Top 5 Books I Read In 2014

20 05 2015

Icefire (Orchard Books - 2004)

During 2014, I took part in a reading challenge on Goodreads where I read 25 books in a year. Originally I had set the challenge to read 10 books in the year as I am something of a slow reader, but due to reading a selection of picture books, a comic and a couple of small ones, I was quick to surpass this target. So I kept on expanding it by another 5 books and by the end of the year, with a little bit of a struggle, I had read all 25 books.

Avengers vs. X-Men (Marvel - 2013)

The books I read last year were some of the best books I have read my whole life (so far) and for several months now I have been wanting to do a post about them. So here are my Top 5  favourite books that I read in 2014.

The Last Dragonslayer (Hodder and Stoughton - 2011)

5: The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde – I had not heard of nor read the works of Jasper Fforde until one of my lecturers at University posted an email about him coming to do a talk at the Uni. I did not think much more of it, but then my Lecturer suggested that I read The Last Dragonslayer as it would help with my assignment. I bought a copy of it, which was rather hard as it was not available on the shelves in Waterstones, though thankfully, I was able to order it through them. The first half of the first chapter just went by like a blur and I could not remember anything about it. The rest of the book though, I remember fondly. The story is about Jennifer Strange who is the acting head of Kazam, which is an employment agency for wizards. Times are tough for Magic and there is a lot more paperwork than there used to be, and things are going to get much harder for Jennifer, as she is destined to slay the last Great Dragon in the Ununited Kingdoms. The Last Dragonslayer is a book aimed at a teenage, possibly Young Adult audience, but I was able to just get engrossed in it. It is such a funny book, I just wanted to continuously burst out laughing as I got closer and closer to finishing it. I can’t stretch out enough how funny it was. It had references to the modern contemporary world, with the mentions of cars, business, employment and paperwork, but also had a deeply rooted world of magic and science. It’s also quite an easy read. I just loved this book throughout, such an enjoyable read.

FEAR (Egmont Books - 2012)

4: FEAR by Michael Grant – I worked out it took me somewhere between 8 and 10 months to read Michael Grant’s GONE series, but today, even after reading so many other books and other series, it is still my favourite series of books. In December 2013 I started reading FEAR, the penultimate book in the series, and at long last; it was the cover of FEAR that got me interested in the series in the first place. FEAR is the fifth book in the series and takes place after the events of PLAGUE, and things could not be worse for the boys and girls of The FAYZ. With the town and other areas they have lived been almost completely destroyed by both themselves, and the unnatural forces that reside in The FAYZ, they have finally begun to settle down, but there are dark forces both inside the dome, and outside. Inside, the town is about to rebel against its leaders and outside, a sinister plot is underway which could spell the end of those inside. But amidst all this, there is something much more powerful growing. The thing I found with the GONE series is how it is written to make you feel something more as you read it, not just affection or a connection to the characters, but makes you see or feel something more at work. I have referenced FEAR as the calm before the storm. The final book in the series has a lot of chaos and anarchy, but so does the first 4 books, but that grows more gradually. By the time you finish PLAGUE, you sort of feel rather paranoid as things get worse for the characters and the world. In FEAR though, there is a lot of times for peace and reflection, and while things do get chaotic, it’s more in a building form which saves the rest for the last instalment. FEAR also does one thing the other books have not done yet, which is explore the world outside the FAYZ; How the families of the children are doing, what the news coverage is reporting, but also what has happened to those who have escaped, and the armies Interest. FEAR then is not so much a rampaging assault on the characters inside like the first four books, but more of a supernatural conspiracy which sets everything up, for the final chapter. Due though also to its more natural calm pace, FEAR is such a beautiful but also calm read, that it becomes not just one of the best books in the series, but also, a lovely standalone book in its own right.

Jurassic Park (Arrow Books - 2006)

3: Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton – I had known for many years that Jurassic Park was originally a book, but I had not once considered reading it. It was only due to me wanting to do an adaptation of it for my University Degree that I decided to read it (the adaptation piece was the story re-told from the point of view of the Tyrannosaur). I went into it figuring that it would be a lot like the film, however it wasn’t; it was a lot better. I am a big fan of the film, but the book does things a lot differently. It begins in a way that starts with minor characters and some that are only heard from in no more than 1 chapter, but then it develops into something more recognisable. The characters though appear to be a lot different than they are in the film, but there are more developments and there is a real sense of who you want to boo and cheer for. Jurassic Park also has a great vision for its dinosaurs and even has a level of science in them. This science feature takes up a lot of the books dialogue, however, it is at no point; boring. It is actually written in a very interesting style that reads more like someone talking to you, instead of either lecturing you, or being written down in a text-book. It was really interesting, but in comparison, there is also a lot of mathematics as well as business, investing and corruption. It is not just a science book with the added treat of dinosaurs; it is also an insight into what lengths people will go to, to get what they want. Let’s not forget though, that at its core, Jurassic Park is an adventure, an adventure into a lost forgotten world as dinosaurs are brought back to life, and terrorise the lives of those, who have never encountered them alive. Yep, it sounds just like the film, but the book is more than a film, and is better for it.

