Feeds:
Posts
Comments


I’ve become a fan of Belcher’s steampunk, weird West novels. After having read Six-Gun Tarot and Shotgun Arcana, I became Kirsten Dunst’s character in Interview With The Vampire and I wanted MORE. And somehow, Mr. Belcher heard my silent plea and brought forth Queen Of Swords. Took me a while to get my paws on this one since the library only ordered a few copies (bloody hell) for the ENTIRE system (aye, a travesty) and so I had to join the other mortals and put in a REQUEST for this one. Took me a while to get it but when it showed up on my desk … there was Handel’s Messiah sung with Enya’s voice … purring in my ear. Yeah, I know … need to get out more (and I did … was in Vegas in the last week of September … more on that in another forum). So enough with the bollocks .. . and let’s get this book review on the road, yeah?
Belcher’s first two books, in this series (why is he saying series and not trilogy like he said in the past reviews … patience, mates or feel free to skip ahead and read … and possibly miss some Vegas stories … who knows), took place in the Midwest city of Golgatha. Queen, however, takes place in South Carolina, London and Western Africa. And this time, everything is mostly centered around Maude and Constance Stapleton who we all know are members of a secret cult of women known as the Daughters of Lilith and these women are badasses (think witches combined with ninjas … yes, some serious stuff). In previous books there has always been mention of Anne Bonny, the pirate queen, that not only is a distant relative but a mentor (of sorts) to the Stapleton women. Queen, however, delves deep into the life of Anne Bonny and I must admit she’s a loveable asskicker. But hey Evil Parrot, you may say, what or who is the bad guy in this one? Pushy aren’t we … but I’ll be a good chap and all. Meet Typhon, a sort of octopus monster-thingy wearing a really bad human disguise but is quite the evil tosser you’d love to hate. Oh did I mention like Lilith, he is the Father of a cult that is mostly male and rivals the Daughters of Lilith: the Sons of Typhoon. And yes, for those that have fired up an extra neuron or two have figured that … yes … Typhon and Lilith had thing, possibly engaged in copious amounts of the good old in/out, in/out … and like most relationships, things went tits up and here we are. As most of know, previously, Constance had moved away from Golgatha to be with her grandfather in North Carolina and apparently the grandfather was holding on to her whilst claiming his daughter, Maude, was seemingly unfit as mother. I guess it was that whole exposing-your-daughter-to-battles-with-demons-monsters-and-cannibals thing that must have gotten this bloke’s knickers all twisted. What a pissy bastard, that one. A bit too hard on the man, you say? Eh, maybe. Nay. So Maude is off to Charleston, South Carolina to reclaim her daughter that results in a fiery courtroom battle featuring a female lawyer (Maude’s representation and possible future regular character), Arabella, that is just as vicious as any of skirmishes in the book in its subtlety. Keep in mind that this is the 1800s where lawyers were mostly men and yet Arabella manages to make Gloria Alred look like a bottom-feeding ambulance chaser. Whoa, did I go a bit too far on that one? Maybe, and yes, I guess I did go there. So along with dealing with a cantankerous father, Maude now has to deal with the emergence of the feral Sons of Typhon and some other Daughters of Lilith. And the focal point of this madness: her daughter Constance. And yes, we get to meet some more Daughters: Inna and her daughter Lesya Barkov(Russians), Leng Ya (Chinese and arrogant as hell), Amadia Ibori (cool headed African), Itzel (Guatemalan and deceptive in appearance) and Alexandria Poole (English, with possibly ice for blood). Did I mention that they are very formidable badasses. We’re also introduced to the mystical/somewhat spirit guide/sensei Raashida (very ancient, African and witty).
Queen is written in two timelines, approximately a century apart, detailing the life of pirate queen Anne Bonny and her quest along with the “present” craziness involving the Stapletons, the Sons and the Daughters. This is not, I caution, mere filler stuff when it comes to the two timelines and it is done purposely that adds to the delightful climax in the novel. How, you ask? I’m not going to be a bloody tosser and say, mates. Sorry, that’s how the Evil Parrot rolls. Also a few adorable notables: Alter Cline ( reporter that’s apparently gunning for Maude’s affections), Belrose (a French mercenary that is seemingly drunk throughout the entire book), Adu (the enigmatic African guide that is enigmatic as he is formidable), and Nourbese (a Yoruba Amazon that makes Rhonda Rousey sound like a ballet dancer). Our favourite half-breed (half coyote/half man) Mutt, along with Golgatha, makes a brief appearance. Still trying to figure out the dynamics behind that whole coyote-man thing … and then often spend a bit erasing the imageries from my mind. But the best part is the trip, towards the end of the novel, is getting there: sinister plots, betrayals, ulterior motives … all caught in an adrenaline-infused roller-coaster of emotions (mostly anxiety and fear) as Belcher hurtles … like a screaming banshee on fiery steed … towards a conclusion that would make you anxious as the last page approaches. And yes, I don’t think Mr. Belcher is done with the Weird West (at least that is another of my silent pleas in hope of another book). Good show, Mr. Belcher. Jolly good show, mate. Keep it coming. Just don’t go George R.R. on us. And yes, I did go there, GoTers.

