The Classics Club: Journey to the Centre of the Earth

Journey to the Centre of the Earth

My result for The Classics Club’s 13th Spin feature was Journey to the Centre of the Earth by Jules Verne. I was pleased with this result as I have previously really enjoyed Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne.

Journey to the Centre of the Earth follows the intrepid Professor Liedenbrock on his extraordinary expedition down the extinct volcano Snæfellsjökull in Iceland in search of the very core of the world. The professor is joined on this arduous journey by his long-suffering nephew Axel and their devoted guide Hans – all three are to be pushed to their very limits physically and mentally, and their relationships will be tested to the max as they push further down into the earth through twisting, pitch black tunnels towards an astonishing discovery.

All of this is narrated by Axel who back home in Germany has long-suffered his uncle’s  bad temper and demanding nature. Even he can’t believe it though when a mysterious message in a runic manuscript has his uncle packing immediately and dragging him along on this insane mission. Axel is more even tempered than his uncle but he is also rather gutless – fearing that this expedition at best will come to excruciating, professional embarrassment or at worst that they will never be seen again; either becoming lost or boiled alive by the Earth’s magna core. So not the most likeable protagonists which leaves me admiring Hans, their guide, who suffers it all without complaint!

This is the second novel I have read by Jules Verne. I thought it was another well written and described book with some good drama and again it had Verne’s down-to-earth style – unlike many of contemporary’s more formal style – which I enjoyed so much from my previous read. The story is narrated to us by Axel in a diary like style that helped me to get to know him and feel close to the action, but I also found that it took some of the tension out of the tale; as I knew for Axel to continue the story he had to survive! So overall I didn’t quite enjoy it as much as Around the World in Eighty Days but it was still a thoroughly enjoyable read.

Journey to the Centre of the Earth is a classic, science-fiction adventure which I whipped through. I still have Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea on my Classics Club list which I am looking forward to reading. Good read.

Have you read this? Have you read any of Verne’s other adventures?

The Classics Club – 45/50

The Classics Club: Spin #13 Result

The Classics Club

A quick update for you, my fellow clubbers and bookworms, as the result for the 13th Classics Club Spin is in!

The number randomly selected is: 15

Which means I will be reading: Journey to the Center of the Earth

I am really pleased with my result! It has a nice symmetry to it, as I got my first Verne read, Around the World in Eighty Days, back in the 5th Spin; however even though I loved it, I haven’t got round to reading more! So this might be just the incentive I needed.

Have you read this? What has the Spin chosen for you?

New Read: The Martian

The Martian

I have finally read science-fiction drama The Martian by Andy Weir! As per usual I am late to the party, as this was a bestseller and lit up many of my favourite blogs last year. At the beginning of this year my father lent me his copy so there were no more excuses not to read it.

In the year 2035, the Ares 3 mission to Mars is dramatically cut short as the crew are forced to evacuate during a furious sand storm that batters their base and threatens their Mars Ascent Vehicle (MAV), which is their only form of escape. Tragically Commander Lewis is forced to launch the MAV before the crew’s botanist and mechanical engineer, Mark Watney, reaches them. Mark is feared dead and Lewis can’t risk the rest of her crew however against all the odds Mark survives. Now stranded on Mars with no means of contacting Earth or the rest of his crew, Mark’s only hope is to find a way to survive until the Ares 4 missions arrives in 4 years time!

I would never wish anyone to be stranded alone like this but of all the crew Mark Watney really is the best to be. Mark was originally picked for the mission for his good nature, humour and resourcefulness. Also as a botanist he has the best chance to try to grow food and as a mechanical engineer he can fix or bodge together anything. Mark is an awesome protagonist! While the scientific workings of his mind often went over my head, I couldn’t help admiring his knowledge, skill and sheer determination. He is also hilarious which helped to lighten his dark and lonely situation.

