Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Review: Valiant Masters: SHADOWMAN VOL.1 - SPIRITS WITHIN

Valiant Masters: Shadowman Volume 1 - Spirits Within HcFrom the back of the book:
Jack Boniface nearly died one night - attacked by something out of a nightmare. But since that terrifying experience something has changed. Now, when darkness falls, a feeling comes over him, an urge to destroy the demons that would defile the New Orleans night. Wild, reckless, and hell-bent on eliminating evil in all its forms, Jack is now his city's new protector - the nocturnal avenger simply called Shadowman. A deluxe hardcover collecting Shadowman's legendary first appearance in the original Valiant Universe, featuring classic work by Steve Ditko, Steve Englehart, Bob Hall, David Lapham, Jim Shooter, and more, this volume collects Shadowman (1992) #0-7, and material from Darque Passages (1994) #1.

My Review:
A collection such as this which doesn't have a singular narrative voice by virtue of the condensed story arc's and 'one-and-done' individual issue reads makes it difficult to review in the traditional form as I would a graphic novel or single story arc - so I'm changing things up with this one, referring to keynotes rather than a holistic review (which I don't think would do the collection justice).

The character has a personal life, whilst the darkness is always lurking beneath, Jack Boniface, Jazz musician and single guy in New Oreleans has romantic encounters and also has to explain his bumps and bruises to his friends and acquaintances. This is a vigilante series that goes beyond the superhero facade. 

The pre UNITY SAGA issues (#1-3) read well as standalone's and were atmospheric.

The UNITY SAGA tie-in issues (#4-5) were seamlessly integrated into the overarching narrative.

Favorite moment - when Jack appears from beneath the swamp water in #6, the first post UNITY SAGA issue, seemingly only moments before diving beneath the surface in #3 - a great way to maintain continuity.  

I would've liked this volume to have included SHADOWMAN #8 as the conclusion of #7 felt like it needed another issue to finish the plot at a logical point. That aside, this was a great collection. 

Maxim St James, the Shadowman of SHADOWMAN #0 is great - from the origin, design and temperament - I'll def be tracking down back issues from the 1990's to see if he appears more.

I loved the characters listed in DARQUE PASSAGES #1 such as Darque's minions, Mademoiselle Jannie Noir, Abdul, Jawib - these are character's I'd like to see revisited by Valiant at some stage. 

In summary - I was very pleased with this collection and will need to look at some of the other Valiant Masters material

GIVEAWAY: And the winner of THE BURIED LIFE is...

The Buried LifeThe winner of THE BURIED LIFE giveaway, thanks to Angry Robot books is Tim Matthews.

Congratulation Tim, I'm sure you will enjoy the book as much as I did.

A representative from Angry Robot will be in touch with you shortly to delivery your ebook copy of the book. 

From 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...

Monday, March 2, 2015

Review: THE MAGDALEN MARTYRS by Ken Bruen (Jack Taylor #3)

The Magdalen Martyrs (Jack Taylor, #3)"I feel the guilt and recriminations still. The line of the dead who accuse me at every turn of sleep, they come in silent dread, the eyes fixed on me as I twist and moan in vain hope of escape.
     So I drink."

If there is one author I turn to when I want to read a readers book, it's got to be Ken Bruen. His Jack Taylor series is poetic poison in a purely positive way. His perennial drunk and drug addled private investigator is a book junkies binge of choice. Not only are the Jack Taylor books laced with evocative quotes such as the above, but they absorb the imagination, drowning it in whisky to lull the senses before smacking it in the face with heart racing coke - kind of like Jack himself. 

The third installment THE MAGDALEN MARTYRS continues Jack's downfall while still providing glimpses of goodness. The two distinct cases he investigates includes the search of the sadistic 'Angel of the Magdalen' for a local hardman who was introduced in the previous book - second to this quest for belated vengeance is a murder investigation - or rather, a presumed murder, with a young man questioning his fathers death and pointing the finger at his own estranged mother. Two different cases which get the same ad-hoc PI treatment Jack's known for.

Ken Bruen is a master at putting his most renowned character through the blender and, as you'd come to expect, Jack gets the same treatment here; a lover with a touch of crazy, a friend with a touch of death, a recovery undone by temptation. THE MAGDALEN MARTYRS is pitch perfect Bruen. 

