Book Review – Open Evening by Lee Hall

A huge thank you to Mullen Crafts for this awesome recent review of Open Evening!

Mullen Crafts

Book: Open Evening (Available on Amazon*)
Author: Lee Hall

Open Evening (The Order of the Following Series) by [Hall, Lee]

You find yourself enthralled by the story before you even realise it, sucked right into crazy escapades, drama and suspense – a sure sign of a gripping read!

High school is killer. There are the jocks, the popular pretty girls, the class clown, the bully, the geeks, the total outcasts, where do you fit in? Luke Hartford spends each day skirting the fringes of the high school hierarchy. He just wants to get in, get class done and get by. Odd teachers, jerk classmates, the unattainable girl, and a really weird friend who seems determined to become his best friend, these are all things he can deal with. Then comes the school Open Evening. It sets off a strong sense of deja vu – or is it more than that? The Open Evening swiftly moves from being a regular mundane…

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5th Book Announcement & Blurb Reveal!!

I can officially announce with great pride that my 5th book is going to be published this December!

‘The Ghost Beside Me’ is a paranormal romance due for release in just over a few weeks time.

This might be my most creative and unusual project yet and I’ll tell you why. Last year I drafted this book entirely by hand, away from computers, word counts, the ‘synonyms’ button and any type of release date pressures. It was just me, a pen and some paper and an idea, it always starts with an idea!

‘Ghost’ is shorter than anything I’ve ever written, I’m talking less than 15,000 words but that doesn’t take anything away from the power and punch this story packs. Of course like all of my writing genre is just a small part of the story and it is about way much more than ghosts and love.

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It’s been one hell of a journey this year and to celebrate the fact that this blog has done so great (with the help of ya’ll) I’ve decided what better way to thank everyone than release a new book. By the end of this year I would have read and reviewed 40 indie published books and that alone has inspired me to keep writing. Other writers writing has inspired this whole deal. Meeting and interacting with fellow creators and bloggers has brought a whole new meaning to this journey.

You shall see the cover reveal very soon but for now here’s the official blurb. I hope you like it and thank you to everyone for your support and inspiration to push me to book number 5!

 

 

“Even in the deepest darkest of voids one can find something truly worth having in life, or death…”

 

The paranormal is a subject that E. Neville holds with the utmost content. Being an introvert by choice, he leads a lonely existence full of torment and anxiety for his affliction of preferred solitude. In this diary account Neville shares much of his woes and while settling into a new living space he begins to encounter a series of night-time disturbances like no other. Soon after he faces a battle of self-doubt and belief that something could be reaching out. Is this all a dream? Or is a soul of the ‘departed’ persuasion trying to make contact for a reason? Eventually they make an acquaintance which becomes much more as the barrier of life and death is broken by the power of love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joker – Review

The world has waited a long time for an origins story of quite possibly the most iconic antagonist in comic book and story-telling. We’re used to seeing the ‘business end’ of most ‘bad guys’ without their journey really being acknowledged. The hero swings in and they get beaten, the end… 

‘Joker’ breaks that mold in what I could only describe as a pure cinematic journey into a level of madness and depravity most would find some level of discomfort in – but that’s why it’s so good and even with this story unfolding before our eyes this is just the tip of a much deeper and realistic iceberg.

*There aren’t any specific spoilers in this review *

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A huge player in the theme of this story is privilege versus the downtrodden in a Gotham city where hard times are showing no end and this is where you’ll find the motive and choice behind our title character. Joaquin Phoenix or ‘Arthur’ brings so much to the table in this film; if it wasn’t titled ‘Joker’ it could easily be the tragic tale of a man with a history of being abused who has an abundance of issues while he slips through the cracks of care and society. Very early on you cannot help but back this man who is like everyone else in this world trying to make it through with aspirations and dreams.  

In places the film is awkward to watch and this a deliberate move to highlight ‘Arthur’s’ struggle socially and there will be moments that first appear funny but are actually tragic. This is a man who has been downtrodden his whole life in a world where everyone is sick of struggling while the elite prosper. Eventually these two concepts or themes meet in what is a culmination that is both shocking and incredibly powerful.

