Wednesday, June 29, 2011

(Not So) Wordless Wednesday - Motorbike Show 2011

Every year around this time, my quiet little town erupts in a cloud of smoke and noise, due to the arrival of the motorbike show.

This is an event, where motorbike groups from all over Spain and further afield, congregate in the centre of town to compare engine sizes and generally show off how loud their bikes are. Then at around 11am, the mass of vehicles gather in a convoy through the town towards the beach, where Paella and beer is consumed and bike talk continues for the rest of the day.

Here's a taster of the day:

I this this boy is in practise, for when he is old enough to own the real thing!

I really look forward to the bike show and I think that this year's had more bikes than ever. It brings our town to life and I enjoy looking at the bikes and the people who own them. I'd also love to be able to join the convoy to the beach...

but I don't think that my scooter has enough power to make it....oh well...

Sunday, June 26, 2011

'Sunday Snippet'

Now that 'Case Histories' series has finished, I can now resume talking about 'The Pillars Of The Earth' by Ken Follett. I'm on the home straight with this novel (although I still have about 300-400 pages to go!) and I must say, I will be sad when I finish this, as it's so compelling. One thing is for sure, I will be reading the sequel 'World Without End', but I will need to read a few shorter novels, before I tackle another lengthy book.

Here's the 'snippet':

Page 750 ' But when he was away from this house, Aliena was on his mind as much as if he had left her only yesterday. His memories of her were painfully vivid, although her had not seen her for more than a year.'

'The Pillars Of The Earth' by Ken Follett

Whatever you're doing, enjoy what's left of the weekend. I have been out enjoying the annual motorbike show. It's a noisy way to spend a Sunday morning, but I really enjoy it. There were more motorbikes than ever this year, so watch out for a special 'Wordless Wednesday'.

Also, if you have access to UK TV, 'The TV Book Club' began its series of summer reads today, on More4 at 7.30 pm (U.K time). On the first programme, the panel will be reviewing 'The Lantern' by Deborah Lawrenson, whose blog I follow regularly. I'd be interested to hear their views on this.

Happy Sunday!

Friday, June 24, 2011

'When Will There Be Good News?' - Television Adaptation

I'm sad that 'Case Histories' has finished. It's probably the only series of book adaptations, that I have felt stayed true to the original texts.

The last two programmes, a two part adaptation of Kate Atkinson's novel 'When Will There Be good News?' features private investigator Jackson Brodie, involved in a train accident and saved from the brink of death by teenage babysitter Reggie. As the plot develops, Reggie employs Jackson to investigate the disappearance of her employeer Joanna Hunter and the baby that Reggie cares for. Also throughout, Jackson continues to deal with his daughter Marlee living on the other side of the world and the complications of his love life.

In my other reviews (which you can find here, here and here), I previously talked about how well made this series is and also the success of the casting. However something that has struck me all of the way through this series, is that it's not only the main cast that should be praised, but also the smaller characters too.

I particularly liked Jackson's secretary Deborah (played by Zawe Ashton). Although I don't think that she is predominate in the 'Jackson Brodie' series of novels, I think that her sharp wit and no nonsense attitude, plays brilliantly against Jackson's sarcasm and dry humour. She tries to keep Jackson organized, both in his working and private life and I think Jackson and Deborah, make a great team.

Also I thought that the producers made great choices, when casting the younger characters within this series.

As I have said before, I think that the young actress who plays Marlee called Millie Innes, is wonderful. There is a tenderness with Marlee and Jackson's relationship and Innes brings a maturity to the role, which then helps Jackson to see sense in certain situations. I think if the producers of this series hadn't got Jackson and Marlee's relationship right, I think that this would have been a major flaw within the series. This is because in the books, their relationship plays a large part, in how Jackson lives his life.

Within 'When Will There Be Good News?' the part of teenager Reggie, played by actress Gwyneth Keyworth, is a key character within the story and I thought that she was excellent. Due to the fact that Marlee is away in New Zealand, Reggie fills some of the void that Jackson's daughter has left. Jackson takes Reggie under his wing and together, they have a good relationship. It is slightly different to the one that Jackson has with his daughter, but still full of humour and affection.

I have really enjoyed 'Case Histories' and I think that 'When Will There Be Good News?' has been the best adaptation, of the whole series. I look forward to the possibility of more Kate Atkinson adaptations on the BBC, in the future.

Have you seen this series? What was your overall opinion? What other novels would you like to see adapted for television or the big screen?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

What is Pottermore? -Revealed

The other day,I talked about a mysterious website called 'Pottermore' which appeared recently on the internet. After speculation as to what this is and what it has to do with 'Harry Potter', here are some answers!

This experience sounds very exciting for both fans and writers alike. J.K Rowling is going to offer both interaction with her readers and the 'Harry Potter' stories and also an insight into material which has never been seen before.

