Category Archives: Books

Dark Places (Film)

Contains spoilers for the film/book.

The film was a good adaptation of the book and remained true to the storyline. There was only one thing omitted – Libby did not steal Diondra’s lipstick. In the film she is still found guilty of Michelle’s murder, but the lipstick is never used as a plot point. In the book the lipstick was used to prove, with DNA, that it was Diondra’s blood on Michelle’s sheets.

The pacing of the film was better than in Gone Girl. It felt like the story was constantly moving along, whereas in Gone Girl it felt like it was dawdling a little.  At times the film attempted to be dramatic but it just came off as being funny.

The casting was poorly done, although Christina Hendricks was a good cast for Patty Day. However, the older Ben (Corey Stoll) was a terrible casting decision which was obvious from the trailer. The book states “His hair had turned a dark rust. He wore it long, sweeping his shoulders, tucked girlishly behind his ears.” (p.117) In the film, Ben is now bald with a dark haired beard.

Like the book, I was more interested in the events that happened in the 80’s rather than the present. The colour casting between the two time periods was interesting – the present day orange/yellow warm tones, and the 80’s a lot darker and grimy. It was also visually interesting how they offset Libby escaping as a child to her escaping as an adult.

The film did not explain the characters very well. With Libby, there was no explanation of why she was so nasty or the full extent of her need to make money. There was little development of the characters, particularly the sisters. Very little mention to Michelle’s diaries were made. The film made it easier to guess what was going to happen, but that said I did of course already know from reading the book. The end of the film didn’t really feel like a solid ending or conclusion, however it was the same ending as in the book.

Gone Girl, Sharp Objects, Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

Initially the only reason I had an interest in Gone Girl was because I knew Trent Reznor worked on the soundtrack. I didn’t see the film when it first came out and knew very little about it until I got the book in December. Despite my questionable reasoning for buying it, it turned out to be an excellent decision and I had finished the book in 3 days. Then I rapidly went to see the very last screening at the cinema, and in the next few days I’d found copies of Flynn’s other two novels, Sharp Objects and Dark Places.

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My favourite of the 3 was Gone Girl, followed by Sharp Objects then Dark Places. All of these books do not have a conventional “happy ending”. There is a common theme throughout Flynn’s work; every character has issues, especially the female ones. Some are misguided but some are outright insane.

Gone Girl
The plot is semi predicable; you know something is amiss, yet you cannot fully decide on a single theory. It’s cliché to say, but I did prefer the book over the film. With Flynn working alongside Fincher, the adaptation into film stayed very accurate to the book, only omitting a few background characters. However, the book explains the reasoning behind Amy’s actions a lot better, especially with Desi and her “stalker” friend (who doesn’t appear in the film).

Sharp Objects
One of the main plot lines is given away by the review quotes on the blurb! This was Flynn’s first work and is a lot shorter than Gone Girl; I read the entire book in a single day. There are a lot of underlying issues with the characters that all tie together, resulting a severely messed up family.

Dark Places
The plot was not predictable, however I wasn’t as invested the book. Perhaps I had just burned out from reading Flynn’s work so quickly, but I was more interested in Ben’s and Patty’s chapters and finding out how the family had been murdered, rather than the main character of Libby and the “Kill Club”.

The upcoming adaptations of Sharp Objects and Dark Places should be interesting, although I think they have got the casting of Dark Places wrong. I pictured Libby as something like Denise in the movie Can’t Hardly Wait, to which Charlize Theron is the complete opposite.

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Diary of a Chav

diary of a chav 3 250 editNow of course these books are very much aimed at a much younger age group, and I bought the first book as a joke, expecting it to be utter shash. Surprisingly, it was hilarious and I luckily managed to find the rest of the series within a few months.

The titular “chav”, Shiraz Bailey Wood, repeatedly finds herself in crazy situations, yet her actions and the way it is written make it still seem strangely believable. Situations include defrosting Christmas chipolatas with hair straighteners, auditioning her dog for a TV reality show, and her holiday to Ibiza; all of which end in disastrous humour. The series follows Shiraz’s journey through secondary school and the decisions she makes regarding her education, family and personal life.

What makes the humour is Shiraz, like fellow diarist Adrian Mole, is oblivious to the events occurring around her. The two characters/book series are quite comparable to each other, though Shiraz is hardly an “intellectual” like Adrian considers himself. And like Townsend, Dent draws from everyday situations and brings the humour from these. The Diary of a Chav books aren’t intended to be challenging literary epics, but they are seriously funny and would be appreciated by fans of the either the diary or humour genres.

