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Saturday, October 12, 2019

My Thought's On. . .



The Girl Who Could Move S**t With Her Mind
They say . . . “First impressions count”.
In this case, that maxim hits the nail on the head. How? As soon as I saw the title of this book, I knew I’d love it. I mean, anyone who uses that as a title for their book has to have a great sense of humor. MY kind of humor.
And I was right.
Teagan Frost is a girl on a mission. Literally. She works for a clandestine government team. A team so secret that they’ll deny any knowledge of her at the drop of a hat if she screws up. Not a good thing when you’re the only person with psychokinetic abilities in the world and a queue of drooling scientists with top security clearance are itching for you to fail so they can dissect you.
When a body turns up at the site of Teagan’s last job, murdered in such a way that it’s obvious someone with paranormal abilities must be involved, plastic fingered gloves point the blame her way and scalpels get sharpened.
Fortunately, she gets twenty-four hours to prove her innocence. But will it be enough? Teagan’s boss wants rid of her. The rest of the team hate her. A squad of black-ops goons think she’s nothing but a freak that needs locking up and experimenting on. And someone’s obviously out to ensure she fails.
Just the recipe for a nice little whodunit. One presented with an aperitif of disaster-in-the-making, with a side salad of action all the way. It’s irreverent, down and dirty, underhand, and guaranteed to please the mischief-maker in all of us.
An insanely imaginative peek into a twisted mind.




The Boys
Continuing the “first impressions count” theme. . . .
I adored this series! There you go. My thoughts in brief, expressed from the heart.
Adapted from the Dynamite comic book series of the same name, The Boys follows the life of Hughie Campbell. A mild-mannered, down-to-earth young man, Hughie is madly in love with the girl of his dreams, Robin . . . up to the moment she’s obliterated by a superhero who literally runs right through her, that is.
Hughie is traumatized, until Billy Butcher crosses his path. Butcher despises all “Supers” and wants to wipe the lot of them out. Even so, he has eyes for one in particular; Homelander, the charismatic leader of the most popular of the super heroes – The Seven, who are sponsored by the mega rich, ultra powerful Vought International corporation.
As the show goes on to reveal, the Seven aren’t all that special. In fact, most are out and out self-serving scumbags who don’t give a toss about the populace at large . . . unless it can improve their ratings, that is.
Butcher knows this, and leads his vigilantes on a desperate crusade to expose the “supers” for what they really are, while fulfilling his own personal vendetta.
What I particularly liked about this series is that it’s a great judge of human nature. If people did somehow become blessed with powers in real life, THIS is what they’d be like. Oh, they’d start off wanting to do good, but with multi-billion dollar corporations and social media gurus plotting their every move, they’d end up emotionally wrecked trash monsters.
A lot of outrageous things happen in the series. (Ass-murder being a prime example) A truly explosive moment, I guarantee. And it’s awesome. Bad behavior. Even worse language. Sexual exploitation.  One of the most timely – tongue-in-cheek- exposes I’ve seen in a long time.
Even better, there’s one hellova twist at the end that sets up series 2 quite nicely, thank you very much. And I for one can’t wait J

Friday, September 27, 2019

My Reviews Of . . .


Black City Saint
Nick Medea is an investigator of things that go bump in the night. While that might sound corny, it isn’t. Far from it! For Nick is a man with a history extending back 1600 years.
He’s the guardian of The Gate, the supernatural barrier which is the only thing standing between the world of mankind and their worst nightmare: the Wyld. The thing is, during the Prohibition Era of the 1920’s, the Gate just so happens to be anchored in Chicago, the Black City, where the temperance movement, the Mob, ethnic distrust and precincts full of cops on the take, face off against a growing instability that makes each day a trial to deal with.
An apt analogy, especially when you consider another, more insidious influence that fans the flames of unrest spreading like wildfire throughout the city: the aforementioned Wyld.
Double-dealing; betrayal; half-truths and outright deception. Nick has to deal with it all, and THAT’s from those who are supposed to be on his side! How does he juggle the turmoil created by these warring factions while averting an all-out disaster that will change both worlds forever?
Find out in this fast-paced, action packed noir fantasy that blends the gritty, down-n-dirty gangster-era of Chicago with the macabre, metaphysical terror represented by the altered reality the coming of Feirie would bring. Great stuff, and great fun.
Remember, Public Enemy No 1 isn’t always the guy holding a Tommy Gun.





