Promises, Promises

Well It has been a while since I promised that I would post to my blog! I hope that it is not too rusty and that you are all going to forgive my lateness and obviously a once a week report as I hoped it would be.

So what has happened over the last year i hear you ask? The news is I have started a new job, considered training to become a parapsychologist and getting married. In between other things have happened too…

In terms of books I discovered the realms of an ebook reader; opening doors to a new dimension of reading pleasure. because of my reader I can take a whole library with me wherever I go.

One of the best books I have read this year is ‘The Night Circus’ by Erin Morgenstern (no relation to S. Morgenstern of Princess bride fame). This book is a truly magical story filled with fantasy, love, death and dual narratives. I cannot say too much about this book as it would spoil the plot. All I can say is look past the chick lit style cover and give this a go.

In other books… It was sad news this year as one of my favorite authors James Herbert passed away. His latest book ‘Ash’ continued the adventures of David Ash parapsychologist and converted skeptic. The book was a good installment into the Herbert library featuring usual spectral mischief, romantic encounters and this time celebrity scandal. It is a shame that this will be the last David Ash installment as I feel the character has much more to offer.

In film news everyone has been talking this year about one Musical phenomenon ‘Les Miserables’ and yes they are miserable or as it translates ‘The Weak’. This is truly and engaging story with plenty to offer with moving performances and stunning orchestral sounds. I don’t really have too many bad thoughts about this production and felt that it was a good adaption of the stage musical with elements of Hugo’s book.

Next time I will be discussing Dan Brown, you can all guess the book in hand, how Neighbours can be good friends and the rise of Star Trek.

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I’m back!

Well I have been away for some time working hard and then playing hard! Hopefully I shall not break my promise of blogging regularly again in the near future. I have been to far off places, mainly Trowbridge and America, now I have returned to share my adventures with you readers!

On my commute to school I am lucky that I am able to read books. This has led to my continued love with Stephen King and the opportunity to expand my collection to number 45. Indeed I do have 45 Stephen King books, not all of them are great. I discovered that I have only read two of the books that King has published under the pseudonym Richard Bachman. I bought the collection entitled ‘The Bachman Books’ and read ‘Roadwork’ and ‘The Long Walk’, I’m not sure why Stephen King stated that he thought that these were not as good as his other books. Both novellas are wonderfully written with believable protagonists and terror that goes beyond gore and spooks. When reading these stories you get an impression that through Bachman, King could escape and experiment with style and form.

Other than catching up with King I have been hanging out in California with my Grandparents and much beloved. Whilst there I was able to visit ‘The Happiest Place on Earth’ and indulge in childish fantasy. I spent two days at what is now known as the Disneyland Resort, comprising Disneyland and Disneyland California Adventure. The latter park being completely new to me and led to a wonderful adventure. The California Adventure is designed to pay homage surprisingly to California with the amazing ride Soarin’ Over California to the Hollywood Backlot, everything is meticulously themed and always clean and cheery. Compared to the original Disneyland this is its more mature brother. Disneyland itself did not disappoint with most rides having a recent facelift and by luck the shortest ques I have ever stood in. The staff are always happy and even the costumed characters, mainly the princesses, are true to the fantasy not even faltering when confronted with a 30-year-old pirate mouse!

Moving on before I keep on about the house of mouse and bore you all to tears. I shall be signing off now and will return with tales of patriotism, unicorns and what happens when you cross a scientist with a furry skeleton. See you!

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DNA, Trees and Sedated Bricks

Hello I promised a new blog nearly every week and here I am!

To get starting lets talk about DNA manipulation, physic projection and Japan. I have been reading two books by the popular Japanese author Koji Suzuki he has been described as “Japans answer to Stephen King”. The titles may seem familiar to some readers, and so they should. ‘Ring’ or ‘Ringu’ is the first book in the series, a psychic thriller that traces the mysterious story of Sadako and how she can manipulate her thoughts to gain advantage in the world of the living. If you have seen the movie that this popular story is based on then you will be surprised to find that it is still fresh and full of interesting twists.

