Book Review: Falling Sideways by Tom Holt

Posted on by 5WC in Book
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I just needed an escape. I just needed to read something that wasn’t based on psychology. That didn’t grab you and demand your full attention, that wasn’t heavy, melancholic or dark. I just wanted a story that was light and comedic and throwaway. I wanted the literary version of cinematic popcorn fodder.

Matthew Thomas only wrote two stories: Terror Firma and Before & After but that was the style I was after, a humorous and almost silly look at life and a quick Google search for “Authors like Matthew Thomas” turned up Tom Holt, the first book at the top of his metaphorical pile being Falling Sideways and that was enough to get me reading. Although the brief synopsis describing a story mixing frogs, humans and evolution answered my brief for a preposterously fun story that I had initially searched for. Read more

Film Review: The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

Posted on by 5WC in Film

I truly believe that I am the tipping point when it comes to The Man From U.N.C.L.E.. That my generation – the thirty-something’s – are the point where this movie loses its audience. I have never seen an episode of the original TV series, in fact, I can’t outline it’s plot, name any characters or even when it was set (I would have been a decade out, assuming it was in 1970’s) but I have heard of it. It’s a name that means something to me even if, as said, I know no details, but I’m not sure you can say that for those younger than me.

And I think that’s going to be a huge problem for Guy Ritchie’s latest film. I caught the trailer before Southpaw and while I thought it looked fairly interesting, didn’t really give it a second glance until it announced, at the end, its title and then the brand gave it provenance. Forgiving all previous thoughts and generating the interest needed to draw me in. But that created the problem, the trailer doesn’t give you enough, it doesn’t tell you what to expect. Read more

Streatley Nightglow 2015

Posted on by 5WC in Choc Dips, Hot Air Ballooning, Lambert Smith Hampton
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For over 20 years on the second Monday in August, or the Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday depending on the weather, hot air balloons have gathered on Streatley Recreation Ground and put on a tethered display. Initially this was started purely as a thank you to the local residents for allowing balloons to fly from the site, but slowly, it has grown into a well known local event, drawing visitors from across the region and with the aid of some local beer and barbecued meat, raised much needed funds to help purchase, maintain and develop the Recreation Ground into a much enjoyed and used facility.

This year’s glow was all about the forecast. Originally slated for the Monday, the “Met Men” were saying it’d be too windy, that the trees would thrash around and the conditions just too unsafe for tethering. And they were right, however, give it a few hours and you’d get the polar opposite. Push it back one day and it’d be slightly overcast but light winds. In fact, it’d be virtually stationary. So, without a moment’s thought the glow moved. Tuesday arrived just as predicted with a still greyness that justified the decision and preparations were made. Read more

Book Review: Unravel by Calia Read

Posted on by 5WC in Book
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Part of me wants to write that it is strange, macabre almost, that suffering from my own mental health issues that I should seek out books that relate to mental health. Aside from my natural fascination with psychology and the longing to answer the question “why?”, part of me wonders whether, subconsciously, it is an attempt to seek reassurance that my own life will get better. That recovery is possible.

The problem is though, I’m just picking books by their titles. Refining lists: Books -> Psychology -> Thrillers and seeing what titles jump out, what star ratings suggest that a novel is worth reading. I’m not looking for anything in particular, and that is how and why I ended up reading Unravel by Calia Read. It simply fitted the filter. Read more

Flight Report: G-CEGG ~ 1st August 2015 AM

Posted on by 5WC in G-CEGG, Hot Air Ballooning

It feels like I’m getting rather good at this precision flying. Once again I’ve manage to mirror a flight I’ve previously made – taking off and landing in exactly the same places – because, almost a year to the day that I flew from Hungerford to Chieveley, I’ve done it again. However, this time I even manage to predict it before I took off.

Conditions weren’t as good as the previous morning. Rather than light winds, blue skies and a warming sun it was a little grey, misty and with a marked surface inversion meaning any wind on the surface had yet to appear but also, any sign of summer temperatures, I took to the skies trying to convince myself that it really was August and not October. Read more

Film Review: Southpaw

Posted on by 5WC in Film

It’s been very nearly a month since I saw Amy, the last film I’ve watched. I think I’d literally reached a point where I felt saturated by the concentration they demand and the subsequent pressure to write these reviews. However, over the past week or so I’ve started to feel a natural draw back towards them. I’ve started to feel like I want to lose myself into their worlds, to debate their stories and feel their emotions once again.

