Archive for May, 2010

Suz’s Space comes clean

Posted on 31 May 2010. Filed under: Website Updates | Tags: , |

Yes, I did have a shower this morning so it’s nothing to do with that. I’m just making a confession.

I’ve been doing some business courses over the last couple of years and they all tell me to do different things so I’ve been referring to myself in the plural and making it look as if I have staff. The reality is that it is just me. All the work on the website, all the books that are listed, all the tweets on Twitter, all the work on the Facebook Fan Page are all done by me. I do have the odd person helping me, sometimes the kids will help by choosing some books for me and I take their recommendation, sometimes I’ll have someone helping me with a website problem but the bulk of the work is just me. While I do have the odd guest blogger the rest of the articles are all my own idea and work, except of course for Squid Ink, my stick figures don’t look so good.

Anyway, I know some of you have been wondering what I look like and possibly what I sound like so I’m going to share this video I made for a business forum I’m in. Yes, there are glitches but I did it on my webcam at home and I have no technical skills in that area. I will have other videos to share with you but they’ve been shot by a friend who has some video skills and a better camera. I bribed her with chocolate brownies.

What I’m really saying is that I’m one person and when you email or ring you only get me. You’ll get personalised service because that’s what I do.

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The Princess and the Frog

Posted on 30 May 2010. Filed under: Book Reviews | Tags: , , |

I was sent this movie to review and asked a friend to come over with her young son as my kids are in the wrong demographic and I wanted to get a young person’s take on it.

This movie was loosely based on The Frog Prince originally written by the Brothers Grimm. You know the story line with The Frog Prince…prince turned into frog and needs princess to kiss him to turn him back, yes? This movie was rather turned around and I liked it. The prince is turned into a frog and needs a princess to kiss him to turn him back, which is fine, but there aren’t any princesses around and the girl he thinks is a princess, isn’t. She kisses him anyway and is turned into a frog, this is the story of how they’re turned back into humans. While looking for a way to change back into human form they make some friends in the form of Louis, an alligator and Ray, a firefly.

Every good Disney story needs a villain and Keith David obliges with the voice for Dr. Facilier. There are also shadows who can attack the humans and the animals, there’s other animals helping the frogs and some lovely singing. Anika Noni Rose does the voice of our heroine, Tiana, and has a lovely singing voice. Bruno Campos voices our hero, Prince Naveen and Oprah Winfrey voices Tiana’s mother, Eudora.

There are a number of issues dealt with in this movie. It’s okay to have a dream, but wishing won’t make it come true, you really need to work at it. What you need is not always what you want. Other issues they deal with are death, funerals and a concept of heaven.

There is a little violence. Some is rather slapstick, in that Prince Naveen gets slapped flat with a book, twice, with a book titled, The Frog Prince. Some men are hunting frogs for their legs and there is some violence there until one of the frogs starts talking, at which point the men row away at top speed. When Tiana is a frog she is grabbed by the shadows and my friend’s young son was rather frightened by this scene.

Other things you need to know about this movie. It’s set in New Orleans in the 1920s and the hero and heroine are not white, they are both coloured and Tiana is patronised quite severely due to her gender and skin colour. We both looked at each other with pleasure as it is such a change to have both lead characters of colour.

Yes, I liked the movie. I found it quite enjoyable, it was really good to see stereotypes challenged in a way that young kids can understand. I liked the songs and the animation was nicely done.

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Squid Ink LOTR

Posted on 28 May 2010. Filed under: Squid Ink | Tags: , |

Squid Ink Lord of the Rings

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Embers – Laura Bickle

Posted on 27 May 2010. Filed under: Book Reviews | Tags: , , |

I was fortunate enough to get this book from a fellow blogger TezMillerOz.

Embers - Laura Bickle

Anya is an arson investigator with the Detroit Fire Department while moonlighting with a team of eccentric ghost hunters. Anya is the rarest type of psychic medium, a Lantern, and suspects a supernatural arsonist is setting fires to summon a fiery ancient entity that will leave the city in cinders.

