Sunday 24 March 2013

James Herbert's passing - a few thoughts.

This week has seen the death of James Herbert, possibly the greatest horror writer of my generation.

I remember very well, the first time I saw one of his books - it was his first, The Rats, and would have been around 1979. I was at scout camp and would have been, I guess 12 years old. One of the older scouts bought it and we all sat around while he read out the most gruesome bits (and, trust me, to 12 year old me, brought up on The Famous Five etc this was an eye opener).

James Herbert was the author who got me into reading horror and for that I will be forever grateful. His were stories that really could scare the hell out of you at times but could also make you think "what if".

If it hadn't been for James Herbert, I may have missed out on the likes of Graham Masterton, Guy N Smith, Clive Barker and Shaun Hutson - and I devoured books by all these authors, and still do.

Rest in peace now Mr Herbert and thank-you

A Beginning (The Tower and The Eye) by KIra Morgana - a review

A Beginning (The Tower and The Eye) starts out as a pretty standard Dungeons and Dragons romp. You have your basic characters (Human, Dwarf, Cleric, Theif, Elf) and all the cross race banter you would expect. You have a dungeon to explore (loaded with traps, threats etc) and you have an Ancient Enemy.

When you put all these elements together you could have a run-of-the-mill story but thanks to the authors love of, and experience with all things d+d, what you get is a short story with a lot of promise for the series it is setting up.

There are twists and turns to the story that I didn't expect and an ending that left me stunned, in so much as I never saw THAT coming.

A grand start to what promises to be a classic fantasy series for years to come

Tuesday 19 March 2013

Wheel of Time re-read (books 1-4) by Leigh Butler (a review)

WOW!!! I wasn't sure at first, reading somebody else's thoughts on a fantasy series that is very dear to my heart, but within the first couple of chapters I was hooked.

The chapters are broken down into two parts - What Happened (speaks for itself really, but it is a brief description of evevts in the chapter, and Commentary, which is Ms. Butler's thoughts on those events.

Each chapter is short, punchy and does exactly what it needs to to fill you in with all the salient points, but also has enough "Oh, yeah, I'd forgotten about him/her/that place/event" moments as well.

In short, Ms. Butler has done a fantastic job with this re-read and made a priceless accompaniment to The Wheel of Time series.

Monday 18 March 2013

Ocean Strike by Damien Lewis (a review)

A British agent in Port Louis, Mauritius gets information of a threat to the UK. The information is sent to London - a container ship is heading towards Sellafield with enough Sarin to cause a bigger disaster than the 9/11 attacks in New York..............................and it's only 3 days to Christmas!!!!!!!!!!

This short story rattles along at a good old pace. The action is pretty much relentless (as you would expect under the circumstances!) but not over the top in terminology. The author obviously knows his stuff and this shows, making a very readable book.

Would I read more by this author.........................Hell Yeah!!!!!!

Sunday 10 March 2013

Oz The Great And Powerful (a review of kinds)

First off, let me just say that

a) This is the first time I've reviewed a film in any way shape or form

I saw this film in its IMAX version this afternoon, and friends, it was GOOD! Ok, some of the effects were better than others (and there were some ropey ones) but the good ones really worked well.

The story is that of Oscar "Oz" Diggs (played by James Franco) a fraud magician with a travelling fairground in 1905 Kansas. He is a smoothy with the ladies but is rumbled by an ex conquests, the shows' strongman he legs it and escapes in a hot air balloon.

As with The Wizard of Oz, the Kansas scenes are filmed in monotone, and, also as in Wizard a twister takes our "hero" to another land - the glorious technicolour land of OZ.

And this is where the IMAX comes into its own. The land looks beautiful, the colours are bright and there are many little things happening in the background to make you feel involved with the scenery.

There are quite a few nods to the old film and also a few hints at back story ( ie what made the cowardly lion the way he is),
Franco is excellently cast as Oz, a con man out of his depth, trying not to get too involved when everybody is depending on him to save the day. There are good performances too from Michelle Williams, Mila Kunis and Rachael Weiss as the witches of the South, East and West (especially Kunis, possibly one of the best performances of her career in my opinion).

The Tin Man, Scarecrow and Lion are replaced in this film by Finlay, a flying monkey and a little china doll that will just melt your heart.

A good story with a blockbuster ending, I would give this film 4 out of 5.