Archive for harry potter

KILL THE DEAD By Richard Kadrey – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 9, 2013 by stanleyriiks

It’s not often that a book comes along that excites me. It’s not often that anything excites me. In fact, it’s a very rare occasion that anything wakes me from the tortured stupor that is my day to day life. I read almost constantly to escape the dull oblivion that is my pitiful existence.

And then a book like this comes along…

James Stark (demon fighter and part-Angel celebrity) is dragged into LA’s zombie while being Lucifer’s bodyguard. And that’s barely scraping the surface of this story, but I don’t want to ruin the surprises in store for you.

This is the second book in the Sandman Slim series, and if I haven’t read the first book then go read it. Go now. What are you waiting? Go, just go. No, don’t read any further, get it now! Right now I tell you!

You could probably pick this book up and struggle along to catch up, but don’t. The first book is a hell of a story (literally), and there’s far too much you’ll have missed out on if you start the series with book two. Although this is pretty much a stand-alone story, this is very much the second part of a series, and there’s a ton of background (and it’s really fun background!) that you’ll miss out on if you skip the first book. Do not skip the first book! DO NOT!

Stark is a serious piece of work, an alcoholic, chain-smoking, demon assassin, murderer, kick-ass detective; just the kind of dude Lucifer wants as a bodyguard. Our hellish anti-hero is a brilliantly humorous, angry young man, killing vampires and zombies with witty asides, and inventive techniques.

Kadrey has produced an LA dripping with monster filth, which works so well. This is a city bound-up with demons and hellions, drowning in Sub-Rosa (magical families), and is an antidote to those good folks in the Harry Potter novels. These magicians would cook up Harry and his pals for breakfast and then shit them out as zombies. This is hardcore witchcraft, terror and death.

This book is demented genius. Kadrey raised the bar for urban fantasy with Sandman Slim, and the expectations were high for the second book in the series. Not only does Kadrey gives us another exciting episode, but he continues to explore one of the most fascinating and engaging narrators/creatures in modern genre literature.

Sandman Slim is dead. Long live Sandman Slim!

Advertisements

CONTROL POINT By Myke Cole – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 10, 2013 by stanleyriiks

Oscar Britton is an army officer, and when he and his team are called to deal with a prohibited latent, they have a hell of a time. A latent is a person who develops magical powers. Certain magical powers are prohibited as too dangerous. One of Britton’s men is half killed by fire demons, and two teenage latents are shot dead, a school is burned, and Oscar has an argument with a sorcerer.

A few hours later Oscar has a latent episode, finding himself on the other side of the law. Knowing he has a prohibited magical power (opening wormhole-like gates) he goes on the run.

What follows is actually even more exciting and action packed than the beginning. As Oscar is “recruited” as a contractor for the army, and must face the tough challenges of learning to control his power on the front-line of a war with goblin-like creatures.

This doesn’t really have a slew of original ideas, but it’s put together very well, creating that newness and excitement. The military and magic are juxtaposed, and Oscar and his team work together to discover their powers and use them for good, despite the military’s view of them as weapons.

The book is a cross between Harry Potter and Stripes, or Biloxi Blues. The unique mix of military and magic makes this book. There is a little too much concentration on Oscar’s struggle to deal with his new power and his manipulation by the military, but that serves its own purpose and works within the context of the story. A kind of coming-of-age tale, using all the best bits of a military story, but a little fantasy thrown in for good measure. You can’t help but love little Marty, the goblin. There is plenty of action to speed things along.

Intelligent, exciting, pulse-racing and action packed. Full-on magical military mayhem.

The Hunger Games – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 8, 2012 by stanleyriiks

Normally when a big budget adaptation of a best-selling novel comes out I would read the book first and then watch the film and not enjoy it as much as I did the book. I think that if the book is the original then you should read that before seeing the film based on it. The original is always better in my opinion, although the Harry Potter films were almost as good as the books. Almost.

So we come to another successful franchise based on a YA novel.

I don’t watch trailers of films I know I will watch, and so came to this film completely open minded.

To say that I was disappointed is an overstatement. Underwhelmed is more like.

Having a good knowledge of The Running Man (the film and the story it was based on), Lord of the Flies (the storyline rather than either the book or the film), Nineteen Eighty-Four (the book) and Predator (the film), it seemed there was nothing, absolutely nothing new for me here.

The film starts in a kind of post-apocalyptic rural community where, each year, a boy and a girl from each of the twelve community that make up this world (Panem), is chosen by lottery to enter the Hunger Games, a televised survival-of-the-fittest contest to the death where there can only be one winner. Katniss Everdeen volunteers when her younger sister is chosen, and goes through the training and popularity process (sponsors can help while you are in the jungle fighting for your life, but only if they like you). Then we have the games, which is basically a cross between The Running Man and Lord of the Flies (Battle Royale has also been touted as heavily influencing the story, but that’s basically Lord of the Flies with bullets and on a brutal scale), with some Predator (the jungle setting) thrown in for good measure, with fighting, gangs, hunting, traps and cheating. It gets quite exciting, and the characters are pretty good, Jennifer Lawrence does a solid job as our lead. The story manages to include quite a lot of back story and explanation without getting bogged back, but there is nothing original. We’ve seen all of this before, and apart from putting it all together in a nicely presented package nothing is new.

