Audio book Review – The Shambling Guide To New York By Mur Lafferty

First up a slight provision which is I listen to podcasts by this author and heard this and the sequel as weekly instalments on a podcast the first time I heard them…

Running Length; 7 hours 23 minutes approx

Narrated by Mur Lafferty

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The Goodreads Blurb…

A travel writer takes a job with a shady publishing company in New York, only to find that she must write a guide to the city – for the undead!

Because of the disaster that was her last job, Zoe is searching for a fresh start as a travel book editor in the tourist-centric New York City. After stumbling across a seemingly perfect position though, Zoe is blocked at every turn because of the one thing she can’t take off her resume — human.

Not to be put off by anything — especially not her blood drinking boss or death goddess co-worker — Zoe delves deep into the monster world. But her job turns deadly when the careful balance between human and monsters starts to crumble — with Zoe right in the middle.

I love this book, it works far better in the audio book format than it did getting the episodes weekly, but this is a review so there are a couple of parts where I do feel things could have been done better.

Mur narrates her own novel, and while I like her voice, and there is certainly nothing wrong with her reading, I do in places wonder if it could have been even better with an actor reading the story, while she knows the story best an actor/narrator can often bring more in terms of diversity for various characters, though given the book is written primarily in third person this is not as big an issue as it might have been. I will say I think it would make a fabulous film or play or could even be adapted into a good full cast audio drama.

My second gripe is a small one and it is not major however it is in one way a spoiler, between the chapters you get little snippets from the guide book the fictional character is working on, however about two thirds of the way through the snippet is the dedication and actually gives away the fate of one of the characters, and while you may have an idea already that things will not end well for the character in question it is still up in the air at that point how it will end.

The story is fun and appealing, my son has heard clips from in and wants to listen to the whole thing but it is not suitable really for children as there is an encounter with an incubus which might lead to you having a few questions to answer, but once he hits his teen years I would have no problem with him listening to it. Sadly the sequel Ghost Train To New Orleans is not available via Audible UK so bear that in mind if you decide to go with the audio format, though I will say Mur has quite a distinctive voice so if you listen to the first I am sure you will hear her voice as you read the second.

So we have to go with scores and I have to penalise for the spoiler so…4.5 out of 5 stars.

images 4.5Just a quick P.S since I wrote and scheduled this review I have heard news that it has been picked up by Netflix so maybe a tv version is on the way.

Special Treat

Okay so the only feedback I received on the book trailer confirmed my own gut reaction, the computer generated voices are not quite right, now don’t get me wrong I am not saying they will never be used again but I do need to spend more time learning how to modify the inflections etc which apparently should be possible with the programme I have, I just need time to learn how to use it lol. For today another premier this time a human voice narrating a story from Disintegration & Other Stories which is continued into Voices Across The Void.

Television Tuesday – More Tennis!

Ha fooled you, of course I did watch the tennis and was gutted at Federer’s defeat not because I do not think Djokavic in not a worthy winner but I wanted Federer to get the record number of wins, I think his contribution to the game and the way he conducts himself both on and off the court make him worthy of the accolade of greatest ever Wimbledon Champion, it would be nice if the record books said the same.

So obviously I still have not watched much real TV or films but I have watched a couple of things on Youtube I decided to share one very short one on the long side but hilarious.

First up another video from Devlinsupertramp, I get so jealous watching some of these videos as they are places I  long to go and I fear I will never be able to afford to visit them all unless I win the lottery.

Next up is one that if you live outside the UK you might not get completely but hopefully you can get the gist of enough to enjoy it.  It is a parody of a much loved ghost hunting programme here in the UK but even if you do not know that specific show I am sure you will have seen one of these programmes and still get the humour.

We shall return to our normal programming schedule next week…

Tellybox Tuesday – Death of an Icon

Television

This week we return to a programme I featured a couple of weeks ago and that is Autopsy.  The subject of the show I watched this week was Marilyn Monroe and I have to confess the conspiracy continues as the first five minutes of the show failed to record! I started watching this ready to scream at the television even though I do know this show is good at sticking to facts and is not one I would expect to be part of any possible cover up but given they have to work with the available documents I was not convinced we would get any closer to the truth of her final hours.

