Man Of Steel – Review

NOTE: I will attempt to keep this as spoiler free as possible! No major plot points are given away during this review. If you have watched the trailers, you should be fine to continue!

The newest attempt at creating a decent Superman film is out and yesterday I went to see it. So how does “Man Of Steel” stack up? Is it a super attempt at re-establishing Superman’s place amongst the recent titans of superhero films such as Iron Man and the Dark Knight trilogy, or is it simply the kryptonite to cinema goers everywhere that will leave you squirming in your seats, powerless to do anything to stop the terrible, terrible pain that it’s putting you through?

Jumping right in, we start the film following Superman’s father Jor-El during the dying days of Krypton. Russell Crowe is absolutely brilliant as Jor-El, settling right into the role. This, combined with the casting of Henry Cavill as Kal-El/Superman shows that the producers clearly know how to cast a movie. Following the destruction of Krypton, we see Clark Kent working various jobs in various places, saving those in need and then moving on to maintain his anonymity. This section is peppered with flashbacks to Clark’s childhood and we get to see him coping with his powers. Diane Lane and Kevin Costner as the Kents are yet another inspired piece of casting, with Costner being the exact image of Jonathon Kent that you expect someone with as strong an ethical compass as Superman to be raised by.

Clark discovering his past, meeting Lois Lane and being tracked down her keeps the movie ticking along comfortably, with some fantastic scenes between Amy Adams and Henry Cavill setting up a spark of romance that could easily be furthered in any future sequels. I particularly enjoyed the brief moments of humour in the scenes with Superman learning how to fly and then being interrogated by the FBI. This film isn’t the comedic take to superhero action that one might expect from an Iron Man film though, the humour is sparse, focusing on a more solemn story of Superman’s origins.

Man of Steel also serves as a slight Matrix reunion for fanboys such as myself with both Laurence Fishburne, playing Daily Planet editor Perry White, and Harry Lennix, as General Swanwick, being part of the supporting cast. Sadly, these two characters never meet and we never have a discussion about the fate of Zion Metropolis or the powers of The One Superman. Shame.

All in all, I thought the film was amazing. Lovely visual effects, great casting, a story that really draws you in and villains that actually feel just a touch villainous. It really was a brilliant film.

Until the last 40 minutes.

When General Zod comes to Earth all of the previous scenes in the movie are wiped completely from the viewer’s minds as we embark of 40 minutes of destruction, culminating in a final confrontation between Zod and Supes. This 40 minutes is LOUD. I know cinemas are usually above the average volume you might normally watch a movie at, but this was taken to another level. Buildings falling down, cars exploding, missiles being fired, the whole of Metropolis is pretty much at threat of becoming a pile of ash, with a large amount of it ending up so. They try to hide the fact that whilst you might see a lot of people escaping the buildings and cars, most of them wouldn’t have made it out and that leads to thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of people that you just know are dead when that flaming train is launched through the side of a building.

All in all, whilst the relentless final third of the film does detract somewhat from the overall effect, this was in no way a bad film. It just could have been better. The aspect of morality and choice that Superman has makes him a much more relatable and much more human character than he has often been portrayed as and whilst many people may not like that, I think it adds a touch more depth to the series and (hopefully) paves the way for the DC shared universe of films, just like the Marvel counterpart.

If you like superhero movies you’ll love this. If you can forgive the ending for being a bit action heavy then you’ll surely agree that it’s a great film that just could have done with a little more forethought towards the pacing.

OVERALL VERDICT: 8/10

Good, solid film let down slightly by the rather action heavy final third. Hopefully any sequels will only improve upon this. Definitely worth a watch.

 

Guest Blog: Sarah PJ White on Books

Today we have a special post: my first ever guest blogger here on Eat, Sleep, Procrastinate! Sarah PJ White is the author of The Last Angel, which I previously reviewed here. Currently, Sarah is undergoing a blog tour to promote the book which is now out in paperback as well as ebook format. As a part of this blog tour, I asked her to speak a bit about her favourtie books. If you would like to get yourself a copy of The Last Angel or any of Sarah’s other works then links can be found at the end of her post!

