Friday, 30 September 2011

Review: FREAKS by Tess Gerritsen

This short story is available as a free download from the iBooks store via your IOS devices, and features the two characters that Tess is known for the best, namely Jane Rizzoli and Maura Isles.

Freaks is a fun read for existing fans, but it's not perfect. There are glimmers of the characters we know and love, but the limited length of the piece doesn't leave room for more than broad strokes. The plot is different for a Gerritsen tale, and does suit the short form very well.

 It reads a little like a YA story and ends rather abruptly, but hey, it's a free Tess Gerritsen story and as such it should be enjoyed. A nice, quick read. Read the novels - they're excellent!

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

New Amazon Kindles! Oh, The Shiny Ones Are Only In The US...

Amazon have unveiled their four (yup, FOUR) new versions of their hit e-reader the Amazon Kindle, and each model is remarkably attractive. The regular Kindle has had a makeover and is now a much more sleek device, while the new Touch and Touch 3G offer Multitouch and the best e-ink displays yet. The Kindle Fire is the device that a lot of people have been waiting for the most, with its colour display, the ability to play TV shows and films, games and apps as well as reading magazines and books as before. 

The part I find most interesting though is Amazon's own browser, Amazon Silk, which I'm hearing very good things about. With fast processors and the option of cloud storage, it's going to be interesting to see how this tablet is received and how it evolves in the years to come.

Sadly, while these four new Kindles are soon to be available across America, only the low-end basic Kindle is available to the rest of us. I understand that the units will eventually find their way to the UK and elsewhere in the World That Isn't America (hey there USA! Remember us?), but in the meantime we are out of the loop.

This is irksome for those of us who would like to have a play with the new gadgets, but it's also annoying in the sense that one territory is not an accurate gauge of how an item will sell elsewhere. Why not roll them out worldwide, albeit in smaller numbers outside of US territories? Ah, who am I yelling at? I just want to play with the new toys, and see what my books look like on the new screens.

Incidentally, feel free to let me know!

Powerplay 136 out this week!

Powerplay 136, my 40th published issue as a writer for the magazine, is out this week! Featuring my interview with Amy Lee of Evanescence and my best reviews yet, I'm thrilled that's it's heading towards the shelves. Here's to another forty issues!

To whet your appetite for my interview with Amy, here's the latest Evanescence video from their new self-titled album!

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

FOR THE FALLEN - Cover shoot done!

The cover shoot for my next book, FOR THE FALLEN, happened on Monday here in Nottingham. Featuring cover model Kelly Purdy in costume as Lisa, the character whose physical description I based on her, the cover photos were shot by the creative powerhouse that is Christopher Dowson, who is now editing and sorting through the forty photos that were shot in order to pick the final two for the front and back covers of the new book.

Pictured above is a phone-cam photo from during the shoot, where I got a strange opportunity to be photographed *with* one of my characters! The shoot was great fun to observe, and I have already seen some early edits of the photos and can confirm it's going to look fantastic.

Chris will also be overseeing a revamp of the previous book, DEAD THING, and the final book in the series which will be announced properly soon! FOR THE FALLEN is another standalone horror novella, but it also serves as a direct sequel to DEAD THING and the central part of THE OTHERSIDE TRILOGY.

More news on this very, very soon!

Friday, 23 September 2011

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo – New Trailer Shows Almost The Whole Movie

Aw man, now I have even less reason to go and see the pointless David Fincher-helmed remake of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Billed as an adaptation of the book rather than a remake of the original Swedish film adaptation, it somehow manages to show off pretty much the whole film in a needlessly lengthy three and a half minutes of running time.

Where are the enticing slivers of mystery? The tantalizing glimpses of much loved characters? Where's the excitement? Where, basically, is Noomi Rapace? I am sure Rooney Mara has done herself proud with her portrayal of Lisbeth Salander, David Fincher has done a good job and Daniel Craig doesn't crack a smile for two hours, but I still don't see the point.

This film is surplus to requirements, and no matter how good it is (if indeed it's any good at all), it'll never be able to shake comparisons to the Swedish film. Anyway, who needs to even goo and see it now? This trailer will tell you almost everything you need to know anyway...

View the lengthy new trailer for The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

Facebook's Facelift Has Gone All Wrong

I'm addicted to Facebook, this is common knowledge, but the latest batch of changes is sending even me up the bloody wall in paroxysms of apoplectic rage. The changes, which (as ever) you can't opt-out of, have turned our already botched feeds into the social media version of the Bloomberg TV channel. Information overload ahoy!

These changes have certainly angered a lot of people, and confused even more. This does happen every time Facebook changes in any way, but this time it seems that maybe the changes have been taken too far. The timeline was already a mess, but now it's pretty much unmanageable unless you mess about for hours putting people into lists.

