Clfisha's 12 in 12 - Part 2

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Clfisha's 12 in 12 - Part 2

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jul 11, 2012, 5:46am

Welcome to Part 2 of this years challenge

The rules!
-Each category must be one of the most memorable 12 books of 2011 (in no particular order)
-Each book can have up to 5 tags to define category plus of course anything I read by that author.
-The number of books define my random rolling of a 6 sided dice.
-No star ratings just: Bad, Average, Good, Excellent and Amazing.

The Categories titles this year are:
1 The BldgBlog Book by Geoff Manuagh
2 Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry
3 Elmer by Gerry Alanguilan
4 The Unwritten Volumes 1-3 by Mike Carey (author) and Peter Gross (artist)
5 Embassytown by China Mieville
6 Zoo City By Lauren Beukes
7The Lost Machine by Richard k Kirk
8 The Rider by Tim Krabbe
9 Lord of Emperors by Guy Gavriel Kay
10 The Orphan's Tales: In the Night Garden by Catherynne M. Valente
11 The Troika by Stepan Chapman
12 The Gone Away World by Nick Harkaway

Redigerat: nov 19, 2012, 7:39am

Category 1 The BldgBlog Book by Geoff Manuagh
Non-fiction, architecture, fantasy, science fiction, apocalypse & books by Manuagh

1. Ghost Milk by Iain Sinclair (Excellent 26/1)
2. The Empire of Death: A Cultural History of Ossuaries and Charnel Houses by Paul Koudounaris (Excellent 13/2)
3. The Devil and the White City by Erik Larson (good 11/8)
4. Fire Season by Philip Connors (19/8 Amazing)
5. This Book is Full of Spiders by David Wong (Excellent 8/11)
6. London's Overthrow by China Mieville (good 18/11)


Redigerat: sep 19, 2012, 7:03am

Category 2 Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry
Unfamiliar genres, the wild west, camping, books made into films, epics, & books by McMurty

1. Darkmans by Nicola Barker (Amazing June)
2. True Grit by Charles Potis (good 19/6)
3. The brothers K by David James Duncan (amazing 19/9)


Redigerat: sep 14, 2012, 5:51am

Category 3 Elmer by Gerry Alanguilan
Comics, human rights, genocide, chickens, anthropomorphism & books by Alanguilan

1. Alan's War by Emmanuel Guibert (Jan Excellent)
2. Blankets by Craig Thompson (Good Feb)
3. Kurt Busiek's Astro City by Kurtz Busiek (Excellent March)
4. Aya by Marguerite Abouet (Good march)
5. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon (Good April)
6. Choker By Ben McCool (author) & Ben Atemplesmith (artist) (good 5/7)
7. The Walking Dead: Volume 16 Series by Robert Kirkman/Charlie Adlard (Excellent July)
8. Depresso by Brick (Excellent 15/7)
9. Locke & Key: Clockworks by Joe Hill (author) and Gabriel Rodriguez (artist)
10. Adamtine by Hannah Berry (Excellent 12/9)


Redigerat: okt 1, 2012, 7:45am

Category 4 The Unwritten Volumes 1-3 by Mike Carey (author) and Peter Gross (artist)
Horror, books about books, fantasy, comics, meta fiction & books by Carey

1. The Unwritten Vol 5: on to Genesis series by Mike Carey/Peter Gross (comic) (Amazing March)
2. The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan (Good June)
3. Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig (27/8 Excellent)
4. Blacksad by Juanjo Guarnido (Artist), Juan Diaz Canales (Author) (good, 30/9)


Redigerat: okt 8, 2012, 6:25am

Category 5 Embassytown by China Mieville
Science fiction, semiotics, zombies, colonisation, 1st person & books by Mieville

1. Atlas of Remote Islands by Judith Schalansky (Amazing May)
2. Rogue Male by Geoffrey Household (Good May)
3. Pontypool Changes Everything by Tony Burgess (Excellent June)
4. Metro 2033 by Dmitry Glukhovsky (good 5/7)
5. Seven Wonders by Adam Christopher (good 6/9)


Redigerat: okt 8, 2012, 6:49am

Category 6 Zoo City by Lauren Beukes
Fantasy, Africa, crime, animal familiars, music & books by Beukes
1. The Price by Joseph Garraty (Jan Excellent)
2. The Iron Will of Shoeshine Cats (Excellent 6/5)
3. Quarry's Ex by Max Allan Collins (Good June)
4. The Last Quarry by Max Allan Collins (Average june)
5. Moxyland by Lauren Beukes (Good 19/6)
6. Edge of Dark Water by Joe R Lansdale


Redigerat: sep 28, 2012, 9:01am

Category 7 The Lost Machine by Richard A Kirk
Illustrated books, Novellas, AI, crime, new weird, & books by Kirk

1. The G String Murders by Gypsy Rose Lee (March, good)
2. Holes by Louis Sachar (good, 29/7)
3. Havana Noir edited by Achay Obejas (good
4. The First Quarry by Max Allan Collins (excellent 28/9)


Redigerat: nov 18, 2012, 6:56am

Category 8 The Rider by Tim Krabbe
Random purchases, sport, journalism, bikes, memoirs & books by Krabbe

1. The Cave by Tim Krabbe (3/2 Excellent)
2. Giant Thief by David Tallerman (Good April)
3. Snuff by Terry Prachett (average July)
4. The Two-Bear Mambo by Joe R. Lansdale (Excellent 4/9)
5. The Vanishing or Het Gouden Ei by Tim Krabbe (excellent 30/9)
6. The Celestial Bibendum by Nicolas De Crecy (good 30/9)
7. The Road to Perdition by Max Allan Collins (author) and Richard Piers Raynor (artist) (good 28/10)
8. How's the Pain by Pascal Garnier (Good 4/11)
9. Fun Home by Alison Bechdel


Redigerat: aug 14, 2012, 5:46am

Category 9 Lord of Emperors by Guy Gavriel Kay
Rereads, Historical fiction, Political intrigue, Byzantuim, fire & books by GGK

1. The Feast of the Goat by Mario Vargas Llosa (Excellent)
2. The Alienist by Caleb Carr (good 13/8)


Redigerat: nov 22, 2012, 8:08am

Category 10 The Orphan's Tales: In the Night Garden by Catherynne M. Valente
fairy tales, nested stories, monsters, women authors, books in a series & books by Valente

1. Boneshaker by Cherie Priest (Excellent 26/12) 414 pages
2. The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in The Ship of Her Making by Catherynne M Valente (amazing 21/7)
3. Babylon Steel by Gaie Sebold (Good 22/7)
4. Among Others by Jo Walton (Good 1/9)
5. The Pirates! in an Adventure with the Romantics by Gideon Defoe (amazing 27/9)
6. The Underground Man by Ross McDonald (good 8/10)
7. In the Cities of Coin and Spice by Catherine M Valente (amazing 28/10)


Redigerat: nov 13, 2012, 6:22am

Category 11 The Troika by Stepan Chapman
new weird, threes, afterlife, cyborg, dinosaurs & books by Stepan Chapman

1. Hospital: A Dream Vision by Toby Litt (Excellent 11/3)
2. Empire State by Adam Christopher (Good April)
3. The Year of Our War by Steph Swainston (Average May)
4. Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives by David Eagleman (Amazing June)
5. deadkidsongs by Toby Litt (almost amazing July)
6. Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey (Average 2/9)
7. Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams (Good, 23/9)
8. Dante's Inferno by Hunt Emerson (good 30/9)
9. we3 by Grant Morrison (Excellent 12/11)


Redigerat: okt 26, 2012, 10:51am

Category 12 The Gone Away World by Nick Harkaway
dystopia, Ninjas, identity, war, fantasy and books by Nick Harkaway

1. Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway (Amazing 10/2)
2. Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde (OK 6/2)
3. The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul by Douglas Adams (Good 25/9)
4. The Bookman by Lavie Tidhar (Excellent 20/10)


jul 11, 2012, 10:48am

Category 5 Embassytown by China Mieville. Tags: science fiction, zombies

Metro 2033 by Dmitrij Gluchovskij
Superb dystopian world building, average boys own adventure

All nuclear war has left are the last dregs of humanity who huddle in the Moscow metro, penned in by rats, radiation and strange mutations. Artoym lives at isolated VNKDh, but the station is under threat from the "dark ones", the undead seeping in from outside and must get out to warn the whole station but in a place with many political factions and constant dangers that is not an easy task

Dripping in atmosphere, we are immersed in a world not fully understood by its protagonists. We follow stories told around fires, old news spread by merchants and refugees and slowly through experience we begin to understand it for ourselves. The books main strength is this fabulous dystopian creation, detailed yet engaging, full of mystery and promise.

The plot is uneven, or rather it depends what you like. After a perfect start it settles into an adventure tale, really an exploration of the world through a series of interlinked adventures as we follow Artoym on his travels flitting from one drama to the next. There is nothing wrong with this: ideas are exploding all over the place, the action's exciting, the characters good and really the world is so damn fine. However it's such a long book I found the pacing started to drag..

I loved the delicate walk between supernatural and science. The psychological problems and walking through a dank, dark tunnel with unknown dangers. I loved the small, claustrophobic world slowly expanding and the mental effect it has. I became a tad irritated by Artoym’s passivity and, good reason or not, all that luck he had. I was bemused by misogyny, no female characters? eh what? If the odd crying child, topless prostitute or hysterical mother hadn’t appeared I would have thought they had died out.

Recommended. Well worth seeking out for just for the setting but you dystopia & Horror fans (don’t worry it’s not gory) will lap this up.

jul 11, 2012, 12:56pm

Coming by to make sure your thread shows up on my list.

jul 11, 2012, 2:05pm

Nice new thread!

jul 12, 2012, 11:50am

@16 :)

Category 3 Elmer by Gerry Alanguilan, Tag: Comics

Choker by Ben McCool (author) and Ben Templesmith (artist)
Fun noir cyberpunk comic

Think dark and grimy near futuristic city, rife with corruption and full of seediness. Think bitter ex-cop with alien hand syndrome. Think super drug causes destruction in a failing city and then add a old boss who seems desperate for help and a promise of a bright future.

Planted fully in the hardboiled noir genre and splashed with science fiction and wry dark humour we get a neat story that whilst may follow standard lines is highly enjoyable. All the characters are dark, (anti-heroes and villains) but they are fun to be with and root for. It's also beautifully drawn by the iconic Ben Templesmith, his artwork a perfect fit for this dark tale.

Recommended to lovers of the genre(s) and anyone with who likes a bit of dark humour.

There is an interview with the creators here:

jul 12, 2012, 12:27pm

I just Googleimaged the art - beautiful! - and it's going on the wishlist. Noir with dark humor works for me! :)

jul 12, 2012, 4:47pm

One to keep an eye out for when I really get down to checking out some graphic novels I think.

Redigerat: jul 13, 2012, 4:59am

I got blamed in your last thread! "I blame visibleghost."

Since I'm being blamed for all things Western, let me hit you with another piece of Westerniana, from film this time. Watch the opening sequence from Once Upon a Time in the West (1969) with the sound cranked. The silence is deafening and you can feel the tension doing weird things to your breathing if you're concentrating. You can finish the movie if you want (it's outlandish) but the opening scene is never topped. If Sergio Leone had written novels he'd be a cross between James Ellroy and Larry McMurtry. A lot of people aren't fond of Spaghetti Westerns but I love over-the-topness, therefore I'm quite fond of Sergio Leone.

jul 13, 2012, 12:55am

Cyberpunk isn't the usual graphic novel fair. Interesting!

Redigerat: jul 13, 2012, 8:49am

Hope you all enjoy choker. Ben Templesmith has created his own comics too Wormwood, darkly funny supernatural Noir, art so good I have some of his prints on wall!

20 Oh no film bullets! Ach you have intrigued me I don't think I have never watched a western in my life .. apart from Young Guns. Ahem.

jul 13, 2012, 12:37pm


jul 17, 2012, 8:09am

23 waves

Category 11 The Troika by Stepan Chapman. Tag: (very tenuously: new weird, dinosaurs & (even more tenuously) afterlife

Look I have tried to write a smaller review but I just can't.. I have serious bloat!

deadkidsongs by Toby Litt
Pitch black, humourous, tale of childhood
(um.. it's brilliant.. I think)

I am still digesting this chewy, gruesomely compelling, ambitious and ambiguous book.

Framed as a chaotic memoir, discovered after a fathers suicide. It is a tale of "Gang", 4 young boys growing up in 70s England. Think long summers, madcap adventures and bike rides, secret camps and crushes on the opposite sex, think of dead kids, because as we are told very quickly by the end of the year two of them will be dead.

If that doesn't add a frisson of drama nothing will. The world slowly unfurls and as it deepens becomes utterly gripping.. pivotal moments hit to ensure you are going to get a bit of surprise. At least I didn’t see it coming. Still it's more than a dark tale, an anti-coming of age novel. The writing is fantastic as usual, vivid and packing a punch, the characters are deep and fit their allotted roles. The dads may represent different ends of the spectrum but they are real dads, horrifying though that might be.

It's ambitious too, Litt is doing interesting things. Not only is he is playing with childhood, with fatherhood, with summer idyll and cold war terror, looking through the dark glass at old age and the young. He is playing with narration, as 3rd person "We" slips into 1st person accounts and morphs into official Gang "reports". We get shifting tones of adults and of kids and they are unreliable narrators because it’s all dotted with contradictory facts.. except isn't this written by one person?

I can see how this could end in frustration not delight, the shifting sands are jarring and you might feel the book isn't hanging together. For me it gave a nice(?) edginess and is needed to prepare for end.

Highly recommended. This is a gripping, utterly compelling, humorous, disturbing and intriguing tale. This is not for the squeamish nor for those who need neat plots.

PS Now I hear it’s been adapted for a play. I have no idea how they are going achieve the same effect, but I cannot wait to find out.

PPS. You know dead kid songs is an actual collection of 428 poems put to music? go google Kindertotenlieder..

jul 17, 2012, 1:30pm

Sounds absolutely ghastly. And then you go and call it "humourous." Dark with humor must go on wishlist. :)

jul 18, 2012, 7:46am

Dark as in horror movie dark towards the end, its quite intense... I am not sure there is enough humour to lighten it to be honest so you still might want to stay clear!

jul 18, 2012, 8:08am

Category 3 Elmer by Gerry Alanguilan. Tag: comics

depresso by brick

This is a rare thing as it‘s not only an informative look at depression it’s also an engaging, humorous account. Brick, a UK cartoonist, uses his experiences to create Tom Freeman, from his initial worries to where hope starts to seep in. We follow over the next few years, moving home, travelling to China, hiding in bed, talking to an imaginary lizard and through the general chaos that ensues; the zombfying drugs, the horrifyingly slow NHS care, odd cures, his friends reactions and general stigma. It's vivid and very human but throughout there's a wry self deprecating humour that elevates it.

The art is drawn in friendly black and white and gives a edge of comfort whilst effortlessly highlighting mood & obsessions, adding the odd joke, and splashes of madness against everyday obsessions.

Highly recommend to comics & memoir fans and anyone interested in mental health.

