A love for subtitles and Asian drama

Ridley: I hated subtitled films when I was younger. I found it too difficult to read the words and watch what was happening at the same time. 

Now though, I love them. It opens up other fantastic stories from other cultures that you may never have in your own and you get to read a film! It’s a great way to increase your reading speed! 🙂 (The geek in me just has to ruin it!)

If I hadn’t gotten over this dislike. I’d have never watched the Spanish film Pan’s Labyrinth, which was fantastic (and beautifully creepy) or the Russian film Night Watch (which was very weird, gritty too! And set me off on wanting to learn Russian for a little while until I realised how hard it was….one day…)

It’s strange how our tastes can alter so drastically. Though I know when mine did, I’ve a very good reason for it. A few years ago, I discovered anime and not the voice-over kind, (unfortunately, if I’ve watched the subbed version of something first, dubbing hurts my ears. To me they aren’t the characters’ voices!)

The world of anime was introduced to me with the show, Dragon Ball Z. God, I loved it. When I was 14/15 years old, it was on Cartoon Network and it was dubbed (I knew no different at the time. For ages I thought it was American.). I used to rush home from school, throw off my uniform and grab a cup of tea to watch the next episode. My cartoon crushes from it were Piccolo and of course Vegeta (gota love a bad boy!). DBZ had it’s poor points too, especially if there was an epic fight, it often took three episodes just for them to go Super Saiyan (power up basically). There was always lots of gritting of teeth, bulging muscles and shouting, oh and bleaching hair.  

I didn’t immediately begin to watch subbed anime after that. I continued to follow what Cartoon Network gave me (during their Toonami time-Cardcaptor Sakura, Samurai Jack, bit of Gundam Wing, Tenchi Muyo (never knew what was going on in this though), Shin Chan, Xiaolin Showdown….) It took awhile to embrace the notion of watching something with a subtitle. Eventually though I became hooked on Bleach and Naruto (two of the obvious and most popular anime out there).

Then I discovered shoujo manga, anime and dramas. The best way I can describe it is, it’s a little like YA in television form. I suppose similar to our Vampire Diaries or what have you. The target audience would be 10 to 18 year old girls (we could shove that age up a good bit higher I’d say…) There’s always a relationship and it’s always done particularly well. Though I will admit sometimes the endings leave a little to be desired. But with the dramas and anime that get them right, the pay off is wonderful. In terms of anime, I devoured the likes of Fruits Basket, Ouran High School Host Club, Yamato Nadeshiko Shichi Henge…to name only a selection! 

(It has always helped that Latimer is a fan too! So we can trade anime ideas and we’ve each been guinea pigs-one of us tests a series first before the other trails on behind. She began Naruto first, whereas I watched Bleach. Then we switched, after approvals were given, but forever more we each prefer ‘our’ anime, though both are, of course, brilliant. It’s the same ‘side choosing’ we did during Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings. I’ve always been a tiny bit more on the side of HP and she’s always been more LOTR, but only by a smidgen of a degree…barely even….and only because I read HP before LOTR and Latimer did the opposite!)

Of course eventually I found Asian dramas, following on from anime. Suppose it was only inevitable.

Now, dramas (with real people) gave me one advantage over anime, in that when I love the leading man character I could actually tell people. Having a crush on a cartoon is something that could probably get someone committed…not that I ever liked any cartoon men…ignore the above comment about Vegeta and Piccolo, I was delusional…

I’ve watched quite a number of Asian television dramas, from Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Taiwanese…following on from this, as a non-Asian sometimes there are things we don’t quite get, such as cultural references. So we (Latimer and I) came up with the Five Episode Rule. Watch five episodes before making a decision on whether to continue or not. Often times that’s how long it takes for the drama/anime to really get going, for the love interest to be introduced, for the conflict or main plot to get set up….you get the idea.

This Five Episode Rule had to be applied to one of my favourite ever dramas to this day. It was the Japanese version of Boys Over Flowers, Hana Yori Dango.

From Wiki: “It’s about a girl, Makino who is a middle class student attending the prestigious school Eitoku Gakuen. She enrols there because her idol, an internationally-renowned model named Todou Shizuka, was an alumna of the school. However, it isn’t long before Makino discovers the superficial nature of her classmates. Their arrogance and her inability to relate to them, limit her chances at making friends. Worse yet, the school is ruled by the F4 (Flower Four) a group composed of playboys Nishikado Soujiro, Mimasaka Akira, introverted Hanazawa Rui and violent Domyouji Tsukasa. They are all sons of Japan’s wealthiest and most powerful tycoons. They rule the school, bullying fellow students out of boredom or malevolence.

