Quick Review: VAULTS OF OBSIDIAN (Black Library)

BlackstoneFortress-VaultsOfObsidianA collection of stories set on and around the Blackstone Fortress

For uncountable ages the Blackstone Fortress has kept its watchful silence. It patiently waits, willing those brave enough to gamble everything exploring its halls. Only the most determined of adventurers will return with riches – the unworthy are never seen again. But to many, the rewards far outweigh the risks. Among the denizens of Precipice, ratlings, robots, and rogue traders all pursue their own agendas, pitting themselves against the myriad forces of darkness that have claimed the fortress as their own. Deadliest of all is Obsidius Mallex, who aims to twist another Talisman of Vaul to Chaos’ unholy cause. Unless this traitor is stopped, the galaxy will burn beneath the wrath of the Ruinous Gods.

CONTENTS
Talisman of Vaul by Darius Hinks
Shapes Pent in Hell by Josh Reynolds
Fates and Fortunes by Thomas Parrott
Past in Flames by J C Sterns
Negavolt by Nicholas Wolf
The Three-Edged Blade by Denny Flowers
Motherlode by Nick Kyme
Purity is a Lie by Guy Haley
The Oath in Darkness by David Annandale
Man of Iron by Guy Haley
The Beast Inside by Darius Hinks
The Last of the Longhorns by Nick Kyme

I recently read Darius Hinks’s Blackstone Fortress, which served as a great introduction to this setting. Naturally, I was interested in reading more, and Vaults of Obsidian was available for review. It’s an interesting collections of stories, offering a variety of perspectives on the Blackstone Fortress and its unusual place in the WH40k setting. I enjoyed it. Continue reading

Music Review: Linkin Park’s HYBRID THEORY 20th Anniversary Edition

LinkinPark-HybridTheory20thA huge new music set from one of nu-metal’s megastars

Like many people who were in their mid-teens as the 1990s ticked over to 2000s, I love Hybrid Theory, Linkin Park’s debut. Chester Bennington’s immense vocal skills leapt out of the speakers, the music sounded big, brash, and catchy AF. The band had their hooks in my mind from the first listen, and aside from a couple of albums that felt phoned in, I’ve been a fan ever since. I don’t believe there’s a day that’s gone by when I haven’t listen to at least one LP song.

Hybrid Theory was an album that was very much of its time, but still sounds good 20 years later. To celebrate the milestone anniversary, the band did a deep dive into their archives, and have assembled a huge set with over 80 tracks, many of them rare or previously unreleased.

But should you buy it? Well… Continue reading

Review: RAPTURE by Nick Nurse & Michael Sokolove (Little, Brown)

NurseN-RaptureNick Nurse’s long journey to the NBA and how his experiences led to the Raptors’ Championship

Nick Nurse distills the wisdom, insight, and experiences that helped him lead the Toronto Raptors to the NBA championship in his first year as head coach.

NBA fans had modest  expectations for rookie coach Nick Nurse and his Toronto Raptors. But what those naysayers didn’t realize was that Nurse had spent the past thirty years proving himself at every level of the game, from youth programs and college ball to the NBA D League and Britain’s struggling pro circuit. While few coaches have taken such a circuitous path to pro basketball’s promised land, the journey-which began at Kuemper Catholic high school in Carroll, Iowa-forged a coach who proved to be as unshakable as he is personable.

On the road, he is known to bring his guitar and keyboard for late-night jazz and blues sessions. In the locker room, he’s steadfast and even-keeled regardless of the score. On the court, he pulls out old-school tactics with astounding success. A rookie in name but a veteran in attitude, Nurse is seemingly above the chaos of the game and, with only two seasons on his résumé, has already established himself as one of the NBA’s most admired head coaches.

Now, in this revealing new book — equal parts personal memoir, leadership mani­festo, and philosophical meditation — Nurse tells his own story. Given unprecedented access inside the Raptors’ locker room, readers get an intimate study of not only the team culture he has built, but also of a rookie coach’s unique dynamic with the star players — such as Kawhi Leonard, Kyle Low­ry, and Pascal Siakam — who helped trail-blaze the 2019 championship run. As much for readers of Ray Dalio as for fans of John Wooden and Pat Summitt, Rapture promis­es to be a necessary read for anyone looking to forge their own path to success.

