Monday, June 29, 2015

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

This is a weekly meme hosted by Book Journey. In order to get some consistency to my posting I thought I’d jump on board this great idea. As a self-proclaimed bookaholic, I love talking about my books and finding out what others are reading.

Below is my read for the week: 

The SilenceTHE SILENCE by Tim Lebbon (publication date 1 July 2015)

In the darkness of a vast cave system, cut off from the world for millennia, blind creatures hunt by sound. Then there is light, there are voices, and they feed... Swarming from their prison, they multiply and thrive. To scream, even to whisper, is to summon death.

Deaf for many years, Ally knows how to live in silence. Now, it is her family's only chance of survival. To leave their home, to shun others, to find a remote haven where they can sit out the plague. But will it ever end? And what kind of world will be left?

Friday, June 26, 2015

Review: EASY DEATH by Daniel Boyd

Easy Death (Hard Case Crime #117)Despite being set on Christmas eve there is nothing festive about this noir from Daniel Boyd. In true-to-genre fashion, EASY DEATH pits criminals against each other just as much as the law. 

Yet, it's not all blood and violence - there are cleverly written scenes that show the bad guys in good light while moving away from the 'no honor among thieves' mentality. Contrary to the above, I know, but there is a nice balance between the expected and the not-so.

The plot revolves around a heist involving an armored truck on Christmas eve and spins off into smaller sub plots as we learn about the characters on both sides of the equation. The multiple POV chapters make each character come to life and provide an interesting perspective to the events that play pre, post and during the heist itself.  

I couldn't put this book down and churned through the pages as I eagerly anticipated the outcome; Would they get away with it? Would the thieves survive or turn on each other? Read the book to find out. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Bookish Thoughts: On Reading A Comic A Day

Readers of this blog will have noticed that my posting hasn't been as regular as it has been previously these past few weeks. I'm finding that with family, work and other commitments that my cherished reading time has drastically reduced - the flow on effect of that - my blogging. 

There's not much I can do about the blogging side of things (though I do hope to post more regularly) but there is a sneaky way I can get my reading fix without delving into a novel/novella. 

Comics (Bloodshot Reborn #1 cover D pictured)

Comics are the perfect way for book nerds like myself to get a quick fix when time-poor. The added attraction is they form part of a much larger narrative when written within the almost limitless boundaries of a shared universe - something that really appeals to me. 

So what comics to read and when to fit them in? 

I like superheroes, in part due to the recent movie fad but largely because of an indie publisher that was once big in the nineties which has made a successful comeback these past couple of years - Valiant. Their titles include Bloodshot (the first 13 issues were written by Duane Swierczynski, Leff Lemire writes the current series Bloodshot Reborn), Harbinger (written by Josh Dysart - one of the BEST writers in comics) and Rai (written by Matt Kindt) among others. 

I'm at the stage where I'll pretty much read anything Valiant publishes - their story first mission statement is noticeable in the quality and depth to their stories; the evolution of their characters reads organic and natural. Their stable or artists is phenomenal too with Robert Gill, Cary Nord, Clayton Crain to name a few.

I'm reading a comic a day either first thing in the morning before heading off to work or at night before bed - so far this seems to be working for me.

Here are some of my recent reads:


Monday, June 22, 2015

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

This is a weekly meme hosted by Book Journey. In order to get some consistency to my posting I thought I’d jump on board this great idea. As a self-proclaimed bookaholic, I love talking about my books and finding out what others are reading.

Below is my read for the week: 

MicroMICRO by Michael Crichton

Three men are found dead in the locked second-floor office of a Honolulu building, with no sign of struggle except for the ultrafine, razor-sharp cuts covering their bodies. The only clue left behind is a tiny bladed robot, nearly invisible to the human eye.

In the lush forests of Oahu, groundbreaking technology has ushered in a revolutionary era of biological prospecting. Trillions of microorganisms, tens of thousands of bacteria species, are being discovered; they are feeding a search for priceless drugs and applications on a scale beyond anything previously imagined.

In Cambridge, Massachusetts, seven graduate students at the forefront of their fields are recruited by a pioneering microbiology start-up. Nanigen MicroTechnologies dispatches the group to a mysterious lab in Hawaii, where they are promised access to tools that will open a whole new scientific frontier.

But once in the Oahu rain forest, the scientists are thrust into a hostile wilderness that reveals profound and surprising dangers at every turn. Armed only with their knowledge of the natural world, they find themselves prey to a technology of radical and unbridled power. To survive, they must harness the inherent forces of nature itself. 

