Monday, September 29, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?


This is a weekly meme hosted by Book Journey. In order to get some consistency to my posting I thought I’d jump on board this great idea. As a self-proclaimed bookaholic, I love talking about my books and finding out what others are reading. Having been a long time reader of multiple blogs where the ‘It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?’ post is prevalent, I thought it a natural progression I’d add to the mix.

This week I'm going for 4 books, up from my usual two-three weekly reads. It's an eclectic mix and contains a couple review books, a new purchase and a book that's been sitting in my tbr for far too long.

Annihilation (Southern Reach Trilogy, #1)ANNIIHILATION by Jeff VanderMeer (The first book in the Southern Reach Trilogy)

Area X has been cut off from the rest of the continent for decades. Nature has reclaimed the last vestiges of human civilization. The first expedition returned with reports of a pristine, Edenic landscape; all the members of the second expedition committed suicide; the third expedition died in a hail of gunfire as its members turned on one another; the members of the eleventh expedition returned as shadows of their former selves, and within months of their return, all had died of aggressive cancer.

This is the twelfth expedition.

Their group is made up of four women: an anthropologist; a surveyor; a psychologist, the de facto leader; and our narrator, a biologist. Their mission is to map the terrain and collect specimens; to record all their observations, scientific and otherwise, of their surroundings and of one another; and, above all, to avoid being contaminated by Area X itself.

They arrive expecting the unexpected, and Area X delivers—they discover a massive topographic anomaly and life forms that surpass understanding—but it’s the surprises that came across the border with them, and the secrets the expedition members are keeping from one another, that change everything.


 
HustleHUSTLE by Tom Pitts (This book has top billing by Les Edgerton, author of THE BITCH as a new sub category of noir. Early signs are really good for this book - enjoying it so far.)

Two young hustlers, caught in an endless cycle of addiction and prostitution, decide to blackmail an elderly client of theirs. Donny and Big Rich want to film Gabriel Thaxton with their cell phones during a sexual act and put the video up on YouTube. Little do they know, the man they've chosen, a high-profile San Francisco defense attorney, is already being blackmailed by someone more sinister: an ex-client of the lawyer's. A murderous speed freak named Dustin has already permeated the attorney's life and Dustin has plans for the old man.

The Genuine Imitation Plastic KidnappingTHE GENUINE IMITATION PLASTIC KIDNAPPING by Les Edgerton (I was lucky enough to nap an e-arc of this from the publisher)

The Genuine, Imitation, Plastic Kidnapping is a mix of Cajun gumbo, a couple tablespoons of kinky sex and a dash of unusual New Orleans settings. The reader follows the comic mis-adventures of Pete Halliday, busted out of baseball for a small gambling problem, Tommy LeClerc, a Cajun with a tiny bit of Indian blood who considers himself a red man, and Cat Duplaisir, a part-time hooker and full-time waitress. With both the Italian and Cajun mobs after them, a chase through Jazz Fest, a Tourette's outbreak in a black bar and other zany adventures, all seems lost.

Fans of Tim Dorsey's character Serge A. Storms, and readers who enjoy Christopher Moore and Carl Hiassen will enjoy this story.



American PsychoAMERICAN PSYCHO by Bret Eastern Ellis (My first Bret Eastern Ellis read is his most accomplished novel. Really looking forward to getting stuck into this.)

Patrick Bateman is twenty-six and he works on Wall Street, he is handsome, sophisticated, charming and intelligent. He is also a psychopath. Taking us to head-on collision with American's greatest dream-and it's worst nightmare- American Psycho is bleak, bitter, black comedy about a world we all recognise but do not wish to confront.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Catching up on classics: LOLITA by Vladimir Nabokov

LolitaRarely does a novel evoke such strong reactions from readers; the provocative and overwhelming inappropriateness of the topical nature of LOLITA and the misguided and delusional paedophile Humbert Humbert at its controversial centre radiates loathing and disgust.

Irrespective of the uncomfortable themes explored in Vladimir Nabokov's classic depiction of a weak middle aged man and his prepubescent unofficial ward nee unwilling lover, LOLITA is as difficult to put down as it is to read.

