Thursday, January 15, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: Time and Time Again by Ben Elton

Rating: ✪✪✪✪✪  out of 5 Stars

Release Date:                       November 2014
Author’s Website:                Ben Elton's website
Publisher's Website:                Random House


My thoughts:

   Having read a couple of Ben Elton’s previous books, I knew I would enjoy Time and Time Again. What I didn’t realize was just how much. Elton has really honed his story-telling skills, and based on his latest novel, he is now arguably one of the most readable and entertaining authors writing popular fiction today.
    Time travel and alternate reality are complex plots to tackle, but Elton masterfully steers his book, from the first page to the end, without any dragging or info-dumping on us like so many other authors find necessary when dealing with the time travel meme.
    Hugh Stanton, an ex-soldier, recently bereaved of his wife and children is summoned to his old professor of Cambridge’s chambers where he is told a fanciful story of a secret portal that will open shortly, and once only, between the present and 1914. The members of an elite society who have guarded this secret for hundreds of years, ever since Isaac Newton first predicted the portal, suggest Stanton has the perfect skills and lack of attachment to return to 1914 and prevent WW1 — the worst event they've decided, of the previous 110 years — by assassinating figures that Stanton had only previously studied in history.
    Of course, when he does return, Stanton discovers it is not so easy to carry out his mission when every interaction and move he makes has the potential to alter the immediate and distant future. At the same time, he struggles with the concept that his children might never be born and that, if he fails, millions will die.
    Elton really takes the reader on a wonderful and unique ride. This is not the same old time travel trope; there are unpredictable twists and turns right up until the last page. Time and Time Again is absolutely one of the best time travel books of its genre.

I received a copy of this book from http://www.randomhouse.com.au/ for an honest review. Thank you, wonderful people there.  More about this book at: Time and Time Again

BOOK BLURB 
    It's the 1st of June 1914 and Hugh Stanton, ex-soldier and celebrated adventurer is quite literally the loneliest man on earth. No one he has ever known or loved has been born yet. Perhaps now they never will be.
  Stanton knows that a great and terrible war is coming. A collective suicidal madness that will destroy European civilization and bring misery to millions in the century to come. He knows this because, for him, that century is already history.
   Somehow he must change that history. He must prevent the war. A war that will begin with a single bullet. But can a single bullet truly corrupt an entire century?
    And, if so, could another single bullet save it?
About the author:
    Ben Elton is one of Britain's most provocative and entertaining writers. From celebrity to climate change, from the First World War to the end of the world, his books give his unique perspective on some of the most controversial topics of our time.
    He has written fourteen major bestsellers, including Stark, Popcorn, Inconceivable, Dead Famous, High Society, The First Casualty and Two Brothers. He has also written some of television's most popular and incisive comedy, including The Young Ones and Blackadder.

    He is married with three children and lives in Western Australia.


Sunday, January 11, 2015

FILM REVIEWS: JANUARY 11TH, 2015

Paper Planes just blew me away at the recent preview. It has sneak peaks this week and is out this Thursday. You must see it. The rest of the film releases are not so good, so you have no excuse not to see this little Aussie charmer.

If you would like a break from movies, why not grab an e-copy of BACK AGAIN my time travel novel. It’s been making some best of lists recently, so I know you would enjoy. Click here to check it out.

THIS WEEK'S FILMS

(The Best of the Bunch)
Paper Planes  ✪✪✪✪✪
Opens in Australia:               15th January 2015
Other Countries:                   Release Information

I loved this film, as did everyone who was in the preview. For my full review, click here. All you need to know is that you will laugh, cry, and feel uplifted when you leave the cinema, and that is worth the price of a ticket. This is great entertainment, and it’s an Australian film. We should be proud of our talented countrymen and women. Go see it, and take the kids and the grandparents, too
STUDIO BLURB
An imaginative children's film about a young Australian boy's passion for flight and his challenge to compete in the World Paper Plane Championships in Japan.

