Recapping some books I’ve read this year (2013)

I’ve always recapped on what I’ve watched at cinema in the year at the end of the year. Which I will do after I have seen The Desolation of Smaug but for now I feel like recapping the books I have read.

Usually my top ten films are ones that have been released in that year. I find it a bit harder to keep up with book releases (as most people probably do) so whilst most are fairly recent they most certainly weren’t all released this year.

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

I have reviewed this recently on my blog but it deserves another mention. It’s a fantastic riveting story that retells an aftermath of an alien invasion in an interesting way. The second book The Infinite Sea will be out sometime next year although no release date has been put in place as of yet. I’m very exciting to see where it goes next because to be honest it looks like the last of the human race are fighting a losing battle but it should be a good read.

Before I Go To Sleep by S J Watson 

This book is a contemporary thriller/drama; imagine the plot of 50 First Dates but instead of Adam Sandler helping you, you have a psychopathic maniac waking up next to you. It’s brilliantly written from a first person perspective of the memory loss victim which you would imagine would be tedious – it really isn’t. There’s a film in the works for next year December 2nd. Whilst I really loved the book I’m not entirely sold on a film adaptation but with Nicole Kidman, Colin Firth and Mark Strong casted it could be worth watching.

Legend by Marie Lu 

Again I’m a bit late on this bandwagon. This book is extremely popular in the YA section with two sequels already best sellers. It follows a young man Day who is living in poverty to survive but he is extremely skilled and branded a wanted terrorist, we also follow June who is a military official with a Vendetta against Day. But they both soon realise they have a common enemy. I haven’t read the other two books I will be buying them and reading them soon. It’s not the most original story but it’s still quite exciting even if it was at time predictable.

The Rapture by Liz Jensen 

Another contemporary/thriller following Gabrielle Fox a psychiatrist in England who is given a very unusual subject who seems to be predicting the future. This book at times a bit slow but still very gripping in plot. It was a small gem I picked up as it was fairly cheap and I really enjoyed it.

Nyteria Rising by G.L. Twynham

I did start reading this last year but didn’t get around to finishing it completely due to busy projects but I did re-read late last year finishing it earlier this year. This book is third in ‘The Thirteenth Series’ where Val is forced into combat against more enemies whilst trying to prevent attacks from some long-term enemies. I was living in Lincoln at the time of picking up the first book as it had the ‘local author’ sticker and I loved it. I got hold of The Turncoat (Second book) and I was completely hooked and Twynham’s imagination holds no bounds in this instalment and it wont stop there. Looking forward to reading the next one ‘The Awakening.’ I’ve said this before I think in my Turncoat review but this series would make a fantastic long-term TV series!

Carrie by Stephen King

An oldie as we all know. I did read this a few years back but with a remake of the film I decided to read it again. My all-time favourite Stephen King book, love the way it’s written, love all the themes he touches on. King is extremely talented on bringing depth to characters and a delicate sense of realism on the paranormal which is abundant in this short story.

How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff 

Ok. I had a bit of a hard time with this book. It’s concept is interesting set in the present day when Daisy is shipped off from Manhattan to her cousins in England a war is declared and Daisy and her cousins are stuck in a now occupied England. It was written well, I like the style, it’s kind of Daisy re-telling the story as if it happened a good time ago with this sarky kind of feel to it. A lot of caps are used and theres no dialogue as such. The first few chapters got me hooked but it wasn’t long until I got bored. Not so much a fan of the incest love story with her cousin either.

Allegiant by Veronica Roth

The third book in the Divergent series where Tris and friends leave the Chicago city barriers to meet the rest of the world but what lies there may not be any better than the government in their city. This book I felt was a waste of my time. I was bored, the mish-mash of plot was unbearable.

The Resurrectionist by Jack O’Connell

  Described as ‘A Masterpiece – a dose of the uncertainty of Kafka, the fantasy of Bradbury, the crisp prose of Greene, and the noir of Chandler’ – At which point I should have decided this book isn’t for me if the short reviews are as pretentious as a Lars Von Trier production. However I thought I could give the ‘big adult read’ a go, I shouldn’t have. I’m sure it’s a fantastic book and while I love surreal worlds and chilling atmospheres I really just couldn’t be gripped.

