Thursday, 23 April 2015

Details for the first Conan Doyle Convention( Knightswatch Press)

Please find below the details for the first Conan Doyle Convention hosted by KnightsWatch Press in Birmingham, England on 30th May 2015. If you get the chance to share the details with your friends and acquaintances  then that would be much appreciated
Greetings All,
The 30th of May is the day – The day of the very first Conan Doyle convention being hosted by KnightsWatch Press. This is a first for the gang at KnightsWatch and we would be delighted to host you for free so you can join with us in all the hijinks inspired by Conan Doyle’s Eponymous scientific hero, Professor Challenger. We’ll also be talking Holmes and Mycroft.
The City Tavern, Birmingham is the place – The place to be for all Conan Doyle fans where we will kick things off with a discussion led by our special guest Tom Ue from the university College of London about Conan Doyle’s little known scientific hero, Professor Challenger.
Next will be a panel Hosted by Michael R Brush on Sherlock vs Challenger where we will debate the great differences between Detective and Scientist.
But that’s not all. Along with the launch of an amazing Challenger short story collection, compiled and edited by the KnightsWatch Team, we will also be hosting a panel, led by Theresa Derwin, on Steampunk vs Historical fiction where we will discuss how the Victorian Era inspired the world of literature and how Steampunk became a new genre of literature.
All of this is enough to whet the appetite but there’s more books a coming. Michael R Brush will be releasing his very own book centred around the character Mr Holmes – Mycroft Holmes that is, in an utterly new and original story that explores the famous sleuth’s brother. Look out for Mycroft Holmes and the Necromancer by Michael R Brush.
Finally, we move on to the day’s main event. A 90 minute play, presented by Don’t Go into The Cellar, which explores The Singular Exploits of Sherlock Holmes.
This is an event for all Conan Doyle fans both young and old, we welcome you one and all and look forward to you joining us at Conan Doyle Con.
For free ticket places, interviews, review copies of the books or more information contact KnightsWatch CEO Theresa Derwin at
Tel: 07929 923 734

Check out our fabulous websites:

Each slot is 50 minutes with a ten minute comfort break at the end (included in times below)
Introduction: 12:15 - 12:30 KnightWatch Press (Theresa Derwin)
12:30 - 13:30 Tom Ue on Professor Challenger
13:30 - 14:30 Panel: Exploring Doyle's Worlds: Sherlock vs Challenger (Michael R Brush, Steve Lockley, Jan Edwards, Tom Ue)
14:30 - 15:30 Book Launch: Challenger Unbound (anthology of Challenger adventures) & Mycroft & the Necromancer Michael R Brush
15:30 - 16:30 Panel: Steampunk vs Historical Fiction: What did the Victorians Ever Inspire us To? (Rhys Hughes, S G Mullholland, Theresa Derwin)
16:30 - 18:15 Don't Go Into the Cellar presents the 90 minute play 'The Singular Exploits of Sherlock Holmes

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

The History Suite by Catriona King - a review

The History Suite is book #9 in the DCI Craig series and, I'll be straight with you from the outset, one of the best so far.

I have been a fan of this series since day 1, finding each instalment to be different enough to stop the narrative getting stuck in a rut. Some stories you know who the murderer is from early on, some will keep you guessing right up to the end - and The History Suite is one of the latter. There were several points where I was pretty certain I knew the culprit only to be changing my mind 5 minutes later.

The other thing that keeps the series going strong is Craig's team itself. The backstories with them, at  least speaking for myself, are as important as The Main Event. I want to know what is going on in the lives of the Squad and Ms King doesn't disappoint here - there are good, bad and possibly life changing events for them in this volume.

The story itself revolves around the murder of an on duty nurse at St Mary's Healthcare Trust in Belfast. It could be a random attack (but be fair, it's not really a spoiler to say it isn't). As details come out about the victim and other workers at The Trust several persons come onto Marc Craig's radar. Will he solve the mystery before anyone else gets hurt or, indeed, winds up dead?

I will say this was a real page turner for me (I got through it in 2 days) and the only real disappointment is that I now have to wait for book 10 to be published

Afterthought: Someone really needs to think about getting these books turned into a screenplay - it's what Sunday evening television is begging for


Wednesday, 8 April 2015

A Rotten Core by Lee Hulme (a review) and some thoughts on fairy tales

So, over the weekend I got to see Snow White and The Huntsman - a film that turned out to be a lot better than I expected it to be and it reminded me of this little collection which I reviewed on Goodreads back in February last year but seem to have missed putting up on here. That is now rectified as I am posting that review on here followed by some thoughts on fairy tales.

First, the goodreads review;

    This collection recalls the fairytales you grew up with but maybe not quite how you remember them. First and foremost of them is a version of Snow White that shows many of the characters in a different light to the one you would have expected. The seven dwarves are all in there along with the step mother, the hunter and Snow herself but this beautifully told tale actually seems more plausible than the Disney version you are most likely to recall.

Among the other stories, my personal favourites were 'Goldilocks and the Three Bears' (best last line in a story for a long time - still makes me chuckle now) and 'Elixir' a tale of the perils of eternal youth.

Also in here you'll find, among others, Narcissus, The Three Little Pigs, A fairy who owns and runs a brothel and mamy more.

A quality collection that will make you think again about the stories you grew up with

Fairy tales are the stories most of us grew up with, the first foray into fiction, the tales that shape our reading future. As a kid the tales are funny, kinda cute at times (3 little pigs building little houses) but when you go back to them as an older person many hold a much darker side. How did we not have screaming nightmares about the wolf dressed up as Grandma or the little girl being chased off by bears. I guess that's just the way the imagination of a child works.

