My Complete Illustrated Sherlock Holmes Books and Short Stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle sit on the lowest shelf of my book case not more than two fe...moreMy Complete Illustrated Sherlock Holmes Books and Short Stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle sit on the lowest shelf of my book case not more than two feet from my shoulder as I write these lines. Bodysnatchers revisits the late 1800s that I so love reading about and Professor George Litefoot, a much loved character from the sublime The Talons of Weng-Chiang, along with the popular Zygons from Terror of the Zygons. The result is a book that indulges three items from many a Who fan's private wish-list. The Zygons are developed far more than the rather one dimensional baddies that were so casually dispatched by the Fourth Doctor. It's a shame that the book is marred by the rather flat characterizations of the Doctor and Sam that seems to haunt most of these Eighth Doctor books.(less)
As a Doctor Who novel this book does very well; it's well constructed, has a nice feel and is quite exciting: As a vampire novel read by someone who's...moreAs a Doctor Who novel this book does very well; it's well constructed, has a nice feel and is quite exciting: As a vampire novel read by someone who's as addicted to the genre as I am though it doesn't rate very highly. The genre of the modern day vampire is an already over saturated subject in today's popular fiction. It's very hard for a vampire novel to avoid the motifs that have been explored time and time again over the last thirty years. Try reading Mick Farren's Time of the Feasting for instance (a mainstream vampire/horror novel published in 1996) back to back with Vampire Science and you might see what I mean. (less)
First in a series of books published by the BBC following on directly from the disappointing but fun anyway tv movie An amnesiac Doctor visits his pre...moreFirst in a series of books published by the BBC following on directly from the disappointing but fun anyway tv movie An amnesiac Doctor visits his previous incarnations in order to recover his memories. The narrative soon gets reduced to a predictable formula of linked vignettes; interrupting his former selves one by one. Highlights are the third and fourth Doctor segments, where the action takes place immediately after The Sea Devils and during State of Decay. New companion Samantha Jones (a girl from Coal Hill school) is introduced.(less)
Quite poor. The author seems to have a limited number of phrases that are trotted out again and again. I wish these writers would stop trying to write...moreQuite poor. The author seems to have a limited number of phrases that are trotted out again and again. I wish these writers would stop trying to write stories based on mysteries that were only mentioned in the original stories. If I have to read another story featuring a red leech I think I will shoot myself. Fan fiction and published fiction has been doing this for decades. They've all been done - many times. It just makes the story sink without trace amongst the rest like a sprig of parsley in a pat of butter on a hot day. (less)
Full review from Badelynge I love a good ghost story. M.R.James is one of the best at the short form of the genre. Ghost Stories of an Antiquary is pac...moreFull review from Badelynge I love a good ghost story. M.R.James is one of the best at the short form of the genre. Ghost Stories of an Antiquary is packed with some of his best. All the stories here were written between 1894 and 1904 and were originally read to the author's friends at Christmas at Kings College, Cambridge where James was a noted British medieval scholar. I'd guess the best way to experience these chilling little stories would be to have them read to you on a dark night, in the depths of winter, perhaps on Christmas Eve itself. It is probably easier to imagine, listening to the words, that the story is being told to you by someone who has heard the story from another, and that such a tale might be true - just for a short time anyway. James usually cleverly distances the storyteller from the actual protagonists who are often of a scholarly type, quite sanguine (at least at first) in their rejection of the supernatural.(less)
Review from blog. This is one of those novels that might be better enjoyed if the reader comes to it without the knowledge that this is a ghost story....moreReview from blog. This is one of those novels that might be better enjoyed if the reader comes to it without the knowledge that this is a ghost story. Although it does have strange goings on at the big house, it has a lot more going for it than just a few ghostly chills. The story is told to the reader by a country doctor, who documents a year in his life, slowly becoming embroiled in the struggles of the last three members of the local landed gentry. A glamour of nostalgia draws him to their manor house even though its best days are long past. The old and the new collide again again throughout the story; from the doctor's country practice to the proposed NHS; superstitions and science; traditional remedies and the doctor's new treatments; the old manor encroached by new cheap housing; even poetry gets a mention - "What's wrong with nice long lines and a jaunty rhythm?" asks the old lady of the house, comparing Tennyson to Emily Dickinson. An air of melancholy slowly