When Makino’s only friend, Sanjo Sakurako, accidentally spills juice on Domyouji’s shirt, Makino is forced to defend her. Thus coming to the notice of the F4. The next day, she receives a red tag in her locker, which is the infamous order from the F4 that this student has been picked as their next target. As a result, the whole school turns against her. Despite the harassment, Makino refuses to give in and quit. Eventually, after a particularly cruel joke by Domyouji, she finally snaps and punches him. This unexpected retaliation catches him by surprise and causes him, ironically, to fall in love with her. Makino, we learn, is in love with another of the F4, the gentle Rui, who in turn harbors romantic feelings for his childhood friend Shizuka (who is Makino’s idol)…..” 

And over two series (and a movie, which I didn’t see the point of), we find out what happens!

It has an absolutely fantastic love story. With a beautiful rain scene, both main characters get soaked. There are so many ups and downs in it, you feel like you’re on a rollercoaster (I mean that in a good way….i’m sure…) Granted there are some parts that they could have cut out, they almost acted like filler episodes in between the proper ones (which knowing that this happens in the case of anime, perhaps it happens with dramas too?) It still doesn’t take away from it. The song from the show is also beautiful.

My second all time favourite drama was Sungkyunkwan Scandal

Wiki again….I sorry, but if it’s been summarised already *shrug* what can you do….(i edited them a tinsey bit…)

“Set in a period where society does not allow females to be educated nor employed, Kim Yoon Hee (Park Min Young) disguises herself as her brother, Kim Yoon Shik, in order to save her family from abject poverty. She goes through a series of odd jobs, mainly at a local bookstore, before (through a series of events) accidentally enrolling in the prestigious Sungkyunkwan University. All the while pretending to be a man, she must bear with the endless mischief of upperclassman Gu Yong Ha (Song Joong-Ki), put up with the constant mood swings of roommate, Moon Jae Shin (Yoo Ah In), avoid getting in trouble with the strict, student body president, Ha In Soo (Jun Tae Soo) and at the same time, try to suppress her growing affections for Lee Sun Joon (Park Yoo Chun).

Together, the four form the “Jalgeum Quartet” (sometimes affectionately also named by fans of the series the “Joseon F4“).”


A Korean drama, this has another beautifully woven love story, with a love triangle, of course and there are characters in it that are quite funny too. There’s also a rain scene where the main people get drenched (if there’s one of these you know its going to be a good!) The historic outfits were beautiful as well, very colourful.

In a way it was the better drama of the two. The writing is far tighter, there’s less rambling and random side stories than you’d find in Hana Yori Dango (but at the same time I kind of like the randomness and extra side plots, except towards the end.) Also, there’s only the one series for SS, which for me was enough. 

The ending was nice and the beginning is quite fast paced, you get introduced to all the main characters pretty quickly. There was no need to apply the Five Episode Rule with this one!

Both series of course have RSAs. There were numerous sqwee-ing moments and definitely a fair amount of swooning throughout!

If you’ve seen these dramas, would you agree?

I’ve watched numerous other anime and dramas, there’s quite a lot of them out there. (You’re Beautiful (another recommended one, great music in it too!) Mischievous Kiss, My Princess, Hana Kimi, Mei-chan no Shitsuji, Romantic Princess…)

All I’ll say is, if you’ve read your new romantic fantasy/YA novel or watched your usual English television show or seen a riveting film- it’s now over and you are now depressed. There doesn’t seem to be anything else available to watch or read and you’re looking for your next romantic ‘fix’? Don’t rule out other countries! And definitely don’t exclude them because they don’t speak English. I’ve grown to love the Japanese language because of these shows, to me it sounds quite lyrical.

Dramas from other countries, manga, comics, movies, anime….give everything a chance and you’ll find other cultures and people do a pretty fantastic job too! Good place to start: http://www.mysoju.com/

I hope other people who have ventured out there agree?

If anyone has any other viewing suggestions, please don’t hesitate to let me know! I’m always in search for something new to read or watch! 

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Latimer and Ridley love hearing from people, so if you have any opinions, non-opinions or little nuggets of wisdom please share them with us in the comments below! Alternatively, if you’d like to get to know us more, why not email us or follow us on twitter and talk to us directly!

In other MLR news, we are currently working on two novels, one of which we intend to publish free on our website. We’re striving hard to make them both LSA and RSA worthy! So stay tuned for more information!

The Book Soundtrack

Latimer: So I finished Mockingjay last Friday. The fire burned swift and fierce. I totally ate that book. I started reading at 8pm and finished by 1.30am (minus aimless wandering time and tea breaks, ‘can’t talk people, Katniss has a rebellion to finish, and I can only just spare enough time to make tea!’).

