Book Review: Another Good Dog by Cara Sue Achterberg

Title: Another Good Dog: One Family and Fifty Foster Dogs
Author: Cara Sue Achterberg
Release: August 7th 2018

Description: When Cara felt her teenaged children slipping away and saw an empty nest on the horizon, she decided the best way to fill that void was with dogs—lots of them—and so her foster journey began.

Review: 3 out of 5 Stars

A wonderfully written insight into the world of fostering dogs. I really enjoyed reading the authors journey of looking after these dogs and the funny, heartwarming or sad stories that went along with them.

The downside for me, was the authors own dog who comes across feeling like a burden. At one stage in the book she is referred to as dumb and lazy and only kept because the children love her. She admits to not putting the effort into training Gracie and concludes in the end that maybe she should stop wanting her to be something she wasn’t and accept her for the dog she was. I hope she finally did this as it is disheartening to read from someone who seems so passionate about rescue.

Otherwise, a delightful read with some good information if you’re thinking about fostering yourself.

I received an advance copy from NetGalley for an honest review

Also posted on Good Reads

Book Review: Downward Dog: Very Serious Haiku from a Very Serious Dog

Title: Downward Dog: Very Serious Haiku from a Very Serious Dog
Author: Samm Hodges, Phinheas Hodges, Illustrated by Idil Gozde
Release: May 16th 2017

Description: A book of haiku and illustrations from the mind of Martin, the talking, angst-ridden, introspective dog from the ABC TV series, Downward Dog.

Review: 5 out of 5 Stars

This was a sweet little book, a collection of Hiakus and drawings in the point of view of Martin the dog. Some of them were quite sad, quite deep and a lot relatable. Are there are some great sketches that accompany some of the poems.

Its definitely a book you could enjoy even if you’ve not seen the series before.

I received an advance copy from NetGalley for an honest review

Also posted on Good Reads

Book Review: The Power of Dog by Andrew G. Marshall

Title: The Power of Dog
Author: Andrew G. Marshall
Release: July 12th 2018

Description: On the eve of the millennium, the life of therapist and best-selling self-help author Andrew Marshall was in a dark place. Despite trying three different therapists, had not shifted the grief from the death of his much-loved partner. His career as a journalist had reached a dead end. He was struggling with low-level depression and his polite but distant relationship with his mother had left them both tip-toeing around each other.

His solution? To get Flash, a collie cross puppy – perhaps not the best choice for someone who’d never owned a dog, or even lived with one, before. In this funny and moving memoir, Marshall chronicles not only the ups and downs of training an excitable puppy but how slowly but surely, Flash taught Marshall to laugh again and helped to heal old wounds.


Review: 4 out of 5 Stars

The sweet story of Andrew and his first dog Flash – told in diary entry style – and what it was like for a man in his 40s owning his first puppy after the death of his partner Thom. As always, I love these kind of novels. It was heart warming and I loved reading about their journey together.

Also posted to GoodReads

Report: Sydney Oz Comic Con 2017

OZCC

Oz Comic Con wrapped another year of shows in Sydney this year, to which I was privileged enough to attend again. While there were no X-Files stars out here (manly, I guess because the show is currently filming) I am hopeful 2018 will see the likes of William B Davis, Nick Lea or Gillian Anderson on our shores for one of them … hint hint.

The Brisbane/Sydney shows did have the likes of Jason Momoa (Aquaman, Game of Thrones) and Jenna Coleman (Doctor Who), plus my favourite artist Stewart McKenny, so it was hard to be disappointed with the line-up.

There’s no doubt that Oz Comic Con has become my favourite convention over the years, not only for their fabulous guests, for their support to my podcast and now for going that extra mile to make their con inclusive for all. There is one thing in saying your con is a safe space for everyone and diversity is welcome, but its a whole different thing when you follow through with that promise, despite the harassment companies have been receiving over doing such a thing in Australia at the moment. So well done Oz Comic Con – you can read about #OCCEquality here and show your support too.

