Friday, October 31, 2014

Friday Finds (31 Oct 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.

It's been a couple of weeks since I last posted a 'Friday Finds' - been a little light on in discovering new books. Well, that changed this week. Below are my recent finds (wishlist and review books) and as usual, it's an eclectic mix of genres and themes. 

Added to my wishlist:

The Forgotten AddictionTHE FORGOTTEN ADDICTION by Michael Lion (I still rate THE BUTCHER'S GRANDDAUGHTER as one of my all time favorite noirs and am excited to hear about this long waited second novel from Michael Lion - publication date 20 November 2014) 

LA, 1993. The City is burning itself down. Murder is king. And Bird is back, right in the middle of the blaze. Still blaming himself for the death of the Butcher's Granddaughter, Bird is holed up in his girlfriend's apartment and trying to keep the demons at bay. But the City won't leave him alone, won't let him grieve. When the desperate father of a missing UCLA co-ed finds Bird and pleads with him to help find his daughter, Bird sees a path to personal redemption and takes it. It may be the last mistake he ever makes. From penthouse office suites to strip club poker games, Bird soon learns that the girl's disappearance may have been of her own making. But somewhere along the way she drew the interest of L.A.'s darkest corners, and in them Bird will have to choose between his own life and that of a woman he has never met.

The World of Ice and FireTHE WORLD OF ICE AND FIRE by George R.R. Martin (A must have as a fan of the epic fantasy series).

The never-before-seen history of Westeros and the lands beyond. With hundreds of pages of all-new material from George R.R. Martin.

If the past is prologue, then George R. R. Martin’s masterwork—the most inventive and entertaining fantasy saga of our time—warrants one hell of an introduction. At long last, it has arrived with The World of Ice and Fire.

This lavishly illustrated volume is a comprehensive history of the Seven Kingdoms, providing vividly constructed accounts of the epic battles, bitter rivalries, and daring rebellions that lead to the events of A Song of Ice and Fire and HBO’s Game of Thrones. In a collaboration that’s been years in the making, Martin has teamed with Elio M. GarcĂ­a, Jr., and Linda Antonsson, the founders of the renowned fan site Westeros.org—perhaps the only people who know this world almost as well as its visionary creator.

Collected here is all the accumulated knowledge, scholarly speculation, and inherited folk tales of maesters and septons, maegi and singers. It is a chronicle which stretches from the Dawn Age to the Age of Heroes; from the Coming of the First Men to the arrival of Aegon the Conqueror; from Aegon’s establishment of the Iron Throne to Robert’s Rebellion and the fall of the Mad King, Aerys II Targaryen, which has set into motion the “present-day” struggles of the Starks, Lannisters, Baratheons, and Targaryens.


The definitive companion piece to George R. R. Martin’s dazzlingly conceived universe, The World of Ice and Fire.

Black Science, Vol.1: How to Fall ForeverBLACK SCIENCE VOL 1: HOW TO FALL FOREVER written by Rick Remender, art by Matteo Scalera (the art alone makes me want this - luckily the story looks good as well)


Anarchist scientist Grant McKay has done the impossible! Using the Pillar, he has punched a hole through the barriers between dimensions, allowing travel to all possible universes. But now Grant and his team are trapped in the folds of infinity, the Pillar sending them careening through a million universes of unimaginable adventure, sanity-flaying danger and no way home...

Presenting the first mind-warping chapter of the critically acclaimed sci-fi epic by superstar creative team of writer RICK REMENDER (Uncanny Avengers, Captain America) and artist MATTEO SCALERA (Secret Avengers).

Collects BLACK SCIENCE #1-6.


Just in for review (many thanks to the respective publishers in Mysterious Press and New South Books):

Robin Williams: When the Laughter Stops 1951 - 2014  Everybody Goes to Jimmy's: A Suspense Novel

Top-5: Books for Halloween



This series of blog posts is a top 5 topical 'best-of' list for all things bookish - be it true crime, fiction, novels to novella etc. - pretty much whatever topic I want to post about on a given day. The aim being to reintroduce myself with some old favorites (books/authors) and also take a look at some books/genres I'm yet to read much of. This is a more casual series of posts as there is no defined scheduled unlike my regular Friday Finds and Monday Reads, feel free to join in and post your top-5 all things bookish and provide a link in the comments. 

This entry looks at books to get you in the mood for Halloween. While Halloween is steadily gaining momentum each year in Australia it's certainly not as popular as in the US. Irrespective, it makes for a great opportunity to showcase some of my favorite horror reads and hopefully introduce new readers to these spooky stories! 


Off SeasonOFF SEASON by Jack Ketchum (cannibalism) 

When Off Season, a novel about horror and cannibalism in modern-day Maine, was first released in 1980, it took readers by storm and sold over 250,000 copies. However, the original edition was edited and content was removed from the story at the publisher's request. The whole effect of the book was deemed too intense, particularly the ending. The Overlook Connection Press has released the novel in its original unexpurgated state for the first time anywhere. The author's original vision can now be read. 