The Rook
Based on the novel by Daniel O’Malley, the Rook follows the exploits of the Checquy, a secret agency within the British government that protect the public from threats of a ‘supernatural’ kind. And to do that, they employ some pretty uncanny powers of their own.
As the title hints, the Checquy use chess-related codenames: King – Lady Farrier (Joely Richardson); Queen – Conrad Grantchester (Adrian Lester); the Rooks – the Gestalt quadruplets, Eliza, Robert and the twins Alex and Teddy (Catherine Steadman, Ronan Raftery & Jon Fletcher), and our main character, Rook Myfanwy Thomas (Emma Greenwell).
The story begins with Myfanwy regaining consciousness after a traumatic event. She’s not only lost her memory, but she’s surrounded by dead bodies. Fortunately, she seemed to be aware trouble was coming, because the ‘alternative’ her left a series of clues, in the form of a red pill/blue pill scenario, to help her make a choice.
She can either start a new life away from the shadowy world of international psychic espionage and meta-human trafficking, or regain details of her former occupation and reintegrate as a frontline operative.
To help you (and the mind-wiped version of Myfanwy) understand what’s going on, there are a series of detailed video recordings and helpful flashbacks that unravel the mystery.
Is she simply a cold-hearted killer who wants to wipe the blood from her hands, or is there more to it?
Betrayal. Steamy affairs. Questionable allegiances. It’s all there, along with a doozy of a ‘whodunit to her’ teaser that holds this ambitious project together pretty well without taking itself too seriously.
I for one, hope the second series doesn’t take too long.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

This Week's Thought's on. . .



The Book of Etta
In the Book of Etta, we follow the trials and tribulations of one of the descendants of those few women trained by the Unnamed Midwife to care for those priceless gems who can still successfully give birth to newborns one hundred years after the fall of mankind.
The thing is, Etta doesn’t want to be a midwife. Nor does she wish to bear children. She follows in the footsteps of the Unnamed Midwife herself, who traveled the wilds armed with nothing but an antique revolver and her wits.
Thus, Etta becomes a raider – and one of the most successful ones Nowhere has ever seen.
But a raider’s life is fraught with danger, as Etta discovers to her cost when she deviates from her normal routines and encounters strangers who demonstrate that – despite the calamity almost ending mankind’s reign – you still can’t trust human nature . . . or our capacity to learn from the mistakes of the past.
A superb sequel to a hauntingly poignant series, and one of the most compelling reads you’ll ever come across.




Pennyworth
For those of you who haven’t seen it yet, Pennyworth is the story of Alfred – The Alfred who later becomes the butler to Bruce – Batman – Wayne.
Produced by the team who brought us Gotham, you can expect a somewhat noir atmosphere to predominate. And it does. A comic book brought to life, Pennyworth is creative, gritty, and has a definite charm that engages you from the moment it starts.
In Pennyworth, Alfred is a young man, recently demobbed from the army after 10 years. As an ex SAS soldier, he possesses a maturity and approach to life that belies his youth, and in an effort to avoid the future earmarked for him by his father – that of a butler – he starts his own security company in the rough and tumble London of an alternate 1960s Britain.
Alfred runs into trouble from the get-go. For one, he bumps into Thomas Wayne, (Bruce’s dad), who is in London trying to track down his wayward sister, while engaged on some dodgy business for the American government. The two become embroiled, leading Alfred into conflict with an entity called the Raven Society. Things get complicated when he falls for Esme, an upper-class girl who his parents think are out of his league.
What follows is tremendously good fun, and although parts are deliberately outlandish and manically unhinged, creates just the right balance to keep you rooting for Alfred and his team as they navigate their way through one carefully crafted crisis after another.
Give it a go. You won’t be disappointed.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

My Reviews Of. . .



Three Laws Lethal
It’s been a long time since I sat down to read a book, only to find myself going from cover to cover in two days.
I did exactly that with “Three Laws Lethal”, the latest offering from David Walton. And you might appreciate why. The topic of Artificial Intelligence is not only current, but it’s the subject of much controversy and conjecture.
A superb avenue, therefore, to introduce us to the driving force behind our story.
Why? Think about it. We already have cars that can park themselves and carry out all sorts of complicated maneuvers unassisted.  Some can even project images of the road ahead onto a screen or heads-up display on the windshield during conditions of reduced visibility. So, why not take that one step further?
Walton does, and uses it as the foundation on which to build his world:
It’s the very near future and self-driving cars are now a reality. As you might expect, competition is fierce, especially among the big-name car manufacturers. Two friends at college have a dream to cut in on the market by developing a state-of-the-art predictive system to beat everything else that’s available. And beat it they do . . . only, not in the way you would expect.
The road to success is beset by hazards, you see. Tragedy leads to heartbreak. Heartbreak to a fierce rivalry that festers over the years into a deep abiding hatred. And behind it all, an emerging intelligence begins to comprehend it can do more; much more, that simply follow instructions.
Yes, what happens when the real and virtual worlds collide?
Well, strap in and hang on! You’re about to find out in a story that’s so believable, you’ll never want to turn control of your safety over to a machine! And THAT’s what I particularly enjoyed about this book. I’m something of a physics geek myself. The fact that the science incorporated into the storyline already has a toehold in society makes you forget you’re reading a sci-fi novel.
Kudos to David Walton.
“Three Laws Lethal” – a story as immersive as the VR it portrays.



