Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows – A Review Of Confliction

The E.I.C. and myself, thanks to Grandma, managed to escape for a night out at the movies. We headed off as is our custom now to Waipukurau Civic Theatre. They have good prices, good food, good people and it turns out good iced coffee/chocolate.

The movie was one we had looked forward to for a while, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. We both really enjoyed it, as we had the first Sherlock movie. Robert Downey Junior is a great actor, as is Jude Law, and the movie was a fun romp.

The confliction comes from having to partially agree with some of the critic’s criticism. That the Sherlock character is not “Sherlocky” enough. I can see why people may think that if they are wedded to the Victorian stiff upper lip gentleman of other portrayals. I think they have chosen to accentuate the murkier side of Holmes that many previous versions have all but ignored.

My problem, and the problem I had with the first movie, was not that the character wasn’t “Sherlocky”, my problem was that the story wasn’t very “Sherlocky”. It was really a Victorian political action/thriller rather than a mystery. I wanted a crime for Holmes to solve not a labyrinthine political conspiracy.

Never the less, I would still give this movie 4 out of 5 happy faces. 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂


The Muppets Movie: A Review Of Legendary Awesomeness

So I thought that I would do a movie review. I might even review every movie we get to this year. Fortunately for you that won’t be many 😆

Technically we didn’t see this movie this year, but last year. Since that was only by a couple of days I don’t think that matters.

The Muppets movie had to have been my most eagerly awaited movie for ages. I think that The Muppets were made to rule the Internet and their marketing was superb. It even had me go buy more Muppeting goodness when we acquired the first season of the TV show (We now have season two and three as well).

Being a fan though doesn’t mean I am totally blind; there was potential for much badness with this movie, afterall not all the previous Muppet movies have been that flash. A Muppets Christmas Carol is fantastic, but The Muppets Take Manhattan is lame. I was afeared that it would go the way of the later.

Lucky for me it didn’t. The Muppets Movie was just what I hoped it would be. And not only did I love it but the kids did as well. Sure there were few weak moments, at it was a bit sappy at points, but it struck just the right balance of paying homage to the awesomeness of the original tv series, being new and taking itself not very seriously without being self indulgent. 🙂

So I would give it 5 happy moments out of 5. 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

And because you can’t have too much Muppets here is my favourite song from the show; although I am worried what that says about me 🙂


In Which I Confess To Being A Bad Blogosphere Book Circle Writer And I Seek An Agent

At the beginning of the year I decided to expand my reading and contribute to a online book-club.  After a hiss and a roar I have fallen woefully behind. 😦

Yes I am a bad member of the Blogosphere Book Circle. All I can say in my defense is that I have been so caught up in writing that I haven’t actually been reading that much this year. Which in itself is not a good thing… So must read more, and see if I can catch up.

The other thing I have been exploring is the world of query letters to agents. As lots of publishers only take manuscripts from literary agents, you need to send your baby, I mean manuscript, to the agent first. It is a little disheartening to get rejected by the people who knock on the door! There are very few agents in New Zealand, [I have found four] so I am sending of to American agents. Besides the big publishing houses are based in the States, and that’s the market you so want to tap.

Any way query letters are really troublesome things to write. I am not a natural salesman so writing a sales pitch is difficult. It is a different skill set to writing stories or blog posts. So tonight, find another agent and be brave! 🙂 One day I will get a yes!


Blogosphere Book Circle Review: Access Road / Maurice Gee

Access Road / Maurice Gee. (2009) Penguin New Zealand

From the publishers: “As she watches her brother losing the battle with his memories, Rowan wonders how long she can keep her own past at bay

The old family home in Access Road, where Lionel, Roly and Rowan grew up, is crumbling away – but after more than fifty years Lionel and Roly are back. Rowan too, otherwise safe in her ‘upper crusty’ suburb, is drawn more and more strongly ‘out west’.

 The past is dangerously alive. Clyde Buckley – violent as a boy; enigmatic, subterranean as an old man – returns to his childhood territory. What does he want? What crimes does he hide? And how is Lionel involved? Rowan must abandon safety if she is to find out . . .