September. A beautiful New York editor retreats to a lonely cabin on a hill in the quiet Maine beach town of Dead River—off season—awaiting her sister and friends. Nearby, a savage human family with a taste for flesh lurks in the darkening woods, watching, waiting for the moon to rise and night to fall...

And before too many hours pass, five civilized, sophisticated people and one tired old country sheriff will learn just how primitive we all are beneath the surface...and that there are no limits at all to the will to survive.


White Flag of The DeadWHITE FLAG OF THE DEAD by Joseph Talluto (zombie)

Millions died when the Enillo Virus swept the earth. Millions more were lost when the victims of the plague refused to stay dead, instead rising to slay and feed on those left alive. For survivors like John Talon and his son Jake, they are faced with a choice: Do they submit to the dead, raising the white flag of surrender? Or do they find the will to fight, to try and hang on to the last shreds or humanity?

From my review: 'White Flag of the Dead' is much like every other zombie novel out there - a virus originating in a densely populated metropolis infects thousands before spreading to suburbia where the numbers turn seven digits before crossing borders and continents to turn the world into one giant meat market. What makes this tired old tale fresh is the sense of community among chaos. In the middle of a broken world, one man, John Talon stops surviving and starts living. Delusions of grandeur? Perhaps, but I like the idea of mankind taking a stand and fighting back; a slight deviance to the traditional survival horror genre zombie books so comfortably fit in.

Dark MatterDARK MATTER by Michelle Paver (ghost story)

January 1937. Clouds of war are gathering over a fogbound London. Twenty-eight year old Jack is poor, lonely, and desperate to change his life, so when he's offered the chance to join an Arctic expedition, he jumps at it. Spirits are high as the ship leaves Norway: five men and eight huskies, crossing the Barents Sea by the light of the midnight sun. At last they reach the remote, uninhabited bay where they will camp for the next year, Gruhuken, but the Arctic summer is brief. As night returns to claim the land, Jack feels a creeping unease. One by one, his companions are forced to leave. He faces a stark choice: stay or go. Soon he will see the last of the sun, as the polar night engulfs the camp in months of darkness. Soon he will reach the point of no return--when the sea will freeze, making escape impossible. Gruhuken is not uninhabited. Jack is not alone. Something walks there in the dark...

From my review: I couldn't put ‘Dark Matter’ down; one can’t help but feel what Jack is going through and shudder at ever bump, groan and scrape in the night. Paver used subtle horror to perfection instilling a constant sense of dread and hopelessness. The extra content on the ‘real’ dark matter complimented the fiction nicely. In a word – excellent, 5 stars.


BreedBREED by Chase Novak (vampire)

Alex and Leslie Twisden told each other they would do anything to have children. The price didn’t matter. But the experimental procedure they found had costs they couldn’t foresee.

Adam and Alice Twisden’s lives seem perfectly normal. Except that, every night, without fail, their parents lock them into their rooms.

And the twins know that the sounds they can hear are not just their imagination. They’re real. And they’re getting louder...

From a new name in horror, Breed is a stunning thriller in the vein of Rosemary’s Baby, brilliantly written, daring, and unforgettable.

The Birthing HouseTHE BIRTHING HOUSE by Christopher Ransom (haunted house)

When Conrad buys a big old house in Wisconsin, his wife Jo doesn't share his enthusiasm, reluctant at the idea of leaving their LA life. But Conrad's new purchase is not all that it seems. Soon Conrad is hearing the ghostly wailing of a baby in the night, seeing blood on the floor & being haunted by a woman who looks exactly like Jo.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Catching up on crime: STRAITS OF FORTUNE by Anthony Gagliano

Straits of FortuneFrom the back of the book:
Ex-cop Jack Vaughn, the best thing to happen to crime fiction since Chandler's Philip Marlowe hung up his holster, moved from the gritty streets of New York to Miami to work as a personal trainer. The sun, sand, and tanned bodies of Miami are a welcome distraction from the haunting memory of another cop's death in New York. But when he becomes involved with millionaire businessman Colonel Patterson, he realizes his new found peace is short-lived.

The Colonel offers Jack a hundred grand to do a seemingly simple favor. But getting involved with the Colonel also means getting involved with his daughter, the exotic wild child Vivian, who once broke Jack's heart. Jack had sworn to forget her, but this memorable cast of characters lures him back into their double-dealing circle.

The deeper he gets, the more Jack finds himself entangled in an ever-expanding web of lies, lust, and violence. A dark, hard-boiled look at the dangerous underbelly of glamorous Miami, Straits of Fortune is an unforgettable debut novel.