The unreliable narrator (the pompous, self righteous and unlawful Humbert Humbert) provides insight into a mind meddled with madness and consumed by a child concubine. Through turn of phrase and clever word play, author Vladimir Nabokov attempts to breathe reason and rationale only to portray Humbert Humbert in the deeply distributed darkness of which he rightfully resides.

Interestingly, English isn't Vladimir Nabokov's first language, yet to the uninformed, LOLITA reads beautifully, written by a highly competent author well versed in the use of the English language.

I really did enjoy LOLITA and I'll seek other novels by Vladimir Nabokov, the only downside is that LOLITA has set such high expectations that I hope his other novels can compare.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Friday Finds (26 Sept 14)


Friday Finds is a weekly meme hosted by Should Be Reading where you share the book titles you discovered or heard about during the past week. These can be books you were told about, books you discovered while browsing blogs/bookstores (physical or online), or books that you actually purchased. I think this is a great idea and a way to share my enthusiasm of discovering new books.

Annihilation (Southern Reach Trilogy, #1)ANNIIHILATION by Jeff VanderMeer (The first book in the Southern Reach Trilogy. I ordered this online and it arrived this week. As a bibliophile I love physical books and the perfect paperback edition is a joy to look at. I cant wait to read this (will likely feature in my Monday Reads post next week)).

Area X has been cut off from the rest of the continent for decades. Nature has reclaimed the last vestiges of human civilization. The first expedition returned with reports of a pristine, Edenic landscape; all the members of the second expedition committed suicide; the third expedition died in a hail of gunfire as its members turned on one another; the members of the eleventh expedition returned as shadows of their former selves, and within months of their return, all had died of aggressive cancer.

This is the twelfth expedition.

Their group is made up of four women: an anthropologist; a surveyor; a psychologist, the de facto leader; and our narrator, a biologist. Their mission is to map the terrain and collect specimens; to record all their observations, scientific and otherwise, of their surroundings and of one another; and, above all, to avoid being contaminated by Area X itself.

They arrive expecting the unexpected, and Area X delivers—they discover a massive topographic anomaly and life forms that surpass understanding—but it’s the surprises that came across the border with them, and the secrets the expedition members are keeping from one another, that change everything.


UNDERCOVER - A Cormac Kelly Thriller by Gerard Brennan (The latest crime fiction from one of my fav authors in Gerard Brennan looks to be just as good as some of his previous works. Was published this week.)

Undercover - A Cormac Kelly ThrillerWhen undercover detective Cormac Kelly infiltrates a ruthless gang bent on kidnapping and extortion, he is forced to break cover and shoot his way out of a hostage situation gone bad. Tearing through the dangerous streets of Belfast with a twelve-year-old boy and his seriously injured father in tow, Kelly desperately tries to evade the gang and reconnect the family with the boy’s mother, football agent Lydia Gallagher. But she is in London, unaware of their freedom and being forced by the gang to betray her top client. As Kelly breaks every rule in the book and crosses the line from legit police officer to rogue cop on the run, the role of dapper but deadly ex-spook Stephen Black means the difference between life and death…

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Review: THE AGE ATOMIC by Adam Christopher

The Age AtomicFrom the back of the book:
The sequel to Empire State – the superhero-noir fantasy thriller set in the other New York.

The Empire State is dying. The Fissure connecting the pocket universe to New York has vanished, plunging the city into a deep freeze and the populace are demanding a return to Prohibition and rationing as energy supplies dwindle.

Meanwhile, in 1954 New York, the political dynamic has changed and Nimrod finds his department subsumed by a new group, Atoms For Peace, led by the mysterious Evelyn McHale.

As Rad uncovers a new threat to his city, Atoms For Peace prepare their army for a transdimensional invasion. Their goal: total conquest – or destruction – of the Empire State.
My Review:
The sci-fi pulp feel of THE AGE ATOMIC along with the engaging and unique characters make this a really fun book to read. While different to THE EMPIRE STATE, THE AGE ATOMIC continues some of the themes prevalent throughout its predecessor while maintaining its own identity. I like it when sequels are distinct works in their own right and author Adam Christopher certainly achieves that here.

The impending threat of invasion by a sinister robotic army constructed in the basement of the Atoms For Peace headquarters lead by the villainous Evelyn McHale (a delicately crafted mix of the supernatural and superhero) looms over the Empire State, who, in-turn forge their own army of half humans in response.

