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review 2018-10-01 20:51
Stealing Life - Antony Johnston
Stealing Life - Antony Johnston

I most recently came across Antony Johnston as the author of the graphic novel that was made into the movie Atomic Blonde and he's also the writer of another graphic novel series (The Fuse) where I've enjoyed what I've read so far. As a result, I had fairly high hopes of Stealing Life but sadly it didn't quite live up to them. 


It's a fairly unchallenging heist story, set in a world where magic and technology butt heads. Our protagonist makes a living as a thief but recently got in a mob boss's bad books for not killing a security guard and is currently scurrying around to make as much money as possible to pay said mob boss off. That's part of the reason why he (Nicco) takes on a job he might otherwise have turned down, working for a wizard to steal a magic amulet from the leader of a neighbouring nation. Naturally, things are not quite what they seem and Nicco finds himself up to his neck in plot and counter-plot, eventually helping thwart a revolution. 


One thing I thought was noticeable is that all but one of the named female characters in Nicco's world are sex workers. There's no judgement attached to that, at least, but for me it shows a degree of lack of imagination. There's also less attention given to the world-building than I might have liked, leaving me struggling to separate out the countries involved in the author's world. 


All in all, it was enjoyable enough but makes me wonder where the same depth of characterisation I've seen in the graphic novels this writer is producing disappeared to - it could have been so much better.  



I received a free copy of this book from Netgalley on the condition of giving an honest review. 

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review 2018-08-13 10:41
Star Wars: Ahsoka
Star Wars Ahsoka - E.K. Johnston

It was probably a coincidence, but at the same time, Ahsoka had been around long enough to know that coincidence and the Force rarely went together. There was always some sort of link.


When Lucas created the Force, did he know he’d be forcing countless future authors into lazy (if entertaining) writing? Force Ex Machina: the easiest way to get your characters from point A to point B. For example:


Ahsoka – “I’m going to hide on this tiny Outer Rim agricultural moon that couldn’t possibly be of immediate interest to the Empire.”


Empire – “We are immediately interested in this tiny Outer Rim agricultural moon because reasons.”


OMG, WHAT ARE THE ODDS?! (Never tell me the odds!) The Force is to Star Wars books what London fog is to cozy mysteries, and the number of Force non-coincidences in this book is high.


Blatant for(c)eshadowing aside, I was hoping for an entertaining account of what Ahsoka got up to between her last appearance in The Clone Wars (which I absolutely recommend watching before reading this novel) and her first appearance in Rebels, and this delivers. Mostly. The climactic confrontation was a bit meh. Based on this book, I’d say writing action isn't E.K. Johnston’s strong suit. Her characterization is pretty good, though, so I’m looking forward to her upcoming Padmé novel.

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review 2018-08-01 01:02
Loyal Wolf
Loyal Wolf (Alpha Force Book 6) - Linda O. Johnston

Kathlene is a deputy sheriff who suspects a group of men, who have moved in to her town, are in the process of doing illegal activities. No one listens to her (she's a woman, and this is a theme among the Sheriff- he doesn't like woman who have opinions). So, she calls in an outside party to help investigate- Alpha Force. Alpha Force happens to be an elite military group made up of shifters and plain old people. Jock is the shifter in the duo that meets at her town.
This wasn't bad, but it wasn't awesome either. It kept me entertained. I thought the wrap-up happened fast and would have liked more suspense (there isn't much). I was glad that Kathlene was smart and could more than hold her own against the sexist Sheriff.

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review 2018-07-27 16:06
The Colony of Unrequited Dreams (Johnston)
The Colony of Unrequited Dreams - Wayne Johnston

I've read a few Newfoundland novels lately, but this one, a fictionalized autobiography of Joey Smallwood, Newfoundland's first Premier, differs from the rest of them in that it is largely an urban novel, with most of the action set either in St. John's or in New York. Smallwood spent time working for the radical left-wing press in New York in his youth, and remained a socialist throughout his long political career, though his emphasis on economic development for Newfoundland meant that he controversially sided with large corporations (and foreign corporations at that) against unions in a number of major decisions. This novel is not, however, an economic or political history of Newfoundland, though elements of both are wryly scattered throughout, and the omnipresence of the historical view is very much felt through the interspersed writings of fictional historian, journalist and love interest [Sheilagh] Fielding - always known by her last name, just as she always addresses Smallwood as "Smallwood". And yes, as the title would suggest, not only are the larger dreams of the new province in Canada largely unrequited, but so too are the affections of Smallwood and Fielding, though it is hard, sometimes, to discern in which direction the unrequited feelings are flowing, both characters are so prickly, defensive and entirely caught up in their own worlds.


I'm not going to try to describe the way the plot winds in and out, incorporating major historical events in Smallwood's actual life like his trip on foot across the island, following the major railway line, recruiting union members; his harrowing trip as a journalist on a sealing voyage where a large part of the crew was stranded and frozen; his fraught political relationship with pre-Confederation Newfoundland politicians under the old system of colonial government from Britain; his shoestring existence in extreme poverty in New York. Nor was I particularly concerned to sort out fact from fiction in all of this. The more intriguing mystery was the characters, and how a couple of key (and likely fictional) events in their youth drove them through life. Those events involved written evidence, and the existence of written histories, and even a book of history as a possible instrument of homicide - OK, if you want more, you must read the book. And I really do think you should if you enjoy description that leaps off the page (strange, familiar, and strangely familiar settings), and characters who make you ache a bit even while they stubbornly withhold full understanding of their pain.


You don't need to know a lot about Newfoundland or its history to enjoy "Colony of Unrequited Dreams". You may find, however, that this fictional history about histories makes you want to know more of the truth. Heartily recommended.

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text 2018-02-20 04:13
Reading progress update: I've read 1 out of 176 pages.
Atomic Blonde: The Coldest City - Antony Johnston

the movie is a huge favorite of mine, so I have to see the source material...

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