My Review:
STRAITS OF FORTUNE is a fun book to read. It’s noir with a nod to the Carl Hiaasen style of storytelling. The dark humour mixed with violence makes for a well-balanced cocktail of drama and suspense.

In Jack Vaughn, author Anthony Gagliano has created a likable protagonist who fits the Miami Beach noir mode to the fullest. He’s buff, fit, and an ex-cop turned personal trainer. His clients love him and it’s this connection that compliments the plot, making his actions and interactions plausible (at times Vaughn needs to rely on a gangster rapper and lawyer to help keep his head above water – in some instances literally).

Opening with a pulp style act 1, STRAITS OF FORTUNE quickly morphs into a much larger monster as bodies pile up and blackmail and family secrets come to surface.


I haven’t seen any other books out that feature Vaughn, hopefully this isn’t the only novel to feature him as I can’t help but think we’re just getting started. 

Monday, October 27, 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:


AUTHORITY by Jeff Vandermeer (sci-fi/fantasy)

HUSH by Anne Frasier (mainstream crime)

El GavilanEL GAVILAN  by Craig McDonald (I had intended to read this last week but time just got away from me. Am 50-odd pages through and can tell I'm going to like it.)

The news is full of it; escalating tensions from illegal immigration, headless bodies hanging off bridges, and bounties placed on lawmen on both sides of the border. New Austin, Ohio, is a town grappling with waves of undocumented workers who exert tremendous pressure on schools, police, and city services. In the midst of the turmoil, three very different kinds of cops scramble to maintain control and impose order.

But the rape and murder of a Mexican American woman triggers a brutal chain of events that threatens to leave no survivors. El Gavilan is a novel of shifting alliances and whiplash switchbacks. Families are divided and careers and lives threatened. Friendships and ideals are tested and budding love affairs challenged. With its topical themes, shades-of- gray characters, and dark canvas, El Gavilan is a novel for our charged times.


The Cost of Doing BusinessTHE COST OF DOING BUSINESS by Jonathan Ashley

In Jonathan Ashley's dark humor debut crime novel, a Louisville bookstore owner leaves his used volumes of Yeats behind to get into the drug trade and make some real money.

Jon Catlett, a misanthropic literary obsessive, is facing the loss of the only thing in the world he loves; his used bookstore, a haven for fellow weirdos, outcasts, misunderstood geniuses and malcontents. Jon has several other problems, the least of which are his love affair with a bi-polar femme fatale heiress to a thriving northern steel company or the exponentially growing opiate habit he has developed.

When Jon, during a deal gone wrong, accidentally kills a fellow drug addict, getting away with murder turns out to be the least of his worries. The steps he and Paul, the obsessive-compulsive manager of Jon's store, must take to cover up the killing result in the two cornering Louisville’s blossoming heroin trade.

From West End gangbangers to dirty cops and crusading narcotics detectives, Jon and his unstable partner in crime must dilute their morals and thicken their skin if they are to have any hope of surviving the lucrative but deadly life they've stumbled upon.

Catching up on crime: HUSH by Anne Frasier

HushFrom the back of the book:
It's criminal profiler Ivy Dunlap's job to unravel the psyches of the most dangerous men alive. None haunts her dreams more than the killer who took her son's life sixteen years ago, then silently disappeared into the dark. Now an urgent request for help from the Chicago police has reawakened Ivy's greatest nightmare.

The Madonna Murderer has returned to fulfill his calling. This time Ivy understands the killer instinct. She knows what man is capable of. This time she's ready to confront her deepest fear, face-to-face. For the very last time.

My Review:
HUSH reads like the mainstream popular crime fiction commonly associated with Karin Slaughter, Patricia Cornwell, James Patterson etc. yet it’s enjoyable and gripping from the get-go, largely due to a seriously messed up antagonist whose thirst for murder is as unquenchable as is the limitless lengths he goes to in order to destroy the lives of his victims and their family.

The ‘Madonna Murderer’ murders mothers, punishing them for their sins while claiming to ‘save’ their babies by subjecting them to the same fate.  

Criminal Profiler Ivy Dunlap is a sole survivor, having been moved into witness protection and given a new identity; she resurfaces at the request of the police to aide in the hunt to catch the killer some years after surviving the attempt on her life.

It’s an interesting dynamic; to couple a victim with an ongoing investigation and have it work despite the obvious trepidation of both parties involved. I liked the almost covert way Ivy was instilled into the investigation while keeping her true identity secret - you could see how this affected her with much of her action being driven by the constant pressure to maintain this false identity.

HUSH is a crime thriller, one that has all the hallmarks of the popular genre of modern crime fiction; unfortunately that includes some filler content and inconsequential scenes of semi domestic life and two dimensional character building. Despite this, I still enjoyed the book (even though pop crime fiction isn’t my genre of choice).

