The Micro Reviews From Planet Procrastination: The Soulless OWL Thieves from the Pyramid Galaxy of Howzat!!!

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Last time on The Micro Reviews From Planet Procrastination:

Our curious adventurers were fleeing for their lives from a deadly beast on an alien planet covered in the blue dust of its previous victims. While they were not certain that the scream that sounded behind them moments before the fleeing was in fact the Bloodthirsty Giraffe from the Hunger Games Nebula (or its unfortunate prey) after the horrifying description of the beast by their Chief Cultural Advisor, they weren’t going to waste what could be the final moments of their lives debating about it.

If someone were to be placed conveniently above the blue planet, say, in a spaceship, one equipped with a large viewing window, for example, they would see a very peculiar and terrifying sight. Since the rest of the crew was in fact not-so conveniently placed haphazardly upon the surface of the blue planet, in a somewhat dented spaceship, peering through a large, dusty, viewing window at the terrain in front of them and the figures of their comrades in the distance, the sight they were seeing was even more peculiar and terrifying. As the hull of the ship, though crumpled slightly, was sound proof, the crew within didn’t hear the scream that could make ones blood separate into curds as if it were a dairy product. All they saw was a collection of silver-clad dots that was their exploration team go in one moment from a cluster that seemed to be having a pleasant chat, to a flailing stampede of limbs and blue dust coming toward them. It was another few moments before the cause of their sudden flailing came into sight, heralded by the Commander’s grumbled question (“What in Flerk’s name are they doing?”) metamorphosing into a gargle of fear and profanities in several alien languages.

Meanwhile, at the site of the fleeing, Chief Cultural Advisor Daydream McDillydally was expending most of his energy in running, while using the rest to quash his academic curiosity which was irritatingly telling him to look behind him. His brain – which was usually quite logical but also housed this academic curiosity – was having a debate with itself. On the affirmative team the speaker argued that as Chief Cultural Advisor he couldn’t waste this opportunity to view a rare beast, and gain some bragging rights to use against his Hunger Games Nebula “expert” colleague. On the negative team the speaker made a very sound point of “ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR HRAKING MIND!!!” which was one of the best rebuttals he had ever encountered. As it turns out the debate was decided suddenly when one of McDillydally’s mutinous feet stepped upon one of his brethren and flung him over and flat on his back in the cold, blue death-dust. Before McDillydally could even comprehend that he was no longer running but was in fact in a very vulnerable and embarrassing position, he heard a strange CLONK noise and what sounded like an angry, warbled war cry. As neither of these sounds were similar to the scream of before, his curiosity annoyingly piped up again and he propped himself up on four elbows, and hurriedly cleaned his spectacles with his other two to see what was going on.

A large, glowing white shape loomed in front of him and before he could even lash out in self-defense (or more likely, cower in a quivering ball of pathetic-ness) the shape grew an arm with a big hand attached (or more likely it already had said appendage and simply brought it forward) and grasping him by the shoulder pulled him back to his traitorous feet. The white-clad beast then inexplicably turned his back on the flustered Cultural Advisor, took up a strange defensive stance, and yelled over his shoulder at him. As he was wearing his Wireless Universal Translator (WUT) McDillydally understood the strangers shouted words, but still only comprehended some of them. The words that came to him in perfectly translated Procrasti was this: “Run you daft bugger! I’ll hold off the blighter with me bat, you get yerselves onto yer ship and tell the captain to haul out of here! Ours is parked just outta orbit – tell ‘im to fly inta our hold. The beast’ll rip your ship to smithereens but ours has a field that stops the bastard! Go!”

With the main points of the white, yelling alien ringing in his head (RUN. BEAST. SHIP. GO.) McDillydally ran faster than his feet could even envision as another loud CLONK sounded behind him. To his surprise and the surprise of his feet, he reached the rest of the team (who were oblivious to his trip and his alien rescuer) and yelled out a few choice words of the message. As these words were RUN, BEAST, SHIP, and GO there was no resistance from the others and as one they sprinted the rest of the way to the ship’s waiting landing ramp, trying desperately the ignore the screams, yells and CLONKs behind them. When they were safely inside McDillydally didn’t need to ask the Commander to take off as it was raring to go as soon as the hatch closed, but he did hasten to the control room anyway to attempt to pass on the message of his white-clothed protector. As was to be expected the Commander wanted an immediate explanation of what had occurred and was still occurring below, but knowing there was no time for long status reports McDillydally was uncharacteristically abrupt and relayed to the Commander the most important points:

1. That there was a deadly beast down there that desired to turn them all into a fine dust.

2. That the glowy white beings (now they were above the surface he could see that there was not one but about half a dozen) somehow could fight the beast and they obviously couldn’t.

3. One of the beings had said (he thought) that the Micro Reviews ship was no protection from the beast, but theirs had some kind of protective force field.

4. They had to get their ship into their hold as soon as possible or they’d be eaten horribly.

In a similar uncharacteristically decisive moment the Commander ordered the gathering crew to fire up all shields (which could barely protect the ship from a slight breeze at that point, but it reassured him a tad just saying it), scan the surrounds for a waiting ship and head for it as fast as their dented engines could go. While the flimsy shields were creating a parody of protection and the ship was trundling toward the only craft near the blue planet – a strange, but quite intimidating giant dusty red orb with white stitches encircling its grand circumference – McDillydally rubbed some of the blue dust from the viewing window still facing the planet (somewhat unsuccessfully as to do so he employed the exterior wipers which were encrusted with even more disintegrated ex-inhabitant dust), adjusted the zoom on his spectacles to its highest setting and peered down at the scene below with equal parts inconsolable terror, guilty relief and intellectual joy.

Several of the  brave white beings were gathered in the same half-turned, splayed leg stance as his rescuer and were swinging their arms behind themselves and then toward the main reason for his terror, guilt and joy. The description he had given the team of the Bloodthirsty Giraffe from The Hunger Games Nebula was fairly accurate. A towering form that if it was next to their humble ship would dwarf/swallow it – check! Sickening serpentine neck that waved like a rabid python – check! A grossly cavernous mouth virtually crawling with an infestation of yellow, needle-sharp teeth glistening with a sickening silvery ooze that he didn’t want to think about too carefully – check! A collection of kicking, windmilling legs which didn’t stop flailing long enough to count but could easily equal in the hundreds – check! A mottled hide with the sickly, colourless look of a creature thought into existence (or rather the leftover excrement of thought) that had focused all energy on nightmare-ish weapons and had let any attempt at normal textures and appearance fall by the wayside? Well, that point hadn’t been relayed to him but it was so unsettling yet fascinating that he thought it deserved a check anyway.