This is Laura Bickle’s first book and I can’t wait for the second one. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. There’s fantasy, gritty reality in downtown Detroit, a familiar of the best kind and the most gorgeous ghosts, I particularly liked the librarian who had to stay as she had so many books to read. I didn’t like the sex scene, maybe it’s just me not liking these sort of things in my books or maybe it’s because it showed how little self-control Anya had is something I can’t tell you. The scene itself was nicely written but I don’t get why a character who is usually so strong in so many ways gives in to temptation on this one occasion. Most of the other characters are well written and almost jump out of the page.

It’s not the sort of book I would have picked up if I’d seen it in a shop or a library as I don’t generally read paranormal, but I’m glad I did read it. It is well put together with a nice progression and is certainly a page turner. At one point with very little to go I had to see how many pages were left to see if I could afford the time to sit and finish, unfortunately there were too many pages so it had to wait.

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Nothing much to say tonight

Posted on 26 May 2010. Filed under: Rant and Rave Time | Tags: |

I have plenty to write about but I want to apologise for not writing the last couple of nights. I do have a reason, whether it’s good or not is not really for me to judge.

Monday night I was running late with cooking dinner and I was doing my best impression of a professional chef with my lovely sharp, and big, chef’s knife. I was almost finished cutting the vegetables, it was in fact the final cut before starting to cook when my knife took the tip off my finger. I am truly grateful my eldest did her first aid training and wants to be useful as she immediately swung into action and ran off for a bandaid. She’s very sympathetic and applied the bandaid quickly, then went back for more medical tape as it was the very tip of my finger and bandaids don’t stay on that place very well. By the time she’d finished ministering to me I had three layers on my finger. I finished cooking dinner and later on found typing rather challenging due to the increased size of my finger. The letter ‘t’ was especially challenging to type so I put out an apology on Twitter and Facebook and have only been typing small amounts or the most needed things since then. I took the bandaids off today and it’s much easier to type now. I’d like to take a moment to thank everyone who expressed concern about my ‘injury’, it was nice to see everyone asking about me. I can reassure you the worst part is my nail and that will grow back very quickly.

I have the next few night’s articles planned out. I will be reviewing a book by Laura Bickle called Embers, posting the weekly Squid Ink cartoon, reviewing a movie and unveiling the first Suz’s Space video. If you want to see me doing what I do best, talking, then stay tuned and I’ll give you a link to it.

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Doctor Who

Posted on 23 May 2010. Filed under: Rant and Rave Time | Tags: , , , |

Doctor Who, is it science fiction, fantasy and does it matter?

I was reading a slightly aged article today written by Sir Terry Pratchett about Doctor Who and why he keeps watching. Doctor Who is one of those love-em or hate-em programmes, I haven’t found anyone who is in-between. The original series until they were revived with Christopher Ecclestone had very dodgy sets and incredibly cheap special effects, one of the episodes had monsters covered with bubble wrap that had been sprayed green, you can’t get much cheaper than that. The science was always there and you knew a lot of it was possible, but in the current series the science is very much out there in the realms of the totally impossible, that assumes that it’s actually based on real science and not just made up.

Pratchett talks about the laws of narrative and that if there’s an axe in the room in an obvious place then it will be used at some point. He also talks about deus ex machina and how the Doctor really has become a god from the machine. Now I’m not entirely happy with that as one of the appeals of Doctor Who is that he was always very much human and he generally pointed out he wasn’t human by mentioning his two hearts. Now, his behaviour is very much alien and very bizarre. He doesn’t listen, at all, in Tom Baker’s day you knew he was listening and then pretending it was his idea, but at least he was listening. Now, these companions are just there to be talked at and that irks me, most especially as I still believe Karen Gillan would make a fantastic Doctor Who, she has so much potential just waiting to be tapped and she’s being kept sitting around with her mouth covered so she can be a sounding board.

I did start off with an actual goal in mind with this article, but that was several hours ago and I’ve managed to watch another episode since then. I’m beginning to not want to watch Doctor Who any more. It’s crossed the border and is mostly in the realms of fantasy, the science is rather scarce, the fantasy is rather dubious and the new Doctor just doesn’t excite me. The writing has ventured beyond the border of fandom and has stopped being the Doctor that I knew and loved, it seems to be more about the special effects and less about the story and the characters. I do understand that the Doctor has always been a little different but I think they’ve taken that interpretation way too far.

