Archive for love

THUNDERBALL By Ian Fleming – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 4, 2013 by stanleyriiks

Possibly the most controversial of the Bond stories, as this story was developed for an original film, which wasn’t made until years later, and Fleming was sued by the film’s producers for stealing the story.

That story is of the terrorist organisation SPECTRE, overseen by Ernst Blofeld, who have stolen two nuclear bombs and are holding the powers of the UK and US to ransom. On M’s hunch Bond is sent off to the quiet islands of the Bahamas to try to find out where the bombs might be and stop the dastardly plot.

What follows is typical Bond, beautiful women, adventure and spy-shenanigans.

In David Wolstencroft’s short introduction (I’m reading the Penguin editions) he says this is possibly Fleming at his most accomplished as a writer.  And although certainly the plot could be considered one of the most impressive of the Bond novels to date, and the words brim with life, the action sequences are good, but where is the vivid description of local flora and fauna? Where are the luxury items that make you drawl with envy? Is this a slightly more grown up Bond?

Thunderball is a good book, Fleming delivers a more mature and realistic tale of terror, that apart from the racist and misogynistic comments, wouldn’t look out of place in a modern thriller.

Bond is Bond, and you have to love a man who will stop at nothing to save his country and the world. When the stakes are this high, who else would you look at to save us? Bond, the original and the best.

ROLLBACK By Robert J. Sawyer – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 15, 2012 by stanleyriiks

A brilliant, emotional, human SF novel.

Dr Sarah Halifax decodes a response from a SETI sent message in a far-flung planet, 18.8 light years away. She is instrumental in forming the response, and sending it, having little thought that she might be dead by the time the message is responded to gain in 37 years time.

But, in her eighties, Sarah is still alive when the new message from the alien race arrives.  She is celebrating her sixtieth wedding anniversary with her husband Don when the news breaks.

A wealthy SETI contributor wants Sarah to be around when the next message arrives and pays for a rollback, a rejuvenation programme that costs billions, to make her young again. Sarah insists that her husband receive it too, but when it works for Don and not for Sarah they have to struggle with her aging and his youthful vigour.

The SETI alien contact is only a part of this novel, the tension and emotional rollercoaster of the two main characters in the happily married couple tugs at the heart-strings. The moral dilemmas, the guilt, the hope, the sadness and loss are truly heart-felt. This is an emotional novel. The background of technology enhances the love story, twisting it and stretching it to breaking point. As much as this is a story of first alien contact, this is a story of family, of history, of love and respect, of youth and aging and old age.  Sawyer has written a truly insightful and inspirational novel.

This is SF with a human side, a brilliantly realised story of love set in a future world with robots and aliens. Intelligent, insightful, emotional and amazing.

FOREVER ODD By Dean Koontz – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 22, 2010 by stanleyriiks

I read the first Odd book about a year ago, and thought it was marvellous. A twisted thriller with nice horror overtones, bringing something new and exciting into my life. Odd is the reluctant dead-seeing hero, out to stop a massive armed attack on the small town of Pico Mundo where he lives. The poignant and heart-rending ending stole my heart, and made me weep. It was a great book, anything that makes me feel something I can’t help but love.

That’s why this novel is such a disappointment. Expectations too high perhaps? Well, possibly, but writers shouldn’t set a standard with their first book in a series and then immediately let you down.

Here Odd finds his night’s sleep interrupted by a dead doctor, and on going to investigate, finds his friend has been kidnapped by a crazy woman. A crazy woman, who, it turns out, wants to lure Odd to his death.

Fairly simple, and yet it’s dragged out for over four hundred pages. This feels like a novel with a minimum word count, stretched almost to breaking point. It’s a testament to Koontz’s writing skills that he still makes it readable and mildly entertaining. But mildly is perhaps being too generous.

The book is long-winded and almost boring. It starts off far too melancholy, the character of Odd and his strange friends and relationships are put on the back-burner while the meagre plot is explored.

Only loyal fans should read this second instalment in the Odd Thomas series. I will be returning for the third novel, but it better be a damn sight better than this or I will be most upset!

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.

GARBAGE MAN By Joseph D’Lacey – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 20, 2009 by stanleyriiks

As reviews editor for Morpheus Tales Magazine I tend to get first choice of the material that comes in for review. It also means I’m stuck with all the leftovers too!

