Sunday, 26 June 2022

Comic Book Monday - Mighty Marvel Masterworks - The Amazing Spider-Man


So, here we are, Spider-Man's origin story from Amazing Fantasy #15. Yeah, I know, it's nothing we don't already know - Boffin schoolboy, bitten by radioactive spider, gets powers, "with great power comes great responsibility" etc, etc. We've seen the movies but there's something a little bit special about seeing it as it was originally drawn and written. This is from 1962 and people picking up AF#15 were meeting Spidey for the first time, and this is how they saw him. They weren't to know he'd still be slinging webs 60 years in the future.

After AF#15's introduction this volume gives us issues 1-10 of The Amazing Spider-Man with such villains as Doctor ish Octopus, Vulture, Electro, Sandman and the lesser known Terrible Tinkerer and The Living Brain. These are all stories I've never seen before and watching Peter Parker (or Peter Palmer as he's curiously called in Spider-Man Vs The Chameleon) come to terms with his powers and deciding on his future path has been an absolute treat. I'm certainly going to be looking for the other titles in the Mighty Marvel Masterworks series (Captain America, Fantastic Four, X-Men -but I think I'll give Daredevil a miss, wasn't a fan).

The 60's vibe is strong in this volume so the dialogue sometimes feels a bit off but hey, this was written 60 years ago - it's almost historical 😉. It'll be interesting to see how this develops in the decades that follow.

And speaking of which, next week sees Comic Book Monday come right up to the here and now with a look at Rivers of London: Bodywork, The Deluxe Writer's Edition and a chance to look at both how much comics have come on since Spidey first donned the Spandex and just how a graphic novel is constructed.

See you next week 

Friday, 24 June 2022

Twelve Percent Dread - Emily McGovern



                     ABOUT THE BOOK

Katie and Nas are best friends, exes, and co-dependents. They share everything, including a tiny room in a North London townhouse belonging to their landlord, Jeremy, former host of the hit 90s show Football Lads.

While Katie bounces from job to job and obsesses about falling behind in life, Nas has bigger things in mind, such as waiting endlessly for their visa to come through and working on a seismic art project that will revolutionize politics and society as we know it.

Their friend Emma, meanwhile, seems to have it all figured out – job, mortgage, engagement – yet the long hours working for tech giant Arko and endless wedding admin have left her similarly anxious and unsatisfied.

But when Katie’s latest job finds her tutoring the daughter of Arko’s formidable CEO, and Emma welcomes the eccentric and enigmatic Alicia to her team at Arko, neither are aware that all of their lives – and possibly the future of society itself – are about to change forever . . .

                            MY THOUGHTS

 Well, this was fun (in a good way, not a sarcastic one!). I'm fairly new to graphic novels, although I did read and enjoy McGovern's Bloodlust and Bonnets.

 This tale is set in a London where all seems to be run by tech giant Arco who are the producers/suppliers of the majority call the electronic gadgets - phones, screens etc. - that the populace just can't do without. Yeah, pretty much the world today but the names have been changed 😉. It flits between characters Katie, Nas and Emma quickly enough that you don't get bogged down in one particular storyline which makes for a quicker read than I was expecting (believe me this is a hefty book) and I got through it in 3 sittings (3 sunny afternoons, sat in the garden letting the day drift by gadget free). When the storylines start to come together is where the book is strongest although the ending felt a tad too neat and quick.

 As for the art, a very simplistic, uncluttered style really worked here. The wording and dialogue were clear and, again, uncluttered. A very enjoyable reading experience.

 There is a lot here that resonates with today's world and McGovern is able to get this into the story without being preachy about it, again making it enjoyable.

Thanks to the lovely people at Black Crow for sending me an early review copy (all views are my own). Please have a look at the posts by the other reviewers on the tour.

Wednesday, 22 June 2022

The Ballad of Perilous Graves - Alex Jennings


                      About The Book 

In a fantastical version of New Orleans where music is magic, a battle for the city’s soul brews between two young mages, a vengeful wraith, and one powerful song in this vibrant and imaginative debut.

Nola is a city full of wonders. A place of sky trolleys and dead cabs, where haints dance the night away and Wise Women keep the order, and where songs walk, talk and keep the spirit of the city alive. To those from Far Away, Nola might seem strange. To failed magician, Perilous Graves, it’s simply home. Then the rhythm stutters. 

