The Doll House Review:

Reviewed By Steve Parkes

Bald Mage Rating 7.5/10

Before I start I would like to thank HQ Digital and Netgalley for giving me a free copy to review.

‘Thank God I’ve found you. Thank God you’re alive’

So here we are my 600th review and we celebrate it with a review of The Doll House and I have to say I enjoyed it. I have read a few novels like this, this year and haven’t been that impressed or I got bored very quickly; with this book I enjoyed it all the way to the end.

The book is centred around a family or to be more specific two sisters Corinne and Ashley. Corrine and her boyfriend Dominic have been trying for a baby and have been having IVF treatment but to no success and Ashley has a husband and 3 kids.

What I liked about the book straight away was the fact it’s told from different points of view; split between Corinne, Ashley, Dominic and a mystery character who I won’t go into too much detail over. The author grabs your attention from the start and I wanted to know what the hell was going on. The author captures emotions really well as we see the two sisters cope with some pretty strange things; such as doll house pieces appearing from nowhere and mysterious phone calls at weird hours of the day. Of course this leads to stress and extreme paranoia.

This book was the first book in a long time that I didn’t guess who or what was going to happen. I read eagerly to find out more and more and that’s always a good sign you are enjoying the book. When I got to the end and saw the reasons why all these weird and mysterious things were happening around the two sisters; I was happy with the outcome. All the build up lead to an excellent ending and in past experience that hasn’t always been the case in recent reads.

If I had to choose my favourite sections then I would go with Corinne’s chapters. I really felt her paranoia and panic as all these strange things were happening around her and every time she would tell Dominic what was happening, he would say various things to her, assuming she was losing the plot.

The other perspectives of Ashley, Dominic and the mystery character were also good and you learn a lot about the characters. You also learn what they think about the other characters and sometimes the author will reveal little things that make you raise your eyebrows and stop and think, but then you carry on to see if this leads to anything.

Overall I really enjoyed this book and I would recommend it to anyone. On a final note every family has a family secret and in some cases it’s a dark one.

Doctor Who: Gods and Monsters Review

Reviewed By Steve Parkes

Bald Mage Rating 5/10

” I told you we are in Hell. Your future, your present, your past, your time is meaningless TimeLord. Look out of my keep and you will see in the sky of red, red because the stars in the new born sky are all so close together that there is neither day or night.”

So here we are, this finalises a mediocre trilogy. The Fenric has returned and yet again the Doctor plays a game of chess against the Gods, but is the Doctor a player or a pawn this time?

The Curse of Fenric was a brilliant story from the original TV series, in the story the Doctor sets the Fenric a chess problem for him to solve and this chess game is played through time and space and involved various people. It was full of tricks and traps until the Doctor meets Ace and then the Endgame begins between the great Titans! I loved the story.

But this story suffers mainly because it tries to be to grand, we have a giant flat planet that is a chess board and we have many creatures and human races that are thrown in for good measure, this reminded me a little of the Patrick Troughton story the War Games. The problem for me, is the fact there is too much thrown into this story as the Tardis is carrying way too many people this time around and it’s always hard for everyone to have something to do.

I loved Ace in the last story I listened to, but in this I found her a little annoying always shouting her mouth off; at times it made my ears bleed. Captain Lysandra Aristedes and Private Sally Morgan don’t work very well in this for me as they suffer the overloaded companion syndrome. Now for Hex, at first he is like a lost sheep during the first two parts of the audio but as the story goes on Hex has a very important role to play, much the same way Ace did in the Curse of Fenric and this made the story a lot more interesting.

My favourite parts of the story were undoubtedly the Doctor’s conversations with the Fenric. I wish we could have had a lot more of this during the story but unfortunately the Doctor is not the opponent in this game of chess and that let it down for me; it went more in the direction of Jason and the Argonauts where the Gods played with people and moved them accordingly and I didn’t really enjoy it as much as I did in the Curse of Fenric.

There is a nice mention of Bobby Fischer and his various games of chess but overall this story was a bit of let down. Some people might not agree, but it was a little overloaded for my liking.