As he teared his sextet of eyes (get your mind out of the gutter! It’s just a fancy word for six of something!) away from the beast he saw a single white-clad hero take a long run up, walking slowly at first and then gaining momentum as he neared his comrades. The crazed run up ended with a bizarre wide-legged step with a frantic overarm motion and a ball of dusty red light flew from his gloved hand, struck the blue ground with a bounce that sent dust everywhere and barreled straight into one of the beast’s blurred legs. In the next moment several of the others performed their stationary wide-legged arm-swing war dance and McDillydally saw identical dusty red orbs erupt from below their white gloves somehow connected to a long, oblong flash of light. All the orbs hit the same leg (or at least a blur that may have been around where the other blur was), the beast started to lose its balance and before its collective legs could get their bearings once more it toppled to the ground in a huge plume of blue dust. Despite being deaf to the sounds below McDillydally could tell that the white-clad energy-ball emitting warriors were performing some kind of victorious ritual complete with chants at the sight of their toppled foe, in the same way that he knew those odd CLONKS he had heard whilst on the planet had come from the red balls they somehow created, but from his vantage point it looked akin to a bunch of Boringball players carrying on after getting a Glor.

Before McDillydally could see if the beast recovered from its fall and attacked the celebrating warriors, two things happened almost simultaneously. Firstly the viewing window went dark and McDillydally realised that they were now contained inside the hull of the strange ball-shaped ship. Secondly a stunned hush went over the gathered crew who were out of ideas now that they were out of immediate danger and within the dark confines of an alien ship whose owners were absent and possible hostile. This palpable silence was broken by a loud outburst of “Right! This looks like a case for Shamrock House!” accompanied by the donning of an incredibly ugly hat and brandishing of a ridiculously large magnifying glass in one hand and a spiral notebook and pen in two of the others. The outburst, hat, magnifying glass, notebook and pen all came from one of the most useless, yet inexplicably arrogant crew members, a Mr Loafer Idleston who had adopted the name Shamrock House after their trip to the United Kingdom, Earth. The name was an homage to fictional detective Sherlock Holmes but had been mangled into nonsense after Idleston had sampled a local beverage, “whiskey” in the Kingdom’s smaller island, Ireland. Since adopting the name he had insisted on solving any strange happening that occurred, and since so far that had been limited to the case of who stole so-and-so’s protein pods out of the Food Containment Unit, the mystery of the salt in the sugar dispenser, and the scandal that was who wrote “Shamrock House is a dingbat!” across the self-proclaimed detectives ugly hat, the happenings on the Blue Planet was the most exciting case yet!

While Shamrock flitted around gathering statements from the exploration team, the Commander went on with the much more vital business of lighting their surroundings whilst pretending he was in complete control and being encased in a foreign ship was totally standard. Shamrock was just approaching McDillydally, notebook and pen poised, when there was a knock at the ships departure hatch. As one the crew froze and looked at the hatch and then at their Commander who was finding his fake look of control quite taxing to maintain. He approached the hatch with what he hoped was an air of command, and said a trifle squeakily “Whose there? Ah…I mean as Commander of this vessel I ah…demand you state your name and intentions!”. He was quite pleased with how official he sounded until the slightly muffled answer came from the other side. “It’s the guys that saved your asses, ya daft blighters! Open up so we can get ye into the craft proper and get the hell outta here!” Despite understanding only about half of what they said, the Commander gave the order to open the hatch and moments later they were face to face with six figures that by the amount of blue dust spoiling the clean white of their suits and helmets were probably the team that McDillydally had just seen toppling the Bloodthirsty Giraffe.

With a brisk “Follow us” the white-suited aliens turned and walked back through the hatch leaving the flustered Commander no choice but to lead his crew in a trail behind them. They went down into a dank holding space filled with crates and boxes, lit only by a glowing white orb held by the white figure leading the procession, then into the stark white interior of the ship. The crew looked around in awe as they followed the bare spiralling passages dotted with tall rounded doors and flashing panels, until they finally stopped at a dead-end with a huge and very shiny double door. As their white-clad leaders marched proudly into the massive room beyond, our overwhelmed crew shuffled awkwardly behind, every mouth hanging open and every neck craning to take in the sights.

The room was obviously the main control room, but it was so large and impressive it made their own control room look like a child’s cubby house. Everything was impossibly white and polished, from the clean, smooth floor, to the sparkling screens that covered almost every wall, shaped to fit the curved surfaces, to the dozen elegant, rounded white chairs. The only colour in the room came from more flashing lights that filled a large, round control panel in the centre, and a massive dusty red ball matching the ships interior which rose from the control panel on a flawless white pole. As they approached the control panel the twelve chairs swiveled toward them revealing twelve more aliens wearing spotless white uniforms, more sleek and authoritative then their blue-dusted escorts, and with two stripes of dusty red adorning wrists, waists and v-shaped collars. The seated aliens were also not wearing the white-domed helmets the others still hadn’t removed (which Commander Distraction thought was very rude and not the proper way to treat a man of his standing!) showing their round, dusty red heads complete with stitch-marks identical to the outside of the ship and the ball suspended on the pole, . Chief Cultural Advisor McDillydally had a moment of wondering whether they had modelled their ship and the ball on their own heads, or somehow vice versa before the alien sitting in the biggest and centralist chair rose and walked toward them.

If Commander Distraction hadn’t already guessed that this individual was their leader from the size of his chair and the intricate crest he wore on his uniform, he would’ve known from the way he strode with such purpose and authority, and he was instantly and irritatingly jealous. When he reached them the away team all removed their helmets, tucked them under one arm and gave their leader a short, respectful salute, making Commander Distraction even more jealous. “Captain,” The lead escort said. “We have subdued the beast but it won’t stay that way for long. No sign of survivors down there except this lot. Their craft is stowed in the hold and they’re obviously not armed. Wrong place at the wrong time by the looks of it.”

