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.

Monday 24 June 2013

Using the scraps

From the left over pieces of foam board that I had hanging around cluttering up the place I decided to build an additional model for the ghost town entirely from the scraps without cutting a new board. 

This is the outcome of the experiment, the frame work at least. It’s in three parts to allow me to clamp the sticks on easier – I learnt that lesson last time.

Sunday 23 June 2013

Lego, Tower of Orthanc

Lego are about to release a few additional sets in their ‘Lord of the Rings’ range. For the moment one new set is exclusive to their VIP club, this is the Tower of Orthanc. Currently available online and in store to members between 17th – 30th June, along with a free poster.  I believe you can sign up in store and purchase it but online you will only be able to access the offer on your second order. It’s beneficial to be a member, as there are often free Lego offers, and you collect points that give discounts on subsequent purchases.

Along with the great tower there also comes a Tree Ent, a Great Eagle, and Gandalf the Grey, Saruman, Grima Wormtongue, Uruk-hai  & Orc Pitmaster minifigures.

There are trap doors, a light brick to illuminate the Palantir and other interaction parts that make this more than just a model. The one warning with these large models, handle with care once finished.

Here’s the model taking shape.

The finished tower stands at around 2' 4.75" (73cm) tall. More details:

Saturday 22 June 2013

Mystery model takes shape

The mystery model is taking shape now that the top layer of sticks has been added. I’m still not one-hundred percent certain what will be going to go on top of this rickety tower.

Thursday 20 June 2013

Varnish and doors.

The latest ghost town buildings have now been varnished, using the large tin of mat varnish I invested in last year. All these need now are the doors to be complete.


Inside the model I’ve stuck some foam board strips and squares of card; this will make the slot to slip different doors into place. Some of the doors may be cross swappable, some maybe not – but I’ve ensured that at least each doorway gets one door by numbering them, and making one to fit each.

These now need a quick paint job to bring them in line with the rest of the models.

Wednesday 12 June 2013

June Lego display

I had a little rearrangement of the Lego table display recently; the Lord of the Rings display gave way for related collection The Hobbit. As we finally enter into summer I'm thinking a Lego carnival should be next.

Sunday 9 June 2013

Mystery model salvaged

The other day I was rummaging through my model work boxes and found a collapsed skeleton framework for a partial building cut from foam board.

It had been glued together then broken down.

What I had initially intended to make, I have no idea. In fact I’m probably not sure I knew at the time.

I have decided to glue it up again, a bit dishevelled and water stained, and sad looking as it is, it is still usable foam board.

Glued back together I still have no idea what it was meant to be.

I’ve covered the sides in coffee sticks, so now it is going to form part of the ghost town – but not quite sure just yet how I’m going to finish the top part off.

Any suggestions?

Friday 7 June 2013

Paint and finish

More of a picture posting this time, as I’ve described the details of painting these models before.

Basically after a quick rub down with sand paper, I give them an undercoat with cheap black acrylic paint, then a base coat of a black/brown mix, a lighter brush with brown, then brown/white mix and dry brush with white.  Just three tubes of cheap acrylic paint from the local store provides all the base colours. The windows then get repainted with a nicer black acrylic paint after.

Black under coat

With black/brown & brown/white mixes added

Extra white dry brushing

Windows repainted with black

The last stage still to do is to varnish them.
The doors will be fitted later as they can be slid into the door frames.

Thursday 6 June 2013

Karl free for a day

The dedication in the front of  "Karl - Birth of Mystery" reads:

"Dedicated to Mum and Dad,
Doreen and Joseph Kettlety."

Today would have been mum's 85th birthday, and for today only, in mum's memory, the Kindle edition of the book will be available to download for free

This is a time limited offer and as Amazon operate on Pacific Standard Time, regional variation will occur.

Remember, you don't need a Kindle to read Kindle books. A free app is available to download from Amazon for computers and iphones/ipads. 

Sorry this offer has now expired -
Link to Amazon UK

Sunday 2 June 2013

Raising The Roof

Again I should start with an apology for the lack of postings recently, this is some work carried out over the last bank holiday.

I finished the work on the two coffee stick houses and sat the roof pieces in place to find that they were not such a good fit after all.

During the process they had become slightly misshapen. The larger of the two fitted reasonably well but not perfectly.

I decided with this one to glue it into place in the end ensuring that the roof sat properly and added a few extra remedial sticks around the join.

The smaller of the two was a disaster. There was no way it would be suitable. Rather than throwing the roof away I sliced off the sides and glued these with a supporting beam on to the main structure.

Using some card from a recently delivery I made a new roof gluing and pinning the card in place until it set.

The remaining V shaped roof I cut a new base for from foam board, gluing the roof in place during the build. So now this small project has increased by 50% overnight, and I was trying not to fill the kitchen with half finished models this year.

A quick round of coffee sticks over the bank holiday weekend and the base structure was finished, although working with the roof in place is not as easy – it’s a lot easier with the roof off to allow clamps to be put in place to hold the sticks to the walls as the glue dries.

In future I think I will work the bases roofless to allow the application of the clamps but will continue to glue the roof pieces on at a later stage.

Old roof, new base & new roof, old base

This project now 50% larger than when I started