Tuesday, May 3, 2016

The Emperor's Railroad (Dreaming Cities, #1) By Guy Haley

The Emperor's Railroad (Dreaming Cities, #1)The Emperor's Railroad by Guy Haley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was absolutely stellar, I think I have offically changed my mind about novellas, This one is loaded down with a great post apocalyptic, dystopian world . Engaging characters, and strangely to me, a British author who does southern characters well.

Scifi, fantasy, horror all smashed into a 100 plus page package, read this one, you won't regret it.

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I Am Slaughter (The Beast Arises #1) by Dan Abnett

I Am SlaughterI Am Slaughter by Dan Abnett
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Warhammer is like man brain candy to me, you know there will be explosions, and men like gods doing ungodly things to millions upon millions of aliens and other men who deserve it.

That being said, The Black Library has made a bit of a ballsy move by spreading out what is essentially one giant story over 12 books over a year. Because you never know what quality you will get from start to finish, however, Mr. Abnett starts the blood flowing in grand fashion.

Is it groundbreaking stuff? nope.. it is however lots of fun if you are a fan of the WH40k universe.



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Monday, May 2, 2016

The Perfect Read for Readers

MatildaMatilda by Roald Dahl
Reviewed by Jason Koivu
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This might be one of the most perfect books for readers. It's about a reader who just wants to get her read on and bad people are trying to stop her.

Instant character attachment!

Fully involved in the "tumultuous" plot!

"Let my reader goooo...." sing the readers!

What a wonderful tale! Little Matilda is saddled with a nasty father, a fairly terrible mother and an indifferent brother. Matilda just wants to read. Why read when we've got the telly, wonder her disgusting parents. After being crapped on enough times, Matilda begins taking out her revenge in the whip-smartest ways and so ensues the fun!

Dahl's style is all over this. His bad guys are awfully bad, I mean really wonderfully rotten. His hero is intelligent and intrepid, with Dahl no doubt using his secret agent background to infuse even the simplest fairytale with spy-craft cunning. His story is episodic. You can see the acts/scenes play out with definitive beginnings and ends, as if he wrote a handful of short stories and plugged them into one book.

Negatives include some unbelievably bad bad guy moments that leave us boring adult readers thinking, "well that could never happen"...because we're dumb. Also, I don't think this needed the dip it takes into magical fantasy. It was doing perfectly fine without it. I rather liked that Matilda was solving her problems on her own without a supernatural assistance. It was more impressive.

Lots of adult subject matter herein (Suicide?!...shit dude, that's heavy) and I was taken back a bit at first. This is a kid's book after all. But I guess even I'd forgotten that kid's books used to dish out the tough stuff back in the old days. Now it's all about princesses and pretty pretty rainbow ponies, and if one of them gets a cold, it's a fucking big deal.

I was considering reading this to my niece, who just turned six, so I wanted to pre-read it first to make sure it was suitable. I wasn't actually worried about the subject matter (and I'm still not), I was more concerned about the length. She's not into long books yet, you see. Not much of an attention span on that girl, but I'm partly to blame. Historically speaking, when she's come to visit it becomes a whirlwind of "WHAT DO WE DO NEXT!!!", because when she was about 3 to 5 years old I just wanted to keep her entertained. I might've gone overboard. She's come to expect a circus for every visit to my house. Nonetheless, having finally read Matilda and knowing how much my niece loves to read, I do believe this will soon become an absolute favorite of hers as it as has so quickly become one of mine.

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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Silver Surfer, Vol. 1: New Dawn

Silver Surfer, Vol. 1: New DawnSilver Surfer, Vol. 1: New Dawn by Dan Slott
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Silver Surfer, sentinel of the spaceways, finds the Impericon, the city where anything is possible. Why does the Never Queen want it destroyed? And what does an Earth girl named Dawn Greenwood have to do with anything?

Confession time: The Silver Surfer is one of those characters that I was always semi-interested in but never quite understood when I was a lad. When I saw Dan Slott, the man who made Spider-Man interesting again, was helming it with Mike Allred, creator of Madman doing the art, I just couldn't resist.

New Dawn is a very quirky take on the Silver Surfer. Slott is a big Doctor Who fan and his portrayal of The Silver Surfer and his companion, Dawn, feels very Who-esque. It's a humorous but still respectful take on the Silver Surfer and I found it way more enjoyable than the twelve or fifteen issues of the Surfer I tried reading in the late 1980's.

I liked the Impericon concept and the Never Queen but my favorite part is the relationship between Dawn and the Surfer. While the space stuff was awesome, I loved when the Silver Surfer visited Anchor Bay with Dawn to meet her family. Sure, Doctor Strange and the Hulk showed up but it was still really cool. I have to wonder if Mike Allred had some influence on the characterization of the Surfer because his quirky innocent nature reminded me of Madman a few times.

It's not perfect but I don't really have anything bad to say about New Dawn. I always thought of the Surfer as a stuffy character but Slott and Allredy breathe new life into him. Four out of five stars.