Ok. ‘Book Haul‘ which is a list of books you say you are going to read. I don’t usually assign myself books that I say I’m definitely going to read unless it’s one that I’m really excited to read and even then it’s whether or not I actually finish it but here’s a little stab on what’s next on my list.

Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

Prodigy & Champion by Marie Lu

The Maze Runner by James Dashner 

The Awakening by G.L. Twynham

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken 

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My Most Anticipated Films of 2014

Coming to the end of the year now and we have had a very good year of films with the likes of Catching Fire, Man Of Steel, Star Trek, Iron Man to name a few.

However, can next year live up to this years popular flicks? I think it most certainly can. Enough babbling bring on the list! (not in any particular order)

Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes – 18th July

With Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes being a surprise smash after many reluctant views on the reboot, Dawn has a lot to live up to.

Set in an dystopian aftermath of an outbreak, Caesar’s thin allegiance with the remaining human population is threatened when certain members of both sides don’t seem to like the idea of a peaceful multi-species society. The film has bought back none other than the CGI star Andy Serkis as Ceasar and Judy Greer stars as Cornelia. Gary Oldman is also casted as a character named Dreyfus. I am extremely excited for this film can’t wait to see the final product.

Mockingjay Part 1 – November 21st 

Catching Fire is already a huge success at the cinema with director Francis Lawrence being praised for making a faithful yet screen friendly adaptation of Suzanne Collins novel. Lawrence of course is already directing both parts of Mockingjay that is eagerly anticipated.

Mockingjay Part 1 takes us to the mysterious District 13 where they have officially declared war on the Capitol. With Peeta in the custody of the Capitol, Katniss reluctantly is given the role of the ‘Mockingjay’ – a symbol and a spokesperson for the rebels however she feels an internal conflict with her newfound allies. Julianne Moore is casted for President Coin, the current leader of District 13 with the rest of the usual cast in their current roles. I’m not overly impressed that it is in two parts, having read the book I don’t see why they bothered. Oh… Money, now I see why.

 

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 – 2nd May

The Amazing Spider-Man reboot was a master piece compared to Sam Raimi’s mediocre version of the masked hero.

Spider-man 2 takes place when Peter Parker is forced take on two new foes The Rhino and Electro when he uncovers OsCorps dark secrets. All the usual cast is back along with Jamie Foxx as Electro (AWESOME!!) and Paul Giamatti as Rhino. Chronicles apex predator Dane DeHaan is casted for Harry Osborn.

Robocop – February 7th 

Starring Joel Kinnaman as Alex Murphy/RoboCop. Alex Murphy is critically injured and close to death. An organization see’s a way to save him by making him a prototype for a part-machine part-man Cop. However not everything is kept within the company’s plans. I remember as a kid watching bits of RoboCop so I don’t know much about it. After seeing the trailer it looks to be pretty exciting!

X-Men: Days Of Future Past – May 23rd 



After watching ‘The Wolverine’ I was a little bit annoyed considering how much I loved First Class. Alas, I still have high hopes, it will be nice to see all of the X-Men cast back on the screen together again and the trailer has definitely got me excited.

An older Professor X and Magneto send Wolverine to the past to try and deter an event that threatens both humans and mutants in the future.

Godzilla – 16th May

This project has been kept well under wraps with only little hints here and there. We obviously all know the general story. A giant radioactive lizard is on the loose. Apart from that we don’t know anything and of course that’s gotten a lot of people excited. Maybe we can forget that cheesy Emmerich remake even existed.

 

 

Other films that I might go to the cinema to see:

Captain America: The Winter Soldier –  April 4th

Steve Rogers struggles to embrace his role in the modern world and battles a new threat from old history: the Soviet agent known as the Winter Soldier.
(More of a Thor man myself).

Transformers: Age Of Extinction – June 27th

A mechanic and his daughter make a discovery that brings down Autobots and Decepticons – and a paranoid government official – on them.