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Review: AUTHORITY by Jeff Vandermeer

Authority (Southern Reach Trilogy, #2)From the back of the book:

For thirty years, a secret agency called the Southern Reach has monitored expeditions into Area X—a remote and lush terrain mysteriously sequestered from civilization. After the twelfth expedition, the Southern Reach is in disarray, and John Rodriguez (aka “Control”) is the team’s newly appointed head. From a series of interrogations, a cache of hidden notes, and more than two hundred hours of profoundly troubling video footage, the secrets of Area X begin to reveal themselves—and what they expose pushes Control to confront disturbing truths about both himself and the agency he’s promised to serve.

My Review:

The Southern Reach trilogy is fast becoming one of my favorite reads of 2014 and I’m not yet at the conclusion. In ANNIHILATION, we were exposed to the strange and dangerous other world of Area X – terrain cut off from the rest of land by some mysterious event. We followed the latest exhibition consisting of a biologist, surveyor, psychologist, and anthropologist into the unknown and watched the breakdown of sanity in big brother-like live streaming. In AUTHORITY, the ambiguity is as abundant as it was in ANNIHILATION yet the characters are a little more personable. Chiefly, they have names not just titles (Note. I do like the concept of ‘Control’ if nothing more than the ironic elements the nickname brings to the character) which add another layer of depth to what already is a deep spanning mystery.


Right from the get-go author Jeff Vandermeer unleashes a big reveal that adds perspective and context to ANNIHILATION. I won’t delve into that as to not spoil prospective reader experiences other than to say I loved it – and the revelations (for lack of a better term) continue throughout the book as small puzzle pieces are formed and jaggedly dropped together.  

***

Monday, October 20, 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:

HER LAST CALL TO LOUISE MACNEICE by Ken Breun (noir)

CRASHING THROUGH MIRRORS by Anonymous-9 (crime/noir)

PRIMARY FAULT by Sharon Kae Reamer (fantasy)

I've also finished AUTHORITY by Jeff Vandermeer (sci-fi/fantasy) and will have a review up shortly for that one. Here's my review of book 1 in the Southern Reach Trilogy, ANNIHILATION, in the meantime. It too is fantastic - really loving these books. 

This week I thought I'd focus exclusively on my tbr (so no review books or recent purchases) as I've largely ignored one of my 2014 New Years Bookish Resolutions to dwindle down my tbr. 

All of my reads are crime fiction this week, however, as you'll see below from the book descriptions, they are quite diverse. 

El GavilanEL GAVILAN  by Craig McDonald 

The news is full of it; escalating tensions from illegal immigration, headless bodies hanging off bridges, and bounties placed on lawmen on both sides of the border. New Austin, Ohio, is a town grappling with waves of undocumented workers who exert tremendous pressure on schools, police, and city services. In the midst of the turmoil, three very different kinds of cops scramble to maintain control and impose order.

But the rape and murder of a Mexican American woman triggers a brutal chain of events that threatens to leave no survivors.El Gavilan is a novel of shifting alliances and whiplash switchbacks. Families are divided and careers and lives threatened. Friendships and ideals are tested and budding love affairs challenged. With its topical themes, shades-of- gray characters, and dark canvas, El Gavilan is a novel for our charged times.


Straits of FortuneSTRAITS OF FORTUNE by Anthony Gagliano

Ex-cop Jack Vaughn, the best thing to happen to crime fiction since Chandler's Philip Marlowe hung up his holster, moved from the gritty streets of New York to Miami to work as a personal trainer. The sun, sand, and tanned bodies of Miami are a welcome distraction from the haunting memory of another cop's death in New York. But when he becomes involved with millionaire businessman Colonel Patterson, he realizes his newfound peace is short-lived.

The Colonel offers Jack a hundred grand to do a seemingly simple favor. But getting involved with the Colonel also means getting involved with his daughter, the exotic wild child Vivian, who once broke Jack's heart. Jack had sworn to forget her, but this memorable cast of characters lures him back into their double-dealing circle.

The deeper he gets, the more Jack finds himself entangled in an ever-expanding web of lies, lust, and violence. A dark, hard-boiled look at the dangerous underbelly of glamorous Miami, Straits of Fortune is an unforgettable debut novel. 


HushHUSH by Anne Frasier (I'm nearing the middle of this one. Reads as mainstream popular crime fiction.) 

It's criminal profiler Ivy Dunlap's job to unravel the psyches of the most dangerous men alive. None haunts her dreams more than the killer who took her son's life sixteen years ago, then silently disappeared into the dark. Now an urgent request for help from the Chicago police has reawakened Ivy's greatest nightmare.

The Madonna Murderer has returned to fulfill his calling. This time Ivy understands the killer instinct. She knows what man is capable of. This time she's ready to confront her deepest fear, face-to-face. For the very last time. 

