Wednesday 27 June 2018

Book Review: The Dry by Jane Harper

Set in a parched Australian landscape, Jane Harper's The Dry is a real page turner of a crime novel. Much was made of the fact that this was a debut novel, coming from a writer who worked on the book while taking a creative writing course. It's been a massive success, and has turned heads not only in the land down under, but worldwide - it was a Radio 2 Book Choice, named the CWA Golden Dagger Book of the Year, named the Sunday Times Book of the Year for 2017 and is currently optioned for a major film , with none other than  Reese Witherspoon attached to the project. The latest news is that the movie will start filming early next year. And before all that it won the Victorian Premier Literary Award for An Unpublished Manuscript.

One of the many strengths of the novel is that it so effectively creates a sense of place, which gives it a lot in common with the Nordic noirs which are so popular with readers, though where the abiding image of Nordic thrillers are the  desolate snowscapes, Harper's book operates in the polar opposite. It's Outback noir and the parched desolate landscape of the book goes a long way in creating a sense of dread. The land is dying before our eyes, people are living in a state of poverty and hopelessness so it is no wonder that violence soon flares up.

The novel opens with a swarm of blowflies swarming around the bodies of a mother and son, who were butchered in their own home in a seemingly straight forward murder/suicide. Luke Hadler, driven mad by years of drought seems to have shot both his wife and son before turning the gun on himself.

Melbourne based policeman, Aaron Falk spent his childhood in the town of Kiewarra but he and his father had to leave town after the death of a young girl - actually, they were driven out of town when suspicion regarding the young girl's death fell on Aaron. And now years later Aaron returns to the town for the funeral of Luke and his family and becomes involved in an unofficial investigation into the so called murder/suicide. Why for instance did Luke, assuming he saw a hopeless future for himself and his family not kill his infant daughter before turning the gun on himself? Why just his wife and young son?

Falk teams up with local policeman, Sergeant Raco (as likable a character as you can meet in crime fiction) and together the duo start investigating. At the start of the book there is doubt sown in the reader's mind over the involvement Falk may have played in the death of the young girl all those years ago, and this story in a secondary mystery that runs alongside the main storyline. I've called the book Outback Noir, as to some extent it is but this is basically a crime novel in the classic style with a myriad of twists and turns to throw the reader before the thrilling and logical conclusion plays out.

Saturday 23 June 2018

Reagan: The Movie heading

Reagan: The Movie” has got its star. Years in development, this  film about the B- movie western star and , er 40th president of the United States will feature veteran actor Dennis Quaid in the role of the Gipper, the storyline described by producers as:

 “A journey of a lifetime, the all-American story of the boy from Dixon, Illinois, who grew up to be president and changed a nation and the world.”

