Friday 29 October 2010

Book: The Way Home by George Pelecanos

Chris Flynn has always chosen his own path so despite a good family life he ends up in juvenile detention.

Much of the book takes place in Pine Ridge, the detention centre where Chris meets friends and enemies, all from different backgrounds.

Upon his release his father Thomas employs him and his friend Ben in his flooring business but the duo face a moral dilemma when they find a bag of cash....

There is a real depth to the characters here, Chris and his fellow reformed delinquents all have a real feeling to them but it's the relationship between Father & Son that's the axis of the story.

The pace slows terribly in the middle of the book but the heat gets turned up when the bad guys appear leading to the emergence of an unlikely hero in the fantastic finale.

It's easy to see why so much praise is heaped on Pelecanos because the quality of the writing is at the top end of the crime fiction genre and although I did find myself losing interest about half way through, the whole feel of the book compelled me to continue and I'm very glad I did.

Ric's Rating: 73%

Sunday 24 October 2010

Preview: Memory Leak by Trevor Schmidt

Trevor Schmidt has been kind (and brave) enough to send me a copy of his novel Memory Leak which is due for release early 2011.

Check back soon for a full review but in the meantime here is the synopsis:

Every night, Jonathan Hart dreams of a cracked wasteland in the setting sun. By morning the image retreats to his subconscious mind. Again, he finds himself in a city of symmetrical people, where he is anonymous in his perfection. A voice in his head tells him there is more to life than following the will of his supreme leader, Liam Mail, and that there is more to his own life than he can remember. That there are things he can’t remember about the city of symmetricals that could tear down the fabric of his world. Now, Jonathan must fight against the forces that suppress his memories before his mind is damaged beyond repair. Can Jonathan expose the twisted truth about the symmetrical elite, and in doing so restore society to its flawed asymmetrical origins? Or will his efforts explode and create a MEMORY LEAK?

Saturday 23 October 2010

Ric Recommends: Made

Prior to this film Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau had enjoyed success in Swingers but this time out Favreau takes the helm and the result is this fantastic crime caper comedy.

Ricky (Vaughn) and Bobby (Favreau) are struggling to make ends meat when they get an offer of work from local mobster Max (Peter Falk). The duo head to New York and trouble ensues.

Constant quickfire dialogue that contains so many gags make this one worthy of multiple viewings.

All the cast are on top form with the two leads well supported by Famke Janssen, Sean Coombs and David O'Hara who manages to play a Scotsman (from my own city of Glasgow) that thankfully isn't portrayed as a kilt wearing idiot.

Check out the trailer.

Wednesday 20 October 2010

Book: Thor by Wayne Smith

Forget the Norse God of Thunder with the upcoming blockbuster movie, this is……

The supershock novel of Dog versus …….Werewolf !

This book is much more than the above tagline suggests. It’s more of a study of the relationship between Dog and Man than a horror, told entirely from the Dog’s perspective.

Some years ago I saw a so – so horror film called Bad Moon and I was so intrigued by the concept of a family Dog protecting his “pack” from a supernatural Beast that I made a point of seeking out the book it was based on, it is quite rare. I wasn’t disappointed.

Thor is a German Shepherd, a natural guard dog, but he is usually a gentle giant who takes great pleasure from the love and fun that his family provide.

However, when Uncle Ted comes to stay all of Thor’s natural instincts tell him that something is amiss and he must use all of his guile to protect the family from the threat that only he knows is coming.

Thor is a fantastic leading character, a true Hero who acts through love, loyalty and devotion, even in the most trying of circumstances.

Being a dog owner myself I recognise many of the characteristics displayed and Wayne Smith explains these and the Dog’s thought processes in a charming eloquent way that will appeal to anyone who has ever owned or had a close relationship with Man’s Best Friend.

The human characters are great too. The parents who struggle to rationalize their beloved dog’s behaviour. The kids, especially Brett, who is the only one that realises what is going on are excellent too and we have the conflicted Uncle Ted who is well aware of what he has become.

This is riveting stuff and if only it had one or two more action scenes it might have achieved a perfect score but that’s a trifling complaint because this is a remarkable and moving book that will live long in the memory of anyone lucky enough to read it.

Unfortunately Wayne Smith seems to have dropped off the radar, a pity.
Ric's Rating: 95%

Monday 18 October 2010

Preview: CassaStar by Alex J Cavanaugh

Congratulations to my Blogging friend Alex J Cavanaugh as his book CassaStar is launched on Tuesday 19th October.

It promises to be a wild ride for sci-fi fans. You can visit Alex's blog via the link in "Visit These Places", in the meantime here are the details and cool trailer for CassaStar.


To pilot the fleet’s finest ship…

Few options remain for Byron. A talented but stubborn young man with a troubled past and rebellious attitude, his cockpit skills are his only hope. Slated to train as a Cosbolt fighter pilot, Byron is determined to prove his worth and begin a new life as he sets off for the moon base of Guaard.

