Thursday, 23 November 2017

Nanowrimo-less and a death

Hi guys

Hope your all busy reading and writing.

I was meant to get stuck into Nanowrimo this year as want to send a submission off by end of December to Angry Robot as they have open submissions on going till 31 December.

Sadly as always does in November something goes wrong.  In this case the sickness, decline and eventual passing of my Steddad who I've known for 22 years.  This is longer than my actual Dad as he died when I was 15.

Because of this the notes I was going to make in October got finished last week and I definitely won't be hitting the Nano monthly target of 50,000 words.

So have decided will try a mad sprint in final week despite a funeral looming and aim for 15,000 words which is better than nothing and it's what he would have wanted.

So RIP Pat xx

Catch you all laters.

Neilx

Thursday, 2 November 2017

Thor - Ragnarok - Film Review



Hi guys

Went to see Thor- Ragnarok the third and so far best in the Thor trilogy of movies and Marvel fans are in for a treat.

Set after the second Thor film which saw Loki (Tom Hiddleston) impersonate Odin (Anthony Hopkins) it follows on with Thor (Chris Hemsworth) returning to Asgard which is in disarray thanks to Loki.

Dangerous Artefacts are missing from the vaults and Heimdall (Idris Elba) who looks after the Biofrost bridge is missing.

After watching an hilarious play about Loki's death Thor calls Loki out who explains he exiled Odin to Earth.
On Earth Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) in a funny scene shows them where he is.
Odin in Norway - home of the Norse Gods - explains his time is up but his presence has been holding back his daughter Hela (Cate Blanchett) who wants to destroy Asgard.  She destroys Thors Hammer easily and Thor and Loki escape by the Biofrost she hitches a ride to Asgard and knocks them off path.

Here is where the fun starts as Thor arrives on the planet Sakaar home of the Grandmaster (played excellently by Jeff Goldblum) who is host to gladiator games.  The current champion being Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) who after Avengers - Age of Ulton has stayed as Hulk for 2 years and captured.

The fight between Thor and Hulk is awesome and a highlight of the film which shows Thor the stronger of the two.

Once the fight is over Thor and Hulk talk - have to admit Hulk talking quite a bit was weird but he does that in the comics.  
Thor has Hulk turn back to Banner who is confused and freaked out by being away so long and on an alien planet and they plan their escape back to Asgard with the help of Loki who also arrived there and Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) who has links to Asgards past and the rock creature Korg (voiced by Director Taika Waititi who does an excellent job directing).

With other characters like Skurge (Karl Urban) who helps Hela to stay alive but joins Thor the film is packed with fun and has an Eighties feel.

It has some great action and funny gags and visuals which are similar to Guardians of the galaxy films.

Overall  -  A great Thor film and one of the best Marvel films out.


Score   -   9/10

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Happy Nanowrimo

Hi guys

Hope you're all well and busy writing as it's the first day of National Writing Month.
As you writers will know the aim is to achieve 50,000 words written on a novel in November.

Sadly I am behind due to other life issues and not finishing my notes on my Nano but will be up and writing soon.
As I've never finished writing 50,000 words I think I will aim for a more realistic 20,000 to 25,000 words which is better than nothing- wish me luck.

So once I've done more on my planning I will start by weekend.

My story is set in the future where humans are colonizing distant worlds although there is a religious group which tries to stop these Colony ships from leaving called Earthers.  They believe we should stay on Earth no matter what as God put us there.

So Defending the Colony ships is Captain Banks and his rag tag crew in their ship - Defender.  Once the Colony ship has left for deep space and the Earthers have retreated to their last hideout ironically in the moon Captain Bank's crew can enjoy some downtime.
Although President O'Hare wants them to head out to Colony X - the tenth colony which settled in a more isolated area of Space.
So Captain Banks must again gather his crew and set off to investigate not knowing one of his crew is a murderer and something deadly and sinister awaits them.
Is it a trap?

Hope you like the idea and yes I realise I should be actually writing instead of blogging.
But Nano I will catch thee up!

If any of you are doing Nano and want to add me my Nano name is Neilxuk!

Leave any comments below.

Enjoy x

P.s.  Yep Captain Banks is named after acclaimed sci fi author Iain M Banks and President O'Hare after the Captain on the first season of Babylon 5 which starts November 13th on Pick.

Monday, 16 October 2017

A Tribute part 2 - Helen Cadbury - Crime Panel

Hi guys

In a follow up to the previous post which was a tribute to author Helen Cadbury I thought I would re-use a post which I wrote for the 2015 Cleckheaton Literature Festival.

Both festivals had Helen who not only chaired the panels but also answered the questions.
Both panels featured fellow authors Leigh Russell and Alison Taft.
So without further ado these are their thoughts on writing.

