Saturday, 10 November 2018

Book Review 36 // Horus Rising by Dan Abnett

The books just keep coming! I am really surprising myself with how much I have read this year. So with this in mind I am now attempting to jump between a Discworld book and a Black Library book to help with burn outs and to start getting through some big series of books. Having completed Equal Rights I decided to jump into Horus Rising by Dan Abnett. I have already reviewed a couple of the Horus Heresy books already, but never the opening title so here we go.

Book Stats

Title: Horus Rising (Horus Heresy #1)

Author: Dan Abnett

Publisher: Black Library

Format: Paperback

Page Count: 412 Pages

Commercial Fluff: After thousands of years of expansion and conquest, the imperium of man is at its height. His dream for humanity nearly accomplished, the emperor hands over the reins of power to his warmaster, Horus, and heads back to Terra. But is Horus strong enough to control his fellow commanders and continue the emperor's grand design?


Review

This isn't the first time reading this novel so I knew what I was getting into. The best thing about this tale is how well Dan Abnett makes a sci-fi military novel. There is no crazy movie style battles in this book, it's a more straightforward realistic combat adventure. We have a cast characters that are well balanced, believable and made to seem more human than they really are. The main character we follow in this tale is a Captain Loken. At the start he is just a company Captain, but following an early action Loken is promoted to the Mournival- a group of four senior officers whose role is to advise Horus and act like the Primarchs voice of reason or his political tools. But soon Loken starts to realise all is not what it seems. As the story progresses he starts noticing that secrets are being withheld and not all is as it seems with the perfect Imperium of Man.

I really enjoyed the book. It showed a future villain as a hero, the man that could have been. We also see the manipulation starting to happen by the end of the book and how the Word Bearers are starting to become the puppet masters of the Heresy. It's a great intro to this series and doesn't really need you to understand much as it makes good work explaining it. It has definitely ignited the spark to read more of these titles.

Monday, 29 October 2018

Book Review 35 // Equal Right by Terry Pratchett

So comically I had a very popular blog back in the day called The Fallen Princes. It followed purely my adventures with wargaming and tabletop games. Then I lost momentum and the blog felt like a chore, the painting didn't come naturally. So I stopped blogging, years past and the old blog haunted me. It haunted me so much I deleted it. It is a decision I've always regretted. I wish I still had that out blog so I could revisit it and make fun of myself and my writing.

Now jump forward in time to this blog. I thought I could recapture those early blogging days and improve, instead making it a more rounded hobby blog, wargaming, beers, books and comics. I wouldn't force myself to blog instead I would just let it happen. And so far that is exactly what I have done and it seems to be working for me. Though the blog is more focused on my reading than anything else, it has helped me to express my thoughts more and has helped to push me more. Especially on the reading front which is amazing. I believe this book is number 20 of the year and I could not be more pleased with myself. At the start of the year I felt I would not complete the task instead I'm going stronger than ever before. So let's jump into this newest review:

Book Stats


Title: Equal Rights (Discworld #3, Witches #1)
Author: Terry Pratchett
Publisher: Corgi
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 228 Pages
Commercial Fluff: They say that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, but it is not one half so bad as a lot of ignorance. The last thing the wizard Drum Billet did, before Death laid a bony hand on his shoulder, was to pass on his staff of power to the eighth son of an eighth son. Unfortunately for his colleagues in the chauvinistic (not to say misogynistic) world of magic, he failed to check that the baby in question was a son. Everybody knows that there’s no such thing as a female wizard. But now it’s gone and happened, there’s nothing much anyone can do about it. Let the battle of the sexes begin…

Review

My third step into the discworld and my first into the Witches series. I love the fact that it holds strong links to the earlier books (with the unseen university), but I love it more for showing us a completely different aspect of the disc. This story focuses on two characters Granny Weatherwax and Esk. Esk is meant to be the focus of the book as she comes to terms becoming the first female wizard on the disc.

The book plays upon the idea of what men and women can and can't be. With Pratchett jumping on age old ideas and forcing the citizens of the disc to get with the times!

The true highlight of the book is Granny Weatherwax. A witch from Bad Ass (hehehehe). Granny is just as bad as the wizards for a lack of open mindedness. But as the story progress she sees what Esk could be come and helps her to reach her full potential. We also see Granny standing up and taking names throughout the entire story and I can now see why she ends up in so many tales. Low light for me is the ending, all seems a bit rushed. It felt like Pratchett suddenly ran out of pages and didn't fully realise the ending.