Unfortunately, we are not going to see the full content of 'Pottermore' until October, but I'm signing up for early registration now..that's if I can get the website to accept my e-mail address!

What do you think about the concept of 'Pottermore'?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

(Not So) Wordless Wednesday

After my disaster with a tomato plant, I was given these cuttings of two different geraniums and another plant (I'm not a gardener, can't you tell?!)to try and grow. I have to wait for the roots to grow in, before I pot them in soil and this tonic water bottle, seems a good temporary home. Fingers crossed they don't die on me...

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Sunday Snippet -Kate Atkinson Special

I hate insomnia. It's so frustrating laying in bed, willing myself to go to sleep because I feel so tired and ......nothing. I mostly blame the heat that we have been having lately. This is all brilliant during the day, but at night, I would prefer not to sleep in a sauna-like room.

I also blame the fact that last night, whilst I was at the town food/show, I decided to devour this mountain of candy floss (or cotton candy), causing a sugar rush and so, not helping the sleeping situation.

Nevertheless, I'm taking my dad out for lunch this afternoon as part of his Father's Day gift, I'll crash out later no doubt. Anyway, enough of my sleeping habits and more about this week's snippet.

Tonight (BBC 9pm), sees the fifth of six programmes in the 'Case Histories' series. This time, it's the first part of an adaptation of Kate Atkinson's novel 'When Will There Be Good News?' which sees Private Investigator Jackson Brodie, involved in a terrible train crash. As usual, the story involves several strands of story, weaved together and I'll be interested to see if this fifth programme, will be as good as the previous ones.

I had planned to choose a 'snippet' from this book. Unfortunately 'When Will There Be Good News?' is one of the books that has been left on my book shelves, in our own flat (we're still renting....long story!). I also can't seem to find any 'Read Inside' for this novel on Amazon, so I can take a quote from there.

So as a change from the usual, I thought that I would talk more about the book I'm reading, 'The Pillars Of The Earth' by Ken Follett. As you can see, by the 'Reading Progress' counter that I have recently installed on the blog, I'm about half (or a bit more)of the way through this novel and I'm really enjoying it. I had slight reservations as to whether or not I would be able to stick with this novel, but I have found that the more I read of this novel, the more that I am enjoying it. I don't know how long it will be before I finish this novel, but I will try and post a review of this as soon as I can get through the pages! I will post my thoughts on 'When Will There Be Good News?' in the next few days. Here's the 'snippet':

Page 576- 'He had worshipped her from a distance for years. His abiding picture of her was from the first time he had seen her, as she came down the stairs to the hall at Earlscastle, and he had thought she must be a princess in a story.'

'The Pillars Of The Earth' by Ken Follett

Whatever you're doing this 'Father's Day' or Sunday, if you're not celebrating this today have a great time.

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Harry Potter News

Those of you who are Harry Potter fans may have noticed, that over the last few days, a new website has appeared on the internet.

This site is definitely connected with J.K Rowling, the author of the 'Harry Potter' novels, but it only shows a count down, to when the announce will be made. The only other piece of information confirmed, is that 'Pottermore' is nothing to do with another Potter novel. So what could it be?

Whilst you consider the possibilities of this mysterious news, the official trailer for the final film in the Potter series 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2' has just been released and I don't know about you, but it makes me very excited:

What do you think this new announcement could be? What do you think of the 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2' trailer?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

'One Good Turn- Television Adaption (Review)

Over the last two nights, the BBC have shown another in their series of adaptions of Kate Atkinson's 'Jackson Brodie' novels.

'One Good Turn' involves a serious attack, a man critically ill after a heart attack and the investigation into a prostitute, washed up by the sea.

This two parter was equally as compelling as 'Case Histories'.The newer characters were well cast and I felt that there was an even greater development, with Jackson and some of the other characters who
featured in the previous episodes. I also felt that the set up to the story was much slicker than in 'Case Histories' and overall, this was much more exciting than the previous two episodes.

I also think that the producers made a clever choice, by placing all of this series within Edinburgh. This is because, and I may have said this in my review of 'Case Histories', by containing the programmes within one place, the four programmes felt more like a series instead of being adaptations of two, completely separate novels.

Slight criticisms I have to make about 'One Good Turn', are that there were several changes in the order of events, which took place in the television adaptation. There was no sign of the 'Edinburgh Festival', in which the brutal attack takes place in the book. I think that this was disappointing, because I found that by placing the attack in the queue of a show at the 'Edinburgh Festival',the way in which Atkinson explores
the people's lives within that queue, in my opinion, was a dynamic approach to the story.

Another minor element, but the producers completely missed out the storyline with DI Louise Munroe's Archie being led astray by his friend. Instead, I found the character of Archie to be uninteresting.

