Upside Down, achieving four top twenty hit records, performing twice on Top of the Pops, and singing at such venues as the Royal Albert Hall, N.E.C. and Wembley Arena. As a singer songwriter he lived and toured for two years in Europe and has made music videos all over the world, from Prague, Miami, Mexico, and the Swiss Alps, to Bognor Regis! To fund his writing habit he has worked as a model, appearing in TV commercials and ads for the likes of Walls Ice Cream (he was the Magnum Man) Canon cameras and two brands of lager! He has been an advertising copywriter and lived for three years in New York where he wrote copy for movie marketing company Empire Design but mainly worked on his first novel.

Family history (he is half Norwegian) and his storytelling hero, Bernard Cornwell, inspired Giles Kristian to write his first historical novels, the acclaimed and bestselling Raven Viking trilogy – Blood EyeSons of Thunder and Odin’s Wolves. For his next series, he drew on a long-held fascination with the English Civil War. The Bleeding Land and Brothers’ Fury follow the fortunes of a divided family against the complex and brutal backcloth of a conflict that tore this country apart and ended with the killing of a king. In his new novel – God of Vengeance – Giles returns to the world of the Vikings to tell of the beginnings of Sigurd and his celebrated fictional fellowship. Giles lives in Leicestershire.

Book Description

GoV

Buy a Signed copy

Norway 785 AD. It began with the betrayal of a lord by a king . . .

But when King Gorm puts Jarl Harald’s family to the sword, he makes one terrible mistake – he fails to kill Harald’s youngest son, Sigurd.

On the run, unsure who to trust and hunted by powerful men, Sigurd wonders if the gods have forsaken him: his kin are slain or prisoners, his village attacked, its people taken as slaves. Honour is lost.

And yet he has a small band of loyal men at his side and with them he plans his revenge. All know that Ódin – whose name means frenzy – is drawn to chaos and bloodshed, just as a raven is to slaughter. In the hope of catching the All-Father’s eye, the young Viking endures a ritual ordeal and is shown a vision. Wolf, bear, serpent and eagle come to him. Sigurd will need their help if he is to make a king pay in blood for his treachery.

Using cunning and war-craft, he gathers together a band of warriors – including Olaf, his father’s right hand man, Bram who men call Bear, Black Floki who wields death with a blade, and the shield maiden Valgerd, who fears no man – and convinces them to follow him.

For, whether Ódin is with him or not, Sigurd will have his vengeance. And neither men nor gods had best stand in his way . . .

Review

Fans of the hit “Raven” series, great news the Vikings are back, only this isn’t the Sigurd we know from the fantastic Raven Series. God of Vengeance begins a prequel series for Sigurd, his early years, how he became who he is and what molded him into the fearsome and Odin favoured warrior that he is. Its an introduction into some of the key characters such as Black Floki and Bear, and oh what an introduction.

Sigurd very quickly goes from the son of a prominent Jarl to a man hunted, no home and death dogging his footsteps. But he comes from a respected lineage and supported by his fathers remaining men who will back him all the way to Odin’s’ Hall, he is not out for the count. He is also a tricky little SOB and soon his star is on the rise, recruiting what will be the core of the crew we meet in the Raven. Along the way the body count is high but none of it just for the heck of it, this is a bloody tale, but a tale told in a poetic yet brutal fashion. If Giles had pulled a single punch in the telling i think it would have demeaned the plot, because he didn’t we are left with a tale of truly epic proportions.

I held off writing my review because i had the additional readers glow of a character in the book (Kætil Kartr) having that character was…. i have no words that describe it well enough, awesome, amazing, fantastic all that and more. I have been fortunate in that i have won a character in several books, and friends have kindly used the Parmenion name in their books, and each one brings a smile to my face and a warm glow to my heart. But Kætil, Kætil made me want to be a viking, made me want to pack my kit, grab an oar and take to the whale road (and i get really sea sick). Even after all of that fan boy excitement faded, we’ll a little, (but lets face it, its never going away) i could not escape the fact that this book is a saga that will and does deliver on every page, and then afterwards leaves you wanting more. A tale so boldly told, so beautifully told that you will experience the whole spectrum of emotions, and finish the book exhausted.

