Sunday, March 30, 2014

Review: THE BURNING DARK by Adam Christopher

The Burning DarkAboard a space station in the midst of being decommissioned, ageing fleet veteran war hero Ida Cleveland is assigned, minus the decoration and glory that should come with having saved a planet. His past heroics dubbed lies by the skeleton staff marines counting down the hours to their eventual departure from the derelict Coast City. Faced with unwelcome hostility and a deep sense of isolation, he forms a bond with the reclusive Izanami, a young woman who shares Ida’s obsession with a mysterious signal from afar.

Said signal appears to be from a long dead cosmonaut and only comes about as a result of Ida’s tinkering with a space radio. Little does he know, this seemingly innocuous communication is tied to a much larger mystery, one that goes outside the boundaries of sci-fi and into the blood curdling world of suspenseful horror.

Author Adam Christopher (EMPIRE STATE, HANG WIRE) envelopes the reader in a shroud of atmospheric darkness that pays homage to the horror/sci-fi mash genre of fiction as well as brining a little bit of action and thriller elements aboard the creepy deep space station.

What started out as a space opera of sorts fuelled by a world breaking battle in the skies above a planet in danger of being consumed by larger than imaginable mechanical alien spiders evolves into a much more interesting and deeply engrossing tale of survival, horror, and military conspiracy.

Being on a sci-fi kick at the moment, THE BURNING DARK ticked all the right boxes for me. I would’ve liked more page time dedicated to characters like Zia Hollywood (a rich VIP who arrives at the station as a guest under somewhat questionable rationale) and Serra (a psi-marine whose back-story warranted further elaboration) but that’s a minor comment in what looks to be a very promising and unique series from Adam Christopher.

Graphic Novels To Look Out For in 2014

For something a little different today I thought I'd take a look at some of the upcoming graphic novels that have really taken my eye from some of the best writers in the business.

Prior to the recent Valiant Entertainment revival, I hadn't read comics since the 90's - now I have about 6 monthlies in my pull-box from my LCS and loads more on my 'want list'. With individual 'floppies' being good for continuity junkies like myself, I enjoy reading graphic novels for the self contained arcs and as a means to get into an established series.

Below are graphic novels that are on my radar for 2014:

The new SHADOWMAN tpb, 'Fear, Blood, and Shadows' kicks off a new direction for the darkest of the Valiant titles following Justin Jordan's departure from the series (I strongly suggest issues #0 and #10 as 'must reads'). Author Peter Milligan and the great Robert De La Torre on art have created a moody and visually stunning book that, while I wanted to collect individually, will look fantastic in tpb form. It's also a great bridge for SHADOWMAN End Times #1 coming in April.

About 'Fear, Blood, and Shawdows': When a troubled young man with a history of violence and a penchant for blackouts meets an overwhelming source of power with a mystical scythe, the results are doomed to be destructive. A voodoo loa has possessed Jack Boniface - or so he believes. But after Jack awakens in an alleyway covered in blood, he embarks on a journey across lands of shadows and death to discover if he can expel the dark force that's seized control of his life ...and which may be responsible for a violent rampage throughout New Orleans. It collects issues numbered 13-16.

Victor Gischler has long been one of my go-to-authors when in need of a good read (THE DEPUTY, INK MAGE, SHOTGUN OPERA to name a few) and has a couple of graphic novels out in tpb through Dark Horse in KISS ME, SATAN! and CLOWN FATALE. Of the two, CLOWN FATALE looks the most fun, without reading up too much on it, on face value this feels pulply with a Tarantino edge.


About CLOWN FATALE: When four down-on-their-luck, sexy clowns are mistaken for contract killers, the pandemonium begins. To prove themselves in the high-profile world of contract killing and big bucks, the girls are going to need to paint their faces and head to war . . . with the real killers. Can the femmes fatales stand toe to toe? Collects the four-issue miniseries.