*note - this is my second read of THE MAGDALEN MARTYRS and continues my 2015 re-read of the Jack Taylor series. You can read reviews of the previous books below:


Recapping the AURORA sci-fi series

The world awaits - Twitter pic

Each week throughout March I'll be dedicating a blog post, be it in the form of a review, author interview, essay, or recap of the Aurora series by Aussie Sci-Fi author Amanda Bridgeman to celebrate the forthcoming release of the latest book in the Aurora series, AURORA CENTRALIS (book #4) - and today, being the first week of March, I'm recapping the series to date.

Aurora: DarwinStarting with AURORA: DARWIN, author Amanda Bridgeman established a uniquely character driven space adventure series that was just as much about far reaching concepts and interplanetary travel as it was the lives and distinctly humanist aspects of the crew aboard the spacecraft Aurora. I'd had a lot of fun reading AURORA: DARWIN, here's a snippet of my review:

Author Amanda Bridgeman has provided readers with a plausible space story that’s grounded by its deep characterisation and tension filled plot. From the moment the crew of the Aurora disembark from Earth, the palpable and ever impending sense of doom kicks into gear. Never knowing what’s around the corner, where the threat will arise or from whom heightens the anticipation for action and blood curdling terror – in which Bridgeman delivers in spades.

You can read the full review HERE

Aurora: PegasusNext up is AURORA: PEGASUS, here the reader is treated to more action and an expanded cast that integrate with the existing members of the Aurora seamlessly (from a reader perspective, that is) despite the teething problems and conflict between the new and the old.


The place setting is superb; I love the likeness of Mars to the Wild West; a bold and dangerous new frontier town where salons and gun toting men dominate the early stages of habitation. The space shuttles themselves also add a distinct sense of place with the Aurora already well established as a key locale. Bridgeman also teases a superior and imposing warship called the Barbican which I hope to read more of in later installments. Then there’s Hell Town – the super max prison home to the worst of the worst... too much awesomeness... 

You can read the full review HERE

Aurora: MeridianIn AURORA: MERIDIAN Carrie Wells, the star of the Aurora series is in a vastly different place from the preceding novels which makes this MERIDIAN all that much more enjoyable. Wells is no longer the somewhat apprehensive rookie as in DARWIN; she's determined, skilled, and is comfortable fighting for her life and that of the other members of the Aurora team. This time 'round we get more of a look at Centralis and the Doc and Wells dynamic as well as some highly entertaining action.

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. 

You can read the full review HERE
Aurora: Centralis (Aurora 4)
AURORA: CENTRALIS is out soon (23 March 2015)! Here's the synopsis:


After the dramatic events of the past few missions, Captain Saul Harris and Corporal Carrie Welles have found themselves on a path they never expected to be on. Carrie, more vulnerable than she’s ever been, is placed under immense pressure as she becomes the most valuable asset to the UNF. Meanwhile, Harris works with the Aurora crew to keep the UNF at bay and shield her from their nemesis, Sharley, who wants her now more than anything. As events unfold, Carrie comes face to face with the truth of her father’s past, while Harris is forced to confront the truth of his ancestor’s. The revelations leave them reeling in shock, but not as much as when the explosive truth behind UNFASP is finally revealed.

Harris and Carrie struggle with the difficult decisions they have to make, while the Aurora team endures their toughest challenge yet. Once again they come face to face with their enemies in a showdown that will rock them to their very core and change them all forever.

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 (just the one review):


Review: ASYLUM CITY by Liad Shoham

Book Giveaway: THE BURIED LIFE by Carrie Patel 

Blog Tour: AURORA CENTRALIS by Amanda Bridgeman

Here's what I plan on reading this week (and it's a diverse mix yet again):

RunnerRUNNER by Thomas Perry (I've enjoyed everything I've read by Perry (STRIP, FIDELITY, NIGHTLIFE) so far and have high hopes for RUNNER. It's a 'series' book yet I'm having no trouble jumping in.)

After a nine-year absence, the fiercely resourceful Native American guide Jane Whitefield is back, in the latest superb thriller by award-winning author Thomas Perry.

