Sunday, November 11, 2012

We've moved!

That's right - we have moved to our own domain at

Come on over and have a look - some major improvements!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

CD REVIEW: Jailbait by Anni Piper

Anni Piper
Black Market Music

I do not usually review music but music is a big part of my life. Listening to this particular CD, I felt inspired to review it.

I picked up my copy of Jailbait on a whim several months ago after spying it in the racks. It dates back to 2004 so is hardly a new release but it was housed in the blues section, was an Australian compilation by a white female singer. I was intrigued and I decided to give it a go,

Jailbait is a fine collection of original tracks, all written or co-written by singer, Anni Piper.

While Piper's voice is not a growling 'blues' voice, it is nonetheless a pleasant voice which suits her material.

The music is a mixture of styles. Prominient in the first six tracks is the slide guitar work of Marcus 'Bro' Adamson. Any good slide is going to get my attention.

As an overall album, Jailbait is not going to reach out and grab you by the throat. But it is nonetheless a good listen, importantly of all original works.

If you like blues then this definitely worth having a listen to.

Ross Hamilton - Author
It Hides in Darkness award-winning novella
Funny Shite if life is full of shit, let's make it funny shit
Ross's Rant opinion and general ranting
Words by Ross book reviews and writing-related stuff
Diary of a Novella - experiences in being published
reviewer -

Monday, September 24, 2012

BOOK REVIEW: Bitter Seeds

first posted at

Bitter Seeds
Ian Tregillis
Milkweed Triptych 2


The year is 1939. Raybould Marsh and other members of British Intelligence have gathered to watch a damaged reel of film in a darkened room. It appears to show German troops walking through walls, bursting into flames and hurling tanks into the air from afar. If the British are to believe their eyes, a twisted Nazi scientist has been endowing German troops with unnatural, unstoppable powers. And Raybould will be forced to resort to dark methods to hold the impending invasion at bay. But dealing with the occult exacts a price. And that price must be paid in blood.


Alternative history is about positing a ‘what if’ scenario where history as we may know it is re-written. Bitter Seeds, the first in the Milkweed Triptych trilogy, suggests a very different World War Two, at least as far as Germany and Britain are concerned.

Stories about Nazi Germany coming up with some sort of weird or wonderful new technology or even magic to change the path of World War Two are not new. The challenge therefore for Tregillis was to make this fresh enough to maintain interest. This he easily achieves.

In Bitter Seeds we see the battle between science and dark magic. There is little I can really say without throwing in spoilers all over the place. What I particularly liked about the magic construct used in the story is that it does not come without a price. Nor does it appear in a Harry Potter-esque fashion that it just happens because it just happens. Matters become increasingly grim and quite dark through this use of Enochian magic.

I noted in a review by Andrew J McKiernan over at Thirteen O’Clock, a problem with the use of ‘Enochian’ as the magical construct used by the Brits. Andrew has existing knowledge of this and as such he had concerns about the apparent lack of research by Tregillis in this respect. But if you are like me and know nothing about the Enochian (other than the name making me think of Enoch Powell,) then any such shortcomings would not be apparent.

Like pretty well any good story, the central theme becomes the people and how they are relating to increasingly brutal circumstances. We see some frightful decisions being made due to the needs of the time and circumstances, in pursuit of a greater good. Some things go wrong – terribly wrong.  For my liking at least, I found the character of occultist Will Beauclerk to be the best presented, most rounded character, possibly because of the degree of distress he was going through at the heart of these dark events.

“It was here in this room almost exactly a year ago where Marsh had severed Will’s finger. It was here where Will had pleaded with him to do so. Here Milkweed had repelled an invasion, destroyed a fleet. Today the air tasted like the stones at the bottom of a centuries-old well. The bones of the earth steeped in tainted water and the shells of dead snails.”

The Orbit range of titles often includes interviews with authors. The interview with Tregillis at the rear of the book is quite interesting, not least in how he describes the germ of the idea coming after reading about a WW2 Allied project for building ships out of ice – truth can be stranger than fiction, even though the ice ships do not make it into this trilogy.

I found this a quite gripping read which passed my ultimate test of whether or not I want to read more – I most certainly do!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Autographed copies - an update

UPDATE - if you are outside Australia, contact me at ross [@] to work out postage costs.

And now here it is - my novella, It Hides In Darkness, published by Creative Print Publishing in the UK, is being launched internationally on October 8.

Would you like to be in the draw for a couple of free issues? Then head over to Facebook and 'like' the page

For anyone that is interested in a personalised autographed copy, then you need to purchase a copy here and I will dash it off, pronto - the price is post inclusive and only $9:

 But if you just want to get your hands on a copy without my scrawl defacing things:

BOOK REVIEW: The Blinding Knife

first published at

The Blinding Knife
Brent Weeks
The Lightbringer 2


Gavin Guile is dying.

He’d thought he had five years left–now he has less than one. With fifty thousand refugees, a bastard son, and an ex-fiancĂ©e who may have learned his darkest secret, Gavin has problems on every side. All magic in the world is running wild and threatens to destroy the Seven Satrapies. Worst of all, the old gods are being reborn, and their army of colour wights is unstoppable. The only salvation may be the brother whose freedom and life Gavin stole sixteen years ago.