(Starting to lose interest in Transformers or anything Michael Bay related for that matter)

Divergent – March 21st 

In a future Chicago the inhabitants from a young age choose a faction based on what they virtue the most. When Tris takes a test that tells her she’s ‘Divergent’ and fits into more than one faction she is told to keep herself under the radar but that’s harder than it seems.

(Read the book wasn’t completely taken by it’s story or hype – but it does have Kate Winslet as the villain. Could be interesting as a film.)

Appreciating Yourself

It’s not very often I talk like this but sometimes I think we all need to at some point. I have come to a point in my life where I’m finding it hard to talk to people. Not that I think I’m alone, or think that I have no one to talk to but more to do with finding it hard to be open. I’m not open very often, I don’t seek sympathy in fact I hate it when people feel sorry for me, which most might consider it a good personal trait however it’s also a big downfall. The reason why it’s a big downfall is due to the fact that feelings and thoughts tend to get bottled, concentrated and will eventually manifest in a very ugly way.

For the past year or so I have been in a very dark place in two ways. One in an emotional way and the other more metaphorical, as in, I have been very much conditioned and kept in the dark from myself and my own personal development. Most of you will know what I am referring to, some of you don’t and I’m sorry to say a lot of you of my close friends probably haven’t a clue, that is nothing personal but it’s not easy being in a situation that I was in, it was very uncomfortable to say the least but also I felt completely content it’s a very strange and conflicting feeling to experience. Everything seemed to make sense but in actual fact it made barely any sense at all. If you’re reading this and expecting me to delve deeper and gain some kind of gossip I’m sorry to say, this isn’t about placing my past and personal problems out on a public forum but more to explain my own personal feelings and my own understanding of myself with the hope that maybe someone could come across this and this might help them.

In the past couple of weeks I’ve come to gain a better understanding of something that I didn’t quite grasp. Sure a lot of people around me were telling me, a lot of people got frustrated, a lot got upset but most of you fell short of one thing – understanding. How could anyone understand me when I barely understood myself?

I made a lot of mistakes and one really big one. I was pathetic to allow myself to fall into a stupid trap but even more pathetic is the fact that I still allow it to trap me in many ways. I’m still at this point very terrified. Terrified for two reasons, 1. I’m not sure how long it will take to overcome this feeling and 2. Will I ever truly be free from it? – I know I will be one day, I’m much stronger than that, I still have a lot of dignity and I tend not to dwell. However dwelling is also good, it’s good to think things through, it’s good for your own personal experiences and it helps you not to make the same mistake again and I’m taking the time to dwell as most people should.

I find that there are three things that could happen:

1. Find comfort in someone else.
It’s very easy to fill a void in your life with someone else, whether that be a relationship or a close friendship it really doesn’t matter. For some this could work really well, but we have to be honest here – it’s not always the best option. Because you’re not finding comfort in yourself. Instead you’re finding yourself trying to be as pleasing as possible. You’re not thinking for yourself at all. It’s unfair on you and it’s unfair on the other person.

2. (To be blunt) Being a slut.
This is possibly the easiest thing to do. Filling a void with sex. It’s a quick fix that can help your self-esteem and gain you confidence. Unfortunately it’s very short lived. You’re not repairing yourself. While your ‘magic number’ might be rising to a nice figure that makes you feel like a stud/glamour model, it’s a dangerous path that can lead you feeling half full. By all means go and be a slut if you want, however I doubt you will find much in it. As human beings we are too social for the ‘fuck & chuck’ to be fulfilling.

3. Appreciating yourself. 
This is by far the hardest however it’s the most rewarding. At times when things get you down, it will make you feel worthless and pathetic no matter what it is that has happened. Judging ourselves has always been humanities downfall, it’s something that can linger on the outside or something that can spiral downward and be a seed for many problems to come. It’s not going to be easy but spending time with yourself and your own personal goals will help you to start appreciating yourself and it is the only way that you may truly get yourself together.

I have been extremely vague on purpose, because it really doesn’t matter what has happened. These are feelings that we all go through at some point in our lives and they are not exclusive to one particular situation. I hope this helps some of you, it certainly is helping me and to me thats what counts at the moment.

Boycott Brown’s Bar – My Thoughts.

