X Marks Wolfy's Spot in the 12 in 12 (Part 2)
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Heath (Bass - replaced Taiji), Pata (Guitar), Yoshiki (Drums & Piano), Toshi (Vocals), Sugizo (Guitar, Violin - replaced hide (represented in spirit by large plushie))
X Japan are the only band I’ve been to see live for far longer than I can remember. I’ve seen them twice in the last 4 years, once in their homeland for their reunion concert and once in mine. They play a mix of speed metal / hard rock with symphonic influences thrown in for good measure. Not everything they play is on the heavy side as there are quite a few ballads to be found in their catalogue as well. Each of my category titles will be a different song and will link to a live video of that track. These videos have been chosen to show different periods in the band's history. Do not click these links if you don't like flashing lights or loud noises.
Here's the category list and more information about their content will be given in their individual posts
1. Sadistic Desire (1 of 1)
2. Drain (2 of 2)
3. Dahlia (3 of 3)
4. Silent Jealousy (4 of 4)
5. Art of Life (5 of 5)
6. Scars (6 of 6)
7. Joker (7 of 7)
8. Rusty Nail (8 of 8)
9. Kurenai (9 of 9)
10. X (10 of 10)
11. Forever Love (11 of 11)
12. Endless Rain (12 of 12)
13. Say Anything
As always, everything is subject to change. Comments and suggestions also welcomed.
Reason for this song: Don’t you have to be a bit of a sadist to tackle the big books? At some point in time I do have a desire to read each of the options listed.
1. The Absolute V for Vendetta by Alan Moore and David Lloyd (Msg233 30/12/12) 4½★'s
2. Drain - Omnibus editions - Completed
Reason for this song: Each of the options will drain my time for this challenge.
1. The Books of the South by Glen Cook (Msg92 13/02/12) 3★'s
2. Into the Nightside by Simon R. Green (Msg230 26/05/12) 3½★'s
3. Dahlia - Short Stories and Anthologies - Completed
Reason for this song: Shorties and Anthologies are like a garden where I hope to find a few flowers.
1. Tales for Canterbury edited by Cassie Hart and Anna Caro (Msg106 29/02/12) 3½★'s
2. Stories by Neil Gaiman and Al Sarrantonio (Msg252 16/06/12) 3½★'s
3. Dark Alchemy: Magical Tales from Masters of Modern Fantasy by Various (Msg118 10/10/12) 2½★'s
Reason for this song: I’m jealous of authors who can write this well. Selections will be from the Masterworks series of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Crime.
1. Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said by Philip K. Dick (Msg137 30/03/12) 4★'s
2. Fevre Dream by George R.R. Martin (Msg203 07/05/12) 4★'s
3. The Murders in the Rue Morgue by Edgar Allan Poe (Msg143 23/10/12) 3★'s
4. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes (Msg182 18/11/12) 5★'s
5. Art of Life – Absolute Sandman - Completed
Reason for this song: For some illustrators, art is their life.
1. The Absolute Sandman Volume Two (Msg59 17/01/12) 4★'s
2. The Absolute Sandman Volume Three (Msg116 11/03/12) 5★'s
3. The Absolute Sandman Volume Four (Msg233 04/06/12) 4★'s
4. The Absolute Death (Msg130 14/10/12) 4★'s
5. The Absolute Sandman Volume Five (Msg203 06/12/12) 4½★'s
Reason for this song: Animals could leave scars if not handled with care.
1. Coyote Blue by Christopher Moore (Msg128 20/03/12) 3½★'s
2. Death and the Penguin by Andrey Kurkov (Msg195 30/04/12) 4★'s
3. King Rat by China Miéville (Msg228 22/05/12) 4★'s
4. The Night Buffalo by Guillermo Arriaga (Msg26 09/07/12) 3½★'s
5. The Bird Room by Chris Killen (Msg151 27/10/12) 3★'s
6. Shinjuku Shark by Arimasa Osawa (Msg222 22/12/12) 4★'s
Reason for this song: Couldn’t be anything else.
1. Shooting Sean by Colin Bateman (Msg105 25/02/12) 4★'s
2. Past Mortem by Ben Elton (Msg162 13/04/12) 4★'s
3. Dave Gorman's Googlewhack Adventure by Dave Gorman (Msg222 17/05/12) 4★'s
4. And Another Thing... by Eoin Colfer (Msg261 22/06/12) 2½★'s
5. El Sid by Chris Haslam (Msg84 16/09/12) 3½★'s
6. Suzy, Led Zeppelin and Me by Martin Millar (Msg146 25/10/12) 4★'s
7. Vamped by David Sosnowski (Msg209 12/12/12) 4★'s
Reason for this song: Surely there must be some in these genres.
1. Above the Snowline by Steph Swainston (Msg83 30/01/12) 4★'s
2. The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi (Msg120 15/03/12) 4½★'s
3. City of Saints and Madmen by Jeff VanderMeer (Msg168 22/04/12) 4½★'s
4. Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld (Msg32 12/07/12) 4★'s
5. Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld (Msg45 07/08/12) 4½★'s
6. Goliath by Scott Westerfeld (Msg75 01/09/12) 4½★'s
7. Pollen by Jeff Noon (Msg176 13/11/12) 4★'s
8. Moxyland by Lauren Beukes (Msg214 14/12/12) 4★'s
Reason for this song: One of only a very few songs that are named in Japanese and certainly my favourite of those.
1. Roseanna by Maj Sjowall & Per Wahloo (Msg71 20/01/12) 4★'s
2. Almost Transparent Blue by Ryū Murakami (Msg101 24/02/12) 3½★'s
3. Seeking Whom He May Devour by Fred Vargas (Msg212 10/05/12) 3½★'s
4. Autofiction by Hitomi Kanehara (Msg223 19/05/12) 3½★'s
5. Happy Birthday, Turk! by Jakob Arjouni (Msg272 29/06/12) 3½★'s
6. Please Don't Call Me Human by Wang Shuo (Msg63 22/08/12) 2½★'s
7. Monsieur Pain by Roberto Bolaño (Msg100 25/09/12) 3★'s
8. Helmet of Horror by Victor Pelevin (Msg163 02/11/12) 3½★'s
9. Missing by Karin Alvtegen (Msg190 26/11/12) 3½★'s
Reason for this song: The song that defines the band fits nicely with the Roman numeral for ten.
1. The Gunslinger by Stephen King (Msg95 22/02/12) 3★'s
2. The Devil You Know by Mike Carey (Msg160 11/04/12) 4★'s
3. Johannes Cabal the Necromancer by Jonathan L. Howard (Msg186 26/04/12) 4★'s
4. The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler (Msg215 12/05/12) 4½★'s
5. Blood Oath by Christopher Farnsworth (Msg15 02/07/12) 3½★'s
6. Preacher Book One by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon (Msg50 09/08/12) 4½★'s
7. Old Man's War by John Scalzi (Msg67 29/08/12) 4½★'s
8. Parasite Positive by Scott Westerfeld (Msg104 28/09/12) 4★'s
9. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley (Msg155 30/10/12) 4★'s
10. Nine Princes in Amber by Roger Zelazny (Msg220 18/12/12) 3★'s
Reason for this song: This category has featured year in, year out for my challenge and with the number of options I already have I can’t see that ending anytime soon.
