Tuesday 2 March 2010

Book Reviews

Rynn's World: A Space Marine Battles Novel
Steve Parker
Black Library

Available Now - £8.99 (Paperback)
Review by Brad Harmer

When the Ork hordes of Warlord Snagrod lay waste to the planet of Badlanding and wipe out the Crimson Fists sent to stop them, Chapter Master Kantor prepare a hasty line of defence on the Fists home planet of Rynn's World. Tragedy strikes when an errant missile destroys the Space Marine's Chapter monastery, killing most of their warriors. With a handful of Crimson Fists left, Kantor must fight the campaign of his life, to defeat Snagrod's orks and prevent his Chapter's annihilation.

Here we go again. It turns out that in the grim darkness of the far future, there is only one thing. Awesomeness.

And Bolt Thrower, I guess.

Rynn’s World is the epitome of how a good, strong, if a little generic, Warhammer 40,000 novel should be put together. The action comes thick and fast, all of the characters are distinct and interesting, and there is a buggerload of explosions. And Orks. I love Orks.

If you like books with an ensemble cast where anyone can die at any time, then this will be right up your street. At least two or three times, I caught myself thinking: “Heh. This guy’s awesome. He’s...oh. Didn’t see that coming.”. And Orks. I love Orks.

If I were to compare Rynn’s World to anything, I’d probably compare it to David Gemmell’s Legend – a novel that features a city of underprepared civilians defending their city against an overwhelming horde, with the aid of a gang of warrior monk hard-nuts. The action set-pieces are awesome, and – forgive me for pushing the boat out here – but this one may be good enough for non-Warhammer fans to check out.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Frequent, gory, and explodey.
Sex/Nudity: None.
Swearing: None
Summary: A great slice of military science-fiction, that may even appeal to non-Warhammer fans. Action packed and exciting. And Orks. 9/10

The New Dead: A Zombie Anthology
Max Brooks, Joe Hill, Kelley Armstrong and others
Edited by Christopher Golden
St. Martin's Griffin

Available Now - £9.58 (Paperback)
Review by Blake Harmer

If you couldn’t tell, what with the amount of movies, computer games, books and comics that have turned up over the last couple of years (with a lot of them gracing this fine site), zombies are incredibly popular at the moment. So it is no surprise that Christopher Golden has assembled a collection of original zombie stories from a variety of writers.

This compilation does have its advantages over other horror compilations as by sticking to stories about one kind of monster, Golden has made sure to select several stories that have a different take on the traditional zombie or are done in a different writing style. The short stories worth mentioning is the near future sci-fi story What Maisie Knew by David Liss, Twittering from the Circus of the Dead by Joe Hill which tells a zombie story from the perspective of a girl who is constantly tweeting on Twitter, and Closure by Max Brooks which is an excerpt from the excellent World War Z.

However, despite the fact that this collection has some very clever takes on Zombies, it still suffers from the fact that some of the stories don’t live up to the same quality as the stories I mentioned previously, and thus spoils the experience. Which is a shame in some cases such as Lazarus by John Connolly and Among Us by Aimee Bender where they try to do something a little different with zombies by not making them a horror story, but it just doesn’t work with the rest of the anthology which is obviously trying to scare you with zombie related bitey death.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Quite a bit of death seeing as the anthology is about zombies, but nothing to really make you cringe.
Sex/Nudity: some sex and nudity, including a sex scene involving a human being and a zombie. Looks like it’s back to therapy for me!
Swearing: A fair amount considering it is aimed at a teenage to adult audience.
Summary: A compendium of zombie stories filled with good ideas but let down by some poor stories or other stories that just doesn’t gel with the rest of the compilation. There are a lot of stories here for its £9.99 price tag so it will keep Zombie lovers on a budget happy until the next best thing comes along, which going by the success of zombies lately, probably isn’t that far away. 6/10

Blue Bloods and Masquerade
Melissa de la Cruz

Available from 4th March - £6.99 each (Paperback)
Review by Charlotte Barnes

Fifteen year old Schuyler Van Allen has never quite fit in at her exclusive prep school, she is more of a vintage than a Versace girl, but all that’s about to change. Schuyler has just found out that she’s a Blue Blood, the Blue Bloods are the New York City’s most glamorous and secret vampire elite; they are beautiful, rich and powerful. Now they are being murdered and Schuyler must find out who or what is behind it before she’s next.