The opening book in this series, The Black Prism, was a weighty read but worth it, The same can be easily said for its successor, The Blinding Knife.

What strikes me more than anything is the depth that Weeks has gone to in creating his world. A central point of things is that of the casters – people who are able to use a particular colour in the light spectrum as magic. Different colours produce different results, with differing influences on the personality and thought processes of the caster involved.

Most casters are proficient in casting within one, perhaps two colours. The Prism, the national leader of the Chromaria in many respects, is a master of at least all the visible colours in the light spectrum.

Crafting from light comes at a cost – the more you use it, the faster you hasten towards your end. Eventually your particular colour will take you over, potentially turning you into a colour wight.

Gavin Guile is the current Prism although he is really Gavin's brother, Dazen, having stolen his brother's identity sixteen years earlier.

Unlike those headed towards becoming a wight, Gavin is instead beginning to lose his colours, his abilities, a sign that he is approaching a premature end to his life.

In what might be seen as a possible allegory regarding our own world where nature is out of balance, the magic – the colours – are running out of control with dire consequences.

The outward protagonist is the Colour Prince,  the leader of a rebellion against the Chromeria, the ruling body of the Seven Satrapies of Gavin's world. The Colour Prince has rejected the teachings of the Chromeria, surrendering himself to being remade by his colours but as more than a colour wight. But beyond the continuing advances of the Colour Prince, Gavin also has to deal with internal politics,  treachery and his own inner demons and secrets.

My only gripe was the lack of a short introduction reminding us of the events of The Black Prism. At first I struggled a little to remember just who was what. But Weeks soon reintroduces all the principle characters and it starts coming back to you. The story is well supported by two detailed glossaries and an appendix discussing more of the details of colour and crafting.

This is a fascinating, compelling read. It is more than just a successor to The Black Prism, both extending and strengthening the story.

Highly recommended

BOOK REVIEW:Lady of the Shades

first published at

Lady of the Shades
Darren Shan


A man tormented by ghosts, a woman whose love could kill, and a deadly secret that refuses to stay buried – sometimes truth can be stranger than fiction. Ed, an American author on the hunt for his next story, arrives in London. Ensnared in an illicit affair that can only be conducted in the shadows, Ed's world is turned upside down as a series of shattering revelations blurs the line between what's real and what's not.


Are we ever truly free of our past, from ourselves?

That question seems to be an underlying theme in this novel.

Ed Sieveking is an author of the supernatural, the macabre. And his is haunted by  ghosts. Or are they merely manifestations of his own subconscious? He doesn't know. But he is haunted by them all the same and Ed rightfully wonders about his own sanity.

In London, Ed is researching material for another book. And he meets a girl, beginning a relationship with her that son becomes complex, not exactly helped by Ed's own past and the secrets he carries with him.

The eventual revelation of Ed's past is a little abrupt but Shan has still made it work within the context of this particular story.

As the story progresses, the macabre touches become a little more pronounced. While I was able to eventually guess somewhat where things were leading, I was still caught out by the macabre depth of the ultimate twist in the plot.

As for Ed's ghosts, will we ever learn whether they are real or not?

This in an easy novel to get into. The flaws in Ed's character make him strangely interesting. I found Lady of the Shades to be a strangely satisfying and engaging read – definitely worth checking out.

BOOK REVIEW: The Woman Who Died A Lot

first published at

The Woman Who Died A Lot
Jasper Fforde
Thursday Next 7
Hodder & Staughton

Thursday Next is at a low point in her life: she is four months into an enforced semi-retirement following a near fatal assassination attempt. She is yet to walk without a stick, has double vision more often than she doesn't, and has limited mobility in her left arm.

A time, then, for relaxation, recuperation, and rest. A time to spend with her beloved family, avoid stress, take it easy, meet old friends and do very little. If only life were that simple...


Why do I keep doing this to myself? I just love the Thursday Next novels but they are just so damned hard to write about.

The last instalment in the series, One of Our Thursdays is Missing, was almost exclusively set within BookWorld, the odd construct which lies behind the pages of literature. But this instalment is set entirely on Thursday's own world. Not quite our world as we know it but identifiable as generally pretty similar to ours.

One of the fascinating things about Fforde's Thursday Next novels is the way he takes the odd, the different, putting ti together in a quite believable sense. And this instalment is no different in that respect except that it is the loss of some that, to us, strangeness which propels the plot.

Thursday is not the woman she once was, still recovering from the terrible injuries suffered in One of Our Thursdays is Missing. But at the crunch, mentally she is as sharp as ever.

Yet again, Thursday finds herself up against the Goliath mega-corporation but with another twist which keeps it from going stale. And Fforde has once again managed to weave that interaction into a wider story.

When trying to describe what happens, I find myself in real difficulties. How can I do so without making it sound like absurd nonsense that is not worth your time in picking it up. But, while indeed delightfully absurd, Fforde's genius is in making it all make a strange form of sense.

Funny. Multi-layered, Enjoyable. Just go and read the damned thing!