Sunday, 30 May 2010

The Valley of Fear.

By Arthur Conan Doyle (Sir)

OK, let's get this off the bat straight away. I quite simply love Sherlock Holmes and old Arthur come to think of it. So this is in some ways a love song for the two as well as a reflection on the whole book.

Now I have dipped in and out of the Holmes cannon at various points in my reading, err... "career". Can I call it a career? Yes I can dammit! So really I have often viewed him as a good comfort read, the literary equivalent of cake. If ever I'm stuck for something to read, I'll read a Holmes, whether short story of a full blown novel. They are my go to books when I am not feeling in the mood to be entertained by Terry Pratchett.

Yes, anyway, talk of comfort reading aside. What did I think of this particular side of the Conan Doyle canon? Well....

I really like the narrative style that ACD (good abbreviation?) uses. The use of Watson as a narrator, ever so slightly unreliable as he may be is a good one. He is the equivalent of the companion in Doctor Who. There to ask all the right questions. Without him to humanise Holmes and to explain how the man is how is, Holmes would be an entirely un-likeable swine. The way that the stories are themselves treated as stories being related to us as actual stories rather than just a record of events helps the feel of them. You don't feel to be suffering the "and then this happened" curse that can sometime be a trap that one falls into. Here Watson often uses some artistic license to give us some facts before they occur in the actual chronology of the book. His acknowledgement of these facts helps make the whole thing feel more like a story.

As I have already said, I view Holmes as a real comfort read. The methods of detection and their explanation and the sheer simple enjoyment of how the crime is easily revealed to a trained eye and mind is what makes it such jolly good fun. One can simply pick it up, read the story and not feel to have been overloaded with drama, shattering events or have a moral jammed down your throat. ACD doesn't preach, he just tells a story, plain and simple.

For me, the book was a nice light, not quite in the Paddington vein, which was about the sheer simplicity and enjoyment of the small things in life. Instead, whilst Holmes is about the small things and how they relate to the big things. Here the small things all make one nice glorious picture of enjoyment. A crime that can be solved and the game of getting there to be thrilled and savoured.

Friday, 28 May 2010

Blogday Friday

Ok, Friday = Hop Time. Terribly sorry I didn't blog last week, error on my part. However I will make up for it this week with slightly more blogs than before.

Upcoming we will have:

Conan Doyle reviews.
A MFWE possibly on Wilde or Pratchett. Heck there may even be two, on on each.
Stuff about sports (mostly fencing and my aims to do more sports)
Writing stuff

Ok, who has become my blog who I am now interested in this week?

Well, I cam across this nice little blog. It really is quite nice to look at and also, they are doing a similar challenge to myself. Re; the whole alphabet.... thing. The only diference is, they are FAR more consistent than myself. They are however taking the rather nice twist of looking at a book where the main character has a name beginning with a letter of the aforementioned letter list.

Monday, 24 May 2010

Writing to Reach You

Err, right so, yeah I haven't blogged for a week. Yes I know, remiss of me. I'm sorry. I have been meaning to do so for the best part of a week but one thing and another has meant I haven't. What a fool I have been.

I have used a Travis song for the title because, they are a little overlooked. Not brilliant but nice inoffensive nicenes. Much like David Gray. Also, that's what these posts are all about, I am writing these little blogules, to reach you, my audience. Not in an dodgy way you understand.

So, right, yes, where was I? Not sure why I'm asking you guys, you don't know what I was doing this for.

AH! Yes! First things first. I didn't win the script competition. Fingers are still crossed for the short story one though.

In writing news, as this is a blogule about writing I have decided. I have decided to write a short story for this competition. My plan is to write two stories, the first I have written and features a haunted bird room in a museum. The other is a sci-fi type one, not sure what it will be about. I'll get back to you on that one. The good news of this is, that whichever I don't submit, I will post here.

In other writing news, I am looking at going back to the novel I wrote last year and slightly altering its feel.

Finally two other orders of business.

  1. Later this week, I will post a review of the next author
  2. I am adding a new TYSIC aim. "To do more sports"

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Paddinton Helps Out


So, as promised here is my next A-Z review. The lucky book in question features a great fictional bear and all round good egg. Paddington is brilliant and quite simply one of my favourite childrens characters. He is a great role model because he always tries his best in any situation. This particular series of stories sees Paddington getting into his usual series of misadventures with the laundrette and cooking a meal.