The thing is, this current issue with Facebook is pretty much exactly what happened to Myspace before its bubble burst. It became too complicated, too confusing and too unpleasant to use, and thus people flocked elsewhere. Myspace started trying to put Facebook-style bells and whistles onto their established methods of communication, but the ship had already sailed and users left the site by the million.

Now we have Facebook apparently doing the same thing. The 'Lists' are basically FB's answer to Google+ circles (only far more irritating to manage), the 'Subscriptions' option is FB attempting to integrate their own version of Twitter, the live feed in the corner of the page basically looks like a TweetDeck feed, and on the whole the site is looking too busy while being incredibly hard to use now.

FB and sites of its ilk should be accessible by the millions of people who aren't particularly computer literate (or indeed give a toss about anything but staying in touch with their friends in a very direct manner), and not overwhelm the audience with information that people don't really need as part of their experience. The thing is, even though we're all complaining about it, we'll all still be using it. We need our fix, don't we? However, I do have a remedy for your distaste with the new Facebook layout:

Step One: -go to Google+

Step Two: -sign up

Step Three: -enjoy


Sunday, 18 September 2011

Getting Mum Online

"Is this the ON switch?"

Hear my cry, dear reader. I am introducing my mum to the internet, bit by bit. My dear old mum has always maintained that she's not used much else other than her TV ever since I moved out of home back in the mists of time, and thus getting her used to the online world is proving to be something of an adventure and a challenge.

She is hugely intelligent and eager to learn, which is helping a lot, but teaching her the basics of using the web is also bringing it home just how far we've all come in the last decade or so of the internet's existence. In fact, it's actually really difficult to try and put the basics into words for her now that so many aspects of operating online are now second nature to me.

Teaching her everything from scratch, right from turning the computer on, is helping me to appreciate just how complicated the internet seems to folks of another generation. It's not just the use of the machines and the web either, it's the things like 'Don't download anything ending with .exe', 'Don't pay any attention to emails from banks', 'Ignore the Nigerian prince offering you a million quid if you pass him your bank details,' and so on. No mum, I know you don't need Viagra. Just ignore the spam. Spam, mum. No, spam emails. Unsolicited messages. No, I don't know why it's called Spam off the top of my head. You get the idea.

She's showing some very good signs of getting the hang of it all, with comments like 'Oh, once I'm on that computer I don't want to come off it,' or 'where else can I find vouchers?' She has started to email me on occasion with questions too, as she just did half an hour ago. She wanted to know what the updates were that her computer was asking her to approve. Normally I'd get bored explaining that sort of thing but as she is so eager to learn that I'm more than happy to help.

This may wear thin as time goes on, but I'm thrilled that she is starting to see just how much can be done with an internet connection. Granted, I use my connection for procrastination as well as work, but it's awesome to see mum figuring out that a lot of the running around she does with one thing and another could be done so much quicker and easier online. Bills, shopping, keeping in touch, banking and so on are all about to change for her, and I'm really kinda proud of the fact that she's trying to embrace what to her is brand new technology. Go on mum. Get stuck in. I'm rooting for ya, and you know where I am when you want to shout at Windows.

Some tips if you're in a similar situation with a friend or loved one:

-Don't rush them. Let them get to grips with things at their own pace . Don't try and explain the complexities of online culture before they know how to stay safe online.

-Teach the basics at first, from the absolute essentials upwards.

-Make sure you explain WHY things are a certain way, and why they need to be done a certain way. This is much more helpful than just telling a person to not do something. Back it up with a reason.

-Don't just skim over the basics. Think about the things you now do reflexively and explain them in detail so that they can make sense to the n00b.

-Don't call them n00bs. It's rude.

Thursday, 15 September 2011


The series that began with my novella 'DEAD THING' and which will continue soon with the sequel, 'FOR THE FALLEN', will now be known as THE OTHERSIDE TRILOGY. These three stories all stand alone as individual books, but together they form the OTHERSIDE TRILOGY, which will end with the epic third part, the title of which will be announced with the release of 'FOR THE FALLEN'.

Encompassing horror, dark fantasy and a littel science fiction, the Otherside trilogy is a work I am extremely proud of and which I hope will help to get word out that I can be a force to be reckoned with when it comes to dark fiction. I hope you enjoy the whole trilogy, and if you haven't checked out DEAD THING yet, do so quick!