L-R  Helen Cadbury,  Alison Taft, Leigh Russell 




Helen both asked and answered the following:
How did your writing journey begin?
Alison Taft –   Always inspired to write from an early age. Harriet the Spy was one of her favourite books.  She remembers one of her English teachers who everyone feared bringing her own story to read and everyone wanted her to finish the story.  Always kept a journal on her and after leaving a few jobs in her twenties wanted to be a writer.   This was put back as in her thirties needed life saving operation and her child’s life was saved.  Then decided to stop messing about and started first novel.
Leigh Russell –  Never intended to be a writer but loved books.  When young walked into a library and thought it was fantastic. Is worried about our children as they go for tablets and Kindles and they not as good as physical books.                                      Went to University got Masters Degree in University and became an English teacher although started writing late in life.  Got the idea for a novel when she saw a man on a path acting suspicious and imagination took hold wondering “what if she saw a body? ”
The idea of a man killing women took hold and wanted to know what makes people kill.  Wrote the story in six weeks, printed out and posted to Agents and Publishers.  Two weeks later had a call from publishers and signed a three book deal with No Exit Press.  Although she has recently released her tenth book with the publisher and signed a new three book deal.
Helen Cadbury – Also started writing quite late as started her career in acting.  Between acting jobs went on a Poetry course.  In 2004/5 was working freelance in Theatre.  In her free time went to an Adult Education Fair and went to pick up a leaflet on a chainsaw course. She saw a Creative writing course held by York poet Carol Bromley.
Helen went on to complete an MA at Sheffield Hallam University.   Wrote first draft of her debut novel in York.  Was fascinated about people going missing.
Is it natural for women to write Crime? What is appeal? 
LR – When started writing wrote for herself. The Detective character was originally male although changed character to a woman as women more interested in people and relationships.  Also when writing the killers character tends not to analyse being in a killers mind.  Leigh admits she can’t go a day without writing.   Also is not sure whether she would write another genre other than crime.  Admits Literary writers look down on crime writers.  Shakespeare is the best crime writer of all time.
AT – Thinks we read as we are looking for answers and crime has more questions about life.  Alisons first book is about looking for a missing father – she didn’t expect there to be a series.  We need to know why people go missing.
LR – Leigh thinks however disturbing crime is in a book  there is a resolution yet sometimes in real life there isn’t.
HC – Red Riding Hood is one of the earliest crime novels.  On a panel in York for Writers in Motherhood they wrote good suspense thrillers as they had daily anxiety with babies.
Reading – The Panel read extracts from their novels. 
LR – Read from her novel Cut Short. Her debut Geraldine Steel novel.  The section read was where the serial killer was known to the reader and main character.   Leigh trys to make her books believable.   As a crime writer need to play with readers expectations.
AT – Read from her manuscript her unpublished forth novel in the Lily Appleyard series where the main character opens a Missing Persons Bureau.  Admits the first time she read out to audience was at Otley literaturefestival.
HC – Read from her laptop a snippet if her second novel Bones in the Nest which is out in July. She has opened with the novel in first person instead of third to try get into someone else’s head.
Myself and the audience enjoyed and relished the pages read and all hope to read the rest later.
How did you get published? What’s your writing process?
LR – Wrote first book for herself.  When first novel was sent out had to do alot of editing.  Had to take out a lot of material.  Editor advised to take out anything not needed. She got a third through the book and wondered how she was going to finish it. Leigh wasn’t taking it seriously when she sent it off had no idea it would get published.  Admits didn’t plan series enough at the beginning and would have had a younger DS Steel.  Has written eight in DS Steel series so far plus two DI Ian Peterson novel spin offs.  Thinking of writing twenty in DS Steel series.
Now writes two books a year and loves writing.  If she ever lost the excitement of writing and reading would stop as wouldn’t be fun.
HC – Like LR wrote too much for first book had to take alot out and depressing as had to take what written out.  Main character in twenties so if keep writing character will out live her.
Wasn’t sure how to finish first novel.  “To Catch a Rabbit” won the Northern Crime Panel award where winner got published.  Publishers wanted to know more about book and characters so made synopsis up within thirty minutes.
The genre is widening at the moment.
LR – Has a rough idea of the end and how to get there. Got to trust yourself as a writer.  Crime fiction is plot driven have to put clues in but difficult keeping one step ahead of readers. Agatha Christie changed killer halfway through her books.
Do characters disturb you?
AT – No as not real.
LR – No not real.
HC – No saw more as taught in a prison.
Areas you wouldn’t go to in writing? 
LR – Wouldn’t kill a child in the books. Be too upsetting like in real crime.  Crime is moving towards horror as some crime books are too shocking plus too squeamish.  If writing about someone going missing would think of the family and their fears.
HC – Wouldn’t write about anyone in the prison or use a real story for a story.  Already written about some things she didn’t think she would.
Overall – A great evening for the audience,  fans of crime fiction,  the authors and the library.  Was a great insight into the minds of three crime authors at the top of their game and there was some great advice for would be authors (like myself).

Saturday, 14 October 2017

A Tribute - Helen Cadbury - 1965 - 2017



Hi

Just wanted to post a quick tribute to Helen Cadbury an author and friend I met at two Cleckheaton Literature Festivals.  Sadly she passed away from cancer in June of this year.

Although I'd only met Helen twice at the festivals we chatted quite a bit at both and she was very friendly and warm and asked about my writing.  We also messaged each other on messenger where she gave me writing tips.

                                      Helen at 2015 Cleckheaton Literature Festival

Helen was born in the Midlands and grew up in Saddlworth.  Writing was a passion for Helen since she was young but before she became a published author she had a variety of jobs including actor, drama teacher and worked in prison education.
As well as crime fiction she also wrote plays and poetry.

A collection of Helen's poetry is due out this November by Valley Press.

Out November 2017 by Valley Press

Sadly Helen's writing career is cut short just as it was taking off but the books she has out go check them as they are great reads.  I am currently reading her Sean Denton book 2 - Bones in the Nest.