But one thing stuck out in this story for me. Do we need Gods or do Gods need us?

 

The Last Kingdom (The Saxon Stories #1) Review:

Reviewed By Steve Parkes

Bald Mage Rating 10/10

‘And Ragnar the Fearless speaks to me,’ I said, ‘he calls from the corpse-hall, he wants vengeance, Ubba, vengeance on the Danes for Ragnar was killed treacherously by his own folk. I’m his messenger now, a thing from corpse-hall, and I have come for you’

I’ve always loved history and I also like Bernard Cornwell’s Sharpe series. I’ve read them all but I was too scared to read anything else by the author as I didn’t want to lose the high standard he set in that series.

Recently my wife and I watched the Last Kingdom series on TV and I was blown away by it all; in my mind I found it a lot better than Game of Thrones mainly because the series is shaped around real historical events much like the Sharpe Series. So after much debate I went out and found the first 5 novels for the modest price of £10 and I couldn’t wait to get started on them.

The book centres around a young English boy, Uhtred of Bebbanburg, who is taken by the Danes after a bloody and brutal battle and it is here the story begins, as we see Uhtred being brought up as a Dane and an adopted son of Ragnar the Fearless.

The first half of the book centres around the Dane’s, as we read about Uhtred learning the Dane and Viking way of life. Bernard Cornwell goes into great detail of how things are made, he has excellent detailed explanations of all the weapons, ships and their banners and colours and I just lapped it all up. Slowly but surely we saw a young boy turn into a fearless warrior.

The second half took the book to a new level. By this stage we have gone forward many years, Alfred is now King and due to some treacherous actions during the book Uhtred finds himself swearing allegiance to Alfred to fight the Danes. I loved this part of the book because Uhtred has knowledge of the Danes and their ways; so he uses this to his own advantage. Now there are some great scenes with King Alfred and Uhtred, as the King tries to get him to believe in God and reject the Danish gods and this leads me to the priest Beocca. I loved this character, he tries all the way though the book to guide our hero into Christianity but knows he has no chance of achieving it and this makes for some amusing interplay between him and Uhtred. Uhtred meets another character I took a liking to in both book and TV series alike and that was Leofric; again much in the same vain as Beocca it’s the interplay between him and Uhtred that I enjoyed and I just smiled at every word.

Now for the action, the battles are well written and unlike the TV series there is much more sea warfare, as well as the dreaded shield wall battles and at times they could be brutal!

Now for the Dane chieftains we have Guthrum the Unlucky, Ivar the Boneless and his brother Ubba. They are all very proud and fearless warriors and you will read some excellent battle scenes with them in especially Ubba who is just a lunatic but I loved every scene he was in!

King Alfred was interesting to read as we see him go from a randy young lad into a very intelligent King. I’m looking forward to reading the next books in the series to find out how his story unfolds, as I do know a little of his history as the King so I’m intrigued to see how the author pieces together real history and his fiction but as it’s Bernard Cornwell I’m sure he will do it brilliantly.

Overall I really enjoyed this book and I do recommended it to anyone who enjoys Historical fiction or Bernard Cornwell’s books.

The Stolen Child Review:

Reviewed By Steve Parkes

Bald Mage Rating 5/10

‘Evil has no religion, Zoe’

Before I start, many thanks to Netgalley and Atlantic Books for providing me with a free copy to review.

I want to start this review by saying I don’t usually read this sort of genre so it was interesting for me to see if I would enjoy this type of book or not. Unfortunately I didn’t enjoy it, and I will state my reasons why throughout my review.

The novel is a psychological drama and would work well on TV and that is one of the reasons why I didn’t enjoy it. I’m not a fan of soap operas and at times this was along those sort of lines.

The author does create a powerful emotional story but the problem is Zoe, the main character throughout the story, is so bloody stupid. The first half of the book I got tired of her excessive moaning about her life and having to deal with two children whilst her husband is at work. Zoe does get lead astray easily and when things start to kick off; paranoia begins to set in, and friends and family become hurt as accusations fly around and things quickly begin to go off the rails.

