Welcome to my Blogger page, thank you for visiting. This is where I will share my reviews of books, movies and other things I enjoy. If you would like to see my ramblings, fanfiction and other general posts, please visit my Livejournal: beren_writes. Visit my pages to learn about me and my books.
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Thursday, 30 April 2015

AtoZChallenge2015 - Z is for Zuul

Fictional Deities and Demons - AtoZ 2015
Hello and welcome to day 26 of the AtoZChallenge 2015.

Here were are on the last day and for once Z wasn't difficult :). We're with Ghostbusters again today because I had the other two and so I have to have Zuul as well.

Zuul, also called The Gatekeeper is a demi-god and one of the minions of Gozer, along with Vinz Clortho, the key master. Both Zuul and Vinz have to come together to bring about the coming of Gozer and help destroy the world.

After having once made and appearance in Dana Barrett's fridge, Zuul possesses her after tying her to a chair, turning her into something of a sexy siren. She then tries to seduce Peter Venkman before finally finding the real key master and consummating their bond to bring about the portal to allow Gozer into New York.

While opening the portal Zuul's true form is revealed:

When Gozer was defeated Zuul turned to stone, leaving Dana Barrett trapped inside what was akin to a statue.

I think Sigourney Weaver's portrayal of Zuul is absolutely brilliant. The scene on the bed where Peter is trying to work out what is going on with Dana is simply fantastic.

Sources: Wikipedia | Ghostbusters Wiki

So, if you have to deal with Zuul or VInz Clortho, which do you think you could handle?


My Other Blogs in the AtoZ: Wittegen Press | FB3X (AC)



I publish my books through my own company, Wittegen Press, which I run with my sister Sophie Duncan. For information about our books, sign up for The Wittegen Press Newsletter:

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Wednesday, 29 April 2015

AtoZChallenge2015 - Y is for Yaksha

Fictional Deities and Demons - AtoZ 2015
Hello and welcome to day 25 of the AtoZChallenge 2015.

Yaksha is a character from The Last Vampire series by Christopher Pike originally published in the 1990s, but recently re-released. He is the first vampire rather than the last, coming from 3000 BC.

Yaksha was created when a travelling priest raised a demon to try and cure a plague, but instead the demon killed he priest and entered the body of a child inside his dead mother's womb. Sita, the heroine of the story is only a child herself at the time witnesses all this and her father saves the child because there is no way to know if he is good or evil. Sita names him "Yaksha" meaning "begot from a Yashini (demon)".

It is not until Sita is grown up and married with a child that all those who witnesses the ceremony start to disappear and Yaksha reveals what he is when he kidnaps her. He then turns her into a vampire as well, making her surrender by threatening her sleeping husband and child.

When humanity realised what they were up against they called on Krishna to help them and Yaksha ended up fighting him, in the end accepting Krishna's grace and then going off to spend the next 5000 years hunting down and killing all those of his own kind.

I've never actually read these books, but I found Yaksha to be an interesting character as I was searching for a Y, and he's a vampire, so how could I resist? The books are controversial since they reference several different sacred beliefs of various religions, but according to Wikipedia there are people interested in the film rights.

Sources: Wikipedia | TVTropes | Fun Trivia

Have you read these books? What did you think of them? If not, would you read them?


My Other Blogs in the AtoZ: Wittegen Press | FB3X (AC)



I publish my books through my own company, Wittegen Press, which I run with my sister Sophie Duncan. For information about our books, sign up for The Wittegen Press Newsletter:

Wittegen PressWe'll send you details of book releases, competitions and other news from our authors, BUT we WON'T spam you, or pass your details on to anyone else.

We will also give you 2 FREE ebooks just for signing up.

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Tuesday, 28 April 2015

AtoZChallenge2015 - X is for Xoanon

Fictional Deities and Demons - AtoZ 2015
Hello and welcome to day 24 of the AtoZChallenge 2015.

Xoanon is another "god" from Tom Baker era Doctor Who - there were so many good ones I had to do another :).

Xoanon is from the episode "Face of Evil" and is the god of the Tesh and the Sevateem. When the Doctor arrives and meets the Sevateem he is named as "The Evil One" who they believe, along with the Tesh is holding their god prisoner. Since there is a glowing, floating head that looks just like him terrorising the Sevateem and his face has been carved into a mountain, it's not such a jump.

Xoanon is actually an artificial intelligence with multiple personalities. He was the computer of the Mordee expedition, a human exploration team, which landed on the planet. He was  designed to guide them, but he broke down. Generations of teams repaired him, eventually evolving him so far that he became concious and a living creature.

