Thursday, 29 December 2016

REVIEW - Atlas Obscura by Foer, Thuras and Morton


Title: Atlas Obscura

Author: Foer, Thuras and Morton

Publisher: Workman Publishing

Release Date: 20th September 2016

Source: Own Copy / NetGalley

Inspiring equal parts wonder and wanderlust, Atlas Obscura celebrates over 600 of the strangest and most curious places in the world.

Here are natural wonders—the dazzling glowworm caves in New Zealand, or a baobob tree in South Africa that’s so large it has a pub inside where 15 people can drink comfortably. Architectural marvels, including the M.C. Escher-like stepwells in India. Mind-boggling events, like the Baby Jumping Festival in Spain, where men dressed as devils literally vault over rows of squirming infants. Not to mention the Great Stalacpipe Organ in Virginia, Turkmenistan’s 45-year hole of fire called the Door of Hell, coffins hanging off a side of a cliff in the Philippines, eccentric bone museums in Italy, or a weather-forecasting invention that was powered by leeches, still on display in Devon, England.

Atlas Obscura revels in the weird, the unexpected, the overlooked, the hidden, and the mysterious. Every page expands our sense of how strange and marvelous the world really is. And with its compelling descriptions, hundreds of photographs, surprising charts, maps for every region of the world, it is a book you can open anywhere. But with caution: It’s almost impossible not to turn to the next entry, and the next, and the next.

Let your curiosity be your compass.
I am a curious cat, maybe nosey would be a better word for me but I like to know things, I especially like to know things about bits of the world that remain under the radar.

Earlier this year I started visiting the website Atlas Obscura which is a rich wonder of strange and wonderful places from across the globe, places that are abandoned, overlooked or just plane dangerous.  This book brings together some of the best.

Split in to the different areas of the world, this beautiful book (quick note here I did get approved for a NetGalley copy but it looked so nice I treated myself to a physical hardback which is lovely to look at) takes us on tour through some of the most dangerous countries in the world (North Korea, Syria Iraq) via Europe and the US and everywhere in between, it takes us across grass bridges in Peru, to voodoo museums in New Orleans, abandoned islands in Japan and closer to my own home a bridge in Scotland that has the highest rate of dog suicides.

This is an exquisite book that shows the more interesting part of the world that those mainstream guidebooks don't go near, which is a shame as some of these places deserve a visit.





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MOVIE REVIEW - Rogue One: A Star Wars Story


I was looking forward to seeing Rogue One, I'd heard great things from friends who had already seen it and as a huge fan of the Star Wars 'Verse the thought of seeing how they actually built the Death Star was kinda cool.

Well I finally saw the film yesterday and to be honest I'm undecided on how I feel about it, I mean don't get me wrong it was a great film, visually it looks stunning but I think it is maybe a tad long and Felicity Jones as Jyn is lovely to look at but I found her a bit flat but then maybe that was part of the whole tortured childhood thing.

Anyway good things, well as I say it looks amazing, from those gargantuan Imperial ships to the barren planet of Jeddah to the final battle on Scarif which was so beautifully tropical then blown to bits.  You can see money has been thrown at the visual and special effects - also I don't know if imagined it but at the end I am sure when one of the fighters blew up it left behind a smoky hidden mickey, a nod to the Disney paymasters perhaps!

As for characters, well I really liked the evil megalomaniac Director Krennic, he had an ego the size of the Death Star and boy he could really throw his toys of out his space station.  I also enjoyed Chirrut Îmwe the bad ass blind force believing warrior and his best bud Baze Malbus, they were great fun to watch.  Of course there are plenty of cameos too from such Jimmy Smits as Bail Organa and our two favourite robots briefly pop up too, plus there is a lingering shot on a glass of blue milk at the beginning of the film too.

The film I think to me warrants 3.5 stars which I'm gutted at saying, maybe on a second watch I'll grow to love it more.  They could have used Forest Whitaker more, a little bit more of how he raised Jyn and a little less blowing up of things at the end.  

The end though, well I'm not going to spoil it as it is generally known this film leads the way to Episode IV but they way it does it is fantastic, goosebumps moment and in the light of the recent loss of spectacular Carrie Fisher, it nearly had me in tears.



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Saturday, 26 November 2016

BLOG NOTICE!


DEAR READER

This was actually going be a so long and thanks for all the fish type of letter, dear reader I am tired.

I am so tired I nearly pulled the plug on this blog which has brought me in contact with many wonderful people, people who regularly comment (thanks guys I hope you know who you are!!) and of course authors and publishers who are thankfully really nice to work with.

