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Greggorio! (ADELAIDE, SA)

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Darkness Under the Sun
Darkness Under the Sun
Price: £0.99

5.0 out of 5 stars THE PERFECT EPILOGUE!!!!!, 7 Mar. 2017
AS A STANDALONE SHORT STORY, DUTS would be considered little more than an entertaining set piece focusing on a small section of the life of a violently sadistic, torturous madman that has little relevance to anything other than itself. Taken as a companion piece to WHAT THE NIGHT KNOWS, however, its a riveting character study that is also at times a moving, harrowing, frightening, and poetically beautiful reminder that evil exists, and will remain in the world we are born into.

The gifted story telling skills of Mr Koontz promise a glimpse into the personality of Alton Turner Blackwood that we didnt see in WTNK, and this is cruelly snatched away from us to remind the reader of who it is that we are (wrongly) becoming fond of. The budding positive relationship between Blackwood and young Howie Dugley is destroyed in the blink of an eye, and thats also when the pulse rate of the reader goes through the roof and also when the action starts to heat up. Its all perfectly written, excellently paced and ties into the ending of WTNK brilliantly. Logically, emotionally, and in fan service mode, full marks is the mandatory rating this short deserves. And gets from me.


What the Night Knows
What the Night Knows
by Dean Koontz
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

4.0 out of 5 stars THIS IS THE HORROR BOOK YOUVE BEEN LOOKING FOR!!!!!, 6 Mar. 2017
This review is from: What the Night Knows (Paperback)
This modern day fable of the supernatural is certainly a mixed bag. On the one hand, its as spooky, as creepy, as frightening and pulse pumpingly scary as a good ghost story can be expected to be. On the other hand, Mr Koontz elects to spend a lot of time with a certain group of characters (SPOILERS) in a way that starts out as cute but soon becomes repetitive and boring. That may sound like an overly harsh criticism, but read this book for yourself and you may see my point. Then again, you may not.

WTNK is a tale of revenge, destiny, fate, madness, evil in its purest form, hatred, and malice. Its also a tale of courage, bravery, defending your loved ones no matter what the cost, and its a tale of personal redemption. Detective John Calvino survived a brutal and murderous attack on his family twenty years ago, and despite the fact that the killer was stopped by Mr Calvino himself on the night, he has never failed to expect a return visit. Thats because he has come to believe in more than what he can see, what he can touch, and what he can feel. He has come to believe in the power of the dead, and their ability to rise again. And most of the struggle in this book that he faces lies in getting those he trusts to believe him.

And so the book ends on the classic and hauntingly (and generically) beautiful dark and stormy night. Thunder, lightening, a furious snow storm, winds as powerful as a gale one moment, and yet as tame as a kitten the next. Mr Koontz doesnt fail to deliver atmosphere in spades, here, and rarely a chapter goes by where the reader is not captured body, mind and soul by what they are reading.

The writing style is classic Koontz, and its up there with the best he has ever written. No overly long metaphysical and philosophical rants here, just a good old fashioned ghost story with atmospheric sub chapters to keep the blood flowing on a cold winter's night. But to be completely honest, its only right at the fantastic end that the hard core horror fan gets their money’s worth. Up to this point, screaming evil is only hinted at, but like i said, its when the book’s main character gets some down time with a former priest that we know that the you-know-what is about to hit the fan. If only we met this fallen angel sooner in the book, and that the hard core action came sooner, too, that would have lifted this book above the supernatural ordinary. But thay may not have been what Mr Koontz wanted to achieve here. Obviously it wasn't, since he wrote the book!

Is it the best Koontz book ever? No, but its certainly up there with the best Koontz horror novel ever. Without giving anything away, for Koontz completionists, there's a minor role from the family dog, and you guessed it, its a beautiful golden retriever. SPOILERS prevent me from giving any further information away. Four stars for WTNK. Its starts off light and fluffy, but just like a predicted change of weather, a thunderstorm appears on the horizon, and thats a queue for the book to change tone. And change it does. But not enough for me, even though it tries hard.


