The Last Days of Thunder Child

The Last Days of Thunder Child
War of the Worlds - spin off adaptation novel.

Sunday, 19 August 2018

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke. (My Goodreads Review)

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A strange and bizarre world of Britain during the Napoleonic period. Mr Norrell seems like a rather bland and boring man. Yet he is a magician. A good one too. He is very reclusive and hides away from the world. The characters in this story are wonderful. Especially when, after a time, Johnathan Strange comes into the tale. The reclusive Mr Norrell has managed to stop some of the less reputable magicians, from the North of England, from practising. He reluctantly moves to London and equally reluctantly starts to socialise with affluent people. His magic soon becomes a talking point as he starts to indulge some peoples' and government's needs. There is also a parallel world where fairies communicate during spells. The story is rather deep in parts but very entertaining. If you like Dickens type characters or Titus Groan etc, I think you will be a big fan of this story. A splendidly written work.

View all my reviews

Saturday, 18 August 2018

Total Plucking Hell and Calamine Lotion for These Girls.

The Magic Vodka Wardrobe: Book 2
The Magic Vodka Wardrobe: Book 2 by Sheila Patel
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Mad shenanigans again! An old caravan on a roundabout with traffic hooters and bright lights. It is how Rajeev dazzles a girl with a fast food take away.

Mad Martha is going entrepreneurial with her front table and bikini waxing business. While the Magic Vodka wardrobe awaits the attention of the wonderful wizard of wardrobes MOT inspection.

The Magic Vodka Wardrobe is like the Tardis. It has a grand bar and a live-in barman. The girls can get as inebriated as they want because outside in the real world, everything is completely surreal! Yep, Outside it is total plucking hell and calamine lotion for the girls of the Magic Vodka Wardrobe.

Friday, 17 August 2018

The Bridge of Dead Things by Michael Gallagher (My Goodreads Review)

The Bridge of Dead Things (The Involuntary Medium, #1)

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This story is set in Victorian London of 1885. A 13-year-old girl named Lizzie Blaylock has fits. Just before her fit she always smells rotting pears and finds herself lying on a beautiful hill of lush green waving grass. It is a place of comfort. It is her astral place and somewhere she feels safe. When she emerges from her fit, those around her are shaken by the unsightly experience. Many saying that ghostly manifestations emerge from her chest. Lizzie loses her place at her school because of this. She is given an opportunity by the teacher to be a young maid at a house close by. From here Lizzie stumbles into a bizarre world of charlatans and well-intentioned people when they witness her having another fit.

There is a scientist/psychic investigator named Simeon de Florence who is fascinated by Lizzie’s powers of a medium. He has exposed false mediums in the past and has an interest in electricity. All for more diabolical projects concerning mediums contacting the dead. There is also Miss Otis, a sort of clairvoyant lady who does medium demonstrations before gatherings of people. Lizzie’s school teacher Mrs Smutts continues to be close at hand with all manner of other interesting characters.

Lizzie begins to realise that her strange powers have consequences and others want to use her for their own ends. Gradually the young girl must come of age via adolescence as a young woman and a medium. Lizzie Blaylock is told that she is a conduit. A bridge linking the real world to that of the dead. She is the Bridge of Dead Things.

If you like medium or strange phenomenon style stories, this is an absolute must! As the story progresses, there are some, around the young girl, who are all caught up in some past diabolical wrongs. I can’t say much more without spoiling the story for a future reader. It will all come to an exciting climax - very gripping and compelling all the way.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, 15 August 2018

A Peach of a Spy Story.

The Spanish Game (Alec Milius #2)

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I read the first Alec Milius novel, A Spy by Nature. I decided to go for the second novel of Milius because the first was very good. Well, the second is equally as compelling. Alec Milius is living in Madrid and it is five years after his traumatic brush with espionage, working for the British Secret Service. He has gone to ground and has been using his espionage training to stay off of the radar. Especially the American CIA, who he has caused problems for.

He has a well-paid job for a British company based in Madrid and is having an affair with a beautiful Married Spanish lady. He is a little paranoid and is always careful to cover his tracks from the British and American secret service organisations. It is second nature to him.

His company send him North on some important ground laying work for his company to do a business venture in the Basque region of Spain. While here, he meets with an ex-ETA man who Alec rather likes as a person. I can’t say much more without spoiling the story. All this leads to Alec opening up a Pandora’s Box. He can’t get the unwelcome Genie back into the bottle.

There are plans within plans. Diabolical scheming with the Spanish government and Alec finds himself as a free-lance pawn caught up in all of this. The whole saga is mind blowing right up until the end. The surprises come fast and furious. If you love a good spy thriller then I would strongly recommend this second Alec Milius novel. An absolute peach of a read.