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Review: AFTER IM GONE by Laura Lippman

After I'm GoneAFTER I'M GONE is a crime mystery intertwined with a deep seeded family drama rotting at its core. Bambi married young; love at first sight. As soon as Felix swept her off her feet there was no way she's was going to stand on solid ground again - how true that turned out to be.

Felix, one day, left abruptly, shattering Bambi's happily ever after fairy tale and leaving his young family to fend on a sum of money he'd progressively gathered through criminal enterprise. As hard as it was to loose Felix, Bambi was further broken by news of an affair Felix had been having with a dancer at his strip club. With Felix gone and the money dried up, the 'other woman' plays on Bambi mind, so much so, that her daughters become involved to the extent that things turn deadly. 

Adopting a style not dissimilar to Megan Abbott, author Laura Lippman portrays a family riddled with bad luck and near fractured by damaging secrets while maintaining the classical whodunit theme in the background. 

Using a present day setting to recount the murder of 'other woman' Julie Saxton years after her disappearance, ex policeman Sandy's calculated investigative skills bring the ghosts in the closets to the light of day as the cold case heats up. The time hoping is a great way to establish linkages between the crime and family drama plot elements while ensuring the pace keeps ticking along. 

There's also a little easter egg for fans Laura Lippman's long standing PI series. 

Monday, June 15, 2015

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

This is a weekly meme hosted by Book Journey. In order to get some consistency to my posting I thought I’d jump on board this great idea. As a self-proclaimed bookaholic, I love talking about my books and finding out what others are reading.

Below is my read for the week: 

After I'm GoneAFTER IM GONE by Laura Lippman 

When Felix Brewer meets nineteen-year-old Bernadette 'Bambi' Gottschalk at a Valentine's Dance in 1959, he charms her with wild promises, some of which he actually keeps. Thanks to his lucrative if not always legal businesses, she and their three little girls live in luxury. But on the Fourth of July, 1976, Bambi's world implodes when Felix, newly convicted and facing prison, mysteriously vanishes.

Though Bambi has no idea where her husband - or his money - might be, she suspects one woman does: his devoted young mistress, Julie. When Julie herself disappears ten years to the day that Felix went on the lam, everyone assumes she's left to join her old lover - until her remains are found in a secluded wooded park.

Now, twenty-six years after Julie went missing, Roberto 'Sandy' Sanchez, a retired Baltimore detective working cold cases for some extra cash, is investigating her murder. What he discovers is a tangled web of bitterness, jealousy, resentment and greed stretching over the three decades and three generations that connect these five very different women. And at the center of every woman's story is the man who, though long gone, has never been forgotten: the enigmatic Felix Brewer.

Somewhere between the secrets and lies connecting past and present, Sandy could find the explosive truth...

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Review: THE DRAGON FACTORY by Jonathan Maberry

The Dragon Factory (Joe Ledger, #2)
The second Joe Ledger book continues the frenetic pacing of its predecessor in PATIENT ZERO thrusting Ledger into the strange world of militarized science at the hands of madmen. His task, along with Echo Team and a raft of ancillary support units is to stop an extension level event targeting population groups across the world. An idea founded on the back of World War II gains momentum when a scientific breakthrough is reached and a death sentence for millions made possible via hidden gene specific disease in water bottles. 

As if that wasn't a story in it's own right, author Jonathan Maberry ups the ante by introducing the 'dragon factory' - a place where monsters and human/animal hybrids are born. Even more menacing, its founders and owners are a son and daughter team whose father happens to be the man behind the threat to wipe out population groups across the world.

Then there's the super soldiers - a genetic blend of prime evil strength and dog-like obedience guarding the respective facilities. 

Throughout THE DRAGON FACTORY Ledger and co face adversity after adversity in a fast paced thriller that also combines sci-fi and horror elements. The action is plentiful, however, this isn't all about fist fights and brutality - Ledger grows as a character as we glimpse into his relationship with Grace and the world outside the violence Maberry has created for him. 

While part of a larger series THE DRAGON FACTORY does read well as a standalone within the broader series. It's a self contained story, that, while providing a satisfying ending sets up the next installment perfectly. 

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

This is a weekly meme hosted by Book Journey. In order to get some consistency to my posting I thought I’d jump on board this great idea. As a self-proclaimed bookaholic, I love talking about my books and finding out what others are reading.

