Powerful and disturbing drama from Creation Theatre

George Orwell’s 1984 is just as relevant, possibly more relevant, today as ever it was. It was and is a disturbing book, and Creation Theatre‘s production at Oxford’s Mathematical Institute was always going to be a difficult watch.

It feels odd to say it, but it was bloody fantastic, epic and powerful. It was not an easy watch though. It was both Creation Theatre at it’s best, utilising a unique space in an inventive, effective way, and totally new – normally their shows are fun and fantastic and have you come out feeling good about yourself.

The show began with us corralled us into the bar area beneath a geometrically astounding atrium with the actors heard talking through speakers from where they could be seen on the bridges above. And then we split off in our row orders to be led into the auditorium (in itself a Big Brother-esque act of separation and control). The stage itself was the underground entrance way to the building, in which we watched the action played out in front of us and on computer monitors. The theatre crew were clearly on view working away in the background like they themselves were Big Brother or the Thought Police.

The show featured nudity, scenes of a sexual nature, and simulated torture but it was absolutely in context and very cleverly portrayed. By the end of the play we are left ourselves doubting what is truth and reality. Powerful, emotive drama, absolutely worth putting yourself through if you can get to see it before it closes on Sunday 5 March.

A gut-wrenchingly open and honest not seen since Maya Angelou

option trading italia Dear Reflection: I Never Meant to be a Rebel (A Memoir) by Jessica Bell

Author, illustrator, singer, and songwriter, Jessica Bell is an inspiration to everyone who knows her. There is seemingly nothing she can’t do, and nothing she can’t handle. None of us are entirely as we seem though. We all have our demons that we face, and Jessica is no different. With a life that has ranged from metroplitan Australia (her birth home) to retreats on the Greek islands, and to Athens (where she now lives), Jessica tells it as it is.

I used music to fuel my writing. As time went by, I discovered I was more easily able to express my feelings that way. The problem was, those feelings were no longer mine. They were those of the characters in my books.

Jessica is probably best known as one of the new breed of Indie Author’s, and a successful and creative cover designer. This though is not primarily that story, but one of her childhood and beyond into adulthood, and her journey to becoming a pop/rock star. It is a story that is told frankly but with periods of reflection. The Dear Reflection of the title is Bell looking at herself and talking to herself about how her life has been, and where she has succeeded, and where she has made mistakes.

From a memory of playing shop with her grandparents as a childhood to observations on life, this is a book that is so full of quotable passages I found myself highlighting something on virtually every other page. It is a joy to read, marred only by the breakneck speed of the telling. Sometimes I just wanted the author to slow down a bit, stay longer, tell us more. Even at the speed that it does take though, here is so much more to tell. Part Five, takes from 2005 right up to the present day, and yet her Indie Author career is barely touched on. I shall look forward to reading about that side of her life in the follow-up to this debut memoir.

This is a gut-wrenchingly open and honest account of a life that, by the author’s own admission, has had it’s ups and downs – or to put it another way has had ecstatic highs and crushing lows – the like of which we haven’t seen that often since Maya Angelou’s I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings.

Sometimes hardship leads to goodness. Every day of my life, I have to remind myself of this. I have to remind myself to stop listening to my reflection declare her insecurities and scepticism.

Boom! Not just a wize-cracking, page-turning adventure…

Boom! Not just a wize-cracking, page-turning adventure...

binäre optionen template download Boom! by Mark Haddon

This was a rollercoaster of read involving school teachers and aliens, a road trip and wise-cracking dialogue. It was fast and funny but it also lackd none of Mark Haddon’s trademark portrayal of family relationships, some disfunctional and some not.

Where at one point, you thought characters were going to take you (and the story) in one direction there is constant surprise around the next corner as it lurches you on in much the same way as Craterface’s motorbike. I think I might quite like to see a spin-off story about Craterface actually and/or Becky.

Amongst the crazy-fun story, you do get to learn more how not to judge people too quickly and that we all make mistakes, and we can all be a friend to another at different times, but not necessarily all the time.