About KISS ME, SATAN!: Cassian Steele is boss of the werewolf mafia in the Big Easy, and he’s got a problem. The old witch Verona has discovered his secret and gone into hiding. Cassian wants her dead. So he sends out the word: An open contract. The first monster to dust her gets a big payday. What they don’t realize is that the witches are under the protection of Barnabus Black, a demon desperately trying to regain his halo. Collects the five-issue miniseries.

Joe Hill's latest foray into the graphic medium following the success that is LOCKE AND KEY builds upon his most recent book NOS4A2. WRAITH 'Welcome to Christmasland' is still going strong in monthly format so the trade may be a while away yet, but is a 'must have'.

About WRAITH: In a brand-new limited series that will serve as a prequel to his New York Times bestselling novel, NOS4A2, Joe Hill will be taking readers on a dark plunge into the dizzying world of Christmasland. The first comic that Hill has written since the stunning conclusion of his award-winning masterpiece Locke & Key, Wraith: Welcome to Christmasland is equal parts mystery and horror.

Review: A CALCULATED LIFE by Anne Charnock

A Calculated LifeAnalysis, trends, calculations, manipulation; these are the core themes of the tech-fi novel A CALCULATED LIFE.  Exploring the humanist/artificial intelligence interoperability/compatibility (or lack thereof) with the respective character leads in a post modernist society driven by enhanced brain stimulus and increased cogitative function sees protagonist Jayna, a young enhanced analytical mind, question the shackles bestowed upon her with a view to break and escape.

Author Anne Charnock, has, with Jayna, created a likeable and identifiable young women who is empathetic, emotionally numb, enveloped in a blanket of wide-eyed innocence - at least at the beginning. When she starts to deviate from her programming by showing a side of her independent self, the story really shows promise. Here, Jayna forms her own emotions and uses her calculations, not for the purpose of work, but to forge a life of her own.

I kept waiting for that key moment where Jayna breaks free and the cat and mouse chase by her handlers ensues only to be rewarded with something slightly different yet just as satisfying. While A CALCULATED LIFE might not be high in thrills, it is high on emotion and heart – interesting considering the character the novel revolves around.

Overall, I enjoyed A CALCULATED LIFE. Its premise is interesting and not without room for expansion. The characters are believable and Jayna is heart-warming while hinting at a darker, more evocative side.

Recommended for tech-fi fans.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Catching up: PRINCE OF THORNS by Mark Lawrence

Prince of Thorns (The Broken Empire, #1)Vicious and bloodthirsty. Jorg Ancrath is dangerous and without remorse as he seeks retribution for the loss of his brother and mother executed before his 9yr old eyes. The searing screams, the buttery separation of skin as hot knives slice the flesh of his family fuel an omnipresent hatred towards those responsible and those that stand in his way. At the time, held captive by thorns, forced to watch this horror show throughout its bloodcurdling duration, Jorg knew he’d never rest until he too, could evoke those same screams, inflict that same hurt upon his fellow man. He opened his heart to darkness and let it bleed black blood. For Ancrath and its neighbouring environs, the issuing of a new rule had been founded upon by this terrible event, and Jorg, the liege lord of pain was truly born.

PRINCE OF THORNS is told from the perspective of the raged induced prince Jorg Ancrath and depicts horror upon horror across this fantastical landscape that author Mark Lawrence so dutiful created. I like this approach as it allows a seed of doubt to be planted in the reader’s mind, not everything we take in can be ultimately believed as gospel, after all, Jorg is far from a picture perfect wholesome prince. Someone who is more attune to murdering with cell dwellers, rapists, and pillagers, is typically less than an honest and honourable man, yet the reader can identify with his quest for vengeance, if not agreeing with the methods.

As the story progresses so does the fantastical elements; necromancers, dark magic, monsters and other such genre stalwarts are introduced, paving the way for a traditional medieval fantasy feel. Yet, Jorg is such a unique and menacing character (even at the ripe old age of 14); PRINCE OF THORNS is easily separable from other genre books/series such as A SONG OF FIRE AND ICE etc.

With book #2 of the BROKEN EMPIRE titled KING OF THORNS, I’m interested to see how much more menacing and influential Jorg is with the added weight of the outcome of the novel hanging over him and the interesting family dynamic that awaits his attention.

