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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Top 10 Villains

Wow its been a while between Top 10 posts huh?

My humble apologies oh beloved Bookbaggers of mine! This was meant to be a companion piece to the Top 10 Heroes post, but at the time I got so distracted that it remained forgotten in my drafts – until now! And how fitting is it for a list of villains to rise again after lulling everyone into a false sense of security where they were content to live with the assumption that those dastardly devils had vanished for good?

Well I’m sticking with that convenient theory anyway.

1. Goth

The Trinity Trilogy by Fiona McIntosh

I couldn’t have Torkyn Gynt on my Top 10 Heroes list without having his polar opposite in the villains category. Despite the fact that Goth is not the official grand-supreme-bad-guy which usually features in fantasy sagas (that title goes to Orlac, a God who Tor is destined to defeat should he escape imprisonment and wreak havoc on all mankind) he stands out as the most despicable and disgusting character in the trilogy. From the start of the first book, Betrayal, Goth establishes himself as a hate-able character as the Chief Inquisitor, a powerful individual elected by the king to inflict his brand of  cruel ‘justice’ on suspected Sentients (people with heightened mental powers like telepathy). He then further earned his villain stripes by brutally raping one of the main characters (also in the first book) and from then on kept topping himself with even more dastardly, deplorable deeds. A character that made me cheer when he finally got what was coming to him!

Goth looking mighty evil atop a pissed off horse

2.  Inspector Fumero

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

Inspector Fumero is one of those villains who is so awful because he isn’t some crazy caricature of a baddie, he’s an example of someone who could very well exist – a corrupt, sadistic cop. Some of the most unsettling and painful moments in this beautiful book were the responsibility of Fumero and I very quickly started to hate him. But sometimes doesn’t that make a book more interesting? Books would be pretty boring without someone truly rotten to hate, and Fumero certainly met The Shadow of the Wind‘s rotten bastard quota.

I couldn’t find anything to represent Inspector Fumero so here’s a cover of The Shadow of the Wind that I don’t think I’ve posted before

3. Gorgrael

The Axis Trilogy by Sara Douglass

Gorgrael is the perfect fantasy saga grand-supreme-bad-guy. Firstly he is the hero’s half-brother. Secondly he is also called the Destroyer, a powerful evil that Axis (the hero) is destined to defeat. This alone would make him a classic villain but since the first book of the trilogy (Battleaxe AKA The Wayfarer Redemption) starts with him being born by eating his way out of his mother’s womb, he goes straight to the upper tiers of evilness. Also he’s all horned and demon-looking which always helps when identifying a villain.

Since I couldn’t find a picture of Gorgrael, here’s another one of his nemesis Axis rocking yellow

4. Voldemort

The Harry Potter series by J K Rowling

Just like HP had to be on the Top 10 Heroes list so does his arch nemesis – and for very similar reasons. While Harry is a hero because at a tender age he faces the big bad over and over and over, Voldemort deserves the title of Big Bad because he just keeps coming back! Not only did he kill countless powerful witches and wizards and terrorise the entire magical world before Harry was even born, but when he meets his match he drags himself virtually back from the dead to kill an terrorise all over again! This is a man so evil that from his teen years he splits his soul into pieces to ensure that he’ll never truly die; lives off unicorn blood to stay somewhat alive; inhabits the back of another guys head and gets him to do his bidding; gets another minion to kidnap a couple of teenage boys so that he can reclaim his old form; forces another teen boy to kill his headmaster; and otherwise tries to bloody murder the crap out of as many people as possible. And he’s damn creepy to boot.