House of Reckoning
House of Reckoning
by John Saul
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: £6.24

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A SOLID GHOST STORY!!!!!, 23 Feb. 2017
I have read so many books over the last handful of years that I see a three star rating and still think the novel it is awarded to is still a worthwhile read. HOUSE OF RECKONING is like this. The story of Sarah Crane is at once uplifting, heart breaking, and surprisingly poignant. New readers to the works of John Saul are in for a treat if they don't take this book as serious literature. A supernatural themed coming of age love story, it packs a serious punch with the ultimate revelation as to who is who right at the end. I must admit that i wasn't expecting it, and this plot twist alone was worth the price of admission.

The book is of a perfect length, the style is easy to follow, the characters are perfectly pitched and presented to the reader. The supernatural entity that the reader assumes plays a big part in the story only becomes apparent at the climax, but its a goodie, if a trifle disappointing for hard core or experienced horror fans.

So in summary, HOUSE OF RECKONING is an excellent introduction to John Saul, a worthwhile read for his long term fans and long term horror genre fans. The book was well presented to the buying public, with a creepy photo on the front, and a nice spooky font screaming the book's title. Yes, three stars for this ghost story.


Heir of Fire: 3 (Throne of Glass)
Heir of Fire: 3 (Throne of Glass)
by Sarah J. Maas
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.49

3.0 out of 5 stars I AM PONDERING....., 3 Dec. 2016
HEIR OF FIRE is the third volume of this mega selling series of YA fantasy novels by Sarah J Maas and, at book’s end, I have to confess to strong feelings of major disappointment. The fable started well, certainly for the folks back at castle Mistward. Prince Dorian has found a new light to warm his heart, his soul and (ahem) his body, and the book really shines when Ms Haas focuses on this relationship. The character of his new love - the castle’s healer Sorscha - is an excellent addition to the cast which adds volumes to this part of the story, especially when you consider who has been taken out of it.

And speaking of which, the magic (pun intended) that was the character Calaena leaves a gaping hole in the story, until of course, toward the end, when the massive plot twists take shape and the you know what really begins to hit the fan.

But the problem is how long it takes for the story to wake itself from its slumber. My first (and only) OMG moment of the book came at the 94% mark and at times I had to force myself to keep reading in the tedious days it took for me to reach that point. The story was just too slow. It had no pace, it was disjointed, and the new characters and parts of the story’s universe held no connection or interest for the reader. Even if (as I do) you love dragons, and witches, and politics, there was no immediate link to what you really, really, really wanted to read the book for in the first place.

Magic itself takes a strong role in the story telling mechanism, and this part is also well done. The action sequences, featuring both hand to hand combat and magic, are incredibly entertaining.

It would be good to know how many books are planned for the series, so that the alert and ever-thinking reader can begin to visualise how it all might come together. The final ten percent of the book is fantastic. Plot twist follows massive plot twist, which follows fantastic fist pumping drama of (SPOILERS) as (SPOILERS) stands up to the vileness of (SPOILERS) in order to (SPOILER) of (SPOILER) from (SPOILER).

But all of that excitement is not enough to raise the overall grade of HEIR OF FIRE from mediocrity. Sarah J Maas can write fantastic fantasy books, for readers of all ages to appreciate. This one had moments of towering brilliance, but the overall slow pace of the book was its major downfall. Yes, i will read book four, and probably finish the series. But what world shattering phenomenon am i running the risk of missing out on by staying true to Ms Maas? That is the situation i find myself pondering over.


Crown of Midnight: 2 (Throne of Glass)
Crown of Midnight: 2 (Throne of Glass)
by Sarah J. Maas
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.59

5.0 out of 5 stars NOW ONTO BOOK THREE!!!!!, 15 Nov. 2016
WELL, WHAT AN ENDING! The cliffhanger you have when you don't have a cliffhanger, the ending to CROWN OF MIDNIGHT gifts the reader with the suckerpunch only the most alert and outlandish fans of this remarkably popular series could contemplate.

It must be said, however , that just like book one, the opening section is a little slow to get going. The pace of the book picks up as you make progress through the story, however; and the secret and legendary tunnels that are believed to exist beneath the castle's ancient library could almost be used as a metaphor for the book's plot. And vice versa.