First Look: TROLL MOUNTAIN (episode 2) by Matthew Reilly

Troll Mountain: Episode 2This review contains spoilers from episode 1. Avoid reading further if you don’t want to spoil the entertaining fantastical adventure Reilly’s young protagonist Raf undertakes in the first instalment.

You can read my review of TROLL MOUNTAIN ep.1 HERE.

Raf and his unorthodox band of followers edge closer to obtaining the valuable elixir, made and controlled by the inhabitants of the dreaded Troll Mountain.

Episode 1 saw Raf, outlander Ko, and the endearing yet simplistic exiled troll Dum forge an unlikely friendship on an adventure which led them to the entrance of the feared hobgoblins’ abandon kingdom on route to Troll Moutain. Here, author Matthew Reilly steps up the atmosphere and brings the accustomed action he’s renowned for (Jack West Jr. Novels spring to mind) as the threesome traverse the hostile kingdom that isn’t as abandoned as first thought. I only wish more page time had been given to this dark and menacing place-setting but given TROLL MOUNTAIN is YA, I can see why he didn’t go over the top with explicit depiction of the surroundings and the danger lurking in its shadows.

From there, Raf catches a glimpse of what awaits him and the path he must undertake to obtain the elixir which will save his ailing sister and fellow tribesmen. Complete with maps (stock standard Reilly fiction), tension, action, and a more evolved cast of characters, this latest instalment brings readers to the edge of what seems to be a pivotal moment in Raf’s journey.

Much like episode 1, the second instalment of TROLL MOUNTAIN ends in a cliff hanger of sorts that has me eagerly awaiting the final portion of the story.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Review: HELLHOLE by Brian Herbert & Kevin J Anderson

Hellhole (Hellhole, #1)Exiled to a rotten and almost inhabitable planet, General Adolphus, must find a way not only to survive but sustain a colony in the DZ (deep zone) planet aptly nicknamed ‘Hellhole’. Actually called, Hallholme, named after a Commander of the Constellation who defeated Adolphus, this planet is riddled with terrific storms that decimate all living objects in their path and a mysteriously secretive species, long gone, but still felt by the frontier thrill seekers.

I thought the story was well articulated and executed to a readers delight. The characters were complimentary without over powering the surroundings (which really was the focus of HELLHOLE’s plot) and were well rounded and believable. I especially liked the evolution of some of the characters – despite being well outside the realms of Earthly possibility; the authors made it feel somewhat plausible and fitted the story perfectly.

If I were to pinpoint a negative it’d be that HELLHOLE doesn’t read well as a once and done story. It doesn’t end apart from a clear nod towards the new direction for the series and requires readers to pick-up HELLHOLE AWAKENING (which I did on the strength of this book) to reach any sort of conclusion to the foundation laid in HELLHOLE.

In summary HELLHOLE is an entertaining venture into the other worldly and caters to all the needs of escapisms through science fiction with a nod towards the fantastical.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Review: MURDER OF CROWS (The Others #2) by Anne Bishop

Murder of Crows (The Others, #2)Meg Corbyn is a cassandra sangue, someone who has the ability to see snippets of the future, however in order to prophesise she needs to cut herself. This instantly rewards her with feelings of euphoria bordering on the erotic – but only if she voices what she sees, if she bottles up the future, pain envelopes her.

For many cassandra sangue the addictive nature of their being has led to early death and/or misuse at the hands of powerful men seeking answers and fulfilment. In Meg’s case, she’s endured the pain of being a pawn in a sadistic game and now resides in a small town community surrounded by shape shifters, vampires, and other supernatural beings.

Simon Wolfgard (is a wolf – need I point it out) is one of Meg’s closest and most trust worthy friends, but their friendship is forged on a delicate balance, for humankind and the Others have a long and sordid past bathed in blood and steeped in violence. 

