Thursday, 31 December 2015

Happy New Year

Hi guys

Hope you have a great night and an even better 2016!

Hope to write and read more in 2016 and push myself more!

Anyhow best get drinking.

Neil x

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Wizard's First Rule by Terry Goodkind - Book Review

Imagine the scene:

January 2012 and I had just watched the excellent series of Legend of the Seeker.  I find the two series are based on The Sword of Truth books by fantasy author Terry Goodkind.  So I decide to buy the first seven books in the series.
I start reading Wizards First Rule.

Last night and nearly four years later I finished reading that book.

Yes it's took me a while.  In between I have read a couple of other books both printed and on Kindle.  Plus I have also written quite a bit myself and helped organise this year's Cleckheaton Literature Festival.  Also I was in a bad state when I started the novel so maybe I should have started it a few months later.  Through persistence I have now completed it.

The verdict - following the adventures of Richard Cypher, his Wizard friend  Zedd and their companion the mother Confessor Kahlan as they search for a box of Orden which can stop the evil Wizard Darken Rahl who is trying to use the boxes of Orden to rule the lands.

The characters of the novel are three dimensional especially the main players Richard and Kahlan as they must push aside their love for the mission of stopping Darken Rahl and also because of a secret Kahlan hides that could harm Richard who becomes the Seeker - the holder of the Sword of Truth.
The Wizard Zedd us also a well rounded character.
Other characters fair well too.

I was surprised at how the series on television had not followed the novel in alot of ways but I have to say the novel is better as it delves into the thinking if the characters better as the go through the story.
The story is usual fantasy fare with magic, a dragon, medieval type setting and a quest.  But Terry Goodkind is a good writer who writes detail into the scenes and gives a good mental image.

I am annoyed at how long it as took me to read the novel as I have enjoyed it for the most part.   The middle where the heroes are with the Mud People did drag a bit and lacked action.  Also in some parts the story is repeated and not needed, for example when Richard meets Zedd after a big chunk of the book then describes what has happened to him which felt like reading it twice.

Overall  -  A detailed novel with a rich believable world and characters but could have have done with a trim.  The last quarter of the book is the strongest and a real page turner.  A very enjoyable novel.

Score   -   7/10   - Hope to read the next one faster!

Friday, 25 December 2015

Merry Christmas

Would just like to say a big Merry Xmas for my followers and readers of my blog. 

Hope your all having a great day.

Neil x

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Snoopy and Charlie Brown - Peanuts Movie - Film Review

Took my daughter to see the new Snoopy and Charlie Brown movie today, eventually after a mix up at cinemas as the cinema we was going to see it at had a note up saying the showing shown online is now cancelled.  
So we high tailed it to Vue cinema in Halifax for a late morning showing.

Myself I think over the years with previous movies and cartoon shows the characters were a bit boring and when I was younger I only liked watching Snoopy.
The case is the same here although with improved CGI and some visual nods to the comic books my daughter and I enjoyed it.  I even liked Charlie Brown and his pals including Linus, Peppermint  Patty and Lucy as they were introduced to the red haired girl who Charlie Brown fancied and was trying to both talk to and impress throughout the film with disastrous results.

The best bits involved Snoopy as he tried to help Charlie Brown talk to his dream girl by showing him how to dance.
Snoopy also wrote a book throughout the movie in which he imagined himself as an ace pilot fighting The Red Barren.  A writer I can relate to - ha.

Overall   -  A great kids film with some good laughs and easy to get into.  Very enjoyable.

Score  -   8/10

Annabel overall  -  I thought  it was funny  10 / 10 

Monday, 21 December 2015

Star Wars - The Force Awakens - 3D - Film Review

Hi guys

Went to see the awesome new Star Wars film last night and what a great experience it was.  It is now my favourite Star Wars film.

Set 30 years after the events of Return of the Jedi it starts with the Resistance led by Princess Leia searching for her brother Luke Skywalker who has vanished as she is wanting to bring peace to the Force following the uprising of the First Order from the ashes of the Empire.
The First Order is led by Supreme Leader Snoke who controls the new big bad Kylo Ren.  A wannabee Darth Vader who has connections with him.