I’m sure everyone has heard just as much as everyone is disgusted by it. In short,

After rehearsing for a fallen comrades funeral servies, a few lads including a grieving brother ventured into Brown’s for hot drinks to calm nerves before the funeral. Unfortunately, for both the establishment and the lads, they were refused service. For being in uniform.

This is shocking, appalling and truly disrespectful. What the hell is going through their minds!? As shocking as it is and as much as it fills us with rage, I think it’s extremely important not to blame the employee staff involved. As most of them were following orders and doing as there told, we shouldn’t vent on them. We should be venting on the person giving these ridiculous and narrow minded orders.

Ken Brown, the owner, said to the BBC

“I can only apologise again to the family and anybody else who was upset during the funeral service. Just that I’m sorry and that it wouldn’t have happened if we had been aware of the funeral at the rear of Brown’s, in the cathedral.”

Whilst I believe he truly is sorry, I mean why wouldn’t you regret your actions of this scale however, what kind of excuse is this exactly? Why in the hell would you turn away men and women in military uniform in the midday (or any part of the day for that matter) regardless of a funeral? I would really like to know the reasoning behind this mans thinking. What in the hell makes his precious little establishment so damn amazing to abuse the right of refusal willy nilly. This cafe/bar has refused service to people for years for pathetic reasons such as – asking for something thats not on the menu, being bald, having a tattoo and not wearing the ‘right’ attire and I don’t mean turning away teenagers in outrages tracksuits or big goth-like boots, were talking turning away people because they were looking ‘too casual’. It is not a celebrity infested bar in central London! It is a bar up the road from the likes of The Golden Cross! I myself work in a cafe and was refused service for wearing my uniform, which by the way, is black trousers and black shirt.

Brown's Bar

Does it look like an upper-class joint?

This establishment is and has been suffering from major delusions of grandeur since the day it opened. It believes to be this pretentious and pompous bar when really it’s shit food, rubbish service and over-priced crap. I hope this is an eye-opener for Mr Brown and his ridiculous thoughts on good service, but it’s probably too late to be saved by now and it deserves everything coming to it.

It is also important to note, that threats of violence against Mr Brown or vandalism towards the bar, is hardly an answer to solve the problems. It will just make matters worse and will be best to just have the family of the fallen soldier in your thoughts and prayers as they grieve.

Chocolate Truffle Recipe

I very rarely post my own recipes, it might be because one day I’d like to own my cafe (Mikey’s Cheesecake Cafe) but recently being out of work I have divulged more into my cooking passion and tried something new. Chocolate making. After watching Ina Garten from Barefoot Contessa make chocolate truffles, I was inspired, however I  didn’t write down the ingredients and I didn’t have her books. So instead I tailored a recipe for Chocolate Ganache that would be suitable for truffles (and wouldn’t melt!). 

Time: 6 hrs and 20 minutes.

You need:

British
160 ml of double cream,

800 grams milk chocolate (or 400 grams baking chocolate [70%coco] and 400 milk),
1 tsp of Muscovado sugar, (Optional)
Icing sugar.
2 Tsp of almond (or any other flavourings including liqours) flavourings.
200g of Crushed nuts (Optional) 
American 
1/2 cup and 2 teaspoons of heavy cream, 
800 grams milk chocolate (or 400 grams semisweet and 400 milk), 
1 tsp of Muscovado sugar, (Optional)
Icing sugar.
2 Tsp of almond (or any other flavourings including liqours) flavourings.
200g of Crushed nuts (Optional) – Hazelnuts recommended. 

Step 1:
Put the cream in a bowl over simmering water, and chop up 400grams of milk or semi sweet chocolate into very small pieces, when the cream is hot (don’t let it boil) pour the chocolate in and stir into a thick sauce almost pastey like texture. 
Put in the mixture, two teaspoons of Muscovado sugar and two or one teaspoons of your flavouring depending on your tastes and mix well. You can also add smashed nuts here if you like a crunchy middle. Leave to set uncovered for six hours at room temperature. 

