Saturday, 24 December 2016

Merry Christmas Readers, Writers and geeks


Hi guys

Just a quick post to wish any followers I have left a Merry Christmas and anyone else interested.

Well tomorrow is the (anti) climax of all the rushing around, stressing, getting skint and merry.  A time when ol big red will have been and emptied his sacks and kids everywhere big and small will be opening their presents.

Then later in the day everyone over indulges in food and snacks and the adults drink too much.  Yep you've got to love Xmas.  The kids love it.  It just goes too fast.

Hopefully you will all be receiving what you asked for from books, kindles, sci-fi movies and boxsets.
The writers out there will hopefully be writing whilst everyone else has fallen asleep after dinner then looking forward to the most important part of Xmas day - Doctor Who!

Tomorrow will be one day closer to the end of 2016 which has been a jinx year for celebrities and a lot of others too.
It is also the year that gave us Brexit - so next year we are in unknown territory for the UK.
It also brought us Trump winning the presidential election in America so there might not be a 2017.

Anyway hope you all have a fun and probably drunken Xmas day.

I was going to share a Christmas story but only came to me two days ago so will hopefully share next year.

Merry Xmas

Neil

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Star Wars - Rogue One - Film Review




When Star Wars - A New Hope first hit cinemas in 1977 the film started very oddly for a film as it was already in the middle of a story.
Darth Vader had just captured the Rebels led by Princess Leia to get back the stolen plans for the Death Star.
This film is the story of how the Rebels got those plans.

SPOILERS

It is also the story of Jyn (Felicity Jones) who years after being separated from her father Galen (Mads Mikklesen) goes to find him as he is the main engineer and architect of the Death Star.  But is he to be trusted? Has he helped the Rebels by putting a weak spot in the design?

Jyn is quickly accompanied by a rag tag group including Rebel Captain Andor  (Diego Luna), blind Force sensitive monk Chirrut Imwe (Donnie Yen) and Android K-2SO (voiced by Alan Tudyk).

The action is excellent although it starts of slowly but with some stand out pieces including Darth Vader in rage mode and the inclusion of Grand Moff Tarkin who was played by the late Peter Cushing and digitally brought back to live with the help of body double and voice over.  It is weird seeing his image on screen again but you realise how we miss a great actor.  It is cleverly done and they do the same with Princess Leia at the end with digital effect of a young Carrie Fisher.

The film also acts to connect the Prequels to the Original films as Vader is based on Mustafa where he got his limbs chopped off and burnt.
It also includes Bail Organa  (Jimmy Smits) who at the end of the Prequels was charged with bringing up Princess Leia.

It also has cameos from everyone's favourite droids but because of this it could be a plot hole as R2-D2 and C-3PO watch the Rebels fly out at the end yet at beginning of a New Hope they are on board Princess Leia's ship!  Maybe they set off later and catch up to the Rebels?

The action and tone is grittier and darker than most Star Wars films and the new droid K-S2O is very funny.

Overall  -  A welcome addition to the Star Wars Canon and one of the better films.  Especially better than the Prequels and this should have been the film the Prequels ought to have been.  With some great visuals and set pieces including the final battle it is oneasy of my favourite.  It also gives A New Hope more depth.

Score  -  10/10

Saturday, 17 December 2016

Book Review - The Infinity Trap by Ian C Douglas



Like JK Rowlings Harry Potter novels,  The Infinity Trap by Ian C Douglas is a book for all ages.  Aimed at teens it is also a book adults can enjoy.  It takes you on an exciting adventure on Mars and is a roller coaster of a ride.

The story of Zeke Hailey starts as he arrives to go to Mars to join a school for psychics although he is there in dubious circumstances as he cheated his exam to get there.
Zeke needs to go to find out what happened to his dad, who joined years before and became a Mariner.  Then his Dad was sent to outer space with most of the other mariner's.

Once on Mars at the school called the Chasm there is more going on that just bullying and psychic lessons!

With a great supporting cast including rich friend Scuff and Pin-mei,  it also offers good antagonists to hate.

The book is well paced and action packed with great set-pieces.  Also the dialogue sparkles and rings true.  It also throws in a few curve balls.  Some characters aren't what they seem.

It also features some fun future technology plus aliens and an alien language.
The world building of the future is spot on which I knew it would be as Ian has given two great world building workshops over the last two years at Cleckheaton library.

Plus the book finishes with more questions to ponder including:
Why don't the mariner's come back?
What is the creature in the abandoned observation post?
Plus many more.


Overall -  A fun sci-fi adventure for children of all ages blending Harry Potter, Doctor Who and more.  Well written and fast paced with well timed cliffhangers that have you wanting more.  Only complaint is it's too short.