builds into foreboding before the first terrible event rips into the family. It's all very well written with lots of little undertones that keep the narrative interesting. The old matriarch lost in her memories and clinging to a world that has largely been washed away. The young son, scarred inside and out by the horrors of war, driven too far by the responsibility expected of a male heir. The doctor falling in love, but with the young daughter, or the house, or an ideal and too quick to fit everything into what is rational or reasonable. I lived in Warwickshire when I was away at college back in the early 1980s and I felt that the place depicted here could just as easily have been any rural area in an English county. The book doesn't really work as a ghost story. It's too long and not paced right but I don't think that matters, because I don't think the book was ever even trying to fit into that genre.(less)
Review from my blog An intelligently written, tightly plotted detective story set in Paris. I do like a good detective yarn. Unfortunately many detecti...moreReview from my blog An intelligently written, tightly plotted detective story set in Paris. I do like a good detective yarn. Unfortunately many detective books are far from good. This book ticks a lot of the requirement boxes I look for when I'm selecting books. I like detective books that follow the detective almost exclusively; you walk in his footsteps, see what he sees, hear what he hears and match yourself against him with your deductive reasoning. This book never leaves the detective's side. So many detective books don't do this and you have to wade through chapter after chapter of scene changes following peripheral characters, sometimes even the killer, sometimes retreading the same ground with page after page of padded filler. I was also impressed by how David Barrie managed to depict Paris. There is a city behind all the postcard views of Paris that we don't often get a flavour of in books and the author here is the guide that takes us there. I've read a few books set in Paris, the last was Louis Bayard's Black Tower, which featured one of history's first detectives, Eugene Francois Vidocq, but even that didn't really make you feel you were living there. I liked detective Franck Guerin. He's not flash, he's not hip, he's not on the make, he's just a straight down the line investigator, good at his job (although he's actually a disgraced spook on secondment), conscientious, a bit methodical but far from stupid. I've got to say that I was as much lost at sea as Franck was amidst all the lingerie connoisseurs (who'd have thought there were such folk), models, photographers, artists, publishers and business people but the way we follow Franck's initiation into this region of the fashion industry greatly helped me find my way to dry land. Barrie's descriptions of the photographic clues, lingerie design and the models within them sometimes flirts with a mild eroticism that sometimes distracts both detective and reader. I'd certainly be interested in reading any further books by Barrie and if they feature Franck Guerin well so much the better. Wasp-waisted is a surprisingly accomplished first novel. It deserves to find a wide readership. (less)
This one seemed more insubstantial than usual. This slight mystery never really comes to the boil and in fact is still barely simmering through the ev...moreThis one seemed more insubstantial than usual. This slight mystery never really comes to the boil and in fact is still barely simmering through the eventual denouement, despite a late gun battle in a London gallery. It was till quite a pleasant read but a bit dull. There were too few episodes of whimsy in this one. Usually I quite like Powerscourt when he gets distracted by his beloved history. There are still a lot of the Dickinson staples like the 'young innocent couple' and the obsessive, caricatured cameos but this one just seemed to me to be going through the motions. Two misfires in a row usually mans an abandoned series for me but I suspect I'll come crawling back to number 8 Manchester Road sooner or later. (less)
Review from Badelynge The previous book in this series had me rummaging around in my cupboards to find my old stamp books, since the plot revolved arou...moreReview from Badelynge The previous book in this series had me rummaging around in my cupboards to find my old stamp books, since the plot revolved around stamps and their collectors and admirers. Said rummaging also involved turning over some of my childhood memories connected to my own involvement in the hobby. See review of The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. This time the old traditional puppet show takes centre stage instead and unfortunately I'm not a closet puppet collector with vintage Punch & Judy puppets lurking in my attic so I'll just have to review the book instead. Ok so maybe I had a Sooty hand puppet way back when but he was hardly the star of my toy cupboard. The star of this book though is the formidable Flavia De Luce. At nearly 12 years old she might not be in Sherlock Holmes' league but she's more than a match for the local country constabulary. I found myself imagining Flavia as a Wednesday Addams who has grown out of her spiders and turned her hand to chemistry and crime fighting. Many of the characters introduced in the first book are here again, including all the extraordinary De Luce's plus staff and a whole bunch more to fatten up the suspect list. The story starts quite slow as the stage is meticulously dressed with clues and red herrings and distractions of the Flavia kind but when the first body hits the ground things start moving. Flavia's detective work probably compares more with Columbo than Holmes, as she uses her youth to tease information from everyone she meets. Between the sleuthing there's always time for a few interludes of De Luce family disharmony. Alan Bradley's writing manages the difficult task of keeping things fun without sending his creations up. As a wise man once said, "That's the way to do it!!!"(less)