This is where the Doctor came in the first time, arriving and helping with repairs just after the new being's birth trauma. He failed to see what it was and thought the data-core was damaged and helped to repair it by making a direct link to his brain. Then he forgot to wipe his mental print from the core, giving Xoanon multiple personalities. (According to the novelisation of the episode, this actually happened during the episode Robot, while the Doctor was still confused from regenerating, hence his big mistake and his very unstable mental print).

Xoanon then set the Tesh and the Sevateem, actually the Technicians and Survey Team from the ship, against each other to reflect his own warring psyche.

In the end the Doctor manages to wipe his pattern from the data-core, thus restoring the real Xoanon who offers to help the tribes of the Tesh and the Sevateem now that he is sane.


Sources: Tardis Data Core | Wikipedia Villains | Wikipedia Ep | TVTropes

Do you like stories of Artificial Intelligence gone mad? Which is your favourite?



My Other Blogs in the AtoZ: Wittegen Press | FB3X (AC)



I publish my books through my own company, Wittegen Press, which I run with my sister Sophie Duncan. For information about our books, sign up for The Wittegen Press Newsletter:

Wittegen PressWe'll send you details of book releases, competitions and other news from our authors, BUT we WON'T spam you, or pass your details on to anyone else.

We will also give you 2 FREE ebooks just for signing up.

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Monday, 27 April 2015

AtoZChallenge2015 - W is for WxrtHltl-jwlpklz

Fictional Deities and Demons - AtoZ 2015
Hello and welcome to day 23 of the AtoZChallenge 2015.

Today I am talking about another characters from the books of the awesome and much mourned, Sir Terry Pratchett.

WxrtHltl-jwlpklz (which I have to copy and paste every time because it's a nightmare) is a demon and appears in Wyrd Sisters. Nanny Ogg accused him of being behind the door when the vowels were handed out.

When he manifested he was kind of handsome, but, being a demon, he was 'a little cruel around the eyes and beaky about the nose'. He also declared his name unpronounceable by human tongues, however, Granny Weatherwax soon proved him completely wrong about that.

 He is the one who reveals to the witches that the kingdom itself is unhappy because it is being ruled by a man who hates it after being threatened with boiling. Once he has revealed his knowledge he is banished with the wonderful words:
"Oh yes, run along."
He is not overly pleased.

Sources: Discworld and Terry Pratchett Wiki | Roosterteeth | TVTropes

Who doesn't love Terry Pratchett? Who is your favourite character from the Discworld?


My Other Blogs in the AtoZ: Wittegen Press | FB3X (AC)



I publish my books through my own company, Wittegen Press, which I run with my sister Sophie Duncan. For information about our books, sign up for The Wittegen Press Newsletter:

Wittegen PressWe'll send you details of book releases, competitions and other news from our authors, BUT we WON'T spam you, or pass your details on to anyone else.

We will also give you 2 FREE ebooks just for signing up.

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Sunday, 26 April 2015

Review: Avengers - Age of Ultron (spoiler free)

Title: Avengers - Age of Ultron
Rating: 12A
Cast:
Robert Downey Jr. ... Tony Stark / Iron Man
Chris Hemsworth ... Thor
Mark Ruffalo ... Bruce Banner / Hulk
Chris Evans ... Steve Rogers / Captain America
Scarlett Johansson ... Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow
Jeremy Renner ... Clint Barton / Hawkeye
James Spader ... Ultron (voice)
Samuel L. Jackson ... Nick Fury
Don Cheadle ... James Rhodes / War Machine
Aaron Taylor-Johnson ... Pietro Maximoff / Quicksilver
Elizabeth Olsen ... Wanda Maximoff / Scarlet Witch
Paul Bettany ... Jarvis / Vision
Cobie Smulders ... Maria Hill

Summary (IMDB): When Tony Stark tries to jumpstart a dormant peacekeeping program, things go awry and it is up to the Avengers to stop the villainous Ultron from enacting his terrible plans.

First off let me say I really enjoyed the movie. I was entertained the whole way through and it didn't screw up as far as my head canons go, which is always nice :). However, I wasn't blown away. With every MCU movie including and since Avengers, I have walked out of the cinema wanting to walk right back in and watch it again - not so with Age of Ultron. Oh, I have it on pre-order, but I was not overtaken with the desire to see it again immediately.

The dialogue is brilliant, the characters are superb, the action is well done, the special effects are awesome, however, for me, the plot falls down.

First of all the good stuff. The dialogue in this film is magnificent. It is, in places, hilarious. The timing is perfect and the one liners are brilliant. You can tell this cast know each other well and get on like a house on fire, even when they are in conflict. The script, when it comes to interactions between the characters, is flawless.