There's a great and longer review here:

jul 18, 2012, 8:59am

Depression is almost impossible to describe and I think any book that tries to explain it is probably worth reading. I have a family member who has to deal with this and understanding his thought processes is difficult. The best I've found elsewhere is:

Redigerat: jul 18, 2012, 12:38pm

->26 clfisha:
Thanks for the warning - I would absolutely need a big dose of humor to go along with the darkness, so it'll be a pass.

I've heard about Depresso before, but never picked it up. Fortunately, I've not had to deal with that issue at close quarters, but it would be interesting to read an account to try and understand.

->28 RidgewayGirl:
ETA: That was great - thanks for the link!!!

Redigerat: jul 18, 2012, 12:36pm

@28 Thanks for the link, a lovely piece on depression & I loved the drawings! :)

Brick does show the mental process he goes through (and mentions that there are different types of depression), about how it isn't related to an actual event (in fact his starts as physical pain) and also that science doesn't really understand much about it.

There is a tragic, but very funny section, on the birthday presents he gets from his friends: from self help books, age jokes, to notes saying look on the bright side and his father even sends him a bottle of whisky with note: try alcohol!

@30 Eva I think it would be worth picking up, its very funny which helps with such a serious subject.

jul 18, 2012, 1:11pm

@28 a lot of people might find humor in that comic .... not me. Hits way to close ...

terrific by the way

jul 19, 2012, 4:21am

31 ah Clif it's rubbish that it hits way to close. I did admire Brick, who could still see the humour in the situation i.e. his terrible dads present or the comic mad GP (doctor) who gave him drugs but I can easily see its primarily aimed at people who don't understand.

jul 19, 2012, 6:18am

Thanks for the link, that comic is very good. Wish I could've seen it 3 years ago when my brother was diagnosed, I think his thought process at the time was fairly similar.

jul 19, 2012, 9:01am

Category 3 Elmer by Gerry Alanguilan. Tag: comics, human rights
The Walking Dead: volume 16 by Robert Kirkman (author) and Charles Adlard (artist)
Fantastic long running zombie comic

Series Review
A fantastic exploration of what happens to a group of survivors during and after the zombie apocalypse. We are at volume 16 now and there hasn't been a dud volume. Kirkman likes to explore and see where it takes him, the potential issues survivors face and the impacts, it’s as much character driven as plot driven. He can shock and it obviously can get dark but this is a zombie apocalypse right? Do you want fluffy bunnies and candy? The artwork is consistently fab: black and white which really works well to counterbalance the horror and allows some great detail.

Those TV fans will obviously find the differences jarring, (I only watched 1/2 of the 1st series), it moves faster, is less of a soap opera (i.e who loves whom) and makes some different choices.. sometimes more interesting darker ones.

Volume 16 Review
Kirkman manages to insert needed energy into a series that has been concentrating on character for a while, whilst they acclimatise to relative safety. As usual its a new direction not a rehash. More and more this comic is about exploration of apocalypse survival and less about eating brains and I love it. Long may it continue

Highly recommended to horror and comics fans.

jul 21, 2012, 5:43pm

Back home again, where there is an internet connection - a lot of catching up to do!

>14 clfisha: I liked Metro 2033 better than you, but agree with the points you make. Some women in actual speaking roles, and a plot up to the level of the world building and you'd have true greatness, I think.

>24 clfisha: I've held deadkidsongs in my hand, but have felt it looks surprisingly conventional for Toby Litt, and put it down again. Your review has intigued me big time. Wil surely read it.

>28 RidgewayGirl: Pretty high identification for me as well, but I still found it pretty funny in a slap-yer-face-brutal sort of way...

jul 23, 2012, 6:30am

@35 hmm to answer ur 3 points in a confusing fashion :)

RE: Metro 2033 yep it could be stunning.., I am tempted to see what happens in the sequel & I admit I am curious to try the computer game. Not a fan of FPS but I think it could be a intense experience ;)

RE: Depresso It's quite scary how common depression is, very sorry to hear it's familiar.

RE: oh and I struggled with what Toby Litt book to read next (it was a random Pete purchase!), he likes to try different genres doesn't he! & he gets such varied reviews too. deadkidsongs is very tame compare to Hospital: A dream Vision, but then most books are :)

jul 23, 2012, 6:52am

I read an interview with Gluchovskij where he talked about the themes for the planned trilogy. First part is crime (referring to the ending I suppose), second is punishment, the third one will be about redemtion and forgiveness. I'll be reading Metro 2034 within the next couple of months. We'll see how it holds up, I'm guessing we're in for an even darker ride with the "punishment" part.

jul 23, 2012, 10:19am

@37 hmm that made me pause .. the thought of a darker tale... ;)

Category 10 The Orphan's Tales: In the Night Garden by Catherynne M. Valente. Tags: books by Valente, fairy tales

The Girl Who Circumnavigated a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne Valente
Stunning subversive family fantasy

Valente's 1st YA is stunning, a feast of modern day storytelling, beautifully written and intelligent, fun and heartfelt.

Once upon a time, a girl named September grew very tired indeed of her parents' house, where she washed the same pink-and-yellow teacups and matching gravy boats every day, slept on the same embroidered pillow, and played with the same small and amiable dog.

September is carried away by the green wind one day, an opportunity to have adventures in fairy land is not to be missed and yes once there she makes friends, undertakes a Quest and tries to thwart the evil ruler.

This however being Valente an old old tale is turned upon its head. The characters are delightful and nuanced, the plot, with short chapters speeds along at a fair old pace, mini adventures segue with the big one and at the end it’s hard to put down. Each chapter has a gorgeous illustration too and I defy you not to want your very own library Wyvern.

As all mothers know, children travel faster than kisses. The speed of kisses is, in fact, what Doctor Fallow would call a cosmic constant. The speed of children has no limits.

Enjoyed by everyone familiar with fairytales. Adults will enjoy it, for its sheer delight but also the knowing narrator and its adults wisdom, a nostalgia for childhood things and a mothers heartache. Children will enjoy it for its playfulness and mad inventive fun and for the newness of discovery, (new words, techniques and ideas). It’s not for the easily frightened for there are dangers and not for those only ready for a single truth and a neat happy ending for its bittersweet and satisfyingly untidy.

"All stories must end so, with the next tale winking out of the corners of the last pages, promising more, promising moonlight and dancing and revels, if only you will come back when spring comes again

Highly recommended, I may gush because I am a fan of Valente but this is her most accessible book yet.. just dive right in.

jul 23, 2012, 10:53am

Wonderful review. With any luck a Swedish translation will be out when Elis is old enough for it. I have, as you know (you nudged me in its direction) read and loved Palimpsest, but that's my only Valente so far. Where would you suggest I go next? Orphan's tales? Prester John?

jul 23, 2012, 12:05pm

I'd say Orphan's Tales... but read the two books together!

Redigerat: jul 23, 2012, 12:07pm

@39 hmm well am I tempted to be cheeky and say read one I haven't so I can see if it's any good :) Ahem. I sadly haven't read many. I think I do recommend the Orphans Tales but the two books I very closely linked (the 1st kinda just stops). I have only read the 1st and it irked me. I preferred it to Palimpsest but it's a different animal: very nested, meta and modern fairytale. I am working my way very very slowly through The Labyrinth but I am drowning in luscious language and not much plot..

Oh keep forgetting to ask passing Swedes if they have heard of and would recommend Karin Tidbeck? Jeff Vandermeer's e-book publishing house is translating some of her stories.
edited to add link

jul 23, 2012, 12:39pm

>41 clfisha: Karin Tidbeck is (along with Nene Ormes) one of the writers that gets mentioned when there's talk of emerging fantasy writers in Sweden, but I only know her by name. Reading the blurbs for her collection soon to come in English makes me very curious. So thank you, English lady, for pointing out what's on my own doorstep!

jul 23, 2012, 1:04pm

I'm still a Valente-virgin (so to speak), but looking forward to getting to her. I was thinking of getting the ebook-version of The Girl Who Circumnavigated a Ship of Her Own Making, but I've since noticed that it's illustrated - are the drawings black-and-white or color (if color, papercopy it is!)?

Putting Tidbeck on the wishlist - I've never heard of her before, but my Swedish library has a couple of her books available as ebooks.

jul 23, 2012, 9:13pm

I've got Orphans Tales and have been meaning to read it for years. I've heard nothing but good things about it.

jul 24, 2012, 1:14am

>38 clfisha: Yay for more Catherynne Valente love!

jul 24, 2012, 4:09am

@43 Eva they are black and white and quite small, as they frame each chapter. So whilst they are lovely you could just get the e-book. If you want to see some they make part of the book trailer here:

jul 25, 2012, 1:36pm

Ooh, those are lovely. And now I want to own a paper copy instead.... :)

jul 27, 2012, 8:15am

Category 10 The Orphan's Tales: In the Night Garden by Catherynne M. Valente. Tag: women authors

Babylon Steel by Gaie Sebold
Fun, raunchy fantasy

Babylon Steel is a pretty good example of modern fantasy, released from the shackles of patriarchy and rigidity of certain races (oh ok there is 1 fey) we get a fun, racy adventure romp set in multi-planar universe and cuddling up close to crime genres. Babylon Steel is an hugely engaging protagonist, ex-mercenary brothel madam who has to take one last job so she can pay off the high taxes but you know it’s not going to go well and oh her past is about to catch up with her too.

In fact the characters are the best thing, Sebold is rather good creating characters very quickly and making you care. From the small cast of the brothel to rugged chief of police its very enjoyable to spend time with them. The second great thing is the deft pacing, switching between past and present you get hooked into two plots at once and yet it never loses balance with either. The plot is less satisfying, a bit unfulfilled and the endings too rushed and too pat. You can see the puppets strings. Still there is so much going on that until the end is nigh it doesn’t really matter.

Recommended for fantasy fans.

jul 27, 2012, 9:50am

Oh and the cloud atlas trailer is out. Now I didn't plan to see it but the trailer makes it ... interesting.. anyway the directors trailer is probably one of the best descriptions of the book I have seen :)

I know you can all google.. but directors trailer here:

Actual trailer here (contains spoilers though)

jul 28, 2012, 12:40am

Interesting review of Babylon Steel. Is that a fairly new book? Cover shows far less flesh than I expected.

jul 28, 2012, 4:51am

Yeah I think it was published this year. There isnt that much sex in it so maybe it was played down.. Still it's nice to see a female fantasy warrior not wearing a metal g-string ;-)

jul 28, 2012, 5:07am

With you and Pete both enjoying Babylon Steel, it looks like I'll have to add it to the wishlist.

jul 28, 2012, 3:42pm

Me too.

jul 31, 2012, 1:37pm

@51 Agreed. She's going more the something sexy to be feared route.

aug 1, 2012, 2:46am

Babylon Steel is going on my wishlist too, I need some new fantasy and this one sounds really fun - nice review!

Redigerat: aug 1, 2012, 6:54am

Hope you all enjoy it! It does have sex in it but I didn't think it was that overt.. it's no Kushiels Dart

Just realised since this was a panic buy for a long train journey it fits a a much neglected category..pity the book wasn't better!

Category 8 The Rider by Tim Krabbe. Tag: Random Purchases

Snuff by Terry Pratchett
Average fantasy

I have been a fan of Pratchett’s irreverent brand of Fantasy for a long time, in fact since Colour of magic came out. I particular have a soft spot for the Guards series (of which is this one), not only funny, fast paced, adventures with a hugely engaging cast of characters but managing to get its teeth into some fundamental important issues.

Snuff sees Sir Commander Vimes moving into the country, so we get amusing digs at Jane Austin like society, country living mixed up with class issues, smuggling and slavery. The characters are of course great, many we have seen before. Some parts are very fun indeed, I especially liked Vimes asking high society ladies what they did for a living and then going off on a bit of a rant.

However I think we are starting to part ways, not only could this book do with a bit of pruning (it takes a while to get moving and tends towards exposition) the generation gap is showing. There is a peculiar sexism I recognise from my parents generation, where husband and wife fall in to allotted roles and men don’t seem to have any common sense or willpower when it comes to not dying overeating fat.

Overall only recommend to die hard fans, but then it’s not that accessible for those who haven't read the previous books. Don’t let this review put you off Pratchett though, I think there is one of his books out there for everyone

aug 2, 2012, 4:39am

Category 7 The Lost Machine by Richard A Kirk. Tag: Crime

Holes by Louis Sachar
Solid YA adventure fun

"Stanley Yelnats was given a choice. The judge said, "You may go to jail, or you may go to Camp Green Lake." Stanley was from a poor family. He had never been to camp before."

Except Stanley has made a mistake; the lake has dried up, everything’s dead and the only camp activity is digging.

Sachar throws you into a hot desolate wasteland. Digging in the extreme heat, eking out your ration of water, the constant ache and the multitude of blisters, the smell. Day in day out, never ending. I winced as the endearing Stanley tries to give it his best, rooting for him all the way in this boys own adventure of secrets and escape. It is a tightly plotted story, maybe obvious to us adults but still great fun and Sachar evocatively manages to captures childhood perfectly, grounding the tale amongst schoolyard politics and looming adults. There is humour here too, especially from the social worker as he tries to turn thoughts to the future during mind numbing work.

Recommend to YA fans.

aug 7, 2012, 1:49pm

One of my favorites! Glad you liked it.

aug 8, 2012, 7:29am

@58 Mamzel. It was good, glad a colleague lent it to me I wouldn't have tried it otherwise. :)

I am meant to be writing a review but I am instead buried in twitter, still I found this great idea to republish "lost" sci fi:

Yep every month a vote will happen to choose an old out of print title and then they will run around to get permission and publish it online. Oh they will also open a bookshop in Brooklyn, USA if your nearby..

aug 9, 2012, 7:09am

Category 10 The Orphan's Tales: In the Night Garden by Catherynne M. Valente. Tag: Women authors

The Mouth of the River of Bees by Kij Johnson
Excellent dreamy, fantastical shorts

Note: Part of the LT Early reviewers programme

Kij Johnson has won a few awards for her short stories and after reading this book I can see why. Mostly they edge towards the fantastical, spanning a long inventive career. These tales aren't trick ones but are heartfelt, the writings lovely and characters shine through. There are short ones, meta ones, heart breaking and creepy ones, there is romance, whimsy and many journeys, they shift in tone from the delightful innocence to something rather more adult and dance through the fantastical genres with delight. Animals centre quite heavily, but so does finding a home, love and death and acceptance. It is a heady book of people in fantastical situations and though of course mixed, there are enough superb tales to make this a great buy.

My favourites? oh so hard.
The novella “The Man Who Bridged the Mist,” where an architect's bridge changes everything hit me hard emotionally, "The Evolution of Trickster Stories Among the Dogs of North Park After the Change" an eminently disturbing tale of love and murder when pets learn to talk and the amusingly, mysterious tale of magic and monkeys in "26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss”. I still cried at the end of the “river of bees” even though it’s one of my least favourites.

