Monday, 11 February 2019

Review: ADAPTATION #TWD S9:09 #TWDFamily #TheWalkingDead

Review: S9:8 Evolution
with links to previous episodes

I love you, Season 9!  Thanks to Corey Reed for writing and Greg Nicotero for directing another excellent episode.

A great recap at the beginning by Michonne, with reminders of Rick, the loss of Jesus, and the new ememy, who walks with the dead... and unbolts gates.

As this season progresses, I like how the old and the new have merged so seamlessly; the first group scene at Hilltop consisted of ex-Saviors DJ and Alden, newbie Luke, new Hilltopper Marco, Enid from Alexandria, and Tara from as far back as the prison ... particularly as I have read that we are to lose Michonne, too, in Season 10.  Yes, too, too sad - I'm still missing Rick, I can't process it yet! 

 Return to the Sanctuary

So Negan's out, and the first thing he does is eat a fresh tomato, the source of as many metaphors this season as The Bridge.  

Excellent scenes between him and Judith - who, I would like to say, now looks nothing like Shane and totally like the daughter of Rick and Lori!  Does he see something of her father, and Carl, in her?

Negan walks on, remembering how empty the world is outside his cell and the Sanctuary.  I always enjoy TWD scenes that show the devastated roads of a forgotten world.  The signs on the shops are especially poignant; these details add so much.  Negan accepts Express Yourself Menswear's invitation to 'Become the man you were meant to be', smiles when he sees the arrow pointing to leather goods... and picks himself up a bit of pipe to swing over his shoulder, Lucille-fashion - all this, just when I was starting to think, hey, perhaps he really has turned over a new leaf; he even looked sad and regretful when he reached the clearing, where it all happened.... or was he just sad that he no longer wields such power?

The winner of Best Dialogue goes to Daryl, without a doubt:

Henry: Does alcohol always make you feel this bad?
Daryl: No.  But acting stupid does.

... and his telling Henry that he should stay in the cell 'as long as it takes to figure it out and wise your ass up'.  Great to see Daryl getting more dialogue, generally.  There's so much wisdom of years, so many memories in that head, and we want to hear it all.  He's been most restrained with Lydia Whisperer so far, though... doesn't matter that she's a girl, Daryl.  Give her the Randall treatment, that'll get it out of her!
 Daryl gets the truth out of Randall in S2:11

Daryl fails to get the truth out of Lydia in S9:09

But I daresay daft little Henry will get sucked in by her, and put them all in danger....

Daryl was definitely the star of the episode, with his arrow-in-the-leg method of working out who was 'the living kind' and who was 'original recipe'!  Loved that whole scene.

Looks like his loner days are over, then, as Michonne persuades him to help Tara run Hilltop.  Glad to see the waistcoat is still in place, and the shirt he's been wearing since he escaped from the Sanctuary, albeit with one sleeve missing.  I've always wondered why everyone wears the same clothes for weeks on end, even when they're on the road and could nip into a shop and get some clean ones, like Negan did!
Other stuff l liked:
  • Enid waiting at the look-out post for Alden's return reminded me of Maggie waiting for Glenn after Operation Quarry in S6.  Could Enid and Alden be the new Glenn and Maggie?  There will never be another Glenn, though, I know.
  • More subtle hints of the trouble in the past 6 years, when Michonne thanked Daryl ~ and that sad conversation between them about not being able to find Rick's body.
  • The hint that Rosita had a 'thing' with Siddiq - and please, writers, please don't make her end up with Eugene... all wrong!!!
  • The reminder of the upcoming fair, which is bound to end in tears!

Talking of Alden, sending him out with fellow good guy Luke was always going to be a recipe for disaster, wasn't it?  

Luke, you should have paid more notice to the whispering of the trees....

...and so we meet Alpha, who is, according to her daughter, just one person on her own, a good woman ... waaaahhh!

Sunday, 3 February 2019

The Brave, The Wise, The Mad and The Brutal... #Vikings, Season 5

I've just binge-watched Season 5 of Vikings, waiting for the end until I watched the whole thing; ah, but it's hard to watch without being nostalgic for the early days of Ragnar, isn't it?  Each of his sons embodies a side of him: Bjorn his fearlessness and adventure, Ubbe his patience, honour and understanding of human nature, Ivar his intelligence and ruthlessness, and Hvitserk - well, I'm sure we are yet to see the best of him.  But the great man is still so sadly missed; yes, Lagertha, I too long for the days when you were both on your farm!

