Book Review: The Children Of Húrin

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I got to cross another of the 30 books that I want to read by the time I turn 30 off my list, which puts me within spitting distance of the half way mark. This time it was with J.R.R and Christopher Tolkien’s Children of Húrin. Originally forming part of Tolkien’s Silmarillion and deals with some of the events of the first age of Middle Earth.

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From the get go I must point out that this book is really only for the Tolkien completists out there, as it adds absolutely nothing to the stories of Bilbo and Frodo and their quests for dragon gold and property destruction respectively. It shows the rise of the world of men and how they are shaped by dealings with elves and dwarves as well as the malignant influence of the evil being Morgoth and the constant fear of his servants burrows into the hearts of men, shaping their actions and deeds.

If you were expecting a novel, this book is recounted more as an oral history of the Children of Húrin rather than a first person narrative. Most notably it focuses on Húrin’s son Túrin, and the story follows the boy from late childhood spent in the care of the elves to manhood in the company of outlaws (paralleling the life of Aragorn in the lord of the rings trilogy) right throughout the the course of his life. As a story set during the early days of Middle earth it is ok, however it really is reliant on a lot of knowledge of what has gone before and after, so if you haven’t read the Hobbit, The Lord of The Rings, Unfinished Tales, The Silmarillion, Beren and Luthien, The Adventures of Tom Bombadil, and the 12 volume History of Middle Earth series, you may find yourself a little confused at times.

That being said the illustrations by Alan Lee were superb and really added something special to the feel of the work. But I don’t think it was enough to save it from itself.

 

Book Review: Adrian Mole The Prostrate Years.

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I’d read most of the Adrian Mole books already, so I knew I would get around to this one at some point, so when I made the list of books I wanted to read before I was 30 this one seemed like an ideal candidate for the list, as I had enjoyed its predecessors, and it was actually a book that I wanted to read.

If you’ve never read any of The Adrian Mole Diaries, I suggest you do, as they’re all brilliant, and this final volume of the series is no different. This book follows the deterioration of Adrian’s marriage, career, health, and family life, all as Adrian creeps ever closer to middle age, and the dreaded 40.

Sue Townsend has managed to paint an all too real look at life through the eyes, thoughts and ascribances of her protagonist. Just the way that Adrian goes through life is so real, and so tragic in its mundaneness that is just British and also massively terrifying. At the age of 39 and a quarter, Adrian is saddled with 3 children from 3 different women, a series of crippling debts, the wife who both resents and pities him simultaneously and a strong willed 5 year old with some bizarre fixations, all whilst dealing with the hell that must be living next door to his parents, not to mention a good whack of prostate cancer just for good measure. We see how Adrian deals with all this with the help of his friends.

One of the things I love about this series is that Sue Townsend sets the books in the real world. For example, Adrian’s financier half brother Brett, works in the City at the time of the 2008 financial crash, and lines that might under other circumstances be throw away text, are really cringe worthy, a good example being that Brett convinced Adrian to cash out his insurance policy and invest it in an Icelandic bank.

This is one of the high points of the whole series and for me highlights a great sadness at the fact that no more Mole will be forthcoming, owing to the writes untimely passing. But this was such a fun read, even if it did start to worry me, that I’m seeing one or two similarities  between myself and the erstwhile Mr Mole.

Film Review: The Last Jedi

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I’ll say it straight up now, I loved this film. I’ve heard a lot of negativity about it, but by goodness I loved it. I found the plot engaging and I started to see the characters of Rey and Finn become more rounded as individuals, which was a fantastic thing to see, as it was one of my main criticisms of The Force Awakens was that Rey was a pretty one dimensional character, so I’m glad this was rectified during this film.

Luke skywalker comes across as a bit of a little bitch, but that was to be expected, the whole thing adds a whole extra layer to the Star Wars universe and I was left rather satisfied, with a few questions, but that’s the beauty of knowing that there’ll be a sequel.

Overall 4.5 out of 5.

Book Review: Turn Of The Screw

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This one now marks off the 10th book from my list of 30 books that I want to read before I’m dead, that is to say 30 years old. Now this book was more of recommendation than something that I had an overwhelming desire to read throughout my life, but I gave it a go anyway.

It was a pretty quick moving story, all about the reaction to irrationality and unnamed dread, but I must admit that it really wasn’t my cup of tea, horror and suspense isn’t generally my bag, and in this case it wasn’t either. It wasn’t poorly written, but it just didn’t grab a hold of me the way that I had hoped for, and probably won’t be reading anything else by Henry James in the future.