View all my reviews

Monday, 13 August 2018

The Fortune of War by Patrick O'Brian (My Goodreads Review)

The Fortune of War (Aubrey/Maturin #6)

Once again, a spiffing read. I could not put this latest rendition of the Aubrey/Maturin seafarer’s sage down. This is the sixth story in the historical series. It is 1812 and the USA has declared war on the UK. This story is mainly focused on the ship’s physician, Steven Maturin. It is full of exciting intrigue and a real page-turner. Again the dialogue and narration bring the historical era alive. I can’t wait for the seventh story. This sixth tale all builds up to a thrilling climax.

Friday, 10 August 2018

The Ugly, the Bad and the Good.

Through the Storm -The Cruise - December 2017

The Ugly, the Bad and the Good.

After the storm in the Bay of Biscay, Lisbon was a Sight for Sore Eyes.

The Ventura

The Cruise Begins.

I’ve just finished a cruise on a P&O liner called Ventura. We went to Portugal and Spain with a final stop at Gibraltar before sailing back home. In all, the cruise lasted for twelve days. It was a very enjoyable holiday. Even in December, the weather is warm. Well, warm for a Northern European like me. The Mediterranean people were all wearing coats. Perhaps we tourists stood out like sore thumbs in our shorts and sandals.
We left Southampton on the 9th of December at night. We cruised out of the Solent by the Isle of Wight and then into the Channel. It was evening. Carol and I explored the ship. We went to dinner in the Saffron Restaurant at about 6.45 am.
Nothing eventful happened during the first night. There was football on the TV. I watched this and went out onto the balcony to look out at the sea. It was a calm night and the sound of the sea was soothing. After a moment of reflection, I went to bed. The next day came. We were up bright and early and went to the upper deck's canteen. The food was great and there was plenty to choose from. This became the order of the day while at sea. A cabin attendant cleaned our room every morning and every evening. The service was excellent.

The Storm.

We had past Brest, off the coast of North-West France, and we were into the Bay of Biscay. When night came, we went to the restaurant and noticed the huge ship was rocking about. The weather was getting stormy and windy. When Carole and I returned to the cabin, the intense weather grew stronger. We were on deck eleven with a balcony cabin. I looked through the window of our sliding doors. Even in the night, I could see the white surf of the sea. It looked vigorous and forceful. I instantly developed a respect for how powerful the sea is. Never had I witnessed such a storm at sea. I had done a couple of rough channel crossings from Dover to Calais. However, this storm was something else. Every time that I crossed the Bay of Biscay in the past, I had been fortunate to cruise in kind weather and a serene sea. This was my fifth time crossing and I was to learn how strong the wild sea can be. I’m sure this was not the worst storm a veteran sea traveller has ever witnessed. But, for a casual holidaymaker like me, it was a meaningful baptism to the volatile sea.
As I moved away from the sliding doors of the balcony, I had to stop Carole from falling over. The huge ship was listing to port. It must have listed about twenty degrees. That is just a guess, but it seemed much more. I steadied my wife and clutched a corner unit. We were listing to port and our cabin was port side. I was staring through the balcony window again at the tempestuous sea. For a moment it crossed my mind that we would list too far and the cabin doors would smash against the violent sea. It was unnerving. What was actually happening seemed logical, once the Captain explained after the manoeuvre. The huge cruise liner Ventura was turning about to face the oncoming 100-knot winds. We did not realise this at the time. I was having visions of the famous movie, The Poseidon Adventure.
Once the Captain had turned Ventura into the oncoming wind, the ship straightened up. However, the huge vessel still jolted as it hit the waves head-on. The Captain came over the loudspeaker and explained the manoeuvre. The fear subsided and I was left awestruck by how powerful the sea is. I kept having flashbacks to my original wonder at the size of Ventura. This was when she was docked at Southampton. We were all getting ready to board her for our cruise holiday. Then to think how water could make such a formidable vessel seem minor and insignificant manifested. I lay on the bed in the darkness. We had closed the curtains to the sight of the thrashing waves. I was no longer afraid. I just lay there unable to sleep. We rolled slightly and jolted back and forth to the crash of waves against the front of our titanic vessel. We did not get too much sleep. It went on for hours deep into the night. I can’t remember when it stopped. Perhaps I did doze off temporarily. We woke to a clear blue day. The sea seemed a little choppy but nothing like the storm.
We learnt that we had been through a violent cyclone. The Captain had ridden the storm with great skill and had now turned the ship about and was upon the original course for Lisbon in Portugal. Several people had been injured in the storm. Some were so unnerved that they were going to leave the ship at Lisbon. I don’t know for sure if they did. There was much talk but the dust may have settled after the event. It was certainly an experience. Especially when the ship was listing due to coming about. I imagine as the Captain turned Ventura into the oncoming wind, there was the moment when the starboard side was hit by the full force of the wind. I still can’t get over the fact that such a huge ship could list so far in the sea winds. It was fearfully awesome.