The conclusion he reached was accidental overdose as a result of her doctor prescribing her drugs that should not have been given at the same time especially to someone with the insomnia issues she suffered.  While this might fit to evidence and he does make a convincing argument it does not totally convince me nor does it explain everything.  Why did the maid call her psychiatrist before the doctor, why did the both arrive so quickly?  Why did it take to medical professionals over an hour to call emergency services? Okay they say they were in shock but an hour and if they were covering up their own complicity why not remove one of the two medicines which should not be prescribed together?  He rules out foul play due to lack of evidence in the autopsy report but I have to say that does not really mean a lot as far as I am concerned as I am pretty sure that the coroner would have omitted anything that he was told to omit after all this did possibly involve the President and his brother.

I don’t think we will ever really know exactly how Marilyn died and I don’t think we want to.  For 50 years people have shouted conspiracy and cover up, the rumours do not die and no explanation has ever been produced that covers all the facts, like her beauty the mystery of her death seems destined to last.

Now the writing part and it fits rather well into plot points, the facts fit numerous scenarios as long as you only show the ones that fit. the minute you throw in a random plot point then it becomes more difficult to sell the story you want to.  It does however give the opportunity to give differing solutions but in fiction the reader prefers a firm final solution.

 

Film

Well actually this week we are talking theatre instead.  As you will know from my various social media sites and the vlog the Saturday before last I went to the local theatre the LBT to see The Mist in the Mirror adapted from the book by Susan Hill, author of The Woman in Black. Firstly I am going to share the trailer they produced for this production…

And I am going to share a far more professional review than mine which it really is worth taking a quick peek at before I start….

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/theatre-dance/reviews/the-mist-and-the-mirror-oldham-coliseum-theatre-woman-in-black-sequel-doesnt-take-itself-too-seriously-10040523.html

Now the first thing I want to comment on is the theatre experience I love going to see plays but this one was the first I had gone to see alone and it was lovely to note I was not the only person who decided just because their friends weren’t up for it they weren’t going to miss out.  In some ways it is a liberating experience going alone as there is no one commenting during the play however the downside is there is no one to discuss it with after, well unless like me you have a blog and a wonderful audience. Like the previous production I had seen by this company they mix live acting with film using a minimum of scenery. In fact this is the trailer for Hound of the Baskervilles the previous production I had seen

I really wish there was a way for you to experience these but I cannot find anywhere that has the performances themselves recorded, The Mist in the Mirror has far more in the way of humour than The Woman in Black and if I had to pick fault with it, it would be the same issue I had The Woman in Black and that would be the ending. I write ghost stories and to write an actually scary ghost story is hard, it is about creating a tension and suspense, a questioning of our own senses and is not a form suited for a simple straight ending in some ways.  Now a few people did jump in the audience at certain points, I was not one of them, and I understand that time constraints also play a part in adapting a novel to film or play, (and I confess I have yet to read either novel so I reserve the right to change my mind lol) but I felt the ending was rather abrupt and was a little predictable.

However overall I really did enjoy it and will certainly be going to see any future productions this company put on.

 

Youtube

Okay I will let you watch the TED Talks video before I discuss it not really writing related this one…

Okay they have great voices and the song is moving but that is as far as it goes with me.

Dannielle Hadley – Accomplice to Murder

Debra Lee Brown – First Degree Murder

Theresa Battles – Accomplice to Murder

Diane Metzger – Helped Murder her husband’s ex-wife

Thelma Nichols – Murder (beat a woman to death)

etc.

Now I am sure that some of the women have stories of horrific upbringings and maybe were even unwilling accomplices I do not know how horrific a crime a 14 year old girl would need to commit in the States to get life as the system is different here, but I think we can all honestly say if they were a group of men with the same records no one would care if they could sing or not.  I know I sound unsympathetic but the saying goes if you can’t do the time don’t do the crime and at least three of the women obviously were not bothered by someone else being denied a life as I say accomplice can have many definitions but beating a woman to death has only one.

