Monday, November 24, 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 posted the following reviews:

ROBIN WILLIAMS: WHEN THE LAUGHTER STOPS by Emily Herbert

PROHIBITED ZONE by Alastair Sarre

As I'm still listening to THE COLD COLD GROUND by Adrian McKinty (which is fantastic by the way), I'm trying to avoid crime novels as to not confuse the print books with audio.

Headstone CityHEADSTONE CITY by Tom Piccirilli

The night Johnny Danetello drove a dying girl through the streets of Brooklyn in his cab, he was trying to save her life. Instead he ran down a cop and lost her and his freedom. Every day in prison, Johnny knew that Angie Monticelli’s family blamed him for her death, and that going home would be suicide. But Johnny has unfinished business with his former friend turned mob boss, Vinny Monticelli.

Now Johnny has returned to converse with the doomed and the dead–and wait for Vinny to make his move. Survivors of a long-ago freak accident, the two men share access to alternate realities no one else can know–and to a past and present that will all become the same in a city only one of them can leave alive.


SeveranceSEVERANCE by Chris Bucholz
After 240 years traveling toward Tau Prius and a new planet to colonize, the inhabitants of the generation ship Argos are bored and aimless. They join groups such as the Markers and the Breeders, have costumed orgies, and test the limits of drugs, alcohol, and pain just to pass the time.

To Laura Stein, they’re morons and, other than a small handful of friends, she’d rather spend time with her meat plant than with any of her fellow passengers. But when one of her subordinates is murdered while out on a job, Laura takes it as her responsibility to find out what happened. She expects to find a personal grudge or a drug deal gone wrong, but instead stumbles upon a conspiracy that could tear the ship in two.

Labelled a terrorist and used as a pawn in the ultimate struggle for control, Laura, with help from her friend Bruce and clues left by a geneticist from the past, digs deep into the inner working of the ship, shimmying her way through ductwork, rallying the begrudged passengers to rise up and fight, and peeking into an unsavory past to learn the truth and save their future.


A Confusion of PrincesA CONFUSION OF PRINCES by Garth Nix

I have died three times, and three times been reborn, though I am not yet twenty in the old earth years by which it is still the fashion to measure time. This is the story of my three deaths, and my life between. My name is Khemri.

Taken from his parents as a child and equipped with biological and technological improvements, Khemri is now an enhanced human being, trained and prepared for the glory of becoming a Prince of the Empire. Not to mention the ultimate glory: should he die, and be deemed worthy, he will be reborn...Which is just as well, because no sooner has Prince Khemri graduated to full Princehood than he learns the terrible truth behind the Empire: there are ten million princes, and all of them want each other dead.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Review: PROHIBITED ZONE by Alastair Sarre

Prohibited ZonePROHIBITED ZONE, despite being touted on the cover as a 'thriller in the desert', is very much a crime novel centred around an escapee of the Woomera Detention Centre and her accomplices as they traverse Adelaide city and it's outlying suburbs.

Former Adelaide Crows football player and now mining engineer Steve West becomes embroiled in a search for a presumed terrorist, newly escaped from the Detention Centre following a spate of riots. Assisted by a handful of activists and detention centre guards, Saira and Amir flee their captures in search of a better life. Becoming separated in the outbreak, Saira stays with Kara, one of the activists and her only link to the Australia she'd hoped to see after fleeing her country. While Amir goes missing in the endless desert.

Steve, convinced by Kara to help her and Saira agrees to take them to Adelaide so Saira can tell her story to the world of the gross injustice undertaken within the confines of the detention centre. With a bounty on offer to bring all the escapees back to Woomera, a group of detention centre guards sets out to retrieve the attractive Saira and her friend and accused terrorist Amir.

PROHIBITED ZONE was a lot of fun to read. I got a real kick out of reading a book set in my home state and enjoyed the familiarity of the place-setting with many landscapes and towns instantly recognisable.

The cat and mouse nature of these types of 'search and retrieve' crime thrillers can be tedious, however PROHIBITED ZONE doesn't suffer from that with each twist and turn electrifying and believable.

PROHIBITED ZONE is author Alastair Sarre's debut novel (2011) and I'm certain to be on the look out for more of his work - and that of crime/thrillers centred in my home state.

I highly recommend PROHIBITED ZONE for crime and thriller fans, as well as those wanting a distinct brand of Aussie fiction that doesn't hold back on the colourful dialect and mannerisms unique to Australiana.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Friday Finds (21 Nov 2014)


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.

