Monday, 29 May 2017

I've been watching #5 - Silicon Valley

Ah, I love Silicon Valley, now in its fourth season it just gets better and better.  Not seen it, well get yourself to HBO/Sky Atlantic and check it out.

A collection of lovable geeks, gazillionaires, crazy ass tech company bosses and a whole lots of cabling all set in the computer paradise of Silicon Valley.

Its funny, its smart, its makes me laugh...a lot, Pied Piper is the company it revolves around and the people who work for and along with it.

The actors in it are brilliant especially Thomas Middleditch as Richard Hendricks and TJ Miller as Erlich Bachman, they all gel together so well and the result is hilarious.

HBO has a brilliant tech site devoted to it here.... and my inner geek was so happy to see an app that was "created" by them appearing on the App Store!

Anyway here are some videos...

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Rapid Reviews #1 - Non Fiction

Sometimes you need to just get to the point, you don't need to go on and on and on and on about a book that you have enjoyed (or not).

This is what Rapid Reviews is for, my quick words of wisdom....

This week some non-fiction reads that have been on my pile.

Published by Penguin - 1st September 2016

The back cover says....

Who better than Meik Wiking to be your guide to all things hygge? Meik is CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen and has spent years studying the magic of Danish life. In this beautiful, inspiring book he will help you be more hygge: from picking the right lighting and planning a dinner party through to creating an emergency hygge kit and even how to dress.

It looks...

My hardback copy is beautiful, from that exquisitely typical Scandinavian cover with hints of golden foil to instagrammable photography and illustrations inside, this is perfect coffee table fodder.

The words are....

Interesting, it is a nice look at how the Danes live their lives and in turn made me want to extreme tidy my house and buy a tonne of candles and fur rugs then settle in for winter.

Who should read it....

People who like their coffee tables to look good, people who want to embrace the Scandinavian way of living and would be interior designers.

I rate it

Published by Penguin - 1st September 2016

The back cover says....

The secret to Marie Kondo’s unique and simple KonMari tidying method is to focus on what you want to keep, not what you want to get rid of. Ask yourself if something ‘sparks joy’ and suddenly it becomes so much easier to understand if you really need it in your home and your life. When you surround yourself with things you love you will find that your whole life begins to change.

It looks...

My hardback copy has a beautiful shell (maybe fan?) print cover with a minimalist title and lettering in gold foil, it also has a lime green band to keep the cover from flapping about.  Would look at home on that designer coffee table.

The words are....

Genuinely inspiring, yes it is a book about tidying but I found myself just picking a section that I wanted to deal with such as having an excess of books and followed her words of wisdom and I happily scaled down my collection.  It's also done wonders for my sock drawer.

Who should read it....

People who like their coffee tables to look good, people with an interest in Japanese culture, people with clutter problems.

I rate it

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Saturday, 27 May 2017

REVIEW - Ms Marvel by Wilson and Alphona

Title: Ms. Marvel

Author: Wilson and Alphona

Publisher: Marvel

Release Date: 28th October 2014

Source: Amazon Prime Reading
Marvel Comics presents the all-new Ms. Marvel, the groundbreaking heroine that has become an international sensation! Kamala Khan is an ordinary girl from Jersey City - until she is suddenly empowered with extraordinary gifts. But who truly is the all-new Ms. Marvel? Teenager? Muslim? Inhuman? Find out as she takes the Marvel Universe by storm! As Kamala discovers the dangers of her newfound powers, she unlocks a secret behind them as well. Is Kamala ready to wield these immense new gifts? Or will the weight of the legacy before her be too much to handle? Kamala has no idea either. But she's comin' for you, New York!

I have not really ventured much in to the Marvel catalogue of titles having mostly started my newfound love of graphic novels with the back catalogue of Image Comics however Amazon launched in the last couple of weeks, Amazon Prime Reading which allowed me to select some new titles to read thanks to my Prime membership and those titles included a whole section devoted to comic books.  

Ms. Marvel was my first choice.

I knew from snippets in the press that this was something new, something different, a teenage Muslim girl who all of a sudden becomes extraordinarily gifted.  Ms. Marvel is not a leggy blonde or brunette with a massive chest and pearly white teeth, she is an ordinary geeky teenage girl who suffers from the usual problems that coming with being a teenager.  Problems such as embarrassing parents as well as embarrassing her parents in return, boy crushes and becoming super powerful.

Kamala Khan is a breath of fresh air, she in funny and awkward and totally not prepared for the powers that she all of a sudden gets thrust upon her.  