I love the characters and where they have been taken. They are all a little bit broken, and that is very important and yet they are strong. The interpersonal relationships really come through and where they took some of the characters was awesome. I really liked all the directions Joss took it in. They were unexpected and, for me, perfectly done, but I suspect some people are grinding their teeth :). The reveals that happen were great and the reactions of the other characters to certain reveals was really nicely done. I also loved the new characters.

The action sequences are exciting and engaging. I've seen some films recently (Jupiter Ascending for example) where I thought some of the chase scenes etc were too long, not in Ultron. I thought everything was put together very well. The film starts with a bang and keeps going.

The special effects are wonderful, as we have come to expect. They defy reality and make you believe what is going on.

The cast is marvellous. I love, love, love seeing Paul Bettany rather than just hearing him. James Spader had the sexiest voice ever, even when he is being a psychotic machine. Everyone else is brilliant. They all pulled off what they were asked to and I love them all.

BUT ...

The plot was messy, bits just didn't make sense and it felt to me as if the film should have been another hour longer to make sense of everything. Thor has his own little part, that just felt silly, Yes, thank you for the gratuitous shirtless scene, but that whole sub-plot needs at least another half hour to make sense. I suspect if you are familiar with the comics it's fine, not so for me. There are also things that happens to several characters where it felt very meh.

Unfortunately, to me, this felt like a fill in film, one that is a bridge rather than being utterly wonderful in it's own right. I never had that sense with the Avengers - yes it was all about bringing the team together, but it was still an awesome story all of it's own. This had Ultron, but it still felt like a stepping stone to The Infinity War arc, not it's own entity. I think that's because it tried to cram in too much.

Don't get me wrong, I honestly, really, really enjoyed it and I recommend it to all fans of the MCU, but I don't think it's as good as those that have gone before.

Saturday, 25 April 2015

AtoZChallenge2015 - V is for Vyres/ Vinz Clortho

Fictional Deities and Demons - AtoZ 2015
Hello and welcome to day 22 of the AtoZChallenge 2015.

Vyres
To video games! Vyres is a character from Disgaea: Hour of Darkness, a strategy role-playing video game. He is an aristocratic demon with a French accent, and, apparently very few clothes on, given his picture :).

He called himself the Dark Adonis and was a contender for the throne in the game, until Laharl, a half-demon, heir to the throne and main protagonist in the game, wakes up from two years asleep to discover his father King Krichevskoy is dead. Laharl beats Vyres and christens him Mid Boss, which is what sticks.

Vyres is incredibly conceited and doesn't like to lose, often offering excuses if he is beaten. However, he is also fundamentally good at heart because he can hold an artefact which harms the bad and wicked.

As it turns out, Vyres is actually the reincarnation of King Krichevskoy, which probably explains the conceit.

Sources: Disgaea Wiki

Vinz Clortho

Ghostbusters again today for Vinz Clortho the Keymaster of Gozer. Vinz is a demi-god and minion of Gozer the Gozerian, the Destructor (see letter G). He has to get together and get it on with the Gatekeeper to open the portal to allow Gozer to appear.

Before the coming of Gozer, Vinz manifested in New York in the Shandor building as a huge demonic dog, which, according to the Ghostbusters Wiki is called a Terror Dog. He then invaded Louis Tully's party, chasing Tully out of the building and into Central Park, before attacking him and possessing him.

Vinz seemed strangely placid and not very bright after that, allowing himself to be arrested and put into the custody of the Ghostbusters.

He is also the mouth of exposition and has a great speech:
"Gozer the Traveller, he will come in one of the pre-chosen forms. During the rectification of the Vuldronaii, the Traveller came as a large and moving Torb! Then, during the third reconciliation of the last of the Meketrex Supplicants they chose a new form for him... that of a Giant Sloar! many Shubs and Zulls knew what it was to be roasted in the depths of the Sloar that day I can tell you."

Sources: Wikipedia | Ghostbusters Wiki | GB fans Wiki

So, Ghostbusters or video games?

My Other Blogs in the AtoZ: Wittegen Press | FB3X (AC)



I publish my books through my own company, Wittegen Press, which I run with my sister Sophie Duncan. For information about our books, sign up for The Wittegen Press Newsletter:

Wittegen PressWe'll send you details of book releases, competitions and other news from our authors, BUT we WON'T spam you, or pass your details on to anyone else.

We will also give you 2 FREE ebooks just for signing up.

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Friday, 24 April 2015

AtoZChallenge2015 - U is for Umberlee

Fictional Deities and Demons - AtoZ 2015
Hello and welcome to day 21 of the AtoZChallenge 2015.