After the Storm.

Dinner and Stories of the Storm.

The next evening at the restaurant, Carole and I sat down to dinner. We had an older lady whose arm was bandaged. She had cut it from her wrist to her elbow when she fell over during the storm. A man said he was clinging hold of the bar and saw another lady in a wheelchair topple over. As the ship listed, people stumbled with the tilt. The wheelchair hit a table and the lady was tipped out. The man clinging to the bar explained that his other hand was firmly gripped on his pint of beer. He went to some lengths to explain how he was able to turn the glass with the vessel’s tilt and refrain from spilling a single drop.
We all looked at the more humorous aspects of the storm. The lady in the wheelchair was helped up and she was fine after the event. She laughed it off and continued with the cruise. The lady with the bandaged arm was the same. It seemed Carole and I was fortunate to be in our cabin. We went back to our quarters after dinner and retired for the night. I watched a football match before going to sleep.
When I woke the next morning it was still dark but the lights of Lisbon were glowing in the night. As I went out onto the balcony, the Ventura was passing under the huge bridge that spans Lisbon’s wide river. By the time we docked the darkness was gone. The morning presented a clear blue sky and promised a pleasant day. There was a slight morning chill, but nothing like I would expect for December. Also, another delightful surprise was in wait. This was my third visit to Lisbon via cruising. I love the place and it never disappoints me – ever!

The Bridge at Lisbon.

700th anniversary of Portugal’s Navy.

Lisbon is a Sight for Sore Eyes.

There was an array of Portugal’s navy in the River Tagus. We were told it was the 700th anniversary of Portugal’s Navy. This was an obvious cause for a historical celebration. The city centre is very close to where Ventura docked. One can walk into town from the ship. We knew the way as Carole and I have enjoyed the city on other occasions. Every time I’ve been to Portugal, it has been in the month of December and the weather has still been warm. I think that is why I love the city. The morning chill was subsiding and there was an expectation. Obviously due to the coming afternoon celebration of the nation’s memorial event. As we approached the open square that looks out over the River Tagus, we saw a long canopy covering an array of chairs. This was for Portugal’s various heads of state to celebrate the Navy’s 700thanniversary. I would imagine Portugal’s supreme head of state was there too. (I don’t know if they have President, Prime Minister or what the name is.)
We spent the morning looking around the city shops and then sat down for a cup of coffee. Once back on board the ship, I could not resist taking photos of some of the military ships. There was also a replicated Portuguese galleon. The type of ship one might have imagined Christopher Columbus sailing in. The day had become warm and we later went up onto the open deck and gazed out over the River Tagus while eating lunch. The violent storm was now a fading memory. I love ships and found this to be a wonderful sight. As I looked at the tiny replicated historical Portuguese sailing ship, I could not help wondering how such vessels braved the tempestuous seas when crossing to the Americas. Especially after the violent storm, we had passed through. I was looking down at a tiny wooden vessel. It might as well have been a rowing boat next to Ventura. It certainly made me think of the seamen of later days. There would be another wonderful replicated ship during my cruise. One that I would be able to board and walk about on. But that will be another story.

Replication of a Historical Galleon from Portugal.

I Think This was an Italian Ship.

Portugal's 700 years of Maritime History.

© 2017 colin powell

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Desolation Island by Patrick O'Brian (My Goodreads Review)

Desolation Island (Aubrey/Maturin #5)

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Once again, a superb historical read. These Patrick O'Brian novels set on the high seas of the Napoleonic times are a marvel. The language and whole presentation of the stories are very special. I felt as though I was there among the fabulous characters. This tale is wonderfully interwoven with Maturin devising a cunning plan of espionage. Aubery must pit his wits against a pursuing Dutch Man-of-War battleship. His ship is old and undermanned and those who are aboard are riddled with disease. He also has a compliment of prisoners being transported to Botany Bay.

The ever pursuing and skilful Dutch ship is always chasing. It has the vastly superior firepower to the fleeing HMS Leopard. Captain Jack Aubrey must try and stay one step ahead of the awesome enemy ship. I can't praise these books high enough. I've just bought the next title to follow this adventure. If you enjoy seafaring tales then I would highly recommend these Aubrey/Maturin sagas. They are so compelling.