Review from: Badelynge For someone who likes Science Fiction it might seem strange that I'm only recently acquainted with the irrepressible Miles Vorko...moreReview from: Badelynge For someone who likes Science Fiction it might seem strange that I'm only recently acquainted with the irrepressible Miles Vorkosigan. Better late than never though. I've just burned my way through the first three books featuring the little guy. Maybe it is for the best though, because if I'd read them as they were being published then I wouldn't have been able to read them in chronological order, as some of the books filled in the gaps between previously published books. I'm a linear sort of bloke really. The first book is a roller coaster of a ride, that really gets going after Miles tells his first little untruth to resolve a situation. The fun starts when the little fib snowballs into a web of lies and half truths with Miles at the centre of an expanding net. I know, I shouldn't really try to get away with such an awful mixed metaphor. The second story, which is more of a novella than a book, ditches the space opera format in favour of a more thoughtful look at the roots of Barrayan society with Miles investigating a Murder in a back woods village. It won the Nebula award. Seeing Miles in such a different setting gives the author an opportunity to show Miles in a different light. It is well handled and the shorter format seems to have focused the author's storytelling and exploration of themes into a more cogent whole. The third book won a Hugo. Different again. The initial setting of the ice base was one that I was really enjoying. Just as you are getting used to the cold, Bujold pulls the rug out from under you again and we are off into the space opera driven rush of spiraling events, the eventual reunion with the Dendarii mercenaries and all those previously laid lies introduced in the first book. Very enjoyable, with no sense ever that the story is being padded, which is something that often happens to long running series. At the heart of it all though is the character of Miles. He's just a wonderful character. You can't really help but like him. If you could bottle his energy in liquid form I wouldn't drink anything else. (less)
Just pointless and repetitious. Hardly worth writing a review for. A bunch of heroes wander through alternative Earths looking for a guy who is always...moreJust pointless and repetitious. Hardly worth writing a review for. A bunch of heroes wander through alternative Earths looking for a guy who is always at least three days gone. Repeat, repeat, repeat. No subplots to speak of. Just endless cameos of comic book characters from different realities.(less)
Take what I say about this book with a pinch of salt because beyond reading the odd gothic classic I don't read romances. This was an easy gentle rea...more Take what I say about this book with a pinch of salt because beyond reading the odd gothic classic I don't read romances. This was an easy gentle read with characters whose secrets are revealed bit by bit as the story progresses. There is a fair amount of muscle admiration going on equaled only by the frequent passionate kissing sessions. Not really my thing. I'm not averse to a bit of romance but I generally enjoy it if it is part of a story rather than the romance being the story. The writing was unpretentious and never tries to be anything other than a light romance. I did quite like Betsy though and if you never got past chapter one you probably now believe I'm completely bonkers. If you like books about young lovers who have to overcome an obstacle course of misunderstandings, bad luck and the odd snake in the grass, then you'll probably like this.(less)
The worst in the series so far with an incomprehensible muddled plot and a frankly ridiculous ending. These Lord Powerscourt books are generally uneve...moreThe worst in the series so far with an incomprehensible muddled plot and a frankly ridiculous ending. These Lord Powerscourt books are generally uneven but in past books the dull sections have been eclipsed by all the whimsy, charm and adventure that Powerscourt and co generate. Everything seems subdued here, even Johnny Fitzgerald.(less)