Score  -   10/10



Author Ian C Douglas signing at previous years Cleckheaton Literature Festivals



Sunday, 4 December 2016

Book Review - Doctor Who The Deviant Strain by Justin Richards



A few years ago, around 2010 to 2012 I bought from The Book People who visited work two Doctor Who book box sets.  Each box containing ten Doctor Who books.
Having read the first two in the first box set (although I never reviewed them on here as it may have been before my blog). I decided to read another one even though they are aimed at the YA market but I have still got them and they are easy reads between the bigger epics I normally take on.

Justin Richards The Deviant Strain takes Christopher Eccelston's ninth Doctor along with Billie Pipers Rose and John Barrowmans Captain Jack to the Novrosk Peninsula in Russia.
It is an almost deserted submarine graveyard with only a few villagers living nearby and a Soviet naval Base.  Nearby are some mysterious Stones which drain the life force out of anybody that touches them.

With life-force draining blue blobs, zombie scientists and a crashed spaceship there is more than enough action and peril for the Doctor, his companions and secondary characters.
With some fun action scenes, end of chapter cliffhangers and intrigue the book rattles on at a fast pace and at only 251 pages does seem a bit short.

The characterisation of the Doctor and Rose are spot on and made me wish Christopher Eccelston had stopped on as the Doctor at least one more series. Jack is handled well but there isn't enough of him here.

The book shows how much Doctor Who has changed since his relaunch in 2005!
Well I still 17 of them to read plus over 100 of my bigger books ha!

Overall -  Justin Richards captures the spirit of the series in a fast paced adventure that harkens back to 1950s B Movies.  Some of it can be a little cliché and not enough of Jack.

Score  -   7/10
See below for Doctor Who book box sets 

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Book Review - Cyberstorm by Matthew Mather



To fill the time on my commute to work when I'm not reading one of my normal, physical, lovely smelling books  (which I have lots to read).  I downloaded Matthew Mathers Cyberstorm to my phones Kindle App.

I think I got it free on a promotion and was a worthy read.

Set in the near future or future present it tells the story of what happens when the Internet and world communications plus power is targeted and goes down.  Throw into this the worst snowy winter for years and freezing temperatures and it's a realistic Apocalyptic event.

Seen from the POV of main character Mike Mitchel an IT fixer who luckily has some knowledge of what could be happening things go from bad to worse.
From his paranoia about his wife who could be having an affair ,  looking after his son and calming down doom monger and best friend Chuck.  Mike suddenly finds himself and his family and neighbours fighting for their lives with no power, communication and heat.  Plus dwindling food and water supplies.

It is an eye opener of a book especially because of the news recently with Russia allegedly hacking USA systems and makes you realise how easily this could happen at some point.

The characters are well thought out although some of the minor ones have little to do but this could be because it is from a first person perspective and seeing the events through one persons eyes.  This was a problem for me mainly because I I normally read third person books.  So because of this it was a bit awkward to get into at first.
Also there is too much talking of what could be going on with the Internet which goes into detail which can stall the action.


Overall  -  a realistic Apocalyptic novel which makes you think what could happen including after a few weeks lice infestations -  yuck.   But more action would have been better.


Score  -  7/10


Doctor Strange - Film Review



As part of my 40th birthday was treated to see the new Doctor Strange film.

Although it's a Marvel film I wasn't too fussed about seeing it as many moons ago when I read comics Doctor Strange was my least favourite character as he didn't have any superpowers in the Superhero sense.
Plus he was spouted spells like 'I summon the chain of argon'.  Which seemed rubbish .

After seeing the trailer for the film with its Inception style cityscapes I still wasn't sold.

Starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Stephen Strange ace Surgeon and overall genius (similar to Tony Stark), it starts with his ego and being on the phone while driving leading to a spectacular crash which has him damaging his hands and thus ruining his career.

Doctor Strange is willing to do anything to get his shaking hands mended and eventually ends up in Tibet in a ancient compound of Kama-taj .
Here The Ancient One (played by a bald Tilda Swinton) teaches him the ancient arts and the path to enlightenment and self healing.
Plus out of body shenanigans and multiple universes.

Unfortunately Mads Mikklesens evil Sorcerer with a long name is trying to summon a powerful demon from the Dark dimension.  This leads to magical fights, dimension city altering chases and a lot of fun.

I have to admit the acting from the cast, the action and special effects are great.  Also the story is good and it is something new from Marvels expanding universe.
Although Doctor Strange's character and journey is similar to Tony Stark and in the end he too stops thinking of himself after an injury and helps others and accepts his new role.


Overall  -  a fun new take on Superhero movies with a strong cast although sometimes seems like I've seen it before.


Score   -   8/10

Friday, 11 November 2016

40 Already - where does the time go

Hi guys

Sadly not done much writing even for NanoWrimo!

Was going to do some in my days off but have decided to celebrate my 40th birthday.   Had a great day in York.
Still can't believe how old I am.  Luckily inside I still feel 19.