Much to Byron’s chagrin, the toughest instructor in the fleet takes notice of the young pilot. Haunted by a past tragedy, Bassa eventually sees through Byron's tough exterior and insolence. When a secret talent is revealed during training, Bassa feels compelled to help Byron achieve his full potential.

As war brews on the edge of space, time is running short. Byron requires a navigator of exceptional quality to survive, and Bassa must make a decision that could well decide the fate of both men. Will their skills be enough as they embark on a mission that may stretch their abilities to the limit?

“…calls to mind the youthful focus of Robert Heinlein’s early military sf, as well as the excitement of space opera epitomized by the many Star Wars novels. Fast-paced military action and a youthful protagonist make this a good choice for both young adult and adult fans of space wars.” - Library Journal

Saturday 16 October 2010

Ric Recommends: The Bear

For my latest recommendation we go all the way back to 1988 for this amazing adventure story.

Don't be fooled into thinking it's for kids (although some might like it), this is a unique movie about an orphan Bear cub's struggle for survival.

Told entirely from the young Bear's perspective it mixes high drama and wonderful footage with cute moments all wrapped up in what is ultimately a tale of redemption.

The quality of the trailer isn't great but the film is available everywhere in it's full glory on DVD. Check it out.

Thursday 14 October 2010

Book: Buried Alive by J.A Kerley

The latest in Jack (J.A) Kerley's Carson Ryder series is another cracker.

Carson heads off, with his dog Mr Mix-Up, to a cabin in the mountains for a well deserved holiday and finds himself drawn into a murder investigation. The victims have been horribly tortured and Carson has to use his expertise to help the locals as the FBI threaten to take over.

This installment marks a welcome return for Carson's criminal genius brother Jeremy who has been living in the sanctuary of the mountains, he adds his unique perspective to the mix.

This series boasts a fine array of recurring and guest characters, many of which (especially Jeremy and Sandhill) could have their own spin off books. The cast here includes a cool Forest Ranger, a pro fighter, a cute local cop and a sneering FBI Agent, all of whom add great depth and colour to the story.

I highly recommend the entire series, starting with The Hundredth Man, but this is great on it's own too.

Ric's Rating: 85%

Saturday 9 October 2010

Ric Recommends: Exit Wounds

To celebrate the return of the Steven Seagal: Lawman tv show (see review elsewhere here) this week's recommendation is a film regarded as Seagal's last decent movie.

It involves Seagal investigating police corruption and also stars DMX, Anthony Anderson, Tom Arnold, Isaiah Washington, Jill Hennessey and Michael Jai White. There are nice comedy moments with Seagal and Arnold and the action scenes are pretty good too.

As for Seagal escaping the direct -to-dvd market, one can always hope. He does have a part in Machete so you never know......

In the meantime, check out Exit Wounds, it's a decent cop action thriller.

Book: I, Alex Cross by James Patterson

Alex Cross is back and this time he's investigating the grisly murder of his estranged Niece.

Cross discovers that she was working as a high class call girl and her last appointment was with a man known only as Zeus. Being a whodunnit of sorts we miss out on Zeus' thoughts and motives as the book concentrates on the investigation and on the seriously ill Nana Mama (Cross' Grandmother who has raised him and his own kids too).

The strength of this series is the pace, helped quickfire short chapters, it moves along briskly as Cross uncovers layer after layer of cover ups leading to very powerful figures.

As good as it is I wouldn't recommend this as a starting point for the series (go to Kiss The Girls for that) but there is plenty on offer to keep fans happy.

Ric's Rating: 72%

Sunday 3 October 2010

Film: Takers

Another Bank robbers movie, this time it's all about the action.

Idris Elba (The Losers) and Paul Walker (The Fast & The Furious) lead a cocky team of robbers who always leave a full year between jobs. When a former team member is released from prison he persuades them to take on a $30million job, problem is it's in 5 days time.

Matt Dillon (Crash) and Jay Hernandez (Hostel) are the cops trying to track them down.

It's a well above average ensemble piece as all the main players have their own issues to deal with and there are some nice fight, chase (free running style) and shoot out scenes. Although the dramatic music and slow-mo can be a bit irritating at times.

Not up to the high standard of Ben Affleck's The Town but an enjoyable ride nonetheless.

Ric's Rating: 77%

Saturday 2 October 2010

Ric Recommends: Tony

More commonly known as Tony: London Serial Killer this is one of the best British films of recent years.

Peter Ferdinando gives an award-worthy performance as the unassuming loner with a dark secret.

It's very well written with nice slices of everyday life thrown in and you never know what is going to set Tony off next.

I gave this a full review a while back so click the serial killer label for that. In the meantime check out the trailer.

Friday 1 October 2010

Magazine: DVD & Blu-ray Review

The latest edition of DVD& Blu-ray Review is in UK shops now.

Pick it up to read my reviews of French hostage drama RAPT, British horror yarn SPLINTERED, tense cop thriller CAUGHT IN THE CROSSFIRE and coming of age tale LYMELIFE.