Zone 23 by C.J Hopkins Review

A wordy but very addictive and immersive read…

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Zone 23 is a story told in a uniquely odd and sometimes funny style. C.J Hopkins has created an imaginative and deeply descriptive world of social classes. There were many instances I found myself amused and then there were times I didn’t particularly understand whether or not something was supposed to be funny or more serious. Either way its a very immersive read and the author’s vocabulary range is like nothing I have seen before which is a big positive and something many aspiring authors should take note and learn from.

I found myself unable to put this book down and I managed to read it over a three day weekend although I didn’t get much else done as it is a very long but overall rewarding read. The description is heavy a lot of the time which unfortunately weighs down the flow of what is a really gripping and immersive tale.

Much of the themes echo to the world we live in today although it is set in a ‘dystopian’ world and makes fun of the genre in a clever and original way. Many of the chapters end on a cliffhanger giving it an effective page turning quality. The characters throughout felt three dimensional and believable in the world they live in.

Above all I would describe Zone 23 as a highly immersive, very interesting story with some attributes many of these ‘dystopian’ tales could only dream of having.

4 stars.

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Chilling Adventures of Sabrina: Review

Being part of the Nickelodeon generation (the good Nickelodeon generation) I’ve been looking forward to this Netflix adaptation/re imagining ever since it was announced, plus you know most of my books delve into the occult and my first TV hero was Buffy the Vampire Slayer so on the surface this show looked to tick many a box, or so I thought…

First of all this isn’t a fully negative review of what I thought was a mostly decent show but…

We’ll start with the good: 

The Characters…

Netflix have done an outstanding job in casting this thing; from the lead who is great and also has eyebrows like it’s 2018 because suddenly they became a thing, either way Kiernan Shipka carries the show as sixteen year old Sabrina Spellman; a half witch half mortal about to delve into the witchcraft underworld of her hometown Greendale. In fact I think possibly the best thing about this show is the array of characters and the cast. Love interest Harvey Kinkle (Ross Lynch) carried his role with a depth and emotion that was well played throughout. Of course the Aunties are back in the form of Miranda Otto (scared the hell out of me, but also glam AF) and Lucy Davis (from the UK office), we even see a new character, housebound cousin Ambrose (Chance Perdomo) who acts a lot of the time as a sort of consoling adviser to this young witch as she tries to balance mortal life of a typical High School teenager with that of the occult. Of course there are bad guys in the form of ‘the sisters’ and lead villain Michelle Gomez spends the entirety of S1 as the main antagonist. I have to mention Salem, who is a cat yet again but more of a ‘familar’ who doesn’t speak this time… (I’ll allow that as this isn’t predominantly a comedy)

The Setting

I loved the look of the town known as Greendale and surrounding forest. Everything seemed to have a certain dark grit which was delivered by some typical of the genre angular camera work . The high school stood somewhere between Archie comic and dark realism; in fact the production design and sets were flawless on screen. Greendale does indeed look to be an interesting place…

So Netflix are doing well, but then we get to the actual story which is where the problems begin…

I really really wanted to like this show, and I did mostly but Sabrina has problems with it’s story, there isn’t just one, there are several stories, in fact there are too many. The main story, sub stories and back stories spread this show too thin. Much of the time I felt the long running time of each episode did in fact drag which to me is such a shame because this show has so much potential. They seemed to be doing too much at once which to me felt like there wasn’t enough of everything.

Story telling in television and cinema seems to be a problem these days with the fact people make these wonderful productions with great performances, production design, costumes, effects… but the story is where it’s lacking (ref The Walking Dead, Star Wars, any Hollywood Horror film…) and that is where Sabrina falls down. There isn’t enough for what it is and that’s worrying for something with hour long episodes. There isn’t enough action to stimulate the dragging effect that seems to weigh this thing down. With Buffy every episode had to have a sequence of action, even if it was a solitary out-swinging kick it had something, this show doesn’t.

Attention spans are shortening and this whole binge watch thing works if the show is binge-able but it has to come naturally and not forced/planned. Orange is the new black works as a great example of this, you want to know what happens next, the tension grips you throughout but with Sabrina they tended to force every ending with a cliff hanger enticing viewers to binge, but after that long hour previously I really didn’t feel like another one.

This is problematic going forward and the show needs to do a lot to convince me to carry on watching for season 2. Netflix is great but not everything they do is. Just tell a story and stop worrying about telling several…

Final Thought and it’s positive!