Now with that political stuff out the way, let’s talk about two days at Sydney OCC.

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Comic Con Bingo

While I hunted for those elusive X-Files fans to have on the show (where were you guys!?), I also passed the time with some Comic Con bingo. The task was harder than I expected. I would see someone on my card, only to lose them five seconds later in the crowd.

The second part of the challenge was asking a cosplayer to pose with action figures and A) not feel like an idiot (I did the first couple of times) B) not have them wonder if I was some weird kid (hey, its possible, I am under 150cms tall). For the most part they were all good sports, some just had no clue what I was asking (I thought, “I have an XFiles podcast, I’m doing cosplay bingo, can I take a photo of you with Mulder and Scully?” seemed clear enough).

Nevertheless, it was loads of fun and I did tick a few off the bingo card!

I did wonder at the end of Sunday if it was actually my problem. Are 20 somethings too young to know the X-Files? Am I naive enough to think that everyone knows our favourite show? Perhaps. But that won’t stop me doing it again at the next convention.

Vendors and Merch.

Since I have a strict “no dust collectors” policy, I always limit my spending to art or creative things like buttons/pins. This isn’t to say you can’t get some amazing stuff at cons; I stared longingly at Pop Vinyls, action figures, statues and so much more. Not to mention a Brother Scan n Cut and Singer embroidery machine have been added to my wish list after watching demos at the Spotlight and Singer stalls.

As I mentioned before, my friend Stewart McKenny was there with his X-Files prints and I did remind him that he needs to create more. You should contact him too and tell him which characters you want to see. Don’t tell him I sent you. lol.

If you ever wanted a retro Mulder and Scully print, be sure to check out Bruce Loves You where you can also get some X-Files pins. Jason Palmer also has a gorgeous Scully print you can add to your collection and Kings Comics are sure to have X-Files comics in stock. Unfortunately, these are the only things you can find at cons these days, unless you’re lucky enough to find someone selling the Pop Vinyls or some old FTF action figures.

If you’re on the hunt for something non-XFiles, I found some gorgeous art in the likes of Welly’s Wonders and Cheeky Bucket. Absolutely gorgeous work by talented humans. Check them out.

I loved the display of Supergirl / Flash /Arrow costumes from FOXTEL. Imagine if we were in the 90s, it would have been the replica of Mulder’s office Fox Studios used to have.

The ICC

Sydney Oz Comic Con has spent its last three years at Glebe Island in the temporary convention centre. It was a great space, maybe a touch out of the way to travel to (which they made up for with good transport – ferries and buses) but a overall a good venue.

This year was the first at the new ICC and feelings are mixed. For me, it felt like the space was much smaller, though overall, I don’t think it was, just the isles were narrower. I felt like Artist Alley had less stalls this year. Maybe it didn’t, without a previous program on hand; it’s really hard to say. But there were lots of stalls and lots of awesome things to see.

My main complaint is with the ICC itself. The toilets in the foyer were blocked off and in the main hall are hidden away in little hallways without signage. They look like ‘staff only’ areas and it wasn’t until I asked an ICC staff member where they were that I realised. Food was also over-priced as expected at these kind of things I’d say the most expensive cafeteria food I’ve had at a con. Still, the chips were delicious, so I’m not totally complaining and I could have made the trek down darling harbour a little but I didn’t.

However, the coffee was awful. And if you know me, you know how I feel about bad coffee…

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Aside from that, it was another fun weekend and I can’t wait to go back again in 2018.

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Review: The X Files Annual 2014

 

STK635526

Publisher: IDW (2014)
Written by: Frank Spotnitz, Gabe Rotter, Shannon Eric Denton and Dave Sim.
Artwork by: Stuart Sayger and Andrew Currie.
Review: Kate

The X Files Annual has been highly anticipated by fans across the globe as it sees the return of series writer/producer Frank Spotnitz with an untold story from Mulder and Scully’s first time in the FBI.

The Priest written by Frank Spotnitz, Gabe Rotter and Shannon Eric Denton.

