Street Team

I’ve been considering organising a Street Team for a few months now, but after talking to several friends, decided to go ahead and start one.

I’m going to be adding people over the next week or so (I hope) and then we’ll make the group secret, so until then if there’s anyone you know who’d like to join, then go ahead and invite them.

So, what is a Street Team?

Well, primarily the people involved in this will review books as they come out on their blogs/amazon/goodreads etc, share Facebook/twitter statuses about book related stuff and generally tell people how much you like the books. In return, this is the place you’ll get to see cover reveals or parts of the book before anyone else, there will be exclusive competitions not available to anyone else and I’ll be giving away stuff like mugs and things on a fairly regular basis.

There will be things that aren’t required of you to do and things that are, but I’ll state which things are required by every one (mostly reviews and pimping new releases/sales). Those who regularly participate will be eligible for things like ARC of future books and the like.

I’m pretty new at this whole Street Team thing, so if anyone has any suggestions then feel free.

To begin with, I’m going to get everyone together and then I’ve got an idea to share. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next.

Joined all 4

If you’re interested, click the covers above. I hope to see some of you there.

Discussion

Just to let everyone know, I’ve created a discussion group on Facebook for people to talk about the Hellequin Chronicles books old and future.

 

If you want to take part, then click the cover below. I look forward to seeing some of you there.

 

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Film Thoughts

As a sort of sequel to my blog post about trailers a few weeks ago, here’s one about actual movies I’ve seen!

To be fair it’s only 3, but that’s 3 more than I usually get to watch in a week, so here you go.

 

Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

The first CA film was merely okay. Chris Evans was pretty good in the role, but it took far too long to do anything and when the action started it wasn’t really that interesting. The sequel changed all of that by being action from beginning to end, with a much more interesting story. And it was fantastic for it. It helped that the characters in the film are all great, with Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L Jackson and Anthony Mackie all getting some decent screen time. Sebastian Stan is great as The Winter Soldier himself, and the interplay between him and Cap sets up things nicely for a third movie.

It’s certainly up there with the best Marvel movies done so far, probably just behind Avengers and Iron Man 1. A really great 2 hours. Go watch it.

 

Considering how important Falcon is to the whole movie, there’s not a single poster I could find with him on it. So, here’s Black Widow.

47 Ronin.

I wanted to love this film. I love period Japanese movies, I love samurai and I love magic. Put  the three together and it should be fantastic. It wasn’t.

To be fair, the actors did a mostly good job with what they had, but it was just so wishy-washy. If they wanted to do a full-blown fantasy epic, they failed, and if they wanted to do a violent samurai movie, they failed at that. For a film with so much sword fighting, there was barely any blood, which I found very odd.

The fantasy parts, while interesting to begin with, were never really embraced into the story and Keanu’s character, who I guess was meant to be the big hero, never really did anything interesting. Also, the bad guy never really came across as the big evil everyone said he is and the witch was… well, she was dull.

That said, it wasn’t terrible. I watched the whole 2 hours (although the love story was needlessly shoehorned into the story) and when the action started it usually looked pretty good. I just wish they’d picked one or the other and gone with it. A real shame and a waste of some excellent source material and interesting characters.

The whole time I was watching it, I just kept thinking, “I should put Ninja Scroll on again.”

 

Of these 3 characters, 1 is in it for all of 10 seconds. No idea why he’s even on the poster, except because he looks cool.

The Hobbit 2

A confession to make; I like the first Hobbit film. It’s a bit overly long, and the singing Goblin King is annoying, but Sir Ian McKellen was awesome as always and Richard Armitage was excellent as Thorin.

But despite my enjoying the first, the second film is better in every way. It’s paced better, it’s more exciting and Benedict Cumberbatch is awesome as Smaug. Luke Evans as Bard is a great addition and the whole films 2+ hours time flies by.

I don’t mind the addition of Legolas, and the barrel escape was wonderful to watch and a lot of fun too. The only problem I had was with the love story between Tauriel and Kili, which came across as pointless and forced (although I like both characters).

Looking forward to part 3.