The final episode was in fact awesome and if you like the occult genre then do check it out. There are some great characters; great performances and some familiar faces.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weekly Ramble #19

For as long as there are people there will always be readers. No matter how language and writing changes or evolves, books will get written. Technology continually moves on, but writing and reading is an almost invulnerable medium. 

Books are instant immersion, there is no buffering, loading or bandwidth, just pages and words; sometimes illustrations and diagrams all of which sit on the shelf readily available. The epiphany is,this hasn’t changed since intelligent humans emerged or evolved into who we are today. People have always told stories and people have always read them.

I hear people constantly say ‘I don’t write anything with my hands anymore’ and that ‘writing’ is dying. It isn’t, writing is just evolving, the language has always been there and so will the words. From pen to keyboard is just a minor jump but the words remain mostly the same and so does the presence of books.

The amount of people who read is and always will be greater than those who don’t, even with society apparently being ‘dumber’ today. We want to escape, all of us, and we want to escape now, even with all this hyper on demand stuff like Netflix and youtube nothing beats the cinema that is the human mind.

Written words are manifested by each and every imagination differently and that truly defines the wonder of books. Whether they are electronic or not; they are still books and they play out in the greatest studio ever created, the most powerful studio every built, the human mind; the place where these stories are fostered and created.

Whether it be fiction, non fiction, manuals, text books, scripts, screenplays, poetry, blogs, Facebook statuses, tweets and beyond. People will always read and who ever created it is releasing something that is a part of them. Whether it’s a character based on someone they know of, or an experience which has stuck with them, or just the passing of knowledge, when you are reading, you are taking on the essence of somebody else’s mind and their embodiment. Writers have lived a hundred lives and written thousands of words, all of which is created for the reader to live that life also…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘Twister’ meets ‘The Teleporter’: the ultimate ‘what if’ crossover scenario…

Just what would happen if a man called ‘Twister’ met ‘The Teleporter’? This is a crossover nobody asked for, but you’re getting it anyway because writer Lee Hall needed content and because it’s nearly Christmas he should have probably thought of something special to give back to his handful of loyal, well cultured, possibly well endowed readers, yes this is a comedy, but aren’t they all…  sit back and enjoy what is a meeting of literary juggernauts of the ‘lhallverse’….

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(Imagine a bar in low light, there aren’t many people, in fact there are only two. One is half perched at a stool in a long rain coat. His hair is mid length and unkempt. There’s stubble on his face and scars on both hands; one of which is cradling a tumbler of whisky. His name is Twister and he looks in no particular direction when the other guy approaches, The Teleporter; dressed in a turquoise hood and purple skinny jeans, a purple bandanna covers his face along with shades.)

The Teleporter: Hey cowboy, is this seat taken?

Twister: I don’t see any other folks around to claim it.

The Teleporter: Rugged and brooding, how original.

Twister: Excuse me? (he looks to the Teleporter with a raised eyebrow) 

The Teleporter: Let me guess your genre. Wait a second I got this…

Twister: What are you possibly talking about? and what’s  the deal with the outfit? That denim looks a tad feminine.

The Teleporter: Yep, and gender is more than just a word these days but let’s focus on you cowboy. You got those scars, that unshaven look and the whole frown towards life going on. Let’s not mention the whisky your nursing, I’m gonna say horror, or even thriller.

Twister: Still not with ya pal. But looking at those colors and the tight denim I’m gonna say your some kind of fa…

The Teleporter: Whoah! ease back class of 2002, you can’t just go throwing out that kind of language these days, in fact you probably shouldn’t back in ’02 either.

Twister: ’91

The Teleporter: Who in the what now?

Twister:  Class of ’91. Never graduated though, that’s a long story.

The Teleporter: Whatever you say gramps, but you can’t go around throwing out accusations and stuff about what people wear these days.

Twister: These days? Where do you think we are?

The Teleporter: Hoping to god this isn’t my sequel. But you seriously don’t understand this gig?

Twister: It sounds like English but I’m not following. What’s your deal? Maybe should start with names.

The Teleporter: They call me the Teleporter. My deal, is mainly booze and sometimes yoga. Perhaps an occasional blog post.

Twister: They call me Twister.

The Teleporter: Well Twister, how many books did you get?

Twister: Books?

The Teleporter: Cut the crap. The fourth wall is literally right there dude.

Twister: Three..

The Teleporter: Jesus, three books, seriously… (exasperated)

Twister: Well two actually, one was a sequel/prequel and the other is kind of a cameo deal.