When I get the choice I pick books I like, authors I enjoy. I don’t do this for the money, mostly I do it for the free books! I’m not a masocist, why would I pick a book I’m fairly unlikely to enjoy? That’s why I read horror, science fiction and fantasy and not romance and girlie books. I don’t have anything against rom-coms, I just prefer my entertainment served up in a bodybag, after a thorough beating!

Early last year we got a book called MEAT by Joseph D’Lacey, a debut novel from Bloody Books, a new publisher I’d never heard of. New author, new publisher, new book…. Mmm…

Unknown quantities scare me. I like to mentally prepare myself for whatever experience I’m about to have. But D’Lacey had travelled around the country in a “Meat Wagon” promoting the book, which appealed to my dark sense of humour so I thought I’d try it.

MEAT is not a subtle book, it’s refreshingly shocking, brutal, and nasty. It’s kind of like a Shaun Hutson novel, it’s dirty and wrong, but that’s why you love it. And I did! I did love it, MEAT is one of those rare books that can shock you, it sucks you in and then vomits you out before you’re ready for it.

So when Joseph D’Lacey’s second novel turned up I begged for it!

GARBAGE MAN By Joseph D’Lacey

Bloody Books

This book is absurd. It’s ridiculous. And it’s bloody marvellous!

In D’Lacey’s debut novel MEAT he teased us in, providing a stark, gritty realism to draw us into his world, and then slamming us face first into the dark, depraved heart of his brutal, unforgiving, twisted reality.

Well, he’s back!

Shreve is a small mid-England town, a normal enough town with a normal enough set of individuals populating it. Shreve is also home to one of the largest landfill sites in the UK.

The populants of the town are Shreve are a varied bunch, there’s the Smithfields, their son Donald, a young paperboy having sex with one of his married neighbours, and Aggie, the wannabe model and teenage temptress. There’s Miss Ahern the nosey neighbour and religious nut. There’s Kevin and Tamsin, the married couple on the verge of breaking up. Ray and Jenny, two students whose relationship has run it’s course and who may find happiness in the arms of that married couple. And then there’s Delilah, an Earthy goth chick. And Mason Brand, former star photographer and now caretaker of one of the strangest creatures to ever grace the printed page…

In a superbly Frankenstein-esque moment during a lightning storm several piles of rubbish from the landfill awaken into creatures. But only one of the creatures survives as Mason finds it and starts feeding it, with his own blood. The creature, made of rubbish, feeds and grows. This truly gives a new meaning to recycling, as the creature consumes everything given to it, or it can take, and uses it to heal itself, to upgrade itself. It’s like a Transformer made of rubbish and when it eventually feeds on an entire human being it starts to get the taste and realises that it shouldn’t be alone, it should be the commander of a massive army of other garbage creatures, and so it sets its army on a path of destruction that will change Shreve and the world forever.

This really shouldn’t work. It’s too ridiculous, except that it’s not. This does work, and it works well. The town of Shreve is set up very realistically, and the characters and their bad habits are all presented to us well before the actual horror starts. And when the horror does kick in it’s hard and fast and furious.

Not only does D’Lacey provide his knack for brutal realism, he creates a creature you care about almost as much as the other characters. The Garbage Man, although certainly a villain, is also something of a hero, and at the end you can’t help but feel a certain empathy with him in an almost King Kong moment.

The final ending is even harsher and more brutal than the attack of the garbage men and deserves mention as one of the spookiest endings I’ve read in a long time, one that will not only leave you pondering the sheer wretchedness of it all, but leaving you aching for more. The last few chapters show us the true power that D’Lacey can unleash.

It’s not a perfect package by any means, our ensemble cast provide little in the way of emotional involvement. The best character is Delilah and she doesn’t appear until the book is halfway through. And Aggie’s adventures in London are cut far too short, and probably could have been quite a decent book on their own.

D’Lacey’s tendency to use pertinent socio-political themes doesn’t detract from the entertainment, it enhances it. You can’t help but smile at the clear message, whilst enjoying the bloodlust and nastiness that D’Lacey uses to such great effect. A bloodlust and nastiness that is akin to Jack Ketchum’s brutality and is highly entertaining for the horror connoisseur.

Garbage Man is ridiculous, but in a good way. It is the skill and subtlety with which D’Lacey tells the story that raises this so far above beyond the ridiculous.

This is what horror should be like, no-holds-barred brutality, nastiness in an action-packed package.