Friday, 8 October 2010

Moved over to the other side.....

I haven't stopped blogging, just moved to Wordpress.

So, for more of the same, please head over to;

Hope to see you there real soon.


Friday, 24 September 2010

Angel - by L.A.Weatherly

Published 1st October 2010
Usborne Books

I am so glad this book exists – it does everything that the recent lacklustre movie angelic offering ‘Legion’ should have done.

Clearly pitched at the YA market, and I’m guessing specifically at those needing a new supernatural fix since the closing of the Twilight series, I think Angel could easily have a second life if issued as a mainstream genre fiction title.

It reads like a great movie. Good central characters, fast pacing and with some terrific action-filled set pieces.
Oh yes, and there’s romance - but I was surprised to find that, with possibly one scene as exception, the romantic element does not interfere with a good angelic war and a road story.

Maybe angels turned bad isn’t a new idea, but Weatherly puts a further twist to this by adding ‘Angel-Burn’ to the mix. These angels act vampiric – stealing life forces and, in return, leave diseases, viruses, cancers.

The two central characters of Alex , the AK (Angel Killer) and Willow (a half angel) are very well detailed and clearly pave the way for the rest of the trilogy.

Also handled well is the writing itself, carefully switching between first person (as Willow) and third person – working in a way I’ve not read in some time.

A great packaged, entertaining and enjoyable first chapter to what is certain to be a hit book trilogy and, I’m sure, a successful future movie series.

Keith B Walters

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Criminal Masterminds - Bromley Library Event

Criminal Masterminds

Mark Billingham, Simon Brett & Martyn Waites at Bromley Central Library.

I guess in many ways this was like a small shot in the arm for someone like me who is still on the downhill from the fantastic Harrogate Crime Writing Festival back in July.

A gathering of three of the names from that festival arrived in my home borough of Bromley on a Friday night to chat about and read from their latest novels, take questions from the audience and sign copies of their books.

I was pleased to see a reasonable turnout – around 40-50 people at a guess, and many of whom I believe are regulars to Bromley Library’s reading groups. It was the usual mix of people, the majority being women of a certain age. With tea, coffee and biscuits included in the £2.50 ticket price there was no hanging around in the boozy vapours of the Harrogate festival bar here! No, this was quite a different venue – when walking through the hall doors and being told the kettle was on I immediately knew I wasn’t in Yorkshire anymore and Theakstons’ Old Peculier was certainly not on tap.

And so, to a great evening’s entertainment as ever from all three authors – all of whom have acting/comedy backgrounds and so are great at public speaking before their readings.
Martyn Waites confessed to being a woman – which I think came as quite a shock to some in the audience until he placed the copy of his latest Tania Carver penned novel on the lectern. Mark Billingham was as entertaining as ever and Simon Brett gave a very funny reading from his latest novel too.
It’s always interesting to see how many stories these writers have when they appear – particularly as I’ve now seen Mark three times this year relating to his latest novel, From the Dead, but although inevitably some of the same anecdotes come out, there are always new ones to enjoy from all three authors.
And, as they all said, the meeting of the readers and talking to people at such events is the only time they really get to leave the house…

Thanks to Bromley Library for organising the evening - great stuff.

Came home with more lovely signed copies to pt on my shelves (even if Martyn Waites did sign my Tania Carver book to me ‘With lots of love, Tania’ ☺) and a refreshed determination to get on with my own book.

Keith B Walters

Elliot Allagash - by Simon Rich

A Paperback Original
Published by Serpents Tail £9.99

Those that know me know that I rarely step away from Crime or Horror as my preferred fiction genres – and, more recently as a result of blogging, those that know me only a little also feel the same.

Such was the view of Serpents Tail publicity department when sending me this title with more than a little concern that it might not really be my ‘thing’.

In advance of receiving the book, I did a bit of googling about its author, 25 year old Simon Rich, and was pleasantly surprised to find that he is in fact the youngest writer ever on a show which has brought the world some of the greatest comic talent, Saturday Night Live. That, and the fact that this first UK published release is a Manhattan high school set fun book with great reviews already, had me convinced that this would be a book worth stepping outside of my comfort zone for.
And, I’m pleased to report that it was.