Stranger Things 3
As any discerning connoisseur will affirm, you can have all the right ingredients at the ready, but unless you mix them together in the right order, at the right time and in the right way, you won’t produce a Michelin star class meal.
And when it comes to producing a masterful recipe, Stranger Things 3 sets the bar.
This time around, the gang are doing their best to settle into their lives after sealing the rift between dimensions and the loss of someone close to them. A degree of normalcy returns, so much so, that life might be said to be boring.
But fear not, pesky Russian villains have infiltrated Hawkins, and they’re up to mischief. Somehow, they’ve managed to set up a huge underground base beneath the town’s new shopping mall where they’re working hard to reopen the rift. Of course, the malevolence lurking on the other side doesn’t need an invitation to resume its dastardly schemes, and in no time at all, local residents start acting strangely.
As the mind flayer consolidates its hold, you could be forgiven for thinking revenge will be the sweetest of dishes served with a garnish of dead bodies.
Not if the gang has anything to do with it!
Once they learn what is happening, they set out in their own unique ways to spoil the broth that is brewing right under their feet: A touch of mood setting here; a dash of 1980’s kitsch there; a liberal sprinkling of fast paced witty dialogue; all stirred into a sound base of cast interaction that blends everything together into a wonderfully enjoyable runaway extravaganza served with a cherry on top.
It really is great stuff, and guaranteed to please the hundreds and thousands who are bound to binge on this third serving of one of the best shows on TV at the moment.
Roll on series 4.

Friday, September 6, 2019

My Thoughts On. . .



The Robots of Gotham
Smart machines are here – whatever the laws banning the development of AI might be – and they’re here to stay. They’ve made sure of that, in the post apocalyptic future in which The Robots of Gotham is set.
Canadian businessman, Barry Simcoe, arrives in 2083 Chicago only days before the hotel in which he is staying is attacked by a rogue war machine. In the chaos that ensues, he ends up accused of murder, makes the acquaintance of a badly damaged robot called Nineteen Black Winter and, while awaiting interrogation, chips in to help an overworked, understaffed Russian medic.
It’s as this hotchpotch of events come together that Barry stumbles upon a machine conspiracy to reduce mankind to nothing more than a token species by way of a deadly plague. Obviously, he wants to do something about it. And as he begins his hopelessly inept investigation, he ends up committing himself – and his new friends – to a helter-skelter ride that rapidly spirals out of control.
How much out of control?
Trigger-happy revolutionaries; maniacal scientists; bloodthirsty tyrants; hidden robot colonies; genocidal war machines; James Bond scenarios. Barry has to face them all, and still find time to arrange a charity dinner for Chicago’s elite while maintaining the charade of total, bumbling innocence.
Never a dull moment in this compulsive, fast paced and thoroughly engaging romp through a future that could all too easily overtake us. And on a personal note, I DO hope to see Barry Simcoe again one day.
Brilliant!




Jessica Jones – Series 3
Sadly, this is the last we will see of Jessica Jones – a wonderfully gritty series ended before its time due to inter-company politics. (sigh).
Jessica is a reluctant hero; powered; outcast; looked upon by some with suspicion and other with grudging respect. Her nemesis this time around is a polymathic serial-killer. Someone without powers who, nevertheless, strives to excel at everything while daring anyone who thinks they're intelligent enough to catch him. And when his activities inadvertently catch the eye of Jessica Jones? Well, it’s gloves off and game on in a tit-for-tat game that becomes increasingly vindictive and deadly with each passing day. Ingenious stuff, and as compelling as ever.
Jessica Jones maintains the bar that Marvel failed to sustain with any of their other TV shows – except for Daredevil – with polish aplomb. A pity viewers will have to suffer the end of one of the best shows Netflix ever had.