Most of all Ms. Marvel takes the generic cookie cutter formulas and throws them away, yes Kamala is Muslim but reading this she is just a normal (well superhero normal) teenage girl who is just trying to deal with something crazy that has happened to her.

I think this will be an inspiring read for girls, young and old.

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Friday, 19 May 2017

AUDIOBOOK REVIEW - Ready Player One narrated by Wil Wheaton

Title: Ready Player One

Author: Ernest Cline

Narrator: Wil Wheaton

Length: 15 Hours, 40 minutes

Source: Audible
Imagine a dystopian future where citizens are forced to live in a virtual reality just to escape the unsettling state of the present. Narrated by actor Will Wheaton, this thrilling story is a fast-paced adventure that pits thousands of desperate members of humanity against each other in the ultimate race for the winning prize.

It's the year 2044, and the real world has become an ugly place. We're out of oil. We've wrecked the climate. Famine, poverty, and disease are widespread. Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes this depressing reality by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia where you can be anything you want to be, where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets. And, like most of humanity, Wade is obsessed by the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this alternate reality: OASIS founder James Halliday, who died with no heir, has promised that control of the OASIS - and his massive fortune - will go to the person who can solve the riddles he has left scattered throughout his creation.

For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that the riddles are based in the culture of the late 20th century. And then Wade stumbles onto the key to the first puzzle. Suddenly he finds himself pitted against thousands of competitors in a desperate race to claim the ultimate prize, a chase that soon takes on terrifying real-world dimensions - and that will leave both Wade and his world profoundly changed.

Narrator Wil Wheaton is an American actor and writer best known for his role as Wesley Crusher in the TV series Star Trek: The Next Generation, and for playing Gordie Lachance in the film Stand By Me. More recently, he has appeared in several episodes of the TV series The Big Bang Theory as himself.
Couple of years back I read and loved (in fact here's my review here) of Ready Player One, I adored it from the get go.  A dystopian future with a great big dollop of 80's nostalgia with 90 percent of it being played out in a virtual universe.  

Of late I never really get a chance to re-read books but thanks to some Audible credits I had, I decided to listen to Ready Player One which is narrated by the wonderful Wil Wheaton.

It sounds brilliant, Wil is perfect at injecting life in to this wonderful book, he really grabs the listener you know, I've listened to other audiobooks before where I've found the narrator to be dull but Wil is great and this audiobook you could quite happily lose hours in it as Wil takes us on Wade's journey to find the holy grail of Halliday's hidden treasure beautifully describing the virtual OASIS and the  reality of Wade's urban hell.

Pure dystopian escapism.

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Saturday, 13 May 2017

Cara's Corner #3 - Midnight Gang by David Walliams

In Cara's corner my ten year old daughter does what she does best - talking - and in this case she will talking about her books (and I will by typing literally word for word so expect very long sentences, I don't trust her on my laptop!!).

Well overdue, today she would like to talk about....

Midnight Gang by David Walliams

(Her own copy!)

Cara tell me what this book is about?

Well, there is a boy called Tom and he goes to a posh boarding school and he bumped his head with a cricket ball because he doesn't like sports and em, well, he decided to go to really near the side of the cricket pitch and next minute he wakes up and there is a hideous man (well to him anyway) and he asks where he is and the man replies he is in the hospital. There is a very strange doctor, Dr Luppers, who asks him lots of questions like "what is your name?" but Tom can't remember.

At the hospital Tom goes on adventures with the Midnight Gang each night (but it is a secret).

What was your favourite part of the book?
When they were telling the story of people who had been in the gang before, they have a very nice leader called Amber.

Who was your favourite character?
I really like Matron because she is funny and always getting on to the children.

Does it have a happy ending?
Yes and No!!

What are you reading next?
I'm reading Boy in the dress by David Walliams now because I like his books and my mum and dad gave me them for my tenth birthday.

What would rate this?

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Friday, 12 May 2017

REVIEW - Ararat by Christopher Golden

Title: Ararat

Author: Christopher Golden

Publisher: Headline

Release Date: 18th April 2017

Source: NetGalley
In Ararat, by New York Times bestselling author Christopher Golden, an ancient evil inhabits a cave on the snow-capped, dormant volcano, in the most Eastern reaches of Turkey, that is Mount Ararat. Golden's writing is 'the real deal' (Stephen King) and Ararat will thrill and fascinate in equal measure.

Meryam and Adam take risks for a living. But neither is prepared for what lies in the legendary heights of Mount Ararat, Turkey.

First to reach a massive cave revealed by an avalanche, they discover the hole in the mountain's heart is really an ancient ship, buried in time. A relic that some fervently believe is Noah's Ark.