1. The Rum Diary by Hunter S. Thompson (Msg31 06/01/12) 3½★'s
2. True Grit by Charles Portis (Msg133 27/03/12) 4★'s
3. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (Msg146 02/04/12) 4½★'s
4. I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore (Msg164 20/04/12) 3½★'s
5. The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham (Msg238 07/06/12) 4★'s
6. Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury (Msg251 14/06/12) 3★'s
7. The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett (Msg60 13/08/12) 4★'s
8. Planet of the Apes by Pierre Boulle (Msg78 06/09/12) 4★'s
9. Scaramouche by Rafael Sabatini (Msg89 23/09/12) 4★'s
10. Pronto by Elmore Leonard (Msg165 08/11/12) 3½★'s
11. The Tenth Man by Graham Greene (Msg195 27/11/12) 4★'s
Reason for this song: I have so many series on the go that it sometimes seems like an endless torrent of them raining down on me.
1. The Devil in Amber by Mark Gatiss (Msg43 09/01/12) 3★'s
2. The Fourth Bear by Jasper Fforde (Msg93 16/02/12) 3½★'s
3. Half the Blood of Brooklyn by Charlie Huston (Msg114 02/03/12) 4★'s
4. Fables: The Deluxe Edition Book Four by Bill Willingham (Msg115 07/03/12) 4★'s
5. Every Last Drop by Charlie Huston (Msg129 22/03/12) 3½★'s
6. My Dead Body by Charlie Huston (Msg129 24/03/12) 3½★'s
7. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (Msg156 04/04/12) 4★'s
8. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins (Msg156 04/04/12) 3½★'s
9. Fables: The Deluxe Edition Book Five by Bill Willingham (Msg268 25/06/12) 5★'s
10. The Secret Speech by Tom Rob Smith (Msg41 29/07/12) 4★'s
11. Talulla Rising by Glen Duncan (Msg114 10/10/12) 4★'s
12. The Resurrectionist by Jack O'Connell (Msg240 31/12/12) 4★'s
Welcome to your new thread!
Zach Barrows is the latest young up-and-comer at the White House with all the foibles that entails. He's cocky, arrogant and sure of where his future lies and the President is just about to offer him a new job. All is well in Zach's life until the job offer is something different to what he expected and he assumes it's because the President has found out that he slept with his daughter. Zach is about to become the handler for the most secret of secret agents. Nathaniel Cade is a vampire bound to serve the office of the President of the United States by an oath bound in blood since the time of Andrew Johnson. Before Zach can get acclimatised to his new situation though, a plot materialises that could involve an old acquaintance of Cade's by way of the original Baron Frankenstein. Cade is sent out to investigate and Zach tags along for some on the job training.
Not quite your normal urban fantasy tale but somewhere nearer a cross between 24 and Hellboy. The plot throws in a few twists and turns with terrorist organisations and shadowy government groups being involved and there's plenty of action to keep you going right through to the final confrontation. The developing relationship between Zach and Cade is where this book rises above the mediocrity though and is what will have me continuing the series at some point. 3½★'s
Love the t-shirt motto - 'Never judge a book by its movie' for your forever love category.... is that new or have I been blind to it until now?
LOL! A wishlist has crashed when it turns to you and asks, "Seriously, how long do you think a human lifespan is?" :)
What a way to go, though - death by book!
Manuel and Gregorio have grown up together as best and only friends even getting the same buffalo tattoo carved into their left arms. So it's tough for Manuel to watch his friend descend ever deeper into madness until Gregorio's final act to end it all. Manuel is also feeling guilty because he's been sleeping with Tania, Gregorio's girlfriend, while his friend has been institutionalised. Can the two surviving members of the love triangle come to terms with their emotions and why can Gregorio affect them even after his death?
This is a very gritty and raw book. Despite being less than 200 pages it is not a quick comfort read. There are no sympathetic characters for the reader to hang their hat on and there are a couple of quite unpleasant scenes of sex and violence to endure. Despite that, it did manage to hold my attention and I ultimately wanted to find out how it ended though not all the loose ends are tidied up. 3½★'s
ETA: I saw from another review that he's the screenwriter of a couple of films that I like. Maybe this would work better as a film?
Prince Aleksander is on the run. His parents have been assassinated and that act is being used to start a war. Nobody wants a stray heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne running around loose so Alek, accompanied by a few trusty retainers, sets about making a run to Switzerland in their mechanical walker. Meanwhile, Deryn has disguised herself as a boy in order to qualify for the Air Service as all she wants to do in life is fly. When her test flight goes badly wrong she is rescued by the Leviathan, a living airship, and soon manages to pass the mid-shipmen's test to become a member of the crew. Sent on a special mission to Constantinople the Leviathan is attacked by Germans and is forced to crash land on a glacier in Switzerland right near where Alek and his cohorts are hiding. Dare Alek offer assistance to the stricken vessel and possibly have his identity and location revealed to his enemies and if he does help, how will the British react if they find out who he really is?
This is a very good starter book in a YA Steampunk/Alternate History series. Excellent world-building provides a stage for all sorts of oddities to soon seem commonplace as the adventuring of the two young heroes commences. There are some very good illustrations along the way that really help to set the scene as well. There is also an afterword provided by the author which compares our real world to the alternate one featured in the book which I found to be a nice touch. 4★'s
@34 - Claire, the books are geared towards the YA market so you might find it lacking in the depth and sophistication of unique world builds you have found in China Mieville and Catherynne M. Valente works. It is just such a fun trilogy.
I have the second book on my tbr shelves already and now have the third on order. I'm thinking of swapping category 6 and 8 around so I can fit in an extra couple of books there.
This review will contain (at least) minor spoilers for Child 44.
Leo, Raisa and the two girls they adopted are now together in Moscow. Zoya, the older of the two girls is unable to forget or forgive that Leo was responsible for the death of her real parents and goes out of her way to ensure they don't become the happy family unit that the others crave. Leo, now the head of the newly formed Homicide division, begins a new investigation which points to events in his past. This is all set amidst the backdrop and fallout of Khrushchev's secret speech which admitted to mistakes made by Stalin's regime and it seems in some quarters that the fear of the system is being outweighed by the desire for vengeance on those who overstepped the mark that passed for justice in those days. Can Leo uncover who is responsible for this turn of events and how will he react when things take a more personal direction?
Rather than being a criminal investigative story this sequel heads more towards the realms of thriller as an inexorable turn of events sees Leo head to the gulags and experience the Hungarian uprising first hand. Heavily researched and asking some very thought provoking questions this story does get quite bleak at times which doesn't make it a quick and easy read. Still a pretty good one though. 4★'s
@43 The first two books in the series are definitely worth the read.
Contains spoilers from 1st book in the series
Second book in the YA steampunk trilogy which uses an alternate world war 1 for its setting. Pitting the Darwinists (bio-engineering) against the Clankers (mechanical/steam-powered engineering). This instalment picks up directly after the conclusion of Leviathan with the great airship heading towards Istanbul to try and smooth over recent difficulties with the ruling Sultan and hopefully, at the least, keep the Ottoman Empire from joining the Clankers side. But it appears they may have arrived too late and find that the Clankers already appear to have their foot in the door. Alek is still aboard but needs to escape before his secret is revealed and Deryn, keeping secrets of her own, is given an important mission that doesn’t go fully to plan either. It puts them in the midst of a local revolution and they both have their own reasons for helping reach a successful outcome. Will they get what they want and how many secrets will be left at the end?