This week I stumbled across the new Jack Taylor book by Ken Bruen due out mid next year and a new book by the awesome Ray Banks (of which Blasted Heath were kind enough to provide a copy for review). Keeping with my diverse taste in fiction, Apex Books provided a sci-fi book for review which looks a lot of fun too.

Angels of The NorthANGELS OF THE NORTH by Ray Banks (due to be published 4 Dec 2014)

Thatcher's Britain. A boom time for entrepreneurs, patriots ... and vigilantes.

Gateshead's notorious Derwent Hall estate. Crippled by unemployment, awash with drugs, and a no-go area for police and politicians alike.

Three men – a taxi driver with political aspirations, a soldier with black dreams, and the jobless victim of a brutal attack – come together to rid their estate of crime. But when conscience collides with ambition, it's not long before the streets turn bloody and their community burns.


Green HellGREEN HELL by Ken Bruen (due to be published 7 July 2015)

In the previous book in the series, Purgatory, ex-cop Jack Taylor had finally turned his life around, only to be taunted back into fighting Galway’s corruption by a twisted serial killer named C33. In the new novel Green Hell, Bruen’s dark angel of a protagonist has again hit rock bottom: one of his best friends is dead, the other has stopped speaking to him; he has given up battling his addiction to alcohol and pills; and his firing from the Irish national police, the Guards, is ancient history. But Jack isn’t about to embark on a self-improvement plan. Instead, he has taken up a vigilante case against a respected professor of literature at the University of Galway who has a violent habit his friends in high places are only too happy to ignore. And when Jack rescues a preppy American student on a Rhodes Scholarship from a couple of kid thugs, he also unexpectedly gains a new sidekick, who abandons his thesis on Beckett to write a biography of Galway’s most magnetic rogue.

Between pub crawls and violent outbursts, Jack’s vengeful plot against the professor soon spirals toward chaos. Enter Emerald, an edgy young Goth who could either be the answer to Jack’s problems, or the last ripped stitch in his undoing. Ireland may be known as a “green Eden,” but in Jack Taylor’s world, the national color has a decidedly lethal sheen.


SeveranceSEVERANCE by Chris Bucholz (due to be published 9 Dec 2014)

After 240 years traveling toward Tau Prius and a new planet to colonize, the inhabitants of the generation ship Argos are bored and aimless. They join groups such as the Markers and the Breeders, have costumed orgies, and test the limits of drugs, alcohol, and pain just to pass the time.

To Laura Stein, they’re morons and, other than a small handful of friends, she’d rather spend time with her meat plant than with any of her fellow passengers. But when one of her subordinates is murdered while out on a job, Laura takes it as her responsibility to find out what happened. She expects to find a personal grudge or a drug deal gone wrong, but instead stumbles upon a conspiracy that could tear the ship in two.

Labelled a terrorist and used as a pawn in the ultimate struggle for control, Laura, with help from her friend Bruce and clues left by a geneticist from the past, digs deep into the inner working of the ship, shimmying her way through ductwork, rallying the begrudged passengers to rise up and fight, and peeking into an unsavory past to learn the truth and save their future.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Review: ROBIN WILLIAMS: WHEN THE LAUGHTER STOPS by Emily Herbert

Robin Williams: When the Laughter Stops 1951 - 2014Film critique quotes and testimonials aside, ROBIN WILLIAMS: WHEN THE LAUGHTER STOPS is a deeply moving read about a man who brought happiness to millions yet despite this penchant for comedy couldn’t bring happiness to himself.

Repetitive at times, but then again isn’t life at certain stages? This bird’s eye account of the man behind the mask of laughs portrays Robin Williams as a depressed, isolated, and womanising man-child whose coping mechanism was his craft. Hash but reality rarely coincides with fiction.

His highs praised his lows painstakingly prominent and seemingly in direct correlation with his state of mind. As a fan of his movies and not knowing much else about the famous comedian/actor it was interesting to read how difficult (and enjoyable as he certainly had his good times) life in and out of the spotlight was for Robin Williams.

From his three marriages, to his monetary woes (though this is still somewhat disputed) to his predilection for gaming and stand-up comedy, WHEN THE LAUGHTER STOPS evokes equal feelings of happiness and sadness for a man who touched so many, bringing to light information many fans would not be privy to.  