What's even more brilliant, that to entice you, you can read some of these stories online, links collected here:

Highly recommend to buy, but you must at least try one the above.

aug 10, 2012, 1:46am

Oh The Mouth of the River of Bees goes on the WL. I remember when her book Fudoki was everywhere. I wanted so much to read it but never got around to it.

aug 10, 2012, 4:29am

I am going to look out for Fudoki. There is a charming novella included called "The Cat Who Walked a Thousand Miles" where a small cat travels Japan to find a home for its fudoki (its free to read too) :)

aug 10, 2012, 8:57pm

That sounds really sweet!

Redigerat: aug 13, 2012, 7:42am

Category 1 The BldgBlog Book by Geoff Manuagh. Tags: Non-fiction, architecture

The Devil in The White City by Eirk Larson
Engaging historical non-fiction

It’s a interesting premise: Take a shining light of the late 19th Century, Chicago’s world fair, and juxtapose it against one of the darkest, serial killer H.H. Holmes. It almost works. Larson is an engaging writer, he knows how to weave a story and brings the alive the fairs complex creation and its fleeting existence. The historical setting is fascinating, the politics and sweeping changes, the new technologies matched against the huge ambition and the sheer unbelievable scale of it. It is place that showcased modern electricity, Ferris's new wheel, German giant machines of war, a colourful multitude of cultures and managed to entice the largest crowd the world had yet seen. The tale was simply engrossing, that Larson brings the many strands together whilst imbuing the main players with so much character is simply wonderful.

But (and it is a large but) the juxtaposition fails. Serial killer H. H. Holmes story may sound fascinating: a man who built a murder hotel, a place with gas chambers and a too large a furnace in the basement, but so little is known about Holmes and so much of it hard to swallow that Larson's technique falls flat. Yes it’s meticulously researched and carefully reconstructed but it feels lacklustre and often resorts to repeatedly mentioning his suave charm and cold, devilish icy blue eyes. The end chase, away from Chicago and after the fair is the most interesting but sadly feels out of place.

I am not sure I would recommend this book, the fair seems to warrant more concentrated exploration but this is as good as place as any to get a glimpse. Also what is it with the lack of photos? Larson’s good but not fantastic at painting the scene, all I can say is thank goodness for google

aug 13, 2012, 7:46pm

The Devil in The White City is on the wishlist, but I do want it to be thoroughly engaging with that premise, so maybe I'll skip it - at least put it lower on the list. Adjusting my expectations at the very least. :)

aug 13, 2012, 10:30pm

I am with you on the Devil and White City. I tried to read it as it was a gift, but just couldn't get through it.

aug 14, 2012, 12:45am

The Devil in the White City has gotten good reviews, and when I worked at Borders, we sold a ton of it. It seems there has to be a good reason to talk about Holmes AND the fair though. I haven't read it yet, but if the connection is simply that they happened at the same time, I'll feel like you. I'm on a huge waiting list at the library for the audio version. Good to know it can wait until next year. :)

aug 14, 2012, 4:40am

ah well Pete (psutto) liked it a lot more than me, his review is

Redigerat: aug 14, 2012, 10:32am

Category 9 Lord of Emperors by Guy Gavriel Kay. Tag: Historical fiction

and since it fits with the previous book so well (same period as H. H. Holmes) and I just had to pick up the..

The Alienist by Caleb Carr
Fun and fascinating historical crime

Late 1890s New York, these are the heady days of corruption, where poverty is rife and bigotry ensure selective blindness to certain crimes. Profiling and fingerprinting are just a glimmer in the eye’s of oddballs but soon everything will change and the time is right for (secret) experimentation.

It's an evocative and interesting time and Carr makes the most of it, with a secret team fighting against the old guard and the gangs to try their fanciful new techniques. The characters are great fun (look a strong female character!) and work well together as team, from the controversial Alienist, oddball early forensic detectives and the endearing (if slightly dim) reporter. Engagingly written and easy to read, so although the plot is fairly gripping it’s simply a pleasure to watch their first steps at direction. It refreshing in its way; a reboot, a beginning of all the those tired serial killer tropes.

Recommended to historical and crime fiction fans alike.

aug 14, 2012, 9:46am

I will keep The Devil in the White City on the To Read list for now and very happy to see your comments regarding The Alienist. That one is patiently waiting for me on my TBR bookcase.

aug 14, 2012, 5:15pm

I am one of the ones who loved The Devil in the White City. I thought it was a fascinating look at how that fair evolved. My brother loved the book as well, but when we urged my Mother to read it, she expressed disappointment and didn't really enjoy the book at all. I guess it strikes everyone differently.

aug 14, 2012, 8:10pm

I loved both of those books when I read them. I found that the two stories (of the fair and of the serial killer) were well told and I enjoyed the juxtaposition.

But if we liked the same books, then publishers would get away with publishing just a few dozen books each year.

aug 15, 2012, 4:50am

Ah well I did like the fair part I just wanted more of it (too greedy me).

I can't imagine liking the same books as everyone else... not much choice, no need for reviews, no LT! shudder :-) still my tbr would be much lower.

aug 15, 2012, 5:43am

Category 3 Elmer by Gerry Alanguilan. Tag: comics

Locke & Key: Clockworks by Joe Hill (author) and Gabriel Rodriguez (artist)
Excellent, beautiful, dark fantasy comic

Series review
A great comic series taking much pleasure in devising fantastical doorways and beautiful magical keys. Doorways transform you into a ghost, a giant, swap race or gender, they unlock the mind and open dark doorways. The plot centres on a suitably gothic house, a family shattered by tragedy and of course those who seeks its power. The artwork is beautiful, the writings wonderful and the characters are utterly superb.

Volume 5 review
Hugely better than the last one, a collection of satisfying stories filling in with fascinating background, about their father, about how it all started and expanding the story and hooking me in again. The pacing has been slowed so it can spring towards the finish line and I am on tenterhooks. It’s still beautiful, it sill demands spin off stories on all those keys, and I still want my own lovingly crafted key.

aug 15, 2012, 4:20pm

Those keys are beautiful!!! And make me want to read the books even more! :)

aug 20, 2012, 4:50am

I want those keys to unlock an actual door.. preferably an old, tattered, partially hidden garden one ;)

aug 20, 2012, 12:00pm

Category 1 The BldgBlog Book by Geoff Manuagh. Tag: Non-fiction

Fire Season: field Notes From a Wilderness Lookout by Philip Connor
sublime musings of a fire lookout

'I've seen lunar eclipses and desert sandstorms and lightning that made my hair stand on end. I've watched deer and elk frolic in the meadow below me, and pine trees explode in a blue ball of smoke. If there's a better job anywhere on the planet, I'd like to know what it is.’

Philip Conor is fire lookout in USA's Gila National Forest, 5 months of the year he spends his days, miles from civilisation looking for wisps of smoke. It’s a stunning piece of nature writing; blending an engaging memoir, fascinating histories, wry musings on solitude, evocative descriptions of the wild and passionate pleas of conservation. His enthusiasm and literary flights are always grounded in irony, humour and robust facts.

'For most people I know, this little room would be a prison cell or a catafalque. My movements, admittedly, are limited. I can lie on the cot, sit on the stool, pace five paces before I must turn on my heel and retrace my steps. I can, if I choose, read, type, stretch, or sleep. I can study once again the contours of the mountains, the sensuous shapes of the mesas’ edges, the intricate drainages fingering out of the hills.'

A beautiful, bittersweet eulogy to a life he loves. Perhaps not for those who dislike a gentle pace, intolerant of a tiny amount of repetition (how bad fire repression is) and the odd, uneasy digression. It is on the whole is almost perfect. Highly Recommended.

aug 24, 2012, 7:17am

On the wish list it goes!

aug 24, 2012, 11:02am

Fire Season does sound beautiful. Photos?

aug 24, 2012, 11:07am

ah sadly no photos in the book (somehow it doesn't need it). There however some on his site and on the book trailer (and yes they are gorgeous)


aug 24, 2012, 8:01pm

Gorgeous photos!!! Obviously well written if the book doesn't need the photos, but he could publish a companion coffee book.

aug 25, 2012, 5:19pm

Catching up a little bit. The Kij Johnson book sounds wonderful, as does Fire season. How do you come across a book like that? Looking forward to starting the Locke and key series later this year. Right now, I don't even know in which box the first part is...

aug 26, 2012, 5:31am

@81 Ooo a separate coffee table book, which some new essays and many photos. You're right that sounds perfect!

82 our local(ish) indie bookshop carefully chooses its books and was actively promoting last Christmas, as a damn fine read. I snapped a copy up for my mum who adored it which pretty much sold us. It is a dangerous place to visit :-)

Luck dip book boxes! Unpacking ours caused much nostalgia and desire to reread. Hope you enjoy it when you get to it.

aug 26, 2012, 1:29pm

I also got fire season as part of my reading year, great book :-)

aug 26, 2012, 3:00pm

Fire season sounds great! Thanks for the review.

Redigerat: aug 26, 2012, 9:40pm

->80 clfisha:
Beautiful photos!! I've spent the weekend watching Planet Earth, so it's very nice to see bits of nature where nothing is eating anything else. :)

aug 26, 2012, 9:35pm

LOL!!! Eva, I know what you mean about Planet Earth. I work in a middle school with a bunch of Latinos, and we were watching one episode where a fungus blows out of the head of an ant. The little boy behind me said "Coch!no" which is a word I usually bust them for since it's a rather vulgar way to say "nasty," but I couldn't help it. I turned around and said "Yes, that's really coch!no."

I'm crossing my fingers for that coffee table book!

aug 26, 2012, 9:38pm

Oh, the part when the ants go insane before the fungus shoots out through the head - so, so nasty! :-0>

aug 26, 2012, 10:06pm

:-0> !!!

aug 28, 2012, 12:32pm

I am never watching Blue Planet now. .. goes and hides under bed
At least I know where Jeff Vandermeer got some of his ideas from .. evil fungus..

Category 10 The Orphan's Tales: In the Night Garden by Catherynne M. Valente. Tag: fairy tales, female authors

The Brides of Rollrock by Margaret Lanagan
Fabulous modern myth making

Misskella is a witch, she can create selkies, beautiful people hidden deep within seals but there is price, there is always a price and she is not alone in paying.

Lanagan writes a heart-rending, beautiful multi-layered story. Framed through different characters, spanning generations, the motivations, choices and their impacts. A story of enchantment, love and revenge.

The multi viewpoint works extremely well, still coherant and flowing beautifully we get a deeper more mysterious tale. Something so black and white is opened up. How can we hate Misskella when we see her beginnings? How can we still empathise with men who choose beauty and compliance and then shackle it? So pick up a copy and ponder the meaning of love, of settling for unreal perfection, of enforcing your will on others and the hard choices we make in the dark. It's not all doom and gloom, real life in all its beauty, happiness amongst the hardness.

“All the years to come crowded into that time, and I lived them, long and bitter and empty of him. The rightness of what I had done, and the wrongness both, they tore at me, and repaired me, and tore again,
and neither of them was bearable.”

I have no idea why this is just marketed as a YA, its complex and beautiful and something in there for adults as well as teens. I would hate to think of people missing this book, with its insipid cover and bizarre title (I prefer Australian one of Sea Hearts)

Recommended. To those who love fantasy and myth, romance and deliciously crafted novels this is for you.

Redigerat: aug 28, 2012, 1:04pm

Extra eerie when coupled with David Attenborough's congenial narration. :)

Looking forward to getting The Brides of Rollrock - not out in the US yet, unfortunately.

aug 28, 2012, 5:25pm

Looking forward to reading more Lanagan! Tender morsels is a candidate for my challenge I'm eager to get to!

aug 31, 2012, 5:54am

Category 4 The Unwritten Volumes 1-3 by Mike Carey (author) and Peter Gross (artist). Tag: horror, fantasy

Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig

This a refreshing modern fable. A fast, furious fantasy/horror, hard boiled and spat out.

Meet Miriam Black, every time she’s touches someone she sees their death, in glorious, bloody, technicolor. She has given up trying to save people, drifting across America living off the dead (and their wallets) but then she meets Louis and in the vision of his horrid torture he calls her name. Is she the torturer’s next victim?

OK I am sap for fiery female protagonists but Wendig here makes Miriam captivating, so dark, so lost and so utterly vibrant. The situation provides reason for this darkness, you understand and need her to find a bit of redemption. Not that much though, you don’t want her to lose her sass, the delicious spikiness and inventive foul mouth.

And let’s face it, it’s a great idea, the immutability of fate. The drama, tragedy of it and your nail biting need for it to be false. For it is gripping, the pacing is so expertly done. It’s a shifting thriller of a plot, that builds and twists and never puts a foot wrong.

Oddly I can see the highly crafted story could not be to some tastes (too much of an authors hand) and for a book with a great female protagonist there are a tad too few females here so it feels slightly unbalanced but all in all it’s a fun ride and I am going to be seeking out book 2.

Recommended to fantasy, horror and crime fans, although look at that cover? how can you not buy it?

aug 31, 2012, 12:57pm

majkia put Blackbirds onto my wishlist but always good to get another positive review.

sep 1, 2012, 12:19am

LOL - the cover is great. It's going on my WL too.

sep 1, 2012, 6:37pm

That is a great cover! Almost makes it look like it should be a graphic novel.

sep 3, 2012, 12:10pm

Hope you guys enjoy it. I would like the artist to do a graphic novel/illustrated book. He did the UK cover for Zoo City too and it's fab.

Category 11 The Troika by Stepan Chapman. Tag: Afterlife

Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey

James Stark has just spent 11 years in Hell, double crossed by his old magic circle he is back and out for revenge. But it’s not going to be that simple, heaven wants him to do as he is told, his old friends want him dead and hell.. well hell might just want him back.

Short review:
Solid urban fantasy that deeply annoyed reviewer, because reviewer is too jaded.

Long review:
This is a solid urban fantasy set in a fun world of magic, Christian mythology with some cool monsters along the way. Various groups and bad guys add complexity and keep the action-packed plot fresh. You will be familiar with the characters: anti-hero PI, megalomaniac nemesis, bad ass uptight angel, wiser older friend etc.. but that's no bad thing. The plot is a bit uneven and needs some tightening up, a few parts seem sadly unexplored and characters disappear but it's a series and I can see promise. On the whole if you really enjoy the genre and want some fun you might enjoy it.

However I am not one of these people and need to rant so... Ok admittedly I was expecting something edgier, something like a character out of a Richard Stark novel. I wanted a character that when they say he has been brutalised in hell, it actually shows that. I don't care if it ends with them cuddling kittens by the end I need to see it and just killing bad guys and being ambivalent towards heaven/hell means he got off lightly. So I am a bit miffed, but you know does he also have to be an idiot? He is no way funny enough to make it up for watching him wandering around feeling a bit violent and sulking whilst falling into things and getting lucky. I got fed up with the familiarity rather than embracing it and needed some meat rather than lightness.

Also whilst I am picking holes can we just kick that misogyny habit into the long grass and move on? No? Perhaps just stretch to pass the Bechdel test? No? oh well at least don’t try to riff off Raymond Chandler lines. Oh.

Not for me. I am the type of person who got bored pretty quickly by Jim Butcher's Dresden series. Give me Mike Careys' edgy Castor or The Price by Joseph Garraty any day.