Micro (Harper Collins - 2012)

2: Micro by Michael Crichton and Richard Preston – While reading Jurassic Park, I got interested into reading more works by Crichton. One I found in Waterstones was Micro. I did not know anything about it, was the first time I had seen it. I took a look and liked the sizing of the letters and line spacing. I looked into it, and decided to read that after I finished Jurassic Park; which I did, and liked it more than Jurassic Park. Micro is the last book to be written by Crichton who sadly passed away after finishing only a third of it, to which Preston was brought on board to complete. Micro follows a group of students as they are brought to Hawaii as part of an exciting opportunity to work for a new start-up company. Things take an ugly turn however and soon they find themselves in a world they know, but have never studied so close up before. They now have only a few days left to undo the damage done to themselves, but first have to survive a dangerous new world, that up till now, most people have taken for granted. Micro is a lot like Jurassic Park in the sense that it is very scientific but also a great adventure. It is filled with multiple perils and dangerous moments, and just like a great adventure, not everyone survives. In this we also have a selection of interesting characters, weird science and both a level of state of the art technology and; as far as I am aware, biotechnology that does not exist (yet) but appears so real. The stories biggest shock though comes in its first few chapters as while your mind is thinking one thing, you don’t see the other thing coming. In what I think is a book far better than Jurassic Park, Micro is such an enjoyable, yet both intriguing and interesting book.

LIGHT (Egmont Books - 2013)

1: LIGHT by Michael Grant – What is easily both; my favourite instalment in the GONE Series but also My Favourite Book. When I started reading it, with in just a few minutes of starting, I could not stop. Basically, everything comes to a head as those inside the FAYZ are in great danger as the Darkness has been reborn. As things get worse on the inside of the dome, things are advancing outside also and it appears that simply escaping the FAYZ, might not be such a great idea for some of the book’s main players. LIGHT is a non-stop, pulse pounding action thriller. It begins rather simply, but within a few chapters, there is chaos everywhere leading key players to meet their fate and untimely ends as they take on one of the most powerful entities in existence. Behind all this though there is still time for emotion, compassion and experience the lives of those who you have become attached to and fond of for six whole books. There are moments of regret and redemption for former villains as well as moments of great powers and raw destruction from others, and when the end comes, it is not really the end, as the book then delves into what happens to the lives of those who are still alive as some face uncertain futures. I really love this book, there was just great moments in it and it quickened the pace as it went along as the final battle approached. But the death of a certain character, a really good one, slowed it down enough for me to reflect. And then, as it reached its ultimate conclusion, came judgement day as some characters face a hard struggle, as some are made scapegoats and face criminal charges. But the story wraps it up beautifully and ends in a really nice way. It ends just the right way, with a finished, completed story, and one that I so far have not read anything like since.

The Song of the Quarkbeast (Hodder and Stoughton - 2012)

GENEPOOL (My Goodreads challenge for this year is to read 15 books in a year).





Trailers – Jurassic World, Star Wars Episode 7 and Terminator Genisys

10 12 2014

Jurassic Star Terminator

A couple of weeks ago, two of Cinema’s big blockbuster heavyweights released trailers for their long-awaited return to the big screen. Now while I wanted to do a comparison or look at the trailers type post for both Jurassic World and Star Wars Episode VII, I didn’t quite get round to it, but after the release of the Terminator Genisys trailer this past week, I decided to do it, and combine all three. First off was the trailer for the new Jurassic Park film, Jurassic World. It has been over 13 years since a Jurassic Park film has come out, and while there have been a couple of re-releases of the original film, it has been quite a while since a new film has been made. Jurassic Park, originally based on the book of the same name by author Michael Crichton has had 3 films so far. A fourth has been in the works for a number of years now but finally it appears that there is light on the horizon. Next up was Star Wars Episode 7 (or VII if you want to be specific). Once again, it has been a while since a new film has been released; the last one being in 2005 (if you don’t include Episode II.V which was more an animated film, not a live action film). In 2012 when Lucasfilm was bought by Disney, Disney announced that a string of new Star Wars films were to be produced with Star Wars: The Force Awakens to be the next film in the series. Finally, there is the next film in the Terminator series. The last time the Terminator was on the Big Screen was in Terminator Salvation in 2009. While the previous 3 films in the series looked at the events leading up to the war against the machines, Salvation finally set itself in that war. Well after 5 years, Terminator is back (no pun intended). So, let’s now look at these trailers. I thought, for a bit of fun I would organise them in a similar manner to how I do my Top 5 posts. So I’ll put what I think is the best looking last, and build up to it, with third first and second…..second.

