Welcome to my August wrap-up blog post featuring all of the fantastic posts on my blog that I posted during the month of August.
- Estranged by Guns N’ Roses.
- Rollin’ (Air Raid Vehicle) by Limp Bizket.
- Freak On a Leash by Korn.
- The Signal Fire by Killswitch Engage Ft. Howard Jones.
- See Through Me by Orbit Culture.
- You Are a Book Blogger and You Are a Reader.
- July 2020 monthly wrap-up.
- Can’t-Wait Wednesday: Later by Stephen King.
- My Latest Book Haul.
- Can’t-Wait Wednesday: Brother Red by Adrian Selby.
- Can’t-Wait Wednesday: The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse.
- Belle Vue by C. S. Alleyne: Book Excerpt and Author Interview.
There is a depth and a complexity to the trio of engaging POV characters that Madson has created and many secondary and side characters are extremely well-developed too. As the story unfolds and they endure the constant hardship, struggles and hell that Madson puts them through I found myself caring about, I connected with and I was totally invested in what happened to each of them. Miko is determined and fierce, a powerless princess, a female in an Asian-inspired culture that is ruled by men, overlooked and unseen she is ambitious, driven, knowledgeable and strong. Due to their traditions, the nomadic Levanti, horse-herders where the herd and horses are their way of life are seen as barbarians by both Kisia and Chiltae. Deemed as savages because they severe the heads of their dead in order to set the soul free. Rah is stubborn and unwavering in his honour and strictly clings to the Levanti traditions as he tries to keep his faith in a changing world. And, Cassandra, well, Cassandra is troubled, slightly insane, a whole lot of snarky and pure awesome. A story can live or die by its characters. As they find themselves caught up in the war between Kisia and Chiltae. Miko, Rah and Cassandra are the driving force that breathes bloody life into We Ride the Storm.
In We Ride the Storm Madson has created a world that feels alive and lived in with a trio of singular cultures in the Kisian, Chiltaen and the Levanti each with their own customs, religions and rich history. Yet, there is no unnecessary detail included to bog down the pacing or interrupt the flow of the story. Magic is minimal and sparse in We Ride the Storm giving the world a grounded feel rather than a fantastical with a feeling that there is more to be discovered in the future books in the trilogy.
There is an energy to both the writing and the story in We Ride the Storm and the book feels far shorter than its 500 page-length. There are some emotive moments spread throughout and some dark humour is also included. The dark humour comes courtesy of the verbal sparring between Cassandra and her inner voice ‘She’ and Cassandra and some other characters too, particularly her jousting with Dom Leo Villius. Along with the writing, there is a strength to the storytelling in We Ride the Storm and each story arc and each POV is rewarding, keeps you turning the pages and keeps you coming back for more. It is a multi-layered story that builds and that from beginning to end always has something happening with twists, turns, betrayals, treachery, beheadings galore, politics, machinations, secrets and schemes, courtly intrigue where ears are always listening, eyes are always watching and where words are used as weapons and are just as deadly as blades and plenty of ferocious fighting and intense action scenes.
One morning, while at work Jim is watching someone that could be a shoplifter when they accidentally drop a copy of Eve’s book, Eve’s book with Jim’s other name emblazoned upon the cover. Until then, Jim had no idea that the book existed, but now that he knows, he gets his own copy and he can’t stop reading. He needs to know what Eve knows, what she has managed to uncover and find out over the last eighteen years and he needs to know if he is in jeopardy of finally being discovered. Paranoid, Jim hides the book, but as he reads he becomes obsessed, transfixed and the clouds start to converge. Dark and stormy, with the turning of each page, his anger and his rage builds. Eve is telling her story, the story of her experience and that of the victims and the terrible aftermath of the Nothing Man’s crimes, but it is also Jim’s story, he was, he is the Nothing Man. When he retired from being the Nothing Man it is a name that he put aside, but now, the fire is being stoked and the flames are beginning to burn bright. Shaken by the book, Eve has stirred something in Jim that had lain dormant and she has awoken the monster. Jim realises that he will have to kill Eve, eighteen years ago he should never have let her live and now, his decision has come back to haunt him. The Nothing Man will return for one final killing, the death of his most famous survivor to allow him to keep his freedom and to allow him to fade into legend.