The Captain nodded once without even glancing at the bewildered Micro Reviews awkwardly gathered behind his crew members. “Right. Good job men. Lets get as far away from that damn planet while we still can eh?” the Captain said before turning toward the seated crew with a loud series of incomprehensible orders. The Micro Reviews looked at each other in confusion. What were they meant to do now? Was the Captain of these intimidating creatures going to even acknowledge their existence? Before the Commander could gather his thoughts, swallow his jealously, embarrassment and growing rage and address this too-perfect Captain, Shamrock House piped up. “Wait a minute! I think we all have a right to know what’s going on here! Who are you people? Why were you on that planet? And did you know that beast was there? We need answers!” The Commander was torn between outrage that that stupid fake detective had broken the silence when it should be him doing the liaising with these aliens, and relief that he had asked the hard questions so he didn’t have to.

Suddenly all the harsh dark eyes of the aliens were locked on Shamrock, wide with surprise. The Captain stopped his barrage of orders and walked calmly over until he loomed over the ridiculous detective and his ridiculous hat. “Are you their leader or something?” he said with disbelief. “Ah…No” said Shamrock, his bravado faltering a bit. “I’m a Detective!” (said in a way that clearly emphasised the capital D), “Detective Shamrock House, genius investigative mind!”. The Captain barely suppressed a smirk and chuckles could be heard from other members of the crew. “Well, Detective House, who is your leader then?”. Commander Distraction stepped forward, drawing himself up to full-height (even if it was a good couple of feet shorter than any of the white-clad beings) and sucking in his substantial gut. “I am. Commander Whatzat Distraction, Second Class Commander of the Micro Review Fleet, Inter-dimensional and Universal Travel Division of the Grand Conglomeration of Procrasti of the Planet Procrastination”. The Micro Reviews all looked highly impressed that their Commander had stated his full title without messing up once, and the Commander felt as if he had gained a bit more height with the accomplishment. “Hmmm…I see,” said the Captain looking a smidgen impressed. “I’ve never heard of the Procrasti but that all sounded very….official. I am Captian Beamer Twelveman, Captain and Head Bowler of Team 14387.13, Planet 8 in the 13th System, Twelve Tier of the Pyramid Galaxy of Howzat. Our reasons for exploring that planet are classified and we were not aware that the Thought-Beast colloquially known as he Bloodthirsty Giraffe from the Hunger Games Nebula had invaded it and decimated its inhabitants, otherwise we wouldn’t have sent a bloody exploration team down there! Thought-Beasts can’t break our hull because we have a force field which interferes with their patterns so once we’ve put some distance between us it’ll be safe to release your ship. In the meantime you could remain on our vessel, our of the way of our operations, or you can go back to your ship and wait for an update. Any more questions, perhaps from your ahem…detective?”

This time the Captain didn’t even bother suppressing his smirk, and he joined in on the crew’s chuckling. Commander Distraction felt his face start to colour from green to the bright aqua of shame. He hardly understood what this Captain Twelveman had said, but he knew that it made him, his motley crew, and maybe even the Grand Conglomeration of Procrasti sound small and foolish in comparison. He didn’t want to spend another second with these proud, successful, and superior beings so he gave a curt nod and decided to take the coward’s way out. “Ahem…Thank you Captain for accommodating us. If it weren’t for your men down there my exploration team, and likely my whole crew would have been nothing more than dust. We will retire to our ship and await your instructions.” And with that he strode with as much purpose and authority as his bruised pride could muster, out of the control room and back into the spiralling white corridors, his crew trailing meekly behind him. As the corridors had no corners and simply led back to the hold in one long, shining coil the crew had no trouble making their way back, and they respectfully didn’t question the Commander’s decision – not even Shamrock. He did however linger at the back and when the crew entered the hold he snuck back into the corridor and turned into the first door on the right. He didn’t know what he was looking for, but he knew something was up with these people and their “classified” mission, and as the ship’s genius investigative mind it was his duty to solve the case!

The room he entered was as stark as the corridors and control room, with just a simple white chair, some dials and lights attached to a round console and a smallish rounded screen on the wall in front of him. Shamrock took out his over-sized magnifying glass and peered at all the details of the room, but he couldn’t even understand what the dials, lights and screen were let alone how they could be used to find clues. He sat at the console in the white chair (which was made for a much taller and leaner figure and not equipped for more than one set of limbs, so a bit awkward) and got out his notepad and pen to document his findings so far. To get into a more comfortable position he stood on the chair with his six feet as close together as possible and leaned several of his elbows on the console while he wrote. Unfortunately the console was so clean and slippery that two of his elbows slipped and he fell face-first onto dozens of buttons, narrowly avoided a lever to the eye and ended up with a large dial shoved in his mouth. As a result the screen suddenly came to life and started scrolling through pages and pages of text before settling on a single entry.

As the text was likely in their native tongue it looked like mindless scribblings to Shamrock so he turned a tiny dial on the side of his magnifying glass (it was good for something beyond being comically giant!) and viewed the text through its lens, neatly translated in Procrasti. To his amazement the text was some kind of Captain’s log and if he was not mistaken the date at the top (formatted according to the Council of Universal Dates for Interplanetary and Inter-dimensional Travel) was very recent. He skimmed the page skipping boring accounts of the day-to-day running of a ship until he found something that made his detective senses tingle:

“We have information from a trusted source that what we seek may be found in the Azure system 158 light years from our current location. We have set course for the nearest planet in the system immediately.” Shamrock located what he thought was a tracking pad and tentatively scrolled down to the following entry:

“After a rather harrowing warp we arrived at the first planet in the Azure system, a underdeveloped rock called Biz inhabited by a dim-witted amphibious race who call themselves the Bizii. From our limited and frustrating communications with the Bizii we have gleaned that their neighbour planet Boz has recently received a gift from an alien race which sound identical to ours. We are heading to Boz to see if their mysterious gift was in fact OWLs.” The plot thickens! Thought Shamrock triumphantly. I wonder why they would have any interest is nocturnal bird-life…I didn’t think owls were even found anywhere other than Earth… He scrolled down to the next entry:

“We met with the Bozoo, who were even more difficult to communicate with than the Bizii! Eventually we discovered that something had been lost in gossip and conjecture – the planet that had been visited by the alien race (that I am almost certain were a Team from another Tier) was not Boz but the most distant planet in the system, Byz. As all the species of this system are primitive at best and have proved useless at providing accurate information we will be exploring the other three planets in the system before reaching Byz and if the gift is more than a rumor and it is in fact OWLs, we will stop at nothing to find them and take them by force if needed.”