I love watching crime programmes, I am fascinated by what makes people tick and I do believe in the right circumstances (or should that be the wrong ones) everyone is capable of killing another, if you think I am lying just imagine someone is choking the life out of your loved one right in front of you, your partner, your child or grandchild are you telling me you wouldn’t do whatever it took to stop them and save the one you love?  We would know there would be consequences and you might argue that you would not be thinking of those at the time, but if you did would it stop you acting? I think not, I have no doubt that these women may be sorry but that does not bring back the people that are dead or take away the pain of the families and a very big part of me thinks until they can do that they have no right to feel sorry for themselves.

Book Review – The Wolves of Midwinter By Anne Rice

This book is the sequel to The Wolf Gift which I reviewed previously here, I finished reading this a while ago but it has sat on my desk waiting to be reviewed ever since.

9781448162154-largeThis is what Goodreads says about the book…

The tale of THE WOLF GIFT continues . . .

In Anne Rice’s surprising and compelling best-selling novel, the first of her strange and mythic imagining of the world of wolfen powers (“I devoured these pages . . . As solid and engaging as anything she has written since her early vampire chronicle fiction” —Alan Cheuse, The Boston Globe; “A delectable cocktail of old-fashioned lost-race adventure, shape-shifting and suspense” —Elizabeth Hand, The Washington Post), readers were spellbound as Rice imagined a daring new world set against the wild and beckoning California coast.

Now in her new novel, as lush and romantic in detail and atmosphere as it is sleek and steely in storytelling, Anne Rice brings us once again to the rugged coastline of Northern California, to the grand mansion at Nideck Point—to further explore the unearthly education of her transformed Man Wolf.

The novel opens on a cold, gray landscape. It is the beginning of December. Oak fires are burning in the stately flickering hearths of Nideck Point. It is Yuletide. For Reuben Golding, now infused with the wolf gift and under the loving tutelage of the Morphenkinder, this Christmas promises to be like no other . . . as he soon becomes aware that the Morphenkinder, steeped in their own rituals, are also celebrating the Midwinter Yuletide festival deep within Nideck forest.

From out of the shadows of the exquisite mansion comes a ghost—tormented, imploring, unable to speak yet able to embrace and desire with desperate affection . . . As Reuben finds himself caught up with the passions and yearnings of this spectral presence and the preparations for the Nideck town Christmas reach a fever pitch, astonishing secrets are revealed, secrets that tell of a strange netherworld, of spirits—centuries old—who possess their own fantastical ancient histories and taunt with their dark, magical powers . . .

If I was not such a fan of Anne Rice I would probably have found this book a disappointment after the fast paced action in the first book.  This one is much slower in pace and rich in back story, creating the beginnings of the back story and supernatural theology which will thread through all future books to come in this series.  If you consider her other series the Vampire Chronicles or The Mayfair Witch series it is something that is necessary to the series as a whole, but can be off putting for readers unacquainted with her style.  Because she divides her chronicles into individual books this is far more noticeable when you get one that laden with the folklore than say reading Lord of the Rings where it is spread more evenly throughout the bod of work but it is worth sticking with it.  As always Anne Rice creates a race of beings both complex and seductive but still real, you could imagine meeting these people sharing a coffee without knowing their secret unless they chose to share it.

I confess I still prefer the Vampires but then again I have known them longer and invested more time with them, Anne herself has returned to their stories once more, but I do look forward to reading more of the Morphenkinder and Reuben and hope she does not leave them waiting for too long.

I give the book 4.5 out of 5 stars simply because in some places the slower pace felt too slow.images 4.5

Book Review – Jane Slayre By Charlotte Bronte and Sherri Browning Erwin

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The first book review of 2015, the question is will we be off to a 5 star beginning…

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Jane Slayre is of course an adaptation of Jane Eyre, unlike fan fiction is does not contribute to the story as such rather it takes the original work and changes the genre and feel for it, hence the fact the original author remains credited.