Still I feel better for writing this review, whether this is a recommendation, that’s up to you.

sep 3, 2012, 2:32pm

Great review Claire. Reviews with gripes are such fun to read! Another one I can happily avoid.

sep 4, 2012, 4:12am

Thanks :) It is sometimes nice to vent about something you have read, the poor book isn't that bad but I was feeling mean.

sep 4, 2012, 6:58am

I agree. It happens so rarely but once in awhile there is a book that just sets your teeth on edge. I had one of those once. I gave it a one star. That was before I knew how to make half stars!

sep 4, 2012, 9:08am

I had not thought of applying the Bechtel test to books, but it certainly applies more often then it should, even in books without a negative undertone towards women.

sep 4, 2012, 11:56am

100 I usually get 1 appalling book per year so it's not too bad :)

101 It's been a bit shocking how few books actually have two women talking to each other about something other than a man. At when I remember to do it! Hmm I feel some stats coming on :)

Category 3 Elmer by Gerry Alanguilan. Tag: Comic

Astro City: Confessions by Kurt Busiek (author) and Brent Anderson (artist)

Astro City is a metropolis filled by a multitude of superheroes and dastardly villains. It’s a place where Busiek explores the genre, the cracks in between the stories and how real people would fit into and react to such a world.

Confession is the 2nd in the series but I think can be taken standalone. We follow young Brian Kinney running from his past to become something big in the city and so he does.. sidekick to mysterious The Confessor.

It’s another great multilayered tale with luscious artwork. A tale of sidekicks and their teachers, of what it means to be a hero and if we can ever recognise those that are. It's a commentary on popularist politics, a fun superhero fight to save the world and an intriguing mystery.

Personal preference means I preferred the short story approach in Volume 1. However there is an extra separate story at the end of book, a lovely heart-rending story of loss and the comfort of memory. Gets extra brownie points for that.

Highly recommend this series to even non superhero fans.

sep 4, 2012, 12:18pm

>101 RidgewayGirl: I atcually did a year of Bechdel testing books, ending november last year. The results were kind of what you'd expect, sadly.

>102 clfisha: Good review! I prefer the short stories too. And this book is the weakest in the series, IMO. Just to pep you to go on with it. Shadow Hill is a cool place though! :)

sep 4, 2012, 4:13pm

The Astro City books have been on the wishlist since Anders pointed them out. Nice to get another positive reminder though.

sep 4, 2012, 10:37pm

I've heard both raves and hates for Sandman Slim. It's on the shelves, but I'm getting less and less eager to get to it. :)

sep 4, 2012, 11:15pm

I think I first saw Sandman Slim on the LTER-list, but I think I'm rather happy I didn't request it. If you're not going to be 100% stark and edgy, you do need to be funny - half-measures aren't good.

sep 5, 2012, 4:46am

@103 I wondered where I got the idea :) What amazes me is usually I cant remember after reading a book two women actually talked to each other, a lot of books pass by the skin of their teeth.. Obviously books by women tend to pass more easily and that makes me sad.

@105/106 I think the rave reviews raised my expectations a bit higher. If someone had said its a bit like Dresden but with hell demons I would have avoided it like the plague. Still even if its not for me I still think it was uneven and a bit iffily plotted. Iffily is a word right? :)

Redigerat: sep 5, 2012, 2:16pm

Category 10 The Orphan's Tales: In the Night Garden by Catherynne M. Valente. Tag: Women authors, fairy stories

Among Others By Jo Walton

“Tolkien understood about the things that happen after the end. Because this is after the end, this is all the Scouring of the Shire, this is figuring out how to live in the time that wasn’t supposed to happen after the glorious last stand. I saved the world, or I think I did, and look, the world is still here, with sunsets and interlibrary loans. And it doesn’t care about me any more than the Shire cared about Frodo.”

Short review:
A well written, quiet and thoughtful coming of age tale, framed in magic and drenched in the love of books.

Long Review:
1979 finds Morwenna forced to live with her estranged father and facing the horrid prospect of a posh English boarding school. It's also the aftermath of a magical battle with her cruel mother, one that left her crippled and her twin sister dead. The only thing keeping her together is her love of books.

It's a great setup but one that’s likely to confound your expectations. A tale that accepts fairies and magic as part of life but isn't about that. It's a coming of age tale but minus the teenage angst and pat homilies. It’s a story about books but about discovery not escapism how they open our horizons, allow us to chew over new ideas. Ignore the blurb and sink right, this a quiet thoughtful award winning book.

“There are some awful things in the world, it's true, but there are also some great books.”

Walton can write (I was hooked from the 1st page) and she also has a deft touch with story. Morwenna is a hugely likeable character who we want to be with as she recovers from her ordeal(s) and starts finding her feet. The past is kept murky but slowly unfurls as she becomes stronger and the balancing by doing this is superb. It never falls into the trap of mawkish tragedy but stays truly touching. Bibliophiles will obviously fall in love, instantly empathising even if you haven’t been reading 70s SF/F and I can see why it is being raved about on LT. I am not in love with it because I am really not a fan of the genre but the fact I did enjoy it says a lot.

Highly recommend to all those who love fantasy, stories, gnarly fairies and childhood.

Redigerat: sep 5, 2012, 2:16pm

Category 8 The Rider by Tim Krabbe. Tag: random purchases

The Two-bear Mambo By Joe R. Lansdale

Short review:
Playing on conventions of hardboiled crime mysteries and North American small town racism this book likes to throw a curveball and deliciously undermine you. It’s also takes turns being bloody funny and depressing.

Long review:
Charlie came over to me, gave me a sad look, sighed, pulled out a cigarette, stooped, lit it off the little guy's head, and said, "I'm fucking tired of this, Hap. Leonard's giving me gray hairs. What with the Chief in cahoots with the bad guys and Lieutenant Hanson acting like he's got a weight tied to his dick all the time, I can't think straight.
Get your foot off that fucker's neck."

We meet Hap and Leonard, two highly likable protagonists, wise cracking as they beat the dealers running from their burning crack den and since this is the 3rd time they are about be arrested unless they help out a friend on a missing person case.

Sharp dialogue, deliciously surreal conversations, deep dark humour, great tense (and sometimes horrific) action sequences keep this all moving at a cracking pace. Hap is an easygoing and evocative narrator, he keeps this character driven story moving and engaging although the mystery is nicely sign posted but that isn't the main show.

It’s a wild ride and I loved every bit of it. I mean where else can a guy persuade dumb red necks there is a mutant killer ant problem on the way? Where else does a cop have a hobby of shadow puppetry? Where else does the testosterone dip down enough to show the nasty after effect of violence?

This is 3rd in the series, but my 1st try and didn't have a problem dipping in. I do have a problem not having anymore of Lansdale’s books on my shelves.

Recommended. Fans of noir, great literary partnerships and those with a darker humour will love this.

sep 5, 2012, 12:04pm

Detta konto har stängts av för spammande.
Detta meddelande har blivit flaggat av flera användare och visas inte längre (visa)

sep 5, 2012, 1:25pm

Growling at spammers and, yes, iffily is definitely (or should be) a word! :)

sep 5, 2012, 3:31pm

@ 109 -- The Two-Bear Mambo doesn't sound at all like my kind of book, but the passage you quoted made me snicker. I may just be intrigued enough to give it a try!

sep 5, 2012, 6:06pm

Another series! Just what I need. *Adds it to the list anyway*

sep 5, 2012, 10:40pm

I didn't duck fast enough to miss that book bullet either - Two Bear goes on WL.

And iffily is definitely a word when combined with words like "plotted" or "researched."

sep 6, 2012, 4:39am

For those who want a quick taste of Lansdale or maybe know the great movie Bubba Ho-Tep (which about two fading old retired folk, one of them Elvis.. probably, battling a soul sucking mummy. Anyway he wrote the novella and it's cheap on kindle/i-Books.

sep 6, 2012, 11:09pm

ah, Bubba Ho-Tep. I've been meaning to watch that for a long time. I have a friend who thinks it's the campiest best horror movie ever.

sep 6, 2012, 11:42pm

The Two-Bear Mambo is going on my wishlist as well.

sep 7, 2012, 4:40am

You can't beat a cheesy Bruce Campbell movie! & its one of his best

sep 12, 2012, 4:56am

Well I have started reading the giant tome The Brothers K and so this thread maybe silent for a while..

However I did go to an talk put on by The Kitchie awards (great awards btw) with China Mieville, Patrick Ness & Lauren Beukes. Yes it was fabulous (huge grin) but China read out this fab new short which can be found here

They were recording the whole thing so if I see I will let you know.

Redigerat: sep 17, 2012, 12:27am

I just posted on psutto's thread that the Kitchies had the link to that story on their FB page. I would really have wanted to be there too!!!

sep 14, 2012, 3:38am

119- I have to admit that I'm curious how an All-English gal (you) will react to one of the All-American novels (The Brothers K). Great reading year so far- for you that is. 2012 continues as a near non-reading year for me. I'm all the way up to 22 books finished this year. 22! I read 166 books in 2008. I think I had one really slow year in the 90s where I only read five books or so. If I graphed my reading years out it would be a classic roller coaster graph.

Redigerat: sep 14, 2012, 5:51am

121 I am really enjoying is so far.. all though the baseball is waaaay over my head. That is a bit of a dip in numbers! I think I go through months like that but it tends to pick up after a few months. Still as long as you are having fun it doesn't matter :) You can get read out and there is so much else to do and see..

Ok I snuck in another book.. a comic by Hannah Berry which Ijust had to read.

Category 3 Elmer by Gerry Alanguilan. Tag comics.

63. Adamtine by Hannah Berry
A superb, creepy, unsettling and mysterious tale.

Four strangers find themselves on a train, in the dark, their carriage isolated, their phones dead. Moon is found not guilty for mass murder, he says an unknown agency, a monster gave him those harsh, judgemental notes they found amongst the missing peoples possessions. The bereaved families however disagree, they want revenge.

Interweaving story, the tale slowly and creepily unfolds. Not that it gives you many answers, oh no, and that's part of the appeal and the reason for its horror. It is a story to read twice (because you will miss things) and one that will hauntingly bubble up as you go about your daily business; Why? How? & who?

The art of course is beautifully drawn and laid out, gloomy colours bleed into the edge of the panels darkness. Oddly the visual medium suits quiet horror, you would have thought it needed a monstrous reveal or the grotesque spectacle of gore, but no technique is used quietly and vividly works.

My only criticism is that there needs to be more differentiation between some of the characters, a couple of times I had to flick back to see who was who. Also the lack of answers will annoy some and I suspect un-satisfy others, finding its touch to be too ephemeral.

Highly recommended lovers of ghost stories, horror and superb intelligent comics. Although Lovers of Britten & Brulightly will find this much darker, without the lightening of humour.

sep 14, 2012, 2:21pm

You got me with Adamtine...... Thumb!

sep 15, 2012, 3:28am

Didn't know Hannah Berry had released another one. Good to know and now wishlisted.

sep 17, 2012, 12:30am

I think I'll give Adamtine a try as well, even though I will probably miss the humor of Britten and Brülightly. I do very much enjoy her art.

sep 20, 2012, 5:52am

Hope you all enjoy it! I only spotted in the comics shop.. it seems to have snuck out under the radar.

Anyway great interview, some excerpts and a very creepy picture here:

sep 20, 2012, 5:31pm

>126 clfisha: Ooh, that sofa pic was all over facebook a while back. I almost jumped out of my skin when I saw it.

Redigerat: sep 21, 2012, 10:30am

Category 2 Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry. Tags: Unfamiliar genres, Epics

The Brothers K by David James Duncan
Stunning, epic storytelling

A book so full of life it almost bursts out of its 650 pages. It's a story about the 8 wildly different members of the Chance family and it’s a huge discussion on faith. Oh and politics and love and war. It has the darkness of insanity and abuse and the lightness of hope and friendship. It follows a variety of wildly different coming of age stories. It spans continents and lasts decades. It is so self aware it will stop you in your tracks. It will bring you to anger, make you chuckle and force a tear down your cheek. It masquerades as story of baseball but turns out to be about life. When I say Epic, I am not lying.

Narrated by the observant, quiet and honest Kincaid, number 4 in the family. The 1st third of the book provides snapshots of events, a memorable day spent with dad or a dull (but funny) morning in Sunday school. Engaging if bitty but still an enjoyable build up, providing glimpses of the whole story before slowly coalescing into a magical whole. It truly becomes hard to put down and even harder to stop thinking about.

The characters are all so different, the fervent fundamentalist mother, the ascetic Buddhist brother, the son who goes to war, the son who runs. Yet it never feels that contrived or stereotyped just interesting. This is down to the writing of course, it is beautifully and cleverly written. I could easily double the length of the review talking about the style and the plotting: the way he intercuts POVs or intersperses the commentary with essays/letters. I could spend hours looking for quotes.. still here's just the one to wet your appetite as Kincaid watches his father practice after the operation

"There is a part of me that wants to state flat out that I learned more in the hedge about the defiance of dullness and career death, about the glory hidden in defeat, about the amazing inner capacities of a straightforward no-frills man—even a man stripped of hope—than I've learned anywhere since."

Highly recommended, I cannot think of anyone who would hate it.. well maybe those with short attention spans.

sep 21, 2012, 7:08pm

I have avoided The Brothers K because of its size and the baseball angle so you are really not helping matters by making it sound appealing!

sep 22, 2012, 3:53am

Great review of Brothers K. I was a bit worried that the baseball might throw you out of the story. Glad it didn't. It's a book that I have a hard time keeping a copy of in my library. Somebody 'borrows' it and I never see it again. I think the strife of yoking together a believer and a non-believer in marriage is probably more common in the US than elsewhere.

Spoiler: I damn near shed a tear when Irwin got his laugh back.

sep 23, 2012, 5:09pm

When you talked about The brothers K, I thought you were only showing off how down you were with Dostojevskij, I have never heard of Duncan's book, and the baseball angle would probably have put me off it. Your review makes me interested though - and VG has been known to introduce me to genres I never thought I'd like before....

sep 24, 2012, 6:15am

It's has more flashes of baseball at the beginning than the latter part but nothing you cant get through or just skip and as Duncan says
“the story of an eight-way tangle of human beings, only one-eighth of which was a pro ballpayer.”

132 Nope didn't phase me at all (I still do not know much about Baseball.. ahem). I admit I get a lump in my throat thinking about Irwin and Papa Toe even now..

My mum was an Athiest and my dad Church of England, but there wasn't any strife, COE always seems a quiet, very personal & less community oriented. More tea with vicar and less hell fire :) I think I would find it odd to go out with a fervent believer.. such differences in outlook! for a start I would probably have to get married :)

131 It's title is part homage to The Brothers Karamazov & and hear is close in parts.. I was toying with reading it next year but I really don't think I can face it! It's meant to be worse than Crime and Punishment! Anyway I think you would like it Anders..

sep 24, 2012, 3:20pm

@ 132 -- The Brothers Karamazov is wonderful! Of course, I liked Crime and Punishment too, so my recommendation may not be much of an incentive to you. :) It's very long and philosophical, but based on your review, it's got a lot of similar themes to The Brothers K. I would definitely urge you to give it a shot, but I understand it's probably not a book everyone would like!

sep 24, 2012, 6:18pm

I thought it was The Brothers Karamazov too until the baseball angle was mentioned - that didn't sound like Dostoevsky at all. :) I'm going to have to add this to the wishlist too!

sep 25, 2012, 4:41am

Ah well Dostoyevsky is on my reading list for next years challenge so you never know. I should probably at least try it!

