Upcoming: HEROES by Stephen Fry (Penguin)

FryS-HeroesUKHCMythology was a big part of my childhood: Greek, Roman, Egyptian, Norse… I loved it all. I remember we had a particular hardcover book of mythology, heavily illustrated that covered the first three. I read that book over and over again, poring over the details and adventures of the heroes, villains and gods. I loved it, and is most likely the root of my interest in fantasy fiction. (I cannot for the life of me remember what the book was called, though, nor who published it. I’ve been trying to remember for years, but the details escape me completely.)*

I am also a big fan of Stephen Fry‘s work — his comedy, films and also his memoirs (strangely, I haven’t read any of his novels, yet). I bought his critically-acclaimed Mythos a little while ago. Like so many of the books I buy, I have yet to get around to reading it — but it is rapidly climbing my TBR mountain. Penguin recently announced Fry’s upcoming, companion book, Heroes, which I think it also sounds great. (I think the cover was officially unveiled today.) Here’s the synopsis:

There are Heroes — and then there are Greek Heroes.

Few mere mortals have ever embarked on such bold and heart-stirring adventures, overcome myriad monstrous perils, or outwitted scheming vengeful gods, quite as stylishly and triumphantly as Greek heroes.

In this companion to his bestselling Mythos, Stephen Fry brilliantly retells these dramatic, funny, tragic and timeless tales. Join Jason aboard the Argo as he quests for the Golden Fleece. See Atalanta — who was raised by bears — outrun any man before being tricked with golden apples. Witness wily Oedipus solve the riddle of the Sphinx and discover how Bellerophon captures the winged horse Pegasus to help him slay the monster Chimera.

Filled with white-knuckle chases and battles, impossible puzzles and riddles, acts of base cowardice and real bravery, not to mention murders and selfless sacrifices, Heroes is the story of what we mortals are truly capable of — at our worst and our very best.

Really looking forward to reading this. Heroes is due to be published by Penguin in the UK, on November 1st, 2018.

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* If you think you might know which book I’m referring to, feel free to leave suggestions in the comments. I really want to find this book!

 

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Recommendation: Penguin’s World War I China Specials

ChinaPenguinSpecials-WWI

This series of nine short books is fantastic. I bought them quite some time ago — they were released to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I — but I have finally caught up. If you have any interest in learning about China, then I would highly recommend these books. Each of them was informative, engaging, sometimes entertaining, and frequently brutally honest. Continue reading

Upcoming: LAST LOOKS by Howard Michael Gould (Dutton)

GouldHM-LastLooksUSHoward Michael Gould’s new crime/mystery novel is billed as a lampoon of the Hollywood culture. This caught my attention, as my fascination with all things Hollywood continues. I’m looking forward to reading this. Here’s the synopsis:

There are run-of-the-mill eccentric Californians, and then there’s former detective Charlie Waldo.

Waldo, a onetime LAPD superstar, now lives in solitude deep in the woods, pathologically committed to owning no more than one hundred possessions. He has left behind his career and his girlfriend, Lorena, to pay self-imposed penance for an awful misstep on an old murder case. But the old ghosts are about to come roaring back.

There are plenty of difficult actors in Hollywood, and then there’s Alastair Pinch.

Alastair is a onetime Royal Shakespeare Company thespian who now slums it as the “wise” Southern judge on a tacky network show. He’s absurdly rich, often belligerent, and typically drunk — a damning combination when Alastair’s wife is found dead on their living room floor and he can’t remember what happened.

Waldo’s old flame Lorena, hiding peril of her own, draws him toward the case, and Alastair’s greedy network convinces Waldo to take it on. But after such a long time away from both civilization and sleuthing — and plagued by a confounding array of assailants who want him gone — Waldo must navigate complicated webs of ego and deceit to clear Alastair’s name… or confirm his guilt.

Last Looks is due to be published by Dutton in August 2018. (No news on a British publisher, but it’s available to pre-order as an import.)