Just as the final thirty minutes of this film unravel the whole thing turns on it’s head and becomes a tale of pure anarchy. And even after this ‘Joker’ became apparent and did what he did, it’s portrayed in a way where his choices may have actually been justified for the life he has led. We see the grit of his story on his side of the fence and for everything he does it will leave you thinking, maybe he isn’t the bad guy after all.

I think this film is going to get my number 1 of 2019 and personally I think awards don’t mean much but Phoenix at least needs a nod. Robert De Niro was also fantastic in this film and played a role I never imagined to see him in. Throughout it felt like old school cinema with just a hint of independent film making and a dusting of Tarantino all wrapped up with a great soundtrack and some good cinematography.

5/5 – It’s harrowing, depraved, violent and graphic in places, it isn’t for the faint of heart but I highly recommend this film! By far the best ‘DC’ universe film since the ‘Dark Knight series’. 

 

 

The city of Edinburgh – a review, part 2

A conclusion of my love letter to Scotland and the city of Edinburgh. And so my second day in the city consisted of two activities…

 

Escape Reality – the No.1 Escape room in the world!

I’m not sure if Escape Reality is the no.1 escape room in the world but it is certainly good!  Located just a few tram stops from the city’s central Princes street we then made the short walk to Fountainbridge.

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Our party of 9 were split into two and we were given a choice of two escape rooms out of 6. Of course the crew that I captained chose the ‘Nosferatu’ game, me and Vampires kinda go hand in hand, or hand in stake shall I say. (pause for laughter…) The other crew headed up ‘Machina’ a ‘terminator’ style themed room.

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Once inside we were tasked with a game of figuring out vampire families and an eventual way to a ‘cure’ via several rooms that opened upon finding various different clues and cracking  locks. Mind your head when examining some secret cupboard doors because they may fling open into one’s face!

There was even a clever game involving words which a wordsmith like yours truly somehow cracked. Eventually we found our way into ‘Nosferatu’s’ lair and armed with a stake we slayed that motherfu**er! Overall the room was of medium difficulty and our team working together finished just two minutes shy of the time limit. 

Escape rooms are an ever growing popular concept that I highly recommend, and Escape Reality were great hosts! They boast to have game locations in the US, UAE and India!

And so our sights set themselves onto the main event of our short tenure in Edinburgh and it involved beer!

Frankenstein’s – Bier Keller Experience

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‘The world famous’ Frankenstein’s is a three storey themed bar that was pretty damn awesome. We had booked the basement bier keller experience – an Octoberfest style set up in Scotland? Trust me it works and along with an awesome three course meal we all had ourselves a 1 litre stein of beer (we had to pay separate for this) and one stein will set you back around £8 so it isn’t that bad in terms of pricing seeing as a pint in the UK costs north of £4 these days… so it was worth it!

Overall the service was great and we were well looked after. Frankenstein’s is a unique place and even the walk there was quite picturesque via the hill and past the Royal mile. For anyone looking for an interesting themed bar I would highly recommend this place!

 

Final Thoughts on Edinburgh

What a great city with an awesome vibe. Considering the short time we spent there, I guarantee I shall be returning as there is a lot more to explore. The castle would be something I would have loved to of seen but time was of the essence. If you are flying from London, its literally 50 minutes in the air. My top tip would be to watch out for the return flight if you are using Edinburgh airport, it gets busy on a Sunday!

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IT Chapter 2 – Review

Derry, Maine – 27 Years later – the ‘losers’ club reunite to take on the horrors that haunted them as kids in what is probably the most anticipated film of 2019 and guess what, they didn’t fu** it up! In fact there are several references to not liking endings throughout what is one hell of culmination and personally, enough to cap off one hell of story…. 

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Pennywise has risen and the film opens with reference to the pact which the loser’s club made to face him if he would ever return. The story then begins in ‘present’ day. Things start off quite brutal and really are a sign of what is to follow. This time the whole deal felt more psychological as opposed to physical horror, I would even hazard to guess everyone’s favourite clown has a severely reduced screen time compared to chapter 1 but his appearances were consistent and carried impact just like the man who plays him Bill Skarsgård.

