Polite notice: I don’t discuss anything in these reviews that isn’t available from blurbs and articles, and they’re more like recommendations. Going to post this in front of every Patreon post so you can proceed without worry that I’ll spoil it.
Review time! My second book is The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer, which my friend Robyn recommended to me – I think Nathan Filer teaches at her university. Regardless, I made a good choice to reserve it from the library, because I was into it enough that I finished it in about four days and didn’t really need to think about picking it back up.
That being said, it’s not the easiest story to read. I seem to remember hearing that Nathan Filer, who won the Costa Prize for the book, was inspired to tell the story when he was working in the mental health section of a hospital. I expected it to be a book about an insane asylum in the 20th century or something – it’s not. It’s a story about a guy called Matt, who tells us about his life, starting from when he’s about six to the present day, when he’s 19 or so. We meet his parents and, more importantly, his brother Simon, who features heavily despite dying in the first chapter.
So do I recommend it? Yes. You don’t often read stories about the sort of things Matt experiences that feel like a real person is talking to you. I sometimes feel like the author’s going a bit over-dramatic or one-sided or boring, but The Shock of the Fall is very rounded, and in places ifeels more like a thriller than anything else. It’s one of those books the people who decide NHS budgets should read, as well as anyone who considers metal illness something you choose. I do not, however, recommend you read it in public or to small children as there is both foul language and the possibility it will scare them, rather than educate them.
A few weeks ago I was having a day of a sort of freelancer sports day, which involves logging into a load of freelancer websites and applying for as many writing or blogging briefs as possible. Usually I shy away from product review articles, because I like Indifferent Ignorance to be my own space, and because I’m terrified I’ll find myself in Private Eye’s Street of Shame column, accidentally supporting a company that promotes the Westboro Baptists or something. A few weeks ago, though, there was a brief open to review Blood of Olympus, and to get a free hardback copy of the novel.
‘Twas like Athena herself was smiling upon me.
I’d worked out, see, that I could afford either the physical or Kindle version of the novel, but probably not both – and if I ordered the physical, I wouldn’t get it until after I came home from Greece. But the gods had spoken. Or the Internet had, anyway. I applied for the brief and got it (first time ever that’s happened, although the application was 99% me gushing about how I was planning on doing a post on the book anyway).
Since I’ve now downloaded, read and had a little dance about the novel, I reckon I’d better make good on my contract. Here is the advert, which I was told to include…
…and here is the link to purchase it on Amazon. Don’t forget that your local bookshop will almost definitely contain a copy, since Uncle Rick is hot stuff in the teenage section.
It’s probably the best thing I’ve picked up in the last six months, and I recently started The Da Vinci Code. For what it’s worth, I reckon Uncle Rick’s writing is more engaging, and his characters are more interesting. That said, I’ve known most of them for nine other books. Dan Brown might go into more detail about history and god stuff, but Rick definitely has the edge on toilet humour – although there was a fun crossover when they both mentioned the term Pontifex, which I believe is the Pope’s Twitter handle.
In terms of the novel’s characters, some of which I care about more than I do people I actually know, most of them get what they deserve. The rest of their lives aren’t written out in a prologue, but there’s enough there that Uncle Rick could do short stories or a miniseries if he wanted (and regardless of whether he does or not, fan fiction writers will probably never be bored again). There are parts I want to read over and over and it’ll probably take another read before everything settles into my head – but when I finished it, I did not throw my Kindle across the room, which was my instinct at the end of Mark of Athena. There are no huge cliffhangers, at least not to the point where I want to march up to Uncle Rick and bop him on the nose. I’d love to pick his brain about the novel and I’d love to read short stories about certain characters more, but I’m also intrigued to see his next work. It was a solid end to two huge, detailed series, but most of all I’m jazzed that there are children reading them who have characters and plots to which they can genuinely, clearly relate. Not bad for a story about the pagan gods, huh.
I guess none of that made much sense unless you’ve read the book. Go and do it. Go.
Oh, didn’t I mention that before? Well, snowflakes, the people who listed the brief also asked if reviewers would like to host a competition to win a hard copy of the book. Course I would, I said, I love my wonderful fellow readers. Apart from the shitheads who post spoilers, anyway.
