Red Koi Reviews

See what I've seen, hear what I've heard

Archive for July, 2006

“Paint your Dragon” By Tom Holt

Posted by redkoireviews on 30/07/2006

Paint your Dragon bookcoverMy Partner loves Tom Holt, and suggested this one would be a good one to start with. Tom Holt writes comic fantasy novels. They have a bit of a Pratchett leaning to them. This one is based on the legend of St George and the Dragon. In it, the classic ‘Good Vs Evil’ fight is back for a second round, except this time it gets very difficult to tell whose on which side.

Maybe I’m biased because I read most of it while I had a cold, but it just didn’t do it for me. The writing style tries to make over-the-top metaphors funny, and that just gets a bit boring after a while. None of the characters have a lot of depth or appeal. Although there is the whole ‘what’s good and what’s bad and what’s right’ theme going on behind the slapstick, it doen’t really carry the plot much further.

Having said all that, when my partner introduced me to Terry Pratchett, I didn’t like that much either. Perhaps they are both an acquired taste. Fellow wordpresser captainmaybe has also done a review you can read here.

My Rating: 2 Stars

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Posted in 2 Stars, Books, Reviews | 1 Comment »

Feet of Clay by Terry Pratchett

Posted by redkoireviews on 27/07/2006

As you may have noticed, I’ve been reading through the City Watch series of Discworld novels by Terry Pratchett. After having read ‘Guards! Guards!’ and ‘Men at Arms‘ I’m surprised to say that I’m finding it less enjoyable than mixing up different discworld novels. They may involve the same set of characters, but that doesn’t make it a trilogy.

Anyway, ‘Feet of Clay‘ is still a great read. Captain Vimes comes into his own as a character – one of my favorite. He starts finding a series of murders, and the Patrician is being slowly poisoned by something you don’t see . . .

Without spoiling the plot (which you can read here if you want) I’ll say that Golems come into the discworld and onto the watch. We also see the dwarf Cheery come into the watch series.

As with a lot of Prachett’s books, there’s a nice thread of moral or political opinion. In this case, he has a lot to say about class and privilege. As Vimes muses

“…He hated the very idea of the world being divided into the shaved and the shavers. Or those who wore the shiny boots and those who cleaned the mud off them. Every time he saw Willikins the butler fold his, Vimes’s, clothes, he suppressed a terrible urge to kick the butler’s shiny backside as an affront to the dignity of man.”

My Rating: 3.5 Stars

Posted in 3 Stars, Books, Reviews | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

The Secret River by Kate Grenville

Posted by redkoireviews on 20/07/2006

The Secret RiverIt’s not often I find a book that really moves me. ‘The Secret River‘ by Kate Grenville is one of those few. It tells the story of a William Thornhill, a lowly waterman on the Thames in the late 1700’s who is expelled from his struggle for existence in England to another struggle for existence in the penal colony of Sydney.

Thornhill has never had aspirations much higher than survival until his eyes fall on a piece of bush on the Hawkesbury River. He becomes almost obsessed with the idea of it – his own land.

His dream is quickly brought down to earth as it becomes clear that his dream is not shared by his wife Sal, who longs for her home – England. More pointedly, the local aboriginals fail to understand Thornhills claim. Though not a violent man at heart, his obsession with ownership of this small parcel of bush takes him on a slippery slope into acts that would have shocked his London self. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in 4 Stars, Books, Reviews | Leave a Comment »

A large attendance in the antechamber

Posted by redkoireviews on 16/07/2006

A large attendance in the antechamberMy partner and I went to see the play “A large attendance in the antechamber” last night at the Opera House. It’s part of the “Adventures in the Dark” series that also included “The hanging man” and “The Importance of being Ernest“.

The play is a kind of study of Sir Francis Galton – cousin to Charles Darwin, eccentric genius, scientist and founder of eugenics. The play oscillates wildly between trivial and hilarious oddities from Galtons life, and the truly confronting philosophy of eugenics that lead to some of the most horrific times in human history. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in 4 Stars, Reviews, Theatre | Leave a Comment »

Govetts Leap to Pulpit Rock, Blue Mountains

Posted by redkoireviews on 12/07/2006

Bridal Veil FallsAfter staying the night at Jemby, my Partner and I got up the next day to do the walk from Govetts Leap to Pulpit Rock. Compared to the Grand Canyon loop, it’s easy going, mainly because it doesn’t drop down to the floor of the valley. It is pretty rough in places though, so bring good boots.

The walk from Govetts leap rewards you early on with good views of Bridal Veil falls (see opposite). Take the time to look out over the spectacular Grose Valley. The natural amphitheatre formed at the head of horseshoe falls is spectacular – it’s shear cliff faces look more geometric than most of the cliff-line.

After horseshoe falls the walk is still nice, but not as spectacular as the previous sections. I suspect this stretch could have a lot of flowers in spring and summer. Once we reached Pulpit rock, we’d already seen so many amazing views that we probably didn’t appreciate these ones as much as we should have. That and the fact that it was bloody freezing made us turn round and head home.

My Rating: 4 Stars

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Jemby Rinjah at Blackheath

Posted by redkoireviews on 11/07/2006

Jemby RinjahMy Partner and I stayed at Jemby Rinah over the weekend for our anniversary. It’s an eco-friendly type of place, set in the bush on the fringe of the Blue Mountains National Park in Blackheath.