Taken 3  ✪✪
Opens in Australia:               8th January 2015
Other Countries:                   Release Information

Now let me ask you a question? Did you really enjoy the first two Takens? Really? The first one was okay, maybe worthy of a DVD watch. The second had most of the preview audience laughing at its ludicrous plot, and now we have #3, whose tag line is “It ends here.”  All I can say, after watching this dull, clich├ęd, woefully poorly-edited, supposed thriller is that I hope they stay true to that tag line, and there won’t be a #4. Take these films away and file them under bad.
STUDIO BLURB
Ex-government operative Bryan Mills is accused of a ruthless murder he never committed or witnessed. As he is tracked and pursued, Mills brings out his particular set of skills to find the true killer and clear his name.

Into The Woods  ✪✪✪
Opens in Australia:               8th January 2014
Other Countries:                   Release Information

It’s not a film for the young ones. This is an adaptation of a Sondheim Broadway musical. Yes, it has some well-known actors in it, and it looks like a lot of fun. However, it’s all singing, and that is fine, but if you weren’t expecting it, then you might be disappointed. I found it about twenty minutes too long, and I think I would love the musical, but I just didn’t love this movie. Emily Blunt is gorgeous, though.
STUDIO BLURB
A witch tasks a childless baker and his wife with procuring magical items from classic fairy tales to reverse the curse put on their family tree.

Dumb & Dumber To
Opens in Australia:               8th January 2014
Other Countries:                   Release Information

We all loved the first Dumb & Dumber, but I think we’ve grown up from then. If you are a fan of the Farrelly Brothers, then you might find this passable. I kept looking at my husband, who was giggling and laughing, while I was barely amused maybe twice in the whole film. All I can say is if you want to see a really dumb movie, then this is it. However, if you want to keep the memory of Carrey and Daniels as talented comedians, in one of your favourite films alive, then hire the first Dumb & Dumber and watch that instead.
 STUDIO BLURB

20 years since their first adventure, Lloyd and Harry go on a road trip to find Harry's newly discovered daughter, who was given up for adoption.


Friday, January 9, 2015

Paper Planes soars with our own heroes

✪✪✪✪
Opens in Australia:               15th January, 2015
Other Countries:                    Release Information




    Sometimes a film comes along that unites an audience in an experience. Paper Planes is one of those films. I believe cinema-goers felt the same way just over three years ago with the Aussie hit film, Red Dog. It’s been quite a while since a film has appeared on screen that not only entertains but has you skipping out of the cinema clicking your heels with joy. The kids were smiling, the mums, including myself, all admitted to shedding a few tears, and even my tough film critic teenage sons and their friends declared it “pretty good,” which is high praise for a film that didn’t include a single sword, gun, or zombie.
    After a disappointing box office year for Australian film, (for no understandable reason because most of the Australian films last year were very good), Paper Planes has a lot riding on its slender but beautiful wings. If the responses from the preview audience of: “wonderful family film,” “loved it,” “gorgeous,” "simple but beautiful" are anything to go by, then this film might be the one to rise and hopefully soar at the box office and bring back the love affair we have had in the past with Australian films. 
    Robert Connolly, the director and co-screenwriter, admits that he made this film for his children. “Our children shouldn’t think that all the heroes are American. We need Australian heroes on our screens.” 
   How true a statement. And how refreshing to watch Australians craft a piece of entertainment that can stand proudly next to the inundation we currently have of American big studio product. Paper Planes achieved its entertainment goal with no special effects, and no huge mega-budget, but with just a simple story with heart, a clearly dedicated cast and crew, and a remarkable lead in thirteen-year-old Ed Oxenbould. Oxenbould is already making a name for himself in Hollywood starring alongside Steve Carrell and Jennifer Garner in the recent Disney’s Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, in which he played the title role of Alexander.
    In Paper Planes, he is the determined son, Dylan, of Jack (Sam Worthington) who sets his sights on winning the regional paper plane championship, (who knew there was such a thing?) so he can head to Sydney for the national championships. He has something to prove, not just to himself but to his father. At the same time, he worries over, and must encourage his father, who is not coping with the recent death of his wife and Dylan’s mom. Dylan must overcome competitive bullying with little support, fund his travel expenses, and create his own paper plane version of the “winged keel” without guidance.  
    It’s wonderful, rousing stuff, and the mostly child leads are extraordinarily poised and remarkably solid, and one of the main reasons the film works. The early scenes are set in a quintessential Australian country town (filmed in Perth), and even our local Perth Challenge Stadium stars in a scene. Supporting actors David Wenham, Deborah Mailman, Peter Rowsthorn, and Terry Norris bring a real spark and humour to the story. Terry Norris, as Dylan’s cheeky Grandpa is simply perfect.
    When you watch hundreds of films a year, it’s a real thrill and incredibly rare to leave a preview a little lighter in heart than when you sat down. One mother commented to me afterwards that it was wonderful to see a film that her whole family could enjoy with no violence, no swearing, and a beautiful theme, because we are not often presented with that choice by Hollywood.
    So when we are, and especially when it's an Australian film, as with Paper Planes, we should vote with our feet. If Australians don’t go to see Paper Planes then all our children might continue to consume are these big American studio films with the American skew on life. Director Robert Connolly is right; we need Australian heroes speaking in our own accent, telling our stories.
    Hollywood loves Australian cast and crews. Now it’s our turn, as cinema patrons, to love our own films and the talent behind them and embrace them as part of our unique Australian culture. We should be revelling in that. We used to only a decade ago.
   Please go vote with your attendance and bring this lovely film home to success, just like we did with Red Dog. Let’s wrest back our love and pride in Australian film just like we did in 1983, when we brought the America’s Cup back to Australia.
    Paper Planes made my heart soar, for many reasons, and here’s hoping that it will also soar at the box office. I want my children to have Australian heroes. Heck, I want them for myself.