There is a lot to like about Anne Bishop’s urban fantasy series of the Others. MURDER OF CROWS is a self contained story, primarily set within the confines of a small community that is still part of a larger picture. When crows start dying following forage into human rubbish, an investigation gets underway to determine the cause with human/other hostilities at the forefront. Additionally, the blood of the cassandra sangue is being used as a powerful drug to corrupt the minds of human and Others alike, not to mention there’s the omnipresent threat of Meg’s life hanging over the condensed community setting.

A lot of drama, a lot of possibilities, and a lot of plot threads converge in a single bloodletting conclusion that has me salivating for the next instalment.

Review: ONE FOR MY BABY by Barry Graham

One for My BabyBest summarised as a noir akin to Stark’s Parker, ONE FOR MY BABY encompasses all the lurid and violent traditions explored in this sub genre of darker crime fiction with the added element of sexual desire and a misguided drive to achieve the American dream.

Mark is a lounge musician who moonlights as a dangerous thief. His targets, a string of restaurants, his method, more scare and terrorise than bloodshed and body bags. That all changes when he robs a restaurant owned by underworld figure Casci and becomes involved with one of the staff; the femme fatale of ONE FOR MY BABY, Linda.

The confident, devil may care persona of Linda portrayed to the cops at the police station following Mark’s capture shortly after robbing Casci crumbles when confronted with the robber who stuck a gun to her head. Rather than confirm the police’s suspicion she denies his involvement – a move made of lust which brings about violent ramifications.

Clocking in at around 60pgs, ONE FOR MY BABY is a quick read but left this reader fully satisfied. Not a word was used as padding; each chapter progressed the story and thoroughly entertained.

Author Barry Graham has a string of great reads (along with one of my all time favourite noirs WHEN IT ALL COMES DOWN TO DUST, review HERE) and ONE FOR MY BABY is yet another. Highly recommended.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Review: BREAKING POINT by Gerard Brennan

Breaking PointBREAKING POINT is a perfect blend of humour and noir spiced with a spliff sense of serendipity that is nothing short of entertaining from start to finish.

Brian and his girlfriend Rachel are trying to live a normal life. Well, as normal as can be seeing as Rachel killed Brian’s brother and they’re both in hiding after Brian failed to take down hardman Owen in the books predecessor THE POINT.

With a grudge and raw determination, Owen seeks to track down Brian ‘ear for an ear like’ only with a view to exact a more permanent form of gratification. Unbeknownst to Brian, who’s bonded with a local small time drug dealer (who happens to be forming his own kind of martial arts, a barstardisation of disciplines), the killer is on the verge of quenching his thirst for vengeance when Tony’s dojo is busted up (along with Tony) by the larger drug profiteers. Brian in a state of flux flees his new friend and ends up in the arms of a madman.

BREAKING POINT is top notch storytelling by one of the best in the business. Author Gerard Brennan continues to knock it out the park time and time again (WEE ROCKETS, FIREPROOF etc.) and BREAKING POINT is no different.

Short, sharp, funny, and balls to the wall exciting. This is one novella that packs a punch many novels fail to land.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

First Look: TROLL MOUNTAIN by Matthew Reilly (episode 1)

Troll Mountain: Episode 1Matthew Reilly enters the world of young adult fantasy with his serialised tale, TROLL MOUTAIN. For endearing protagonist, Raf, a scrawny teenager, seeing his younger sister fall victim to an illness which is running rampant throughout his tribe, he knows the time has come to face those who have the remedy, even if it means travelling across a dangerous land full of rogue human eating trolls, wolves, and hobgoblins.

The trolls of Troll Mountain have developed an elixir to cure such ills but demand a great price – the life of the one who seeks in exchange for the one they wish to save. For this reason, many warriors from Raf’s tribe have sought to take the elixir by force only to never return. Raf, hopes to be the first, showcasing his worth to his tribe and saving the life of his sister.

TROLL MOUNTAIN episode 1, is a very short read but one that accomplishes so much. The reader is introduced to Raf, a travelling companion, and a Troll unlike the stereotype in Dum (who instantly connects with the younger reader in us all) who together formulate the key group of characters we fellow on this dangerous quest.