New characters are introduced, but some of their oral behavioural patterns tend to drag the book's IQ level down a few degrees. They are certainly original, however, and enhance the story by their addition, but more could have been achieved with a with a more mature outlook. Obviously the book's central characters return and the story telling ties between Dorian, Chaol and (of course) Calaena twist and turn like the mighty Amazon river at full tide. Other characters begin to show their true selves at different stages of the story and these particular evolutions will potentially leave the reader breathless with expectation when they stop to think of the associated ramifications.

The writing style hadn't changed much; apart from the handful of criticisms I have outlined above. But that's no bad thing - just as the millions of copies of books in this series that have been sold will verify.

Fantasy lovers will stand tall in this book as the story shows its true character. Book one was essentially a YA romance (nothing wrong with that) but book two evolves into something much greater. if any story can prove the adage that a good fantasy series is more than the sum of its parts, MIDNIGHT CROWN is it. I hereby award full marks for one of the mot exciting, emotional and action packed YA books released this generation. Now onto book three!


Throne of Glass: 1
Throne of Glass: 1
by Sarah J. Maas
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars NOW ONTO BOOK TWO!!!!!!, 6 Nov. 2016
This review is from: Throne of Glass: 1 (Paperback)
WITH THE THRONE OF GLASS, SARAH J MAAS HAS GIFTED THE WORLD WITH AN EXTRAORDINARY BOOK. For something that started out so slowly, and, dare I say it, so tediously as this one did, the second half was so startingly different, so refreshingly paced and plotted, that it more than made up for the indifferent beginning.

Celaena Sardothien is known as the world's most gifted, and most brilliantly effective assassin. Somehow, she finds herself in a death labour camp (prison) and initially, her life is a living hell. She manages to survive long enough to make friends, and she is miraculously whisked away from this brutality to compete in a tournament to determine the "King's Champion". Even in the fictional world, irony is often your closest companion, and this adage holds true for our heroine. It turns out the King in question is the leader of Celaena's own mortal enemies, and it is the King's own Princely son (Darian) who has brought her to the royal court in order to compete. The prize is a promised life of complete and utter freedom ... but only after four years of soul destroying and utter obedience playing the role of King's assassin. So has anything changed? Her previous life was assassin by choice, and this new, proposed one, is assassin by order. I'll let you decide, fellow reader, after all, you bought the book.

And yet she needs to win the tournament to be crowned as Champion (obviously) and apart from a multitude of references as to who is wearing what corset, what colour is *her* corset, and how on earth can she squeeze herself into *that* corset, oh it must be excruciating... The (only) juicy actiony bits of the book become the duels. But theres a small degree of politics to be had, too, but bear in mind that its not overly complicated due to the age of the book's intended audience.

But as i said at the top of this review, the book really comes alive in the second half, and that is putting things mildly. The story ... and the castle it is set in ... reveals layers upon layers (upon layers) of mystique, age old legends, forbidden magic and even (*gasps*) hints of sex, and the mother of all doosies, a cute puppy. Seriously, I *love* that puppy. It doesn't take Einstein to imagine that the puppy will grow into a character that has a major role to play in future volumes, but who cares, right? Puppies rule, dogs rule, magic rules, and fantasy books rule.

Oh, and Sarah J. Maas rules.

And the ending to this book rules, too, by the way. Spoilers obviously prevent me from explaining myself, but do yourself a favour and read this book. Get to the end, and there's no force on earth that will be able to stop you from going straight onto the sequel. The good guys come out on top (or do they?) love is lost (or is it?) the bad guys are beaten (but are they?) but there's one thing in this review I am not going to contradict myself with. Sarah J Maas has written a YA fantasy classic for the ages, written in a way that people from all walks of life can read and enjoy it. Four stars for a fantastic beginning to an already legendary series; only the slow opening half stops me from awarding it full marks.

Now on to book two!!!


Doctor Who: In the Blood
Doctor Who: In the Blood
by Jenny T Colgan
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £12.38

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars AND ITS GREAT FUN!!!!!!!!, 31 Oct. 2016
THE WORLD HAS DEVELOPED A SERIOUS CASE OF INTERNET FLAVOURED ROAD RAGE. Users are known to show increased signs of aggression, frustration, and online trolling leading to physical pain for the agressor which, in most cases, are followed by sickening and violent deaths. Donna and the Doctor lead the way in their typically unique, uproariously funny investigation of the matter and it turns out that Earth and its beloved population are at dire risk of complete and total annihilation from a force, or forces, of unknown origin.

