Wednesday, May 22, 2013

“Young man," he said, "understand this: there are two Londons. There's London Above―that's where you lived―and then there's London Below―the Underside―inhabited by the people who fell through the cracks in the world. Now you're one of them. Good night.” Neil Gaiman, Neverwhere

“Somehow, this was one oddity too many. He could accept "Mind the Gap" and the Earl's Court, and even the strange library. But damn it, like all Londoners, he knew his Tube map, and this was going too far. "There isn't a British Museum Station," said Richard, firmly.” Neil Gaiman, Neverwhere

Richard Mayhew is an ordinary Scot living and working in London. He is so ordinary in fact, that he's boring. He works, he goes home, he goes out with his tempestuous fiancée and then starts that all again, day in, day out. He is also a very simple man. He is not particularly assertive, brave, brash or short-tempered. 

One night, walking with his fiancée to have dinner with her boss, he happens to catch out of the corner of his eye an injured girl. Richard cannot leave the bleeding girl and picks her up and takes her home although his fiancée is outraged. 

Nursing the girl back to health he suddenly realises that things are no longer as they were. Two strange looking men march in to his apartment looking for a girl named 'Door', suddenly his friends and family have no idea who he is... and to top it all off his landlord walks in to his flat with new tenants. 

Unable to live in the real London he is pulled kicking and screaming in to 'London Below' the fantastical London that thrives through the underground. Richard is pulled in to a quest, and whilst trying to go back to his old life, finds himself instead.

The Audiobook
This audiobook is narrated by Neil Gaiman himself. I'll be honest, when I downloaded the book from Audible I was cynical. I thought that this was going to be an author with a big ego convinced that he'd do the voices better than anybody else. I kinda feel embarrassed. I obviously had not done enough research as I had no idea that Gaiman has narrated lots and lots of books. I'd also like to add that he was pretty spectacular! He was well paced, the differentiation between the voices were awesome and even his Scottish accent was excellent!

The Story
This is my first Gaiman novel, and I imagine it'll probably be my last. That sounds like such a negative way to start, but I don't mean it in a negative way in the least.

The novel falls under the 'Urban-Fantasy' genre. Gaiman understands fantasy. He does not feel obliged to go the high-fantasy route, what with giants and fairies, instead he turns something as mundane as the London underground in to something animated and literal. 

It seems silly to say 'literal' when talking about fantasy - but here, let me explain. Each underground station has a different name. He takes those names and forged characters out of them i.e. Earls Court in to the 'Earl's Court', and has a subway train home to the Earl and his court. There's a district in London called 'The Angel, Islington' and lo and behold one of Gaiman's main characters is 'Angel Islington'. I really enjoyed this play on words, I found it witty and comical, and a homage to London.

It's worth noting that you can
also read this as a Graphic Novel!

Although the book is quite witty the protagonist is soooooo annoying, and soooo boring. He's the most unlikeable character in history. He was unsympathetic and just generally wimpy and whiny. In fact, he reminded me a lot of Arthur Dent from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and not in a good way considering that I didn't particularly enjoy that book.

The storyline is pretty slow as well. I had to drag myself through it kicking and screaming, and luckily, because it was in audiobook form I could do that, if it had been paper and ink though, I don't think I would have been able to finish it. It finally picked up speed in the last two hours of the audiobook and that is when I found myself finally enjoying the writing and the storyline.

Although both Gaiman or his books will never be favourites of mine, I am pretty certain that for some, his books are on par with Terry Pratchett's fantasy works. If you're a fan of Alice in Wonderland and want a new spin on it, this may just be the book for you! Also, if you liked The Hitchhiker's books I think you'll love this! It exhibits the same wit, comedy and joy. It's worth a try! You may discover a new found love!

Have you read this book? What did you think? Have I missed something? Let me know what you thought/think right here or over on Twitter @OrisiB

P.s. I do plan on watching the dramatisation... OH, OH, OH and if you're a James McAvoy fan I do believe they've put together an all-star cast to narrate the book on BBC 4, so check it out!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Did any of you read that article? The's 'Why Girls Hate Game of Thrones'? If not, you may want to read it before reading the rest of my post here... it may just cause capillaries in your nose to explode, resulting in nosebleeds of rage.