#1 Trainers v. Tiaras – 50p
#2 Slinging the Bling – £1.25
#3 Too Cool for School – £1.50
#4 Ibiza Nights – 10p
#5 Fame and Fortune – 49p
#6 Keeping it Real – 99p

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The Simpsons Books

Nancy Cartwright – My Life as a 10 Year old Boy
Despite the title, there is actually rather little in this book about The Simpsons. Nancy writes a large portion of the book about her youth and family. The more interesting chapters are the ones she admits she had to ask somebody else to explain to her – how an episode of The Simpsons is created step by step. From the planning to voice acting to lip syncing the animation.

John Ortved – An Uncensored, Unauthorized History of The Simpsons
Rather than a true history, this book is 352 pages of quotes collected from other sources with the rare sentence to introduce the next series of quotes. The book also paints Matt Groening in a bad light due to his refusal to contribute to the book. However, I did find out some things I didn’t know about The Simpsons, particularly the production/writing side of the earlier seasons.

simpsons books

Tynemouth Book Fair

Today was the book fair at Tynemouth Station. I didn’t get a thorough look at the book side, however I did pick up a few things:

tynemouth

A Mighty Heart – £1
Expanding upon the Jolie DVD collection.

Red Dwarf – Son of Soup – £1
Contains the full, unedited scripts; it’s always nice to see things that didn’t make it into the final cut.

Sue Townsend – Rebuilding Coventry – £1
I only needed 3 more Sue Townsend books so when I found Rebuilding Coventry that was another one crossed off my list. Only 2 to go now.

Charlie Higson – By Royal Command – £1.50
Another “full set” of books completed now. I have found each one of these in release order so when I found the last book in the set I had to get it. I’m saving them for when I finish all of Fleming’s Bonds.

Assassin’s Creed Books

I got Renaissance back in January and since then I’ve gradually picked up the whole set one by one. Yesterday I found the last book I needed, Revelations, though I’m not sure when I’ll get round to reading all of them! If they make a novelisation of AC4 then I probably won’t get it, I didn’t really like AC3 and I’m not interested by what’s been shown of AC4.

The Secret Crusade – £1.49
Renaissance – £1
Brotherhood – 33p
Revelations – £1.50
Forsaken – £1.99

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Relics – Petroc series by Pip Vaughan-Hughes

I picked up Relics way back in May for 25p. Even with a stack of books in my arms, I just kept going back to Relics. Picking it up; reading the blurb; putting it back on the shelf; and repeat. The blurb sounded very interesting and I liked the way the random passages I read were written. Not that it’s relevant, but the cover was lovely too – it has a nice texture and shiny embossing.

I finished Relics in July and I really enjoyed it. It’s very much the cliché of “I couldn’t put it down”. Relics was such a nice book to read and had so much charm to it, Vaughan-Hughes has such a excellent grasp on vivid description and writing Petroc as such a likeable character.

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Since then I’ve been lucky enough to find the next two books in the trilogy. The second book, The Vault of Bones, I am not enjoying anywhere near as much as I did Relics. It’s approximately double the size and it feels a bit “rambly”, almost as if the book is padded out with unnecessary filler and an overuse of elaborate synonyms where they’re not needed. The Vault of Bones has been sitting on my desk for months and it feels like I’m making no headway with it.

The third book, Painted in Blood, is a similar size to the first, so I’m hoping it will have returned to a similar standard. There’s another book about Petroc too, The Fools Crusade, although that said, I still need to get through the second book! I’m flagging somewhere around the midway point. It’s struggling to hold my interest which is disappointing as I loved the first book so much.

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Young Bond + Moneypenny Diaries

SilverFin – 75p
BloodFever – 75p
The Moneypenny Diaries – 99p

All of these books have popped up on my Amazon recommendations in the past and weren’t things I would consider to be on my “to buy” list, but I left them sitting in my recommendations. The two Young Bond books were 75p each. Not 2 minutes later, I spotted The Moneypenny Diaries and it was 99p, so I had to get them all. I’m pleased to see my camera has picked up the holographic covers of the Young Bond books, they look great!

bond triple

Red Dwarf Books

The Man in the Rubber Mask – Robert Llewellyn
Llewellyn’s descriptions are hilarious which makes it very easy to vividly picture all of the situations described. The book made me laugh quite a lot and I definitely recommend it if you are a Red Dwarf fan. I’m looking into getting some of his other (fiction) books.

The Official Red Dwarf Companion
This covers Series 1-5; it would have been nice if it had been published a year later to include Series 6 too.

Red Dwarf Survival Guide
This disappointed me a little bit! I think I was expecting more a guide written by the crew themselves, rather than an “official” guide with their annotations and suggestions.

Michael Gillette’s James Bond covers

I found an article on the development of Michael Gillette’s Bond book covers on this blog. I really like the 2008 reprint covers, so when I found these magazine articles showing the design process, I was really interested to see the changes made between the initial sketches and the final product. I like how his simple pencil work was recreated in the final pieces using a limited colour palette, and strong bold shapes to create the figures of the Bond girls.

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