We are introduced one by one to the ‘club’ who are now adults, and the players they have assembled is probably some of the best casting in modern cinema. They really have put in efforts to find people who not only resemble the kids but their whole personality and chemistry together is something that I found a pleasure to watch. It’s funny and meaningful without being over emotional or even cheesy. These kids went through so much and you feel it as a passenger on this roller coaster ride.

They assemble and a journey begins to find a way to kill Pennywise for good. Each of the now grown up kids has to find a ‘token’ of their past and use it to destroy the threat of the present. It’s a clever way of metaphorically saying ‘we beat it before, so we can beat it for good this time’. Chapter two not only references the masterpiece that was Chapter one but we are taken back many times throughout showing scenes that weren’t in the first. It fills in the gaps while all the more adding a lot more weight to the already detailed story.

It nostalgia and familiarity of the present day rolled into one; a perhaps original concept that makes this film flow and you forget about running times entirely. I’ve kept this review vague because Chapter two really is worth a watch. It’s a compliment to the first and so much more. The characters, the visuals, the jumpiness and everything else. Stephen King is a master story teller and it is films like this that do his work justice. You may even see him make a cameo briefly…

10/10 – Must watch for anyone who has seen the first, if you haven’t go now! 

Weekly Ramble #43

And so the final words of Jack Thorn appear on the horizon. What stands before me is still a mountain of a task but behind me is 100,000 plus words drafted of a story that I originally created fifteen years ago; the first attempt came out with 40,000 words, I guess that’s the true reflection of how much I’ve grown over the years much like this book which will change science fiction – I suppose one can dream… 

This book and it’s contents I carry with me, everywhere I go, I have done since I was a teen so why did I decide to write this now?

Jack Thorn is and always will be home to me, it’s my dream book, the one I have always wanted to read. This year has been hard, I knew that from the onset, and so because I moved into my own place I needed something to make me feel at home, and I’ve decided now to that this attempt is justifiable by the fact I’ve learned how to write and tell stories by simply doing that.

I care so much about this story that I was willing to put it to one side and delve into other worlds so I can hone this craft I now have before me. I wanted to be my very best for this tale and it’s been a long journey and even now I have battled to carve a path I mostly already knew, it just needed to be updated, polished and adapted to today’s standards.

The full title I have now chosen and will reveal in time. Hopefully by the end of the month ‘Jack Thorn’ would have been drafted. I said next year’s plan I would be querying, but I will probably be editing for a long while.

The ultimate question you probably have is what’s the premise of Jack Thorn? Like all of my stuff it appears as one thing but is actually a stack of different things – right?

Jack Thorn is a science fiction epic about robots in the future. But it’s really about; friendship, family, war, prophecy and above all humanity. From what started as quite simple story has spider webbed into a epic mess of a story and journey of darkness, action, fun, emotion and destiny.

After all these years this dream stands strong, every single word of it…

The Windsor & Eton Brewery Tour – Review

Breweries are a popular and ever growing concept in this day and age. Long are the days gone where bars and pubs sold the one ale by one major brewery. Competition fosters quality in any market and this is particularly so in the beer industry.

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“There’s a beer out there for everyone,” and that’s a statement I now believe as said by ‘Willie’ our somewhat personal tour guide of the cosy Windsor and Eton Brewery; a place where new beers and new ideas are in constant supply along with the a flow of the obvious. Located a stone’s throw away from Windsor Castle and even closer to the river Thames; the unassuming building is tucked away amongst terraced housing in what could be any street in the UK; except on this street something special is happening.

Upon walking through the wide doors of what looks like any modern bar which for a Saturday afternoon was quite busy and full of friendly locals watching the Rugby; this could have easily been mistaken for a living room if it wasn’t for the well stocked gift shop area and of course her majesty’s coat of arms as the brewery has very recently been appointed as the official royal brewer.

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Past this welcoming threshold is the brewery itself in what is compared to most industrial units on the smaller side but the space is used effectively, not only is this where the whole process of making beer takes place but an extension of the bar area with wooden tables and actual used barrels for seating. In fact the place where they usually fill the barrels is empty this afternoon as a live band will be setting up for the evening creating a unique atmosphere.