Step 2:
When set, have baking parchment laid out, and dust your hands and the parchment thoroughly with icing sugar. Spoon heaped teapsoons of the mixture and roll them into rough balls with your hands. Keep dusting your hands after each ball. You may need to roll the balls in additional icing sugar to ensure they don’t stick to the parchment. 
Don’t worry if there not even.  (If you’re adding crushed nuts to the coating, be sure to crush them now ready)

Step 3:
When you’re finished with rolling the mixture, you then need to temper 400 grams of milk chocolate you have left. If you don’t know how, I chop it all up finely, put 3/4 of the chocolate in a bowl and microwave 15 seconds on high, take it out stir it and repeat until just about melted, then I add the last 1/4 of chocolate and stir until smooth. If it doesn’t fully melt, put it in the microwave for another 10 seconds. Leave to cool slightly. 400 grams of chocolate is quite an expense so you do not want to overheat the chocolate as this will ruin it and you will have to start with new chocolate and ensure your chocolate is not in contact with any moisture, this will seize the chocolate and it will separate.

Then pick up and coat each ball, I use two tablespoons for this and cover it generously. You can also use a cocktail stick to hold the ball and spoon the chocolate over it but it’s more likely to slip off. This process may take a while and the tempered chocolate may start to set, just put it in the microwave for 10 seconds and leave it cool again and carry on. When coated, you can decorate them while there setting with coco power, crushed nuts or make tempered dark chocolate to swirl over. (Be sure to be quick! It will set very quickly). 

Once all coated and decorated, leave to set for 15-20 minutes at room temperature. Alternatively if you’re saving them for later, you can put them in a fridge, but Truffles are best ate at room temperature. 

Truffles will keep for under 48 hours in room temperature and 5 days tightly packed in a fridge. 

Jobs & Fears of a Best Man

One of my best friends is getting married in a week, and I was given the honor of Best Man, but it’s always confused me what this specific job is. Although I suppose the maid of honor has it hard, putting up with the brides stresses, sorting out the morning and making sure the bride’s make-up, hair and dress are ready in time. I am thankful that my morning as best man comes down to a quick McDonalds breakfast before the wedding. But it’s always confused me what exactly does a Best Man do!

Princess Lay-Her

Of course when you are asked to be Best Man the first thing that comes to your head is the Stag do, which we celebrated almost a month ago dressing the groom-to-be in a sassy Princess Leia costume (AKA Princess Lay-Her). After all that spending, drinking and general messing about the speech is what you think about next, and is what really starts to daunt on you!

The first fear that comes with any speech where it’s almost mandatory to add humour is, “Will they laugh?” and it is a growing fear amongst all Best Mans across the world that may not consider themselves humorous. One thing that is comfort to me is that

1. People will be slightly tipsy.
2. High off the endorphines of the day and;
3. People tend to laugh at anything in fear of being rude.

Some best pieces of advice to me was, to bring your personality out, be straight to the point and just write your speech like its a conversation between friends because that’s when people are most humorous. Another piece of advice, which was possibly the best advice was to have someone there as a ‘laughing cue’ because when you hear someone laugh at these events, you laugh along with them, it’s rude not to. I’d perhaps don’t want to do that, because that would be cheating!

Another thing that comes to any wedding role, is ‘What is Tradition?’ and ‘What is done today?’. These lines seem to blur, no one seems to know exactly where people sit, the order of speeches and who does what. Traditionally the Best Man never gave much of a speech, a few words about the new couple first, then they would read out mail and messages from those who couldn’t attend, thank those you did attend and thank the Bridesmaids. Then during minglin, he would decorate the marital car with cans and ribbons ready for their departure.

In America the tradition will go further, in the states it’s common for the Bride and Groom to leave for their honeymoon during the reception or close to when it’s finished. The Best Man would, few days prior, have their luggage, passports, credit cards and any other belongings to pack in the marital car (and also pay for the marital car) as well as decorating it accordingly. He would then pay for the hotel reception and ensure every guest has transport for going home, and pay for that transport if need be. He would pay any fee’s that needed to be paid cash-in-hand on the day (like flower deliveries, choir boys, organists, etc). Unlike the Bride’s father that would pay for everything that needed to be paid in advanced.  – Boy I am glad I’m not American!