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Friday, April 29, 2016

The Reapers are the Angels




Aiden Bell
Holt Paperbacks
4 out of 5 stars
Reviewed by Nancy



Summary



Zombies have infested a fallen America. A young girl named Temple is on the run. Haunted by her past and pursued by a killer, Temple is surrounded by death and danger, hoping to be set free.

For twenty-five years, civilization has survived in meager enclaves, guarded against a plague of the dead. Temple wanders this blighted landscape, keeping to herself - and keeping her demons inside. She can't remember a time before the zombies, but she does remember an old man who took her in and the younger brother she cared for until the tragedy that set her on a personal journey toward redemption. Moving back and forth between the insulated remnants of society and the brutal frontier beyond, Temple must decide where ultimately to make a home and find the salvation she seeks.




My Review



I’m glad I read Megan's review, or I might have overlooked this slim but very satisfying post-apocalyptic story.

If you are looking for thrills, mad and ravenous zombies, and intense gore, look elsewhere. You won’t find it here. Not that there isn’t violence or zombies, it’s just that they don’t overpower the story.

Without family or a place to live, 15-year-old Temple wanders around a bleak and barren landscape ravaged by zombies. Many of the human survivors live in groups, sheltering themselves from the outside world.

Nothing is mentioned about how the zombies came to be, but that’s OK. This is not their story, after all. This is a story about Temple, her grief, the things she must do to survive, her thoughts and reflections, her loneliness, her self-loathing, the people she meets, and the beauty that can be found in such grim circumstances.

It’s not a book you’ll easily forget.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Death of Spider-Man

Ultimate Comics Spider-Man: Death of Spider-ManUltimate Comics Spider-Man: Death of Spider-Man by Brian Michael Bendis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Why a mask? Why a secret identity? Heroes could all sign up for the police force, the FBI, or something like that and get paid to save humanity rather than be vigilantes. Why a mask? Why a secret identity? Probably because whether it be a comic book or real life, if someone wants to hurt you it's bad if they know your name and where you live. That's bad enough under the best of circumstances, but then let's add that your enemies are super powered and want to squeeze the life out of you. When your friends, loved ones, and even your neighbors could become collateral damage, a mask and a secret identity aren't a luxury they're a necessity.

In Death of Spider-Man everything that could go wrong did. His worst enemies know his name, they know where he lives, and they came to his front door.
description

I'm all emotional about this and I knew what was happening even before it happened. The story was well told and absolutely pulled on my heart strings.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

THE NORTH WATER BY IAN MCGUIRE

The North WaterThe North Water by Ian McGuire
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

”There is no sin left now, there is only the blood and the water and the ice; there is only life and death and the grey-green spaces in between. He will not die he tells himself, not now, not ever. When he is thirsty, he will drink his own blood; when he is hungry, he will eat his own flesh. He will grow enormous from the feasting, he will expand to fill the empty sky.”

The Yorkshire whaler named the Volunteer is on its way to the Arctic Circle to hunt for whales. While other whalers go South, they are going North. The captain has a theory that there is a pool of calm waters at the very center of the Arctic full of whales, more than enough to make a man rich.

Of course, that is all poppycock.

The Captain has to have some mad theory to justify going the wrong way during the wrong time of year. He is an unlucky captain. He has already lost a ship, so losing another will more than likely be the end of his career. Of course, as we discover, he is not mad nor unlucky, but has a mandate to make sure the ship becomes scuttled.

One has to do these things at the right time and the right place, or instead of collecting your payment, you collect an icy grave.

This isn’t the real story though. This book isn’t about the Captain or about the ship. This isn’t about defying the odds, although that does happen. This isn’t nature vs. man, though there is plenty of that. If Jack London could have written a book without any restrictions, he might have written this book. This is about two men who unknowingly are on a collision course that can only end one way.

One man embraces the dark beast of his desires. ”It is not a matter of need or pleasure, not a matter of wanting or not wanting. The thirst carries him forward, blindly, easily. Tonight he will kill, but the killing is not topmost in his mind. The thirst is much deeper than the rage. The rage is fast and sharp, but the thirst is lengthy. The rage always has an ending a blood-soaked finale, but the thirst is bottomless and without limit.”

His name is Drax.

The more he kills, the less satisfaction he receives. The pain he gives to others must be magnified for it to satisfy his cravings. He is a perfect harpooner. Killing a whale, now at least for that moment he can feel like a GOD.

”’Give me one last groan,’ he says.’That’s it, my darling. One last shudder to help me find the true place. That’s it, my sweetheart. One more inch and then we’re done.’

He leans in harder, presses, seeking out the vital organs. The lance slides in another foot. A moment later, with a final roar, the whale shoots out a plume of pure heart’s blood high into the air and tilts over lifeless onto its side with its great fin raised like a flag of surrender. The men, empurpled, reeking, drenched in the fish’s steaming, expectorated gore, stand up in their flimsy boats and cheer their triumph.”


His crimes against nature and against man have no beginning or an end. He is a man at war with everything. He takes what he wants. With whores, the more pain he can give them, the more pleasure he receives. With cabin boys, they must do what he wants, or he slits their throats. He steals. He cheats. He is unbounded by any laws. His thirst is unquenchable. On the scale of humanity, he stands at the bottom...alone.

