New Read: 101 More Improv Games

101 More Improv Games

One of my continuing aims in 2014 is to continue to read more non-fiction. Most recently my non-fiction reading has mainly been on faith and history. 101 More Improv Games for Children and Adults by Bob Bedore is a change of theme for me but I thought it would be a really information read for me as through a local community theatre group I run weekly drama workshops for adults and children.

101 More Improv Games for Children and Adults is exactly what it says in the title! Bedore has collated a 101 games that can be used to encourage, inspire and create improvisations within a group of performers. 101 More Improv Games is broken down in the first half into advice chapters on Getting Started, Back to the Basics, Making a Scene Work, Creating a Character and Your World, Team Play, Guessing Games, Musical Games, Long-Form Improv and Performing a Show. Then the second half actually gets down to describing the games and how they can be used in chapters on Warm-Up Games, Single-Player Games, Basic Games, Character Games, Guessing Games, Audience Help, Team vs. Team Games, Line-Up Games, Musical Games, On Your Toes, Re-Scene Games, Bizarre Games and Long-Form. Each game has a simple breakdown of what ability, numbers and props may be needed to play them.

101 More Improv Games for Children and Adults is the first book I have read by Bob Bedore but as the title may suggest there was a book before this one; 101 Improv Games for Children and Adults. I haven’t read the previous book but with my drama background I hoped this wouldn’t affect this read for me which fortunately I don’t think it did. If you are newer to drama and especially improvisation then it might be best to start with the first book as it will perhaps have more introduction information for you. I thought 101 More Improv Games for Children and Adults was an interesting book of advice and games that a well established or a new group could use to create improv performances but I do think some tweaking would need to be done to the games to suit the community drama work I do. As our focus is participation rather than the audience. Bedore is open to this though because he offers quite a few ways each game could be tweaked to suit different numbers, age and ability which was interesting to see.

101 More Improv Games for Children and Adults is an interesting and informative book which could be great for future reference. I recommend to those interested in how to create their own improv performances.

Thank you to Hunter House  for providing a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

Have you read Bedore? Any recommendations for other books on performance?

The Classics Club: April Meme

April Meme

The start of April brings a new Classics Club meme question. After a gap of a few months I am keen to get back into doing these questions. My mind is split on this question as I could discuss my favourite classic of all time or I could discuss my favourite I have read off my Classics Club list.

If I pick my favourite classic of all time I would probably be drawn to my childhood favourite The Hobbit by J R R Tolkien. The Hobbit is a fantasy child’s classic published in 1937; so in the grand scheme of things not that old. I think the character of Bilbo Baggins, the unlikely hero, and the beautiful descriptions of his adventures is what has made this book remain in the hearts of readers. When The Hobbit was first published adults reading fantasy wasn’t really that acceptable as it is today. Fantasy was resigned to just children’s fiction while today it is a big market for adults too. I think that means The Hobbit would be just as well received today as it was before but maybe by a larger market straight away.

It is easy for me to talk about The Hobbit though so I am also going to discuss one of my favourite reads from my time in The Classics Club. It took me a bit of thinking but I think the novel off my list I have enjoyed the most is Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. Little Women was first published in two volumes in 1868 and 1869; I read the two volumes together as they are more commonly published together now. I think Little Women is a simple but charming tale of four sisters growing physically, emotionally, socially and in faith. While this is set in the past I think a lot of the emotions and issues raised are those that young women have faced through the ages which is why it is still much read and loved. I am not sure if Little Women would have been so well received if it was written in our own era because of its simplicity as life is far more busy and complicated now.

I’m not certain but I hope that both The Hobbit and Little Women will be treasured and respected in a 100 years to come.

What is your favourite classic of all time and why?

New Read: The “Poor Me” Manual

The Poor Me Manual

One of my continuing aims in 2014 is to continue to read more non-fiction. Sadly even though I enjoyed many memoirs in 2013 it took me many months to pick up Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal by Jeanette Winterson. I enjoyed my foray back into reading memoirs so much I immediately started The “Poor Me” Manual by Hunter Lewis.

