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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.