Then there is Patrick Sumner, an unlikely hero. A man addicted to laudanum. A surgeon who has recently been cashiered out of military service in India due to pilfering. He is trying to escape his past, but finds it impossible, even with the help of the opiate, to escape himself. Whalers are used to hiring men with a past; few normal men would do this work. Only desperate men with few other options will sign up to be on a ship reeking with death. Sumner is trying to become nothing, but finds he must embrace his own darkness if he has any chance of destroying Drax.

”He drops the blubber knife onto the snow and pushes both his bare hands down into the dead bear’s steaming guts. His frozen fingers feel like they might burst apart from the warmth. He grinds his teeth and pushes his hands in deeper. When the pain reduces he pulls them out, dripping with red, rubs his face and beard with the hot blood, then picks up the knife again and begins to sever and remove the bear’s innards.”

When Sumner finds himself facing death, he finds that he does have the will to do whatever it takes to survive. In that moment he is Drax. He chases this bear for hours, knowing that if he catches him and kills him, he will live. If he doesn’t, he will most assuredly perish. The chase scene for me was vintage Jack London. Man trying to overcome nature.

There are no feminists in this book. They, in fact, are suspicious of women. ”Behind every piece of sweet-smelling female loveliness lies a world of stench and doggery.” If there ever was a mother in these men’s lives, she is but a distant memory. They only know sluts and whores and women who try to cheat them out of their pay. They are brutal men who club baby seals, shoot polar bears with cubs, and kill the most magnificent creatures on earth. They do it for money. They do it for pleasure.

Ian McGuire writes an unflinching novel about these men and what they are tasked to do. The brutality is unbridled. The feralness of their needs is embraced and helps them to survive. You aren’t supposed to like them, but you can’t deny how real they are. The portraits are stark, and all of them ring true. Drax is a force of nature, completely unprincipled in his view of life, and more dangerous than any villain I’ve met in a long time. He is McGuire’s most stunning creation.

Sumner isn’t the right man to stop Drax, but in the end it turns out he is the only one who has a chance.

Recommended for the brave at heart.

If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit http://www.jeffreykeeten.com
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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Everything Box By Richard Kadrey

The Everything BoxThe Everything Box by Richard Kadrey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book makes me happy.


As a huge fan of the Sandman Slim series, and why haven't you read them?!?!?!?! This somewhat lighter take on some of the same tropes previously hit on in that series made me smile from beginning to end. THIS SHOULD BE A TELEVISION SHOW..someone get on this already.

Fun characters, great world, the snappy dialogue and snarky fun you have come to expect with Mr. Kadrey's writing. This book is a blast and there honestly, very simply, isn't enough fucking fun reads now a days.

one of my highest possible recommendations, if you don't enjoy this you are probably are dead.

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Monday, April 25, 2016

Uncle Fred's At It Again!

Uncle Fred in the SpringtimeUncle Fred in the Springtime by P.G. Wodehouse
Reviewed by Jason Koivu
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Oh my goodness, what in the dickens is going on now? Impostors, you say? At Blandings Castle, you say? Well, you don't say!

Lord Ickenham, aka Uncle Fred is at it again. The OCC (original cool cucumber) has cooked up another improbable scheme to make all well again in a world in which he loves her, she loves him, Father A doesn't approve, Father B doesn't approve, Young Gadabout A needs a bit of the ready cash, and so does Young Gadabout B. Who better to tie these things all together than Uncle Fred?

Wodehouse juggles plots with dizzying skill. I did a rough count and Uncle Fred in the Springtime contains approximately a bucketload of characters. Every character's got an agenda and they all compete with and against one another simultaneously. Sometimes the plot lines are silly, sometimes skillful, and sometimes they leave you wondering, "What? Who? Where?" in the most delightful way. It's like a murder mystery in which no one gets murdered...not too seriously at any rate.


Sunday, April 24, 2016

The Necromancer

The Necromancer (Johannes Cabal, #1)The Necromancer by Jonathan L. Howard
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In a bid to win back his soul, necromancer and scientist Johannes Cabal runs a demonic carnival in order to win the souls of a hundred people to exchange for his own. With the help of his vampire brother, can he find one hundred people willing to sell their souls?

This is one of those books that I'm having a hard time verbalizing my opinion on. I'll give it a shot, though.

The Necromancer is a funny tale about a man trying to win back his soul. I found the dark British humor right up my alley. Johannes Cabal is a delightful asshole and his relationship with his brother Horst was one of my favorite parts of the book. I like the idea of a demonic carnival. Who knows where carnies go after they leave your town? I'm surprised Stephen King hasn't written something about that with his recent carnie obsession.

The dialogue is great and, as I said before, I loved the humor and the brothers Cabal. The story itself was a little too linear for me. The carnival travels for a year and Johannes collects souls. That's pretty much it. There weren't really any twists until the last 20% of the book and those were a little telegraphed in my opinion.

So I guess this book is firmly in 3 territory. I liked the characters quite a bit but I was never compelled to take a day off work to read the book in one sitting and I'm not sure I'll read the rest of the series.

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