The “Poor Me” Manual is the fictional recollections of author Hunter Lewis on the different and numerous phases he went through on his journey to perfecting self-pity. Yes you heard me right his journey to perfecting self-pity, yes he went through numerous phases and yes this is in fact a fictional memoir. When reading The “Poor Me” Manual I couldn’t believe that one individual could go through so many phases! But of course Lewis’ uses this many phases to get his point across.  I don’t really want to say more because I think the phases and how Lewis progresses to each is the real interest of this memoir. To tell you more would take away some of the surprise and enigma of this memoir. I went into reading this pretty much knowing nothing about what it was truly about.

I found myself asking if I liked Lewis and the answer was no, not really but I can’t deny I found him and his journey fascinating. Lewis is a changeable person and not only goes through many changes in self-pitying behaviour but also jobs, location, mind-set and relationships. I also found myself wondering if I really felt like I knew Lewis and again I think the answer was no, not really. There is so much emphasis on the self-pitying element of his personality there was hardly any room left to discuss other elements which my mind tells me there must be. Of course this being a fictional memoir meant Lewis’ intention was for the reader to only focus on the self-pity elements but reading this has emphasised for me I like getting to know different elements of people.

The “Poor Me” Manual is the first book I have read by Hunter Lewis. As I said above I didn’t truly know what this book was about when I started reading it. Not knowing the author or subject meant choosing to read this was quite a stab in the dark. This could account for why this book languished a little on my to-be-read after I received a copy. I also presumed from the title this would be a depressing read which was not to be true. Negative and depressing things do occur in this however the quirky feel of Lewis’ life and phases took the sting off anything that happened for me. I am glad I was brave enough to pick this up as I thought The “Poor Me” Manual was well written in a surprisingly down-to-earth style and coupled with the fact the chapters were short and sweet meant I just flew through this memoir.

The “Poor Me” Manual is an interesting and quirky memoir on how a man perfected self-pity through the phases of his life. I recommend to those looking for something a bit different.

Thank you to Axios Press for providing a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

Have you read Lewis? Any recommendations for other quirky memoirs?

New Read: Why Your Weirdness is Wonderful

Why Your Weirdness is Wonderful

I am a relatively new Christian having come to faith in my late teens. Now in my twenties I like to read Christian literature to help with the growth of my faith and to hear what other Christians have to say. I like always having a piece of faith non-fiction on the go so after having finished God Knows My Name by Beth Redman I picked up a recent acquisition, Why Your Weirdness is Wonderful by Laurie Wallin.

In Why Your Weirdness is Wonderful Wallin introduces and explains her theory on why are ‘weirdness is wonderful’. What we call ‘weirdness’ is actually are own unique traits and gifts giving to us by God to make us perfect for our role in life and God’s kingdom; even if we don’t always see them as gifts or traits worth having! I have an anxiety disorder which I can’t say I usually see as a gift. Wallin however says that anxious people can be some of the best at deep and meaningful prayer for the people and situations around them. If they channel their over-thinking and over-caring minds into the positive channel of prayer which really got me thinking. Wallin discusses how she went about identifying her own and her family’s unique ‘weirdness’, how she went on to develop them, how she changed her mind-set and behaviour to accommodate them all, and advice how we can do the same in our own lives and families.

Laurie Wallin is a new author for me in 2014. I was really well supplied with new Christian non-fiction in 2013 and it appears it will continue this year too. I was drawn to Why Your Weirdness is Wonderful simply because I thought it had an interesting title and I am pleased to say I was disappointed by the content. I thought Wallin’s style was friendly and down-to-earth, and she didn’t use any unnecessary preaching or high brow language. Wallin like many Christian non-fiction authors I have read has had many ups and downs in her life and is willing to share some of them with her readers. I liked the honest and heartfelt feel to the knowledge, experience and advice contained in this book. I made lots of highlights whilst I was reading this on my kindle.

Why Your Weirdness is Wonderful is an interesting and thought-provoking look into individual’s unique and wonderful quirks, traits and gifts from God. I highly recommend for those interested in Christian non-fiction.

Thank you to Abingdon Press for providing a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

Have you read Wallin? Any recommendations for other faith literature?