Elliot Allagash is trouble, he has been trouble at every school he’s been kicked out of in the past, but when he arrives at Glendale it’s with the backing of so much money from his father that the school can’t be seen to want him to move on.
He is in need of a project, a subject on which to test his skills and to transform a regular or downbeaten student into the most popular pupil on campus.
He sets his sights on our narrator, Seymour Herson.
And then, for the next 200 plus pages he proceeds to do whatever it takes to make Seymour more popular, to get him on the better lunch table, to get him into the sports teams, to run for school president, to become a music sensation and tv star and, to get the girl of his dreams.
Initially I felt sorry for Seymour in the tale, but more and more it’s Elliot that I felt sorrow for, due to the fact that he seems to only be able to make himself happy by living his dreams vicariously through the lives of his muse, Seymour.
The school setting and situations are great, with particular use of video games and chess clubs to highlight some classic teen scenarios.
The stand-off involving flasks of coffee taken into a chess tournament final is one scene that I’ll remember for a long time to come.
So, whilst this was a bit of a departure to my usual reading, I still thoroughly enjoyed it – much in the same way as I love the movie ‘Brick’ – again for many of the same reasons that it tackles many grown up things within the frustrated years of school and college life.

I look forward to reading more of Simon Rich, and soon.

Keith B Walters

Sunday, 29 August 2010

COLD KISS by John Rector

I watched an online interview with author John Rector about his first novel to be published in the UK, Cold Kiss, and was determined to read it at the earliest opportunity as good words are spreading fast about this great, tight, suspenseful tale.

Comparisons have been made linking it to The Shining and A Simple Plan, amongst others, making the novel all the more intriguing as to what is actually would be and what the central theme is.

The book jacket, seen here, with the tagline “Fear never travels alone…’ again leaves the reader somewhat open as to whether this is going to be a straight crime novel, something tinged with the supernatural or something else entirely.

As has been customary with me of late, I always try to get the first twenty pages or so of a new book underway the night of finishing a previous title – with Cold Kiss I was 65 pages in before drawing breath.

The tale was made all the more spooky when, at the halfway point, I mentioned on twitter what a great book it was so far, and got a direct message back from the author saying he was pleased I was enjoying it – a very surreal moment but a sign of these technological times I guess.

In fact, technology is the only thing I would take slight issue with as, the novel appears to be in present day, and yet there were moments, particularly at the beginning, where I wondered why there were no mobile phones used. But that is such a minor gripe in what was an absolutely cracking read from beginning to end.

The story is that of Nate and Sara, a young couple seeking a new life for themselves who happen upon a sick man, Syl, in a diner at the start of a heavy snowstorm. The early scenes of the Syl’s suffering
Made me wonder if this was going to be a virus based tale – possibly something along the lines of The Stand.
But then the story twists and Syl becomes a mysterious hitchhiker in their car – instantly recalling the evil acts of a certain Rutger Hauer in that classic movie – but, even then, the author manages another twist involving two million dollars in the dying man’s luggage – and suddenly we’re into A Simple Plan territory – but it doesn’t end there.

In Cold Kiss, you get a tale of revenge, mystery, horror, action, thriller, mysterious motel, meth dealing and an anti-abortion campaigner, plus a small cast trapped by a heavy storm all thrown into the mix. And it is all so finely crafted that I genuinely had no idea what twist was about to come next.

The characters are very well drawn for a relatively short novel and created real sympathy with this reader for their plight and the decisions they have to make along their journey through the story.

Simon Kernick’s quote on the cover pretty much says it all; ‘You know something bad’s going to happen and just have to keep reading…’
I’d agree with that entirely, but would add that I had no idea just how many bad things were about to happen and just what a twisty-turny ride John Rector had set me on from the first page.

It’s not strictly speaking John Rector’s debut novel – that was his self-published The Grove as an Amazon Kindle download with #1 bestselling results – but this first UK paperback release is clearly destined to play a major calling card for him.

In short…I loved it (just wish I’d written it).

Published in paperback by Pocket Books – Simon & Schuster UK.

