review

“A World of Endless Wonder”

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So, after that last post saying how difficult it is writing reviews … here’s a review. The irony is not lost on me! I chose to review a TV show I recently bought on Amazon, then decided as I wrote it that it would be something good for the blog as well. So here goes.

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Warehouse 13 was a recent discovery of mine and instantly became one of my all-time favourite shows. Imagine Bones, take out the gory bits, and replace them with the “anything goes” fantasy style of Charmed, give it a warehouse_13steampunk makeover, and you’ve got an idea what it’s like. Admittedly slightly cheesy now and then, but that’s the way I like my TV. You also might like it if you like Buffy. The relationship between Claudia and Artie is quite close to that of Buffy and Giles, and W13 also stars Anthony (Stewart) Head and James Masters.warehouse_13_16

The warehouse of the title, dubbed “America’s attic”, is the place to protect everyday objects that have inexplicably been imbued with mysterious powers. The main characters track down the objects, called “artefacts”, and protect the
warehouse, and by extension the world. The main antagonists usually want the warehouse-13-no-pain-no-gain-petalsartefacts for themselves.

Every artefact is different, which makes for nicely varied episode plots. For some reason I never quite figured out, they all seemed to belong to dead famous people (“people with Wikipedia pages”)—Sylvia Plath’s typewriter, Jack the Ripper’s lantern, Lewis Carroll’s looking glass, HG Wells’ time machine … you get the idea. There’s a degree of predictability occasionally in some of the individual episode arcs, but overall the show twists and turns nicely. The good guys are loveable, even the grumpy ones (Artie). The bad guys (and the morally ambiguous guys) are equally fascinating, and for some reason are mostly English.Past_Imperferct

The show ran for five series, and I think wrapped up quite well. I have watched the box set twice over now, but not all the bonus features yet. That delight is still to come!


Copyright note: The photographs are borrowed from syfy.co.uk, hollywoodreporter.com, geeknation.com, gamesradar.com, and warehouse13.wikia.com.

 

Featured Poetry

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It’s still National Poetry Month–just about (not long left)–so here comes my new poetry post. As promised, I’ve included a short review, and a poet feature.

Echoes, by Janice T

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The author has a real gift with words. The neo-Victorian style–the first anthology I have read of it–is very different to both contemporary poetry and pre-twentieth century movements; archaic and occasionally modern language with both traditional and non-traditional rhyme structures.

My favourite in the collection is probably Skyline, one of the shorter poems. One of my favourite quotes is

Against the distant hills,
Soft sentries, washed with Summer’s gold.
The verdant green did swell
As if to reach beyond their hold

(From Endless Orchards)

During April, the collection is available for free from Smashwords. The author also has many other poems published on her website.

Siofra McSherry

I first discovered McSherry‘s work during my poetry module. A few are freely available to read, others are published in anthologies and magazines. Her poetry is contemporary, very lyrical with a lot of nature imagery. In terms of style, hers is not far off from my own, with an exception:

It’s more that I’m writing, and stealing things from everywhere, rather than I feel like I have to write about something in particular.

I usually need a subject to begin writing, though I can deviate from time to time.

Crazy Convos and Christie

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Review of “The Christie Curse” by Victoria Abbott

15808728I can start by saying that the book met the two primary objectives of the whodunit genre: one, I didn’t work out whodunit straight away, and two, the narrative kept me hooked till the end.

As for the plot, “The Christie Curse” is a mystery about a supposedly lost Agatha Christie play, which is linked to a possible murder. The protagonist, Jordan Bingham, is relatable enough despite most readers probably weren’t raised by crooks as she was. Her job, to track down the play for her book-collecting, dragon of an employer, quickly looks to be dangerous but she continues stubbornly at it—if only to keep her luscious room and meals at the Van Alst manor house. She is a little too quick to point the finger but that only makes her more human.

The mystery itself is intriguing. Whilst I guessed about the cat quite early on, I only realised whodunit a few sentences before it was actually stated—about the right time, in my view, for the reader to work it out. A few scenes ran tingles up my spine, but there was nothing at all thriller-rish about the book—overall it’s what I think is called a ‘cosy’ mystery. There was definitely a Christie element, though you don’t have to be particularly familiar with her works to read the story.