Netflix UK July 2018

The following shows/movies will drop on Netflix in July

1st July
Monty Python: Before the Flying Circus
Mr. Bean: The Whole Bean: Mr Bean Live Action: Season 1
Parrot Sketch Not Included: Twenty Years of Monty Python
2 Fast 2 Furious
81005453_Montage Parmanu: The Story of Pokhran
81005454_Montage Beyond the Clouds
Adult Beginners
American Fable
Barbie Dolphin Magic
Bo Burnham: what.
China Moon
Dream Big: Engineering Our World
Duck Butter
Fast & Furious
Fast Five
I'll See You in My Dreams
Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck
Lee Daniels' The Butler
Loving Annabelle
Miracle Mile
Monty Python: Live at Aspen
Monty Python: Live at The Hollywood Bowl
Murder Mountain (Working Title): Season 1
Ninja Vengeance
NOVA: 15 Years of Terror
NOVA: CyberWar Threat
NOVA: Inside Einstein's Mind
NOVA: Life's Rocky Start
NOVA: Memory Hackers
NOVA: Rise of the Robots
NOVA: School of the Future
NOVA: Search for the Super Battery
NOVA: Why Trains Crash
Oklahoma's Deadliest Tornadoes
Scary Movie 5
Sweet Virginia
Teen Wolf: Season 6
The Boyfriend School
The Fast and the Furious
The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift
The Feels
The Giver
The Hateful Eight
The Heavenly Kid
The Mummy
The Mummy Returns
The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor
The Redeemed and the Dominant: Fittest on Earth
The Stanford Prison Experiment
We the Marines
What We Started
Wind River
What a Wonderful Family!
Casino Tycoon
Casino Tycoon 2
Disciples Of The 36th Chamber
Doubles Cause Troubles
Finding Mr. Right
Justice, My Foot!
Little Dragon Maiden
Look Out, Officer
Love on Delivery
Loving You
Martial Arts of Shaolin
Mr. Virgin
Opium and the Kung Fu Master
Painted Faces
Prince Charming
Shark Busters
Temporary Family
The Bare-Footed Kid
The Bodyguard
The Golden Era
The Mad Monk
The Young Vagabond
Adventures of Omanakuttan
Angamaly Diaries
Anjaan: Special Crimes Unit: Season 1
Anthony Kaun Hai?
Chicken Kokkachi
Deewana Main Deewana
Gabru: Hip Hop Revolution: Season 1
I Am Kalam
Kaviyude Osyath
Khan: No. 1 Crime Hunter: Season 1
Ma Chu Ka
Mere Papa Hero Hiralal: Season 1
My Birthday Song
Namastey London
Paathi: The Half
Pareeth Pandaari
Paulettante Veedu
Paying Guests
Queens of Comedy: Season 2
Sarvopari Palakkaran
Socha Na Tha
Solo (Malayalam version)
Swami Baba Ramdev: The Untold Story: Season 1
The Great Father
The Wedding Detective: Season 1
Tum Milo Toh Sahi
Viswasapoorvam Mansoor
Fate/Grand Order -First Order-
The Asterisk War: Season 1
Soul Robbers
Beautiful Gong Shim: Season 1
Doctors: Season 1
Jackpot: Season 1
Jealousy Incarnate: Season 1
Remember: Season 1
Romantic Doctor, Teacher Kim: Season 1
수상한 파트너: Season 1
Bang Ra Jan 2 : Reunion Of Paladins
Bangkok Hell
Holy Man
Holy Man 2
Holy Man 3
My True Friend
Oh My Ghost
Oh My Ghost 2
Oh My Ghost 3
Oh My Ghost 4
Pahuyut Fighting Beat
The Iron Ladies
The Iron Ladies 2
The Unborn Child
Train Of The Dead
2nd July
Good Witch: Season 4
Power: Season 5
Bridal Mask: Season 1
King of Peking
Dance Academy: The Comeback
3rd July
47 Ronin
Men on a Mission: 2018
The Comedy Lineup
Good Girls
4th July
Queen of the Desert
5th July
Colony: Season 2
From Prada to Nada
Pete's Dragon
The Best Man Holiday
Hyori's Bed & Breakfast: Season 2
6th July
Gnomeo and Juliet
Green Street Hooligans
Dark Net: Season 2
Need for Speed
Peter Pan
Pitch Black
Robin Hood
The Family
The Impossible
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
The Tale of Despereaux
Warm Bodies
100 Days Of Solitude
Anne With An E: Season 2
Sacred Games
The Legacy Of A Whitetail Deer Hunter
The Skin Of The Wolf
Luciano Mellera: Infantiloide
First Team: Juventus: Part B
Inside The World's Toughest Prisons: Season 2
Somebody Feed Phil: The Second Course
Free Rein: Season 2
7th July
A Ghost Story
Mr. Sunshine
White Fang
8th July
A Fond Kiss
American Assassin
9th July
Lockup: Extended Stay: Collection 1
10th July
Home Again
The Wolf of Wall Street
Men on a Mission: 2018
All the Queen's Horses
Drug Lords: Season 2
11th July
An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power
Mossad 101: Season 2
13th July
Blood & Treasures: Season 1
Fatal Destiny: Season 1
Sugar Rush
How It Ends
Jim Jefferies: This Is Me Now
The Epic Tales Of Captain Underpants
15th July
Gavin & Stacey: Season 1
Sherlock: Series 4
Hollywood Weapons: Fact or Fiction?: Season 2
The Trap
Lucha. Jugando con lo imposible
Temporada de Caza
Going for Gold
3096 Tage
21 Sarfarosh: Saragarhi 1897: Season 1
Bonusfamiljen: Season 2
16th July
Big: Season 1
Hi! School - Love On: Season 1
Moorim School: Season 1
17th July
Men on a Mission: 2018
18th July
Camarón Revolution: Season 1
Camarón: The Film
19th July
Cabin Fever
The Stranger
El club de los buenos infieles
20th July
Live from the BBC: Season 2
Nothing to Lose
conjuring spirit
Amazing Interiors
Jimmy: The True Story Of A True Idiot
Final Space
Father Of The Year
Dark Tourist
Last Chance U: EMCC & Life After
Last Chance U: INDY: Part 1
Home: Adventures With Tip & Oh: Season 4
Luna Petunia: Return To Amazia: Season 2
21st July
49 Days
All In: Season 1
Birth of a Beauty: Season 1
Doctor Stranger: Season 1
I Hear Your Voice: Season 1
Lie to Me
Lovers in Paris: Season 1
My Girl: Season 1
My Girlfriend Is a Gumiho
Pinocchio: Season 1
Rooftop Prince
Secret Garden
Shining Inheritance
The Girl Who Sees Scents: Season 1
The Master's Sun: Season 1
Tree With Deep Roots: Season 1
What Happened in Bali: Season 1
Yong Pal: Season 1
You Are Beautiful
23rd July
Reggie Yates Outside Man: Volume 2
The Devil and Father Amorth
Five Elements Ninjas
Flying Guillotine 2
Legendary Weapons of China
Mahjong Heroes
My Schoolmate, the Barbarian
On the Wrong Track
Return To The 36th Chamber
Sword Masters: Two Champions of Shaolin
The 36th Chamber Of Shaolin
The Bund
The Five Venoms
The Flying Guillotine
44 Pages
24th July
Floogals: Season 1
Happy End
Men on a Mission: 2018
El Aviso
Iliza Shlesinger: Elder Millennial
25th July
Falsify: Season 1
27th July
Smoking: Season 1
Orange Is The New Black: Season 6
Roman Empire: Reign Of Blood: Master Of Rome
Inside The Criminal Mind
Welcome To The Family
Coco y Raulito: Carrusel de ternura
The Bleeding Edge
Cupcake & Dino - General Services
28th July
Gorky Park
29th July
Law Abiding Citizen
The Glass Castle
30th July
Trot Lovers: Season 1
A Very Secret Service: Season 2
31st July
Danger Mouse: Season 2
Bhavesh Joshi
Men on a Mission: 2018
Project S The Series; Side by Side
Project S The Series; SOS: S.O.S.
Project S The Series: Spike!
Reality of Dream: Season 1
Revenge: Season 1
Project S The Series; Shoot! I Love You
Terrace House: Opening New Doors: Part 3

Friday 22 June 2018

Book Review: Snap by Belinda Bauer

I think this is my book of the year - yes I know we're just nudging towards the end of June, but I really can't see another book coming along that touches me in the way this one did. It's absolutely heart breaking in places, but despite the darkness of its subject matter it is full of humour. The main character Jack, a young boy who carries truly Dickensian misery upon his shoulders is a wonderful creation and it would be a very cold reader who didn't develop a strong affection for him; empathise with the incredible burden he carries around.

They say we should never judge a book by its cover, though to some extent we all do. One look at the seemingly bland cover for this book suggest that the publisher must have some confidence in the story between the covers. There's no moody artwork, no mysterious font, instead we get an almost abstract cover with the title set at an odd angle.

1998 - Pregnant Eileen Bright leaves her three children in stifling heat - Jack, Joy and baby Merry - in a broken down car to phone for help, only she is never seen alive again - shades of the real life M50 killing which occurred in 1988 and to this day remains unsolved. This event starts the book and the early section of the story bounces back and forth between this horrendous event and the present day (the present day in the novel of course). Three years have passed since the crime and in that time Eileen Bright's husband has suffered a complete breakdown and walked out on his three children. Jack, the eldest. is determined to keep his family together and he takes to a life of crime in order to feed and clothe his two young sisters. The three child characters - Jack, Joy and Merry are particularly strongly drawn - so well realised are they that the reader's emotions are expertly manipulated each time they tale centre stage.  The book also contains Inspector John Marvel, who is  a recurring character in several of the author's books - I've never really liked him before but in this book he really comes alive and there is a strong chemistry between him and the ever so likeable Jack. The two character become one of the most original double acts in all of crime fiction. When these two share the page the book becomes so much more than a tightly plotted crime thriller - it takes off and leaves no doubt that Belinda Bauer must now be considered among the very best writers working today, whatever the genre.

