BenAaronovitch MoonOverSoho

Kobna Holdbrook-Smith again reads the words of Ben Aaronovitch as we return to apprentice magician and wizard Peter Grant, who again takes us to the London that we all know is there under the surface. You know the one with jazz vampires, which is fortuitous considering Peter’s dad is a jazz loving trumpet player with a title in jazz scene.

Book two in the series (Rivers of London was the first) finds Aaronovitch more relaxed and leisurely, which is a blessing and a curse in some ways. It’s a blessing as the we get to see a different side of Grant as he isn’t as action hero as Rivers of London but we also get to see less of the colourful characters that littered the first one. Though we do get a few nice cameos.

We also get less knocking on doors, so less of the police investigation, and more relationship building, but you know I like it for that. It shows that Aaronovitch isn’t repeating a formula. Instead he’s investigating his characters and their history more. We get to see more about the history of ‘The Folly’ and where all the wizards may, or may not, have gone.

I did realise one of the major twists earlier than I would have liked and I think that twisting in one more smaller thread into the story might have delayed that. But that’s only a minor distraction as I really enjoyed the voice of Grant. Both Holdbrook-Smith and Aaronovitch versions. Especially Peter having a practical edge to everything and not getting too airy faery about the mystical world he finds himself in. And I’m definitely not going to look at one of those carnival fortune telling heads the same way again.

What was really touching was following the effect on Lesley of the events of River of London and how she and Peter deal with it. And what really hit it home was Kobna doing Lesley’s voice and remembering it from Rivers of London before her life changed. Thankfully she’s strong on the inside.

One of the best urban fantasy series in years. One that is a must read if you love London (ror the idea of London) and want to see what could be happening just below the mystical surface

The Readers

Simon and I have done our difficult second episode of The Readers podcast. We talk about The Literature Prize causing Simon to have a little rant, the book of the year IQ84, a visit to the book barge in Manchester and we’ve been talking about books we’ve been reading and books we want to read.

Surprisingly I don’t sound like I’m smoked a box of cigars as last week I’ve been all bunged up with cold & flu. Hopefully will be ramping up the posts on the blog soon.

Everyone else having fun?

I seem to have a few little breaks on the blog but during this break I’ve been working with Simon Savidge from Savidge reads on a new podcast. We’ve talked about it podcasts for a while and we did one to celebrate the announcement of The Green Carnation Prize. We really enjoyed doing it and we’ve spent the last couple of weeks talking about it and preparing for our new podcasting project.

And I’m very pleased to present:

Book Based Banter

The Readers is a podcast of book based banter we are going to fill it with news from around the book world, bookish debates and discussions, interviews with authors, bloggers and people in publishing. The funny thing is that if you have a look at Simon’s blog and then compare our tastes we do touch in a few places but our passions vary and I think that’s going to bring a bit of spice to our discussions.

I’m really looking forward to catching up on my lit fic and converting Simon to the dark side.

Episode 1 is already up on iTunes and you can also listen to it on the blog. Though in episode 2 I’m going to try and sound less god-like (too much reverb!)

Green Carnation Prize

This year’s longlist includes a diverse mix of genres, household names, debut authors and tales of love to tales of psychopaths and all sorts in between.

  • By Nightfall – Michael Cunningham (Fourth Estate)
  • The Strange Case of the Composer and his Judge – Patricia Duncker (Bloomsbury)
  • The Proof of Love – Catherine Hall (Portobello)
  • Red Dust Road – Jackie Kay (Picador)
  • The Retribution – Val McDermid (Little Brown)
  • Purge – Sofi Oksanen (Atlantic Books)
  • There But for The… – Ali Smith (Hamish Hamilton)
  • Remembrance of Things I Forgot – Bob Smith (Terrace Books)
  • Ever Fallen in Love – Zoe Strachan (Sandstone Press)
  • The Empty Family – Colm Toibin (Penguin Books)
  • Role Models – John Waters (Beautiful Books)
  • Before I Go To Sleep – S.J Watson (Doubleday)
  • Why Be Happy When You Can Be Normal? – Jeanette Winterson (Jonathan Cape)

You can hear the chair of judges Simon Savidge discussing the longlist, minutes after it was finalized, with me here.

 

Wonderwoman1

Lynda Carter for me is Wonder Woman. I’ve not read her comic before though I’ve seen her guest spot in a few so I was curious how Azzarello and Chiang were going to portray her. And two words come to mind. Warrior. Dark.

Let’s start with ‘warrior’. Within an instant of us first meeting Wonder Woman she goes from calm and serene into battle. And it’s ‘dark’ because well it just is. And saying why would give it away. Though the horses is what you might find most disturbing.

And it’s the horse scene that best illustrate why the art is probably the best I’ve encountered so far. I speed read it the first time as I wanted to offer an instant opinion to someone. Big mistake as Chiang says a lot in his panels as his transitions are very clever. something you’d miss without lingering. Good job I went back and read it.

Also the narrative is clever as even though the opening and closing scenes are book ends their narrative weaves and interacts into the middle section. And it’s subtle and clever.

Saying all that, lots is introduced and there are lot more questions than answers. But the combination teasing story and outstanding art means I’m definitely back for issue #2!