Advertisements


It is October. The scariest month in the year. Halloween, trick or treating, and horror movie marathons on AMC, SYFY and just about any cable network that has a pulse. And so I decide to read something a wee bit scary. This is one of those “whispery” books that beckoned to me at my branch. Yes, I am beginning to think that I need to get out more when books start “whispering” to me AND turn out to be great reads. Secret superpower? Or the immense need to socialize more? Whatever, mates. But enough with the bollocks and let’s carry on, yeah?
It starts out in London where a newly engaged couple is setting up plans for an impending wedding. Meet Adam Holzer, a not-so-religious Jew from Long Island, and his bride-to-be Meryam Karga, a former Muslim turned atheist. Aye, love in the twenty-first century. So strange, unusual yet so delightful. Oui? Non? They’ve both co-authored books based on their high-climbing adventures around the world. So when an earthquake reveals a secret cave on Mount Ararat, in Turkey, the fearless duo wants to be the first to find out what’s in the cave. The cave is actually the buried remains of an ancient ship that many believes to be Noah’s ark. And so Meryam cancels her wedding and the two heads off to what seems to be another adventure. So along with a team of scholars, archeologists, filmmakers, one UN representative, and an undercover DARPA agent, they ascend Mount Ararat. There is a team of guides, headed by an early established wanker named Hakan Ceven, the lead the way to the caves. Upon entering the caves, the territorial pissings begin between the different groups in view of this historical find … until they discover a coffin with a cadaver with HORNS. And then the shit hits the fan. For the most, such as yours truly, would have called it a day and started my descent, but of course that would bring the book to an abrupt and crappy end. So the team decides to indulge their curiosity and the reader is in for a case of the heebie-jeebies … on steroids. So needless to say, things started to go bump in the night (aside from the occasional couple from the team that decides to indulge in a bit of the old in-out, in-out) and blood started to splatter, as team members started to disappear and feel strange things in the cave. Bloody hell. Pun possibly intended.
Ararat in nutshell is The Thing meets the Exorcist meets Fallen (there goes that Rolling Stones song in my head) meets the Mummy meets Cliffhanger. A lot of meetings if you ask me. Enough to make you want to keep the light on at night and would probably suck if you were camping, found a deep cave, and this just happens to be the only book you brought to read on your hike (yeah, sweet dreams on that one, luv). Golden weaves a terrifying tale with so many twists and turns that hurtles in break-neck speed towards an ending that leave you stunned shitless (possibly requiring a cleaner pair of undies). Caution: try not to get too attached to any of the of the characters. You’ve been warned. Good reading …and um … sweet dreams


The sequel to The Bone Tree, I could not simply avoid this book even if you paid me handsomely to do so. Though I have yet to read the first of the trilogy, Natchez Burning, I can’t help but still forging ahead to read Blood. Yes, I know I am violating some weird reader code of sorts but that’s how the Evil Parrot rolls. And to Mr. Iles credit, he wrote Bone Tree so well that it could have easily been a standalone. But, I will still be heading back to read Natchez Burning after all is said and done. And yes, even when I know the “spoilers”. But enough of the bollocks and on to the bleedy review.

