Archive for Fantasy

Trudi Canavan’s “The Magician’s Apprentice”

Posted in Books, Trudi Canavan with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 12 May, 2009 by Nicola

I do like a bit of escapist fantasy, and when I want to read a good fantasy book, I know that turning to Trudi Canavan is a good idea.  Her narrative is not perfect, and her habit of italicising characters thoughts is actually very grating and something I am still not used to.  But who cares?  Canavan is creative and knows how to tell a story.

The Black Magician trilogy is the only story other than Harry Potter to make me cry at the loss of a character.  This is not a ‘boo-hoo-character-died-closed-book-and-forgot-about-it’ type cry.  No.  It is a loss that puts a nasty unsettling feeling at the pit of your stomach that could go on for as long as three days.  Sad, isn’t it?  Yes, it is, but do you know how satisfying it is to become attached to a character in such a way?  It is what makes a good read into a great read and only the most talented writers that specialise in characterisation that can acheive such a feat. Continue reading

J. K. Rowling’s “The Tales of Beedle the Bard”

Posted in Books, J. K. Rowling with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on 5 December, 2008 by Nicola

This book is yet another testament to J. K. Rowling‘s astounding imagination. There are five tales altogether and after each one, Dumbledore writes his own analysis of the tale, and his personal experience of it (The Fountain of Fair Fortune has the funniest commentary). An introduction is penned by Rowling, and the original story is translated by Hermione Granger from the ancient runes they were originally written in (she is given credit, but she does not appear anywhere in the book writing as herself). At the end of the book are a few pages from the charity representative, explaining what the charity does. Continue reading

The Best Films of All Time

Posted in A Little Princess, Aliens, Atonement, Beauty and the Beast, Film, Howl's Moving Castle, Lists, Lost In Translation, Love Actually, Personal Musings, Pride & Prejudice, Schindler's List, Spirited Away, The Fifth Element with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 4 December, 2008 by Nicola

I will say this. I do not like films. I am serious. I do not like romantic comedies, horror, science fiction, thrillers or any other genre for that matter as a general rule. For me to like a film, it either has nostalgia value, or it has to be artfully brilliant. The scores or soundtracks to films are a huge factor in my liking a film. Sometimes, a film can be downright silly, but extremely entertaining. This is why I think it may be worthy to mention the rare times a film has captured me and the ones I actually enjoyed.

Pride & Prejudice – Joe Wright
My favourite film of all time by a mile. First of all, it helps that I am a period drama fan, love Literature and most of all, adore Jane Austen. Even considering this there are plenty of versions of this classic and even more period dramas out there, but this one comes out on top. I must have seen it over a dozen times by now. I first went to see it at the cinema and I found myself grinning goofily at the screen as I willed the protagonists on with all of my heart and soul. Now, I hate RomComs, and I am no soppy female that swoons over handsome men on the screen, but I think my heart stopped when Mr. Darcy came out of the fog. Not only was it beautifully shot but Dario Marianelli‘s score at that point was just magical. Speaking of which, the score of this film is probably the element that sets this film apart from the others. The Pride and Prejudice score is by far my favourite album which I play from beginning to end over and over again. Joe Wright proves himself to be one of the most promising new directors with this film. Sadly, he was robbed of his Oscar.

Aliens – James Cameron
I think this is largely nostalgia, though it scared me when I was young. Strictly speaking, I do not really enjoy any of the films in this franchise. I find the second film, Aliens, to be the most tolerable. What I am in love with is the creature itself. I think it is a fantastic creation and it is the model of the Aliens xenomorph which I favour. The new CGI aliens in the latest AVP films do not cut it for me. I mean, the creature itself is so mind blowingly awesome. Every part of its body is sharp and deadly, it has, like, three mouths, it bleeds pure acid, so if you shoot it, you get gunked and you still lose, it is really fast, it swims, and it is born inside living hosts. That is an alarmingly lethal foe. And Ripley is awesome. Continue reading

Nicola’s Top Ten Writers “Hall of Fame”

Posted in Anne McCaffrey, Bill Bryson, Books, Charlotte Bronte, J. K. Rowling, James Clemens, Jane Austen, Lists, Margaret Atwood, Personal Musings, Sarah Waters, Trudi Canavan, Wilkie Collins with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 1 December, 2008 by Nicola

I am an English Literature Graduate, I work in a library, and I am always reading a book.  There would obviously come a time when I realised that I loved some writers more than others.  Not that my opinion counts for anything, but I am going to throw it out there anyway.  Perhaps someone agrees with me, perhaps my opinion will englighten someone.  You never know, it might happen.  So here are my top ten writers, counting down from number 10.

10. Sarah Waters
Sarah Waters. Let’s see.  Ah, yes.  She is British.  Wilkie Collins is her favourite writer.  She is a feminist.  She sets her novels in the Victorian era.  I think she’s also a lesbian, but that’s neither here or there.  What’s not to like?  Waters tends to write Historical novels set in the Victorian era (notably a time of extreme sexual oppression) with a feminist slant but without sounding preachy.  She creates genuine atmosphere and really knows how to build suspense.  Her work is well researched, and she writes convincingly within the context’s style whilst not alienating her audience.  Her most well known novels are Fingersmith (2002) and Tipping the Velvet (1998), but my personal favourite is Affinity (1999).

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James Clemens’ “Hinterland”

Posted in Books, Ian McEwan with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on 1 December, 2008 by Nicola

I have read all of the fantasy works of James Clemens and this book is his best so far. It suffers from some drawbacks, but overall, it is rather enjoyable. Clemens has created a rich world to set his story in and his Gods (and rogue gods) are sincerely intriguing.

The good news (for me) is that Hinterland is an improvement from Shadowfall. My main problem with the first novel of this series, though I enjoyed it immensely, is that it starts well, but the end gets a bit ridiculous – a villain with maniacal laughter et al. I felt Chrism was a clumsy plot device, not set as a development, but to serve as a mere “twist” at the end of the story, which is why it fell flat on its face (and the fact that Clemens is a bit confused as to what insanity is). This novel does not have that problem. It has villains, but not just for villains sake; they actually have a motive, and they seem at least a little sane and make some sense (Lord Ulf, for example).

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