Review from my blog. An emotional read. Rowan is 13 and it's 1939. The Second World War has just started. The country is gripped by paranoia and fear....moreReview from my blog. An emotional read. Rowan is 13 and it's 1939. The Second World War has just started. The country is gripped by paranoia and fear. Fears of German spies are running wild. Thoughts of threat of invisible killer gas attacks and wondering when the bombs will start to fall occupy the minds of the nation. This is a very bad time to be exhibiting the first signs of schizophrenia as young Rowan does. After an incident where he violently breaks three of his sister's fingers with a piano lid followed by another incident with a knife, the boy is admitted to a place which promises to put him to rights. Unbeknown to his family, he is soon used as an experimental test subject in the use of a new process being trialled in Italy. Electroconvulsive therapy. The book is extremely well handled with some great characters. I loved Dorothea. But there are other fascinating characters to get to know like Doctor Von whose psychological journey is almost as traumatic as some of his test subjects. The passages where the Nazis' policy is revealed to Doctor Von for killing children who are institutionalized disabled or mentally ill by compulsory euthanasia are truly chilling.The story has some clever parallels with The Wizard of Oz, and the physical performance of Peter Pan as the Christmas pantomime has a profound affect on many of the troubled inhabitants of the psychiatric hospital. Very compelling and memorable. There are two other books by Julie Hearn that are about Rowan's mother and grandmother. I shall seek them out.(less)
Review from my blog. Yes I know publishers use the cover of a book as their primary method of targeting a specific readership. But I've never fielded s...moreReview from my blog. Yes I know publishers use the cover of a book as their primary method of targeting a specific readership. But I've never fielded so many, "Oh my god. What the hell are you reading, Michael?" and "Michael. You are reading a romance - what!!" as I did reading this. If I'd bumped into Violet (main character) while I had my head in this, she would have muttered something scathing about chick flicks or bloody Mills and Boon. I'm sure she would have been horrified to be a character in either and would probably have much preferred to be horribly murdered on page 33 of a Minette Walters detective novel. These headless women photos are just too redolent of pulp romance or even mail order catalogue to carry around in public. I think I could have lived with the compromise of a quirky though still misleading chick lit cover.
I didn't enjoy this one as much as Fiona Robyn's other book The Blue Handbag. That book was well structured, with a mystery that developed along with the characters. The Letters doesn't seem to have much structure at all. It reads more like a prolonged character study, interspersed with some old letters that seem to have no connection to the narrative. They do have a connection but it is so obliquely hidden and largely ignored by Violet that it is hard to even care what it is. That's not to say the book isn't worth reading. Violet is an abrasive, impulsive, opinionated, sometimes volatile, though interesting character, who has a softer side hidden below all the brash bossiness, and she does have some stories to tell. Her relationship with her children, mainly her son, add a dash of amusement, as does the hopeless ensemble of the Village Committee, which kept giving me flashes of The Vicar of Dibley minus vicar and bottomless puddles.(less)
Full review on my blog. This is a pleasing little murder mystery by Alan Bradbury set in rural England during the early 1950s. You've got to love Flavi...moreFull review on my blog. This is a pleasing little murder mystery by Alan Bradbury set in rural England during the early 1950s. You've got to love Flavia de Luce. She is something akin to an 11 year old female Sherlock Holmes before he honed his deductive skills. She's brilliant but still too full of her own cleverness to spot enough of her mistakes early enough to stay out of trouble. Her head is also full of a riot of information, jostling for attention so much that the important clues sometimes get lost in the chaos. Stamp collecting is at the heart of Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. Flavia's father is very keen on them. The mystery begins when a dead snipe is found with a Penny Black pinned to its beak. Later Flavia discovers a man expiring in the cucumber patch. Her father is arrested and accused of the murder. It is up to Flavia to clear his name using her extraordinary brain, her genius for chemistry and sheer pluck. More of these books featuring Flavia and co are planned. I'll be adding them to my to-read list forthwith.(less)
The basic story of this one owes a lot to Nigel Kneale's second Quatermass serial, with sentient meteorites being scattered about the countryside, mys...moreThe basic story of this one owes a lot to Nigel Kneale's second Quatermass serial, with sentient meteorites being scattered about the countryside, mysterious industrial compounds manned by dull faced workers, high ranking officials being subverted or controlled, an alien intelligence brewed in a vat and scientists aiding the military to bring down an alien invasion. Doctor Who script editor Terrance Dicks took to writing tv novelisations like the proverbial quacker to the wet stuff. Without him it's doubtful that the Target range would have lasted the course. Generally his novelisations were very faithful to the tv stories, with some slight character expansions, some additional or extended scenes and a handful of small changes, usually included to emphasize something that wasn't clearly explained or got lost in the production. He can't resist correcting little mistakes either (ones he missed the first time round) like Liz Shaw's 'The world is fast asleep' line or big mistakes like Channing recalling the Auton when it's shot at by the Brig's sidearm, even though it had previously cheerfully shrugged off both barrels from a shotgun. Dicks explains this away by getting the Doctor to trick Channing by the shouted bluff, "The platoon must be nearly here. We'll capture it when they arrive." Ah, the old ones are the best. The country poacher, Sam Seely, is probably the character who gets the most additional coverage as he skulks about Oxley Woods, searching for 'thunderbolts' and observing the UNIT soldiers. He even gets to witness the arrival of the Tardis and the emergence of the newly minted Doctor. On screen Seely is little more than a Robert Holmes poacher archetype. Dicks gives him a little bit more and even tries to give him and his wife Meg a touch more marital devotion than seen on screen. Some of the rank and file also get more of a mention, notably the ill fated Corporal Forbes. The latter part of the book gets the lion's share of attention by Dicks, with added scenes ramping up the scale of the Auton Invasion. The imagination doesn't bow to budget restrictions; street to street fighting, quarry men fighting back with explosives and I would have loved to have seen the tanks crushing the invaders under their tracks. The Autons were the first old monster to be resurrected for the present day series, so I guess this novelisation of Spearhead from Space, Jon Pertwee's first outing, might be a good place for the present young generation of fans to dive in. It's clear that this book had some influence on Russell T. Davies; when the Autons first crash through the store front windows, one of the first witnesses' blames it on 'students' just as Rose does on her first encounter; and from the final battle there's a great line about a severed Auton arm lashing 'wildly round the room, spitting energy-bolts like a demented snake'. Fittingly this new edition includes a special introduction by new series executive producer (2005-10) Russell T. Davies, a spotlight on writers Terrance Dicks and Bob Holmes, original illustrations and a between the lines feature noting the novelisation process and the differences between the broadcast series and the book. (less)
I should have know by the depth of the cleavage on the front cover just how shallow this comic was going to be. Sometimes a dull comic can sometimes b...moreI should have know by the depth of the cleavage on the front cover just how shallow this comic was going to be. Sometimes a dull comic can sometimes be enlivened by the artwork but even that is pretty bland. It starts off silly but soon gets sillier. We do not need a Catwoman pov of JLA: Salvation Run. Looking at something pointless and dull from another angle just prolongs the boredom. Then we get a few issues of Catwoman in a Matrix style world that doesn't exist. You might as well have had her fall asleep and wake up saying, "Oh, but it was all a dream." This run seems to be a bunch of comic book writers and artists coming up with new ways of making the comic more worthless.(less)
I didn't enjoy this one as much as her other two Horror books. I think the setting of an oil tanker didn't really help; there are only so many ways yo...moreI didn't enjoy this one as much as her other two Horror books. I think the setting of an oil tanker didn't really help; there are only so many ways you can describe metal boxes and bulkheads. Still better than a lot of supposedly scary books out there though.(less)
On the morning that Fiona Robyn emailed me to tell me I’d won a signed copy of The Blue Handbag I also got another unexpected though pleasant surprise...moreOn the morning that Fiona Robyn emailed me to tell me I’d won a signed copy of The Blue Handbag I also got another unexpected though pleasant surprise. A Greater Spotted Woodpecker was seen in my garden… or so I’m told. I didn’t see him myself. I missed him. I’ve seen them before on my travels but never in my own garden. Maybe he’ll come back.
A few days later the book arrives. There is still no sign of my elusive new visitor and the weather has gone to clouds and showers, turning the garden into an unfit place for either bird watching or book reading. I start the book anyway and begin to get acquainted with the main protagonist. I like Leonard almost from the start. He has a quality that reminds me of my Grandad, who was probably one of my most favourite people in existence. But Leonard is far too fanciful, and on occasion silly, for that comparison to stand much scrutiny. I soon realize that a closer mark for comparison might be myself. The clowning about, the wandering imagination and sadly the Ta-da! moments are all things I’ve been guilty of. The paragraph about Leonard not being able to stop himself mimicking accents even elicited a 'Bloody Hell!' of self recognition from me.
The characterisations throughout are one of the books strengths. The book never overloads with too many characters at a time. You can imagine these people having a life beyond the last page of the novel. I caught myself wondering what Leonard thought of the new bloke on Springwatch this year. And was he missing Bill? Was he drawn to the science or the aesthetics of nature? Probably a mix of the two I conclude. I’m glad he learnt that ducks aren’t just for kids. Ducks are great.