Last week was the first time in a VERY long time that I didn't actually finish a book! One of my reads was a DNF (though I intend to return to it periodically throughout the rest of the year) while the other is taking longer than I thought to get through, not the books fault, as it's more attributed to my current reading slump than quality of plot/writing.

This week I'm reading just the one book and it's a good one: 

The Dragon Factory (Joe Ledger, #2)THE DRAGON FACTORY by Jonathan Maberry (the second Joe Ledger book)

Having protected the world from a zombie plague in 'Patient Zero', Joe Ledger and his crack Department of Military Sciences combat team are thrown into an even more frightening crisis. A genetic-engineering program has been used to create the ultimate fighting machine.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Friday Finds (5 June 2015)

Friday Finds is a weekly meme hosted by Should Be Reading where you share the book titles you discovered or heard about during the past week. These can be books you were told about, books you discovered while browsing blogs/bookstores (physical or online), or books that you actually purchased. I think this is a great idea and a way to share my enthusiasm of discovering new books.

Recent acquisitions to my home library include:

The Mysterious Mickey FinnTHE MYSTERIOUS MICKEY FINN by Elliot Paul (e-arc from Dover Publications)

Multimillionaire and philanthropist Hugo Weiss is known in every capital of the Western world as a munificent patron of the arts. When Weiss suddenly vanishes while on a visit to Paris, his disappearance sets the stage for this uncommonly witty and urbane mystery. Homer Evans, an intrepid American detective, turns his keen intellect and remarkable intuition toward solving the puzzle of the financier's disappearance. Assisted by his sharpshooting girlfriend, a cowgirl from the American West, Evans plunges into a maelstrom of kidnapping, art forgery, tax evasion, murder, and a plot to restore the French monarchy. 

Set against the backdrop of bohemian Montparnasse, the story hurtles along at a breathless pace and in a tone of relentless good cheer, despite the rising body count. 

The first installment in a popular series that parodies the famous Philo Vance stories of S. S. Van Dine, this novel offers sophisticated humor amid a madcap romp as well as a challenging mystery. 

STRIP FOR MURDER by Max Allan Collins (also published by Dover Publications, I've only read the Hardcase Crime book in this series and love the looks of this.)

Colorful characters with murderous motives populate this illustrated mystery, which unfolds during the Broadway season of 1953. Former striptease artist Maggie Starr continues "stripping" by distributing comic strips through her late husband's newspaper syndicate. When the heated rivalry between a pair of her cartoonists ends in homicide, Maggie and her stepson, Jack, turn detective. Together they seek the killer among a rogues' gallery of loan sharks, jealous husbands, bitter artists, and other suspects.

Author Max Allan Collins was acclaimed by Mickey Spillane himself as "a terrific writer," and this fast-paced romp through a flavorful era in comic strip history is enriched by Terry Beatty's atmospheric illustrations.

SelenaSELENA by Greg Bath (e-arc from All Due Respect Books)

Shotgun Death Toll

Selena is living the dream on her terms – carefree and sloppy and all in the pursuit of pleasure. When a careless act of petty theft puts her in the crosshairs of a violent crime syndicate, her choices are clear – either curl up and die, or tear down the whole damned organization one bloody shotgun blast at a time.

Nothing will satisfy her but savage revenge. Nothing can stop her. Get ready.

Greg Barth is the author of Bona Fide Jobs, Where Moth and Rust Corrupt, as well as Selena and two upcoming follow-ups Diesel Therapy and Suicide Lounge. He lives and writes in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Monthly Reader Statistics: MAY 2015

This series of blog posts is as the title suggests; monthly statistics for the latest completed month with a year to date summary of my reading. I actually look at my reader stats every so often, more out of curiosity as opposed to using them to achieve a goal. I like to know how many of the books I've read are for review verses how many I have read just 'cos (those I purchased or borrowed) or the difference between physical books and kindle ebooks. As I don't tend to make a conscious decision to read an ebook verses a physical book or read a book given to me for review verses something from my tbr, it's just what attracts me at the time - I thought these statistics would prove a useful 'nice-to-know' and an interesting footnote in my 2015 reading journey. 