The book is told in a diary form as Mark records mission entries everyday or every few days (or sols as they are called on Mars), depending on how busy he is. This technique helps us to have an intimate and personable relationship with Mark. Plus it helps to add tension because when you wait for several sols for an entry you fear what might have happened now! There are also a few chapters that give us a glimpse back to the rest of the crew on their long journey back to Earth, grieving the loss of Mark, and to Earth where NASA discover the shocking truth; due to a satellite coordinator spotting that equipment has been mysteriously moving on the, what should be empty, Mars base.

This is the debut novel of Andy Weir – I was even more impressed when I realised that Weir initially self-published it in 2011 before it was taken up by Crown Publishing and re-released in 2014. While I love to watch science-fiction films and TV shows, I sadly read very few science-fiction books. I must warn this is a scientifically technical and detailed book which isn’t usually for me as it goes straight over my head. There were a few moments I had to do a literary ‘smile and nod’ to what Weir was describing yet I was so gripped from page 1 that it didn’t matter at all. On top of that you just have to find out what happens to the, hilarious and highly likeable, protagonist Mark.

The Martian is a gripping and immersive science-fiction drama which had me on the edge of my seat and, surprisingly, laughing from start to finish. I am now even more excited about watching the film adaptation, starring Matt Damon. Great read.

Have you read this? Have you watched the film?

Adaptations: May 2015

Adaptations #2

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.

Here are the adaptations I watched during May:

Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)          Not Read     Film     Cinema
An action-packed superhero adventure based on Marvel characters created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, and sequel to The Avengers (2012). The team must work together to defeat one of Stark’s creations, Ultron, that’s gone disastrously wrong. Another enjoyable watch with impressive special effects, high octane pace, epic fight scenes, and more amusing one liners. The regular cast are also joined by some new faces too. Good watch.

Paddington (2014)          Not Read     Film     Apple TV
British, family adventure based on Paddington Bear by Michael Bond. I haven’t read any of the stories but I have fond, childhood memories of the BBC’s Paddington series. A young bear comes to London from deepest, darkest Peru to London seeking a new home. A fun, modern adaptation of this loveable character and his comical adventures. Good watch.

The Enfield Haunting (2015)          Not Read     TV Series     Television
British, supernatural drama based on the true life events, recounted in This House Is Haunted by Guy Lyon Playfair. Paranormal investigators, Grosse and Playfair, try to help a family in 1977, who are being plagued by scary phenomenon. A case which is to become known as ‘The Enfield Poltergeist’. I had heard of this case and it was fascinating to find out more about it. A ghostly, mystery with a strong ensemble cast, including Matthew Macfadyen and Timothy Spall, I watched all 3 episodes in a row! Great watch.

City of Ember (2008)         Not Read     Film     Television
Science-fiction, family adventure based on Jeanne DuPrau’s novel. Humans have been living underground for over 200 years but as the generator starts to fail, two young friends must find a way to escape. Sadly this film was a flop at the cinema so the rest of the series wasn’t made. I enjoyed it though. It was a gentle and fun adventure, far less gritty than the more recent young adult, dystopian tales. Okay watch.

Atlantis (2015)          Read     TV Series     Television
The 2nd half of series 2 of the BBC’s fantasy adventure based on Greek mythology. The legendary hero Jason, and his friends Hercules, Pythagoras, and princess Ariadne fight evil to protect the legendary city of Atlantis. A fun and thrilling series. The only problem being they introduced the Argos and the legendary journey at the end of the series, however the show has just been axed…so we will never know! I will miss this series. Good watch.

Inspector George Gently (2015)          Not Read     TV Series     Television
The 7th series of British, crime drama based on Alan Hunter’s Gently novels. I love the atmospheric and nostalgic 1960’s setting which is brought to life so realistically in this series. I also love the relationship between Gently, his sergeant Bacchus, and PC Rachel Coles, wonderfully portrayed by Martin Shaw, Lee Ingleby and Lisa McGrillis. Great watch.