Monday, November 17, 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 posted the following reviews:

SHELLA by Andrew Vachss (noir)

DEADLY BELOVED by Max Allan Collins (PI)

THE WIND THROUGH THE FENCE by Jonathan Maberry (zombie)

THE FORGOTTEN ADDICTION by Michael Lion (PI) 

The Cold, Cold Ground | [Adrian McKinty]THE COLD COLD GROUND by Adrian McKinty 

(This is my first foray into the world of audio books. I've read a number of McKinty's books and am enjoying this so far. The narrator Gerard Doyle is a perfect fit).

Northern Ireland, Spring 1981. A homophobic serial killer with a penchant for opera and a young woman's suicide that may yet turn out to be murder. On the surface, the events are unconnected, but then things - and people - aren't always what they seem.

The first book to feature Sean Duffy. 

Robin Williams: When the Laughter Stops 1951 - 2014ROBIN WILLIAMS: WHEN THE LAUGHTER STOPS by Emily Herbert

At midday on August 11, 2014, much-loved comedian Robin Williams was pronounced dead at his California home. From Mrs. Doubtfire, Jumanji, and Aladdin to Good Will Hunting and Dead Poets Society, Robin Williams brought laughter—and deep joy—to a generation. He was sparklingly funny, a lightning-fast improviser, and a wonderful comic. But what touched millions of people was the warmth and compassion he exuded. The deeply tragic manner in which he took his own life has come as a shock to the world and caused people to wonder about the desperately troubled life behind the laughter he gave to millions. With Twitter igniting from record volumes of tributes to the much-loved actor, the death of Robin Williams has caused a public outpouring of grief not seen since the passing of Michael Jackson or Whitney Houston. Emily Herbert’s sensitive and thoughtful biography celebrates his genius, and attempts to understand what could have driven such a warm and gifted man to take his own life.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Returning to the scene of the crime: SHELLA by Andrew Vachss

ShellaFrom the back of the book:
He is called "Ghost" because he is so nondescript as to be invisible and because he slays with such reflexive ease that he might be one of the dead. Once he traveled with a woman who was called "Shella" -- because those who had treated her as a horrendously ill-used child had tried to make her come out of her shell. Now Shella has vanished in a wilderness of strip clubs and peep shows, and Ghost is looking for her, guided by a killer's instinct and the recognition that can only exist between two people who have been damaged past the point of no return. The result is Andrew Vachss's most compelling work to date, the thriller reimagined as a bleak romance of the damned.

My Review:
I originally read SHELLA is May 2010 (thanks Goodreads for assisting my reader memory) and my 2014 re-read pretty much leaves me feeling the same as back then. SHELLA is a satisfying read, if, perhaps not everyone's poison.

A tale of three stanzas intertwined by an overlapping theme of violence, heartache, and pain, SHELLA forecasts storm clouds and doesn't fail to deliver a downpour.

Probably one of the best noir's I've read, SHELLA, seemingly delivers on all fronts yet for some reason I can't give it 5 stars. I think this is due to the quite separate courses the plot forks - firstly in the dark and seedy clubs of the adult industry - strippers, prostitutes, pimps and beat downs, then on to the white supremacy inner circle as 'Ghost' becomes right hand to a racist movement, all for the purpose of chasing down Shella, a woman he hasn't known since before his incarceration.

SHELLA is standard Vachss - it wont win hearts but it will darken them and that's just the way I like my noir.

Returning to the scene of the crime: DEADLY BELOVED by Max Allan Collins

Deadly Beloved (Hard Case Crime #38)DEADLY BELOVED by Max Allan Collins (Hardcase Crime #38)

The cool thing about DEADLY BELOVED is that not only is it written by MAC, the author who is responsible for everyone's favourite hitman in Quarry, but it's got a rich and interesting history associated with the lead character PI Michael Tree.

Mrs. Tree started in the newspaper funny pages as a comic strip which evolved to make the character the longest running PI comic in history (as credited by MAC in the afterword). Mrs. Tree also features in THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF BEST CRIME COMICS in the story Maternity Leave, and while, DEADLY BELOVED is outside of continuity, Maternity Leave does read familiar due to the reoccurring characters in DEADLY BELOVED. Having read Maternity Leave recently, I think the Hardcase Crime novel and the comic complement one another nicely.

DEADLY beloved is a multi layered PI pulp that is more smoke and mirrors than straight forward mystery. There are so many elements and plot threads that come in and out of play which keep the reader guessing and the bullets buzzing.

Originally published in 2006, I hope MAC revisits the series in prose form as this revised 'origin' story sets Mrs. Tree as a unique and dangerously addictive PI - a great diversification of the genre.