Monthly Reflection: March 2014

March 2014

Hello my fellow bookworms, I hope you are happy and well? March has been another busy month for me with college work, college placement, agency work, drama workshops, belly dancing classes and pantomime performances. My reading was equal to February though, here is what I managed to finish:

Fiction: 2          Non-Fiction: 3          Poetry: 0

I started March off with the Queen of Hearts (volume 1) by Colleen Oakes an interesting and detailed reimagining of Lewis Carroll’s history and land of ‘Wonderland’. I really enjoyed this new read however with my work load I next reached for a familiar comfort read. City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare is the fourth instalment in Clare’s urban fantasy series The Mortal Instruments. I thought it was another fun adventure which was perfect for the mood I was in and the Once Upon a Time VIII event. And that’s all for fiction in March!

During March I appear to have been in a much more non-fiction mood as in this month I finished three non-fiction books. Excellent progress towards my continuing aim to read more non-fiction. First I finished History of the Christian Church in the First Century by Edward Burton a book with the blend of my two favourite non-fiction genres; faith and history. After that I finished off another faith non-fiction Why Your Weirdness is Wonderful by Laurie Wallin and a memoir The “Poor Me” Manual by Hunter Lewis. Thoughts on which are still to be posted.

Pick of the Month: Queen of Hearts

And those are just the books I finished in March. I won’t bore you with all the text books, articles and reports I’ve been reading for my course but needless to say there has been a lot. I have been dipping in and out of the epic collection Hans Christian Anderson’s Fairy Tales. I also started reading The Beautiful and Damned by F Scott Fitzgerald and 101 More Improv Games for Children and Adults by Bob Bedore.

What did you read in March?

New Read: City of Fallen Angels

City of Fallen Angels

March has seen me as busy as ever with college, my work placement, agency work, pantomime performance, puppets, dancing and drama workshops! In which case I reached again for the next instalment of The Mortal Instruments the City of Fallen Angels as an easy and comfort read.

City of Fallen Angels is the fourth instalment of The Mortal Instruments series. This post may contain spoilers for the previous instalments.

City of Fallen Angels continues to follow Clarissa Fray better known as Clary to her friends and family. Clary is beginning to come to terms with her powers as a shadowhunter after she helped secure victory in Alicante. On returning to New York Clary begins her shadowhunter training, looks forward to a settled relationship with Jace and preparations for her mother’s wedding. A life as a Shadow Hunter in the world of vampires, demons, fairies and werewolves could be okay. Then dead shadowhunters from Valentine’s circle start turning up in the different Down Worlder territories, Clary’s best friend Simon is being hunted by mysterious hooded figures and Jace is plagued by horrifying nightmares. Something is brewing in New York which will mean Shadow Hunters and Down Worlders joining forces again.

Clary the main protagonist of this series is a shy, petite, artistic and awkward teenager. This hasn’t changed much with the discovery that she is a powerful shadowhunter. Clary through out this book is continuing to try to come to terms with her power, the lifestyle that comes with it, her relationship with Jace and the danger that surrounds them. There a few more new character additions in City of Fallen Angels including fairies, vampires, werewolves and demons. Clary is however still joined by her friends Simon (vampire), Jace, Isabelle and Alec (shadowhunters), Luke and Maia (werewolves) and Magnus Bane (warlock) on this new dangerous adventure.

Cassandra Clare was a new author for me in 2013 City of Fallen Angels is now the fourth book of Clare’s I have read. Unlike my brother who has devoured both of Clare’s series The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices. Like the previous instalment City of Glass I found City of Fallen Angels to be well written, fast paced, and a real page turner once I got into the main action of the book.  I am pleased to say the changes and growth in the characters that turned them from two-dimensional characters to one’s I really like and believe in continues in this book. For these reasons I think I am continuing to enjoy this series more each book I read.

City of Fallen Angels is a fun and easy to read urban fantasy adventure. I recommend if you are a fan of young adult novels. I have City of Lost Souls the next instalment of The Mortal Instruments waiting for me on my bookshelf. I am looking forward to starting it.

Are you reading this series? Are you a fan of urban fantasy?

I’m counting City of Fallen Angels as Urban Fantasy for the Once Upon a Time VIII event hosted by Carl V @ Stainless Steal Droppings.

