The Ninetoes book of the Week 08/19-25/2019


In keeping up with the theme of Robin Hood for the month, the Ninetoes book of the week for this week is Nathan Makaryk’s Nottingham. I have not yet read it, but you can be sure it is now on my radar!

“No king. No rules.

England, 1191. King Richard is half a world away, fighting for God and his own ambition. Back home, his country languishes, bankrupt and on the verge of anarchy. People with power are running unchecked. People without are growing angry. And in Nottingham, one of the largest shires in England, the sheriff seems intent on doing nothing about it.

As the leaves turn gold in the Sherwood Forest, the lives of six people—Arable, a servant girl with a secret, Robin and William, soldiers running from their pasts, Marion, a noblewoman working for change, Guy of Gisbourne, Nottingham’s beleaguered guard captain, and Elena Gamwell, a brash, ambitious thief—become intertwined.

And a strange story begins to spread . . .”

Yeah, this one is most definitely on my radar!


Your Friday Fun Read 08/16/2019

The Kill Artist (Gabriel Allon Series #1)

I love spy novels. Then again, if you have been keeping up with my blog at all you will already know that. Two of my all time favorite spy novelists are Robert Ludlum and John Le Carre.

I can now add Daniel Silva to the list.

Okay, so I am about halfway through with his book The Kill Artist, but I have to say it is one hell of a read. It has all of the hallmarks of a great spy story; a hero you can get behind, a villain you want to despise, action, some romance, and suspense out the wazoo!

This book also has all the hallmarks of a Friday Fun Read!


The Ninetoes Book of the Week 08/12-18/2019


I find inspiration for my reading in many p laces. It could be something mentioned in passing between my wife and myself, something on the television, an ad on the internet, or an interview on this very blog.

If you read the interview with Toby Venables, you will see that he really admired the book Beowulf, so much so that it inspired some of his writing. To be honest, I have not thought about that book in years, but now, after that interview, I feel the need to revisit an old friend. In this spirit, I am naming Beowulf  as the Ninetoes Book of the Week for this week.

“Beowulf is the greatest surviving work of literature in Old English, unparalleled in its epic grandeur and scope. It tells the story of the heroic Beowulf and of his battles, first with the monster Grendel, who has laid waste to the great hall of the Danish king Hrothgar, then with Grendel’s avenging mother, and finally with a dragon that threatens to devastate his homeland. Through its blend of myth and history, Beowulf vividly evokes a twilight world in which men and supernatural forces live side by side. And it celebrates the endurance of the human spirit in a transient world.
“Alexander’s translation is marked by a conviction that it is possible to be both ambitious and faithful [and] …communicates the poem with a care which goes beyond fidelity-to-meaning and reaches fidelity of implication. May it go on … to another half-million copies.” – Tom Shippey, Bulletin of the International Association of University Professors of English”

Come on and join me in a re-introduction to an old friend.

The Russian Review

The Russian

TITLE: The Russian (Rob Tacoma Series #1)

AUTHOR: Ben Coes

GENRE: Thriller

PAGES: 362

This is the first book in a new series by Ben Coes (author of the Dewey Andreas series.) In this book, he tackles the Russian Mafia through his hero, Rob Tacoma. A United States senator and a man who is running for the presidency of the United States are assassinated within minutes of each other. The common thread between these two men are their stance on the Russian Mob. In retaliation, the President of the United States forms an assassination squad to get to the unreachable men pulling the strings. Two former Navy SEALs are tapped to be on this squad. Before they can even get off the ground, one of the men is killed and found by his soon to be partner. hung and a railroad spike embedded in his chest. Now the hunt is on in an all out war on the Russian Mob, and Heaven help anyone who gets in Rob Tacoma’s way.

So, that is the basic gist of this book. For the most part, it was an okay read. Not spectacular, not fantastic, just okay. I had several issues from the get go with this one. For starters, the rush to judgement that it was indeed the Russian mob behind the two killings. Sure the men spoke out against the mob, but the leap to tie these killing to the mob was one that even Evil Knievel could not make. Then there was the discovery that the founding fathers put a codicil in the Constitution in times of troubles that certain rules could be bent as long as a committee votes unanimously on it. So, two men are tapped to take care of this new problem, both of unique skills, and one of these warriors was taken out before his feet could even hit the ground on this mission, IN HIS OWN HOME! I could see a car bomb, or a sniper attack in a crowded area, but to be taken out in his own home, and he was considered to be among the best of the best, just did not sit well with me. Then  there is the hero, Rob Tacoma, who does everything but walk on water when it comes to killing only to need help within the last few pages and the hero from the authors other series makes an appearance to save the day.

