Thursday, July 27, 2017

Recent Reads Round-up (a little bit of this, a little bit of that...)

I've been casting my reader net far and wide this year to enjoy not only different genres a bite at a time but also different mediums (audiobooks, ebooks, graphic novels, the ever lovable paperbacks etc.) and this batch of books encapsulates a little bit of this.

Book: Villain by Kosaku Yoshinda
Publisher Harvill Secker
Length 293
Format softcover
Published 2009
Series standalone
My Copy I bought it

My Review
I wasn’t sure what to expect from Villain, a Japanese crime novel by renowned author Kosaku Yoshida, but came away pleasantly surprised and satisfied. Despite a slow start, Villain evolved into an interesting contemporary crime novel which encapsulated all aspects of the crime by giving page time to the victim, their family, outsiders, suspects, and the murderer themselves. Interestingly enough, the police investigation and the procedural aspects commonly associated with crime fiction are minimally described in the book – in a good way, allowing the characters and their own stories to take hold. 

My rating: 3.5/5 stars

Book: XO Manowar: Solider by Matt Kindt
Publisher Valiant 
Length 65 pages
Format graphic novel
Published 2017
Series XO Manowar (1-3)
My Copy I bought it

My Review

The re-imaging of Valiant’s premier character into an off-world solider conscripted to fight in a war he’s got limited historical context of is a sound move that pays off big time. Not only does a new world allow for the creation of new characters and stories but it gives the alien armor wearing superhero a fresh start with a definitive sci-fi kick; pitting XO against unknown foes and establishing a whole new life for the character without the hang-ups of his earlier earth and space escapades in the connected comics universe. I wouldn't call this a soft-reboot, rather a new direction which looks sure to pay dividends for long-time and new readers of the series (previously written by Robert Venditti). Additionally, the art is superb and complements the storytelling to provide an atmospheric bloodthirsty tale. 

My rating: 5/5 stars

Book: Storm Front by Jim Butcher
Publisher Buzzy Multimedia
Length 8hrs 1min
Format audiobook
Published 2009
Series The Dresden Files #1
My Copy borrowed from the library 

My Review
Harry Dresden is a refreshingly atypical private investigator; a wizard who doesn’t take himself too seriously. In Storm Front, Harry’s dismal job prospects get a boost with two cases thrown his way in quick succession.  The first takes him to a brutal murder scene courtesy of the Chicago P.D where a man and woman have been killed in the act of sex – their hearts seeming to explode from inside their bodies. The second is a little more subdued; a missing husband, having walked out on wife for no apparent reason. The wife, concerned for her husband’s safety contacts Harry hoping he can find some answers.   

Harry is a character who is easy to like. He's funny, good at his job, and down to earth - Jim Butcher has steered clear of the sometimes seedy and pensive P.I in favor of this approach which complements the tone if this book perfectly. Whilst the supporting cast is relatively stock-standard; a cop and a journalist, the magical element adds a vampire madam and a mystical gatekeeper of sorts, and perhaps best of all, is a spirit bound to a skull - each is well written and adds a little something in their own way. 

The linear plot made it easy to concentrate on the story with little by way of deviation, it's a kind of fast food for the mind, easily consumable and a quick read (or listen). I'll definitely check out more books in the series.  

My rating: 3.5/5 stars

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