Maurice Gee is a master storyteller. Access Road is at once a novel of chilling tension and expansive humanity; both a beautifully crafted work of literature and an effortlessly seductive family story.”

Access Road is written from the point of view of Rowan “Boatie” Pinker as she is drawn slowly back to her family home, her brothers and her past.

I have to say that I approached Access Road with trepidation,  I knew what I expected to get from the novel and those expectations were met.

I should say first off that I like Maurice Gee, I think he is an immensely talented writer, and not one of his books is poorly written. He is a master of the craft and any work by him will reflect this. That being said I really don’t like his adult fiction. I love his children’s books, and we have lots of them on our shelves. They are re-read material.

His adult fiction just leaves me cold, and Access Road was no different. Within his adult writing there is vein of violence and darkness, an undercurrent of brooding tension that I am sure is deliberate, but it is one that just leaves me cold. I always struggle to finish an adult Gee, as that undercurrent leaves me feeling uneasy and unwilling to continue. I always visualise a Gee novel in sepia tones.  I am sure that many people like that in their fiction, but for myself I leave it well alone.


Blogosphere Book Circle Book One: The Bolter


The bolter : Idina Sackville – the woman who scandalised 1920s society and became White Mischief’s infamous seductress / Frances Osborne. (2008)

First up for February on the Great Blogosphere Book Circle is the Bolter by Frances Osborne. I should confess that I only read the first part Edwardian London, before I roughly skimmed the rest. M snap judgement after the first three chapters proved to be right.

I found the first two chapters really interesting, as we were introduced to the principle subject Idina Sackville through her family background. It might just be me, but I found the mother a really interesting character, and both Idina and her mothers involvement in the suffragette movement were given in tantalising brevity.  I quickly got bored with the detailed descriptions of the various family happenings that led to the first marriage breakdown that was the focus of the first part of the work, and skimming the rest of the book confirmed that to me the least interesting aspect of Idina was focussed on.

For me, if the author had dealt with the mother and Idina and used them as framework to hang a discourse on Edwardian society and the Suffragette movement, expanding on the brief tidbits found in the first 30 pages, the book would have retained my interest.   

But it was a good start, as I really liked the first few chapters and might have to pursue the references to read more in that area.


AC/DC and Sherlock Holmes

The E.I.C. and myself managed to get to Wellington this weekend. Thanks be to the grandparents babysitting, and friend who provided accommodation and tickets to AC/DC.

We had a great time, and not only got to go to AC/DC, but we also managed to go to the movies. 🙂

In the afternoon we went to Sherlock Holmes. From what I have read I would agree that this version is the closest to the books. We both thought it was very Steampunk in its visual imagery, which really worked. Definitely one to add to the DVD collection, and if done well, could run to a number of sequels.  

AC/DC rocked! For a bunch of geriatric rockers they certainly know how to put on a show, and while we didn’t get into the mosh pit, we were right by the secondary stage in the middle of the grounds, where Brian and Angus came out too. What really got us though were the young children in the audience, with the youngest being four! Now while the crowd was good, well behaved, and good natured, the concert was not child friendly. There was an ample supply of beer, lots of pot smoke and during The Jake lots of flashing being shown on the big screen! 


More On The Golden Clipper Podiobooks

We have finished our binge of the podiobooks by Nathan Lowell in his Golden Age of The Solar Clipper series. It didn’t take long for us to run through all five books, especially when you are listening to three or four episodes a night. It might have to admit to the fact that some of the lake of diligence displayed in my writing other the last two weeks, may just have something to do with the fact that I needed to keep listening. 😆

I have to say that the whole series is excellent, even though we found the second in the sequence the most challenging, but I can see why he put it in there. I will be awaiting the concluding story Owners Share which is due to drop sometime in 2010 with anticipation.  I  understand that Nathan is inking a deal to put the books out in print format. It will be interesting to see what differences emerge between versions after a professional editor has passed their pen over the manuscript. I will also be curious to see if Nathan re-releases the podiobooks updated to reflect any changes made in the print publishing process.