I’m delighted to accept Rob’s request to guest on his blog, as part of ‘The Last Angel’ blog tour. The tour will be running for the whole of March, and I will be appearing on various sites – some in the form of author interview, maybe the odd book review and others – like this post – will be specific subjects given to me by the blog host.

So, without further ado, I’d like to share my list of Ten Favourite Books.

1.       Conversations with God: Book One– Neale Donald Walcsh

This book was a complete eye-opener for me; it really casts a new light on the whole religious community and lifts a lot of the myths about heaven, hell & the fear surrounding faith.

2.       Fluke – James Herbert

Brilliant story, well written, totally draws you in – made me cry!

3.       Christine – Stephen King

King writes books that scare the pants off me, Christine & Pet Cemetery to name a few. He is a master of fiction, pace and, even with his non-fiction book ‘On Writing’ – he’s an inspiration.

4.       Unlimited Power – Anthony Robbins

This is one of many inspirational books I have, so it was difficult to just pick one! Although this is quite a long book, it’s a great read – I read it when I was having quite a ‘down’ moment in my life – then read it again to implement the strategies within it.

5.       The Left Behind Series – Tim F LaHay & Jerry B Jenkins

This series is great for asking the question ‘what if?’ It’s based around the idea that the ‘chosen ones’ are taken suddenly from the planet – and what happens to those left behind to deal with the aftermath. My only criticism of this series was that, in my eyes they tried to stretch it out a tad too much. Instead of just leaving it to deal with the aftermath of those people being taken, they wrote one more book that got too religious (Glorious Awakening).

6.       Tell Me Your Dreams – Sidney Sheldon

I’ve read a lot of Sidney Sheldon books and this one is one of the best! I love the idea, the pace and the twist at the end – it certainly made the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end!

7.       The Secret History of the World – Jonathan Black

I like any conspiracy book and this one, on the background to secret societies is great!

8.       Write Time: Guide to the Creative Process, from vision through revision – and beyond – Kenneth Atchity

In this book I finally found an easy to read book that really describes the idea of creativity – and how to handle it – in an easy to understand fashion. Totally recommend this for anyone who is thinking of going into the writing business.

9.       Women’s Murder Club series – James Patterson

I love this whole series. Patterson is a genius at creating characters that are great for longevity, as well as a business masterstroke by stretching each character to their full potential. The fact that it’s written about a group of independent, strong women is an absolute bonus!

10.   When The Wind Blows – James Patterson

Powerful book, written by an author I totally admire. Although the idea of experiments on children was horrifying, the story itself is a brilliant piece of imagination. I also love the fact that Patterson showed his business head by expanding it, not only with a follow up (The Lake House) but also by creating a separate YA series (The Max Series).

My Thanks

I’d like to extend my thanks to Rob Hall for agreeing to be part of my blog tour, and for allowing me to guest post on his blog – I hope you all enjoyed it.

Where To Buy The Last Angel & Contact Sarah

If you’d like to contact me, you can do so through my website:

http://sarahpjwhite.com/

You can buy The Last Angel from Smashwords and Amazon, through the following links:

The Last Angel on UK Amazon

http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Last-Angel-Account-Trilogy/dp/0957367929/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1361998788&sr=8-1

The Last Angel on US Amazon

http://www.amazon.com/The-Last-Angel-Account-Trilogy/dp/0957367929/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1361998830&sr=8-3

The Self Confidence & Self Esteem Bible on UK Amazon

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Self-Confidence-Esteem-Bible-Understanding/dp/0957367902/ref=la_B006A5Q0KS_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1361998924&sr=1-2

The Self Confidence & Self Esteem Bible on US Amazon

http://www.amazon.com/Self-Confidence-Esteem-Bible-Understanding/dp/0957367902/ref=la_B006A5Q0KS_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1361998902&sr=1-1

‘Fifty Shades Darker’ Review

Fifty Darker

I’m going to start this review with a direct quote from the book:

“Wouldn’t you rather have a cup of tea?”