Overall a great read and a great intro to Granny can't wait to get to her next tale but I believe next up is Mort and D'eath :)

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Book Review // 34 Crossfire by Matthew Farrer (Shira Calpurnia #1)

With my 2018 book challenge complete I am trying to not sit on my laurels and continue reading as much as I can. So with that in mind I picked up Crossfire by Matthew Farrer. This book showcases a different side to 40k and I was excited to jump into it.

Book Stats

Title: Crossfire
Author: Matthew Farrer
Publisher: Black Library
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 288

Commercial Fluff: The busting dockyards in the Hydraphur system are home to the mighty Imperial warfleets. They dock, repair, rearm and depart in an endless cycle of war. But even in this heart of imperial space, conflict exists. A great religious festival provides the perfect catalyst for civil unrest, political intrigue and murder in the vast Hive cities. Newly arrived Arbites officer, Shira Calpurnia finds herself in the thick of the action when she becomes the target of a series of assassination attempts. Coping with corruption and betrayal from within the ranks of the Arbites, Shira must discover who is trying to kill her before civil unrest turns to all out heresy. Caught in the crossfire, can she survive the intrigues of the ancient and callous aristocracy of this vital naval base?

Review

I had tried reading this book a few years ago and had never finished it. So I decided to dust it off and give it another go. Unlike most of the 40k novels this doesn't involve a war or aliens or even Space Marines. This book instead follows Shira Calpurnia an Adeptus Arbitors (ie a Police/detective) and the story starts with her arrival on the planet of Hydraphur. This story is very much a detective novel, with new clues being discovered every chapter until the final reveal.

We are treated by the author to a great female lead and an impressive opening couple of chapters (I especially loved the descriptions of the chapels and shrines of the different Adeptus), but as the story continues it seems to lose momentum. Soon we are jumping from scene to scene chasing down a plot that has lost it way. Though it had a strong start I can now see why I didn't finish it the first time. But I am glad I continued to the end.

Overall a solid read. Not my favourite due to the slow pace. I am happy to have finished it and I am sure I will attempt the other tales in the series.

Pros: 
  • Descriptive environment which brings the city to life.
  • Strong female character in the form of Shira Calpurnia.
Cons:
  • Pace slows down.
  • The continued use of Culture Shock throughout the story.

Beer Review 62 // Blood Brothers Unify or Die

Welcome to Brew Review. With the summer now over and autumn chilly days settling in it is time to start drinking all the stouts. It's also a great time to finally start emptying the fridge out, so I can restock it in time for Xmas. Up first is Blood Brothers' Unify or Die aged for a year (or forgotten for a year).

Details

Name: Unify or Die
Style: Spiced Stout
Brewery: Blood Brothers
Country: Canada, Toronto
ABV: 7%
Commercial Fluff: Full bodied and gluttonous, this stout has been infused with locally roasted coffee, cinnamon and vanilla to create a beer appropriate for dessert... or any occasion.

Own Opinion

Label: It's their generic Hand logo. Though cool looking I would love to see more of their cooler labels.
Pour: Thick black pour with a wonderful mocha head. This is what I love about stouts, just looks delicious.
Aroma: Sweet notes of vanilla. chocolate and coffee.
Taste: Sweet chocolate, very smooth beer as you drink more and the brew warms the coffee flavours build and a gentle heat from the cinnamon joins in.
Would I buy it again: Yes! This was a great beer and aged really well! This brewery is on my must visit list for whenever I next visit Toronto (is it shocking that the last time I went was about seven years ago!).

I am so happy for it to be stout season again. What is everyone else drinking today?

Sunday, 7 October 2018

Book Review 33 // The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett

Note to self - Always save your work before clicking away.

As you may guess I wrote this review once already today, then the laptop died and I discovered I hadn't saved. So here is take two.

It is with great pride that I announce I have completed my 2018 challenge to myself. In the waning days of 2017, I decided it was time to challenge myself and my dyslexia to read and blog about eighteen books. Now some may think well eighteen isn't that many, well it was for me. I feel I average at best six books a years so I was tripling my best score. But here we are in the first week of October and I am blogging about book eighteen of 2018.

Want to see which books I read this year? Then follow this handy link: Books of 2018

Now let us jump into book 18 of 2018.

Book Stats

Title: The Light Fantastic (Discworld #2)

Author: Sir Terry Pratchett

Publisher: Corgi

Format: Paperback

Page Count: 241

Commercial Fluff: In The Light Fantastic only one individual can save the world from a disastrous collision. Unfortunately, the hero happens to be the singularly inept wizard Rincewind, who was last seen falling off the edge of the world...