Shamrock furiously wrote down this last find and went to scroll to the next entry when a shadow fell across the page.

“Well, well, well what have we here?”…

And now for the reviews:

Soulless by Gail Carriger

Soulless_by_Gail_Carriger

An absolute cracker of a read! Set in Victorian London but in an alternative (and wonderfully steampunk) Victorian London where Vampires and Werewolves (and ghosts) are real, out in the open, and highly involved in politics and high society. I giggled most of the way through as the main characters are so proper (especially the vampires) and any impropriety is met with scandalised gasps and fanning, and the main characters have some spectacular strings of one-liners. Alexia Tarrabotti (the heroine) is an absolute hoot! Funny, spirited and certainly no simpering Victorian wallflower – I can tell that as this series goes on she will become one of my fave characters – and am so happy it is a series and not simply a one-off 😀

The Journey by Kathryn Lasky

Guardians of Ga'Hoole Book 2: The Journey by Kathryn Lasky

An action-packed second installment of this lovely children’s fantasy series where owls are the stars. This book introduced a whole host of new characters, settings and conflicts, paving the way for book 3. I loved the descriptions of the Ga’Hoole tree and the structure of the owls’ society, and I was impressed by how much factual information Kathryn Lasky weaves into her tales. I wish this series was around when I was a kid 🙂

Death Before Wicket by Kerry Greenwood

death before wicket

Another fantastic Phyrne book, this time set in Sydney instead of Melbourne. Phryne has promised her assistant, Dot, that her little sojourn to the harbour city will be a quiet holiday of relaxing and watching cricket – one free of murder and danger. However when a couple of college boys beg her services to clear their friend’s name after the university’s safe is burgled she can’t resist. Throw in some new age magic, ancient Egyptian curses, blackmail, deception, prostitution, abduction and a search for Dot’s lost sister, and her holiday becomes a lot more than a few quiet afternoons of cricket!

The Thief of Always by Clive Barker

the thief of always

A wonderfully imaginative children’s horror/fantasy fable which has some genuine scares and a solid moral behind it which is honest and not just a thinly veiled preach masquerading as a fun story. A good introductory course in the twisted mind of Clive Barker 🙂

Pyramids by Terry Pratchett

pyramids

Another fantastic Discworld novel – this time delving into the ancient kingdom of Djelibeybi, a place of sand, camels, Gods, and of course, pyramids. As can be expected Djelibeybi is a Discworld version of Ancient Egypt (and a neighbouring kingdom is similar to ancient Greece or Rome) which means the story is filled with hilarious situations, stories and dialogue which pokes fun at some of the more ridiculous facets of ancient civilizations. This may not be my fave Discworld book so far, but it certainly provided plenty of chuckles 🙂

Well there you go my wonderful, persevering Bookbaggers! Finally the third installment of the Micro Reviews from Planet Procrastination! This one was tricky to keep short (which is why it isn’t….) but I hope you enjoy it anyway 🙂

Stay tuned for the next installment in the (hopefully) not-so-distant future 😀

Happy Reading (and investigating)!

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Notable Quotable #42

She looped the white cord over his neck and he put up a shaking hand to touch the amulet. She smelt the bracing scent of rosemary and wormwood and hoped he would inhale frequently. Rosemary for courage and wormwood to repel serpents. Also, while he wore it, he would never get moths.

Kicking off 2013 with Owls, Mammals and Phryne Fisher!

I have already wrote about how poor my book tally has been this year, and even though I have had heaps of free time since Xmas to read (especially because it’s so hot in Perth at the moment and reading in front of a fan is about all I can manage) my grand total was only 26 – pretty sad considering the last few years I have read over 40 a year and 2012 was the National Year of Reading O_o

I did manage to finish a few great books at the last-minute (Tears of the Giraffe by Alexander McCall Smith; The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff; Soulless by Gail Carriger; and I finally finished the Neo-Noir anthology, Blood, Guts & Whiskey) which meant I could still choose my Top 10 of the year and Annual Award recipients (which I will post ASAP) but it was still a pretty disappointing total.

In the first few days of 2013 I chose a set of new books to read: one from my Bought-But-Have-Yet-To-Read pile – The Journey (Guardians of Ga’Hoole, Book 2) by Kathryn Lasky;

Guardians of Ga'Hoole Book 2: The Journey by Kathryn Lasky

one from my Library Books pile – Mammals by Pierre Mérot;

mammalsand one from the pile of books that I’ve borrowed from my friend Sarah – Death Before Wicket (Phryne Fisher Mysteries, Book 10) by Kerry Greenwood

death before wicketplus I also have two reads which I’ve carried over from 2012: Pyramids (Discworld, Book 7) by Terry Pratchett

pyramids

and a book that I fear will be on my bedside table forever since It’s already been there since May and I’ve only read two stories out of it – Tales of Mystery and Imagination by Edgar Allan Poe.

Tales of mystery and imagination

I’ve already gotten really into all three of my new reads so hopefully that’s a good sign for the year ahead, at least reading-wise!

Beloved Bookbaggers, keep thine eyes peeled for my Top 10 Books of 2012 and the 2012 Book Polygamist Awards as well as other little titbits before I’m back to work in February, but for now I wish you all a (belated) Happy New Year and as always:

Happy Reading!

The Micro Reviews from Planet Procrastination go to Uranus!!!!

It comes to the point in every tragic saga of movies/books/TV shows etc. when the creators have obviously run out of ideas and flog one last installment with a truly terrible pun title which could’ve been brainstormed by a 10-year-old….. *cough*….

The Micro Reviews from Planet Procrastination go to Uranus!!!!