Keith B Walters

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Summer Reading Challenge Book 2 - ASSASSIN - by Tom Cain

This is only the second in my Summer Reading Challenge from Transworld – although I am not actually convinced that we have had a Summer, so the image of the deckchair I was sent for this project seems slightly out of place as I look out onto rivers of rain water flowing down the road outside.

Nevertheless, I am embarrassed that both of my kids have completed their six book library reading challenges, whilst I’m lagging behind – please don’t let them know ☺

And so to Assassin, the third book from Tom Cain to feature his Special Boat Service Operative, and all round action hero, Samuel Carver.

All concerns that I’d missed the first two books in the series (The Accident Man & The Survivor) were quickly washed away as I ploughed into the book on the first night I opened it and the pace rarely lets up throughout.

The comparison by the Guardian to the Bourne movies is very fair as Carver cracks through the action sequences and events in the book barely pausing for breath. In Assassin he is the constant victim of an old enemy and former colleague, Damon Tyzack, who is determined to frame him for crimes and acts of terrorism, culminating in a planned assassination of the American President Lincoln Roberts. Roberts has set himself a whole army of enemies in his proposal for a war on people-trafficking and slavery, which he is scheduled to announce at a conference in Bristol.
The action sequences, particularly the set-up of a bomb blast in an Oslo Hotel, are excellently handled and gripping, with the author successfully placing the reader right in the centre of the action and the tension.
In fact only one scene didn’t quite work for me when Carver stepped (or cycled) into a bit more James Bond meets Jackie Chan role, leaping a skip on a bicycle – but a very minor gripe for one scene on one page out of over 500 other amazing ones.

On my ‘to be read’ pile now are the first two Carver books and the new hardback, Dictator – looking forward to more high octane thrills.

Next on the Summer Reading Challenge schedule is Lock Down by Sean Black (saw him at Harrogate and really looking forward to reading that one anytime soon).

Keith B Walters

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Love Books? - Love Book Signings and Events.

I love to read - that kind of goes without saying but, there I’ve said it anyway.
But I also love to meet authors, to hear them talk about their work and to have them sign their books to me.

Maybe it’s in someway a hope that some of whatever magic formula they possess will transfer itself to my own writing somehow.
All around my writing desk are framed copies of what authors have written by way of encouragement to me to get on with my own books, Ian Rankin, John Connolly, Mark Billingham, John Harvey to name but a few.

It’s John Harvey’s comment that takes pride of place; written around his own title page it reads ‘Okay Keith, remember NOW’S THE TIME ! – Don’t waste it !!’.
The one from Stuart MacBride that says ‘To Keith – Grow the rest of the beard’ is placed a little further away from my line of sight.

I cannot remember which was my first signing event but I suspect it may well have been one at Forbidden Planet to get Clive Barker to sign books for me. Meeting him several times were certainly some of the most memorable signings – particularly for the launch of his movie Nightbreed and all of his novels close to that launch. It was held at the CafĂ© Munchen at the rear of where the London FP used to be based. I went early with a bunch of friends and queued for ages clutching a brand new leather briefcase full of his books. The case was a gift from my godparents (thinking I’d need it for an office job one day) – my friends just mocked and made comment that I might as well get Barker to sign it as it contained all his books.
So, when my turn came, I did exactly that and, after he cracked a few jokes about doing a Nightbreed luggage deal with Samsonite, he kindly signed and illustrated the front of the briefcase with a unique monster head image – truly a one of a kind item now and a prize possession.

But whether it was Stephen King or James Ellroy at the Royal Festival Hall, the countless list of great names each year at Harrogate, Reading and the Crimefest events, or individual author events at bookstores, I have treasured the memories of each and every one of them, and the signed books I have left with.

There have been times where I’ve missed out on more good stuff after an event – leaving early only to find that John Connolly took a whole group of fans out for dinner and drinks for his 40th birthday after an event was one such regret.
But, I have never come away from one feeling anything other than even greater respect for the authors that I read and their books that I love.

If all you do is read your favourite authors, you are really only getting some of the story. To get all of it, you really should get out there and meet them.

Keith B Walters