Redigerat: sep 25, 2012, 8:18am

Category 11 The Troika by Stepan Chapman. Tag: Cyborg

Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams

“Let's think the unthinkable, let's do the undoable. Let us prepare to grapple with the ineffable itself, and see if we may not eff it after all.”

A rollicking good science fiction mystery brimming with Adamsesque humour. The packed, mystery twists inventively and is held up by a decent cast, in particular Gently and the old professor. There are enough wry observations, and cool ideas to keep it ticking along nicely.

"It is difficult to be sat on all day, every day, by some other creature, without forming an opinion about them. On the other hand, it is perfectly possible to sit all day, every day, on top of another creature and not have the slightest thought about them whatsoever.

Adams has such a cool view of the world it’s a pleasure to read even though it’s a bit clunky in places. It is a bit dated but nothing troubling, Adams was so forward thinking in his approach to technology you just get a bit nostalgic, Lotus eh? Having to look phone numbers up in a phone directory.. the horror!

The Electric Monk was a labour-saving device, like a dishwasher or a video recorder. Dishwashers washed tedious dishes for you, thus saving you the bother of washing them yourself, video recorders watched tedious television for you, thus saving you the bother of looking at it yourself; Electric Monks believed things for you, thus saving you what was becoming an increasingly onerous task, that of believing all the things the world expected you to believe

Recommended to lovers of science fiction. It you need to start with Adams though go and find the Hitch Hikers Radio play (not the books) it’s utterly fabulous.

Category 12 The Gone Away World by Nick Harkaway. Tag Fantasy

The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul by Douglas Adams

"The explosion was now officially designated an "Act of God".
But, thought Dirk, what god? And why?
What god would be hanging around Terminal Two of Heathrow Airport trying to catch the 15.37 flight to Oslo?"

More Dirk Gently but this time Adams pushes playfully with the fantastical. Again much going on, many playful ideas, a lot of humour. It fact it seems a better book all round, if you can cope with a rushed ending. I presume he got bored, wandered off and someone else had to tie up some of the loose ends.

It's all worth it though, the character of Dirk expands to fill the story and everywoman Kate carries the ludicrous occurrences as a straight women should. To do this day I still want to have a bath, as Kate does, that uses every single bath product I own and then wallow in it :) I may be overly nostalgic as in this I encountered some modern fantasy tropes here for the 1st time, the other world so closely linked to our own.. old immortal gods who are still with us and I still find it utterly refreshing whilst at the same time comforting.

It can be read standalone and maybe a good book to try if you have run away in horror from his others. Highly recommended.

sep 26, 2012, 6:19pm

>135 clfisha: I read The brothers Karamazov many years ago and liked it. I remember it as slightly heavier than Crime and punishment though. I still have The possessed and The idiot on my TBR. But I don't think 2013 will be the year for them...

sep 27, 2012, 1:11pm

I have a immovable love for Crime and Punishment after having it assigned at Uni - we were told on a Friday that the seminar would be on the following Monday and we looked in horror at our hefty tomes. Turns out it's sort of a mystery-story and was a surprisingly fast read! My biggest surprise read at Uni! :)

sep 27, 2012, 1:23pm

I also gulped down Crime and punishment in three days at Uni, and had the same reaction! I do feel I didn't do the book total justice though... Will have to reread it at some point!

Redigerat: sep 27, 2012, 1:57pm

Agreed - I'm not recommending making it a weekend read per se, but it is quite an easy read.

sep 28, 2012, 8:49am

Hmm there's no getting round is there? Looks like I am fated to read Dostoevsky next year :)

Redigerat: okt 2, 2012, 9:17am

Well I have had the flu.. so I didn't manage to finish Steinbeck but I did read quite a few light books (literally.. my arms ached too much to lift anything heavy)..

Category 10 The Orphan's Tales: In the Night Garden by Catherynne M. Valente. Tag: Monsters

The Pirates! in an Adventure with the Romantics by Gideon Defoe

You haven't heard of The Pirates! series? splutters incoherently.

These short, sublimely bonkers books which are nothing short of hilarious. They are filled with irreverent looks at history, literature and pop culture and they delight in messing with various tropes, genres and your head. We have had Darwin and Ahab mocked, Victorian society and now the Romantics and um monster movies.

Early next morning the pirate with a scarf found the Pirate Captain pacing back and forth across his cabin, like a hairy metronome, or a sad polar bear. So far as anybody could tell, they still weren’t on an adventure, and the Captain was worried that if a grisly murder or a woman with flashing eyes didn’t turn up soon then the Romantics might start to have second thoughts about the entire business.

This time Byron, Percy & Mary Shelly meet up with the Pirates to seek adventure! (Switzerland is boring) They join up with Charles Babbage to seek Plato's lost work on how to pull girls and end up in trying to track it down in Dracula's lair..

Her eyes lit up like candles - that being the one of the only things that eyes could light up like before Edison

Yes it is silly, it is childish but it’s very very very funny. Defoe knows many facts (and discards most of them), full of fascinating footnotes, running gags, amusing drawings and a index that bears no relation to the book but tells it's own story. It manages to mock Victoriana and science and romanticism all in one and I devoured it in an afternoon and it managed to cheer me up no end. Humour is so hard to review and this book hard to quote on as the jokes are built so well so I urge to try a bit here:

Babbage’s three laws of difference engines
First law: A difference engine must have at least six cogs.
Second law: A difference engine must be able to operate a loom.
Third law: A difference engine must be able to kill a man, should the mood take it.

Recommend for anyone in need of cheering up or maybe try the 1st one (although you don’t have to really) The Pirates! in an Adventure with Scientists. Yes it was an Aardman film (very good btw) but the humours is quite different so go check it out.

Anyway last word is Mr Defoe's
Women in diaphanous nighties running down corridors! Brooding men with dark hair! Ghostly banging noises! A bit where the Pirate Captain dresses up as a sexy fireman! The fifth book in the Pirates series contains all of that, and as a special bonus comes with the semblance of an actual plot.

Go read.

okt 2, 2012, 11:59am

I quite liked the first Pirates! book, but for some reason I never tracked down the others. I'll have to find them when I'm in the mood for a light read; honestly, the next time I'm sick sounds like the perfect time!

okt 2, 2012, 5:13pm

Sounds absolutely bonkers! Must have at once! :)

Haven't seen the film, so thanks for the heads-up about the difference.

okt 2, 2012, 6:57pm

Sorry you were ill.
my arms ached too much to lift anything heavy
That sounds like a good reason to get an ereader. Prop it up on a pillow and gently tap the screen to turn the page.

Redigerat: okt 2, 2012, 9:50pm

Sorry you were ill and glad you are better!

The Pirates! in an adventure with the romantics.... that wouldn't by chance be the book series that the movie The Pirates! Bay of Misfits comes from? Loved the movie - my other half and I are huge fans of animated movies, especially after a crazy work week! Darn, now I have another book series to check out! ;-)

okt 3, 2012, 4:59am

Thank you :)

145 I still dont fancy an e-reader.. I don't really want to get tied into 1 thing plus I love books.. It will happen one day though :)

146 Yes that's the film! Movie was fab, I loved Aardman (although I have to being in Bristol where they are based). There is a Pirate day in a few weeks and the author's going to be there as well as Peter Lord from Aardman. I am going to be there amongst all the kiddies clutching my book ;) I am not excited..

okt 3, 2012, 8:47am

Just came across this "what famous writer are you?" quiz

I am Nabokov apparently.. not sure if that's a good thing :)

okt 3, 2012, 9:11am

I'm William Faulkner apparently...

Redigerat: okt 3, 2012, 10:49am

@149 I hope your not really.. I could do without the drinking problem :)

Category 8 The Rider by Tim Krabbe. Tag: Random Purchases

The Celestial Bibendum by Nicolas Crecy

It’s about a young seal pup who heads off to the city for adventure but is lured into becoming the idea for "love", causing a war between The Politician and The Devil. No wait it’s a story narrated by a disembodied head who is hired by what I think are penguins to narrate a heartfelt tale. No hang on it's a story of origins and of a tale for equality between dogs and those that appear humans.. No its really a.. oh blow it all.

Look it has beautiful outrageous art, it is absurd, baroque and surreal. It can be ugly but is full of striking imagery: the politician being, made up from small innocent voters, is the besotted pig. It is all wrapped in a gorgeous oversized book that makes me feel like a kid again.

I loved it, it’s absolute bonkers. Who cares if the seal pup turns out to be a set of moulded tires I don't (clue is in the title obscure word fans) Recommended to comics fans and lovers of strange stories.

okt 3, 2012, 1:39pm

Bibendum is a word I had never seen spelled out. I recognized it when I said it aloud.

okt 3, 2012, 1:48pm

I'm Toni Morrison, which I'm perfectly happy with. Where's my Nobel Prize, please?

Love Crecy's drawing style!

okt 3, 2012, 2:44pm

My results: "You’re an Ernest Hemingway. You chose clear and unflashy words that get right to the point. Other writers known for this style are George Orwell and Raymond Carver. Try your hand at a six-word memoir, consider a career in journalism, and maintain an active Twitter account."

I can live with that...except I refuse to tweet!

okt 3, 2012, 9:37pm

I did the quiz and got Toni Morrison.... maybe I should read one of her books and see if I agree!

okt 3, 2012, 9:50pm

The Bibendum sounds ridiculous and diverting. Poor seal! I wouldn't want to be a bunch of tires.

okt 3, 2012, 9:55pm

& yup - Toni too.

okt 4, 2012, 3:15am

Hmm I got Nabokov, but based on what his descriptions says, I disagree!

okt 4, 2012, 7:21am

@151 I had to look it up. It's great that such a word exists :)

@155 I had a mental shift a thirds of the way through when I realised it was just insane and I needed to stop worrying :)

@157 Yeah I wasn't sure about the Nabokov description either.

Redigerat: okt 4, 2012, 9:45am

Category 8 The Rider by Tim Krabbe. Tag: Books by Krabbe

The Vanishing or Het Gouden Ei by Tim Krabbe

What happens when someone you love vanishes into thin air? What would you give to know what happened?

This is a short, truly disturbing thriller. A pared novella that hones events into sharp focus ramping up the impact. The obsession of having to know, the shocking evil someone can commit. The mystery is of course is what exactly happened and Krabbe keeps this under wraps until the end. The mystery centres a story that flits through time and points of view, it’s not complex; more carefully disjointed. I cannot really fault it, although it’s hard to like poor Rex (the guy who is left behind).

Highly recommended to thriller/horror fans. It has been made into a very good Dutch(?) movie and an OK American one, that though different from the book are still worth seeking out.

okt 5, 2012, 8:00am

Category 7 The Lost Machine by Richard A Kirk. Tag: Crime, Novella

The First Quarry by Max Allan Collins

Like your crime short and boiled hard? Then this is the book for you.

A prequel to a great series looking at Quarry's 1st assassination job. A job that just climbs in complexity as the target’s life gets in the wife. Mobsters, cute college girls, an angry ex-wife and even a PI all get in his way. Violence and seduction ensure.

I am still liking the series: a great ferocious blast of hard crime with a lurid cover to satisfy any crime cravings I get. We get enough back story, action, sex and violence to keep it a rollicking ride going throughout and I like young, cold hearted quarry with his twisted morals Not exactly an easy feat for an author to pull off. Of course women fall at his feet and men underestimate him but frankly who cares, it what it is and it does it very well.

Hard-boiled fans will love it. Recommended.

okt 5, 2012, 8:35am

Added that one to my tbr list!

Redigerat: okt 5, 2012, 10:08am

Hope you enjoy it!

Category 11 The Troika by Stepan Chapman. Tag Afterlife

Dante's Inferno by Hunt Emerson
A fascinating and funny take on a classic (Note: part of LT early reviewers)

Ever been intrigued by Dante's classic? A big fan already but want a clever, serious yet irreverent take on it? Then this graphic novel is for you.

Eye catching and funny, Emerson has style all of his own. Perfect for comedy (all those visual gags and bad puns) as well as capturing the gross hellish cycles with a deft modern, touch. He manages to stay faithful (ok ok I have only read 1/2 of Dante's Inferno), although some bits are chopped it's still a perfect intro into the text. There is a great commentary at the back by Kevin Jackson too, to give some much needed background and info on who who's.

Highly recommended. Take it however you want, even ignoring the original it’s a great, classic tale that has had huge influence. Plus it's lots of fun.

okt 5, 2012, 4:48pm

I really like Dante's Inferno so I will keep an eye open for Emerson's graphic novel!

okt 5, 2012, 6:21pm

Doesn't look like it's out in the US yet. I'll keep my eyes open as well - looks very funny indeed!

okt 5, 2012, 8:56pm

Ah, I had to look up the cover of The First Quarry. What a hoot! It's a total rip off on the pulps. I'm tempted to WL just for the cover - couldn't read that one at school. ;)

& as for the Inferno, that does go on the WL just because I want to see how they depict the closing scene - the one that Dante could've co-written with Dav Pilkey.

okt 6, 2012, 7:30am

Eva/Lori well it was an early reviewers copy so it should be out soon :)

Katie I admit I didn't see the end coming! Makes me want to go back and finish it :-)

Re: Quarry I started with Quarry in the Middle, oddly a great intro to the series! I call the. My tube read, as I get a childish thrill reading it publicly on the train (awkward if kids abound tho!) hope you enjoy it.

okt 8, 2012, 7:11pm

Wow, lots of activity here in the last week! Some really great sounding graphic novels are bullets I take right in the chest, and thanks for the reminder to check out the Pirates! series sometime.

Oh, and I took the test too. I also ended up Hemingway. Fine with the description, it's just...just, well...Hemingway. You know?

okt 9, 2012, 4:50am

Hemingway?!.. I am having old man and the sea flashbacks ;-)

Redigerat: okt 9, 2012, 6:26am

Category 6 Zoo City by Lauren Beukes. Tag: Crime

Edge of Dark Water by Joe R Lansdale
Addictive "hillbilly" noir

It is a pivotal moment when Sue-Ellen finds the murdered body of a friend. Nobody seems to care about anything but the stolen money, money that’s going to get Sue-Ellen away from the wandering hands of her father and a future of domesticated drudgery and violence.

I wasn't sure about this at first: narrated by a 16 year old, uneducated, Texan girl and I just wasn't sure if I was going to get along but Lansdale is consummately skilled at character and any issues vaporised as the plot drew me in, my assumptions quite nicely destroyed (I love a book I can't predict).

It is a fantastic, well plotted story. Meandering as much as its river but still managing to grip, delighting and scaring as its fancy takes it. It’s a very cinematic story, with vivid actions scenes, quiet moments of unsettling horror all cut with flashes of dark humour. I can smell the bad guy (Skunk), hear the roar of the river and the cadence of speaking and feel the terror of the chase.

