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Reviews Written by
Wayne Simmons "HOO-HAA" (Cardiff)

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Deadly Beloved (Hard Case Crime) (Hard Case Crime Novels)
Deadly Beloved (Hard Case Crime) (Hard Case Crime Novels)
by Max Allan Collins
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: £6.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Pulptastic!, 24 April 2016
Comicbook PI, Ms Tree (see what they done there?), gets her first and - to my knowledge - only novel treatment in this rip-roaring, old school pulp homage. Author, Collins (known best for Road To Perdition), captures the comicbook traits of Ms Tree & co brilliantly, delivering a cinematic tour-de-force that should appeal to fans of Christa Faust's Angel Dare series (also published by Hard Case Crime). Another high recommend.


The Good Son
The Good Son
by Paul McVeigh
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A trip down memory lane, 10 April 2016
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This review is from: The Good Son (Paperback)
The story of Mickey Donnelly, a kid growing up in Troubles-torn West Belfast, THE GOOD SON has kept author, Paul McVeigh, under the spotlight for some time now, receiving numerous high profile reviews and award nominations since its publication. All this attention is very much deserved, THE GOOD SON doing everything it says on the tin and more. As a fellow child of the troubles, it's easy to relate to the world in which the protagonist operates within - it wasn't unlike my own - and that made this as much a trip down memory lane as anything else. But with sharp writing, rich characterisation and as much humour as there is tragedy, THE GOOD SON is going to have universal appeal. Yet another winner from Salt Publishing who seem to have an eye for this kind of story, as unique and edgy as it is readable, of recent.


Fade to Blonde (Hard Case Crime Novels)
Fade to Blonde (Hard Case Crime Novels)
by Max Phillips
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: £5.62

5.0 out of 5 stars Rich characterisation, hard-boiled action, 10 April 2016
If you're a fan of Hard Case Crime or pulp/ noir fiction in general, you pretty know what to expect here: razor-sharp writing, a gruff anti-hero sleuth, dubious dames and all the gangster action you want. What most reviews fail to mention with books like these is the rich characterisation often inherent within noir and, in that sense and many others, FADE TO BLONDE by Max Phillips is a prime example. It also has one of the most brutal and brilliantly written set-piece action scenes I've ever read. Probably one of my fav of the Hard Case Crime series (of which I've read many) and a very high recommend indeed.


Backstage: How I Almost Got Rich Playing Drums in a Christian Hardcore Band
Backstage: How I Almost Got Rich Playing Drums in a Christian Hardcore Band
Price: £6.59

5.0 out of 5 stars Warts-and-all story of Aaron Lunsford's rise to quasi-fame with christian metalcore band, As Cities Burn., 3 April 2016
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A lot more fun, perhaps, than the not-quite-roll-off-the-tongue tagline would suggest, BACKSTAGE is the warts-and-all story of Aaron Lunsford's rise to quasi-fame with christian metalcore band, As Cities Burn. It's a short book but very well presented, published by new press, Bad Word, formed by two of the guys in screamo band, Emery, who also put out the edgy evangelical podcast, Bad Christian. Lunsford's narrative is conversational, at times even hilarious, and it all makes for a very accessible read and one you could easily fly through in one sitting. The book does a great job of demistifying what it's like to be in a band at this level as well as the sheer toll touring can take on each of the members, all for very little in the way of financial reward. As with all band bios, you have your fair share of tragedy, too, the suicide of a close friend leaving Lunsford very much a broken man by all accounts. I loved this book and really got on with Lunsford's writing and very much hope he releases more in the future.


Sober Living for the Revolution
Sober Living for the Revolution
by Gabriel Kuhn
Edition: Paperback
Price: £16.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Xceptional!, 28 Mar. 2016
Xceptional!

I've always been fascinated by the Straightedge movement ever since some dude asked me if I myself was straightedge when I refused his offer to buy me a beer back in the 90s. Truth was, until then I'd never heard of the term. And when I did learn more about it, I only got the headlines: Straightedgers are punks that don't drink, smoke or do drugs. And, well, I never was a huge fan of punk, per se.

Fast forward a couple of decades and I had a flick through this book while rabbit-sitting (yes, you read that right) for a Straightedge friend. It intrigued me enough to buy my own copy and, wow, am I glad I did. Sober Living is not only an excellent read on the Straightedge movement, it's also probably the best political and animal rights book I've read to date.

Maybe it's the format that appeals most: editor Gabriel Kuhn goes the Q&A route, interviewing a wide variety of movers and shakers within the movement past and present, such as Ian Mackaye of Minor Threat/ Fugazi - largely credited as the founder of Straightedge. Kuhn doesn't hold back, regularly challenging his interviewees, highlighting the flaws and failings of the movement as well as its successes, making for an engaging and balanced exploration of the topic.