Book Review: A Princess Of Mars

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A little while ago I came up with a list of books that I wanted to read before the time I become ancient (30) first on the list was A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs, a prolific American writer most well know as the creator of Tarzan. A princess of Mars is the first novel to feature his second most well known creation John Carter of Mars.

The novel itself is fairly short and is a prime example of the general pulp science fiction that was popularised in early twentieth century America and without giving away the plot does stick rather closely to the formula for pulp, of man from Earth winds up on alien planet, fights and then joins with the natives, rescues a princess and then saves the day. As an early example of the sort of pulp (originally serialised in 1912) that was floating about the market place in those days you can forgive it for seeming a little done to death over 100 years later, because you realise it was one of the first to do it.

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The writing style feels a little disjointed as it is written in the form of memoir, so Edgar Rice Burroughs has written it in the manner of memoir penned by Captain John Carter, who has a tendency to go off on tangents mid explanation, which does spoil the narrative, however I feel this may have been a conscious choice by Burroughs, as it lends a certain verisimilitude to the work, and it shows that only a really great writer would be able to write from the point of view of an amateur, that is to say terrible, writer.

My only main criticism is that whilst the world of Barsoom is a rich and vibrant world the secondary characters ring a little flat, and whilst the protagonist and his circle are explored the villains of the piece such as Tal Hajus and Sarkoja are lacking in any real depth and seem to be there mainly as plot accelerators more than as real characters.

Overall it was an enjoyable distraction I would give it a 3.5 out of 5 and pick up some the other books that make up the Barsoom series to find out the fates of Deja Thoris and John Carter of Mars.

Look out for more reviews coming soon. 

30 Before Thirty (Comics & Graphic Novels)

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I’m going to be thirty in just over 2 years and at this moment in time I’m OK with that (how I feel about it in 10 minuets is up for debate) but one of the things that I realised is that there are a fair few things I still want to accomplish whilst the career and social goals are somewhat out of my control things like films I want to see, albums I want to listen to and books I want to read are very much in my control, especially as I have 25 months to accomplish it. Here is a list of the Comics and Graphic Novels that I would like to have read by the time I’m thirty.

Grant Morrison’s 18 Days

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Camelot 3000

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Miracle Man: A Dream Of Flying

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All Star Superman 

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Preacher: Gone To Texas

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The Crow

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Sandman Preludes and Nocturnes

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Alan Moore’s: Saga of The Swamp Thing

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Marvel 1602

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Saga: Volume 1

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 The Order: Die Mensch Machine

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The Complete Scarlet Traces 

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Button Man

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Ronin 

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Superman: Whatever Happened To The Man Of Tomorrow 

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The Infinity Gauntlet 

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Amazing Spider-man: Kravens Last Hunt

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Promethea Book 1 

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Jack Kirby’s Fourth World Omnibus 

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Multiversity 

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Son Of Superman 

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Hellblazer: Original Sins 

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The Authority: Relentless 

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Hellboy: Seed Of Destruction 

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Doctor Who: Emperor Of The Daleks

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Death: The High Cost Of Living  

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JSA The Liberty Files 

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Alice In Sunderland 

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Daredevil Yellow

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The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Mr. Punch

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How many of these do you think I’ll get done before July 21st 2019?

30 Before I’m Thirty (Films)

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I’m going to be thirty in just over 2 years and at this moment in time I’m OK with that (how I feel about it in 10 minuets is up for debate) but one of the things that I realised is that there are a fair few things I still want to accomplish whilst the career and social goals are somewhat out of my control things like films I want to see, albums I want to listen to and books I want to read are very much in my control, especially as I have 25 months to accomplish it. Here is a list of the films that I would like to have read by the time I’m thirty.

How Green Was My Valley 

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Gentleman’s Agreement

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From Here to Eternity

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Gone With The Wind

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Cat On A Hot Tin Roof

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West Side Story

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Lawrence of Arabia

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Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf

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Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner

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Funny Girl

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Fiddler On The Roof

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All The Presidents Men

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Milk

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Kramer Vs Kramer

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Terms of Endearment 

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The Cider House Rules

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An Education

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The Wolf Of Wall Street

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Guardians of the Galaxy 2

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Moonrise Kingdom

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Saving Private Ryan

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Going In Style 

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Wall Street

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King Ralph

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Planes Trains and Automobiles

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O Brother, Where Art Thou?

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The Monuments Men

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Good Will Hunting

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Good Morning Vietnam 

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This Is Spinal Tap

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How many of these do you think I’ll get done before July 21st 2019?