The film starts with Ace Rebellion pilot Poe securing a map to lead them to Luke but the First Order arrives with Kylo Ren to get it.  He hides the map in his droid - new cute R2-D2 alike BB8.
As the Storm Troopers attack the village and attack Poe one Storm Trooper isn't liking what he sees.  This Storm Trooper frees Poe who names him Finn who then meets a young woman called Rey and they flee the planet with a ship in a junk yard.  The Millennium  Falcon.

Without giving too much away they come across old favourites Han Solo and Chewbacca as they race to get help against the First Order and their new more powerful weapon the Starkiller Base which is bigger than the death stars of the previous films.

The film is a hark back to the original trilogy and feels like a proper Star Wars film in terms of plot and look.  The prequel trilogy didn't feel like Star Wars to me.  A blessing is that like A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back is that it is dark in places.
Kylo Ren is a good villain with a temper.  I thought the Generals who served under Vader had a hard time but this guy is nuts.  Although later he did remind me of Snape from Harry Potter with his looks and character. 

Kylo Ren is played well by Adam Driver, the rest of the new cast including  Daisy Ridley as Rey and John Boyega as Finn bring the Star Wars franchise a fresh take and mix well with the original cast including Harrison Ford as Han and Carrie Fisher as Leia.

A few quibbles I had was the Starkiller attack was too similar to the Death Star plots of A New Hope and Return of the Jedi but that asides the rest of the film feels fresher.

The 3D effects were awesome and gave the Stars and ships depth with the occasional ship coming out at you although more of this would have been nice.

Also I'm sure the events and characters of the film are in Novels that came out after Return of the Jedi in the 1980s,  1990s  and 2000s?  Could anyone clarify this as I'm sure read book reviews with New Order in and Luke being missing?

Overall  - A fantastic film bringing the best of Star Wars together and keeping it old school.  Also leaving a few questions unanswered for the next film.

If your into Star Wars go see this.  If your not Go see this  Awesome.

Score   10/10

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

December /No Nano

Hi folks

Can't  believe it's December already - Where has this year gone?

Thought would give a quick update and sadly haven't done much writing!   I didn't even start NanoWrimo although had too much going on especially towards the end of November gearing up for Christmas.

Yes been Christmas shopping and following all the other sheep keeping shops busy during this all too commercial Christmas.

I remember when it used to be more about Jesus - ain't seen him mentioned on television at all.  Even Santa has taken a back seat to the Sales and offers in the stores.  He's only in the Cola advert now!

But it's for the kids and my daughter.   Well rant over ha.

Writing wise have only jotted down ideas, have been too tired recently although have still been going to Cleckheaton Writing Group  and CLF meetings.  Helping plan for 2016 Cleckheaton Literature Festival.

Reading wise - nearly finished Wizards First Rule - horray.  This I hope to finish this weekend so expect a review soon.

My highlight in November from a writing point of view is the online Q and A with the fantastic and busy crime author  Leigh Russell.

Any other Authors wanting to be interviewed get in touch.

Well hope to blog again soon hopefully with some actual writing done!

In the meantime enjoy your shopping and spending guys.


Sunday, 15 November 2015

Leigh Russell - Q & A - Book Blog Tour

Hi everyone

I would like to welcome Crime Author and Cleckheaton Literary Festival crime panel member, Leigh Russell to my blog.

Leigh has a new DI Ian Peterson novel out now in paperback.  Plus in December her new Geraldine Steel is out on Ebook then paperback next year.
To celebrate have asked her a few questions about her work and writing.   Enjoy.

1 - Could you tell me briefly about your Geraldine Steel and Ian Peterson novels? Plus a little about their new novels "Murder Ring", and "Blood Axe".