May has been a really good month of films and TV shows. I have enjoyed old favourites like Paddington, Atlantis and Gently, and then new discoveries too. These are just the adaptations I finished though. I am still watching the 4th series of Grimm and the 5th series of Game of Thrones. Plus I have the 2nd series of Sleep Hollow and Penny Dreadful, and the BBC’s new drama Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell to start. I look forward to sharing with you what I watch in June.

Have you watched any of these? What have you been watching recently?

Adaptations: April 2015 (2)

Adaptations #3

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.

Here are more adaptations I watched during April:

The NeverEnding Story II (1990)          Not Read     Film     Television
Fantasy sequel inspired by the second half of Michael Ende’s novel. I watched all three films as a child but I feel the first film is by far the more superior hence why it is the only one I own on DVD. This sequel was easy, fantasy fun which passed a lazy Saturday afternoon. Okay watch.

The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box (2014)     Not Read     Film     Television
Fantasy adventure based on the Mariah Mundi novels by G P Taylor. A young man is thrown into a world of treachery, magical antiquities and steampunk machinery. I totally missed this when it was released at the cinema, where it sadly received poor reviews. I thought it was a bit of fun though, with a good ensemble cast including plenty of well known faces. Okay watch.

The Maze Runner (2014)          Not Read     Film     DVD
Dystopian, action thriller based on the young adult novel by James Dashner. I thought the concept of a group of young men being tested in a lethal and mind-boggling maze was fascinating; with great special effects and interesting characters. I am so pleased I was lent this on DVD by a friend and I look forward to the upcoming release of the sequel. Good watch.

Edge of Tomorrow (2014)          Not Read     Film     Television
Science fiction blockbuster based on the Japanese novel All You Need Is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka. A soldier relives a brutal battle over and over again in a sadistic, Groundhog Day style, loop to find a way to destroy the aliens. I thought this would be good but I got so much more with this twisted, brilliant concept. Amazing special effects, interesting time cuts, and great performances from Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt. Great watch.

Poldark (2015)          Not Read     TV Series     Television
BBC costume drama based on the first two novels from the Poldark series by Winston Graham. Ross Poldark returns home to try to resurrect his family’s mine. A stark and often heart breaking portrayal of life in Cornwall in the late 1700s, brought to life by a good and rather attractive ensemble cast, in stunning scenery and beautiful costumes. I look forward to series 2. Good watch.

That’s another 5 adaptations watched which when added to the previous 6 makes the grand total 11 adaptations for April; a great month which has only been matched in January. The Easter bank holiday really helped bump up my numbers. I am looking forward to seeing what adaptations I watch in May, as I have 3 TV adaptations on the go and I really must go see the new Avengers film at the cinema.

Have you watched any of these? What have you been watching?

New Books: April 2015

New Books - April #1

Hello my fellow bookworms, here’s what goodies I have managed to add to my bookshelf and Kindle recently:

Guy Martin: My Autobiography by Guy Martin

Divergent by Veronica Roth

Insurgent by Veronica Roth

Allegiant by Veronica Roth

I was lent all of these by a book loving, family friend. I have rather a soft spot for Guy Martin having watched and loved several of his TV shows on history, machines and speed so I hope I will also enjoy his autobiography. I have also recently enjoyed the two film adaptations of Veronica Roth’s Dystopian series so I am looking forward to reading these.

New Books - April #2

The Quarry by Iain Banks

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

Blood on the Bayou by D J Donaldson

The Martian by Andy Weir

The Quarry and The Martian have been passed on to me now my father has read them. I sadly still haven’t read anything by Banks perhaps this could be my first and I’ve heard lots of good things about The Martian. Then I was lent The Miniaturist by my mother with glowing praise for how much she enjoyed it. And finally I received a copy of supernatural, crime Blood on the Bayou for my Kindle from the publishers

Have you read any of these? What new books are you excited about?

Top 10 Adaptations of 2014

Blog 2014

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.