A narrative of the darkest season

A narrative of the darkest season

httpsiqoption compromocharts v2_itaff 7244 Winter: An Anthology for the Changing Seasons by Melissa Harrison (Editor)

Like it’s sister book, Autumn, this is not just a collection of poetry, prose, and non-fiction but a narrative of the darkest season. It takes us through the cold winter months through, frosts and fog, and flurries of snow. We feel through the words the hard, frozen ground under foot, and the wildest of storms.

Diary entries keep us locked to natures calendar with its stories of winter survival and migratory escape. There are possibly more contemporary accounts in this volume than in Autumn but the writers still range across the centuries, and with the citations and dates not given until the end of each piece it is sometimes reassuringly hard to tell, and often a surprise!

The last few collected passages gently tease us of winter’s passing, and the promise of the season to come, echoing the hope that we all feel at the end of darkest of seasons.

A beautiful book of dragons and wizards

A beautiful book of dragons and wizards

opcje binarne bonus na start White Mountain by Sophe E. Tallis

Tolkein’s The Hobbit aside, I do not often read the sword and sorcery fantasy that involves dragons, but Sophie Tallis’ White Mountain is too beautiful a book not to read. Even in the Kindle version, the illustrations by the author shine through and help you draw you into a world – epic in scale – and under control a dark and powerful wizzard.

The story has the feel of of Elizabeth Kerner’s Song in the Silence in the way that humans, wizards, and dragons co-exist in the world. Whenever I think of dragons I thing big, Tolkien Smaug-sized beasts that dwarf the other characters, and so I did stuggle a bit with placing the size of some of the dragons we meet in this story.

Where this story succeeds marvellous is the relationship between the old, wizened Mr Agyk and his apprentice witch, Wendya, and through them their relationship with Gralen. No spoiler’s here, but the closing chapters are heartrending until the end…

Style over Story

Style over Story

So the season four finale of Sherlock was last night – don’t worry no spoilers here. As to what I made of it? Well, what can I say? On the whole, I enjoyed it, it was a good romp. But it left me somewhat unfulfilled. Where it worked best were the tiny little cases-within-a-case in the thoroughly modern and uniquely clever style.

But these cases showed up the main story-arc. Whilst these mini-cases are clearly lifted directly from Arthur Conan Doyle short stories and demonstrate Sherlock Holmes’ impossibly quick powers of deduction and reason, the frankly ridiculous story involving Sherlock’s sister(?!?) Eurus made you realise that whilst Mark Gatis is an accomplished writer and a Holmes fan, he is no Conan Doyle.

If Sherlock returns for a new series, and I do hope it does, then I really would like it to return with maybe 6 hour-long episodes that stuck more closely to the Arthur Conan Doyle stories whilst bringing them up to date in the 21st century. Remember back to the very first episode A Study in Pink that was lifted directly from A Study in Scarlet! That’s the kind of thing we need.

Winter magic in book form

Winter magic in book form

binäre optionen risiko minimieren Winter Magic curated by Abi Elphinstone

Stories by Abi Elphinstone, Amy Alward, Emma Carroll, Berlie Doherty, Jamila Gavin, Michelle Harrison, Michelle Magorian, Geraldine McCaughrean, Lauren St John, Piers Torday, and Katherine Woodfine.

By their very nature, collections of short stories will be a mixed bag of winners and losers. This collection stands above that. Most collections are ‘edited by’ someone, but this book is different; this book is ‘curated by’ Abi Elphinson, and you really get the feeling that she has brought together these stories though a love of them much like objects are curated in a museum. She hasn’t touched, or changed these stories, just brought them together in one, beautiful volume.

There are some standout stories in here; A Night at the Frost Fair by Emma Carroll and Michelle Harrison’s The Voice in the Snow – proof if proof be needed that though short it maybe, a story can be big and powerful and perfect. I enjoyed The Magic of MidwinterThe Wishing Book by Piers Torday.