I enjoyed every moment of the book, and highly recommend it. The best thing is, it’s the first in a series, and I believe the second one is out now.

Insane Facebook Conversation

My friend gave me permission to post this here. I had to save it for posterity. Possibly the most bonkers conversation I ever had, except maybe with the lady in New York who could tell I was English just from my complexion (apparently).

Me: I think my computer’s got Chizpurfles[1].

Friend: Oh dear … This is what happens when you exterminate all the Doxies in your home. Doxies feed primarily on dead skin cells and Chizpurfles.

Me: Hmm. I guess I shouldn’t have bought all that Doxycide from amazon.wiz—what a waste of Galleons. I should have trained them to guard my electrical items instead. Especially my TARDIS[2], it’s been crashing for weeks. Mr Scamander should have informed me. That book of his has some serious gaps.

Friend: Scamander? The Scamander prejudice against Doxies is well known. I’m surprised you hadn’t heard. They all despise Doxies and have advocated the complete extermination of the entire species. There was an article about it in the Prophet the other day, I’ll send it to you by owl when I find it. As for your TARDIS, I find when mine is malfunctioning, a good kick to the console tends to fix it for a while. Alternatively, I’ve heard that some people have luck with blue or green jello.

Me: Scamander? Prejudices? Well I never. Thank you very much for the article. I’m a Quibbler reader myself, hence why I didn’t see it. I would kick my TARDIS, but it was rather delicate before those pests got at it. I could try the jelly, if I had some. My first instinct was a powerful Reparo, but I’m afraid of the whole magic vs electronics clash.

Friend: Just once, I tried an enlargement charm on a computer screen, I was trying to turn it into a TV you see, and nothing happened except that all the actors, characters and animals on the screen seemed to have red eyes. It was a bit unsettling after a while. Since then, I prefer not to mix the two, just in case. I wouldn’t try it on something the size of a TARDIS. I suppose you could hire a Jedi mechanic … I mean, the Force is, after all, as much magic as science … but it could be expensive.

Me: Bro, help, I need Star Wars knowledge for a comeback.

Bro: May the unhelpful quote be with you.

Friend: Victory is mine

Me: [struggles to think of something witty to say about the currency in Star Wars—what IS the currency in Star Wars???] You are no longer my brother.

Bro: [grins inanely—at least, that’s what I reckon he did though I wasn’t actually there]

Footnotes

[1] Chizpurfle: a pest (from Harry Potter, but mentioned only in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them) which feeds on magic or, in the absence of such, “has been known to attack electrical objects … explaining the puzzling failure of many relatively new Muggle artifacts” (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them, page 7 footnote.)

[2] My phone, which has a TARDIS skin.

Pin of the week

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If anyone can help me properly embed a Pin so it SHOWS UP properly, please get in touch! At the moment I’m having to save the pics and upload them. The guidance on Pinterest is not working.

A Geeky Christmas

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Apologies for the long gap in posting. Hope everyone had a good Christmas and didn’t get indigestion. I hope all those in my area have their power back on now, and didn’t get flooded–weather’s been awful.

A Who-ish Season

I got a book called Doctor Who: The History of the Universe in 100 Objects for Christmas (along with two Doctor Who calendars–my parents know me!). I’ve only flicked through it so far, but I have mixed feelings about these kinds of books. As far as I can predict without reading it cover to cover, anything related to the new show I’ll already know, and anything to do with the classic series will probably spoil me majorly for when I watch the episodes in question. Which I plan to once I own the complete box set that was being advertised at the Anniversary Celebrations at London ExCel (no price or release date I noticed, but it’s obviously being planned, and about time too).

I don’t think I wrote anything about the Anniversary Celebrations for my blog, which I will rectify probably in the next post. For the moment, my two cents on the last two episodes. I went to the cinema to see the Anniversary episode, and enjoyed it more than I thought I would actually. Ten(nant) was my Doctor and I never quite got into the new style of writing either since the show changed hands (that’s not to say Moffat hasn’t done some great things, but I find it more confusing and less continuous). I was afraid the ep would be too ambitious and all energy would be put into understanding it rather than enjoying it, but I think it worked in the end. And whilst during the first watch I was dreading the end (what were they going to do with Gallifrey??) I was relieved by the actual finish. I was disappointed that Billie Piper wasn’t actually there to play Rose, and I did spot a few small plot-holes that I now can’t remember, but overall I’m pretty happy with how it turned out.