Previous instalments of The Mortal Instruments series:
1. City of Bones
2. City of Ashes
3. City of Glass

Adaptations: March 2014

Adaptations

I absolutely love adaptations. I know this can sometimes be a controversial subject with book lovers but not for me. I think my real love of them came from my time studying performance at university. There I became fascinated with taking a story and telling it through a different medium; whether that be book, film, TV, or on the stage.

As these adaptation update posts seem to be going down well I’ve decided to continue them in 2014. Here are the adaptations I’ve been watching during March:

Inspector George Gently (2014)     Not Read     TV Series     Television
The sixth series of the BBC’s popular crime series set in the 1960s and based on Alan Hunter’s Inspector Gently novels. Here in the UK we have a real love of nostalgic cosy crime dramas. I love how the costume, sets, cars and music in this series transports you back to the northern England of the 1960s verging on 1970s. I also love the relationship between Inspector George Gently (Martin Shaw) and Detective Sergeant John Bacchus (Lee Ingleby).

Sleepy Hollow (2013-2014)     Not Read     TV Series     Television
A new US supernatural series based on Washington Irving’s short-story The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. This is a retelling of this classic tale for the 21st century with Ichabod Crane awakening to find himself in the modern world where his old nemesis the Headless Huntsman is still causing trouble. A fun, scary and action packed show I would like to see more of.

Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters (2013)     Read     Film     DVD
A horror/fantasy film inspired by the German folk tale Hansel and Gretel recorded in Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales. Hansel and Gretel have both grown up and are now fully fledged witch hunters. A fun and fantastical adventure with a touch more horror than I first expected.

300: Rise of an Empire (2014)     Not Read     Film     Cinema
The Ancient Greek mythological and fantasy follow up film to the blockbuster 300 (2007) based on Frank Miller’s new graphic novel Xerxes. I thought 300 (2007) was a really cool film. I was excited to see another film from the same makers. I was not to be disappointed. Rise of an Empire is a highly stylised, bloody and heart racing adventure…not a film for the faint hearted.

Another great mixture of adaptations with more a leaning towards the fantastical this month. Winter has been a bountiful time for adaptations and Spring doesn’t look like it is going to disappoint either. You probably won’t have long to wait for another adaptation update as I’ve still got plenty recorded and even more TV shows are due to start.

What have you been watching?

New Books: March 2014

New Books

The Thieves of Stonewood by Jeremy Hayes
(Book 1 of the Stonewood Trilogy)

Only one new fiction for me this month. I was contacted and kindly offered a review copy of The Thieves of Stonewood from the author which I gladly accepted as this sounds like it could be an exciting read.

The Boy in the Book by Nathan Penlington

The Moor by William Atkins

The Rev. Diaries by the Reverend Adam Smallbones

Three new non-fictions from three new authors for me here. I received all three from the publishers via NetGalley. I was fascinated by the premise for all three but I am particularly looking forward to getting round to The Rev. Diaries as I found the BBC TV series very funny.

The World According to Bob by James Bowen

Another non-fiction here for me. One I have been really looking forward to getting my hands on! I read A Street Cat Named Bob last year and absolutely adored it. Actually many of my friends and family loved it too. So when my father spotted a paperback copy for the first time he instantly bought it for us both to read. I am sure they’ll be many we know queuing up to borrow it!

What new books are you excited about?

Challenge: Once Upon a Time VIII

Once Upon a Time 8

(Art by Melissa Nucera)

It has felt like a long winter but finally spring has arrived here in the UK and with it Once Upon a Time VIII. The Once Upon a Time event is hosted by Carl V @ Stainless Steal Droppings where participants are encouraged to read books and watch films that cover the broad categories of  Fairy Tale, Folklore, Fantasy and Mythology, including the seemingly countless sub-genres and blending of genres that fall within this spectrum. I always look forward to this event as the genres listed above are some of my favourites!

