Monthly Archives: December 2012

Ellie Quin : Alex Scarrow Q&A + Review

The Author


I live in Norwich with my wife, Frances, my son, Jake a very spirited little dog    called Max. I spent the first 10 years out of college in the music business chasing    record deals and the next 12 years in the computer games business as a graphic artist    and eventually a games designer. For those of you who like their computer games,    here’s some of the titles I’ve worked on:

Waterworld, Evolva, The Thing, Spartan, Gates of Troy, Legion Arena. In 2005 I got    my first book deal with Orion, writing adult thrillers. And in 2009 I signed up with    Puffin to write the TimeRiders series.

I seem to spend most of my time hunched over my laptop in various cafes and coffee    bars sipping lattes, tapping keys and watching the ebb and flow of shoppers outside    on the street. As I write this, I’m working on the third book in the TimeRiders series.    Ahead of me, lies research work for my next thriller, and also some screenplays I’m    looking forward to writing. Although I’m glad to be where I am now, I do occasionally    kick myself for not having succumbed to the writing bug much earlier. But then we    all just muddle along through life, don’t we? There’s rarely a plan.

Ellie Quin

A brand new series from the Author of TIMERIDERS!

Welcome to a universe
as you’ve never seen it before;- genetically engineered pocket pets, plant life
with a crabby attitude, soda pops that fight back…and revoltingly slimy junk

Ellie Quin’s just a normal young woman. Bored with her life on a
remote farm, staring up at the stars at night and wishing she was far away on
another more exciting world.

She thought she was normal. Turns out she
was wrong. It turns out she’s the most valuable, the most dangerous, the most
hunted-for human in the universe… and there are people already closing in on

The Legend of Ellie Quin: a breathless pursuit across a colourful,
madcap universe of shopping malls and space ships. Lip-gloss and lazer guns.


Alex scarrow best known for his TimeRiders
(Book 1)
series, and also for his adult thrillers A
Thousand Suns
, The
Candle Man
, Last
 Afterlight October Skies.

The one thing that Alex has been consistent with is his great
Each person is brought to life very quickly, with a very honest
human quality, never given an ability or set of circumstances that the every day
person could not deal with.
Its this approach that makes all his books grab
you from the first page to the last.
Ellie Quin is no exception, i have to
say that i draw some comparisons with “The Ballad of Halo Jones” the 2000ad
classic tale, but don’t let that put you off, its not a classic for no reason,
its one of their iconic tales. But Alex does take the concept in a different
Some might wonder if this is a tale for teens? or just girls. But
I’m a 40 year old man and i enjoyed it very much….(does that say more about me
or the book…i leave that to you).

I give you none of the story, as its
too easy to give spoilers… but suffice to say its worth a download (its free
for the next few days, and then still only £1.99 after 2 & 3 are
already on amazon to download as well, so get stuck in and immersed in the new
Iconic story of a young Woman’s travels in a highly imaginative future world. a
thriller set against and extraordinary Universe

