Abercrombie is one the best fantasy writers out today with his First Law trilogy being considered something of a modern classic. Now he has started something different, a new trilogy for young adult readers. Now, if you think it being YA means it’s for kids then you are mistaken as this is just as violent and bloody as any of his other works just now with shorter, sharper chapters, no harsh language and an overall length of about half of his other books.
The world he has written, separate from the First Law world, is fictional and that is as far as the fantasy elements go. There are no dragons, no magic and no elfs. This could easily have been medical England,  or maybe Norway is more apt as there is a distinct viking nature to proceedings,  something that Abercrombie admitted was an influence.
It’s a story of deceit and adventure with some great characters along the way. It’s short and that keeps the pace going at a good clip. There is no filler that you get along with other fantasy novels and you’ll finish it wanting to know what happens next. Highly recommended.

The Martian by Andy Weir

When a manned mission to Mars goes wrong and one of their team gets hit they leave him behind when everything points to him being dead. But Mark Watney didn’t die and The Martian by Andy Weir tells his story of surviving on a planet where he is the only thing alive.

I found this book to be really well done. Its full of technical science that somehow Weir manages to not let the reader get overwhelmed by and that is partly by the style that the books is written with Mark Watney telling the story in audio diaries. Watney is funny and very down-to-earth (Mars?) While still showing the sort of knowledge that being a NASA astronaut takes. You believe everything he says and you become so involved in his story, his constant battle to simply stay alive on a desolate planet. You want him to succeed and are on tenterhooks every step of the way.

Occasionally the books deviated from Watney’s diary entries to show the team at NASA back on Earth and their efforts to get him back but these segment don’t bog things down too much. It really is Watney that will keep you hooked.

Don’t read  it expecting aliens or any other typical science fiction element but do expect to be thrilled every minute of the journey.

Star Trek managed to reinvigorate a series that had become stale and behind the times, producing a fast and fun modern action movie. Many Trek fans say that it dumbed down the series, sacrificing a solid story for popcorn fun but, personally, I though it was great, producing that right amount of everything to make a perfect summer blockbuster. Now, four years later, director J.J. Abrams returns to the series with Star Trek Into Darkness which hits much all of the last movie’s strides even if it doesn’t quite hit the same heights that the previous movie got to, though it does get very close.

Benedict Cumberbatch’s villain proves an annoyance to the Federation, murdering people and officers with little abandon and unknown reasons, and it is up to the crew of the Enterprise to stop him.

Cumberbatch is the best thing in the movie, delivering a believable and intimidating performance. I didn’t think his reasonings for what he does to be completely sound but Cumberbatch made it believable. Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto as Kirk and Spock respectively bring more of the same natural buddy charm that they did in the first movie. They are the heart of the movies and bring real charm that feels different enough from Shatner and Nimoy to make it their own.

There is action and there are funny moments, sometime laugh out loud. I don’t think the more emotional scenes quite hit the points they were meant to and left me a little cold but that isn’t to detract from the rest of the movie which is a fun ride and I look forward to another installment.

Ryan Gosling is a stunt biker who travels from town to town, never staying in one place more than a few days a time. When he arrives in one town after a year away he meets up with the woman he slept with the year previous, Eva Mendes, only to find out she had a baby by him. He decides to quit his job to stay with her and the baby, despite her having already moved in with a boyfriend. Finding he has no money to support them he starts to rob banks.

It’s probably best to know as little as possible about what happens in the movie, it makes it more interesting. Also in the movie is Bradley Cooper and the brilliant Chronicle’s Dane DeHann. It is better not knowing how they all fit within the movie but it’s not spoiling anything to say there are three parts that are in themselves individual movies, all very good but as a whole its a little overwhelming. When you think the movie is ending it continues and it felt like three and a half hours when it was more like two and a bit. It’s a little strange but ultimately it tells a really good story that the director isn’t afraid to let breath and take his time with, something very rare in Hollywood right now.

If you’re interested in good storytelling that takes its time to settle in and have the patience then go see this, if not avoid.






I’ve been a big fan of Seasick Steve from when I started out with Nothing came out a few years back and waited in anticipation for his new album but after listening to it a few times I can’t feel but a little disappointed. None of the songs are really memorable and everything feels over-produced, a big departure from his early albums which really were just him and his homemade musical instruments. Its fine but disappointing and I don’t think I’ll be listening to it many more times, not like his other albums which are on constants rotation with me. A shame.






It’s a bit like Die Hard. That pretty much sums it up. Need a bit more? Okay. Gerard Butler worked for the president but when an unfortunate accident results in the death of the president’s wife he is given a desk job so the president is never reminded of what happened by looking at his face but when North Koreans, everybody’s favorite modern bad buys, invade the white house, blowing it half to hell in the process, it’s up to Butler to save the day.

I quite enjoyed the movie. Theres nothing particularly special about the movie although some of the action is very brutal, even by most action movie standards. Aaron Eckhart’s president spends most of the movie doing nothing and is a bit of waste, as is Morgan Freeman’s acting president who also doesn’t do a great deal. Gerard Butler is a fine action actor though his American accent left a little to be desired. He isn’t given much to spread his acting chops but plenty to stretch his action chops.

Everything about the movie scream ‘Merca! and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. It’s an American movie, starring a Glaswegian admittedly, and it shows them killing terrorist which they love to see.

It’s good fun, if forgettable.






James Maxey is a very good writer and if you’ve never checked out any of his books, especially the Bitterwood trilogy, then you really need to. Burn Baby Burn is a sequel to his first published work, Nobody Takes The Girl, which was a superhero story, a bit like X-Men bit in novel form. That’s not to say that it steals from those stories, it doesn’t, but I felt like that’s what it most resembled but really its more of a love letter to comic books and a time when a comic could bring forth a person’s imagination.

This books follows on from the events of the first and the ramifications of what happened years later. I wouldn’t say it is essential to read the first book but it would probably make more sense if you were.

Sunday and Pit Geek are on the run and robbing banks, killing people along the way but it isn’t long before there are others after them, determined to stop them. The two characters are really bad guys in a simplified comic book sense but like truly fleshed out characters they have their frailties and their reasons for what they do and as the book goes on they become more human, realizing the way they have been living has been wrong while the reader becomes more sympathetic to them.

Like all Maxey books there is action galore, over the top but absolutely stunning, it takes a great imagination to come up with what Maxey comes up with in this book and he has it.

It’s a great, fun book from start to finish and you should give it a go.