A thrill ride from start to finish this is an excellent continuation of a fascinating story. Adding some interesting new characters to the mix while furthering the relationships of the existing ones. With Alek working aboard the Leviathan and then gaining an extra insight into Darwinist methods and Deryn also gaining a greater appreciation of Clanker technology it will be fun to see where the author takes events in the concluding book of the series. I’m looking forward to it. 4½★'s
This hardback book contains volumes 1 to 7 of the series. It’s violent, gory, crude and a hell of a lot of fun. Jesse Custer is a preacher who’s lost his faith and finds himself possessed by a half-angel/half-demon entity which grants him a power to rival God himself. When he learns that God has seemingly abandoned His post, Jesse vows to track Him down and find out why and sets off in the company of Cassidy, a mysterious stranger who seems to sleep through the day, and Tulip, Jesse’s one-time girlfriend. What’s left of the Heavenly Host is none too pleased with this state of affairs and so sets the Saint of Killers onto Jesse’s trail to bring the entity back before it causes too much harm.
This is not a comic book series that will appeal to everyone. Those that are even slightly offended by excessive violence, profanity, sexual scenes or religious topics should steer well clear. The dialogue is superb and the artwork really compliments the story excellently. At the back of the book you also get a gallery of more than a dozen full page colour prints by various artists. A great collection to start the series and I look forward to continuing reading more in the future. 4½★'s
As it always does, it starts with a dame. Tough as nails PI Sam Spade is hired by Miss Wonderly to find her sister. It seems like she's taken up with the wrong sort of man and is refusing to see sense and won't even talk face to face so Sam is employed to follow the man and find her. Miles, Sam's partner, volunteer's to take the duty and soon ends up dead so are things quite so straightforward as the client made them seem?
Spade is quite cold and detached to pretty much everyone in his life but manages to string along the three women involved in the story even though he doesn't exactly treat them well. The characters are never fully explored as not once do you get inside the head of any of them including the main character of Spade himself. Even so, the writing is descriptive enough to manage to form your own opinions of how they are developing and so adding the interior thoughts may actually detract from the whole. The dialogue and prose are very evocative of the time and the setting of late twenties San Francisco is used to create a vivid atmosphere. It's been many years since I've seen the movie adaptation but from what I can remember the film follows the book quite well so it might be worth allowing some space in-between reading and watching your chosen media. 4★'s
A political satire aimed squarely at China's nationalism. After a particularly humiliating defeat by a foreign fighter who bested all that China could throw at him, it was decided that MobCom (Shortened from National Mobilising Committee) needed a latter-day Big Dream Boxer. A descendant from the legendary fighters of the Boxer Rebellion must be found and trained to take on this fearsome adversary. MobCom will stop at nothing to line their own pockets from endorsements and any other way they can make money out of the event while offering up ridiculous training methods for the unfortunate candidate. Taken away from his life as a pedicab driver and also his family, Tang Yuanbao is as passive an individual as you're ever likely to encounter. Accepting everything because it's for the good of the nation he tries to accomplish all that is set before him.
There were some quite amusing sections in this book but there were also a few more that were quite a slog to get through. There's not much subtlety to the satire as it's all pretty much of the in your face variety. Not sure how much effect the translation had but I suspect even a very good one wouldn't have altered my lack of enjoyment with this read. 2½★'s
John Perry does two things on his 75th birthday. He visits his wife's grave for the final time and then he joins the army. This is, of course, no ordinary army. It's the Colonial Defense Force. John joins up because there's nothing to really keep him on Earth any longer and he's tired of feeling old. No one really knows what happens to you when you enlist with the CDF as once you join you can never return to your home planet but the expectation is that they make you young again because who in their right minds want a bunch of geriatrics on the front line? The book is split into three parts as we follow John through initial induction, basic training/initial skirmishes and then what follows.
While this book does owe a great deal to some of Robert A. Heinlein's work (particularly Starship Troopers and readily acknowledged by Mr. Scalzi) it is certainly good enough to stand on its own merits. The story is never too heavy handed, either with technology or political/religious themes although they often get touch upon. There is plenty of humour (of the wry and sardonic variety) and some quite touching scenes as well. A good read even if you're not into military SF as a genre. Will definitely be looking for the sequels. 4½★'s
Contains spoilers for previous books in the series
The third and concluding book of the series sees Deryn, Alek and the rest of the crew of the Leviathan heading to Siberia to pick up a passenger in the form of Nikola Tesla. A former Clanker scientist who believes he can put an end to the war between the Darwinists and his former benefactors. Alek, feeling somewhat useless aboard the airship, quickly attaches himself to the new arrival and thinks his own destiny is to end the war and this is the best hope for that. He also manages to figure out Deryn's secret and after collecting Tesla the Leviathan is off to New York to work on Tesla's weapon, Goliath, so Alek and Deryn have the time to work things out.
Once again there's plenty of action but this instalment seems more character driven with the developing relationship between Alek and Deryn. More characters adapted from our own history are added and this gives an extra dimension to the back story. The perspicacious lorises provide some light relief and occasional insightful comments. The end does leave the possibility for future books in this universe and I'll happily read them if they appear. 4½★'s
I recall going to a talk given by Robert Sawyer in which he said that some of his trilogies could have been single books but publishers preferred three books rather than one gigantic tome. Perhaps that's why I often feel unsatisfied at the end of book 1 (or 2, 3, 4, ...) of some SFF series, but not so with the Old Man's War series. I do hope you'll enjoy the next ones as much as I did.
Young journalist Ulysse Mérou accompanies one of the most brilliant men of his generation on a voyage of discovery across space towards the Betelgeuse star system. Upon arrival they locate a planet so akin to Earth that they name it Soror (Latin for sister). Shortly after landing, they discover a group of humans who are so animalistic in nature it is scary to behold. Taken in by the humans they quickly discover a more intelligent species when their group is rounded up in a hunt by a bunch of gorillas and chimpanzees. While some are killed for sport others, including Mérou, are taken captive and he soon finds himself ensconced as lead specimen at a laboratory. Subjected to tests of a Pavlovian nature, Mérou quickly convinces the lead scientist, a chimpanzee called Zira, of his intelligence and that he is unlike any of her previous experimental lab-rats. Together with her partner Cornelius they then must convince the rest of the monkey hierarchy of this astounding discovery. What effect will this have on the ape world and what are the ramifications of their own origins?
The basic outline of the story will be familiar to many through the various films. A lot of these movies represent portions of the book but none are quite representative of the whole. The character of Mérou, for example, is a lot more accepting than that of old Chuck. The whole story has a more intellectual than militaristic approach and examines such subjects as race, animal rights and social order. It is more dystopian satire than hard science fiction and while there is a lack of depth to the characters it really didn't affect my enjoyment of the tale. 4★'s
the ruined statue of liberty in the 60's film indicates that it was an alternative Earth - the more recent film shows the apes becoming intelligent in our world too
sounds like the book is worth investigating....
Sidney Starman is nearing the end of his life but has some unfinished business in Spain to take care of. 70 years previously he had been involved in the Spanish civil war and managed to find himself the sole remaining member of a group who knew the whereabouts of a stash of missing gold. He recruits two would-be conmen to do the donkey work of getting him across Spain to the actual location and the task of loading up all of that lovely shiny stuff when they get there. Things don't quite go to plan though and they end up staggering from one adventure to the next while attempting to reach their destination. Even when they arrive, their troubles aren't over as there are still some people around that remember the name of Sidney Starman and without a great deal of affection for it.
