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

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Dry January!

Hi guys

Hope you have all had a great New Year and reading and writing as much as you can.

As the title suggests my January hasn't even very productive in both although I have drunk quite a bit of alcohol.

Reading wise started Magician by Raymond E Feist and was doing well up until last week when got flu so need to catch up again.

Writing wise I haven't done any so far except this post and the last one but as I'm on holiday this week going to rectify that and get a few posts to you all this week so hope you enjoy.

Story wise still to finish the ghost story I started last November for the CLF Anthology which Cleckheaton Writers Group hope will be out in May.  Will keep you posted on news of that.

Although may start a 2000 word short story for the Writers and Artists competition which has a deadline of 13th February.   The winner gets a place on a Arvon writing course.  The entry is free and the theme is open.
See link below for details.

Other news I've won a copy of Charles Stross new novel Empire Games which I won answering a question on Facebook.   So hope to have that soon to add to my many TBR (To be Read) pile.

Anyway will fire up the old laptop first time since November.

Chat later x

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Happy 2017

Happy New Year folks.

Hope 2016 wasn't the total disaster it was made out to be for you all.  OK there were a lot of celebrity deaths plus Brexit and Trump being elected President of the USA and to be honest it's too early to see what will happen.

For me 2016 wasn't too bad except where writing was concerned as I only managed to write one full short story, a chapter of my crime novel and first page of a horror story.
Also I wrote a few blog posts here and a few reviews on the Cleckheaton Literature Festival blog.

Sadly 2016 saw the early demise of the Cleckheaton Literature Festival which in its second year was still in its infancy and like the first year brought some excellent author talent including Ian C Douglas, Leigh Russell and Jason Hewitt to name a few.
Hopefully in a new format it could come back?

I didn't attend the Cleckheaton Writers Group as often as I'd liked either this year but couldn't get in to writing.

This year has been a good one for my reading as done more reading than previous years and reviews of the books I've read are on here including David Eddings Belgariad series.

I've also bought the most amount of books this year than any other, a lot of them signed as I've seen quite a few authors in Leeds this year including Joe Hill, Alastair Reynolds, Peter F Hamilton and Joe Abercrombie.

So 2017  -

This year I want to continue getting fitter as I started in 2016 but wasn't consistent so will be hitting the gym more and eating healthier.

I will also be reading even more this year as I've even more to read and have started Magician by Raymond E Feist.

Lastly there is the writing-  want to write more this year and have first draft of crime novel finished by August.
I will also blog here more and do more of last year's Cleckheaton Literature Festival reviews I never got chance to.
I will attend the Writers Group more too.

So onwards and hopefully upwards.

Have fun folks