Catching up on crime: HER LAST CALL TO LOUIS MACNEICE by Ken Breun

Her Last Call to Louis MacNeiceFrom the back of the book:

She’s hot, well read, and absolutely mad—and she won’t let him go.

Bank robber Cooper picks her up at the supermarket, where he spies her shoplifting and warns her that the store detective is watching her. She puts the stolen food back, and he buys her lunch. It’s the worst mistake he’s ever made. What this pretty young American girl is doing in South London is a mystery to him. Her name is Cassie, and she acts sane until they get home. She’s normal as he takes her clothes off, normal for everything that follows, normal until she tells him that now that he’s touched her, he can never have another woman. He thinks it’s a joke until he wakes up and finds her note, which explains that she drugged him and left with his pistol and some of the money he’s made holding up banks. Only death will keep her away, so death it must be.

My Review:

Bruen’s early voice in HER LAST CALL TO LOUISE MACNEICE reads like Duane Swierczynski by way of Ray Banks, yet the addictive and unique style that forms to create renowned PI Jack Taylor is still prevalent as Bruen so effortlessly engulfs the reader in his world of noir through his lead character Cooper and femme fatale Cassie.

Cassie is crazy and Cooper a criminal. One night of lust turns Cooper’s already troubled life upside down. Fatal attraction to say the least. There’s also the matter of a robbery gone horribly wrong which results in the murder of a bank teller and the subsequent hunt for Copper by the law and lawless alike. Being wanted is a distant second to living in isolation for Cooper. 

HER LAST CALL TO LOUISE MACNEICE gives the reader everything you’d want from a pulp-noir story. It’s train wreck following train wreck following train wreck as Cooper wades through the proverbial in an attempt to rid the stench of failure as much as find higher ground to ward off all those pitchforks.


I had a lot of fun reading this. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Review: CRASHING THROUGH MIRRORS by Anonymous-9

Crashing Through MirrorsFrom the back of the book:
Bern Aldershot, former bass player for the legendary band Aldershot is attacked in a dark parking lot. His 1965 Rickenbacker bass is stolen, and that's not all. Desperate to avoid publicity Bern refuses to tell the police or anyone. Big mistake. Three months later depression has him staring down the barrel of his own gun. When his attacker resurfaces there is no one to help or confide in except one: a 16-year-old fangirl named London. Together they play cat and mouse with Bern's assailant across Los Angeles, piecing together clues from a series of rapes and murders, challenging disbelieving cops and pissed off bikers in a wildly unusual chase.

My Review:
Wow, first off let me say CRASHING THROUGH MIRRORS is one heck of story. For a novella it packs a punch most novels should be jealous of.

Bernd Aldershot, a rock and roll legend whose star is slowly fading is the victim of a heinous crime in the early hours of the morning in an abandoned parking lot. Keeping the attack secret, his life starts to deteriorate to the point he's willing to end it. Which he very nearly does.

This is where we pick up his story.

The shotgun lays idle, the shower curtain dishevelled, girlfriend sent away. All that remains is the quiet solitude of pending suicide.

Anonymous-9 constantly produces quality (check out HARD BITE and BITE HARDER) and CRASHING THROUGH MIRRORS is no exception. The dialogue is sharp, the characters are believable, and the story is dark yet with a touch of trade mark humour to keep things balanced.

I loved the way Aldershot is portrayed. There is something so real about this character that makes him jump off the script and land in reality, likewise his teenage 'accidental friend' London.

Without delving too deep into the events of CRASHING THROUGH MIRRORS, I will say that it's one ride that you wont be able to get off, nor will you want to until the last word is read - one of my top crime fiction reads of the year.

***

Other books I've reviewed by Anonymous-9

HARD BITE

BITE HARDER

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Review: PRIMARY FAULT by Sharon Kae Reamer

Primary FaultMy Review:
An intriguing concept, and early, reminiscent of Stephen King; a pure blend of everyday life and crime lightly seasoned with the other worldly.

Author Sharon Kae Reamer, has, with PRIMARY FAULT, brought to life a secondary reality that's mysterious and omnipresent in the lives of her characters.

For Caitlin, her perception of reality is stretched to the limit, yet remains oddly intact despite her internal self-quakes that take her to places only plausible in fantasy.

Central to proceedings lies a crime that threatens to tear Caitlin and her brother, Gus, in half. Accused of assault and murder of young women, Gus goes missing leaving the authorities to automatically assume his guilt, Caitlin, with a couple of convenient accomplices diligently works to clear his name and prove Gus has a doppelganger, one that is responsible for the crimes.

The deep fantasy aspect was secondary to the plot though an integral part to dictating the characters actions and providing some rationale without fully enveloping the reader in other worldly realm. I thought this balance was good but could've been better served by providing the reader with more background to the fantasy side of the equation.