Murder Ring is published as an ebook in December 2015, with the paperback out in 2016. Like all my books, the investigation works as a stand alone, although it is part of the Geraldine Steel series. Writing Murder Ring was a new challenge for me as it tackles the issue of gun crime. I have fought shy of this until now, because I have no interest in guns and hate anything and everything to do with them. With the Geraldine Steel series set in London, I could not avoid gun crime indefinitely. In Murder Ring, two victims die in inexplicable shootings, and it takes all Geraldine Steel's determination and ingenuity to discover the identity of the killer. 
Blood Axe is the new title in my Ian Peterson series. Like Murder Ring, it works as a stand alone, as well as part of a series. Set in York, it follows the struggles of Ian Peterson as he tracks down a brutal killer who proves particularly elusive. At the same time he is trying to deal with his failing marriage. I spent a long time researching the Viking civilisation and became fascinated by their culture and beliefs. While it is of course all fiction, I tried to make my 'Viking' character's actions and beliefs as authentic as possible. 

2 - Where do you see both series going in the future? 

This has been under discussion with my publisher at No Exit Press, as I have recently signed a contract for a new series with Thomas and Mercer. While I'm very excited about my series, I did not want to abandon Geraldine Steel and Ian Peterson. I think my fans might have felt let down if I had simply stopped writing about my existing detectives. That said, writing four books in a year would be impossible, even for a prolific writer, and even three is pushing it. So we've agreed that the Geraldine Steel series will continue, but my spin off series for Ian Peterson will stop, at least for a while. That does not mean that Ian Peterson will disappear. Having first appeared in the early Geraldine Steel books, he may end up working with her again. I haven't quite decided what is going to happen yet, so watch this space. 

3 - At Cleckheaton Literary Festival you mentioned a Geraldine Steel TV series in the works. Any update on this?

These projects notoriously take years to complete so it should be no surprise that there is no definite news yet, but at least we are still in development. At the moment the signs seem to be positive. Avalon Television Ltd have put a lot of time into the project. A brilliant production manager and script writer are now in place and the production company recently renewed their option. That said, it's a long waiting game and the competition is fierce. So all I can say is that I am cautiously optimistic, and still typing with my fingers crossed.

4 - You signed a deal with Amazon publishing for a new series - Lucy Hall mysteries, the first "Journey to Death" is out February 2016. Could you tell us more on this?

I am very excited about this new series. Proofs of the first book are finished, and I'm really pleased with the cover design. Journey to Death is set in the Seychelles, which necessitated a two week research trip. That was hard work. As my husband said, someone has to research the cocktails on beach at sunset... I have just completed the first draft of the second book in the Lucy Hall series, which will be published in September 2016. This new series is another departure for me, as the books are not police procedurals. My protagonist is a woman in her early twenties who is trying to work out what she wants to do with her life. Inadvertently she is drawn into some macabre murder mysteries. I am having great fun writing them, and really hope my existing fans will enjoy them. 

5 - At Cleckheaton Literary Festival you mentioned you write two books a year. Is this still the case or do you write more?

For the past three years I have written a Geraldine Steel and an Ian Peterson book every year. I could not have managed this if I had not been in the fortunate position of being able to give up my day job. Hopefully readers will continue to buy my books so that I can carry on writing full-time. This year I have had to deliver three books, as I wrote a Lucy Hall book in addition to my detective series. Next year, three of my books will be published, the first two in the Lucy Hall series, and the ninth Geraldine Steel, which will follow Murder Ring. How many books I will actually write next year depends on whether I continue with Lucy Hall after the three book deal with Thomas and Mercer, and what happens to Ian Peterson. It's all up in the air at the moment, and I'll have to wait and see what happens when the time comes. Hopefully both my publishers will want to continue with my series, but that is out of my hands, and ultimately depends on whether readers keep buying my books. As I said earlier, I'm always typing with my fingers crossed.

6 - With all the festivals and jetting around the globe for research how and when do you find time to write? 

I posted a photo on facebook yesterday showing me bunking off Christmas shopping to write. That wasn't exactly a joke. With manuscripts to deliver, and editing to be done, plus all the promotion and research I have to do, it is difficult to find time to live a normal life. Fortunately my family are very supportive. My long suffering husband even put up with having to accompany me to Seychelles, Paris, Rome and Greece this year. So although it's a hard life, there are compensations.  