Helen is survived by her husband and son.

Look out in the shops for Helen's third and sadly last Sean Denton book Race to the Kill out now in bookshops from Allison and Busby publishers.

Sean Denton book 3 - Out now




Thursday, 12 October 2017

Harry Potter and the Demon Box

Hi guys

As you may recall in an earlier post I had been having trouble getting back into writing as I hadn't written anything for nearly a year.  So I decided I'd write something fun like fan fiction and so had an idea for a Harry Potter sequel.

To get my creative juices flowing I've written the start to it which I will share below along with the synopsis although must stress I'm naughty as only watched the films and read first book but think around Christmas will read the whole series (maybe not the screenplay).

So if you like it and the synopsis would you want me to finish it?  Let me know in the comments and apologies to JK Rowling for butchering your world. X


Harry Potter and the Demon Box 

1


   Sally Henshaw was bored.  Really bored.  The same bored she felt every day in the slow traffic of London as the bus stopped and started nearly every minute on her journey home from school.

Sat on the top deck she sighed as she looked out into the gloomy streets below.  The hussle and bussle of people rushing around and the constant roars of engines and beeps from cars and the traffic tried to crawl along at a snails pace.

Sally looked to her Mum sat next to her.  Her face aglow from the mobile screen as she flicked through posts on Facebook.
‘Mum I’m bored,’ she moaned.
Without looking up came her Mums reply ‘Be with you in a minute just got to comment on this.  Oh it’s bangers and mash for tea.’
Sally scrunched up her face in disgust as it was the third time this week they had had that tea and she wasn’t keen on the sausages as they were cheap tasteless ones.  Sally also knew her Mum would be stuck on the phone till journeys end.

The bus pulled up in traffic and Sally looked out at an old ripped billboard.  The advert was for a film that had been out years.  She blew on the glass and made a dog shape with her fingers.  Wiping it away she noticed something funny happening to the billboard.
The billboard looked to be blinking and shimmering as did the wall it was on.  For a few moments both disappeared completely.  Sally was stunned to see a wide alley behind, the size of a small street with old fashioned and odd shaped shops and houses.
The few people on the alley were dressed weirdly old and in black.  A few owls flew around it.  Near to where the bus was a couple chatted in the alley both dressed in black.  The man had a hooded cape and wild frizzy hair.  The woman was old with a pointy hat.
Sally chuckled as she thought she looked like a witch and waved at them wildly.  Catching the couples attention she smiled as their faces looked horrified and puzzled at the same time.  They both pulled out black pointy sticks and waved them towards the bus.

Sally was scared at this and turned to her mum pulling on her arm wildly.
‘Mum look there’s witches and a funny street and owls,’
‘Yes dear,’ her Mum replied wearily and looked up.  ‘Where Sally?’
Sally turned back round to the window and there was the wall and billboard looking as they did before.  The bus moved forward in traffic a few feet.
Sally slumped back in her seat in wonder.  Had she imagined the strange alley and people or was it real. It felt very real to her.

Later that night Sally Henshaw had the most fantastic dreams of witches and magic she had ever had. 




Harry Potter and the Demon Box synopsis 


Magic is failing. Diagan Alley is becoming seen by muggles.   Platform nine and three quarters has lost its link to Hogwarts station and magic of all kinds keeps going wrong.
Sometimes simple spells don’t work and sometimes big magic fails.  This includes the flying of broomsticks which means the world Quidditch tournament is cancelled.   Worst still the magical animals like the ones in Hogwarts forbidden forest are dying.

Harry Potter and the Ministry of Magic find out it is the cause of a long forgotten artefact called the Demon Box.  They realise twenty years ago Voldermort set off the box which began slowly sucking in magic from the world as a back up plan.  In his arrogance Voldermort believed he would be victorious and defeat Harry and his allies then close the box but he was wrong.

Realising the only person who can switch the box off and shut it is Voldermort,  Harry must spirit travel to the underworld before it’s too late and get Voldermort to tell him how to switch it off.
Voldermort tricks Harry and escapes the Underworld searching out his number one disciple who has kept his body. (Think Insidious). Because it’s been twenty years even with magic his body is decaying and because magic is failing when Voldermorts spirit joins with his body iit goes wrong and he becomes distorted with a melting face and bent over. (Think Brundlefly from The Fly).

Voldermort goes to Hogwarts where he hid the box killing a few old professors including Hagrid and the school children including Harry’s go into hiding in the forest where they tend the dying magical beasts.
In the meantime Harrys spirit has to complete tests set by the keeper of the Underworld which he just passes and returns to his body and races off to Hogwarts with his friends for a final battle with Voldermort. 
Harry wins Voldermort but there are costs including Ron losing an arm and Hermonie sacrificing her magic to close the Demon Box making her a whole muggle.
Magic is slowly restored – end.


Tuesday, 10 October 2017

October!

Hi guys

Just a quick post to let you know what I'm up to.

I can't believe we're in October all ready.  This year has flown by and I've wasted it by not writing.  Plus hardly blogged but at least I've read a bit more.

Anyway this month I need to post some belated blogs including -


  • Tribute to the late crime author Helen Cadbury - see last post for review on her book.
  • The Orenda road show which took place beginning of this year.
  • Three author event that took place other month at Leeds Waterstones and featured RJ Barker, Genevieve Cogman and Adrian Tchaikovsky. 
  • Last year's Sci fi talk with Alistair Reynolds and Peter F Hamilton. 
  • Maybe some post from last year's Cleckheaton Literature Festival.
I also want to finish The Cubbyhole ghost story in time for Halloween.   As well as this I'm thinking of a few other short stories to write to enter competitions. 