The answer to that is, of course, yes. Yes I would much rather have sat and drunk a thousand cups of tea than go through the mental torture that this book has inflicted upon me, but alas, I didn’t.

If you weren’t around over the summer months, or if you have a memory like a sieve, then you might not know that I put myself through the burning, soul destroying mental torturefest challenge of reading the hottest book in the world at that time, ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’. You can find my write up of that experience right here: Click at your own peril – includes Fifty Shades content!  Seven months on, I felt like I was ready to take the icy plunge into the cool steel gaze of multi billionaire CEO, philanthropist and deviant, Christian Grey.

*DISCLAIMER: THIS CONTAINS “SPOILERS” BUT THE BOOK ISN’T THAT GOOD ANYWAY, SO I’D JUST READ ON IF I WERE YOU, REGARDLESS.*

Picking up 3 days after the absolutely nail biting climax of the last book where main character and instantly irritating shrew, Ana, stormed out on Christian after deciding he was too weird for her, we get to see how Ana completely fails to deal with her recent break up. Like any cliche, Ana stops eating and starves herself, forcing herself through the motions at her new job, which she never seems to do any real work at but we’ll get to that later. Ana spends a lot of the first chapter moping about how much she misses Christian, even though she was the one who stormed out and left him. EL James, the horror architect author also keeps swapping the way she spells “gray” flipping between a and e throughout the book. I feel like a proofread was needed here.

Anyway, in true doormat form, Ana sees she has an email from Christian, asking her if she wanted to go to her friend Jose’s art show with him. You know Jose? That character that suddenly disappeared halfway through the first book? No? Don’t worry he flits in and out of this one too! Anyway, Ana accepts and spends the next 4 pages or there about worrying about seeing Christian. Quite frankly, what are you doing Ana? You’ve been broken up for like 4 days, this is not healthy. Grow up and get some common sense.

Skipping through vast swathes of this book. Ana and Christian get back together, they email a lot when Ana should be working (seriously, she does nothing other than email her boyfriend ALL day! How has she not been fired?), Christian buys her extravagant gifts and the most pointless sub plot of his crazy ex-submissive coming after Ana and him gets introduced. Honestly I don’t think there’s been a more forced strand to a story in a long while, possibly ever in fact!

After a few chapters about a charity ball, which pass in relative obscurity we end up with Christian going top-notch super crazy and asking Ana to marry him (yes I’m skipping a lot. you would too if you had to write about it.). Obviously, she says she needs time to think as she’s only known him for 5 weeks and he is nuttier than rat crap at a pistachio factory. He then goes super mental and becomes a submissive, asking her if that’s what she wants and the whole book takes a turn for the odd.

Anyway, skipping forward again, we get treated to the absolute JOY that is the return of “the tenacious Katherine Kavanagh” possibly the worst supporting character in a novel ever. If only she had been written out permanently. On the bright side though, Jose returns for a few chapters before disappearing into obscurity once again.

There’s a helicopter crash, a lot of crying and a birthday party and then we find out that Ana was being cruel by not giving Christian’s proposal a real answer because she gave him a present that he wasn’t allowed to open until his birthday, which turned out to be a keyring with a big YES in flashing lights on it. Talk about torturing a guy!

Anyway, the book ends with Christian giving Ana a truly romantic proposal, then we get a small epilogue section featuring Ana’s old boss, who Christian violently assaulted with no repercussions whatsoever and who caused the helicopter crash, contemplating murder again and foreshadowing the next book. So you know it’s going to be a light-hearted finish to the trilogy!

In summary, it’s more of the same but at least James is trying to give Christian some depth, which he needs as Ana has so little. I felt that the book picked up a bit in the second half, after we got rid of the boring, crazy ex sub-plot. That said, I wouldn’t hurry to read it again. In fact, I doubt I’ll ever think about reading it again.

I’ll probably get around to reading the last book at some point, I’ve come this far so it seems silly not to. I wouldn’t hold your breath and expect it any time soon though…

Now if you’ll excuse me I’m off to read something mentally stimulating, not mentally crushing.