I had issues from the beginning of this book, and I hoped it would get better, but in the end it did not. To be honest., there were several time when i thought I could go onto something else and just not finish it, but I pushed on through.

In the end, if you have nothing better to do, go ahead and read this one.

2 out of 5 bookmarks


Introducing Toby Venables

See the source image

-What is your name?

Toby Venables

-What genre do you write in?

All of my novels so far have been historical – but with a bit of horror… I’m also a screenwriter, and horror features quite prominently there too. I co-wrote a horror movie called His House which is due out in November. My first commissioned screenplay was a heist movie, though – and my most recent completed feature script was an 80s style sword and sorcery fantasy, so it’s a bit all over the place…

-What drew you to this genre?

I’ve always been into horror, from reading Alfred Hitchcock’s Monster Museum (a classic 1970s collection of genuinely scary stories for kids) to watching Universal horror movie double bills late at night with the sound turned down so my parents wouldn’t hear. I think it all started – as a conscious thing, at least – with a teacher reading the story of Beowulf in class. The part with Grendel eating Handscio alive and then having his arm wrenched off left quite an impression. That also sparked a lifelong interest in that period of history, and led directly to my first novel, which combined Vikings and horror and was really only possible because of a mass of research I had (coincidentally) done into Beowulf. I really have a great deal to thank that tale for, and have a tendency to obsess about it – one I don’t resist in the slightest.

-What book(s) have you written?

First was The Viking Dead, published by Abaddon, which took zombies and dropped them into a Viking context. I thought they were pretty well equipped to deal with that issue and that it would make an interesting mix. It ended up somewhere I hadn’t expected at all, which sharply divided audiences. Some readers REALLY hated that ending… But there was an absolute logic to it. After that, a suggestion for a potential book series came from the publishers, which involved making Guy of Gisburne (one of the key villains of the Robin Hood stories) into an action hero – kind of a 12th century James Bond. By complete coincidence I’d been thinking about a ‘Dark Knight’ version of Robin Hood – of the kind that Ridley Scott seemed to be promising but never actually delivered – and jumped at the chance. The first book of what became known as the Hunter of Sherwood series was Knight of Shadows, followed by The Red Hand, and finally Hood. In the end, to allow for a proper story arc that had a beginning, middle and end, we agreed on it being a trilogy. In it, Gisburne is a real (albeit occasionally reluctant) hero who fights against forces of chaos in the kingdom, and Hood as a charismatic psychopath who people nonetheless flock to as their saviour. He pretty much just wants to watch the world burn. He’s a looming presence throughout Gisburne’s adventures (which don’t necessarily involve Hood that directly) but the two have past history, and a final confrontation between them becomes inevitable.

-What is your current release?

Although not exactly current – I’ve been focused on screenwriting for a couple of years – Hood is the most recent. This tells of the final showdown between these two characters, and unfolds against a backdrop of some big, dramatic events – including the siege of Nottingham castle by Richard the Lionheart, fresh back from captivity following the Third Crusade. My Richard is a long way from the saintly, heroic king of the popular Robin Hood stories. He is, in fact, far closer to the historical character, who was undoubtedly brilliant at winning battles and cracking castles, but a horrible man. His actions strongly suggest psychopathy; I don’t think there’s anything in his life that really hints at any genuine empathy for anyone. This helped greatly in shaping Hood as a villain, because Hood idolises him – and who would idolise a man like that?

-How much research went into that book?

Oof! A lot. And it obviously grew as the series progressed. As with The Viking Dead, I wanted to establish a world that felt real and physical; get that right, and draw people in, and you can get away with all manner of liberties later on. It’s a grim and often horrific world, and while there is some knowingly outlandish stuff in there, the sights, sounds and smells are as real as I could make them, and the fights are tough and often chaotic. There are still things I wince about when I read them now (as well as a few anachronisms that I allowed because I was fine with them). Mostly these are to do with the use of weapons or horse-related stuff. I actually took up the longbow mid-way through writing the books – partly to understand it better, but also because I’d always fancied doing it – and in doing so realised where I was glossing over or falling back on the (usually wrong) depictions of movies and TV shows. The horse stuff became increasingly important as I began to understand it better. For a knight, the relationship with his horse and the teamwork between them was incredibly significant. The horse was, essentially, what made a knight a knight – an essential part of his status, his source of power as a warrior on the battlefield and the thing upon which his life frequently depended – but I realised that often in fiction the horse is just treated like a vehicle that you get on and off. I’ve never ridden and so had no direct experience to draw on – but fortunately the head of Rebellion (the video games developer and owner of 2000AD and Abaddon) was Jason Kingsley, who jousts competitively and has been riding almost his whole life. It turned out that having Gisburne as a hero was also originally his idea, so he took a personal interest in the project and was more than happy to be pestered about both equine and medieval matters. That was fantastic – basically I had an expert on call who had actually done many of the things I was describing. I could ask: ‘Jason – when you’re riding to battle with a lance, how do you carry it when it’s not lowered?’ and he’d have the answer. He’s also the figure of Gisburne on the book covers – he just put on some gear he had and got his partner to take the photographs. I asked him if we could have Gisburne on a horse rearing up for the cover of Hood, and he duly obliged! I was very happy about that, as Gisburne’s horse, Nyght, had become a character in his own right.