Had high hopes that by 40 would be a successful author or at least be published or at least to have finished a first draft or two.

So now I'm 40 I best get a move on and get writing even more!  Be a shame to waste my ideas and dreams.

So speak soon.  Busy writing x





Sunday, 30 October 2016

Ken Macleod ScI if Talk - 27 October 2016





Hi guys

Last week I attended the above Sci Fi talk from acclaimed Scottish Sci Fi author Ken Macleod with fellow CWG writer Karen.  This was part of Scifest Yorkshire and was a collaboration between Kirklees council and Huddersfield University.

Ken has written numerous Science Fiction including  The Fall Revolution series and Engines of Light trilogy.
His new novel The Corporation Wars: Dissidence is out now and copies were available to buy.

Ken gave us an insight into his writing,  his love of Sci Fi and asked the audience if they wanted to be Sci Fi authors as you had to read a lot and love it.

Sadly on this event I didn't write any notes down as was (supposedly) recording it on phone as I did with the Alastair Reynolds and Peter F Hamilton Event I went to a few weeks ago - just to write notes on that night!

So it was a tech vs traditional competition in which traditional note taking won as luckily Karen noted it down in a note book and I sadly only recorded five minutes.   Gutted as was over an hour.

Anyway here's a few bits -

  • Ken feels a beginning of a story is very important. 
  • He used to be an IT programmer
  • Ken suggests starting a small plot then expanding it making more complicated as you go along and adding to it.
  • Ken advises to always keep a notebook so you can jot ideas down.  He shared one from his notebook. 
  • HG Wells was the daddy and from him after War of the World's and The Time Machine there were loads more alien invasion and time travel stories written by other authors who do different things to them.
  • When submitting get it right first time and Writers and Artists Yearbook is a valuable source of Publishers and Agents. 
Sadly because of recording not recording can't give as much info as I want.

Luckily Karen wrote some great notes and has a blog so you can read a fuller account of the event here:

Enjoy

I will return! 


Sunday, 23 October 2016

Book Review - Enchanters' End Game by David Eddings



Read the final part of David Eddings excellent and expansive epic The Belgariad and what a book it is.
For me it was my favourite of the series as the action is non stop and huge involving the movement of vast armies and the conclusion of Garion fighting and defeating the evil God Torak.

It has been a long journey for Garion and his friends as he left his farm as a skullery boy going onto becoming a sorcerer and King and guardian of the East.

The characters have been engaging and real even the secondary ones and the set pieces magnificent.   The book as well as being a suitable end leaves threads open for the sequel series The Malleron.

Overall -  a fitting end to an epic JRR Tolkien would be proud of and dare I say it I found it more fun to read than The Lord Of The Rings.  David Eddings did a fantastic job of keeping a huge story in place and consistent. 


Score  -  10/10

The Belgariad Series overall -  The series is a true epic which has a wide range of creatures, a believable magic system and multiple religion's and David Eddings obviously spent a lot of time and love creating a vast working world including the lands, religions, history and characters. 
I look forward to eventually reading the sequel series The Malleron eventually once I've saved up for another five books.
I'm just annoyed I had the books twenty years and only just read them.

Belgariad series score    9/10

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Trolls - Film Review


Took Bel to the Rex cinema at Elland to see the new Trolls movie which is based on the eighties and nineties toys.

It is a colourful, fun and musical film following Poppy (played by Anna Kendrick) the new leader of the Trolls who let's the Trolls do what they good at including hugging and singing.  One Troll who isn't like them is Branch (voiced by Justin Timberlake) who doesn't like hugs and is gray.

He warns them not to party as it could give the Bergens their wearabouts.  The Bergens are like Orcs who are sad creatures and only happy when they eat a Troll.

After one huge party the Bergens find the Trolls and it's up to Poppy and Branch and a few others to save the day and learn the Bergens how to have fun.

Overall  -  a fun yet sometimes predictable film brightly coloured with lots of fun songs and characters including sparkle arse - see film.
Also some good voices from the leads and others including Gwen Stefani, James Corden and others.


Score  -  8/10  -  fun for the kiddies.

Bels score  -  10/10

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Apologies

Hi guys

Sorry not blogged for a while but my tablet in which I blog is on its last legs and keeps cutting off both network and turning itself off - boo.

Got a few posts to come too including review of Sci fi night with Peter F Hamilton and Alastair Reynolds!

Plus a book review and more writing posts.

Hope problem sorted soon !

Cheers

Neil

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Waterstones Event Tuesday 27 Sept

Hi guys

Thrilled to say I'll be going to see two giants of hard Sci-fi on Tuesday coming up.  Peter F Hamilton and Alistair Reynolds.
This will make up for missing Brighouse Sci -fi weekend which I hope went well.

Check out below -

In Conversation with Peter F Hamilton and Alastair Reynolds

Tuesday 27th September 19:00 at Leeds
Join us in conversation with best-selling authors Peter F Hamilton and Alastair Reynolds as they dicuss creating universes and all things sci-fi. 