This is one of those rare books that I didn't want to end, and I'll likely read it again before too long. Absolutely wonderful - a dark psychological crime thriller that ultimately leaves the reader smiling. Now that takes some doing.

Picard Boldy on his way back

The executive producer behind CBS All Access' Star Trek: Discovery has renewed his overall deal with CBS Television Studios, signing a massive five-year extension with the studio behind the latest entry in the long-running sci-fi franchise. The new agreement keeps Kurtzman, whose pact was up this year, with the studio through 2023. Sources say the deal is estimated at $5 million per year as Kurtzman receives a sizable backend on his programming.

Under the new pact, Kurtzman will serve as the Star Trek: Discovery's lone showrunner after taking over from Aaron Harberts and Gretchen Berg, who were recently fired from the series. Kurtzman will also expand the Star Trek franchise for the small screen, developing new series, miniseries and other content, including animation.

The new deal comes as rumblings about another Star Trek series, featuring Patrick Stewart reprising his role as Star Trek: The Next Generation's Capt. Jean-Luc Picard, have been getting louder. Sources say Kurtzman and Akiva Goldsman, who left Discovery after season one, are attached to the Stewart-led reboot. CBS TV Studios declined to confirm the Stewart project as sources say a deal is far from completed and may not happen, despite the fact that the actor recently teased his potential return to the franchise.

Monday 18 June 2018

Book Review: The Beautiful Dead by Belinda Bauer

This  is the fourth book I've read by this author, after discovering her with the CWA award winning, Rubbernecker, and it most certainly won't be the last. She's actually got a new hardcover, Snap out at the moment and the book was one of my Father's Day gifts so I guess that goes onto my TBR pile. However let's go back to The Beautiful Dead which is available in both paperback and eBook.

The plot of the book is that Eve Singer, a TV crime reporter suddenly find herself gaining the attention of a twisted serial killer who wants her to tell his story. The killer claims that he and Eve have much in common; after all they both make their living from death. Eve as a crime reporter and the killer as a man who is convinced that it is only killing that keeps his own weak heart beating. When the killer first makes contact, Eve sees a chance to stay ahead of the competition in reporting of the latest killing spree across London, but gradually she begins to doubt herself and when a young girl is killed in front of her at a tube station Eve decides to go to the police. There now follows a pacey cat and mouse game between killer and reluctant reporter.

The killer is somewhat of a cliche as far as serial killers go, but the author displays great skill in making him at least believable, but the true beating heart of the novel is in Eve's relationship with her elderly father, Duncan who is suffering from Dementia. The book is set during the lead up to Christmas, and indeed ends on the big day itself. Is it a happy ending? Well, that would be telling but all I will say is that it is a suitably satisfying climax. And one that would not be out of place in a big budget blockbuster - Bauer is a very visual writer and one can imagine this making a very good movie or Television mini-series.

Another fantastic crime novel that may not take the genre into new territory, but uses all the tools of the genre to construct a fully enjoyable reader experience. Highly recommended.

Thursday 14 June 2018

Ewan McGregor Shines on

Ewan McGregor is to play the grown up Danny Torrance in the movie version of Stephen King's Shining sequel, Doctor Sleep.

The book picks up with Torrance in middle age, still haunted by demons both real and internal. He works as a hospice nurse, using his psychic powers to ease the transition for dying patients, but he’s also fighting for sobriety, the same addiction that made his dad so vulnerable to the evil forces lingering around the Overlook Hotel decades before.

The movie is being directed by Hush and Oculus filmmaker Mike Flanagan, whose previous thriller Gerald’s Game was also an adaptation of a King novel.

The question is though will this be a sequal to King's Shining or Kubrick's Shining - as King explains - 'One of the things — and I’m not sure if this is going to be a problem for readers or not — is that Doctor Sleep is a sequel to the novel. It’s not a sequel to the Kubrick film. At the end of the Kubrick film, the Overlook is still there. It just kind of freezes. But at the end of the book, it burns down.'

Wild West Town For Sale

Well if I win the lottery this weekend I know what I'll be buying.

a historic ghost town in Lone Pine, California, is for sale for just under $1 million.

A 19th-century mining town, Cerro Gordo boasts more than 300 acres of land and 22 buildings, many of which are being restored — and maybe a ghost or two, considering the town's violent history dating back to the 19th century.

Established in 1865, Cerro Gordo was once the largest producer of silver and lead in California and helped spur economic growth in Los Angeles. The abandoned settlement is basically a history lover's dream.
"For those looking to acquire a piece of American West, Cerro Gordo is for you," reads the real estate listing, held by Jake Rasmuson of  Bishop Real Estate

Let's hope lady luck shines on me and those numbers come in, because I'd be moving in like shot.

Avengers 4: Forever Heroes????

Marvel movies have become such a big deal that even waiting for a film's title to be released has turned into a social media event...Well, judging from something Stan Lee recently said and the fact that the title of the Fourth Avengers movie has been teased as being Avengers: F .... H...., the Archive is putting its bets on the title being Avengers: Forever Heroes.

Wednesday 13 June 2018

Ben Affleck out of the Bat suit

It now looks certain that Matt Reeves’ upcoming The Batman  won’t star Ben Affleck. Such rumours have been frequent over the last year, but the latest official word is that the script Reeves handed in over Memorial Day weekend focuses on a younger Dark Knight, which would seemingly exclude Affleck from returning to the part. Whether he continues to wear the cowl in any future Justice League films is yet to be seen, but it would seem unlikely given that DC/Warners are desperate to restart the DC Universe.

The first production to go forward now looks to be the Joker origin film starring Joaquin Phoenix. With Todd Phillips (The Hangover franchise) directing from a script he wrote with 8 Mile scribe Scott Silver, the movie is set to go in front of cameras this fall, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Martin Scorsese serves as executive producer and the budget is reportedly $55 million, relatively low for a comic book blockbuster .