The King of 125th street, a charismatic character with flare and a furious temper - his method in madness defined throughout the course of proceedings, Harlem may be frozen but hell is hot, he has the power of the fissure to create his army of robots. It's these robot 'gangs', misfits and part people on the streets that lead Rad (private investigator of the hardboiled tradition) and Special Agent Jennifer Jones, in search of her missing naval brother and on the trail of those responsible for creating a robot army to the King's doorstep and ultimately to the fissure itself.
 
Action abounds and a villain’s quest is articulated; the rationale and conceptual plot elements fleshed out with each chapter and verse, culminating in an explosive ending that closes the age atomic while preparing readers for more stories in this well-defined and immense world.

Monday, September 22, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?


This is a weekly meme hosted by Book Journey. In order to get some consistency to my posting I thought I’d jump on board this great idea. As a self-proclaimed bookaholic, I love talking about my books and finding out what others are reading. Having been a long time reader of multiple blogs where the ‘It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?’ post is prevalent, I thought it a natural progression I’d add to the mix.
Last week I was on a surreal kick with a sci-fi and steampunk.

- Review: AURORA MERIDIAN by Amanda Bridgeman

- Review: THE BURIED LIFE by Carrie Patel

This week I'm continuing the surrealist theme with THE AGE ATOMIC while also delving into a classic I've had on my shelf for far too long in LOLITA.

Here are my intended picks for the week including what I've got on the go at the moment:

The Age AtomicTHE AGE ATOMIC by Adam Christopher (The sequel to EMPIRE STATE. This one has more of a traditional sci-fi feel with a touch of classic comic book plotting. I love the world building here and the characters are a geeks delight. I'll have a review up in a day or so.)

The Empire State is dying. The Fissure connecting the pocket universe to New York has vanished, plunging the city into a deep freeze and the populace are demanding a return to Prohibition and rationing as energy supplies dwindle.

Meanwhile, in 1954 New York, the political dynamic has changed and Nimrod finds his department subsumed by a new group, Atoms For Peace, led by the mysterious Evelyn McHale.

As Rad uncovers a new threat to his city, Atoms For Peace prepare their army for a transdimensional invasion. Their goal: total conquest – or destruction – of the Empire State.


American Supernatural TalesAMERICAN SUPERNATURAL TALES edited by S.T. Joshi (I've read about 150 pages of this 500+ page collection of short stories spanning back from the 1800's through to now. It's a diverse and deeply enjoyable collection of dark and disturbing fiction by some of the greatest authors in history. Some are quite literary while others are pure horror in all it's b-grade splatter mess glory. This week I'm using this collection as a bridge between THE AGE ATOMIC and settling in for a read of LOLITA.)

*As a side note, this edition is perfect, from the black edged pages to the hardcover with the hand held heart art work - the appeal was initialling on the fa├žade, the contents just as good.

The ultimate collection of weird and frightening American fiction.

As Stephen King will attest, the popularity of the occult in American literature has only grown since the days of Edgar Allan Poe. American Supernatural Tales celebrates the richness of this tradition with chilling contributions from some of the nation's brightest literary lights, including Poe himself, H. P. Lovecraft, Shirley Jackson, Ray Bradbury, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and-of course- Stephen King. By turns phantasmagoric, spectral, and demonic, this is a frighteningly good addition to Penguin Classics.


LolitaLOLITA by Vladimir Nabokov (I originally started reading this back in 2010 (thanks Goodreads for being my reading memory) but put it down midway through. The subject matter isn't for everyone but it's one of those books that just needs to be read. Am looking forward to jumping back in.)

Lolita is a novel by Vladimir Nabokov, written in English & published in 1955 in Paris, in 1958 in NY & in 1959 in London. It was later translated by its Russian-native author into Russian. The novel is notable for its controversial subject: the protagonist & unreliable narrator, a 37–38-year-old literature professor, Humbert Humbert, is obsessed with the 12-year-old Dolores Haze, with whom he becomes sexually involved after he becomes her stepfather. "Lolita" is his private nickname for Dolores (both the name & nickname are of Spanish origin).