The Bone Tree left us with a Penn Cage trying to pick the pieces of his life after killing Frank Knox (the head of a notorious Ku Klux Klan fringe group known as the Double Eagles) and the death of his fiancée that was killed in her quest to find the Bone Tree. And then along comes Lincoln Turner, Penn’s half-brother and product of an affair between Tom Cage(Penn’s father) and Violet Turner (an Afro-American nurse) and the shit hits the fan. Tom Cage is accused, by Lincoln, of causing the death of Violet Turner (Lincoln’s mother) and is arrested. Meanwhile, Snake Knox is still running around free and is back in the United States and he’s got revenge on his mind. To be precise: he has a bloodbath in mind for Penn Cage and his family. Teaming up with a white supremacist biker gang, along with his firearms-proficient, psychopath of a son (Alois Engels), Snake is determined to bathe the shores of Mississippi in a nice shade of red. And this they do with the grace and mercy of a pit filled with agitated water moccasins. Though Penn is not exactly a sitting duck, surrounded by private contractor bodyguards who are mostly former SEALs and Special Forces, he finds himself under the charms of a Serenity Butler, a journalist and former military officer that is quite the firecracker. And yes a lot of steamy stuff happen between Serenity and Penn … and they even sleep together too. Interestingly enough, as much the book could have been about the Snake and his ilk committing all sorts of vileness in the land, the real star of this book is the trial of Tom Cage. Now some you will read this and go, bloody hell I’m not going to read about some bloody courtroom drama … and you’ll be terribly wrong about this. This is a trial like you’ve never read one before. The showdown between Quentin Avery, the wheelchair bound defender of Tom Cage, and Shadrach “Shad” Johnson the prosecutor is the equivalent of watching a July the 4th celebration … using nuclear missiles that explode in midair. The trial if it were an action movie would be likened to a Jason Bourne movie filled with twists, turns and intrigue around every nook and cranny that you soon begin to dread things like sleep, bodily functions, and going to work. The trial (in my humble opinion) is Iles’ masterpiece, and there is a good chance that many of you will not guess the outcome of the trial. Of course, some of you would be cheeky bastards and skip ahead and read the bleedy outcome. Tsk, tsk … not very sporting mates, though I will admit that I was tempted to do the same, but you know what they say about patience being a good virtue and all that other bollocks.
After having read The Bone Tree, I must have been panting like a Pavlovian dog in anticipation of this sequel, and I when I finally got it, it was worth the wait. Blood is the South like you’ve never read it and sad reflection of the way race relations are today in America. Fiction hits home. The action inside and outside the courtroom is thick and stifling as monsoon humidity in a Louisiana bayou and strikes as viciously and relentlessly as a trod-upon copperhead. Forget grabbing you by the throat, Blood grabs you by the minerals and it is that good kind of pain (hope I don’t sound too fifty shady here … but there I said it) that you endure … willingly … all the way to the last page. Jolly good show, Mr. Iles.


It has been a while since we visited our favourite futuristic, dysfunctional tropical planet, Lagartha. Mostly because I was being a cheap bastard and waiting for Hammond’s third KOP book in this delightful futuristic noir trilogy to show up on my library shelves. Alas, it didn’t and so I had to do the unthinkable: yes, I went out and bought it (gasp). But fear not, it was worth the 4 quid from Amazon. And so with all the niceties out of the way, let’s get on with it. Shall we?