‘The Last Angel’ by Sarah PJ White – Review

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‘The Last Angel’ is a novel by the mum of a friend of mine so you may be forgiven for thinking that I am going to be biased in reviewing this book. I wold like to put it out there right now that this is NOT the case and anything that I write is from an unbiased point of view, based upon the book itself. Smashing, let’s begin.

Set in the quaint little town of Thatcham (although I sense this is a stylised version of the town, bearing the same name and geographical location) The Last Angel tells the story of Crystal Meadows, a seemingly ordinary girl who has just had the absolute joy of turning 21. Except, Crystal isn’t just an ordinary girl. She’s an Angel. In fact, she’s the Last Angel, the only remnant of a purge ordered by The Others, an overarching power of creation and control that become the faceless main antagonist of the story.

Crystal is the product of a relationship between her mother Izzy, a healah and her father Samuel, a flyah. These roles are part of the caste system of enlightened human beings on earth that have been made aware of their powers by The Others, so that they can perform tasks for them when necessary. The third full blood cast, the digahs form the ‘grunt’ troop of The Others and serve as the main weapon of this faceless enemy. I know, it’s a lot to get your head around in a short time but White paces the story well to prevent too much confusion, with Crystal learning as we do exactly what is going on in her world.

As the story progresses, we meet a host of supporting characters including my favourite character in the story, Nathan – a flyah friend of Izzy and Samuel, who for some reason I can’t picture as anyone other than Woody Harrelson as Haymitch in the Hunger Games films. Frank, the religious zealot father of best friend Emily is also introduced and becomes a key foil to the best laid plans of Crystal and co. with White clearly setting him up for greater things in the second book. Despite my best efforts, I couldn’t connect with the character of Frank, finding it hard to believe that anybody that devoted their life so wholly to following the word of God could be quite as despicable and loathsome as he is. That being said, I still managed to picture him as Nicholas Cage in ‘Kick Ass’ but creepier.

As the story plots on, Crystal becomes more aware of her abilities and learns to control hem, after being entrusted with The Account – the true story of creation. It was prophesied that an Angel would set into motion the enlightenment of the world and the downfall of The Others and, with her being the only one left, it appears that Crystal has become the one to fulfil the prophecy. We also see Crystal begin a relationship with her boss, Tony the American, who I believe is quite an underdeveloped character, but I get the feeling that we haven’t seen the last of him and I have my suspicions that he may have a darker agenda than just dating Crystal; we will have to wait for the second book and see.

Overall, The Last Angel is an entertaining read, I was able to skip through it at a comfortable pace in just three evenings, with no feeling that the story was dragging or being filled with pointless padding, just to up the page count. My disappointment with the book came with the spelling and grammar mistakes in the book, with it having more than I would have liked to have seen, but as I’m sure those of you that read my posts before I have a chance to go back through them and triple check will know, I have no leg to stand on about this. Other than that tiny gripe, I thoroughly enjoyed myself with The Last Angel and if anybody Is looking for an affordable Ebook then I would recommend you go and grab yourself a copy before the second part of trilogy is released and you have to pay catch up!

Overall Rating:

Overall, I give The Last Angel eight happy llamas, out of ten. It’s a good book, well written and nicely paced. Well deserved!

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8 of these bad boys go to Sarah PJ White and her book ‘The Last Angel’

Literary Hell

I’ve read a lot of books over the years. As a consequence of this, I have therefore read quite a few utterly terrible books. The rule seems to be that for every 3 books that you find that are great, you will find one book so bad that it makes you want to scratch your eyes out so that you can’t read anything that bad ever again. These terrible books deserve to meet a horrible fate, the kind that is arranged in darkened rooms under bad lighting. Which lead to me think of the BBC TV show “Room 101”. For those of you that don’t know what I’m talking about, here’s a wikipedia entry for the show:

“Room 101 is a BBC comedy television series based on the radio series of the same name, in which celebrities are invited to discuss their pet hates and persuade the host to consign them to a fate worse than death in Room 101, named after the torture room in the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, which is itself named after a meeting room in the BBC Broadcasting House where Orwell would sit through tedious meetings”

So let me introduce you to the first installment of “Literary Hell” the place that bad books go to die!