View all my reviews

Friday, 3 August 2018



1. Did you enjoy the dreadful thought of the War of the Worlds Tripod Fighting Machines from Mars?

2. What About the War of the Worlds 1953 Radio Broadcast?

3. Or the Jeff Wayne War of the Worlds Musical?

Science Fiction Lovers Indulge This Thought.

Imagine, if you will, how it would have been to be a Victorian sailor from retro British times of 1898. You are on board HMS Thunder Child and the ship is picking up strange semaphore messages from the shore stations. Invaders from Mars are striding about and destroying the entire fabric of our nation. Would you believe such outrages things? The entire ship would be alive with speculation and disbelief. These sailors were destined to see three Martian fighting machines and confront the colossal edifices in battle.

As an impressionable young lad, I always found myself pondering such things.

I would walk about in my dream thinking, “If I was in that story, I would do this or that.” I found myself wishing for all sorts of adventures.

When I read H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds, I remember getting a tremendous lift out of the short excerpt when an ironclad called H.M.S. Thunder Child attacked three Martian tripods in the River Blackwater to save a paddle steamer full of refugees. 

Thursday, 26 July 2018

Everything Wrong with Hollywood and the Movie Industry of Today.

Everything Wrong with Hollywood and the Movie Industry of Today.

I bought Star Wars – The Last Jedi, on Amazon today. I had a day off and I thought, “Why not?”

Therefore, with great aplomb, I sat down with a couple of bottles of beer and began to watch. The fanfare was the same as the usual Star Wars movies. You know, the words giving a brief introduction of where we are in the Star Wars’ universe. It all looked promising.

The opening sequence was a grand space battle. This was a tempting appetitive. Lots of spaceships going into action. Explosions and supersonic death-defying and sometimes death delivering special effects. Then, when the grand action ended, we got down to the pathetic and weak nitty-gritty of it all. From here on in, it was deplorable.

I do mean bad. It went into a dive, like one of their burning spaceships dropping back to the planet. Or perhaps flatulence at an international trade conference.  This movie really bombed ‘BIG TIME’ for me. It was absolute crap! A universe of wicked white heterosexual males as the bad guys. None were capable of being in charge of the heroic rebel starships. White with a dick! No chance mate – you are a bad dude and that is all there is to it. Eat it and like it, you f~#king white male retards!

You are, as an audience, treated to a catalogue of special effects and artistic looking aliens. It’s like Jurassic Park mixed with Gremlins on Prozac. A pants (as in underpants) script or plausible story. I can just imagine the writers and the producers saying, “Don’t worry - force feed the f~#k wits on special effects. You know, the type they’ve seen a thousand times before.”

The movie industry, of today, is just polished excrement. Perhaps a little glitter too. It is a sad diminishing echo from the old movie industry of yesterday. There is nothing wrong with trying to be multi-cultural or having female champions. But this was overdosed and contemptible. It was virtual signalling going to the extreme. There was nothing subtle in the delivery. It was pathetic.

I am grateful that my nation and some other areas of the world have decent dramas to fall back on. This whole era of Hollywood movie making is dreadful. A movie making Dark Age.

America used to be glamorous because of its wonderful film industry. Today it is nothing more than a tired old theme park. This Star Wars movie is a, been there, seen it, done it, got the T-shirt.

Guess what? The bloody shirt doesn’t fit anymore and I think someone has already wiped their arse with it.

I’m sorry to repeat that this movie, in my humble opinion, is awful! I suppose it will be given an award by some actor/activist. The sort of celebrity with an over inflated opinion of his or herself. The sort who shouts out colourful expletives against the nation’s leaders. Then basks in the applause of such cheaply acquired nobility before giving a shiny trophy to a star-struck wannabe thespian, pretending to be overcome by the emotion of it all.

Sorry about the rant, but this movie robbed me of a couple of hours of my life. I would sooner have spent it in a dentist’s waiting room with a toothache. Honestly, this was multi-million dollar trash! Complete and utter!

Wednesday, 25 July 2018


The big kid, which still lives inside of my 58-year-old body, loves Doctor Who and his glorious enemies. Especially the Daleks! I can remember, as an infant, being terrified and compelled by the splendid bad guys. I recollect the later William Hartnell stories. Most of all, The Dalek Master Plan. The whole thing about the Daleks was scary yet very necessary to me. I enjoyed being spooked by them. I wanted them to be defeated but never completely destroyed. They always had to come back with another diabolical plan.