Killer finds our favourite corrupt cop, Juno Mozambe, on the other side of the law as an average citizen, in the wake of his murdered partner, Paul, the former corrupt chief of the Koba Office of Police (KOP). To make things worse, the murder was engineered by the new corrupt chief, Emil Mota, that now resides over KOP and uses the institution for his own personal gain. Sounds like a certain real-life administration. At this point Juno decides to get back into the protection racket whilst teaming up with a rag-tag team of loyal officers and his former partner Maggie Orzo (possibly the only clean-cut police officer in the entire planet … yes, it is that corrupt) in plan to get revenge on Mota. But this time it isn’t business as usual, for Juno’s ulterior motive is to get Mota out of the way in order to put Maggie in the position, for he feels that Maggie is the only one that can turn the system around for the … better. Yes, our favourite, corrupt, meat-eating, alpha-male, protagonist actually wants to do something that is actually virtuous and decent. But this is Lagartha (sort of rhymes with Sparta) and the only that that gets kicked down that bottomless dark hole as it gets showered by Gerard Butler’s spittle is decency and civility. So when Juno decides to call Mota out and challenge his rule, what happens is the unexpected as Juno realizes that his mouth may have written a check that his body (literally) might not be able to cash. And it doesn’t take much long in the book for the vicious, gory violence that is characteristic of Lagartha to rear its head. And it is quick and vicious. And pretty boy Mota turns out to be anything but. In 2798 (yes, it is way into the future) and Lagartha is about to heat up and we’re not talking about the planet’s vicious humidity. Life is cheaper than Lagarthan sewage and the depravity keeps setting the bar at newer heights. And as his rag-tag crew starts perishing, in the most vicious ways, Juno is caught in a cat-and-mouse that is breathless and terrifying. There are of course all the usual seedy delicacies: kinky, rich offworlder wanks, twisted warlords, and yes, even more corrupt, psychotic police officers. And what would a futuristic detective noir be without strange 28th century tech: cybernetic-enhanced vaginas (yes, you read right and this is not a spelling error), tattoos that can be turned on and off and even be animated, and anthromorphic enhancements that can turn people into things like werewolves. Yes, Lagartha is strange, vicious, tropical planet where if the humidity doesn’t kill you there is a good chance that inhabitants will … possibly just because they can and for some other silly reason.
Hammond’s third KOP book, in what feels like a trilogy, keeps up the tempo from the other two and then some. It grabs you by the throat, viciously taunts and teases you as peer anxiously around each page as you would around the corners of a large mansion that has a rampaging maniac, and hurtles you in break-neck speed (busted brakes and all) towards a blood stained conclusion. Sorry, but this … is … Lagartha.


I simply had to take this book home. One look at is creepily designed book cover along with the synopsis pretty much signaled “must-read-by-the –fire” book, which is weird since I don’t have a fireplace and live in a condo. But there it is, yet another book beckoning to me and turning out to be a great read (in my humblest opinion). But enough with me and let’s get on with it … yeah?

In the town of Deer Valley, lives Stevie Clark and his cousin Jude Brighton. I know what you’re thinking… with a name like Deer Valley, this going to be one of those “white-picket fences and all before Cujo attacks” story. Nay, not quite. Stevie Clark has a speech impediment and, needless to say, is a bit of an outcast at school. His cousin Jude, is also a bit of an outcast and loner, but the two spends their time together in the woods building tree forts. As if things couldn’t get any worse, Stevie is lorded over by a dick of stepfather (with a capital D) named Terry Marks and is adoringly referred to as “The Tyrant”. It won’t take long for most readers to hate this tosser. I promise you. Jude and Stevie’s foray into the woods is always fun, but there is a limit to their explorations in those woods since there is a house that everyone whispers about and never ventures close to it. You know that house, every town has one of them. Though, as someone growing up in the 70s, the only scary thing such houses had to offer was that, at worse, the possibility of me stumbling upon a swinger’s orgy and then my poor parent’s would to do some modified explanation of the bird and bees. I’ve said too much already … and detoured a wee bit.
Interestingly enough, Crept is actually two stories being told that leads to a horrifying convergence. The other is about Rosamund (Rosie) and Ansel Aleksander. A decent couple settling in Deer Valley, and trying to start a family. After a miscarriage, a bereft Rose runs away for a while where along the way she encounters the interesting Ras and his Happy hope retreat. After a puzzling yet restful one-night stay over at the retreat, Rose returns to Ansel and before you can start singing “Reunited” tragedy strikes and Ansel is no more. Rose is also pregnant.
Meanwhile, Jude has disappeared and for more than a week, Deep Valley searches for him, fearing the worst … until one day he casually shows up. Aye, there are more red flags waving that a Bloods gang convention at this point. At first all seems well, but Jude is not. His mother, Mandy, is over-joyed at his return, so much that she overlooks the growing horror that lurks in Jude. The terror that, only, Stevie has seen and witnessed in action. Crept hurtles at terrifying pace as these two story lines intersect into a shit-inducing, terrifying tale. The kind that wakes you up at night in coldsweats and chills, with that sensation of icy fingers crawling up your spine. Pay attention to the Ras character, and you will truly appreciate the horrifying conclusion. And that’s all I can say since I’d be a tosser in spoiling a really good horror story for you. The kind that’ll make you scream “Bloody hell” and drop the book as if it suddenly glowed red-hot in your hands.
Creepy (and vicious) as hell, Ms. Alborn’s Devil Crept In is the kind of book you’ll want to read on a moonless night, complete with howling winds and tree branches tapping at your window. Or maybe that’s just me. Others might do well to keep the lights on and possibly resist the urge of going down into darkened basements. Just saying, mates.


