Past Features

Turning Off The TV #19: The Island

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Welcome to my regular Thursday feature, Turning off the TV! In this feature I recommend books similar to TV shows or films you may have enjoyed, both series and specific episodes.

The film this week is: The Island.

The Island

A man goes on the run after he discovers that he is actually a “harvestable being”, and is being kept as a source of replacement parts, along with others, in a Utopian facility.

I first watched this film in Year 10 Biology at school, when we were studying cloning. Which obviously means it’s totally scientifically accurate and highly academic. Yeah. In reality it’s an action packed and explosive (well it is directed by Michael Bay…) film about two people who discover their lives are a complete lie. The utopian community they believe they live in is in fact a medical facility to house clones – clones harvested for organs when their ‘owners’ are ill. It may not be the best film out there, but it’s always been one I’ve really enjoyed. Plus it has Sean Bean!

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro is a similar tale to The Island – narrated by Kathy and following the lives of her and two of her friends, the teenagers discover that their ‘special school’ is in fact a home for people created purely for organ harvesting. It’s a bleak tale, and has none of the flashiness and explosions of The Island, which makes it even more heart-breaking. Although I didn’t find it as enjoyable a read as I expected, I would definitely recommend it for fans of The Island because of the very similar subject matter. It has also been adapted into a film version, with Keira Knightley, Carey Mulligan and Andrew Garfield.

Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick

Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick

Although it doesn’t feature human clones in the same way as The Island, Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? always reminds me of it, giving off the same sort of bleak and desolate vibe. In this world, androids have become so advanced that it is almost impossible to tell them apart from humans – one of the only ways is to submit the suspected android to something called the ‘Voight-Kampff test’, which tests empathy and reaction times. Whilst the androids may not be human beings, they are shown as being incredibly close – and are persecuted and controlled for this very reason. This book has also been adapted into a film, known as Blade Runner.

Unwind (Unwind Dystology #1) by Neal Schusterman

Unwind by Neal Shusterman

Apart from the cover of Unwind by Neal Schusterman unfortunately reminding me of The Human Centipede, it sounds like an interesting premise. In this dystopia, parents have so much control over their children between the ages of thirteen and eighteen that they can choose to donate their children’s organs to those in need. This is known as unwinding, and technically keeps the child alive, making it a very extreme form of punishment for a misbehaving teenager…

Are you a fan of The Island? Do you have any recommendations to add? Are there any other TV shows or films you’d like me to cover?

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Past Features

Turning Off The TV #18: Primeval

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Welcome to my regular Thursday feature, Turning off the TV! In this feature I recommend books similar to TV shows or films you may have enjoyed, both series and specific episodes.

The TV series this week is: Primeval.

Primeval

When strange anomalies in time start to appear all over England, Professor Cutter and his team have to help track down and capture all sorts of dangerous prehistoric creatures from Earth’s distant past.

BECAUSE DINOSAURS!!! DINOSAURS!!!

Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton

Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton

Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton is one of my favourite books, and the 1993 film adaptation also happens to be one of my favourite films. The book is a whole lot more technical than the film, but in general it’s pretty faithful. It’s just such a clever and thrilling story, plus who doesn’t love the idea of a park filled with actual, real life dinosaurs? Unless perhaps you’re being chased by a T-rex or something…

The Lost World by Arthur Conan Doyle

The Lost World by Arthur Conan Doyle

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle may be known for his Sherlock Holmes series of books, but they weren’t the only thing he wrote. Another of his series followed a character called Professor Challenger, and the first book, The Lost World, tells the story of a discovery of a remote area of the Amazon rainforest. The most astonishing part of the discovery however, is the fact that prehistoric creatures are living there.

Dinosaur Planet by Anne McCaffrey

Dinosaur Planet by Anne McCaffrey

Anne McCaffrey doesn’t just write about dragons. The creator of the well-loved Dragonriders of Pern series has also written about dinosaurs. Dinosaur Planet follows the crew of ARCT-10 as they head to Ireta (the titular dinosaur planet), in order to catalogue its flora and fauna. However, it doesn’t seem like the inhabitants of the planet are particularly welcoming…

Dinosaur Tales by Ray Bradbury

Dinosaur Tales by Ray Bradbury

Until I started researching books for this post, I had no idea that Ray Bradbury had written a book about dinosaurs. Dinosaur Tales gathers together a collection of short stories that Bradbury wrote on… well you guessed it, dinosaurs.

Are you a fan of Primeval? Do you have any recommendations to add? Are there any other TV shows or films you’d like me to cover?

Past Features

Turning Off The TV #17: Supernatural

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Welcome to my regular Thursday feature, Turning off the TV! In this feature I recommend books similar to TV shows or films you may have enjoyed, both series and specific episodes.

The TV series this week is: Supernatural.