As an initial book in a series, the scene is well established with revelations promised in further instalments. Unique enough to warrant further reading and mysterious enough to captivate the readers attention.
  

Monday, October 13, 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:

ANNIHILATION by Jeff Vandermeer

CLARIEL by Garth Nix

Primary FaultPRIMARY FAULT by Sharon Kae Reamer

Geophysicist Caitlin Schwarzbach, out of work and weary of small-town Texas, leaves home. For good.

Separated from her beloved brother Gus at age seven when their parents divorced, she moves to Cologne, Germany to be with him.

Instead of meeting her brother upon her arrival, a Gus lookalike attempts to kidnap her by pulling her into a wall of glass. His accomplice: a curvy Nordic beauty dressed in black taffeta and lace and swarmed by ravens. Caitlin believes her experience to be a product of jet lag and disorientation.

Later that evening at a university reception, Caitlin learns her seismologist brother has included her in a research project with Hagen von der Lahn, amateur archeologist, stylish aristocrat, and dangerously attractive.

After Gus is called away by an earthquake, the deranged Gus doppelganger again tries to drag her away. Hagen rescues her and spirits her to his castle near the Rhine.



Authority (Southern Reach Trilogy, #2)AUTHORITY by Jeff Vandermeer (I wanted to get into the second book in the Southern Reach trilogy quickly after devouring ANNIHILATION last week. Looking forward to this.)

For thirty years, a secret agency called the Southern Reach has monitored expeditions into Area X—a remote and lush terrain mysteriously sequestered from civilization. After the twelfth expedition, the Southern Reach is in disarray, and John Rodriguez (aka “Control”) is the team’s newly appointed head. From a series of interrogations, a cache of hidden notes, and more than two hundred hours of profoundly troubling video footage, the secrets of Area X begin to reveal themselves—and what they expose pushes Control to confront disturbing truths about both himself and the agency he’s promised to serve.

Her Last Call to Louis MacNeiceHER LAST CALL TO LOUIS MACNEICE by Ken Bruen (this one has been sitting in my tbr for a while. It's one of the few Breun books I'm yet to read. Feels a little like Duane Swierczynski early on.)

She’s hot, well read, and absolutely mad—and she won’t let him go

Bank robber Cooper picks her up at the supermarket, where he spies her shoplifting and warns her that the store detective is watching her. She puts the stolen food back, and he buys her lunch. It’s the worst mistake he’s ever made. What this pretty young American girl is doing in South London is a mystery to him. Her name is Cassie, and she acts sane until they get home. She’s normal as he takes her clothes off, normal for everything that follows, normal until she tells him that now that he’s touched her, he can never have another woman. He thinks it’s a joke until he wakes up and finds her note, which explains that she drugged him and left with his pistol and some of the money he’s made holding up banks. Only death will keep her away, so death it must be.



Sunday, October 12, 2014

Review: CLARIEL by Garth Nix

Clariel (Abhorsen, #4)From the back of the book:
Sixteen-year-old Clariel is not adjusting well to her new life in the city of Belisaere, the capital of the Old Kingdom. She misses roaming freely within the forests of Estwael, and she feels trapped within the stone city walls. And in Belisaere she is forced to follow the plans, plots and demands of everyone, from her parents to her maid, to the sinister Guildmaster Kilip. Clariel can see her freedom slipping away. It seems too that the city itself is descending into chaos, as the ancient rules binding Abhorsen, King and Clayr appear to be disintegrating.

With the discovery of a dangerous Free Magic creature loose in the city, Clariel is given the chance both to prove her worth and make her escape. But events spin rapidly out of control. Clariel finds herself more trapped than ever, until help comes from an unlikely source. But the help comes at a terrible cost. Clariel must question the motivations and secret hearts of everyone around her - and it is herself she must question most of all.


My Review:
I've been waiting for another novel set in the world of the Old Kingdom for a long time now, and, despite having moments that brought back the enjoyment of LIRAEL and SABRIEL, the long ago prequel to SABRIEL doesn't quite live up to expectations.

CLARIEL leans heavily towards the YA styling's of Garth Nix's other fantasy series targeted at that demographic. The toned down storytelling is evident, as is the teenage angst and constant reference to love despite Clariel's predicament (even though she shows no interest in her male suitors, it's a constant theme throughout). 

Clariel, sees her family decimated before her eyes, travers the Old Kingdom in search of the Abhorsens for sanctuary from the threat of the Belisaere governor. Here, readers of the series are treated with a familiar character and further elements of Free Magic as Clariel slowly builds towards realising her path and takes the first tentative steps towards justice for her slain family.

