Sunday, 30 June 2013

Book review May / June 2013

My pick of the blog this month comes from a Kindle edition, now not owning one of these I had to read the book using the downloaded app, you can get it for iphone, ipads and computers. This is the first e-book I’ve actually read. Although, call me old fashioned if you like, still prefer the physical book I’m sure I’ll be reading others in the future.

Jack and the Lad
By Mickey Mayhew
Kindle Books

Meet Jack and Jamie, the Woodfield twins, although you would not think it to look at them, brothers yes but Jack you would assume was the much older brother. Jack is fit, muscular and well educated doing his degree, Jamie is slight, more immature and struggles to read and sells second hand books on the market.  Neither really gets on. The Woodfields are a large, old family that date back to the days when witchcraft was rife. Set in Barking, Essex and the surrounding area the story pulls a lot from the history of the area, some artistic licence, as well as the modern day setting. As a local to the area I found it particularly entertaining. 

If all the family issues aren’t enough, and the Woodfields are a large colourful family, then the cloud that hangs over the alpha male of the family in the guise of a sex crazed spirit gives the moments of comedy a much darker twist especially as the book rides to the dramatic cliff-hanger in this supernatural romance that spans generations.

Come on Mr Mayhew, don’t make us wait too long for the next part.

Hammer House of Horror -
Countess Dracula
By Guy Adams

This Hammer’s take on the legend of the woman who became known as Countess Dracula from the middle ages who bathed in virgin blood to maintain her youth.

Lifted to Hollywood, where a failing former silent film star tries to regain her youth and career, well you can practically guess the rest.

Wordsworth Classics -
Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, The Merry Men & Other  Stories
By R.L. Stevenson

The main story in this collection I remember very well as I had an abridged LP recording read by Tom Baker when I was very much younger, and from the moment I read the opening line, ‘Mr Utterson the lawyer was a man of rugged countenance...’ I could hear Tom’s voice in my head as I read the full story.  This is another of the timeless tales that gets reinvented from time to time, dramatised in many ways leaving you thinking you know the story but not quite. It is only when you read the original do you truly get the despair of Doctor Jekyll and the addiction that Mr Hyde became.

Robert Louise Stephenson investigated the dark side of human nature in some of the other stories in this collection, two of which are very heavy in dialect making them difficult to read. For me none of the other tales came close to Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde in this collection.

Bernice Summerfield
from Big Finish  
The Weather on Versimmon
By Matthew Griffiths

The Slender-Fingered Cats of Bubastis
By Xanna Eve Chown     

Filthy Lucre
By James Parsons & Andrew Stirling-Brown

These three novels are designed to accompany some of the recent audio adventure releases, fitting in between box sets. This is the 2011 reboot of the Bernice range, the four available box sets being  Epoch (Sept 2011), Road Trip (Feb 2012), Legion (Sept 2012) & New Frontiers (April 2013).

I listened to the audios before reading the books, so I was already aware of some things before starting the books, however that did not really matter the books can be ready separately, although some understanding of the characters from the audios is recommended.

For me the first was no so inspiring, I felt the The Weather on Versimmon was a story that had been done before and better. An ancient collection of cultural significance is buried on Versimmon, there are those that want it opened up and those that don’t.  The result a lot of running around trying to work out who are the good guys and who aren’t.

The Slender-Fingered Cats of Bubastis that some say can be seem from space however told quite a different story and here the characters from the audio came back to life. I could hear Lisa Bowerman’s voice as I read Bernice’s quips. Indeed here the main players Bernice, Ruth and Jack all capture the audio characters a lot better.  The story has the right amount of craziness that fits a Summerfield adventure along with the suspense to keep you wanting to know just if they really can pull it off. The library of the future says Bernice will write a book of poetry and have it published in a week’s time, but first she must find a missing girl, and possibly save a site of historic significance from the scariest so called archaeologist of all time.

Filthy Lucre – Once again Bernice is in trouble, but then it wouldn’t be an adventure if she wasn’t. This one is slightly more complicated in that you’re not quite certain about the sequence of events until the end, as the chapters start to jump back and forth between what you think is the current time with Bernice and co in trouble on a hijacked freighter to periods she spends with the tycoon of the new vegetable crispy chips company and his passion for archaeology. A good rendition of the characters, including Brax, again you can hear the original voices as you read. I don’t mind stories that switch time period, I do it myself, but I would like to be able to know clearly which order events take place in, which are flash backs and which are current.

Where they fit in:
The Slender-Fingered Cats of Bubastis accompanies Legion
Filthy Lucre accompanies New Frontiers

Afternoon tea with Miss Marple
The Complete Miss Marple Radio Dramas
By Agatha Christie
Staring June Whitfield as Miss Marple & Cast
BBC Audio Go

June Whitfield stars as the interfering busy body Miss Marple, the old girl with a taste for murder, as created by Agatha Christie in these radio adaptations originally produced for BBC Radio. A full supporting cast brings each of the twelve adapted stories to life and keeps you hooked as the mystery becomes all the more perplexing and all the while Miss Marple is determined to keep it simple.

I’ve never actually read any of the books myself, I really should do. The police come of worse that the Yard do in Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, for their complete bewilderment and often bumble around being told to clear off by some of those they want to question – that is if a doctor has not got there first and administered a sedative to keep the suspect from being questioned.

Oh, and if anyone offers you a drink say no, there is bound to be cyanide in there.