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Sunday, 15 June 2014

My Favourite Mystery -- A Guest Post by Adi Rule

I’m a big fan of mysteries. And I’m a firm believer that the heart of a good mystery story has to be, well, the mystery. In the best examples, all the clues are there, the characters’ actions are believable -- even inevitable -- and yet, somehow, the solution takes me by surprise. I love that feeling!

If the story’s voice also stands out for some reason -- it’s quirky or darkly atmospheric or witty -- then you’ve really got something special.

So it’s hard to choose a favorite mystery. The genre is full of wonderfully strange detectives and clever plots. But I think, for me, if it’s a combination of surprising plots (that you should have been able to guess, but completely didn’t!), great characters, and pitch perfect writing, I have to go with Sarah Caudwell. (Hers is also a name that I don’t see tossed around as much as some of the giants, so I won’t miss a chance to send up some hurrays in her honor.)

Sarah Caudwell (the pen name of Sarah Cockburn) was a British barrister who published three devilishly ingenious mystery novels in the 1980’s and a fourth in 2000, the year of her death: Thus Was Adonis Murdered, The Shortest Way to Hades, The Sirens Sang of Murder, and The Sibyl in Her Grave.

Although the stories are contemporary, the wry humor and tongue-in-cheek literary sophistication is more reminiscent of Margery Allingham and Agatha Christie than it is in line with some of today’s grittier mystery stories involving things like Forensics and Cell Phones and Dirty Cops. Caudwell’s detective, of unknown gender, is Professor Hilary Tamar, supported along the way by a cast of young barristers, and the details of the plots often center on things like tax and inheritance law. I’m not sure there’s a bigger discrepancy anywhere in literature between how boring a thing sounds and how utterly hilarious and entertaining it actually is.

So if you haven’t read it, here’s the very beginning of The Sibyl in Her Grave:

The two men struggling on the floor of the Clerks’ Room differed widely in appearance: one young, of slender build, dressed in cotton and denim, with honey-coloured hair worn rather long and a pleasing delicacy of feature; the other perhaps in his sixties, tending to plumpness, wearing a pinstriped suit, with the round, pink face of a bad-tempered baby and very little hair at all. They rolled this way and that, as it seemed inextricably entwined, uttering indistinguishable cries and groans, whether of pain or pleasure I could not easily determine. A ladder was also involved in the proceedings.

Thanks for having me over! I look forward to hearing about others’ favorite things.


Adi Rule

Castle, suspending disbelief, and our love of amateurs -- A Guest Post by Rewan Tremethick

Castle, suspending disbelief, and our love of amateurs

After finally getting the season 1-6 box set, I'm currently blitzing my way through Castle. It's not hard to see why it has legions of fans, including myself, across the globe. Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic have the perfect chemistry; the show blends humour and drama perfectly, and the murders it depicts are suitably unusual to set it apart from other crime dramas on TV, of which there are many.

For those of you that haven't yet had the pleasure of Castle, the show is about a bestselling writer - Richard Castle (Nathan Fillion) - who draws inspiration for his latest character from a talented and driven New York detective - Kate Beckett (Stana Katic). Thanks to high up connections, Castle is allowed to team up with Beckett for research purposes and together they solve murders ranging from the ordinary - someone getting shot - to the extraordinary - a man being sliced in two by a Samurai sword.

All stories require us to suspend our disbelief, but Castle requires something very specific. As much as I love it, if I'm honest, on paper the premise shouldn't work. Bestselling author helps cops solve crimes? Then again, it's no more ridiculous than Agatha Christie's little old lady crime-fighter, Miss Marple, is it?

In fact, Castle is just one of a long list of shows in which the cops are helped, shown up, or invalidated, by a total amateur. Which begs the question: if we know the idea of a crime writer being a better crime solver than the professionals is totally unrealistic, why do we buy into Castle so readily?

What's meant to happen is boring

As the Joker so aptly explains in The Dark Knight, 'You know what I've noticed? Nobody panics when things go "according to plan." Even if the plan is horrifying! If, tomorrow, I tell the press that, like, a gang banger will get shot, or a truckload of soldiers will be blown up, nobody panics, because it's all "part of the plan". But when I say that one little old mayor will die, well then everyone loses their minds!' (Source: IMDB)

Basically, things that happen the way they are meant to are boring. A cop solving a murder is uninteresting (I'm generalising, of course), because that's what cops do. Brazil winning the World Cup won't cause much of a splash - Nigeria lifting the trophy, on the other hand, would be an event. Or Atlantis. Perhaps it is because we wouldn't be prepared for it. If you know something is going to happen, and it does, you've had time to plan your reaction. Everything has been rehearsed subconsciously and set in motion. But when something unexpected happens, there's more scope for reaction.