The second book in the ‘Ringu’ series is ‘Spiral’ an interesting tale about manipulating DNA through concentration of psychic projection and mutation. Less believable than the first book but still just as chilling. The main protagonists in both books are men in very different professions; journalist, university professor, coroner and a forensic scientist however they all share the same link. I am not going to write any more about these tomes as I will be tempted to spoil the plot.

The latest book I am reading is ‘The Winter Trees’ by Kate Mosse. I really enjoyed reading ‘Labyrinth’ and ‘Sepulchre’ with the dual narrative and historical aspect they were different to other easy to read thrillers released around the same time. This time Mosse has written a more melodramatic novel that does not focus on her popular time-shift style plotline. The beginning was very ropey and I felt that the main protagonist, fresh out of the sanatorium, was two-dimensional, self-absorbed and annoying. I will be persevering with this book in the hope that it gets better and the characters gain that extra dimension.

Moving on into the realm of the theatre…. What no films? Why no not this week. I have been very excited and interested all week in going to see my sister Frasisa Dunn perform in Sedated by a Brick’s production ‘If Destroyed Still True’. “Bristol based performance company, Sedated By A Brick, give you 10 seconds of blood to the brain in a pathological mystery of a performance.

A silent figure manipulates two lifeless bodies in an attempt to reinstate their lifelike status; forcing breath into their lungs, dressing and undressing them, pressing cups of tea to their unresponsive lips.

As these seemingly dead bodies are resuscitated, several possible versions of the truth surrounding a bloody incident are presented. A collection of live images that unravel – or fall apart, leaving the audience to come to their own conclusions.” This was a very interesting and engaging piece of performance art where the main driving force was a rock that controlled the actions and reactions of the performers. Some of the scenes were disturbing and some funny but overall I feel that the story was all about soul transference and the fragility of life when controlled by others. The Brewery was an excellent setting for this piece as I feel that the performance would have got lost on a larger stage. The sound and lighting were very effective and helped to create and reflect tension between the characters. I am very interested to see how this piece is going to evolve and what the company produce next.

Next week I promise I will cover films, books, garden gnomes and centipedes ( I am aware that I promised centipedes this week but I got caught up with the Brick crew).

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It’s been a while but I have returned!

I am sorry readers (if there are any) that I have not posted my thoughts since November 2010! A lot has been going on during the last few months and quite a few books have been read.

A good friend had great advice given to them about blogging and how to have a successful blog. Well, I think that my blog should focus on two of my greatest loves books and movies. I will try to post new thoughts at least once a week, or more often than every three months.

Over the last three months I have been mostly reading crime, horror and science fiction. I have always loved the murder mystery genre and I enjoy a horrific, supernatural twist to the plot or killer robots from outerspace living in a dystopian future. Concentrating on the latter I have finally read ‘Brave New World’ by Aldous Huxley. This was an interesting and in many ways a scary book; the soma induced orgies were particularly haunting. I found myself thinking about when this book was written and in a way how Huxley presented a future that could actually happen. If you have not read this book I highly recommend it.

Not such a good book and far poorer fare was posthumously published ‘The Lake’ by Richard Laymon, a silly slasher farce of a mystery that definitely belongs in the ‘splatterpunk’ genre. Sometimes I want to read a silly horror story where the teenagers are killed by the unknown stalker, masked man or local mutant but in comparison to other Laymon books this was utter tripe. Not ony did I guess the identity of the killer one-third of the way in, but I found myself hoping that the main protagonist would die horribly and slowly. If you want to read any Richard Laymon books start with ‘The Beast House trilogy’ and then move on to ‘The Glory Bus’ far better stories and not ghostwritten.

From the ridiculous to the sublime… In complete contrast is Peter Straub’s ‘The Hellfire Club’, it is not actually about the infamous 18th century club. I do not want to give too much away as this has actually turned out to be one of the best books I have read this year. Set in America this is a dark tale of a literary mystery, family dispute and blood stained rooms. The main character Nora Chancel is a convincing, if a little wet, main character who is swept up in a thrilling journey to help her find out more about her husband’s business. Peter Straub has collaborated a few times with Stephen King and this is why I picked up this book, however I found that his style of writing is very sophisticated and more engaging than other thriller writers.