Books I could choose off my bookshelf:

All Souls trilogy by Deborah Harkness
A Discovery of Witches
Shadow of Night

A Song of Ice and Fire by George R R Martin
A Storm of Swords: Steel and Snow
A Storm of Swords: Blood and Gold
A Feast For Crows
A Dance with Dragons: Dreams and Dust
A Dance with Dragons: After the Feast

The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare
City of Fallen Angels (completed)
City of Lost Souls

Books I could choose off my Kindle:

A World Apart by David M Brown
The Amethyst Fairy Book by Michelle McLaughlin
The Diamond Fairy Book by Michelle McLaughlin
The Emerald Fairy Book by Michelle McLaughlin
Hans Christian Andersen’s Fairy Tales (currently reading)
The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L Frank Baum
World Below by Mike Phillips

Once Upon a Time VIII runs from 21st March to 21st June 2014. I have signed up for The Journey level which means I am aiming to read at least one book for the event. I usually end up reading more than one book but I like the freedom this level gives me especially with how much work I have on at the minute. I am look forward to seeing what I will end up reading.

Are you taking part in Once Upon a Time VIII?

Re-Read: The Chronicles of Narnia

The Chronicles of Narnia

On 21st January 2013 I set myself the mini-challenge of re-reading my way through The Chronicles of Narnia by C S Lewis by the end of 2013. As a couple of years a go my mother bought me a beautiful set of these books (as pictured) and yet as an adult the only one I had re-read was The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe the most famous of the set of course. Now a year and a bit later I have completed my re-read of the series.

1) The Magician’s Nephew
Digory and his friend Polly discover whilst exploring the attic that Uncle Andrew is in fact a magician working on some magic rings. After playing a cruel trick of them Digory and Polly discover Uncle Andrew’s magic rings have transported them to another world. I remembered fondly the children crawling through the attic tunnel but on re-reading The Magician’s Nephew I realised just how detailed and intricate this tale is.

2) The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe
The Pevensie siblings Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy during a game of hide-and-seek discover a magical wardrobe which is an entrance to the wonderful land of Narnia. The most well known and beloved  of the series. It was interesting to re-read The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe as the second book not the first, this way round loses some of the surprise elements but non of the magic.

3) The Horse and His Boy
Shasta a young boy living in a small fishing village in Calormen befriend a magical talking horse called Bree together they set out on adventure across desert and mountains to find Bree’s homeland of Narnia. This is the only story completely set in Narnia and its neighbouring lands our world is not visited at all. The Horse and His Boy is the instalment of the series I remembered the least, with everything I rediscovered this was almost like a new read for me.

4) Prince Caspian
The Pevensie siblings Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy return to Narnia to discover the capital Cair Paravel has been destroyed and that the land is now ruled by the aggressive Telmarines. With the help of Prince Caspian they set out to save the magical creatures and speaking beasts of Narnia. Prince Caspian due to the modern film adaptation is a pretty well known instalment in the series. I remembered it all and found it all just as charming as the first time I read it.

5) The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
The two youngest Pevensie siblings Edmund and Lucy return to Narnia with their rotten cousin Eustace Scrubb. King Caspian has set out on an adventure into unknown seas in search of the seven lost lords of his father. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader due to the modern film adaptation is a pretty well known instalment in the series. As a child this was my favourite instalment and I found that it had lost known of its charm for me.

6) The Silver Chair
Eustace Scrubb returns to Narnia with his school friend Jill Pole through a magical gate. With their companion Puddleglum they set off on a perilous journey into Giant country to seek Narnia’s lost prince and heir to the throne Rilian. The Silver Chair is another instalment in the series I remembered little of, with everything I rediscovered this was almost like a new read for me.

7) The Last Battle
King Tirian and his best friend Jewel the Unicorn face the last days of Narnia which see the return of the previous Kings and Queens of Narnia including the Pevensie siblings, Eustace Scrubb, Jill Pole and the magical creatures and talking beasts which joined them on their adventures. It was really lovely to work my way up through all the other books to The Last Battle. I felt like I had truly got to know Narnia and its inhabitants which made the end even more poignant.

When I first read The Chronicles of Narnia I read the books in publication order because I think for your first time nothing beats encountering ‘Narnia’ first through the most famous book The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. For this re-read I purposefully decided to read the series in chronological order. I believe reading the series in chronological order meant I got a full idea of the detail and history Lewis put into ‘Narnia’ and the characters that inhabit it.

Have you read The Chronicles of Narnia? Have a favourite book?