I don’t think I’ve had long enough to really build an opinion of the Christmas ep. Maybe I should do a reflective paragraph on it another post.

Re-reading Potter

A recent bout of insomnia, other than spurring a tonne of fanfiction during the first night (I wish it could have been my coursework that got stuck in my head, but at least I wrote something) has made me read more, since I now stop looking at screens an hour before I try to sleep. This has meant a break from my Kindle, since it is Kindle Fire and more like a tablet than an e-reader. But it’s made me finally get around to reading some physical books again, specifically all 7 Harry Potter, which is and always will be my favourite book series.

I haven’t read them through for some time–the last time I read one, it was the seventh, and I finished the day I moved into my first uni digs (back in 2010). So it’s been a great experience re-reading them and reminding myself of all the greatest bits, especially those that never made it into the films, like my favourite quote:

It unscrews the other way”

or small details that I’d forgotten or even not noticed before, such as:

… one [task] that many of my followers would give their right hands to perform …”

(Both quotes by JK Rowling, I claim no ownership.)

Also moving through the series there were more of them, since the later ones I’ve read far fewer times. I can recite passages from the first book or two (I used to be able to do most of the first chapter) but the seventh I’m much less familiar with. Allow me to demonstrate.

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All right, I’m a geek. And it’s all approximate, I’ve hardly kept track of how many times I read each book. The only one I can be certain of is Deathly Hallows, since I read it once when it came out, once to my dad, and just finished it again two days ago.

In my “calculations” I’m allowing for audio versions and the number of times I’ve read individual passages (for example some of the earlier books I flicked through so often there’s probably at least an extra read total in addition to having read cover to cover).

Joke of the Week

(Told to me at Christmas.)

It was a cold Christmas night. A man was sitting warm by his fire, when there was a knock on the door. When he opened it, there was nobody there.

“Excuse me,” said a tiny voice. He looked around, but still couldn’t see anyone. “Excuse me, I’m down here!”

He looked down, and there on his doorstep was a snail, shivering and dusted in snow. “P-please s-sir, I’m s-so cold, could I c-come in and shelter b-by your fire?”

The man picked up the snail, and hurled it down the garden, slammed the door and returned to his chair by the fire.

The next Christmas, there was a knock on the door. The man left his warm seat by the fire to open it, but again there was nobody there.

Then a tiny voice said, “What did you do that for?”

Review of “Fantasy Short Stories Issue 1” & Other Stuff

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Updating

Since trying to keep my posts ‘useful’, I have found that they have become a lot less frequent and attract less readers. So I have made a decision to set aside a specific weekly time to focus on this and do it properly. Hopefully this should solve the problem.

Writing Progress

I’ve written hardly any poetry over the summer, so this week has been a real bonus for me as I worked on about four drafts, and written two more from scratch. I’ve been researching more poetry competitions with a view to submitting to bigger ones, hopefully being in with a chance.

Review

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Described as an anthology of “the best in Heroic, Epic and High Fantasy, and with plenty of Sword and Sorcery thrown in”, Fantasy Short Stories: Issue 1 doesn’t disappoint. The five shorts are of a generally high quality writing. I prefer indigenous fantasy novels to short high fantasy, but enjoyed most of the stories–one or two were a little violent for my liking. I think my favourite, and the strongest, was “The Empty Dark” by C L Holland; it was the most engaging and the ending was the most satisfactory of the collection. I liked the idea behind “The Pivot” but found the narrative style difficult to follow. Overall I would recommend the issue.

Fantasy Short Stories: Issue 1 is available on Kindle and other ebooks for £3.08.

For writers: details for submissions are located in the back, and on the website (link above).

Feedback

I am trying out a new post format–do the headings work for you? Or do you prefer the days of my rambles? Please let me know.