Great Australian Ghost Stories

30 Jun

Excellent book of Australian ghost stories, written by Richard Davis and published by ABC books.  Some of the stories are rather sweet, and others are downright bloody terrifying!

Where possible the writer has researched the background thoroughly, and several well known ghost stories are pretty much proved to be that, just stories.  On the other hand, others are not so easily explained.

The story of a Sydney medical student’s possessed laptop was particularly horrifying.  I actually had real difficulty settling down to sleep after reading it.

It was also scary, but not really a surprise, to discover there is a genuine haunted house only a couple of blocks from where I live.  The writer gave the street but not the number, but he didn’t need too.  I knew EXACTLY which house it is.  I’ve loathed going near the place since I shifted into the area.  It always makes me uneasy and uncomfortable.

Well written, and well leavened with humour, I cannot recommend this book to highly to those with an interest in this subject.

Might be a little hard to get for non-Australian readers, but for Aussies, Dymocks is currently selling it cheap, which is where I picked up my copy at the weekend.

Nights Out in London

24 Jun

It’s getting closer… in just over a month my London trip will be a reality.

Regular readers of my blog will be aware that I have a ticket for this year’s hottest London show: “Hamlet” starring Benedict Cumberbatch.  However, in the last month my theatre going in London has gone from one show to three.

I am now fortunate enough to be attending “Constellations” starring Loo Brealey that is transferring to the West End for a run.

Then, to put the icing on the cake of my trip, I will also be attending the Proms concert at the Albert Hall – “Sherlock Holmes – Music of the Mind”.  To place a metaphorical cherry on top of this, Mark Gatiss is reading excerpts from the original Sherlock Holmes stories at this.

I know I had said to friends that one can’t go to London without going at least once to the theatre, I have to admit that I wasn’t expecting to go three times.

I would like to see Mark Gatiss in “Three Days in the Country”, but I think that would be stretching my budget just a little too far.

This trip is going to be magical.  I expect to come home with lots to blog about.

The Opposite of Life

17 Jun

“The Opposite of Life” is a fantastic dark urban fantasy/horror novel from talented author Narrelle M. Harris.

Lissa Martin is an intelligent, sassy librarian living in Melbourne, Australia.  After a break up with her boyfriend, her friend Evie takes her out clubbing.  Lissa finds two dead women in the toilets, the room awash with their blood.  Her nightmare is only just beginning, as it become apparent that there are vampires in Melbourne, and the body count is rising.

The main character of Lissa is sharp tongued, quirky, and genuinely likeable.  The other characters are well rounded and believable.  Lissa’s sister Kate is definitely worth a mention.  She’s the opposite of Lissa in so many ways, but it’s also easy to spot that they are sisters.

The vampires Narrelle has created are not sparkly Twilightesque annoyances.  These guys mean business and it’s a distinctly unpleasant business at that.

“The Opposite of Life” is loaded with dark humour, but, has moments of genuine horror that leave you wavering between deeply unsettled and totally creeped out.

No longer available new in paperback, “The Opposite of Life” is still available for Kindle via Amazon.

I can’t recommend the book highly enough.

Vale Sir Christopher Lee

11 Jun

I freely admit that I wept this morning when I came online to the news that Sir Christopher Lee had passed away.

As a young adult in New Zealand one of the television channels had what they called “The Friday Night Frights” where they screened classic Hammer horror movies.  I think I saw just about all of Sir Christopher Lee’s body of work for Hammer.  But his horror movie work was never my favourite.

There are three roles of his, however, that I will always love.

The first is Lord Summerisle in “The Wicker Man”.  The movie was chopped to hell and back by the editors, but you do get a better sense of the character from the book adaptation.  A strong man who is rapidly losing control of the situation.

The second is Rochefort in the 1973 adaptation of “The Three Musketeers”.  As Cardinal Richelieu’s henchman, Christopher Lee shone.  The movie itself is a star studded vehicle.  Sir Christopher himself, Charlton Heston, Oliver Reed, Richard Chamberlain, Frank Finlay, Michael York, Roy Kinnear, Raquel Welsh, and Spike Milligan.

The third one is the one that will always remain close to my heart.  Mycroft Holmes in “The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes”.  This Mycroft was a departure from canon in that 1) He was skinny; and 2) He was not a minor functionary of the British Government… he WAS the British Government.

His Mycroft was sophisticated, urbane, witty, sarcastic, and acidic in equal measures.  His role with Sherlock is adversarial and he is always one step ahead of him.

Christopher Lee’s Mycroft captured my imagination in a way the canon version never managed too.  And not just my imagination, his wonderful portrayal was the inspiration for the modern Mycroft as played by Mark Gatiss in the BBC drama “Sherlock”.  I have to admit, I kept hoping Sir Christopher would have a cameo in “Sherlock”.  In my head cannon he was Mycroft and Sherlock’s grandfather.

I read Sir Christopher’s autobiography last year.  He lead a wonderful, exciting, and adventurous life.  I am glad that he chose to share it with us… in both his autobiography and onscreen.

Vale, Sir Christopher, may flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.

Sherlock in Love

24 May

“Sherlock in Love” by Sena Jeter Naslund is supposed to be the story of Holmes’ one great love and how he obtained his Stradivarius violin.

Nice idea, reasonable plot, but it would have helped if the author had actually read ACD’s original stories. In the story “The Adventure of the Cardboard Box”, Arthur Conan Doyle himself stated that Holmes brought his stradivarius from a pawnbroker in the Edgeware Road.  That failure to keep to canon gave the book a major strike against it before I even began to read it.

I also found it hard to believe the great man of mind and intellect could be so swayed by emotion.

However, the plot fairly bounced along and was an enjoyable read in its own right.

The second stroke against it was, for me, the lack of chemistry between Holmes and Watson.  The characters felt more like polite friends than the tight bond of friendship seen in the books.

A non Sherlockian will no doubt enjoy it, but there are too many small niggles for a devotee to be entirely happy with the book.

Apologies

20 May

I have not forgotten my blog or you, dear readers.  What I have got is a nasty bloody cold.  Stuffy in the head.barking like a seal, and generally feeling like crap.  I haven’t even been able to muster up enough energy and enthusiasm to read any new books.

I will be back, just as soon as I start feeling better.  *goes off in search of tissues and honey*

Deadline

10 May

I have to say this, “Deadline”, the most recent Virgil Flowers novel, by John Sandford, was a bit of a disappointment.

It seemed to hold so much promise: dog napping, murder, and a school board running amok.

Unfortunately the promise fizzled out before the book reached the half way mark.  It went from being full of promise to being full of the ridiculous.

The character of Virgil seemed slightly ‘off’ from the other books.  No spiritual speculations for a start.  The character is given, in earlier books, to interesting thoughts of a spiritual nature, but in this one he appeared to be operating on auto pilot with no thoughts at all in his head.

“Deadline” was saved from being a total write-off by the wonderful Jenkins and Shrake.  The BCA’s bully boys were at their pretending-to-be-ignorant, shit-kicker, best.

So called “bad” language doesn’t worry me, I use a few choice words myself when the situation warrants it.  John Sandford does drop the occasional “fuck” in his novels.  However, this time around it seemed to be the Word of the Week for the characters.  Frankly, I got extremely tired of it.

To be honest, I think “Deadline” is only worth reading if you’re a dyed in the wool Virgil Flowers fan.  Steer clear if you’ve never read any John Sandford books before.  There are much better ones to start off your reading.

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