Is Castle the underdog?

Nothing illustrates our love of flaunting convention better than an underdog story. We all know the rules of the world in which we live. We know what we can and cannot do and what our limitations are. That's why we like to escape into novels, films, and television. And while some of the biggest books and films have been complete fantasy, we don't always require a story to take us to a world where the grass is pink and badgers make ice cream. Sometimes we just want a world that is the same as ours, but with a little more hope.

Which is where the underdog comes in. The school nerd getting together with the most popular pupil; the amateur sports team winning the major league; the single woman or man out to expose corruption, fighting to survive against the combined force and resources of a tyrannical government. All of these stories are based on something that shouldn't happen. Part of what makes Lord of the Rings such a popular book is the fact that Frodo is a scared little Hobbit, completely alien to danger, horror and heroics. If he had been a professional ring-destroyer - with the business cards, uniform and branded horse to prove it - the story would have held only a fraction of the power it does.

Amateurs remind us of ourselves

Ask anyone who's favourite superhero is Batman, and they will probably give their reason as being the fact that he doesn't actually have any superpowers. He never fell into a vat of radioactive soup, or got bitten by a rare breed of polecat on Friday the 13th. He's just a man with a lot of money and a strong morality. That makes him easy for us to identify with. And while Richard Castle may be a multi-millionaire, Ferrari-driving, bestselling author, we can identify with him because he's a civilian.

Of course, Castle's success is down to many different factors. The spot-on 'will they, won't they?' relationship between Castle and Beckett, the purity of Castle's relationship with his daughter Alexis, the comedy, the strong supporting double act of detectives Ryan and Esposito.

Castle won our hearts for many reasons. It takes us to a world where a mystery writer has a better understanding of mysteries than the cops. Because in the real world, cops solve murders. Why would we want the world to which we escape to be the same?

About the author

Rewan (not pronounced ‘Rowan’) Tremethick is a British author who was named after a saint. St Ruan was invulnerable to wolves; Rewan isn’t. Rewan is a fan of clever plots, strong woman who don’t have to be described using words like ‘feisty’, and epic music. He has dabbled in stand-up comedy, radio presenting, and writing sentences without trying to make a joke. He balances his desire to write something meaningful by wearing extremely tight jeans.
Rewan’s paranormal detective noir novel, Fallen on Good Times [link:], is out in paperback and on Kindle now.

Monday, 27 January 2014

80 great 80's films

For no good reason other than it just popped into my head, I thought I’d compile a list of what I like to call classic 80’s films.  No, not films based on the antics of people in their 80’s (well, apart from one), but those films which were released during that halcyon cinematic decade known as the 1980’s.  Here we have a list of films perfect for those with a sense of nostalgia, or who were perhaps a kid during that decade (like my good self), or perhaps for those who were born in later decades and would like to do some historical research on the time.  

Anyhoo, here’s the list, grouped loosely under vague and, in some cases, debatable headings, and in absolutely no kind of order whatsoever.


  • Caddyshack (worthy of a listing just for Bill Murray’s performance)
  • Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (a great slacker movie)
  • Police Academy (good film but do not watch any of the sequels -- the film series that proved the ‘law of diminishing returns’)
  • National Lampoon’s Vacation (what holidays are all about)
  • Trading Places (Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd trade, er, places)
  • Coming to America (Eddie works at a burger joint)
  • Twins (Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny De Vito are twins... I know, crazy idea)


  • The Lost Boys (horror-lite, but filled with some great lines and a memorable soundtrack)
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street (Freddy wears a stripy jumper and yet somehow that’s scary!)
  • The Shining (Jack goes crazy and loses his comb... probably needs some sleeping pills too)