Now we're in the realm of Dungeons and Dragons, the fantasy role-playing game. May I introduce you to Umberlee, also know as the Bitch-Queen. As you can probably tell, she's not a nice lady. She is an evil sea goddess in the Faerûnian pantheon. Faerûn is the continent in D&D that forms the main focus of the Forgotten Realms campaigns.

She is a destructive, chaotic goddess and she is usually worshiped by people who fear her and hope she won't kill them if they give her offerings. These people are usually sailors and people travelling somewhere by sea. She controls all the harsh power of the sea and has a fondness for drowning people if the mood takes her.

Her big rival is Selune, goddess of light, the moon, star and navigation. The two continually contest against each other over the fate of ships at sea, Selune trying to help them navigate and Umberlee trying to sink them.

Those who truly worship Umberlee tend to be chaotic evil magic users and clerics since she is a chaotic evil lesser goddess. Her church is disorganised due to her chaotic nature and her shrines and temples are spread in random, disparate locations. If you are a member of her church you want to be the strongest because disputes settled under her authority do not go with justice, but to the strongest.

I've always found the rich tapestry of D&D fascinating, although I've only ever live action roleplayed - could never quite get in to the table top version. I have lots of Forgotten Realms books and they are always a great read.

Sources: Wikipedia | Forgotten Realms Wiki | Revolvy

Have you read any Forgotten Realms? Are you a roleplayer? Have any of your characters ever worshiped Umberlee?


My Other Blogs in the AtoZ: Wittegen Press | FB3X (AC)



I publish my books through my own company, Wittegen Press, which I run with my sister Sophie Duncan. For information about our books, sign up for The Wittegen Press Newsletter:

Wittegen PressWe'll send you details of book releases, competitions and other news from our authors, BUT we WON'T spam you, or pass your details on to anyone else.

We will also give you 2 FREE ebooks just for signing up.

* indicates required

Thursday, 23 April 2015

AtoZChallenge2015 - T is for Thor

Fictional Deities and Demons - AtoZ 2015
Hello and welcome to day 20 of the AtoZChallenge 2015.

Happy Thor's day :).


So here we are at my third and last Thunder God - promise :). Thor,  son of Odin, and Norse god of thunder, lightning, storms, oak trees, strength, the protection of mankind, hallowing, healing and fertility. Boy, did he get around! Arguable he is the most famous thunder god I have chosen, after all he has a day of the week named after him :).

Today I am going to talk about my favourite incarnation of Thor from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Hands up who didn't see that coming considering who my favourite Loki is?

When we first meet Thor in the MCU he's an immature, hot headed idiot more likely to engage Mjolnir, his magic hammer, than his brain. He's also about to be crowned king of Asgard by his father Odin, which really is a very bad idea. Hence, Loki, his brother, sabotages the ceremony by letting a couple of Jotun, ancient enemies of Asgard, into the weapons vault to be killed by the Destroyer, knowing Thor will then do something monumentally stupid and hopefully make Odin see sense.

Thor runs off to Jotunheim with Loki, the Warriors Three and Lady Sif and almost starts a war. A bit more than Loki was originally going for.

For this he is banished to Earth with his powers stripped and is unable to wield Mjolnir until he is once again worthy. Luckily for him he is run over by Jane Foster ... twice ... and he falls in love with her and learns that maybe he is a bit of an idiot at times and needs to rethink how he goes about problems. He sacrifices himself to save his new friends and hence is once again worthy of Mjolnir.

Meanwhile Loki's been at home having a nervous breakdown while acting king since Odin is in Odinsleep, so Thor has to go home and sort him out. Then he has lots of adventures with the Avengers and with the Warriors Three and Sif and even Loki again.

What I love about Thor is his strength of character and how deeply he feels things. He comes to love Jane in only days, which have to be like a blink of an eye for a being a thousand years old. He loves Loki even if he doesn't trust him any more and he really wants his brother back. His word is his bond and he will lay down his life for his friends if necessary.

He's also really pretty when played by Chris Hemsworth ;).

Sources: My Brain | Wikipedia

So do you have a favourite Thor? MCU Thor, mythological Thor, Thor from The Incredible Hulk Returns, Comic book Thor?


My Other Blogs in the AtoZ: Wittegen Press | FB3X (AC)



I publish my books through my own company, Wittegen Press, which I run with my sister Sophie Duncan. For information about our books, sign up for The Wittegen Press Newsletter:

Wittegen PressWe'll send you details of book releases, competitions and other news from our authors, BUT we WON'T spam you, or pass your details on to anyone else.