While I’m sure medievalists could pick it apart, I was very happy with the world I’d created (it’s always the author’s creation, even when historical) and adored spending time there. It was a real wrench when it was all over, grim though it was at the end.

-What was the hardest part of writing that book?

Writing it! That sounds like a flippant answer, but it’s really true.  All the research, the plotting, the building of the world and characters are a joy. Actually hammering all the words into place is hard work, and it gets harder the closer you get to the deadline. My background is in journalism, so I’m fine with deadlines – in fact, I probably need them – but when you get close and there still seems an impossible amount to do, and the hours get longer and your brain starts to fizz… Well, it’s not working down a mine, but sometimes I think people forget that it’s the product of work as well as inspiration – that you have to physically nail every one of those 130,000 words to the page.

-Is this work part of a series?

See above!

– Where can your book(s) be found?

Amazon. Bookshops, if you’re lucky. Bargain bins if you’re even luckier. Under my bed in a box.

-Reading time is valuable. Sell me on your book.

This book has been BANNED by order of the King. YOU MUST NOT READ IT!


Your Friday Fun Read 08/09/2019

Viking Dead

Yes, Toby Venables IS my author of the month, so why not give you some gold old viking bad assitude with his book Viking Dead. This book is part of the “Tomes of the Dead” series.

“Northern Europe, 976 AD. Bjólf and the viking crew of the ship Hrafn flee up an unknown river after a bitter battle, only to find themselves in a bleak land of pestilence. The dead don’t lie down, but become draugr – the undead – returning to feed on the flesh of their kin. Terrible stories are told of a dark castle in a hidden fjord, and of black ships that come raiding with invincible draugr berserkers. And no sooner has Bjólf resolved to leave, than the black ships appear… Now stranded, his men cursed by the contagion of walking death, Bjólf has one choice: fight his way through a forest teeming with zombies, invade the castle and find the secret of the horrific condition – or submit to an eternity of shambling, soulless undeath!”

It has vikings! It has zombies! What could be more fun than that?

Alien: Sea of Sorrows Review

Alien: Sea of Sorrows (Novel #2)

TITLE: Alien: Sea of Sorrows

AUTHOR: James A. Moore

GENRE: Science fiction

PAGES: 292

In 1979, director Ridley Scott released his movie Alien with the tag line “In space, no one can hear you scream.” Cinematic history was made, several sequels were done, a few video games made, comic books were made, books were written and there was a team up of sorts with another science fiction creation, Predator. What the movies all had in common was a fear born of darkness and claustrophobia, and certain death at the hands of a creature in which nightmares are made of.

In Alien: Sea of Sorrows, James A. Moore has given us a worthy addition to the series. Here is the breakdown:

Alan Decker’s job is to make sure the colonists on LV178 follow the rules and are kept safe, but an accident near the “Sea of Sorrows”, a toxic sandpit, shortens his career and gets him on the next transport home. While recuperating, he is Shanghai’ed by a group of mercenaries and brought back to LV178, also known as New Galveston. Decker has a unique gift and an interesting past that makes him very valuable to the Weyland-Yutani Corporation. Valuable enough for the corporation to basically blackmail him into service one more time or have his life, and the life of his family, irrevocably destroyed. There is something else that wants Decker for a totally different reason. An entire hive of aliens are out for his destruction for reasons of their own, and burn with an intense hatred against Decker. A hatred that burns through the sands of the Sea of Sorrows, and can be felt by Decker.

Now, I will be the first to admit that I am a sucker for anything having to do with the Alien franchise. There have been times I was burned in the past, but I am happy to say this is NOT one of those times. Maybe I was too gentle when I said James A. Moore has given a “worthy” addition to the Alien franchise. This book is a fantastic addition to the franchise.

Where this book really shines is that Mr. Moore has captured all of the fear and tension that are hallmarks of the series. He does not hold back, and as I read the book, the lights around me dimmed, I was sucked in, and terrified by the things in the shadows of my room. The revelation of the aliens unfolded (pardon the pun) the way that they have in the movies, and the attacks were more vicious that anything on film. I felt every attack, and I had to make sure that I was not the one left bleeding.

5+ out of 5 bookmarks!