The hunt for the child is probably the best part of the book, as the police begin to unravel holes in everyone’s stories and again paranoia reigns supreme at this point. I have to say, I thought I guessed the culprit early on in the book and I was telling my wife that this book was pretty predictable, but I was made to eat my words as there was a twist in the tale, but that stage I had lost interest.

This is not a bad book and I’m sure people will enjoy the high tension throughout the story but I just didn’t gel to it. I always pride myself on the fact that I always finish a story regardless if I like it or not, and I did manage to get through it and there were good parts in this story such as the religious elements and the growing detachment from the adopted daughter to her parents as the child begins to have contact with her real parent.  This leads me to the chapters from the parent perspective. These parts were enjoyable to read as we see the real parent try to outwit the adoptive parents and the police.

I will continue to read this genre and hopefully I will find a book that will suit me better.

 

 

 

 

Final thoughts on American Psycho

American Psycho

(Keith)

“‘When I see a pretty girl walking down the street I think two things. One part of me wants to take her out and talk to her and be real nice and sweet and treat her right.'” I stop finish my J&B in one swallow.
“What does the other part of him think?” Hamlin asks tentatively.
“What her head would look like on a stick” 

 

Oh dear what a disappointment, I was really looking forward to this book and it’s left me rather deflated I must admit.

There are some plusses however; in parts it did make me laugh a little, some moments that stick out for me are;

When Patrick took his blood socked laundry to the Chinese shop and had a flip out at the woman because she couldn’t understand a bloody word he was saying.

Luis and Patrick in the toilet, Patrick trying to kill him however Luis turns and kisses his wrist and professes his undying love for him.

And good old Evelyn goes with Patrick to a new restaurant only to be given a urinal cake (from Patrick) stolen out of a men’s toilet days before with chocolate covering it presented in a designer box. The glee in Patricks face as she proceeds to eat it (Priceless).

The murder and sex scenes are very graphic and violent enough to satisfy anyone’s blood lust and some…….

Unfortunately though none of the above can make up from the monotonous, repetitiveness of this book it really did suck the life out of me. With the constant descriptions of what people are wearing, to his day- to- day routine it really does go on and on with a whole chapter describing the songs on a Whitney Houston CD, one in which three of them are debating were to go out for dinner.  I won’t put them order as I’ve done this in a previous blog, in a word boring……..

When I started this book I wanted to get in the mind of a psychopath, instead I got in the mind of an Author that tried to be too clever for his own good and ran out of things to butcher. My advice for anyone wanting to read this book would be don’t, save yourself some time and watch the film (it’s much better) or buy a book on Ted Bundy the true American psycho.

One scene that did sum this book up to me was ” a prostitute standing on a street corner, behind her spray painted on a building the word MEAT”…….. 1.5/10

Thanks for reading Keith.

The Great Hearts Review:

Reviewed By Steve Parkes and Keith Brady

Steve Parkes Review

Bald Mage Rating 8/10

Before I start I would like to thank David Oliver for giving me and Keith a free copy each for an honest review

“As hard as the Academy is, I’m not sure it prepared us for being in a pitch black chasm in the desert, miles from civilisation, locked in a pantry with no handle and being hounded by a beast that WILL. NOT .SHUT. UP!”

This year I have read several big named fantasy books by popular authors and have come away feeling disappointed, but in the last two weeks I have read two good fantasy novels by relatively unknown authors and have come away feeling happy.

This book was an unexpected pleasure to read, the small prologue got my interest aroused, and then we are thrown into a horrific and savage attack on a small village. I have to say reading this opening passage made my heart pump at an alarming rate and it’s not for the faint hearted, during the attack we are introduced to a boy called Calidan who sees these terrible atrocities taking place; with his family gone he turns to help his friend Cassius escape the invaders, after witnessing some despicable acts they manage to escape.

This is where an incredible journey begins as we see the two boys survive and start a new life!

I enjoyed every aspect of this story, as these two young boys are hunted, but manage to survive against all odds to be trained as Imperators for the Empire.