Monthly Reads (books completed reading): 14

Re-reads: 3
Review books: 5
Audio books: 0
*Just 'cos reads: 6
Kindle: 4
2015 published: 3

Year To Date Reads: 63

Re-reads: 8
Review books: 26
Audio books: 3
*Just ‘cos reads: 25
Kindle: 18
2015 published: 19

- - - - -
*doesn't include re-reads/audio
- - - - - 

Best Reads of May:

Hold the Dark by William Giraldi   Watched by C.J. Lyons  The Fat Mexican by Alex Caine  Borderline by Lawrence Block

Review Links:

HOLD THE DARK by William Giraldi



BORDERLINE by Lawrence Block

Monday, June 1, 2015

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

This is a weekly meme hosted by Book Journey. In order to get some consistency to my posting I thought I’d jump on board this great idea. As a self-proclaimed bookaholic, I love talking about my books and finding out what others are reading.

After indulging in some pulp last week by virtue of Mike Hammer (PI) and Quarry (Hitman), this week I'm mixing thing up with a mainstream crime fiction read and something a little different altogether (to me anyway). Here are my picks for this week:

Between River and Sea: Encounters in Israel and PalestineBETWEEN RIVER AND SEA by Dervla Murphy

Dervla Murphy describes with passionate honesty the experience of her most recent journeys into Israel and Palestine. In cramped Haifa high-rises, in homes in the settlements and in a refugee camp on the West Bank, she talks with whomever she meets, trying to understand them and their attitudes with her customary curiosity, her acute ear and mind, her empathy, her openness to the experience and her moral seriousness. Behind the book lies a desire to communicate the reality of life on the ground, and to puzzle out for herself what might be done to alleviate the suffering of all who wish to share this land and to make peace in the region a possibility. Meeting the wise, the foolish and the frankly deluded, she knits together a picture of the patchwork that constitutes both sides of the divide – Hamas and Fatah, rural and urban, refugee, Bedouin nomad, indigenous inhabitant, Black Hebrew, Kabbalist, secular and Orthodox. She keeps an open mind, but her sympathies are clearly with the Palestinians, remorselessly dispossessed of, and cut off from, their lands and frustrated and humiliated on a daily basis. Clinging to hope, she comes to believe that despite its difficulties the only viable future lies in a single democratic state of Israel/Palestine, based on one person, one vote – the One-State Solution.

Those We Left Behind (Dci Serena Flanagan 1)THOSE WE LEFT BEHIND by Stuart Neville (advance reader copy, due to be published 26 June 2015)

When twelve-year-old Ciaran Devine confessed to killing his foster carer it sent shock waves through the nation. He said his older brother Thomas had tried to stop him, but the killing rage had burned too brightly. Seven years later, Ciaran’s release will set a new and even more deadly chain of events in motion.

DCI Serena Flanagan, then an ambitious Detective Sergeant, took the boy’s confession after days and weeks spent earning his trust. He hasn't forgotten the kindness she showed him – in fact, she hasn’t left his thoughts in all the years he’s been locked away.

Probation officer Paula Cunningham, reluctantly tasked with helping Ciaran re-enter society, suspects there was more to this case than the police or the prosecutors uncovered. Soon she wonders if Ciaran really committed the murder at all. His confession saved his brother Thomas from a lengthier sentence, and Cunningham sees the unnatural hold Thomas has over Ciaran.

When she brings her concerns to DCI Flanagan, the years of lies begin to unravel, leading to a truth stranger than anyone could have imagined.

Review: THE GIRL HUNTERS by Mickey Spillane

The Girl HuntersHammer is in the gutter - struggling to cope with the loss of Velda, presumed dead for the past 7 years when a chance encounter with a couple of police officers who pick him up for D&D leads him to Pat Chambers and subsequently to a case; one that provides a glimmer of hope for Velda...she may not be dead after all. 

The manhunt for the 'Dragon' begins. 

After recently reading COMPLEX 90 which is the direct sequel to THE GIRL HUNTERS though published a significant number of years later, I was looking forward to reading the background behind Velda's disappearance and the copy-cat links behind the set up for each novel (both have Mike or Velda undertaking a routine security job where someone is murdered with a jewel heist turned bloody the motive). However, THE GIRL HUNTERS didn't go into all that much detail, rather shifting the focus to Mike Hammer and his reintegration into darker side of law protection. 

I do love the pulp aspect to THE GIRL HUNTERS. Hammer is at his best here; dealing damage and loving dames in distress. The easy violence that accompanies Hammer is ever present and a critical element to the plotting.

While enjoyable, I found THE GIRL HUNTERS just didn't pack the same punch as the book that follows it. Still a must-read for Hammer fans. 
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