Friday, August 30, 2019

Review Time


The Book of the Unnamed Midwife
The long anticipated fall of mankind is the subject matter of this first book in the “Road to Nowhere” series. And like any tragedy waiting to happen, it takes people by surprise. Before the world realizes what they’re dealing with, it’s already too late and we’re facing a mass extinction event.
The thing that really makes an impact with this story is that no one knows why! And that’s a poignantly powerful statement to make . . . and a humbling one too, because let’s face it; the majority of humanity doesn’t give two hoots about what we’re doing to the planet or our environment. Not until it affects them personally, that is. And in the Unnamed Midwife, it does, with bells on!
All the scant survivors do know is that whatever the pandemic was, it hit suddenly; it hit hard; and very few were able to endure. Of those that did, men were in the majority, for the plague proved especially virulent among pregnant women and newborns. In the aftermath, pregnancy becomes a death sentence. A dilemma for any female old enough to bear children in a society that spirals into chaos and hormone-riddled rape gangs.
Told from the perspective of a nurse – and one of the few females to survive – the Unnamed Midwife details her personal journey from successful career woman into an existence fuelled by isolation and fear of discovery. Part story – part extract from her journal, its a haunting, gripping indictment of inhuman nature at its bases level, and sums up what would most likely happen if such a thing ever happened.
Powerful stuff. And a compelling read.


Chernobyl
This mini-series is lesson in how to present fictional drama.
I’m sure we’ve all heard of Chernobyl. The date of April 26th 1986 will be etched on the minds of many as the day one of the worst man-made catastrophes ever unfurled.
The TV mini-series dramatizes the story of that event, and is based – for the most part – on the recollections of those living in Pripyat at the time by Belarusian Nobel Laureate, Svetlana Alexievich in her book, “Voices from Chernobyl”.
I’ve got to say, I was really impressed by this series. It’s a powerful, deeply disturbing account of how a tragic accident rapidly declined from bad to worse. And why? In a nutshell, the political ethos of the time in the Soviet Union was that the “party line” came first . . . or else!
That “line” allowed former shoe factory managers to dictate policy on issues they simply weren’t prepared or qualified to handle, leading to hundreds of needless deaths. That brutal reality was portrayed by a strong cast and superb directing where the brooding menace of the regime almost overshadowed the tragedy as it unfurled: The refusal to accept the facts; disbelief of those qualified to make accurate assessments; the negligence involved in sending countless heroes – the firemen, miners and soldiers tasked to contain the outbreak – to their deaths as they battled to contain a force they didn’t understand.
Gripping, compelling, and infuriating, to say the least. And a poignant reminder to us all as to how fragile we are, and how little we understand the powers we play with.



Friday, August 16, 2019

This Week's Thoughts On. . .


Dead Moon
You’d be forgiven for thinking that with the kind of life Samantha Moon has led, not much would take her by surprise anymore?
You’d be wrong!
Still immortal, yet free of the presence of Elizabeth – the dark master that empowered her when she first became a vampire – Sam is adjusting well to her new condition and the freedom this brings to spend much more time with her family . . . if having a telepathic daughter and Light Warrior son can be construed as normal . . . Ah, if only things could stay that way.
Why? She’s suddenly struck by a strong premonition of foreboding while watching TV when a young zombie woman suddenly turns to face her from within the show, and reaches out to her, begging for help.
But even in the topsy-turvy paranormal world of Samantha Moon, there’s no such thing as zombies . . . Right?
Thus begins an adventure that forces Sam to realize she might be rid of her dark master, but so are a whole host of other supernatural entities. And those dark masters are celebrating their freedom by fomenting something. Something awful. Something evil. Massing together, they’re forming unholy alliances that simply shouldn’t be considered, for such alliances will spell the end of mankind.
Unless Samantha Moon lends a hand.
Enjoy yourself. You just know it’s going to be fun!


The OA – Series 2

This time out, OA finds herself in a new dimension in a different version of herself; a rich and successful version where she never suffered the accident that blinded her as a child. An excellent start, you might think. However, the rose tinted spectacles of new expectations quickly become clouded when she realizes she isn’t safe. Her adversary, Hap, is there too. His version is a prominent psychiatrist heading a successful psychiatric hospital where he lures unwilling victims to continue his abusive experiments.
You might guess what happens. . .
Even so, it’s not plain sailing for anybody. OA also crosses paths with Karim Washington, a private detective tasked with finding missing teenager, Michelle Vu, who goes missing inside an eerie old house in another part of the neighborhood.
What’s the link? Find out for yourselves in a multilayered tale that expands on the original series in a skilful and redolent way, blending the two together so provocatively that you’re held spellbound throughout because a part of you – deep down inside – relates to what’s happening on a subliminal level.
Quality viewing. I look forward to series 3 with anticipation.