For more than a decade, Jane pursued her unusual profession: "I'm a guide . . . I show people how to go from places where somebody is trying to kill them to other places where nobody is." Then she promised her husband she would never work again, and settled in to live a happy, quiet life as Jane McKinnon, the wife of a surgeon in Amherst, New York. But when a bomb goes off in the middle of a hospital fundraiser, Jane finds herself face to face with the cause of the explosion: a young pregnant girl who has been tracked across the country by a team of hired hunters. That night, regardless of what she wants or the vow she's made to her husband, Jane must come back to transform one more victim into a runner. And her quest for safety sets in motion a mission that will be a rescue operation—or a chance for revenge.


Dark WatersDARK WATERS by Deborah Sheldon (Readers of this blog know I loved Sheldon's Aussie noir novlla, RONNIE AND RITA and DARK WATERS looks to be more of the good stuff)

Brendan Reilly, a.k.a. Danny Boy, is a veteran of the Overlords, a Melbourne outlaw motorcycle club. 

A near-fatal accident leads him to an epiphany: he is determined to quit the life and reconnect with his ex-wife and son. 


At the same time, the Overlords are preparing for war against a rival gang, the Golden Jackals, and with Brendan’s loyalty in question he is pushed further into the war when all he wants is a way out.


Dark Waters is an exploration of love, duty and redemption played against the backdrop of Australia’s criminal underbelly.


Valiant Masters: Shadowman Volume 1 - Spirits Within HcValiant Masters: SHADOWMAN VOL.1 - SPIRITS WITHIN (This is a vastly different look to the 2012 rebooted Shadowman (now discontinued/on-hold) and one that I hope makes a comeback in some form. Shadowman is such a cool concept and I hope Valiant revisit the character soon.) 

Jack Boniface nearly died one night - attacked by something out of a nightmare. But since that terrifying experience something has changed. Now, when darkness falls, a feeling comes over him, an urge to destroy the demons that would defile the New Orleans night. Wild, reckless, and hell-bent on eliminating evil in all its forms, Jack is now his city's new protector - the nocturnal avenger simply called Shadowman. A deluxe hardcover collecting Shadowman's legendary first appearance in the original Valiant Universe, featuring classic work by Steve Ditko, Steve Englehart, Bob Hall, David Lapham, Jim Shooter, and more, this volume collects Shadowman (1992) #0-7, and material from Darque Passages (1994) #1.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Review: ASYLUM CITY by Liad Shoham

Asylum CityReading ASYLUM CITY provides the reader with a new perspective on crime. Not only does it expose the reader to new lawful processes (even within the fictitious landscape) but it introduces new rationale behind the crimes committed. In ASYLUM CITY the criminal elements are complex and are largely based on greed - a common enough element, yet when immigration, refugees, and other political factors come into play, ASYLUM CITY distances itself from the norm. 

The characters aren't all they seem to be with hidden motives and personal agendas dictating their every move and lie. 

When a likable Michal Poleg is found murdered in her apartment, a suspect is quickly determined yet, is quickly distanced from the investigation by virtue of a young African man stepping forward claiming to be the murderer. 

Going in I wasn't sure what to expect and was pleased with the overall flow and pacing of the novel. There are enough twists and turns to keep the reader guessing while also dropping hints about the killers' true identity. 

Overall, ASYLUM CITY is a great read if you're looking to diversity your crime fiction pallet. Whilst Liad Shoham does follow the stereotypical police procedural formula, I think the place setting and parallel plots give it enough depth to separate it from generic mainstream crime. 

AURORA: CENTRALIS - Blog Tour is coming!


Each week throughout March I'll be dedicating a blog post, be it in the form of a review, author interview, essay, or recap of the Aurora series by Aussie Sci-Fi author Amanda Bridgeman to celebrate the forthcoming release of the latest book in the Aurora series, AURORA CENTRALIS (book #4). 

Readers of this blog will note that I'm a big fan of this series and I'm wrapped to have Amanda on the blog over the coming weeks. 

The learn more about the blog tour through March (including all sites participating), head over to Momentum's website

As for Just A Guy That Likes To Read, here's the schedule:

beginning with the Aurora series re-cap  March 2, followed by posts each Monday. 

March 9 

March 16

March 23

You can read my reviews of the first three books by clicking on the titles below:

Book 3 - AURORA: MERIDIAN

Book 2 - AURORA: PEGASUS

Book 1 - AURORA: DARWIN