I don't mean to be "oh poor me" as I know we all have lives outside the blogosphere, we work, some of us like me have families old and young, we all do awesome to create such a fab community.

My problem at the moment is as much as I want to blog, I can't and it takes me all the time to read.  I wake up with a start with my drool all over my poor kindle.

Anyway, this is not the end, it nearly was but what I have decided to was not to disconnect my nearly three year old blog, me and it are going on holiday until after Christmas.

This will give me time to chill the f*** out, actually read a book without falling asleep and make a start to accumulate a base of reviews I can rely on if another slump like this comes.  I'm also hoping to actually visit and comment on other blogs too.

I'm pissed off as I really wanted to finish sci-fi month too but my creative juices have buggered off.

So please don't forget me 😊and I hope you all have a lovely Christmas, I have my birthday next week so I am hoping the book fairy brings some goodies!

See you all soon.

Heather x

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Saturday, 19 November 2016

REVIEW - Serenity: Those Left Behind by Whedon, Matthews and Conrad


Title: Serenity - Those Left Behind

Author: Whedon, Matthews and Conrad

Publisher: Dark Horse

Release Date: 24th January 2006

Source: Own Copy

Here's how it is -- in a universe filled with hearts and minds as cold and dark as the reaches of space, one small Firefly-class starship named Serenity takes its ragtag crew of mercenaries, outlaws, and fugitives in search of a job, any job, that'll earn them enough cash to afford that most elusive commodity -- peace.

Joss Whedon, creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, unveils a previously unknown chapter in the lives of his favorite band of space brigands in the prequel to the Serenity feature film -- the blockbuster followup to Whedon's cult-hit TV show Firefly.
I love Firefly, ever since I watched the series all those years ago I was hooked and of course like all tv shows I love it got cancelled.  It wasn't all bad we got a movie out of the ashes and also this Dark Horse comic series.

First of all this looks great, all the characters are depicted spot on from Mal's handsome roguishness to Jayne's sheer over the top macho antics.  They are very definitely the characters we know and love.

The story which I won't go into too much involves the usual dodgy jobs they take on to make it from day to another.  It has some other regular well known characters appearing such as Badger and the Blue Glove guys who are still after River and Simon.

Now I was expecting this to be really good but it was really short for a graphic novel and the story seemed to end abruptly for me, I know there is more volumes after this one but I think there was scope to put more of a story in to this.

I'll still move on to the next volume as despite my disappointment I still need a fix of Firefly.





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TV REVIEW - The Grand Tour Episode One



So last night I was poised in front of the TV with The Grand Tour ready to go.  Would it be as good as Top Gear, would my three favourite idiots motoring journalists still be as politically incorrect and funny as they had always been?  

Oh. My. Goodness. Yes!

From the intro which went from drab and grey London following poor Jeremy as he handed his badge back to the BBC to the moment I had goosebumps when he was driving along the road by himself and then James and Richard appeared, it was epic and I knew they were back and they were going to give us a good show.

Its on for 12 weeks and they are going global, they are taking their massive tent on a tour of the world and this week they are in America which of course leads to a lot of banter about the "incorrect" terms Americans use to describe bits of cars.

Of course there are cars, a trio of ridiculous super cars, a Maclaren, a Porsche and a Ferrari, these are put through drag races and all manner of things.  They also shows their new track the Ebola-dome (named because of its resemblance to the virus) and "kill" off several celebrities including our British maths darling Carol Vorderman.

At just over an hour, it was a fab watch, ridiculous, funny, full of banter and petrolhead craziness.  I can imagine Amazon are rubbing their hands with glee as their investment will be paying off in spades just now and quite right, they should be very smug.

As for the BBC they really f***ked up, yes Clarkson can be an arrogant tosspot but Top Gear was huge and I didn't really appreciate how loved the guys are worldwide.  New Top Gear was quite frankly meh, the only good thing about it was Matt le Blanc.

So would I recommend watching The Grand Tour, hell yes I would and I'm hoping they'll take their tent to a field near me soon!

 

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Friday, 18 November 2016

REVIEW - The Tourist by Robert Dickinson


Title: The Tourist

Author: Robert Dickinson

Publisher: Orbit

Release Date: 20th October 2015

Source: ARC

THE FUTURE HAS ALREADY HAPPENED.

It's expected to be an excursion like any other. There is nothing in the records to indicate that anything out of the ordinary will happen.

A bus will take them to the mall. They will have an hour or so to look around. Perhaps buy something, try their food.

A minor traffic incident on the way back to the resort will provide additional interest - but the tour rep has no reason to expect any trouble.

Until he notices that one of his party is missing.

Most disturbingly, she is a woman who, according to the records, did not go missing.