This is not an out-and-out comedy caper but there is enough humour to bring an occasional smile as we follow Sid's current and past adventures as each step brings him closer to what he left behind. While not being anything too special this is an easily read adventure yarn by an author dubbed the British Hiassen. 3½★'s
Set on the cusp of the French revolution we follow a young André-Louis Moreau, godson (and presumed by most to be an illegitimate son) of a rural lord. Trained as a lawyer he is distraught when his friend, Philippe de Vilmorin, is forced into a duel with the Marquis de La Tour d'Azyr where he is totally outclassed and killed and the attempts at justice fall on deaf ears. Apolitical himself, André-Louis takes up his friend’s cause and vows to destroy his killer in the process. A killer he was already predisposed to dislike due to affections shown by the Marquis to Aline, niece to his godfather and childhood playmate of both André-Louis and Philippe. When his speech incites a mob, André-Louis is accused of sedition so rather than wait for the hangman’s noose he flees and finds a hiding place in a troupe of actors where he falls into the role of Scaramouche. With his natural gifts of oration and his previously sardonic outlook he soon settles into the role of comic instigator and advances the troupe’s reputation enormously. It’s not long before they’re heading for the heights of perhaps even the Cemedie Francais in Paris. But what will happen when the paths of André-Louis and the Marquis cross again?
The tone of the book differs quite a bit from that of the movie of which I’m sure more people are familiar with. The setting adds an extra element of tension to the story of the book with the film being a much more light-hearted romantic affair. These romantic entanglements are also much heightened in the film version. There are certainly enough differences to be able to enjoy both for what they are. The book is a tale of revenge, adventure, political intrigue, love and the study of man’s nature. The hero is a complex character who, if he had been handled by a lesser author, would probably be difficult to like. He is good at everything he tries, sometimes appearing heartless and unaffected by events surrounding him. Not having an identity of his own he takes on the role of his murdered friend in order to avenge his death and then through the unfolding events discovers himself. 4★'s
A very strange little novel, weighing in at just 132 pages. It's a kind of noirish, dreamscape of a conspiracy thriller. The plot, for what it is, concerns the titular character as a doctor who uses alternative methods to treat his patients. He is requested to take the case of César Vallejo, whose own doctors are unable to diagnose his condition or stop his hiccuping either of which could lead to death. Unable to gain access to his patient on his first attempt he tries again only to be baulked by two mysterious Spanish gentlemen who offer a bribe not to treat him. Pain accepts this but later feels guilty and tries to see Vallejo again. Can he get through this time?
Several encounters with old acquaintances add depth to the main character but some of these leave you wondering if what happened was real or not. It creates quite a foreboding atmosphere but the lack of an overriding plot really hinders my enjoyment of this read as you do get the feeling that there should be something there but I just couldn't grasp it. Perhaps it requires multiple readings to gain an understanding but I doubt I'll go back and try. I haven't given up on the author yet as there is still enough here to tempt me to more of his work but probably not this one again. 3★'s
Cal Thompson was a freshman in New York looking to experience what the Big Apple had to offer than the classes he was taking. One such experience was to change his life in ways he couldn't have expected. A one night stand has left him infected with a parasite that induces a kind of vampirism in its host. Luckily for Cal he doesn't suffer the full effects as he's just a carrier. As such, he is recruited by an organisation called the Night Watch that are trying to keep the disease under control. His first task is to track down the girlfriends that he's had since he was infected as they wouldn't be as fortunate and will more than likely be full parasite positive or peeps as they are generally known. Cal will also have to try and track down his progenitor Morgan (the woman who infected him) and it's while following up a lead for this that events take an unexpected turn. Will Cal be able to cope and how much can he really trust his superiors in the Night Watch?
This young adult novel is an interesting take on a modern vampire story offering up scientific reasons for the mythos that surrounds the legends. Every other chapter in the book offers up descriptions of various parasitic forms and how they interact with their hosts and environs. This really helps in convincing the reader of the realism of the story and as they are usually only a page or so long it doesn't interrupt the flow of events at all. The only thing that really lets this book down is the ending. It's quite abrupt and about all it does is set things up for the sequel. Not a cliff-hanger type but more of an info-dump. Still want to pick up that sequel though. 4★'s
Only managed a total of 15 books for the third quarter and this puts me in danger of not being able to complete the challenge. Still managing to read more books that I've enjoyed than those I haven't. Going off the number left to read, I've evened out my categories pretty well but I need to pick up the pace a bit as I still have to get that first category done. Had some issues over the last few months that have affected my inclination or time to read and I've probably not been commenting in other challenge threads quite as much recently. Apologies for that! One of my brothers had some serious health concerns (he's pretty much ok now though) and I was also in some danger of being out of work before the end of this year as well (also pretty much ok too, at least for now). Anyway, the summary:
1. Sadistic Desire - One Big Book (0 of 1)
2. Drain - Omnibus Editions (2 of 2)
3. Dahlia - Short Stories and Anthologies (2 of 3)
4. Silent Jealousy - Masterworks (2 of 4)
5. Art of Life - Absolute Sandman (3 of 5)
6. Rusty Nail - New Weird / Steampunk (4 of 6)
7. Joker - Tickling the Funny Bone (5 of 7)
8. Scars - My Very Own Menagerie (6 of 8)
9. Kurenai - Lost in Translation (7 of 9)
10. X - Starter for Ten (8 of 10)
11. Forever Love - Book Watch (9 of 11)
12. Endless Rain - Continuations (10 of 12)
Preacher: Book 1 by Garth Ennis
Old Man's War by John Scalzi
Leviathan trilogy by Scott Westerfeld
Please Don't Call Me Human by Wang Shuo
Monsieur Pain by Roberto Bolaño
The Night Buffalo by Guillermo Arriaga
This review will no doubt contain spoilers for The Last Werewolf
This is a direct sequel to TLW and picks up shortly after the end of that. A heavily pregnant Talulla (the narrator of this story), along with Cloquet, has retired to a remote place in Alaska where she hopes to find the time away from the two groups of hunters (WOCOP & Vampires) that are after her and she can give birth in peace. She has prepared everything that she can and Cloquet has even secured her a victim for her final change before she's due. Things however, as they usually do in novels like this, don't go according to plan. Just after she'd changed into her other form, Talulla's waters broke and some not very nice people arrived on the scene. The rest of the book is about dealing with the after effects of this event and the trials of werewolf motherhood.
How does Talulla compare as a narrator to Jake from the previous book? Yes, Jake was tired and world weary but he was also clever and funny and dammit, I liked him. Talulla is young so far as the werewolf thing goes and so her story is more brash and aggressive and while there is still humour it feels more forced than the sardonic utterances of Jake, which still appear occasionally from the pages of his journals which Talulla reads from occasionally. There are plenty of new characters to get to grips with as well as a couple of recurring ones from the first book to provide the continuity and you really should read them in order to avoid major spoilers.