The Teleporter: Cameos and sequels? What are you Clark Thorn in disguise?  What the skittles man? I’m got one that’s not even full length.

Twister: Well I aint one for telling bedtime stories… (he finishes the whisky) 

The Teleporter: Is that supposed to be your catchphrase? (he reaches over the bar and grabs a bottle of beer) 

Twister: Says the guy dressed like a damn clown. So what does the mighty ‘Teleporter’ do then apart from kill the mood with sarcasm and empty humor? (he grabs the beer from the teleporter)

The Teleporter: That burns. I take down the assholes in this world who abuse their power. (he grabs another bottle)

Twister: Sounds like a noble cause. Even with the shitty humor attempts.

The Teleporter: Well this is a world where nothing is original. And so what does ‘Twister’ do with his time? and don’t say it’s complicated or it’s a long story, this isn’t a shitty facebook relationship status update. Let me guess, you’re a vegan blogger?

Twister: I survive.

The Teleporter: Deep and reflective. That’s a great title for a porn flick. But it doesn’t give much away, even after three books that’s all your giving me?

Twister: Says the guy hiding under a hood…

The Teleporter: So what does Twister stand for?

Twister: Real name’s Randy.  I don’t stand for much other than my own survival. The line of work I’m in, we’ll call it extermination. (he pulls out a curved sabre type blade and places it heavily on the bar)

The Teleporter: That’s some impressive hardware. What are we exterminating?

Twister: Various kinds of vermin. Is the ‘Teleporter’ just a solo deal or is there some kind of sidekick?

The Teleporter: You’re gonna have to read my story to find out… (pulls out a thin book and slaps it down on the bar) What about you stretch? are you running around exterminating alone or is there some kind of crew you run with?

Twister: I’ve ran with my fare share back in the day but the line of work I’m in, let’s just say nobody sticks around for long.

The Teleporter: Again with the deep mystery, it’s like you don’t want to give too much away to entice reader folks to pick up your tales.

Twister: Isn’t that why we are here? (looks to camera with the Teleporter) 

The Teleporter: There’s the fourth wall break I was waiting for, feels good right?

Twister: Whatever you say pal… (knocks back the beer and gets up) Well, the road is calling me (grabs sabre)

The Teleporter: We should do this again and then maybe I’ll get the sequel I deserve.

Twister: Hang in there, the reviews of this ain’t bad (looks to the front cover of the Teleporter’s book). 

The Teleporter: Thanks for the inspiration.

Twister: Is that a sarcastic thank you or…

The Teleporter: I don’t know man, I mean, now your leaving but taking your time and what do we do, shake hands, man hug, or even nod defiantly.

Twister: You’re the one who made this awkward. I’m goin now.

The Teleporter: Well, I hate goodbyes.

Twister: We literally just met.

The Teleporter: But I feel like we genuinely bonded.

Twister: We didn’t. I’m gone.

The Teleporter: I can still see you…

You can catch Twister in Open Evening and Cemetery House, of course they are also linked and in the same universe as Darke Blood!

The Teleporter is out now! Rock and roll man!

Happy Holidays folks!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weekly Ramble #18

You’ve got to face writers block with a smile. Not a happy smile, not an arrogant smile but an assured smile, because we wordsmiths have lived a hundred lives through thousands of words, we’re tougher than that ugly motherfu**er of an unproductive monster licking it’s lips at us.

It’s only a matter of time before we figure out a way around you, a way to destroy you and charge forth with our words. It takes more than courage, sometimes it just takes an unexpected little twist or burst of inspiration. The right song or tv show that influences our influence to find a way forward. Then when we see that path and before we have written it, just the knowing how, that’s where we feel our most powerful as authors, bloggers, writers, whatever word you fall under, the words are all the same, we just arrange them differently.

Redemption comes from completing that next project. We find ourselves during that process, we even expend ourselves getting there. That fire in our hearts, sometimes it can nearly burn out by what ever variable there is, but the constants keeps that fire stoked. I’m nearly ready for 2019, my most important hour is approaching and there are several forks in the road ahead along with uncertainty, all of which is excites me.

I’m going into next year with all my steam created from the fire inside me that is burning stronger than ever, even though weeks before it had nearly burned out. What I have planned will work itself out. Jack Thorn my destiny book, a stage play and even film writing. ABW comes to mind and if you don’t know what that is, look it up, that’s how I define my journey, a highway that we are all travelling on. Writing is a mostly solitary experience but together we must share our methods of how we travel.