Nine songs of power have escaped from the magical piano that maintains the city’s beat and without them, Nola will fail. Unexpectedly, Perry and his sister, Brendy, are tasked with saving the city. But a storm is brewing and the Haint of All Haints is awake. Even if they capture the songs, Nola’s time might be coming to an end.

                      My Thoughts 

I've always enjoyed books with music at their heart. Somehow the music makes the story feel even more alive, almost a soundtrack to the written word before me. When you throw in the Deep South I'm hooked before I've even looked at the first page and that was certainly the case here. And, my instincts were right.

There is so much going on in Nola (an alternative New Orleans). The music is alive, graffiti floats through the air and the dead share the streets with the living. It's almost, at times, like a massive 60's technicolour trip. But trouble is coming to Nola, the city is losing it's beat and Perilous "Perry" Graves and co might not be enough to save it! 

I'll be honest, there were times when I wasn't sure what the hell was going on. There were even times early on when I nearly gave up on it but something kept pulling me back in - and for that I'm grateful as it turned out to be a cracking read.

Alex Jennings has written something special here, I just feel I'm going to have to read it again to get the full benefit


Monday, 20 June 2022

Comic Book Monday - an introduction on week 1

 Welcome friends to a new running theme at The Blogcave - Comic Book Mondays.

I've recently been sent some CBs for review thanks to Will at Titan Comics. Those titles will (Rivers of London, Phantom of the Opera, Yellow Submarine and Dr Who: Empire of the Wolf) will be reviewed in the weeks to come. But I thought I'd start by looking back on my history with comics and where my love of them started...

 ... it's the early to mid 1970's (wow, that's a long time back😲) and there's  little me coming back from the shops with the latest Marvel offering (most likely Spider-Man) in my grubby little mitts. I remember my mum telling me she didn't like comics as they were a waste of money, mainly because of those one frame pages that just had one image of Spidey and the word SPLAT! in massive letters from corner to corner. But even though she wasn't a fan she never stopped me getting them and always encouraged reading . So I carried on...

 The whole world of Marvel opened up to me but Spidey was still #1 and then I discovered the funnies Sparky, Whizzer and Chips, Krazy, Cheeky Weekly the list goes on, any new names came out and I was there to give them a try.

 The big one though, the one that felt like something special was 2000AD. That was an eye opener. Grittier than Marvel could ever hope to be, fantasy and Sci-Fi all in one cover. I read that avidly, week in, week out for probably the best part of 20 years and then, finally I stopped. I still picked Comics up occasionally (especially if it was a new chapter of Batman Vs Dredd) but went more to written word books.

 Since 1988/9 though I have been visiting Sheffield Space Centre, South Yorkshire's premier purveyor (in my opinion) of all things comic book so I've always kept up to date with the CB world (oh, yeah, and there's been some movies 😉).

 Now, I was wondering about how to start this series until today when I visited the aforementioned shop and happened upon this beauty...

Yup, it's the origin story of Spider-Man and some further adventures of ol' Webhead. I've seen it in countless films but this, THIS! is where it really all began. Is there any better place to begin than where it all began for me.

Comic Books - they never leave ya 

So, next week sees The Amazing Spider-Man reviewed - see you there 😉

Friday, 10 June 2022

The Mirror Man - Lars Keppler

                         About the book 



Five years ago, Jenny Lind was abducted on her way home from school.

Now her lifeless body is found hanging in a playground. But there is no evidence and only one witness - a man who cannot remember what he saw.

With Detective Joona Linna and the police scrambling to find a lead, another girl goes missing. And as they close in on the killer, they discover that the Mirror Man's crimes are more shocking than they ever could have imagined . . .

                      My Thoughts 

 It's no surprise that I am a big fan of Nordic Noir and I happily put Lars Keppler up there as one of the top writers in the genre. The Mirror Man is the 8th in a series but works fine as a stand-alone novel so don't let that put you off.

 The story starts with the kidnapping of a young girl (seen through her eyes) and it's a pretty brutal start. 

 Move forward 5 years and the girl is discovered hanging in a children's playground . . . and another girl goes missing 

 The only person who could be a witness is a man who lost his daughter in a tragic accident around the time and is so traumatised he can neither recall what happened or speak. He has even spent time on a psych ward. Is he witness or suspect?

 Our 'hero' in this story is detective Joona Linna of the National Crime Unit, seen as a bit of a loose cannon. He is told to stay away from the case but is he going to listen? Let's be fair, we all know he won't - what would be the fun in that. Linne believes there could be a serial killer at large and, with the help of  hypnotist Erik Maria Bark sets out to solve the case and hopefully prevent more child deaths.