  • Top Gun (Tom Cruise flies, sings a bit, plays volleyball, gets all maudlin, then flies some more)
  • Die Hard (Bruce Willis in a manky vest and barefoot against a bunch of terrorists who take over a building)
  • Aliens (technically a Sci-Fi film, but I’m placing it under Action because - frankly - there’s a lot of action)
  • Terminator (again, technically a Sci-Fi film, and arguably horror, but there’s a lot of action so...)
  • Mad Max (Mel Gibson gets mad)
  • Lethal Weapon (Mel at his best, before... well, difficult times and possibly real madness)
  • The Karate Kid (ok, not massive action by any means, but when I saw it as a young kid, there was action enough)
  • Commando (Arnie getting mighty pissed with some people who kidnap his daughter)
  • Predator (Arnie covered in mud and getting mighty pissed at some badass hunter-alien dude)
  • Total Recall (Arnie getting... I forget what happened in this one... I’m sure it will come back to me...)
  • Rocky 4 (East versus West in a film held together by a great soundtrack, umpteen training montages and a barn-storming fight)
  • Tango and Cash (a silly film, but entertaining in a brain-dead kind of way)
  • The Untouchables (Sean Connery plays an Irish-American with a Scottish accent)
  • The Hunt for Red October (Sean Connery plays a Russian with a Scottish accent)
  • Highlander (Sean Connery plays an Egyptian/Spaniard with a Scottish accent, and a Frenchman plays a Scot with God only knows what kind of accent -- great soundtrack though)
  • Raging Bull (De Niro ate a lot of ice-cream between the two parts of this film...)
  • Scarface (brutal and crazy)
  • Beverly Hills Cop (Eddie Murphy talks very quickly, a lot, and solves a crime while breaking several laws himself)
  • Full Metal Jacket (the drill sergeant guy is awesome, but at times quite a harrowing film)
  • Platoon (one heck of a war film)
  • Escape from New York (Kurt Russell wears an eye patch and doesn’t say very much)


  • The Last Starfighter (notable for some very early computer-generated effects)
  • Tron (notable for some very very very early computer-generated effects)
  • Krull (a bit like a cheap Lord of the Rings but with a bunch of strange aliens)
  • ET (I saw this at the cinema back in 1982 and I remember a lot of people crying)
  • Back to the Future (first thing I did once I passed my driving test was take my crappy old car up to 88 mph - metaphorically-speaking, officer...)
  • Labyrinth (David Bowie in spandex and big Tina Turner hair - genius)
  • The Princess Bride (nearly every line is quotable)
  • Big (Tom Hanks before he got, er, too big a star)
  • The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (lying can be a good thing)
  • Time Bandits (an anarchic romp through history)
  • Indiana Jones (1 to 3, although if you don’t see 2, you’re not missing too much)
  • Cocoon (oldies on drugs, basically)
  • The Goonies (has a bit of everything and should be watched at least once a year)
  • The Dark Crystal (the first film I ever saw on video - and surprisingly scary for a young kid too!)
  • Blade Runner (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?... Do they, Mister Ford, do they??)
  • Ghostbusters (should have placed this under True Stories really...)
  • Teen Wolf (Michael J Fox becomes a fox... should have been, but no, he becomes a wolf)
  • Crocodile Dundee (the film that single-handedly boosted tourism in Australia)
  • Robocop (ultra-violent, and the scene where the dude is melting is pretty grim)
  • Empire Strikes Back (paternal issues abound)
  • Running Man (like an early version of The Hunger Games, except it’s Arnie and he gets mighty pissed at a lot of people... again)
  • Big Trouble in Little China (Kurt Russell has a thing for a girl with green eyes, but he’s not the only one)


  • Poltergeist (ha - I’m kidding - horror)
  • When Harry Met Sally (more of a rom-com than an out-and-out romance, but then I don’t think I’ve knowingly watched an out-and-out romance so I wouldn’t know!)


  • Wall Street (everything that happens in this film is still going on today - nothing ever changes)
  • Rain Man (I don’t think it rains once during the film...)

Others (basically being ones I haven’t really seen myself but which the good folk of Twitter have brought to my attention)

  • Breakfast Club 
  • Dirty Dancing (have seen this one actually, but not a personal favourite of mine - well-loved by a lot of people though)
  • Pretty in Pink
  • 16 Candles (I’m not sure this is even a real film, but someone assured me it was...)
  • St. Elmo’s Fire 
  • Airplane (was this even released in the 80s...? *after copious research turns out it was*)
  • Top Secret
  • Dragnet 
  • Field of Dreams
  • Class of 1999
  • Heathers
  • The Thing
  • Footloose

I’m quite sure I’ve missed out some really good films from the list. So, in the interests of fairness, if you’ve got a burning desire to give air to a favourite 80’s films, please feel free to leave a comment.

Cheers for reading and happy watching!

Monday, 29 April 2013

On Twitter and an Open World… My new relationship with authors.