Night Without Stars is Peter's epic second and final part of the Chronicles of the Fallers whilst Revenger gives us an epic tale of kidnap, betray and revenge. 

Tickets are £3 and can be bought from the ground floor till. To reserve your place pop into store, ring 0113 244 4588, send us an email at leeds@waterstones.com or tweet us @WstonesLeeds
Further details: 0113 244 4588

Monday, 12 September 2016

Sci Fi Festival - Brighouse Library - 22 - 25 September 2016


Starting 22nd Sep 2016 See all Dates for this event

22nd-25th September 2016 Enjoy free film screening sand meet sci fi authors over four days of sci-fi fun at Brighouse Library.

Tickets for all events are available on a first come, first served basis. Book online at www.ticketsource.co.uk/calderdalembc or ring 01422 288060.

Thursday 22nd September
2pm 'I Origins' (film) NB being shown at Central Library, Halifax


Friday 23rd September
12pmJoe Pitts - Local Author of Annie's Lights. A talk discussing Joe's science fiction novel set in various places including Bradford, Ilkley, and Leeds.

1.30pm H.G Wells' The Time Machine (film) 


Saturday 24th September

11am Mark Wright Co-Author of Doctor Who-ology. Join Mark as he reads extracts from his work and talks about his audio-books, comics and everything Doctor Who. He will also run a quick writing workshop where you can learn to create weird and wonderful creatures and worlds.

1pm: Big Hero 6 (film) 1pm: On Fantasists & Fairy Tales- Local author Dan Micklethwaite will be reading from his debut novel, 'The Less than Perfect Legend of Donna Creosote'. Set in Huddersfield, it tells the story of a young woman who becomes troubled by her isolation and turns to her beloved books for a different kind of escape. Dan will discuss his influences and inspirations, including Cervantes’ Don Quixote, as he examines the role that fantasy and fiction play in shaping our adult selves.


Sunday 25th September
1.30pm The Prestiege (film)

4pm: Christopher Priest—Author of The Prestige, The Gradual and The Adjacent Christopher will talk about his new book ‘The Gradual’ and his talk will cover the themes ‘Reality, Memory and Doubt’ His talk will follow a screening of Christopher Nolan’s adaptation of The Prestige.


Want more information?
Call 01422 288060 or visithttps:www.ticketsource.co.ukcalderdalembc

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

A new easier way to publish? Social Publishing

Here is a great idea that bypasses the Publishers and lets reader choose if a book should be published -  check it out from the Writing Magazine site!

https://www.writers-online.co.uk/news/latest-news/let-people-power-get-you-published-with-social-publishing


Let people power get you published with Social Publishing

Social Publishing
Bringing the power of publishing to the people
A new publishing platform gives readers the chance to influence which books are released.
Social Publishing is a new publishing company which aims to merge traditional publishing with social media. Rather than sending the first three chapters of your completed novel to a publisher, upload them to the Social Publishing platform for free.
Readers of the site then vote for the manuscripts that they wish to see published. This allows Social Publishing to publish books which might slip through the net of a traditional publisher, including more diverse genres and characters.
Social Publishing professionally edit and produce books in both ebook and paperback formats and release them on a variety of platforms including Amazon, Kobo, Apple and others.


Some Writing Competitions

Hi guys

As promised the other day I an more focused on writing and blogging -  to kick off here are a few Writing Competitions to get your creative juices going -

http://www.authorspublish.com/kraken-press-now-accepting-manuscripts/

http://www.magicoxygen.co.uk/molp/

Good luck and will post more soon

Neil

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Sept Update - New Name - New Focus - CLF and more

Hi peeps

I haven't done an update for a while just book and film reviews but there are a few changes.

As you may or may not have noticed I've changed the blog name from Neil''s World of Wonder to the more appropriate Neil''s Writing World.

The reason for the change is that I want more focus on my writing and need to be more dedicated to being a writer.  I admit I've been lazy this year and haven't even written one short story!  I think I needed a break but will be back writing soon.

As well as writing more I intend to blog more for you guys and hope to add more followers.

So what have I been doing instead of writing?
Well I've recently come back from a holiday in sunny Skegness.
I've also started keep fit and finished a four week fat loss challenge and started at the work gym.
I've also been reading more this year and half way through David Eddings Belgariad series.

Sad news - I also attended and blogged some events of this year's Cleckheaton Literature Festival - although it was agreed in July that it was to finish.   This is sad news for the Library,  readers and Authors alike.  Apologies for this late news.  Although the CWG (Cleckheaton Writers Group) hope to hold one off events.
I will also reshare some of those CLF blog posts along with some new ones here on this blog.