If it were possible to have Winter Magic: Volume II next Christmas, then it would be a treat beyond treats.

Review of the book year: 2016

Review of the book year: 2016

Only 42 books read this year, but one of those was the clasic of all clasics that is War & Peace, so I reckon that has got to equal about 6 regular books! I’ve also been fitting in more writing, not counting the training that I undertook for the 26 mile Stonehenge Trek back in September which pushed alot of things into the sidelines.

  • The Shark and the Albatross by John Aitchison
  • Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll
  • Song in the Silence by Elizabeth Kerner
  • The Dreamsnatcher by Abi Elphinstone
  • The Princess and the Pea by Lauren Child
  • My Pen by Christopher Myers
  • An English Country House and Garden by Arthur J. Penn
  • War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
  • My Second Life by Faye Bird
  • Shepard’s War by James Campbell
  • When the Floods Came by Clare Morrall
  • Fly by Night by Frances Hardinge
  • Jess the Goth Fairy by Jess Hiles
  • Shtum by Jem Lester
  • Hidcote by Helene Gammack
  • The Spider in the Corner of the Room by Nikki Owen
  • Day of the Vikings by J.F. Penn
  • Family, Friendships, Landscapes by Hugh Cecil
  • Fingers in the Sparkle Jar by Chris Packham
  • The Killing Files by Nikki Owen
  • The Outrun by Amy Liptrot
  • The Pier Falls & Other Stories by Mark Haddon
  • Rain by Melissa Harrison
  • The Other Alice by Michelle Harrison
  • Jonathan Unleashed by Meg Rosoff
  • Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome
  • Swallowdale by Arthur Ransome
  • Broughton Castle by Paul Barker
  • In Darkling Wood by Emma Carroll
  • The Map of Bones by Francesca Haig
  • Peter Duck by Arthur Ransome
  • Autumn by Melissa Harrison
  • Meadowland by John Lewis-Stempel
  • The Trees by Ali Shaw
  • Under the Paw by Tom Cox
  • The Plumdog Path to Perfection by Emma Chichester Clark
  • Talk to the Tail by Tom Cox
  • Asterix and the Missing Scroll by Jean-Yves Ferri
  • The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore
  • What To Look For In Winter by E.L. Grant Watson
  • The Good, the Bad and the Furry by Tom Cox
  • How it Works: The Grandparent by Jason Hazeley

Books to recommend from this year? It’s a varied list but for all kinds of different reasons The Other Alice, Fingers In The Sparkle Jar, The Map of Bones, My Second Life, and Under The Paw. I also found time to re-read some childhood favourites, and for that reason I give you Swallows and Amazons.

The autobiography of a meadow

The autobiography of a meadow

23346773 http://dangerhardcoreteam.com/product/dht-virus-compilation-cd/\"http:\/\/dangerhardcoreteam.com\/product\/dht-festival-bracelet\/\" أفضل خيار ثنائي البرمجيات تجارة السيارات Meadowland: The Private Life of an English Field by John Lewis-Stempel

This is essentially an autobiography of a meadow. In some ways I would have liked this story (for it is the story of a year in life of…) to start in May or June, as being in the depths of winter the January start makes for a bit of a slow start to the story. It’s also the beginning of a relationship with the meadow for John Lewis-Stempel and this all adds to it taking a while to get going.

By the time you reach November and December you realise why the the end of the year also has to be end of the book. It is sobering tale about where farming has got us over the years – the technical developments may not be for the best.

His picture in July and August of the toils of making hay was a brilliantly painted one, and from a personal point of view, I’ve been exposed to yet more of John Clare’s poetry (after reading Melissa Harrison’s Autumn immediately before it) to the point where I think I’m going to have to properly discover his work.