Buy it


 Alex at Brit School Brussels
1) So Ellie Quin: a bit of a departure from Timeriders and the timeslip thrillers, how did you settle on this idea? ELLIE QUIN was in part inspired by a story in the classic British comic 2000AD. The story was called HALO JONES and followed the exploits of a very ordinary young female protagonist exploring a madcap universe. It was a story that was never finished and pulled mid-way because the comic’s publishers weren’t sure the all-male audience would buy into a less than heroic female central character. Another influence was Douglas Adam’s Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, which I loved as a teenager. I remember wishing there really was that insane, wonderful, colourful universe out there to explore.
2) Were there any influences from your past for this book? Well Halo Jones and HitchHikers I’ve already mentioned. But other influences would probably include Frank Herbert’s DUNE, the movie FIFTH ELEMENT, the tv series FIREFLY.
3) What authors influence you as a writer? and how much did your Brother Simon Scarrow influence you? Stephen King was a big influence on me as a youngster. Also Arthur C Clarke. Simon and I have grown up reading the same books, watching the same movies, playing the same PC games even. So I wouldn’t say Simon has influenced me, more, we’ve both drawn from the same pool of imagination.
4) Why a female lead character? Why female? Good question. I think I’m drawn more to female characters, perhaps because in an action adventure, they’re innately more vulnerable than some spunky, heroic young guy who can defy death with his chiselled jaw and finely honed wise-cracks.
5) Is Ellie based on anyone/ Influenced by anyone in your life, or pure fiction? Ellie’s basically a navel-gazer. A futuristic emo. If she’d been a peer of mine she’d have listened to the Smiths. She’s pretty plain and unexciting – an everyman (woman). And that’s what works best I think. To see a character who isn’t blessed with superpowers, or ingenuity or incredibly brave. Those sorts of characters bore me witless because you know the author will allow them to deftly dodge the bad guy’s bullets simply because it suits the story. (What I call Selective Stormtrooper Stupidity – ie; in Star Wars the Stormtroopers are lethally accurate against average Rebel grunts, but, put them up against a main character, and sheeesh, they can’t shoot for Sh*t)
6) What age range (if any) are you aiming Ellie Quin at? Teen and up. To be honest 11+. Hopefully like TimeRiders, ELLIE QUIN will find readers of both genders and all ages.
7) The first 3 parts are already for Sale on amazon. Will you be adding these to other formats (Nook etc?) and when will the next installment be ready / on sale? I’ll be writing the next 3 book saga in the new year and hopefully it’ll be up on Amazon by late summer. As for other formats, I’m afraid its Kindle only for the next year, after that, who knows?
8) Of all the books you have written, which is your fav? Gawd that’s a tough one. The answer does change everytime I get asked that question. But quite often I’m drawn to the first TimeRiders book as an answer because that’s the book where we get to meet Liam, Maddy and Sal for the first time. Very special place in my heart, that book has.
9) What comes next? for Timeriders? any Adult Thrillers? anything new? I am also at the planning stage with a new teen series for Puffin. Unfortunately I’m having to keep that one well and truly under-wraps for the moment.
10) Free forum: What would you say to your Readers and new readers to convince them to read Ellie Quin? I’d like TimeRiders fans to download a sample of the first ELLIE QUIN book and see how they get on. It’s very similar to TimeRiders in terms of pace, big ideas, strong likeable characters. It’s about a very ordinary girl who yearns to escape a boring rural existence on a remote agricultural planet. But soon becomes embroiled in a universe-spanning conspiracy. She finds herself on the run through this madcap, colourful, vibrant universe full of really fun ideas. For instance….pets you can grow from seeds, nail varnish that when it dries you can watch TV on your finger, genetically engineered labourers with four arms, weird fortune telling aliens, soda pops that change flavour all the time, plants with a cabby attitude!….lotsa fun stuff in a big, big, universe. The series has just been launched on Amazon. You can download it as an ebook or order (soon) a printed version from Amazon. If you’re interested in learning more about it go to

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My stand out books, and Fav’s of 2012, and the publishers who do so much for me and others.

Over the last year there have been so many books to read, below is a list of the books that have stood out from the crowd, the books that have kept me sane and illuminated my evenings.

Historical Fiction

Giles Kristian: Bleeding Land:

Henry Venmore  – Rowland: The Last Caesar

Robert Fabbri: Vespasian 2: Romes Executioner

Anthony Riches: Leopard Sword:

M C Scott Eagle of the Twelfth

Nick Brown: Agent of Rome: Imperial Banner

Michael Arnold: Hunters Rage

James Wilde Hereward: Devils Army

Angus Donald : Warlord

Ben Kane: Spartacus: Rebellion

Robyn Young: Renegade:

Mark Keating Blood Diamond

Christian Cameron: Tom Swan:

Christian Cameron Poseidon’s Spear

Simon Scarrow: Sword and Scimitar

Anthony Riches: Wolfs Gold

Rob Low: Crowbone

James Aitcheson: Splintered Kingdom

Douglas Jackson: Avenger of Rome

Harry Sidebottom Warrior of Rome: Wolves of the North

A L Berridge Into the Valley of death

Christian Cameron: God of War


James Douglas: The Isis Covenant

Alex Scarrow: Timeriders 6 City of Shadows

Simon Toyne The Key

Kenneth Cameron Winter at Deaths Hotel

Chris Kuzneski: The Hunters


M D Lachlan: Lord of Slaughter

James Barclay : Elves Rise of the TaiGethen

Stephen Deas The Black Mausoleum

Mark Lawrence: King of Thorns

Ben Aaronovitch: Whispers Underground

Miles Cameron: The Red Knight

I always struggle at picking “The Best” or “My Favourite” book. So I’m going to give my stand out book in each Genre.

Historical Fiction

This goes to 3 books: These 3 books just cannot be separated, they are my personal Favourites for different reasons.

Christian Cameron: God of War

Giles Kristian: Bleeding Land:

Anthony Riches: Leopard Sword:

Christian Cameron: Christian Cameron: God of War because he is such an exceptional writer, without doubt my favourite writer and in the coming year, the most prolific

There are 3 more Tom Swan Ebooks in the first few months of 2013, Also Tyrant: Destroyer of Cities hardcover on 14 Feb, The Ill- Made Knight hardcover 23 May (first in a new series) And there will be more in the second half of 2013 (Long War book 4 and Tyrant series book 6)

Giles Kristian: Who has shown an exceptional breadth of writing skill with The Bleeding Land, such a departure from the Raven series, and what a departure (read the review). Add to that being onset with the author and the amazing Elizabeth Swain and the outstanding Urban Apache film crew. That day was my favourite day all year.

