‘Magpie’ by Paul Jameson – Review

A quaint wonderfully written short.. 

Magpie by [Paul Jameson]

Magpie is a quaint and wonderfully written short by Paul Jameson who immerses readers from the get go with his unique folklore style. Having read it in just one sitting this story serves as just a snippet of the authors ability to tell stories that fuses classic and modern style description and composition. Having read his other work ‘Nightjar’ this book carries the same feeling and of course just an edge of darkness so readers who enjoy one will certainly enjoy the other.

From the note at the end it’s clear to see this story found the author in some sense while he was exploring a real place which heightens the immersive element of the setting. There’s a level of mystique about near enough everything including the history of what happened in this world and our own imaginations are given the scope to follow a story the author first followed. This is a story and reading experience that I highly recommend.

5 Stars – Magpie is currently Free to download and you can grab a copy here for a very limited time.

If you interested in reading more about Paul Jameson check out a very recent Hall of Information Interview I did with the him here; it’s a must read insight!

Let me tell you a story…

This was going to be an Instagram post, but it deserves my best audience. Good things in this life are incredibly hard to find. Moments to be proud are too and even with everything that has unfolded this year from the depths of the unexpected, this milestone was always going to be celebrated. So let me tell you a story…  

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Ten years ago today I took a plunge into the unknown. Perhaps the biggest dive I have ever taken into the excitement of what could be. It was on the 21st of July 2010 that I first walked through the doors of the Iver Heath Drama Club a place that has always let me be whoever I want to be.

I’ve been to a lot of places, I’ve known a lot of different people. I’ve worked in different industries and socialised in many groups but I have never ever fit in anywhere like I have fit in at IHDC. This is the most important thing the club stands for; inclusion; something the world is always fighting for but something IHDC is ahead of the world with.

From being a performer which they always supported to writing their shows which they fostered and took on with care. To be a success in IHDC all you have to do is show up, embrace it and work hard – perhaps this formula can translate to success in all walks of life. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t of ever had the confidence to realise my dream of writing stories and now after all these years, here we all are.

I don’t write shows for me, I write shows for them. And after all the time that’s seemingly flown by, and especially after what is currently going on in the world, good things like the Iver Heath Drama Club deserve celebrating.

Thank you IHDC, for 10 years of memories, for the shows, the audiences, the moments, the friends and family I now have. Hopefully soon we can all get back together and do what we do best, put on entertaining, fun and all inclusive shows for the community.

Here’s to many more decades! Rock and roll man!

Thank you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Best books I’ve read this year… so far Part 2…

Because one measly blog post isn’t enough to cover the great books I’ve been immersed in during the first part of 2020 – year of the shit storm. And let’s face it, I love a sequel, I can’t help but leave the door open and in this sense it’s for the greater good of books so here we go, let’s dive in to some part 2 of best books….

The Girl Who Loved Cayo Bradley by Nina Romano

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Westerns have always captivated my imagination. From the likes of John Wayne and Clint Eastwood to the modern television epic ‘Westworld’ and even the final part of my all time favourite film trilogy Back to the Future Part 3. I’m a connoisseur of modern country music and have even dabbled in possibly the greatest video game story ever told which also happens to be a western; Red Dead Redemption 2.

With that in mind, it was only a matter of time until the right book came along and The Girl Who Loved Cayo Bradley is just that. Authentic history meets romance that spans over some years during a time in America where the modern world is still emerging. Nina Romano has constructed an epic tale of love that delves into Native American culture complete with the sights and smells. The love between the main protagonists is perceived as destiny and that’s how I saw it anyway. To quote my reviewIt’s both poetic and sometimes poignant while even being brutal in parts, of course the old world was back then and you cannot fault the factual elements that are intertwined with the fiction…’

‘The Quest For The Sun God’s Tomb : The Willie Abrams Saga’ by C.J Evans

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Continuing with the historic fiction theme we’re going a few years ahead to a post WW1 world where a pair of american veterans are living out their retirement in Cuba (booze was banned back home). While it seems to be the ideal life, the sun, the sand and the daiquiris, history soon catches up with Willie Abrams. It’s part treasure hunt come rescue mission with a little dusting of Indiana Jones – if he went to middle america on a mission to find an artefact and use it to bargain for an old flames release. And quoting my review; The Quest For The Sun God’s Tomb is an easy to read tale of action and adventure guaranteed to keep readers interested all the way to the end! This one will definitely whisk you away for a while!’