More sad news - Sadly in the wisdom of council cuts the opening times for Cleckheaton Library have reduced so now this could impact the Writing group for members who work.
Although CWG meetings are still fortnightly starting Monday 5 September the time will be 5:30pm - 7pm.

Writing projects - I will be starting two short stories soon - the first being an horror story for the planned CWG Anthology.
The second will be an adult fairytale for Writing Magazine competition with the deadline of October 14.
Also need to decide which novel to finish - the crime novel Blood Shores or the Sci Fi Wormhole Effect!

I've also aquired even more books to read including a signed copy of Wolf's Head by Steven A McKay and a signed copy of Heart Shaped Box by Joe Hill along with a new Robin Hobb book, Peter Jame's The House on Cold Hill,  Helen Cadbury's To Catch A Rabbit, the complete First Law books of Joe Abercrombie and James Bond Spectre Novels by Ian Fleming and Trigger Mortis by Anthony Horowitz.
So I've even more to read!
I hope as the winter months draw nearer as well as being at the gym I hope to read and write more as well as blog.  The last quarter of 2016 is going to be busy!
So will blog soon folks and here's a photo of my new books.


Thursday, 1 September 2016

The BFG - Film Review



Went to see the Hollywood re-make of Roald Dahl's classic 1982 novel The BFG today with my daughter at Showcase Cinema in Birstall.  This was mainly to show her the fancy leather recliner seats the cinema now has.

Also she is reading The BFG book at the moment and as a child it was one of my favourite children's books and the animated movie is a classic.

This update is in the safe hands of Uber Director and film maker Steven Spielberg.   His love of the source material is evident in this special effect family film.  The giant effects are some of the best I've seen in film.  Plus the acting is top notch in particular Mark Rylance ad a CGI Big Friendly Giant and young actress Ruby Barnhill as orphan Sophie.  Also British veteran Penelope Wilton is great as the Queen.

The plot is well known now to readers of all ages and to sum up briefly it involves the adventures of orphan and insomniac book nerd Sophie seeing and being taken by the BFG to Giant Country where he catches dreams to give to people.  Unfortunately he isn't the biggest giant and is bullied by huge Giants including Bloodbottler and Fleshlumpeater who eat people.
Together with the help of the Queen they plan to get rid of the bully Giants.


Overall - A fantastic family film for the kids and big kids alike.  Only problem I had was when BFG in London and no CCTV cameras but I picky - ha.

Score   -  9/10

Bels Score  -  9/10



Friday, 19 August 2016

Jason Bourne - Film Review


After about ten years since Matt Damon's Bourne went into hiding in The Bourne Ultimatum he returns even more buff and with more memory intact in the weirdly titled Jason Bourne.

The film starts with Bourne living on the edge taking part in illegal fights.  His old pal Nicky Parsons played by Julia Stiles is still on the run from the CIA and has been hacking them to get information on all the Black Ops programs including the one Bourne started in.

They are pursued by CIA boss Robert Dewey played by Tommy Lee Jones and his expert on hacking and cyber terrorism Heather Lee played by Alicia Vikander.  Also is The Asset played by Vincent Cassell who has connections to Bournes past and a deadly rival.

The film is excellent entertainment and brings Bourne back into the modern espionage world and world of technology.  
Although it is a Bourne film with all the traits that are present in the past Bourne films.
Realistic fight scenes - check.  With a household object as a weapon.
Car chase with realistic crashes - check.
Bourne remembering more - check.
It felt like a best of compilation which is no bad thing although if there is another sequel they need to change it to make it fresh.
I think Bond (the serious films of Connery, Lazenby, Dalton and a couple of Daniel Craig's ) are better as they have in the most part more story and more complex but Bourne is good.


Overall - A best of Bourne and the best of the films since Supremacy.   Great acting and action scenes.

Score    9/10


Sunday, 7 August 2016

Film Review - Finding Dory


Took the daughter to Rex Cinema at Elland to watch Finding Dory.  The sequel to 2003 hit Finding Nemo.

Set a year after Finding Nemo it tells the story of her friend Dory  (voiced by Ellen DeGeneres) who suffers from short term memory loss and who starts remembering her parents.  She sets off to find them with the help of cranky octopus Hank (Ed O'Neill) and eventually Nemo and his dad Marlin who go to find her.

It's a great family movie and funny in places plus tense in others as Dory goes from one dangerous situation to another.

The voice overs are great and the animation is also greatly improved from Nemo and looks so realistic in places it looks like they filmed in the real ocean.

The short film before the main film called Piper about a chick going into the sea is even more realistic.

Overall -  great film and sequel for all the family.

Score  -  9/10

Bel's score  9/10

Saturday, 6 August 2016

Book Review - Castle of Wizardry by David Eddings

Book four of David Eddings classic Belgariad series seemed to take longer to read than the last three books previous.  I have to admit although it is beautifully written with great characters and settings and political and religious intrigue as well as royal formalities it didn't hold my attention as much.