I mentioned the great characters from Jinx who just delights with her bluntness, to the lost Preacher. It's a story where you root for the motley collective, whatever they have done, you can empathise with the fear of the unknown and that they hold themselves back rather than face a strange unimagined future. I have no idea how authentic Sue-Ellen’s voice is, nor how playful the story is with depression era setting or how much it riffs off Huckleberry Finn. It’s just a fine story, well told.

Recommended for crime/horror/thriller lovers

okt 9, 2012, 6:27am

Category 4 The Unwritten Volumes 1-3 by Mike Carey (author) and Peter Gross (artist)

Blacksad by Juan Diaz Canales (writer) and Juanjo Guarnido (artist)
Beautifully drawn noir tales

I have to say the main draw of this is the artwork. Blacksad anthropomorphises its characters, in fact the animal is a clue to character and it's this depiction that makes Blacksad so delightful. The art is lovely but the expressions and movement are in a class of its own, Blacksad goes from rueful handsomeness to angry, fangs and teeth and it seems so natural.

The stories? Well it’s a collection of 3 noirish tales. The first a pretty standard crime tale of murdered femme fatale, revenge and obsession. The other two branch out.. a tale of McCarthyism and one of a child kidnapping caught between race wars of the Whites and the Blacks. All good fun, and nailing the 50s era even though this slims down the choice of female characters and doesn't seem to suffer from translation (originally written in French.. although it’s a Spanish comic!)

Recommend to comic fans and crime lovers. This is the 1st collection, another Blacksad: Silent Hell has just been released.

okt 9, 2012, 6:45am

The label "noir" isn't doing much for me in itself, but the concept of rural noir and your description of Edge of dark water puts it right on my wish list. You get me every time, damn you.

okt 9, 2012, 6:53am

I stole the Hillbilly noir description but it fits :) I was surprised by Edge of Dark Water & I think that increased my enjoyment of it quite considerably... so if you are not surprised well ..hmm.. not sure. Also unsure if Joe R Lansdale is popular in Sweden but it maybe worth keeping an eye out in secondhand shops and see if you like him as an author.. that one is his latest book though,

okt 9, 2012, 8:36am

I have Savage Season on the wishlist so I think I'll make it an either/or with Edge of Dark Water and grab whichever I see first. Thumbed.

Saw Blacksad on your other thread first so I'll just add that this review has also been thumbed.

okt 9, 2012, 2:31pm

Like Anders, the 'noir' label didn't grab me as much as your review did Claire. Not my usual fare but I see the book is rated quite highly here on LT and the LT predictor thingee thinks I probably will like Edge of Dark Water (prediction confidence: medium) so it looks like I will be keeping an eye out for that one!

okt 9, 2012, 5:44pm

I've not tried any Hillbilly Noir before, but it is on the list - listing the Lansdale as a possibility.

You are terrible at finding graphic novels that I want to read too - thanks on behalf of the groaning wishlist. :)

okt 10, 2012, 8:46am

Hope you all have fun in deep darkest Texas :)

173 Thanks Dave.

@175 Eva all I can say is thank goodness for fab comic shops and great festivals!

Category 5 Embassytown by China Mieville> Tag: Sci Fi

Seven Wonders by Adam Christopher

Seven Wonders, the world’s last great Superhero team and Ventura's only hope against the last Supervillian The Cowl. When Tony Prosdocimi wakes up one morning with powers his 1st act is to take down The Cowl and finds to his surprise the local hero's aren't that pleased.

Hmm I think Christopher's style just isn't for me as this is a great modern superhero tale, with enough twists to keep plot moving, fun action sequences that just call out for a double edge, eye popping spread. It has some wonderful villains & heroes, tired cops and new kids on the block to keep everyone happy. Nor do you miss the visuals it fits perfectly into a novel format. It is neither sarcastically knowing it really just is fun but.. it just didn't grip me and it’s hard to identify why.

I could point to fading in and out of characters which is a bit jarring, slight reliance on set pieces rather than the whole or the fact that I am not a fan of superhero comics but to be honest I just find it a bit slow. Maybe it is because I find it hard to connect with the characters and so care where it goes. Take for example The Cowl, I really liked his journey but then the story sweeps away from his POV and so his ending feels a bit too tidy, too quickly resolved. This happens a lot and then mix in unlikeable characters and some simple stock ones.. well it’s pretty but I am just not engaged, I think Christopher is interested in different things than I am and I am not hooked.

Anyway I hesitatingly recommend it to superhero and speculative fiction fans.

Redigerat: okt 19, 2012, 12:52am

Adam Christopher has piqued my interest but haven't got around to picking one up yet. Either this one or Empire State will probably get tried at some point. Shame it didn't fit for you.

okt 10, 2012, 11:24am

I just acquired Empire State, so I'm hoping my mileage will vary from yours. Good review!

okt 10, 2012, 9:42pm

Blacksad looks really cool. I'll have to look for it - and if I don't get to it in 2013, I'll have to have a Spain category in 2014 so I have an excuse to fit it in. ;)

okt 11, 2012, 10:32am

Boy, are you looking ahead!

okt 11, 2012, 11:36am

Heh well I hope you enjoy it whenever you get to it!

okt 11, 2012, 11:12pm

:) Always looking ahead. But it does look really fun.

okt 18, 2012, 5:59am

Category 12 The Gone Away World by Nick Harkaway. Tag: Identity, war, dystopia but sadly no ninja's

Household Worms by Stanley Donwood

Disturbing, intriguing flash fiction run through with a self depreciating humour. Modern day horrors, snippets of almost poetry, twisting short tales all dark all quite beautiful. It's a book to dip into and savour, to laugh at life’s dark heart and his true yet exaggerated take.

"I am the noise you hear at night. I am the lights, you wish in your heart, we're an identified flying object.
Oh yes. It's me. It's not distant thunder and it's not a further distant atomic explosion.
It's me, in an aeroplane, bored nearly out of my mind,
And it's so beautiful up here."

Two of my favourites showcase the expanse. One is a mere three quarters of page, a musing of love versus life’s darkness shot through with dark humour on how silly we can be and then a frisson of oddity, of a disturbing narrator. The second (one of the longest stories) is a tale of having to take an awful job to pay the bills and having your worst fears come true, no pay, bullying, incompetence and murder, yet funny.

Highly recommended for those with a darker humour, a love of language or short sharp, surreal shocks.

Psutto has much better review over here:

okt 18, 2012, 11:04am

Sounds wonderful. Damn you. *scribble scribble*

okt 18, 2012, 1:17pm

->184 GingerbreadMan:
They are terrible aren't they?! If one doesn't lure you in, the other is sure to! :)

okt 18, 2012, 10:13pm

> 184 & 185 - I agree with Eva..... its the tag team approach that guarantees the book bullet will find its home!

okt 19, 2012, 6:14am

Psutto has much better review aww thanks, its not true though!

okt 19, 2012, 1:08pm

Ah, I knew rock was behind that flash fiction somewhere! Yes, that tag team approach is hard to resist... but if I can resist Pete, I can resist you too... she says haughtily as she checks her WL to see if it is already there.

Redigerat: okt 22, 2012, 9:25am

..steeples fingers together; starts chuckling in an evil fashion..

Stanley Donwood has a selection of his fiction over here (for those who want to dip their toe in

I have to say his Bristol Lit event was the highlight. He hired an actor to read the stories and they just came alive in all their dark humour! Wonder if he could be inspired to do an audio reading

Redigerat: okt 22, 2012, 9:19am

Category 10 The Orphan's Tales: In the Night Garden by Catherynne M. Valente. Tag books in a series

The Underground Man by Ross Macdonald

When Lew Archer witnesses the abduction of a boy he is drawn into a tortuously complex case of murder and blackmail hidden amongst the wealthiest families of small town California.

I rarely like a Noir book for the plot but I enjoyed the way this twisted tale unfurled which, like the forest fire it’s set against, it rapidly breaks out in all directions and tries to consume all. Although, it does this in sedately fashion; one of the key joys is the pacing, the steady unfurling of what could easily be a torrid soap opera of a plot. Affairs and loveless marriages, blackmail, murder and rape, mental illness are all slowly unearthed but Lew's humane pragmatism grounds it all whilst ramping up the tension. It is a tale with a strong theme as one generations sins hit the next and then next and then?

It's hard to pick out a negative part, it is what it is after all and has aged well. This book does sit towards the end of a series but that didn't negatively impact the tale and I am intrigued to try an early one and see how the character starts out.

Redigerat: okt 22, 2012, 9:21am

Category 7 The Lost Machine by Richard A Kirk. Tag: Crime

Havana Noir edited & translated by Achy Obejas
Short tales of darkness set in Cuba.

Not the standard take on Noir, it’s not criminal mysteries but at look at life’s darkness and it’s an interesting blend that has resulted. The authors are a good mix of male/female, old and new and of those that stayed and those that fled. All translated with care and I think it’s worth seeking out for anyone interested in stories set outside the usual cultures. This wholesale capturing of different styles and stories means that it will be uneven just because of the readers taste. Sure there are one or two clumsily written ones but on the whole all are well written (and translated). Oddly though the theme of bleakness means the trouble of communist Cuba is a common theme and I don’t recommend you read it one go because I found myself yearning for a story on new Cuba, a more positive one at that. It is a very dark book and some tales were too bleak even for me, not gratuitous but horrid.

I do recommend it, if you like to dip into the dark side of another culture

okt 22, 2012, 4:15pm

I enjoy the books in the city noir series. They tend to be uneven, though, and reflect the person choosing the stories quite a bit.

okt 26, 2012, 10:44am

192 I would definitely check out another in the series, it was certainly interesting. Any one you would recommend?

Category 12 The Gone Away World by Nick Harkaway. Tag fantasy

The Bookman by Lavie Tidhar
Deliciously exuberant steampunk

Have an urge for wild adventure? Need to rub up against pirates, anarchists, poets and automatons? Fight shadowy forces fighting against the British Empire firmly in control of sentient Lizards? Want to ride strange steam powered contraptions and float high in secret, silent airships? See what inspired Jules Verne and terrified Irene Adler?

This book is a must if you want a fun, playful, lovingly written adventurous tale seeped in a rich world bursting with Victoriana. Take delight in spotting all the references and just wallow in the novelty of it all. It’s packed to the rafters with ideas, some vivid set pieces, a multitude of characters and to be honest it’s hard to find fault.

Maybe I was just in the mood for it. I grew to enjoy the passive main character because it perfectly suits the world and I blinked happily over tiny bits of info dumping. Ok it’s gently paced at 1st, with the winding plot/short chapters stopping the whoosh of a fast paced story but that’s no bad thing. No I guess it's just down to taste: there IS a lot going on, characters can swish in and out, the main character is a poet with a lost love and I guess it depends whether a missed reference will drive you to insanity and despair.

Actually if you don't like this book it will be like kicking a puppy. A mechanical puppy, that probably turns out to be a cool explosive device but still a cute one with doleful eyes. So recommended. I mean royal lizards! Come on!

okt 26, 2012, 2:12pm

Excellent! So glad to hear you liked The Bookman - it's on the wishlist after the last Tidhar book I read!

okt 26, 2012, 3:06pm

I have Osama on the wishlist already thanks to your and Pete's earlier reading so I guess I can make it an either/or with this one. Thumbed your fun review.

okt 26, 2012, 7:35pm

Our youngest princess announced her engagement the other day in what has to be one of the most awkward videos in a long time. Her and the fiancée look remarkably lizardlike, now that I think about it...

Thumbing the review too!

okt 26, 2012, 8:32pm

Were most of the authors in Havana Noir from Cuba? It sounds interesting.

okt 26, 2012, 9:48pm

I also added a thumb to your great review. The Bookman has gone on the wishlist.

okt 27, 2012, 10:33am

Thanks all & hope everyone enjoys it.

Dave - Very different books so should be able to choose based on mood, I hear Osama is out in paperback soon too.

Anders - eek David Icke was right!

Katie - It's a mix of ex-Cubans and Cubans, from memory it's a little over half that were born and still live in Cuba. The rest mostly live in the USA.

okt 27, 2012, 9:23pm

Oooo! Then I'm definitely interested in it. I'm not a fan of collections of stories set in an "exotic" place written by people who maybe spent a month their, but if the writers are all Cuban or expat, I'm interested. Thanks!

Redigerat: okt 29, 2012, 11:13am

Katie - No problem, there is an American feel to it some times, probably because a lot of them now live in the USA.

Category 8 The Rider by Tim Krabbe. Tag: random purchase

The Road to Perdition by Max Allan Collins (author ) and Richard Piers Rayner (artist)
Interesting historical crime comic

Drawn in highly detailed, stark black and white, this is an arresting crime story of revenge, of family in an evocative time of corruption and poverty, of Elliot Ness and Al Capone. It's theme of father/son relationship set in a deeply violent world twists and softens the revenge story of ex-hit man and his young son going after their families killers. It is a great tale too, one where you can feel time slowly running out, where doom is on the horizon but you are still gripped. Does he get revenge? Will he get redemption? Will the son follow the father?

There is slight repetition in the narration but really that's the only complaint. The setting is superb (the historical research shines), the characters (real & imagined) feel spot on and the dialogue is hard and reassuringly familiar from all those gangster flicks. Indeed they made this into a rather famous film, which I haven't seen but cannot for the life of me picture Tom Hanks as the 'Angel of Death'

Recommend to all loves of gangster tales.

Note: the graphic novel was redrawn (in a less detailed style) by Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez and sold in 3 parts.. No idea why.

okt 29, 2012, 3:31pm

Maybe to make three times the money?

okt 29, 2012, 5:11pm

I was going to see that film, but the Hanks character seemed so off that I ended up not watching it. Maybe I'll try the graphic novel instead. :)

Redigerat: okt 30, 2012, 10:51am

Category 10 The Orphan's Tales: In the Night Garden by Catherynne M. Valente. Tag all of them!

In the Cities of Coin and Spice by Catherynne M. Valente
Beautiful, modern, intelligent, nested fairy tales

Not a sequel but a continuation of The Orphan's Tales: In the Night Garden, you cannot dive right, nor do I recommend a long gap between. So read my review of the 1st and apply to second... If you liked it there will be no stopping you moving to 2nd, if you are ambivalent.. well it doesn't change.


"There is always a moment when stories end, a moment when everything is blue and black and silent, and the teller does not want to believe it is over, and the listener does not, and so they both hold their breath and hope fervently as pilgrims that it is not over, that there are more tales to come, more and more, fitted together like a long chain coiled in the hand."

Oh amen to that.

Do I need to say this comes highly recommended?

okt 30, 2012, 10:56am

Mazmel - :-) probably but why get a new artist. I suspect the story is expanded or something.

Eva - I am really not a fan of Tom Hanks (well I liked big!) still I am tempted to see what its like so will let you know :)

okt 30, 2012, 3:45pm

Great review of In the Cities of Coin and Spice Claire! Of course, I shouldn't be surprised given the author's name......... on the reading pile for 2013 it goes!

okt 30, 2012, 7:21pm

I was only planning to read In the night garden next year, but alright then...back to the drawing board *grumble grumble*

okt 31, 2012, 5:23am

Lori hope you enjoy! I loved all her books so far.