I’ve been looking forward to this ever since it was announced (which was, I think, shortly after the Raptors’ NBA victory last summer). I started reading this a couple of days after it came out, and zipped through it. Written in an inviting and engaging style, Rapture is a quick and interesting read. I enjoyed this. Continue reading

Quick Review: HI FIVE by Joe Ide (Mulholland/W&N)

IdeJ-IQ4-HiFiveUSIsaiah Quintabe’s latest case is a matter of perspectives…

One woman. Five personalities. Private investigator IQ is back to piece together a Newport Beach murder with an eyewitness who gives “people person” a whole new meaning.

Christiana is the daughter of the biggest arms dealer on the West Coast, Angus Byrne. She’s also the sole witness and number one suspect in the murder of her boyfriend, found dead in her Newport Beach boutique. Isaiah Quintabe is coerced into taking the case to prove her innocence. If he can’t, Angus will harm the brilliant PI’s new girlfriend, ending her career.

The catch: Christiana has multiple personalities. Among them, a naïve, beautiful shopkeeper, an obnoxious drummer in a rock band, and a wanton seductress.

Isaiah’s dilemma: no one personality saw the entire incident. To find out what really happened the night of the murder, Isaiah must piece together clues from each of the personalities… before the cops close in on him.

In IQ’s latest outing, Long Beach’s favourite private detective finds himself wandering into the world of gun running, murder, and a rather unique suspect. Another good book in the series. Continue reading

Quick Review: WRECKED by Joe Ide (Mulholland/W&N)

IdeJ-IQ3-WreckedUSThe case of a young artist’s missing mother sets IQ on a collision course with his own Moriarty.

Isaiah Quintabe — IQ for short — has never been more successful, or felt more alone. A series of high-profile wins in his hometown of East Long Beach have made him so notorious that he can hardly go to the corner store without being recognized. Dodson, once his sidekick, is now his full-fledged partner, hell-bent on giving IQ’s PI business some real legitimacy: a Facebook page, and IQ’s promise to stop accepting Christmas sweaters and carpet cleanings in exchange for PI services.

So when a young painter approaches IQ for help tracking down her missing mother, it’s not just the case Isaiah’s looking for, but the human connection. And when his new confidant turns out to be connected to a dangerous paramilitary operation, IQ falls victim to a threat even a genius can’t see coming.

Waiting for Isaiah around every corner is Seb, the Oxford-educated African gangster who was responsible for the death of his brother, Marcus. Only, this time, Isaiah’s not alone. Joined by a new love interest and his familiar band of accomplices, IQ is back — and the adventures are better than ever.

The third novel in Joe Ide’s acclaimed Isaiah Quintabe series. Another well-paced and engaging mystery, as IQ is hired to find an artist’s mother. Unbeknownst to him, however, some very shady, well-funded mercs are also after the mother. IQ is in for a very tough investigation… Continue reading

Quick Review: GATHERING DARK by Candice Fox (Arrow/Forge)

FoxC-JS1-GatheringDarkUKA disillusioned cop, a recently-released killer, a missing girl, and a whole lot of trouble…

Blair Harbour’s life as Hollywood’s top paediatric surgeon was perfect, until the night she was jailed for a murder she says she didn’t commit.

With ten years of freedom lost, her medical licence cancelled and her son being raised by foster parents, she’s ready to start again from scratch.

But when a former cellmate begs for help finding her missing daughter, Blair must risk it all to save a young life. Her only allies are a thief, a ganglord and the cop who put her away.

To do the right thing, Blair must mix with all the wrong people.

Will it put her new-found freedom on the line?

A good start to a new crime series set in LA. Gathering Dark introduces a new detective, Jessica Sanchez, who finds herself at the confluence of two old cases that are making her life increasingly stressful and potentially deadly. With a cast of interesting characters, a well-paced investigation, and plenty of commentary on America’s justice system, I enjoyed this. Continue reading

Review: THEY DON’T NEED TO UNDERSTAND by Andy Biersack (Rare Bird Books)

BiersackA-TheyDontNeedToUnderstandUSAn interesting, engaging memoir of a highly-driven young rock star

Before he was the charismatic singer of Black Veil Brides and an accomplished solo artist under the Andy Black moniker, he was Andrew Dennis Biersack, an imaginative and creative kid in Cincinnati, Ohio, struggling with anxiety, fear, loneliness, and the impossible task of fitting in. With his trademark charm, clever wit, and insightful analysis, Biersack tells the story of his childhood and adolescence.

