Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Alice in Wonderland #1 by Jun Abe

Huge thanks to NetGalley and the Tokyopop for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Hot on the heels of my successful foray into graphic novels recently, I decided to try my first Manga book. I have seen images online of other manga characters, but I had never picked up one to read. Until now.

Ok, the story of Alice in Wonderland doesn't need a review in itself, but this book is a collectors manga of certain Disney films, in this case Tim Burtons view of Alice starring Johnny Depp. Jun Abe has successfully brought across the look and feel of the characters in this book, which is vital when replicating something from another form of media. The artwork is wonderful. I especially loved the Cheshire Cat who got a full two page spread to him and Alice meeting for the first time.

There isn't a whole lot I can add to this. It proved to be a wonderful experience, especially reading from right to left and back to front. I am very glad I tried it and I would definitely try more manga in the future!

Star rating: 4 from 5

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Star Trek: Starfleet Academy by Mike Johnson, Ryan Parrott and Derek Charm

Huge thanks go to the publisher and NetGalley for allowing me access to the advance readers copy of this graphic novel in exchange for an honest review.

Well, this is a first for me! Reviewing a graphic novel. Ok, yes it's Star Trek, but who doesn't love Star Trek??? I was a little worried about how it would translate in to the graphic format, but it worked really well, and the story was pretty good too.

Whilst at Starfleet Academy, Uhura intercepts a distress call and, upon investigation, she discovers a mystery. The files are restricted. Why? She sets out to discover just that. Meanwhile, three years in the future, a Vulcan Starfleet cadet, T'laan, has her own problems in the form of a competition marking the centenary year of the Academy. She has to face her own personal demons, just like the rest of her team, as they try to win against teams from other academies. Along the way, they discover more than they expected.

The story itself is good, and certainly intriguing. The new characters were all very good, even funny, and I would say they are true to the feeling of the original show and the movies. As for the artwork, always important in a graphic novel, I found it to be superb.

As a novice to the graphic novel world, I found this a highly pleasurable experience. I would recommend this to anyone who holds Star Trek close to their heart...or hearts.

Star rating: 5 from 5
This book will be published on 2nd August 2016

Friday, 17 June 2016

Death at the Boston Tea Party by Deryn Lake

My thanks go to the publisher and NetGalley for allowing me access to the advanced readers copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

My previous experience of reading Deryn Lake was positive, enough to make me want to read more of her books. This book, for me, is not quite of the same quality as Death in the Valley of Shadows. Yes, the writing is first class, but the plot was mostly too straight forward with a few big leaps in understanding. Also, I felt the build up to the first death was a little too long. However, the conclusion was not quite what I had expected so that redeemed it somewhat.

The basic premise is that John Rawlings and his family have been invited to Boston in the colonies for business. On the way they are shipwrecked and have to survive the long journey to Boston on foot with the aid of one native American known as Blue Wolf. With them are a few other survivors, among whom death will strike once they reach their target during the infamous Boston Tea Party. It's up to John to investigate, an investigation which puts his own family in jeopardy.

I think, for the most part, the characters are confusing. There were times when I was trying to remember who was who, with the obvious exceptions of John and Blue Wolf. Also, some of them just seem too flat. Others, in the case of one lady, are larger than life. An odd mixture, in my opinion, but the book wasn't seriously affected by that.

Overall, an ok read for a short time with some good moments.

Star Rating: 3 from 5

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

The Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchison

Many thanks go to the publisher, Thomas & Mercer, as well as to NetGalley for sending me a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I first saw The Butterfly Garden on the AmazonFirst promotion but, because of a previously bad experience with that offer, I didn't buy it. However, I did think of this book a few times afterwards and was delighted when it appeared on NetGalley shortly afterwards. It was one of the books you have to "wish" for and, for the first time, my wish was granted. I took the chance, and I wasn't disappointed.

