Why should you review books?


Every time a person reviews a book an author does a dance. Some might go full on tango with a rose in their gob and others an uncomfortable shuffling dad dance, but they all do it. Seriously. Picture that every time you give a book a 5* review. On large book selling sites reviews have become that important.

Buying/renting and reading a book is well the best thing anybody can do but the below also hep:

Rating a book is good.
Rating a book and saying why you liked it is great.
Rating a book, saying how it made you feel or doing a critique of it is blinking awesome.

If you read comicbooks, special interest books or publications by small publishers this becomes even more important. You become a warrior fiercly protecting the fiction you love by telling others why it is great and how they could love it too.

If you don’t, who will?

What else can you do? Social media. It costs no money to setup a basic blog. Once you have something publicly accessible you can link to your aposts, even tag the authors. A surprising number of authors will retweet and/or thank you for a review. Some even respond kindly to negative reviews (I have no idea how).

Nothing I’ve said here takes any money and not a great deal of time and effort. Be enthusiastic, find your voice and make a difference.

Oh and finally if you think using a library doesn’t count you’d be surprised. There are schemes that mean authors get paid for each lend. When I was young the only access I had to books was through our local library. Sometimes I had to beg them to order a book in for me. Once there other people could read it to and that is why a library is a great community resource and one we can’t culturally afford to lose.

I’ll get down off my pulpit now and go read something, then I’ll write about it. Promise.


DIE by Kieron Gillen

Cover art for DIE by Kieron Gillen

I wasn’t going to blog any more book reviews. I was done. Then I read this and I had to shout about it.

I read episode two of DIE last night. I’ve been trying to pin down what it reminds me of. I started off thinking it was like the old D&D cartoon was invaded by Neuromancer and Hellraiser with Cthulhu as the Dungeonmaster. That was a bit much though and didn’t leave room to describe the future episodes. The best I could come up with is that it was like Ready Player One for old school RPG fans. I feel like I should also be mentioning Scott Pilgrim in the description but I don’t know why yet.

I got the same feeling reading this as I did the first time I read Weis & Hickman, Pratchett, Moore or Gibson. Something about this spoke directly to my brain in a way I can’t quantify. Very rarely does a second of anything make me go back and read the first straight after. I might be getting a little obsessed by this.

It wasn’t just the story though it was the little touches. In the first issue the characters are handed their die. The  only one they can use in that adventure. In the second episode the inside cover has a picture of the character, their dice type and a two-dimensional deconstruction of their die. I loved that. That was the kind of detail that really made it pop for me.

There there was the big page of text at the end. An insight in to how the writer’s research inspired some aspects of the story you say? SOLD!


The Hack Attack by Matt Forbeck

Cover art The Hack Attack by Matt Forbeck

This story was a fun lunch time read but was a surreal completion to a circle long in the making for me. I remember reading Forbeck’s Blood Bowl novels when they first came out (and re-read a couple of times since). For me it was Forbeck that brought life and character to what was essentially a board game version of American Football with a little extra violence and a nod to the wider Warhammer world.
I’ve owned four different editions of the board game and the PC/console games too and it is clear that they’ve ran with the way the author set things up and built upon it (stay with me there is a point somewhere). Forbeck has written a lot of really good tie-in fiction and really captures the mood and spirit of games. In this instance every time I was reading the sportscasters I was actually hearing the voice from the PC game and that was funny.

If you’ve read Forbeck’s Blood Bowl novels (if not they are well worth checking out) this story re-caps in basic terms what happens to Dunk and his team in the books but in typical Blood Bowl fashion descends in to mayhem and the inevitable bloody end that all connoisseurs of The Game demand.

I Can’t Take The Adverts – I Got The Kindle Fire Blues

Kindle Fire 7

Sorry if you were expecting a catchy blues number.

I bought a Kindle Fire 7″ for a silly price to use as a cheap e-reader. I should have realized there would be a catch…

The reason it was £10 cheaper was because there was a discount for having adverts embedded. I didn’t think it would bother me. For a tenner I could cope. That lasted for a total of five times picking up the device. Pressing the on button and seeing an advert before I’d even unlocked it destroyed the calm I need to read. When I read for pleasure it is to escape. I haven’t installed any social media, games or any other apps on to my Fire. It exists purely so I can be distracted from the world and read. My salvation and sanity rely on such things (and it has shown over the last year without a reader). Seriously though the irrational anger I felt pressing the on button and seeing an advert stopped me reading and I just put the device down.

Don’t panic though, if you go to your Amazon account you can pay that extra tenner in your device settings and lose the adverts instantly. That was scarily impressive actually. I now have an OK e-reader at what was still a great price. If I had the money I’d have gone for a paper white as the reading experience is much better but I’d spent all my budget on toy soldiers and I haven’t been reading enough to justify a more expensive reader at the moment.

Mercy by Danie Ware

Cover mercy by Danie Ware

I love this cover.  I don’t know why but the whole nuns with guns has always been a massive hook for me. After reading through some complicated and brain bending books for work recently I needed something cathartic and fun to read. Games Workshop have a knack for producing short stories that cost me a lot of money in toy soldiers. In short the timing for the release of this book could not have been better for me as the new Sisters models aren’t out yet. This story almost felt hard-boiled, and right to the heart of what GW does so well.