Code Noir by Marianne De Pierres

Even more exciting, engaging and confusing then the first Parrish Plessis book which together made it more addictive. This series is a unique Australian Sci Fi, with a strong, vaguely terrifying heroine, that’s worth a read, even if at times it does your head in.

Raisins and Almonds by Kerry Greenwood

A very entertaining an informative Phryne Fisher book. Explores Judaism in 1920s Melbourne, Zionism, and alchemy and has a very ingenious ‘murder weapon’. I’m a fan of all the Phryne books that I’ve read so far and would recommend them to anyone who likes a sassy, stylish female detective, and mysteries with a ton of class :).

City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare

Another fun, exciting and intense book in the Mortal Instruments series. Further plot and character development drew me in and the action made be keep reading well after I should have put it down to get some shut-eye. It’s easy to see why this series is so popular, especially with teens/young adults and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was turned into the next big blockbuster movie franchise. I for one would welcome it more than I did the Twilight saga!

The Raven’s Heart by Jesse Blackadder

An amazing historical epic, especially for the author’s debut. Historical and fictional elements blended seamlessly into a very engaging story which twisted and turned like a raging river. The characters, especially Alison/Robert were intriguing, raw and deeply flawed which made them very believable. A tale of family secrets, power, betrayal and secret love but also a frank exploration of blood-soaked Scotland during the rule of the beautiful Mary, Queen of Scots.

American Gods by Neil Gaiman

Amazing. The epitome of the rambling epic but also a book that transcends the genre – part mythic fantasy, part road trip story, part murder mystery, part thoughtful examination of America and humankind’s changing values, plus a bunch of other elements twisted together to make a Frankenstein patchwork quilt of awesomeness. A book that I had to digest in small bites over time (16 weeks in fact) because it was like a big nourishing meal for the mind that you don’t want to end. Recommended for lovers of mythology, coin tricks, con jobs, the addictive voice of Neil Gaiman or anyone who wants a unique and insightful read.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

An insightful and important classic. Some of the language and themes are hard to stomach in this day and age but ultimately that makes the novel even more poignant. Even though there has been a lot of controversy regarding the use of the N word and so it has been removed from some schools, I think all kids should read it so they can see the prejudice and bigotry that was so prominent in the past and how in some ways society has grown but in others these evils still exist.

City of Glass by Cassandra Clare

A very exciting end to a fun trilogy…except the trilogy is now 5 books long O.o Not sure where it will go because City of Glass was so final and climatic, but as long as there’s still demon hunting, interesting looking faerie folk and funny dialogue I’ll be happy 🙂

So that was my final set of Forgotten Reviews, however in the meantime I have amassed a few more reviews, mainly ones which don’t really warrant a full-size one, plus I have really enjoyed writing these Micro Review posts and you, my clever and beautiful Bookbaggers seem to like them (in fact thanks to the first three posts I’ve received a couple of extra likes and followers which is always nice :)) so I have a question to pose to you all:

Should I continue writing Micro Reviews from Planet Procrastination posts on a semi-regular basis (i.e. once a month or after I’ve amassed a list of 5 or so)?

My current idea (which I decided upon with advice from my best friend, Sarah :)) Is that I will do Micro Reviews for some of my reads that don’t really require a full review, and then do a full one for books that I think need expanding upon. For example I currently have a backlog of around 10 reviews, but since a lot of them are shorter books only about 4 or 5 of those really need the space of a large review and the others would be perfectly content sharing a Micro Reviews post.

As I like to get the opinion of my readers (coz its you that I write for after all) I thought I’d put it to you in a little poll:

The poll closes in a month so you have plenty of time to vote – and I’ll probably remind (*cough* pester *cough*) you all a few times before then.

I hope all my beloved Bookbaggers had a lovely holiday season, whatever you happen to celebrate (or not celebrate as the case may be) and as always:

Happy Reading! 😀

Revenge of the Micro Reviews from Planet Procrastination!!!

In this day and age a simple one-off book, movie or game has become old-hat, and a single sequel? Well that’s just passé! Why create just one or two works when you could release a grand Trilogy, Saga or Franchise into the world to wow generations and collect some extra coin? Sure the second sequel isn’t always a hit and with every new installment your original vision is watered down until it resembles a thin gruel, but on the other hand you may hit the magic point where a sequel surpasses its parent!

On that note, it is my pleasure to introduce a hopefully successful and non-gruely installment of the Micro Reviews Saga:

Revenge of the Micro Reviews from Planet Procrastination!!!

Monster Blood Tattoo Book 2: Lamplighter By D M Cornish

Took me ages to finish as the story is so involved and the world is so intricate, but if you persevere it is a great second installment to a very unique trilogy. A good trilogy for children and young adults that enjoy fantasy worlds that they can really sink their teeth into, but would probably only hold the attention of kids that like a lot of detail. Prepare yourself for endless checking of the glossary and other appendices.

Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons

A graphic novel that exceeds the form and a super hero comic which is unlike any super hero comic (or at least any I’ve read). Complex, intense and brilliant. Possibly not the best Graphic Novel to test the waters of the format (just like V for Vendetta) but one that will please Graphic Novel lovers.

Trick or Treat By Kerry Greenwood

Another fun Corinna Chapmen book. This one had Earthly Delights, Corrina’s beloved bakery, almost closing down, people drugged/poisoned with cakes, a Nazi Gold mystery and some suspicious witches. Not my fave so far, but still a treat, not a trick.

Adultery By Richard B Wright

Not exactly what I expected (certainly not a Mystery like the library spine label suggested) but a good read nonetheless. An exploration of grief and the consequences of ones choices – in this case the consequences of adultery is not simply hurting a spouse and loosing their trust, but the loss of a life and having to endure media attention and the grief of a family. There was so much more I wanted to know about the aftermath of the murder in this story, but it was still a cleverly simple book that was quite engaging.

The Girl Who Played With Fire By Stieg Larsson

As with the first Millennium book, this was hard to get into but once I did it was a wild ride! I was a bit disappointed with the ending as it didn’t wrap everything up like the ending of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo but I guess that’s because it continues into the next book. I can’t say much without giving important plot points away, but this series is worth a read if you enjoy a fast-paced thriller with complex, interesting characters.