I knew nothing about Southpaw until I saw the trailer before the screening of Mr Holmes and yet, that brief tease was enough to worm the film into my life and make me want to see it. The trailer did it job and I’ve been patiently waiting for it to arrive. It’s pull was strong enough to get me back into the cinema even though the general reviews I’ve heard, including an interview with lead actor Jake Gyllenhaal, did little to suggest the film was actually any good. Read more

Book Review: Disclaimer by Renee Knight

Posted on by 5WC in Book
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Picking what you read from pictures on Instagram must be the most blatant example of judging a book by its cover. I lurk on Instagram, posting occasionally, but more often than not spending my time browsing pictures of food, cats and piles of books. But it was when a friend shared a combined picture of a book and a cat that I took notice. The book in question was Disclaimer by Renee Knight.

I trust my friend. She reads a lot more than I do and also shares my interest in film. In fact, she has often recommended some of the best independent and foreign language films I’ve seen. So that, tied to the fact that the plot – a thriller based on the premise of what you would do if you discovered a mysterious book only to realise it was actually all about you – seemed wonderfully open ended to the twisting, dark possibilities it could contain. I was sold. I bought it electronically and set about reading it. Read more

Flight Report: G-CEGG ~ 31st July 2015 AM

Posted on by 5WC in G-CEGG, Hot Air Ballooning

I should have been in France, flying with the team from Lindstrand Technologies at the Lorraine Mondial Air Ballon event. Or Metz as it’s known to the British ballooning community. Sadly though, a misbehaving fuel cylinder and my own mental health meant that my time in France was cut down to a measly 36 hours.

It had been a trying week since I arrived back in the UK, watching pictures of record breaking mass ascents, knowing that I should be there, that it should have been 434 balloons not 433 that took to the sky. Plans were even imagined of driving back out for the final 4 days. But however much pain I was in mentally, I needed to protect myself and be fair on those around me, and so I decided that rather that charge back out there and back into the issues I’d previously failed to face, I would stay at home and with the weather becoming flyable, have my own “Mini Metz”. Read more

Book Review: The Shock Of The Fall By Nathan Filer

Posted on by 5WC in Book
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I have finally read enough to realise the type of books I like. By that I don’t mean the genre, I’m still a firm believer in not condensing yourself into one specific group or another, it is such a rich and imaginary world that it seems beyond foolish and narrow minded not to keep your eyes open to it all. Rather, I have realised that I like a novel with a beginning, a middle and an end. I like a story that feels in motion and in which A leads to B and concludes with C.

When it comes to choosing a book to read you can obviously place weight onto recommendations from friends, previous works you’ve read or simply looking at the “best seller” charts to see what’s popular. And sometimes you just have to judge a book by it’s cover. That’s exactly what I did for The Shock Of The Fall by Nathan Filer. I’d never heard of it but it seemed popular and well received online. It’d won the 2013 Costa Book Of The Year Award and more importantly, of course, there was something about the cover that grabbed my eye. Read more

Book Review: The Gun Seller by Hugh Laurie

Posted on by 5WC in Book
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Hugh Laurie went from quirky British treasure to international superstar thanks to House MD. A programme into which I fell completely. I rowed every episode and still, to this day, have a complete soft spot for the characters, actors and anything related to it. It’s therefore, unsurprising, that I have an unfaltering faith in Hugh Laurie as a result, if he suggesting jumping, I take note and look to see if he’s dictated how high.

It’s this interest in his celebrity endorsement that firstly lead me to read The Night Manager by John Le Carré, a book I must admit I hated, but it was while putting together my review of it for this blog that I discovered that Laurie, has in fact, written his own tale of fiction – The Gun Seller. And so, with blind, and untainted faith, I put it in the “to read” pile of my ebook collection and waited for it to reach the top. Read more

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