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My Favourite Book - Towards Zero suggested by MariaTeresa Quinlan

Welcome to the second installment of MabisMab's new series: My Favourite Book, in which you are invited to share your favourite read and tell us why you love it so much! If you would like to be featured, please fill out this form.

Next to share their favourite book is MariaTeresa Quinlan, a lover of classic murder plots, mystery and intrigue:

What is your favourite book?

Towards Zero by Agatha Christie

What is it about?

The books centres around the main character Lady Tressilian hosting a house party who then subsequently is murdered and the hunt is on for the killer who attended the party.

Why is this book your favourite?

I have read many Agatha Christie books but this one set itself apart from others in her series. There were so many twists and turns I was always in suspense and couldn't put the book away. The magic in the writing grips me and I'm fully submersed in the book wondering what is going to happen next. A great escapism novel.

How did you discover your favourite book?

Browsing through books in a charity shop.

How has your favourite book impacted you, if at all?

It has further deepened my love of Agatha Christie novels. I feel this book is one of her best and even more so because it's great that the murder is solved in this story!

Here's your chance to encourage others to read your favourite book!

Reading Towards Zero will leave you not disappointed. It will take you on a journey, exploring the mind of a jealous psychopathic killer, and leave you wanting more.


Thanks MariaTeresa! It's always good to remind people of a true classic, and Agatha Christie is no exception.





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The Woman in Black - movie report

Yesterday, I took a trip with my brother to see the new Woman in Black adaptation starring Daniel Radcliffe as Arthur Kipps. I was really looking forward to seeing it, now that it has finally been released, after eyeing preview after preview for months. I brushed up on the story and, once settled in my seat, I was sure to pad any hard surfaces with my coat and scarf to avoid injury. (I had heard it was a "jumpy" film, and I jump easily. A lot.) Let's just say I was not disappointed on that front. Hammer Horror did what they do best, and I leapt in shock 3 or 4 times during the film. I was also aching head to toe as I left, from the constant anticipation of being made to jump. It was actually quite physically tiring!

This isn't a film blog, so I won't go into it too much, but I thought the film was very good. I would definitely recommend it to ghost-story loving friends and fans, and encourage them to go and see it - but I do, however, think the book was better, and the London play even more so.

Like many book-to-screen adaptations these days, the story did of course succumb to the usual Hollywood glamour and special effects the budget provided; a capability that will probably be used and flaunted by production companies whether the story calls for it or not. That's not to say it detracted from the story in any way, it just removed that intricate build-up and scene setting both the play and book benefit from, and which made the denoument much more affecting in these instances.

The plus side of a Hollywood budget, though, was the scenery. It was stunning and fit the novel's descriptions wonderfully. Here's a few stills, for example:



So, for a ghost story fan, this was a brilliant ghost story film. It wasn't subtle by any stretch of the imagination, but it was certainly a good jump-fest. I only wish more atmosphere was created, using the scenery to better effect.

The greatest thing about The Woman in Black, though, is that it seems almost tradition now to tell the story differently in each new medium. This means that you are spared my usual woes of "why did they change the story/ending/characters?!" I have outlined the differences at the bottom of this post, so that anyone wishing to avoid them can do, but I will say that my preffered retelling is the play's version, as I enjoyed the ending's take on the "reveal" much more. (In fact, I almost wish this was the original book's version!)

I like that a story, especially a ghost story, can be retold in different ways, and for it to seem like a natural thing that that should be the case. It kind of harks back to the childhood idea of sitting round a campfire, retelling your friends spooky stories your older brother tried to scare you with before... and getting it a bit wrong! I think it is this element that let the film hold it's own against so many previous versions. It was it's own retelling, and a good one at that.

For those wishing to know the differences between stage, screen and page, see below. I hope this list can become longer as I find more ways the story has been represented!

(Warning: spoilers!)

Book: After encountering the "woman in black" at the village of Crythin Gifford, while attending the funeral of his law firm's client, Arthur Kipps experiences increasingly haunting events while going through paperwork at the dead woman's house. There, he unearths the unsettling story of Jennet and Alice Drablow in the documents. When he has settled his affairs at the house, Kipps returns home to his wife and child, only for them to be fatally wounded in a fairground accident as the woman in black still seeks revenge.