Anyway, I loved it, though missing other greats like Athelstan and Ecbert, too.  The battles are edge-of-your-seat thrilling, the scenery is fabulous, the drama is outstanding as ever, and it was good to see some Ragnar flashbacks - hope there will be more!  I've read that Season 6 will be the last, though the writers are going to do a 'continuation' series, with a new cast.

For other addicts, here are a few thoughts on where the main characters are now.

The Ramsay Bolton (ref: Game of Thrones) of Vikings, whose psychopathic tendencies grow ever darker - the burning alive of subjects who don't actively support him, the murders of Sigurd, Freydis, his own son, and any other random person who meets him on a bad day - but still with an occasional sweet vulnerability and well-placed wit that makes him an 'I shouldn't really like him but I kind of do' character.  Maybe Negan rather than Ramsay Bolton?  All his issues about being disabled and paternal rejection have turned into the anger that fuels his ambition - and he knows this about himself.  Kattegat has not seen the last of him...

One of my favourites, I was gutted when he died!  I loved that he got away from the domineering Harald and followed his heart, to live life to the full, in all its intensity, and see the world, rather than seek personal fame and glory.  He was he only one of the main men without that rage inside him, or the desire for power.  And he was cute and funny 😉.

....but I did like him, too, despite him killing lovely Halfdan.  Harald was the Viking's Viking; total alpha male, hard drinking, fearless fighting, brutal wife-claiming (I bet a lot of women, though, will see, as I did, why he had such bad luck with them - he played all his cards straight away).  What he lacked in cunning foresight he made up for with that macho confidence that inspired followers.  Love that the last thing he did was save Bjorn's life.... now there's a ticket to the Great Hall of Valhalla!

The wonderful Alfred, with the wisdom and far sight of his father and grandfather, rather than the black and while, blinkered outlook of bulldog stepfather Aethelwulf.  I do hope we get to see more visions of Athelstan, and also that he grows his hair back and gets rid of that fluff on his face; he's gone from potential rock star to accountant.  Three cheers to mum Judith who made it all happen....

....yes, the Saxon woman who must have eaten her ten-a-day and used the full Tropics Skin Care range on a nightly basis, for she didn't age a day from the time she first shagged Athelstan, to her deathbed, on which she wore mascara.  Judith rocked, though, and probably wished she could have lived the lives of Lagertha or Torvi, so she could do all the stuff she wanted and needed to, without shame.

I always felt a bit sorry for him, though he didn't do himself any favours, carrying his Middle Child Syndrome around like a shield.  But getting off Ubbe's boat was not the wrong decision after all.  Yes, it was his one stand at not being the 'younger brother' forever, little realising that his own younger brother would tower over him in a way that Ubbe never tried to - but his anger at Ivar turned the boy into a man; in his proposal to Olaf he showed a strength and daring we had not seen before.

Now, I always thought he was the 'Happy Shopper' Ragnar.  He looks the most like him, but you could pass him by in a crowd.  He has the older brother thing going on, but didn't feel like a leader.  He's honorable, but until the last few episodes of S5 it hadn't got him very far (the Ned Stark of Vikings?).  Then, suddenly - whooosh.  He became truly the son of Ragnar.  Pretending to accept the Christian faith to get what he wanted, negotiating peace twixt Saxon and Dane - he was the one who realised Ragnar's dream.  Hopefully in S6 we will see more of the great hero he has become, and he will give Hvitserk more than a cursory nod of greeting :)

Bishop Heahmund
Ah yes, the lusty Bishop, to whom Christianity meant whatever he wanted it to mean on that precise day.  Jonathan Rhys-Meyers seemed determined to out-act everyone else in the cast, with every scene a display of his dramatic acting skills, every conversation a celebration of epic emotion.  He was fun, though, and added much to the series - and it was good to see Lagertha still getting her rocks off with hunks!!!

