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The Revalation (sic) is actually The Revelation, and is nothing to do with the book front here. ABOUT THE AUTHOR Bentley Little (1960 - ) is a native of Arizona, USA. A graduate MA in English and BA Communications Literature, Little has undertaken a number of jobs including working as a reporter in the newspaper industry, video arcade attendant, rodeo gatekeeper, and so on, prior to taking up writing full time. He lives in Fullarton, CA, with his son and ethnic Chinese wife Wai Sau. His other (known) nom de plume is Philip Emmons. PREAMBLE With this tome, which constituted Little's submission for his MA thesis and is his first book published in 1990, Little writes about occult occurrences in his old stamping ground of the state of Arizona. This is where presumably he feels most comfortable, and where his best writing takes place. What the book offers is the traditional good - versus - evil scenario, Satan totally sacked off by the treatment he gets from God, and is hell (!) bent on getting revenge but in a slightly diffent setting. THE DETAIL With this book, Little presents an overtly occult, supernatural, black magic kind of work; the local church of Randall, AZ, has been hideously defiled by Satanic forces, an 80 - year - old lady mysteriously gets pregnant, and domestic animals have been hideously butchered. This is not, however, limited to the animals - soon, the good citizens of Randall befall the same horrible fate. Into this hotchpotch of evil and disgusting goings - on, a wandering bible basher (sorry, preacher - man) arrives promising dire things and an apocalyptic end to the existence of the town .... but, as with all heroes and villians, there's someone there determined to make sure it doesn't happen. PERSONAL THOUGHTS Okay, so this is Little's first real foray into serious Horror fiction, so maybe we should give this author a bit of latitude. The tale starts out strongly enough, with a solid 'setting the scene' opening. However, it seems, in parts, as though Little wants to be somewhere else, maybe washing the car or chugging a few beers and chewing the fat with a few good ole boys. The plot seems to be all over the place at times, then settles down to offer the reader some truly heart - stopping horror that tugs at yer vitals with some really visceral violence that reminds me of Shaun Hutson in full - on psycho mode. This isn't the first Little book that I read, so I persisted with it because I happen to think he's a writer with real talent and he has some very original ideas. This tome doesn't work that well though; indifferent characterization at times, I feel, as he seems to be only partly interested in developing the plot and then eventually bringing it to a regretful and rather weak end. Bit like the ending of Koontz's 3rd Odd Thomas book - decent chunks, but anaemic denoument. SHOULD YOU BUY IT? On reflection? perhaps not. Certainly not at the full asking price, anyway (You should be able to get it for less than a fiver on line); see if you can pick it up cheap. But, as I have written before, these things are always highly subjective so one man's meat, etc. ... Don't let this put you off - he's done some amazing stuff! BOOK DETAILS ISBN: 0-451-19225-7 Published by New American Library Inc.
I'm not going to dwell overly on Koontz's proliferic rate of production, his miserable home life as a youngster, his wife Gerda, or his dogs. That's been done to death. Instead, let's concentrate on this remarkable character, 'Odd' Thomas, of Pico Mundo, SC, USA. The first in the thus far 4 - book Odd Thomas franchise, this offering is an introduction to an individual invested with other - wordly faculties in an ordinary setting. The thing about OT (for brevity) is that he 'sees' dead folks, amongst other things, although 'seeing' when applied to the deceased is a sense worthy of further investigation. (They can't talk to him, though.) Especially when one of the dead people that hangs around Pico Mundo is none other than Elvis Presley ... and, a terminally (!) morose EP at that, as one may expect. Oh, yes, and some of the other entities that OT sees are 'bodachs', which are malignant, semi-formless spirits that tend to congregate in increasing numbers when something awful or atrocious is about to occur, and then they feed off the negative vibes (for want of a better word) that are emitted when gratuitous death and destruction occur. This does actually mean that a significant number of deaths are about to occur in this quiet little town, given the numbers of bodachs that are attracted to Pico Mundo. This is seemingly what is really going to happen in ordinary, one - horse - town Pico Mundo, which gets OT's back up no end .. Anyway, OT's peculiar 'gifts' put him into pecular, and deadly, situations, especially when he sees bodachs. He does not, however alert them to the fact that he can detect them, as to do so would imperil his life. A young dead English boy alerted him to this, with unfortunate consequences ... Into the town of Pico Mundo comes a man with something very unusual about him; well, he is an object of great interest to the bodachs, for a start. On encountering him, OT dubbeth him the Fungus Man because of certain unsavoury and fustily mycological aspects to his physiology, and using another aspect of his mysterious gifts, OT can psychically locate the Fungus Man, and in so doing, gets a distinct feeling that some bad mojo is comin' down in li'le ole Pico Mundo. He only has the assistance of his woman, his good friend the head honcho in local law enforcement, and of course the King of Rock 'n' Roll, to assist him in preventing a massacre. So, in 'setting the scene' with masterful craft and guile, Koontz weaves a mesmerising tale of high intrigue, suspense, pathos, and outright terror. Told in classic, good - versus - evil storytelling mould, OT is one of those rare tales that creates a truly believable sense of miasmic atmosphere and grim foreboding, mixing tension with mundanity, humour (OT's acerbic one liners are a revelation) and sadness. As usual, Koontz brings his traditional strengths to this book; high poetic vocabulary, (not to everyone's liking, admittedly, but it is really effective at painting a vivid picture out of the written word) the construction of suspense, and a rivetting style that is reminiscent of that old literary cliche 'a real page turner ... I could not put this book down' but which is actually true with this tome. What Koontz also succeeds in doing with this book is taking preposterous characterisation (EP) and unlikely plotting (mass murder in a sleepy little town in the middle of an American nowhere) and make it all so relentlessly believable. That, for me, is the story's real triumph. Oh, and it has a sad ending, too. Refreshingly different, but I don't actually think that the goodies should live happily ever after all the time.