‘Scarred’ by Damien Linnane

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We’re going down the crime vigilante rabbit hole now with ‘Scarred’ by Australian author Damien Linnane who has put together a unique and sometimes violent tale that will question your judgement of justice. There’s a conflict in the story that runs throughout – that being whether or not the actions of the MC are right and wrong. To quote my review‘there are so many messages within the story such as revenge not always being the answer and the true morality of justice…’ 

American Blasphemer: A Novel by John Matthew Gillen

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This story captivated me like not many books do and I’m afraid that’s all I can say because ‘American Blashpemer’ is the first book I have read and reviewed for Reedsy Discovery and because it was an ARC, the review will be coming very soon, but trust me you don’t want to miss it!

Life Signs by Christina Engela

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The sci fi stories of Christina Engela appear quite frequently on my shelves, they are both fun and in good supply. Like the many of her books I have reviewed in the past ‘Life Signs’ deserves a shout out as well as the wider Panic! Horror in Space series. This one is a trio of stories that tie into the wider world of space, horror and even some comedy. To quote my review: ‘From poignant to quirky and fun, these stories pretty much cover everything that Engela is known for with a writing style and depth that will draw you in…’

‘Mr Mercedes’ by Stephen King

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Okay it may not be an indie book but sometimes we all need a break to switch things up. I bet Superman even has cheat days, not that I am comparing myself… plus I had this in paperback on my to read shelf for quite a while. Now I know, it’s Stephen King and if you tune into his twitter, we can probably describe his tweets as ‘interesting’ at best, he’s not quite at the J,K Rowling level yet but he’s on his way, the less said about that, the better….

Mr Mercedes is outside of the usual genre we all know and ‘love’ King for but he still manages to retain the depravity and the places he’s willing to go in order to tell a good crime story. That being retired detective who has let himself go is taunted by the criminal he never caught. It’s very readable, has a few gasp type moments and overall worth a look. You can check out my full review here

And so that wraps up another Best Books blog post. Of course there are still some other books which didn’t get a mention, so look out for them! Peace out, thanks for reading, stay safe… 

 

‘The Skeleton in Gelatin’ by Johan Michaels – Mini Review

A short and twisting tale of the unexpected that stirs the mind… 

 

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‘The Skeleton in Gelatin’ manages to entertain and stir the imagination of readers even if it is quite a short story. For what begins in one place slowly and gradually twists into something completely different and unexpected. This could easily be the premise of a Black Mirror episode with it’s sci-fi edge that uses intrigue as the vessel to carry the story.

For anyone looking to be briefly immersed and distracted from the real world then I highly recommend this book!

5 Stars – A different one for the Hall of information, but different is good even if I was unsure about what to say in a review for such a short book. 

So It Begins (A Night Audit Series Book 1) by Bruce Knapp – Review

A fun and intriguing but very relatable short story…

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Zach is having a bad day. His car has run out of gas and the local gas station only takes cash. That’s how this story starts and like the best of us when it rains it pours. His job is no better, it’s physical menial work that could probably be best described as back breaking and with a supervisor like his it was only a matter of time until he did what all of us sometimes dream of doing.

Soon enough Zach’s luck begins to change as his best friend advises him to apply for a new job opening; that being a Night Auditor for a hotel. He begins training and just when everything looks towards even more intrigue I found myself at the end of this book and chapter…

Everything is set in motion for what will become a journey of discovery for both Zach and the reader. Looking forward to reading more from the 5 part Night Audit Series.