You can also 'Like' the official page for the Otherside Trilogy (previously the DEAD THING page) on Facebook at the following link: THE OTHERSIDE TRILOGY by Andrew Hawnt 

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Hellraiser: Revelations – I know It's Rubbish, But I Still Want To See It

Look, I am fully aware that the latest cheapo Hellraiser sequel, HELLRAISER: REVELATIONS is an atrociously bad film, that Doug Bradley refused to be a part of, that Clive Barker has ranted about, that the horror community has torn to pieces, but... I still want to see it. I can't help it. I've liked seven of the nine there have been so far, disliked one and haven't seen the new one, and while I agree the quality has plummeted ever since the heights of Hellraiser II: Hellbound, I have a soft spot for Cenobites.

I just know that no matter how much people slag off Revelations (hell, I've been joining in after seeing the woeful trailer), I'll end up slipping it into my player one day and watching the whole thing. I can't not. I'm a sucker, and Dimension know it. I guess, aside from my completist streak, that I'm curious about it.

I'm curious to see just what a Hellraiser movie which has been made solely to hold onto the license is like. The tiny budget and laughable shooting schedule for the film speaks volumes about the quality (or lack thereof), but if you'll pardon the pun, I'm hooked. I think I'll watch it and then put the original on immediately afterwards to make things all better again. What's your pleasure, sir? Probably not Hellraiser: Revelations, judging by the reaction of people so far...

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Come Dine With Me: Televisual Crack

Okay, I've bitched about bad TV plenty on here and elsewhere in my time as a pop culture hack for many years, but there is one bit of reality TV that never fails to hold my attention, and I need help with my addiction. It's simple. 'Come Dine With Me' is televisual crack.

From the man who stuck a fat guy in a pig mask to the girl who filled a trifle with sausages (both of which are REAL, and not the product of my fevered imagination), the contestants are a procession of maniacs, snobs and freaks with a sprinkling of normal people. The premise of following a bunch of people through the creation, execution and aftermath of dinner parties is both inspired and achingly simple, as are many of the best ideas. Mayhem, arguing, backstabbing and bad food ensues, all while contestants try to get each other drunk enough to give high scores.

Of course, it wouldn't be anywhere near as gloriously naff/fun without the godlike narration of Dave Lamb, a man with a delivery so delightful that he'll certainly make your souffle rise. A stream of puns, jokes, screaming and mockery pours forth into his microphone, giving the show the commentary track we all wish we were witty enough to do ourselves.

A favourite game that myself and my lady play while watching it is to come up withh the maddest things we would serve if we went on there. My own favourite is my bellowed suggestion of 'MASH IN A BOOT!' while my lady suggests a Pot Noodle and crisps followed by half a custard cream marinated in a fat man's arse crack. Yum.

Then of course there's the unveiling of the winner, during which we all watch the losers squirm and force themselves to congratulate whoever has bagged the lovingly fanned-out prize money whilst mouthing the word 'bastard' and hoping they were out of shot. Come Dine With Me is such a simple recipe, but the execution of the show is anything but just pub grub.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Ethereal Tales: New Story In Final Issue

A new short story of mine, 'And With That Breath, I Was Gone', is to be featured in the forthcoming twelfth and final issue of Ethereal Tales Magazine. Way back in 2008 it was Ethereal Tales that first published my story 'The Last Mage', for which I remain extremely grateful. The theme of this final issue is 'Endings' and as such I wrote and submitted a story that is very ethereal indeed, and rather creepy to boot ;) It's sad to see a fiction magazine come to an end, but I'm proud to be part of its legacy at the beginning and the end. I wish its editor and contributors all the best for the future!

New Amazon Tablet Coming? So It Seems

So TechCrunch have reported (and have also supplied a mock-up)that a new Amazon tablet is on the way. It'll apparently be called... the Amazon Kindle. Immediately this makes me wonder two things: What will happen for users of the countless Kindles that are already in existence, and also what changes people like me will have to make when formatting content for the device.

As a couple of rather more tech-savvy friends have suggested to me, there may well be no changes needed to older titles and the formatting of ebooks and suchlike may not change all that much. The reported amazon Kindle tablet will feature a colour display, multitouch and an OS based on Android, but the whole experience will be very much based around Amazon itself, including an Amazon web browser.

I'm looking forward to hearing more about this tablet if it's the real thing, as it appears to be the next phase in the burgeoning tablet market. It's set to be cheaper than the entry level iPad, but will it have anywhere near as much functionality? Will it be a strong alternative to the iPad for many users? I love my iPad, but will certainly be reading up on this new device should it be genuine.

Right now is a fascinating time for mobile technology, and with the market being flooded (and in the case of the HP Touchpad, purged) with products at varying prices, I think that we'll see some whittling down of devices to a core of big-sellers and entry level options. The good thing is, folks like me will have an even more interesting market to peddle our wares upon.