books, ness talks books

the curse of the pharaohs: is it a curse or is it PROPAGANDA

When Lady Baskerville’s husband Sir Henry dies after discovering what may have been an undisturbed royal tomb in Luxor, she appeals to eminent archaeologist Radcliffe Emerson and his wife Amelia to take over the excavation.

GOODREAD’S BLURB

If Crocodile On The Sandbank was the Prologue, we’re now in Chapter One of the Peabody Saga. Amelia and Emerson are happily married with a child, Ramses AKA one of my favourite characters in the history of ever. Picture Damian Wayne (Batman comics) and William Brown (Just William series) as a single character. And that’s just him as a child.

THE CURSE OF THE PHARAOHS

We start in England. Amelia and Emerson are both very depressed to be stuck in the rainy, foggy, not-hot country. They don’t like their neighbours. They don’t like the English way of life. However, they are doing it for their son – Ramses – who is alarmingly precocious and also too young to go to Egypt.

There’s this delicious scene where Amelia is trying to be polite to a neighbour and in comes Ramses, with an ‘unbroken stream of liquid filth’ marking his path. He dumps something he’s found in the compost heap onto her lap.

Ramses put his head on one side and studied his bone with a thoughtful frown. ‘I fink,’ he said, ‘it is a femuw. A femuw of a winocowus.’

‘There are no rhinoceroses in England,’ I pointed out.

‘A a-stinct winocowus,’ said Ramses

THE CURSE OF THE PHARAOHS PAGE 13

And then Amelia – who really has had enough of her neighbour, Lady Carrington – has an idea:

‘A splendid bone,’ I said, without even trying to resist the temptation. ‘You must wash it before you show it to Papa. But first, perhaps Lady Carrington would like to see it.’

ALSO PAGE 13

(She did not want to see it. The ensuing scene is hysterical.)

… it’s just brilliant, okay? I love it. I adore it. This is everything. Thank you. Goodbye. However, Ramses is left in England, safely with Evelyn and Walter as Emerson and Amelia are Summoned to finish the excavations of someone who has died under Mysterious Circumstances.

There is a curse! (Or is it a curse?!) There is danger – which Amelia deals with with typical aplomb:

We had almost reached the top when a sound made me glance up. I then seized Emerson by the ankles and pulled him down. The boulder which I had seen teetering on the brink missed him by less than a foot, sending splinters of rock flying in every direction when it struck.

Slowly Emerson rose to his feet. ‘I do wish, Peabody, that you would be a little less abrupt in your methods,’ he remarked, using his sleeve to wipe away the blood that was dripping from his nose. ‘A calm “Watch out, there,” or a tug at my shirt-tail would have proved just as effective, and less painful.’

THE CURSE OF THE PHARAOHS PAGE 79

All in all, it’s a hilarious addition to the series. Characters who will appear throughout the series are introduced, there is the typical villain (all of the mysteries are excellent), and of course – a secondary romance that Amelia definitely doesn’t have a hand in matchmaking. She would never.

I would wish that Ramses appears more in this book, but knowing as I do how much of a staple he’ll be in this series – it’s okay. We’re good.

Oh! And then Emerson is accosted by a woman who believes he is her lover from a previous life. Because OF COURSE he does. It’s hysterical. 10/10. Please read.

happy reading!

books, ness' slow descent into madness / rants

jurassic park AKA dinosaurs tho’

I tried a matcha colada recently. It tasted like one would imagine an unfortunate frog would, had it been whizzed up in one of those whizzer things and poured into a glass. It had texture.

behold, the drink in question

What has this got to do with Jurassic Park, you ask? Simple. 1) it’s an analogy I just thought up and 2) it’s about the DNA, specifically the frog DNA which this drink doesn’t have, but the dinosaurs do because their DNA was edited by Doctor Wu in the aforementioned book.

Wow. What a smooth segue.

I’ve read Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton. Boom. Segue.

Let me tell you – if I hadn’t been aware of the movies, I’d have lost my mind over this book. DINOSAUR CLONING? IN THIS ECONOMY? Sign me up. Yes, I accept.

As it is, I’ve watched Lost World and Jurassic World and Jurassic World: Lava Is Hotter Than That, Surely, but I still really enjoyed this book.

I wasn’t expecting so many people to be eaten and expressed this horror to a friend when we met up afterwork. I read the passage outloud where the newborn baby gets eaten by the little dinosaurs (‘THEY REALLY WENT THERE! ISN’T IT AWFUL? LISTEN TO THIS BIT.’) and hindsight is a beautiful thing and really, I don’t think reading it in public was a brilliant idea..