First up, and I know it’s the easiest book series to hate and lambast, BUT:

The Twilight Saga
I have the unfortunate accolade of having read the entire saga and I must say, I wish I hadn’t. Without mentioning the films (which are even worse, if that’s even possible!) the Twilight saga was a bland, unstructured bloke of prose that featured a character that was only unforgettable because of how utterly shapeless and devoid of any detail and emotion she is. The books read like a madman spewing gibberish at you in the street, with very few coherent parts that added up to make a thoroughly underwhelming plot. Spoiler Alert: Nothing Happens! The first two books are about love and loss, the third book features a battle between a vampire army and a smaller group of “friendly” vampires which we don’t see because we’re focussed on Bella and her non-adventures and the final book builds up to a gigantic confrontation that doesn’t happen and is resolved peacefully and with love and care. Utter, utter garbage. Dracula would be turning in his grave if he could see how people use the word “Vampire” nowadays (well, he would be if it wasn’t for that stake stopping him ;D ).

Mockingjay
I’ve mentioned before (here to be precise) how much I enjoyed the first Hunger Games book. The second installment wasn’t as good, but I could live with it. However, the third and final part of the trilogy was such an unadulturated crime against humanity that it’s a shock how it got through the publishers! Mockingjay takes every good aspect of the first two books and makes them awful, putting Katniss into an utterly unbelievable war setting and robbing her and the other main characters of everything that made you love them in the first few books. Marginally better than the Twilight Saga, but come on, that’s not something to be boasting about…

Fifty Shades of Grey
Oh yes. The big book of the moment, the one that everyone is talking about and hailing as amazing. Surprise, surprise, I have something bad to say about it. Now, whilst I haven’t read the ACTUAL book, I HAVE read the majority of the original ‘FanFiction’ that eventually became the book, oddly titled “Master of the Universe”. Let me tell you, don’t ever read this. If you do, you will want to rip off your skin in an effort to feel something more painful than reading it. You will never find anything more painful, not even getting kicked in the nuts. Fifty Shades of Grey was originally a “FanFiction” of the Twilight Saga, in which Bella, a student, meets Edward, who is a CEO of a massive corporation, in an interview and then  signs her life away before realising that he loves BDSM and whatever. The entire premise of the book is flawed from the start, like trying to polish a turd, you cannot make Twilight better. The real kicker, however, comes in the form of the actual writing style. The overuse of elipses between each statement is possibly my least favourite new writing trend, making everything seem like one big run-on sentence. The dialogue is so hammy that i would avoid it if you like to keep Kosher and the only thing that seems to have changed between the transition from “Poorly writtien Twilight FanFictition” to “Published Poorly writtien Twilight FanFictition” are the names given to each of the main characters. Avoid this book at all costs, it will devour your soul.

If you’re up for a challenge, I’ll include a link to the “Read Online” version of Master of the Universe. not for the faint hearted.
Possibly the worst thing to happen to literature, ever.

I hope you enjoyed the first installment of Literary Hell, I’ll be back with more once I’ve read some more incredibly bad books!

Book Reviews: The Hunger Games Trilogy

This might seem a little behind the times, seeing as almost everyone has now seen the film and probably read the books, but here is my own little review for you.

The Hunger Games is the trilogy of books that everyone has been talking about recently. Written by Suzanne Collins the books have been read by millions of people worldwide and topped numerous best seller lists. The film adaptation of the first book in the trilogy has had success in multiple countries. Truly these books are seen to be something special.

So why am I going against all of this to say to you that in my opinion: ‘The Hunger Games’ was alright.