Never a favourite character of mine; he's always so angry, isn't he?  But I LOVED that final triumph over Ivar, when, even though his, Harald, Hvitserk and Olaf's army was defeated, he still won, by appealing to the true spirit of the people of Kattegat.  It totally came from the heart, which is probably why it worked.  I am sure we all love to see the town back in its rightful hands - but I'm rather disappointed that he believed in the story of Magnus, who I think was an imposter.  No matter, now. 

He wasn't a favourite of mine, either, but what a sad ending for him - ironic, too, that his great search for his gods, and his belief that Iceland was Asgard, ended with the discovery of a Christian cross. The portrayal of his slow descent into a strange insanity that was sometimes so astute, was terrific.  I don't think he ever got over the death of Ragnar; that, even more than the death of Helga.

After TWD's Michonne, my TV heroine.  However many triumphs she has, however many new loves, none ever compare to Ragnar; there is a lingering sadness about her, all the time.  Still beautiful, even though she must surely be in her late 50s by now; I am sure there is still room for some more adventures and happiness in her long and eventful life - aren't you?



Saturday, 2 February 2019

Stacks of Useful Articles for Writers! #WritingCommunity #writers #WritersCommunity #writerslife

.... by me, and others.  It's ongoing; I will add to this list as I come across new ones that are particularly good.  As my original list has grown, I thought it best to sort them into sections to make it easier to find those that will be of interest to you.  Just click the title of the article to read it.  Hope they help!

ps, if you have come across another article that really helped you, please add the URL in the comments, and I will take a look at it with a view to adding it. Thanks!

Debut Author Advice

What to do if you have just decided to write a book by Lucy Adams on Nicholas Rossis' blog.

My Review of Back to Creative Writing School by Bridget Whelan

Dos and Don't for First Time Novelists

Ten Miscellaneous Tips for Debut Writers

7 Myths That Can Hold New Writers Back

Three Mistakes New Writers Are Still Making

Not another 'how to write' article ~ but it many help new authors

A basic guide to marketing your book by Leonard Tillerman

Editing and proofreading

Content Edit by Linda Acaster

The Five Most Common Errors to Avoid in your Writing by Alison Williams

All you need to know about Proofreading by Julia Gibbs 

Authors - please choose your editor CAREFULLY by Alison Williams

General Writing Advice

Do your characters talk too much? by Anne R Allen

How to Handle Writers' Block by Alexandria Szeman

What Reading Has Taught Me About Writing

Three Writing Rules to Disregard by Benjamin Dreyer

Stephen King's 10% rule and the Secret Power of the Delete Button by Anne R Allen

The Grammatical Error That Even The Most Intelligent People Make

Turning Your Back On The 'Rules'


How to Self-Publish an ebook by Alison Williams

Read This Before Signing With A Small Independent or 'Hybrid' Publisher

It's A Jungle Out There - article about vanity publishers, by Alison Williams

New Writing Scams to watch out for in 2019 by Anne R Allen

Self-Publishing and the Snobbery Issue by Alison Williams

Why Self-Publishing is a Creative Choice, not a Last Resort

Yes, We Do Judge A Book By Its Cover by Alison Williams

Writing a Blurb by Alison Williams

Book Blurbs: As Hard as Writing the Book Itself?

The Only Post You Need To Read About Getting That Novel Finished


My review of Getting Book Reviews by Rayne Hall

Ten Reasons Your Book Is Getting Ignored by Book Bloggers by Rosie Amber

What Does A Book Blogger Actually Do? by Leonard Tillerman

How To Deal With Bad Reviews

Why You Shouldn't Ignore Bad Reviews by Alison Williams

Authors Reviewing Authors - it'a a Minefield! 
(what to do if you're expected to review a friend's book and it's... just not that great)

Writers and Social Media

The Scourge of Auto DMs (Twitter) by Lisette Brodey

Basic Tips For Writers Using Social Media For The First Time

How to Get the Best out of Twitter - please note, whereas the principles remain the same, the occasional bit of practical info may be out of date, as these articles were written in 2016.