The story is told primarily from the point of view of an 18 year old girl, who is introduced early on as Maya, who has been rescued from a very horrible fate by the FBI. She tells the agents about the Garden, a place where many girls, aged 16 - 21, can be found, all with different butterflies tattooed on their backs. Why are they there? What fate awaits them? Well, Maya tells us in no uncertain words. The girls are regularly raped and then, when they reach 21, or get pregnant, or cannot live there, the Gardener murders them and preserves their bodies in the corridors of their new home.

As you can imagine, this is not a read that the squeemish among you would enjoy, but the story is very well told. It flows from one point to the next as if in an interview, which is the main style of the writing. The characters are all as colourful as the butterflies decorating their backs. Even Avery, the gardeners eldest son and a really nasty human being, is well created and you cannot but love to hate him.

It is hard to feel sorry for the Gardener himself, but there are times when I could understand that he wanted to protect the girls, that he "loved" them, in his own special way. But underneath that, he was a raper and murderer...and kidnapper, of course!

I'm not sure who I would recommend this book to. It reads like a young adult version of silence of the lambs, without the cannibalism and chianti! If you do not have a delicate stomach, you may well enjoy this read as I did.

Star rating: 4 from 5

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Roofworld by Christopher Fowler

Thanks go to the publisher and NetGalley for granting me access to the review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I love the concept of a group of people living freely on the roofs of London, away from the prying eyes of every other human. It has a nice quality to it. However, when groups form in to gangs, trouble and warfare is not far behind. This is the premise behind Roofworld, another Christopher Fowler rerelease. This time, I am in two minds about the book.

As I have already said, the concept is wonderful and the plot is well thought out. There is a lot of tension throughout and it does read more like a gangland novel than anything else, although it is difficult to place it there. I guess it is a cross between a mythical action story, and a detective one, if I had to say more specifically. I haven't read anything quite like it.

The book follows a few characters, but for me the important two are Robert (a tv researcher) and Rose (the former landlady of the writer of the book Robert want the rights to). Together, they are looking for Sarah, the daughter of the said writer, who was last seen with two skinheads. They uncover a secret community living above London, running and sliding between the roof tops. But the community is very much split into two groups. One of which wants complete domination and is on course for it. A succession of murders have also been happening which seem to link with some secret organisation and a rise in strength and power.

I must confess that the only two characters I felt anything for were Robert and Rose. The others just seemed too flat or even, in the case of Chymes, too mysterious. A little more was needed there, but otherwise it was a very good book.

Star rating:3.5 from 5

Thursday, 2 June 2016

Spanky by Christopher Fowler

Huge thanks go to NetGalley and the publisher for allowing me to read this review copy in exchange for an honest review,

If you have been regularly reading my blog posts, or if you read them back now, you will know that I have become a fan of Christopher Fowler's Bryant and May series. This week, I decided to try something different by the author. Recently, Transworld Publishers rereleased some of his back catalogue, including the intriguingly named Spanky.

Spanky is not a detective story, like the Bryant and May books. In fact, it is a fantasy novel set in London in the 1980s, from what I could tell. It tells the tale of Martyn Ross, a man with a dead end job, no relationship to speak of, and his life is going nowhere fast. Then, one evening he meets the enigmatic Spanky who claims to be able to change Martyn's life around so much that he won't recognise himself. Spanky is, in fact,  daemon. He doesn't want Martyn' s soul, something he claims very, very few people possess. He just wants to help. However, all is not clear cut because he does want something, and when Martyn discovers just what his price his, this thriller becomes electrifying!

I loved this book. The plot is easy to follow, it is wonderfully written and leaves the reader wanting more and more. The characters are brilliant. Spanky himself oozes charm and sophistication, along with a hint of devilment. Martin is your typical loser at the start and develops hugely as the story rolls towards the inevitable crescendo of an ending. Even the supporting cast of bad bosses, desperate actresses and models, as well as Martyn's family are great to read about and, I must confess, I want to know more! There is even a touch of dark comedy about the story, very much like Neil Bauman in that regard.

In conclusion, this is a brilliant fantasy thriller with many perfect twists and turns. If Christopher Fowler reads this, please can we have a sequel???

Star rating: 5 from 5