A book to read with the changing seasons

A book to read with the changing seasons

28665185 math 118 Autumn: An Anthology for the Changing Seasons by Melissa Harrison (Editor)

Autumn has always been my favourite season – even over and above that of Spring – the quality of the light, the temperature, and the smells of autumn make it the best ever. Melissa Harrison’s anthology, Autumn, is a beautiful and inspiring miscellany of poetry, prose, and non-fiction both collected from past writings, and specially commissioned for this collection.

We are taken on a series of personal journies that are about, inspired by, or are rememberances of how Autumn is. This is a book about Autumn to be read at Autumn.

There are sister books to this for all four seasons which I intend to read, in sequence as the year progresses.

Adventure on the high seas

Adventure on the high seas

b176a4642a64e80a3c553c20c93fb166 conti autogestiti di opzioni binarie agenzie Peter Duck by Arthur Ransome

When I originally read the Swallows and Amazons series it was not in chronological order so I am uncertain as to when I read this book. Being a Lowestoft boy (bred not born), I think this book already existed in the family library.

It stands alone from the rest of the cannon because it is truly neither a S&A book and nor a Coots one. It is Peter Duck’s tale, invented by the Swallows and the Amazons during a winter holiday. It is obviously a fictious story, whilst the other invented tale, Missie Lee reads like it is a true story.

I don’t remember much about my first reading of this book except that I was decidedly non-plussed by it. This time round though, I enjoyed it much more, particularly revelling in the descriptions of Lowestoft and the Suffolk coast I know so well. I did still find a jarring disconnect with it, in the speed at which they travelled. The adventurers seemed to reach Crab Island in the Carribean a bit too quickly and easily for a sailing vessel.

Disturbing yet brilliant

Disturbing yet brilliant

26174866 http://www.boligsalg-spanien.dk/?nlnl=binaire-opties-wiki&41a=65 binaire opties wiki The Map of Bones (The Fire Sermon, #2) by Francesca Haig

This is the sequel to the outstanding (if disturbing) Fire Sermon. Unlike a lot of sequels which assume you to have intiminate knowledge of (or have only just read) the previous book, this book picks up the story and gently reminds you of what you need to know. Francesca Haig does not re-explain in an annoying fashion, and nor does she expect to remember but reveals details of backstory as you go.

The Map of Bones is clearly the second in a trilogy and it is by its nature not altogether a story of its own. It is the continuation of something that has come before, and unlike that one which had an end of its own, you can tell that this book is the bridge to the bigger ending.

None of that spoiled my enjoyment of this story though – if ‘enjoyment’ is the right word – for a story that holds a mirror up to own world and shows us what kind of future our descendants could face. Where the first book focussed on the world in which people live as twins who can each only survive whilst the other lives, and where one is healthy and one deformed in somew way, this book takes that idea further. It introduces the idea of an ‘un-twinning’ procedure – genetic modification of us to right the wrongs of the past, except of course there is no way to ‘right’ these wrongs. This trillogy is absolutely all about how we have to live with each other as equals irrespective any perceived superiority.

It’s that mirror that Francesca Haig holds up to our world which makes this book the disturbing read that it is, but is also why it is an utterly brilliant and powerful book.

When fairies are all too real hidden people

When fairies are all too real hidden people

24949940 trading sulle opzioni In Darkling Wood by Emma Carroll

A lot of the books that feature can portray as either mischievous and evil, or flights of fancy and fun. This book is neither. When Alice is sent to stay with a grandmother she barely knows who lives in the middle of a dark, foreboding wood, she is at first alone, and the ancient trees only seem to strangle the light and the hope from her.

Then she meets a new friend who seems to be living in the woods and her own modern day drama of her brother fighting for his life in hospital collides with a tragic past revealed in letters that goes back to the war, and also the reasons for her Dad leaving her gran’s house all those years ago.

The fairies connect the stories together, and although we never actually meet one, they seem a lot more real than lesser-fairy fiction and more like the real huldufolk of Norse mythology. With dark woods, fairy magic, and a very twenty-first century threat this is a powerful story to enjoy and make you think about.