Without giving too much away, the set-up for episode 2 is perfect. Enough cliff-hanger without being overtly so, and a distinct turning point in Raf’s quest to save his sister. I look forward for reading how Raf and co handle this next instalment.
*TROLL MOUNTAIN episode 1 is out in April from Momentum Books.

Review: THE BOOK OF THE CROWMAN by Joseph D'Lacey

The Book of the Crowman (Black Dawn #2)The Black Dawn duology closes with THE BOOK OF THE CROWMAN; the fantastical eco war mixed with a religious like mythology and spiced with the otherworldly spun around young man, Gordon Black and his quest along the black feathered path. Accompanying Gordon, on a parallel path, is Megan, a Keeper in training who evolves into something much more powerful than a designated scribe of the Crowman’s legend, as initially introduced.

Author Joseph D’Lacey fortifies his characters giving them unique powers such as the ability to heal/revive the dead/near dead, morph into animal form, and transpose through time in a mystical ‘weave’ which creates a ghost like apparition of the traveller seen by few and feared by more.

The Ward and the Green Men return but with more purpose than the search of the seemingly elusive Crowman, rather, the two groups engage in fierce battle for the land – one to maintain and nurture mother nature, the other to build and deface (hence the earlier reference to eco war). Gordon, still being chased by the Ward and haunted by his family’s earlier abduction is faced with a choice few could stand to make. The ultimate result is the gratification of a legend, a validation of belief and a sacrifice beyond measure.

Twists and turns aplenty in the later stages of THE BOOK OF THE CROWNMAN really turn the story on its head, making this reader question what was considered to be actual story or a retelling lent more towards fiction than historical fact (re: Megan’s account). I thought this was a nice way to end it all but could see how some readers would want more closure – personally, the openness and individual interpretation of the revelation at books’ end is a real highlight.
Overall, an enjoyable read that introduces some interesting concepts and others that don't quite hit the mark. Well worth a look in as a form of escapism.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Catching up on crime: THE CONCRETE BLONDE (Harry Bosch #3)

The Concrete BlondeThe third Bosch book takes readers back to the often mentioned Doll Maker case in which Harry Bosch took down a killer of prostitutes who took samples of their make-up as trophies. In THE CONCRETE BLONDE, Bosch is accused of having killed the wrong man when a new murder is uncovered which seems to have occurred after the alleged killer was taken out by Bosch.

Rogue policing is nothing new to Bosch. His cop mentality and iron first delivery of street justice has got him in trouble time and time again yet his method and madness doesn’t change from novel to novel. This is one of the things that makes Bosch so compelling and down to earth. He’s just a guy who wants to rid the world of trash, one garbage collection day at a time. Unfortunately, it felt like he didn’t get enough time to do just that with author Michael Connelly taking a different route for the third series instalment.

THE CONCRETE BLONDE felt more Grisham than grit and lacked some of the Hollywood noir of the first couple of books but Bosch is such a great character with enough of the dark him to maintain the readers interest despite a heavy emphasis on courtroom proceedings rather than the case of the blonde buried in a slab of concrete. It’s a good book but not great. Personally, more focus on the investigation into Doll Maker and this new victim and less courtroom thriller would’ve put this right up there with some of the best crime fiction.

I’m reading the Bosch books as part of my new year’s bookish resolutions and am having a great time. HERE are some of the other reading resolutions I’ve set for 2014.

Interview: Harry Ledowsky (author of LETHAL METAL)

author imageHarry Ledowsky is one of Australia’s most awarded Creative Directors and has been a judge on every major Advertising Award in Australia. Creator of “Oils Ain’t Oils’ for Castrol, “Aussie Cossie” for Speedo, “Happy Joe Happy” for the NRMA and “The Bundy Bear” for Bundaberg Rum. He was National Creative Director and head of the Worldwide Creative Directors for Young & Rubicam and was named as “the second most outstanding individual in Advertising” by the Financial Review. He has won over 150 National & International Advertising Awards and been nominated to the Australian Advertising Hall of Fame, who said he was: “A master of drama, pathos and humour.” – bio taken from the publisher website
I reviewed Harry’s book LETHAL METAL last week (published by Momentum), you can read the review HERE and visit the Momentum website HERE.