Orbie only started Mockingjay on Thursday this week; and she was hard pushed to even start. The fire died in her quickly; she was very, ‘neh’ about it after she had raced through Catching Fire. I thought about it as she asked, “Is it any good? Should I bother?”

Baffled I asked, “How can you not read it after you invested all the time? In fairness, don’t you want to know what happens in the relationship?”

She shrugged, “That’s probably all I care about now.” I nodded (it was pretty much all I cared about too).

Anyway, her reading it had me thinking back over it.

It was good, the series as a whole, of course I had enjoyed it. But wasn’t the ending very lacklustre? The relationship only really ended on, “we are both broken, let’s be broken together”. The big showdown never really happened. I feel like I wouldn’t be alone in thinking that as a reader I had been let down a bit.

There weren’t any significant relationship moments that left you clutching your chest, sobbing, “beautiful, perfect”.

The ending was very rushed in the sense that; they got together, in time they healed and then everything was as good as it could have been. But, did we not deserve more of an insight? It left me disappointed, not overly so but still, disappointed.

I wonder will the movies kindle more of a relationship-fire?

Moving from on from the books; I happened upon a soundtrack. Here enter-th my other great love, music (the stories with sounds!).

I just stumbled onto it (maybe you’ve heard it before) it’s called: The Hunger Games: Songs from District 12 and Beyond. It’s the official companion soundtrack to the movie with songs, from various bands, relating to the Hunger Games. Now I’m not 100% sure if they wrote them especially for the movie (but some of them must have done, because they talk about ‘daddy working in the mines’ and specifically ‘mockingjay’).

The thing that caught me was I really liked the people that sung/wrote for it: The Low Anthem, Arcade Fire, Birdy and The Civil Wars! Wow, I thought, I must give this a go! Sting also did a song “Deep in the Meadow”; that’s Katniss’ song right? Sting… my god. (I don’t like it, but hey, Sting, I am impressed!)

It got me thinking about how often I ascribe a song to a specific character (book, movie TV show etc). You know when you are listening away and you start thinking, ah that’s such and such singing about this, that and the other.

Did anyone come up with any songs for the Hunger Games? I had a go (I was listening to Lana Del Rey’s album a lot; so that’s why it’s two of her songs!)-

(Katniss singing about the Games and Peeta; it works, born to die)

(Katniss after the Games- I like the ‘sweet like cinnamon part, cos it’s like a baker, Haha…)

Back to the ‘actual’ soundtrack; Taylor Swift sings a song with The Civil Wars (Safe and Sound), which is beautiful. I have never heard a Taylor Swift song before (I know nothing about her, except the following: she’s young (-er than me!), American, blonde-?, Kanye West badmouthed her at an awards do once- I think).

Her voice works so well with the country tones of The Civil Wars. I feel like they add a lot of maturity to the song because the song she sings on her own is awful (Eyes Open), very teeny; it’s so false, it hasn’t got any sense of being ‘real’ or from the heart. It’s so over-produced. It’s actually grating; it has no place with the rest of the songs.  

The Civil Wars by the way are amazing; they are just a girl and guy with a guitar (if you ever have a chance to see them live, seriously go, they are excellent). They are so in sic with each other it’s amazing; they should be together (this is how it always goes, trying to pair people off), but they are actually happily to other people *sigh*! It’s like they are unromantic, musical soul-mates; perfect harmony. This song is very sweet and lovely; it does reflect Katniss and the Games very well. Also, the song The Civil Wars sing on their own is very beautiful too (Kingdom Come).

Glen Hansard also has a song on the album; he is an Irish singer/songwriter. Who won an Academy Award for his co-written song ‘Falling Slowly’ on the film Once (it’s beautiful): and he used to be in the Irish band The Frames. He’s actually really good, but my god, his song… Take the Heartland, which people think describes Cato; is terrible, it’s just terrible! It’s a sound so unlike his usual self.

‘Come away to the water’ by Maroon 5 (which in my head I just called Macaroon 5!); is another great song. It just conjures up the images of the grim, brutal districts and the oppressive Capitol.

Arcade Fire’s song ‘Abraham’s Daughter’ has an undertone, rift in it that sounds like it was in the movie. The initial rift sounds like the Hunger Games to me (like the theme for Harry Potter is Hedwig’s theme).

But my absolute FAVOURITE song on this lovely soundtrack is ‘Lover Is Childlike’ by The Low Anthem. Oh, I love them. It’s a heart wrenching song. The tone, his voice… it’s perfect.