We will also give you 2 FREE ebooks just for signing up.

* indicates required

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

AtoZChallenge2015 - S is for Sutekh

Fictional Deities and Demons - AtoZ 2015
Hello and welcome to day 19 of the AtoZChallenge 2015.


Once again I have chosen an alien with godly delusions. Historically Sutekh is an ancient Egyptian god of the desert, storms, disorder, violence and foreigners, also know as Set. However, the incarnation I have chosen to talk about is from Doctor Who in the seventies, the Tom Baker years. In the episode Pyramids of Mars, the Doctor and Sarah Jane are forced to land the Tardis after seeing a visions of a jackal-like head that interrupts their flight path.

This is Sutekh as he finally finds himself a minion in the form of Dr Marcus Scarman, who has just entered a burial chamber inscribed with the Eye of Horus.

Sutekh is an Osirian, an advanced race that have long since gone exticnt. He is also known as Sutekh the Destroyer and wipes out all life where he finds it. His own people were so appalled by him they ganged up with Horus to imprison him. Unfortunately they didn't kill him because they didn't believe in that.

He has been held immobile in the black pyramid in Egypt for millennia by the Eye of Horus on Mars. Sutekh uses Scarman's reanimated corpse and service robots to do his bidding by employing his formidable mental powers. He has them build a rocket missile to destroy the Eye of Horus. However, the Doctor and Sarah Jane destroy the missile. However Sutekh then takes over the Doctor and uses the Tardis to get Scarman to mars to destroy the Eye.

The only thing that saves Earth is the time it takes radio waves to get from Mars to Earth. The Doctor is able to get back in time and alter Sutekh's time tunnel to far into the future, even further than an Osirian can live.

Pyramids of Mars is one of my all time favourite episodes of Doctor Who. It combines my love of Egyptology with aliens and danger and Victorian country houses. Below is a clip of Sutekh introducing himself.


Sources:  Wikipedia | Tardis Data Core

Are you a Doctor Who fan? Have you seen this episode? Are you a new Who or old Who fan or both?


My Other Blogs in the AtoZ: Wittegen Press | FB3X (AC)



I publish my books through my own company, Wittegen Press, which I run with my sister Sophie Duncan. For information about our books, sign up for The Wittegen Press Newsletter:

Wittegen PressWe'll send you details of book releases, competitions and other news from our authors, BUT we WON'T spam you, or pass your details on to anyone else.

We will also give you 2 FREE ebooks just for signing up.

* indicates required

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Wish me luck, it's personal trainer day :)



I'm sorry if I didn't get to your blog yesterday - I had an absolutely horrible headache in the afternoon and nothing I did would get rid of it, so I went for a lie down. It means I didn't get to visit as many AtoZ blogs as I wanted to.

I'm feeling much better today :).

Which is a good thing because I'm having my first session with a personal trainer today. Wish me luck.

James has been Rob's personal trainer for over a year and has helped him a lot. Rob originally decided to get one because he has hyper-mobile joints and he was having a lot of problems with his back and hips. James had helped him come up with exercises to make sure his joints aren't forever trying to pop out. Rob feels so much better these days.

Hence my decision to see what James can do for me. :)

You see I have talipes (club foot) in both feet. This means my ankle is virtually immobile and I cannot put my heels on the ground (I walk on the ball of my feet and toes all the time). When I was born it was much worse, but I had operations at 7 and 8 to lengthen tendons and reset all my toes to straighten my feet (I think they treat earlier and differently these days, but this was back in the 70s) - back then I walked on the side of my feet, which was worse (see below). My cousin once asked me how I walked without snapping my feet off when we were small before I had the ops.


I can't jump or run (never have been able to - when we were kids in the playground and used to play jumps the only way I could get over anything was to throw myself over it bodily - scared the crap out of a couple of teachers ;)) and these days I can't stand for huge amounts of time, which, as you can imagine, makes the job of a personal trainer harder. I'm also not great on balance because I'm standing on my toes and my ankle doesn't move to help me maintain my centre of gravity. James is willing to have a go and see if he can come up with an exercise routine that I can do, so yay! :) You'd be surprised how many professional don't have a clue - I've taken classes and things before and been looked at blankly when requesting an alternative to something I simply can't do.

He's coming at 12 after he's finished with his other clients at the gym. I am very lucky that we have space in the library so I don't have to go embarrass myself in front of lots of other people for my first session ;)

If I don't reappear after that it's because I've been put through my paces and I can't move! ;)

Have you ever had a personal trainer? Did they help? If you haven't would you ever consider it?