Retrograde directed by Jason Croxall

I’ve mentioned my talented filmmaker brother, Jason Croxall on this site a few times now, but I’ve never actually showcased any of his excellent short films! All of my factual videos are shot and directed by Jason, but below is one of his drama pieces, Retrograde. The film is about a young man struggling with retrograde amnesia, and was released earlier this year. Have a watch and see what you think.

You can view more of Jason’s work on his vimeo page, and follow him on Twitter here.

October 19, 2014Leave a comment

Book Review: River Monsters by Jeremy Wade

We’ve all heard a fisherman’s tale before; those far-fetched stories concerning ‘the one that got away’ shared in the corner of dimly lit pubs. Well, oddly enough, it turns out some of them were true.

Of course, zoologist and extreme angler Jeremy Wade has known this for a long time. For the past twenty-five years, he’s been travelling the world collecting the stories of ferocious freshwater attacks previously written off as folklore by the masses. From tales of sharks attacking horses at river crossings (yes, sharks in rivers!), to spiked fish lodging themselves inside gentlemen’s nether regions, it really is incredible how many of the myths Wade investigates in River Monsters turn out to have a basis in fact.

From the opening sentence, it’s clear Wade can write (he’s previously been employed as a copywriter and reporter) and he works intrigue and imagery into his prose with a skilled hand. It’s a good job he’s able to as well, because River Monsters is far, far more than just a transcript of Animal Planet’s television series of the same name. It’s the story of Wade himself, of a man who wandered through his early adult life lost, until his passion for adventure and the natural world was reignited, and, with it, his sense of direction and purpose.

And what a passion he has. You can feel it coursing through every sentence, and, when he’s stalking creatures such as the goliath tigerfish, the alligator garr or the Illiamna lake monster, it’s easy to get caught up in Wade’s enthusiasm. His knowledge of the creatures he’s hunting and the history of locations he hunts them in is impressive; a particular highlight is Wade’s comparison of his exploits to those of past explorers, including none other than Theodore ‘Teddy’ Roosevelt’s (after an election defeat in 1912, Roosevelt left America in order to explore a perilous tributary of the Amazon River).

Naturally, the question that comes to mind with a book like this is, what’s here for non-anglers? Well, the emphasis is on the fauna and the exotic locations, not on bait rigs or tackle selection, and most readers will much prefer it that way. But the passages on local peoples (tribal and otherwise) and the personal accounts of Wade’s experiences with them are the book’s surprise strength – they’re just as fascinating as the river monsters themselves.

River Monsters is available through Amazon UK now.

October 12, 2014Leave a comment

The Work-In-Progress Blog Tour

I was tagged to take part in the WIP blog tour by my friend, Lisa, author of the excellent The Elemental. The rules are simple: link back to the person who tagged you and then write a little about your current WIP. Oh, and you also have to provide the opening lines from your WIP’s first three chapters and nominate someone else to take part too. But, before all of that, below is part of my Amazon review of The Elemental, it’s always worth talking about the previous author’s books in these things!

The Elemental revolves around Catherine, an Elemental with the power to effect and control the elements (I particularly liked the way the sun comes out when she’s happy). With catastrophic disaster on its way, Catherine has to try and utilise her gifts in order to save everyone she holds dear.

The plot is a riveting one, but, what really surprised me was how much the setting contributed to my overall enjoyment of the novel. Shoreditch is described beautifully and the interactions of high-flying, modern women within this borough are a refreshing thing to find in an avoiding-disaster-type-novel. I’ve had a couple of stints living in London and parts of this book made me want to move back immediately!

The Elemental is available through Amazon UK now.

 

And now for a little on my WIP! I actually have a few, but I’ve decided to share a taster of Six Short Stories. The eBook (due Spring 2015) doesn’t exactly have any chapters, so I’m going to share the openings from the first three short stories themselves. Let me know what you think!

Dylan

Are you sure nobody is watching you right now?

There are good versions of the being watched feeling; that buzz you get when you catch an attractive person looking at you, or when someone is watching you play an instrument and you can tell they’re impressed. Stuff like that. But then there is the bad version. That eerie, nauseating feeling that your actions are being monitored, analysed even.

Roseroot Rectory

THIS REPORTER WAS surprised to discover a peculiar postcard whilst replying to correspondents following Easter Sunday’s edition of the Sentinel. The postcard read: ‘Mr and Mrs Dovecot cordially invite John Banks, chief reporter of the Lincolnshire Sentinel, to stay one night at Roseroot Rectory, Trilby, renowned as the most haunted rectory in Great Britain.’

Scruffy

Because I’m sad, daddy found me a new friend. He’s not a pedigreez. I called him Scruffy because his fur is all tufty and scruffy. His old mummy lives in the next town and daddy says Scruffy can visit her sometimes, just like I visit my mummy.

Add Six Short Stories on GoodReads here.

 

Finally, I tag the lovely, Sharon Sant! Sharon is an incredible YA author, the sublime The Memory Game and Runners being just two of the highlights from her extensive back catalouge. I’ve reviewed both of those books on this website and The Memory Game was also featured in a post I wrote on my favourite books of 2013.

Check out Sharon’s Amazon UK page here.

October 2, 20144 Comments

Book Review: Tiger Wars by Steve Backshall

Steve Backshall is undoubtedly one of television’s best known wildlife presenters. Working for the BBC’s Natural History Unit, he’s fronted numerous television programmes including Deadly 60, a hugely successful children’s series that sees the adventurer coming face to face with some of the world’s most dangerous creatures.

Whilst Tiger Wars isn’t Backshall’s first book (he’s released a string of factual titles and television tie-ins) it does represent his first foray into young-adult fiction. The novel follows Sinter as she flees from an arranged marriage to a much older man, and Saker, as he is hunted by The Clan, a shadowy sect which provides young renegades for hire. Most recently, to a Chinese overlord who specialises in tiger poaching.

Backshall’s writing is fast-paced and crisp. There are no overly verbose descriptions of the exotic Indian and Chinese settings (something you could be forgiven for expecting from a naturalist), and, when the time comes for an injection of science or the green message, facts are woven into the narrative with an impressive subtlety. The story arc is well crafted, too, with Saker and Sinter’s plots intertwining seamlessly before heading towards the book’s satisfying conclusion.

Tiger Wars isn’t perfect, however. Whilst structurally effective, Saker’s amnesia storyline is somewhat clichéd and may prevent readers from losing themselves in the otherwise immersive prose. The villains are also a tad generic, but Saker and (particularly) Sinter are wonderful characters; they more than make up for any shortcomings.

It’s also important to note that the book doesn’t shy away from difficult scenes, treating its target audience with enough respect to expose them to the grim realities of illegal tiger slaughter from the off. It’s a good move, with popular authors such as Patrick Ness voicing concerns over censorship, younger readers have perhaps never been more wary of books that steer them away from sensitive issues.

Tiger Wars is available through Amazon UK now.

September 25, 2014Leave a comment