4 Stars

 

 

Jack Thorn: A story of the Future: Chapter 4, Part 2

Empty brown vastness faced the First where he stood. From overhead came the whooshing rumble of jet engines. A trio of needle shaped air cruisers hurtled past and made for the horizon. He had watched them travel out and return from his rooftop vantage point all day.

His top advisor stood to the right. The Secretary of defence and with that eastern European tongue he spoke,

“The Army of Earth frontline has been reduced significantly First.”

His holographic image flickered momentarily.

“We have done more than enough to buy us the required time. Perhaps now we should think about…”

The First held up a solitary finger and interrupted,

“Retreat? There will be no such word used in this campaign Secretary. Everything you have given me has failed, minus the fighters currently pummelling those silly little humans at the other end of this planet.”

The glare he gave almost burned through the flickering image of his cohort.

“I am in agreement with you First, but you must consider the airborne resources for the invasion. Troop numbers will not grant us victory alone. I urge you to follow our plan.”

“And I urge you to do I say! Plans are subject to change in the current circumstances Secretary. Just keep building that unlimited army you promised, and I’ll keep buying you more time. In the next coming days my army will pull back, not retreat, into the rocky ridge. You can then have the cruisers back, in time.”

The First tapped his wrist commy and the Secretary’s image faded away. He spun around and then stopped dead.

“Time?” The concealed voice of Robot-K said. His darkened hood angled down to the First.

“Something which you promised me First, no?”

Robot-K extended his cloaked arm and gripped the First’s shoulder. A huge leather glove began to close.

“And you will have your time Robot-K. That is what I promised you.” He tried to move but Robot-K’s grasp strengthened.

“That is what, you earned,” he added.

“There are more whispers from the battlefield First. That name, Thorn, a Maverick…”

“I will strike down anyone who utters those two words!” The First forcefully broke free.

“They seem to forget what I did to the last Maverick,” he added and looked up to the shadowy hood with two wide eyes, and then turned away.

“John Thorn,” Robot-K said in a long breathless whisper.

“Gone, forever. To be never spoken of again,” the First said.

“Don’t make me ask you the questions Robot-K,” he faced the shrouded hood again.

“I, uh, remember her…” Robot-K’s stance loosened and his superior stepped in.

“Look at me Robot-K!”

In that moment images of the past raced around Robot-K’s vision. Everything centred around him in darkness looking down at one person. More memories seemed to flood in. Sunlight and birds chirping. Gentle and playful laughter. His gloved hand ran through blood red hair. Muffled speaking echoed to him.

“I know you,” the voice of a girl said.

The sunlight immediately shut off with a thud. Laughter and voices clunked to silence along with those birds. A more familiar voice led Robot-K out this trance. He came back to the reality of X43.

“I am, Robot-K.”

“And what will you do?” The First asked, his voice clearer than ever.

There came no reply from the darkened space from inside the robot’s red hood. A firm breeze whistled by in what seemed like an eternity for the First who couldn’t move.

“And what will you do?” This time his words came through gritted teeth.

Another lengthy pause was filled by yet another burst of wind. Just before the First’s words would reveal his panic, the tall and cloaked robot spoke,

“I will fulfil the destiny of our leader the Keeper who ruled before me over the robots and Warriors of old. I am Robot-K, guardian of the sword and have sworn my allegiance to the First.”

Robot-K looked down to see his gloved hand entangled in the First’s dark hair. He sharply stepped back and stood firm.

“As promised, you will have your time Robot-K, but you are not to forget who you are and your place. I chose you for what you did for me no matter what prophecies were laid out. Maverick or no Maverick, Jack Thorn will perish like the rest of the humans out there in that mud. If the battle doesn’t kill him, then I will.” The First charged away leaving Robot-K to stare at the murky horizon.

“There is another, a girl,” he said to himself.

*                      *                      *

“I want to wake up now,” Jack Thorn said in what tried to be a shout.