The adventure that has everything

The adventure that has everything

13496455 binäre optionen absichernde strategie Swallowdale by Arthur Ransome

I remember reading this as a child and loving it even more than the original Swallows and Amazons, maybe because it was even more Titty’s story than the first. When John’s recklassness leads to the sinking of Swallow, it is Titty who finds the valley they call Swallowdale, and the stories of Peter Duck – the sailor that they made up over last Christmas but who we won’t meet until the next book – and Titty who makes the holiday that they had originally planned so meticulously even more exciting and enjoyable than they could have planned.

This story has adventure, shipwrecks, mountain climbing, epic trails, charcoal burners (again), dastardly great-aunts, secret caves, and of course sailing in the Lake District. And yes, we still get pales of milk, fresh eggs, shark meat (perch), bun loaf, and (indestructable) seed cake.

My true desert island read

My true desert island read

2384505 binäre optionen handelssoftware Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome

This was the first full-length novel that I read on my own as a boy (much to the disappointment of my Mum) and I have read it periodically ever since. It is, to me, a truly timeless classic. Yes, they communicate with telegrams, spend pounds, shillings, and pence in the shops, and involves four your children sailing off to camp alone on an island for the summer holidays – but it reads just as much as the now as I think it ever did.

Probably because of her imaginative, story-writing side, Titty has always been my favourite character, and it is through her that most of the exotic place names and fantasical portrayals of actual events come about. They get lost on a desert island, fight pirates, discover buried treasure, and solve crimes, and all without needing to rely on the help of the ‘natives’.

With all it’s grog, eating shark meat, magical charcoal burners, seed cake, bun loaves, and pales of fresh milk, this is an adventure to savour, to enjoy, to remember, and to come back fondly.

Swallows and Amazons forever!

Better Drowned Than Duffers If Not Duffers Won’t Drown

Better Drowned Than Duffers If Not Duffers Won't Drown

onesheetSwallows & Amazons has always been, and has remained, one of my favourite books through my life. Maybe its because it was the first full-length novel that I read on my own (I still remember my Mum’s disappointment when she came up to read the next chapter to find I’d already skipped on ahead), but partly I think it’s the timeless nature of the book.

Whilst Enid Blyton – that other perennial children’s favourite – has dated to the point of uncomfortableness, the Arthur Ransome books have survived. Yes, they mention old money, eat pemmican, and drink grog, and if you tried to recreate the stories today it could never happen thanks to GPS tracking and mobile phones if indeed the children were allowed to go sailing out to, and camping on, an island in the middle of one of the biggest lakes in the Lake District on their own. Yet none of this seems to matter. You read past these things in a way that makes the books a timeless joy to read.

I’ve loved the 1974 film for years – indeed my much-loved paperback happens to the the Puffin books film tie-in, and I was enthusiastic to to see the 2016 remake. I had heard about the spy sub-plot addition but was unfazed by it – Arthur Ransome himself was a spy, and Captain Flint always seemed like the author in disguise so this seemed like an interesting development. What we get though is a brilliantly acted farce of a subplot that tries to take-over and make th story of Swallows and Amazons something that it is not.

It is a loving adaptation. There are a number of moments that are lifted straight from the pages from the book and skillfully played out for us. Titty (her name aside) is one of the most faithfully reproduced of characters which is good as she was always my favourite – probably the writer/daydreamer in her, and I think it was these moments that made me enjoy the film despite the farce of the spy sub-plot.

A story will become one of my treasured favourites to read, and re-read, again and again

A story will become one of my treasured favourites to read, and re-read, again and again

29088586 opcje binarne czy to bezpieczne The Other Alice by Michelle Harrison

If 13 Treasures was the story that brought Michelle Harrison to us as a storyteller, and Unrest was the book to show how powerful, scary, and disturbing a storyteller she could be, then her latest novel, The Other Alice, is the book that shows she has truly come of age.