Anthony Riches: Is also on here because his series always makes me laugh, he writes characters with such life , vitality and humour, i devour every new book in a single sitting, and they always jump straight to the top of my TBR pile.


It was a close call, i discounted Chris Kuzneski: The Hunters because although i have read it, its publication date is 2013.

Kenneth Camerons: Winter at Deaths Hotel, while an outstanding book, was beaten by the latest book (and my favourite for 2013) from James Douglas: The Isis Covenant

The Thriller persona of Douglas Jackson. A book with pace, action and great plot…. (read the review)


This was the toughest genre of all, I have avoided many fantasy titles for a few years, the death of David Gemmell made me think that no one could ever match his fantasy skills.

And once again i could not separate 2 titles:

While i think Mark Lawrence is a great new voice in the fantasy world, Stephen Deas creates a magnificent world of Dragons, James Barclay always manages to leave me wanting more and more, and always goes to the top of my fantasy TBR. The winners are

Ben Aaronovitch: Whispers Underground: Simply my favourite fantasy series currently running, fantastically funny and magnificently imaginative.

Miles Cameron: The Red Knight Finally, the best blending of Historical Fiction and fantasy, since Gemmells Troy series. The fight scenes and arms/ Armour are superb and accurate to a degree not normally seen in fantasy.

2013: looks to me to be an amazing year of new books. My Wish list is growing daily:

Have a look and see some of the amazing titles:

To the amazing publishers: i thought about rating you all, but i cannot separate you, i feel blessed to be trusted to review books and every proof/ ARC and review copy is a gift is never taken lightly.

I do give special mention to

Elizabeth Swain

Jon Weir

Becci Sharpe

Ben Willis

Madeleine Feeny

Jaime Frost

Amelia Harvell

Shelley Power

Lynsey Dalladay

Joe Yule

Hannah McMillan

Jane Johnson

Marcus Gipps

Caitlin Raynor

Francesca Russell

and there are so many more, these people make coming home to the post a treat, they help get great new books out there for us all to read, and i so wish i had gone the same career path.

To them and all those i missed thank you and i look forward to working with you all next year.

and finally the reviewer who makes me blush to say i even try to review, she is the yard stick i measure my work against

and the self pusblished Giant and friend SJA Turney: why he has not been taken on by a publisher is beyond me.

So lets all raise a glass to books, literacy, the writers to push themselves , fret worry, research and get their amazing imagination onto paper for us. and to the people at the publishers who get them on the book shelves.

Happy new year one and all.


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Chris Kuzneski The Hunters (Review)

About the Author

Chris Kuzneski

Chris Kuzneski attended the University of Pittsburgh, where he played football, wrote for three newspapers, and passed most of his classes. He earned a master’s degree in teaching, then taught English for five years before pursuing a career in writing. His first novel, THE PLANTATION, introduced the characters of Payne and Jones, and received rave reviews.

The Hunters: (Publication 3rd Jan 2013)

the hunters

The first in a brand new series from the international bestseller Chris
“If you seek, they will find”

: a team of renegades – an ex-military leader, a historian, a
computer whiz, a weapons expert and a thief – financed by a billionaire
philanthropist are tasked with finding the world’s most legendary treasures.

The Mission: recover a vast Romanian treasure that was
stolen by the Russians nearly a century ago. Fearing a Germany victory in World
War 1, the Romanian government signed a deal to guarantee the safety of the
country’s most valuable artifacts until after the war. In 1916 two treasure
trains full of gold and the most precious objects of the Romanian state –
paintings, jewellery from the Royal family, ancient Dacien artifacts – were sent
to the underground vaults in the Kremlin only to be lost to the Romanian people
forever as Russia severed all diplomatic relations with the country and
scattered the treasure to its outlying regions. With a haul valued at over $3.5
billion dollars, everyone wants to claim the vast treasure but its location has
remained a mystery, until now.

Can the Hunters succeed where all others
have failed?


The Hunters started like many other action thrillers. An introduction to the hero’s who have a certain high level hero skill set and then give them a mission.

What makes a good or a great thriller is making those hero’s into people you like and care about, people who despite their skills seem real.

Add to that a mission that nots too outlandish, but is still of a scale to boggle the mind, just a little. and finally write it with great skill and pace.

There are only a few thriller writers around these days who can do this, some get 2 out of three (and that’s still a great thriller, usually its the outlandish bit and they end up in the cheesy bracket…but they are fun in a different way)

So how does The Hunters stack up? for me it has all 3 of the ingredients needed to make a stunning thriller, and i can see why it has been chosen as his first ever hardback. The book literally explodes into life with a mission impossible style robbery. This is used exceptionally well to hook the reader, but also to then introduce the cast of the book and showcase their skills.

