Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Some New Zealand Funk

Here are two tracks that always get a smile on my feet and bop in my walk. They are both from a great New Zealand band Supergroove. Warning these track may make you hypo.







Monday, 25 February 2013

All a Novella Should Be


 Demons In The Big Easy by Jamie Marchant


Jamie Marchant delivers a great story all in the span of 76 pages. Earth and its sister parallel world are in danger from a demon onslaught and all that stands in their way is an old witch, her granddaughter and a homeless man. A search for a missing girl turns into a race against time to save both worlds. This is a shining example of what a Novella should be. It hooks you from page one and does not let go until the last page. For 99 cents you can't go wrong.

4 Stars

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Prison riot + One Vampire= Action Galore

Blood Cell by Shaun Tennant

Who do you call when a wing of hardened criminals decided to riot? Easy you get a vampire to do your dirty work. I have to admit that I was wondering when the vampire would materialise in this story as the front half of the book sets up our main characters and story. For someone who has not worked in a prison the author has a remarkable grasp of the dynamics that exist in these environments(just to clarify I work as a correctional officer). But when the action starts it hits home hard and fast. I found this book hard to put down and it was responsible for more than a couple of late nights.

4 Stars



Thursday, 21 February 2013

Some Great Music From The Land Down Under

Here is one of my favourite bands I hope you enjoy this killer song and clip. So without further to do it's time to get on down and hop on the good foot.


A bit about the band:

In February 2008 Art vs. Science formed in Sydney as an electro-pop dance band, after Dan McNamee attended a Daft Punk concert in 2007. He convinced his former high school friends, Jim Finn and Dan Williams to join. The trio were ex-members of Roger Explosion, a rock-punk band, which had formed in 2003 and included Finn's brother Tom on bass guitar. By 2007 Roger Explosion had released two extended plays and an album. Art vs. Science has Finn on vocals and keyboards; McNamee on vocals, guitars and keyboards; and Williams (who, at the time, was also a member of Philadelphia Grand Jury) on drums and vocals. The band were booked to play gigs before they had created any songs.

We started jamming for Art vs. Science in February last year. We didn’t have any specific songs, we had a loose idea for a few tracks, and our mate asked us to play. We weren’t ready but we said yes; wrote seven songs in 48 hours. We tend to work well under pressure.
—Dan Williams, 2009.

In July 2009, the band gained wider recognition after winning radio station, Triple J's Unearthed competition earning a gig at Splendour in the Grass.  After playing gigs and festivals, including the Parklife Festival, Falls Festival, Good Vibrations and touring nationally with The Galvatrons, Art vs. Science received a 2008 Unearthed J Award nomination. Their songs, "Flippers" and "Hollywood" received significant airplay, with "Flippers" listed at No. 44 on the Triple J Hottest 100, 2008.

Art vs. Science's debut self-titled extended play was recorded at Big Jesus Burger studios in Surry Hills with producer Simon 'Berkfinger' Berckelman (Philadelphia Grand Jury) and was released in May on the Green label.

We recorded it all in one day, in one session, one mad day; locked ourselves in, with a lot of coffee and a lot of wine. We were set up in a room: it was all very minimal, no metronomes; just the producer screaming at us till we got it right.
—Dan Williams, 2009.[4]

The EP peaked at No. 32 on the ARIA Singles Chart, and, in December, it was accredited gold record status by ARIA. The band undertook its first headline national tour in May 2009, which was sold out. In August, the group embarked on The Eiffel Tour across Australia. At the ARIA Music Awards of 2009 the EP was nominated for 'Breakthrough Artist – Single'. They also received two AIR Award nominations for 'Best Independent Single' and 'Breakthrough New Independent Artist' and won 'Best Independent Dance Album'. With their colourful mix of pop, French electro, and rock they won the Fasterlouder Festival Award for 'Best Local Act' in 2009.

The band's track, "Parlez Vous Francais?", was added to rotation at community radio, Triple J and Nova 96.9.[20][citation needed] The song was listed at No. 2 on the Triple J Hottest 100, 2009. The video for "Parlez Vous Francais?", directed by Alex Roberts, was nominated for 'Australian Music Video of the Year' at the 2009 J Awards. By the end of the year Williams had to give up playing drums in his other Sydney band, Philadelphia Grand Jury, in order to concentrate full-time on Art vs. Science.