Stage: In the play, Kipps hires a young actor to take his place in the story as he retells the legend of the woman in black, in order to try to move on and exorcise the ghost. Kipps plays all other characters in the story himself apart from the ghost. At the end of the play it is revealed the woman playing the role of the "woman in black" never arrived...

Film: In the latest adaptation, Kipps is a young widower sent to organise the paperwork of the deceased at Eel Marsh House to keep his job. While there, he encounters the ghost of the woman in black and is drawn into the superstition of the villagers of Crythin Gifford, who believe that when she is seen, a child dies. At the end of the film, after believing he has sent the spirit "on", Kipps meets his son at a station after being parted for days. As the child wanders onto the track at the coersion of a still-vengeful woman in black, Kipps tries to save him. They are both killed by an oncoming train.


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My Favourite Book - The Rum Diary suggested by Martin Rio Sixto

Welcome to MabisMab's new series: My Favourite Book, in which you are invited to share your favourite read and tell us why you love it so much! If you would like to be featured, please fill out this form.

First up to share their favourite book is Martin Rio Sixto, a User Interface Designer and Developer with a strong interest in hedonistic tales of care-free living:

What is your favourite book?

The Rum Diary by Hunter S Thompson

What is it about?

It's about "the idle tension that builds up in places where men sweat twenty-four hours a day... reaching a violent breaking point." and so, so, so much more in between.

Why is this book your favourite?

It touches me in deep, disturbing (yet oddly pleasant) ways. I've read it countless times and it hasnt got old. It's my go-to book if i ever need to ground myself / exercise my daemons / need some words of wisdom.

How did you discover your favourite book?

After reading Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (a right of passage for any young man), [I was] browsing this amazing Oxfam book shop in Headingly, Leeds for other Hunter S's.

How has your favourite book impacted you, if at all?

Each time I read it, there's something new in it. Each time I read it, I align myself to a different character. Hunter S had that magical ability to depict something of himself, and identify something of everyone else, in each of his characters - AND tie it together with a story that can teach you a lot about yourself and the world around you. The guy was a prophet.

Here's your chance to encourage others to read your favourite book!

Mab, if I haven't won you round by now, I just don't know... [he said despairingly]



Thanks, Martin! I have been converted, in fact - I enjoyed The Rum Diary immensely! 

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Famous faces?

A Tumblr site recently featured on BBC News shows readers a close-as-you-can-get visual of a book's characters. The Composites takes authors' descriptions of their characters, and tries to create their faces using police e-fit software.

It looks a little bit sinister, due to the connotations e-fit photos have in our history; innocent characters end up looking guilty and pitiful... but I do like this this idea. It's much better than imprinting a famous actress's face onto my reading via Hollywood screen adaptations.

Here are two of my favourites from the Tumblr page - be sure to go and take a look at the rest of the collection! I hope the creator will keep doing them.





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Why Valentine's "Day" will never be enough:

“It's clear to me now that I have been moving toward you and you toward me for a long time. Though neither of us was aware of the other before we met, there was a kind of mindless certainty bumming blithely along beneath our ignorance that ensured we would come together. Like two solitary birds flying the great prairies by celestial reckoning, all of these years and lifetimes we have been moving toward one another.” 

The Bridges of Madison County, by Robert James Waller
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Be a part of something - "My Favourite Book"

I'm planning a "My Favourite Book" series and would love to feature YOU! 

Everyone who reads will spend time mulling over and debating their favourite book. I'm definitely one of them, having switched my favourite more times than I can remember before settling on a steadfast number one (and it's a wonder I've not been compelled to switch again yet!)

With all that hard thought gone into it, and with so much time invested in reading goodness-knows-how-many tomes to find "the one", it would be a shame not to share them. That's why I'm launching this new series. I want to give you the platform to show off your literary loves.

A book has a story (ha, you don't say). I'm hoping to find happy anecdotes, romantic memories, and general nostalgia for the times when words spoke to your soul from the pages of a novel. At the very least, I'm hoping to be inspired into finding some new books to read. I'm hoping to be safely guided and persuaded into genres I rarely consider.

So would you like to help?

If the answer is "YES!" (and I hope it is...) all you have to do is hop on over to this page and fill out the quick form.

I look forward to seeing what you choose!

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