Saturday, 7 January 2017

#TheHitchHikersGuideToTheGalaxy Mini spoiler free review

I've been meaning to get around to reading The Hitch-hikers guide to the galaxy, as being an avid fan of all things nonsensical, witty and sci-fi, it sounds like a book that could've been written bespoke for me. That being said, I actually knew very little about it, other than what I've said already. I'd not seen the film and I've never read anything else by Douglas Adams before.

Now I've finished my second book of 2017 I'm glad to have given it a go. It's a short story about how life came to be, and how it came to not be... and is full of strange, far-away places, races and oddities. It's complete nonsense, yet somehow makes utter sense in it's own miraculous silli-verse - as if Monty Python had gotten together and written a space story. I half imagined witty cartoon cutaways as the descriptions from time to time.

Arthur, our main character, is saved from the desturction of planet Earth only by some impossible coincidence, having incidentally befriended a socially awkward alien on Earth and making a much needed trip to the pub before our speck of blue became obliterated by an alien race. Then, by many more unfathomable coincidences, meeting a 2 headed alien president; another earth evacuee, a socially depressive android and a pair of super intelligent white mice from an alternate dimension, the story attempts to deal with the galaxies seemingly never ending question - What is the meaning to life, existence and everything?

It turns out, the answer is rather unexpected, but not half as unexpected as the question.

In tradition, I'll avoid and further spoilers, but just say the book was incredibly easy to read - It's only short and the levity of the story had me in smiles frequently. The explanations, whilst bizarre do at least make sense within the context of this book and the sheer improbable nature of it all makes this silly fantasy read very enjoyable.

I also assumed that it would've dated badly, but coming to it in 2017 it still felt imaginative and a fresh read.

I'd recommend to fans of Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Space, and good comedic writing - but not someone who likes something straight forward making sense in the context of our own existence...

Book two of 2017, I have done you!

Thanks for reading. Next up, some Bill Bryson!

Friday, 6 January 2017

#FoxgloveSummer (Rivers of London 5) by #BenAaronovitch spoiler free mini review

The latest in the Rivers of London series without buying a giant hardback, Foxglove Summer sees the story follow an ever improving police detective and warlock in training Peter Grant, as this time he moves away from London and into the rural wilds of Herefordshire, where he begins to investigate the mysterious disappearance of 2 young girls. As expected, it soon becomes apparent that something in the realms of the magical has had some influence in the disappearance, hence Grant's involvement as the investigations resident wizard.

In an effort to remain spoiler free, I won't delve into the plot. I really enjoyed the shift in location into the countryside, and find the descriptions of the hot summer days and the sprawling countryside and forests to completely absorb me into the environment. I felt this book was similar to that of The Prisoner Of Azkaban in the Harry Potter Series, as in the plot is an exceptionally well written story in it's own right, and rather than constantly weaving a sub plot throughout, just helps build upon an already convincing alternate reality. Old characters return, and more is learned of their histories but the focus here is very much on the mythical beings involved in some way, shape or form with the missing girls.

Incidentally, the creatures that are used in the story are again excellently described, really helping you to see them in your mind's eye. There's nothing incredibly original, but the way they're imagined is not necessarily how you would expect and helped keep things interesting.

The story also explores relationships well - the copper Grant liaises with in Herefordshire is one half of a gay couple, and Grant starts a semi-serious relationship with Beverly, who we know to be a River Goddess from previous books.

It's also clear Aaronvitch has done his research into the history of the area, often citing dates and known locations and often referring to the National Trust (despite some artistic license to assist with story development) and it feels like a lot of love has gone into the penmanship of Foxglove Summer.

I've really enjoyed all of the Rivers of London series, and I'm tempted to say this is my favourite since the first, but all are different enough in their own right to be just as enjoyable as the last. I thoroughly recommend this to all fans of good story telling, detective or fantasy fiction as well as the whole series.

Book 1 of 2017 finished! Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

@abbott_56 in 2016 on #Reading #RetroGaming and #Recovery

It's been an incredibly varied year for everyone & most will probably remember it for the negatives, such as the vast amount of celebrities we've tragically lost including David Bowie, Alan Rickman and most recently, Carrie Fisher.

Then we've had so many negative news stories, deaths in accidents; further escalations in Syria, terrorism; political uncertainties regarding the US elections and Brexit votes and so on. It certainly has been a rollercoaster of a year.

Of course, there are many good things about the year, too. In entertainment we've seen amazing new releases from the worlds of music, movies and more.

My year from an introspective point has been much the same for me, with many ups and downs. I'm still working on improving my mood and dealing with my eating issues, but feel that actually I've ended the year in a positive place, generally feeling better more of the time and being more sociable, allowing myself to treat (however rarely) and I've made steps to improve myself further through my work, my hobbies, my financial wellbeing and making general life improvements.

I began going to a group therapy session for people with eating disorders which has been really helpful. Knowing what you're going through isn't as stupid as you think because it's an illness and actually others are going through the same thing too has been no end of a comfort.

I've started seeing my friends a lot more, through trips to the theatre, cinema, places of interest and just down the pub. Highlights include the many National Trust properties, visiting Bristol and going to Budapest with my sister; the new Star Wars, David Brent and Hunt for the Wildermen films were all excellent and I've really enjoyed all theatre trips big and small.

I've really gotten back into my music, playing my flute in a local marching band, picking up my guitar more often and playing the piano more, too. I've also been to a shed load of live music, and I've seen big bands like Feeder, Spunge, Less Than Jake as well as local bands such as the Dead Sea Skulls and The Joy Formidable. I love going and always have a blast. I've listened to loads, too; I adored the new Bowie album this yea, and I've made even more of my Spotify subscription than usual through 2016.

I've done more gaming, which has pleased me as I went a long time acquiring games but not actually playing anything. I'm not bothered about playing things to a platinum trophy level of completion, but I'm aiming to finish more games in 2017 too, if only to the end of the main story. My most played entries from 2016 are probably Monster Hunter Generations, Okami, Kirby's Epic Yarn, Stella Glow and the countless retro games I keep going back to. I'll also continue to keep inhaling books at my current rate, and I've read some excellent stories this year, especially those from the Rivers Of London series from which I'm eagerly awaiting the paperback release of the most recent so my collection matches...

Finally, I feel I've made strides in my work, and despite not getting a job I went for my title at work has changed to reflect my responsibilities more accurately and I've convinced big bosses that the work I do was worth a pay rise, so I feel my career trajectory is on the up.

Though the bad moments tend to take a very sheer drop, I find these are fewer and further between and this blog is really just a small effort to note down what I'm thankful for this year. I love my friends, my family and when it comes to it, no matter how small it may seem to some I believe I've achieved a lot.

Not only that, my friends and family are also doing exceptionally well in their lives with their careers, interests and life plans which makes me even more grateful to simply know such amazing and talented people. Everyone I have the pleasure of meeting has helped me this year and I am eternally grateful, no matter how small you think you're influence may have been.

I hope to hear from you about your year. But if not, have a very happy 2017.

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