For me, the first story I remember was The Tinderbox by Hans Christian Anderson. The book was on the shelf in our class library back in infant school and I couldn't get enough of it. Reading 'A Rotten Core' made me think about looking up The Tinderbox - and you know what? I still enjoyed it.

So, go grab yourself a copy of A Rotten Core and then, maybe, go back and visit the stories of your childhood days

4.3/10 stars

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Rise To Me by Shani Stuthers - a review

This is the second in the Psychic Surveys series which began with The Haunting of Highdown Hall last year. Based in Lewes, East Sussex  Psychic Surveys is a business that, among other things,  helps spirits grounded in this world to move 'into the light'.

Rise To Me is a darker book than Highdown Hall was....much darker. Things that were hinted at in the first book are brought to the fore and affect the dynamic of the team when they need to be at their strongest. Things really kick off when Ruby, the owner of Psychic Surveys, goes with her boyfriend Cash to try and help his brothers friend who seems to be battling several demons. Whatever is haunting him seems to latch onto Ruby and so starts a battle for her soul and her sanity that will take all that the Psychic Surveys team have and even that may not be enough.

The story touches on the story of Aleister Crowley, which may give you an idea as to how 'dark' it is, certainly not a 'fluffy' ghost story. There are moments that may well keep you up at night (and not just for the scary bits - it really is a book that will keep you turning the pages just to see how it will all turn out). The ending was satisfying, to say the least, everything tied up nicely and an earlier 'side mystery' was put to bed.

I had been waiting for this book ever since finishing Highdown Hall and was not disappointed (apart from the fact that I am now waiting for the next in the series, which can't come soon enough

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Cover Reveal for the forthcoming release from Scott Perkins (Crooked Cat Publishing) - Howard Carter Saves The World

           This April, 2015 sees the release of Scott Perkins' novel, Howard Carter Saves The World. It's got Giant Robots, It's got Time Travel, Its got Mad Scientists and THE FATE OF THE WORLD RESTING IN THE HANDS OF ONE BOY AND HIS FRIENDS!!!!

Really, what more could you ask for.

And as a special treat today you can have a sneak peek at the cover ;-)

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Sir Terry Pratchett RIP - thoughts

Today is a very sad day for me and millions of readers around the world. Within the last hour or so it has been announced that Sir Terry Pratchett has lost his fight against poor health (Alzheimers) and passed on from our world. I didn't plan on writing this blog post but found myself here by chance, goes.....

My first encounter with Terry Pratchett and Discworld was one of those happy coincidences - I was in a book club and forgot to place an order so they sent me Book of the Month (you had to buy something!!). That book happened to be Mort. I was taken in straight away by the artwork on the cover (Josh Kirby?) so dipped in and have never looked back.. That was the mid eighties I think so I guess I've been visiting Discworld for nigh on 25-30 years.

Over the years Terry P has written a vast number of books covering several genre types, not only on Discworld but I guess those are the ones he will be most remembered for. His wit and intelligence shone from the page, sometimes making you smirk, sometimes a wry grin or a chuckle and at times making you laugh till your sides hurt.*

There have been many, many great authors over the years and I would like to think that Terry Pratchett will be ranked up with the best of them. A great man who I had the good fortune to meet once at a book signing (Hogfather) and the queue was immense but he still took as long as was needed to sign everyone's books.

I may have more to add in the future but for now I feel too numb to think. All that is left to say is "Sleep well Sir, and rest in peace......oh, and thank you for allowing us to share your world"

*Oh, come on, it wouldn't be Terry without a footnote ;-)

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

The Iron Ghost by Jen Williams (a review)

Last year Jen Williams broke onto the scene with her first novel, The Copper Promise, (my book of the year 2014).

2015 sees the arrival of a new story in the series, The Iron Ghost, a huge doorstopper of a book - and I have been eagerly waiting ever since I was aware of it's release date. We are re-united with the heroes of The Copper Promise - Wydrin of Crosshaven (aka The Copper Cat), Sir Sebastian and Lord Aaron Frith. After their escapades and heroics in their previous adventures they are in demand and this adventure finds them heading to the city of Skaldshollow. It should be an easy job but, as you would expect, nothing is ever simple. The Narhl have stolen The Heartstone from Skaldshollow, and they want it back as it is central to all life in the city, so, go to the Narhl, find and return the stone, job done, simple.

But, as I mentioned before, nothing here is ever simple. There are much darker things at hand and at the root of it all is the ancient mage Joah Demonsworn who wants to return to the world. He wants Aaron by his side (well, he wants his magic and his knowledge).

There is much here that was present in The Copper Promise - great characterisation, great world building, great banter and story telling that really knocks it out of the park. This time though it is all taken up a notch. When I reviewed The Copper Promise I likened it to Dungeons and Dragons for a new generation. Well, if TCP was Dungeons and Dragons then The Iron Ghost is the Expansion Pack - new areas, new characters, new creatures, new spells etc. But this isn't just any expansion pack, this is the one you would queue outside the shop all night to get your hands on - it really is that good.

In Jen Williams we have someone with a gift for storytelling that not many have, and that is the ability to not just tell a tale but to actually take you inside the story, to let you stand with their characters in their darkest moments and good times too, to let you live the story, not just read it. I will be the first to admit it took me a bit longer than usual to finish this book but there is a simple reason for that - I was dragging it out because I didn't want it to end. I will be revisiting this series on a regular basis and can assure you that they will have pride of place on my bookshelves.

There has been talk before of the lack of prominence of female authors in the genre - well here is one who deserves to be top of the pile. Take a bow Jen Williams, you've done a grand job.