I really liked the last third of CLARIE. It had everything I'd come to love from the Old Kingdom trilogy before it (mages, free and charter magic, bells), yet the set up is what let CLARIEL down.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Review: ANNIHILATION by Jeff Vandermeer

Annihilation (Southern Reach Trilogy, #1)From the back of the book:
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.


My Review:
The thing that hooked me about ANNIHILATION, the first gripping read in the Southern Reach Trilogy, was the undeniable mystery surrounding the seemingly doomed and off-centre expedition into the little known Area X.

The omnipresent sense of dread is compounded by the strange behaviour and lack of detail attributed to past expeditions - notably the most recent where the members returned only to all die of cancer shortly thereafter.

For our narrator and biologist, her journey into Area X is a personal one. Her husband was one of those who returned from the previous expedition - though, 'returned' may be a little misleading. She's looking for closure while also feeding her lifelong dream by undertaking the expedition.

For the remaining members of the all female team; a psychologist, anthropologist, and a surveyor this journey into the unknown not only brings them face to face with unique flora and fauna but also something that may be a deadly mix of both.

ANNIHILATION is a psychological sci-fi thriller that is gripping from the first page all the way through to the last. I especially enjoyed the way the book ended, closing the chapter on the first instalment while reading readers for the second.

Friday Finds (10 Oct 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.


Primary FaultPRIMARY FAULT by Sharon Kae Reamer (I received a copy for review from the author and after having a quick read of the first couple of pages can tell this is going to be a good one. As a side note, I love that cover - looks even better in print)

Geophysicist Caitlin Schwarzbach, out of work and weary of small-town Texas, leaves home. For good.

Separated from her beloved brother Gus at age seven when their parents divorced, she moves to Cologne, Germany to be with him.

Instead of meeting her brother upon her arrival, a Gus lookalike attempts to kidnap her by pulling her into a wall of glass. His accomplice: a curvy Nordic beauty dressed in black taffeta and lace and swarmed by ravens. Caitlin believes her experience to be a product of jet lag and disorientation.

Later that evening at a university reception, Caitlin learns her seismologist brother has included her in a research project with Hagen von der Lahn, amateur archeologist, stylish aristocrat, and dangerously attractive.

After Gus is called away by an earthquake, the deranged Gus doppelganger again tries to drag her away. Hagen rescues her and spirits her to his castle near the Rhine.

A novel of supernatural suspense, Primary Fault tells the tale of a woman's quest to save her brother. The mixture of science meets magic pits beings from a Celtic Otherworld against atheistic Druids and will delight fans of a tightly plotted fantasy with richly drawn characters.


CanaryCANARY by Duane Swierczynski (Due to be published in Feb 20145 by Mulholland Books. Swierczynski is one of my favourite authors so naturally this is a must read book)

It's dangerous enough when an ordinary college girl turns confidential informant. Even more dangerous when she's smarter than the kingpins, killer, and cops who control her.

Honors student Sarie Holland is busted by the local police while doing a favor for her boyfriend. Unwilling to betray him but desperate to avoid destroying her future, Sarie has no choice but to become a "CI"--a confidential informant.

Philly narcotics cop Ben Wildey is hungry for a career-making bust. The detective thinks he's found the key in Sarie: her boyfriend scores from a mid-level dealer with alleged ties to the major drug gangs.

Sarie turns out to be the perfect CI: a quick study with a shockingly keen understanding of the criminal mind. But Wildey, desperate for results, pushes too hard and inadvertently sends the 19-year-old into a death trap, leaving Sarie hunted by crooked cops and killers alike with nothing to save her--except what she's learned during her harrowing weeks as an informant.

Which is bad news for the police and the underworld. Because when it comes to payback, CI #1373 turns out to be a very quick study.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Review: AMERICAN PSYCHO by Bret Eastern Ellis

American PsychoFrom the back of the book:
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.

My Review:
Wall Street;a place renowned for big money, expensive suites, and ambitious young professionals looking to build a profession through hard work and dedication. In AMERICAN PSYCHO, author Bret Eastern Ellis taps into this high speed lifestyle while adding an element of violence that's as unpredictable as it is stomach churning.
The escalation of brutal events that, whilst difficult at times to read, was strangely addictive – more so for the sheer cliff jump in Patrick Bateman’s personality and spike in his macabre habits than the shock value of the indent acts.
Despite taking 100 or so pages to really get into the detail of Bateman’s underlying psychotic tendencies, I found reading AMERICAN PSYCHO to be wholly entertaining. Bateman’s obsession with self-image is built in the first third of the novel along with the early signs that something about this Wall Street yuppie isn’t quite right. From there the madness transcends in vivid detail.
What really struck me about AMERICAN PSYCHO was the open ended conclusion and underlying theme of horror and to a certain extent the acceptance of this monster Bateman had evolved into. His co-workers and lovers alike all accept Bateman has a darkness lurking just below the surface yet no one really cares, even when Bateman freely confesses his crimes. The dynamic Bateman’s inner circle and their own self minded preservation plays out nicely alongside Bateman’s disturbed and distorted view of reality.