I will go through some of the parts I really enjoyed, and I’ll start with the bond system that works within the story and I will try to word it in a way that won’t ruin the story too much. During the story Calidan forms a strong bond with an animal and they are linked in every way, Calidan’s senses become more acute and he has more strength and so on. I thought this was a really good idea and as I read more I wanted, like the character, to find out how this bond worked. 

As I progressed further Calidan and Cassius, on advice from another character I won’t mention, join the military but they are too young to join the regular army so they are taught various things before joining the army when they turn 15. This is where things begin to get interesting. Calidan’s bond is noticed by others and this leads to dire and dangerous situations. I really enjoyed this section as the two boys begin to make new friends and learn more about the bond Calidan has.

The next thing I enjoyed was the Emperor, a larger than life character and I’m glad he was written in that way instead of being a boring bastard that thinks of nothing else but himself. If I was to serve under a King or Emperor then I would choose him any day of the week.

As I read through the book I enjoyed the build up of all the training and adventures these two boys were having with other companions and Imperators, but then Calidan learns of something important about the bond he and others have which leads him and his companions in to a revelation I never saw coming. I had to put down the book and walk away trying to digest this new scenario, and this leads to more praise.

The in depth history is astounding, this author has really taken the time to think of a great foundation for his world and I just wanted to absorb all the information I could, as I wanted to learn more and more. And guess what, the author gives you more, some people might not appreciate all this information, some might call it padding out the book, but I just loved it all.

The action scenes are well written and are at times extremely brutal, which I liked if I’m honest. I don’t like an author to shy away and water down violence or sexual acts as at times it can seem unrealistic but I think the author finds that fine balance nicely.

To sum up the book; this an excellent adventure of two boys trying to survive but find themselves living every boys dream. You will read about their tough and hard training, them falling in love; seeing horrors and how they cope with it and of course them uncovering the true meaning of the Great Hearts!

 

 

Review by Keith Brady coming soon…

 

 

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Doctor Who: The High Price of Parking Review:

Reviewed By Steve Parkes

Bald Mage Rating 8.5/10

“I’m not sure it matters what I think, someone’s committing the biggest mass murder this planets ever seen, parking has declared war.”

So here we are, another Sylvester McCoy story. This was released last month and I’ve finally got round to listening to it.

I really enjoyed this one a lot, it reminded me of the early McCoy dark humour TV stories such as Paradise Towers and The Happiness Patrol.

The story starts with a couple in their space ship ready to leave a spaceship park but the computer systems starts raving about free parking and the space ship blows up!

The Doctor wants to visit Dashrah and work out the mystery of the Dream spinner’s but to do this he must park his Tardis in a space ship park: that is huge man made planet specifically for parking. But things as usual don’t go to plan and the Doctor is soon arrested and I think in record time!

I’ll start with the companions: Mel and Ace. This is first time that I’ve listen to an audio with these two together, there may be other stories before this with them in but I have such a back log I’m trying to catch up. I really enjoyed the interplay between them; Mel has come along way since the TV series where she was just a screaming ninny until she left with Sabalom Glitz at the end of the TV story Dragonfire. In this story though she has new qualities that bring her character to life; such as skills she has picked up from Glitz such as lock picking, even the Doctor states at one point;

“Who needs a sonic screwdriver, when you have a Mel”

Also her computer skills are prominent throughout this story.

I really enjoyed Ace too; she was more like the TV version, than the dark version that has been in the audio range lately. I prefer her being outspoken and blowing things up, and she works perfectly with McCoy’s Doctor.

Sylvester is also on fine form here, mixing dark humour and intelligence perfectly and not rolling his R’s to much which made a change!

The supporting cast are fantastic too from the monotone, dismal sounding Queen of the Lost Tribe Regina who at times made me laugh with the delivery of her lines, to the villainous Kempton who is the middle man of the story, causing mayhem throughout the audio.

The background score is up there with very best and works well with the plot and at times it got me really pumped up for the dramatic scenes.

Overall a great audio adventure with great moments and I will definitely listen to this one again in the future.

 

 

American Psycho-250 pages in.

;

Spoiler Alert!!!!

(Steve)

Well this covers up to page 250 of my book.