Art vs. Science started to gain international recognition, following the inclusion of "Parlez Vous Francais?" on BBC 1 DJ Kissy Sell Out’s cover-mount compilation on UK taste-making magazine Mixmag, airplay on John Kennedy’s XFM’s show and blog attention, courtesy of a remix package including tracks by Bumblebeez and Nadastrom. XFM also named the band one of the 20 Bands to Watch in 2010. In 2010, the group toured the United Kingdom in support of La Roux in March and then Groove Armada in May. Their track, "Hollywood", appears on the soundtrack of the basketball video game NBA 2K11. The band released its second EP, Magic Fountain, in August 2010, which reached No. 14 on the ARIA Singles Chart.The title track reached No. 9 on the Triple J Hottest 100, 2010. At the ARIA Music Awards of 2010 the band received three nominations, 'Best Dance Release', 'Best Independent Release' and 'Best Video' for "Magic Fountain". In October, Art vs. Science started recording their debut album, The Experiment, in Queensland with producer Magoo.

'Magic Fountain' was very fittingly played by the group in a set that took place directly adjacent to the large mushroom shaped fountain at the 11th annual Bonnaroo on 8 June 2012.

The band's next single, "Finally See Our Way", premiered on Triple J's The Breakfast Show with Tom & Alex on 22 November 2010 and made available on iTunes on 26 November. In March 2011 the group supported The Chemical Brothers' Australian tour. Art vs. Science signed with Kobalt Music Australia, the label's first local signing. Their album was released in Australia on 25 February 2011 titled Experiment.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Watch Out For The Wolf


The Wolf by Richard Guillart and Peter Hohnen


A great read from start to finish, following the exploits of a German raider during World War I. The author mixes together the stories of the Germans and their captives to bring to life the extraordinary voyage of the Wolf. I recommend this book for anyone in the mood for a ripping yarn of adventure on the high sea.  A story that could have been lifted right of the page of an adventure novel this book will not disappoint.

4 Stars

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Now For Something Completely Different

I thought it was time to shake it up a bit. So I have decided to chuck in some of my favourite songs every now and then. First up is a song from my youth, this one brings back many a memory of me falling on my rear.




Sunday, 17 February 2013

Would You Kiss The Cover Girl


Zombie Fallout by Mark Tofu


Mark Tofu delivers a highly addictive read that should come with a public health warning, as it can induce uncontrollable fits of laughter in public. This story is told mainly through the eyes of our hero Mike Talbot and his internal dialogue is a joy to behold. A fast paced and gritty plot keeps you hooked right through to the end. As for the Zombie on the cover, well let’s just say she may have a tad of a crush on our main man. If you read only one Zombie book this year then give serious contemplation to this being the one.

4.5 Stars

Friday, 15 February 2013

Trust No One


Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith


A top notch thriller that takes you into the world of 50's Stalin Russia. A prodigal son of the Soviet Union puts his life and the life of his loved ones on the line to track down a brutal killer of children. Paranoia, fear and betrayal leap from the pages as the author weaves an intricate plot that has you on the edge of the seat throughout the book. In a world where you can trust no one can good prevail over evil? Can the individual succeed were the state fails? Can the killer be stopped?

4.5 Stars

Awards
Man Booker Prize Nominee for Longlist (2008), Barry Award for Best First Novel (2009), Anthony Award Nominee for Best First Novel (2009), Dilys Award Nominee (2009), Galaxy British Book Awards for New Writer of the Year (2009)
Thriller Award for Best First Novel (2008), Los Angeles Times Book Prize, The Crime Writers' Association Ian Fleming Steel Dagger (2008)

Thursday, 14 February 2013

A Great Ending

One of the pleasures of reviewing books is receiving free copies for an honest review. Now this sometimes does have the downside of wasting time on reading an absolute stinker of a book. As you would expect authors are very nervous to see how their babies will be received. I have always had the policy of being totally honest with my thoughts on their work. At times this has led to some rather nasty emails in my inbox. But this I hope will not be the case with this book as it is a corker!





The Last Stonestepper by Elliot Logan

After receiving this book in exchange for an honest review the first thing I can say about it is I would have happily payed for it. The story is refreshingly original and I found it hard to put down.

A mysterious event has befallen the US with people being reduced to either a mindless staring bunch or a blood crazed violent hoard. Not all are affected by the event though and the story follows a character by the name of Hayes, as he tries to get back home to his girlfriend. The ending of this book was very powerful and left me stunned.

So do yourself a favour and give this book a read, you will not be sorry.


