Review of 2009

December 31, 2009

Among other things blogged about this year, like being breathalyzed for the first time, decorating my bathroom, getting an app-phone (here, here & here), using dropbox, a guest-blog, etc.   I have…

Gone to see this lot in concert…

Gone to these Movies…

Watched these boxed sets…

and, read these books….

Happy New Year!


book: Stuart Woods “The Short Forever”

December 31, 2009

Yes, yet another Stuart Woods book featuring Stone Barrington. I’m kind of running out of things to say about these books because they are fairly similar to each other – fast-paced, easy to read, cop/thriller with good strong characters.

This time we see Stone travel to London and become slowly involved in crime and international espionage.

There are a lot of English cliches in this book for the US audience and for no apparent reason lots of little details of how to get from ‘A’ to ‘B’ which don’t add anything to the plot but just made me imagine the author taking notes during his research.

So, there it is.  Another Stone Barrington story which I very much enjoyed and also the last book of the year!


Holidays

December 30, 2009

I never fully get the hang of this time of year.  It appears to be a great time to visit people, exchange presents, attend all those extra church things and watch the seasonal TV… but where does the time go?

I always tend to put aside little jobs for this holiday with the phrase “I’ll do that between Christmas and New Year because there is never anything to do then” But here we are with one day to Hogmanay, and I’ve still got lots to do and the one work based job isn’t even started.

I have managed to turn completely nocturnal, napping a few times during the day and being awake all night.  I get the feeling this is my natural sleep pattern since this happens every time I have a few days off.  I’ve managed to be disappointed with the lack of  good TV but that’s been off-set by some great movies and boxed sets.

Now half way through the holiday period it is time to reassess what I can practically do in this time and how to spend more time with friends relaxing and having a proper break.


movies: Sherlock Holmes

December 28, 2009

The big Christmas movie this year, opening on boxing day, is Guy Ritchie‘s take on Sherlock Holmes. I’m not a big fan of Guy Ritchie, agreeing with the majority of the public by thinking that Lock, Stock… was good, Snatch was OK but more of the same and after that he hasn’t done anything worth watching.

Well Sherlock Holmes has certainly had a lot of publicity and big release.  This movie is far from your traditional take on the Holmes character, method or plot!  Here we meet two men of action not afraid to take on all foes with fists, sword-sticks and guns.  The set piece scenes in period London are good as you would expect, the action sequences are explosive but, for me, this fails in two major ways – the plot and the plot.

Firstly the plot is just too plodding, taking for ever to cover any ground at all.  Secondly it just isn’t clever enough to be a Sherlock Holmes story.  The whole point of Sherlock Holmes is to solve difficult problems by clever deductive reasoning… not here.  The only times we see his ‘brilliant’ mind is when he is figuring out how to fight someone or in flashbacks to explain what happened – I can’t remember any forward deductions that drove the plot.

So, if you are looking for a period set action, buddy-cop movie then this might work it certainly isn’t a who-done-it because the plot just doesn’t go that way.  That said it is a reasonably enjoyable romp but not much more.


Merry Christmas

December 25, 2009

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book: Stuart Woods “Cold Paradise”

December 19, 2009

Yes, another Stone Barrington story by Stuart WoodsCold Paradise takes Stone from New York to Palm Beach in Florida, but of course being Stone he is taken on a very rich client and travels, eats and stays in the utmost luxury.

Of all the books in this series I’ve read this one is has the most preposterous plot which brings almost all the characters that we have met before back in one story. I particular we meet again Allison and Paul Manning who we first met in “Dead In The Water“.  Dolice is also in the background again (although we thought that we had seen the last of her at the end of the previous novel) and of course the long running on-off relationship with Arrington continues.

However, even with these three women who Stone has (of course) already slept with he still manages to jump into bed with the only other female character.  As mentioned the plot is more than a little ‘out there’ simple because a new client comes to Stone asking him to track down a ‘Liz’ with so little information it seems impossible – Stone goes to Palm Beach, sleeps with first woman he meets, goes out for dinner, spots his ex-client Allison Manning who is supposed to be in hiding (because she should have been executed)… not only has he happened to bump into her but of course she turns out to be the ‘Liz’ that he is looking for.