I think it is because the main quest is over and Garion, the Wizard Belgarath, Polgara and the rest of the quest are now heading back to the Island fort of Riva with the God's Orb and prophecy is moving forward to crown Garion the King of Riva and the West.
Because of this there isn't as much action although it is still involving especially as the real danger of the Evil God Torak is now waking and Garion realises he has to face him to the death.

The book deals with Garion becoming King and setting of to his destiny with Belgarath and Silk.  Also it deals with the Princess Ce Nedra becoming his Queen and a figurehead for a war to come.
Again the characters are spot on although some of the main big cast are secondary.  The books show a love for the work from the author.

Overall  - Another great read although slower than the others but the lack in pace will hopefully be faster in the next concluding part of the Belgariad.

Score  -  7/10

Sunday, 31 July 2016

Star Trek Beyond - Film Review


Went to see Star Trek Beyond the third film in the rebooted franchise last night and have to say it's my favourite of the new films so far.
After the lack lustre of Into Darkness this film hits the right spot showing the crew of the Enterprise deep in space and three years into their five year mission which feels like a classic series film.
Also what draws you to the film is that it isn't too connected with the previous ones only briefly mentioning Ambassador Spock who time travelled in the first film and created the Kelvin  timeline which these films are set in and played by the late Leonard Nimoy.

The acting among the crew is excellent and they gel brilliantly echoing the original series and films again.  In particular the relationship between the main three of Spock (Zachary Quinto), Bones (Karl Urban) and Kirk (Chris Pine).
The other crew members get good air time too including Chekov (the late Anton Yelchin), Uhura (Zoe Saldana) and Scotty  (Simon Pegg who also did an excellent job of  co-writing).

The special effects are brilliant and the dialogue zings along with humour and nods to the past.  The plot involves the Enterprise crew being captured by the alien Krall  (played by Idris Elba), having to escape and stopping his invasion and destruction of the outpost Yorktown - which reminded me of the space station in Elsyium.

The film kept me and the audience entertained without having to think too much.

Overall - Brilliant entrance to the Star Trek universe but hope next time they leave the Enterprise intact.  

Score   -   9/10

Monday, 4 July 2016

The Secret Life of Pets - Film Review


At the weekend took my daughter to see the new smash animation The Secret Life of Pets from the makers of Despicable Me and Minions.
It revolves around a spoilt terrier dog called Max whose routine is spoilt when his owner brings home a new huge dog called Duke.

Duke realises Max doesn't like him so tries to get rid of him which also results in Duke getting lost in New York with Max.

They face a killer revenge fuelled bunny who wants revenge on humans for abandoning him and the rest of his gang who live in the sewers and consist of a tattooed pig, crocodile and snake.

Eventually they are better for their experiences and become best friends.

The film was very funny with lots of animal gags and set pieces and some gags for the adults and the animation and voices were spot on.

Also at the beginning of the film was a very funny new short from the Minions where they need money to buy a banana juicer.

Overall   -  one of the better and funnier animations out over last few years and quite original and not a sequel.

Score  -  9/10

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

The Conjuring 2 - Film Review



Unexpectedly went to the cinema to see the sequel to 2013 horror The Conjuring. It has had good reviews and I missed my X Men film and Turtles film to watch it.  I'm glad I went.

The film reunites Patrick Wilson (Insidious) and Vera Farmiga (Orphan) as Ed and Lorraine Warren - real life paranormal investigators from the seventies as they investigate the famous or infamous Enfield Poltergeist in a based on a true story film.

The Warrens not only have to help the Hodgson family who are terrorised by the spirit of Bill an old man who lived there but a demon who is following them from the Amityville case.

The movie is very good and there is a good atmosphere.   It also has some good jumpy bits too and the Crooked Man which is from as old nursery rhyme.

Overall - loved the film very scary in parts and had me and the audience juming at certain parts.   The child acting is also good.  Only thing that put me off is that Patrick Wilson is in the similar Insidious films so can sometimes think "what film am I watching ".
Also as some people believe that it was a hoax or some of it was put me off.

Score  -  9/10  - one of the scariest films of recent years.

Fact  - the Warrens did investigate the Enfield case albeit only briefly for about a day.
Is the Enfield house haunted?
Peggy Hodgson lived in the house till her death and believed it to be hearing strange noises.  Her son Billy lived with her to the end.
After Peggy died a Clare Bennett and her four sons moved in not realising it was the famous Enfield house.  She always felt watched and her sons would be woken by voices downstairs.   She found out about the history and last straw came when a figure of a man walked into her sons room.  They moved out the next day after just two months.  Eek.

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Joe Hill Talk - Friday 10 June

 

On Friday I went with the GF to Waterstones in Leeds to see popular American Author and son of Stephen King - Joe Hill.
Joe has written such modern horror classics as "Heart Shaped Box ", "Horns" (which was adapted to film with Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe).
Short story anthology "20th Century Ghosts" and graphic novel series "Locke & Key".