Highlights for me included Bruno "Break" Teixeira's attack on the fundamentalist attitudes infiltrating the Straightedge scene, as well as The Antifa Straightedge manifesto. But all in all, this is an excellent read from cover to cover and one I would heartily recommend to anyone interested in punk/ hardcore, animal rights and veganism as well as the Straightedge movement itself.

XXX


Storm Warnings: Echoes of Conflict
Storm Warnings: Echoes of Conflict
Price: £5.39

5.0 out of 5 stars Heartbreaking., 11 Feb. 2016
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It's unlikely that you'll find STORM WARNING, Vanessa Gebbie's 2010 collection of short stories, on the horror shelves at your local Waterstones. It's more likely to grace the contemporary fiction shelves. And yet within its lean 118 pages you'll find some of the most disturbing tales of woe printed. STORM WARNING is real-life horror. Nothing supernatural - no ghosts or zombies or demons or chthulu - just people doing what people do best: warring, killing, tormenting, abusing.

Some of the most captivating within the collection are RED SANDALS, told from the perspective of a little girl en route to a concentration camp in Nazi Germany, travelling in a dirty, overcrowded train, a single bucket as the toilet. And GAS GANGRENE, one of several tales from the trenches, with all the mud and blood you'd expect. In the ALE-HERETIC Protestant reformer, John Launder watches his friend get burned to the stake, clocking the lengths his executioners go to make the ordeal all the more painful, knowing it's his turn next. And my personal favourite, LETTERS FROM KILBURN, a series of letters shared between the Queen's assistant and a young immigrant with great ambitions - one of few stories to end with a drop of optimism or celebration of humanity. Just a drop, mind.

STORM WARNING needs a warning all right. It's not for the faint-hearted. It will melt even the hardest of hearts, in fact, with its vivid and perfectly told stories from many frontlines. And you can forget about your happy endings, your triumphs over adversary or songs of redemption. Cos that's not how real life pans out.


Riot (Modern Dreams)
Riot (Modern Dreams)
Price: £1.59

5.0 out of 5 stars Think Trainspotting if it were filmed for S4C on a much tighter budget., 7 Feb. 2016
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Another belter from welsh writer, Jones Jones. RIOT does what it says on the tin, delivered pedal-to-the-metal from start to finish. It's the story - diary, in fact - of welsh lad, Mark Jones, and his teenage exploits on the streets of Cardiff. Think Trainspotting if it were filmed for S4C on a much tighter budget. RIOT could have just as easily been titled ROLLER COASTER, being hilarious and sad and uplifting and devastating all at once. A great read and another winner from Salt's Modern Dreams series.


Pharos
Pharos
by Alice Thompson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent paranormal mystery, 3 Feb. 2016
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This review is from: Pharos (Paperback)
This is the third Alice Thompson book I've read, the others being Salt's excellent Burnt Island and The Book Collector. Pharos takes a similar path to The Book Collector, with its young female protagonist, Lucia, and the single-set location (this time, a lighthouse). Like The Book Collector, the supporting cast here are mostly male and mostly manipulative. Paranoia is a strong theme again. The reader can't be sure of what is real or surreal, making for a wonderfully unsettling read. And, as with her other work, it's the writing that shines the most: Thompson succeeds in achieving both an underwritten and elegant delivery. Drops a point for perhaps being a little too self-indulgent at times, and dialogue that can be a little stilted, but still a brilliant ghost story.


Untitled Ghost Story (Modern Dreams)
Untitled Ghost Story (Modern Dreams)
Price: £1.59

5.0 out of 5 stars Another belter from Salt's Modern Dreams Series, 27 Jan. 2016
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This is the second title I've read from Salt's Modern Dreams novella series, the first being the excellent Marg by Jones Jones. Both books share a similar backdrop - working class inner-city - and a taut, almost frantic style of writing which I really got on with. Despite its setting (a Newcy pub) and characters (two Geordie pint-pullers), Untitled Ghost Story ultimately does what it says on the tin, engaging all gothic sensibilities available (an old pub with its creaky old doors and creaky old stairs, old pictures hanging on old walls) to deliver a fairly traditional paranormal yarn. But it's the characters that make this one stand out, and the author's portrayal of them: Gav and Steve act like refugees from Irvine Welsh's Trainspotting as all this gothic woo woo goes on around them, binging on booze and e-tabs and talking incredible amounts of s**** right up to the bitter end.


Amplified Motley Crue Girls Girls Girls Men's T-Shirt (M)
Amplified Motley Crue Girls Girls Girls Men's T-Shirt (M)
Offered by Vanilla Underground

5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 27 Jan. 2016
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Great tee but you'll need to size-up to get a comparable fit to other tees.


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