Category Archives: reviews

Books I have read, and movies I have watched and what I thought about them.

Peter Pan Review

I finished reading Peter Pan in November 2015 because it is one of the children’s classics I’ve never picked up to read before; I liked it a lot and the characters seem more real, solid and not as passionate in their hatred for one and other like I thought because of various movies.
I was told by a fellow reader of the book that “it is a book about dead children”, though personally I don’t see it; because then you would need to explain to me why Wendy remembered Neverland and grew up and had a grandchild who took her place with Peter in Neverland at the end of the book.
Anyway, there are many things to note about the tale. Peter Pan was more of a bully than a hero in the book, unlike what media portrays and Hook is more of a softy than you are initially told. Perhaps I see this because I am a sympathiser of villains in most books and movies? Though from what I got from the book, Wendy and her brothers were more or less bullied into staying in Neverland for much longer than they wanted, until eventually Wendy put her foot down and went home with her brothers in tow.
I am also surprised at how young Peter Pan is supposed to be in the book, he had all of his milk teeth still, this puts him around three to six years of age, yet it’s a very popular idea that he is between nine and thirteen.
Also, my husband gave me some information about Peter Pan, because I noticed that the dog, Nana, was a Newfoundland in the book, not a St Bernard which again, is a very popular notion in movies – this was apparently popularised by the fact that Walt Disney’s artist for Nana in his Peter Pan adaption didn’t know how to draw Newfoundland’s properly, whether or not this is true or not I have no idea, but it is funny how easily lead society is with new notions, isn’t it?
The closest movie to the book in my opinion is Hook with Robin Williams, because it focuses on the most forgotten aspects of the book; such as the sheer conceitedness of Pan to Hook and how Hook was very noble and proud and despised Pan’s arrogance and the fact that he felt a little guilty fighting him because of the age difference. Then there is the fact that Wendy grew up and Pan reacted badly against her aging and developed a relationship with Moira her granddaughter. I personally think that if J.M Barrie had ever written a sequel to Peter Pan then this movie adaption would be the closest thing to what I think Barrie would have written himself!
I enjoyed the book much better than the movie adaptions out there and I have often thought of my own stories regarding the characters, which I suppose should go into my fan fiction blog, whenever I am ready to set it up.

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The Watch

I do not claim any rights to this image.

What fantasy fan would be complete without venturing into the genres of science fiction, comedy and horror occasionally?
As a Ben Stiller fan, I wasn’t too disappointed with this movie although it’s not his finest moment, but it was very funny nonetheless. Ben Stiller’s character Evan is the solid citizen of a small town in Ohio. Evan worked as the manager of Costco supermarket and one of his employees got murdered mysteriously one night whilst on security duty. Evan being very close to his employees felt that he must do something about it, so he sets up a neighbourhood watch group with which only three other local men became a member (all oddballs in some way or other).
Things turned out pretty strange for Evan and his group members as they accidentally ran something gooey over, they found a strange metallic sphere and took it home with them having no inclination that it was other worldly.
Strange people start entering the groups lives, particularly Bob’s daughters life and things get out of hand – alien sightings happen, more murders and the group becomes more and more determined to make the town safe.
The movie isn’t without its drama and ups and downs despite it being mostly a comedy, foul language rages rampant in this movie with plenty of sexual innuendos, a mass alien shoot up and twists in the plot.
By and large it was a good, if somewhat weird movie that had a very “scary movie” feel to it.

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The Lorax

Not my artwork

I had never read nor watched The Lorax by Dr. Suess until last Sunday (I watched the movie first – shock horror and gasp) and I am surprised I’ve missed such a gem in my childhood.

To be honest, I would of hazard a guess that Dr. Suess had written only about ten stories, but that is not true; I am surprised to discover via goodreads.com that he wrote a great deal more than that and I endeavor to read all he has ever written.

Dr. Suess has the kind of personality that I love. His humor is strange, nonsensical with seemingly illogical plots, though to me they are very logical and has a great understanding of creative children and eccentricity.

I loved the Lorax movie because of the color and the deep meaning behind the plot. I love anything that tries to show humanity the errors of their ways, like Bee Movie; The Lorax has a message for humanity that shows you must never take your natural roots for granted and you must protect, nurture and above all respect nature and the environment for future generations.
I am passionate about the subject behind the movie and you can find out more of what I think about this by following this link.

https://fantasyfed.com/2015/07/22/living-responsibly-2/

Dr. Suess’s worlds are beyond fantasy, they are usually worlds based deep within our consciousness. Dr. Suess takes us behind the reality of humanity in many of his stories, The Lorax being an example of one of those tales.