Review

So we are reviewing my eighteenth book of the year! What a great book to finish this challenge with. Now for those who missed the first book The Colour of Magic we are introduced to the world of the disc but more importantly two characters: Rincewind a bumbling, failed but comically brilliant Wizard and Twoflower the Disc's first tourist. As the first book finishes this pair were left in a dire situation with Rincewind falling to his death over the edge of the disc. Here starts the second book.

I felt the start was a bit forced with Pratchett using the spell that is trapped in Rincewind's head to save the character. Soon after though the story really gains pace and you feel like you are on adventure with talking trees/hired thugs/crazy wizards and sun cults. The main premise of the book is that the disc is moving towards a Red Sun and as it gets closer the more crazier the people of the Disc get. Soon Rincewind and Twoflower are wrapped up in the middle of a power struggle for the soul of the Unseen University and that the only way to save the world is for Rincewind to read the eight spells of power.

I enjoy how Pratchett is able to combine tales from folklore, myths and biblical sources but putting on his own twist to make them truly his.The best example is Cohen The Barbarian, a warrior who is out living his own legend and is now an aged and ruined old man. We also get to travel to the realms of the Dungeon Dimension and Death's domain (I can't wait to reach Mort) along with discovering a high advance race who travel between realms within a magical shop!

The tale wraps up their adventure with a nice bow, with Rincewind leading the repairs on the Unseen University whilst Twoflower is heading back to his homeland with his picture box. This is a sad end to such a great adventure. I can safely say I'm hooked, so expect much more Discworld reviews coming this way. Next up will be Equal Rights (the first of the Witch series). But the next review will be back into the Grim Dark worlds of 40k.

Sunday, 16 September 2018

Beer Review 61 // Resting Brew Face by Mikkeller

So my bad. Haven't reviewed a beer since July. Don't worry though as I have been drinking plenty. I could make lame promises of posting more but I feel that would be a lie. I need time to post as well as being in the right frame of mind. So until that becomes more readily available we will have to make do with random batch blogging.

Now back to the beer. I recently travelled to Albany NY state and came across Oliver's Beverage. Now this place is well worth a visit and had a crazy amount of beers on it shelves. After a good hour of walking and looking I settled on buying a load of Mikkeller and Evil Twin beers. So for a little while the beer reviews will be all about these breweries.

Details

Name: Resting Brew Face
Style: NEDIPA ( New England Double India Pale Ale).
Brewery: Mikkeller San Diego
Country: USA San Diego
ABV: 9%
Commercial Fluff: "RBF was created to be a reflection of the epitome of New England style IPA’s. Without the use of any bittering hops, the beer’s juicy hop aroma prominently features sweet, tropical melon characteristics that are supported well by a slightly robust body.  This particular batch finally reached it's proper gravity so expect the deliciousness of past batches but with an extra kick."


Own Opinion

Label: Henry and Sally have the perfect faces going on. It is a great label perfect for the beer name.
Pour: Thick, orange, full white head. Looks chewy.
Aroma: Tropical juice bomb, peach, pineapple, guava. So much fruit.
Taste: Sweet, orange peel, grapefruit, pineapple. Quite bitter finish.
Would I buy it again: Yes! This was a great beer, if I knew how good it was going to be I would have bought more than can. One to look out for.

Book Review 32 // Rebel Winter by Steve Parker

Well that didn't take long! In less than a week I completed book Seventeen of my Books of 2018 challenge. Now was it because it was a epic book or a short read? Guess we need to look at the stats first:

Book Stats

Title: Rebel Winter
Author: Steve Parker
Publisher: Black Library
Format: Paperback
Page Count:
Commercial Fluff: On the brutal battlefields of the 41st Millennium, the life of an Imperial Guardsman is harsh and short. On the snowy wastes of Danik's World, a regiment of Vostroyans is ordered to hold their ground to protect the retreat of other Imperial forces. When their own orders come to move back, they discover they have been stranded behind enemy lines. Cold, hungry and running out of supplies, trapped between rebel forces and hordes of orks, can the Guardsmen ever fight their way back to safety?

Review

This book I discovered in my Mum's house after a resent visit back home. I remember buying it way back in the day because I wanted a Vostroyan army for 40k. For those not familiar with 40k: Vostroyans are an Imperial Guard force from the setting of Warhammer 40k. They hail from a factory world (imagine no grass, just factory after factory) and they specialise in urban warfare and have a lot of similar qualities to Eastern Europe and Russian culture. Now lift all those qualities and throw them on a world suffering from a never ending winter, due to volcano eruptions. These guys are not in their comfort zone.