Bought on the DC Comics iPad app.

Batgirl 1 cover

Batgirl could be the most controversial of the new 52 titles as Barbara Gordon has been paralysed and in a wheel chair since meeting the Joker in The Killing Joke. And since then she has evolved into the Oracle and appeared in Birds of Prey. But as The New 52 are shaking up the status quo Barbara Gordon can walk again.

Though the method of her healing isn’t yet revealed its impact is. Simone handles this change with openness and candour whilst Batgirl saves a family from the clutches of some scary killers. Though Simone turns table on her next intervention and it’s that consequence I fell that is going to be explored a little more. Someone has a list and Gordon’s name is one it and she seems to be doing pretty well working through it.

What is nice is that we see Barbara Gordon as well as Batgirl and each has a set of problems to overcome. Now her psychological as well as domestic troubles will influence her role as Batgirl an vice versa. It’s going to be interesting to see where Simone is going to take that split.

Art wise can’t fault it though it does seem quite nicely centred on giving visual signals that the text can’t with lots of shock and distress on the characters faces.

I wouldn’t call it a depressing read as it feels quite like but there is a definite darkness which is quite fitting for someone with the mantle of the Bat.

Saying all that I’m not sure if I’ll read the next one. Nothing against the character or the book. It’s more me and ‘the crime fighting’ darkness that I have a feeling is coming.

Bought on the DC Comics iPad app.

Thousand emperors

Blurb:

“Archivist Luc Gabion has finally achieved his life’s goal — of bringing down Winchell Antonov, head of the Black Lotus terrorist organisation, and the scourge of the Tian Di’s stellar empire for countless years.
But instead of feeling victorious, the encounter has left him scarred. Forcibly implanted with a technology far in advance of anything he’s encountered before, Luc sees and hears things he knows he’s not supposed to. Worse, the technology is killing him, slowly. So when he finds himself investigating the murder of one of the Tian Di’s ruling clique, the Thousand Emperors, he knows he’s in real trouble. Any one of them could be the killer, and any one of them could have him put to death on a whim.

Worse, the dead man is the architect of the coming Reunification: two great civilisations, separated for centuries by old enmities, are about to reunite in a new age of peace and prosperity. But it soon becomes clear that someone out there is willing to do anything to make sure that day never comes…”

Author comment:

Those two civilisations, as anyone who’s read Final Days will guess, being those colonies originally controlled either by the Western Coalition or the Pan-Asian Congress (now the Tian Di). As I’ve said before, it’s really a stand-alone set in the future of Final Days, than a direct continuation of FD, which means you don’t have to have read the first (or so I believe) in order to read the second.

Shamelessly taken from Gary’s blog

Bugger that I’m definitely reading Final Days first! But great cover as a tease. :D

Final Days and is out now in Hardback/Kindle

It’s been quiet around here. Sorry about that.

I’m shattering the quiet though with reviews of By Light Alone by Adam Roberts (though Pornokistch & Simon Mayo got there first) and Hounded by Kevin Hearne tomorrow.

Then Batgirl and Wonder Woman in comics on Monday.

A bit of novel cover art tomorrow too.

I’m reading the odd and amazing Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor and the SF debut of Gavin G Smith, Veteran. And I’ve got a pile of amazing books to bring you. Look to more content pouring on to the blog sooner rather than later!

Though if you want up to the minute news, comments, general book love follow me on twitter – @gavreads

 

 

52stormwatch1

Part of the reason for me trying ‘The New 52’ is to try something different and last week saw the first major release of titles after the solitary arrival of Justice League (reviewed by me here). Now Justice League was familiar in terms of character personalities and in some ways how they’d react to each other. While enjoyable it wasn’t exactly new.

On the other hand I know little to zero about what makes up Stormwatch.  And I’m not really sure what to expect. Apart from the Martian Manhunter who ended up surprising and scaring me a little at one pivotal point as well as touching on the differences in his role here and in Justice League. Luckily it’s a fun mix of confusion and introduction.

They are looking for a new recruit who definitely doesn’t want to join. And they have interesting methods of persuasion. It makes a great form of introduction to some of the cast members of Stormwatch, some of whom have odd powers if you ask me but they seem to work for them and work in the story, which is quite refreshing.

Cornell lays other seeds such as something odd is going on on the moon, especially as you get a really close and disturbing insight into it, and flashback to Storwatches past to show that their history isn’t getting totally rewritten perhaps or at least to show their longevity. Oh, not to mention that something very odd is happening in the Himalayas

For the limited number of pages available (and I will stop brining this up I promise) it feels like it’s just got going without a feeling like being shortchanged. In fact Cornell manages to do more with his pages than the Justice League team did with theirs.

I don’t know if covers are that important in comics, they don’t work as newspaper front pages, though they often contain stunning art, they don’t usually add to the story but the trio on the cover on show here definitely isn’t the current status quo.

Though in contrast this feels darker and more adult and the art reflects that. Apart from the snow scenes. If I’m 100% honest the art is a little too murky for my tastes though it’s not the line art more the computerised shadowing that gives it a that not quite classic comic book feel that I enjoy.

More than enough interest in both characters and story potential to come back to Stormwatch for more next month.

I bought and read this on the DC Comics iPad app