Supernatural

Two brothers follow their father’s footsteps as “hunters” fighting evil supernatural beings of many kinds including monsters, demons, and gods that roam the earth.

This is the fourth of this feature covering Supernatural, as I hope to be looking at this series in more detail. So many creatures and urban legends are featured that it opens up a choice of so many more books!

Enjoyed ‘Bloodlust’ (Season Two, Episode Three)?

Vampire Hunter D Guilty Pleasures by Laurell K. Hamilton Let The Right One In

‘Bloodlust’ is one of the episodes featuring the vampire hunter named Gordon, so here I’ve picked out a couple of books featuring vampire hunters and their prey. Vampire Hunter D by Hideyuki Kikuchi and Yoshitaka Amano is a well-known manga, and later anime series, in which humankind are recovering from control by vampires known as the Nobility. Every village and town wants a Hunter to protect them from these bloodthirsty creatures. Although I’ve not read any of the Anita Blake novels, Guilty Pleasures is the start of a very popular series by Laurell K. Hamilton. Like Gordon, Anita is a vampire hunter – but in this case, vampires are mostly protected by law. I’ve also included Let The Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist because despite not featuring vampire hunters, it’s very strong as far as vampire novels go. It’s so very gory and graphic that it made me feel physically sick in certain parts. If you like your stories gory, then look no further…

Enjoyed ‘Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things’ (Season Two, Episode Four)?

Fever by Wayne Simmons World War Z by Max Brooks Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

This episode featured a young girl resurrected as a zombie by her best friend, who was in love with her. Fever by Wayne Simmons is very much a traditional zombie novel, with plenty of guts, gore and foolish characters that you just KNOW are going to become zombie dinner! I won a copy from Goodreads a few years ago. World War Z by Max Brooks was recently adapted into a film starring Brad Pitt (and Peter Capaldi as a W.H.O Doctor!!). Unlike Fever, this focuses more on the human reaction and sheer terror than the actual people getting their faces eaten… so if you want something a bit less squirm-inducing, this may be the better choice! Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion may be even better for the squeamish: it’s a rom-zom novel! It follows a young man, known only as ‘R’, who falls in love with a human girl. This one was also been recently adapted into a film, featuring Nicolas Hoult.

Enjoyed ‘Crossroad Blues’ (Season Two, Episode Eight)?

The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle Raven's Gate by Anthony Horowitz The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan

This episode plays on the urban legend of people selling their souls to the devil at a crossroads for eternal youth, beauty, talent or other things. The hellhounds then come to take their souls. What I loved about this episode is that it was named after, and also featured, the song ‘Crossroad Blues’ by Robert Johnson – a gorgeous piece of old blues. Supposedly Johnson sold his soul to the devil for his talent, which allowed him to create the familiar blues sound we know today! Perhaps the most well-known of the Sherlock Holmes books, The Hound Of The Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle is the story of a giant ghostly hound, supposedly haunting the Baskerville family for generations. When the case is brought to Sherlock he originally dismisses it as nonsense, but perhaps there is something behind it… Hellhounds also make an appearance in Raven’s Gate by Anthony Horowitz, and are described as having rotten flesh. And finally, hellhounds appear as a form of Shadowspawn in Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series. Their saliva is poisonous, and much like the hellhounds in Supernatural, once they’ve set their sights on prey they do not give up until they’ve caught it.

Are you a fan of Supernatural? Do you have any recommendations to add? Are there any TV shows or films you’d like to see in this feature?

Past Features

Turning Off The TV #16 – Doctor Who

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Welcome to my regular Thursday feature, Turning off the TV! In this feature I recommend books similar to TV shows or films you may have enjoyed, both series and specific episodes.

The TV series this week is: Doctor Who.

Doctor Who

The adventures of The Doctor, an alien time traveler – a Time Lord – from Gallifrey. Together with his companions they travel through time and space in the TARDIS, battling evil where they find it.

I’ve covered Doctor Who in this feature before, but there are so many different books to recommend that I’m going to be featuring it several times! For now these mostly cover time travel, but in a later feature I may target specific episodes.

11/22/63 by Stephen King

11/22/63 by Stephen King

Although 11/22/63 by Stephen King involves something the Doctor would NEVER do – changing the course of history – it’s very much a timey-wimey novel. I also feel it fits in well with the beginning of series six in that it’s set in 1960s America, although Maine instead of Utah. Like the episode The Impossible Astronaut, it weaves the story into a major historical event – the moon landing in 1969 in the case of Doctor Who versus the assassination of JFK in 1963.