Plus I will be prepping for next month's Nanowrimo which I hope to smash next month as the story will eventually be sent to Angry Robots open submissions in December. 

Anyway guys keep reading and writing.   Chat soon.

Neilx

Saturday, 30 September 2017

Book Review - To Catch A Rabbit by Helen Cadbury



Hi guys

This is a belated review of the late great Helen Cadburys debut 2013 novel To Catch A Rabbit.
Having met and talked to Helen a few times who sadly passed away earlier this year I was intrigued by her novels which had high praise in reviews and by fellow authors.  To Catch A Rabbit helped Helen win Northern crime competition. 

Usually Crime isn't my normal genre so only read a few but this seemed different. 
Her main protagonist Sean Denton is just a PCSO and not fully in the police force.  Whereas other crime novels have their main character higher up in the police like a Detective. 

Set quite local in South Yorkshire in Doncaster and York (Helen's own city).
PCSO Sean Denton is doing his rounds on his local estate when a boy stops him to say he's found a body.
They go to a local wasteland where an old food trailer is and on the steps a dead Chinese girl.
This is where our story begins as DCI Burger takes over declaring it an open and shut case of drug overdose.  Until a second body is found.

What follows is a twisty crime novel involving human trafficking and prostitution but Helen handles this sensitively and realistically. 

As well as Sean Dentons POV we also get chapters from Karen Friedman whose brother Phillip has gone missing maybe murdered.  Karen not only has to deal with her brothers disappearance but the gradual break up of her family and her affair with DC Moon.
For the first half of the book we also get Phillips POV showing his final day delivering dodgy goods for his friend John McKenzie.

With great three dimensional characters, and realistic gritty dialogue that puts Happy Valley to shame this is a great twisty read.

I was annoyed at how long it took me to read as it is a quick easy read and only 349 pages but life got in the way.

I did chuckle at one point when I was reading it in a caravan in Cleethorpes in July with the rain belting down outside as Helen mentions this in her book.  See below. 


Overall -  A great debut from a talented writer sadly cut short in her prime whereby she's doing something different with the crime genre and has written great characters and plot.  Well worth a read.

Score   -    10/10



Wednesday, 6 September 2017

September Already!

Hi guys

Just a quick update on what I've been doing writing wise.

Sadly not a lot as I've been busy procrastinating again!

Have started a Harry Potter fan fiction story but done little else.

I've also not read as much as I have wanted and still reading Helen Cadburys To Catch A Rabbit.  This has taken me longer than I thought although I am enjoying it a lot.

I've also to catch up reading my magazines including Writing Magazine, SFX,  and Sci Fi Now.

I haven't even watched much television so that's not to blame either.  Currently watching Marvels Jessica Jones then moving to Daredevil.

The reasons why I've not written or read?

Been too tired mainly plus . ....

Watching Booktubes on YouTube.

These are videos of people reading books, opening presents of books discussing which books are on their TBR pile and book reviews.

They have me hooked especially Matt reviews Books and Lissa Loves Books and Kitty G plus many more.
Search them on YouTube if your interested.

Although need to get on reading my own books and writing and you never know they might review one book I've written in the future?

Fingers crossed.

Up next  -  Review of a three fantasy book talk from last week which included authors RJ Barker, Adrian Tchaikovsky and Genevieve Cogman.

See you soon peeps

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Spider-Man - Homecoming - Film Review



Hi guys

Here's a quick belated review of Spider-Man- Homecoming which I actually saw about 3 weeks ago on holiday in Cleethorpes with my daughter.  Sadly been a bit busy and lazy.

Spider-Man is probably my favourite superhero of all time.  I grew up with him in comics and cartoons and he was of a similar age to me.

So now this is the third incarnation of the character in just over 10 years which do I think is better?
Well the Tobey Maguire Spider-Man will always have a place in my heart as he was the first on the big screen.  I even liked the third film in that trilogy.
I was gutted when a forth film was cancelled and I even had an idea which included Lizard and Kraven the Hunter and ended with the Venom sample from the third film being knocked on floor where it spawns a red version which sets up Carnage for the fifth and final film which would have had a lot of deaths and been a huge fight film.

But I digress then came The Amazing Spider-Man films which didn't live up to the Amazing part and it was too soon to do the origin story again.  Andrew Garfield was good in the role though Sony messed them up.

Which brings us now to the new Tom Holland version of Spider-Man/ Parker in the Sony/Marvel shared universe.  He premiered in Captain America Civil War and was great from the start.  I loved Tom Holland's version from the off as a younger quirky unsure person which translates to this new film.

It is also great having Spider-Man engaging with other MCU heroes and the film starts with the geeky Parker filming himself with the Avengers at the airport fight then flying home with Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) who tells him that he'll be in touch if needed and he can keep the suit he designed him instead of the rubbish one Peter made.

The film also ties in with the first Avengers film as a prologue shows the aftermath of the New York battle with Loki and his alien pals and the clean up crew being sacked.  They take what alien technology they can and their leader Adrian Toomes does this to sell alien weapons.  He dons a flying suit and becomes Vulture.
Micheal Keaton is great as the Vulture and one of my all time favourite actors and his character isn't truly evil.