I’m  not going to rail against the books for being a travesty of modern fiction because, when all is said and done, they were a good read. The story itself was captivating and you wanted to read more, to find out what happened to Katniss – the series protagonist. The setting; the great, post apocolyptic nation of Panem; was intriguing and offered a stark contrast to some of the dystopian-set books that I’ve read. At least at first. I mean, the first book in the series, The Hunger Games, was a good read and an interesting story (if quite similar to many other stories that are out there already. Battle Royale anyone?) and I found the book difficult to put down at times. So with great expectations i set about reading Catching Fire and Mockingjay, the second and third titles in the series. It was right here that I got let down.

The sequels were just that. Sequels that just were’nt good enough to be books in their won right. All throughout Catching Fire I had the feeling that this was nothing but an overlong prologue for the third book. That the entire purpose of the second book was to pave the way for the third book and not provide any character development whilst doing it. The third book, Mockingjay, wasn’t much better. It tried to be a war story, but it didn’t do a very good job at it.

Overall, I found the trilogy to be a bit of a disappointment after the first book. Don’t get me wrong, it was still enjoyable and readable but after the expectations that were given to me by the reccommendations of almost everybody that I know who read the books, I felt a little let down.

Overall, the trilogy gets a 7/10 with the first book deserving of a 9/10 on its own.

Book Reviews: Astin, Lane, Roth, Iggulden, Johnson

So I’m finally getting around to writing some small reviews of those books that I’ve finished reading. (More detail on the books that I’ve read and am planning on reading can be found on the “Reading List” tab, just up the top there…)

There and Back Again: An Actors Tale – Sean Astin
This book was really quite interesting to read. As an avid Tolkein fanboy, I’m always looking for new insights and tidbits into the worlds he created. Sean Astin’s book does just that, amongst other things.
The book opens with a brief look at Seans life leading up to the films, after he was a child actor (The Goonies, though mentioned a few times, aren’t explained in vivid detail. Something I can only be thankful for). It provides a good look at some of the behind the scenes stuff with LoTR and how he felt as an actor whilst filming it.
At times, it seems as though Astin is a bit of a petulant child, moaning about how Ian McKellen never had that much time for him personally, amongst other things. That said, it’s refreshing that Astin acknowledges this and admits it is one of his flaws. All in all, a good book for Tolkein fans!

Life on the Edge – Keith Lane
Keith Lane is not a writer. He is just a man that walked along the cliffs where his wife killed herself, everyday. Keith Lane also saved a lot of lives. In his book, Lane shares his feelings and experience of everything that happened to him, from meeting wife Maggie, to her tragic demise and on to becoming the ‘hero’ that he is. I use inverted commas there not because I don’t think of Keith as a hero but because I’m sure he wouldn’t think of himself that way. He’s just a guy that patrolled the cliffs. In a very poignant story Keith tells all and hopefully inspires people to try to be decent in their daily lives. A truly lovely, if a bit sad, read.

Divergent – Veronica Roth
A dystopian future, unlikely romance, violence and a shady conspiracy. What else is there to a smashing book? Roth delivers all in her novel about young teen Tris and the strange circumstances she finds herself in for being a bit different to everyone else. I have nothing else to say apart from: GO READ THIS BOOK!!!

Quantum of Tweed – Conn Iggulden
Albert Rossi, the gentlemans outfitter from Eastcote finds himself in the unlikely situation of becoming a hired assasin. A true parody of the Bond series, Quantum of Tweed grips you all the way through, with its only flaw being that it is much too short!

The Name of The Star – Maureen Johnson
Every now and then, a book really grabs you and won’t let go. It starts screaming at you when you aren’t reading it, because you SHOULD be reading it. This is one of those books. TNoTS is chilling, funny and just downright spectacular. I thought it may be a bit girly for me, it’s told from the perspective of a teenage girl at a London boarding school, but I was shocked by how un-girly it was. A new Ripper terrorises London, following in the footsteps of old Saucy Jack, the original Ripper (I’m aware that made him sound a bit more ‘gangsta’ than he needed to be…). Terror breaks out and Rory, our protagonist, is in the middle of it all! Is the Ripper caught? Does Rory survive? If you want to know, or even if you don’t want to know, READ THIS BOOK! You will thank me later.