When Joe first arrived in a packed room he took a photo of the audience for Twitter .  He also admitted he was nervous speaking to an audience.   Here he told a funny story about his first public reading to about ten people.   He was nervous and read out some swearing and suddenly loads of kids popped up and the parents weren't pleased.

He then read an excellent extract from his new novel "The Fireman" which is a post apocalyptic where people get a disease and spontaneous combust.





Then he turned our attention to the song sheets he gave out as he came into the room.  He eventually got volunteers to play Kazoos as music for the singing.


We sang Campfire Song which is in the novel and to the tune of Hey Jude which was dark and funny.  We also sang Chim Chim Cheree. 

After it was to the Questions and Answers from the audience. 

Q -  What would you rather fight - a giant duck or an Octopus. 

Joe - depends on the terrain but probably the Octopus and squash it.

Q - Would you write a sequel to "Heart Shaped Box "?

Joe - "Heart Shaped Box " my first novel about a rockstar buying a ghost online which is very real.  Generally don't write sequels. The end of the story should be final giving more power to the middle.  Gives the reader chance to take on the story.  

Q - Where do you get inspiration for stories?

Joe - Mostly jokes. Pick at whatever makes him laugh.  Writes horror and suspense but similar to comedy.  Comedy and Shock related. If Leatherface beats someone with an hammer you scream but if Marx brothers do the same thing you laugh.  Same scene. 

Q - How much of a fan of John Wyndham are you?  As the camp in the novel Camp Wyndham. 

Joe -  A fan of John Wyndham that why camp named after him.  My books full of references of things I love.  The title for "The Fireman" lifted from a Ray Bradbury as it was original title of Farenheit 451.
There a lot of Harry Potter,  Zombie Apocalypse and Marvel superhero films.
Especially Marvel as one woman character so book has alot of women characters. 

Q - Your three favourite horror films?

Joe - Jaws, original Dawn of the Dead, Let the Right one in.

Q - One piece of advice for Writers. 

Joe - Been given alot of good advice from many writers.  None of it really matters.  He figured out what he did himself by reading good books and comic's.  Re-write some novels.  Studied other writers.  For his comic he counted out other comic's panel and wording to see how they worked.
Mainly for a career it's a slow drip process.  Write one great scene and get to know your character and world.  A good novel is great scenes connected together.  A lot of people give up. No reason to write a scene about someone making breakfast.  Write what people want.

Q -  What happened to the Locke & Key TV Show?

Joe - Spent six years writing graphic novel Locke & Key with full beginning,  middle and end.  About enchanted keys in haunted house.  Fox TV  made 10 million pilot but it so different and lost confidence in it.  Although five years ago there was no Netflix or Daredevil,  Penny Dreadful ect.  American Horror Story.  Wasn't confident making a comic book show and Walking Dead only in first season.  IDW now moved into television and now writing pilot episode for them.

Q - Horns was rewritten about four times - why was this?

Joe - Goes back to what I said about slow drip of time to make a career.  Wrote it for ten years and didn't sell.  A lot of writers give up as you give up alot of time to write a novel and get no where but there no wasted effort as the good parts can be used again.  Wrote a fantasy called "The Fear Tree" .  Took three years to write and got rejected.  Another one had a guy with psychic abilities.
Eventually it became Horns and some chapters in it rewritten chapters.
Stories go through an evolution of failure then success.

Q - Are you writing a re-imaging of Tales from the Dark Side?

Joe - I got hired by CBS to reboot a 1980s show.  Said yes and they wrote a big cheque.  Was meant to write one script but ended up writing three and a bible for the show.  Connected the standalone stories.
CBS passed on it as they concentrated on Arrow and Superhero shows.
Although IDW have bought the rights to make as a comic.

Q - What favourite short stories?

Joe - Bitter Grounds by Neil Gaiman, Kelly Link stories?

I asked when getting book signed -

What are you working on next?

Joe - Working on four novellas.  Look out for them.











Monday, 6 June 2016

Update, blogs and Joe Hill


Hi guys

Long time no blog been a hectic month - what with work, reading and swimming to name a few things I've been doing.

First off I've still been blogging steadily for Cleckheaton Literature Festival and reviewing the events that were on.

I've also been reading David Eddings "Castle of Wizardry ", book Four of The Belgariad series.   A classic fantasy series and we'll worth reading.

I've also got a blocked ear which has been doing my nut in .  I got it after going swimming snd the ear drops not working.   Looks like a trip to Doctors in order.

TV show wise the shows that have stopped be reading and writing lately have been Chronicles of Shannara,  Magicians,  Gotham - which is really good at the moment and love the cool Doctor Strange.   Also Agents of Shield  has been great although we may never see my lookalike again - Wade/Hive.