The Store by the Arizonan horror writer, Bentley Little, is an absolute gem. Now, you may, or may not, see this tome as an allegorical swipe at Wal - Mart, but I'm sure it isn't intentional ... hm. Like many of Little's (and, indeed, others' horror fiction) books, The Store is set in the hicksville milieu of the American mid west, in Arizona, and concerns a small town that is fairly isolated from large population centres, very much in the manner of much of so - called 'middle' America. This is an area that Little is evidently comfortable with, although he does venture away from his home town locale with other books that he has written. Into this ostensibly idyllic 'American Dream' setting comes The Store, a monolithic, cancerous growth of unfettered capitalism with a sinister hidden agenda that is spreading its tentacles across the entire country, town by town, city by city. This is where the comparisons with Wal - Mart come in, as the parasitic roots and modus operandi of The Store start to resemble the slash and burn tactics of the aforementioned WM, thus eliminating the competition and having the town's consumers (sorry, citizens) at its mercy. If you care to look around you, there may indeed be similarities that you can detact on your own high street. Faced with this seemingly unstoppable and pernicious force are the 'goodies' of the town of Juniper, AZ. Headed by the affable yet strong - willed Bill Davies et al, a man who realises that The Store is slowly but surely spreading its malignant influence into every facet of town life - police service, local government, and the entire machinery of local 'democracy'. Having the town's population now in thrall to its deadly commercial embrace, The Store insinuates itself into the very fabric of the consumers (golly, there I go again ... ) customers' purchasing instincts to get them to buy home brands (bit like Tesco's 'Value' baked beans - see my review to that effect ... ) and to generally pervert them into doing its bidding. Moreover, the overtly sinister aspects concern the activities of the 'night managers', a shadowy, oleaginous group of Store workers who may - or, may not - be quite human ... so, the question has to be asked: what exactly IS The Store up to, and what is the ulterior motive of its CEO, Newman King? Hm .. what, indeed .. The Store is a finely observed study of small - town American politics and life; this is something that Little does particularly effectively, with his ability to attach evil, sinister goings - on, and general skullduggery to even the most banal and ordinary things in life. Little brings out the characters' strengths and weaknesses, and creates a sustained and growing sense of dread and menace to very good effect. He clearly knows his geographical locations - its oddities, and narrow parochialisms, very well. This offering from Little is well worth a read, as indeed are many of his other tomes, especially The Mailman, The Association, and the University. Check him out.
No apologies for this review, whatsoever. I am now in my eighth year as a recovering smoker, and in that time I haven't succumbed. I used to smoke L and B which are a pretty much of a muchness in terms of flavour, etc., and far better than that dogshyte that some foreigners have to put up with. The inhale is smooth and sure, with a guarantee of a more or less instanteneous hit when the nicotine gets in to your bloodstream, and then whacks the pleasure receptors in your neural pathways scant moments later. Shame about the ensuing cough, though ... Sure, these things are now extremely expensive, which may account for me switching to roll ups before I quit for good, and risking my health even more. In the end, L and B ended up killing my mate Phil with lung cancer at the tender age of 43, leaving a young wife and daughter less than a year old. But, hey, the packet is a nice glossy colour, and they're extremely easy to light up.