So if you’d like to enter a competition to win a copy of the Blood of Olympus, please leave a review on this very site with a haiku stating what you think of people who post book spoilers online. Nothing too gross please, I’m in a good mood. But gross enough that I think ‘darling, you deserve to work in the Fields of Punishment’. One haiku per bitter person, please, and be don’t forget to include an email address. Aim to have it done by Monday 20th and I’ll pick my favourite and post the winner by Saturday 25th. The dudes who ran the brief will send you the copy directly, which is good because I’m not home for another three weeks.
I realised that I’d better get a move on with this since the poppies are coming down after Armistice Day (you can also purchase them for £25. Christmas present, anyone?). So I Googled the project and it turns out it’s called Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, which is slightly more intense although harder to promote on Twitter than ‘Poppy Display at the Tower’.
I’m assuming you’ve all seen the HD news coverage of the installation, which was first, er, installed, in August. I’ve seen it twice, once each when we schlupped up to London for the Bond exhibition and Bernadette’s show. When we first got there, I came over very 21st century HD news watcher and couldn’t really see what was so special about it in real life. Plus it was raining. But I took some pictures and then turned a corner and it dawned on me that there was a poppy for every solider who died in World War I.
Remind me to practise my photography skills while I’m away… it will be hard to gloat about how lovely my workspace is if I’ve cut out half of it and used a bad flash. In my defence, the best angles are probably either above like the news channels do or right in the moat bit itself, because they’ve got railings to lean over and whoever designed that building gave very little thought to the possibilities of future technology. On the plus side, the Shard looks nice half-hidden!
Anyway, we went back at night the second time, less than a fortnight later, and there were more poppies. Way more. I have no idea how commuters come out of Tower Hill station every day and don’t break down in noisy tears over the unfairness of the world.
The Shard is definitely at it’s best when you can only partially see it, huh.
Event and Place Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red Display, Tower of London (go to Tower Hill station and follow your nose)
Cost Only the serious bumming-out experienced by all viewers. Plus £25 if you’d like to buy one.
Food I don’t recommend eating right there because you may be in the way of a budding photographer.
Other people Lots of them wandering about. Exchange a ‘how pretty/heartbreaking’ comment if you want. Don’t fight over the best photo places – apparently the poppies will eventually (or might already) fill the entire moat and circle the Tower, so maybe just walk around a bit. When it’s Armistice Day and the news channels are streaming the finished piece, be sure to say ‘I’ve been there!’ just not too smugly because, you know, it’s an installation that really shouldn’t have even been needed.
I should start this by saying that I know very little about cars and even less about the James Bond film franchise. I like the films – explosions! Pretty beaches! Completely implausible plots! – but I haven’t seen that many of them… and to be honest, when I was younger I thought that James Bond was incredibly disrespectful towards women and drank too much (doctors have recently proved that he would be a raging alcoholic if he was an actual person). My family, on the other hand, are huge fans and it was considered a given that we would go to Covent Garden to see the London Film Museum’s Bond in Motion exhibition, which is on until March 2015.
I also know squat about film-making, but the exhibition made me want to enrol in a course. Almost everything was downstairs except storyboards, which I forgot to photograph for future reference. The main exhibition space, which was basically a basement painted black and given decent wifi, housed a load of vehicles that where used in filming, as well as miniature models and scraps of props that had been blown up as part of the story.
Apparently this car is a big deal:
Someone had the smart idea to play on loop the scenes in which the vehicles featured playing in the background, alongside information plaques and iPads. I think the lady there was worried Bond was going to do something stupid, which I assume he did.
You can tell that Casino Royale was made either before the new passport regulations came in or by a design team who forgot that fringes are strictly forbidden.
At a stunt show a few months ago the monster trucks did that two-wheels on the ground trick and according to the bloke who was commentating, this Bond film was the first example of it (presumably in films, since every idiot with a car has attempted something similar since the dawn of the boy racer). Too bad I can’t remember which film it was, haha.