This is the most amazing, backwards and Victorianesque piece of writing that I've read in quite a while.

Renata Sellitti has written a post, for men, as to why their girlfriends just hate Game of Thrones. She lumps us all together as hating it because our sensibilities cannot cope with the incest, our ovaries cannot cope with the corporal punishment, our puny little girly-brains cannot follow all the 'intricate' plot details and story lines, and the Mean Girl in all of us just cannot cope with the idea that the show may be watched by people who used to play 'Magic Cards at the Cafeteria. And people who go to Renaissance festivals.'

Who is this lady?

The piece is so condescending, and so, so offensive I just want to clothes-line the hell out of it.

But it doesn't stop with her little discussion on why their girlfriends hate it... oh no, she goes on to advise these men on how to convince their significant other to give it a try. Apparently, according to Sellitti, he should 'downplay the incest', 'tell us about the romantic crap', and apparently the real winner is to tell us about Sir Loras because 'girls love gay guys.' It's just wow!

I'm surprised I can get in to my pyjamas at night without having an aneurysm; because according to this lady, my poor little female brain just could not cope with the task! Every girl friend that I know LOVES Game of Thrones, and I dare say, potentially more than guys I know. I also have at least three girl friends who are currently reading through the series.

The show is full of very, very powerful ladies! We do not see women with as much power in any other show on prime time TV these days. I don't care how you try to spin it, but one of the leads is the 'Mother of Dragons'... she's the khalisi man! Another, is Lady Stark, holy moly, she's cold, beautiful, loving, independent and also loyal. We also have her daughter Arya who is intelligent, quick thinking and leads a bunch of boys out of their prison. Let us not forget the psychotic Queen Cersei who will do anything to keep her son on the throne and protect her family. We also have a lady-knight who can beat the crud out of most of the guys who challenge her.

I'm not saying all women love Game of Thrones. I'm sure there are many who just don't like it, or get it. I can accept that; but I wont accept being lumped in with a bunch of stereotyped women who exist only in the movies Mean Girls and The Hot Chick. 

What do you think? Have you read the original article? Let me know right here, or even on Twitter @OrisiB.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Remember all those cheesy Stephen King movies? Yah, me too (not all of them were cheesy, but let's start with the cheesy ones).

There was IT [1990], about the scary monster Pennywise that had a penchant for dressing up as a clown and eating children (and it was quite scary)! There was Secret Window [2004] which starred Johnny Depp and was just awful. Oh my goodness... remember Christine [1983] the killer car? What about Dreamcatcher [2003]? Firestarter [1984]? 

Of course there have also been gems, but they have been few and far between. The Green Mile [1999], Carrie [1976], The Shawshank Redemption [1994] and of course The Shining [1980] to name but a few.

...but guess what. I'm not joking. They're making a comeback. So much so in fact that...

Tod Williams the director of Paranormal Activity 2 has been pulled on board to direct CELL by Stephen King, and, and and, it's starting filming this Autumn...

... and that's not all!

Pet Sematary is also being pushed forward. The screen play is being rewritten by the same guy who wrote the screen play for Stephen King's 1408. I'm terrified! Anybody watched Pet Sematary? Holy moly, that freaky zombie child and the scary woman in the attic... I can't contain my goosebumps! I'm waiting with bated breath...

...and that's not all!

So the biggest piece of Stephen King movie news is... IT is coming back, but not as a made for TV movie. 

Oh no. It's coming back as a HARDCORE big screen, gonna make you cry yourself to sleep theatre spectacular. I say this because they have pushed for AND been given approval for what we'd call in the UK an 18 rating. That means it's gonna be gory. It's gonna be fowl. It's gonna be scary, and hopefully, it's going to terrify future generations as much as the original IT movie scared us. 

Get ready to be scared my friends. Very, very scared!

Joyland, the novel, which is gonna be released on June 4th has ALREADY had film rights bought up. The book hasn't even come out yet!!!! In fact, the guy who's producing and directing it is the very same guy who adapted and directed The Help (random)!

Also Stephen King's 'Good Marriage' has just started filming in Sleepy Hollow. There's enough King movies coming soon to get me reading!