How to change your Twitter handle by Alison Williams

My review of Twitter for Writers by Rayne Hall

5 No Good Reasons Authors Resist Marketing by Rachel Thompson

Had to include this, though it is for book bloggers rather than writers:
Advice for new book bloggers by Mrs Bloggs 

Boost Your Blog/Social Media: services provided by Suzie Speaks - I wouldn't post a link to services of this type without personal experience, but Suzie is currently running a social media site for me (not Twitter, I hasten to add), and I can most definitely recommend!  

And finally....

Before I started this Self-Publishing thing I used to....

How to Write a Romcom in One Easy Lesson!

Tuesday, 29 January 2019

Four short reviews of films I've seen lately (with trailers)

Click on title for IMDb page

5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Starring Bradley Cooper and Lady GaGa, both of whom were terrific.  It's a version of the well-known story: Jackson Maine is a rock star whose career has already reached its zenith, when he meets singer Ally in a small club.  They fall in love, and, because her association with him brings her talent to the notice of the industry, she becomes a star, under the management of a horribly manipulative manager who wants to turn her into a pop icon.  I am not usually into romance films, but this was totally compelling and heartrending, and I was rooting for both characters (BC is gorgeous in this, by the way!) all the way through.  Highly recommend, absolutely loved it.

Incidentally, I decided to watch the other 3 versions, as well; last night I watched the first, from 1937, and was impressed by how close to that story Bradley and GaGa's version is - 82 years later!

5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Based on fact, a drama about political strategist Dominic Cummings, who led the alternative to the UKIP 'Leave' campaign, in the 2016 Britain.  Benedict Cumberpatch as idealistic, far too intelligent Cummings was marvellous, as were the actors who played such characters as Boris Johnson and Michael Gove, the stodgy old MPs who had no idea of the power of social media, and the smug head of the Remain campaign.  I was totally engrossed, and it taught me more about the whole subject, too; it served as a reminder of how easily public thought can be manipulated (by both sides) and how votes can be bought with lies, catchphrases and the targeting of fears.  Fascinating, whichever side you're on.

4 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

The biography of Freddie Mercury and Queen.  I am not a massive Queen fan, but I did love their early stuff, when they were more of a rock band, and the wonderful second album, Queen II, in particular.  There is no doubt that Rami Malek's performance as Mercury is sensational, particularly the parts on stage; he had every move down so perfectly.  A round of applause to Mr Malek.  I enjoyed the film, it's entertaining, hence the 4 stars, but there were a few aspects I wasn't so keen on.  I know, I know, it's representational and an overview, but showing their first first Top Of The Pops appearance as Killer Queen; why?  Then there was EMI: one slightly bumbling stick-in-the-mud chap in a tiny office.  Really?  And the awful Spinal Tap type wigs in the early part, particularly John Deacon's.  Why not just get an actor willing to grow his hair, or use hair extensions, anything but those dreadful wigs that looked as though they came from a fancy dress shop.  To sum up, it's good, worth seeing, but it's all a bit too much on the cosy, schmaltzy side, and I imagine the factual inconsistencies will annoy diehard fans of the band.

3 stars ⭐

I liked The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and this was fun, but it was a bit too James Bond and daft for me.  Claire Foy was great as Lisbeth Salander, a girl who escaped from her brutal abusive father, leaving her sister behind, then becomes a vigilante, dealing out justice to other abusive men.  It's action-packed and well-filmed, and even though I know such action-adventure fantasies aren't meant to be taken seriously, sometimes it stretched the belief-suspension a little bit too much.  Good if you like that sort of thing; a reasonable but forgettable couple of hours' viewing.


Monday, 28 January 2019

The Park on the 28th: January #Winter #Trees

The park where I go for my walks, photos taken in roughly the same places on the 28th of each month, to observe the changes in the seasons: the trees, the flowers, the light in the sky.  Each month, it feels different.

At about 8.15 yesterday, I noticed that the light was amazing when the sun was just up, so today I got up early and made sure I caught it!  I've only got an average sort of camera, but the sun, the sky and the park itself did the rest of the work.

Click month for previous posts:

Took this one on the way to the park because I loved the colours against the sky

Stilt Woman ;)
Long forgotten Christmas tree, by the one that fell down in October

Sprng on the way: the first snowdrops and celandine

Yes, it was cold, but I didn't feel as glum as I look 😁