4 Stars

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Max Hastings Doing What He Does Best



Bomber Command by Max Hastings
Max Hasting delivers yet another well researched and insightful book. In this offering he looks at Britain’s Bomber Command and follows it through its conception to the end of the war. 
The writing is just the right mix, giving a great overview of Bomber Command. As well as allowing the reader to get a feel for what it was like for those who flew the missions and those who were on the receiving end of it.
 Hasting does not shy away from the difficult questions raised by the tactics used by Bomber Command and delivers an insightful look at the reasoning behind them. A must read for anyone interested in World War II.

4 Stars






Author Interview Cancelled

The author interview slated for later in the month has been cancelled. It is difficult for me to review and interview an author about a book that I have not recieved! Why I am disapointed in having to pull the plug I hope to line up some more author interviews along the way.

Monday, 11 February 2013

The Lazy Book Reviewers Rant #1

After some serious soul searching and belly button contemplation I have arrived at my number one pet hate when it comes to books. For those well versed in my book review it will came as no surprise to you, but for some reason it took much self reflection to discover it. It mainly deals with memoirs and autobiographies. What is it a hear you ask? Well here it is. I can not stand arrogant authors. No you are not self confident nor are you cool or hip. What you are is bloody annoying. I do not need to be told how good you are. I can figure that out myself. Let the words and deeds you put to paper be a testament to your greatness. I as a reader am not stupid, I can deduct if you are particularly good at something or a self sacrificing soul. To put it bluntly, LET GO OF IT!

Let’s take the example of my recently reviewed book Ghost in the Wire by Kevin Mitnick. It was abundantly clear that he is a gifted and intelligent individual and I was fascinated by how he manipulated people to give up sensitive information. His story was truly fascinating, but that big old head of his tired it hardest to ruin the book. His constant patting of his own back drove me to distraction. At one point I seriously contemplated chucking the book in the bin. What could have been a solid 5 star read was nearly ruined.

On the other side of the coin we have Apache helicopter pilot Ed Macy who is the author of Apache and Hellfire. This author who continually put his life on the line in the service of his country and who’s actions were above and beyond the calling of his duties, let the words on the page tell his story. Not once did he jump around with his hand in the air shouting look at me. His humility spoke of his true nature and strength, here was an author that was happy for the reader to male up their mind about him.

So in conclusion PLEASE if you are going to write a book about yourself make sure you have your head removed from you rectum before you put pen to paper. For the sake of humanity and all things decent please let the reader decide how good you are.

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Excuse Me Your Ego Is In The Way!!!!!



Ghost in the wire is the tell all memoirs of the World’s best known Hacker Kevin Mitnick. While the subject matter of the book is fascinating as well as frightening the author loves to let you know how good he is. I lost count of how many times he comes out with” who else but Mitnick would”.... Seriously get over yourself. Yes you are clever, yes you did outrun the Feds for years and yes you are famous. But I knew all this before I picked up the book. Ego aside this is as mentioned before a fascinating read, you just have to push the authors big head aside to get to the essence of the book.

2.5 Stars




Is this the Future?

Forty Days at Kamas by Preston Fleming

I was slow to embrace this book but once the hook was set I was in for the ride. Forty Days at Kamas is set in a USA totalitarian state, in which it does not take much to be labelled a traitor.

The story is set around a labour camp in Utah known as Kamas and the uprising that takes place against the oppressive prison regime. Very Stalinist like in their nature, these labour camps are designed to crush the soul and spirit of those imprisoned behind the walls. As a Correctional officer I feel Preston Fleming has done a fantastic job creating the people and atmosphere of Kamas. He has picked up and created the underlying tension that is present in any prison. 

A great story line keeps the book moving along at a fast exciting place. What is so frightening about this book is that is not to much a stretch of the imagination to believe it could really happen.

3.5 Stars 

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

My Favourite WWII Author

Laurence Rees is my favourite all time World War II history author, for me he stands above all others in this genre. I first came across his work when I purchased Their Darkest Hour, a great read on how everyday people could commit acts of pure evil during times of war. This book is raw and powerful series of interviews in which takes you into the darkest corners of their minds. This book had me hooked and I quickly looked for more book by this author.

Time now for a little bit about this author. Laurence Rees has been writing books and producing documentaries for over 20 years. He has recieved numerous awards including a BAFTA, Grierson Award, International Documentary Award, British Press Guild Award, and a BANNF festival award. He has also recieved an  Honorary Doctorate by Sheffield University for services to history and television. He also launched a website in 2010 http://www.WW2history.com in 2010. He has at times been the head of BBC TV History programmes and Creative Director of BBC Television History.