Affleck himself since he is keeping plenty busy lately. He’s currently filming Triple Frontier for writer-director J.C. Chandor alongside co-stars Charlie HunnamOscar IsaacGarrett Hedlund and Pedro Pascal at Netflix. He’s also on board to direct and star in Christopher Keyser‘s adaptation of Agatha Christie‘s crime/mystery novel Witness for the Prosecution, and will likely return for a sequel to the crime-drama The Accountant. Affleck was also just reported to be reteaming with The Accountant director Gavin O’Connor for the sports drama, The Has-Been

Lara Prescott’s debut novel We Were Never Here nets a £1.5 million book deal with her story of how governments once believed books could change the world.

Last month, Lara Prescott was preparing to graduate from her three-year creative writing fellowship at the University of Texas. Two weeks later, she is sitting on book deals worth at least $2m (£1.5m), after publishers on both sides of the Atlantic battled to get their hands on her first novel.

Prescott’s We Were Never Here tells the story of how the CIA smuggled copies of Boris Pasternak’s classic novel Doctor Zhivago into Russia during the cold war in an attempt to seed unrest. Drawing from the voices of Pasternak’s mistress and muse Olga, as well the women of the CIA typing pool involved in the mission, the novel provoked a fierce bidding war when it was submitted by Prescott’s agent last month.

In the UK, 12 publishers fought for the novel, with Penguin Random House publisher Selina Walker winning the bid with a “high six-figure” offer. In the US, Knopf is reported to have paid a seven-figure sum, beating 13 other publishers to the debut. According to Publishers Weekly, this was not the highest bid, but Knopf’s history as the original publisher of Doctor Zhivago helped clinch the deal.

Prescott began writing the novel in 2015 after reading newly declassified documents about the CIA’s clandestine involvement in the Russian publication and dissemination of Doctor Zhivago. The documents, with redacted names and blacked-out details, inspired her to fill in the blanks with fiction”

“Zhivago’s plot revolves around a love story between Lara Antipova and Yuri Zhivago. But its depictions of the October revolution and the Russian civil war, as well as its themes emphasising the importance of individual freedom in the face of the USSR’s enforced collectivism resulted in the novel being deemed subversive by the state. But to me, Zhivago is more about life and love than politics. It’s about individuals who think and laugh and love for themselves,” the author said.

One of the declassified documents revealed that the head of the CIA’s Soviet-Russia division argued in 1958: “Pasternak’s humanistic message – that every person is entitled to a private life and deserves respect as a human being, irrespective of the extent of his political loyalty or contribution to the state – poses a fundamental challenge to the Soviet ethic of sacrifice of the individual to the communist system.” Another document states: “We have the opportunity to make Soviet citizens wonder what is wrong with their government when a fine literary work by the man acknowledged to be the greatest living Russian writer is not even available in his own country in his own language for his own people to read.”

Custer's Scalp

A US auction house has sold a snip of Custer's famous flowing locks.

On Saturday, a Heritage Auctions spokesperson declared that a lock of hair belonging to Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer has been sold for $12,500. The auctions house refused to disclose the buyer’s name.

The lock of hair has quite an interesting study. According to the spokesperson, the item was bestowed by Glen Swanson, a Texan who spent the last three decades collecting memorabilia from the Battle of Little Bighorn.

The Swanson collection also included a rifle that the auction house said was used during the battle and other weapons.It also featured photographs and American Indian art.

Swanson says that he came across the perfectly preserved lock of hair while examining Custer’s war-time correspondence.

According to Swanson, throughout the American Civil War and, later, during the American-Indian Wars, the lieutenant-colonel frequently wrote to Elizabeth ‘Libbie’ Bacon Custer, his wife about the situation on the front.

Apparently, before the Battle of Little Bighorn, Custer visited the regiment’s barber to get a haircut. Instead of disposing of the hair, Custer took a blonde lock, sealed it inside an envelope and sent it to Libbie. Swanson said that Libbie wanted her husband hair for her wig. The last owner of the lock of hair said there were about 50 pieces of hair in the envelope.

Monday 11 June 2018

Summer Slump in Book Sales

It's summer time and the living is......

You know the way it goes -

Whilst  there are many pleasures to the summer months, there is no better way to relax than crashing on a beach, or lounging in your garden with a good book. And yet  apparently book sales drop during the summer  - Historically, the book publishing industry has 3 seasons: winter, spring, and autumn (fall), and in 2015 a survey in the New Yorker Magazine stated that more people have a summer streaming list than a summer reading list.

And if that depresses you then join the club - the thing is you get more from reading than viewing. Reading is active, while viewing is passive.

Esquire's Beach Reads 2018

Time Magazine summer reads 2018

Harper's Bazaar 2018 Summer reads

And from the Archive' own summer reading list

Stephen King The Outsider
Belinda Bauer Snap
Anthony Horowitz  Forever and a Day
Mark Billingham The Killing Habit

Saturday 9 June 2018

Book Review: Domain by James Herbert

The long-dreaded nuclear conflict. The city torn apart, shattered, its people destroyed or mutilated beyond hope. For just a few, survival is possible only beneath the wrecked streets – if there is time to avoid the slow-descending poisonous ashes. But below, the rats, demonic offspring of their irradiated forebears, are waiting. They know that Man is weakened, become frail. Has become their prey...

I've recently re-read James Herbert's trilogy of novels featuring the giant mutated rats that first made his name, and I must say that I think Domain is the best of the three. This time the action takes place during the aftermath of a Nuclear War. And it is this aspect that, for me, made this the most satisfying read of the three - the rats are almost second fiddle to the horrors our small group of survivors have to face.

I remember reading this book when it first came out and I didn't enjoy it as much as the previous two, perhaps because the Rats were not the greatest threat faced by the characters, and yet now that I'm older it is precisely this aspect that made the book stand out for me. The horrors of the nuclear war are chillingly created on the page  and alongside this the Rats seem a minor threat.

The main protagonist is Steven Culver, a pilot who, after the bombs start to drop, finds himself in a secret underground bunker, after he aids Government man Alex Dealey. The initial section of the book covers different points of view  as the missiles fall. This is incredibly powerful writing - during the period the book was written the threat of nuclear war was a very real concern for people, and in the world we live in today the threat seems to have returned, making Doman a particularly chilling entry in the series.