The story is pretty simple as you’d expect from something of this length but it has setup the possibility of more Sisters perfectly. There was just enough characterization to give colour to the story and leave me wanting more. As always with GW stories the dark sense of continual war and of the wars within the great war comes across well. Seriously there needs to be more Battle Sisters stories. This book was a great way to spend a lunch break and cost less than a frothy coffee.

The Beast Must Die by Gav Thorpe

Cover The Beast Must Die by Gav Thorpe

This was the eighth book in the Beast Arises series. I know some people thought there has been too much politics in the previous few books (not me) but this book broke that trend in a big way.  This book seemed like it was one continuous battle, something that not many people could have pulled off. Don’t panic if you’re one of the politics fans because this book sets things up nicely for the next.

There was a sense that this was it. The big battle, the culmination of everything that had come before. Then came the twist, or more accurately the grinding of the skulls beneath giant hobnailed boots. I had to reset everything I thought would happen in the series after reading this book. In short and without spoilers everything was in a lot worse state than I’d thought.

In terms of action and a continuous battle scene this was probably one of my favourite Black Library titles. I don’t think it possible for anybody to have read this book and not instantly grabbed for the next volume.

Besieged by Joan De La Haye

Cover Besieged by Joan De La Haye

I have to admit that the cover made me chuckle. Yes I’m a child and the word besieged across a bottom will always bring out that childishness. As you can probably see from the title this is the third in the series of The Race books. Although this book works perfectly well stand-alone given the price and time to read them I can’t really think of a reason not to read them first.

Fast readers will devour this in a lunchtime or maybe two for others. It was cheaper than a coffee and arguably better value. It wasn’t just the length of the book that made this such a quick read, the author’s pacing whilst going through the expected changes is generally quick and easy to read to begin with. There was nothing to take me out of the moment and it felt almost like a single moment. I liked that. Whilst not a plot heavy story there is enough to add some drama and intrigue.  At this point in the series it was possible to actually think that kidnapping women and making them fight to the death as superhuman warriors wasn’t entirely wrong.

This was a fun read and I’m looking forward to see how the story ends in a couple of books time.

The Ether by Garvey and Dizevez

Image from Matt Garvey's website go check it out (source page linked on image).

Image from Matt Garvey’s website go check it out (source page linked on image).

Before you read this take another look at that cover. Really look at it. I can’t articulate just how much I liked this cover. I’ve always loved it when I’m taken out of the narrative in a an interesting way.  This may not sound sane but there is a subtlety to the brash and obvious way the author subverts and older style of cover art. The first time I read the cover I missed a good portion of what was going on. Take another look, you know you want to. There was something  rather pleasing about the clarity of this cover, like the slap in the face I get when reading hard-boiled noir.

Inside the drawing style continued to describe a vigilante helps cops story. Taking a lead from this publication I’m going to break out of my review to talk about buying it. I visited MCM Comicon in London last Friday. Probably my favourite bit was wandering around the authors section. There was something fascinating about standing in front of a writer you’ve never heard of and them telling you about their labours of love and why you should buy them. In nearly every case I bought something but this was always going to be the one I read first.

…anyway, Garvey really does bang out the secret identity of the main character and a large part of their backstory in a remarkably short space. I loved that. It worked. I need to read the second one to see if the great pace continues. This was well worth a read.

Weird Ales: Last Orders Edited by Lynn M. Cochrane

Cover for Weird Ales

Have you ever walked in to a pub for the first time and everything stops and every single person turns as one to stare in silence at you? That’s what reading this book reminds me of. That uncomfortable feeling stayed with me throughout this book. The stories themselves were different and odd (in a good way) but they always felt like something I could relate to. I think that only added to my discomfort. I clearly spent too much time in dodgy pubs and social clubs when I was younger. The characters in this book seemed so familiar. The desperation and hopelessness coloured by the short-term highs and lows of ordinary people made a great backdrop for these stories.

If you are looking for creepy and disturbing stories set in the seething underbelly of pub culture then stop searching and pickup this anthology now. Stupidly good value at the price of a cup of tea too.

The Hunt For Vulkan by David Annandale

Cover The Hunt For Vulkan

This was the seventh book in the Beast Arises series that I’ve read. In terms of action this is the book where things really start to kick in to action. Koorland with some nudging took charge and added impetus to the response of Terra. The search for the only known living Primarch began. The elusive gene father of the Salamanders had been fighting for more than a thousand year on his own. The crash course in being a leader stunned Koorland and I really enjoyed how he still didn’t see himself as a worthy leader.

For me the most interesting part of this book was how the Astartes that are seen as gods amongst men are seen as wayward children to Vulkan. There was a sense that Vulkan had foreseen this situation and knew how it would conclude and yet held himself apart from the Astartes. It would have been easy for this to have come across as a cheesily forced enigma but it didn’t. There was a surprising depth to the character of Vulkan that I really enjoyed.

There were some unanswered questions in this book like how did the Orks know where Vulkan was (If they did) and if they did were they aware of his singular threat to The Beast? Hopefully These questions will be answered in the next book.