A guest post by Liz Wilkins (@Lizzy11268)

So, in my last little attempt at telling you about life from an avid readers point of view, I talked about my favourite authors and how my reading relationship developed with them over the years (post can be found here). Of course now, with the onset of Social Media, a readers relationship with those authors can be much more up close and personal. The biggest social media platform by far for this is Twitter. That weird and wonderful nether world found online, where you can chat away to people you have never met, find like minded individuals to discuss and dissect your favourite and not so favourite novels and indeed open your mind to new and wonderful reading possibilities. Add to this the explosion of self publishing , the fact that authors and publishers alike pepper Twitter with all the possible information you could need to make an informed choice, as a reader a whole new world is suddenly at your feet.
So from this readers point of view, I’ll talk a little about some positives and negatives when it comes to following authors on Twitter and their own individual ways of promoting their novels, and their use of Twitter in general. I’m going to use some of their names in vain when talking about the positive side and hopefully they will forgive me. There seem to be two fairly distinct ways that an author uses Twitter – one of which is positively brilliant, the other not so much…and a bit like a Job review I’ll start with the positives.
Some authors will chat away happily to their readers, to other authors and friends, whilst occasionally popping up a Tweet about their own books, other books they have enjoyed and well, just life in general. This is amazing – Turns out Authors are real people don’t you know! I have had the great pleasure of “meeting” some of these guys and they are truly wonderful to chat too. Terry Tyler is a great example (@TerryTyler4 ) She and I have bonded over our love of Coffee, and thanks to her I have an amazing new coffee cup (Yes Terry it really IS the best coffee cup in the world!) Occasionally she sets up a link to her own novels, and quotes parts of their reviews, but mostly she’s just a human being, talking to other human beings about the things that interest them. Would her novels have interested me without this happening in the background? No…they would not have been my first choice. Even after our initial encounters I resisted thinking they were not my sort of thing. But she’s so lovely, I went ahead anyway. I read “You Wish” and realised I had been an idiot. It was terrific – not my usual type of novel but I tell you, I now have all of her others on my kindle. No Twitter? I would never have known….
I wish I could mention all the awesome authors I have “met” on Twitter, sadly we would be here all day! You know who you are, you lovely people you. A quick shout out though to the wonderful Will Carver (@will_carver ) who is not only a terrific writer (Read Girl 4 if you dare – you won’t get any sleep!) but also knows his stuff when it comes to great books. Without him “The Book Thief” would have passed me by and my reading life would be the poorer for it…I return the favour- when he’s not so busy there are a few novels I’ve randomly decided he will like…look out Will I’m like a dog with a bone! There are many others. From my last piece you may remember my love for Neil White and Roger Ellory – both of whom I have a relationship with now on Twitter and my life is all the richer for it. I can’t leave this part of my blathering without mentioning the funny and talented Sarah Pinborough (@SarahPinborough ) who regularly has me laughing until I cry with her witty and often insightful outlook on life. So all in all, Twitter is an incredibly positive experience. I hope that I give back as much as I receive, I try.
There are negatives sadly as well – lets talk about some things that are definitely going to get my finger hovering over the “unfollow” button and an absolute determination to never read a book by that author no matter how good it looks on paper. When used as purely a marketing tool, Twitter can be the most boring place on the planet to spend an afternoon. I can’t be sure of the tools used, but its obvious that some Tweets are “automated”, set to spout off every so often, with no variety or life to them whatsoever. The only things mentioned in these tweets is the authors own novel/s, a link to where you can purchase them, and various “quotes” from the supposedly wonderful reviews these novels have received. ..send these authors a tweet and you will never get a response. I often wonder if they exist as real people at all – I know they must but my brain responds to them in a very negative way…like there is a robot out there somewhere in the mists of this strange Twitter world whose sole purpose it is to annoy and distract you from the more fun things in life! It doesnt work for real readers, I can promise you that. And oh my word, what about the hashtag phenomenon. Hashtags, when used sensibly, can be a huge plus on Twitter. Put the # before a sentence/phrase and anyone can search and find anything anyone has ever said about that subject. It is a handy thing for an author to use if they wish to let you know the genre of their novel. #Thriller for example. But hey, keep in mind you can have too much of a good thing! I saw a tweet the other day. It mentioned a book, linked to a review of said book, then following that I saw #Thriller #Romance #Mystery #Supernatural #Chicklit. Well what is it? Can it POSSIBLY be all of those things? Perhaps – but as a reader I’m going to avoid that like the plague because if a book doesnt know what it wants to be I don’t want to try and work it out. Too many great novels in the world to waste time on those you are unsure of. Add to that by the time I’d read the third hashtag my mind was wandering off into “What shall I have for lunch” territory…I’d lost interest. So there you have it. It would seem as if it is as well to remember that it is real people you are trying to reach out to on Twitter – not mindless automatons that do what they are told. The relationship has to work both ways to be a mutually accessible and beneficial one.
Twitter is wonderful though. I love it – the intimacy of it, and how it can brighten up an otherwise dull and listless day. In my teenage years, the only way I had of connecting with my favourite authors was a letter by snail mail. I wrote many letters, then sat in anticipation of a response popping through my letterbox. I do have a nostalgia for those days in a lot of ways – but oh the joy of “tweeting” an author to ask a question, or to say how much I am looking forward to their next release, and wow! Receiving a response. Having a chat. Interacting on a human and friendly playing field even if it is only in the online world. To finish I’d like to say the biggest thank you to those wonderful authors Sharon Sant and Jack Croxall for encouraging me to say my piece, giving me a platform where others can read my thoughts, and offering so much advice and help in general.
So, I wonder how other readers and of course authors view Twitter…Are you nodding your head at my thoughts in agreement or do you disagree and think that Twitter IS just a useful tool to market your product? I’d be very interested to hear your thoughts….

