lonemagpie: Bogie! (bogie)
Finished The Sleep Room, by FR Tallis. Pretty decent evocation of spookiness at a remote 1950s hospital. The writing style drips with 50s British reserve, and overall comes over as having a real vibe of the TV adaptations of MR James stories - Tallis admits the writer's influence in the interview at the back, but IMO it's definitely more evocative of the landscapes portrayed in the classic BBC versions - especially the bleak opening scenes of Peter Vaughan on his bike in the TV version of A Warning To The Curious.

On the downside, the main character turns out to be an arsehole of sorts, and there's a spectacularly predictible epilogue. My advice is to read this cos it's generally wonderful, but absolutely definitely skip the epilogue letter.

9/10
lonemagpie: guy from the cover of sanctuary (Default)
Just read Christopher Ransom's The Birthing House - mixed feelings about it. The atmosphere and spooky scenes are good, and there's some nice ideas about what could make a house haunted, but...

The main character's an asshole, the domestics are pretty much just "argue all the time because the story needs them to", the ending is unsatisfying, there's a number of bits that reference things that have been left out or not introduced yet in a way as if they had been mentioned... but worst of all is the bad sex scenes. Or, in one main memorable case, the bad masturbation scene. There's an award for that, you know...

So, mix of good and bad, alternating between impressing and disappointing me, or thrilling and pissing me off.

I may just not have been in the right mood for it, though, with Lesley having been unwell for a couple of weeks.
lonemagpie: guy from the cover of sanctuary (Default)
Albion (Alan & Leah Moore, John Reppion, Shane Oakley & George Freeman) - A lovely tribute to the forgotten British IPC and AP comics characters, some of whom I'm old enough to remember. (I certainly remember and recognised Captain Hurricane (who's actually the scariest character), Grimly Feendish, Robot Archie, and various others).

Storywise, it could have done with better editing - bits are too rushed and other bits are too empty - but overall it was good fun, with a nice meta plot, and endless references and easter eggs. Best of all, the trade paperback also included some of the original 60s and 70s strips, which is cool.

This is something that the British film or TV industry really ought to do on screen (perhaps Moore would be less hostile to that)...
lonemagpie: guy from the cover of sanctuary (Default)
Only Human, a Dr Who NSA by Gareth Roberts - great fun, and he really nailed the 9th Doctor, and really makes me wish there had been more Eccleston episodes, cos I'd love to have seen him in this. The Neanderthal/Jack bits seemed a bit superfluous, though - funny and kind of touching, but not vital enough to make up for breaking up the pacing. I can't make up my mind whether they would have been better bigged-up and more integrated, or left out. But since those bits were amusing, I didn't mind.
lonemagpie: robot maria (robot maria)
Finished The Horse With My Name by Colin Bateman. A not bad blackly-comic crime romp, but had a really weirdly nasty torture scene about three-quarters through which would have been fine in a gritty and nasty crime story, but just didn't fit with the tone of the rest of the book, if you see what I mean.
lonemagpie: guy from the cover of sanctuary (Default)
Read Witchblade Vol. 2 by Ron Marz et al outside while it was sunny. Oddly this collection is issues 86-92 or something...

With Marc Silvestri out of the way the sexism dialled down a lot in this volume - despite the typically lurid covers, Sara actually dresses sensibly for a New York Cop throughout - except for in the last episode, which has his take on Sara as Botticelli's Venus, gratuitous nudity, and does the Witchblade's origin as both predictable and a total ripoff of the origin of the Slayer line in Buffy.

Before that, however, it's actually really good - Sara does proper police work, there's action, atmosphere, good art, somewhat predictable storylines (hello "Fugitive"), and... Yeah, actually pretty decent. "Partners" is especially good- very moving, female-friendly, takes some risks...