Oh, and here's some quick news about CBS's Under the Dome. They just released a commercial for it! And because I'm so so wonderful I've got it for you right here!

I spoil you guys huh, haha!

On a side note
Sadly, and once again, any talks on making the EPIC Dark Tower series by Stephen King in to movies has flopped. It's so sad. We have the movie technology to turn his wild-west fantastical sci-fi awesomeness in to feature length films. I'm waiting though. Waiting as patiently as I can muster.

Friday, May 10, 2013

If you're looking for an easy, feel-good movie on a Friday night, this movie is for you. It's a musical romantic-comedy set during the Vietnam war. 

Dave Lovelace (played by one of my favourite actors ever Chris O'Dowd) and four super-talented Aborigine girls; Gail (Deborah Mailman), Kay (Shari Sebens), Cynthia (Miranda Tapsell) and Julie (Jessica Mauboy) tour around Vietnam singing for the US troops.

The girls originally sing Country music, and Lovelace has to convince them that Soul music would be better suited to their... skin tone. It's quite a blunt suggestion, but one that I certainly feel would have been pressed upon any man or woman of colour wanting to succeed in music during that time (in fact, not that much has changed even now).

Unfortunately Lovelace is right, and they ace the audition singing Motown. The Sapphires are then promptly recruited as entertainment for the US soldiers and are catapulted out of their small town and out in to a war zone. 

Be aware that this film is certainly not an original one, but it is easy to forgive it its trespasses because there is enough sass, jokes, sarcasm and joy to make you forget that you've seen this type of movie before.

The story has its ups and downs, and gives a sensitive focus to the much marginalised Aboriginal community. The film not only discusses race, but also dips in to the way the Australian government, quite literally, used to go in to Aborigine villages and steal their children. The children would end up adopted by white families. This piece of history is explored very well indeed, and the implications are exposed very gently to the audience without preaching. The film is loosely based upon a true story, and you're shown a photograph of the four ladies now as older women.

The film has had terrific reviews over on Rotten Tomatoes, but has not done so well on IMDB (no surprise right? lol).

I really recommend this movie. It was refreshing! Get hold of it, invite your friends round, and enjoy something light and charming! Oh, and please, once you watch it, let me know what you thought! I'd love to know!!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Whoop! It's Friday again and I'm participating in this week's blog hop. It's an awesome initiative by the brilliant ParaJunkee and Alison Can Read. 

So, the question this week is!

Q: Happy Mother's Day! Who is your favorite mom from fiction?

There can't be any mother more epic that Mrs Weasely surely? Yup. That's my answer. She's a lean frumpy mean loving magical machine. She's fiercely protective over her children, and pretty much adopts Harry Potter and Hermione as her own. Her house is manic, awesome, lots of fun and has lots of magical pots and pans doing their own cleaning. 

How to follow me?

I would love it if you could follow me in two ways (I know, I'm asking far too much). If you could follow me on GFC (if you can) as well as either BlogLovin or NetworkedBlogs I would appreciate it so, so much! Many thanks! [Just in case GOOGLE FRIEND CONNECT goes kaput]

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Look, I'm just going to say it. Oblivion was sci-fi for chicks

The story goes like this:
It is 2077 and Jack Harper (Tom Cruise) is a drone repair man. He and his wifey are living at the top of a wicked-cool house above the clouds of earth. Earth, as we know it, has been destroyed after a war against an alien race. Circling the earth is a mahoosive space station apparently harbouring the survivors from earth. The human race is collecting water from our planet, ready to take it to one of the moons of Jupiter. Humans are going to start again.
Massive constructs are sucking up the water from the oceans and the drones protect them. Some aliens have apparently been left behind on earth and keep trying to sabotage the collection of the water. The drones are routinely attacked too, and so Harper must wake up every morning to go find missing drones, fix them up and send them on their merry way.

I have to admit. It's a pretty original premise! I was impressed!