As with all the previous books I've read from this author, he doesn't shy away from the gory details of either the bedroom, science lab or torture chamber and his use of nasty words is also present so those of a squeamish or prudish nature should stay away. This was not quite up to the standard of The Last Werewolf (maybe because it's a sequel some of the originality had worn off) but Glen Duncan is a talented writer so it's still a very good read. 4★'s
I think I went into a major sulk after Jake went not sure I am I over it yet :) Still it's nice to hear its still a good read, do you reckon there will be more in the series? (good review btw)
A collection of short stories looking at the darker aspect of magic which I thought would really appeal to me. Especially when you look at the list of contributors: Neil Gaiman, Tad Williams, Tanith Lee, Gene Wolfe et al. Unfortunately the contents didn't live up to the promise, at least for me anyway. Only a couple of tales really held much interest for me and one of those I'd already read (Gaiman's entry being an excerpt from The Graveyard Book). The other standout story was from Elizabeth Hand which tells of a woodsman coming home to small town Main from Iceland with a new wife in tow. She might be a little more than a regular mail-order bride as local landowner and big businessman finds out when his plans upset the natural order. I will add a caveat to my disinterest/dislike of the other stories in that they mostly appear aimed at a younger market. 2½★'s
This collection brings together all the stories of Death, Dream's older sister. Some of which has even been featured before in the Absolute editions and that's what kicks off this book. Issue #8 of The Sandman, The Sound of Her Wings is the introduction to the character of Death and so was the logical place to start before moving on to Façade (Sandman #20) which is probably only included to fill out the volume. We then move on to the two 3-part stories, Death: The High Cost of Living and Death: The Time of Your Life. The first of these has Death experiencing time amongst the living as she does once in every hundred years and the second features Death more as a background character as the story revolves around Foxglove and Hazel whom you might remember from an earlier volume (Hint: Foxglove used to be called Donna). These are two very good stories and really show why Death is such a beloved character from the series as a whole. We then come to a couple more one-shot stories: A Winter's Tale gives Death's take on the job she does and The Wheel which is a story written about 9-11 where a boy after losing his mother decides life isn't worth living anymore. And finally we have Death in Venice which features in Endless Nights. A soldier on leave from his unit returns to Venice where he stayed as a young boy and had a dreamlike encounter with a girl who was waiting next to a closed door. The rest of the volume is taken up with A Death Miscellany, a gallery of over 40 pages of artwork by many leading names in the comic-book field, a public service comic featuring Death (with the aid of John Constantine) talking about AIDS, artwork and products used in the marketing for Sandman and a full script (including original pencilled drawings) for The Sound of Her Wings.
Made in the same way as all the other Absolute editions with a faux-leather/felt hardcover in a slip case and high quality oversized pages. This is a good companion piece to the series but if you own the two main stories featured then it is certainly not worth shelling out the money for. It does look good though! 4★'s
Certainly darker than the creator's previous work, this disturbing and atmospheric tale is about as creepy as it gets. Interweaving the plight of a handful of people stranded on a train which seems to have come to a complete stop in the middle of nowhere with that of the disappearance of a man accused but acquitted of mass murder. While the passengers try to find out what’s going on the reader is treated to flashbacks of their past which may shed light on their current plight.
The artwork is deliberately muted in colour and tone and you will need to pay attention to see what’s going on, not that everything becomes clear at the end mind you. The flashbacks are differentiated with the here and now by use of alternate borders, flashbacks are in white while black is used for the other. This works well though you are often staring at panels to try and see something that may or may not be there. As has been pointed out you may need to read this more than once to gain a better understanding of events but it is worth it. 4★'s
Claire, thanks. I liked the interview with Hannah Berry that you posted a link to in your thread.
I also met Katie Green at a Bristol Lit Fest event so am looking forward to seeing her stuff too
"what kind of person has so much self-loathing that they make themselves draw the interior of a train over and over? " :-)
I admit I am oddly most intrigued because they were er.. punished(?) for the lesser sins. It makes it much harder to have even an inkling what really happened.. personal revenge of a monster? because something else happens to the murderers?
Claire, I could certainly see a few negative reviews happening just because it doesn't explain everything. Personally, I don't have a problem with it, perhaps because I used to watch a lot of Japanese media which will often leave things open to interpretation.
A collection of five short stories which lay claim to laying down conventions for other detective fiction that followed. The first three of these feature the analytical skills of C. Auguste Dupin who solves various crimes and then goes on to tell you how he did it. An obvious forerunner for the likes of Sherlock Holmes et al. The next story relates the tale of a wealthy man now fallen on hard times whose demeanour seems to change when he finds a bug apparently made of gold. The final story has an elaborate plot to unmask the real killer after an innocent man is found guilty of murder.
These stories certainly show the origins of the genre and it's interesting to compare with how it went on to develop. While the reader is not invited to see how the crime was solved alongside the detective you do get to hear the necessary steps that he took to get to the solution. An interesting rather than a good read. 3★'s
I'd had a recommendation for a different Martin Millar book a couple of years ago but, like you do (or don't in this case), hadn't gotten around to picking it up. Remembering the author's name though I snagged this one when I saw it a short while ago and thought I'd give it a try and you can't really go wrong with Led Zeppelin can you?
This book has the narrator reminiscing about the time that the greatest rock band ever went to play a gig in Glasgow in 1972. He was 15 at the time (well, more or less) so this was a momentous occasion for him and his friends. His best friend Greg, Suzy, the unrequited love of both their lives who was the girlfriend of Zed who both he and Greg idolised and was regarded as the hippest guy in school and Cherry who was pretty much regarded as a hanger-on by everyone else. They'd all managed to get tickets for the gig but tensions within the group may cause some fallout before it happens. Can they survive intact and who will end up with who by the time it's all over?
The story, told by the narrator to a friend when he'd past 40, details the events leading up to the concert, the gig itself and the immediate aftermath. It evokes the style of some of the Nick Hornby books I've read but perhaps with a younger protagonist as focus for the story. It captures the angst and drama of that time of your life almost perfectly. Told in short chapters "so even with a short attention span, you'll be able to read it easily" and subjected to the nice and big stage, replacing any adjectives deemed too large with words like nice and big, this is an easy book to read and the temptation to just carry on a bit longer is always there. So is it any good? Let's just say it's nice and not very big and you don't even have to be a Led Zep fan to appreciate what it has to offer. 4★'s
Will can't believe his luck when Alice not so subtly worms her way into his life. At most, Will is expecting a drunken one-night stand so is surprised when the relationship becomes something more. It's also something more than he is used to and so in his desperation he turns it into more of an obsession. After introducing Alice to his one and only friend, also called Will, he becomes certain that their relationship is at an end and that Alice just wants to go and be with the other Will. After all, he's a successful artist that never struggles to get the girls.
Meanwhile, in another part of the story we have Helen who was once called Clair but wants to forget that part of her life so re-invented herself by quitting her job at Boots and becoming an actress. Unfortunately, the only jobs she's had in her new role are for the more adult entertainment area of the market. But what's a girl going to do when she has her share of the rent to pay?
The narration skips between first person for Will and third person for Helen and skips about a bit over the timeline. The writing is quite sparse but does come up with a lovely turn of phrase on occasion. An interesting debut novel but one to avoid if you like your naughty bits shown off camera or want a linear plotline (or even a plotline at all). 3★'s
Actually, it was Milk, Sulphate, and Alby Starvation - it only came up because I mentioned to a friend of a friend that I had lived in Brixton and they said they had just read a weird book that took place there. I know of no other books that takes place in Brixton and "weird" will always work for me! :) Luckily, it was available as an ebook, so I already have a copy waiting on my Nook!
"or even a plotline at all"
This is not my usual fare from the mystery table as I usually pick at the darker, seedier end and I went into this English country house murder mystery with a little trepidation. The sleuth and narrator is an 11 year-old girl, youngest of three sisters who live with their father at the crumbling ancestral home of Buckshaw in 1950's rural England. Flavia, the precocious girl in question, likes nothing more than experimenting in her chemistry laboratory and uses her inquisitive mind to concoct suitable vengeance on her two older siblings who always seem to gang up on her. Early one morning she discovers a dying man in the cucumber patch and is a little disconcerted when it turns out to be the same man she stumbled upon having an argument with her father the night before. Surely daddy didn't do it? But the police seem to think so and even go so far as to arrest him. After getting the brush off from the local inspector, Flavia takes matters into her own hand and tries to find out what really happened.