The film has some great action set pieces as Peter struggles with his school life and his crime fighting ways as Spider-Man in which he is still getting used to his role.  He also has help from his best friend Ned (Jacob Batalon) who spots him on his ceiling and their geeky banter is fun.

The rest of the cast are great including his hot Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) and Peters love interest Liz (Laura Harrier).
As well as Robert Downey Jr reprising his role as Tony Stark/Iron Man his bodyguard from Iron Man 1 and 2 Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) returns to keep an eye on Peter.

The film also has a link with the Deadpool movie by way of Ferris Bueller as Spiderman runs through loads of back gardens when no where to swing from and one house has the film on as he runs past.

There are some hilarious set pieces too including his new suit which has an on-board computer installed which I wasn't keen on at first as seemed like an Iron Man suit although makes sense because a fifteen year old wouldn't be able to make such a suit like in the previous films.

Overall   -  This has taken over as my favourite Spider-Man film and Tom Holland's naive performance as a quirky teen Peter Parker had already won me over in Civil War but is even better here as shows his vulnerable side.
Can't wait to see more of Spider-Man!

Bels Score    -  7/10  the talky bits bored her

My Score     -    10/10   the best Spider-Man and Marvel film to date

Monday, 14 August 2017

August Update - Writing again !

Hi folks

Hope your ok and still there?  I know I need to blog and write more often to keep the followers and build more.
Like I've said in a previous post I've had a lull and not written in ages.

But now I'm back - Writing again and enjoying it.  Although not working on the ghost story I started.  I thought to get my creative juices going I would write Fan fiction as I've had a Harry Potter story in my head for a while.
So I'm writing that.  It may be just the beginning or the whole thing I'm not sure yet.

What makes this difficult is that I've only read first book Philosopher Stone and just seen the films.  Not to mention the play sequel.
So my continuity may not be great but it just a writing practise and fun to do.
I really need to read the rest - soon - although got a large tbr pile..
 Hope JK Rowling doesn't take offence.

So as well as writing I will be back blogging more as I'm behind on a few things that took place this year and last year.

So upcoming in no particular order -


  • Spider-Man- Homecoming review.
  • Tribute to the great Helen Cadbury who sadly passed away last month but had the pleasure of meeting her twice.
  • Review of Helen's novel To catch a Rabbit.
  • Review of the Orenda books road show from earlier this year - very belated.
  • Review of last year's excellent Peter F Hamilton and Alistair Reynolds sci fi talk - even more belated.
  • Plus writing news and updates and competition news.

Hope you all enjoy.

See ya soon x


Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Captain Underpants - The first epic movie - Film Review



Took Bel to see the new Dreamworks movie Captain Underpants in Cleethorpes as the weather is like winter.

Also my inner child secretly wanted to watch it too.  Based on the children's books by Dav Pilkey who's books I've seen about and wanted to read but too old .

It follows two school kids George(Kevin Hart) and Harold (Thomas Middleditch) who are two pranksters at school but also create their own comics in their tree house including Captain Underpants.
This is thought was good as shows young kids it's fun to be creative. 

They are forever in trouble at school and sent to Principle Krupp office.  On this occasion he threatens to separate them in class which they believe will end their friendship  (even though they live next door to each other.)

As a last resort they use a hypno ring from a cereal box and it actually works.  As the Principal looks like Captain Underpants they make him believe that's who he is.

From here there is more fun and toilet humour and Captain Underpants is a great parody of Superheros. 

The animation and voice cast are great and the movie blasts along at great speed like a huge long fart.

Overall - A great first movie and if the get the story right then a sequel won't be pants.
Take you kids and inner kids to see this.


Bels Score      -   10/10

My score        -   10/10



Monday, 24 July 2017

Book Review - Silverthorn by Raymond E Feist



This is the sequel to Raymond E Feist's excellent Magician and book two of The Riftwar Saga.

Set a year after the initial invasion by the Tsuranni the world of Midkemia has been at peace.
King Lyam and his brother Arutha now the Lord of Krondor has sailed around the Kingdom and now back for Aruthas marriage to Princess Anita. 

On his arrival to the city and assassination attempt on Arutha life is thwarted by Jimmy the Hand the best thief in the Mockers Guild and who briefly appeared in Magician helping the Prince.

A second attempt on Prince Aruthas life on his wedding is again stopped by Jimmy but Princess Anita is hit by a poisoned arrow. 

The now powerful magician Pug the main character in the previous novel puts a spell on Anita to slow time for her as the poison will kill her.

The Prince, Jimmy, Pug and another small group find out the cure is from the Silverthorn plant which is found in only one spot in the Northlands which is home to the dark Mordhel and a new enemy wanting the death of Arutha and the destruction of the Kingdom.

I loved Magician which I wish I had read when I first got it twenty years ago and the same is said for this.
In fact I enjoyed Silverthorn more as I already knew the main characters and the World(s) they inhabit.

Whereas second books can sometimes lag this had more action and more enemies including undead Mordhel and humans and giant magical beasts.

The characters are again well rounded including minor ones and Jimmy is now a main character which at first wasn't keen on but he's one of the better ones.

Again the other world of Kelewan is visited by Pug  who manages to open a portal there to find out which dark forces are responsible. 

Overall   -  more action, more monsters a quicker lighter read with characters you love. Can't wait to read the third novel A Darkness at Sethanon. 