Timeline by Michael Crichton

Timeline by Michael Crichton

‘Timey wimey’ is today’s keyword. Timeline by Michael Crichton is about a group of historians who go back in time to 1357 in order to answer a distress call sent all the way to 1999. The book switches between the medieval period and the modern day (or rather, 1999), and the main idea is that quantum computers can be used to ‘fax’ people to different timelines. Ah, if only it was that easy… I was also amused to read about the ‘high tech computer game that should hit the market in 2000’ when reading about this book, so naturally I had to find a review of said game. Actual quote from IGN: “We wish we could go back in time and remake this game.”. Not to worry, the book has MUCH better reviews…

Hyperion (Hyperion Cantos #1) by Dan Simmons

Hyperion by Dan Simmons

I can never recommend Hyperion by Dan Simmons enough. One of my favourite sci-fi books EVER, it’s got some INCREDIBLY trippy, timey-wimey content – although that’s not the only reason I’m recommending it for fans of Doctor Who. I feel like the Shrike would be a pretty good fit with the villains of the show. It’s both terrifying and horrific, but at times it actually shows sympathy or some sort of kindness towards a few people. It protects a young girl later in the series. It may be scary, but it’s also misunderstood, just like many of the Doctor’s adversaries.

Are you a fan of Doctor Who? Do you have any recommendations to add? Are there any other TV shows or films you’d like me to cover?

Past Features

Turning Off The TV #15: The Tudors

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Welcome to my regular Thursday feature, Turning off the TV! In this feature I recommend books similar to TV shows or films you may have enjoyed, both series and specific episodes.

The TV series this week is: The Tudors.

The Tudors

Following the life of King Henry VIII of England, infamous for his six wives, this series follows the reign and marriages of the Tudor king, in a way that you may never have seen him before.

The Tudor period has always been one of my favourite eras of British history. Not only was it one we frequently studied in school, but it is also one that has been covered time and time again by so many different people and mediums. Each monarch ruled in a totally different way, and it was also a time of great religious changes.It is therefore a very varied period of time to study, as well as one of great exploration and adventure. A pretty perfect setting for many books, no?

Looking for fiction?

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory Innocent Traitor by Alison Weir

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel is set during the first half of Henry’s reign, covering his attempt to divorce Catherine of Aragon. It is actually told from the point of view of Thomas Cromwell, which could be interesting for fans of the show, a familiar story from a more ‘minor character’. After divorcing Catherine, Henry married Anne Boleyn – but supposedly he also had a bit of a fling with her sister, Mary. The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory is told from Mary Boleyn’s point of view, and in fact much of Gregory’s writing is set during the Tudor period – I would highly recommend any of her books. I also wanted to include a book set after the reign of Henry VIII, for anyone interested in reading further into the Tudor period. Innocent Traitor by Alison Weir is about Lady Jane Grey, who was queen for nine days before being executed. She was nominated as successor by King Edward VI (son and heir of Henry VIII, who died aged 15) and was eventually convicted of high treason. Her story is a short and tragic one.

Or looking for non-fiction?

Six Wives of Henry VIII by Alison Weir Six Wives: The Queens of King Henry VIII

As well as being a writer of fiction, Alison Weir has written many non-fiction books on the Tudor period, a notable example of which is Six Wives of Henry VIII. If you’d like to learn more about the ladies in Henry’s life, then this is a great place to start. David Starkey’s Six Wives: Queens of King Henry VIII is another similar book, and Starkey is a very well-respected historian. Well, generally. My A Level history teacher hated him for some reason…

Are you a fan of The Tudors? Do you have any recommendations to add? Are there any series or films you’d like to see recommendations for?

Past Features

Turning Off The TV #14: HBO’s Rome

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Welcome to my regular Thursday feature, Turning off the TV! In this feature I recommend books similar to TV shows or films you may have enjoyed, both series and specific episodes.

The TV series this week is: HBO’s Rome.

HBO's Rome

A down-to-earth account of the lives of both illustrious and ordinary Romans set in the last days of the Roman Republic, from Julius Caesar’s civil war of 49 BC to the Battle of Actium in 31 BC.

Yet another series that I haven’t seen, but really need to – especially as it covers one of my favourite periods of history. I can think of so many different books to recommend for fans of this show, so I’ve tried to narrow it down a bit. I’ve included both fiction and non-fiction in today’s feature.

Looking for fiction?

The Aeneid by Virgil Imperium by Robert Harris Ovid the Augustan Scapegoat by Michael Soloman

The Aeneid by Virgil is the classic tale of the foundation of Rome, by Aeneas, a Trojan who escaped the Trojan War and traveled to Italy. I’ve chosen this one not so much because of what it covers, but when it was written – during the fall of the Roman Republic and therefore during the period that Rome is set. Robert Harris’ Imperium follows Cicero, the famous orator, lawyer and politician (and whose name means ‘chickpea’, a fact that will always amuse me), of the Roman Republic. The series is a fictional biography of his life, and features familiar historical figures from the show such as Julius Caesar and Pompey. Ovid: An Augustan Scapegoat by Michael Soloman is set a little after the end of the show: in 14 BC, after the death of Emperor Augustus (Octavian). It uses fact mixed with fiction to create a tale of the poet Ovid, exiled from the Roman Empire and never pardoned.

