Showing posts with label gangster. Show all posts
Showing posts with label gangster. Show all posts

Tuesday 28 June 2016

Month in Review(s) - June 2016

We're half-way through the year folks! Which is kind of rocking, really, because it means we're that much closer to Christmas.

(I love Christmas!)

Anyway, back to the summer-ish-ness of June, and I can honestly say I read a little bit of everything this month.

Plus it was a pretty fab month blog-wise: I reached over 750 Twitter followers, over 15k blog page-views (ARGH!!!!!) and over 30 Bloglovin followers.


(I'm a massive Juno Dawson fan - so this was kind of a fantabulously big deal to me.)

So catch up on all my reviews this month with this handy link-list (and I've added cover images, because I spoil you.)


Young Adult

Say Her Name by Juno Dawson - Horror, Ghost Story
These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly - Historical Fiction, Crime


Life Blood by V M Black - Romance, Paranormal, Vampires, Novella
Landline by Rainbow Rowell - Contemporary, Chick Lit, Magic Realism, Romance* (*ish)

Graphic Novels

Codename Baboushka, Vol: The Conclave of Death - Spy, Gangster, Thriller, Crime
Klaw, The First Cycle - Young Adult, Fantasy, Superhero*, Paranormal* (*ish - there are shifters of various types and somewhat of a superhero origin story.)

Wednesday 1 June 2016

Review! (Graphic Novel Edition!) - Codename Baboushka, Vol 1: The Conclave of Death

Title: Codename Baboushka, Volume 1: The Conclave of Death

Author: Antony Johnston

Contributors: Shari Chankhamma, Simon Bowland

Genre: Graphic Novel, Spy, Gangster, Thriller, Crime

Series: Codename Baboushka

Amazon: UK - USA

A few starting notes:

I received a free digital review copy of this book via NetGalley. NetGalley provides review copies from publishers in exchange for fair and honest reviews.

I decided to give this a shot because of the cover: it has this kind of cool Russian-vibe going on, and it looked intriguing.

Sometimes, particularly with graphic novels, I really don't need any more than that.


Femme fatale Baboushka is retired from the Russian crime-boss game. Until US intelligence want her to do them a favour, that is.

They don't give her much of a choice.

So it's time for the kick-as* Russian countess to get back in the game - it's gonna be a bumpy ride.

Best bits:

A weird thing to start on, but I'm just gonna go with it: I really loved the chapter title pages.

They had that whole 007 title-sequence deal going on, with a colour-scheme of red, black, and white, and it just worked.

The style of the artwork in general had its own uniqueness - which is always good in a world where it's hard to be original in anything. I would've preferred a little more depth and shadow to the art, but that's a personal thing.

Baboushka herself is awesome - and I was impressed by how much she managed to move out of the shadow of that other leather-clad Russian comics heroine, The Black Widow.

The page layouts (and this sounds like such a geeky thing to talk about, but when something's done well, it's done well,) were really thought-out and affective.

The flow of the panels worked and there had clearly been some thought put into the backgrounds and the whole look and feel of the page. I appreciate it when some effort has been put in!

Also, the matryoshka (Russian nesting-doll) weapons rocked!

Not so great bits:

To the Russian elephant in the room: the similarities between Baboushka and The Black Widow.

They are there, no question about it - the leather outfit, the fact that they're Russian, the unbeatable skills, the mysterious back-story, the stand-out hair colour (Baboushka's is white where Widow's is red, but the affect is much the same,) etc. etc.

Criticisms of Baboushka as a Black Widow mirror-image are valid.

But somehow it doesn't feel like it when you're reading.

Yes, they are very similar - but Baboushka is not Widow, she has a different feel to her character, and a different story, and there's the potential for them to move further apart in the future.

Black Widow casts a big shadow - and while I think the extent to which Baboushka manages to move out from that is admirable, I can't help but think that Marvel's Natasha Romanoff will always be in the back of the reader's mind.

There's a some (very, very, mild) swearing ('bl**dy',) and a lot of gore and violence here - so if that's not your thing, then this is probably not for you.


I enjoyed this - it brought a spark of originality to a character who could just have been a cheap imitation.

Baboushka, though, may never shake of Natasha Romanoff's spectre.

I hope she does. Because she has the potential to be truly great.

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Wednesday 27 January 2016

Books On My 'To-Buy' List

Do you have a 'to-buy' list?

My 'to-buy' list isn't quite the same as my tbr - if I bought everything on my tbr I wouldn't have any money left for things like... food.

Some of them are on my tbr, obviously, but a lot are books that I've already read but want to own so that I can re-read them, or just because I want to know I have them (Don't judge me!)

I really want these books... I'll just have to save my pennies!

straight james gay james cover

Straight James/Gay James by James Franco (UK - US)

You may have noticed, but I really love this book. That's why I want to own it. I want to have a nice paperback copy in my hands :) That came out decidedly weirder than how I intended it to sound.

crimson peak cover
Crimson Peak: The Official Movie Novelization by Nancy Holder (UK - US)

I've seen the film (UK - US) (Tom Hiddleston - yes, please!) but have heard very good things about the novelisation - which caught my attention, because normally people are a bit like 'Ehhhh...' when it comes to novelisations.

20th century ghosts cover

20th Century Ghosts by Joe Hill (UK - US)

I've read this twice from the library. I love Joe Hill. I love short stories. I love Joe Hill short stories. I really want this book.

locke and key 1 cover

Locke & Key: Welcome To Lovecraft by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez (UK - US)

Joe Hill + graphic novels = one happy reading addict!

shutter island cover
Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane (UK - US)

Another book I've borrowed from the library not once but twice, and one I was first inspired to read by the Leo DiCaprio film (UK - US) (yes, sometimes I watch the film without having read the book - please don't hurt me!)

