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.

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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.