The croaky words that flowed out of his dry mouth brought him back to consciousness. All around the sounds of his surroundings tuned in. People talking and moving around. A bleep and a hiss here. The warmth, nothing like where he last lay cradling a rifle in frozen mud on the inside of a crater. He felt calm now, perhaps even sedate.

“Vital signs nominal,” an electronic voice said.

Jack slightly opened his eyes. The white burned the back of them for just a moment until he adjusted. A shimmering image lay in front of his view. A camera of some kind, it pixelated to almost transparency and then floated away revealing the room. The medical wing or even a hospital.

“Uh, what?” He panicked for a second to realise his two legs and two arms were intact. He felt stubble on a seemingly unharmed face.

“About time you woke up,” a deep voice said from the left. Jack recognised it from somewhere and just when he glanced to the next bed over, he remembered.

“Jones? Brock Jones?”

“In the flesh and horizontal. We took quite a hit out there on the battlefield,” Brock Jones said.

Jack saw the broad and tall man adjust in the less than comfortable sized bed.

“But don’t panic. We’re not off this muddy rock yet. This the HQ hospital,” Brock added.

“Wait a minute, that was you out there. The suicide artist running in to the field alone?” Jack asked.

Brock chuckled and cracked a smile,

“Ha, yeah. That was me. Got bored of talking shit in my alcove. Guess the big freeze got in my head, thought I saw incoming robots.

“What happened to us out there?”

“We got caught up in an enemy airborne offensive. Apparently the both of us were all blood and puke when they brought us in. They flattened most of the front-line base, all those tents and huts, taken down in a few swoops. By the time Army of Earth airborne could mobilise it was too damn late.” Brock made an exploding motion with both of his wide hands.

The others, I left them again. 

“But don’t worry, the trench lines are still there and pushing the enemy back. So your trench buddies are probably holding up. For a while I didn’t think it was you, without the hair and all. Good to see you in crewcut, like me. Not in a million years did I think I would be bumping into you on this rock.” Brock chuckled again, his deep voice bellowing throughout the medial wing.

“Likewise. It’s been a while,” Jack said.

“Since the academy I’ll say Too long. Especially for you, man that short time you were there. Pure comedy gold dude.”

“You were the one who had a big future planned after the academy. Me? Not so much,” Jack shrugged.

“I remember when you came strolling in, scholarship kid and all. Big ass chip on your shoulder but you were a decent athlete.”

Jack smiled as Brock took him back. He recalled a youth where mostly rebelled against anything resembling rule and order. Those days were so much simpler.

“And you decide to major in ethics at a sports medical academy. Jack Thorn, the ethics major.”

“Huh, yeah. Ethics. The snooty bastards didn’t know how to take that until I dropped out. I don’t know how you stayed,” Thorn said.

“Me. I looked more like a rich kid than you. Plus, I did that thing where you talk and socialise, what’s it called again? Integrate. Do remember that club you started? Roaming the streets of Cliffeville picking fights. What was it called? Robot fighting something?” Brock asked.

“That was Frank Connors brainchild. The robot fighters. We took it from the academy’s initials on their sports jackets,” Jack explained.

“Yeah they didn’t like that. Then what happened? There was that girl you followed out of that place. Katie?” Brock asked.

“I married her, and we got two kids. I guess the plot thickened after I broke out of there.”

“Sounds like you did something right.”

“Only a couple of things, I guess. What brings Brock Jones to X43?”

“Felt like a career change. My Father lined me up with a job working for him way back when. Something about robot crime. I became a pro wrestler instead, toured the outer planets for a few years but it didn’t come to anything.”

“Wait, you were a pro wrestler?” Jack asked.

“It kinda makes sense. You were the best on the academy team. If only they knew that,” he added.

“You tell my old man that. After turning his job down, we haven’t spoke since, asshole,” Brock said.

“That sounds all too familiar. So when do we get out of here?” Jack asked.

“Today soldiers,” a senior nurse said as she stepped between their beds.

“Your vitals are fine, and we need your beds.” The authoritarian looking nurse momentarily glanced down at a handheld tablet.