Next week I’ll be asking myself if I really want to watch this episode. That’s always a challenge as my computer gives me a decent view of the TV so even if I’m not watching it I’ll still be able to watch it…if you see what I mean. I have three other people in the house who will watch it.

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Website update

Posted on 21 May 2010. Filed under: Website Updates | Tags: , , , |

I’ve alluded to a few changes that have been happening to the Suz’s Space Website over the last few days. The changes aren’t over yet, but are almost there. If you’ve been looking for the website today you might have had trouble as we’ve been moving webhosts. When you move house there are always glitches and this move was no different. The biggest problem was with photo names, I didn’t do enough research when I set up the first website and didn’t realise spaces in file names were a big no-no so I had 2,000 photos with spaces in the file names. How wrong can you get? I was told of my error a few months ago and have been getting it right since then, but when the lovely and multitalented Tamara told me none of the photos were showing up with the move, I took the opportunity to fix everything up. I deleted all the photos so I could start with a clean slate and then re-attached them all with underscores in the place of spaces. With almost 900 listings it was not a small task but better done now than when I had 2,000 photos. There are a few photos I couldn’t find so until I find the books and retake the photos they are blank.

The biggest problem now is helping people find the right website. If you use your bookmark you’ll end up at the wrong IP address and any orders will go into cyberspace never to be found again. I’m sure there’s a book waiting to be written about all the things floating around cyberspace. I suggest you use this url http://suzs-space.com/ and for the tech savvy it should take you to this IP address 112.140.180.163.

Emails might use a different url such as http://www.sciencefictionandfantasybooks.com.au. Don’t be alarmed, it is still the same company and we still carry the same books. The number of science fiction and fantasy books we have waiting to be listed for your buying, and therefore reading, pleasure is hard to estimate but it’s certainly much, much more than any other genre so this new url makes sense. In due course you’ll be able to find us with either url, I just have to remember how to do the technical bits.

No, I’m not having trouble with my pronouns. One day I’ll explain.

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Preview of stuff

Posted on 20 May 2010. Filed under: Website Updates | Tags: , |

Squid Ink Oz

I have a lot of little things in progress at the moment. This is something that’s been on my mind for a while and it’s time I showed the world what wonderful treasures I’ve been given. This is part of a series of cartoons provided to me by a talented young person. I have several of them waiting in the wings and intend to unveil one each week from now on.

I’m in the process of trying to provide ebooks to people as they sign up for my newsletter. The process is interesting and it’s not working. I know I could do it the cheat’s way and just do them myself rather than making them happen automatically, but I don’t fancy relying on my memory.

The Pre-loved Books @ Suz’s Space Fan Page on Facebook is gradually taking shape. There are now enough fans/likers to enable me to request a vanity url for it so you don’t have this massive great big link. In a few days it will be even easier for you to share it with your friends so they can come and join in the word fun.

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Where did that come from?

Posted on 19 May 2010. Filed under: Rant and Rave Time | Tags: , |

We’ve been watching a fair bit of TV this last few days. I’ve had a lot of work to do on the website and I work best when I have some music or video to help keep me focussed. I can already hear all those people who shouting at me about how it’s best to work without these distractions. I know all the arguments, I know what the experts say but I’ve always worked better with some background noise. I used to study in front of the TV, in year 12 I put loud music on, when I was doing data entry I used to work with my headphones on one ear while talking to my group and things haven’t changed. I can’t always work with noise as I need to be aware of the other people in the house but today was good as my youngest can also work while the TV is going and mostly shares my interests.

Sunday night was Doctor Who and they used a teleporter to get Amy out of trouble. The word was coined by Charles Fort in 1931 in his book Lo!. I must admit to not having read this book and did have to find this information on Wikipedia. The first time I can remember the concept was in Star Trek and I’m sure I knew what it meant as I don’t think I asked about it; being the youngest of four I only to had to ask to receive an abundance of answers. I haven’t asked any Doctor Who experts, but I’ve been watching it much longer than the experts resident in this house and this is the first time I recall them using a teleporter.