This is the book where the bloody legend of Sigurd is born, given voice not just in swathes of blood and violence, but also in the living breathing Norse world that comes to life on every page, as Giles weaves his tale like a master skald from the past.

God of Vengeance is without doubt a top 5 book this year, and come December it’s going to take something seriously amazing to stop it taking my book of 2014. If I could find time in my swamped reading schedule I would honestly read it again immediately.

Giles i doff my cap sir…bravo..

my highest possible recommendation

(Parm)

Have a look behind the scenes of the God of Vengeance Trailer film shoot

 

Raven 
1. Blood Eye (2009)
2. Sons of Thunder (2010)
3. Odin’s Wolves (2011)
Blood EyeSons of ThunderOdin's Wolves
 
Bleeding Land
1. The Bleeding Land (2012)
2. Brothers Fury (2013)
The Bleeding LandBrothers Fury
Novels
God of Vengeance (2014)
God of Vengeance

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Mark Lawrence: Prince of Fools (review)

Mark Lawrence

lawrence

Mark Lawrence is married with four children, one of whom is severely disabled.His day job is as a research scientist focused on various rather intractable problems in the field of artificial intelligence. He has held secret level clearance with both US and UK governments.

Product Description

Fools

 

Buy from Amazon

From the critically acclaimed author of THE BROKEN EMPIRE series comes a brilliant new epic fantasy series, THE RED QUEEN’S WAR.

The Red Queen is old but the kings of the Broken Empire fear her as they fear no other.

Her grandson Jalan Kendeth is a coward, a cheat and a womaniser; and tenth in line to the throne. While his grandmother shapes the destiny of millions, Prince Jalan pursues his debauched pleasures. Until he gets entangled with Snorri ver Snagason, a huge Norse axe man, and dragged against his will to the icy north.

In a journey across half the Broken Empire, Jalan flees minions of the Dead King, agrees to duel an upstart prince named Jorg Ancrath, and meets the ice witch, Skilfar, all the time seeking a way to part company with Snorri before the Norseman’s quest leads them to face his enemies in the black fort on the edge of the Bitter Ice.

Experience does not lend Jalan wisdom; but here and there he unearths a corner of the truth. He discovers that they are all pieces on a board, pieces that may be being played in the long, secret war the Red Queen has waged throughout her reign, against the powers that stand behind thrones and nations, and for higher stakes than land or gold.

Review

I consider myself to be a fortunate individual, I’m often sent books to read and review. I always hope to repay that trust of a review copy with something to say about the book. I’m not a critic however and will not review a book I didn’t like, which means not everything I’m sent gets added to the blog (just because I don’t like a book doesn’t mean it will not be amazing to someone else, eg, many love Harry Potter, me…cant stand them). So when I actually ask (well beg) for a book I really hope it’s a book I’m going to love, because otherwise it feels like a total let down to those lovely PR ladies.

All that preamble though is just background and flannel to wrong foot you, having read the Broken Empire series I was 99.9999% sure that this book was going to be excellent and that I would love it. Well having just finished it today I’m now 100%. I described it on twitter with its limited characters as “Prince of Fools is excellent: humour, Vikings, fighting, magic, Vikings, fighting, more humour, lots more fighting. Love it” .

That small description is it in a nutshell, The book centers on Jalan Kendeth a Prince of the realm, and a total utter coward, the author has done a wonderful job of transporting Harry Flashman from Victorian England to his own fantasy world, having read many attempted and failed copies of the humorous flashy it was wonderful to see someone finally pull off a witty, sniveling coward, but one with hidden depths…..when he has to save his own skin.

Enter his enforced partner and total opposite, the Northman Snorri, a big blonde viking, as brave as Jal is cowardly, a man haunted by loss. The pair are forced on a journey, one for the survival of his family and the other for the saving of his own skin. Wrapped in magic the 2 head north into the ice-bound wilderness……

If you have read any of the Broken Empire books you will already know Mark Lawrence is an excellent writer, combining a precise style with a clever depth of invention and world building (did you read his author bio? he is a bit smart), if you have not read any …well why not, go buy them now and this new book because its got Vikings, axes, swords, fighting, zombies …well undead but close enough.