It also started my Dennis Lehane addiction; Leo has a lot to answer for.

live by night cover

Live By Night by Dennis Lehane (UK - US)

Another Lehane book to feed my junkie habits. This is book #2 of the Coughlin series (you can read my review of book #3 'World Gone By' here.)

I love Joe Coughlin; I shouldn't because he's a gangster. But I love him.

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Tuesday 22 December 2015

My Picks of 2015

Feel like reading my picks of the books I've read and reviewed (so far) this year? Well, my cheeky little monkeys, I've got you covered.

(This post may have been at least partially coffee-fuelled. I regret nothing.)
2015 book picks

Death Vigil Volume 1 by Stjepan Šejić

death vigil graphic novel coverI hark on about this one quite a bit (guilty as charged!) But this book really does deserve it. It's like the perfect storm of originality, beautiful artwork, and complex characters.

The Death Vigil are a group of demon-hunting people, snatched in the moments before death by their leader, Bernadette - who is a bad-ass.

I read a lot of graphic novels, and amongst all of them, this really did stand out to me this year. It also held me captive 'til the last page, and made me forget about the coffee I was drinking at the time - my coffee went cold. If you know me, you know that that's significant.

NOS4R2 (NOS4A2) by Joe Hill

NOS4R2 Joe Hill cover I'm a big, ginormous, Joe Hill fan. And I absolutely positively loved all of this behemoth of a book.

The concept of worlds within the imagination was simply inspired, and Hill weaves his words like delicate silk (check me out being all poetical and sh**!)

Vic McQueen is one of the people who can use her imagination for real-world purposes. But when she comes across The Wraith, aka Charlie Manx, things are going to get very bad in Manx's world - Christmasland.

I wouldn't read this around Christmastime if I were you... unless you want to be traumatised of course, in which case, go right ahead.

Straight James/Gay James by James Franco

This may be a slight cheat - the book isn't out until early 2016, but I read it in 2015. So once again, I regret nothing.

This is one of my picks because I have to promote good poetry - it's like a compulsion, so sue me.

And this is good poetry - honest and heartfelt, like good poetry should be. (And yes, it's written by that James Franco.)

World Gone By Dennis Lehane book coverYou want a stunning historically-set gangster novel? Read this book.

Joe Coughlin is a gangster - he's been in the business a long time. But he makes everyone money. So no-one would want him dead... right?

Basically, I cannot explain to you how much I love Joe in a way that doesn't make me sound a few stages on from completely delusional. Read my review. Then read the book. Then you'll know, because hopefully I'm not the only one who feels like this...

Under the Never Sky Veronica Rossi book coverUnder the Never Sky and Through the Ever Night by Veronica Rossi

These are the first two books in the 'Under the Never Sky' series by Veronica Rossi (not to be confused with Veronica Roth, author of the Divergent series.)

This is a YA dystopian series that hooks its claws in with compelling plot, and complex characters. If you like dystopia and/or YA where the heroine does more than sit and whine all day, then I highly recommend this series.

Monday 21 December 2015

Review! (Woo!) - World Gone By by Dennis Lehane

World Gone By Dennis Lehane book coverTitle: World Gone By. (US link.)

Author: Dennis Lehane .

Genre: Crime, Historical Fiction, Gangster.

Series: Coughlin (#3.)

A few starting notes:

I'm a Dennis Lehane junkie. Pure. Simple. True. So when I saw World Gone By (US link) at the library, I really couldn't help myself.

This is #3 in the Coughlin series - following Danny Coughlin (in The Given Day, (US link,)) and later baby brother Joe Coughlin (in Live By Night (US link) and World Gone By (US link).)

It can definitely be read as stand-alone, though there are spoilers for Live By Night (US link) in particular. To be honest, you'll get much more out of this book if you read Live By Night (US link) first - just for the character history if nothing else.

My sequel-reviewing rules apply here. No spoilerage for the series beyond what's in the book blurb here.


Tampa and Ybor City, Florida, the 1940s. Joe Coughlin is a gangster from back in the days of prohibition.

Joe knows how to get money made; and its mutually beneficial for all of his... associates. So no-one would want him dead... right?

Is his lifestyle - his years of sin - about to catch up with him?

Best bits:

Lehane, what are you doing to me? A gangster on the young side of 40, a bad boy with a dangerous past, who treats women right and is a loving and sensitive single father? I should not be in love with Joe right now, damn you! He's a gangster! He kills people!

But I totally am, and it's all your fault Lehane.

The writing sweeps you along - as is typical of Lehane books. There's something about his prose which is almost lyrical; and which I totally love.

It also puts your feels (or, in non-fangirlian: emotions,) through the wringer. (Damn you Lehane!) but it's like: I love you book. You just ripped out my heart and handed it to me, and that is why I love you. (*Maniacal laughter.*)

Not so great bits:
As seems to be true for most of the books I read, this sure as hell ain't for the faint of heart. There's loads of swearing, violence, blood and guts.

There's also some racial slurs - including repeated use of the 'n' word. While that's in-keeping with a) the historical setting, and b) the fact that gangsters, as a rule, aren't particularly politically correct, it's still not OK.

This isn't a happy book. This is pretty grim. If you've read any books by Lehane before, you'll know what I mean - if not, well, just trust me.


I loved this book. A slick gangster novel that's firmly rooted in character and nuance rather than mindless shootings in every paragraph. This is subtle, absorbing, and quite simply excellent.