It must be said that the characterisation and presentation of the main characters are flawless. The book, taken from that perspective, is a complete and utter joy, for both adults Whovians (addicts, tragics, whatever you want to call us) and the actual intended target audience of the franchise, namely children and the YA.

The problem is the plot. Whilst the book is great fun to pick up and relax with, its not exactly deep, and you certainly couldn't call it hard core science fiction. You couldn't even call it hard core Who. Some Time Lord novels qualify as both. Stephen Baxter’s WHEEL OF ICE, as well as HARVEST OF TIME by Alastair Reynolds are just two examples. But having said all of that, this book, IN THE BLOOD, may well be written for a younger audience, in which case the forementioned criticisms aren’t applicable.

The description of the TARDIS itself is excellent. The description of the different locations of the story are good, too, in particular the sections set in the second half and climax of the story (SPOILERS), which feature a cascading series of events and adventures that both the Doctor and Donna are lucky to survive.

I give this book an excellent and very worthy three stars. Its certainly worthy of your time, not to mention your dosh if you have some burning a hole in your pocket. If not, I strongly recommend that you hop over to your local library and read it for free.

Either way, you can’t lose.

Its a Who book, it features Donna and the Doc, and it's great fun.


Revival
Revival
by Stephen King
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ITS ELECTRIC!!!!!!!!, 28 Oct. 2016
This review is from: Revival (Paperback)
REVIVAL IS ARGUABLY ONE OF STEPHEN KING'S FINEST MOMENTS. Hugely emotional, the book is part memoir, part horror classic, part love story and partially pure literature. And yet its still pure King. The book possesses the classic and phenomenally effective "King link" to the here, and the now that is the magical and mysterious ingredient contained in all of his works that grabs the reader on the opening page and doesn't let go until the end. A pure horror afficianado may well feel peeved at being made to wait until they reach the story's climax for the 'juicy bits'. A horror fan they may be; but a King fan learns many lessons from their master of the macabre; and they learn them very well. And one of these is patience.

The characters are beautifully drawn, essentially, though it comes down to two major players in this fine literary game. The six year old Charles Jacobs, who meets and immediately befriends the town's brand new reverend, who is the story's second main character. It is fair to say 'something happens' to this much liked Man Of God right at the book's opening section, but that would be too much of a corny theft of Mr King's principal story telling tool. And yet it does, and it affects the Preacher Man deeply. SPOILERS prevent me from explaining myself here, but its a shocking twist, and of course its beautifully written and goes a long way to ensuring the reader finds themselves addicted to the story just like the classic King tales of the past.

Stephen King is real. His books are real. His writing is real. There is a quote in page 26 of the kindle version which supports this claim and gifts the reader with the uneducated layman's view of the different denominations of modern day Christianity. And when Mr King moves from the everyday to the suppositions presented by the book, he doesn't leave his lyrical talents at home, either.

I said at the top of this review that the book is part romance, and its true. Its a beautiful coming of age story, with just a *hint* of sex thrown in to keep the reader interested. And when the relationship in question is finally consummated, it must be said that its portrayed with the maximum amount of class. The writing style used by Mr King, too, is worthy of great praise, presenting the story in pseudo journal form, breaking down relatively long chapters with shortish but highly readable sub-chapters.

It takes a while for the true character of the book to become obvious, but when it does, the true value of the story jumps sky high. Revival by name, its also revival by nature. Mr King once said in his classic IT, "don't f*** with the infinite" and this moral also holds well if it is applied to the contents of REVIVAL.

REVIVAL does not gift the reader with an overly happy ending. SPOILERS. The book is not funny. It is, however, an immensely satisfying, fascinating, horrific, slightly sexy, hugely enjoyable romp from the town of BLISSFUL DOMESTICITY to the village of TOTAL MADNESS. Constant Readers may well find themselves with tears of joy in their eyes as the book comes alive in their bands. I know i did, and they perfectly matched the grin of complete lunacy the crept across my face to keep them company. New residents of King manor may well wonder what the fuss is all about. But read on, and find themselves hooked they will. But how to explain the effect Sai King has on the world? Its simple.