 

The film looks great, as you’d expect. Except the spiders. They’re horrible.

So, 2 films I recommend as they’re great and 1 that probably had far too much interference from studios to be anything other than okay. That said, if you want to watch a great Keanu film, go see Man of Tai Chi, which is brilliant and Keanu places a pretty good bad-guy.

Until next time, have a good week.

Trailers

Had a bit of a new Trailer watch last night and I figured what else is a blog for if I can’t share my opinions!

TMNT: Megan Fox being awful and it looks like it’s either going to be good fun or a train wreck. Now I like early Bay films (The Rock and Bad Boys), but since then they’ve all been dreadful. Still, he’s not directing so there’s a glimmer of hope.

If the movie sucks at least the new cartoon is good fun. What, am I saying, ‘if’, of course it’s gonna suck.

Lucy: I’m happy to admit I do like Scarlet Johansson, and Luc Besson’s films are usually, at the very least, entertaining. But saying that, the whole using more than 10% of your brain has been played out a bit. Still it looked pretty good and something I’d probably enjoy.

I don’t really need a caption here, do I?

Joe: Nic Cage in acting shock! It reminds me a little of the sublime, A History of Violence, and when Nic is on, he’s very much on.

And if nothing else, that is a masterful beard.

 

Jinn: I have no idea what the hell happened in this trailer. Bright colours and noise. Looks dull.

Oh there was a car in it, and the car looked pretty good. There, that’s the end of what I remember.

Jupiter Ascending: Okay confession time, I like Channing Tatum. He seems like a nice guy and he’s been in a few films I’ve enjoyed, but nothing spectacular. I don’t see this changing that view. It looks like an okay science-fiction/action film with Sean Bean, who I’m sure will die at some point in heroic fashion.

I’m guessing he dies with fighting a hoard of aliens, cup of tea in one hand and broken bottle in the other. As a Yorkshire-man should.

 

Edge of Tomorrow: It’s a Tom Cruise film based on a Japanese novel. Interesting premise, where a soldier dies in battle and has to constantly relive the same battle over and over in an attempt to win and get better, but the trailer didn’t do it any favours.

Brick Mansions: Paul Walkers last completed film is a remake of the incredible French film, District 13. This looks identical to the original, with some of the same cast returning. Should be good fun.

Hercules: Not the shambolic movie that came out a few months ago, this one has Dwayne Johnson in it. I’ve always liked The Rock in action films, so I can see this being a great watch.

If nothing else, he damn well looks the part. That lion he’s wearing is probably the happiest it’s ever been. You know, if it weren’t dead.

The Raid 2: If you haven’t seen The Raid, stop whatever you’re doing and go watch it. It’s the best action film for the last… well, since Die Hard. After 20 minutes of set up, it’s then an incredible 90 minutes of brutal, unrelenting action that will have you glued to your seat. And the sequel looks like being even more insane. I can’t wait to see this.

In any Asian action film, when the above part happens, you just know the following fight is going to be amazing.

Moms’ Night Out: Yeah, I know, I was just curious. Trailer raised a chuckle until it got to the bit where the dads are left alone with their kids and they don’t cope. Because as we all know, dad’s are fucking useless. Total horseshit.

So, there you go all the trailers I watched. Some look good, some look bad. But what I can take from all of it is that The Raid 2 will be full of awesome, so I’m happy.

I Caved for Infamous

I’ve been an avid gamer for many years. I got my first console, a Megadrive (or Genesis to some) for my 13th birthday nearly 22 years ago and fell in love with the weird blue hedgehog that came with it. I must have played that game a dozen times, and hated that damn water level ever single time.

Over the years, I picked up a Sega Saturn, PS1, PS2, Xbox, Xbox360, Dreamcast, Gamecube and PS3. When the new consoles were released I was initially hesitant. It took me a while to go from Xbox/PS2 to their counterparts too, and I was determined to wait a year for the PS4 to release games I wanted before looking into getting one.

Well I managed nearly 4 mths.