Anders - Well I did space them apart and it didn't suffer that badly but I do regret it.

Redigerat: nov 7, 2012, 11:16am

Category 8 The Rider by Tim Krabbe. Tag: random purchases

How's the Pain by Pascal Garnier
A slim full bodied taste of French Noir.

Simon (whose business is to exterminate "Vermin") is at the end of his life and on his last job but on a whim he decides that he needs a driver and asks his very new young friend, guileless Bernard, to take the job.. but life (and death) has its own plans.

Caught firmly between life's hope and its inevitable darkness, this is an amusingly dark novel, punctured with flashes of violence that still manages to retain a soft spot for human frailty. It's really the tone and structure that stand-out, as Simon's cynical observations and desperate nostalgia rub against Bernard's youth and optimism. Two characters, one of whom wants a future and another who needs an ending. Although It’s not really an odd couple story, all characters are wonderfully skewed (but never over the top) from the elderly taxidermist who needs love to Bernard’s alcoholic mother, no it’s more clash of plans versus life’s chaos.

The structure just adds an extra thoughtfulness to the novel (end at the beginning). May I add that personally it was refreshing to read a non USA Noir, although it took me a while to visually swap to a French background! The translation seems good too, although some English words felt a bit jarring i.e. dole (meaning benefits)

Recommend to genre fans or wanting a quick, immersive, morally ambivalent read.

Redigerat: nov 7, 2012, 8:59pm

Claire - this is starting to become a habit..... I visit your thread and find yet another interesting review for a book I probably otherwise wouldn't even glance at in the bookstore. I don't need categories to expand my reading, I just need to visit your thread! ;-)

Great review of How's the Pain.

nov 8, 2012, 2:31pm

->210 lkernagh:
LOL! Hence my Bookbullets-category for next year! You're all terrible. :)

Redigerat: nov 9, 2012, 6:10am

Thanks :) I have a fabulous bookshop which give me far too many good recommendations.. I am avoiding it at the moment! I should really avoid LT!

edit: I see the new World War Z trailer is out. Hmmm...

Redigerat: nov 9, 2012, 4:49pm

Hmm, yeah... Have you (or anyone here) read World War Z? I haven't, but Pitt seems miscast to me - or does he fit the book-version and I'm just not seeing the character right?

nov 9, 2012, 8:22pm

Well, there wasn't a main character, the book being a collection of the memories of various people.

nov 10, 2012, 12:52am

Pitt??? That seems miscast to me too but I haven't read it yet. It's just on my mount TBR.

nov 11, 2012, 4:51am

I liked the book with its global interviews/accounts of the apocalypse & survival. Not wholly succesful but it explores some interesting ideas & has some evocative bits (I.e the Hindu Kush/north Korea). So you know all the things the film doesn't seem to do :)

And yeah it does seem miscast cast & the CGI looks too over the top to be scary. Oh well maybe they bought the book rights just for the cool name!

nov 11, 2012, 10:02am

True! Usually the names are all a movie keeps of a book. I think they liked the idea of a plot that would allow for actors to play multiple roles. I think I'll wait for it to get into the dollar theaters.

nov 11, 2012, 5:18pm

Good to know - sounds like they're making it a star-vehicle rather than being completely true to the original, so I'll keep the book on the wishlist and pretend the film wasn't based on it. :)

Redigerat: nov 14, 2012, 7:00am

Category 1 The BldgBlog Book by Geoff Manuagh. Tag: apocalyspe

This Book is Full of Spiders by David Wong
Amusing and refreshing slacker horror

"You know how sometimes when you’re drifting off to sleep you feel that jolt, like you were falling and caught yourself at the last second? It's nothing to be concerned about, it's usually just the parasite adjusting its grip."

There really is no better mix of cleverness and stupidity out there. It may start out with an invasion of invisible parasitical "spiders", violent deaths and a chase by a giant turkey monster but soon twists into refreshing, thoughtful take on the tired ol' zombie mythos; musing on societies fears, on the morals of how to control an epidemic, on why we need zombies (or do we?). All wrapped up in a gripping, carefully constructed chaotic plot with different timelines and multiple unreliable narrators (yes even the dog). Oh yes and penis jokes too. Well ok just 1. Sorry penis joke lovers.

"And you have no idea what it does?"
"Let's just say it's magic"
"Let's just say that I need a little more explanation than that if I'm going to go along with this"
X sighed "Okay, have you heard of nanotechnology?"
"Yeah. Microscopic robots, right?"
"Right, and imagine they can make millions of these robots and embed them in a liquid, so that you now have a liquid infused with the power of all these machines. Got it?"
"All right."
"Now imagine if, instead of tiny robots, it's magic"

David and {Name Redacted to remove spoilers} make such endearing pair of losers and, along with the more intelligent Amy and Molly easily shoulders both low and high brow humour. I mean who can do an Aliens parody with a straight face? It may not be as hilarious as the 1st book John Dies at the End but it’s far more cohesive and interesting.

Issues? hmm. It contains gore, sarcasm and some really bad jokes. It still struggles to contain itself (sometimes the highbrow stuff went on a wee bit too long) plus the multiple narrators jars a bit probably only because I adore Wong's voice. You don't have to read the 1st one before this but why wouldn't you? Mind you could just wait for the film.

"That is why we fear the zombie. The zombie looks like a man, walks like a man, eats and otherwise functions fully, yet is devoid of the spark. It represents the nagging doubt that lays deep in the heart of even the most zealous believer: behind all your pretty songs and stained glass, this is what you really are. Shambling meat. Our true fear of the zombie was never that its bite would turn us into one of them. Our fear is that we are already zombies.”

Oh by the way it has an absolutely amazing book trailer here:

John Dies at the End film trailer (contains spoilers though)

nov 14, 2012, 9:16am

Ok, you got me. I'll go find a copy of John Dies at the End. I assume they should be read in order?

nov 14, 2012, 10:00am

I haven't gotten around to picking up John Dies at the End yet. Still on the wishlist but will have to move it up nearer the top.

nov 14, 2012, 12:10pm

I checked the audioversion of John Dies and even the sample made me laugh, so I'll putting it on that wishlist! With a great reader, funny books are unbeatable on audio - keeping my fingers Xed that the sample does it justice! :)

nov 14, 2012, 6:13pm

Do you have to read John Dies at the End first? I'm all set to jump in with the spiders.

nov 14, 2012, 9:38pm

This is one of those times I am happy to see the link to the movie trailer. No Book Bullet!!!! I will bypass the book and head right for the movie adaptation of John Dies at the End. Movie bullets don't count....... ;-)

If the movie is really good, I might consider jumping into the spiders book.

nov 15, 2012, 12:15am

Ah - the movie isn't available yet on netflix via the old-fashioned DVD. We're a little techno-stunted in this house.

nov 15, 2012, 5:47am

I think the film is officially released in Jan next year. Well at least in the US.

I don't think you need to read them in order although the 2nd one contains spoilers for the 1st one. You will miss a bit of background but I think enough is explained and the plots are pretty self contained! The 1st one was very good but chaotic mess too so depends on your mileage :-)

Redigerat: nov 15, 2012, 11:07am

It's being shown at the Leeds International Film Festival on Sunday but there's nothing else I want to see on that day so it's a bit far to go just for one film.

nov 15, 2012, 11:29am

Too far for me as well :( I didn't actually know Leeds had a festival maybe I should arrange a business trip next time :) my local one tends to err on the high brow.

nov 15, 2012, 3:34pm

Claire, it's the biggest one in the UK outside of London apparently and is usually spread between 2-3 weeks. I usually go for the anime movies that they show. They did us proud this year with a full day of 5 films and at only £15 for the ticket I couldn't miss out.

nov 16, 2012, 12:20am

Sigh - Leeds is a bit too far for me too.

nov 16, 2012, 4:47am

wow Dave that is a good bargin. My local film fest (Bath) is a about a tenner per film. Will try to remember it next year

nov 16, 2012, 8:55am

Prices for individual movies are more like they would be at normal cinema's. Special events (such as the animé day or day/night of the dead) usually get passes that work out considerably cheaper. You can even get passes for the whole event if you feel so inclined.

nov 18, 2012, 6:03pm

Two weeks absent, and the first thing I catch is a book bullet! Think I'll start with John dies at the end too. I'm way too orderly to start at the second book, no matter how loosely connected they are.

nov 19, 2012, 5:28am

Dave- Night of the dead film session eh? sounds great :) Mind you this week my local(ish) film festival is showing Manborg so it can do low brow!

I am to please Anders, and also to endanger life by being crushed under the philosophical weight of a giant wishlist..

Redigerat: nov 19, 2012, 6:34am

Category 11 The Troika by Stepan Chapman. Tag: Cyborg

we3 by Grant Morrison (author) and Frank Quietly (artist)
Simple, savage and stunningly beautiful

Stunning graphics and eye popping layout, combined with a short hard hitting, visceral story of animal rights and dastardly military experimentation this is a slim comic collection worth seeking. Slightly silly premise at 1st of household pets (a rabbit, cat & dog) enhanced, wrapped in exoskeletons and weaponised to the extreme, when they are decommissioned they seek to escape but are relentlessly pursued by a terrified military; think what the media could do with a story like that.

This is not an anthropomorphic tale, refreshingly even though trained to speak they are animalistic. Much more interesting and provides more of an emotional punch in what is very much an action comic. A good comic but what made it a great one are the gorgeous and eye popping "3D" graphics; as the super fast characters break out of panels and scatter-shot detail overlays gunfights capturing the fast, bloody chaotic detail of battle. There are quite a few techniques here and its absolutely fascinating eye candy, especially since it was very new to me.

Recommended to comics fans.

Edited to add rant: Although can I just vent and say for a book about animal rights it would be nice to give women some too. 1 female character. 1 out of all the background people and of course that character is the scientist that cares for those animals... those pesky female emotions...

I really need to stop doing the Bechdel test I am getting bitter

nov 19, 2012, 6:25am

Category 1 The BldgBlog Book by Geoff Manuagh. Tag non-fiction, architecture
London's Overthrow by China Mieville

A polemic essay, a snapshot of London in 2011; the aftermath of riots, a precursor to the Olympics and right in the middle of harsh austerity cuts. It is of course beautifully written and interspersed with delightfully murky and often blurred snapshots of London.

This is an era of CGI end-times porn, but London’s destructions, dreamed-up and real, started a long time ago. It’s been drowned, ruined by war, overgrown, burned up, split in two, filled with hungry dead. Endlessly emptied.

A book for hard core Mieville fans only, as it’s a very pricey essay and one you can find on the internet. Although I would seek it out there, unless of course your politics leans hard right. Those who have never set foot in London will still get the gist, this books speaks of the universal city and is soaked in familiar politics. Of course you can also just admire this poetic plea.

The link:

nov 19, 2012, 9:12am

Another two great reviews. Definitely adding We3 to the wishlist.

nov 19, 2012, 1:02pm

I haven't found myself doing the Bechdel test as I read but I do make a note of glaring things like the ones you mention: one female character in a sea of male characters, etc. I may find myself sliding that way with time. For now, I just try to balance out my male/female author reading and even that can get lopsided from time to time!

Not sure if I would read We3 but a very good review, nonetheless!

nov 19, 2012, 1:06pm

Hit again - any chance you guys will (at least temporarily) move far away from "fab comic shops and great festivals??"

"unless of course your politics leans hard right"
No, no they don't. Not at all.

Redigerat: nov 20, 2012, 8:00am

Thanks Dave, hope you enjoy it.

Thanks Lori, I do need to read more female authors for some reason they never have the opposite problem of too few men :) Mind you I spent 1/2 moaning at the TV last night.. there is no hope for me.

Ah well Eva its film festival week this week so you should be fine :) I do have 3 new comics that need reviewing though...

nov 20, 2012, 11:24am

That Mieville photo essay was amazing. Thanks for that.

nov 20, 2012, 10:47pm

The Mieville essay does sound really interesting - I've heard some of what Brazil has done to get ready for the Olympics. You can get rid of the ghettos, but where do the people go?

nov 21, 2012, 7:11am

I am reading a book on the history of cities and its mentions the disastrous approach of tearing down slums and moving people into say high rise tower blocks (like they did in London, Beijing etc..). They break up families, businesses, communities, increase crime the new area etc.. The best thing seems to empower people in the slums i.e. give them ownership, running water/electricity etc.. and after all I am not convinced an Olympic park leaves much of a legacy except crippling dept.

nov 21, 2012, 9:19am

Category 8 The Rider by Tim Krabbe. Tag: memoir

Fun Home by Alison Bechdel
Hugely thoughtful and carefully crafted graphic novel memoir

Two weeks after her mother requested a divorce, her father stepped into the path a truck and was instantly killed. An ambiguous end but one Bechdel believes was suicide, this is a deconstructed look at their strained relationship, her coming of age, both of their journeys with homosexuality and the tired old gender roles and well many many other things. It joyfully entwines her many literary influences as well as proving fascinating insight into USA LGBT history and pulls of a structure that only a comic could achieve.

Awkward familial relationships may be the bread and butter of memoirs but I seriously would not over look this one. The non-linear narrative with a whiff of unreliable narrator is compelling and deliciously complex as each chapter revisits & refocus their relationship, showing many new facts along the way. You can see the story tellers puppet strings is a superb(doesn't make sense). Its wryly amusing, tragic, matter of fact and overall hugely interesting. The art is deceivingly simplistic black & white that compliments and plays of the text.

For those unaware Alison Bechdel is probably most famous for the Bechdel test (a litmus test of sexual equality in films) but also her long running, popular LGBT comic strip. This is her 1st self contained graphic novel and instantly hit bestseller lists.

A real gem for comics, memoir fans and anyone interested in LGBT fiction or history. There is err.. a sequel Are You My Mother? this time about her relationship with her mother and I cannot wait to get hold of it.

Redigerat: nov 21, 2012, 9:26am

aaaannnnd that's my Challenge completed!

What a relief.. I can read anything.. oh wait I already pretty much do :-) I will do a round up in a day so and I probably continue adding to my current categories as bonus reads until Jan 1st when I will start next years challenge. Hmm new overflow thread or not... hmm..

nov 21, 2012, 10:23am


nov 21, 2012, 12:45pm

Congratulations on completing your challenge. I'll look forward to the round up.

nov 21, 2012, 1:20pm

Well done, I finished my challenge today too! I'm just puttering around now and reading everyone else's challenges and I have been enjoying your reviews, I have added Tidhar and Valente to my reading list for next year so thanks!

nov 21, 2012, 2:53pm


nov 21, 2012, 5:41pm

ooh congratulations! And hooray for sticking around!

nov 21, 2012, 5:41pm

Nice going! Ready for the next one?!

nov 21, 2012, 9:54pm


nov 22, 2012, 12:38am

Congratulations on finishing!

nov 22, 2012, 1:31am

Congratulations, Claire.

nov 22, 2012, 2:57pm

Thank you & congrats kpolhuis too!