7 - Have you any writing tips for aspiring writers?

There is a lot of advice online, and I have posted many writing tips, and even written an online crime writing module for a writing site. I teach creative writing once a year for the Writers Lab, on a beautiful Greek island, and my course focuses on the craft of writing. I could write a book on how to hone your craft as a writer. But I'd like to add a different piece of advice that is often overlooked, although it is the single most important piece of advice for an aspiring writer: read voraciously. The more you read, the more skilled a writer you become. I suspect many aspiring writers devote a disproportionate amount of time to their own writing, at the expense of reading, and their writing suffers as a result. 

8 - Could you briefly describe your writing day?

I have no set routine, and am rarely free to spend a whole day at home writing. There is always something going on, meetings with my publishers, book signings, library talks, literary festivals, interviews, research, and everything else in life... I am trying to cut down on the time I spend overseas. This year we were away from home for nearly six months in total, and missed just about all of July and August here, which is the best time to be at home enjoying the garden. When I am at home, I stay in bed until late morning, answering emails and writing. If I'm feeling energetic, I get up and move into my study which is next to the bedroom where I sit at my desk and carry on. It doesn't really matter to me where I am. I write in bed, at my desk, in the car (not when I'm driving!), on the train, in cafes. I never leave the house without my ipad, and rarely go a day without writing. 

9 - Other than me would you collaborate with any other author on a novel? Alive or deceased.

Only you. Seriously, I'm intrigued by collaborators Nicci French, and Michael Stanley, and there are others. The idea of working with someone else is very appealing, but it would have to be the right person, and I think I'd be an impossible writing partner. I have no routine and am constantly changing my mind about my plots and my characters. So it's probably better for any potential writing partner if I carry on alone! That said, I'm open to suggestions... 

10 - Any other projects in the works?

Maybe.... As a creative writer, I am always thinking up ideas. For the time being, I'm busy enough with Geraldine Steel and Lucy Hall and the seven books I am still under contract to write for my publishers, but who knows what the future holds... ?

Thank you very much for interviewing me, with such interesting questions.

Links to my books, facebook, twitter and blog can all be found on my website 

Leigh and me back in May 2015

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Spectre (James Bond) - Film Review

Went to see the latest Daniel Craig Bond movie last night - Spectre.

My gf and I went to see it at an old fashioned cinema in Elland called The Rex Cinema, which only has one screen but more charm than the multiplexes and a lot cheaper.  Only Eight pound for both of us in.  In the big cinemas it's usually about Nine pounds for one person.
It was an experience harking back to the old days.  The Rex also has an old organ and as we walked in the organist was playing old James Bond themes.  This was also played at the interval in the middle of the film.  Yes some old cinemas like The Rex still has an interval whereby a woman comes in and sells icecream,  plus let's the audience go to the toilets and get drinks.   Even hot drinks!

It all added to a better cinema experience.

Anyway onto the film which is Daniel Craigs forth venture as ultimate womanising secret agent James Bond - 007.
I have to admit I've really enjoyed Daniel as James Bond in all but one film which was Quantum of Solice which didn't engage me as much as Casino Royal, Skyfall and this Spectre.
If this is Daniels last outing as Bond as rumoured, then it will be a shame although this movie ties the other Bond movies of his together due (SPOILERS) to the other bad guys from his previous films who worked for Christop Waltz villain Blofeld  and part of his plan to bring down Bond.
It will also be a shame as they have world built so much with the new M - Ralph Fiennes, new Miss Moneypenny - Naomie Harris, and new Q - Ben Wishaw - all of which were only introduced in the last film Skyfall and all have larger roles in this one.

The movie feels like the older Sean Connery Bond films with sly nods to the past yet a new take on them.

From the excellent opening scene in new Mexico as he does a favour for an old friend it's the usual action Bond fare flitting from one exotic location to another (this annoyed me slightly as one glance from the screen and it's - "crap where is he now and why" - ha).