Ralph Fiennes is way too good at being creepy

5. The White Witch

The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe by C S Lewis

The terrifying White Witch that terrorised the inhabitants of Narnia and plunged the realm into perpetual winter is one of the first villains that really gave me the creeps. Ever since I was a kid I always kind of pitied and rooted for the baddies in Disney films (I loved Ursula, Maleficent, and the Queen in Snow White), but there was something instantly hate-able about the White Witch. I remember reading the book and listening to the audio tape at my friend’s house, and shivering inside a little every time she popped up. Maybe it was how she used Edmund against the other children by innocently offering him Turkish Delight and cocoa (similar to the witch in Hansel and Gretel), or how she could turn people into statues that she grotesquely displayed, or just that she was so cold and heartless, she just seemed so evil and I couldn’t find a shred of pity. And it certainly didn’t help when I saw the film adaptation – Tilda Swinton played her way too well O.o

Tilda Swinton portrayed the perfect cold-hearted White Witch in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

6. The Queen of Hearts

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

My love of Alice related things has already been well established, so there is no way that this list could exist without a nod to the furious Queen with an obsession for beheading! I think turning a simple Queen of Hearts in a deck of cards into an insane tyrant is a fantastic idea (kudos Mr Carroll/Dodgson) and thanks to the original Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland/Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, the outrageous monarch has been re-imagined in many terrifying forms. My favourites include Kathy Bates’ quietly seething majesty in the mini-series, Alice (2009) ; the fat, pompous, bad-tempered old  tyrant in the Disney film; the sinister Redd Heart from The Looking-Glass Wars series by Frank Beddor; and, even though I was slightly disappointed with Tim Burton’s 2010 movie, Helena Bonham Carter’s big-headed Queen was a hoot!

There are so many incarnations of the Queen of Hearts/Red Queen that I just couldn’t decide and went with somethin a bit different – Redd Heart from The Looking Glass Wars – truly terrifying!

7. Bill Sikes

Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

When I said that the White Witch was probably the first villain that creeped me out as a kid, Bill Sikes would be the other contender. I’m not sure which one I encountered first, but as a child (heck, even now) if I was in a dark alley faced with the White Witch at one end and Sikes at the other, I very well might pick the Witch (maybe she’d make me one of her minions?). The scary thing about Sikes is that he’s so real. Unlike most of the characters on this list, in the time that Oliver Twist was written there was plenty of men (and women) like him – and there’s plenty today. Bill Sikes used young orphans and street urchins as portable burglary tools, and unlike their master, Fagin, he didn’t care a jot what happened to them. The clincher for me was when Sikes killed his lady, Nancy, the kind-hearted prostitute/bar-maid who is the only soul who truly loves him – especially because she was my favourite character 😥

Oliver Reed as Sikes in the 1968 adaptation, Oliver! That stare just… *shudder*

8. blueeyedboy/Gloria Green

blueeyedboy by Joanne Harris

This one is tricky because I can’t really explain why I listed both without completely giving away the ending of the book O.O I almost didn’t include them because of this, but the book left such a huge impression on me because of the “villains” that I couldn’t leave them out. What I can say is that throughout blueeyedboy your mind is in a constant state of confusion over what is “real” (as in real within the story) and fiction, and who is the real villain of the piece. I can’t say any more but I would urge anyone who is intrigued by this to go read it – It’s a great book!

You wouldn’t think this little boy would be on a list of villains O.O

9. Big Brother

Nineteen Eighty Four by George Orwell

Big Brother is a unique villain because he is so prominent in the book, without actually being physically present – in fact Big Brother may not even be a real person, but instead the face of the controlling Party. Nineteen Eighty Four and Big Brother has spawned so much pop culture since its publication, that were it not for George Orwell, the world today would be a very different place. On the one hand this would be good – I don’t think Orwell would be happy with the deluge of reality TV, especially not the insipid show named after Big Brother, and the ways our society is constantly monitored by CCTV, phone and online bugging and other technologies probably would chill him to the bone. On the other hand, his book has helped create a similar flood of post-apocalyptic and dystopic fiction which makes people question our current ways, which may have given Orwell some hope. Anyway, the whole concept of Big Brother is damn creepy…

10. Count Olaf

A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket

Ah Count Olaf. He is probably the most ridiculous villain in this list, but nevertheless he is quite the crafty fiend! Through 13 books Olaf concocts a multitude of intricate and bizarre plans, complete with increasingly clever disguises, so he can get to the Baudelaire fortune (with most of the plans revolving around killing the Baudelaire children, aged between infancy and 14). While I of course despised Count Olaf and sympathised with the Baudelaire children, I did enjoy Olaf’s ridiculous antics and the series would’ve been much less fun if he wasn’t so villainous 🙂 Despite the film adaptation being a bit lacking (I would’ve liked to see each book explored more and squishing the first three into a film and ignoring the other 10 just didn’t satisfy) I thought Jim Carrey was spot on!