In England before Stag culture in the 16th century, the Best Man would pay the ministers fee, it would also be an odd number for good luck, he would also ensure that when the Groom left for the church he had everything he needed, because once on-route turning around was bad luck. Best Man would usually pay any outstanding fee’s, but these are not his main responsibility. His main responsibility was to actually assist in the kidnapping of the Bride, and to protect the Groom from harm if the Brides family wish to fight back. If the family retrieved the Bride back, the Best Man would pay the ransom fee to the Father of the Bride, which was usually given to the Bride.

It’s funny how traditions change, but it’s also a very good thing!  Nowadays a Best Man may never do a speech (if there is a best man at all) and a lot of Best Man duties are tailored on what the Bride and Groom want, rather than passed down traditions.

On that note, hoped you learnt something, I sure have this past week sorting out a speech.

I’d like to end on Congratulations to Hannah Smith (soon to be Murray) and Joel Murray, their wedding is on 16th July 2011.

iPad review

I know it’s a bit late to be doing a review with hundreds out there but I know it’s sometimes nicer to get a friends point of view or just someone who is not in the media industry. 

One of the first things you notice about the iPad when you turn the device on is the screen, it’s absolutely gorgeous and the viewing experience on this device is definitely one of it’s best points! After a while you start to realise the iPad is a very pro-consumption entertainment device apart from the iworks apps including your pages, numbers and keynote, this device is not meant for a creational means and for it’s money you would expect a little bit more from that, but maybe it’s too early to say, the iphone and iPod apps didn’t kick off a while, there maybe a lot more apps to come.

In terms of it’s entertainment there are wide range of apps including one if my favourites, the YouTube app. I prefer over the website, streaming video in HD and it has a very natural feel to it. There is a brilliant marvel comic app that presents comics beautifully and they are many more to suit your needs. However in terms of entertain there is definitely something missing, catch-up tv, I mean come on, iPad the best selling tablet in the world and channel 4/sky can’t be bothered to at least make a HTML5 version of there catch up tv? At this point I envy the Americans and their netflix, a Internet subscription service where you can stream tv shows and movies – similar to lovefilm, it’s like the top app which us UK users can not use it which is perfect for a device like this. There is however Sky sports mobile but at a hefty price of £35 per month per iPad (which is sky sports 1 and 2) or £8 per month per iPod/iPhone (sky sports 1, 2, 3 & news), I can’t imagine the iPad version being a popular package. 

Surfing the web which the device prides itself on is very nice, sleek and fluid. However, flash… Yes, you may of heard the “it don’t have flash, it’s shit” from obsessed window fanboys who don’t quite know what they’re talking about. I agree that lack of flash means lack of web experience, however I also agree that flash is buggy, power consuming and unstable. When you hear that fan in your computer sometimes going crazy and really loud and the computer goes red hot when your browsing, that’s flash at it’s best, can you imagine what it would do to a small tablet, it would eat your battery like a snack. On the other hand HTML5 which provides the same sort of web experience is on the rise so it may be worth it in the end. 

A few other things; iBooks in my opinion is not worth using, the screen just isn’t fit for reading a book, the kindle is a much better e-reader with the best electronic ink, the apps are all lovely to see on a big screen. General functions are good and the keyboard takes a bit if getting used to, but I could type this review fine on it.

My main problem is this notion of having a copy of everything on every device. I don’t want iPod apps on my iPad, and vice versa whether there compatible on both or not, I don’t need two copies of it! So my dislike, I’d prefer it if the iPad was more independent in that sense, or at least easier options to separate iPad apps from iPod apps (it took me a good 20 minutes to figure it out, even then it was tedious!). 

To conclude it’s a brilliant device I found myself the past few days picking up this for general facebook, youtubing and what not. I event started reading The Times because the app is so easy and natural to use. But it definitely isn’t and doesn’t claim to be a replacement for a laptop. 

P.S Your BBC iplayer fix is available on BBC.co.uk/iplayer/bigscreen as well as tvcatchup.com a Internet free view site where you can watch a decent choice of channels on the go from iPad or iPod (tv license is needed at the address you register with).