For me this book is largely what reading is all about. It's about fun and the sheer enjoyment of literature, the joy of his mishaps and the polite way he tries to just be helpful. If you ever want to read one of those books that can just make you smile as you read it and just lighten your mood read Paddington.

Friday, 14 May 2010

Blogday Friday: Let's Blog!

It's That Time Again (ITTA), not to be confused with It's That Man Again (ITMA), that was a radio shop. This ISN'T. It's my latest blogule. As it is Friday it's time for The Hop. The Hop is of course the section of the week where I don't talk about any of my current projects. Briefly though I have done my first A-Z review thing. I have read my second book for the project and that will be up tomorrow, with luck. I'm going to treat you a to a special piece of information, revealed here for the first time ever. THE NAMES OF THE NEXT THREE AUTHORS!!!
B. Michael Bond
C. Arthur Conan Doyle
D. Colin DexterEither on
Right, on with the Hop. This is the section of the week where I talk about another blog. Either one that I have discovered through the Hop or one I am already following before hand. This week, the accolade goes to Baja Greenawalt's Cozy Book Nook. The layout of the site is nice and the photo at the top is great. It's also got some great reviews and a bit about rhyming slang and has some a little about Australian history. Which is nice.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Sports, sports, sports etc

No prizes for guessing the subject of this blog. You know what, a quick thing. These bits are no longer called blogs. The word blog shall refer to the collected entity. These little bits are called blogules. Like it?

Anyway, this blog as the more lexically gifted amongst you may have deduced is about sports. As mentioned elsewhere, I love sports. Sports are brilliant, I watch just about all of them. Except golf and boxing, just don't get them whatsoever. The rest though are brilliant. Utterly incredibly brilliant.

I love to watch them a lot. For example as I am typing this I have recently finished watching the quite frankly brilliant Twenty 20 Semi final between England and Sri Lanka. Twenty20 is quite frankly brilliant, a real slog fest with added drama. Each and every ball is different, the whole game can change on a single delivery. I've seen this myself when I saw a Yorkshire v Durham game a couple of seasons ago. This game could have gone either way and when it came to the final ball, Durham needed a 6 to level, unfortunatley they got it but this didn't matter because the whole game had been so brilliant. It's my hope that when I'm older I can move somewhere and join a little village cricket team. It just seems such good fun.

From Twenty20 I've moved on to the Darts. Now most people are rather snobby when it comes to this sport, believing it to only be for lager swilling louts. IT ISN'T! Stephen Fry loves it, he is neither of these things. The sheer brilliance of darts lies in the sheer mathematics of these people. To work out what they need to score in such a short space of time is very impressive. I don't want to join a darts team.

Formula 1 continues this weekend in sunny Monaco. Fast cars, thrilling crashes, brilliant scenery. What more could you want? I wish I could do some pro-driving.

Now, football. I've already blogged my views on football. I really want to start playing more sports besides my weekly fencing, which I am still sitting out due to my elbow not being right. I enjoy playing football in friendly kick arounds and the occasional little game I played in fencing warm ups was good fun. I would ideally look to join a five-a-side team of people of a similar ability to me (mildly average with occasional skill). This may well become an aim of mine at a later date.

Until tomorrow and the next book blogger hop...

Monday, 10 May 2010

First ABC: Rememberance of The Daleks by Ben Aaronovitch

Here it is, the first in what will be my new series of regular(ish) updates about books what I am reading.

A as the more alphabetical amongst us know is the first letter of the English alphabet so it is obviously the place for me to start. The A in this instance is Aaranovitch.

So, the basics first. The book is a TV tie-in from the series that I collect. It's basically a novelisation of the TV episode of the same name. Now there are two schools of thought when it comes to TV adaptations, you either do a very bare bones type up of the script with some very straightforward and to be frank rather dull linking bits where people don't speak.


and this, thankfully is the option that Aaranovitch has taken. You take the script, maintaining the lines and events but you add an entire plethora of additional stuff to it, thus giving you something MORE than what you got with the original TV story.

Aaranovitch takes the daleks, previously just blobs in cases with nothing more interesting to say than "Exterminate" and things of that ilk and really adds something to them. Whilst I wouldn't say he gives them personalities, he gives them some real depth. The sense with which they refer to the Special Weapons Dalek (The Abomination as they call it) gives a real sense of internal racism and fear within an individual dalek faction. He also adds some additional character development notes that take the story and really flesh it out, making an other wise good Doctor Who tale and making it a really solid tale.