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Review: WONDER WOMAN, Vol.1 (DC Comics, Rebirth)

WonderWoman-Rebirth-Vol.01Writer: Greg Rucka | Art: Liam Sharp, Matthew Clark, Sean Parsons, Laura Martin, Jeremy Colwell | Letters: Jodi Wynne

Heroic. Iconic. Unstoppable. Armed with her Lasso of Truth and imbued with the power of the gods themselves, Princess Diana of Themyscira –known to the world as Wonder Woman — is one of the greatest superheroes in history.
 
But who is she… really? Not even Wonder Woman herself knows for sure. Diana’s links to both the Amazons and the Gods of Olympus have been severed. Her memories are a tangle of contradictions that even her lie-detecting lasso cannot untangle.
 
To solve the riddle of her origin, she must embark on her greatest quest of all: finding a way back to her vanished home. To get there, she must team up with her greatest enemy, the feral beast-woman, Cheetah. Will this unlikely alliance shine the light of truth on Diana’s darkest secrets, or bury them-and her-forever?

Collects: Wonder Woman #1, #3, #5, #7, #9, #11; Wonder Woman: Rebirth one-shot.

An interesting start to the most recent Wonder Woman series, written by returning scribe Greg Rucka, one of my favourite comics writers. This is a pretty good starting point for anyone new to the character, whether you’ve seen the excellent new movie or not. Although, of course, as this is a first volume, you are mainly getting an extended introduction to larger events still to come. Continue reading

Eddie Izzard on his new memoir, comedy, and running for Parliament…

Yesterday, Stephen Colbert hosted Eddie Izzard on The Late Show. Izzard is my favourite comedian. I first discovered his work in my first year at university, and he never fails to delight and inspire. His comedy is fantastic (I’ve seen him live twice), and it really holds up — I listen to the audio versions of his various tours frequently.

IzzardE-BelieveMeUSIzzard’s new memoir, Believe Me is out now, published by Blue Rider Press in North America, and Penguin in the UK. (I have both the print and audiobook versions, so expect a review very soon.) Here is the official publisher synopsis:

A memoir of love, death and jazz chickens…

“I know why I’m doing all this,” I said. “Everything I do in life is trying to get her back. I think if I do enough things… that maybe she’ll come back.”

When Eddie Izzard was six, he and his brother Mark lost their mother. That day, he lost his childhood too. Despite or perhaps because of this, he has always felt he needed to take on things that some people would consider impossible.

In Believe Me, Eddie takes us on a journey which begins in Yemen (before the revolution), then takes us to Northern Ireland (before The Troubles), England and Wales, then across the seas to Europe and America. In a story jam-packed with incident he tells of teddy bear shows on boarding school beds, renouncing accountancy for swordfighting on the streets of London and making those first tentative steps towards becoming an Action Transvestite, touring France in French and playing the Hollywood Bowl.

Above all, this is a tale about someone who has always done everything his own way (which often didn’t work at first) and, sometimes almost by accident but always with grit and determination, achieving what he set out to do.

If you’ve never seen or heard Izzard’s comedy, I strongly recommend Definite Article, Glorious, Dressed to Kill and Circle.

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Interview with JAMES D. OSWALD

oswaldj-authorpicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is J.D. Oswald?

Most of the time I am James Oswald, livestock farmer by day and author by night. The D stands for Douglas, in case anyone was interested. I decided to use a slightly different name for The Ballad of Sir Benfro to distance the series from my Inspector McLean series of Edinburgh-based detective novels. I’ve been writing stories for as long as I can remember, and had a Tharg’s Future Shock published by 2000AD back in 1993. Success as an author has been a long time coming though. My first Inspector McLean novel, Natural Causes, was only published in 2013, and the first of the Ballad of Sir Benfro series, Dreamwalker, came out in late 2014. It really does take twenty years to become an overnight success. Continue reading

Eight Quick Audiobook Reviews

AudioBookReviews-20160901

A quick round-up of recent audiobook ‘reads’, with thanks to Audible UK for the review credits (except for the first reviewed, which I borrow from the Toronto Public Library). I’ve kept the reviews very short on purpose. I’ll try to keep on top of these reviews in a more timely manner in the future.

Featuring: Philip Delves-Broughton, Irin Carmon, Jessi Klein, Shana Knizhnik, Antonio Garcia Martinez, Randall Munroe, Nick Offerman, Richard Porter, Amy Schumer Continue reading