Score     -   10/10

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Writing Mojo/Group or writing is a lonely game



Hi guys

Well it's been a long time since I've actually written a post on writing .

This is mostly because in recent months I've hit a slump and probably a depression so not done half as much as I should including writing and gym.

Anyway starting to feel like the old me again and after attending Monday's Cleckheaton Writers Group it has me fired up again.
Was great to catch up with them and hear their WIP.

Even though I haven't written for nearly a year.  I started a ghost story last August.  I will be back on full cylinders as I've still had some great ideas.

Luckily still been reading as you'll have seen my book and film reviews here.  Soon will be reviewing Silverthorn by Raymond E Feist.
Have also been buying Writing Magazine but not reading fully so to catch up with those too.

To get my creative juices flowing I will be writing a few bits of fan fiction.  I've a few set pieces which have played in my mind for a few months so will write those after Cleethorpes next week.  They may not be full stories just a chapter or two which I thought would be good.
They are set in two of the biggest franchises going - can you guess which ones?

Anyway will chat later guys -  will leave you with a pic of me back writing x



Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Transformers 5 - The Last Knight - Film Review



Went to see the fifth instalment of the unpredictable Transformers Franchise again directed by Micheal Bay.

So far for me the best of the franchise have been Transformers 1 and 4 and that stands.
Although this is watchable like the second in the series it's all over the place and sometimes didn't make much sense.
Spoilers -
In this film it goes back to the Time of King Arthur who is losing a battle.  His magician Merlin knows of Transformers who have crashed and given a staff of power which only his line can use.  Also the guardian Transformers agree to help and merge into a three headed Dragon.

Switch to modern times and Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen)  is still lost floating in space sending a call to the Transformers creators.
Cade Yaeger (Mark Wahlberg) is wanted by a Transformers killing unit and hiding out with the remaining Autobots including Hound (John Goodman) and Bumblebee.
He comes across a Guardian ship whereby the pilot gives him an amulet that means he's the last Knight and has to defend the last line of Merlin.

You still with me?  Told you it's a convoluted plot.

Then we go to England where Sir Edmund Burton (Anthony Hopkins) and his Transformer butler Cogsworth are guarding the secrets of the round table and looking after Vivian Wembley (Laura Haddock) the last Merlin family member.
The Autobot Hotrod is also helping them.

As this is going on Optimus Prime finds Quintessa (Gemma Chan) who is the Transformers creator and means to take a dying Cybertron to earth to mend Cybertron with Earths energy as Earth is really Unicron - Cybertrons sister planet.  She takes over Optimus and makes him evil and to find the staff of Merlin.

Add to all this a girl with a cute robot and the return of Megatron somehow.

The film is a mix bag and jumps from location to location although it does have some great action set pieces but the ending is a mess with too much going on.  Plus there isn't much of Optimus.

The best and funniest parts are with Anthony Hopkins slightly mad Sir Edmond and his robot servant Cogsworth who's trying not to be a psychotic killer.

The film as a whole is watchable just sometimes doesn't make sense.  The main bug bear is Megatron coming back as he was killed in the third film and in the forth a new Transformer Galvatron was made with Megatrons head.
I'm guessing inbetween the movies he works to making himself into his former image though wish they would mention it.

There is also a quite good Suicide Squad nod when Megatron is requesting the humans release some of his Decepticons.
Also there is more of a connection to previous films with Josh Duhamel reprising his role as Colonel William Lennox and photos of previous characters.

Overall  -  good acting and special effects just the story gets tied up in a knot and there is too much going on.  Plus the final battle is a mess.  Worth a watch. Just.


Score   -   7/10

Monday, 3 July 2017

Despicable Me 3 - Film Review



Hi guys

Took the daughter to see the newest Despicable Me film from Illumination animation.

Gru (Steve Carell) is back with his wife Lucy (Kristen Wiig) and his three adoptive kids and his trusty Minions.  Although Dr Nefario (Russell Brand) isn't in this as he's frozen himself in carbonite.

The film starts with Gru and his wife Lucy failing to catch eighties child star turn villain who believes he's the character he portrayed Balthazar Bratt (Trey Parker).
Because they fail to capture him they are sacked from the Anti Villain league and the Minions want him to be bad again.  Gru disagrees and the Minions led by Mel (who I can't remember from the other films) revolt and go on their own.  Although two are left behind to look after Gru.

As they face hard times Gru is summoned to Freedonia to meet his long lost twin Dru (Steve Can tell again).
He is the opposite of Gru but wants to become a villain like their Father.

The film had some funny moments including the Minions on a talent show and in prison.  It isn't hard to dislike them but I wondered if the joke was wearing a bit thin as there are only so many rude things they can do or say like bum and boobs.

Also Gru and Dry bonding had some emotional and funny moments.

Overall  -  the film felt flat compared to the first two films and forced although there were some funny gags and great visuals it didn't click with me.

Although my daughter lived it and that is what counts.


Bels Score   -   10/10

My score     -   7/10

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Wonder Woman - Film Review



Hi Folks

Again long time no blog - sorry!  I really need to do more posts although not sure how many reading them - become a Follower so I have an idea.

Anyway went to see the new DC film Wonder Woman starring  Gal Gadot in the main role of Wonder Woman/ Princess Diana of the Amazon's.

