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Tom Harris

Writer of edgy Middle Grade & Young Adult Fiction

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Brain Feeding

Brain Feeding: A Monster Calls

An utterly compelling read, its tone reminiscent of a classic fable in parts, A Monster Calls is one of those rare books that you wished you’d never read, so you could read it all over again.

It tells the story of a young boy battling far bigger fears than the most gruesome and terrifying of all monsters – the reality of his Mum, losing her battle with cancer…

Its roots are fixed in the mechanics of a troubled young mind, where imagination and fantasy become barriers to the harshest of all realities. Yet Ness doesn’t dwell on the loss as many of these tales often do. It’s not a story that grinds you down and makes you wish you’d never wallowed in it – it’s quite the opposite.

It’s a beautiful concept delivered with simplicity, respect and elegance.

The origins of the story were the brainchild of talented YA Author Siobhan Dowd, who before her tragic passing wrote some fantastic fiction of her own – The London Eye Mystery in particular, which is back on my reading list – but Ness takes up the baton here and produces something truly special in completion.

The atmospheric illustrations of Jim Kay add so much for me too, as a huge graphic novel fan, I would definitely check out this illustrated version if you haven’t already.

Read it on your own, read it with your kids, take it down the park and read it to anyone who’ll listen. You can’t fail to be inspired by something as stunning as this.

This is exactly what I mean by Brain Feeding

Truly outstanding

*A Monster Calls is available from Blackwell’s Bookshop in Portsmouth & via Amazon

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Brain Feeding: The Hunger Games

Everyone and their dog now knows about Suzanne Collins’ amazing dystopian creation, but back in the deepest, darkest recesses of 2009/10, The Hunger Games was little more than a whisper on the lips of bookish bairns.

Picture the scene, I was in the midst of my MA in Creative Writing at Portsmouth University when our tutor Sam Hawksmoor, a fine author with a bloodhound-like nose for excellent YA fiction, put me on the trail of this book, offering more than a hint that this might be something fantastic.

It sounded right up my street and quite simply it took my breath away.

The Hunger Games made me feel alive. I experienced every emotion known to my own self whilst chomping away upon every delicious page. I took Katkniss and Peeta to my heart and by half way through I wanted nothing more than to be an usher at their wedding.

This book turned me into a blood thirsty maniac, an emotional wreck, a hapless romantic and a political activist all in a matter of days. I’m not actually sure I’m any of the above in reality!

At the time, I declared…

The Hunger Games! This is the best book I’ve ever read…ever, ever, ever…You have to read it! What do you mean I’ve got a mad look in my eye?

‘Tom Harris, 2010’

And this is what this post is recommending for feeding your brain and inspiring your creative and escapist soul.

Not Catching Fire.

Not Mockingjay.

Not even the option of a ‘Hunger Games 4 movie marathon…’

My recommendation is simply to read this definitive masterpiece in all its incredible glory.

Take a winter’s day, a comfy chair, soft lighting and a cup of what ails ya, sit back and devour this book. I’m envious just thinking about it…

*The Hunger Games is available to buy from Blackwell’s Bookshop in Portsmouth, Amazon & some other notable stockists too…

Brain Feeding: Stranger Things

There’s conspiracy theories, monsters and magic, geeks galore, teenage angst and Winona Ryder acting like her life depended on it! Genius Casting!

Tom Harris, November 2016

Netflix – I’ve heard strange things about it; some bad, mostly good – and so when someone told me that there was this epic new series called ‘Stranger Things’ excusive to the online giant, I of course budgeted £7 a month by cancelling all my charity donation direct debits [Sometimes it’s good to be selfish] and I’ve been rewarded with this superb piece of nostalgic, creative genius from the Duffer Brothers.

Is it A: The Goonies meets Close Encounters of the Third Kind? Is it B: ET meets Dark Angel? Or is it C: The Wonder Years meets Alien…? The answer is D: All of the above.

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What it definitely is though is utterly brilliant! It has a great soundtrack, especially in the earlier episodes, featuring The Clash, Peter Gabriel’s atmospheric cover of ‘Heroes’ &  The Bangles’ hugely underrated version of ‘Hazy Shade of Winter,’ that plays out Episode 2 in a moment of exhilarating genius that makes you yearn for Episode 3.

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There’s conspiracy theories, monsters and magic, jump-scares (see end of episode 7, still recovering) geeks galore, teenage angst and Winona Ryder acting like her life depended on it! Genius Casting!

Ryder is incredible as the hapless and hopeless, Joyce Byers, whose son, Will, disappears into thin air. When Will’s friends, Mike, Dustin & Lucas, find a mysterious girl, Eleven – the brilliant Millie Bobby Brown – in the woods on their search for their missing buddy, things begin to get…stranger…

This series transported me right back to zooming along the mean streets of Birmingham on my Budgie, that’s the bike not a caged bird by the way.

Check it out for nostalgic, sci-fi conspiracy, monster fantasy. You will not regret it!

Season 1: Episodes 1-8 are available exclusively on Netflix

 

 

 

Brain Feeding: Batman VOL 7: Endgame

Roll up, roll up, shake loose that frown, read this epic showdown ‘tween bat & clown

Tom Harris, October 2016

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BATMAN VOLUME 7: ENDGAME

As pulsating a graphic novel as I have encountered, as Synder and Capullo’s New52 series from the world of DC, reaches a brave, new tipping point in their brilliant evolutionary take on the darkest of all knights.

Like the promise of a darker dawn in Gotham, Endgame delivers, and leaves you feeling like you’ve just been hit by a batarang right between the eyes…and as you turn that final page and it feels like you’re somehow part of one big joke, well all I can say to that is – Ha!

If you want to follow this modern masterpiece from its nocturnal beginnings, then Batman Volume 1: The Court of Owls is where this epic journey takes flight.

*Batman Volume 7: Endgame -(collecting issues 35-40) is available to buy from Amazon

Brain Feeding: True Detective

I must be as mad as Reggie Ledoux for not watching this again sooner…

Tom Harris – October 2016

true-detective

TRUE DETECTIVE SEASON ONE:

Insanely brilliant writing by Nic Pizzolatto, with the two leads McConaughey & Harrelson acting their proverbial socks off against the eerie, scene-stealing Bayou backdrop.

With a setting as dark and brooding as its writing and cast, this crime anthology series spans 17 years as ‘True Detectives’ Hart & Cohle wade through the murk and the filth of their own lives and others to track down an elusive predator known only in intermittent whispers as ‘The Yellow King.’

From the moment the titles roll, and the gloriously atmospheric ‘Far From Any Road’ by The Handsome Family plays you in, you will be as hooked as a Mississippi Rusty Crayfish.

I must be as mad as Reggie Ledoux for not watching this again sooner…

When the last light warms the rocks

And the rattlesnakes unfold

Mountain cats will come to drag away your bones

 The Handsome Family – ‘Far From Any Road’ from the album – ‘Singing Bones’

You can catch HBO’s remarkable True Detective Season One on SkyGo or head over to Amazon Prime.

 

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