Monday, January 5, 2015

Book Review: Retribution (Earthfall 2) by Mark Walden

Rating: ✪✪✪  out of 5 Stars
Release Date:                           August 2014


Author’s Website:                  Mark Walden's website


Purchase at Amazon:                 Click Here
Purchase from Bloomsbury:  Click Here

   Having thoroughly enjoyed Mark Walden’s first in the Earthfall series, it was a long twoyear wait for the follow up. I shouldn’t have enjoyed this series—it’s aimed at middle school boys—but a good book is a good book.

   So when Retribution (Earthfall 2) arrived, I was chomping at the bit to discover if our young heroes would manage to free the Londoners from their trance-like entrapment which occurred in the first book after the alien Voidborns arrived on Earth.
   This book takes place several months since the events of Earthfall, and Sam and his crew have discovered things are worse than they first believed. Not only have the Voidborn set up some kind of drilling apparatus, but they haven’t just invaded London;'they have landed all around the world and are in the throes of setting up  more of the device.
   Sam’s group happens upon another resistance group who think they have discovered a way to destroy the enemy by implanting viral commands into the network that controls the Voidborn drones. Along the way Sam makes unlikely allies and enemies, and a new and very dangerous creature is unleashed upon the planet. 
   Walden has taken the classic War of the Worlds tale and developed it further with new twists and a great reveal.  Readers of young adult adventure and apocalypse tales will enjoy this series. And if you have a reluctant young male reader this series would be a great introduction to the adventure that can lie between the covers of a book.

See my review of the first in the series Earthfall.  Click Here.

I received a copy of this book from http://www.bloomsbury.com/au/ for an honest review. Thank you.

BOOK BLURB

It’s been several months since the events of Earthfall, yet Sam’s attempts to rouse the enslaved people of London from their trance-like state have frustratingly failed. Worse still, the enormous Voidborn drilling device which Sam and his friends disabled in London was one of hundreds scattered across the planet, all nearing the final stages of construction.

Joining up with another resistance group, they plot to disable a drilling machine in Tokyo and in the process implant viral commands that will cause a catastrophic failure of the entire network. Just as that mission appears to have been successful, Sam and the others are double-crossed by the resistance leader.

Earthfall: Retribution will take the series on to a global stage, as the true scale of the conflict being played out on Earth is revealed...

About the author:
Mark Walden's first book, H.I.V.E., won Richard and Judy's 'Best Kids' Books Ever' 9+ category. Paramount has optioned the film rights, and it was chosen as one of ten titles for Booktrust's first Booked Up scheme. Mark has followed this success with a further six titles in the extraordinarily brilliant H.I.V.E. series and as a WBD author for 2009. He lives with his family in Hampshire.