Yesterday we were watching Bewitched. The original series, first screen in 1964 with Elizabeth Montgomery as Samantha Stephens and Agnes Moorehead as her mother, Endora. Endora did not get on with her son-in-law, Darrin Stephens, played by Dick York or Dick Sargeant and there were many disputes between them. The one on Monday, Endora put a photo of herself on Darrin’s desk at work. He was infuriated and tried several times to destroy it, he only succeeded in destroying his desk. The bit that struck me was Endora moved within the photo, a technique we saw with great effect many times in the Harry Potter movies. Just like Harry Potter this series was also about witches with some of them married to humans, the main difference is that there is no young boy in danger. I don’t recall a witch school, but it’s highly likely.

What I’m really pointing out with only two examples is the idea that people create something, a idea, a concept and that thought is so powerful that it is used and used and used so many times. I do wonder if the person who decided to use that concept in Harry Potter had actually seen the episode of Bewitched or if they had thought of it themselves.

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The Enemy – Charlie Higson

Posted on 17 May 2010. Filed under: Book Reviews | Tags: , , |

Before I head into writing a few words about this book I feel you deserve to know why I haven’t been writing much lately. I’m having the odd trouble with my website and have been spending a lot of time trying to fix it up behind the scenes to ensure customers don’t have any problems with it. Things are progressing well, although somewhat more slowly than I’d expected. I hope to have everything right by this weekend, but until then my writing might suffer. I’m trying to ensure I spend enough time on Twitter and Facebook but this is at the expense of some other forums. Just before this happened I did manage to sign up as a Supporting Member of AussieCon4, I hope to be able to pay the full amount by July as I’d really like to attend. There’s exciting things happening in the Australian science fiction and fantasy writers world and I’m going to be on the periphery of it. I’ll give you more information in due course. Heading into the book now, promise.

This is one of those books I got through Twitter. Penguin were good enough to send it to me when I pointed out a typo in their online book extract during a competition. This book is set in post-apocalyptic London. The premise of the story is that every person over the age of 14 has been struck down with a deadly disease. The lucky ones die quickly, the unlucky live on with few brains just wanting to eat meat, they don’t discriminate; dogs and children are both on the menu. We don’t know what caused the disease and we don’t know what happens when people turn 14. This story shows us some of the children one year after the disease first strikes. We see it from several points of view, kids in charge, kids not in charge, boys and girls. We see what sort of person they need to lead them now and what qualities they must have in order to get their charges through this dreadful time. This is mostly from the point of view of a group of 50-60 kids who have holed up in a place called Waitrose only venturing out to find food. One day a boy comes in and says there is a group of kids building a better life in Buckingham Palace. So, off they go to Buckingham Palace with their weapons. Yes, they do make it there but it’s not the end of the story.

I have so many questions about this book and I don’t know where to start. Many of them won’t ever be answered as the story couldn’t ever go there but some of them will most likely be answered in sequels. I can’t talk knowledgably about the sequels as I can’t find anything on the web and the only mention is in the back of the book. The Enemy Is Waiting is due to come out some time this year and I will be waiting with bated breath for it as I need some answers.

Charlie Higson is a talented writer who knows how to keep the tension well and truly tight. I’m not really a reader of horror books, I have read some in my time, classics such as Dracula and the first official sequel, Dracula the Undead, some Stephen King and various other horror authors so I do have some idea of what makes a good horror book. Yes, I even saw Alien, but that was in a movie double immediately following a zombie movie so I actually laughed during Alien as it just wasn’t scary in comparison to the zombies. The Enemy lays it on the line, it tells you exactly what to be scared of and then details it again and again and again without ever letting go. The characters are believable and the situations seem credible. We are told of what happened at the beginning of the disease and it harked back to Lord of the Flies (a terrifying book) but also gives us hope by telling us that the behaviour changed when the adults started killing the kids.

Oh, and that typo? It’s not in the book.

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