Or non-fiction?

Rubicon by Tom Holland The Roman Triumph by Mary Beard The Classical World: An Epic History of Greece and Rome by Robin Lane Fox

Tom Holland’s Rubicon is a very highly regarded account of the end of the Roman Republic, with lively portraits of historical figures such as Cicero, Cleopatra, Spartacus and Virgil. Mary Beard is quite possibly my favourite historian/classicist EVER, and I had the privilege of meeting her last year, so naturally I have to recommend one of her books! I’ve chosen The Roman Triumph because it’s more of a general look at Rome than some of her other work – although to be honest, I’d recommend any book by her. My final non-fiction book of choice would be The Classical World: An Epic History of Greece and Rome by Robin Lane-Fox (who also comes recommended by Mary Beard, if I remember correctly). This book is a pretty brilliant brief account of the ancient world and is wonderfully written. I could list so many more non-fiction books (basically half of my coursebooks for university) but I think that’s enough for now!

Are you a fan of HBO’s Rome? Do you have any recommendations to add? Are there any series or films you’d like to see recommendations for?

Past Features

Turning Off The TV #13: Heroes

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Welcome to my regular Thursday feature, Turning off the TV! In this feature I recommend books similar to TV shows or films you may have enjoyed, both series and specific episodes.

The TV series this week is: Heroes

Heroes

After a total eclipse casts its shadow across the globe, seemingly calling forth a multitude of everyday men and women with special powers, Dr. Mohinder Suresh, a genetics professor from India, continues to champion his father’s theory that there are people with extraordinary abilities living among us. Heroes follows those people and their fight to save the world…

Heroes is another one of those shows that I started watching when it was first aired, then missed a couple and never caught up – despite the fact that my family owns all the DVDs and I could watch it on Netflix at any time. I’ve always been quite squeamish and that scene where Claire has to basically put her chest back together was a bit too much for me – although I think shows like Game of Thrones have desensitised me lately! Maybe I should give it another try, and just add it to my ever growing list of shows to watch and/or finish…

Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson

Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson

I’d always heard a lot about Brandon Sanderson, but I didn’t read any of his work until the end of last year. I’ve only read two of his books so far (Elantris and The Final Empire) but I loved them both. Whilst he tends to write fantasy, Steelheart is something quite different – a story of normal people, granted superpowers – and a desire to take over the Earth. The ‘Epics’, as they are known, are almost unstoppable, and only one force dares to stand against them – the ‘Reckoners’, normal people without super powers, who study the Epics in order to assassinate them. Ugh, I just want this book NOW. But it’s only out in large paperback at the moment – I’m waiting for a Kindle sale, or the smaller paperback.

Vicious by Victoria Schwab

Vicious by Victoria Schwab

Vicious is one of those books that I’d heard absolutely nothing about – until suddenly ALL of my blogger friends starting reading and talking about it. It’s about two young boys, college roommates, who discover that under the right conditions, gaining superpowers is possible. But things go wrong when it comes to the experimental stage, and ten years later the two boys are no longer friends – but enemies. Goodreads claims that Victoria Schwab ‘brings to life a gritty comic book style world in vivid prose’, which sounds totally my kind of thing. Also, I don’t know if it’s just me – but when I look at the thumbnail of this cover, all I can see is Gru from Despicable Me looking down from that balcony!

Soon I Will Be Invincible by Austin Grossman

Soon I Will Be Invincible by Austin Grossman

Unlike the previous two books, Soon I Will Be Invincible is not one that I’ve seen all over the blogosphere. I found it whilst browsing Goodreads, and thought it looked pretty perfect for this feature. It sounds like a bit of a typical superhero story (an evil villain called ‘Doctor Impossible’ determined to take over the world, a ‘new’ superhero who will go on to prove themselves), but it also sounds pretty fun.

The H.I.V.E series by Mark Walden

The H.I.V.E series by Mark Walden

Because we can’t forget the super villains! I’ve seen the H.I.V.E series around a lot – it’s mostly aimed at middle grade audiences. The series follows a young boy called Otto who is picked from his orphanage to become part of the Higher Institute of Villainous Education, where young children are trained to become super villains. However, Otto soon realises that it is a six year program and he doesn’t want to stay. With the help of his genius friends, he begins formulating a plan to break out. There are currently eight books, with a ninth on the way.

As well as these novels, there are so many different graphic novels and comic books relating to superheroes to check out. I’m currently working my way through various Marvel (mostly X-Men, Fantastic Four and Avengers) storylines, but other great publishers include DC and Dark Horse.

Are you a fan of Heroes? Do you have any recommendations to add?