Sometimes I think songs are like books; you find a great one and you think you’ll never see the like again. But time passes and new ones come.

Susanne Collins is very lucky; these bands actually did songs about her world! It’s amazing; it’s a brilliant idea. The book soundtrack; brilliant! Let me know what you think of the songs! Give them a go; well worth musing over who/what they might be singing about!

How I know I’m a book geek…

Ridley: If you are anyway like me, some of below applies to you! If most of it does, we could probably become best friends or perhaps the very worse of rivals and bitter enemies-who knows how these things work!

Read away and let me know…are you a book geek too? Have I missed something and I need to add it to the list?

  1. You can’t pass a bookshop without going in. It draws you in, like a magnet….walking, walking, walking, turning? turning into bookshop…exceeellent.
  2. You can’t leave a bookshop without buying something. There’s always something there that’s just begging to be bought. ‘Buy me, buy me!’ said the 10 euro book.
  3. You’re number one favourite shop-is a bookshop.
  4. You often have hours pass by while you’ve been in the bookshop and not noticed.
  5. Sometimes you envy the people that work in bookshops and libraries.
  6. Sometimes you visited the library so often as a child (and perhaps now, still!), that they knew you by name.
  7. People never wonder where you disappeared to, they look round for the nearest bookshop and then just pop in there to find you.
  8. The smell of bookshops and books relaxes you, in fact you notice when you enter a bookshop you often inhale, deeply and a grin begins to spread across your face. Your eyes light up and you abandon whoever you are with to go wander the shelves. If they try to start talking to you, loudly (and not the odd, whispered ‘oh look the new one!’) and you have to shush them, mortified that they’d embarrass you like this in front of the bookshop employees or they follow you around, sighing as if they’re bored, these things will all ensure you never return with them to a bookshop.
  9. If you’re somewhere where there is more than one bookshop and someone asks which one is better. You have at least 3 pros and cons for each place. These will often include points like their shelf size of a particular genre-how big or small it is, their variety of books, how quiet the place is and what type of seating can be found there. Oh and if their deals are any good, 3 for 2 is always a good thing-well not for my pocket!
  10. You’re the friend people ask for good book recommendations. You should wear a badge, people are missing out that they don’t know you have, the knowledge.
  11. When you have holidays coming up, you plan for the amount of books you can read in the time you have, you image the big pile with glee. Planning for everything else follows after this.
  12. You would never dog ear a book. Never.
  13. You have numerous random bookmarks, everywhere.
  14. You have extremely fancy bookmarks, made not just from paper but material, metal or wood.
  15. You always get books or book related things for your birthday or Christmas or every occasion really (and this makes you happy, oh so happy!)
  16. You have pre-ordered a book. Many of them.
  17. Amazon is like a best friend. You like those recommendation emails they send you. Sometimes you laugh and say things like ‘Oh amazon, you know me so well.’ and then look around to make sure no one heard you.
  18. You often get annoyed at an author for taking so long to write the next sequel. You expect them not to have any life and just slave away, just so you get your next fix of their series.
  19. Once you’ve read this ‘next fix’ you’re almost depressed that it’s over and now you have nothing to read again.
  20. Breaking the spine or having one broken on one of your books gives you a sick feeling deep in your stomach. (that crack, god the crack of the glue in the binding! Don’t do it! Eventually pages fall out!) If you see someone bending their book back until the covers meet, you cringe and think, if that book were mine, I’d never treat it with that kind of abuse. You think that book would love you all the better for it. (This is beginning to sound a lot like craziness! Mwhaa!) Mind, a tiny little bit of wrinkling in the spine is fine, shows a book is loved.
  21. Similarly leaving a book open, face down for ages so you don’t loose your page (a few minutes-fine, I’m not that bad, but not for the night or longer) This means it will never again close properly. If you leave it like that long enough it will always just open on that page, over and over again!
  22. Someone ripping the page of your book or completely out of your book (even worse!) would begin your long unending high shriek of horror and pain. You would seriously contemplated buying a new replacement book, just so you know this one isn’t in your collection, ripped and ruined. (You possibly have already done this at least once? No one who knows me would dare rip my books, I’d turn into a harpy. I did have one work acquaintance I made the mistake of lending a book to while she went on holiday. She accidentally dropped the book into the pool, dried it out in the baking Spanish sun for a few days and gave it back to me pages stuffed in, falling out, warped cover with the words ‘I was going to buy you another one, but it dried out. So I didn’t think you’d mind.’…..Ever more, she’s just gotten book recommendations, no books.)
  23. Leaving a movie that’s been adapted from one of your favourite books, the words ‘the book was better’ or ‘they didn’t do that in the book’ always passes your lips. (Though sometimes, secretly, you thought the film was fantastic (rarely)! But saying it would feel like a betrayal to the literary world in general.)
  24. When a friend or acquaintance who never reads or has never seemed interested in the written word, ever, begins to start talking about one of your favourite books-first you suppress the look of surprise, then the gigantic sneer-there is no way they love that book or understand it like you do. No way. (if they have the book in their hand, sometimes you ask to see it, just to ensure it’s the same one. Perhaps the author and title and the cover are just extremely similar…no damn it, its the same.)
  25. When a friend or acquaintance (possibly the same person above?  <(‘~’)>  ) again with no love for the English language, reading or writing, gets an A in an English paper and you get a lower grade, little green monsters take over piloting your body. They seem to like shouting ‘why!’ at the sky and slamming things a lot; locker doors, bedroom doors, your head against the wall-repeatedly.
  26. You have a massive book collection that you often glance over and smile fondly at, like they’re little friends waving back (I’m starting to sound delusional, yes? Hello small friendies!)
  27. When you look up at this collection, you’re enormously proud of the fact you can remember exactly what happens in each book and which ones you loved more.
  28. The books you loved more have a better position on your bookshelf, particularly if you like rereading them a lot.
  29. You have a few signed books that you love. And perhaps the odd first edition, which if you had people over to your house, you would include them in the grand tour. ‘And here is my first edition…’ (I have signed books, no first editions *sigh* )
  30. You hate having miss-matched covers of books in a series. They all have to be the same version, example; all British versions of Harry Potter or all the American versions, there is no such things as having a few of one and the other, are you mad?
  31. You have bought more than one version of a book because of a new cover being prettier than the one you had already.
  32. You hate when you’ve bought the large tall hardback of a brand new release and the rest of the series you have is in paperback (though you just couldn’t wait for them to release the paper back, you wanted that book-yesterday!) Now it just sticks out there on your shelf, like an awkward billy-no-mates giant book, beside the other smaller novels in the series. You set that book up for a life of bullying, are you happy?
  33. Your love of books can often be combined with and begin to encompass a notebook or stationary fetish. You have many beautiful, leather bound, fancy notebooks that you have no intention of ever writing in. You do use a diary, it’s the most unique you could find online. Everyone has admired it at some point and you smile with pride, as if you created it.
  34. As a child, you were given pocket money with the words ‘don’t spend it on a book this time, gets some clothes.’ The thought of buying clothes always seems like a missed opportunity. There is no fun to be had there, it’s a chore, whereas a book buying session, why that can reach heights of untold excitement!
  35. If you started a really good book or series, gotten swept up in it and then remembered you already had an engagement to go to, a party, for coffee or out to a night club, you have at least cancelled once with ‘the flu’, just to stay home and continue to read. It becomes a shameful secret…
  36. You also have the odd friend or two that you can actually tell them the truth in this instance and they completely understand and don’t judge you. (Hi Latimer!) In fact, they have done it themselves too at some point.
  37. While you have an e-reader and you love it. You still prefer actual books and they will never be replaced. In fact, you bought an e-book, loved it so much you want to now go buy the bound book version, just so you can added it to your shelf.