The adoptive parent from hell

Well, I hope the really, really, ridiculously long wait was worth it! I do plan on doing more Top 10 lists because I have plenty more ideas, but I think in 2013 I won’t attempt to do a pair each month as it just doesn’t happen. Fear not! They are not gone for good, and I will try and post at least one half of a pair (or a stand alone) more often, and perhaps after a while I will be able to do them at the end/beginning of each month once again 🙂

Until then, feel free to share your own favourite baddies in the comments, 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! 😀

Return of the Micro Reviews from Planet Procrastination!!

I warned you all of their return and as we all know sequels seem to pop up quicker and quicker these days (says grandma Book Polygamist -_-) so make sure you’re sitting comfortably, your popcorn is safely in a hard-to-spill position and your hands are primed to grip the edges of your seat (or the poor soul sitting next to you) as i introduce the second installment in the Micro Review saga:

Return of the Micro Reviews from Planet Procrastination!!

V for Vendetta By Alan Moore and David Lloyd

A unique and highly original Graphic Novel. Very dark, both in content and art style and also quite mysterious with the story being told purely through dialogue and poetic/cryptic monologues. The futuristic setting was really unsettling and prophetic as it was a highly monitored and controlled society. A classic of the Graphic Novel genre but perhaps not one to start off with.

The Extraordinary and Unusual Adventures of Horatio Lyle by Catherine Webb

A cracking little mystery set in Victorian London (one of my favourite settings for a mystery) but with a supernatural twist. Action-packed but also filled with great character interaction and funny dialogue. The first of a series that seems very fun and appealing to children, young adults and adults that want a short entertaining read.

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

A beautiful little read. Very touching and the content on the Victorian meanings of flowers as well as the examination of the foster child system added depth. A bit sad in parts, and also a tad “chick lit” so might not be appealing to all bibliophiles.

Books of Blood Vol 1-3 By Clive Barker

A collection of three volumes of short stories, with each being twisted and disturbing in its own way thanks to the amazing imaginative horror-filled mind of Clive Barker. As with Coldheart Canyon this  certainly is not for those with a weak constitution, and even if you have a strong mind and stomach I wouldn’t recommend reading too many stories in one sitting, but if you love well-crafted horror that is definitely not predictable and definitely is original then the Books of Blood is an amazing read.

Grave Sight By Charlaine Harris

A fun and interesting mix of paranormal fiction and murder mystery with intriguing main characters in sister and brother team Harper and Tolliver. One for fans of Charlaine Harris or lovers of light, supernaturally-based mysteries.

So there we have it!

As sequels go this could either be a complete flop or a bigger success then its predecessor (or a big success because it was a complete flop),  but rest assured lovers of teeny reviews packaged together under a title straight out of the  Z-grade horror bargain bin at the back of a dodgy video store, the Micro reviews will be back for thier revenge!

Invasion of the Micro Reviews from Planet Procrastination!

So, hey, hello there, I’m alive!

Some of you may have noticed that my posts have been kind of…..nonexistent for a while besides the Save The Words Saturday posts which loyally appear every lazy Saturday not because I have no life and blog every Saturday, but because I write them in bulk and schedule them for every Saturday. True Story.

Anyway, because I’ve been so busy finishing my Diploma then working (blah blah blah lazy blogger excuses :P) I have not only been neglecting my blogger duties but I also haven’t been reading as much as usual and so haven’t finished any books for ages, which in turn gives me less reason to blog – its a crazy cycle of doom! Part of the cycle is the longer I’m procrastinating or preoccupied the longer the gap is between reading a book and trying to write a review, and that makes for a really hard review writing process and probably a crappy review.