Harry was kind enough to stop by the blog to talk about LETHAL METAL and what readers can expect to read next from Harry Ledowsky.  

(Josh) LETHAL METAL is a multi faceted thriller that takes aim at the navy, terrorist groups, the Russian mafia, and the health care profession. What was the drive for taking these distinct and diverse occupations and merging them together to formulate the core characters and plot of LETHAL METAL?

(Harry) The idea originated from small print article about children who'd found radioactive scrap metal on the roadside in Tallinn Estonia. They took it home and although several of them became ill, one died. So I wondered how this could happen and developed the idea of the kids discovering it, the Russian Mafia who were selling radioactive waste and an al Qaeda terrorist in the market to buy some radioactive material.

Set in Russia (and in its icy waters), LETHAL METAL, for me, was a unique read from a place setting perspective. Why choose Russia? What attracted you to the destination?

I really liked the bleak and unforgiving nature of Murmansk and the fact that it's the home of the Russian Nuclear Submarine fleet. When you do some research on the location you discover that literally dozens of submarines are rotting in the harbour, some have sunk with only the conning towers visible others have been picked clean of some of the outer metal which was sold as scrap. They must look like skeletons. Finally when you read that spent nuclear fuel rods are kept in various tanks, some leaking radioactive waste into the harbour , you get a very gritty picture. I liked that, it added to the colour of the place and the nature of the people.

I really liked the ying and yang feel to Alenkov and Jaafar; one wholly good, the other dark, menacing and dangerously beyond redemption. How important is it for an author to establish this dynamic within the context of thriller where sides are at times a little murky?

I think you really need a villain that, as you said is "beyond redemption" and one the reader really wants to see "get theirs". And for every villain you need a hero. Alenkov provided me with that although as a hero he's not perfect. That I think this makes him credible.

Dr Ross grows into a hero; someone the readers sees initially as a healer and devoted to the preservation of life by virtue of his occupation evolves into a trusted alley of the police and navy alike to rid the threat of further radioactive material being distributed across the world. Was it always your intention to have Ross almost on equal if not higher billing than Alenkov in the hero-stakes (note - this is how it was perceived by this reader)?  

As we travel through life, experiences both good and bad form our attitudes and our character and often steel us for future events . No society can expected to survive let alone prosper if the individual doesn't stand up and fight for what is right and just. Ross initially wasn't interested in hunting down Jaafar because he believed that was Alenkov's job. But with the death of the child he became emotionally involved and committed to the hunt. It took the death of a small boy for Ross to realise that this was his duty as well. I wanted Ross to grow into the man he became.

What can readers expect from Harry Ledowsky? Any plans to write more of Ross and Alenkov?
As long as readers keep buying my books I'll continue to write them. I have another thriller coming out on March 11called Kill Zone, which everyone has said is better than Lethal Metal, I can't wait for you to review it and see if you agree.

In Kill Zone I've created a new lead character that can move forward in other books, Ryan Nash and 82nd Airborne sniper trained major. The synopsis is on the website so if you enjoyed Lethal Metal hopefully you'll enjoy Kill Zone even more.

As far as Ross and Alenkov are concerned they're happily living safely in Murmansk, but if Russia ever becomes the setting for another book I'm sure they'll show up.

Review: DUST by Hugh Howey (Silo #3)

Dust (Silo, #3)The thing I like about this series is each book brings something new to the table. WOOL introduced the world within the silo(s) and some of the interesting characters that inhabit it. SHIFT gave readers the answers to how the silo(s) came about and provided context and rationale to the story behind WOOL whilst also linking the events of the two books into a semi prequel/sequel. DUST again brings new elements to the rich, yet densely contained world author Hugh Howey has created by virtue of an outside hope, determined protagonist further evolved from WOOL, and an expansion upon the events that have unfolded in the preceding books.