The artwork within the movie as in the books, are very abstract and I like that.

When I first saw the advertisement of the movie, I was puzzled as to what the storyline could possibly be? When I saw the trees I thought it was something along the lines of a candy-man story, another Willy Wonka of sorts because the trees looked like candyfloss on candy-canes, but it wasn’t. It was an adorable world.

Funny in parts and irritating in others, only in that the irritations are my own personal views of humanity and seeing how The Lorax could someday possibly become a reality, particularly as I have known a child who lived in such a dense urban area, they never ever saw grass and when they were taken to a park they were terrified of the grass and refused to walk on it with their family.

Books and movies like this should be more widely available to the public and written in many different ways; because I think society needs to have it drummed into their minds about just how precious nature is and caring for the environment should be a necessity in everybody’s daily life.

Governments should forget trying to drum into their societies minds about individual peoples lifestyles regarding image and start concentrating on lifestyle issues that affect the world as a whole; Like recycling, sea/ocean clean ups, global warming, over population, city and town expansion etc.

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Carnival of Lost Souls

This is NOT my personal work http://www.amazon.co.uk/Carnival-Lost-Souls-Nox-Arcana/dp/B000FOT9EE/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1436560945&sr=8-4&keywords=Nox+Arcana

A lot of my work comes about because of the thoughts that come to my mind when I listen to certain music; my inspiration changes with each kind of music I listen to, this is why I love instrumental music, particularly that from Nox Arcana.
I have all of their albums, they are essential for me to work effectively. Never before has a band affected me in such a way as Nox Arcana. Their music is exactly the kind of atmosphere I need to set my brain into for my work in fantasy and horror writing and art.

I might very well review each album or song separately someday, but the most listened to album for me is this one – Carnival of Lost Souls.

The amount of fantasy horror I’ve thought of. I have even thought about a comic series because of this music, this along with (sorry, something not Nox Arcana related) = The Honky Tonk Merry-go-round by Patsy Cline. Oh the things I have dreamt, thank you Nox Arcana, very much for this one. Johnny Depp is going to love you all the more if he ever reads my stuff and found out his new nightmares were inspired by you. *insert evil laugh here*.

Since I lost Cubase many moons ago, my computer isn’t hooked up with music composing software anymore (and I can’t read or write music, but I can play by ear and compose – with the software). My music was similar to Nox Arcana, that’s why I love it so much. I think the band must be within my soul group or something? Anyway, once I figured out how to configure my old Microsoft XP files onto my new computer (perhaps in Neverwhere) I will load up my old music and share it. Otherwise, if I really am in Neverwhere with that then my old music has been lost in the ethers of time forever. *Insert forlorn pierrot here*.

My creativity really is controlled by the type of music that’s around me at the time. In the times of no music, I tend to write flatly and that’s only suitable when I am writing non-fiction or essays.

Now being deaf, I rely heavily on vibrations, lip-reading and my two hearing aids and I am not looking forward to the day that my consultant said is in the near future, that I will lose my hearing altogether. Unfortunately at the time this was said to me, the consultant in question told me that there is nothing they can do to repair my hearing if the worst case scenario crops up, thankfully I know someone in the ENT department abroad who says that’s utter tosh. So fingers crossed that I will never lose my hearing completely.

I don’t know what I would do without my Nox Arcana!

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Scarborough Fair – Nox Arcana

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1980s Fantasy Movies That Influenced A Young Me

James Cormier

342613Gather around children, and let Old Nuncle Jim tell you a tale.  Selfie sticks down.  Turn your phones on vibrate.  Pass me my beer and turn that Queen album back up.  Ahem.  That’s better.

There was a time, long before iPhones, long before the Internet, prior even to the advent of the DVD and stadium seating in movie theaters, when fantasy movies were not the big budget blockbusters they are today.  Before Peter Jackson was ordained from on high to grace us with a (relatively) faithful, three-film adaptation of The Lord of the Rings, fantasy as a genre in Hollywood was pretty dead.  The 1990s in particular was a drought of fantasy so extreme that people did crazy things, like listen to Limp Bizkit and dance the Macarena (Wikipedia those if you have questions).  There weren’t even any good B movies; the fantasy movie-going public were left with pitiful…

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July 2, 2015 · 16:31

The 50 Scariest Books of All Time

Brilliant, you must read this if you are a horror fan like me!

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Meet The Weirds by Kaye Umansky.

Meet The Weirds by Kaye Umansky.
A wonderful book about friendships being built between children who come from the opposite ends of the social spectrum; a really funny read that left me wanting more, however the book ended abruptly and made me feel a little cheated as there were hardly any plot; the book should be extended.