The discovery of the artistic passions that would shape his life, and his decision to move to Hollywood after his 18th birthday to make his dreams come true, even when it meant living in his car to make it all a reality. It’s the origin story of one of modern rock’s most exciting young superheroes, from building miniature concerts with KISS action figures in his bedroom to making the RIAA gold-certified single “In the End” and connecting with passionate fans worldwide.

I’ve been a fan of Black Veil Brides since their second album, Set the World on Fire. This was during a time when I wasn’t reading as much music journalism as used to. As a result, I didn’t know much about the band, and when I learned that Biersack had written a memoir, I was keen to read it and find out more about his and the band’s history. They Don’t Need to Understand is an engaging memoir. I enjoyed it. Continue reading

Very Quick Review: THE DOORS OF EDEN by Adrian Tchaikovsky (Orbit/Tor UK)

TchaikovskyA-DoorsOfEdenUSAn intriguing, twisty portal fantasy

They thought we were safe. They were wrong.

Four years ago, two girls went looking for monsters on Bodmin Moor. Only one came back.

Lee thought she’d lost Mal, but now she’s miraculously returned. But what happened that day on the moors? And where has she been all this time? Mal’s reappearance hasn’t gone unnoticed by MI5 officers either, and Lee isn’t the only one with questions.

Julian Sabreur is investigating an attack on top physicist Kay Amal Khan. This leads Julian to clash with agents of an unknown power – and they may or may not be human. His only clue is grainy footage, showing a woman who supposedly died on Bodmin Moor.

Dr Khan’s research was theoretical; then she found cracks between our world and parallel Earths. Now these cracks are widening, revealing extraordinary creatures. And as the doors crash open, anything could come through.

In his latest novel, Adrian Tchaikovsky takes his imagination into a new area of SFF: portal fantasy. It quickly becomes clear that this is more evidence that the author really can turn his hand to anything. An intriguing mix of mystery, fantasy and science fiction. I enjoyed this. Continue reading

Quick Review: RIGHTEOUS by Joe Ide (Mulholland)

IdeJ-IQ2-RighteousUSIsaiah Quintabe returns, investigating the death of his brother and getting mixed up in Las Vegas organized crime

For ten years, something has gnawed at Isaiah Quintabe’s gut and kept him up nights, boiling with anger and thoughts of revenge. Ten years ago, when Isaiah was just a boy, his brother was killed by an unknown assailant. The search for the killer sent Isaiah plunging into despair and nearly destroyed his life. Even with a flourishing career, a new dog, and near-iconic status as a PI in his hometown, East Long Beach, he has to begin the hunt again-or lose his mind.

A case takes him and his volatile, dubious sidekick, Dodson, to Vegas, where Chinese gangsters and a terrifying seven-foot loan shark are stalking a DJ and her screwball boyfriend. If Isaiah doesn’t find the two first, they’ll be murdered. Awaiting the outcome is the love of IQ’s life: fail, and he’ll lose her. Isaiah’s quest is fraught with treachery, menace, and startling twists, and it will lead him to the mastermind behind his brother’s death, Isaiah’s own sinister Moriarty.

I very much enjoyed Joe Ide’s debut, IQ, and decided that it was high time that I got caught up on the series. So, in a moment of choice paralysis, I just picked up Righteous and dove right in. I’m glad I did — as with the first novel, this is a fast-paced, entertaining mystery/crime novel. I enjoyed this. Continue reading

Quick Review: PANIC by From Ashes to New (Better Noise Records)

FromAshesToNew-PanicI’m sure I heard of From Ashes to New before the release of Panic, no doubt referred to as a new standard bearer for modern nü-metal. When they dropped their video for the first, eponymous single from this album, I thought they were pretty good and yes, they reminded me of Linkin Park. Uncannily so, in fact.

This made my reaction to Panic a little unfair, I’ll admit, but it is simply impossible to not think of From Ashes to New’s obvious primary influence. Continue reading