So…anyone else find they’re like this? Or have I gone too far?

Too far…I thought so, ah well…least I have my books! Hello friendies! 🙂

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Latimer and Ridley love hearing from people, so if you have any opinions, non-opinions or little nuggets of wisdom please share them with us in the comments below! Alternatively, if you’d like to get to know us more, why not email us or follow us on twitter and talk to us directly!

In other MLR news, we are currently working on two novels, one of which we intend to publish free on our website. We’re striving hard to make them both LSA and RSA worthy! So stay tuned for more information!

Sleep vs. Book: the cost of addiction

Latimer: Two nights in a row I’ve been up until 1.30am. And that’s not good when you have to get up at 7am!

I ended up watching episode 2 of Game of Thrones on Tuesday night. It was pretty crap actually- too much talking and gratuitous sex. My flatmate (Orbie) made a very good point about the sex, “why is it never the ones we want to see naked?”

“Fair point,” I said. “Like Robb Stark.”

Orbie nodded, “And Jon Snow- the hottest things in the show.”

Silently, I nodded, this is true, but then I chirped up, “And Jaime Lannister?”

She didn’t reply. Is it just me? I’m going to wait for Ridley to shoot me down on that (I don’t expect her to, but the heart of a woman is a fickle thing. We find beauty in strange places at times and expect others to loudly declare they are sisters in arms with us, when in actuality they look at us with scorn and reproach! But then in turn, we’ll do the same thing when they come forward and admit their guilty pleasure!).