My PS4 and copy of Infamous: Second Son arrived on Friday and I’ve spent the last weekend getting to grips with my new shiny toy. Here are my thoughts.

 

This picture doesn’t really do it justice. Nor does it let you know just how much dust it attracts. Answer: all of it.

PS4

I quite like it. It looks nice and sleek and it nowhere near as heavy as I’d expected. Also no powerbrick, which considering the power this thing can chuck out is nothing short of amazing.

The controller is lovely. Like, really lovely. It’s a huge leap from the PS3 one and up there with the 360 controller in terms of comfort and use. The touch pad is a bit of an odd inclusion, but it works pretty well on the games I’ve used it for. Also the light bar is pretty cool and I like how it changes colour depending on what game you’re playing/doing with the PS4.

The OS is lovely. It’s very streamlined and looks great. It’s basically one long bar where all of your games go. You can drop down on any game and look at more information about it or change settings, and there are also the same thing for your TV apps and the like. Your PS profile and trophies are all on the same level too, and it’s all very easy to navigate. Although I do have a few concerns about how it’s going to be in a few years time when you’ve got loads of games. Also some of the menus aren’t as logical to find things as you may expect.

Frankly it’s an amazing system and I’m glad I picked on up, but systems are nothing without games, so here are the few I have.

 

I don’t know the person this profile belongs to. The magic of Google.

Flower

I got his for free because I already own it. I love Flower, it’s relaxing, fun and beautiful to watch. Even more so on the PS4. Also, I can sit there with my kids and play it, something I don’t really get to do with most of the games I pick up. Well worth the time to play.

 

It’s just a wonderful experience to play.

Zen Pinball 2

I’m awful at pinball games, but I continue to play them. Maybe in the hope that one day I won’t suck quite so badly. Again it’s free for people who have it already. It’s also bloody good fun and looks great.

 

Resogun

I played this for half hour, had no idea what the hell I was doing, but loved every second. It’s mad and beautiful and really does show off some pretty impressive graphics. I get the feeling it’s also a bit of a time sink to get any good at it.

 

Not sure what’s happening, but I’m not sure it matters.

I did get a couple of other PS+ games (which is probably the best thing to happen to any console ever), but I haven’t played any of them yet. I did however get a few full-priced games to go along with it.

 

Injustice

Being a fan of comics, and also of the last Mortal Kombat game, anything made by the same developer in the DC universe was always going to get a look. It doesn’t exactly show off the power of the PS4, but it doesn’t look awful by any means. It’s a decent fighting game with a huge amount of single-player content, something the likes of Capcom could take note off. So far I’ve played a bit of the story mode, which is madness, but a lot of fun and with some great character moments, and Star Labs, which are sort of mini missions for you to complete. Well worth the money.

 

I really have no idea what The Flash is trying to do, but I don’t think The Matrix is a valid form of defense against Deathstroke.

Thief

Okay, first of all a confession to make. I love the old Thief games. Thief 2 is one of my favourite games of all time and Deadly Shadows has Shalebride Cradle, one of the scariest and best levels of any game ever. What I’m saying is that this game had high expectations. And while the reviews certainly don’t show this as being a great game, there are very good parts to it. Removing all of the player hand-holding crap and playing it like the old Thief games, staying in shadows, watching guards and waiting for the right moment; it feels a lot like the games of old. This is not a game for people who have no patience, and it certainly isn’t a game for everyone, but for those of you who like to hide in the shadows and watch as you plot your next move, this might just be for you. Personally, I really enjoyed the few hours I’ve played.

 

Water arrows are the lifeblood of this game. You’ll learn to love them.

 

Infamous: Second Son

The game that came with the PS4. I enjoyed the previous Infamous games quite a bit and was looking forward to this one, and it didn’t disappoint. To start with, it is stunning. In places it’s drop-dead gorgeous, especially when after a few hours you unlock new powers to go alongside your Smoke abilities, as combat starts to get more intense.

It plays great too, the combat and exploration side of things work brilliantly.

