Monday, 25 February 2013

News From Gardenia by Robert Llewellyn

This was one of those novels that I devoured in a day. Llewellyn captivated me from the first page. Gavin is a busy man and he has little time to reflect on his life and little time for his wife. An important man, a busy man. However, when a freak anomaly sees him transported two hundred years into the future he realises the world is a very different place to the one he left behind and time might be all he has.

Llewellyn has created a very different utopia within this novel. The lead character Gavin isn't good at human relationships, the only thing he truly understands is the complex and unemotional world of mechanical engineering. He finds himself in an England very different from our own. Power is free and universally available. There is no monetary system and no form of government. Like a giant commune people muck in and get along, strife is rare. Longevity is common and everyone is fit, healthy and strong.

Of course Gavin cannot accept this simple utopia and starts looking for flaws and cracks. Relationships and the family units are not the same as they once were and Gavin finds that he struggles to get to grips with it. Behind this society is technology beyond Gavin's wildest dreams and his engineer's senses twitch as he starts to delve deeper.

I understands News From Gardenia is to be a trilogy so the author spends a lot of time building up the framework of the world. Llewellyn expertly guides us along using Gavin's sense of exploration and wonder as the vehicle. As well as the outer journey we see Gavin's inner emotional development as he learns to relate to the strangely detached folk from the future.

An intelligent novel that can't help but make you think of our own immediate future and the energy crisis that looms large. A story that is as much about human nature as it is about fantastic technology. A gripping read from start to finish.

Genre: Sci-Fi / Utopian
Publisher: Unbound
Format: All
Rating: 5/5

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Out There Bad by Josh Stallings

Beneath the wild heart of Moses McGuire there lurks a pussy cat. A hero, foolish knight in shining armour. A patsy with a fatal weakness. Josh Stallings has again delivered the goods in this the second novel featuring strip club bouncer Moses McGuire.

As with the first McGuire novel Beautiful, Naked and Dead I just couldn't put this book down. I have to be a little critical because BND was such a perfect work that I couldn't help but compare the two. There were a few editorial rough edges in Out There Bad that weren't present with BND. A recycled line from an old Lethal Weapon movie had me hoping that Stallings sense of irony was up and winking at me in the moment of delivery. I'd stake my bottom dollar on it.

Out There Bad is as bloody as BND and Stallings pulls no punches in delivering a very uncomfortable scene where Moses is forced to commit an unspeakable act. Stallings shows an admirable bravery in his writing and whilst he never preaches he does ask a few subtle questions of the reader. If you enjoyed the first Moses McGuire novel you will without doubt enjoy Out There Bad too.

Stallings introduces even more elements in this novel and we see Moses teaming up with the most unlikely of partners. We see Moses the unstoppable force battling the immovable object that is the Russian mafia. There is growth here as well as some sticking to the formula of the first novel. The saying if it ain't broke don't fix it applies here. It’s more of the same with a few risks taken but yet another entertaining five star read.

Genre: Crime / Gangster
Publisher: Heist Publishing
Format:E-Book & Paperback
Rating: 5/5

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Beautiful, Naked and Dead by Josh Stallings

Moses McGuire is depressed. He's so depressed that he's considering ending it all. However, his delivery of hot lead to his grey matter is rudely interrupted by a call for help from a friend. Moses jumps on his trusty Norton and heads over to the strip joint where he works to rendezvous with his damsel in distress.

Beautiful, Naked and Dead is the literary equivalent of a Tarantino movie. You have all the ingredients needed: Mobsters, wise cracking characters, fast cars, girls and guns. However, Josh Stallings delivers so much more with this novel than a film could. You believe every single line his characters deliver. There is intelligence to the characterisation that transcends novels usually found in this genre. The crowning glory is Moses himself. Stallings has created not only a truly three dimensional character here but some of snappiest dialogue and downbeat wisdom come from McGuire’s stubborn cranium.

This novel was also, perhaps, the best edited e-book I think I've come across. There wasn't a wasted line or word in it. The next time the literati look down their collective noses at this genre I will, with a smug smile, withdraw from behind my back a copy of Beautiful, Naked and Dead and defy them to find fault with it. This ladies and gentleman is quite simply a benchmark to aspire to. Stallings pick up your phone that's Tarantino on the other end with film options.

Genre:  Crime / Gangster
Publisher:  Heist Publishing
Format:  E-Book & Paperback
Rating:  5/5