To cut a long story short though, things start to go wrong and those aliens turn out to be humans and well, it's all just a mahoosive conspiracy and well - y'know, you'll find out. I don't want to give it all away.
Apparently this film cost around $120 million. $120 MILLION FOLKS! The CGI at times was truly quite wonderful. The movie is full of beautiful mountain scenery, gorgeous canyons, deserts, clouds etc etc. It's a feast for the eyes; but it seems that the director/producers thought that excellent special-effects were going to have us completely oblivious to the holes in the story.

This film is full of plot-holes. When I say full... I mean spilling over with them. It's just shocking. I love good sci-fi, I do. I don't need to understand everything; but come on, the plot-holes were CATASTROPHIC. So glaringly obvious that it started to look like the story-line was rushed.

Credit where credit is due, Tom Cruise was actually pretty amazing. I know, I can't believe I'm saying this too, but it was an excellent performance. If you imagine, 50% of the movie is Cruise alone on screen, I think he carried the movie very gracefully and was believable. Of course it's full of fighting, so for anybody who just likes to see examples of his 'prowess' you'll certainly get your fill in this film.

This movie have all the regular sci-fi movie tropes; aliens, advanced-technologies, action, suspense, clones, conspiracy, action, space-travel, explosions and romance... 
...hold up. Did I say romance? 

And this brings me to why this movie is sci-fi for chicks.
The whole movie... we find out, all rests on a romance story. Yah, and some random love-triangle which lacked believability. It wasn't even believable romance. It was something else. Contrived. Forced. This movie could have been a beautiful homage to hardcore sci-fi fans but instead they decided to stick their middle finger up at true men and women of sci-fi and instead cater for chicks who were going to be dragged to watch the movie by their husbands/boyfriends. It just didn't make sense.

The Matrix, for instance, had a romance-plot, but it wasn't IMPERATIVE to the story, and they certainly didn't seem to decide a third in to the storyline that actually it is memories of lost love that will save the whole human race. The Matrix has a sci-fi romance-plot done right. 

Bah. Disappointing.

This could have been awesome; but it wasn't.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Whoop! It's Friday again and I'm participating in this week's blog hop. It's an awesome initiative by the brilliant ParaJunkee and Alison Can Read. 

So, the question this week is!

Q: Give us a sneak! What are you reading? Tell us about a fun or fail scene in your current read.

I'm currently reading Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman. It's an interesting story so far, and straight up urban fantasy. It features a guy called Richard who was basically in the wrong place at the wrong time. He helps out a girl from 'London Below' (the magical city beneath London), and as a result suddenly stops existing in the real world. Because of that choice he's stuck and is forced to try and make a life in London Below. Him and a few others need to get to Islington to look for an angel.

So what do I think? Hmm... it reads like it's trying to be something it's not. That's a little frustrating. The good thing though, is that it is quite comical and does not take itself too seriously. 

The jury is still out on this book though, and I wouldn't wanna write too much - otherwise I'd have nothing left to say in the actual review! Haha!

How to follow me?

I would love it if you could follow me in two ways (I know, I'm asking far too much). If you could follow me on GFC (if you can) as well as either BlogLovin or NetworkedBlogs I would appreciate it so, so much! Many thanks! [Just in case GOOGLE FRIEND CONNECT goes kaput]

“Our lives are not our own. We are bound to others, past and present, and by each crime and every kindness, we birth our future.” 
― David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas

“Spent the fortnight gone in the music room reworking my year's fragments into a 'sextet for overlapping soloists': piano, clarinet, 'cello, flute, oboe, and violin, each in its own language of key, scale, and color. In the first set, each solo is interrupted by its successor; in the second, each interruption is recontinued, in order. Revolutionary or gimmicky? Shan't know until it's finished, and by then it'll be too late.” 
― David MitchellCloud Atlas

If you're looking for a complex read... read this. 

This novel is split up in to six narratives about novella length. The novellas are then neatly sat within the next narrative. It's kind of like you took six books, you take the first book and slot a second book in to the first, you then take a third book and slot it in to the centre of the second, you then take a fourth etc etc (remember when you used to do that when you were supposed to be reading something and you hid a comic book inside and read that instead? Yeah, it's just like that) and so because that is the make-up of the narrative each story is interrupted by the next. 

Yes. Even my description is complex!