Something happens.


Every Dead Thing: A Charlie Parker Thriller: 1
Every Dead Thing: A Charlie Parker Thriller: 1
by John Connolly
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A GREAT OPENER....., 22 Oct. 2016
I THINK IT is fair to say that Charlie Parker carries a lot of emotional baggage. The brutal murder / torture of his wife and child will haunt him day and night for the rest of his life. The solution to the mystery of whodunit - as well as howdunit, and whydunit - is direct, in your face, scary, supernatural-esque, incredibly violent and yet, at times, a beautiful rendition of a one way trip to insanity by jumping into the mind of a truly psychotic lunatic. Spoilers prevent me from saying any more on this point but its not the first time the killer turned out to be ... Again, spoilers prevent me from finishing that thought, but maybe an opening is appearing in the crime novel field for a book that doesn’t hate the FBI...

EVERY DEAD THING is brilliant. There is a wide cast of characters, each wonderfully drawn and as other reviewers have said over the years, they all come to life on the page so well that you find yourself really liking them, or really hating them, really quickly. And as i mentioned above, some of the phrasing is lovely, bordering on poetic. Take a look at KL1396 for an example:

’...As i walked, i was conscious of the weight of the gun beheath my arm, of every face I passed in the crowd and of the dark pulse of the city throbbing beneath my feet...’

And from KL1730:

’... a discarded newspaper skimmed the sidewalk wit a sound like the whisperings of a dead lover...’

There's some notable sarcasm, too, but there's no need for me to quote *that* here. KL1688 If you want a look.

The story is deep, deep, deep and the atmosphere oozes itself into your subconscious so well that you find yourself holding your breath over the scary bits. And the shocking revelations. And the plot twists.

The book certainly leaves the reader wanting more. Not just high quality psychological crime thrillers, but certainly more Charlie Parker books. He is not the first (and wont be the last) Private Detective battling his own personal demons, including alcoholism, but he’s certainly one of the best. And he’s not alone, either. He’s got some good friends to rely on, and that’s something else long term fans will learn about as they progress through this remarkable series. Count me in. I can’t wait.


Section 31: Abyss Bk. 4 (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine)
Section 31: Abyss Bk. 4 (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine)
by Jeffrey Lang
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars OH ... MY ... GOD!!!, 12 Oct. 2016
SECTION 31: ABYSS features one of the most awe inspiring and wonder-inducing opening chapters not only in the history of Star Trek, but that of science fiction itself. A tribute to the ingenuity of Starfleet and its incredible engineers; the ‘section’ (pun intended) of the story also acts as a love letter to those Trekkies who prefer to call themselves Niners. You know who you are. The story itself takes inspiration from the second full length feature movie, made famous by that Despicable Khan. It turns out that a fellow genetically enhanced member of Starfleet has been recruited by S31 and was given a very simple mission to complete. He failed, for reasons unbeknownst to S31, and Our Man Bashir (!) has been tasked with the goal of finding out what happened, and why.

The surprise of the book is (SPOILERS) but getting to know this particular character, his thought processes and even his personal ideologies and philosophies concerning the wider universe is a joy to behold. The rest of the book’s cast are all perfectly drawn – there’d be a riot on the promenade if they weren’t – and of course the station itself is still there in all of its epic old school Cardassian glory. And as a bonus we even get to learn a little more about that mysterious character (Elias Vaughn) who first joined the party in the second half of the AVATAR duology series .

So in summary, then: the book gets full marks. The opening is incredible; almost overwhelming in fact. The body of the book is your run of the mill Trek novel (nothing wrong with that!) but I can’t help feeling the writers of the series might have missed an opportunity. Section 31 books should stand out from the crowd in a literary sense, and not just in a physical, cosmetic one. Maybe someone should develop a writing style unique to the series that suits the undercover nature of the operatives, their missions and even Section 31 itself, as well as gifting the loyal fans of the world’s greatest science fiction franchise with a plot to die for. Now, that *would* be something worth killing over.

And I think Agent Sloan would concur.


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