I am, and always have been, a bit of a fan of baked beans despite the rather unfortunate connotations that beans associate with chronic flatulence. (Blazing Saddles comes to mind.) In terms of 'own brand' products (see: my review on gravy granules, below) I have no problem with this kind of marketing. Having worked for a well-know manufacturer of frozen foods some years ago, I could not help but notice how the company switched from producing their own stuff to a supermarket own brand, including Waitrose AND Sainsbury's AND Tesco's by the way, and that the products were exactly the same. The range of foodstuffs I saw this process taking place with included puff pastry, cream cakes, fish fingers, and so on. From then on, I resolved to buy the cheaper own brand stuff, and not been disappointed much since. Tesco's Value baked beans are fine; they do the job on a couple of slices of toast, and are great when you melt some cheese in the pan with them. Hmm, lovely, I could almost rush off and gobble some up now ... so, don't be put off, especially in these austere recessionary days - cheaper does NOT necessarily mean nastier.
Oh, dear, this review may make me a bit unpopular, but there you go. I used to use gravy Granules (Bisto, and other brands) but stopped doing so a few years ago. This was partly in response to feedback from those who actually put it on their Sunday roasts, which naturally includes me. To me, granules now represent a bit of a short cut to making real gravy. It definitely does not taste the same, and has that rather 'artificial', 'fast food' quality about it, a bit like something slapped together in MacDonald's. My preferred method is to use stock cubes, sprinkled with mixed herbs, Lea and Perrins' Worcester Sauce, meat juices, and then brought together in a happy marriage with (preferably) Brown and Polson Cornflower if you can get hold of it, or a supermarket own brand, to thicken up the confection. I quite understand that this may not be to everyone's liking, especially on those days when several pans are boiling at once, kids are squabbling noisily, and some of the family are back from the pub and ravenously hungry, but with planning it can and does work out. Yep, easy to say, I know ... But, it's all about personal preferences when it comes down to it.
As a brand name, Phillips carries its own cachet, as well as owning a top European footie team! Seriously, the brand is an extremely well known and widely used name in terms of its fairly eclectic range of products. As such, Phillips is considered to be reliable and trustworthy by the consumer. Or, is it? In terms of the product in question, the HDR 3700 is one of those devices that may seem at first to be hard to set up and get going, and to operate, but that isn't the case with this machine. Again, it depends on how adept you are at reading and interpreting the product manual, which I usually find impenetrable but surprisingly not with this thing. Running the recorder should be a doddle, but I didn't find that to be the case all the time. The remote should also be simplicity itself but again I found that this is not necessarily the case. It has a built in Freeview, which is fine but I prefer the greater range on VM more to my liking. But, the level of picture quality is fairly good if you're running a DVD film. The Price is a bit steep for what you get, and the cheapest seems to be on Amazon. There's cheaper alternatives out there, and in some cases the quality may rival or exceed that of this machine. Bit of a 'pay your money takes your chances really'. With hindsight though, I'd not get another of these, but may be pay a bit more for guaranteed quality.
I'm by no means an expert on how to make a bit of dosh, or earn vouchers, or whatever on line, so my review may not be of much use. However, what I have found is that I get a lot of satisfaction out of offering advice to others, and taking back advice in turn. To me, perks don't necessary and exclusively mean pecuniary gain; it could be about going to a site like tripadvisor.com (see: previous review) to gather good, sound, accurate information on places I've never visited before. The benefits of that are obvious. Or, to get recipes, or to learn how to do Do It Yourself. The possibilities are endless. In terms of money, there is of course this place here that the reader will obviously be aware of, and other sites such as valuedopinions. com., that also offer tangible rewards, or the glaring example, EBay. Also if, for example, you're interested in publishing and getting paid for it, there are any number of websites that offer financial reward through building your own website and attracting revenue, such as thesitewizard.com. You may also wish to check out the major publishing houses. On the downside, there are an awful lot of problem sites out there, and many that promise the earth and yet deliver very little, if anything. The trick is to be judicious with your choices, read the blurb very carefully, and take advice from people who use tried and tested methods.