Event and Place London Film Museum, Covent Garden
Cost Between £9.50 and £38, depending on who you are. It’s not a cheap day out, but I suppose they’ve got to keep out the riff raff who’ll leap over the ropes and take selfies with the DB9 (you didn’t need to jump over the rope, there was space enough to take ’em anywhere).
Food Yeah, because they’ll let you eat near the priceless exhibits. Actually there was a cafe in which you could look at mini props that were made for long shots. We went to a Mexican place instead, which I can highly recommend.
Other people Bond enthusiasts or film enthusiasts, the lot. There was a small boy who was so excited to see everything he almost combusted, and there were partners or family of fanatics who were looking forward to going to the Mexican place. But even they were awed by the information about the filmmaking and the designers’ attention to detail. Too bad they completely forgot to note down useful names and details to research… 10/10 for things to look at, 2/10 for general visibility when searching for your phone in your bag.
I feel like I should blog because it’s Literacy Day or something and I’ve got some time to kill before a webinar later. I was going to have a shower so I could be all snuggly with my headphones on, but then I realised that snuggly usually equals sleepy and I’m supposed to be a professional.
Plus I really need to get some proper work points because I spent at least forty minutes today playing around with the customise options on WP and seriously considered making all the links here bright pink. Anyway, Literacy Day!
What’re you all reading at the moment?
I’m reading this:
Well, I went somewhere rather special yesterday, and by rather special I mean a warehouse in Watford…
Cool huh. I have about a billion photos, mostly of Hagrid animatronics and concept art and Diagon Alley. I was never that into the films because the screenwriting sort of ruined Hermione. It’s a good thing Emma Watson is a total sweetheart.
She’s clearly also teeny tiny.
Since I’ve been to London a few times recently and am on a ‘gap year’ so am supposed to be getting life experience or whatever, I’ve decided to do a little review of my excursions so I can add reviews to my online copywriting profile.
Event and Place Warner Bros. Studio Tour, Watford.
Cost Insane. Tickets plus food plus batshit crazy priced merchandise. They had integrated Starbucks shops and really decent catering but a lot of people had taken picnics. Do that and spend a fiver on Butterbeer, which is foul.
Food See above. Plus nothing I ate made me puke, which was good.
Other people Go early to avoid the crowds. It’s such a popular place that it’s probably packed all the time, which was good in a way because it showed just how many demographics Harry Potter appeals to. There were people from all over the country, people from other countries, old people, families, couples, people with illnesses, deaf people (with sign language guides). 10/10 for people watching, 2/10 for geeking out in peace. It took about halfway round for me to fully process how much stuff I was seeing, and you can only go in one direction. I missed out on the details of loads of little artefacts and information because I’d think “I’ll just go and see X while the crowds are at Y” then I’d get distracted by Z. Take your time. Appreciate how flipping cool the art department was.
What else did I learn?
Well, the Dursleys’ hall carpet is the same as the one my grandparents used to have.
I might post more photos as and when, just to spring them on everyone in the hope that people dash onto the M25 and have a look for themselves. You don’t have to be a fan, but if you have any interest at all in any aspect of filmmaking, save your pennies and get on it!
Next up: either the Tower of London’s poppy art, a gallery in Fitzrovia or a James Bond exhibition. Wait. The webinar.
This is so not-at-six-o’clock because every time I went near anything Sherlock-based online I either tried to lift everything from Sherlockology for The Webways or sat watching Benedict Cumberbatch interviews.
Hardest name I’ve ever had to type.
Very interesting in interview.
Anyway, I had so much fun reading reviews that I decided to highlight them instead of just a round-up. Television reviews are a weird and wacky type of writing… the hyperbole and metaphors are like how I imagine Fifty Shades to be.
You’re welcome. Now I’m completely excited for Sunday night (best man speech!) and dreading Monday (school! With a day spent not homeworking but on a fansite or watching the shitty Percy Jackson film! Not you, pre-Charlie Logan. The screenplay. If actual Annabeth could see film Annabeth she’d launch into some moves with her knife. Ugh).
I would also like someone to give Mark Gatiss an award for publically complaining about Les Mis. Holy shit I thought I was one of maybe five people who can’t cope with the child death and utter lack of hope. Or not if you’re a theist/character, but whatever. Happy Friday.