“When a man returns from the dead with a warning for his wife, the agents investigate and cross paths with a very peculiar priest.”

I loved this story, it was simple, engaging and everything you would expect from classic X Files. The story captures the spirit of the early seasons and is perfectly creepy in that way that fans of the show will love. Mulder and Scully were written true to character, which is no surprise with Spotnitz being one of the best writers from the television series. 

The biggest let down for me was the artwork. At times it drew me out of the story, as the expressions on the characters did not match what the dialogue was trying to convey. Mulder and Scully (especially Scully) were barely recognizable at times. Scully’s hair had been drawn so short, she reminded me of Det. Angela White from the S3 episode Syzygy.

One thing I did like about the artwork was the darker colouring of the comic which gave it that spooky X Files feel.

The second story, Talk To The Hand by Dave Sim finds Scully in the midst of a dream, having conversation with a grotesque hand covered in eyeballs. This is supposedly a dream she’s had many times before, with the monster-like hand claiming to be her high-school sweetheart Adam. “Adam” gives her a choice, when she wakes up she’ll continue working as an FBI Agent or have a perfect life with him.

I have to admit, its a strange story and I believe one I could wrap my head around better if I was more familiar with its creator. However I think the charm of the story lies in its quirkiness. You know the choice Scully is going to make but there is always that question of the life she could have had, if she just got out of the damn car.

Overall “The Priest” is a great addition to the X Files comics if it weren’t for the artwork. And “Talk To The Hand” was weird enough in way that I’m still thinking about it.

The X Files Annual is a must for any fans collection.

Review: The X-Files Vol. 1: The Agents, The Bureau and The Syndicate (Titan Comics)

9781782763710
Publisher: Titan Comics
Release Date: January 12, 2016
Review: Kate
To celebrate the return of the hugely popular sci-fi TV series, Titan Comics shine a light on The X-Files once more in this essential new collection commemorating the iconic TV show. (Features content previously published in the official X-Files Magazine.)

The Official X-Files Magazine, published by Titan since 1996, was a much sought after item in my house back in the day. It was a tricky thing to get at my local newsagents and my collection ended up in dribs and drabs.

So I was excited to hear of Titans first new X-Files book, The Agents, The Bureau and The Syndicate. An amalgamation of interviews and articles from said magazines, it was enough to make my little X-Phile heart leap with joy.

This first volume features interviews with Chris Carter, David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Mitch Pileggi, William B. Davis and Nicholas Lea, just to name a few. Theres a profile for the character each the actor played and some articles on the impact the show had.

While its taken me some time to get through all the articles – and I’m still reading – its interesting to take a step back in time and read the attitudes and reactions of those on the show was when each interview was documented.

There’s also some fun stuff such as a guide to Mulder and Scully’s apartments – in case you ever want to go retro and copy their decorating tastes. Perhaps my favourite thing are the guides to being the next Mulder or Scully with great tips like have a close relationship with your partner – if you ask Chris Carter, its only platonic, right?

With some great quotes, gorgeous photos through out the book and more nostalgia than you can poke a stick at, it makes it a must-have for X-Philes old and new.

Oz Comic Con Report & Geek Goodies Haul!

After a terrible experience with the 2012 Melbourne event and stories I had heard from friends about Oz Comic Con in other states recently, I was hesitant to ever attend another one. I was expecting crushing crowds in an over packed venue, ridiculous queues with hours of waiting time and people lined up out into the main floor preventing movement, Q&A panels starting late and guests not getting their fully allotted time.

What I got, I am pleased to say, was quite the opposite, even though I thought the day was going to be as terrible as it started…

First there was a mix up at the bus station due to there being no definite signage as to where the free shuttle to the event was – they said Bay 13 on the website but as I don’t live in Sydney, I had no clue where it was. Then when I arrived, there was a very annoying mix up when a volunteer scanned my ticket multiple times while another volunteer was rudely ushering me down the line. I got told I was already checked in (that will happen if you scan the ticket more than once) and they couldn’t give me a pass. But after that was sorted the rest of the day went fairly smoothly.