 This was a pretty brutal read but as always the excellent story telling makes the gruesomeness bearable enough that it kept me up a lot later than I should have been (and I missed my bus stop one day too!).

 Highly recommended both as an individual novel and as a series 5/5*

Thanks as always to Anne Cater and Random Things Tours for inviting me onto this blogtour. Please check out the posts by the other bloggers taking part (below)

Wednesday, 1 June 2022

Cover Reveal for Dan Godfrey's The Calculations of Rational Men

15th August 2022 sees the release of Dan Godfrey's second self published novel (he's also had three rather excellent novels traditionally published ) and today I have the pleasure of revealing the cover for you to feast your eyes on. 

First up though, here's the blurb from the back page to whet your appetite...

'The United Kingdom and her allies have been targeted in a widespread nuclear attack.
December, 1962. Just months after the Cuban Missile Crisis, the five hundred men of HMP Queen’s Bench have found themselves in the midst of a new thermonuclear nightmare.

We do not know the status of our towns and cities. We shall not know their fate for several days.
Prisoners, wardens and soldiers must now work together to forge a new future, even if some inside the shelter can only think of how to turn the situation to their personal advantage.

Radioactive fallout will present the greatest risk to health. Medical staff and supplies are available.

Caught in the very centre of the power struggles is Dr Joseph Marr. Just days into serving a life sentence for murder, he is given the responsibility for the health of all the men of HMP Queen’s Bench. But the question for him now is: how does he ensure those in the shelter survive?'

All sounds very promising eh 😉

Well, you've waited long enough I guess, so now it's time. Here is the cover for The Calculations of Rational Men and a bit about the design from Dan himself.


“I’ve had three books traditionally published, and one other self-published novel – but this is the first one I’ve had any great input into from a design perspective. We looked at a number of cold war and nuclear posters and material from the 1960s from the UK, US and Soviet Union to give us inspiration. After playing around with a few options around the key themes of radiation, prisoners and the nuclear threat, we came up with the final cover. I’m hoping this conveys clearly what the book is about!”

So, there we have it. I'm certainly looking forward to The Calculations of Rational Men and I hope this has whetted your appetite for it too.

Thanks to Dan for asking me to do this cover reveal at the BlogCave (it's my first one!!)

Thursday, 19 May 2022

The Stardust Thief - Chelsea Abdullah


Inspired by stories from One Thousand and One NightsThe Stardust Thief weaves the gripping tale of a legendary smuggler, a cowardly prince and a dangerous quest across the desert to find a magical lamp.

Neither here nor there, but long ago...

Loulie al-Nazari is the Midnight Merchant: a criminal who, with the help of her jinn bodyguard, hunts and sells illegal magic. When she saves the life of a cowardly prince, she draws the attention of his powerful father, the sultan, who blackmails her into finding an ancient lamp.

With no choice but to obey or be executed, Loulie journeys with the sultan's oldest son to find the artefact. Aided by her bodyguard, who has secrets of his own, they must survive ghoul attacks, outwit a vengeful jinn queen and confront a malicious killer from Loulie's past. And, in a world where story is reality and illusion is truth, Loulie will discover that everything - her enemy, her magic, even her own past - is not what it seems, and she must decide who she will become in this new reality.

                             My Thoughts

 Well, where do I begin? I had my eye on this book as soon as I heard about it. I grew up loving stories like this with desert settings, genies (or djiin when I got older I guess). Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, Aladdin and his magic lamp. The Stardust Thief took me back to the Lands of Sand and when it was over I really didn't want to leave.

 Loulie (The Midnight Merchant) is sent to find a magic lamp with the Sultan's older son but he doesn't want to go . . . and he has a plan to get out of the quest! And that my friends is where the magic really kicks in. The desert is a dangerous place and Chelsea Abdullah does a great job of making it almost a character in it's own right. The whole place feels alive, the scents and sounds coming straight off the page.

 The characters all seem to have secrets (don't they always) and you'll just have to see for yourselves how that turns out (Spoilers!!)

 I could go on about what a fantastic story this is but the best thing I can do is tell you go get this book now. You can thank me later 😉




The Stardust Thief is out now in Hardback (and here's my local Waterstones copies) from Orbit.

 Thanks to Orbit for providing me with a review copy - the fact that they did has no influence on my opinions on it though.