The mystery that begins with a blue handbag takes it’s time to unfold, small clues are uncovered as the months pass and the seasons turn. I like Fiona’s writing. Some of the passages seep into your head like a cool balm straight to the brain. The only time my eyes started to slightly glaze over was the penguin sequence.
It was such a shame that the weather remained dull over the weekend when I read this because it would have been a perfect read in the garden book. I haven’t read The Letters yet, so I’ll just add that to my to-read list after I finish up here. Maybe by the time I read it I’ll have caught a glimpse of that woodpecker. The tree he landed on now has a new birdfeeder. He’s out there somewhere - probably in the wood further up the hill. One day he might come back.
This was the first ever novelisation of a Doctor Who tv story, first published in the mid 60s. To most fans of the show this book is all kinds of wond...moreThis was the first ever novelisation of a Doctor Who tv story, first published in the mid 60s. To most fans of the show this book is all kinds of wonderful, being hugely nostalgic and a crackingly well written novel in its own right. Back then this was the only way to relive an episode. VCRs or DVDs were more far-fetched science fiction ideas than some ones in the show. David Whitaker was Story Editor on the original serial and here he takes Terry Nation's script and really adds life and depth. Told in the first person from the point of view of Ian Chesterton the story kicks off by choosing to replace the whole school scenario of the first episode of an Unearthly Child with characters meeting each other for the first time after a traffic accident on Barnes Common. It's a pretty atmospheric opening. The Doctor is hostile and sly, playing his mindgames with Ian. The psychology of walking through those police box doors is explored quite comprehensively by Whitaker. Due to the limited point of view some characters don't get as much of the limelight as they might have done, notably Susan. Her alien qualities get lost in retelling and her early baptism of fire, having to retrieve the radiation drugs alone through the petrified forest, is only briefly mentioned as she recounts the episode to her friends. It's also fun to learn a bit more about the Tardis facilities and I would like to know what Venusian Night Fish or Martian Summer berries taste like. Other additions to the script are a full description of a Dalek mutant, a Glass Dalek, Everlasting Matches, an amusing boxing match that Ian arranges to try to get the Thalls to regard fighting in the same way as other physical sports, the seeds of a romance between Ian and Barbara, an un-sonic buttonhook and Ian's smoking habit. Whitaker writes well and has a nice line in poetic phrasing but he also knows how to colour a story with little character points and humour. I have only fond memories of reading this book back in the 1970s and I greatly enjoyed the recent reread. I'd like to think that the new reprints of these books will inspire a new generation of children in the same way as they did me when I was a little boy wandering about that big building filled with books with orders from my mum to 'choose one'. This new edition has an introduction by Neil Gaiman, an about the authors spotlight of David Whitaker and Terry Nation, original illustrations and a between the lines feature about the script to novelisation process. (less)
I was so blown away by this book (aged seven) that I think I reread the first couple of chapters about ten times. I was like a little bird trying to f...moreI was so blown away by this book (aged seven) that I think I reread the first couple of chapters about ten times. I was like a little bird trying to fledge, getting so far before dropping back into the nest, scared of what was out there. I kept trying though and eventually got past Ian Chesterton getting tangled up in a web. It had some great little black and white illustrations by John Wood. After that I went up to the library every week looking for more. At first there were only three to choose from but eventually they started coming out more regularly. This, along with the Narnia books, pretty much sparked my love for reading.(less)
Passable Batman tale but considering this is James Robinson writing I would really expect better. The whole Harvey Dent plot line really didn't go any...morePassable Batman tale but considering this is James Robinson writing I would really expect better. The whole Harvey Dent plot line really didn't go anywhere unexpected. Most of it seemed to be there just to give the artist a chance to experiment with fractured and reflective visuals. It all looked very nice but again this was nothing new. When you've seen Spider-man 1 as many times as I have you can't really be impressed by split personalities talking to their mirrors. There were glimpses of the old James Robinson trying to get out with the use of characters like Harper and Jason Bard but too little to make any real impact. (less)