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You’re a bad man Mr. Gum books 1 to 5

You’re a bad man Mr. Gum by Andy Stanton.

I read these books in June 2014 as they were highly recommended to me by various members at goodreads.com and I have to say I am bitterly disappointed.

I would never let a child of mine read these unless they were teenagers, I really don’t find these books suitable for under twelves; they seem to condone animal cruelty, crime, dog poisoning, selling rancid meat and all sorts of undesirable trash that makes being evil seem cooler than being good, which in my opinion is not something I want to convey to my children – in fact they make the good people in the book come across as total idiots and evil people as being very clever, truly shocking as a children’s series to be honest, I was expecting far better.

The rating for these books is low, despite the humor in some pages; I think these books should be re-categorized as adult fantasy comedy.

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Smoke & Mirrors by Neil Gaiman

I read this book in January 2013; I still remember some of the stories as clear as day.  I felt it would be good to put up previously read works on this site, because I don’t read enough fiction regularly to sustain this part of the blog, I mostly read non-fiction works based on social history, religion, the occult, psychology, true stories and biographies.

For those of you who have never read Neil Gaiman or know about the book “Smoke and Mirrors” it is an anthology of fantasy, horror and dark fantasy short stories and in my opinion, prose. 

Anyway, first up is “the wedding present” I don’t remember much about this story at all, other than I remember disliking it, but I can’t remember why.  I do plan to re-read this book at the end of this year for revising what I think is good and bad about it all, as I am trying to teach myself how to read critically, so re-reading this story will help me remember why I didn’t like it.

The next story I liked, it was humorous, “chivalry” A little old lady goes into a charity shop and buys a chalice and she is soon pestered by a time traveling knight who declares the chalice is rather special and tries to get it off her for several weeks, she eventually relents with a surprising ending.

“Nicholas Was” is next, a very short story, or was it really prose?  I don’t know what it was, but I do remember it, and it was confusing, although I did like the imagery it portrayed.

“The Price” oh my goodness was that a scary tale, I felt like crying for the cat.  I think the cat was based on some kind of protective angel, but that’s well hidden in the story if that’s what the cat was.  A brilliant tale, loved it, and I loved the audio of it too which is free and can be found at this website www.neilgaiman.co.uk/smokeandmirrors/audio

Another of my favorite was “Troll Bridge” I think almost every fantasy writer has written their own variation of this story at some point; I know Terry Pratchett has, although I’ve never read that one yet.  Neil Gaiman’s Troll Bridge was in my opinion, unique; I found it really thoughtful and inspiring.  I sometimes hoped that I could crawl under such bridge and make a deal like that, but would I really want to?  Who knows…?

“Don’t ask Jack” bought back nightmares of my childhood, that’s all I am going to say about this story.  I don’t like remembering it, to be honest.  In fact, I wasn’t comfortable with the story so much, I had to put the book down for two months before I could read the story that came after it, and that was because I forgot the previous tale. 

“The goldfish pool and other stories” Brilliant, I was so happy I picked this book up again after abandoning it, this was a great story, touching, haunting, fantastic.  I was really upset it was a short story; I could have read hundreds of pages of this work easily. 

“Eaten” I don’t remember this story either and I can’t remember if I liked it or not – sorry.

Again, one I loved “The white road” the imagery in my head was so lucid, I adored that.  I tend to think of actors or people I know when I read books and I was seeing actors and actresses from “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and “The Aristocrats” TV mini-series in 1999 one actor in particular was actually playing a Mr Fox, Alun Armstrong, he was playing Mr Fox in my mind when reading this story and the girl was a blond haired Winona Ryder for some reason.  The other actors and actresses from those movies and series that I was seeing in my head were there purely as spectators of the revelation that was being said between Mr Fox and the girl.

I was a wonderful story; I loved it, such passion and a delight to read, but am I being too bold? Ha-ha.

“Queen of knives” and “The case of the departure of Miss Finch” other delightful reads.  I loved them, they reminded me of one of my favorite Hammer horrors, “The Vampire Circus”, and they also had a similar air to “The Night Circus” by Erin Morgenstern.  I too, almost wrote a book similar to all four of these examples when I was fifteen years old.  A story based around a circus of the night, traveling vampire gypsies picking off locals at their stops, turning some, training some, it was a good idea I thought, but at the time I was going through a turmoil.  My brother had friends in publishing, they were at his house having a dinner party and I was also invited, they asked to view my work so arranged another dinner with my brother and I gave them some of my work, unfortunately I never got them back and they plagiarized my work, unfortunately still, I had no proof they did this because when I lost my completed work I lost heart in re-writing it all and burned the notes I had gathered over the two years it took me to complete it. So basically they got off Scot free and I’ve nothing to prove in court, so my loss I suppose.  My brother also worked behind the scenes of major film companies, so needless to say they did make a movie out of what I wrote, but made minor alterations, I won’t mention the movie here or the people, because I don’t like making a fuss, especially when I cannot offer proof.  The story was different to my gypsy vampire idea, but was vampire themed nonetheless, just this was the point of no return for me until I reached twenty one and had confidence in writing again, by this time I had forgot the idea, I only remembered the idea after reading those stories.