The television adaption of 'One Good Turn' had some faults, but overall, I thought that this was very entertaining and gripping. When I first blogged about the BBC's adaptions of the 'Jackson Brodie' novels, I was only aware that they were going to tackle two of the books. However, looking at the BBC webpage for this series, I'm excited to see that there is going to be another two parter of another Jackson Brodie novel, called 'When will There be Good News?' beginning on Sunday.I'm really looking forward to it!

Have you seen the television of 'One Good Turn'? What are your thoughts on this?

Monday, June 13, 2011

New Reads

I don't need any more new books. I'm only just half my way throught Ken Follett's 'The Pillars of The Earth' and I have a few more books waiting to be read on my book shelves. However, I couldn't help but order some more:

I've never read anything from Jackie Collins, because I just assumed that her novels are trashy and awful. However, I have seen a lot of press about 'The Goddess Of Vengeance' and it seems to have been received well. So I've decided to give this one a try. After finally finishing 'The Pillars Of The Earth' , I thought that it might be a good idea to read something less heavy going and fun, so this might do the job. It's still rather a lengthy book by the look of it though!

I must confess, that I don't know anything about this second book. The reason that I have bought this, is because fom time to time, I take part in an online book group on the 'Book Group Online' website. Sometimes I think that it is good to read books that you haven't heard of before. I have made some good book discoveries this way, so I hope that I'm going to enjoy this one.

I know that I said that a review of part one of the television adaptation of 'One Good Turn' would appear on the blog today. However, I have been having such a good time with my friend Aguja this morning, that I haven't had time to watch the programme. I think what I will do, is wait until I have seen both programmes and comment on them both in one review.

Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Sunday Snippet - Kate Atkinson Special

Tonight at 9pm on BBC1, sees the first in a two parter, of another Kate Atkinson 'Jackson Brodie' novel called 'One Good Turn'.

'One Good Turn' centers around a brutal attack on a man named Paul Bradley, whilst he is queueing for a performance at the 'Edinburgh Festival.' Not only does this novel focus on what happened to Paul Bradley, but also how the event effects several of the other people in the queue.

This time, not only does private investigator Jackson Brodie become involved in this storyline, but also one that sees him discover a woman's body, washed up on the rocks by the tide.

Judging by last week's adaptation of 'Case Histories' I'm really looking forward to watching the next two programmes. Like last week, I will post some thoughts on this adaptation. For now, here's a snippet of 'One Good Turn' :

Page 17: 'The rain had in no way deterred the crowds-it had never occurred to him that Edinburgh was in the middle of 'the Festival' and that there would be carnival hordes of people milling around as if the end of a war had just been declared.'

'One Good Turn' by Kate Atkinson

If you are going to watch 'One Good Turn' later tonight, I'd be interested to hear what you think about this. Nevertheless whatever you are up to today, I hope that you enjoy the rest of the weekend.

Happy Sunday!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

'Case Histories' TV Adaptation Part 2- Review

Last night was the second episode, of a two part adaptation of Kate Atkinson's novel 'Case Histories'.

In my opinion, this second episode was a lot better than the first. The story felt less choppy than the previous episode and we had more of a chance to get to know the characters, particularly Brodie. The episode was very touching at times and there was more humour than the first episode.

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, the actors in this series are well cast and believeable. Even though the setting of this series has been changed from Cambridge (in the original books) to Edinburgh (click here to read the reasons why the author Kate Atkinson approved this change), I felt that this didn't matter as much as I thought it might, because the backdrop to this series is beautiful and fitted the drama of the story.

As I said before, a television version of the 'Jackson Brodie' novels are never going to be quite as good as the books, but I'm hoping that after the next two episodes, an adaptation of another of Kate Atkinson's 'Jackson Brodie' novels called 'One Good Turn', this will mean that more of Atkinson's novels will be adapted in future. I'll post a review of third episode of this series, on Monday.

What are your thoughts on this series? Did you feel that it is were faithful to the novels? Did the change of location bother you? I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on this.

Monday, June 6, 2011

'Case Histories' TV Adaption- Review

Yesterday I mentioned feeling nervous about watching the first episode of 'Case Histories' a T.V adaptation of a Kate Atkinson book, of the same name. Well, I'm pleased to say that so far, this adaption is a success.

The first programme saw the introduction of Jackson Brodie, a private investigator who, whilst helping an eccentric woman called Binkie Rain find her missing cat, becomes inadvertently involved with the search for Olivia, the youngest of the Land sisters. Whilst clearing their deceased father's house next door, sisters Amelia and Julia, find a blue rabbit belonging to their sister who has been missing for over 30 years. This provokes them into reopening the case, to find out what happened to Olivia.

Also, a man named Theo Wyre employs Jackson to find the person who killed his daughter Laura, during an incident with a person who burst in her father's office looking for Theo.