Overall a highly entertaining, thrilling journey, funny, dark and fulfilling, for me one of the best fantasy titles I have read in quite some time. I have laughed out loud and wiped a damp eye, this story has it all.

Very highly recommended

(Parm)

Broken Empire Web site Link

1. Prince of Thorns (2011)
2. King of Thorns (2012)
3. Emperor of Thorns (2013)
Mark Lawrence 2-Book Bundle (omnibus) (2013)
Prince of ThornsKing of ThornsEmperor of ThornsMark Lawrence 2-Book Bundle
Red Queen’s War
1. Prince of Fools (2014)
Prince of Fools

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Steven A McKay: The Wolf and the Raven (Review)

Author

P1100851x

Biography

My second book, The Wolf and the Raven will be released on April 7th, get your pre-order in now and come meet me at the London Book Fair between April 8-10!I was born in 1977, near Glasgow in Scotland. I live in Old Kilpatrick with my wife and two young children. After obtaining my Bachelor of Arts degree I decided to follow my life-long ambition and write a novel.

Historical fiction is my favourite genre, but I also enjoy old science-fiction and some fantasy.

Bernard Cornwell’s King Arthur series was my biggest influence in writing “Wolf’s Head”, but I’ve also really enjoyed recent books by guys like Ben Kane, Glyn Iliffe, Douglas Jackson and Simon Scarrow.

I play lead/acoustic guitars (and occasional bass) in a heavy metal band when we can find the time to meet up.

Wolf-and-Raven-Banner_Facebookbanner

Book Description

In the aftermath of a violent rebellion Robin Hood and his men must fight for survival with an enemy deadlier than any they’ve faced before…

1322. England is in disarray and Sir Guy of Gisbourne, the king’s own bounty hunter, stalks the greenwood, bringing bloody justice to the outlaws and rebels who hide there.
When things begin to go horribly wrong self-pity, grief and despair threaten to overwhelm the young wolf’s head who will need the support of his friends and family now more than ever. But Robin’s friends have troubles of their own and, this time, not all of them will escape with their lives…

Violence, betrayal, brutality and death come to vivid life in The Wolf and the Raven, the brilliant sequel to Amazon’s “War” chart number 1, Wolf’s Head.

w and r cover

Buy the eBook

Review

I’m always intrigued by a series starring Robin Hood, there haven’t been too many worth while series in recent years, but then along came Angus Donald with his brilliant series with the style godfather meets robin hood, i was hooked again. Out of the blue another new name appeared, admittedly self published but for me that’s never an impediment, in fact with some of the latest awesome writers, SJA Turney, Gorden Doherty and now Steven A McKay can really write, easily as well as those historical fiction authors being represented and published by the big mainstream publishing houses.

Steven was kind enough to ask me to beta read this book, which for a frustrated writer like myself is a wonderful insight into the writing process. It also meant much less of a wait between books. Book one saw the building of a new world, a different Robin Hood, a Robin Hood those in Nottinghamshire (where i live) would point and shout thief! As he moves Robin Hood away from the boundaries of his fabled home, north into Yorkshire. He manages to pull this off with some considerable style and makes it believable, which is key to this type of book.

Book two The Wolf and the Raven takes Robin Hoods band of men to the next stage, they are still on the wrong side of the law, but now worse they are on the wrong side of a rebellion, and there is a new name hunting Robin and his men. Guy of Gisbourne, and Guy is not the blonde clumsy wally from the TV series of the 80′s this Guy is a black clad killing machine with a devious scheming mind.

I’m not going to say that this is the complete novel, but it is a great fun read, Its well researched, well thought out and has a really fun interesting plot that carry’s you from first page to last with a fairly rapid pace its well worth paltry £2.26 that is the cover price.

So if you’re looking for something to whisk you back to medieval times for a journey around the woodlands dodging soldiers, living off the land, robbing the rich to live and giving back what you can, some classic Robin Hood mixed with some realistic wolf’s head exploits, then this is a series you need to read.

I feel there is a lot more to come from this series and this writer.

recommended

(Parm)

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