There can be no doubt that Lewis Carroll’s classic was in Harrison’s mind when she named the title character as the threads of the real, the unreal, and the might-be-real run through this book. With characters coming to life out of people’s imaginations I was always going to love this book, as it shares so much with my own stories, but Michelle’s approach is as always unique.

I loved the sneaky references to her 13 Treasures series, during a story that kept you guessing right to the end. There might be no fairies in this, Michelle Harrison’s sixth book, but it is a world in which fairies and fairy magic could exist. Indeed a writer who has their world’s come real, and and a musician who can lure people in with his music owe much to the ballads of Thomas the Rhymer and Tam Lin, and the fairy magic thereof.

If I could have rated this book 6 or 7, or even 10 stars I would, and I feel sure that this story will become one of my treasured favourites to read, and re-read, again and again. Magic.

Dark, twisted, and always uncomfortable

Dark, twisted, and always uncomfortable

26046346 بحث باللغه الانجليزيه The Pier Falls by Mark Haddon

Mark Haddon writes honest, often uncomfortable, but faultlessly accurate portrayals of how human nature is. This collection of short stories is no different. However anthologies of short stories are by their very nature a rattlebag and miscellany of ideas, styles and success, and this collection is no different.

Where it works, it works brilliantly. The title story, The Pier Falls is outstanding in its conception and delivery, and other stand-out stories: Bunny, Breathe, and The Weir are all really powerful. The others for me, didn’t work so well, but even if these were the only four stories you read it would still be a worthwhile investment.

These are dark, almost-twisted stories, that focus on death, dying, grief, and loss. They are powerful and immediated, and, like all Haddon’s books, leave you feeling just a bit awkward about yourself.

From city life to island ways

From city life to island ways

29073465 The Outrun by Amy Liptrot

I wasn’t sure if I was going to like this book – the autobiography of a young woman struggling to overcome her alcholism. Within the first few pages I was proved wrong. This is a beautiful, poignant, funny, and thought-provoking story that moves between city life in London to island ways on Orkney like the sucking sea on the distant shore.

It’s the story of how nature and a simpler way of life can reconnect with what is important; a story that captures that feeling that lots of us who grow up in out-of-the-way places have at times during our lives. We might strive to leave the place but only We are allowed to criticise it.

You don’t have to know Orkney to be able to picture the environment that Amy Liptrop finds herself suddently back in, making sense of her life. With evocative descriptions of landscape, forna, and flora, I fear that by reading The Outrun I am going to have to travel to the Orkney Islands.

Amy’s story is not always an easy read, weaving her alcoholism with her father’s mental illness, but it is inspiring and uplifting too with well-observed insights into human nature. I chanced on this book in a local bookshop having heard nothing of it before, but I am so, so glad to have discovered such an engaging read.

The lies of and confusion of a woman in danger

The lies of and confusion of a woman in danger

26050850 trading con candele giapponesi The Killing Files by Nikki Owen

For anyone who has read the first book in the Project Trilogy, The Spider in the Corner of the Room (now Subject 375), it is not a surprise if this is the very next book that you read. For me, the finishing of one, dove-tailed with the publishing of this and like this, the story follows straight on from where the first installment leaves us.

This is a fast-paced, explosive, thriller never lets up as it flits between a recent past and an uncertain future. Dr Maria Martinez might have thought that she had escaped from the twin threats of MI5 and the mysterious Project, but as she continues to piece together the mysteries of her life to discover that she has not been more in danger.

Maria has been lied to – all her life. She also is a high-functioning adult with aspergers and she really can’t deal with lies. Hers is a world where truth is everything, and when she is robbed of that it only serves to confuse her.

Nikki Owen succeeds in bringing a main character with aspergers into our lives, and as both a writer and reader with aspergers I know how hard a thing this is to do successfully. Whilst at times I find Maria’s own dialogue around a condition a little too self-aware, the theme works best in the narrative description of Maria’s journey as you find yourself plunged into a world which seems only out to confuse and baffle you as the lies keep mounting up right to the very end.