Environmentally, it has rainwater tanks, solar power, and a dry composting toilet. The wood fireplace is not at all environmentally friendly but it is very romantic and warming in the middle of a blue mountains winter. The Japanese hot-tub isn’t very envio either, but at least it uses rainwater that is heated (at least partly) by the log fire.

I really needed a little moment out of my busy life to wind down a bit a relax, and our stay at Jemby did exactly that. Combined with the walks from Evans Lookout and out to Pulpit rock, it added up to an excellent weekend.

My only (small) complaint was with the buffet breakfast. While it was at the better end of buffet breakys, it was very overpriced. My suggestion is go down the road to one of the cafe’s and eat there.

My Rating: 4 Stars

Posted in 4 Stars, Accomodation, Reviews | 1 Comment »

Evan’s Lookout – Grand Canyon, Blue Mountains

Posted by redkoireviews on 09/07/2006

Grand Canyon near Evan's LookoutMy partner and I went away for an overnight stay in the Blue Mountains for our 8th anniversary together. It we stayed at Jemby Rinjar, and went for walk from Evans Lookout down into the Grose Valley. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to do the full Grand Canyon loop track. But we did get as far as Rodriguez Pass, down near Greaves Creek.

This walk involves a lot of steps, so be warned, it will give your thighs a workout if your an office-bound worker like me. However, it’s definitely worth it. There are spectacular views out across the Grose Valley, rainforest, creeks and lot’s of birdlife.

The walk really reminded me how much I like bushwalking, and made me wonder why I don’t do it more often. Anyway, we have plans to go back and do the Grand Canyon loop track, which takes about 3 hours. See the National Parks and Wildlife website for more information, and a map of the walk located here. NPWS realy need to lift the quality of their website!

My Rating: 4 Stars

Posted in 4 Stars, Bushwalking, Reviews | 3 Comments »

Men at Arms by Terry Pratchett

Posted by redkoireviews on 08/07/2006

Men at Arms bookcoverMen at Arms‘ follows ‘Guards! Guards!‘ in the series of Discworld books that follow the Anhk Morpork City Watch.

The theft of a ‘perfect’ weapon – the Gonne, marks the beginning of a bad run of nastily killed people and dwarves. It’s left to the disreputable city night watch to solve the crimes, find the murder (as apposed to assassin) and prevent the city descending into chaos in the meantime.

Many of the more interesting City Watch characters develop in this book, and we meet new coppers like the Troll Detritus and Angua who grow on you in later books. Pratchett also uses the book to explore the power that guns can wield over normally good people – like concentrated power that quickly goes to the head and takes control.

I’ll be moving (slowly) through the rest of the City Watch series, so keep an eye out for reviews of them.

My Rating: 3.5 Stars

Posted in 3 Stars, Books, Reviews | Leave a Comment »

Jarhead (The Movie)

Posted by redkoireviews on 08/07/2006

Jarhead Jarhead is an unusual war movie about an unusual war: Desert Storm & the Gulf War. It’s based on the book by Marine Anthony Swofford about his experiences in Saudi Arabia & Kuwait.

The movie follows ‘Swoff’ and his fellow soldiers through the deserts, but mostly follows them through the boredom and directionless of a war fought primarily through air power, at a distance. This makes the rare encounters with death all the more horrific than in other war films. Think ‘Apocolpse now’ meets ‘Waiting for Godo’, except not as good as either of them.
It’s an interesting insight into modern wars and soldiers, but lacked a grand narrative, a message, anything to give it some real punch. Good but certainly not un-missable. As usual, check out the reviews at rotten tomatoes for a second opinion.

My Rating: 2.5 Stars

Posted in 2 Stars, Movies, Reviews | 1 Comment »

“An Inconvenient Truth” with Al Gore

Posted by redkoireviews on 02/07/2006

An inconvenient truthI saw this great documentary a few weeks ago, at a pre-screening. I work for the Total Environment Centre, a little environment group in Sydney, Australia. As a consequence I’ve come across a lot of different information about climate change. It’s all truly scary, but very little is aimed at people who don’t already get it. This doco is one of those rare things that communicates climate change in layman’s terms.

The documentary is basically a film version of Al Gore’s climate change presentation. Since having left politics (a shame) he’s been doing this presentation. A lot. Al Gore is a great orator – someone for whom eloquent speeches seem natural. He makes sense of a barrage of information.

Oddly, this film made me angry. Angry that the Howard government of Oz has actually worked to water down the Kyoto protocol and has done precious little to avert the biggest environmental threat our society faces. Angry that my partner and I have decided not to have kids, largely because the future looks that bleak.

On the upside, this film is making massive inroads into raising public awareness of climate change. Lot’s of people will see it, and hopefully the changes they make to their own lives and to their vote, will help to kerb climate change.

I really do urge everyone to see this film, and to bring along 2 friends or family who are not converted. I’ll be bringing my parents. Check out www.climatecrisis.net for what you can do. Truth gets an very high 92% on rotten tomatoes. Better than any other film reviewed by me.

My Rating: 5 Stars

Posted in 5 Stars, Movies, Reviews | 1 Comment »

 
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