Story wise, it’s okay. Some of the characters are more interesting than others, but on the whole it’s not going to worry The Last of Us or anything like that. To be fair, I think in future Sucker Punch need to re-think the morality system, which is just a bit dull. Maybe they should go a more Mass Effect style of being either a full-on good-guy or a bad-ass. The evil route doesn’t really seem to fit with Delsin’s personality, but then I haven’t played that much being the badguy so maybe it gets better.

Also, and this goes for nearly every game developer, stop putting shitty bosses in games. If you have to whittle away a health bar or have some massive difficulty spike, it’s not good game design. In fact I can’t remember the last good boss I played against. Bosses are not meant to be dull or frustrating when the rest of the game is so much fun. Stop doing it.

Over all, it’s great fun, it’s not going to change your mind if you don’t already like the games as a lot of the improvements are small ones (the shards are now fun to find), but if you’re a fan of the franchise or genre, then you’ll love it. Also… pretty.

 

However pretty this looks, it’s nothing compared to seeing the game running.

So, while I wasn’t going to get a PS4 for a while, I’m glad I did. It’s a great console with some good games and the potential to do some amazing things. The next few years should be a very interesting time indeed.

The Story Behind the Hellequin Chronicles

I’ve got a guest post over on SF Signal today about how the use of Flashbacks shaped the Hellequin Chronicles stories, and where that idea came from.

 

Click the cover to go see.

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Infamous Reign Sale

Right now, Infamous Reign: A Hellequin Novella is only 0.99c (79p). Click the links below to go get yourself a copy.

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

Infamous-Reign

In late 15th century England, two young princes are given over by Merlin to the protection of their uncle, King Richard III. They soon vanish from sight, igniting tales of their demise at Richard’s hand and breeding unrest throughout the land.

Nathanial Garrett, also known as Hellequin, is sent to London to decipher fact from rumor and uncovers a plot to replace the king. But his investigation quickly becomes personal when he learns that an old nemesis is involved. He soon finds himself racing against time to rescue the boys before their fate, and the fate of all England, is sealed in blood.

Infamous Reign is a novella in the Bestselling Hellequin Chronicles series, mixing gritty and action-packed historical fantasy with ancient mythology.

 

Reviews:

LizLovesBooks

“As usual Mr McHugh weaves a magical tale blending myth, legend, history and fantasy with terrific effect. Taking the story of “The Princes in the Tower” as a backdrop and putting Nate Garret bang at the centre of it, this is a beautifully fast paced action driven instalment in Nate’s story.

If you are a fan of this series this will certainly wet the appetite for the next book. If you have yet to dip your toes into Nate’s world this is a gorgeous little taster for you that will have you rushing out to get the rest.”

BittenByBooks.com 

“Infamous Reign would make a great introduction to the Hellequin series. There is enough backstory to see where Nate came from and where he is going, who he is as a character, and why he deserves his own following in the urban fantasy genre. Nate is a hero that can carry a fantasy novel with no problem, be it short or long, urban or historical fantasy. Bring on more Hellequin adventures, Steve McHugh.”

 

 

Chat and Win 2

The interview on Bittenbybooks.com is now live and therefor if anyone has any questions about the books or writing, or anything really, feel free to pop on over and ask. You might even win the competition.

 

Click on the cover to go.

 

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A Chance to Chat and Win

Today is the day that I have an interview and web chat with Bitten by Books. It starts at Noon Central US time (5pm UK). You can win a copy of Crimes Against Magic and an Amazon gift certificate by coming over.

Here’s the link for the giveaway.

Rafflecopter giveaway

If you have any questions about the books or writing in general, feel free to pop over and ask.

Click the cover for the link to the webchat when it goes live. 

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Competition and Chat

On wed this week (12th March) at 12pm central time USA (so about 5pm in the UK), I’ll be at Bitten by Books for an Interview, competition and chat. Anyone clicking the below link will get extra chances to win a $25 amazon gift certificate and a copy of Crimes Against Magic.

 

http://bittenbybooks.com/?p=74479

 

If you want to come along and ask me anything about the books, where the series is going, characters or anything else, then pop over and say hi.

 

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