For me, DUST is the highlight of the series. Not only does it takes readers on a new journey but also defines the core characters, casting them in distinctly humanist light without diluting the ‘road to ruin nature’ which led to the creation of the silos.

Howey does leave the door slightly ajar for further instalments which may/may not be directly related to DUST and silos 17, 18 and 1 (the prime featured silos). There are 50 other possibilities and hundreds of years’ worth of cleanings, uprisings, and mayor elects questioning the order to explore.

As Howey writes at the end of the edition I read; the characters live longer than the book, the story resonates, and this is not the end (I’m paraphrasing). That’s good enough hope for me. 

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Review: BLACK FEATHERS by Joseph D'Lacey

Black Feathers (Black Dawn, #1)Urban fantasy and legend meet the post apocalyptic in BLACK FEATHERS created from the wickedly dark imagination of author Joseph D’Lacey. This new world takes all that it’s been given; decimating the populace and crumbling the society that has so scarred its land for as long as time can remember. Now, rivers overflow, volcanoes spill hot lava, the very crust of Earth splits and soil is borne anew. BLACK FEATHERS leads to a cleansing of the planet where savours are few and survivalists are the government made of single mindedness determination with a ‘control at all cost’ mantra. 

For Gordon Black, a young boy blessed and cursed to follow the path of the Crowman, this new world takes everything from him while subjecting him to daily torment at the hands of the Ward and the ills of mankind in general. Gordon knows he’s special, his parents told him so all his life until the moment they were taken away for hoarding food and supplies during a time when rationing and natural disasters ran rife. Now on the path alone he looks deep within to discover what the Crowman is, and how he can influence the second coming of man.

The other side of the equation is Megan – a young woman set to become a Keeper; the person responsible for documenting and remembering the Crowman’s path and plight. Throughout BLACK FEATHERS she endures other worldly experiences and follows a distinctly similar path to that of Gordon, only, in Megan’s eye, past, future, and present blend into one. It’s a disturbing and slightly disorienting side to BLACK FEATHERS but makes the book that much more enjoyable.

The thing that impressed me the most about this book is the non conformity with the post apocalyptic genre in general – D’Lacey blends elements of the fantastical with almost spiritualistic remedies to provide a sense of hope to his characters that otherwise wouldn’t have had such a purpose.

Needless to say, book #2, THE BOOK OF THE CROWMAN has jumped near the top of my TBR.

Review: LETHAL METAL by Harry Ledowsky

Lethal MetalA naval investigator, undercover radiation recovery operative, and prominent local clinician attempt to stall an arms deal that would deliver a terrorist group a smattering of lethal weapons and access to radioactive waste.  

Altered to the dangerous proposal by virtue of his work in the hospital emergency department, Dr Ross inadvertently uncovers the first glimpse of a broader spanning crime that not only has the potential to end his three young patients’ lives prematurely following contact with the radioactive waste but has far reaching ramifications for the rest of the world.

When the Russian Mafia are found to have leverage over the Russian Navel Authority, senior members find themselves in dire predicaments, forced to collude with the criminal underworld. Back room deals are made, cheques are signed, lives are placed in the control of others. For Captain Andriev Alenkov, one of the good guys of the navy, this blatant disregard for the service is foreign and without rationale, however, as the events and deeper plot behind LETHAL METAL unfold, Alenkov’s sentiments, echoed by the reader, are slightly displaced.

For all its thrills and kills, LETHAL METAL is a distinctly human novel in a sense that it evaluates the core aspects that drive humanity to formulate their own cause, structure, and belief. Each of the characters; from mob boss, terrorist assassin, to corrupt naval personnel come across as believable in their own right making the events seem all the more justified (hero and villain perspective alike).

The Russian place setting, whilst playing a part to a degree was more supplementary than core. If I had to critique, I would’ve liked to have had a deeper, more enveloping sense of place – even if the submarine scenes were elaborated. That said pretty much everything worked well and exceeded my expectations. Being new to the author and reading somewhat outside my typical genre(s), LETHAL METAL entertained and made me want to get to the finish as quick as I could.  
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