More brilliance from the pen of Susan Hill. To write a short story that has any kind of resonance or emotional impact is a lot harder than it sounds....moreMore brilliance from the pen of Susan Hill. To write a short story that has any kind of resonance or emotional impact is a lot harder than it sounds. Hill delivers with nearly every story. This collection is perhaps not quite a consistent as her other anthology A Bit of Singing and Dancing but I can't really bring myself to give it four stars as this is still far better than most books that get four stars from me.(less)
I found this to be a compelling start to the series by Leslie Fish but ultimately let down by weaker later instalments by the other authors. Incidental...moreI found this to be a compelling start to the series by Leslie Fish but ultimately let down by weaker later instalments by the other authors. Incidentally Cherryh (who I love) has little to do with this book. Apparently she originally wrote some introductions which were subsequently deleted by the publishers.(less)
Art Spiegelman tells the story of his father's experience of the Holocaust. Quite brilliant. Spiegelman couldn't have achieved what he does here if he...moreArt Spiegelman tells the story of his father's experience of the Holocaust. Quite brilliant. Spiegelman couldn't have achieved what he does here if he had used any other medium but the comic book form. Winner of both a Pulitzer Special Award and an Eisner. Also one of the few comic books I ever got my mum to read.(less)
I've always liked Abe as a supporting character but he's no Hellboy. There is a slight theme reflecting that running through the book. For me he's bes...moreI've always liked Abe as a supporting character but he's no Hellboy. There is a slight theme reflecting that running through the book. For me he's best used as a quiet contrast to the big red guy. Still there is some nice Mike Mignola writing here. It's very spare as always but Mike lets the myths & legends colour them selves and shows that you don't need lots of exposition for a mood piece like this. The art is pretty good but it isn't Mike's art - his stuff only appears on the covers - shame. Jason Shawn Alexander's art is pretty good but for me I'd rather have had Mike do the honours. Oh and there are some design sketches from Mike at the back. It would have got five stars if Mike had done the art or there had been more of the big guy.(less)
Review from Badelynge It is Spring 1645 and the first English Civil War is drawing to its inevitable close. King Charles I holds onto his freedom by a...moreReview from Badelynge It is Spring 1645 and the first English Civil War is drawing to its inevitable close. King Charles I holds onto his freedom by a thread with his loyalist supporters holding only small pockets of the Midlands & North Wales with his son (Charles II to be) hiding out in the West Country (Cornwall). Matthew Hopkins, self-styled Witch-finder General plies his lucrative and deadly business stirring the countryside to find and nail any suspected of using the Dark Arts. Against this historical backdrop Julie Hearn tells her story of the Merrybegot (a child conceived on Beltane morning who has a special affinity to nature and the healing arts or to some - a witch). The countryside is alive with Piskies and Fairies though you might never see one. The book could be described as a fanciful precursor to the Salem Witch Trials that occurred in New England half a century later. Although I don't rate this one as being as good as Hearn's debut book (Follow Me Down) or Rowan the Strange, I did think it was a very enjoyable read, with pleasing characterisations - some feat considering that one of the characters I ended up caring so much for is a rather foolish chicken. The story is told primarily from our young Nell's point of view with a more retrospective and untrustworthy alternative supplied by the eventual confessions of Patience Madden - one of a pair of sisters who accuse Nell of ill wishing them. The author also does a great job weaving some fascinating folklore and real herbcraft into the narrative. (less)
Pretty vapid Highlander book. It mainly takes place in the 60s with Connor trying to recover the Katana that used to belong to Ramirez. This one was s...morePretty vapid Highlander book. It mainly takes place in the 60s with Connor trying to recover the Katana that used to belong to Ramirez. This one was so vapid I barely remembered I'd read the issues before. But considering this guy wrote the fathomless Fathom I shouldn't have been surprised. And what's up with the art - it's so stiff. And it looks like the artist drew Jimmy Connors instead of Connor MacLeod. No problem though - just keep it consistent. But no such luck - the next panel he looks like Han Solo. Maybe you can get away with it though - I mean Han Solo... Jimmy Connors... might still work. But what's this - now he looks like Elvis. And now the Kurgan looks like Elvis... and that monk guy... and the Japanese guy. And why doesn't Connor open his eyes? And even when he does he looks like he just lost his contact lenses. Maybe if you're a mad mad mad fan of the movie you just might enjoy this book. But then, I wouldn't count on it, because I'm a mad mad mad fan of the movie.(less)
More great Sherlock Holmes pastiche from Barrie Roberts. Holmes, Watson, Scottish Highlands, Jacobite conspiracy, treasure hunt - what's not to like....moreMore great Sherlock Holmes pastiche from Barrie Roberts. Holmes, Watson, Scottish Highlands, Jacobite conspiracy, treasure hunt - what's not to like. The game's afoot.(less)