Mysterymax I think I am in shock, I haven't touched a book or written a review since! (I have 3 reviews outstanding) :-)

Right I feel a mammoth round up coming up.. oh yes..

Redigerat: nov 23, 2012, 3:12am

The (1st?) End of Year Round Up
Well 65 out of 86 overall books made this challenge & its a been a 4* star kind of a year with 33% getting Excellent (42% getting Good). Also the Bechdel test is still depressing me.. running at 45% pass rate so far.. but my top 12 include only 2 which failed (and 2 NA).

The Top Most Memorable 12
Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway
Atlas of remote islands : fifty islands I have not visited and never will by Judith Schalansky
The Brothers K by David James Duncan
Darkmans by Nicola Barker
deadkidsongs by Toby litt
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Cathrynne M Valente
Hospital: A Dream Vision by Toby Litt
In the cities of coin and spice by Catherynne M Valente
The feast of the goat by Mario Vargas Llosa
Sum : forty tales from the afterlives by David Eaglemen
The two-bear mambo by Joe R lansdale
The Unwritten On to Genesis (Vol. 5) by Mike Carey (author) and Peter Gross (artist)

Best Character
Jacob Marlowe from The Last Werewolf By Glen Duncan. Darkly witty and doomed.

Favourite new (to me) authors
Toby Litt/Lavie Tidhar/Joe R Lansdale

The book that made me to laugh (out loud in public!)
The Pirates! in an Adventure with the Romantics by Gideon Defoe

The book that made me cry the most
I may have shed a manly tear or 20 at The Brothers K by David James Duncan

Best 1st words
"Later, as he sat on his balcony eating the dog, Dr. Robert Laing reflected on the unusual events that had taken place within this huge apartment building during the previous three months."
High Rise by J G Ballard. Actually that is the best part of the book, Ballard is an acquired taste..

The book I actually threw at the floor in disgust (or this years Hemingway prize.. )
Death's Dark Abyss by Massimo Carlotto. Ugh the mysgony! Ugh that plot!

Ok these next two are pretty hard to pick!

Worst cover:

Unfairly label it YA and therefore stick an insipid girl on the cover because there a women in it. UGH! How could you know this is fabulous, intelligent take on the Selkie myth?

Loveliest cover:

Well Stanley Donwood is an artist

Most memorable moment
Meeting China Mieville at a signing, although not being able to anything but stare :) Actually meeting Hannah Berry was pretty cool too.

Edited to fix author errors!

nov 22, 2012, 6:13pm

Great end of year roundup Claire.... it is giving me some ideas for when I finally finish my challenge!

nov 22, 2012, 6:37pm

Now that's what you call a round-up. Very comprehensive.

nov 22, 2012, 7:19pm

I would be terrifield at meeting China Mieville, I'm sure I would turn into a tonge-tied, blushing, idiot! You played it cool by being silent and mysterious. ;)

nov 22, 2012, 7:48pm

Oooo, I'm sure Margo Lanagan hates that cover too! The fair maid looks quite consumptive.

Congrats on finishing your challenge!

nov 22, 2012, 9:28pm

A nice round-up and congrats.

nov 22, 2012, 10:36pm

I hope 2013 has more 4 star reads!

nov 23, 2012, 7:15am

Great round-up! I will have to remember some of those items. I love the idea of picking the best covers, but I had some pretty neat ones this year...

Redigerat: nov 24, 2012, 12:18am

Big congrats on finishing and YEY on finishing with a graphic novel I've already read!! Is that the first "no-bookbullet" this year??? :) Great roundup too. Strangely enough, I have most of your top-12 on my wishlist - I wonder how that happened...?

nov 23, 2012, 11:57pm

Just echoing everyone else Claire, great round up!

nov 24, 2012, 4:15pm

Now that's why I like end of the year round-ups -- because they can look like that. I agree with you about the Atlas of Remote Islands and am eager to read The Brothers K.

nov 24, 2012, 5:51pm

Great round-up, Claire, and I'm ever so proud to have nudged you towards a few reads that made your favorite list. Looking forward to giving and recieving more bullets in 2013!

nov 24, 2012, 6:06pm


nov 24, 2012, 6:29pm

Great round-up--congrats!

Redigerat: nov 25, 2012, 6:08am

Thank you!

Alison. I think Atlas of Remote Islands has been one of LT hits, so many of us love it.

Anders you did indeed :-) I am ashamed I stopped saying thank for bullets on LT, let's face it between yourself & visibleghost I took 4 book bullets in my top 12! Yeay for LT :)

nov 26, 2012, 4:32am

I was going to start a new Thread but I reckon there is enough life in this one for the month or so left :)

And so here is my 1st bonus read:

Bonus read #1 The House that Groaned by Karrie Fransman

For a book that covers body image & loneliness this is a darkly amusing and beautiful book. It’s deceptively simple in one way with, using stereotypes and simple character backgrounds to set off a whole heap of chaos. Its juxtaposition here, the exaggeration and interaction, the lovely washed out blue artwork at odds with the text that make it a delightfully exciting read. The glutton hoax calls the dieter during midnight feasts, the Barbie doll starts a doomed relationship with her neighbour who only ensures perfection retouching photographs, the ignored old lady literally fades into the background (have fun spotting her whilst feeling guilt at her awful situation).

It not really for the faint of heart (one of the characters sexualises the diseased & dying) but it’s interesting and err.. fun and comes very recommended. It's got great reviews from those new to comics.. if you want to dip your toe in.

It has a website over at

nov 26, 2012, 11:34pm

The House that Groaned sounds super weird. I had no idea that there was such a wide variety of graphic novels out there until I started hanging out on LT.

nov 27, 2012, 1:01am

> 272 - I totally agree! Ever since I started researching graphic novels for my 2013 GN category, I have discovered what a mountain - seriously, it is like Everest - of books in that genre out there! There is something for almost everyone's reading tastes, which is great because I am going to be sampling them like a human vacuum cleaner that helps themselves to three of everything on offer at the holiday buffet table.... ;-)

Redigerat: nov 29, 2012, 8:26am

It's great that the range of Graphic novels is growing and becoming much easier to get hold of. Never been a superhero fan. I miss out on loads of comics. though.. weekly collection is not something I am into :(

Bonus read #2 Grandville by Bryan Talbot
Fun Steampunk graphic novel

You know the Steampunk drill by now, airships and adventure, conspiracies and corsets. This a hugely fun take on the genre set in an alternative universe where Napoleon won and the UK has just broken away as a terrorist state. Oh and of course our hero is a Badger investigating the murder of a British spy, unearthing dastardly French plots and falling in love with sexy badger actresses. Chases, explosions, automatons you name it, this tale has it.

It is a nice story too and is great at setting up the world for the trilogy(?) and leaving with a world shattering (well European) ending. It also has some nice touches: amongst the anthropomorphic animals are the drudge human slaves "pale faces" and then there’s the odd amusing reference to archaic, unused English. The art of course is lovely, this is Brain Talbot after all, and the giant size hardback makes me deliciously feel like a kid again. All in all good fun.

Recommended to adventure, Steampunk and badger lovers everywhere.

nov 29, 2012, 11:41am

Bryan Talbot is already on my radar to get to at some point. I saw a write up for the latest in the Grandville series in the Metro the other week.

nov 29, 2012, 12:28pm

I already have another one of Talbot's books on the wishlist to try him out, but you know this one is going on there too...! :)

nov 29, 2012, 4:19pm

@ 274 -- I liked your description of steampunk -- "airships and adventure, conspiracies and corsets." I can just see a steampunk novel entitled Conspiracies and Corsets.

nov 30, 2012, 12:01am

I've decided to squeak in yet another category next year - graphic novels - and Grandville looks fun.

nov 30, 2012, 7:24am

>277 christina_reads:

Great title! Makes me wish I could write a book!

nov 30, 2012, 7:33am

>277 christina_reads:&279 - me too!

nov 30, 2012, 7:43am

hmm if I could write for toffee I would suggest setting up LT flash fiction group just to get stories for that great book title :)

Katie, I thought 13 Categories was going to be much but it just means I can have more fun and try different things.

dec 1, 2012, 1:32am

Love the Steampunk carrot of Grandville, and - I hate to say this, but - happily my local library doesn't have this one, because there are not enough days in 2013 to read all of the GN already on that dangerously tipping Candidates list!

.... Of course, if it was available through the library, that would be a well shot book bullet!

dec 3, 2012, 6:57am

heh Lori, nice way to cull potential reads!

More Talbot!

Bonus read #3 Dotter of Her Father's Eyes by Mary & Bryan Talbot

A Sad, amusing and fascinating entwining of two women’s biographies. both connected through ages by James Joyce, one his daughter, one (Mary Talbot) a daughter of a pre-eminent Joycean scholar.

These two tales, interesting in themselves, play off each other with stark similarities and hopeful deviations. They both have difficult relationships with their fathers, they both wish to have a career, straining against societies inherent sexism and class riddled rules. Only one manages to have happy ending.

But if this sounds too bleak and serious it isn't. The art is yet again (it is a Talbot book) lovely and deftly underlines & expands the story. Is therefore all the more interesting when Ann amusingly comments where Bryan (her husband) got it wrong. For this book is also about their relationship and their love. It not only documents it but is a part of it. How can you not want to read an intelligent and beautiful book that has come out of love?

The only caveat I have is it seems too short, that they could have been more to say & explored. Maybe however it is just suffering needlessly in comparison to the excellent (and completely different) memoir Fun Home which I just read.

Recommended to comic fans, literary lovers, historical fiction fans and anyone interested in feminism.

Books website
Fascinating interview & excerpts over at:

dec 4, 2012, 6:57am

Bonus read #4 Day of the Jackel by Frederick Forsyth
Dated yet compelling thriller

Ever wondered how to assassinate the French President? Then this book is for you, oh and as a bonus you get a fascinating, page turning, thriller as government and assassin play the ultimate cat and mouse game.

Set in the 60s the book starts off with the true account of the terrorist group, the OAS, failed attempt on the French presidents life but soon wonders what if they got an outsider? A professional political killer?

The writing is sparse yet detailed, factual and deadpan and yet manages to fascinate, captivating you and slowly ramping up the tension. The book is fantastically cut, rather like modern TV as it dynamically switches between groups. It’s masterfully done, there are very few action sequences, really its the thrill of detection, of escape. From watching British & French police try and uncover the impossible to watching suave, sophisticated cruel killer get closer & closer to his goal.

If it wasn't for the obvious 60s morality i.e. bad guys never win, they are all guys and the idiot braying politician is always the one to muck up it would be superb. As it was the tension starts to drain out towards the very end and the last 2 page are a bit of a damp squib (obviously I need explosions). Of course it’s dated in other ways.. but oddly that doesn't matter yet. I wonder if the lack of biometrics and mobile phones will mystify soon or just enhance its mystery.

Recommended to crime lovers and would be time travel assassins.

dec 4, 2012, 11:45am

I remember reading this a long time ago when I couldn't get enough of action thrillers and I really enjoyed it.

Redigerat: dec 4, 2012, 6:54pm

I've yet to read Day of the Jackal, but I remember watching a riveting film-version eons ago. I'll have to figure out which film that was for a rewatch!

ETA: It must have been the one with Edward Fox - definitely going on the list to watch again.

dec 5, 2012, 6:25am

Hi Mamzel it is a good one, I don't usually like thrillers

Eva, I vaguely remember seeing that one too, time for a re-watch, oh and the Indian version called August 1st :) In my limited experience of Bollywood I am going to expect dancing.

dec 5, 2012, 2:09pm

Oh, I want to see that one too! Day of the Jackal+Bollywood dancing=definite awesomeness! :)

dec 13, 2012, 8:04am

If anyone likes statistics and books (lets face who doesn't drool over infographics?) there is a very cool article collating info on the "Ideal Bookshelf" book where many important people are interview to provide their list..

Of course now its got me thinking what would be on MY ideal bookshelf.. the question is almost to large to encompass.

I think I would have to have:

Farewell My lovely & The Simple Art of Murder by Raymond Chandler (just because)
The Ambergris trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer (just because, plus I still haven't solved that code)
Guards Guards by Terry Pratchett (for comfort reading)
I can't decide which Guy Gavriel Kay book to take so lets say Fionavar Tapestry trilogy AND Lions of Al-Rassan (for when I need a good cry and a standard high fantasy)
Aberystwyth Mon Amour by Malcolm Pryce (for when I need a laugh)
I probably can't squeeze in Sandman by Neil Gaimen so I am going to put From Hell by Alan Moore
Waterlog: A Swimmer's Journey Through Britain by Roger Deakin (to remind me to exercise)
I can't decide which George Orwell to have probably Down and Out in Paris and London or maybe an essay collection (to bring me to earth)
Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell (because it has more than 1 story)
I have no idea about China Mieville.. how could I choose?! Um Embassytown then (because of the languae)
The Gone Away World by Nick Harkaway (I need to reread it to be sure but it has wow factor)
The BLDGBLOG book by Geoff Manaugh (to excite the imagination)
If on a winter's night a traveller by Italo Calvino (because of the language and of the playfulness)
and hmm gosh that leaves loads of
Atlas of remote islands : fifty islands I have not visited and never will by Judith Schalansky (so I can dream of travelling)

dec 14, 2012, 2:08am

I'll take your shelf. It looks good. My head hurts to think what I'd put on mine, especially since my ideal bookshelf would include books I haven't read yet - so some of them might not be so great!!!

dec 14, 2012, 5:08am

@290 heh, Katie, I had to draw a line at adding books I want to read.. that's a whole other bookshelf!

Well I have limited access to the internet after today & since I am still reading the fabulous (but lengthy) The Tin Drum by Gunter Grass. I may be a while :)

Anyway if I don't log onto again Merry Xmas and very happy New year to you all. I hope you all get the presents you wish and are overwhelmed by shiny new books!

dec 14, 2012, 3:46pm

See you in January, & I'll be interested to see what you think of The Tin Drum. That might be on my not read yet ideal book shelf for all I know. I used to be into a band called "Japan" who were from Canada, not Japan and they had a moody album named after the novel.

dec 14, 2012, 5:43pm

Enjoy your Christmas Claire and all the best for the New Year too.

dec 14, 2012, 7:16pm

Merry Christmas, Claire. We'll see you in January at the 2013 Challenge.

dec 14, 2012, 8:08pm

Have a great holiday and see you next year!!

dec 14, 2012, 9:38pm

Happy Holidays. See you over on the new 2013 Challenge.

dec 15, 2012, 12:43am

Merry christmas and happy new year Claire, enjoy your break!

dec 15, 2012, 10:33am

Happy holidays, Claire! See you in 2013 over on the new challenge group!

dec 16, 2012, 2:10pm

See you on the flip side!

dec 30, 2012, 7:10pm

Belated Merry Christmas Claire! Don't know if you're just absent, of if you've migrated already :) In either case, I greatly look forward to seeing you again in 2013. Oh, and my ideal bookshelf is pretty close to yours, I think. There's more than one title there you opened my eyes for. Very grateful for that!

jan 2, 2013, 5:30am

Well I am back and whilst I read a few books on holiday none really stuck out so I probably won't review them here. Happy holidays and over to my 2013 thread!