Anyway, so we watched Game of Thrones.

Then, I headed to bed to finish reading Book 2 of the Hunger Games (it wasn’t my intention initially to finish it, but that’s what happened- like a crack addict I OD’d on reading). I stumbled, bleary-eyed to the bathroom at 1am (1 chapter left at this point). As I passed Orbie’s room, the light was on (this was weird). “Hmm,” I thought. Then shrugged, stumbling back to my room to finish gobbling down Book 2.

I woke up the next morning in a hazy half-dream state. I thought I was in the games for a minute, in some weird trippy after-effects of late-night reading. I shook my head and struggled off to make my breakfast. It was a while before Orbie materialised, clawing her way out of her room like a drunk, doped-up koala. She stood blinking in the kitchen, “I’m so tired!” she moaned. “My eyes are burning! I can’t keep them open!”

I nodded, munching my toast. “Hmm, I know what you mean I was up last night reading.” Pause. “What time did you go to bed at?”

“2am!” she cried, using her fingers to hold her eyes open.

“What were you doing?” I inquired. My mind connecting the dots… I wondered….

“Reading.”

“What?” I pressed.

“Hunger Games Book 2!” she said with a sheepish smile, as if I would shoot her down.

“I knew it! Me too,” I squealed.

I told her I’d been up the previous night too. She asked if I had the one’s with the crap, horrible, garish covers (yes).

She scowled, “Those covers make it look like you are reading a kids book about aliens.”

I told her about how Ridley and I had gone to the bookshop after the movie (I’ll set the scene: movie ends, Ridley turns, a knowing smile on her face; “bookshop” she asks, but it’s not really a question. I squeal like a child on too much sugar “YEEY!”- she knows me too well).

Orbie levelled a knowing look at me, “I told you, you would like it” (she had seen the film the previous week and told me, “you’d like it; it’s very good”).

I sigh, “Yeah, yeah, you and Ridley!”

Then, Orbie and I stumbled off our separate ways to work.

I’m saving Book 3 for the weekend. I have it under lock and key. I have to, I need sleep!

My name is Latimer and I’ve been Hunger Games free since 1.30am on Wednesday.

Random Post #1


Ridley: So Latimer and I saw The Hunger Games movie today, finally I got someone to go
with. (I already blogged a little below on the fact that I read the books! And liked them, a lot.) I find if Latimer’s not on board with an obsession, I’ve few options to drag people along, all my other friends have much different tastes than mine. Some wouldn’t even really like to read (Say what? Yes, its true!). I also tend to have no one to go to my music concerts with either (ah there’s my tiny violin, let’s hear it play the saddest song just for moi! Ha.) Rammstein was my last one. I never asked Latimer, I know already what the answer would have been- she’d have taken a deep breath, wiped the tears from her cheeks, stood up from her bent over laughing and said ‘No’.  (She likes her Indie music instead.)

Anyway, HG, mwhaa, I have managed to convert her. We popped into the bookshop afterwards and she bought the books. Though the covers were horrible versions; garish, very boyish and a lot like Anthony Horowitz’s books. They did have ones with black designs lying around, slightly different again to the nicer ones you can get on Amazon, but they didn’t have Catching Fire in that version. (I know, I know, we’re so picky, but it needs to look nice up on the bookshelf!)

It was only a matter of time really, I had no doubt she would have folded. There could be no hope for her holding out, not when I was poking her, mentally, ‘read read read…’ and quite annoying at it I was too! 🙂

So I’m pretty sure she’ll be holed up with a cup of tea for the rest of the evening/night. I’ll get a random text at some point round 2 am, I’d say. Good times. I’m almost jealous that she doesn’t know what happens in them. Does anyone else sometimes wish they could erase their memory of a really good book/series and then read it all again, experiencing it like you did the first time? Though I’d want my memories returned to me afterwards, just in case there was anything extra or important in them!

I also bought a book while we were there. (I know I have a problem, I just can’t pop into a bookshop without buying something. I have no sense, and more books then I can read!) I got Cassandra Clare’s second book in ‘The Infernal Devices’ series, it’s called Clockwork Prince. Good series, though there really are a lot of echoes in it from her ‘Mortal Instruments’ series, the characters are almost the same, just with different names. Though if you leave a large enough gap between the two series, as I have done, it doesn’t really matter. She’s still a very good author.

So I’m off to curled up somewhere to read too! *clicks the kettle on* 

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Latimer and Ridley love hearing from people, so if you have any opinions, non-opinions or little nuggets of wisdom please share them with us in the comments below! Alternatively, if you’d like to get to know us more, why not email us or follow us on twitter and talk to us directly!