The book then quickly leads on to their true mission, the recovery of the missing Romanian treasure, the wealth of a nation. The backdrop for the story gives the author some stunning scenic imagery to play with which he weaves into the plot with style, and also a sense of love for the land, it wasnt until i had finished that I understood the family connection (the passion showed).

The book / team has humour, history, passion, talent, weapon skills, unarmed combat. It introduces famous figures from history in the Romanovs and also less savoury characters. Secret societies, neo nationalist organisations and all this in the back drop to a massive treasure hunt with an employer who is not all he seems. It leads to one of the best thrillers i have read this year. One of the best things at the end of the book was finding out that this is the start of a whole new series, im always after a good thriller, and now it looks like I have one a year on the way for a while.

So thank you Mr Kuzneski, this is a total hit with me, and I hope a hit with the world of thriller readers. A truly explosive action packed thrill ride of a treasure hunt.

Highly recommended


Other books by Chris Kuzneski

Payne and Jones
The PlantationSign of the CrossSword of GodThe Lost Throne The ProphecyThe Secret CrownThe Death Relic


Filed under Action/ Adventure Thrillers, Crime, Thrillers

Jane Finnis: Shadows in the Night an Aurelia Marcella Mystery

Who is the Author:


JANE FINNIS has been fascinated by the past ever since as a child she walked the straight Roman roads of East Yorkshire. After reading history at London University, she worked for some years in London as a freelance broadcaster for BBC Radio. Now she is settled in East Yorkshire again with her husband, Richard, and spends much of her time researching and writing about the Roman Empire.


Product Description

BRITANNIA, 91 AD: A raw, frontier province lying at the northern edge of the Roman Empire. Its fifty years since the legions invaded, but the land still simmers with tension, especially in the north. But in the Oak Tree Inn on the road to Eburacum, both Roman and Briton are welcome. Innkeeper Aurelia Marcella fled the devastation of Pompeii to build a new life here, and though her roots are Roman, her heart belongs to Britannia. Then a messenger is brutally decapitated outside her Inn, a crude message scrawled on his body: ALL ROMANS WILL BE KILLED. GET OUT OR DIE. An act of rebellion, or something more sinister, something more personal? Amid shadows and deception, Aurelia will have to face the possibility that someone she knows and trusts her and her family dead…


Originally released in the USA in 2003 as “Get out or Die” “Shadows in the Night is book one in the Aurelia Marcella Mysteries

The story is told as a recounting of events / a report to the Roman Governor, which in a way gives away Aurelia survival, but lets face it, who kills the hero / heroine in book 1!

In all honesty i struggled with the style of the book to begin with, so much so that by about page 100 i nearly put it down, and then it suddenly made sense to me, the characters transformed from that 1 dimension paper thin effect that they had had to that point. Suddenly they popped off the page, and i found myself being drawn back to Roman Britain.

I had the bad guy pegged from about page 155, but every now and again the author did have me question myself, she plays the threads of the scheme out very well to keep the majority of readers guessing to the end. I’m going to be very interested to see where Jane Finnis takes Aurelia next in the second Aurelia Marcella mystery, this book was strong enough by the end to make me want to read the next but i will be looking for some growth in the characters and the dialogue which occasionally had a stilted quality.

I feel that the Machiavellian XXXX (name removed as its a spoiler) will return to bring more of his madness and mayhem to the lives of the family at Oak tree inn. This can only be a good thing, he brought a refreshing edge to the story which had the habit of getting a comfortable at times, this coupled with my biggest gripe of Aurelia’s bad habit of going all alpha female again nearly destroyed the book for me. I get what the author was saying and if you want to write about about how women are just as good as men at things great, but if you set a book in Roman Britain you need to accept that it wasn’t accepted back then and so some of the things she did would not have happened, would have been shut down by the male dominated society immediately. (its either historical fiction or alternate history, you have to choose).

So should you the casual observer buy this book?

Do you like a Mystery? (Yes: buy the book)

Do you like Roman books (Yes: its worth a read, its a first book and has some of the failings of that but also some great ideas and promise)

This book is Caroline Lawrence for grown ups, although i think teenagers who like a good roman mystery would enjoy this also. Think Caroline Lawrence, Ruth Dowie, Lindsey Davies,

Jane Finnis may have been around for some time, but she is new here and i think has potential to build a solid reputation.


 Rest of the series:

A Bitter Chill by Jane FinnisBuried Too Deep by Jane FinnisDanger in the Wind by Jane Finnis

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Filed under Crime, Historical Fiction