Now she is a woman whose disappearance could change the world.

With breathtaking plot twists that ricochet through time, The Tourist is the most original conspiracy thriller you will read this year.
Doctor Who described time travel as wibbly and wobbly, to be honest time travel confuses the hell out of me, I mean my brain hurts just trying to figure it out.

Set across various times lines, the main premise is that time tourists from our future come back and visit our time to see how we lived.  They are taken to "tourist" spots such as shopping malls to immerse themselves in our ways for an hour, they are there to mainly look not touch but those tourists are a curious bunch.

Each tour group has a guide and it is the guides job to make sure they don't get in to trouble, they pay attention to the rules and of course that they all get back on the bus.  Spens works for one of the lower end tour company, his group have just visited a local shopping centre but the extra bonus on their trip is a small accident with another vehicle on their way back to their resort.  Everything goes to plan but Spens discovers that he is one tourist short, a woman has disappeared.

Now people have disappeared before but this is different, something is happening and this woman seems caught up in it, Spens along with some friends is tasked with trying to track her down but he finds that time is going very wrong and that the past and future are catching up with him.

Yes this did confuse me a little and I did have to re-read some bits to get through it but I loved the idea of tourists coming back from the future to see how we lived.   The one thing though that niggled at me and I can see why it wasn't revealed at any point was the hint that between our time and the time of the tourists something bad has befallen Earth, an event that just about wiped us out.  I suppose if it was revealed then the whole time travel thing may have taken a back seat.

This book made my brain hurt in a good way, I loved the whole premise of the book and it really got me thinking about the whole wibbly wobbly timey wimey thing!

Thanks to Orbit for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review.




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SCI-FI MONTH 2016 - TOP FIVE FAVOURITE SCI-FI MUSIC VIDEOS


Music videos these days are basically three minute movies set to awesome and not so awesome tunes.

This top five is all about music videos set in space, these are my favourites......please do not judge me!!!😏



Okay so this video is amazing plus the Smashing Pumpkins music is so haunting.  Its retro, beautiful looking and sounds gorgeous.

Daft Punk themselves look they are from outer space, this video and its sister one from Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger are fantastic pieces of electro poppy dancey music set in outer space with groovy aliens and bad looking space dudes.  Epic.


I love the Beastie Boys well apart from their whole nicking VW badges from the front of the assorted Volkswagens phase.  They have some amazing videos such as Sabotage, Triple Trouble and of course this one for Intergalactic.  Cheesey as anything and set in what looks like Tokyo, it is a bonkers video with a solid tune!

I'm still not entirely sure what a scrub is, but this bit of late nineties nostalgia is a cracking pop tune with a shiny space video with some what the hell outfits!

Okay I can here you judging me but its Britney at the height of her career on Mars, its cheesey, its catchy and I bet it took a lot of talc to get her in to that shiny red number.


Notable mentions also go to Queen's Radio Ga Ga and The Darkness with I believe in a thing called love!

What is your favourite sci-fi music video?


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Tuesday, 15 November 2016

BIZARRE BOOKS #41 - Awkward Family Photos


Whilst looking through the hundreds of thousands of books on Amazon I discovered hidden gems, books that maybe have been overshadowed and have not had the credit they deserve.

They may be a bizarre, they may be funny or even unintentionally funny, they may be wonderfully cute or they may just be a total WTF!!! book.

This weekly post is a tribute to these wonderful gems and to be honest some of them are worth looking at for their reviews alone!


I love looking at old photos because thankfully my family never took any pictures like the ones in this book!

Never have I worn a matching jumper, never have I vogued a crazy pose, maybe we have been doing our pictures all wrong?

Awkward family photos looks wonderfully at those terrible pictures that always surface when you don't want them too!

Do you have any awkward family photos?



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Monday, 14 November 2016

BLOG TOUR - Excerpt of Truth Will Out by A D Garrett



A mother and daughter are snatched on their drive home from a cinema. The crime has a number of chilling similarities to a cold case Professor Nick Fennimore had been lecturing on. Then Fennimore begins receiving taunting messages - is he being targeted by the kidnapper?

Meanwhile, a photograph emailed from Paris could bring Fennimore closer to discovering the fate of Suzie, his own daughter, now missing for six years. He seeks help from his old friend, DCI Kate Simms, recently returned from the US. But Kate is soon blocked from the investigation... A mother and child's lives hang in the balance as Fennimore and Simms try to break through police bureaucracy to identify their abductor.

Atmospheric, chilling, and full of suspense, the dynamic pairing of AD Garrett's acclaimed duo, Fennimore and Simms, delivers a pulse-pounding plot that will keep you guessing until the very end.