In other MLR news, we are currently working on two novels, one of which we intend to publish free on our website. We’re striving hard to make them both LSA and RSA worthy! So stay tuned for more information!

Old School Fantasy: aka ‘Epic Fantasy’

Latimer: Good evening; I am the ever absent, but ever present Latimer (that’s an oxymoron I think).

My life recently has been a bit chaotic. But Ridley has bravely held the fort (actually, she built the fort; or re-built? Renovated? She’s lost in here somewhere now, the foundations of our creaky, cyber-space battle-ship of dreams!).

Fear not Ridley, like White Gandalf, I return to you now at the turn of the tide!

Basically, I have finally re-emerged from work; slightly the worse for wear, but triumphant (also like White Gandalf, I see a pattern emerging; Ridley is Frodo and I am Gandalf! It’s so obvious, ha).

Now, it’s time for tea and a blog; my first in what feels like years. Forgive my creaky style; don’t worry it’ll all gel together somewhere in the middle/end!

I wish I could be industrious like Ridley and blog a book review, but honestly I haven’t read anything (unless you want to hear about Frank Ryan’s Virolution- well once I fight my way through the rest of it-! Slowly but surely, I’ll get there; you won’t win against me Frank Ryan!).

So because of that, I’ve decided I’m going to start with a TV show that is also a book (see, it’s almost a book review! ALMOST!)—

My ‘renovation blog post’ is *drum roll* on Game of Thrones (GoTs) (one of the hottest shows on TV at the moment I reckon).

I saw this one coming over a year ago; it was a teaser for HBO way before it was due to come out in like May last year. We were being teased big time, for ages.

 It’s obvious from the get-go that HBO knows how to make a show. GoTs is shiny; it’s vast, it’s epic… and it’s peppered with a great cast (mostly England, Scotland and, Ireland as it happens; Joffrey goes to Trinity College (so Wikipedia tells me). I want to hang around Trinity and shout at him ‘you’re mad, Joffrey! Mad!’; wonder does he get that often? Hmm, I want to know!).

In the past, I used to read epic fantasy- mostly because A) my brother had an epic collection of epics and B) I was a kid and I couldn’t afford to buy my own books. I didn’t know Ridley back then so I had to make do with e.g. The Sword of Truth by Terry Goodkind and The Belgariad by David Eddings. Later in life, I read my own epics: The Guardian Cycle by Julia Gray and The View from the Mirror by Ian Irvine. There are common themes in epics:

– Author: usually a man (almost ALWAYS a man let’s be honest)

– Boy, farm boy, well, average Joe Soap. He’s just a kid; He’s a He (bar The View from the Mirror; a rare exception with a female lead)

– He might look it; but he’s not normal, he’s special (we are all writing that character, though, I will put my hands up on that score, the common in all fantasy, epic or urban)

– A terrible event, *scourging of the shire style*

– Boy leaves on a journey

– A shadow stirs in the East, a Dark Lord

– Annoying female characters, jaded knights, sex, war, blood, death, depravity, politics so confusing you no longer know where you are; names that make NO sense; place names that look like the author had a fit while typing; a million and one characters, with a million and one points of view that alter change and grow with each book in the series that seems to last an eternity to the point you no longer know if you even A) like the story anymore or B) know what happened in the beginning (so the re-reading cycle begins!)

– Mystic forces move in the dark, the characters enviably ignore them *just stories, Joe Soap of the Shire, just stories*

– And of course they aren’t

– Epic battle…

– PROPHECY! So important- ‘Joe Soap, you are the chosen one’

In the end, all the epic series you read blend together, so that you no longer know what events happened in what stories.

So, bar the lack of concrete Joe Soap (though, actually John Snow would probably suffice), Game of Thrones is a quintessential epic. Honestly, I have no particular love for epic books. They weave and twist and weave and twist; and at first you enjoy the weaving but then you realise you have gotten lost in a maze and it’s no longer fun and actually it’s just a chore to follow.

There’s a lot to be said for over-complicating stories. The reader wants to float, not struggle through your story. I want to be taken on a journey, not forced into a battle, with the plot.

I know the Game of Thrones story; I know he has a million and one characters and points of view. And for me, that’s why I can’t handle epics anymore (Lord of the Rings is the great outlier though!).

BUT wow, Game of Thrones is fun to watch!

HBO are going to work me through the confusing parts; the actors are going to show me the plot. So the stress is taken out of the epic (mostly!).

It’s not brilliant; but it’s good it’s really good. And it’s something different to watch. It’s got so much going for it. The opening theme is epic; beautiful.