Deep in its recesses stands a coffin inscribed with mysterious symbols that no one in their team of scholars, archaeologists and filmmakers can identify. Inside is a twisted, horned cadaver. Outside a storm threatens to break.

As terror begins to infiltrate their every thought, is it the raging blizzard that chases them down the mountain - or something far worse?

I never learn, I love a scary book but I always stupidly read them on my Kindle with the light off, this book reminded me that that is really a stupid idea.

This is a genuinely scary read but it doesn't start like that, the start of the book we are introduced to Mount Ararat and the hellish conditions that surround it which sets the scene nicely then we meet the two main characters, Meryam and Adam, a couple that live for excitement and document it for all to see.  I'll be honest I didn't warm to them straight away but with whats coming in the book its best not to get too attached to any character.

Anyway the premise of the book is that an avalanche on the mountain has uncovered a massive cave and deep inside the cave is a legendary artefact, a ship, the ship - The Ark.  Meryam and Adam with their considerable mountaineering experience along with a team of scientists, religious scholars and local guides make their way to the cave to see what lies in wait within.

Now you really have to picture the scene here, high up a mountain that is truly inhospitable, covered in snow and ice.  A cave, dark and foreboding with a sense of menace and claustrophobia.  In that cave a group of people of different races and religions and of course opinions are working on what could be the most important find in the history of mankind.  

What they discover could mark the end of mankind.

Human remains are uncovered but in the depths of the vessel they find a coffin, a coffin that has been encased and covered with strange symbols.  Of course these people are there to investigate and a spooky looking coffin isn't going to stop them but what they uncover sends horror through their camp.  A deformed body with horns like a demon.

The story from this point on uses the wonderful setting of an incoming storm, the prospect of no easy escape and the strange disappearances and actions of members of the group to take the reader of a horror filled blood soaked ride.  

I wasn't sure when I started reading this book exactly how it was going to go but by the time I finished it I loved it.  It scared me to death and the creeping horror that lurks throughout was so well done.  The cast of characters and their interaction is also done well,  I can imagine this book as a TV series rather than a film, I like the idea of it being drawn out, scaring the watcher each episode.  The ending was not what I expected and has a great twist.

This is a superb read but read it with the lights on.

Thanks to Headline for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Saturday, 6 May 2017

REVIEW - Saga Volume Three by Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples

Title: Saga Volume 3

Author: Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples

Publisher: Image Comics

Release Date: 19th March 2014

Source: Own Copy
The Eisner, Harvey, and Hugo Award-winning phenomenon continues, as new parents Marko and Alana travel to an alien world to visit their hero, while the family's pursuers finally close in on their targets.

The problem I have with book series is you have that series, you know the one that has the amazing first book.  The kind of book that when you finish it you go right back to page one and start again because it is that good.  Then it is followed by the second book, it features the same characters but it just doesn't hit the mark, its good but not epic and after one read it goes on the shelf.  Book 3 comes along, you buy it and after a dozen pages you give up (or in the case of series which I shan't name I never even read).

My point that I am eventually getting to is even though this is the review for volume 3 of Image Comics brilliant Saga series, I read volume 7 a few weeks back and consistently this series is totally floating my boat.

Volume 3 sees Marko and Alana still on the run in their giant tree shaped space ship with their baby Hazel, Marko's mum and their ghostly babysitter Izabel, they are headed for the planet on which lives the writer of the book that changed Alana's life.  Hot on their tales is man mountain The Will with Marko's ex Gwendolyn and ex slave girl Sophie plus how can I forget the awesome feline that is Lying Cat.  As well as that motley crew we have the walking tv that is Prince Robot IV who is quite frankly a maniac.

The story I still find wonderfully engaging and it still looks gorgeous, I mean I'm a happily married woman but Marko and Alana are beautiful, they are just amazing to look at and the detail on each page is perfect.  

It can be brutal, it can be touching, it can be sexy or full of sex, it is the perfect series.

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Go Funko Yourself!

So I love a good Funko Pop and have "accidentally" bought 20ish over the last two years, this morning whilst on Twitter I noticed a shedload of custom Funko's being posted and was over the moon excited to find out I can Funko myself!!!

Join the fun here!

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Friday, 5 May 2017

I've been watching #4 - VEEP

You know I don't know how true to life VEEP is but it is how I imagine the US government actually works, hell I think Julia Louis-Dreyfus would make a fine president despite the fact she is an awful human being.