“Changes” I don’t remember this story either regrettably.

“The daughter of owls” now that was a beautiful fairy-tale in my opinion. 

“Shoggoth’s old peculiar” made me smile because it made me think he based the story on my family, who live on the edge of the Welsh and English border, they run a pub which resembles an eighteenth century tavern and I’m sorry to say they have toad-like faces and an old fashion air about them.  They are constantly cribbing about hiking tourists in their area, particularly Americans, which made this story feel it was made especially for me.  Obviously it wasn’t, Neil Gaiman doesn’t know me from Adam, but still, it felt special.

“Virus” I didn’t like either.

“Looking for the girl” I disliked too.  Reminded me a little bit of one of my exes, made me feel this story was based on his future life.

“Only the end of the world again” I liked, was it a sequel to one of the above stories I wondered?  Or more than one – I sense an air of “Shoggoth’s old peculiar” but also “the white road”.  I loved the combination if I am right, it worked amazingly well.

I think the “Bay wolf” is also like the above review, though I am confused, because I am trying to remember all the stories from only four months back and it’s difficult, particularly as I am writing this review on a day that my headaches are mild and wondering whether or not they should get worse and become the usual migraines.

“Fifteen painted cards from a vampire tarot” was also good, many stories in one.  Again, this was something I was thinking about writing as an inclusion to my traveling vampire gypsies when I was a teenager, another reason was because an old horror movie with Donald Sutherland inspired me a few years previous called “Dr Terror House of Horrors”. 

“We can get them for you wholesale” was both hilarious and bleak; I never laughed out as loud as I did when reading this story.  I truly recommend it for people who have a sick sense of humor like me!

“One Life, Furnished in Early Moorcock” and “Cold Colours” I don’t remember these stories either unfortunately.

“The sweeper of dreams” was also beautifully written and after reading it, knowing I’ve ignored my love for writing for almost two years solid, I began to wonder if the sweeper of dreams came and visited me and stole my muse away or not?  But obviously it hadn’t, because I’ve started to write again, though, this time, my muse focuses mostly on poetry, not stories, like before.

I despised “Foreign Parts” it’s really not my kind of story at all. 

“Vampire Sestina” was brilliant and again, too short.

“Mouse” I couldn’t remember much about mouse either.

“The sea change” was a good read too, for what I remember and that’s not quite much at all, ha-ha.

“How do you think it feels” I liked the story and I hoped for more, but no.  Sometimes I think Neil Gaiman lacks the confidence to make some of his short stories into novels, it’s like he doesn’t believe in them so he makes them short but sweet.

“When we went to see the end of the world” that was a confusing read.

“Desert Wind” was nice.

I don’t remember “tastings” either.

“In the end” now that was very thought provoking and again, made me pause on the book for a fortnight whilst I thought things through and read “Enoch” and a few other non-fiction stories, for absolutely no other reason than to try and confirm my own beliefs in some strange inane kind of way.

“Babycakes” the title attracted me because when I was in college a friend of mine thought it would be good to have a name for each other, a pet name, so she came up with the name “Babycakes” I was baby and she was cakes.  She called me baby because I lacked experience of the world and she felt very motherly towards me.  Regrettably, the story isn’t as sweet as the one I just said above about me and my friend; it’s haunting in a bad way, terrifying because that could become a truth and I felt bad that I had read it, like it’s shameful.

“Murder mysteries” was beautiful, I liked the story outline.

Now, here comes my favorite story of the entire book “Snow, glass, apples” Neil Gaiman’s take on Snow White and it’s wonderful.  Unique, tragic, he saw what I saw in the story, not a victim but a spoiled dangerous little brat, that’s what I’ve always seen snow white as, but oh, it’s wonderful how he mingled this story with vampirism and victimization of the queen.  A pure work of genius!

This book was 50/50 in my opinion, 50% bad and 50% good, but the good bits are excellent, they are unique and imaginative and I love them, they inspire me to write my own stuff.

Thank you Neil Gaiman!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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