As any readers of my reviews will know, I have spent a lot of time gadding about going to conferences abroad, and stuff like that. This, naturally, entails staying in hotels, using various airlines, going to restaurants, and so on. I've only relatively recently come across Tripadvisor.com in the last year or two, and use it to check out hotels I've never used before to see if they're any good. A friend of mine put me onto it, as I was going to book a hotel in Bangkok that is apparently dodgy and riddled with 'orrible crawly things. Anyway, I have subsequently found this web site to be invaluable; the range of facilities available to use are very comprehensive, and quite exhaustive in terms of what is available to assess. For example: let's say you're off to Crete for a couple of weeks. The site gives you a good, assessed, list of 'things to do' whilst you're there, what airlines to use, listed hotels with reviews, holiday guides, holiday ideas, and so on. All backed up with their personal emailing service when you join. Given that the average traveller will spend a significant amount of time in their hotels, it's advisable to make sure that you pick the right one for you. So, on that basis, I would highly recommend using the search results for the place you're staying in. Example: Bangkok lists 525 hotels in descending order of popularity. This includes details on each hotel's amenities, a map, and pictures of the establishment, and how many stars it has. This, together with often quite lengthy and detailed reviews by users. You can also get the current daily rates per room, too. On the downside, the only real problem that I can see is that each review is by its nature highly subjective, and what some traveller from North America dislikes may not present much of a problem to you. But, it pays to spend a bit if time on this site checking out the reviews, because by and large the general consensus reviewing a particular hotel or airline or whatever gets it just about right, and is therefore an accurate barometer of whatever is being reviewed. I certainly like to review places I've stayed, and so on, and try to be as honest and helpful as possible. After all, I rely on others so it's only fair to repay the compliment.
'Elvis statue found on Mars.' Oh, the very stuff of legend! Eat your heart out, the Sun. 'Zip me up before you go go'?; 'Freddie Star ate my hamster'? Piffle! Amateurish! The Sunday Sport may be seen as a risible alternative to sane newspapers, but how may of us (me excluded, naturally, lol) sneak a peek at its more outlandish claims when we think no - one is looking? Our local newspaper shop always turns the thing so that the back page is turned to the front, so I turn it back again seeing as this form of mealy - mouthed censorship doesn't seemingy apply to Nuts! or Zoo! in there. Sheer hypocrisy! This publication apparentlly operates on the tongue - in - cheek (or, tongue - in - somewhere) principle, and the editor Tony Livesey always seems to have a school boy smirk hovering around the corners of his gob whenever I've seen him on the telly. Yes, I know, it's porno dressed up as a primarily sports - oriented publication, but in these permissive, recession - fuelled times many folk may see it as a bit of fun, or light relief from economic misery, and not to be taken too seriously. Without labouring the point, the paper is packed full of salacious titillating nonsense and 'contact' magazine information, sleazy politican, footie star and celeb exposes, and is liberally laced with all sorts of lubricious come - hither stuff designed to set fire to your loins and get those 'creative juices' flowing, alongside a bursting bevvy of busty, bumptious and bare bummed beauties. Oh, and it has sporty stuff at the back, too. Each to his own, but one can only wonder what the late, and arguably unlamented Mrs. Whitehouse would make of it all. Not that it matters much - publications like the Sport seem to thrive on notoriety, anyway.
I have a cat, called Mushu. She is small, black, and selectively aloof like many of her kind. She also has pronounced psychopathic tendencies, if a feline creature can be said to possess such a quality, if that is the word. In short, she is a born killer. It's usually a good idea to choose your would - be pet with care. Do you want male, or female? What colour do you want? Either way, if you don't want to end up drowning the resultant offspring in the bath or something, it's better to get the animal seen to at the vet. More expense. Cats are relatively low maintenance creatures, requiring little beyond feeding, somewhere to dump their waste products, and a place to crash if they're not outside stalking prey or fighting, or something. They seldom offer much in the way of gratitude for the expense you may have gone to, unless it suits them, so don't expect a lot in the way of cuddly love and attention in the way that a dog would give you. They're not much good at deterring burglars, either. So, think before you splash out on a cute little bundle of furry fun. The damn' things grow up.
I don't often engage with the Sunday Times (ST), but to provide myself with an objective perspective of the Sundays I occasionally indulge in a perusal. I console myself with the knowledge that there are much, much worse papers out there at the weekend, on which I am highly unlikely to spend my hard - earned. The ST is in the upper end of the Sunday market, maiing a marked change from the pervasive sex - drugs - and - the - vicar material found in the tabloids. The news is presented in a sober, considered fashion with good writing and incisive analysis in parts. If you want to know what's going on in a world seemingly convulsed by the permanent Global War On Terror and the semi-permanent economic meltdown, then the ST's coverage often rivals that of other established broadsheets. Like the other publications in its sector of the Sundays market, the ST provides a wealth of supplements for a discerning (mostly) right - wing middle class readership, dealing with weekend breaks in Provence, to latest fashion trends, gardening offers and special offer cavalry twills. All delightfully twee. Sure, this also extends to glossies on music, art, culture (whatever THAT is) literature, and all those other areas so beloved of the scions of Middle England and beyond. Not a Primark offer in sight, too ... Yes it does sport, as well; 'nuff said.