Good jumping-on point for new readers, and an improvement on where I'd left off in the series back around the #30s or so.
lonemagpie: guy from the cover of sanctuary (Default)
by Jon Ronson - was quite fun. Really shows how accurate the movie Four Lions is (or that the moviemakers have read the book!)
lonemagpie: Jake and Elwood (blues brothers)
Reread The Hobbit on the train this weekend - still can't see how you can legitimately get three huge long movies out of it. Two, maybe, but that's pushing it. Anyway, it's Tolkien doing lightweight fluff but is still full of stuff that's recognisably adapted from the mythology and folklore that came before. Nice. Dunno what's next- torn between Lauren Bacall's autobiography and Kim Newman´╗┐'s Hound Of The D'Urbervilles...
lonemagpie: Bogie! (bogie)
Finished Black Butterfly by Mark Gatiss, the third Lucifer Box novel. Not bad, and does a decent job of being a Fleming piss-take, but not as good as the previous two Box books. This one feels a lot more like it exists purely to be a pisstake with references rather than a story in its own right with a character who has his own identity, which the first two did succeed at.

(Sorry Mark, but, hey it's just cos I loved fabulous the first two so much that this feels a bit disappointing. And I even love Victory Of The Daleks)
lonemagpie: Bogie! (bogie)
Read (Colin) Bateman's Mystery Man, which started off feeling like "Bernard Black as a Private Eye" - but evolved once it became clear that the mystery man is a depressive, aspie, unreliable narrator with lots of other conditions. In fact he has so many conditions (basically, *everything* from allergies to a pacemaker) that it might almost be too much to believe - if not for the fact that I know several people who really are like that!

Anyway, it was great, very touching, clever, funny, didn't handle the POV character's conditions too badly, and there are sequels to look forward to!
lonemagpie: Jake and Elwood (blues brothers)
Creepers, by David Morrell is a lovely little thriller that would make a great low-budget movie or TV movie. It's about urban explorers going into an abandoned hotel, and then... well, shit happens cos they're not the only ones. It really feels tense and claustrophobic. Good stuff.
lonemagpie: Bogie! (bogie)
Just finished Alfred Hitchcock And The Making Of Psycho by Stephen Rebello, which was a pretty good retrospective/behind the scenes study of Hitch's pivotal movie. Nicely told, if a little over-sycophantic in places. It makes me want to see the movie again, and indeed makes me want to see the "Hitchcock" movie that was based on the book.
lonemagpie: Bogie! (bogie)
Though my recreational reading plans got a bit buggered on account of tidying, meaning I didn't read A Storm Of Swords before Game Of Thrones season 3 started, I did get through Which Lie Did I Tell?, another volume of Hollywood writing reminiscences by William Goldman, who, as always, is both both fascinating and funny about all his behind the scenes adventures... Coincidentally, I'm now zipping through another Hollywood-behind-the-scenes book, Alfred Hitchcock And The Making Of Psycho, by Stephen Rebello...

ow

Apr. 5th, 2013 01:25 pm
lonemagpie: robot maria (robot maria)
I have something of a headache - I suspect actually it's a good thing, meaning I'm coming off the upset and stress of the past week...

I also seem to have totally lost my recreational reading place - I'd physically lost the current book when the living room was tidied a couple of weeks ago, and now that I've found it I'm not in the mood for that one. (Mainly because it's the third Games Of Thrones book and I wanted to get through it *before* season 3 started, and since season 3 *has* now started, the mission's failed anyway...) Not sure whether to pick a new one or not.

While I'm at it, the last movie I saw was A Dangerous Method, Cronenberg's movie about Jung and Freud, which promised Keira Knightly in BDSM. Lesley got it off Amazon and was keen to see it. Sadly it was boring rubbish for me, with nothing new to say about the historical characters (except to make Otto Gross a rather obvious caricature with a lot less dubiousness and complexity than the real guy, and to make it look like he had a lot more influence on Jung's career than he did), it glossed over the way both Jung and Freud denied credit in papers to Sabina Spielrein (which you'd think would be the whole smegging point of the movie).

Knightley doesn't do it for me, and the supposed BDSM angle was basically a couple of overacted off-screen scenes really not worth the name. (Also, the BBFC warns that despite being a 15, it contains "strong sex". No it doesn't. Even the CSI episode Lady Heather's Box makes this look like something from the Hayes Code era. Whoever tagged it with that label really needs to read the guidelines on what constitutes "strong sex" - an offscreen hand patting an offscreen and probably not even bare arse isn't it.)

On the upside, there was some nice location filming - hello Schloss Belvedere! - and Mortensen and Fassbender really had a good thing going in their scenes together. But, really, the almost-spanking was irrelevant (should have been left out, really) and it *needed* to have been more about the way both men conned Spielrein out of her credits, and how important a development it was that she became the first female psychologist. But we didn't get that, and we didn't get the sexy stuff promised either, so it's a total fail on both counts for me.