Throughout all of this, we see Jackson struggling to look after his daughter, keep on good terms with his ex-wife Josie and also to fulfill his personal mission, to find out who killed his sister.

Before watching this, I was concerned that the producers of this series would change the multi-layered plot of the book, to a more conventional linear story. I'm pleased to say that they did not shy away from this and I found the first episode extremely compelling. The story stuck quite closely to the text and it didn't feel, as a Jackson Brodie fan, that I was being cheated in any way. The only thing that I would say, is that although the plot kept the multiple plots that the book has, at times it felt a little rushed. However, due to the time constrains of an hour per programme, it would have been impossible to explore every element of the story, as thoroughly as the books. I also felt that this was beautifully shot.

What stood out for me, were the characters. They stuck closely to the original text and I think that Jason Issacs is a perfect actor to play Jackson Brodie. He's both sensitive and tough, with the same sort of humour as the 'Jackson' in the books has. I particularly liked the relationship that Jackson has with his daughter Marlee. I also found Jackson Brodie to be rather sexy, an element that isn't particularly shown in the it all right to fancy a fictitious character?!

The television version of 'Case Histories' is never going to be as good as the book, due to the quirky nature of Kate Atkinson's writing, but I'm really happy to say that the series is doing the novel justice. For those who haven't read 'Case Histories', I would suggest that you read it before watching this, because I think if you are not familiar with the characters, you may be a bit confused.

Overall, this is a compelling entertaining adaptation of 'Case Histories' and I'm looking forward to the second episode tonight.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Sunday Snippet - Kate Atkinson Special

I have a mixture of excitement and nerves this morning. The reason is because tonight on BBC 1 (9pm U.K time) sees the start of a 4 part series of TV adaptations of 2 Kate Atkinson books.

I'm always a bit skeptical when books are adapted for either the big or small screen. The reason is because very rarely have I seen a T.V or film adaptation, which has been as good as the book. Whether it's because the actors cast for the characters are wrong or the directors of the works have committed the ultimate crime, of vastly changing big chunks of the original text, I've never felt satisfied with the result.

Kate Atkinson is one of my favourite writers, so I'm nervous about how her intricately woven plots and subtle humour is going to come across on screen.

With this series, what I'm particularly worried about, is that these books are going to be changed into conventional crime stories. Not being a fan of traditional crime/mystery novels like those written by Agatha Christie or Ruth Rendall, I love Kate Atkinson's 'Jackson Brodie' series because they are full of humour and a great insight into people. Where as most crime stories use a detective such as Poirot or Wexford to solve the crimes, Brodie accidentally finds himself involved in the situations in each book and in essence, is a normal man trying to get through a messy divorce and bring up his daughter Marlee.

The first two programmes in the series, are going to focus of Atkinson's book 'Case Histories'. The story centers around an investigation into the disappearance of three-year-old Oliva, after 30 years and the death of a young secretary. Bringing these two events together is Jackson Brodie, a private investigator with a complicated personal life.

Playing the role of Jackson is Jason Issacs, who Harry Potter fans (of which I'm one) will know, that he plays the evil Lucius Malfoy in the series.

I think that this is a good choice of actor, because in my opinion he is a great actor and he fits the image I have in my head of Jackson. Only time will tell whether he and other actors cast in this, will suit their characters.

In anticipation for each of these programmes, there will a special series of 'Sunday Snippets' which gives a taster of the two books which have been adapted. Here's the first 'snippet':

Page 1: 'How lucky were they? A heat wave in the middle of the school holidays, exactly were it belonged. Every morning the sun was up long before they were, making a mockery of the flimsy summer curtains that hung limply at their bedroom windows, a sun already hot and sticky with promise before Olivia even opened her eyes.'

'Case Histories'- Kate Atkinson

I apologize to those in the U.S who are reading this and are unable to watch this series. I hope that this set of programmes will be aired where you are soon.

Nevertheless, every Monday I will be posting my thoughts on each episode, so you won't miss out.

What are your thoughts on this series? Will you be watching? For those who can't watch this, what do you think of book adaptations in general and which has been your favourite?

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Exciting 'Violet Jelly' News

Some of you may know, my friend and fellow blogger Aguja (who writes the 'Wordstitcher' blog), is in the process of writing a trilogy of books for children.

The 'Violet Jelly' series is adventure based, set both in Reality and Cyberspace. They are aimed at children from ages 8-10 (although they also appeal too adults too!) and feature wonderful, colourful characters and an exciting plot. Not only that, 'Violet Jelly' encourages children to read and expand their vocabulary.

The first book in the series 'Violet Jelly' is available illustrated and unillustrated on both or on, but now I'm pleased to announce that an unillustrated version of 'Violet Jelly' is also available on Amazon UK.