Throughout the story we keep getting undercurrents of the past that lead up to the events in the story, background information on some of the characters that never appeared in the televised version. All in all, this is really a very enjoyable book. Short but packs a lot of information.

The book makes you feel slightly more involved in the story because you get to experience a lot of internal thoughts of the characters.

As mentioned elsewhere. I am trying to improve my reviewing technique. So hopefully the next few will be a marked improvement on this.

Friday, 7 May 2010

Blogday Friday: Change My Dear...

OK, loverly people. I told you yesterday that I would have some exciting news.

Firstly, I have joined the rather lovely Book Blogger Hop. This exciting and rather awesome site is a great community you should visit its home.

However my own exciting news is the launch of the replacement for WAR. Those of you with cryptology degrees and eyes may have deduced that it was something to do with the alphabet. You would be 100% correct in such a deduction. Basically, as mentioned elsewhere in the blog I love reading and read lots. However I often find myself at the end of one book looking for another one to do. So whilst in a bookshop I hit upon the rather fun idea of an A to Z reading project.

Basically, this involves me reading a book by an author whose surname begins with each letter of the alphabet. Simple huh? 26 letters in the alphabet = 26 books. WRONG! That is merely the tip of a very funky iceberg. I intend to revisit each letter on several occasions. The more observant of you may have noticed that no author has just one letter in their surname, they have several. So this is the deal. Once I have read A-Z once I go back to the start and read an author with a DIFFERENT surname beginning with A and so on. I will then post the reviews here on this lovely blog with all the other usual stuff, MFEW, TYISC and the occasional WAR.

Ok, news out the way. Back to The Hop. It needs capitalising I think. Part of the bit with The Hop (capitals again) is that you get to discover a lot of other blogs about books. This will be the first of many I suggest to try.

I couldn't help but love the fact that this particualr blog has a feature about favourite bookmarks! I love bookmarks! They are brilliant, some are so wonderful creative and good to look at. Some are just so OTT with all the unnecessary stuff on them. They are quite simply lovely. They also help you keep your place in the book. Which can't be a bad thing. So, visit Entomology of a Bookworm and see some nice bookmarks and more.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Is it the end? Has the moment been prepared for?

OK, after yesterdays rather maudlin post full of apologies and the like I feel a second post is in order.

First a quick writing update. Long time readers will know that I entered a couple of writing opportunity things for Big Finish a while ago. Well I haven't heard anything yet BUT they are perilously close to announcing the fortunate winners. I'm no kidding when I say that my heart rate has shot up whilst listening to that bit of news I am so nervous about it. Apparently the audio entries are down to 12 finalists who will be sent off to the BBC for approval on the stories, checking they are not going to do anything like it soon. The short stories have been selected and are currently sat in an office somewhere at the BBC awaiting approval. Hopefully I will have some very positive news on all this soon. Fingers crossed!!

Alas the guitar has had to be put on hold for a week as I have sprained my elbow! Yes, slightly foolishly I have injured myself! Rather spectacularly done I may add. Basically I am a fencer and whilst leading a warm-up session at my local club I fell over. Not once but twice! The first time into a wall and the second on the floor. So my playing has to be put on hold whilst I recover.
Now, on with the news. I think WAR may be put on a back burner, too much aggression ain't good for you etc. However I am pleased to offer you a teaser for a new feature set to be announced tomorrow.

Below is a cryptic teaser.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Where's the WAR at?

This blog is short because it's an apology. Basically I'm apologising for the lack of a WAR blog, this being Wednesday my typical WAR day.

I haven't done one because basically I haven't listened to an album this week. I have been rather busy, mostly writing. I did have one planned. It was going to be a Bowie album, either "Hunky Dory" or "The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders From Mars". In the end I went for Ziggy. Hunky just seemed too easy.

Also I'm not sure if I am enjoying the whole process of WAR. It feels more a somewhat pointless exercise de to my somewhat mediocre reviewing skills. I feel like I can't really contribute anything with the reviewing skills.

Maybe the WAR should end and instead I could do something different. Maybe change the focus of the blog? Axe WAR and stick just to writing and MFWE with the occasional OMPADC over the course of the ten years? Posting short stories written solely for you lovely visitors?

I don't really know if I'm being truly honest.