The series of books written by Melissa de la Cruz is essentially Gossip Girl with vampires - what a fantastic combination; I am a huge fan of both! These are the first two books in a series and they are fantastically addictive, after reading the first book I immediately wanted the second book and I didn’t care whether I had to beg, borrow or steal to get my Blue Bloods fix.

De la Cruz has modified the traditional view of vampirism and adapted it in to another version of the genre. Die hard Dracula fans will probably not be a fan of these books but teenage girls will (and twenty five year old women who still read Heat magazine every Tuesday afternoon...). More importantly these books are sassy and well written with a creative plot that draws in the reader hook, line and sinker. Masquerade flows on beautifully from the first novel and even though it brings in new characters into the mix they are developed so well you don’t feel like there are too many people to get your head round and more importantly the plot doesn’t become fluffy because of the introduction of the new characters.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Moderate, one would expect more considering the book is based around vampires.
Sex/Nudity: Mild
Swearing: None.
Summary: Fantastic read and I would recommend to anyone who is a fan of Gossip Girl, Twilight or The Vampire Diaries. On a personal note I would like to commend the wonderful PR person over at Atom who sent Blue Bloods to me decorated with a bow, what a lovely touch! 8/10

Marvel Comics has two words to say to Spider-Man’s alter ego Peter Parker -- You’re Fired! Beginning in Amazing Spider-Man #623, on-sale March 3rd, everyone’s favorite friendly neighborhood hero has to not only survive key arch nemesis Vulture’s reign of terror…but also losing his job at the Mayor’s office! Peter Parker lays it all on the line to protect J. Jonah Jameson and keep the city from ripping itself apart, but Peter’s sacrifice winds up costing his career as a photographer.

But when you can’t pay the bills, how’s a Super Hero supposed to buy web-fluid and fix his costume? Spider-Man’s about to learn that with great power and great responsibility comes the great need to be employed -- which isn’t so easy when you’re blacklisted in New York City!

“Peter Parker’s been through some rough times lately, with all of his deadliest foes returning, and he couldn’t lose his job at a worse time” said Senior Editor Steve Wacker. “He’s going to struggle with unemployment and trying to save the city while he can barely afford to keep a roof over his head.”

The intrigue starts in Amazing Spider-Man #623 with the shocking next installment, Amazing Spider-Man #624, spinning into stores just one week later – March 10!

What links together Hollywood’s biggest film studios, the US military, the Scottish education system and the South Korean government?

There are some things that are simply a given about video games…

Games are played by teenage boys.

40 per cent of all US video game players are women.

Video games tend to be violent and it’s their violence that makes them popular.

Of the 20 bestselling console games of all time, only 1 involves any real-world violence at all.

Playing games encourages anti-social behaviour.

World of Warcraft’s online community boasts a still-rising total of over 12 million subscribers.

Then there are the elements of games we’re less familiar with…

In 2008 Nintendo overtook Google to become the world’s most profitable company per employee.

The South Korean government will invest $200 billion into its video games industry over the next 4 years.

Games are used to train the US Military, to model global pandemics and to campaign against human rights abuses in Africa.

The trading of virtual goods within games is a global industry worth over $10 billion a year.

Gaming boasts the world’s fastest-growing advertising market.

Game worlds are creating a whole new science of mass engagement that is starting to transform our understanding of economics, business and democratic participation.

Whether you like video games or loathe them they’re a part of your life. Welcome to Fun Inc.

Thanks to our friends at Virgin Books, we've got five copies of Fun, Inc. to give away! For your chance of winning one, send us an e-mail to funincgiveaway@rocketmail.com with your name and postal address before midday on Tuesday 9th March (UK time). The first five names drawn out of the electronic hat will win a free copy!


  1. I wonder how Peter Parker will EVER cope with being fired from his job at the mayor's office? It's not like IN THE VERY LAST ISSUE he was offered another job by Ben Urich at Front Line, after all... Sheesh... I love the Spider-Man comic, but sometimes I really have to wonder about their marketing.

  2. On an entirely different subject, it's always bugged me that they spell Orc with a K in Warhammer 40K. Replacing the letter C with the letter K is too much the sort of thing teenagers do when they're trying to be 'kool'. Whenever I see the word 'Ork', I always expect them to be carrying a pile of badly photocopied student magazines. You know... the 'radikal' kind.

  3. I know you what you mean. It's almost like they wanted some mutation of the word that they could trademark...