He has a great back catalogue of books and documentaries that accompany each other. His books are easy to read and keep the reader captivated. His documentaries likewise are easy and fascinating to watch. His books share the same title as there matching documentary. Below is a list of his work.

His first book was Selling politics published in 1992

Selling Politics investigates the secret world of political consultants, the men who create an image of their clients for the public eye. Author Laurence Rees argues that the roots of political propaganda lie in Nazi Germany with Hitler's master of visual propaganda, Dr Josef Goebbels. Goebbels' passion for cinema led him to discover the 'Great Truth', namely that in order for film propaganda to persuade it must entertain rather than inform. Over the past thirty years the use of film and television propaganda had flourished, particularly in the United States where a candidate's ability to woo voters on the screen is fundamental to his success in a presidential election. Rees shows how television manipulates its viewers into making judgements based purely on the visual image and explains why propaganda works best when it engages the emotions rather than the intellect. We see clearly how these insidious techniques have also played a key role in contemporary British politics as consultants have followed the example of their American counterparts. Written in1992, a year that encompassed a general election in Britain and a presidential election in the United States, Selling Politics is a book for our times. It will fascinate readers who care about the practice of politics and the way democracy functions as the 21st century approaches.


1997



The Nazis: A Warning from History includes the testimonies of more than fifty eyewitnesses, many of whom were committed Nazis only now free to tell their story after the collapse of communism. Rees offers us the compelling voices of a wide variety of soldiers and civilians rarely heard from: a remorseless Lithuanian soldier who shot five hundred people and then went out to lunch, the anguished older sister of a ten-year-old retarded boy "selected for immunization injection" - a fatal dose of morphine - at a children's hospital specializing in the "treatment" of disabled children, and the testimony of a then-twenty-year-old woman from a provincial German town who sent her neighbor to a concentration camp by signing a denunciation that she was "visited by a woman of Jewish appearance, " was "behaving suspiciously, " and "never responded to the 'Heil Hitler' greeting."



2001



Laurence Rees uses previously unpublished material and photographs, dramatic interviews with witnesses who knew Hitler or Stalin, and the voices of soldiers and civilians on the Eastern Front to shed new light on Hitler's "war of annihilation."" "War of the Century focuses on key events and policies such as Hitler's decision to invade the Soviet Union, the legendary and horrific siege of Stalingrad, the Germans' barbaric treatment of Soviet civilians and Red Army prisoners of war, and Stalin's paranoid revenge against real and perceived enemies. With this new evidence, Rees explores the truth behind the war, its ruthless leaders and its devastating effects on the military and civilian populations of both sides.



The question is as searing as it is fundamental to the continuing debate over Japanese culpability in World War II and the period leading up to it: "How could Japanese soldiers have committed such acts of violence against Allied prisoners of war and Chinese civilians?" During the First World War, the Japanese fought on the side of the Allies and treated German POWs with respect and civility. In the years that followed, under Emperor Hirohito, conformity was the norm and the Japanese psyche became one of selfless devotion to country and emperor; soon Japanese soldiers were to engage in mass murder, rape, and even cannibalization of their enemies. Horror in the East examines how this drastic change came about. On the basis of never-before-published interviews with both the victimizers and the victimized, and drawing on never-before-revealed or long-ignored archival records, Rees discloses the full horror of the war in the Pacific, probing the supposed Japanese belief in their own racial superiority, analyzing a military that believed suicide to be more honorable than surrender, and providing what the Guardian calls "a powerful, harrowing account of appalling inhumanity...impeccably researched."


2005



Auschwitz-Birkenau is the site of the largest mass murder in human history. Yet its story is not fully known. In Auschwitz, Laurence Rees reveals new insights from more than 100 original interviews with Auschwitz survivors and Nazi perpetrators who speak on the record for the first time. Their testimonies provide a portrait of the inner workings of the camp in unrivalled detail—from the techniques of mass murder, to the politics and gossip mill that turned between guards and prisoners, to the on-camp brothel in which the lines between those guards and prisoners became surprisingly blurred.