So the Micro Reviews have had their sweet, sweet revenge! Will they be back once again?! Well all I can say is I only have one more planned (which finishes off the pile of Forgotten Reviews) but if there is enough demand I may make it a regular feature, kind of “reviews lite” for people who want to have a quick look at my recent reviews before (or instead of) reading the full-length ones.

What do you think? Do you Bookbaggers enjoy the Micro Reviews from Planet Procrastination or do you prefer just the regular reviews? Feel free to sound off in the comments 🙂

Happy Reading!

The third Free Pick – Raisins and Almonds to celebrate a premiere :)

On Tuesday, while I was wiling away the time between the end of my class and starting work I finished Code Noir by Marianne De Pierres (review to follow after I’ve finished the one for The Night Circus), and even before I was done I knew what  my next free pick would be: Raisins and Almonds by Kerry Greenwood.

Raisins and Almonds is the 9th book in the Phryne Fisher Mysteries (out of 18 so far) and I was excited to read it for a couple of reasons:

  1. Its been a while since I’ve read a Phryne book (I read the 8th book, Urn Burial February last year so its been a year! O.O) so I’ve been missing her detective antics and fabulous outfits 🙂 and;
  2. I’ve been in a Phryne mood because the premiere of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries (which I talked about in my Top 10 Books I Would Like To See Adapted For The Screen post) has been approaching, and is tonight at 8.30 (eeeee! :D)!!

Even though I chose the book Tuesday night I haven’t started it yet, being so caught up in the other books I’m reading, so I’m looking forward to starting it tonight after the premiere, and then it will most likely accompany me on the bus next week 🙂

The end of February is fast approaching  so this will probably be my last Free Pick February book as I am not near the end of any of my current reads, and I will revert back to my usual eeny meeny miny moe process of elimination for March.

Also I will be closing my latest poll early next week so I can begin work on the Top 10 lists, and with one theme currently on 2 votes and the other on nil, it looks like the chosen theme will be Top 10 Heroes and Top 10 Villains.

Hope you all have a relaxing weekend and Happy Reading!

 

The 2011 Book Polygamist Awards!

Welcome Ladies and Gentlemen to the 1st Annual Book Polygamist Awards! (insert applause and cheering here)

Every year I look back at the books I have read and assign awards to those that have stood out in some way. Before now that acknowledgement has been for my eyes only in my treasured reading journals so I am happy to make them public for the first time!

The awards will be in two parts: the Annual Awards which are ones that I have given to books every year and will likely continue to do so; and the Special Awards which are awards that I have created especially for this years contenders.

I hope you enjoy 🙂

Annual Awards

Shortest Read:

The Bro Code by Barney Stinson with Matt Kuhn, at around an hour

Honorable Mentions:

Coraline by Neil Gaiman, at 1 day

Eddie Dickens Trilogy (Awful End; Dreadful Acts and Terrible Times) at 2 days for all three.

Longest Read:

Monster Blood Tattoo Book Two: Lamplighter by D M Cornish, at 27 weeks and 3 days! O.o

Honorable Mentions:

Coldheart Canyon by Clive Barker, at 25 weeks, 3 days!

The Books of Blood: vol 1-3 by Clive Barker at 30 weeks and counting!!

Most Books Read by a Single Author:

 

4 by Kerry Greenwood (Urn Burial; Heavenly Pleasures; Devil’s Food; Trick or Treat)

Honorable Mentions:

3 by Charlaine Harris (Definitely Dead; All Together Dead; From Dead to Worse)

3 by Philip Ardagh (Awful End; Dreadful Acts;Terrible Times)

Best “New” Author Award:

Every year I make a list of authors I have discovered and who I want to read more of, so this year I thought I’d give an award to the author that I was the most impressed with and have since researched several other books of theirs that I’m interested in as well as a few other authors that get honorable mentions.

William Gay (Twilight)

Honorable Mentions:

Marianne de Pierres (Nylon Angel – Book 1 Parrish Plessis series)

Andrew Nicoll (The Good Mayor)

Kathryn Lasky (Guardians of Ga’Hoole: The Capture)

Muriel Barbery (The Elegance of the Hedgehog)

Catherine Webb (The Extraordinary and Unusual Adventures of Horatio Lyle)

Special Awards

The Best End to a Series Award:

Destiny (Trinity trilogy) by Fiona McIntosh

Honorable Mention:

The Amber Spyglass (His Dark Materials) by Philip Pullman

The Best Start to a Series Award:

The Extraordinary and Unusual Adventures of Horatio Lyle (Horatio Lyle series) by Catherine Webb

Honorable Mention:

The Capture (Guardians of Ga’Hoole series) by Kathryn Lasky

The Longest and Strangest Title Award:

The Travelling Death and Resurrection Show by Ariel Gore

Honorable Mention:

A Red Herring Without Mustard by Alan Bradley

The “Graphic Novels are a Legitimate Genre” Award:

This is the first year I have read Graphic Novels and actually treated them like real books (i.e. included them in my book journal; wrote reviews etc.) so I thought the two fabulous Graphic Novels deserve their very own award 🙂

Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons AND V for Vendetta by Alan Moore and David Lloyd

The Short but Sweet Award:

This year has included a few short-story anthologies, a format I don’t generally read a lot so I have chosen the best short-story collection as well as the best individual stories.

Zombie: an Anthology of the Undead by Various

Best stories: Family Business by Jonathan Maberry; The Zombie Who Fell from the Sky by M. B. Homler; The Storm Door by Tad Williams; Second Wind by Mike Carey; Weaponized by David Wellington.