The Hunger Games would not have been a success if not for the best-selling book series. If the film had a lower budget and wasn’t connected to the books at all no one would have noticed its release. When the next film comes out I won’t be queuing to see it, but I might download a copy and check it out. More than likely I’ll pick up the first book in the series to see if that’s any better. Slightly disappointed.

THE GRAVEYARD BOOK By Neil Gaiman – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 24, 2010 by stanleyriiks

It’s difficult to review a book like there. And there are so few books like this. Books that you experience, rather than read. Books which envelope you, books which takes you to a new world and let you explore that world and introduce you to new friends.

Books that touch you. Writers that speak to you.

These are rare things. Much like The Thief of Always, The Hobbit, and Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, The Graveyard Book is a tale of wonder, of imagination, a coming of age tale of adventure.

Nobody Owens’s family is killed one night when he’s a toddler, and whilst the murderer is searching for him, Bod slips out and finds himself in a graveyard, adopted by the ghosts who live there. But to keep Bod safe from the murderer he can’t leave his new home, and must learn to live the life of a live human within his ghostly confines.

Bod slowly grows up, learning the skills he needs to survive in his strange surroundings, but longing for the life of a live person, without even knowing it.

Gaiman creates a magical world, part Harry Potter, part Tim Burton. The plot follows the trials and tribulations of Bod’s growing up, a simple tale, but with the ever growing presence of the murderer making life all the more difficult for the young child.

Ok, so there are several places where things are nicely slotted into place and then become suddenly important, Bod meeting a witch and then needing her magic to escape after being trapped by a dodgy pawnbroker. But these aren’t glaring, and it’s only those reading this with a critical eye that are likely to notice.

And that’s what I mean by this being a difficult book to review. While you read it you enjoy it, you love every minute of it. You can’t help but feel a tug at the heartstrings every time you put it down, the urge to continue discovering the story made me finish the book in barely two days, despite a full-time job interfering.

This is the kind of book that children should be made to read. Not because they can learn from it, although they will, but because this is the sort of book that makes you feel you have discovered a wonderful, magical world, and will make children want to read more.

The Graveyard Book will no doubt make Gaiman many more fans, and deservedly so. He’s created a wonderful world and filled it with people who you can’t help but love.

Enchanting and beautiful. I cannot recommend this book enough.

NEKROPOLIS By Tim Waggoner – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 26, 2010 by stanleyriiks

On the cover SF Site says this is an “exciting mystery”, well, I’m not sure what book they were reading, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t this one. This isn’t so much a mystery as a travelogue or an adventure.

Mathew Richter is a zombie, he’s a dead detective who followed a serial killer and warlock to the dark world of Nekropolis, the underworld where all manner of creatures live and non-live. Nekropolis is an amazing land, filled with vampires, were-creatures, witches and warlocks, talking insects, and the aforementioned zombies and other creatures of the dead. It’s a riot of Tim Burton-esque touches that will appeal to any horror and fantasy fan. A kind of really dark Harry Potter world, Diagon Alley after Voldemort takes over!

Anyways, back to the story. Mathew is contacted by a hot blond half-vampire who is in charge of her father’s – one of the five dark lords who rules Necropolis – collection of rare magical artefacts. One of the items in the collection is a powerful magical crystal capable of destroying the entire city, and today just happens to be Decension Day, when the five dark lords and Father Dis (the god and creator of Nekropolis), join forces to re-energise Umbriel, the dark moon that lights the city. And the artefact has gone missing.

So the meagre plot involves Mathew and his half-vampire friend searching the city of Nekropolis to find the artefact. But this is not about plot, it’s much more about exploring the amazing world of Nekropolis. Our protagonist is really the city, and whilst Richter and his squeeze are fairly well developed, there’s not really much to any of the other characters, and many of the citizens only make a brief appearance.

The book fails on many levels, the plot not the least as our hero goes round the entire city meeting up with someone to ask a few questions and then moving on to the next clue, and working his way round the city. The trail of clues (if you can call it that, some are tenuous to say the least!) is fairly easy to follow, or the next trip just takes them to another unexplored section of the city, seemingly at random. There isn’t really a mystery, and there’s no overall tension apart from the situational type as Richter finds himself in some sticky situations during his investigation.

But it’s still so much fun to discover the city. It’s like entering the world of nightmare, which since this book was originally written, has been explored by Tim Burton, Harry Potter and Hellboy. But this manages to be just a little darker than all of those and is all the better for it.

With a decent plot and some new material this book could be scarily good! Well, the good news is that the second and third books have been commissioned! Excellent.

Despite its failures this is still a bloody good book, and you’re unlikely to read anything else like it. It will make you grin with delight and make you want to visit the strange world of Nekropolis. It’s the perfect travel-guide, it’s just not the best novel.