The story beings in a Courtroom with the main character on trial following his latest military campaign. Through this character's memories we are then transported back to the campaign to experience it first hand. We learn of how this once populous world suffered a natural disaster that plunged it into the never ending winter. We also find out that due to a lack of aid, there was a military coup that has lead to this war. Here enters the Vostroyans, believing themselves to be superior they land planetside to crush the coup. Only problem is the rebels retreat north forcing the Vostroyans to begin a war of occupation. Slowly as the war grinds on the Vostroyans spread further out securing abandoned towns and looking after refugees. It is at this point a new foe enters the war, mankind's oldest enemy Orks. Throughout the book it is hinted whether the Orks arrived by chance or did the rebels invite them? Either way it doesn't really matter as the story progresses the Orks become more of a background occupational hazard. The Vostroyans themselves are well rounded characters but with there being a whole company of them it is hard to truly care for them and you ultimately end up worrying about only three or four of them.

In a classic war/action adventure the Vostroyan Company is cut off and must fight it's way across an unforgiving landscape hounded by Orks and rebels. We meet characters and then watch them die, we experience heroic levels of bravery on one page then never hear of a character again. Overall a few negatives but I did enjoy this book, hence why I finished it so fast. Ultimately it felt like an intro novel and the ending left the tale unfinished. How does the war end? Why are the Orks there? Why is the ********* so creepy? What happened next to the survivors?

Unfortunately it seems like we never find out as eleven years have passed with no follow up.

This book is the perfect train read and I recommend to fans of 40k. Especially Vostroyan fans. Next on my reading list: The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett. 

Also if you use it I have started up on Good Reads so join me over there: Beers with Peps

As always thanks for reading this.


Saturday, 8 September 2018

Book Review 31 // Scourge the Heretic by Sandy Mitchell

Welcome to September! Now the summer holidays are over and the children are heading back to school. Soon leaves will change to Orange and my favourite season will be upon us Autumn. I was lucky enough to enjoy a quick weekend break recently, during this time I was able to finish book sixteen in my Books of 2018!

Unsurprisingly I am delving into the Grim Dark worlds of 40k. It's just a franchise I really enjoy, be it the sci-fi or just the wide scope for adventure it just works. So without further ado let us jump in:

Book Stats

Title: Scourge the Heretic

Author: Sandy Mitchell

Publisher: Black Library

Format: Paperback

Page Count: 416 pages

Commercial Fluff:

When an Ordo Hereticus warband is sent to investigate an inter-planetary people-trafficking operation, they soon find something much more sinister than people being smuggled…

Review

So let's begin with some basics. This tale is set-up in a sector of the galaxy known as Calixis. Those who are new to 40k may not know about it, but it is an area designed purely for the 40K roleplaying game Dark Heresy (a now defunked Fantasy Flight Game). The idea behind the game was to be a character who worked as a henchmen for a powerful inquisitor. Here enters this book.

The way the story is written and portrayed is almost like a game written up into fan fiction. The team (aka player characters) are sent in to investigate a smuggling ring and as they discover more, the more the story unfolds. What should be a straight go in and bust the bad guys suddenly becomes a full on detective series that could span the entire sector.

The cast of characters is the classic character archetypes: A Psychic (Wizard), An Arbite (Leader Warrior), Two Guardsmen (archer and Barbarian), Assassin (Rogue) and a Techpriest (Priest), led by an all powerful Inquisitor (NPC). As the story progresses we get weird love stories, backgrounds and and some pretty well thought out characters.

The planet the adventure is set on is the best part for me. I love the idea of deep mines that a mutant population work over, a population prone to psykers, a military prison under attack and rich nobles lording it over everyone in their noble household made of glass to make the most of the weak sunlight.

Throughout the book there are hints of bigger plots and sinister villains and we are left with a story designed to be spread over at least one or two more books. With a pretty open ending we are left wondering what will happen next, unfortunately the second book is extremely hard to find. Overall an okay read that can lead you to a lot of fun playing Dark Heresy and I hope to one day find the second book.

Tuesday, 4 September 2018

End of Summer

We just came back from our final Summer trip of 2018!

The Road to Burlington is stunning.
Over the Labor Day weekend we travelled from Ottawa to Albany to Boston to Burlington to Ottawa. It was a great way to end what has been a busy and hot summer!

After crossing the oh so friendly border into the USA we arrived at Albany NY. First time here and realistically the last. Very much a working town and though I'm sure there are nice parts we didn't really get to see that side. We arrived early evening visited a grocery store and then Oliver's Beer Store. This place was the highlight, just row upon row of beers. I found a huge stockpile of Evil Twin and could have blown the whole budget there.