Sunday, 16 September 2012

My favourite ever book...
A guest post by Phil Ingham (@ingo74)

My favourite book would have to be Pet Sematary by Stephen King. 
It is the book which most affected me at an emotional level and continues to do so, perhaps more so now than when I first read it as a teenager.
I am a huge fan of early King and would credit him as being the main reason I read so avidly today. 
King is the master of the supernatural and while Pet Sematary is a story rooted firmly within the supernatural, the real horrors within it are very much human and remained with me long after closing the book. 
The book follows the Creed family; Louis, his wife Rachel, daughter Ellie, son Gage and cat Church. 
Life is good; Louis has just secured his dream job as a surgeon, they have moved into a beautiful house in rural Maine (of course – it is Stephen King, after all!) and have wonderful neighbours in the elderly couple Jud and Norma Crandall. 
Louis takes to ending the odd night sharing a beer with Jud Crandall and, during their conversations, Jud tells him about a Pet Cemetery that had been created by local children years ago. The highway built close to the Creed’s new house makes sure that the cemetery still gets new residents. A road which, in Jud’s words, “uses up a lot of animals” because of the huge trucks that frequently thunder along it.
The cemetery initially appears in the book to be an innocent place in which children can lay their deceased pets to rest and learn a little about life and death. Increasingly though, it takes on sinister significance for Louis; mentioned in the last words of a dying patient, appearing in all-too-realistic dreams from which Louis awakes muddied and confused and then there is that undeniable urge to discover what lay beyond the wall of fallen wood which separates the Pet Cemetery from…what?
It soon becomes clear that there is something more to the Pet Cemetery once the surface is scratched and it is here where the true horrors begin to reveal themselves.
Not the horrors of reanimated corpses or gory deaths, although if you are looking for such things you will not be disappointed. Where the book really excels is in presenting us with true terrors; terrors that dance just on the periphery of our consciousness every day and, should we stop to stare at them, would surely crush us with fear. 
The book slams you with the terror of unimaginable loss and how the waves of grief can untether the soundest of minds from its haven of sanity. 
It lays bare the realisation that, however wonderful your life is now, it is always just one tragedy away from falling apart.  
These are things that if allowed to creep into your thoughts when kissing your child goodnight or waving your partner off to work, can chill you far more than any physical monster could.
A genuinely chilling read.

Friday, 14 September 2012

My favourite ever book... 
A guest post by Ricky White (@EndlessTrax)