AMERICAN PSYCHO really is one of those books everyone should read at least once. Many have tried to emulate it, yet nothing compares to this macabre masterpiece.

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:

HUSTLE by Tom Pitts

THE GENUINE IMITATION PLASTIC KIDNAPPING by Les Edgerton

Annihilation (Southern Reach Trilogy, #1)ANNIIHILATION by Jeff VanderMeer (I had intended to read this last week by didn't get the time.)

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.


Clariel (Abhorsen, #4)CLARIEL by Garth Nix (was featured as one of my most anticipated books of 2014. I recently read SABRIEL to get back into the world of the Old Kingdom - am looking forward to reading this prequel.)

Sixteen-year-old Clariel is not adjusting well to her new life in the city of Belisaere, the capital of the Old Kingdom. She misses roaming freely within the forests of Estwael, and she feels trapped within the stone city walls. And in Belisaere she is forced to follow the plans, plots and demands of everyone, from her parents to her maid, to the sinister Guildmaster Kilip. Clariel can see her freedom slipping away. It seems too that the city itself is descending into chaos, as the ancient rules binding Abhorsen, King and Clayr appear to be disintegrating.

With the discovery of a dangerous Free Magic creature loose in the city, Clariel is given the chance both to prove her worth and make her escape. But events spin rapidly out of control. Clariel finds herself more trapped than ever, until help comes from an unlikely source. But the help comes at a terrible cost. Clariel must question the motivations and secret hearts of everyone around her - and it is herself she must question most of all.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Review: GENUINE IMITATION PLASTIC KIDNAPPING by Les Edgerton

The Genuine Imitation Plastic KidnappingFrom the back of the book:
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.

My Review:

An ingenious comedic crime caper that captivates, engages, and demands the reader’s attention. THE GENUINE IMITATION PLASTIC KIDNAPPING is, as the title implies, a story of kidnapping that perhaps isn’t the real McCoy, attempted by a couple of armature part time criminals who blunder, battle, and somehow pull of a daring (and stupid?) abduction of a mafia boss. But wait, that’s not the beauty in this brutally brazen idea – the Mafioso is only part of the plan. Amputating his right hand and ransoming it back to him is the idea – one that actually works…for a while. 

One of the things I really liked about this book was the fact that the central plot device didn’t deviate despite the bevy of criminal enterprises the unlawful entrepreneurs Pete and Tommy underwent. Pete gets left for dead, locked up, shot at, becomes instantly rich the equally broke and then goes on the lamb from his bookie that he’s in debt to, all before the unique kidnapping plan is hatched. It’s a great ride that only gets better.
As if THE GENUINE IMITATION PLASTIC KIDNAPPING wasn’t cool enough in its own right, the endnote by author Les Edgerton paints the characters in a new shade of realism by virtue of their real-life counterparts. Wow – pretty much sums up reading post script.

Review: HUSTLE by Tom Pitts

HustleMale prostitution, drug abuse, murder, and the struggle of addition are consistent themes  throughout this harsh but honest slice of street noir by author Tom Pitts.

Donny and Big Rich are a couple of men living hour to hour, day to day, week to week, all in avoidance of the omnipresent 'sickness' slithering in the darkness waiting to drag them into the abyss of withdrawal and reality. Turning tricks to feed their habit and keep the demons at bay for just a little longer, they sell their bodies to the highest or most convenient buyer. In this instance the 'John' happens to be a credible and highly successful defence lawyer Gabriel Thaxton. Little do Donny and Rich know, that Thaxton is more trouble than he's worth.

Scheming, dreaming and bleeding through their profession, Rich sees a way out by resorting to blackmail. The target; Thaxton, his cash cow and ticket to redemption - the first steps along the tortured path to turning away from selling himself on the street corner. Problem is, Thaxton isn't the ideal mark for blackmail and what looked to be an easy take quickly turns into murder and the formation of uneasy alliances.

For the better part of HUSTLE I was completely drawn to the struggle and warped rationale Donny and Rich would easily succumb to in order to justify their lifestyle. Clouded by drugs, their thoughts ever lingering between experiencing that blissful high and coping the next score. If they have to endure rape by foreign object and succumb to a little bleeding and pain then so be it. This look at addiction and the lengths Donny and Rich would go to in order to feed it was captivating.

I can't help but think if it weren't for the showdown at the end of the book and slight nod towards the hardboiled PI genre that HUSTLE would truly be a modern noir classic - that isn't to say I didn't enjoy those aspects, as I did, however, that initial setting and deep characterisation is something readers strive to read.

Author Tom Pitts has got some serious talent - if HUSTLE is anything to go by then I must look into picking up anything else he's published.