If, however, you can put that aside the plot is typical of this series.  Very fast-paced, easy to read, page turner with cliff hangers and twists that keep you guessing.  This certainly hasn’t put me off these Stuart Woods books – which is good because Lou has just passed me the next SEVEN books :-))


Impossible Movie Tech

December 18, 2009

I know that sometimes a writer will need to take liberties with what is possible with technology in order to keep the plot moving along but this montage shows one example that has been used so often it has just become a lazy way of revealing the next part of the story…


book: Douglas Coupland “JPod”

December 14, 2009

Yes, sorry, another book review.  About four months ago one of my cable tester type channels had the first four programmes from a quirky Canadian series JPod.  I looked for it here and there to find out that it was based on a Douglas Coupland book by the same name and isn’t available here in any way.  So I turned to the book (borrowed from Gordon – thanks)!

JPod is the day to day story of Ethan a programmer who specialises in adding gore elements to video games.  He co-exists in the cubical farm called JPod which by some computer glitch contains various people who’s names start with J.

Ethan’s mum grows pot in the basement and accidentally(ish) kills her biker / dealer / boyfriend so Ethan has to help get rid of the body.  Ethan’s Dad is an acting extra trying to get his first talking part (and champion ballroom dancer).

As we get to know the JPoders they are almost ready to launch the latest skateboarding gore-fest when a new manager takes charge of the project and wants to insert a new character – a friendly turtle called Geoff.  Mainly because he is separated from his wife, has no access to his boy (called Geoff) who loves turtles.  So it is back to the drawing board to try to figure out how to shoehorn a turtle into a violent skating game.

It is an oddly quirky book with many asides and short sections that go nowhere. All the characters are well written and Douglas Coupland turns up half way through the story to play a key role.  I’ve not read any other Coupland books, so I’m not sure if this always happens but in this story if works.

I found it very funny and entertaining and it was certainly a good break from the Stone Barrington novels I’ve been working through.


book: Stuart Woods “LA Dead”

December 12, 2009

Yes, another Stuart Woods book with the American action character Stone Barrington.  “LA Dead”  opens with Stone in Venice getting ready for his marriage to Dolce, the daughter of a Mafia kingpin.  When Stone gets the news that Hollywood star Vance Calder has been murdered and that Arrington is the main suspect.  OK, so obviously this will make more sense if you have read any of the other novels and I would recommend that but it would work as a stand alone novel.

So Stone rushes back to US to represent Arrington and prove her innocent.  Again, this is a very clever who-done-it investigation with very well drawn characters and lots of action.  These books are all real page turners where the pace of the story never slacks.

Have you noticed yet that if Stone and his on-again-off-again girlfriend Arrington ever get it together she will be Arrington Barrington :-/


book: Stuart Woods “Worst Fears Realized”

December 12, 2009

OK, so I’m completely hooked on these Stuart Woods books featuring the Stone Barrington character.  I’ve settled into a reading order, and sorted out with Lou (who has bought most of these so I’m borrowing them) which ones to order, it is just a case of working through them.

So to catch up here’s what I thought of “Worst Fear’s Realized“.  Stone is coming to terms with his broken heart from loosing Arrington to movie star Vance Calder (who I always think of as Brad Pitt).  He goes to a party and as is always the case with the Manhattan lawyer turned investigator it doesn’t take long before he is leaving with a lady.  However it doesn’t work out well and soon he is suspected of her murder.

There is then a series of murders that seem to be connected to him or his best friend, Dino Bacchetti of the 19th Precinct.  Stone knows that one of a cop’s worst fears has been realized: a con with a grudge is bent on vengeance.  This book moves Stone’s character along as he becomes involved with another (dangerous) woman and gradually puts together the pieces to find the bad guy.