This film also introduces Daniel Craigs Bond with his best henchman to fight, Mr Hinx - David Bautista(from Guardians of the Galaxy) who seems to be a cross between old foes Oddjob and Jaws and keeps coming back.

I won't go into too much plot detail your best watching it.

Overall - An excellent Bond film which connects to Daniel Craigs other Bond films and seems to tie them up making you think it's his last one.  If it is they should rest Bond for a few years to refresh.  Probably best Bond for a while.

Score -   9/10

Monday, 2 November 2015

Ghost Hunt - Sheffield Fire and Police Museum

Hi guys

As it was Halloween what better way to celebrate than to go on a ghost hunt.  I hadn't really been on one before although went to a mini hunt at the Patricia Adams-Wright Author event on the 29th of October which was good too.

My gf Rach, her sister Becky, cousin Kim and friends Claire and Jenny went to Sheffield fire and police museum.

Nervously we arrived at the museum which was situated next to a busy city road.  Immediately I thought there would be too much noise pollution.   In that respect I was right as it was quite noisy.  Plus there was the danger a car could crash into the building as this had happened twice in last year.

We were shown to a nice room where other guests were waiting and there was food and drinks.  The Seeking Spirits team showed us around the museum which had two parts - one side was where the fire station was situated.  The other side was smaller this was the police side.  This had small cells where in some cases 16 prisoners shared a tiny cell.

It was a really nice museum with old fire engines and police vehicles plus old fireman outfits.  Although it did feel slightly spooky.

After the tour we had some food - a great spread and some yummy curry to keep us warm.  We then went to the first floor to have an induction and we were blessed.  We then separated into teams.  Two Seeking Spirits members to each team.

We started of in the Fire Station garages and against my better judgement did a Ouiji board.  Nothing much happened so we tried a glass.  Eventually a spirit briefly came through.  It moved the table and glass slightly but nothing much else so we moved down to the other side of the garage.

There the table went bat shit and moved onto two legs - this was weird as when you pushed down there was a force behind it.  We then went back onto the Ouiji board where a sprit which wouldn't give a name asked to speak to Claire.   We discovered it was another spirit teasing us.

We moved onto one of the most haunted parts of the building - the cells.  This we were told housed a bad spirit by the name of Caine who had the reputation of lightly strangling guests, mainly women and pulling hair.
When we got to the cell there was a very cold atmosphere and we started doing a table session which was very impressive and went onto one leg and even led us into the next room - a serial killer armoury room.
Eventually we went back to Caines cell but the atmosphere was warm although we did try to get Caine to touch one of us - no luck.

After a break in which we had some snacks and buns we made our way to the first floor.
We started in the séance room but had no luck although there were some creepy looking dolls and Kim did a mirror stare which after a while made her look distorted and her eyes had sunken in like a skull.
Whilst in the room the we could here another group above us having a lot of look with the table tipping.
The next room which had uniforms in was slightly better.  There were a few noises in the room and there was faint tapping on the the table.

Next was the second floor which was meant to have the most activity especially on the corridor and a bedroom with a spooky manaquin in.  Sadly in the bedroom, the corridor and the other rooms there was no activity except the table started moving only slightly.   We was dissapointed as the other groups had quite a bit of activity on this floor.  Before long at 2am we were to leave (after a closing spell).

Overall a very good night and quite funny.  I wasn't as scared as I thought I would be and still open minded to the spiritual side and events.  There were enough strange events going on to make me believe the place to be haunted and not a fix as I thought when I went in.   There were things you couldn’t explain - like the force behind the tables.
My only gripe about it is the equipment - we just had tables, Ouiji boards, our cameras/camera phones, our torches and K2 energy meters.
I was expecting night vision video cameras,  thermal imaging cameras and even voice recorders - but no.

We will definitely be attending more of these including the much talked about 30 East Street in Pontefract which was on Most Haunted the other week.  A member of Seeking Spirits had been the other week and had a marble thrown at his head.

Here are some pics of the event:

Caines cell


Table tipped