I read it on the train and at home and on a road trip and basically, if this book had a step counter, it would be quite high. But it doesn’t, so it can’t. (Unlike dinosaurs, books don’t have legs. FACTS.) And look, I’ve stared at the front cover far too much and thought WOW THAT’S SO CLEVER IT’S A SKELETON OF A T-REX BUT IT’S ROARING BECAUSE IN THE BOOK THE T-REX ROARS AND IT’S A CALL BACK TO MUSEUM EXHIBITS EXCEPT FOR THE FACT THAT IT’S A REAL DINOSAUR and yes, I am widely known for my intellect and astonishingly creative thinking – why do you ask?

Oh, and there’s these two kids on the island – Lex and Tim – and I kept on reading Tim as Tim Drake aka one of Batman’s Robins which lead to a very disorientating reading, especially when he gets to the computer monitors. Like, Tim, you literally could do this in your sleep. Why is it taking so long to- waiiiitttt.

Lex, boy oh boy, Lex annoyed me.

BUT, I think she’s well-written. She’s just a kid. A kid dragged to partially complete island resort with dinosaurs by her grandfather who is whack-a-doodle-dandy in his thinking. Grandfather Of The Year, I’m calling it now.

Obviously I had to watch the movie. I know! First time watching it? What an uncultured swine! I loved it. I finished it underneath a bridge, on my mobile phone, during a heatwave. (These are factors you do not, in fact, need to know.)

In short, I’d recommend both the movie and the book. I’m also desperately looking forward to watching Jurassic World: Dominion which apparently is terrible and therefore, entirely up my street.

books, ness talks about life

a golden autumn // a memory

Autumn was bursting with gold and browns. The amber tree leaves, glowing, lit by pure sunlight is a snapshot in my mind.

also my friend took a photo so viola here the scene be!

I was wearing too many layers and had to peel off my waterproof jacket and under jacket. There was no sign of rain, the sun was out and shining so warmly you could almost believe it wasn’t autumn at all.

celebrity sighting

The English countryside is a gentle thing – rolling hills, rising and falling dotted with stone walls, clusters of trees, farms houses tucked away in corners, winding roads, old churches, all of it spread out like a quilted blanket pinned to a tumbling earth … I adore it.

This walk reminds me of Sutcliff’s writings – the way she summons a Britain that is both familiar and unfamiliar, an echo of a long ago time and also a glimpse of a hidden one you can still discover.

I spent some time requesting my best friend listen to the audiobook of The Lantern Bearers. ‘It’s just like this!’ I told her … in rather more words than that.

In November, you see, I finished The Lantern Bearers again and it was just as good – I ended it with a lump in my throat and a burning in my eyes. It’s my book; I’ve read it as a girl and I’ll continue reading it until I’m an old woman and sometimes – when I wander out into the countryside, on my own or with friends, I’ll catch sight of the Britain she describes.

ness talks about life

adventures

My life has settled into a routine and let me say: I accept.

However, just because it’s routine doesn’t mean there isn’t time for going on adventures. (Unless, of course, we have another lockdown due to the Plague.)

REREAD DOPE BOOKS

… you … thought I *WOULDN’T* put books in a ‘go on adventures’ list?

I reread the Silver Branch and I adored it. Some things don’t hold up from your childhood and should never be revisited lest they be found to have feet of clay. (Just go with me on this analogy.) However, other things? Absolutely should be revisited on a regular basis.

The Silver Branch by Rosemary Sutcliff is 100% one of these. I loved it.

SUPPORT THE ARTS

*the arts*

I went to see The Play That Goes Wrong and giggled/cackled/chortled/guffawed the whole way through.

(I should probably assure you that this was a comedy.)

After the highs of this dizzying experience, I went back to watch Merlin: A Ballet.

My dear pals, comrades, and chums – I forgot that it wasn’t a comedy and when the two dancers (they were gods, apparently, and the parents of Merlin) glided on stage with a slight squeaking of dance shoes – I was *this* close to giggling.

And then I remembered. And attempted to embrace the drama and the art that was being performed in front of me.

There were some really quite wonderful dances – when Morgan Le Feye enchants Uther, and a Lady Of The Lake sequence – however, I was mildly confused, mistook Arthur for Uther and Uther’s dad for Uther and it was only made clear when I googled it.

I’m not certain ballet is for me and I might not quite be able to follow the story (there was the Tide Kingdom and the Solar Kingdom and the baby could be Arthur. Possibly.) but I’m glad I gave it a go. David Suchet: Poirot And More was my cup of tea. In fact, it was exactly my cup of tea and it was a high I may never, ever come down from.