“Soldier Thorn, Jack Thorn. Guess you were right Jones,” she said and looked to Brock.

“Damn right I was, I mean, yes mam.”

“Soldier Jones insisted on staying here until he knew you were ok. Guess you are friends after all. The news is somewhat a little better from the front line today. They are saying it will be over in the next three months. You’ll both eat and then I’ll have your uniforms brought to you. Then you will both be discharged this afternoon.”

“Thanks mam, that sounds great mam,” Brock said. They both watched her glide away to the opposite bed.

“So that job your Father lined you up with. Did it have anything to do with something called the World Force?” Jack asked.

He then realised the son of a man he knew as Sarge was looking back at him with a semi-confused expression.

End of Part 10

NEXT WEEK WILL BE THE SEASON FINALE OF JACK THORN

READ THE FINALE HERE

Tune in Next week for another edition of Jack Thorn. Same Jack time, same Jack place… Remember if you enjoyed reading, tell a friend, leave a comment and share it around on social media…

Copyright 2004 – 2019 ‘Jack Thorn’ and ‘The Thorn Legacy’ Written By Lee Hall 2019 All rights reserved.  

 

Chappie : A story about a robot about humanity

In the future there will be robots…… You will probably get the rest as you have heard me many times ramble on about the first line of my book.  I was feeling a little anxious as I went into the cinema this past Friday to watch a new film called Chappie.

Anxious because my unpublished work deals with similar issues as seen in Chappie. Robots are centre stage and with me going into watch this film there was a hell of a lot at stake. My reason for this is because one day in the not too distant future I want to see my legacy of novels converted to the big screen. So anything robot related is representing the genre that my life’s work is under. But enough about my internal ramblings.

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From the very beginning Neil Blomkamp ( director of district 9) throws us into a world not that far away from ours. Johannesburg, South Africa. A place where crime is a big problem. So the police have started to draft in newly developed robots to deal with the gangs and violent goings on. Minutes in and we are treated to spectacular action.

Many of these police robots are involved and you know sometimes there’s that moment : ‘oh that’s a bit fake’. I’m not sure how they did it, whatever sorcery was involved worked. Because I was led to believe every robot I saw, engaging in combat was actually there.

The story continues to unfold and we are introduced to some well-known faces such as Hugh Jackman, Sigourney Weaver and Dev Patel. But they were matched by some rather unknowns who to me stole the show. Our title character begins life as a police robot and takes on heavy damage early in the first action sequence. This runs in parallel with some swanky new software being developed by Patel pulling an all nighter on red bull.

This software allows a robot to simply be human in terms of emotion and feelings. He can learn and is influenced by the people around him and from what he is told. The ultimate theme and concept that is familiar in all robot stories. But this time they got it so damn right.

Chappie is born and the real story begins. I found myself thoroughly enjoying this film. There were nods to Robocop and many of the 80’s sci fi classics in terms of certain themes and sequences. As much as it felt like one of those classics this also felt like a modern day better version of these productions.

I wouldn’t be able to compare this film or story to anything ever done on screen. It’s a fantastic original piece and represents the robot genre immaculately. There were moments when I laughed out loud and times when I was truly moved. Mostly by this robot who was just trying to find his way in the world. The story to me was beautiful, I have only been quoted once to say that about Titanic. Leo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet falling in somewhat doomed love whilst one of the worst disasters in history unfolds around them. This is all heightened by that tragedy. It’s perfect and although chappie isn’t as much a Romeo and Juliet story it still gives the same effect.

Although the action was quite violent in places, it was suitable for what Neil Blomkamp was trying to tell us. This film wasn’t about robots in the end, it was about humanity and its ability to make you laugh and make you cry with every other emotion in between. But it takes for something not human to try and be human for us to see that. (yes read that last sentence twice and slowly)

I came away thinking what an exceptional film and story. One film that I do recommend you seeing because it may not make you laugh or move you but it will certainly get you in one way or another.

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The film had some great thought provoking moments much this one