Our group arranged in a horseshoe are treated to an informal and personal account of the process while of course being generously gifted with samples of Windsor and Eton’s finest; this is along with sampling the main ingredients that make up the brew -hops; all of which are in different stages. It’s insightful and interactive with plenty of opportunity to understand the whole process while you also have a chance to taste some great beers.

The Windsor and Eton Brewery have been in operation for 9 plus years and have already made their mark upon the south eastern area of England; their wide array of choice has even attracted the likes of notable celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal who stocks his restaurants with their product. For anyone looking to do something a little different whilst visiting the home of the Queen I would highly recommend you pay a visit for what is a value for money, insightful, informal and fun experience.

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The Lion King – Review

A visual spectacle where the show is stolen once again by two familiar characters…

It’s hard to deny that the Lion King is a tale of epic Shakespearean proportions, after all it’s ‘Hamlet with lions’ but the story has appeal to all ages and Disney continue to do that clever thing where they adapt a previous release into live action. This concept is near enough a solid strategy for selling tickets to the young and old and yet again it’s worked in that respect but a live action adaptation that involves just animals; does it really deliver?

My answer is yes and no, because I can’t deny visually the cinematography and computer generation somewhat merge into an impressive spectacle. Much like when Jurassic Park came out most people found it hard to determine when they had used CGI and not. The same is for the Lion King and although it looks great it feels like a certain dimension of the story is missing with this choice and I am talking about emotion.

Yes these are animals and they express emotion differently and in a cartoon you can make a lion frown or smile but when it’s appearing as ‘real life’ the concept is kind of lost. This is even more so apparent in musical numbers where emotion is the real key to delivery.

I’m not a film critic so that’s the subjective part out of the way because overall I enjoyed the Lion King – I avoided the animation for a many years because its quite sad in parts and the same is for this version but the story is about redemption so I dig it. The voice acting can’t be faulted along with most of the musical numbers – it seems ‘Be prepared’ was mostly omitted disappointingly… but everything good about this new version is what makes it worth seeing. It was pretty rewarding to see some scenes exactly how they were in the animation, a fitting tribute for this new live action way. I really liked how some of the characters were created visually; Scar looked exactly how an outcast lion would – dark and ominous and who wouldn’t mention Timon and Pumbaa – two characters who stole the show yet again and their comedy made the whole thing! Of course full credit to James Earl Jones who reprised his role as Mufasa from the original.

You’ll laugh a lot as well as find some of the film emotional in what is a brave execution for Disney leaving some audience members still unsure, but if you ask me the Lion King gets 8 ‘Hakuna Matata’s’ out of 10 

  

Pilot

It has been 5 years since the Hall of Information opened it’s doors. Here’s a look back at the first ever blog entry. A nod and a thank you to everyone who has supported this; old or new!

Lee's Hall of information

It’s that moment, much like when you watch the first ever episode of a TV show you come to love years later.

Where it all begins, a wild eye medical intern called JD passes through the walls of a daunting hospital known as sacred heart. Or that moment a cartoon layabout and accidental time traveler meets a well-known robot bending unit, unaware he has just stepped into a suicide booth.. Yes I am referencing TV pop culture because apparently it’s appealing. I pity the fool who doesn’t use pop culture to entertain, ok I’ll stop now.

Many of us have those favorite shows we watch over the years but never see the pilot. We will have that eureka moment when we realise why something is the way it is. That is of course if you are lucky enough to be around for the first episode. For you this is that…

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Red Headed Book Lover: A warning to Authors

An important re-blog and a warning to authors looking for reviews. Seeing as my following is a lot higher and this is my most read post, I thought I would share it again…

Lee's Hall of information

Unfortunately we live in a world that is rife with the dishonest, and this is especially so in the Uber Democracy known as the internet. A place without any real regulation. I intend for this blog entry to act as a service first and foremost to my fellow wordsmiths who have delved into the world of publishing, independent or not, it is with great importance I come to you with this.

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I don’t see other writers as competition but as fellows where we are all trying to convince the world our words exist. And it is our responsibility to look out for one another especially when our ultimate integrity is threatened. I use the word threat because what we do takes so much work and only a select will understand what that truly means, but for everyone concerned with writing books I have to do my duty for our industry. 

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