Then we were onto to Boston to stay with family. I love Boston, the only thing I need to locate is a model nerd shop and then I would most likely never leave. We explored Trillium and Fort Point along with Jamaica Plains, then Saturday we chilled hard playing a couple of Board games. Sunday was all about the food with brunch in Jamaica Plains, then beers, pasta and snacks at the family home, along with a three hour epic game of Catan.

Monday (labor) day rolled round and we journeyed to Burlington. Once more a City I love to visit, great breweries and coffee shops. Here we visited a few beer stops and drank loads of coffee..Waking Tuesday marked the end of the adventure as we headed back to Ottawa.

But now the leaves are turning orange, the temperatures start to fall back to a liveable amount. Which means only one thing time to kick the hobby into action. Here are the plans for the cooler months:

1) Kill Team - I've got some built but now it's time to paint them. This project is mostly to distract me from Aeldari and paint something different, this may also involve a gaming board.
Cult of the Kraken arises. 
2) Aeldari - I want to get the Spirit Host finished and a full list written out and then get the Eldritch Raiders started (aiming 1000pts).
Classic tiger stripes heading this way.
3) Drukari - Wych Cult here we come! This is a bold new project starting with 1000pts and going up!
Technically Storm Guardians but you get the idea.

So what is everyone else's plans for the cooler months? Drop me a comment as I want to know.

Monday, 13 August 2018

Book Review 30 // The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett

Boom! With this title I am now on book fifteen for my Books of 2018. I know for some readers it's not much of a feat but for me it is amazing; not only am I reading more, I'm writing more too. I've noticed an all round improvement in my concentration and a growing keenness to grab a book. It's becoming hard to not pick up a new title with every visit to a thrift store.

Enough about me, time to write about book fifteen. With this I return to a high school favourite of mine. The Colour of Magic. Written by Sir Terry Pratchett in 1983 (the year of my birth). It soon became a favourite read of mine and the setting is not only imaginative but also pretty crazy. Here are the stats.

Book Stats

Title: The Colour of Magic (Discworld #1)

Author: Sir Terry Pratchett

Publisher: Corgi

Format: Paperback

Page Count: 228

Commercial Fluff: The Colour of Magic is Terry Pratchett's maiden voyage through the now-legendary land of Discworld. This is where it all begins -- with the tourist Twoflower and his wizard guide, Rincewind.

On a world supported on the back of a giant turtle (sex unknown), a gleeful, explosive, wickedly eccentric expedition sets out. There's an avaricious but inept wizard, a naive tourist whose luggage moves on hundreds of dear little legs, dragons who only exist if you believe in them, and of course THE EDGE of the planet

Review

Now this is a book I haven't read since I was youngster. Though I loved the series I stopped reading them in my twenties for reasons unknown and I was excited to open up this thrift store copy. Straight away I am reminded why I enjoyed it so much, the book is just crammed full of all things, fantasy and sci-fi. Throughout the tale we are treated to wizards, assassins, pirates and dragonriders! The theme it would seem for this book is mainly Tourism and the destructive influence it can have on others. It is about showcasing the discworld as much as possible.

The book itself is in fact split into four parts. The first is set in Ankh-Morpork (this worlds version of London with a hint of Rome). Here we meet Twoflower's a wealthy but bored foreigner seeking adventure in the city. For all his well-meaning behaviour he can't help but find himself in constant trouble, especially if it means the locals separating him from his gold. Luckily for Twoflower he soon makes a friend by the name of Rincewind, an Unseen University drop out aka failed wizard. Rincewind reluctantly becomes Twoflowers' travel companion and guide. It's from this setup that we get the other stories as it follows the pair from the centre of the disc all the way to the edge!

What makes this book a good read is Pratchett's humor. Yes some of it is in the style of a cheesy british sitcom, but every few pages I guarantee you will at least smile. Pratchett's writing imagination is second to none, with him taking the standard fantasy themes and making them purely his own. In this book alone we deal with a thieves guild, translucent dragons created by thought, alien space trolls made purely of water, luggage with a hundred feet that never says a word but has some of the best scenes in the book. You are left amused, confused and dazed as the tale continues but at no point do you wish to stop. It's very addicting to read Pratchett and I fear I have become a addit.

I completely loved the book. It's reignited by passion for adventure on the discworld and so now I am searching for the next tale. So expect more reviews soon. Thanks as always for reading.


Book Review 36 // Horus Rising by Dan Abnett

The books just keep coming! I am really surprising myself with how much I have read this year. So with this in mind I am now attempting to ...