Anyway I love VEEP, it is funny, cringey, sweary and crazy good.  It has fab characters including of course Louis-Dreyfus's Selina Meyer, the VEEP in question as well as Gary her right hand man who makes sure she knows everyones name and makes sure her hair is fabulous and Jonah Ryan, man mountain and complete a-hole.  All together they make for a crazy bunch of political megalomaniacs.

Also not for the feint of heart, the language in it will make a sailor blush and I have learnt some wonderful new phrases from it!

Some videos below - let's rate them with an 18 years and older!!

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Monday, 1 May 2017

REVIEW - Roofworld By Christopher Fowler

Title: Roofworld

Author: Christopher Fowler

Publisher: Random House

Release Date: 12th May 2016

Source: NetGalley
You won't see them unless you know where to look...

High above London's teeming streets exists a timeless universe with laws and codes known only to itself. Suspended in the skies by a complex system of cables and wires, two rival factions prepare to do battle for control of their world and the eventual manipulation of the city below...

Welcome to Roofworld.

Rose, a beautiful, feisty, amateur photographer - and Robert, a shy but cynical scriptwriter, witness a rooftop kidnapping by chance. And then they hear of strange rooftop murders that are being discovered almost daily - and they want to know more. But in their clumsy efforts to understand, they become caught up in an intense power struggle between honest seekers of another life and the consummate evil of a power-mad leader in control of society's hopeless. Together, Rose and Robert become inextricably caught up in a violent war among a nearly invisible people who could easily control the future of the world . . .

Once again London is the star of a Christopher Fowler novel, you've got to hand it to him, every book I have read by him makes me yearn to visit the big smoke.

Roofworld is no exception, it takes you high above the double deckers and black cabs to the roofs of London town, for a long time a society has existed on top of the London skyline, a society with strict rules and codes, a society that has strung cables from building to building to cross the metropolis without setting foot on the ground, a society that has blood on its hands.

Our main protaganists are Rose and Robert, like chalk and cheese, where Rose is feisty, Robert is shy, they are brought together after Robert's work sends him to find an author whose book is earmarked to become made in a film, he is on the hunt for the author to get her to sign the rights to it.  

Only problem is she's dead.

Robert and Rose meet at the authors flat, where it is revealed the author has a daughter who whereabouts are unknown and if they find her then they can get the rights to her mothers book, together they find themselves on a crazy journey which takes them up in to the secret society that hides high above the streets.

Up high they find a society that is a war with itself and bodies are dropping from the sky leaving a bloody trail for the Met to figure out.

I love Christopher Fowler's Bryant and May series and this is the first book outwith that world of his that I've read and I really enjoyed it.  As I said to begin with London is the star of this book, with the characters coming a close second.  Murder, mystery, secret society, its the perfect combination.

The one thing this book reminded me to do is to look up occasionally.....

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REVIEW - Harmony Black by Craig Schaefer

Title: Harmony Black

Author: Craig Schaefer

Publisher: 47 North

Release Date: 1st February 2016

Source: Own Copy
Harmony Black is much more than your average FBI special agent. In addition to being a practicing witch, she’s also an operative for Vigilant Lock, an off-the-books program created to battle occult threats—by any means necessary. Despite her dedication to fighting the monsters threatening society, Harmony has become deeply conflicted about her job. Her last investigation resulted in a pile of dead bodies, and she suspects the wrong people are being punished for it.

While on a much-needed vacation, Harmony gets pulled back into action. This time, though, she’s gone from solo work to being part of a team. Their target: the Bogeyman, a vicious and elusive figure…and the creature that destroyed Harmony’s childhood.

Surrounded by quirky, fascinating characters as dedicated to one another as they are to their new partner, Harmony must learn to trust her team—and a new romantic interest—on a dangerous and deadly mission that conjures up memories she’d much rather forget.

FBI special agent Harmony Black finds herself joining a covert special off the books program Vigilant Lock, their job?  To eradicate those monsters that insist on rearing their ugly supernatural heads where they shouldn't.

What's Harmony bringing to the team, she's a witch!

Following her (dead) body heavy last job she finds herself enrolled within the Vigilant Lock team, a team that have already been together for a while making her a rank outsider with something to prove. They are sent to investigate the disappearance of young children taken from their beds, the culprit - The Bogeyman, the location - Harmony's home town, a town that is filled with her haunting memories of seeing her sister taken away many years before.

Can Harmony and her team track down the monster that is terrorising her town?

As with all good stories there is a bit more to it than just hunting down the Bogeyman, it is a great paced crime novel with a X Files load of supernatural detail and suspense, creepy demons and suspicious people.

It is the start of a series of which I am already reading the second book, I'd recommend it for everyone who likes their crime novels with a heavy hint of the supernatural.

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