I had better conclude now otherwise I shall be writing about books all night and I know that there is so much that you should write. Next installment I shall be covering DNA reproduction, cell mutation and the possibility of becoming a centipede.

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It is nigh!

Halloween is over and bonfire night went out with a bang! It seems that walking through Bristol as one of the undead (eventhough I was not really a Zombie) could not stop the early onset of the jolly holly season. I am trying not to mention the name yet as I refuse to acknowledge this holiday really until the end of November. While teaching I overheard people talking about whether they should give in and start putting up their decorations now or wait for another few weeks. I say “DON’T DO IT”! If we give in and start decorating our houses early then it only justifies the supermarkets and shops decision to start selling this winter seasonal stuff in September. I also have problems with chocolate advent calendars, what does Star Wars have to do with this time of the year (other than showing all of the films in sucession)? Bring back happy jolly scenes of people sleding or snowmen coming to life and spreading cheer, let’s reclaim this holiday for our own! But not until the end of November!

Now my rant is over I hope that everyone had a fab halloween and scared a few people, or at least caused mild alarm.

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School books and more

Ok, what I want to know is who states that the only lighthearted texts I will teach in school will be by Shakespeare. Last year with year 7 we read ‘The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas’, quite a few children were left crying after reading. The other day I was teaching ‘A Kestrel for A Knave’,which I have never studied, read or watched (Kes, based on the book). So I have bought myself a copy. Two chapters in and I know this is going to be a sad book, the tone of the language and the interaction of the characters suggests tragedy. I feel that pupils should have access to these stories however I also feel that departments should find books that are uplifting or have some elements of happiness and are still located in reality. Thinking back to my school days it was jolly good fun reading ‘Lord of the Flies’, ‘Of Mice and Men’, ‘Far From the Madding Crowd’ and other equally cheerful titles that escape me right now. I say that we should revoloutionise schools and television and show kids that reality is not always so ‘gritty’ and catastrophic.

Moving on from the book theme as I could go on and on and on….. Recently I have been watching television with my partner, his choice NCIS, CSI, CSI New York, NCIS Los Angeles, he does watch shows that do not contain acronyms. This got me thinking about crime television and the obsession that I have with lighter offerings (if you can get them) such as Midsomer Murders, Diagnosis Murder and Murder She Wrote. I am requesting that we get all Inspector Barnaby, Doctor Sloane and Jessica Fletcher together and get them to pay a visit to parliament. This could be entirely impossible as it could cause a major disaster with all three of them going on a major killing spree and fooling innocent bystanders into thinking that they were responsible. Thank you for reading!

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Okay, so I go to the library and ask for a book by Kurt Vonnegut “Cats Cradle”. The online search engine says that it is in stock, on the shelf and is most definitely available. To my disappointment the catalogue is wrong, and someone has been hording this particular tome since June! I then scan the shelves, this is only a small library and end up with a Knights Templar style mystery, gothic fiction and an Irving Walsh novel. hopefully these will tide me over until my desired book arrives.

My recent reads have not been too high brow, I had the joy of reading an 2 in 1 book (classy) by Richard Laymon, this volume offered “The Woods are Dark”, “Out are the Lights” and other short stories. I felt that the first offering could have been a lot better. It had all the elements for a good horror story, small town hicks kidnapping strangers and offering them to naked cannibals in the woods who are controlled by a  Cthulhu style creature. The narrative was rushed and the characters needed developing into deeper beings rather than cannibal fodder. “Out are the Lights” was a much better novella with a main story that ran alongside smaller vignettes and red herring plotlines. I felt that unlike my favourite horror writer Stephen King, Richard Laymon was writing solely for shocks and the money.

I need to start reading more meaningful and thought-provoking novels and alas another desire is not available at my local library “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley; if I wish to order this it will cost me 90p. I think I will stick to scouring their shelves for a little while longer then give in to my literary desires and go mad with my pennies!

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