One thing that I noticed straight away was what a great layout the con had. The stages were away from each other, so the noise from each Q&A didn’t filter in, making it hard to hear (something that happened in Melb 2012). Although sitting at the back of stage 1 where I was, meant you had to suffer the noise of a TARDIS from a vendor and not hear the guests. Speaking of panels, while they didn’t run overtime (miracle!) I found it annoying the crowds weren’t being moved out at the end of each one. I like this method and feel its a good one to stick with. Yes, it takes time for everyone to move out and others get seated, but at least you get a fair chance to have a good seat. And it’s more fair than letting someone park their butt up the front all day when they’re really only there to maybe see one panel. Perhaps it was because there was no area to line up for panels, so maybe something for them to think about bringing back in the future.

Another thing I appreciated were the autograph tables being well away from the main floor. They appeared to have lots of space to line up and not filter back into the crowds blocking access. I didn’t get any photos or autographs this time, but a friend waited in the token line for about an hour, which is about the standard on a general admission ticket, and certainly not the length we waited at Supanova back in June (three hours even with a priority pass).

The con didn’t seem too over crowded at any stage on Saturday, which I’m not sure was due to a lack of attendees or there really was that much space to spread out. Perhaps it was the caliber of guests this time. While its always great to see Stargate guests and William Shatner, they have all been here multiple times recently.

Overall it was actually a pleasant experience and makes me less cautious about attending future events, so well done Oz Comic Con, you’ve surprised me.

Now on to the goodies!

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TV Review: Glitch on ABC

Glitch starring Patrick Brammall on ABC TV
Glitch starring Patrick Brammall on ABC TV

When the TV landscape has been so recently littered with shows about people coming back from the dead, its hard to imagine adding another to the mix and it being able to stand out from the crowd. However, giving an Aussie take on the paranormal drama, Glitch may well be that show.

Set in the fictional town of Yoorana (with a beautiful back drop of Australian landscape), Glitch tells the story of what happens when six residents return from the dead. While not zombies, they are actually in perfect health, except with no memory of who they are.

The shows main focus is on James (Patrick Brammall), Yoorana’s local cop. He is reuinted with his wife Kate, the most recent of the deceased. However, each of the former residents, all from different periods of time, have interesting stories to tell, once they start remembering.

Their present is obviously as much of a puzzle to anyone. Why are they back? How did they return? These questions are not easily solved, but it does make Glitch a thought provoking drama, with enough paranomal mystery to hold your attention.

Patrick Brammall is fantastic in this production and is joined by an equally great cast such as Rodger Corser and Andrew McFarlane. It was these names which initally drew me to the show, but I couldn’t have been happier to discover an all over strong cast, bringing their characters to life (pun not intented).

Glitch airs on ABC Thursdays at 8:30pm, but if you’re like me and can’t wait that long, the entire series can be viewed on ABC iview right now. Check it out here.

https://youtu.be/swBhgvAAOnA

Movie Review: Infini (2015)

Title: Infini – infinimovie.com
Director: Shane Abbess
Cast: Daniel MacPherson, Grace Huang, Luke Hemsworth, Dwaine Stevenson, Kevin Copeland, Harry Pavlidis, Louisa Mignone, Tess Haubrich, Bren Foster and Luke Ford.
Release date:  May 8th 2015
Review: Kate Barkley

Paying homage to the 70s/80s sci-fi genre, Infini is a thrilling Aussie movie that proves that our filmmakers are capable of producing quality entertainment to compete with the rest of the world.

Set in the 23rd century, we meet Whit Carmichael (Daniel MacPherson) on his first day at work ‘slipstreaming’ – a controversial but highly lucrative way to teleport between planets for mining purposes. A team returns to HQ infected with a biological disease that turns them murderously insane. Whit’s only way to escape certain death is to slipstream to the desolate off-world mining station ‘Infini’ where the outbreak started.

A search and rescue team is soon dispatched to retrieve Whit and stop the mined substance being sent from the station to earth by a deranged defector.

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