The BRAAIINNS! Award:

This year stood out as the year I started to love zombie stories! It wasn’t the first time I read anything with zombies (in 2010 I read Nekropolis by Tim Waggoner which is about a zombie detective; the first Anita Blake book by Laurell K Hamilton, Guilty Pleasures, which involves zombie raising, and right before the dawn of 2011 I read The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan which is set in a zombie-apocalyptic world) but after Zombie: an Anthology of the Undead  I was hooked so the BRAAIINNS Award goes to:

Zombie: an Anthology of the Undead by Various

with an honorable mention to Alice in Zombieland by Lewis Carrol and Nickolas Cook 😛

The Revisited Award:

This is a new award I came up with, given to a book I re-read and still loved in 2011:

Mister God, This is Anna by Fynn

The About Time! Award:

This award goes to a book that I had been meaning to read for a long time:

Coldheart Canyon by Clive Barker

Honorable Mention:

Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier

The Best Cover Art Award:

The Secrets of the Chess Machine by Robert Löhr

Honorable Mentions:

Stardust by Neil Gaiman

The Good Mayor by Andrew Nicoll

The Misleading Cover Award:

Yearn: Tales of Lust and Longing by Tobsha Learner

(to find out why this cover is misleading see my review)

The “They’ve Still Got It!” Award:

This is another new one that I created purely to highlight two of my favourite authors whose newest releases I read this year and loved just as much (if not more) than previous favourites:

Joanne Harris for Blueeyedboy AND Tracy Chevalier for Remarkable Creatures

2011 has been a fabulous year for me, not just for reading but in many aspects of my life, and I hope for even more great reads and wonderful events now that its 2012!

I hope you all also read some novels in 2011 that deserve awards and you have an amazing 2012 🙂

Plentiful Finds and What a Coincidence!

Hello all!

I’ve had a couple of crazy weeks lately, leading up to the end of the semester and working as well, but on the upside my recent work at Central library and starting casual work at Joondalup has resulted in some extra money which is always nice 🙂

This extra cash burning a hole in my pocket has allowed me to start my Xmas shopping and, as is to be expected, I have bought myself quite a few books – and pretty exciting and cheap ones at that!

The books I have found are (yes, alphabetical order and all!):

Title: Ares Express
Author: Ian McDonald
Country of Origin: UK
Genre: Science Fiction

 

 

 

Title: Boneshaker
Author: Cherie Priest
Country of Origin: USA
Genre: Science Fiction/Steampunk-zombie-airship Adventure ;P

 

 

 

Title: Bye, Beautiful
Author: Julia Lawrinson
Country of Origin: Australia
Genre: Australiana/Literary/Young Adult

 

 

 

Title: The Crimson Petal and the White
Author: Michel Faber
Country of Origin: Netherlands
Genre: Historical/Literary

 

 

 

 

 

 

All of these were op-shop finds and so cost under 10 bucks each, and I’m quite pleased with the variety of genres I have found 🙂

On top of the op-shop finds I also purchased a book that I have been waiting for since the beginning of time (or at least it feels like that) – the newest book in the Obernewtyn Chronicles by Isobelle Carmody, The Sending!

I am outrageously ecstatic about finally getting my hands on this book, because as I have said before I have been hanging out for it since I finished the last one (Feb 2009!) and the release date has changed so many times since then.

In other reading news, I finished Trick or Treat by Kerry Greenwood last night and straight away chose another book off my Library book to-read pile using my usual process and out of the 9 books on the pile I happened to end up on this book:

The Extraordinary and Unusual Adventures of Horatio Lyle by Catherine Webb

I’ve wanted to read this for a while, and I did borrow it from Joondalup after a uni friend and Bookbagger recommended it, but recently it had to go back because someone else had requested it and I re-borrowed it from Maylands.

The reason choosing this book was a bit of a funny coincidence is that last week I saw that the friend/Bookbagger who recommended it in the first place (you know who you are ;P)  is currently reading it as well! Maybe we can share little Horatio Lyle tidbits with each other 🙂

Well, that’s all for now. I am closing my recent poll tomorrow so if you want to have your say get in fast! At the ‘mo the theme in the lead is Obscure books/recommended books which will consist of the following two Top 10 posts: Top 10 books I’ve read that no one seems to have heard of and Top 10 books I think everyone should read. It’s a pretty fun one so I’m happy it’s winning, but there’s some other great ones in the poll too so I wouldn’t mind a sudden landslide ;P

Top 10 Books I Would Like to See Adapted for the Screen

Welcome beloved Bookbaggers to the second part of my book-to-screen-adaptations Top 10s! This list was really fun to compile because it involved me imagining how some of my favourite books could be made into films or tv shows, and while I was researching I actually found out that a lot of them are in development, or there is at least other fans out there that want to see them, so that’s pretty cool :).

Hopefully this list will interest you all and make you think: what books would you love to see turned into a film or show and how would you like it to look? Feel free to comment below and otherwise enjoy the post 🙂

1. Mister God This is Anna by Fynn

It won’t be a surprise to most of you that this book is top of the list of books I’d like to see adapted, as I have fully expressed my love for it several times. I think this would make a really sweet, uplifting, and thoughtful movie BUT it would have to be done just right. In my opinion this book could only be adapted into two kinds of film for it to really capture the spirit of the story. The first option would be an animated film based on the original illustrations. I imagine it as a rough and somewhat sketchy animation which incorporates stills and slight animated movements – a bit like the tv adaptations of Watchmen – with all the shots being black and white but with a bright swatch of colour for Anna’s red hair. The other option I would enjoy is a live action movie that is shot like an old movie from the 30s (which is when the book is set), so either in black and white, or that new-to-colour look. I also think it would be best if it followed the plot quite closely, but focused on the beautifully tender relationship, and philosophical discussions between Anna and Fynn.

A different cover than I have shown before, and one that beautifully illustrates the bond between Anna and Fynn

2. Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey

This video trailer is what made me think that Jasper Jones is perfectly suited as a film. The story, the setting, the characters – they all could work very well adapted into a movie or a miniseries, so much so that I’m kinda surprised no one has thought of it before. So, I did some digging and found this: the website of one Rebecca O’Brien, a filmmaker who has started work on a screenplay for Jasper Jones as her first feature film! The video from above is the only information provided on the site in regards to Jasper Jones and it is unclear if its her work or is just there to illustrate what the book is about, or what the film will be like, but if it’s like this little snippet I will be very pleased as it certainly has the kind of style that would match the book. I will keep posted on her developments and can’t wait til Jasper Jones the movie is a reality 🙂

A nice creepy cover that is kinda film-like

3. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak 

From the moment I finished this book I thought it would make a great movie, and I thought that some film-maker out there would have done so by now. But it turns out that I just have to be a bit patient, as there is a lot of buzz online about a movie being made. A quick web search will give you many fan-made video trailers for a film based on The Book Thief and there was some news saying 20th Century Fox was going to produce it….but the release date was 2010 so I don’t know whats happening there. All I know is it would make an excellent movie as long as it was done right. I’m not too fussed about some of the finer details but it would need to accurately illustrate Nazi Germany without sugar-coating; it would need some form of narration by Death; it would need to demonstrate the different sky colours Death references in the book; and the casting for the characters (especially Liesel and Max) would have to be just right.