Fennimore showed them images of the fragment side by side with post-mortem photographs of Gail’s torn fingernail. It was a good match. ‘The fingernail had viable DNA under it . . .’ 
The camouflaged man sat up straight.
‘. . . Gail’s DNA,’ Fennimore concluded, and the man settled back in his seat, mirroring the posture of the man next to him: one leg bent at the knee, the other stretched out. 
‘It now looks like Gail was abducted and murdered in her own car.’
The camouflaged man picked up a pen and began doodling on the notepad in front of him.
‘If only police had checked Killbride’s claim that he dropped Gail off at the roadside . . .’ Fennimore said. ‘But all that tosh about highly aggressive XYY “super-males” quite turned their heads. They stopped looking – stopped even thinking.’
He went to the final slide: a newsprint photograph of a pale but smiling Killbride standing next to his barrister on the steps of the Supreme Court. The headline: KILLBRIDE INNOCENT.
‘You got Tom Killbride off, but Gail Hammond’s killer is still out there.’ 
Fennimore located the questioner in the middle of the second row. A student, he guessed, but not one he recognized.
‘You’re right,’ he said, ignoring the confrontational tone. ‘There are no happy endings in such sad tales; all we can hope for is justice. Tom Killbride found justice because of the hard work of people who didn’t even know him. Gail Hammond still waits for hers.’
‘The murderer made fools of the police,’ the student said.
‘They made fools of themselves,’ Fennimore corrected. ‘They decided that Killbride was guilty and then systematically set out to make the facts fit.’
‘The killer cleaned up after himself – he’s smart – forensically aware,’ the questioner said.
‘What makes you think that?’
‘Essex Police say they have no new leads in the case.’
‘They’re being modest,’ Fennimore said. ‘Justifiably so. But they now have the green cord fibres – which they didn’t have before. The killer thinks he knows what the CSIs are looking for: DNA and fingerprints. So he cleans up before he leaves. But it isn’t all about DNA – it’s about having the determination to keep looking, even when it seems there’s nothing to look for. The evidence doesn’t go away. It will still be there, waiting for someone to come along who is lucky enough or smart enough to see the stupid mistakes he made.’ He checked himself – this was sounding too personal; he could almost hear Kate Simms’s voice, mocking, gently chiding: Listen to the ego talking. This isn’t about you, Fennimore, this is about Gail. He began again.
‘The murderer missed the rope fibres. He missed Gail’s broken fingernail – beginner mistakes – amateur mistakes. He was lucky three times over – in the botched police investigation, 
in the dishonesty of the prosecution, and in Killbride, who made such a plausible stooge. But now we know the real killer is out there. People are looking for him, and he will foul up – even if he never attacks another woman in his sorry life. Even if he never so much as wolf-whistles after a woman in the street. Because these types are impulsive and narcissistic; he’ll lash out at someone who injures his fragile ego, or he’ll drive too fast on a bellyful of booze; he’ll steal, or stalk, or swindle – and he will reveal himself.’ 


OUT NOW!






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REVIEW - Stiletto by Daniel O'Malley


Title: Stiletto

Author: Daniel O'Malley

Publisher: Head of Zeus

Release Date: 16th June 2016

Source: ARC

The second book in Daniel O'Malley's CHECQUY FILES and sequel to THE ROOK.

THE CHECQUY: A centuries-old covert organisation that protects the nation from supernatural threat.

THE GRAFTERS: A centuries-old supernatural threat.

After centuries of rivalry and bloodshed, two secret and otherworldly organisations - The Checquy and The Grafters - are on the verge of joining forces, and only one person has the supernatural skills - and the bureaucratic finesse - to get the job done: Myfanwy Thomas.

But as a wave of gruesome atrocities sweep London, ingrained paranoia's flare, old hatreds ignite and negotiations grind to a halt. It is up to Myfanwy to find the culprits before they trigger a devastating, all-out, supernatural war between the reluctant allies.
Stiletto was a book I was looking forward to reading and it had a lot to live up to.  The Rook its predecessor was a brilliant read with secret supernatural good guys vs secret supernatural bad guys, this time though the bad guys want to be friends but it is possible not everyone got the memo.

Our main character Myfanwy (or Rook Thomas), head of the Checquy (they are the secret good guys who deal with all sorts of supernatural craziness) is back but instead of being at war with the Grafters (the bad guys, notorious for their bodily enhancements and I'm not talking boob jobs) this time they are putting centuries of blood and guts behind them to work together.

Of course the path of this union is not going to run smoothly and Stiletto follows not only Myfanwy but Odette who is a Grafter and Felicity a pawn with the Checquy, they are forced to work together and of course old feelings bubble near the surface with Odette not making the best first impression working with her Checquy colleague.