What makes a book your favourite book? To me it's one that no matter how many times I read it, I never tire of the story or characters. However my favourite book is much more than that. It's a book that elevates me regardless of my mood. It's a book that makes me howl with laughter even before I've read the punch line. It's a book that makes me feel a particular way, a book for every occasion. My favourite book is not a literary great, it's the underdog, the relatively unread (albeit at one point a best seller), and a book with cult following.
The book can only be the epic beginning to the Red Dwarf series ‘Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers’ by Grant Naylor. If you have ever seen the TV series Red Dwarf you will understand its uniqueness. I love the TV shows, but this book is worlds apart (see what I did there?).
In 2180, waking up after his birthday Monopoly-board pub crawl around London, Lister found himself on one of Saturn’s moons, Mimas. In a desperate bid to try and earn enough money for a ticket home, Lister begins to steal taxis to pick up the fares, all while sleeping in a bus station locker. Once he realises he is not getting home anytime soon he comes up with a plan - to join the space corps. More specifically to join the crew on the mining ship Red Dwarf, which by a stroke of luck was Earth bound. Unfortunately it never made it. Following a series of unfortunate and indulgent antics, Lister ends up in stasis (suspended animation), finding himself the last human alive some three million years later upon his release. With just a dead man in the form of a hologram, a highly evolved cat, and the ship’s now senile computer for company, they embark on adventures that are beyond belief – as they break the light barrier, discover alternate realities, meet Einstein and God.
This book doesn't really fall into the sci-fi category for me; it's a comedy through and through. You don’t have to be a sci-fi geek to enjoy this book. I do warn however: it is somewhat addictive, and you will then feel compelled to follow it up with the sequels Better than Life, Last Human and Backwards.
If you haven't read this book, and are in need of cheering up, I thoroughly recommended this book to do the job. If you aren't in need of cheering up, well then I'd recommend you read it anyway.
If you have read this book, I encourage you to post a your favourite quote or passage in the comments below, so those that are yet to read see what they are missing. ;)

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Great Score

Recently I have been reminded of the impact of truly great music. 

First, the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympics, which was superb in almost every way, had an incredibly powerful and evocative soundtrack to drive the heartbeat of the story Danny Boyle had visually so wonderfully created.  

Second, the score to the recently-released The Dark Knight Rises which, and I'll be careful to avoid spoilers, did so much to underpin the theme and tone of the film and, indeed, the trilogy as a whole.

Of course, sometimes a film score only works when it's played along with the film itself; but a great film score, something truly memorable, can be played on its own long after the images in the mind have faded away.

To that end, I offer you my own listing of top film score composers, complete with a smattering of what I can consider to be some of their finest work:

Hans Zimmer

He's worked on some memorable films but most notably, in my experience, on the scores of Gladiator, Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy and Inception.

Personal favourite tracks:

Time (Inception)
528491 (Inception)
Like a Dog Chasing Cars (The Dark Knight)
Why Do We Fall? (The Dark Knight Rises)
Rise (The Dark Knight Rises)
The End (The Dark Knight Rises)
Aurora (a choral version of "The End" released in the wake of what happened in the town of the same name on the night of TDKR's release)

If you've been watching the BBCs coverage of the Olympics, chances are you will have heard some part of the above tracks being played. 

Michael Giacchino

The television series LOST was the first time I came across his music, but generally he seems to be director JJ Abrams go-to guy for scoring anything he is involved with, from Alias to Lost to Star Trek to the Mission Impossible films.

Personal favourite tracks:

Landing Party (LOST)
Moving On (LOST)
Labor of Love (Star Trek)

Henry Jackman

I've only recently heard some of his work (via the score for X-Men First Class) but already I've found myself compelled to seek out other scores he has worked on.

Personal favourite tracks:

Magneto (X-Men First Class)
Frankenstein's Monster (X-Men First Class)
Big Daddy Kills (Kick-Ass)

John Murphy

This guy frequently works on Danny Boyle films (Sunshine, 28 Days Later) and more recently on films by Matthew Vaughn (Kick-Ass, X-Men First Class).

Personal favourite tracks:

Sunshine (Adagio in D Minor) (Sunshine, but also re-worked slightly for Kick-Ass, titled ‘Strobe’)
In the House - In a Heartbeat (28 Days Later)

Other great film orchestral soundtracks:

Braveheart (James Horner) - some hugely emotionally powerful tracks on that album;
Lord of the Rings (James Howard) - particularly like the end section of Bridge of Khazad Dum, which was recently used in the trailer for next year's The Man of Steel film;
Platoon - Barber's Adagio for Strings - just for that bit where Willem Dafoe doesn't quite get away from his pursuers after being left behind

For the full effect of all this music, two points are worth bearing in mind. Firstly, excellent though they are standing alone, it's perhaps worth watching the related film or television show at the moment the music was penned for to fully appreciate its impact. Secondly, either with or without the accompanying film, play the music very loudly, as if you were just two or three rows back at an orchestra concert.  These tracks are not just background music to films; they are works of wonder and great power to be enjoyed to the full and that means loudly.

If you have a favourite film or tv score composer, or a particular favourite track, please feel free to share via the comments box.

Cheers for reading!