Monday, 30 May 2016

#MoonOverSoho (Rivers of London 2) mini spoiler free book review

Moon Over Soho is the second in the Rivers of London series by Ben Aaronovitch, where dectective fiction meets fantasy, occasionally travelling via romance and thriller. The many quotes from reviews suggesting this is the love child of Harry Potter joining the London Met aren't inaccurate. Although certainly aimed at an older audience, this is in my opinion no bad thing! 

Firstly, the detective side of the story is compelling, and whilst weaving a tale set between conventional detective work and fantasy, somehow finds itself very believable, never being absurd. There are as there should be, many twists and turns, surprises and non surprises too. 

Set around the Jazz music seen in Siho, London, the descriptions of the locations really invoke the sense, creating a very detailed world in your minds eye. The characters are both familiar and new, but all descibed in great detail that makes bad guys scary and good guys lovable, and sometimes vice versa. I don't feel reading the first story is a necessity to enjoy this book, but would help in understanding some of the cast, though they're not integral to understanding the plot. I like how the book does involve aspects of the prequel though, and the conclusion is a suitable cliffhanger to make me want to read the next take immediately! 

The fantasy elements too, are never so outlandish or overused to simply be cheap plot devices, and it feels that PC Grant is really struggling master his arcane ability but with a scientific approach. 

The book is also an easy read, though with longish chapters. It's highly entertaining, intriguing, interesting, humorous and even sexy throughout, 

Anyone with an interest in fantasy writing or detective fiction would enjoy this. For original fans of Potter, Tom Holt, Doctor Who, Castle etc. 

Friday, 20 May 2016

#SekretMachines by Tom Delonge mini spoiler free book review

Sekret Machines: Chasing Shadows has been billed by it's creators as the first part in a multimedia venture crossing art, music, movies and literature both fiction and non fiction to create not just a single product, but a variety of experiences all united by a single theme.

Like the similar project then of  Poet Anderson before it, many will be drawn to this through the involvement of pop punk legend, Tom Delonge, Though Poet Anderson and the accompanying works were entirely fictitious, it's claimed by the rock star and sci-fi fanatic that Chasing Shadows has at least some of it's ideas based on "actual events and other truths drawn from sources within the military and intelligence communities" (, 2016) and which are today kept as highly guarded secrets,

Whether based in fact or not matters little to me for the purposes of this blog. I'm sure governments do indeed keep secrets from the general populous, but I'm writing about this book as a work of fiction, of which A.J.Hartley and Tom Delonge have created an absorbing, twisting and tense adventure over it's 670 odd pages.

A cast of memorable characters and villains ranging from Air Force pilots, journalists, business men and shady government agents, all with individual unique back stories which ultimately converge in a high paced chaotic conclusion, whilst still leaving enough to keep us guessing and craving for the next instalment.

A blend of military, crime and science fiction writing, these genres are at first like reading separate stories in their own right, each strand keeping you page turning for different reasons, at one minute making you feel like you're uncovering a murder mystery; another in the heat of a fire fight, and with good pace the characters, plots and relationships thicken, interweaving right up until the suspenseful conclusion.

Furthermore, the actual writing throughout is extremely detailed. Locations such as the infamous Area 51 base; the skies above war torn Afghanistan, or the Nazi infested WW2 era Poland are all presented vividly in your minds eye, so that regardless of how much of the story is artistic license, helps to make the tale truly believable.

A little part of me is somewhat annoyed that Tom Delonge's second venture into storytelling has been such an accomplishment; mainly because I find it hard to believe that a single individual can actually be this multi-talented... But this truly is an excellently told story and one that anyone with an interest in mystery, thriller or science fiction writing is likely to enjoy profusely. Recommended.

Thursday, 12 May 2016

#PSP #RetroGaming #Emulation

Anyone who knows me knows that I love my Retro Gaming. I was brought up in the 16bit Sega Vs Nintendo console war, which only became more brutal with the arrival of the 32 bit Playstation from good ol' Sony. Due mainly to logistics, playing these games on actual hardware becomes a bit of an issue, especially as your collection inevitably increases as the addiction sets in... Setting up the consoles on a suitable monitor, getting them to work and even having the space to set them up in the first place are common problems. But now Emulation offers people a solution, and if you make sure you own an original copy of the game, it's also perfectly legal!

The reason I like retro gaming on the PSP is because in my opinion handheld gaming trumps all other types of gaming. It's a console - IN YOUR POCKET!? Why would anyone think that isn't awesome? The PSP has a nice screen, good speakers, respectable battery life, a good host of original games in it's own right, but is also a doddle to install emulators on, as I recently found out. Whilst I don't deny there's no substitute for using the original hardware, this offers a simple, portable solution.

There are already numerous guides and download sites on the great world wide web that it seems silly for me to do the work again and explain how to do it. instead what I thought I'd do here, just for a bit of fun and to help anybody save time trawling the web, is to create a collection of the links that I used to get my PSP emulating what I wanted, as well recommending some good ROMS to get stuck into, having a nice journey down nostalgia lane at the same time.
- A Wiki on installing firmware to your PSP console. Having custom firmware not only enables you to install apps that run ROMS, but can also have other benefits, such as taking screenshots or speeding up frame rate etc.
- A brilliant Wiki explaining many of the different emulators of different systems available for your PSP console.
- A good site for PS1 game files. These files have been stripped back so run much better on the PSP. I've played a number of games from here including Crash Bandicoot, Nightmare Creatures and Alundra and had no problems. The site also has ROMS for other systems, too.
- Another good site for downloading ROMS for a multitude of systems.

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

LOTR #TheFellowshipOfTheRing mini book review

Okay, so not a review as such - everyone already knows this is a fantasy classic. People who know me and are aware of my reading tastes will know I've always been a huge fan of Tolkien's The Hobbit, but I've been bested by The Fellowship a few times, for some reason not being able to get into it.

I'm not sure what changed this time around - I think just simply I've been reading more and have a better concentration for this kind of thing. This time I was able to appreciate and enjoy the story to it's fullest.

What I really enjoyed are the long and detailed descriptions of Middle Earth's varied, beautiful and terrifying lands. I was really able to detach myself from my experience of the LOTR films and create my own Middle Earth with my imagination, though admittedly it's difficult to imagine anyone other than Sir Ian Mckellen playing Gandalf.

There are sometimes long gaps between action sequences, but when they come they too are incredibly well written, really keeping up the pace. In my minds eye I could really picture some of the brutality, in an almost Matrix style bullet time fashion, especially the sequence with the Black Riders at Weathertop.

There are bit's of the story that seem somewhat bizarre, and I can totally see why they're not in the film, for example the section containing Tom Bombadill seemed a bit unnecessary, though I'm assured by other LOTR fans that he has a reconbitulation in the later stories that explain this a little further? Still, I was never bored and was completely hooked until I'd finished reading my Mum's old, battered school copy.

I'm taking a break from Tolkien to get through some other stories I've been meaning to crack on with, but I fully intend to at least finish the rest of the trilogy now, and am a little appalled it's taken this long.

I would like to say to anyone who hasn't read this that you won't be disappointed, as long as you have the perseverance to deal with the antiquated language, it really is an exhilarating and absorbing escape.

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