The film starts with Diana growing up and learning the history of the world and the God's and the Amazon's.   This was a great scene showing the God Zeus being betrayed and having to fight his son Ares the God of War who wants to corrupt mankind.

It shows Diana training to be a warrior on the Amazonian island which is hidden from sight so Ares doesn't find them.

This changes when World War 1 pilot Steve Trevor  (Chris Pine) crash lands and she saves him.
Once she finds out the world beyond the peaceful idyllic island is at war she sets off with him to help stop the war.  She thinks it's Ares causing the conflict and to stop the war she has to kill him with a God slayer sword.

The film moves at a fast pace with plenty of humour mixed in which hits the spot more than Batman Vs Superman dark bleaker tones.

With a twist near the end as to who Ares really is this is one of the better Superhero movies I've seen in a long time.  Even better than the first Captain America film which is similar due to its war setting.

It helps that Gal Gadot is hot and nice eye candy although I thought sometimes she had a funny shape head.


Overall    -  So far the best DC film with humour, heart and a strong female lead hope Justice League film follows suit.


Score  -  9/10

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Book Review - Magician by Raymond E Feist



Hi guys

If you remember last year I mentioned I bought loads of books in the 90s from Fantasy and Sci Fi Book Club really cheap!
One set of books were the first four novels by Raymond E Feist.  At the time started reading it and got to chapter three and vowed to finish it one day.

Fast forward about twenty years and I've actually come back to it and read it all and boy am I glad I did.  Although I wish I had read it back then but was less patient then and more interested in going clubbing.

Now I've matured I've really got into Magician, the first novel in the Riftwar saga by Raymond E Feist.
It starts off in typical fashion the kitchen hand Pug realises he has powers becomes an apprentice magician to Kulgan and studys whilst playing with his friends including Tomas and Princess Carline who he falls for.

This is pretty standard fantasy fare and reminded me of David Eddings farmboy come magician Garion.

It all changes when an alien looking vessel is beached and warriors who speak a foreign tongue appear.  Things hot up when a rift to another world appears.

The novel is huge in scope as not only is there world building for the main planet of Midkemia but also the planet Kelewan where the Tsurani invaders come from.

That is double the amount of characters to most books plus histories, languages, politics and magic let alone small details like weapons.
This book must have been planned for a long time as it can be quite complex yet easy for the reader to get into.
It also has a time frame of over nine years and by the end our heroes have grown into young adults.
Some including Pug and Tomas are changed forever.

There is plenty going on from political fighting and double crossing to magic battles and dragons.

I wish I hadn't waited so long to read but glad I did.


Overall   -  a huge epic novel taking on two worlds worth of story telling.  Now to read its sequel  Silverthorn.


Score     -   10/10

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 - Film Review



Hi guys

Long time no blog hope you're all fine?

Went to see James Gunns sequel to 2014s surprise hit Guardians of the Galaxy and must say it's even better than the first.  Although not as fresh and raw as the first it has bigger and better set pieces.
It also helps the main characters are already in place and we know who they are.

From the hilarious opening of the film featuring a baby version of Groot dancing away as the rest of the team fight a giant space monster to the five post credit scenes this film had it all.  Action, comedy, sadness and at its heart was a movie about family.
Peter Quill or Starlord (Chris Pratt) finding his father Ego the living planet (Kurt Russell).
Gamora (Zoe Saldana) bonding with her murderous sister Nebula (Karen Gillan).
Starlord bonding with the man who looked after him, the Ravenger Yondu (Micheal Rooker).
Also the team acted as a family also and bickered but ultimately looked out for each other.

The film had great special effects and the cast were great in particular Drax (Dave Bautista) who was hilarious and he is shaping up to being a better wrestler turned actor than The Rock.  He looks great in the new Blade Runner film trailer also.

My advice is to go see this film ASAP as there is just so much to it for Marvel and film fans with some funny scenes from Baby Groot, Drax, Rocket Racoon (Bradley Cooper).  It also has some traumatic scenes including people dying in the vacuum of space.


Overall   -  Great addition to the MCU and a brilliant sequel with more 80s music plus has so much to look out for including Howard the Duck amongst them and many more.


Score    -   9/10

Saturday, 22 April 2017

The Boss Baby - Film Review



Hi folks

During the Easter festivities of chomping chocolate eggs I took my daughter to see the new film from Dreamworks who have been quiet in recent years.

It's narrated by Tim the 7 year old kid with an over active imagination who plays fantasy games including space aliens invading with his toys (which as a only child I also did!).

Everything is fine and he is the centre of his parents world until a new baby arrives (by taxi).
With an instant dislike to Boss Baby who wears suits as he's taking the attention from him he discovers the Baby talking and is in fact a spy from Baby Corp whereby the baby's have grown up adult brains but live in infant bodies due to a special milk formula they drink.  If they stop drinking it they become normal babies and grow up as normal.
Boss Baby is spying on Tim's parents as they work for a Puppy factory which is develop an everlasting puppy.  If this happens no one will want babies anymore.
Tim teams up with Boss Baby to stop this and bond along the way.

With some excellent humour and set pieces it was a return to form for Dreamworks and had us chuckling along.
With great animation and voice cast including Alec Baldwin as Boss Baby and Tobey Maguire and Lisa Kudrow it is the perfect family film.


Bels Score     -   10/10

My Score       -   10/10

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Kong - Skull Island - Film Review



Hi guys

Went to see the new remake of King Kong and glad I did.