Because my loyal Bookbaggers don’t deserve sub par reviews I decided a while back not to write any of the ones that have piled up and only the ones that I had just finished and posted a list of the “Forgotten Reviews” in case any of you particularly wanted to know what I thought of any of them. Because the ones I had only just finished at the time never got done they formed an imaginary pile of dead reviews on top of the old pile which became a steaming pile of shame and remorse in my saved drafts which is not very fun O.o

So I have made a decision which will protect me from the festering pile while also giving a a fragment of satisfaction to any Bookbaggers who want a review, such as the mysterious commentor known only as “ehm” who commented on my Currently Reading page saying she would wait for my review of American Gods by Neil Gaiman (oops, sorry ehm, I finished American Gods in May and never wrote your review >.<).

Introducing…..

The Micro Reviews from Planet Procrastination!!!!

Here I will do a series of short reviews (only a few choice sentences) that encapsulate my feelings for each book that became lost on the Forgotten Reviews pile of shame! I’m including all the original Forgotten Reviews as well as the newest members: Code Noir by Marianne De Pierres; Raisins and Almonds by Kerry Greenwood; City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare; The Raven’s Heart by Jesse Blackadder; American Gods by Neil Gaiman; To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee; and City of Glass by Cassandra Clare.

Because there are….holy crap 22(!) all up, I’m just going to do a few to begin with in this post and then follow up with continuing adventures of The Micro Reviews from Planet Procrastination (or sequels if you will). My regular full-length reviews will start up again with Still Life With Woodpecker by Tom Robbins which I recently finished.

So without further ado I present the first installment:

Invasion of the Micro Reviews from Planet Procrastination!!!!!!!!

(Now with twice the exclamation points for twice the emphasis!!!!!!!!)

The Eddie Dickens Trilogy By Philip Ardagh

Awful End

Eddie Dickens’ parent are ill with a disease that turns them crinkly around the edges and makes them smell like old hot water bottles so he must live with his Mad Uncle Jack and Even Madder Aunt Maud. As they are quite mad chaos and hilarity ensues in their trip back to Awful End (where Mad Uncle Jack and Even Madder Aunt Maud reside). A clever and really funny kids book that pokes fun at old English books and the English language in general in a way that acknowledges kids’ intelligence.

Dreadful Acts

Eddie is now living peacefully in Awful End with his mad Aunt and Uncle and Mother and Father (who recovered from their malady but not their insanity). This however doesn’t last for long as he ends up being privy to a escape artists trick gone wrong, falls for a woman with a face like a camel and accidentally gets kidnapped by a band of escaped convicts. More crazy, hilarious hijinks but perhaps not as great as Awful End.

Terrible Times

Poor Eddie has been enlisted to work at the family newspaper (which he never knew existed), Terrible Times and must travel to America aboard a leaky and otherwise highly hazardous boat, The Pompous Pig. Along the way he faces some old foes and new foes and almost certain death. Still very clever and amusing but my least favorite of the trilogy.


Coldheart Canyon
by Clive Barker

Amazing, disgusting, incredibly weird and disturbing but also a fantastic read. Explores the extremes of Hollywood, especially regarding image and staying young, but in classic Barker style also unearths dark mythologies which include graphic sexual perversions and lots of gore. Not for those with a weak constitution or stomach but highly recommended for seekers of a quality horror story as unique as it gets.


A Red Herring Without Mustard
by Alan Bradley

In the third Flavia De Luce mystery my favorite little poison-making detective helps out a mysterious and vaguely malevolent gypsy girl when her grandmother – an old fortune-teller that Flavia allowed to camp on her family’s land – is almost murdered. I love anything to do with gypsies and I always love the Flavia books so this was great fun. I especially liked how more back-story on Flavia’s family was revealed, especially regarding her late mother.

So there you go oh beloved Bookbaggers – not quite as long or as involved as my usual full-length reviews but didn’t a wise person once say “good things come in small packages”? I should find out where that saying comes from….

Keep your eyes peeled (and where does THAT saying comes from? Its actually really gross if you think about it…) for the continuing Micro Review invasions and other regular posting, but for now:

Happy Reading!

A rest from murder and gore in a City of Bones and a Night Circus?