Another publication from the lower end of the Murdoch stable, the News of the World (NoW, for brevity) has little in the way of redeeming features for those looking for 'serious' news. It used to be known colloquially as the 'News of the Screws', because of the overtly salacious theme of its content. It may still be called that, for all I know. Times move on, but the NoW still panders to the lowest common denominator and below - the - belt story lines, although the angle of attack seems to have moved away from 'unknown nobodies' to 'talent - lite', 'well - know nobodies' who desperately cling to the lower reaches of the sliding scale of celebrity notoriety. Occasionally, they manage to snare a so - called 'big fish', but much of it is an over - sensationalized, hysterical kiss - and - tell 'exclusive' expose that amount to little of any consequence in the grand scheme of things. There's no point in me naming names here, of course; we all, I think, know who these people are. When they do condescend to follow up apparent 'real' journalism, it's often of the cynical paedo - on - every - street - corner variety, that achieves very little other than ratchetting up social hysteria and allegedly inciting mob frenzy. It's a measure of the publication's readership that NoW mob mentality meant attacking a paediatrician. That says it all for me. On a lighter note, the NoW has that staple of the Sundays, the sports pages, now seemingly thankfully padded with lots of footie stuff. Praise the Lord, and pass the match reports... They do, of course, include competitions, lots of enticing stuff about 'cheap' loans (Really handy in a debt - crippled recession, that) and extensive outlines about what's on the telly over the coming week, with the accent being on soap intrigue and reality TV cojones. There you have it - all you really need to bring your Sunday alive, with a dash of sauce thrown in for good measure.
If I'm going to observe (!) the time - honoured British Sunday ritual of traipsing to the newsagents to purchase a paper, it will usually be the Observer that accompanies me back to my abode past occasionally sun-dappled, leafy arbours and scum-flecked roadside puddles. So, with a nice mug of Earl Grey and my comfy slippers back on, I can settle down to digest the happenings both parochially national and grandly global. In addition, I may wish to make my way through the many glossy supplements that can improve my health (mental and physical), take me off to pristine beaches and azure seas, or perhaps introduce me to some gastronomic delight to titillate and tease my trembling palate. This, the Observer can do as well as any other Sunday broadsheet. The Observer's writers are of the decidedly leftie-weftie sort, you know, what our Transatlantic cousins call pinko Socialist crypto-Commie NHS-lovin' cheese-eating surrender hacks, closely allied to the similarly - denounced French sort whose earlier ancestors helped a nascent American Republic in their war of independence. Oh, the delights of air - brushed history. Having just written that, the Observer is really an archetypal Sunday offering that takes some time to read given the sheer quantity of information given. Good, absorbing columns from the likes of Will Hutton, Andrew Rawnsley and Nick Cohen; well - written and thought - provoking, and faily rounded in terms of the breadth of topics covered. Didn't take much to its near blanket support of our war - mongering in the Middle East, though. Not my scene - man. Not to eveyone's liking, but comforting in that peculiarly affected English way. Still, if it's not your bag, there's always the Sunday Sport if you like a good laugh ...
The Guardian is mostly viewed as a left - leaning newspaper, in the highbrow 'broadsheet' category that indicates it to be a 'serious' paper. Being in that category, the Guardian is one of those dailies that offers a series of supplements dealing with a plethora of interest areas like gardening, the arts, travel, literature, and so on. Not everybody's cup of Earl Grey, admittedly, but useful for a fairly intellectually eclectic readership with a wide variety of interests. The Guardian's coverage of the weighty issues of the day are usually given extensive treatment, with lots of in-depth analysis and debate. This sort of acts as the paper's moral conscience, where it can explore issue of right and wrong without carrying to much in the way of ideological bias, although in mitigation that is bound to happen at some point. It's unavoidable. The main bulk of the paper is divided into two principal parts, national and international, in which in-depth coverage of the latest news stories is offered. The journalism, as one may expect, is of a consistently high standard and detailed. So, what about sport, I hear you say? Well, sport has its own section, but the footie does not usually cover as many pages as you will find in the tabloids, but then again if you prefer quality to quantity, then there you go. The Guardian is not wihout its faults though; it tends towards journalistic navel-gazing from time to time, and sometimes assumes that all its readers are comfortably - off, middle - class leftie types, when that just isn't the case. Plus, its sister paper the Observer took a decidedly pro-war stance during the last Gulf War thingy, which came as a bit of a surprise. But, it's better that this paper exists than not; it was instrumental in getting the convicted perjurer Jonathan Aitken banged up, which was a victory for press freedom in one way or another.