A theatrical book cover

4. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

I think it would be hard to adapt this book into a movie because it is quite long and involved, so in my opinion it would be better as an epic film, or a miniseries. I would love to see a film/miniseries filmed in Barcelona which has a really historical feel with a different film effect to illustrate flash-backs and content from books and letters. I think it would also be best if it was made by Spanish film-makers with a Spanish cast – I don’t care about reading subtitles if it feels more authentic, but I would be disappointed if it was americanized. But most of all I would love to see an adaptation of this book because seeing a recreation of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books would be amazing! Just like The Book Thief there is fan demand for a film to be made, so maybe one day my dream will be realised 🙂

A cover that I have never seen before, but I really like it!

5. The Giver by Lois Lowry 

This is one of the best books I read as a child and would make a unique and poignant movie. I imagine it as a simply shot movie, where everything is very clean and ordered, and in black and white because in the book the setting is a world where people only see in black, white and shades of gray and everything is highly controlled. I then imagine colour leaking into the shots as Jonas finds out about colour. I think if done well a movie of this book would be a gem to so many adults who read it when they were kids, and would present some important messages to today’s youth, as well as hopefully leading them to the book. If done wrong it would disappoint a lot of people. After a little bit of research I found out that an adaptation has been talked about for years but has never come to fruition. According to IMDb a movie is in production and is due to come out in 2013, but the details are a bit sketchy. Lets hope its taking such a long time because they want it to be right 😛

I think this is the same cover the book that was read to my year 7 class had 🙂

6. Skulduggery Pleasant Series by Derek Landy

This is another one which the ‘net says is in development and is due to be released in 2013, and if this is true I know at least two people who will be there with bells on when It debuts: me and my bro! This is a series that is destined to be a movie series, just like The Lord of the Rings; The Narnia Chronicles and Harry Potter. Reading the books is already a cinema-like experience with action-packed “scenes”, snappy dialogue, special effects and awesome costumes. I would love to see a movie made for each of the 6 books in the series, and as long as they remained as awesome as the books then I’ll be happy 🙂

Another cover I've never seen before!

7. Phryne Fisher series by Kerry Greenwood 

Ever since I read the first of this series I thought it would make a great tv series or series of movies. So, I was thrilled when I heard that Every Cloud Productions plan to bring the sassy 20’s detective to the small screen! The series is being filmed in Melbourne at the moment and is due to screen on ABC1, Australia’s top non-commercial station, and from what I’ve heard/seen so far its gonna be a ripper 🙂 It ticked all the boxes of what this series should have: its set/shot in Melbourne like the books, stars Australian actors and will be aired on a quality Australian channel. I also think the actress chosen to play Phryne, Essie Davis is a good fit. She has strong facial features and is thin and graceful like Phryne and I think with a black cap wig (or actual haircut perhaps?) and a gorgeous Phryne-esque gown she’ll look the part.

Promotional picture for the series - "Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries" 🙂

8. Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman 

If this fantastic fantasy/apocalypse parody was made into a movie or show its my prediction that it would quickly gain cult status – that is if its done well! There is a loyal fan base online who already have created a plethora of fan art, fan fiction and other Good Omens themed goodies and they would be geared up to embrace a wonderfully made adaptation, or tear apart a disappointing one. For me any adaptation of this book would need to be a little strange, a little crazy and a lot hilarious and not many film-makers could bring it alive. I was therefore thrilled when I found out that a tv show is in the works, and that Terry Jones of Monty Python fame is rumoured to be involved! I can definitely see a wacky Python-esque tv series working for Good Omens and I can’t wait til it comes out (apparently also in 2013!).

An example of Good Omens fan art by kbakonyi found on DeviantArt

9. Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

This is a beautiful and powerful book that I realise I have never discussed in a post before, which is rare for me! But when I was making my list of books I’d like to see adapted, this popped into my head because it would make a very touching and strong movie. The story is set in Nigeria and revolves around Kambili, a fifteen year old girl who lives with her brother and overbearing father in an elaborate family compound. When a military coup erupts and entangles her father, Kambili and her brother are sent away to live with their Aunt, a University professor, whose house is a breath of fresh air and freedom for the abused children. This could easily be a new tear-jerker/oscar nominee in the film world as it explores some big issues, while showing two sides of the complicated coin that is Africa: a juxtaposition of fierce politics and beautiful scenery. Unlike many of the others in this list, there is no news about an upcoming Purple Hibiscus movie, but like many of the others there is fan demand in the form of homemade video pitches.

But who would they cast?

10. Abarat by Clive Barker

Out of all the Clive Barker books I have read this is the only one that would be suitable as a film without having a R rating…or worse. Clive Baker has already been involved in several film projects, including Hellraiser (and sequels) Candyman (and sequels) and The Midnight Meat Train, but I haven’t read any of the books these films were based on (except the short story of The Midnight Meat Train). Even not taking the ratings and stuff into account, Abarat (or the Abarat series) is the Clive Barker book (or books) that I would most like to see on the big screen. Since the books are peppered with Barker’s own artworks I have amassed quite a visual accompaniment to the story and I would really like those visuals to come to life. There is a lot of buzz over the ‘net about a possible movie and if this article can be believed then Clive Barker himself has even hinted at the possibility. I just hope that it is true because It would be awesome, especially if Barker is involved as he has been in most of his film adaptations.

An example of the awesome art found in Abarat - a map of some of the islands that make up Abarat - Wouldn't you love to see them in a film?!

So there you go guys – the end of my Book-to-Screen-Adaptations theme 🙂 I really had a ball with this one and can’t wait to see what you vote in next. I’ll put the poll up straight after this, so get voting!

And, as always: Happy Reading! 😀