This book brings into Jane Eyre’s world a host of supernatural beings, vampires, zombies, in the same way Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice was infiltrated, however it does not seem to quite have the same attraction as that adaptation had.

I think the problem comes with the actually text, if you have never read Jane Eyre then you may totally love this, however, if like me you have read the book numerous times and love it you will find yourself literally picking out huge passages which have been lifted directly from the original.  This would have worked so much better had they just written the story of a girl like Jane Eyre rather than trying to use that actual story, for me it just lacks something, and does not have quite enough originality to pull it off.

I am going to keep this review short because there is really not much to say, it is an easy read and for younger readers unfamiliar with Jane Eyre it may even be a good way to tempt them towards reading the classics but for me personally it is like a film remake, even with added special effects they never live up to the original.

I give this 3 out of 5, which seems okay until you consider without the vampires and zombies Jane Eyre is a 5 out of 5 all day long.

Flash Fiction Friday!!!

I decided to cheat and instead give you a teaser from one of the stories I am working on this week for Voices, I hope you enjoy it….(subject to editing and change before publication)

She dragged her suitcases inside, and admitted defeat immediately, no way would she get them upstairs with their contents intact. Over the course of the next few hours she traipsed up and down carrying her belongings up to the bedroom before beginning a more in depth exploration of the downstairs. Keys in hand she headed into the kitchen and found the key to unlock to back door. Once the door was opened and letting in a little more light she discovered that the cottage had far more modern conveniences than she had anticipated. Carefully hidden behind doors were fridges, freezers,a washing machine and microwave, most impressive were the radiators carefully hidden behind wooden panels, everything gave the appearance of belonging in the previous century while requiring none of the hard work. She had had the foresight to pick up the basic essentials such as bread and milk by slipping the taxi driver a few extra pounds to pause at the local shop.

The shopkeeper had been naturally curious at a new face but there had been something that passed across their face when she had mentioned why she was here. She could not exact put a name to the emotion and anyone less inclined to pay attention to the details would have missed it but she had definitely seen the shadow that had briefly flitted across the face before it was replaced with a smile and what appeared to be a heartfelt welcome to the community.

It was early when she arose the next morning,a thin shaft of intense sunlight had crept between the edges f the this curtains and bathed her face in golden light. She was amazed at how well she had slept, she had expected the thought of sleeping in a dead woman’s bed to keep her awake but whether it was the fresh country air or fatigue brought on by the days travelling she had fallen into a deep slumber almost as soon as her head had hit the pillow and for the first time since discovering the infidelity she had slept soundly and without tortuous dream plaguing her.

Could you sleep in a dead woman’s bed?

A to Z Challenge 2014 – H is for Horror

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H  When I was younger I remember those happy days spent loitering in the library, I would spend ages choosing which books I wanted and as I read quite quickly I found I had soon exhausted any interesting books in the children’s section.  My love of reading was further increased when I discovered the Horror section and the books of Stephen King and James Herbert.

I loved to delve into the dark recesses of the human psyche, though of course back then I would have just said I loved being scared, but even so early on I learned to differentiate between types of horror.  I write ghost stories but they are not really scary, not what I would class as horror scary.

And if I am honest I find very few films these days that claim to be scary actually are frightening at all, most tend towards the more gore the better approach rather than the hairs standing up terror of true horror.  I think that is where horror on the page has always had an advantage over its on the screen counterpart.  Real horror lurks in the unknown, hidden in the shadows. It is not the reality of seeing death or bodies cut up that really scares it is the point before that, it is the waiting for the killer to pounce, the cat and mouse game as the prey is stalked, the terror of silence, of a single footstep behind you.

In the Eighties then even gorified that British Horror institution the Hammer House of Horror

Horror is not about what you can see it is about all the things that are just out of sight and could potentially happen.  I really wish film makers would go back and read some old fashioned proper horror and then maybe they would make a film or two that really would leave people afraid to close their eyes.

I am off to write a horror story now to submit to an anthology so fingers crossed….