The dark and disturbing story in The Nothing Man is filled with a tension that is almost tangible and unfolds through a gripping dual narrative with Jim in the present and then, by Eve in the past with a ‘book-within-a-book‘ format through the excerpts of her own book. Jim isn’t a likeable person, but his part of the story is fascinating as you get inside his calculating and slowly unhinging mind. Eve is brave, resilient, scarred and strong and her part of the story is harrowing and moving. The writing in The Nothing Man is crisp and clear, elegant and sharp, there is a strength to the storytelling and it is perfectly plotted for maximum thrilling effect.
The Nothing Man is an addictive, atmospheric and twisted delight that is executed in a clever, fresh and original way.
Whether it is London, Jack’s club the Babylon, the grime, the gloom and the all-enveloping fog that shrouds the dark and dreary streets. Or, Abyssinia, the baking hot days and freezing cold nights, the desolate, dusty and harsh terrain and the mountain pass and range where Tewodros’s unassailable fortress Magdala is located. Collard brings the sights, sounds and smells of the setting and of the era to life. You witness the horrors, the broken bodies, the ground a churned up soup of blood and earth and then, the fury of the guns, the artillery fire and the sounds of battle raging all resonate from off the pages. The action is ferocious, visceral in its depiction, bloody and vicious. There is a weight to the blows and Collard doesn’t pull his punches or shy away from depicting the brutality of the fighting, be it brawling or the battlefield.
As a character, I really like Jack Lark. A bit of a rogue, sardonic, a tormented soul and, at times, an instrument of violence, there are many facets to him, he is flawed, he is human and there is a depth to him. He believes in fate and he is a man of many masks, a killer, a liar, a survivor and a veteran who has seen conflict across the world. The past is a cross to bear for Jack and a burden that he has to carry. He is forged from battle, pain and loss. His battered body is a map of scars that tell the story of his life. He has stared death in the face many times and lived to tell the tale, but if it is his time to die, he won’t run, he won’t cower, he will look death straight in the eye and fight. During his time back in the East End, something was lacking, a yearning buried beneath that he refused to acknowledge. In Abyssinia, he will find himself and back with the army, back with a revolver and a sword in his hands he will again feel whole.
The strange appearances and the cryptid sightings that have occurred throughout the years are creatures that have either accidentally passed through from their own world or, have purposefully visited our world. There have also been strange disappearances and reappearances, people, like Mal who vanished into thin air and then reappeared years later passing through from ‘here’ to ‘there’ and the reverse passing back from ‘there’ through to ‘here’. The incidents are isolated and rare, individual cryptids and the occasional human, but more and more cracks appearing, cracks that are widening, the walls are breaking down and the boundaries between worlds are collapsing, fracturing and tearing apart. Our Earth is in danger, the fate of our world at stake and so too is the fate of all the other alternate Earths that are out there. Every Earth in the multiverse is heading towards total annihilation and destruction where everything will fade to nothing, stop being and simply cease to exist.
The Doors of Eden is told through multiple POV that weave together multiple threads to create a spectacular interwoven tapestry. Alongside Lee and Mal other characters include Julian Sabreur a secret service agent for MI5, Alison Matchell an intelligence analyst for MI5, Lucas May ex-army and now a henchman who works in private security for the firm Rove Denton that is owned by the villain of the story Daniel Rove and Dr Kay Amal Khan a theoretical mathematician and physicist. Kay, a trans person was a personal favourite character of mine with the prejudice that she suffers, how she deals with it and her acerbic, sarcastic and forthright manner. Another couple of characters who I haven’t mentioned for fear of spoiling parts of the story, but who deserve a name check in my review are Stig and then, Dr Rat who, along with his translator is awesome.
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