 For instance as I type this review the Doomsday Clock is set at 2 minutes to midnight - The failure of world leaders to address the largest threats to humanity’s future is lamentable—but that failure can be reversed. It is two minutes to midnight, but the Doomsday Clock has ticked away from midnight in the past, and during the next year, the world can again move it further from apocalypse. The warning the Science and Security Board now sends is clear, the danger obvious and imminent. The opportunity to reduce the danger is equally clear. The world has seen the threat posed by the misuse of information technology and witnessed the vulnerability of democracies to disinformation. But there is a flip side to the abuse of social media. Leaders react when citizens insist they do so, and citizens around the world can use the power of the internet to improve the long-term prospects of their children and grandchildren. They can insist on facts, and discount nonsense. They can demand action to reduce the existential threat of nuclear war and unchecked climate change. They can seize the opportunity to make a safer and saner world. See the full statement from the Science and Security Board on the 2018 time of the Doomsday Clock.

James Bond first onscreen girl dies

Eunice Gayson, the first James Bond girl, has died. She was 90. Grayson was in the iconic scene in Dr No in which Sean Conner first spoke the words, 'Bond. James Bond.'

The news was announced via Gayson's Twitter account along with a photo of the English actress.

"We are very sad to learn that our dear Eunice passed away on June 8th. An amazing lady who left a lasting impression on everyone she met. She will be very much missed," the statement read.

The death was confirmed in statements from Bond producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli.

Originally the Sylvia Trench character was supposed to have appeared in the first six films, becoming the principal Bond Girl in her last one, but this idea was dropped with the third Bond movie, Goldfinger.

After her role in the James Bond films, Gayson went on to appear in TV series “The Saint” and “The Avengers.” Her career began on stage as Frau Schrader in a production of “The Sound of Music” at the Palace Theatre, and she portrayed Margaret in the Hammer horror film “The Revenge of Frankenstein” in 1958.

Rest in peace.

Brian Keene: Bouncing Back

The York Dispatch has reported on the horrific accident that befell author, Brian Keene earlier this week - thankfully Brian is a fighter and his great sense of humour is already evident as he thanks fans for coming to his aid via a GoFundMe page.
The newspaper reported:

York County native and celebrated author Brian Keene has written many horror stories set in southcentral Pennsylvania, where he still makes his home.

But this week he became the subject of his own personal horror when he was badly burned in a mishap on a friend's property in Lower Windsor Township.

Keene, 50, who lives along the Susquehanna River near Long Level, was helping a friend clear her property of flood debris about 2 p.m. Tuesday, June 5, and was burning brush, he told The York Dispatch on Friday, June 8.

The wind shifted and pushed heat and flames at the author, who suffered first- and second-degree burns to his face and second-degree burns to his arm, he said.

"They applied Suprathel, a new temporary skin, and the procedure worked, so providing (there are) no complications, I'll be out this weekend and will have a lengthy recovery at home," Keene wrote in a email interview. "It will be a long process — but it could have been much worse."


Thursday 7 June 2018

Dear Editor

Dear Editor....

A fine feature in the comic books of my youth was the readers letters page -these were filled with notes, written in a grubby schoolboy hand, on practically every subject under the sun.For instance Paul Hickey, of New Zealand claims that reading Action comic can increase your wealth since on the way back from buying the comic he found a ten dollar banknote . The honest Paul then handed the money into the police station and was given it to keep when no-one claimed it.

click on any of the scans for a larger, readable version.

Most Boy's comics, girls too, I assume had a letters page - I had a couple of letters printed myself when I was a kid - I was in Look In, Battle, 2000ad, Warlord, Bullet and I think I once had one in the relaunched Eagle. I wish I still had issues of these but I do live in hope - I may find them on Ebay once day.

The letters page in D C Thomson's Warlord took the form of a mission briefing from character Lord Peter Flint. And there were codes printed that could only be read with the codebreaker card you got when you joined The Warlord Fan Club - this cost 20p and then you were an official Warlord Secret Agent. Good marketing, Guys!

The letters here all detail the actions of the various Warlord gangs up and down the country. They tell tales of building secret headquarters in woodland around our homes. There must have been thousands of top secret headquarters hastily constructed from old wood, zinc sheets and council house doors up and down the country. These dens would be furnished with some old carpet scrounged from the local tip. The better HQ's had unwittingly donated rugs from the old lady down the street who had put the rug out to air it. I seem to remember our den had two deck chairs purloined from the allotments.

Battle comic's letters page was edited by Captain Hurricane who was a comic book character himself. There was no club with Battle but there was a community of loyal readers who would write in about relatives wartime experiences or simply to praise the stories.

"Cor I fink your comic is super! I can't wait for it to fall through my letter box each week. My favourite stories are Rat Pack because Weasel looks just like my Dad...Gary Dobbs, age 9, Wales.

izard comic was a little before my time but I would have enjoyed the letters page as is evident from this scan. Titled, Pick of the Post, subjects covered ranged from sport to amazing but true facts. The writer of the star letter got a Raleigh bike which was quite a gift in those days.

I always kept the letters page till last. I'd read the strips cover to cover and then I'd sit back and tackle the mail page. I'd take great time in considering the points raised and then, feeling rather literary I would pick up up my Bic and scribble out a letter. I'd hold my breath all week then to wait and see if I'd made the next issue. Amazing how you could hold your breath all week as a kid - Invariably I hadn't but there was still hope. Figuring the comic must have been produced weeks in advance I wouldn't give up hope until a dozen weeks had gone by.

The 2000AD letters page was as surreal as the comic itself. Colchester readers were especially eccentric and Paul Newland told of his own personal two billion year old space friend. And if you think this is unusual then remember the comic was, and still is, edited by the alien, Tharg.

Brian Keene Update

We are pleased...NO, scrub that - we are over the moon to report that beloved horror author, Brian Keene, who suffered serious burns in an accident earlier this week is, at least, on the mend. Brian posted the following pic and update from his hospital bed.

Greetings from Day Two in the burn ward. No way I’m getting any writing done, between the bandages and the morphine and the oxy — but I did finish Paul Tremblay’s latest and started an old favorite by Stephen King. (That burn scene with Trashcan Man should be fun to reread). ‬

However like many of us in the creative community, Brian has no health insurance and medical bills, when you don't have the NHS like us lucky  Brits can be expensive, so please if you are able support Brian's Gofundme page to help out a little. Then throw a bone, peeps. Brian's always been proactive in helping others so now it's time to give him a hand

To donate to Brian's Fund Me Campaign go HERE 

In addition to Brian's prolific career as a horror novelist and his comics for publishers such as Antarctic Press and DC Comics, Keene also co-hosts the eponymous Horror Show with Brian Keene podcast alongside Dave Thomas (not the Wendy’s guy) and Mary SanGiovanni. Keene’s annual telethon for the Scares that Care charity raised over $20,000 this year to help others suffering from childhood illness, burns, and breast cancer. 