Hello my fellow bookworms and adaptations watchers. 2014 was a great adaptation watching year for me so I thought I would do my first top 10 list for it. This is a list of adaptations I watched in 2014 not that were necessarily released in 2014. After much thought here are my choices (ordered alphabetically by title):

1. Captain Phillips (2013)          Not Read     Film     Television
A heart-racing thriller based on a true life account; recounted in A Captain’s Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALs, and Dangerous Days at Sea by Richard Phillips (with help from Stephan Talty). The amazing Tom Hanks takes the title role of Captain Richard Phillips who is willing to sacrifice himself when he finds his ship and crew under attack from Somali pirates. Great performances from the whole cast and an all round beautifully made film.

2. Death Comes to Pemberley (2013)          Read     TV Mini-Series     Television
BBC period drama adapted from P D James’ novel which continues Darcy and Elizabeth’s life on after Pride and Prejudice. With beautiful scenery, lavish costumes, a great cast and a good murder mystery, what wasn’t there to enjoy here? I only wish I had watched this mini-series sooner

3. Endeavour (2014)          Not Read     TV Series     Television
A second series of ITV crime drama series based on the characters of Colin Dexter’s Inspector Morse novels and prequel to the ITV Inspector Morse (1987-2000) TV series. Endeavour takes us back to the Oxford of 1960s where we see the young detective constable Endeavour Morse solve some of his earliest cases. Mysterious, clever and Shaun Evans does a wonderful job of portraying young Morse.

4. Game of Thrones (2014)          Read      TV Series      Television
Lavish fourth series of the epic fantasy drama based on George R R Martin’s epic A Song of Ice and Fire series. Another gripping series of war, intrigue, family, politics, love, lust, lies and dragons! What’s not to love? Again though not for everyone it is jam packed with violence, sex and foul language. (Since watching this I have caught up with the books).

5. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)          Not Read     Film     Cinema
A action-packed superhero adventure set in space based on Guardians of the Galaxy created by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning which is featured in Marvel Comics. A gang of extra-terrestrial misfits fighting and stealing their way around the galaxy in hopes of saving it from Ronan the Accuser. An exciting and fast paced film with great special effects and a cool soundtrack. I enjoyed this even more than I thought I would.

6. Noah (2014)          Read      Film      Cinema
An epic biblically inspired Hollywood film inspired by Noah’s Ark from the Old Testament of The Bible and other similar ancient tales from around the world. Whether you believe in these tales or not I thought this was a stunning and innovative film with a cool science fiction twist. With great performances from Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Ray Winstone, Emma Watson and more.

7. Sherlock (2014)          Read     TV Mini-Series     Television
The third series of the BBC’s popular show inspired by the tales of Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous private detective Sherlock Holmes. An excellent modern interpretation of Doyle’s characters and mysteries which has been highly anticipated for a return since 2012! As before. All I can say is I hope it won’t be long till there is more..

8. Shetland (2014)          Not Read     TV Series     Television
A second series of BBC crime drama series based on Ann Cleeve’s novels Raven Black, Dead Water and Blue Lightning featuring Detective Inspector Jimmy Perez each novel was covered over three two-part episodes. I thought this series was mysterious and well performed with the isolated, lonely and beautiful setting of the islands of Shetland. I hope there will be more.

9. Thor: The Dark World (2013)          Not Read     Film     Television
An action-packed superhero adventure set in space based on Thor created by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber and Jack Kirby who features in Marvel Comics. I thought The Dark World was another fun and action packed adventure this time set in part on Earth and Asgard, which I loved, as Thor, Jane and Loki battle across the universe with the Dark Elves. I was totally sold on this film.

10. X-Men: Days of the Future Past (2014)          Not Read     Film      Cinema
A Hollywood blockbuster about The X-Men superheroes featured in Marvel Comics with a plot loosely based on a story by Chris Claremont and John Byrne. Exciting, fast-paced, amazing special effects and great performances from the ensemble cast.

It was hard to dwindle my list down to just 10. Honourable mentions must also go out to TV series Fleming (2014), Hannibal (2014), and Inspector George Gently (2014), and films Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014), The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014), and my re-watch of Pride & Prejudice (2005).

What were your favourite films and TV shows you watched in 2014?