The design is slick and realistic; it’s a grubby, deprived world, with nasty people, and only a few who you actually like. There is a LOT of ‘whoring’ though; sometimes very gratuitous- I’m no prude, but there’s an element of porn without plot in Game of Thrones, more often than not.

 Peter Dinklage is excellent as ‘The Imp’, Tyrion Lannister. You can’t talk about GoTs without mentioning Peter Dinklage. Although his faux-English accent is a little grating after a point, I forgive him this because Tyrion is smart, witty and he knows what’s going on (unlike much of the other characters) and I want him to outwit the people who think he’s pitiable; I enjoy the way he uses his head to fight his battles, it makes him an unlikely force to be reckoned with. He’s a political player; and you can tell he’s only going to get more and more involved in the power struggle as the story goes on. I lift my hat to George R.R Martin; the Imp is a very bold and intriguing character.

There’s also some nice eye-candy (Jaime Lannister and Rob Stark, par example). Even though my imagination can handle making a handsome man, it’s nice to have HBO doing the work for me!

I’m not in love with Game of Thrones; but I’m ‘in like’, very much so. It’s a good watch, there’s no getting around it. Once you get into it; it’s like eating a cake- ‘more! Give me MORE!’; it’s not the tastiest cake, but the sugar rush is so good! I would recommend it, if you haven’t watched it. Try a few episodes, get into it. The opening of the first episode is very atmospheric (I want to know more about the White Walkers; they seem to have been seriously neglected in series 1; I really hope they come back with a vengance in series 2).

Ah, yes, I’m blissfully ‘in like’ with Game of Thrones.

Series 2 is starting this week- so it has occupied my thoughts throughout the last week of struggling. Looking forward to something really takes the edge off the stressful things.

YES- Winter is finally here!

RSA: Angelfall by Susan Ee

Ridley: There are a few rare books that get an RSA (Ridley Stamp of Approval). It has to have all the elements to receive it; a good relationship, a vivid world and a gripping story! For it to get an RSA, after reading it, there needs to be a thumping heart and a major urge to scurry around telling people to get the novel. I have read some really fantastic books, there are loads out there, some are great on relationships, on characters and others have crafted fantastic vivid worlds (where you can almost close your eyes and see them) but very few have all of these to the same level. We all know the big hitters, they had them all, it’s why they’re so popular!

Last night, I read Angelfall by Susan Ee. The book is completely to my tastes, by that I mean it has a brilliant slow burning relationship (with my new fictional character crush-Raffe!) an engaging story filled with a twisting exciting plot, clever weaving of seemingly unimportant information and a vivid gritty world, which is steeped in fantasy and the supernatural (flying yummy deadly Angels!)

It’s set in a post-apocalyptic world, our future, where merciless angels have been sent down to bring us judgement day. Cities have fallen, unending fires rage and humans have scattered, forced to scavenge in the ruins for food and essentials. (Think of the 2010 film, Book of Eli, with Denzel Washington! They are the images Susan’s words evoke when you read this!  Fantastic world building!)

 The main character Penryn is a strong, kick ass girl with some great abilities as a fighter. At the same time, by highlighting the type of childhood she’s had to experience, the post-apocalyptic world she’s had to survive in and the dangerous psychotic mother she is forced to look after, we see her vulnerable side. We also see her inherent caring nature from her intense need to protect her handicapped baby sister Paige. When the little seven year old is kidnapped by an angel in revenge for Penryn’s interference in a fight, Penryn is forced to team up with the striking and injured angel, Raffe, in order to save her. (Raffe immediately has all us girls swooning!)

Together, they are forced into an uneasy partnership, both needing help from the other to achieve their end goals. As they travel and meet various obstacles, some of which are quite gruesome, while others are not immediately explained- though this is where the author weaves in information, that later becomes important. These encounters also enable the relationship between Raffe and Penryn to slowly develop. It moves at a steady, believable pace (the fun is in the anticipation after all!!) It goes from a fizzle of attraction and awareness to a slow burn, hinting and teasing us with the possibilities, until you’re just praying it’ll end up building into an inferno between them!

I can’t wait for the sequel!

Go read the sample chapters on Susan Ee’s website, pop on to Goodreads to see the brilliant reviews there and then buy it on Amazon. You won’t regret it!  

I’ve finished my gushing now. (Though, did I mention I like the cover too? That rusted brown, dark, stained and old, really represents the type of world now left behind after the destruction brought down by the angels!)

An absolute hidden gem, so glad I can jump on to this bandwagon as it’s starting to get hitched up! Wagon’s roll!