Rees examines the strategic decisions that led the Nazi leadership to prescribe Auschwitz as its primary site for the extinction of Europe's Jews—their "Final Solution." He concludes that many of the horrors that were perpetrated in Auschwitz were driven not just by ideological inevitability but as a "practical" response to a war in the East that had begun to go wrong for Germany. A terrible immoral pragmatism characterizes many of the decisions that determined what happened at Auschwitz. Thus the story of the camp becomes a morality tale, too, in which evil is shown to proceed in a series of deft, almost noiseless incremental steps until it produces the overwhelming horror of the industrial scale slaughter that was inflicted in the gas chambers of Auschwitz


2007 



How could Nazi killers shoot Jewish women and children at close range? Why did Japanese soldiers rape and murder on such a horrendous scale? How was it possible to endure the torment of a Nazi concentration camp?

Award-winning documentary maker and historian Laurence Rees has spent nearly 20 years wrestling with these questions in the course of filming hundreds of interviews with people tested to the extreme during World War II. He has come face-to-face with rapists, mass murderers, even cannibals, but he has also met courageous individuals who are an inspiration to us all.

In Their Darkest Hour he presents 35 of his most electrifying encounters.



2008


In this revelatory chronicle of World War II, Laurence Rees, winner of the 2006 British Book Award for History, documents the dramatic and secret deals that helped make the war possible and prompted some of the most crucial decisions made during the conflict.

Drawing on material available only since opening of archives in Eastern Europe and Russia, Rees reexamines the key choices made by Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt during the war. And as the truth about Stalin’s earlier friendly relationship with the Nazis is laid bare, a devastating and surprising picture of the Soviet leader emerges.

The emotional core of the book is the amazing new testimony obtained from nearly a hundred separate witnesses from the period—former Soviet secret policemen, Allied seamen who braved Arctic convoys and Red Army veterans who engaged Germans in hand-to-hand fighting on the Eastern Front. Their dramatic personal experiences make clear in a compelling and fresh way the reasons why the people of Poland, the Baltic states and other European countries simply swapped the rule of one tyrant for another.

Rees’ ability to weave high politics—the meeting of the Allied leaders at Tehran, Yalta and Potsdam—with the dramatic personal experiences of those on the ground who bore the consequences of their decisions is eye opening. World War II Behind Closed Doors will change the way we think about the Second World War.


2012


Adolf Hitler was an unlikely leader – fuelled by hate, incapable of forming normal human relationships, unwilling to debate political issues – and yet he commanded enormous support. So how was it possible that Hitler became such an attractive figure to millions of people? That is the important question at the core of Laurence Rees’ new book.

The Holocaust, the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, the outbreak of the Second World War – all these cataclysmic events and more can be laid at Hitler’s door. Hitler was a war criminal arguably without precedent in the history of the world. Yet, as many who knew him confirm, Hitler was still able to exert a powerful influence over the people who encountered him.

In this fascinating book to accompany his new BBC series, the acclaimed historian and documentary maker Laurence Rees examines the nature of Hitler’s appeal, and reveals the role Hitler’s supposed ‘charisma’ played in his success. Rees’ previous work has explored the inner workings of the Nazi state in The Nazis: A Warning from History and the crimes they committed in Auschwitz: The Nazis and the Final Solution. The Charisma of Adolf Hitler is a natural culmination of twenty years of writing and research on the Third Reich, and a remarkable examination of the man and the mind at the heart of it all.



I hope I have got some of you interested in Laurence Rees and his work, if you give him a try you will not be disappointed. This author gets The Lazy Book Reviewers BIG TICK OF APPROVAL!






What Could Have Been





A very disappointing read on what could have been a fascinating story. The book is bogged down by to much technical detail that has nothing really to do with the subject of the book. A downed F-4 PhantomII and its two crew captured, the two crew returning to visit the crash sight later in life. This is what the book should have focused on instead the story is lost amongst information that did not in my opinion enhance the story.

2 Stars


















Saturday, 2 February 2013

Soldaten Ticks all the Boxes


Soldaten: On Fighting, Killing & Dying by Sonke Neitzel & Harald Welzer


For me this book ticked all the boxes and was a highly enjoyable read. It takes the time to explain the mind set of Werchmat soldiers and explains how the normalization of violence experienced by any front line troops occurs.

 A fantastic study into the world during the war and those who fought in it. Through the transcripts of German POW's the author pulls apart the social and human aspects of war and soldiers and shows it in a crystal clear perspective.

This book should be mandatory reading of any military leadership group as the lesson to be learnt goes to the heart of man at war. In short it pulls apart what it is to be a soldier and lays it bare for all to see.

5 Stars