Now we need to figure out what we will listen to now. 🙂


Golden Age of the Solar Clipper – Review

We have had a real binge recently of listening to podiobooks. We not only found a good book, but it was the first part in a series of five others, all complete. The series is called A Traders Tale From the Golden Age of the Solar Clipper, and is written by Nathan Lowell. You can find his blog at Trader’s Diary.

So far we have listened to the first in the series Quarter Share, and the second Half Share. The first book was great. Nothing much happens, but it doesn’t happen really well. The story is just a gentle coming of age, dealing with changes in circumstances type story. No real drama, or conflicts. There is a whole chapter devoted to the main character making coffee. Not normally interesting, but the way it was written and read was just wonderful.

The second was not quite as fun, as Nathan took the story into dealing with issues about relationships on board a mixed gender space ship. The tone changed, and even though it was still well written and read, I just didn’t really like the change of tone so much. Hopefully on the next one he has got that out of his system and moves in another direction. 🙂



Murder at Avedon Hill by P.G. Holyfield: A Review

The latest podiobook we have finished listening to is Murder at Avedon Hill. A murder mystery in a fantasy world, combining two of the EIC’s and my favourite genres.

“Lord Avedon has a problem. Generations of Avedons have watched over Avedon Hill and controlled the only pass through the Lantis Mountains. Traditions are important to the Avedon family, but one tradition has tragically come to an end. Gretta Platt, Housemistress of Avedon Manor, has been murdered. A member of the Platt family has always served the Avedons as Housemistress. until now. Only a handful of people live at Avedon Hill, and most are suspects. Arames Kragen, retired Aarronic Advisor and scholar of prophecy, arrives at the gates of Avedon Hill, hoping to gain access to the mountain pass. Lord Avedon is not in a giving mood, however.

This is the story of Arames Kragen and his attempt not only to discover who killed Gretta Platt, but also to uncover the truth about a town that apparently has more secrets than inhabitants.

The Land of Caern: It is a world where the gods, the Children of Az, can choose to be born as mortals to directly affect events in the world, and often do. It is a world where the Priests of Caern frantically search for the mortal incarnations of any of the Children, in order prevent the Prophecies of Iberian from coming to pass.

Welcome to The Land of Caern. Welcome. to Murder at Avedon Hill, the podcast novel by P.G. Holyfield” From the site

This is an award winning podiobook, which has been recommended numerous times by other authors. It was different to the other books we had listened to as it is not just the author reading his work, but also having other podiobook authors read different characters. So in some ways it was almost a dramatisation. We really enjoyed it, though we both felt it was a little long. Some 42 to episodes worth of listening. I also found the ending  a little unsatisfactory as one of the sub plots, of which there were many, was not resolved to my liking. There was a lot of world building going on, and it may be that later on that strand will be resolved, as it was obvious P.G. is looking to develop a series of books. I would be interested to know how that is going for him, and whether they willal be mystery/fantasy crosses.  


Iron Dragons: Book 1 – The Saramond Quests by Derek Gilbert: A Review

We finished The Rookie and went looking for more Podiobooks to listen too. We listened to a number of different starting episodes in our hunt, and the next one to grab us was Iron Dragons by Derek Gilbert.

How could we go passed a story with the first line being, “Dragon pee really stinks”. What a hook 😆

We both really enjoyed this one. The authors voice and pacing in reading his work was excellent. I think the voice is one of the most important things for audiobooks and podiobooks. The story itself was well passed and flowed from scene to scene, with good characterisation and a nice descriptive turn of phrase. I did feel though that one of the side adventures could have been missed, and the whole “starman” sub plot was unnecessary. I am thinking though that it is part of an overarching world plot, but I was still a bit disappointed. I was enjoying my fantasy without adding sci/fi. 🙂

Anyway, we enjoyed the story and will look forward to more in the series.