The characters were superbly brought to life in a setting which allowed them to and while the mystery wasn't overly engaging, Flavia's attempts to find the clues and make sense of them was more than enough to keep me reading until the end. The pacing is almost spot on with moments of humour and reminders of the time period slipped in with the investigations. A pretty good debut offering from a 69 year-old Canadian who had never stepped on English soil until after he wrote it. I’ll definitely carry on with the series at some point. 4★'s
Produced for Cannongate's The Myths series and recreating and updating to modern times the story of Theseus and the Minotaur. Written in the form of posts to a bulletin board, the reader (or lurker) follows along as the posters tell of their experiences having found themselves alone in a room with just a keyboard and screen for company. All they can do is post to a single thread and any form of personal information is censored by moderators. Exploring their environment reveals they each have their own part of a labyrinth and further information is relayed via dreams to Ariadne, one of the posters, who then relates to the rest of the group. There is a lot of philosophising about their predicament and the reality of it all and I'm not very adroit at weeding out the information in this form so no doubt have missed a whole heap of stuff that would have helped make sense of what was going on. I'm not even sure a re-read would help me that much. Even so, there was enough here to keep me whizzing around the next corner to see what was there. 3½★'s
Harry Arno runs a sports book in Miami for Jimmy Cap. The Feds want to take down Harry's boss so use him as bait by letting it be known that Harry is skimming off the top. Jimmy tells his enforcer, Tommy Bucks aka The Zip, to take care of it. When Harry manages to kill the guy who they send after him is when the story starts to get interesting. Harry is arrested but manages to make bail and is being looked after by a US Marshal who goes by the name of Raylan Givens. Harry, for the second time in their lives, manages to give Raylan the skip and flies off to Italy to escape from it all having a fondness for the place due to an incident in his past. Raylan is none too happy about Harry doing a runner so uses some personal time to go after him. However, he's not the only one following the trail that Harry leaves and soon all the major players are in Rapallo and it's only a matter of time before things come together.
This is the first appearance of the US Marshal with a cowboy hat and a fondness for ice cream that has now become more famous for the TV show Justified starring Timothy Olyphant. It's pretty much a typical Elmore Leonard book with a few twists and turns in the story that keep you guessing and reading until the last page. He does throw in a few clunkers every now and then but I'm glad to say this isn't one of them. I've yet to watch the TV show but after reading this I definitely want to and I will also be reading the next book in the series at some point too. 3½★'s
Made a slight (and very late in the challenge) alteration to one of my categories. Changed the Steampunk part of category 8 to x-Punk so that I can also include cyberpunk as well as there's a book I really want to get to sooner rather than later.
Katie, Pollen by Jeff Noon which is the follow-up book to Vurt which I read last year. Could've fit this into my Continuations category but already have my final selection planned for that one so decided to make this change. Will be starting it tonight while I'm working.
Although this is a sequel to Vurt, it is not a by-the-numbers repeat of that earlier work. This one takes some of the elements that were briefly touched upon and develops them much more comprehensively and we get to learn more of what vurt is and also the diversity of beings that inhabit both worlds. There's pretty much a whole new cast of characters this time around as well. From shadowcops to dog-men and x-cabbers that will take you anywhere you want to go as long as it's on the map and you have the fare.
Coyote, the last of the independent cabbies gets a pickup from one of the places the x-cabbers won't go. Limbo, home to the half-dead, is where he meets Persephone who just wants a ride into the city. But is this young girl more than she seems? The ride doesn't end well for the driver but he's only the first. His body is found with flowers growing out of his throat but when he is probed by Sybil, the shadowcop, it's found that he died with a smile on his face. Not long after there's an infestation of exotic flora that is causing the pollen count to rise to astronomical figures and the hay fever that results is crippling the city's inhabitants. Only those who can't dream are immune to the effects. What's causing it all and why does the chief of police seem to be obstructing the case and working with Columbus, owner of the x-cabbers?
This book could be read as a stand-alone work but I wouldn't really recommend doing so. Some of the concepts here were first introduced in the previous book and I doubt that the reader would gain the understanding without reading Vurt beforehand. Considering this falls under the cyberpunk banner, there isn't a lot of tech or science with the story heading into more fantastical and phantasmagorical ways with the vurt world wanting to expand into the real world. 4★'s
Charlie Gordon has an abnormally low IQ but has a drive to better himself that was instilled by his mother when he was a child. He voluntarily attends an adult learning centre so that he can learn to read and write. Seeing his devotion, his teacher recommends him as the first test subject for a radical new procedure that will increase intelligence by up to 3 times its current level. The experiment has been thoroughly tested on animals and the latest subject, a mouse named Algernon, is showing great signs that the change is permanent.
Told in the form of progress reports written by Charlie, the reader gets to see and feel the emotions and change of character as the experiment takes hold and Charlie's intelligence increases to that of genius level. How is he affected when he realises those he thought of as friends who were always laughing around him were actually laughing at him and not with him. We get to learn of his childhood as long buried memories rise to the surface and we get to follow along as he builds up new relationships with those around him. How will Charlie cope when Algernon shows signs that the experiment might not be quite so lasting after all and that the same fate may await him?
Not a hard science fiction book but one that examines society's actions to some of its less fortunate members and the psychological effects on the test subject himself. This is a well-crafted story that tugs at the emotional heart-strings and if you don't want to be seen blubbering in public then make sure you read the end while you are safely ensconced in a private place. 5★'s
What do you do when you're accused of murder and all the evidence points to you as the sole suspect and you don't fit within the confines of what most people believe is normal societal behaviour? When you're Sibylla Forsenstrom you go on the run of course. Living on the streets of Stockholm, Sibylla occasional runs a scam to get a free night in a hotel from a lonely traveller as she does enjoy the luxury of a a good meal and a hot bath every now and then. When she wakes up with the police knocking on her hotel room door wanting to ask her some serious questions she decides it's time for a sharp exit. Managing to elude the police she finds out that the man who paid for her meal and room had been brutally murdered and his body mutilated and as she was the last person seen with him and her fingerprints were on his hotel keycard she is suspect no.1 in a list that has just one name on it.
As time passes and Sibylla manages to evade capture we get to learn of her transformation from upper-class Swedish teenager to a homeless woman that has been living on the streets for the last fifteen years and the possibility of guilt doesn't hang too far away as the body count rises and she still stays out of police clutches. While hiding out, Sibylla encounters an unlikely ally in the shape of 15 year-old Patrick who believes her pleas of innocence and then convinces her that they should try and find the real killer so she can be free from society's expectations once again.
The suspense mounts with every turn of a page and Sibylla is an engaging character. The book is only really let down with the rather abrupt ending which feels a little forced. Still a decent read though. 3½★'s
Louis Chavel was a rich lawyer who finds himself incarcerated with 29 other men in a Nazi run prison in Paris. When the group of prisoners are informed they must choose 3 of their number to be executed in an act of reprisal they decide the only way is to draw lots. Chaval is one of the unlucky ones but begs for his life and says he will give all his fortune if one of the others would take his place. His offer is accepted and so Chaval assigns his property and fortune over to the soon to be dead man's surviving relatives.
When the war is all but over, Chaval, now going by the name of Jean-Louis Charlot, finds life as a poor man not much to his liking and so finds himself drawn to his old house in the country and manages to insinuate himself into the lives of the mother and daughter of the man who took his place. He takes on the role of servant but soon realises that he's fallen in love with the daughter who has confessed that she would kill the man he used to be if he was to show his face. So what happens when someone claiming to be Chavel actually turns up?