Running title: Rogue Heroes – The History Of The SAS, Britain’s Secret Special Forces Unit That Sabotaged The Nazis And Changed The Nature Of War.

It is no secret that I’m a big fan of the Special Operations community and the wonderful work that they do (God bless you, chaps), so when I came across this book, perched on my New Arrivals shelf, I pretty much salivated like a Pavlovian hound and couldn’t resist checking it out. Ah yes, the perks of being a librarian (aside from being in some folks naughty librarian fantasies …yes, no … maybe wishful thinking on my behalf). *Sigh* I have detoured already. Well so much for the bollocks, let’s get on with it. Yeah?

Most significant and major institutions are built on vision, blood, sweat and tears (not to mention a few broken bones in this context) of those daring few visionaries. The special operation community that are prevalent in our lives today would not have been had it not been for those daring few in World War II. The first time I ever became of the existence of the SAS was, during the 80s, when I watched a movie called The Final Option starring Lewis Collins. Interesting fact: Lewis Collins as actually passed the selection for 23SAS unit but was actually rejected because of his celebrity status. Yes, sometimes fact can be stranger than fiction. Rogue takes us from the very, very (rough and tumble … literally) humble beginnings with its founder, David Sterling. Often regarded as “irresponsible and unremarkable”, it was Sterling’s vision of unconventional warfare that caught a few minds in a time when Germany dominated North Africa with an ever-growing stranglehold that was extending outward toward Europe. The thing is that an unconventional unit will most likely attract unconventional personalities or as someone had put it bluntly: “the sweepings of public schools and prisons”. Eccentric, definitely, insane (and possibly psychotic), maybe. Needless to say, the SAS beginnings were littered with many strange, eccentric personalities. One such was Blair “Paddy” Mayne known for his violent temper and the occasional bouts of drunkenness, which some have rumoured that were due to closeted homosexuality (though there has been very little evidence to prove such), became a critical figure in the formation and the growth of the SAS. He was also known, in the later years, for driving into missions with a gramophone, playing music, in his jeep. He’s been also been known to find the time to dig into a paperback during some of the most hair-raising firefights. Yes, truly an odd bloke that one. There are other names such as Roy “Paddy McGinty” Farran and Randolph Churchill (yes, the son of THAT Churchill). It is said that Randolph home to his father about the SAS exploits in sabotage and assaults on the Germans that made Winston Churchill one of the SAS biggest fans, and (as the immortal Martha Stewart would say) this was a good thing. From earlier training methods (jumping out of 30mph vehicles to practice parachute landings) to incredible feats of survival (walking over 180 miles in the desert to get to a friendly unit whereas the “easier” options meant being captured) to encountering the barbarous nature of the German forces and their abominable conscription of children soldiers (yes, I’m afraid this started way before current day Africa). And then there are anecdotes that are delightful roguish and scandalous such as Stirling having dinner with Churchill and asking for Churchill’s signature on a blank piece of paper as “memento” which was then used to forge a letter to the SAS carte blanche access to equipment and personnel. Aye, truly scandalous, but Churchill was a good sport and yes, a big fan of the SAS, so that bit of dodgy roguishness got a pass.
Rogue is a superb eye-opener into the origins of Special Forces. Interesting note: the SAS during peace time served as a war crimes investigation unit that may have helped bring a lot of war criminals and the scope German monstrosity, during the war, to light. Quite gruesome on occasion, with some spots of levity, and filled with insanely daring exploits of the SAS during World War II, Rogue Heroes is a very riveting read (as in you’ll want to rivet your eyelids open and not sleep). A splendid tribute to those daring few that launched an evolutionary approach to war which in turn produced the Navy SEALs, the Green Berets (US Army Special Forces), the Polish GROM and even the Russian Spetsnaz. God bless these daring few that has taken up the mantle for the good fight downrange.