At the beginning of a Doctor Who Dalek story, there always seems to be a character that is nicely prepared for the big ghastly finish – a sooner or later reckoning with the Dalek death ray. A laser blast that engulfs its victim in a hideous and deadly aurora. A ball of pulsating energy in which the victim’s photographic negative withers in the final stages of agony before dropping to the floor dead.  Sometimes coupled with an agonising and blood-curdling shriek!

1. Power of the Daleks Lesterson.

As I kid, I remember the first Patrick Troughton story. I knew that the character of Lesterson in The Power of the Daleks would get exterminated. He started off thinking he knew what he was doing – much against the Doctors warnings. Then he was discovered coming out of the production line capsule. I have that vague memory of him trying to pathetically amuse and patronise the Daleks as he nervously tries to talk his way out of his predicament. It was to no avail as he was bathed in the deadly energy glow. His body form went to negative and then he seemed to linger before dropping lifeless to the floor.  

2. The Day of the Daleks - The Controller 

I also knew The Controller from Day of the Daleks was going to meet the same type of fate. The Controller was a robust character who led the downtrodden human slaves for the Daleks. He was no more than a superior slave and not really a bad person. Just someone trying to make the best of a bad job. He was untrustworthy material for the Daleks. When the Controller saw an opportunity to defeat the Daleks he secretly joins the conspiracy by aiding the Doctor’s escape but was later discovered. When he stood before the Dalek who made the accusations of treachery, the Controller went bravely before being bathed in the deadly energy glow that briefly turned his body form to a photographic negative. The glow went and he fell to the floor dead.

3. Genesis of the Daleks - Ronson.

Then there was the kindly Ronson from Genesis of the Daleks. A man that we all liked. A Kaled scientist who had genuine concerns about the way the development of the advanced mutations of his people was going. He was concerned about the mutated Kaleds being put into the mark one travel machines and having all their emotions removed except for hatred. Hatred was enhanced. I knew this well-intentioned man would become a victim of the Dalek death ray. As it happened, he was technically the first ever victim of a Dalek. Davros, the creator of the Daleks, accused him of being a Thal spy and orders him exterminated in front of the science committee. 

Ronson, in his final moments, is given space as his fellow scientists back away from him. The man stands there, vainly trying to protest his innocence. The scream comes from Davros, “Exterminate!”

Ronson is pleading, “No Davros…”

The Dalek ray zaps and poor Ronson’s body is bathed in the negative glow as he withers and screams in agony. Then the engulfing glow vanishes as Ronson lies dead across a table. I think Ronson was the most likeable of the characters that I remember getting exterminated. Not that the others, I’ve mentioned, were bad. The others started off a little up themselves but realised the error of their ways before getting exterminated by the Dalek heat ray.

4. Revelation of the Daleks - Vogel.

Vogel and Kara

My next memory, and perhaps my favourite, was the extermination of Vogel in Revelation of the Daleks. To be fair to the character of Vogel, he knew exactly what the Daleks were and was stealthily against them from the start. The character of Vogel is delightfully repulsive to me. He is a Uriah Heep type character. A snide and a complete crawler to his employer Kara. They (Kara and the subservient Vogel) both have delusions of grandeur concerning their cleverness against Davros and his Daleks. They believe they have outwitted the mad creator of the Daleks. During an over presumptuous celebration drink to the obliteration of Davros, they are rudely interrupted by a Dalek delegation. The actor, Hugh Walters, plays Vogel with a superb show of empty bluster as he tries to scold the Daleks for their rude interruption. In the most arrogant and camp voice he reproaches them.

“How dare you.” He blasts in his ladylike voice.

It is wonderful theatrics. We all know what is coming and his character has been nicely fattened up for the kill. I remember gloating and enjoying the scene because this character is a snide who has sent a knight and his squire on a deadly fool’s errand for his and Kara’s gain.

The Daleks delegation has no time for such a man off ill-deserved confidence. The Dalek heat ray engulfs him. The nasty side of me is treated to Vogel screaming and withering in the negative glow. When the deadly glow abates, Vogel has a lingering moment of thespian theatrics. He is still alive for one last pathetic and pitiful look at his mistress and employer Kara. He then falls to the floor dead. I loved this scene. It made me feel so wonderfully wicked and then I felt ashamed of myself. The actor was brilliant in his portrayal of this despicable man who only wanted to destroy the Daleks but is somehow portrayed as bad.

Kara kneels down beside Vogel’s dead body and says. “How inconvenient…” and then goes on to make a reference to how difficult it is to find good accountants these days. This was all smashing and fun stuff. I was 26 by this time and still watching the show with my sons. They were glued to it.