Star Wars Episode VII (Lucasfilm - 2015)

When Disney first made the purchase and the announcement was made about new films, I was undecided. First it sounded like an interesting idea, but I had this feeling that Disney was just going to end up milking the franchise for all it’s worth. Even when J.J. Abrams was announced as the Director, while a little alleviated I was still unsure. The problem I had been them referencing the original films over and over again. Not do anything new, just re-do old storylines and characters. No new story, or characters or items. Just old stuff 24/7. So eventually I just put it to the back of my mind, not really thought about it, just mildly forgot and take an interest every now and then. Well, the new trailer was released, and I was right. The trailer begins with a scene that looks like Tatooine, not a new planet, an old favourite. It shows images of Storm Troopers, X-Wings and the Millennium Falcon. Like I said nothing much new. Yes, there are new cast members and a new robot. The villain that appears is one ‘supposedly new’ thing that I do like. The lightsaber is more orangey than red, and the flaming handles are a nice touch. I mean the trailer isn’t all that bad, but given the prequels are set something like 30-40 years before the main trilogy, I’d thought that 30 years after the events of the original trilogy that there would be new bits and bobs, not old stuff. The trailer isn’t that bad, the little robot looks kind of funny, and the shots of Storm Troopers and X-Wings do look interesting. But I still think that Disney are relying too much on the previous films. It’s like the Marvel Cinematic Universe is right now, the way that they are constantly reminding the audience of The Avengers movie, instead of allowing the standalone films like Thor and Iron Man the opportunity to stand on their own two feet. While it does look pretty exciting and has raised my expectations a little more, the thing is, it’s still just a teaser, when a main trailer gets released, we should be able to see more. While I am still unsure about this new film, the trailer has made me a little (just a little) bit more excited about it, and it’s mostly due to the flaming lightsaber.

Terminator Genisys (Skydance Productions - 2015)

Next up, it’s Terminator. I really liked Salvation, I liked the cast, Sam Worthington and Moon Bloodgood were both really enjoyable to watch and I liked the setting and premise. The original films originally didn’t really work for me. I have not seen the first one; I have seen the other two. I originally didn’t like number 2 but more recently I have grown quite fond of it. A new Terminator film is always exciting and I have followed (on and off) the production of 5 for a while. I was hoping for another film set in the future during the war. Possibly more like the war shown at the beginning of judgement day with lasers than the bullet filled world of Salvation, but the chance for a Salvation sequel was always on my mind. This new trailer however, is quite different. The trailer does show the future war against the machines, with battle sequences and terminators, but it also travels in the past with the character of Kyle Reese being sent back in time to when Connor was just a child and is being raised by a Terminator. It looks like instead of doing either or, it is doing both, showing the war and the past. The initial trailer cast looks pretty good and the setting and action scenes look pretty exciting, however I get this feeling that the film looks a bit like Twilight, like it’s designed for that market and audience. While the costumes are definitely more like Kate Beckinsale in Underworld, the cast together look like they were filming another Twilight film, this time with robots in it. It’s just the cast and the light uses and points where they are together look like the twilight trailers, and the posters, same goes for Genisys’s posters, it looks like Twilight. While I still have my little worries about it, I am really excited about this new film in the series, it looks brilliant.

Jurassic World (Universal Pictures - 2015)

Finally, it comes round to Jurassic Park. I have been following the production on Jurassic Park 4 very closely for a number of years now. When the film finally went into production I was pleased, I have been wanting to see a new Jurassic Park film more than a new Star Wars film. Recently I read the book by Michael Crichton and really enjoyed that too. So when the trailer came out, I was so excited to just see it. Firstly, it should be noted that this is not a remake or reboot, it is a sequel and it is set about 22 years after the events of the first film. The new trailer shows a lot, and it shows a fully working safari park for dinosaurs. The trailer also shows dinosaurs, in particular a brilliant shot of Liopleurodon/Predator X depending on what the producers are classing it as. The trailer also reveals plot elements and reveals the idea of a hybrid dinosaur. Now while I am a bit worried at the sound of that, the trailer does not show the creature and so no spoilers are given. The idea of the park working and accepting visitors is brilliant, but the inclusion of the genetics which the book and first film explore combined with the working park make it look like the park (when finished) represented in Crichton’s original story. The inclusion of the hybrid also brings a level of mystery and jeopardy to the trailer which makes you want to long for more. The effects look brilliant, and the dinosaurs as well as the human cast look great too. While it may still be a few months away from being released, Jurassic World looks Fantastic.

GENEPOOL








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