Unlike it's predecessors it doesn't follow the same story as much.
Which is - Go to Skull Island.  Meet Kong who kidnaps the girl.  Capture Kong.   Take him to New York.  Kong escapes then gets shot down from Empire States Building (Two Towers 1976 version).  Kong dies.

I never saw why they kept remaking it that way and even Peter Jacksons recent version suffered because of it.

Anyway this time scientists led by Bill Randa (John Goodman) who works for Monarch (the monster chasing Company from the last Godzilla movie) set up an excursion to an island found by satellite.

As the Vietnam war has just ended war veteran General Packard (Samuel L Jackson) jumps to the chance for one last mission for his men to escort the science team.  Randa also enlists the help of SAS mercenary James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston) and Mason Weaver (Brie Larson) who is the expedition photographer.

Once on Skull Island they run into Kong who wipes out most of the squad and the team are separated as Packard seeks revenge on Kong and the other group find the native village.
In this version the native villagers are friendly and been sharing their village with Hank Marlow  (John C Reilly).  A World War two pilot who landed on the island in the forties.

It turns out Kong defends the villagers from other evil monsters on the island including Skullcrawlers and is needed.

The group help Kong defeat Packard and the Skullcrawlers and eventually return home.

The set pieces are great plus Kong is now a lot bigger than previous incarnations.  This is probably because he will eventually be facing off against Godzilla in a future Monsterverse film.
There is a post credit scene highlighting this.

Overall a great reboot for Kong which is a different kind of beast from previous Kong.   The acting is spot on and the action is from the go so a great rollicking adventure.


Score   -    9/10

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Logan - Film Review - Spoilers-


Went to see what will probably be Hugh Jackmans final turn as Wolverine or as he's known to his close friends Logan.

Set in a near future a battered ill Logan is caring for an ailing Professor X (Patrick Stewart).  With the help of fellow mutant Caliban (Steven Merchant) they are hiding over the Mexican border wanting to save enough to sail away and leave the wasted world behind.

Sadly Professor X is suffering from a neuro degenerative disease which causes him to have powerful seizes which it turns out is how the X Men were killed.

Along comes a nurse from a secret facility which has been creating new mutants from the DNA from past mutants.  She has a girl called Laura with her (or X23) and wants Logan to take her to a place called Eden.
Unfortunately the people from the facility are after them too plus the other mutant children which have escaped.

The film is a fitting swansong for Hugh Jackmans Wolverine plus also Patrick Stewarts Professor X and there is a tinge of sadness all way through.  There are also some hilarious situations involving Professor X swearing and Caliban.

There are many themes in this film including age and mortality.

It is also Hugh Jackmans best performance of Wolverine the character that made him a star.
With excellent dialogue and set pieces plus the low key situation makes it probably the best X Men film there is.  Also a bonus is the added gore.

Be warned a few tears may be shed by the end.


Score    10/10

Monday, 27 March 2017

Disney On Ice - Leeds Arena - 25/03/2017


Hi guys

Took my daughter to see Disney on Ice on Saturday and it was a great night.

I hadn't been to Leeds First Direct Arena before even though I work nearby but was impressed with the place and we had great seats and could see the whole rink.

It was introduced but Mickey, Minnie, Donald Duck and Goofy who wanted stories for a film they were making.
This was when they went through most of the Disney films musical set pieces.  Put to ice there were some excellent dances on ice.

From the Disney Princess's dancing then on to the films of Toy Story to Mulan.

The best dancing and skating was to Frozen complete with snow to Nemo which had a giant turtle on the ice.

My daughter and I both enjoyed it alot and was a great evening doing something different.

Bels score    -   10/10
My score      -   10/10





















Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Writers Block and Orenda Publishing Roadshow

Hi guys

Well I'm still suffering from some sort of writers block and not done any writing.

The ideas are there but it's as if I'm scared to actually put on laptop and write like I'm not good enough.

Need to snap out of it as I want to send a short story to Cleckheaton Writers Group for the planned anthology which is drawing closer.

Any ideas guys?

Hopefully going to see Orenda publishers and authors tonight at Leeds Waterstones at 18:30 will get me into the writing mood.

Fingers crossed x

Monday, 13 February 2017

Lego Batman - Film review



Hi guys

Took my daughter to see the new Lego Batman Movie and we both agree it was great.  
Although to be honest I wanted to see it the most as I'm a comic and Batman geek.
The film starts with Batman (Will Arnett)  telling everyone including his most feared nemesis The Joker (Zach Galifiankis) that he needs nobody not even him which upsets The Joker.
We see Batman on his own in some hilarious situations at home including swimming in his pool as Alfred tells him he needs to be out more.

Meanwhile the Joker gets nearly all Batmans enemies together including Riddler, Bane and Penguin and hatches a plan to get Batman to notice and want him.  This involves getting put into the Phantom Zone and rescuing Superman's foes.  Plus a few others including King Kong and Sauren.

The film is great for Batman geeks and kids alike with witty one liners and includes nods to all the previous Batman films and the 60s TV show.  This includes Bat shark repellent .

By the end Batman with his new friends Batgirl and Robin (who won't leave him alone ) save the day - Spoilers! 

Overall the film is funny and has great visuals although near the end there seems to be so much going on in the action sequences it looks a little jumbled.  This may be improved when watching in 3D.

Bels Score     -     10/10

My Score       -      9/10