So coming up -

Working on my Bad Fairy Tales - updated classics I am starting to write including  "Bad Goldilocks and the Three Bears" and "The Ginger Badman".  These were inspired by a workshop at Cleckheaton Literature Festival lead by Sci fi author  Justina Robson.

I've also to get going on my novels plus a story or two for the Cleckheaton Writers Group Anthology which we are planning.   Think the deadline is August?

Plus continuing with Cleckheaton Literature Festival blog.

Maybe some Freelance work too?

Lastly this Friday 10 June I am of to Waterstones in Leeds to see a famous author who is big at the moment -   Joe Hill - who's novel "Horns" was adapted into a film with Harry Potter himself Daniel Radcliffe.
He has also written "Heart  Shaped Box" and "Locke and Keyes".
His new novel "The Fireman " is out now,
Plus he's the next best thing to having Stephen King as he's Stephens son!


So blog soon guys - stay safe. X

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Book Review - Magician's Gambit by David Eddings


Book Three of The Belgariad picks up the pace as Garion,  the Sorceror Belgarath,  Polgara and a growing cast of companions which now include Princess Ce'Nedra and the blind priest Relg make their way to the enemies city stronghold to retrieve the Orb of Aldur.

Throughout the book we meet God's,  monsters and more.  We also learn some backstory to Belgarath and learn that an ancient Prophecy has big plans for Ce Nedra and Garion.  Garion also starts to learn to control the power building up inside him and we learn who the mysterious voice that has been in his head from the beginning is.

Overall a great read which throws up more locations and shows what a great imagination David Eddings had.  His death is a great loss to the fantasy genre and I can't wait to read Book Four - Castle of Wizardry. 

Score  -  8/10

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Captain America 3 - Civil War - Film Review - Spoilers


Went to see another Hero Vs Hero film the other night and have to say Captain America 3 - Civil War is for me the best Marvel film yet.
The storytelling brings together parts of the 8 year Marvel film history together well and chucks in a few surprises as well mainly concerning Buckys character.

The film starts with a flashback to 1991 which is an important twist to the story.  Thereafter is a spectacular action sequence as Captain America,  Black Widow,  Falcon, Scarlet Witch chase down the criminal Crossbones.
This event kills more civilians which brings about a Sokovia Accord which the Avengers are to sign and be controlled more by the government's of the World.

Whilst at the treaty a bomb kills most including the Wakanda King and Bucky (Winter Soldier) is framed.
Captain America and Falcon decide to help Bucky when they realise he's innocent whilst Tony Stark/Ironman wants Captain to follow the rules.

This brings about alot of tense scenes between the two main heroes who both bring in their pals and builds to a great climax between the two teams of heroes.
The highlights of this includes Antman, the introduction of Black Panther and of course Spiderman. 

The new Spiderman is the best yet and young actor Tom Holland owns the role in the scenes he's in.  There's an innocence about him and even Tony Stark helping him with costume makes sense.  Although still not sure how Tony realises who Spiderman is.
Still like Toby Maguires Spiderman which is weird as main bad guy BaRon Zemo looks like him.  Also noted one of control words used to brainwash Bucky is Homecoming - which is also name of the upcoming Spiderman film - coincidence?

The actors are brilliant in this but too many to mention here most notable Robert Downey Jr,  Chris Evans, Tom Holland, Sebastian Stan.

Overall - A fantastic piece of writing and action - the best yet of the Marvel films - go see it.

Score  10/10

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Author Joe Abercrombie Book Signing

Inbetween  the Cleckheaton Literature Festival Weekends I managed to get to Leeds, Waterstones to see Fantasy/Grimdark author Joe Abercrombie.  Sadly it was only a signing and not an Author talk.  Hopefully will see him again in Leeds for an Author talk (or even a future Cleckheaton Literature Festival?).

Although they put these signings on in the middle of  the day when most people are at work. Hope any talk is in the evening.




Anyway was glad I went to see Joe who to me writes gritty realistic fantasy similar to my favourite author David Gemmell and even though I have nearly all of Joes' novels I have to admit I've only read snippets but his First Law Trilogy and standalone novels Best Served Cold and The Heroes plus his new Short story collection  Sharp Ends are next on my reading list and I'm sure he'll become another favourite author.

I have followed his progress through the years and reviews for all his books in SFX and Sci-fi Now magazines have been highly regarded and scored top marks.

So today as I edged my way to the signing table the same thing happened to me as it did in in 2005 when I went to ask David Gemmell a question - nerves.

Oh well I was going to ask at least two questions including his favourite authors but managed to ask if he was writing anymore novels in the First Law World.

Joe answered that yes he is.  He is working on a new trilogy of novels set in the world but wants the novels to be different and act as one story like Lord of the Rings.

So in the meantime I look forward to  Joes new novels and will be busy catching up on his old ones.