Originally written in 1944 while under contract to MGM, this short novel lay forgotten in the archives until it was discovered in 1983. Returned to the author for revision the book was finally able to see the light of day. I, for one, am certainly glad it did and this edition comes with an introduction by the author himself as well as two outlines for films, the second of which was later adapted into Our Man in Havana. 4★'s
Humm... I am guessing the Greene book probably isn't gothic enough for my category, unless you feel it does have a gothic atmospheric feel to it. If not, that's okay as I'm just not sure if The Tenth Man would appeal to me. Nice review, Dave.
The final (for now) volume in the absolute editions brings together both versions of The Dream Hunters, the seven short stories that make up Endless Nights and Sandman Midnight Theatre all prefaced by a short called The Last Sandman Story taken from Dust Covers which deals with the author's own encounters with his characters. The first of The Dream Hunters is quite different to all that has come before being an illustrated novella rather than in comic book format. This was done at the request of the artist Yoshitaka Amano and takes Dream to the Orient in a tale of love between a fox and a monk. The story is exquisite and the artwork simply gorgeous and is probably my favourite from all the Sandman books. Told as an adaptation of a fictitious Japanese fairy tale, it uses characters drawn from Japanese folklore and fits them perfectly into the Sandman mythos. The P. Craig Russell Dream Hunters comic book adaptation of this story is used to conclude the volume. To me, the comic is less effective in telling this particular story.
Endless Nights features a story for each of Dream's siblings and one for Dream himself. Death's story, Death in Venice, also appears in Absolute Death but was still worthy of admiring again. Of the others, I think Delirium's tale was my favourite and Despair's quite unsettling but all are worthy of attention. This was released to celebrate Vertigo's 10th anniversary and some very talented artists were recruited to each pen a different story.
Sandman Midnight Theatre brings together two different entities of the Sandman with Wesley Dodds investigating the goings on at the manor Fawney Rig where Dream was imprisoned by Roderick Burgess. Plotted by Matt Wagner and written by Neil Gaiman with artwork that takes the reader back to 1930's England with a noirish feel it has tempted me to think about trying out the Sandman Mystery Theatre series at some point.
The book concludes with a Sandman miscellany which includes several pages of posters and sketches from The Dream Hunters, more posters used as retail promotion, script with design and layout for Dream's story in Endless Nights and details of statues and figures made for the series.
Although the works are unrelated, it is good to have them all gathered in this volume to complete and match the other releases in the set. 4½★'s
Oh, and much as I love Delirium, I think Despair in her clumsy, grumpy, tenderness is my favorite Endless.
Marty is tired of the undead life. Sick of being a vampire in a sea of vampires so he's out driving recklessly one night and he's even taken out the airbags when he spots something that he thought he'd never see again. A little girl! A real-life human girl. She's covered in blood but none of it is hers so maybe she was one of those farm raised humans being readied for an exclusive clientele who has managed to escape but whoever she was with didn't make it. Deciding that perhaps little Isuzu Trooper Cassidy, for that's what Marty finds out is actually her name, will taste better later when she's not quite so emotionally wrung out and so he decides to look after her for a while. After initial overtures of friendship that involve a bread knife, Marty manages to coax Isuzu into his car by convincing her that her fellow escapee, which turned out to be her mother, managed to escape the vampires that found them and he'd left a note with his phone number for the mum to call when she returned. Snack time for Marty however keeps getting put off longer and longer and he finds himself acting as a surrogate father to a cute little girl with all the troubles that brings in a world designed for vampire living without a thought to the daily life of a real live human. He will, of course, have to keep her a secret from everyone and that's not easy when your neighbours are the curtain-twitching kind and your walls are paper thin.
Told entirely from Marty's point of view this novel takes a wry and humorous look at life and the skills required in being a parent. Yes, it has its flaws in that large chunks of time are missed out and how Isuzu manages to remain sane and intelligent as she grows up basically alone while her only companion sleeps the sleep of the (un)dead during daylight hours. But for all that, this is still a fun and inventive story with some fresh ideas which remains fairly light and fluffy despite some darker moments. The ending was probably a little bit of a cop-out but overall I found this an enjoyable read and will be watching out for future releases from the author. 4★'s
That's about the size of it. His other book Rapture, which I read last year, is much more satirical than this one but both have their plus points to recommend them.
Near-future tech dystopian novel that revolves around the lives of four people in a corporate run world. They're all involved in trying to undermine a society that is seeking to gain greater control of everybody's life. To get anywhere in this world you need to be connected, everything is controlled through your phone: building access, transport, cash transactions and even justice can be meted out through electric shock from the local enforcement agency. Suspensions of service are tantamount to a prison sentence and do something deemed significantly bad and earn a disonnection and your life might just as well be over. Kendra is an up-and-coming photographer who has just signed on as a guinea-pig for a nanotechnology implant. Toby is a journo-wannabe, running a streaming blog called diary of a cunt and living off hand-outs from uber-rich mummy. Tendeka, the anarchist, who dreams of bringing down the current system. Lerato is a corporate programmer who wants to climb the ladder but wouldn't mind missing out a few rungs to get there a bit quicker. Their lives criss-cross throughout the story as events unfold to which they all have a connection to some degree.
Each character's voice is distinct, which is a good job considering they act as narrators for this story switching between the four in short, rapid chapters. The plot is not inherently obvious from the outset but creeps up on you slowly as you get to learn of the world through four sets of eyes. There is definitely a (non-preachy) political statement within this novel and a warning of potential dangers of the way in which our own world seems to be edging closer to realising. Perhaps treat this as a V for Vendetta for the digital age. 4★'s
Katie, yes, I've already read Zoo City. It was just over a year ago as one of my free books after completing the challenge and enjoyed that one too. In my copy of Moxyland, the author includes a short piece describing how the book came to be and credits her 12 years as a journalist for the start of it all.
A pulp fantasy novel that has nine brothers competing to rule in the one true world of Amber. We follow Corwin as he awakens in a hospital with no memory except for a flash of being involved in a car accident. Not even knowing who he is but it soon becomes apparent that the medical staff don't necessarily have his best interests at heart and are in fact trying to hold him prisoner. Learning a few things as he manages to escape he makes his way to his sister and through duplicitous means manages to find out a few more. When Random, one of his brothers, also seeks aid at their sister's home he is surprised to find Corwin there and presumes he has his full faculties restored and believes he's making a try for the throne. Doing enough not to convince him otherwise, Corwin enlists Random's help and sets off on just such a quest. When the going gets too tough, Corwin confesses but Random has a possible solution to return his full memory as he believes that Corwin may be the best hope of stopping Eric, another of the prince's, from taking the throne for himself. A prospect that neither of them wants. Accomplishing this, Corwin sees the best way to defeat Eric would be an alliance with another brother and seeks out Bleys, the best military strategist of them. Together they recruit a massive army from the shadow worlds (the worlds that are not Amber) to invade but will it be enough to overcome the incumbent forces of Eric?
There's quite a lot packed in to this small opening chapter of the Amber chronicles (10 books in all) and it is generally well regarded within the SF&F field but, for me, there was something a little lacking. There just wasn't enough detail to thoroughly immerse yourself into the story. Epic battles were passed off as encounter x, sustained y amount of losses and that would be it. Thousands of people (I say that in the loosest possible term) died but because you didn't know them it didn't matter. The plot was rushed and everything felt like you were being pushed along at breakneck speed. There are some good points to the book though. I liked the magic system, the use of playing cards with the family being the trumps worked well and the overall concept was at the least intriguing. I could even get to like the main character if his development continues in the next volume. As for any of the other characters in the story, you just don't get to know them at all and there is no way this book would pass the Bechdel test.