 Find out about Scares That Care HERE 

2018 Saturn Awards Announced

The Saturn Awards, jokingly called the bloodsoaked Oscars, are an award for excellence in horror, SF and fantasy.

Producer Jason Blum, Berlanti Productions executive producer Sarah Schechter, director Guillermo del Toro, director/producer Jake Kasdan, and director Don Mancini will receive special awards from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films at the 44th annual Saturn Awards, it was announced today.

The event takes place in Burbank on June 27 and honors the best and brightest in science fiction, fantsy and horror motion pictures and television. This year’s show will be hosted by comedian Jonah Ray, who can be seen on the Netflix revival of “Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Return.”
The Producer’s Showcase Award will be presented to Jason Blum, producer of a string of modestly budgeted, successful horror and thriller franchises, including Paranormal Activity, The Purge, Insidious, Happy Death Day and the Oscar-winning Get Out. Next up on his schedule is a new incarnation of “Halloween.”

The Dan Curtis Award will be presented to Sarah Schechter, president of Berlanti Productions, who is executive producer on The Flash, Arrow, Supergirl, Riverdale, Legends of Tomorrow Black Lightning, Blindspot, and the upcoming Titans and the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.

Receiving the Founder’s Award in honor of the organization’s late founder Dr. Donald A. Reed will be director Guillermo del Toro, who won Best Director at the 2018 Oscars for The Shape of Water.
The Filmmaker’s Showcase Award will be presented to director/producer Jake Kasdan, whose first foray into fantasy filmmaking, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle revived a 22-year-old franchise. 
The Special Achievement Award will be presented to Don Mancini, the creator and now director of the Child’s Play”/ Chucky horror franchise that is celebrating its/his 30th anniversary this year. Mancini was also a producer/writer on the third season of Hannibal and is currently supervising producer/writer on SyFy’s Saturn-nominated Channel Zero.

The Academy was founded in 1972 by noted film historian Dr. Donald A. Reed to honor and recognize films often overlooked by mainstream awards.  Over the years, the Academy has expanded its reach to include recognizing excellence in television and home entertainment as well as other genres, including adventure, thriller and action.

Wednesday 6 June 2018

Go Grab a Granny


The second book in my widely popular Granny Smith series, that's Miss Marple on steroids, is now available as an audiobook  The book is read, though performed is a more descriptive word, by the talented Fiona Thraille. The audiobook can be purchased from Audible and Amazon and following this LINK will bring you to the product page where you can listen to a free sample of the audio.

There are currently four books in the Granny Smiths series, with a fifth coming later this year. The first two Granny Smith Investigates and Granny Smith and the Deadly Frogs are also available in the audio format, with the others due to follow in due time.

So who is Granny Smith? - well, I suppose the series fits most easily in the cosy crime genre, but these are cosies with balls. The books are quite a bit more earthy than standard cosy titles and readers seem to like the character, and the world she inhabits.

Here are a few samples of the reviews.

I knew from the first few minutes that I was going to enjoy this audiobook and I was right. The dry (yet sassy) humour was spot on and the narration was perfectly matched to the tone of the story. Highly recommended!  

The Welsh elements, the humour, the familiar characters and a well-developed plot combine to produce a better than average cozy mystery. What more could you ask for? Apart from the next in the series?

Wonderful! Reminds me of my mother. An outspoken, senior rebel who seeks to clear up the mystery she finds herself in. A simply delightful character who had me chuckling whilst she dealt with the clues surrounding her. An example of the best cozies around.

tunning! Granny is back with a vengeance. Another murder and she is set on solving it. Can she do so without upsetting the police too badly? She is simply a terrific character who isn't afraid of being herself. Regardless of whether it is politically correct to do so. A wonderful humorous read.

Once again the pipe-smoking granny is on a search for the truth after a 'Save our frogs' activist is found very dead, and yet again she leaves no stone unturned, and of course upsets the local constabulary. A great fun read.

 Audiobook sales are booming - have been increasing year on year for the past several years. They are so convenient and these days a lot of people listen to audiobooks on the smartphones  - they are great for long drives, when jogging, or even potting about in the garden. In fact they can be listened to  in any situation you can imagine - with a well concealed pair of earbuds you can even listen while having sex. Now here's  a way to get hold of the red hot Granny Smith and the Deadly Frogs audiobook for FREE - Simply head over to Audible and start your free trial, and then select Granny Smith and the Deadly Frogs as your first title. 

Breakfast time just got bloody

It may seem bizarre but Funko  are to release a Pennywise the Clown breakfast cereal

Stephen King recently Tweeted:  Anyone want some Pennywise for breakfast? Is it your favorite? Mine, too!

Concrete details about the cereal are scarce, but a quick glimpse of the box can be seen about an hour and 20 minutes into the Netflix documentary Making Fun: The Story of Funko. The art on the box is based on the character's look from 2017’s It, mixed with a bit of that patented Funko charm.

Each box of cereal  comes with a mini Funko Pop! toy. But don’t expect them to land in your local supermarket; this type of nostalgia in a bowl is going to be available only at specialty stores. According to Nerdist, you can expect Freddy Krueger, Elvira, and Beetlejuice cereals to hit first this summer (possibly in June), with the others to follow.

Only in America, folks!

Amazon to kill off basic Kindle

Amazon is in the process of discontinuing the entry level Kindle. This is the e-reader is primarily aimed at new users and normally costs £59. Amazon has removed it from the Kindle Family page and the only readers they are marketing is the Paperwhite, Voyage and Oasis., Reports Good eReader Magazine.

The entry level Kindle came out in 2014 and has an older E Ink Pearl display, which is really outdated e-paper technology.  It has abysmal refresh issues when it comes to page turns and interacting with all of the menus and navigation bar. The Basic Kindle is the oldest digital reader that Amazon has consistently sold for the past four years, and has sold well. However the device is still available at Amazon UK and rather than the company killing off the basic Kindle, I simply don't believe they would do that, it looks as if the device will get a new all bells and whistle revamp.