So, the first half of the first novella takes place in the 18th Century. We are introduced to a hypochondriac lawyer, Adam Ewing, who is befriended by a doctor who collects and sells teeth. 

The second novella sees us introduced to a young aspiring composer named Frobisher. Frobisher sends a series of letters to his lover in Cambridge, both mentioning the diary he is reading, but also how he is working for one of the greatest living composers in Europe. 

In the future, Luisa Ray comes across those letters and hunts down a rare piece of music by Frobisher and they inspire her to make sacrifices to become an amazing journalist. We are interrupted by Timothy Cavendish and eccentric publisher, and realise that Luisa Ray's narrative is a book he's been sent for perusal. 

Cavendish is victim to a series of very, very unfortunate events and his life is being watched as a movie by a clone, in the distant future called Sonmi-451 who is the unknowing leader of a revolution. 

The next narrative is from a post-apocalyptic future, Zachary a goat-herder and his tribe worship Sonmi as a goddess. A woman from the Prescients has come to study the way his tribe live. 

What do all these characters have in common? The key character in all of the narratives have a shooting-star shaped birthmark somewhere on their body.

The Audiobook

I bought this book from Audible (as usual) and I was very happy to see that they had recruited six different narrators for this awesome job. I think it was necessary so that the book felt as broken up as it should have. Sonmi-451's voice was simply brilliant. She had that robotic quality that we would imagine! Also, Timothy Cavendish's narrator sounded... I kid you not... just like Jim Broadbent (who played Cavendish in the movie); It was genius. The production was excellent! 

The Story
Although the book is complex, it is so very elegant. The book won't be for everybody, I admit, but it is so beautifully crafted I really did feel in awe. Mitchell knew exactly what he wanted to achieve with this book. He did not become lost. Although all the stories are connected and lay over and interrupt each other, he is master of all the characters and does not allow them to run away with him. 

Timothy Cavendish's story is a hilarious one, which I enjoyed so very much. Nearly all the novels are super heavy and so Mitchell offered comic relief to allow the reader to giggle. It was one of my favourites, but my real favourite was Sonmi-451's narrative. It was beautiful. Slightly disconnected but also feeling. 

The most amazing part, I found, about the whole book was how Mitchell managed to forge the English language to suit each time. Of course, the 18th Century Ewing would write in a way that we would expect from the 18th Century. Timothy Cavendish is in present day London and so his language reflects this. Luisa Ray's story takes place in the 70s and so the colloquialism is reflective. But then Mitchell does something extraordinary, he fashions whole new dialects for the narrators in the future. It is incredible. Sonmi-451's language is brilliant. Instead of using words such as 'TV/Television' she calls them 'Sony's'... because it is a super commercialised world she lives in, things are known by their brand names rather than their actual names (kinda like in the UK where a vacuum cleaner is called a 'Hoover'). When we fast forward even further in the future to Zachary's narrative, it takes a little time to get used to the dialect, well, it's just amazing. I'm sure you can tell that I was just so, so impressed.

The only issue I have with this book is that it was difficult to stay interested! For instance, I loathed Adam Ewing, I found his narrative painfully boring! But because it is pretty impossible to even skip a few minutes/pages of this book for fear of missing something crucial I had to painfully listen through it. 

I tried not to extract meaning from the books as much as others have. There is much discussion of the idea that the stories are just repetitions of each other from different time periods including the same soul, but y'know what... I didn't get that. I felt that they were connected because their lives effected both the future and the past, but I left it at that. When I re-read it I will try and decipher it all!

Is the book a good one? Well, it's an amazingly crafted book. The language is amazing, the writing sensitive and in command. The characters are varied and brilliant. But as a story does it work well? I'm not sure... it would all depend on the person I believe. I've seen this book get rated 5/5 but also receive a mere 1/5. This book has the potential to frustrate some, whilst mesmerising others.

If you have a short attention span, or no real love for language or literary craftsmanship I would avoid the book. It'll make you angry! If though, you can be patient, enjoy beautiful writing, and can admire the time, love and dedication an author has put in to his work then I promise this book will definitely enlighten and awe you. 

The movie was released in 2012. I will be offering up a review of it too, BUT I must watch it again before I can! 

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