By this stage I was fed up of hearing that Donald Trump is Bateman’s hero, I hear enough about the man everyday on the news and now I have to read about him as well. The good news is the killings are happening regularly and I have to say I’ve have read reviews saying the violence is really bad; but in fact I thought it was quite lame if I’m honest.

I do find Bateman to be immature and maybe that’s because he has everything he wants; he has to have the best of everything too, he likes to show off what he has, until some one belittles him with something better and like a child he throws his toys out the pram and kills some one. I don’t want to sound too negative about the book, there a few humorous scenes that have made me laugh;  the U2 gig where Bono gives Bateman a hard on by singing at him is one.

I’ve been enjoying all the 80’s songs popping up throughout the book and that just highlights the fact I’m enjoying finding old 80’s songs instead of enjoying what’s going on.

The christmas party section was slightly over the top but I did laugh at Batemans antics as he tries everything to get Evelyn out of the christmas party. Evelyn is such a lame character as are most of the women in the book, being as thick as two short planks; even though Bateman basically tells them he is a nutcase they still end up going with him?!.

There are a few scenes that stuck in my mind in this section such as: letting a women go and telling her you must go or I’m going to hurt you, maybe the story will pick up now as we start to see an inner conflict within Bateman.

The killing of Paul Owen was mildly entertaining with the axe, as the man was just talking rubbish and poor old Batemans temper and patience just couldn’t hack any more shit. (Excuse the pun!)

The poem scene shows he is a complete broken soul, he tells Bethany he works so he can fit in, a common theme with a killer, who has trouble with life and others around him and tries his best to fit in with people that are nothing like him and I do sympathise a little with our killer.

The massacre of Bethany was well written, I felt my self drawn into the killing which sounds a little wrong I know; this scene also shows the female characters weaknesses again, as Bateman reveals his nature but the stupid girl still goes with him to his apartment.

This segment has been better, but I hope the last third of the book picks up because so far there has been no police involvement and Bateman is running wild which is a little comical and unrealistic.

(Keith)

Wow 250 page mark, and I have to say it’s becoming so monotonous. To sum this up so far; wake up, watch the Patty Winters show, work out for two hours, Office, Lunch, Office (sometimes), have panic attack(take drugs to calm down, Dinner, Murder and or sex (not necessarily in that order but you get the gist.

There is however some scenes that made me laugh; one that stcks out is where he follows Luis into the toilet and decides to strangle him. Upon putting his hands around his neck Luis turns around and kisses him on the wrist and says” I’ve wanted to do that for ages” as Patrick tries again Luis strokes his face telling him how he loves him, Patrick tries again but he just can’t bring himself to do it and runs out of the toilet.

Patrick Bateman is losing it quite rapidly now he seems to be having more and more uncontrollable episodes. The murder scenes are becoming more brutal, that said I was disappointed with the Paul Owen scene where Bateman puts a rain coat on in his apartment and sticks an axe in his head. The book glossed over it, where as the film made lot more and in some ways (it might just be me here) quite funny.

I did like it where Batemans brother turns up and they go for dinner, I was amazed that his brother is more obnoxious than he his.

There is one scene where he dose control himself Daisy is one lucky girl, after having sex he tells her she should go as he might hurt her “you don’t want to get hurt “he tells her do you. (Lucky escape I think).

There are some pluses to this novel so far, however its being over shadowed by the monotony as I said earlier so much so that I’m struggling out of shear boredom. I hope it finishes on a high note; I’ll let you all know soon enough. (That’s if I haven’t kill anyone myself before hand)

Thanks Keith.

Edinburgh Twilight (Ian Hamilton Mysteries Book 1) Review:

Review By Steve Parkes

Bald Mage Rating 7.5/10


“See here, Hamilton, the world is full of evil wretches who seek nothing but their own self-gratification, and they don’t give a damn whom they hurt in the process. We’ll never catch every single one of them

I want to start this review by saying thank you to Netgalley for providing me with a free copy to review. I really enjoyed this book and I think I’m beginning to like the crime genre a lot more than I used to.