I realised at the dawn of the new year that a frightening theme had emerged in the books I was reading – they were either about murder or death in some way or were violent horror! O.o

  1. I was still reading The Books of Blood vol 1-3 by Clive Barker which are so twisted, disturbing and disgusting that I can not read more than one in one sitting because I can almost feel them turning my brain into demented jelly;
  2. I also took The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson with me into the new year, which revolves around a series of murders and which has a violent and action-packed second half;
  3. On top of those I started Adultery by Richard B Wright which is about the backlash a married man has to deal with when his mistress is kidnapped and killed on their dirty weekend;
  4. And Grave Sight by Charlaine Harris which is about a young woman named Harper Connolly who can “sense” dead people and so helps the police by finding murder victims.

Cheery stuff huh?

Suffice to say, when I finally finished The Girl Who Played with Fire last night I was hoping for a new book with a slightly lighter subject matter. Luckily there were not too many gory or murder-filled offerings amongst the 16 books on my Books-I-Own-But-Have-Yet-To-Read pile, and after my usual process (which I had to do twice!) I ended up with The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, one of the books I got for my birthday and I’ve been hangin’ out to read 🙂

Love the cover art of this one!

As well as The Night Circus I also chose a book from the pile of books I borrowed off my little bro, since the other day I borrowed the third Monster Blood Tattoo novel and the entire The Mortal Instruments trilogy by Cassandra Clare ,and after a much quicker eeny meeny miny moe (there was only 3 books to choose from) I chose The City of Bones, book 1 of The Mortal Instruments.

Supernatural creatures covered in tattoos - this ones gonna be fun 🙂

Neither of these are murder mystery/thriller/horror books so now at least if the death gets to be too much for me I can hide away in a city full of supernatural creatures or a magical circus 🙂

Library Polygamist

If you have been following my recent adventures you will know that I have been doing work experience at Joondalup Library as part of my Library & Information Services Diploma. This means that I have gone from being loyal to my local library to having 3 library cards in my purse: my original City of Bayswater one; one for City of Joondalup; and one for the State Library of Western Australia (mainly acquired so I could use their vast collection of databases for study).

As I have mentioned in a previous post I have tried to be restrained at Joondalup by not borrowing too many books that caught my eye while working amongst them, and have done pretty well by only borrowing 4 so far (out of a maximum of 10!) …. that was until my last day yesterday.

I won't let you slip away this time!

Firstly I knew a book I requested was waiting for me because I got a friendly email a few days ago. The book was the new Flavia de Luce mystery, A Red Herring Without Mustard by Alan Bradley which I borrowed a while ago at the new Maylands Library with glee but sadly had to return a couple of weeks ago because someone in Bayswater had requested it 😦 The Joondalup catalogue came to the rescue, saying one of their libraries had the book but it was out, so I placed a request and ta da! it was there waiting for me on the self-serve request shelf a week or two later 🙂

Then, when I was shelving in the mystery/thriller/crime section (Joondalup arranges resources by genre then call number) I spotted two books that looked like my cup of tea and promptly stashed them at the bottom of my trolley to be borrowed when I was done:

A couple of mysterious tidbits

These three new books from Joondalup along with a new one I picked up at Maylands when I was last there (Neil Gaiman’s American Gods) has made my “from the library” (or libraries now) pile look like a scary leaning tower of Pisa:

TIMBER!

Since I am now on mid-semester holidays (JOY!) I expect I will be reading a lot more so once I’ve finished one of my current books (most likely The Secrets of the Chess Machine as I’m nearing the end) I am going to start one of the ones on this pile (probably A Red Herring Without Mustard as I don’t want to risk someone stealing it off me again!) and maybe even take my next few from there as well to make it a bit less perilous.

Because of my holidays all you loyal Bookbaggers and new visitors can expect a bit more action from me so stay tuned!

In other news the poll for the next Top 10 theme will be closed by Monday and then I will start the posts for the winning theme, which unless there is a flood of votes in the next couple of days will be (drumroll please!):

Top 10 Book that made me Laugh/Top 10 Books that made me Cry

I’m looking forward to it 🙂