Running title: The Battle For Room 314 – My Year Of Hope And Despair In A New York City High School.
There was a time, prior to working in the public library system, that I actually (and seriously) considered becoming a teacher. At the time I was working in the IT department at a community college and often had the misfortune of travelling home with rowdy school kids. Seriously, what are kids doing at school till 8PM? Let’s just say that some of the thoughts that passed through my head I will not mention for I may end up on some bloody watchlist of sorts or might be paid an unwelcome visit by law enforcement. Needless to say, a career in education evapourated rather quickly from mind (somewhat). Still there is always that thought, throughout the years, of “what if” that occasionally creeps back into my mind.
So after having seen and read the synopsis of Battle, in our stacks, I was intrigued and, like Kirsten Dunst in Interview With The Vampire, I wanted more. And so began my (short) reading odyssey of “what could have been”. The books open with a very unflattering encounter with “Chantay” that makes a big scene in the classroom in which she instructs Mr. Boland to “suck her dick” (yes, I wish was making this up) … all this to impress a gangbanger boyfriend. This pretty much sets the tone of what is in store for the readers. And it is quite the ride. Sad to say, it didn’t take much in reading to realize that I had very, very little to regret. Yes, we’ve all seen To Sir With Love and Stand and Deliver, where there is that “hero teacher” that rolls into town with the dream of giving educationally disadvantaged youth a fighting chance in the world. What Battle reveals is more dire than I have suspected but is (sad to say) not quite shocking since I see remnants of this bollocks strolling through the library doors when school lets out. Sort of like that movie, Class of 2000 with the cyborg teachers. Battle reads more like cry of urgency, a literary flare launched into the social atmosphere of city whose good intentions seemingly allow the lunatics to run the asylum. For some strange reason, there is this compelling need to give everyone access to education even when some clearly don’t want to be educated and become a hindrance to those that really want to better themselves. And it is quite the sad spectrum. The good: Byron (the Jamaican prodigy that has great potential, but it constantly a victim to misinformed choices that robs him of many great educational opportunities), Yvette (the smart kid with a tawdry sexual pass … something about BJs to older guys ..for a dollar) and Mariah (the sullen, red-hoodie-wearing, insightful, seemingly-bright, angst-ridden teen). The bad: Kameron Shields (the rule breaking, extravagant, gangbanger), and Sameer Gherbe (Moroccan kid that coaxed another kid into shooting a kid with pellet gun … as sign of love). The ugly: Valentia (the young sociopath in training that used a trip to Six Flags to either fake a miscarriage or commit abortion by roller coaster …yes, bloody ponderous), and the shoddy treatment of Ni-Cole, who resides in a homeless shelter, by other classmates who themselves are probably a paycheck away from the same fate. Yes, not for the intellectually faint of heart, and would most likely drive most into the loving embrace of homeschooling. Battle is in fact, a tribute to teachers who rise everyday with the hope of giving some disadvantaged child out there a fighting chance whilst dealing the bureaucratic and social bollocks … and it is quite a big buggering pile of bollocks. As if the author did not have enough on his plate, Mr. Boland writes about his mother who often made disparaging remarks about his choice and the teaching profession in general. Having worked for college admissions, he talks about the unfair (in a few pages) selection process that is enough to make any overworked and ultra-studious student take to the nearest water tower with a high-powered rifle. I guess that finally explains why I (upper 90 percentile in graduating class) got the waiting list treatment for MIT and some bloke that could toss a ball through a hoop with a 65 (!!!) average gets a scholarship to Georgetown University (he actually dropped out after a year). But it is not all downright depressing. Oh no. There is that part of one of the chapters that I call it The Ballad of Father Tenner. A moment in Boland’s past about this pious, alpha-male, General Patton wannabe that basically bullied male parochial school kids … until he got caught in a prostitute sting.
Battle is an indictment of a crappy educational system run by clueless bureaucracy, twenty-first century parenting created by years of shitty pseudo-psychology and the way we treat our educators (hint: not so great). In consideration of how New Yorkers love to tout their intellectual superiority, it is downright fraudulent as Battle reveals the classroom has become a literal gladiatorial arena of sorts, where troublemakers are furloughed into classrooms of unsuspecting students. Students who are in turn victimized by the trouble makers and the system, thus robbing them of a decent educational experience. Progress. And in this version of To Sir With Love, Lulu does not step forward to sing a charming song … but instead throws a used tampon in Sid Poitier’s face and tells him to … sod off. Quite the eye-opener. And to those that use the phrase “those who can’t do … teach”: Wanks and tossers, the lot of you.