Good eReader goes onto report that:

Amazon is likely going to refresh the entry level Kindle and the Paperwhite in the coming weeks. The entry level Kindle will have an E-Ink Carta HD display, which will have the same resolution and PPI as the Kindle Paperwhite. Speaking of the Paperwhite, this device is rumoured to have a new color temperature lightning system that is similar to the Nook Glowlight 3 and the Kobo Clara HD. The Paperwhite will also have Bluetooth capability which will allow you to plug in wireless headphones or a speaker to listen to audiobooks from Audible.

Global eReader Market Report now available

The Report describe eReader Introduction, product scope, market overview, opportunities, risk, driving force also to analyze the top manufacturers, with sales, revenue, and price, market type and application, with sales market share and growth rate by type, application, from 2018 to 2025 Covering North America, China, Europe, Southeast Asia, Japan India.

Find the full report HERE

Jack the Ripper Detective, portrayed in TV series, rests in a pauper's grave.

Canterbury-born detective Edmund Reid was at the centre of the infamous Jack the Ripper investigation, before moving to Herne Bay where he led an equally fascinating life. Now, after a century resting in a pauper’s grave, a campaign has been launched to give him the permanent headstone he deserves, wrote Jodie Nesling for Kent Online.

The real Reid
The detective is, of course, portrayed in the TV series, Ripper Street.

After his retirement from the force, he moved to Herne Bay, where life was certainly less macabre but nonetheless enthralling with a record-breaking ascent in a hot air balloon and a house he covered in murals - which later fell into the sea. He campaigned for a train link from Canterbury to Herne Bay, on sea erosion and lighting to building walls and bridges.

He was also part of the theatre on the pier and a member of the Whitstable Quoit Club.
So it seems unbefitting for a man who lived such a remarkable life that he should rest in a pauper’s grave with no headstone.

Now,  historian Amanda Harvey Purse is on a quest to install a permanent stone at his grave and has contacted Herne Bay Cemeterians to replace the temporary sign which can only be displayed on Heritage Open Days.

The TV Reid
I wanted to visit him to pay my last respects to a man I felt I have got to know. However, when I went there for the first time, I got upset because he was laying in Herne Bay without a headstone, without a marker to symbolise all he was and had done, all that history was just lost in layers of grass and mud,” Amanda Harvey Post told the Kentish Gazette.

The detective  with links to the Ripper case  died at the age of 71 in 1916.

Warner/DC announce new Joker movie

Despite the constant problems DC/Warners are battling heroically with their cinematic universe and it has just been announced that Jared Leto’s version of the Joker, which debuted in 2016’s, Suicide Squad, is to get a movie of his own.

Plot details are currently unknown, but the studio’s idea is to expand on the world created by “Suicide Squad” and tie into future installments of that property. Warner Bros. already announced that Margot Robbie’s version of Harley Quinn would be getting her own movie with a “Birds of Prey” feature, and the next goal was setting up a film for Leto’s Joker.

Tuesday 5 June 2018

Doctor Who: What the Critics said

Jodie Whittaker's first proper Doctor Who adventure is only four months away from broadcast, and it will be interesting to see what the critics make of the first female Doctor. Way back in time when the show was first broadcast The Daily Mail commented: 'William Hartnell gazing from under locks of flowing white, and the appealing Carole Ann Ford represent the Unknown Them [while] William Russell and Jaqueline Hill [are] the ignorant, skeptical Us and their craft is cunningly disguised as a police call box.'

When the 2nd Doctor took to the screen viewer Estelle Hawken wrote to the Radio Times, stating: 'What have you done to BBC1's Doctor Who? Of all the stupid nonsense! Why turn a wonderful series into what looked like Coco the Clown?I think you will find thousands of children will not now be watching Doctor Who, which up to now has been the tops.'

Third Doctor, Jon Pertwee seemed to find immediate favour with the critics -  "This Doctor Who adventure wins my vote as the best in the lifetime of the series so far." said The Daily Mail.

Fourth Doctor Tom Baker was not an initial hit - 'Too stupid for words!' Said The Express. And the fifth Doctor Peter Davidson scored highly with his first adventure - 'Thankfully Doctor Who is a [series] that is always discovering and experimenting, but never more so than when the reign of a new Doctor begins. Tom Baker's debut story was quite a disappointment, but 'Castrovalva' was definitely not that. It was brim-full of original ideas and pleasant surprises.' Reported a Doctor Who fanzine.

The Tardis Fanzine seemd to like Doctor No 6 - 'The sixth Doctor looks like turning out very well indeed – he has traces of his predecessors, yet he's sufficiently different to be an interesting and enjoyable character in his own right.'

While No 7 - 'A far more interesting Doctor to watch than the previous two.' Said, The Sun Newspaper.

 And that, readers, was it for the original run of the show - Doctor Who would return for an un-loved TV Movie with Paul McGann ( brave and borderline bonkers) in the title role but this was not a hit. And it wasn't until 2005 that the series returned with the excellent Christopher Eccleston in the title role. Since then we've had David Tennant (quite brilliant), Matt Smith (some liked him but personally I didn't) and Peter Capaldi (Great performance but poor scripts.)

Horror author Brian Keene Hospitalised

Reports are that today (June 5th 2018) horror author, Brian Keene has been hospitalised with severe burns caused in an unspecified accident - He is reportedly currently in the hospital receiving treatment.

 Brian's gofundme page reports - 'On June 5, 2018, author, podcaster, philanthropist, and father Brian Keene was badly burned in an accident.  At this time he is conscious and in good spirits but has first degree burns on his face and second degree burns on his body'

As a freelance author, Brian does not have health insurance.  We're not sure at this time how long he'll be in treatment, or how much the bill will be, but any visit to the hospital is expensive, and will only be compounded by lost wages from not being able to work.

We're asking the community of writers, horror fans, and just decent human beings in general to chip in a few dollars to help get Brian back on his feet and spending time with his loving girlfriend and sons.  We'd be very grateful for anything you can afford to contribute. 

The Archive will be donating a few pounds to help Brian and if you feel like doing so then please find his gofundme page HERE

THE FOLLOWING UPDATE APPEARED ON Brian Keene's FACEBOOK PAGE -  They are transferring Brian to a burn unit upstate. He is alert and stable but will be out of commission for foreseeable future. Thanks to all for your concern and well wishes.