I’ve been watching him portray Poirot practically my entire life and let me tell you, seeing him in person, talking about how he played Poirot and his career and ‘oh, let’s just do some epic speeches and make you feel things from Shakespeare’ MOVED me.

100% would recommend.

GO TO MUSEUMS AND/OR THE INTERNATIONAL SPACE CENTRE

my future. FOR SURE.

I kept on telling everyone ‘oh yes, I’m going to the International Space Centre’.

DISCLAIMER: I was not going to the International Space Centre.

I was going to the National Space Centre. In England. We don’t have a huge space thingy (a technical term that I definitely learnt there) here, however, we’ve had some astronauts.

(Wait. It’s ‘space program’. I meant ‘we don’t have a huge space program.’ There we go. We got there in the end.)

It was fun. Jim Kirk wasn’t there which was a terribly tragic disappointment that I’ve yet to recover from.

There was a milkshake in the flavour of ‘blue goo’. This was an accurate description of its taste. It also turned my tongue blue. This is the future of humanity.

HAUNT A GRAVEYARD

It makes you think of your mortality. We have only so much time on this earth; they remind you of those who are gone and to treasure those who are here.

Graveyards are quiet, sombre places – and yet, they are tranquil. You can look at the names engraved on headstones and wonder who these people were, what kind of lives they lived, what their stories were.

STAR GAZE (AT NIGHT)

Notice I clarified it with ‘at night’. You’re welcome. I’m very detail orientated. Look – take a flask of tea with you. Go where there’s minimal light pollution – or just go and lie down on a lawn, any lawn. Preferably, yours. Stare at the stars. Think about life. All those other folks who have watched the same stars. That sort of thing. Also – maybe take a blanket too.

You don’t have to think deep thoughts – you can just look up and be lost in the wonder of it all. And when it gets cold, go back inside, wrap up in a blanket, and enjoy a hot drink. You’ve earned it.

photo by ioana motoc on Pexels.com
books

space, eels, and a mouse called algernon

My current read is The Gospel of the Eels which differs greatly from The Gospel of Loki which I’ve recently loaned to my uncle. It’s a cosy book and did you know that Aristotle and Freud were both obsessed with eels? These are the facts humanity needs to know. You’re welcome.

But I’ve read other books too.

STAR TREK: AGENTS OF INFLUENCE // dayton ward

Take Star Trek: The Original Series and write a novel about one of their off screen adventures. You’d think that this would be an instant hit in Le Monde de Ness. It was, and then it wasn’t.

I think that the show works best as a TV show – with the charm and charisma and sheer madness of the characters/sets/dialogue. The book bounced around between – I think – three or four points of view which was a little disorientating for me.

It was great to hang out with old friends but I think I’d much prefer the show itself. I haven’t learned my lesson because I’m reading another Star Trek novel right now. It’s got Evil!Spock (?) and Kirk is dead and it happens in the first chapter?!

Also, side note: William Shatner is going into space????

Interesting. I wonder if it will be anything like he imagined when acting as Kirk.

THE PLANETS // andrew cohen & professor brian cox

I loved this book. It filled me with wonder and, indeed, awe. To think that Saturn has lightning, and Jupiter, storms. I learned so much. (And, some would say, retained so little. But some shouldn’t say that. Boo them.)

FLOWERS FOR ALGERNON // daniel keyes

Basically, if you want to see me cry – ask me: have you read Flowers For Algernon? and I will dissolve into a puddle and weep.

I cried. Repeatedly. At the end of the book. Retelling it to my Mum. Attempting to talk about it with someone else.

I haven’t read the short story yet. Emotional devastation isn’t something I’d typically seek out on a Monday. (It seems a more Thursday kind of thing.)

ANCILLARY JUSTICE // ann leckie

Two words: corpse soldier.

No! More words: ex-ship corpse soldier.

I liked it. There. I said it. I liked the side character who tags along. I could picture everything quite clearly.

Will I read the sequel? Maybe but probably not too. (There’s a clear answer for you!) I liked being in the world but the stakes are going to be even higher probably in the next book and my poor nerves won’t take it.

Wait. Waaaait. I should rephrase that: I liked reading about the world but I’d rather not be in it. ‘Zero privacy and Big Brother Is Watching You and oh! I know a new career plan you could be trapped in your own body as a star ship uses it to do ship stuff‘ aren’t on my ‘To Visit’ list. (I don’t have a ‘To Visit’ list just yet but if I had this wouldn’t be in the top fifty-seven destinations. Fifty-eighth at a push but no more.)

(Once again I will state in the annals of this blog: I should totally be a professional book reviewer. Ah-hem. I’m really very good at this gig.)

happy reading!