As I have The Great Book of Amber, which includes all 10 volumes, I will at some point read the next one but not, as I originally planned to do, straight away. 3★'s
Shunned by his colleagues for refusing to toe the line Inspector Samejima, known by the name of Shinjuku Shark for his relentless pursuit of justice regardless of the cost, is on the trail of gun manufacturer Kizu. Once regarded as a shining light within the force he is now treated as something of a loose cannon but one that cannot simply be dismissed. He holds information which could potentially have devastating consequences if it gets released. No-one in the department wants to work with him, partially because of his methods and also in fear that their own careers would be harmed, so the Shark works alone in one of the toughest precincts in Japan. But while he's closing in on his target it seems another hunter has entered his waters and is preying on his fellow officers. Will he give up his own enquiries to take on the the new target and become a team player or will his own investigation lead him there anyway as he suspects that it might?
This is quite a fast-paced, hard-boiled detective story with an interesting set of characters that has turned into a popular and multi-award winning series in Japan. It features some detailed police procedural work too, particularly in the ballistics field, which is worked well into the story. There is probably a little too much coincidence going on though which ties everything together including Samejima's personal life but despite that it's still an enjoyable tale and I'm glad that I've also picked up the 2nd in the series to continue with at some point. 4★'s
Personally this year not that special a day for me as I will be sleeping through most of it. Finish work at 7.00am (the last of a 4-night stretch) so will sleep until I wake up naturally with no plans for the remainder of the day.
Sleeping until you naturally wake up sounds like the perfect way to spend - or at least start- the holiday! ;-)
Okay, this may be cheating a little to call this one big book but it is a hefty tome and certainly takes up some room on my bookcase so I might just get away with it.
Written in the late 1980's but set 10 years later this graphic novel tells the story of a Britain suffering under a totalitarian government which the people not only accepted but welcomed after the chaos brought on by a third world war. One man, going by the name of V, thinks it's time for change and sets about inciting the people into wanting their freedom once again. To accomplish this requires some extraordinary acts starting with the blowing up of the Houses of Parliament. He is, of course, dressed as Guy Fawkes and remains so throughout the story. He also has a score to settle with the people who made him what he is today and the first arc of the book deals with this. It also features V's rescue of Evey, a 16 year-old girl who was about to be raped and murdered by what passes for policemen at the time. Evey remains with V in his lair until a disagreement over methods finds her abandoned and alone once more. Evey will meet up with V once again but probably not in the way she would have expected.
This is obviously a political story but it never judges the characters involved but shows how they arrived at what they were and rather asks the reader to question "what if..." "What if I had to make that decision?" "What if that was me in that position?" "What would I do?". As well as being powerful and thought-provoking, this is an intense portrayal of an extreme that we seem still to be heading towards. It is told without the use of thought balloons or caption boxes so the dialogue and the artwork must compel the narrative along and this works wonderfully. Like the tone of the story, the artwork is quite dark, the colours muted into sepia tones with lots of use of shadow. This Absolute edition includes all 10 volumes and resurrects the "silent-art" pages (full-page panels containing no dialogue) from the original series' run. We also get the original introductions by the author and artist as well as a short feature on the making of V for Vendetta entitled V: Behind the painted smile. There are also some early sketches and alternate cover artwork included as well.
Unlike the author, I did enjoy the movie version and while they do differ quite substantially I think the movie offers up a good adaptation of this original work. While they do tell a similar story there are enough differences to make it worthwhile experiencing both forms of media. 4½★'s
V for Vendetta is quite possibly my all-time favorite book - so glad you enjoyed it!! It's one that I might actually go ahead and get the Absolute edition since my collected softback is falling apart at the seams and I won't even touch my single issues! It's a hefty tome in topic so it would qualify that way. :)
I think Moore goes ahead and dislikes all the movie-versions of his works, whether he has seen them or not. I thought Hugo Weaving was spectacular!
..... also cheering you on to the finish line for your challenge!
This is the weirdest of the 5 (so far) books in the Quinsigamond series and that is saying something. Sweeney is a man on the edge. Unable to cope with the guilt of not being there when his son Danny's accident occurred he will do anything to try and restore Danny from the coma he's been in ever since. That's all he lives for so when an opening appears at the renowned Peck clinic in Quinsigamond, Sweeney applies and is granted a place for his son amongst the patients. He is also taken on as a pharmacist within the clinic itself. Events don't transpire exactly as he's hoped and soon find Sweeney enmeshed with a biker group that's also made it's way to the rust-belt factory town who have plans of their own for Sweeney and Danny. Which way will Sweeney eventually lean? Who can he trust to do the right thing for his son?
Interjected within this story we are also treated to excerpts from Danny's favourite comic book, Limbo, which is about a troupe of freaks forced to flee from their circus home and follow the mystical instructions given to the chicken boy when he enters into Limbo while in the grip of a seizure. While fleeing a mad doctor they're trying to re-unite chicken boy with his long lost father believed to be on the far shores of Gehenna. I did mention that this book was weird, right?
The two narratives eventually join up to form a whole that speculates on consciousness and where we go when that is lost and the feelings of guilt and rage of those that get left behind. It also takes a look at how stories can have an effect on people's lives and not always for the betterment thereof. This book will not be everyone's cup of tea, the characters in the main are mostly unlikeable, there's quite a mishmash of elements in the storytelling linking gothic and noirish mystery that will not sit well with everyone. But for me, because I've enjoyed the previous work of the author it seems to have built nicely to this. I wouldn't recommend this as a first experience of his work though but I found it quite compelling. 4★'s
Year end stats and summary:
Total books read: 79
Graphic Novel 10
Urban Fantasy 8
New Weird 1
Historical Fiction 1
Short Stories 1
Favourite book in each category
One big book: The Absolute V for Vendetta (the one and only book in the category)
Omnibus editions: Into the Nightside (neither were stand-outs but this just edged it)
Short Stories and Anthologies: Tales for Canterbury (being charitable for a charity book)
Masterworks: Flowers for Algernon (My favourite read of the year)
Absolute Sandman: The Absolute Sandman Volume Three (loved the series and this was my favourite of those I read this year)
My very own menagerie: King Rat just edges this from a couple of other candidates)
Humour: Suzy, Led Zeppelin and Me (another very close run thing)
New Weird / x-Punk: City of Saints and Madmen (very different from just about everything I've read before)
Lost in Translation: Roseanna (a very good example of the police procedural)
Starter for 10: Preacher Book 1 (great start to what promises to be an excellent series)
Book Watch: The Hunger Games (shame the rest of the series didn't quite live up to this one)
Continuations: Fables: The Deluxe Edition Book Five (some great story progression in this volume)
Average category rating: (5 or more books to qualify)
Absolute Sandman: 4.3
My very own menagerie: 3.67
New Weird / x-Punk: 4.25
Lost in Translation: 3.38
Starter for 10: 3.9
Book Watch: 3.82
Least favourite books read for the challenge:
Dark Alchemy: Magical Tales from Masters of Modern Fantasy
And Another Thing...
Please Don't Call Me Human
Flowers for Algernon
The Absolute Sandman Volume Three
Fables: The Deluxe Edition Book Five
Thanks to everyone who has participated in this challenge throughout the year. It's been another great one. Hope you all have a fantastic new year and hope to see you all again in my 2013 thread.
I love V for Vendetta and that's a great review. I liked the film less probably because of the slight ending difference, still a good film though. Right and now to the 2013 thread!
see you over on the 2013 challenge!