And obviously it needed a better lead actress.

Oh well... If Lesley wants to see some proper spanking in a movie (yeah, that's why she picked it! That and she's a Jung fan, anyway) I'll have to pick her a better one. Actually, that CSI episode does it way better. But she's seen and enjoyed that already.)

5/10 from me.
lonemagpie: guy from the cover of sanctuary (Default)
I seem to have crashed out of my planned reading in the middle of the first volume of A Storm Of Swords cos it disappeared when Lesley tidied up in preparation for the guy coming to to install our HD...
lonemagpie: guy from the cover of sanctuary (Default)
Prisoner Of The Daleks by Trevor Baxendale - now one of only a handful of nu Who books I've read, and so far easily the best. The Daleks are great, the Doctor is suitably Ten-ish, and it all rattles along nicely. It's a bit weird at first that they use that font from the 60s comics for Dalek dialogue, but it works sufficiently well that the one line from Dalek X that's accidentally printed in the regular typeface really stands out.

So, overall, great fun!
lonemagpie: guy from the cover of sanctuary (Default)
The Cruel Sea (Nicholas Monserrat) - A classic, though not without its flaws. The first impression, really, is that it's the prototype for Douglas Reeman's entire output - the tone and style are all right there. It conveys the situation of convoy escorts very well, and really engages emotionally... for the most part. It also does my personal bugbear of swapping POVs during paragraphs, but it's done so well that it works. What doesn't work so much is the set of domestic interludes, which is a shame because these interludes are a necessary part of the structure, but basically in the domestics the tone switches from totally believable and written from grim experience to appalling 40s sub-Coward melodrama in which everybody calls each other darling in ludicrous dialogue. Oh well.

It's also interesting to note that it's from that period where swearing is represented by an m-dash followed by "ing" (you can also see this in Dr No, when the fake dragon's crew do it a lot).

Still, worthy and recommended - should be compulsory reading.
lonemagpie: guy from the cover of sanctuary (Default)
Not a bad Norwegian Agatha Christie homage. Mostly fun, but with a couple of niggles that are probably down to it being a translation (for example, a vital clue is over what someone said being misheard, but in English the two phrases are far too different, unlike, I presume, their Norwegian originals) and the fact that it's actually the 8th book in a series, which somebody decided should be the first in English...
There is some soapboxing that's irritating, and the last page implication would have been silly in 2007, and is more silly in 2012...

Still, despite that, a fairly entertaining little romp, and I'd be curious to read earlier books in the series.

Book log #3

Jan. 9th, 2013 07:14 pm
lonemagpie: guy from the cover of sanctuary (Default)
Superman: Last God Of Krypton by Walter Simonson & the Hildebrandt brothers is a short GN, really more a maxi-issue with cardstock covers. So, a really quick read while we had a power cut earlier, and I'd found it while cataloguing some comics.

Story's very meh, villain's rubbish, Clark and Lois's dialogue isn't much good... but Lex Luthor is handled well, and the art is really really nice - which is fortunate as it has to carry the whole thing!

Lovely pictures, boring story.
lonemagpie: guy from the cover of sanctuary (Default)
So, a big jump from YA fantasy to vintage crime - Mr Majestyk, by Elmore Leonard. A short and quick read, this one - 150 pages. Not bad - as the cover blurb says, Leonard always reads like Leonard, and this is good - but pretty average by his standards. Still average Leonard is still a good little read.

I vaguely remember there was a movie with Charles Bronson, and the quickness and style of it made me think it was a bit like a Terrance Dicks novelisation of the movie - so I checked up on the IMDB and saw that Leonard wrote the script as well, so I suspect he pretty much wrote the screenplay, added a few character POV lines, then sent the first copy in to the studio, and the second in to the publisher. That's how it felt.

Good fun, though- a nice quick fix.

I know I gave a score out of 10 for Skulduggery Pleasant, but it strikes me that a) scoring this one would really be scoring it against Leonard's ouevre rather than in general, and 2) since I'm not getting paid to review these books, if any I pick up and start are shit I just won't finish it, so it's kind of a given that all the books logged this year will be above 5/10...

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