We wish Brian all the best and a speedy recovery.

FREE to download for one day only

Find it on Amazon worldwide.

Please leave a review.

Solo first Star Wars movie to be regarded a flop

The Hollywood Reporter is stating that the Star Wars movie, Solo has dropped 65% of it box office after only two weeks, and this follows an underwhelming opening for the movie. Solo: A Star Wars Story is losing momentum quickly at the box office, even with a relatively quiet weekend free of any new blockbuster competition.

Solo"has now earned $148.9 million domestically, which is still shy of Rogue One's December 2016 opening weekend of $155.1 million and over $135 million short of where Rogue One was in its second weekend.The 65 percent drop is one of the highest in recent "Star Wars" history, although it is less steep than the second-week fall of the franchise's last film, Star Wars: The Last Jedi,which slid by 67.5 percent in weekend two in December — but that was also after a $220 million debut.

The Han Solo origin story missed its projected North American opening targets by about $30million and things haven’t improved. This past weekend, ‘Solo’ pulled in $29.3 million which represents a huge 65% drop from its opening weekend.

Buzzfeed’s Adam B. Vary has posted a comprehensive breakdown of ‘Solo’s numbers relative to the last three Star Wars movies. He writes: “Internationally, the film has made only $115.3M to date. With a reported budget of over $250M, it is officially the first Star Wars movie to flop.”

The film  had specific troubles that made it more expensive than it was intended to be—which means it needs to earn even more in order to break even. Firing Solo’s original directors Phil Lord & Chris Miller and reshooting much of it is what ballooned the film’s budget to insanely high levels.

Walking Dead's Maggie carrying a bullet with Rick's name on.......

Of course it's all speculation but the Internet rumour that the next season of The Walking Dead will see Rick and Maggie in a fight to the death is gathering momentum. The facts are that both characters will leave the show next season, and that both characters appear in the same number of episodes. And of course last season ended with Maggie plotting, in a private meeting with Jesus and Daryl, all of whom agreed that Negan doesn't deserve to live. They ain't wrong there.

When Negan was introduced into the show he looked like the bad ass villain the show needed, and yet over the last couple of seasons he went from being a truly menacing presence to a complete and utter joke, a weak wimpy dude in a leather jacket - more comic book than the comics that spawned the TV series. It seriously took some fucking up to make a character with a leather jacket and a baseball bat such a pussy.

The news that Norman Reedus will now play the lead is also causing shock across the web with CBR stating - By making Daryl leader, the writers would have to change the very essence of what makes him, well, Daryl. He’s never been one to play by the rules, which is what he’ll have to do if he assumes responsibility of Alexandria and its alliance with the Hilltop and Kingdom. His freedom to do the unconventional, roam free from the group when he desires defines his character. He doesn’t play house, he looks out for his camp as a rogue scouring the outside world, scouting on missions where he just has to worry about his own back, ergo pinning him down like this doesn’t play to his strengths.

The upcoming season 9  will certainly pack a few shocks - to be honest, I've watched the show from the start but I've tired of it now. Allowing the Negan character to live after the ALL OUT WAR was, to my mind, complete bullshit and made a joke out of all that went before. However the rumours that it will be Maggie who kills Rick in the new season is kind of hard to take seriously. It would certainly be a fitting end to Rick's character, and would make perfect sense seeing at how betrayed Maggie feels about Rick allowing Negan to live after they lost so many at Negan's hands. But a move like that would require serious teeth and the Walking Dead may not have enough bite left in it.

I'll be tuning in, though - I'm gonna watch the next season to see where it all goes but when Rick bows out, then  I will too. The last season finished the show for me, but the news that there are so many changes coming means I'll have to tune in. The show started with Rick and it should end the same way...let it go out with a bang and not splutter to an end with even more Negan bullshit. The Walking Dead's already become the Limping Dead so let's hope to runs to a fitting climax.

Sunday 3 June 2018

New Doctor Who Trailer to air June 18th following England’s first match in the FIFA World Cup against Tunisia

Jodie Whittaker has now officially been the Doctor since Christmas, and she’s been filming the new season of Doctor Who even longer, but we still have yet to see any actual footage from the next run of the series, which will finally arrive on our screens this October. Thankfully, though the first teaser could be with us later this month.

The BBC has scheduled the first trailer to land on June 18th. Apparently, it’ll be shown on BBC One following England’s first match in the FIFA World Cup against Tunisia. This would fit with how Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor was announced last July, as we initially saw her in a specially-shot promo that was played during the Wimbledon final.

Rumours are that the Captain Jack character will return this year.

The Afterlife of Sheldon, Fleming and Christie

Sidney Sheldon is now an official ghost, something that every dead writer covets to be. The pop maestro of fast-paced thrillers—so addictive that his fanclub extends to the hermetic interiors of North Korea—will delight his readers from beyond the grave with a new book The Silent Widow, penned by Tilly Bagshawe. The book will be released this month.Commissioned by Sheldon's publisher, Bagshawe explores the underbelly of Los Angeles, a city in which the author resided. A successful television writer, Sheldon found fame when he shifted to fiction at 50.

Sheldon is not the only writer with a rather lucrative afterlife in the offing. There is Enid Blyton, who has shaped childhoods across the world, introducing goblins, elves and adventures to kids. Over the years, there have been several authors who have chosen to continue her series to much success. Blyton originals, however, are still a rite of passage for millions across the world. The first writer to have chosen to go down her magical path was Claude Voilier, who wrote in French. The books were later translated into English.

Then, there are the immortal writers. Agatha Christie continues to be the queen of crime, courtesy of crime writer and poet Sophie Hannah. James Bond, created by Ian Fleming, continues to romance and spy uninterrupted. From Kingsley Amis, who wrote under pseudonym Robert Markham, to Sebastian Faulks, and now Antony Horowitz. Bond has had a number of literary handlers including John Gardner and Raymond Benson. Then there is Sherlock, who refuses to retire. Written by Antony Horowitz, The House of Silk and Moriarty did very well.

And then there's James Patterson who hasn't even waited to die before getting other writers to write his books for him, but that's another topic for another day.

 It seems that being dead is no great handicap to bestselling authors.

The question is, do they work? What do readers think?


 Last night I watched the new cleaned up version of the Beatles Let it Be documovie - it was great to finally see it cleaned up, thanks to P...