While the Grafters and the Checquy are trying to get along, strange attacks start happening and of course fingers start getting pointed left, right and centre.  Odette and Felicity are going to have to get on and work together to get to the bottom of these gruesome attacks.

A great follow on, Stiletto is full of sass, supernatural craziness and suspense.  The storyline does keep you guessing all the way through and you really begin to wonder who the bad guys are.

I hope this series continues on as I love reading about this world, it is totally enthralling and pure escapism all in a cool cover!





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Saturday, 12 November 2016

REVIEW - Paper Girls Volume One by Brian K Vaughan & Cliff Chiang

REVIEW - Paper Girls Volume One by Brian K Vaughan & Cliff Chiang Sci Fi Graphic Novel

Title: Paper Girls

Author: Vaughan and Chiang

Publisher: Image

Release Date: 5th April 2016

Source: Own Copy

In the early hours after Halloween of 1988, four 12-year-old newspaper delivery girls uncover the most important story of all time. Suburban drama and otherworldly mysteries collide in this smash-hit series about nostalgia, first jobs, and the last days of childhood.

My new found love of graphic novels has got me working my way through the catalogue of Image Comics because at this moment in time they have all my favourites series such as Saga and The Walking Dead.  Now that list includes Paper Girls, an awesome eighties nostalgia sci-fi read.

Set in the late eighties, the story follows four 12 going on 42 paper delivery girls (Erin, Mac, Tiffany and KJ) as they go about their morning delivering the news, but it is not just any morning.

We meet them on the 1st November, the morning after Halloween, the four girls have grouped together as there is quite frankly a lot of weirdos and cops wandering about in the wee small hours but that is the least of their worries.

One of the girls has their walkie talkie stolen by some ghost looking dudes and not being 'fraid of shit they find themselves in hot pursuit of the culprits but they soon find themselves out of their depths as they descend in to a basement (oh no...) of an empty house (...this spells disaster really have they not seen any eighties horror movie?) and find (...crazy dude with a hockey mask?) a huge tarp covered object. 

WTF?!

Of course curiosity gets the better of them and they whip of the tarp and discover what looks like a crazy ass time machine. No sooner than the tarp is off loud noises and a bright light find them running for lives. Outside they find themselves once more in hot pursuit, the ghost guys who stole the walkie are right there, the girls attack and what they find under the costumes has them reeling in horror.

The ghost guys manage to flee but they leave behind an object, a tiny square with an apple on it, y'know an Apple on it, these ghost guys are not from 1988 and if they aren't from the 80's then where the hell are they from?

From here on things go from bad to worse but I'll end up spoiling it for you, the girls find themselves in mortal danger and they also find themselves alone but again spoilers!

Papers Girls is awesome, these four girls are street smart, wise mouth, sassy kids and the portrayal of them is spot on plus the eighties references are brilliant with everything from the Wrath of Khan, MacGyver and Peggy Sue got married. It looks brilliant too, lots of purples, pinks and blues make up the novel, which considering it is set during early morning is perfect. 

Volume 2 comes out in a few weeks and I'm looking forward to it as the ending of this volume is a total WTF moment, it is the perfect blend of eighties nostalgia, a buddy movie and time travel sci fi craziness.

Also yes the cover features a twelve year old smoking, don't smoke kids, this is only a comic!!

Paper Girls = fricking awesome!





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Wednesday, 9 November 2016

SCI-FI MONTH 2016 - TOP FIVE SCI-FI TV & FILM THEMES THAT AREN'T STAR WARS RELATED


So Star Wars does indeed have a killer soundtrack.

I love it, hell half my alert tones of my iPhone are Star Wars related but it does not have the monopoly on thematic awesomeness, nope it doesn't and here are some other faves of mine for your listening pleasure!



I don't know if Red Dwarf is shown outside the UK but it has been on for years here and has the catchiest theme tune ever......"It's cold outside, there's no kind of atmosphere........" the kind of tune that sticks in your head for good reasons!



The music by Vangelis on the Blade Runner soundtrack gives me goosebumps, its so atmospheric and sums up the film perfectly.




I haven't watched the reboot but the first few series of the X-Files are sci-fi gold for me and that them tune is eerie as anything.



Classic music is not my thing but I do make a huge exception for this soundtrack, the contradiction of the classical music against the spacey goings on (tech speak!!) is iconic and haunting.



A lot of people haven't seen Sunshine but it is a great film and the soundtrack is just brilliant.  Check it out!

Notable mentions also go to Doctor Who, Star Trek and Firefly!

What is your favourite sci-fi tune?


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