The novel is set in Scotland or to be more specific Edinburgh in the year 1881. There is a murderer on the loose who likes to strangle people and leave a calling card in the form of a playing card with skeletons on; and its up to Detective Inspector Hamilton and the Edinburgh Constabulary to catch this killer.

The thing I would like to start with first is the way the author writes; I really enjoyed her style and the flow of the book. She writes some amazing lines that stuck in my head such as this phrase from early in the book:

The Edinburgh city morgue was dark and dank; it smelled of mildew and lost promise.

I really like this phrase; so that set up the book nicely for me straight away. The author also uses a lot of quotes from famous playwrights and poets such as Shakespeare and Robert Burns.

I enjoyed the history behind Edinburgh during this time as well,  and the author gives subtle descriptions of things that happened during the time the book is set.

Now for the characters; I enjoyed them, if I’m honest it felt like a big family. The main character Ian Hamilton who is a young Detective Inspector has the job of tracking down the killer, but he isn’t alone, during the novel he makes many friends along the way to help him in his cause as well as his loyal Auntie. I enjoyed all the interplay between Ian and various characters but my favourite parts would have to be when he has to report to Detective Chief Inspector Robert Crawford who has a short temper. As the novel goes on you can see he has a soft spot for Ian even though the young detective annoys him to the core with his witty remarks and quoting various forms of literature.

Ian Hamilton has to deal with many problems during the novel; such as the newspapers always seem to get the story first before the Police which isn’t helpful and the population of Edinburgh do seem to lose their patience quickly with the Police. Ian has a burden from the past which I won’t go into too much but that comes up in the story a lot, especially when his brother Donald returns to see him and I was fascinated to learn of their up bringing.

There are so many memorable characters I could be here all day typing wonderful remarks about them, but I will name the ones I enjoyed the most such as; The Librarian George Pearson who sees himself as an amateur sleuth, Derek the picket pocket, Rat Face an underground ruffian, and good old Sergeant Dickerson. What a man, I got quite attached to him during my read through.

Overall this book is an excellent read, and I thoroughly recommend it. The release date is 5th of September 2017

 

 

American Psycho (first 100 pages)

American PsychoSpoiler Alert!

(Steve)

So here we are, after the first hundred pages I can honestly say I hate every character in the book. The male characters are just rich kids who have nothing else to do but, drink, do drugs and treat women like meat. The women are written like weak minded fools who are there to be taken advantage of.

Then we have our main character who has issues with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder which is way off the charts as we have pages and pages of his routines.

I can see the anger building up in Bateman and hopefully very soon this anger will be unleashed because at the moment this book feels like Sex and the City but with men!

There are some amusing scenes that did make me laugh such as Bateman meeting Tom Cruise and making a tit of himself; also in the Chinese laundry where he has an argument with the lady owner which was hilarious as he has no idea what the woman is saying to him so it frustrates him into an angry hysteria.

One final note; jealously is a dangerous emotion, no one should get jealous of other people because it leads to bitterness and contempt and unfortunately Bateman is a very jealous character.

(Keith)

What to say about the first 100 pages, well for starters Patrick Bateman (our protagonist) is a right Hypochondriac and schizophrenic to say the least. He goes into great detail about his own fitness and cleanliness routines so much so it must take him hours to get ready in the mornings, lucky for him he practically doe’s bugger all at work (nice job if you can get one lol).

As well as this he also obsesses about the materialistic things in life for example the designer clothes people around him are wearing. Not just that but also Stereo’s, TV’s, Toasters he has to have the best of everything and woe to thee if you have something better than him.

It’s not long before the psychopathic tendencies start coming to the fore though and I quote;

“The odds were good that after dinner I would break into their studio and chopped them to pieces, first making Anne watch Scott bleed to death from the gaping wound in his chest then I would have found away to Exeter where I would pour a bottle of Acid over their sons slanty-eyed zipper head face”

Not to mention the work college he wanted to gut with a knife or the bar maid he wanted to chop the arms off (nice).

All in all it’s building quite nicely…..

I’ll be back at the 250 page mark stay tuned.

Thanks Keith.