After its publication, Lolita attained a classic status, becoming one of the best-known & most controversial examples of 20th century literature. The name "Lolita" has entered pop culture to describe a sexually precocious girl. The novel was adapted to film by Stanley Kubrick in 1962, & again in 1997 by Adrian Lyne. It has also been adapted several times for stage & has been the subject of two operas, two ballets & an acclaimed but failed Broadway musical.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Review: THE BURIED LIFE by Carrie Patel

The Buried LifeFrom the back of the book:
The gaslight and shadows of the underground city of Recoletta hide secrets and lies. When Inspector Liesl Malone investigates the murder of a renowned historian, she finds herself stonewalled by the all-powerful Directorate of Preservation – Ricoletta’s top-secret historical research facility.

When a second high-profile murder threatens the very fabric of city society, Malone and her rookie partner Rafe Sundar must tread carefully, lest they fall victim to not only the criminals they seek, but the government which purports to protect them. Knowledge is power, and power must be preserved at all costs...


My Review:
There is a surrealist steampunk dystopian feel to THE BURIED LIFE. Cover quotes like the book to Cherie Priest (BONESHAKER) and it definitely has that vibe.

Set predominantly underground, THE BURIED LIFE evokes feelings of the tightly cobbled Victorian streets at night time. Fully embodying that omnipresent dread prevalent with the unknown lurking around the corner, the anticipation of crime and wrong doing is heightened.

Initially starting as a murder mystery in the traditional whodunit frame, THE BURIED LIFE quickly evolved into a political scheming and inner conspiracy tale where the Government kept secrets hidden from the populace while another outfit threated to overthrow life as the inhabitants of Recoletta knew it.

As one half of the books central focus, for struggling laundress Jane, her occupation provides glimpses of the wealthy life; responsible for fixing the garments of the 'whitenails' (or wealthy inhabitants of Recoletta) she often sees the brighter side of 'cave' life while also being privy to some of the Councils (the controlling government body) inner secrets - the walls talk and their messages are deadly, this Jane discovers all too well when she comes across one of her clients dead, another in a string of high profile whitenail murders.

One of the most enjoyable aspects to THE BURIED LIFE was the place-setting and mystery surrounding 'the catastrophe' - both elements I hope are continued to be explored in the second series instalment.

Review: AURORA: MERIDIAN by Amanda Bridgeman

Aurora: MeridianFrom the back of the book:
Their hardest battle will be fighting the enemy within ...

Captain Saul Harris has found himself at a crossroads. Haunted by dreams of the dead, he fights to keep his soldiers safe as events spiral out of his control. But has his search for the truth led him to discover there is more to this mission of chasing Sharley than meets the eye?

Meanwhile, Corporal Carrie Welles seeks revenge. Consumed with demons from her past two missions, she goes rogue in the hope that her actions will end all the pain and suffering the Aurora team has endured. But will facing the enemy free them all from Sharley's cruel grasp, or has she condemned herself to a suicide mission?

As the mystery of Sharley and UNFASP unfolds and lives hang in the balance, Harris and Carrie are forced to search deep inside themselves, and what they find will shock them.


My Review:
The Aurora series is probably the most character driven sci-fi series I've read and MERIDIAN continues that theme. With Carrie off the Aurora ship and fractured from her team in more ways then one, the tough and resilient Corporal Welles could've gone two ways; one succumb to her predicament and put her troubled past behind her, or two; fight back - and fight back she does.

One of the great things about the Aurora books is the notion of ultra humans, super soldiers known as 'jumbos' - evolved/created in secrecy by a shadow branch of the UNF. These jumbos are paramount to proceedings in MERIDIAN as it's these menacing and unpredictable soldiers Carrie willingly places her life in the hands of all for the purpose of taking theirs. Given what transpired in PEGASUS, it makes for an interesting dynamic that's nothing short of page turning.

As Carrie's personal mission becomes known by her former team, Harris, Doc and co turn their attention to getting Carrie back and subsequently taking out the rouge jumbos. As their plight gains momentum, both opposing sides suffer loss while Carrie gains both literally and figuratively - there as some explosive events in MERIDIAN that change the face of this series.

As with the previous two books, having finished MERIDIAN I cant wait for the next instalment. Author Amanda Bridgeman has added another crucial chapter to the characters of the Aurora series while establishing a dangerous and unsettling future for them in further instalments.