Category Archives: Uncategorized

My Daughter

This is a personal piece about what’s been happening at home to do with my daughter. It’s something I’ve asked if it’s okay to write about, and wanted to get off my chest. I’m not interested in doing an ‘oh you poor dear’ piece, it’s just a venting exercise, and maybe it might help someone else going through a similar time.

 

It’s been a bit of a difficult year in many respects, but the hardest stuff my family has had to go through is to do with my eldest daughter, Keira. She’s nearly 15 now, and has always been hyper intelligent, and aware of everything going on, but was never brilliant with social stuff.

 

It all came to a head at the beginning of the year. Keira’s anxiety issues started to result in panic attacks and dark thoughts on her part, and we sought out counselling for her.

 

It’s difficult to state just how horrendous that period of time was, and just how much I wanted to be able to make her happy, but she couldn’t get past it, couldn’t see anything but misery and pain. It was a difficult time for not just Keira, but her mum and me, and her two younger sisters.

 

Keira went to counselling about being angry all the time, about how she didn’t believe she was good enough, about how she was certain there was something wrong with her. She was getting stressed at school through the amount of pressure she was receiving about her progress in school.

 

You see, Keira was one of the top two kids in her years for her SAT scores in year 6. In fact her score was so high that she was predicted A and A*’s across the board for her GCSE result. Exams that she didn’t have to take for another 5 years. So for the last 3 years, every single time she’d taken home a report, because she hasn’t met that predicted grade, the school has been forced to mark her down as underachieving.

 

It’s been incredibly frustrating for her. She could be getting an A in tests at 12, but because she was predicted an A*, she’s considered underachieving. No matter how much the school have explained that these things are meaningless, 3 years of her having to put up with constantly being shown as underachieving when she’s one of the top children in the year, took a toll on her confidence and made her start to hate school.

 

Thankfully, we think she’s started to understand this. Her grades never suffered, her behaviour at school didn’t change, but she was constantly anxious and suffered from panic attacks during school time. It was difficult for her. Her mind works in logic, and she couldn’t figure out why her brain didn’t work the same as everyone else’s.

 

She started a counselling course 2 months ago that finished last week. The clinical psychologist in week 2, gave my wife and I, and Keira’s school forms to fill in because she’s convinced Keira has Asperger’s.

The change in Keira since hearing that is dramatic. There’s finally a reason. There’s finally a way forward for her. There are reasons why she’s so smart, but doesn’t understand social cues, and finds normal teenage behaviour to be almost alien to her. She doesn’t understand why people would anyone would say one thing and do something else. But now she understands why her brain thinks this way.

 

She’s happier. Happier than I’ve seen her in a while.

 

Asperger’s is harder to detect in girls as they’re so smart and can hide it from the world, but as Keira got older, and as she went through counselling, her ability to hide these things broke down the more comfortable she got with certain people.

 

It’ll be two years until Keira is assessed (at least), and there’s no guarantee that she’ll be formally diagnosed with Asperger’s, despite a clinical psychologist stating that she saw zero chance she didn’t have it. Despite going through the list of aspects of Asperger’s and ticking them off one at a time.

 

None of that really matters to her, because that diagnosis is in the future, and right now she has a way to move forward, and an understanding of why her brain works so differently to everyone else.

 

This year has been hard on Keira, on all of us because we didn’t know how to help her, how to make things better. There’s no magical cure for anxiety, and she still has it, she will possibly always have it, but having her be able to understand is a massive step forward, and I hope that one of many.

 

As a parent there’s little more terrifying than knowing that something to do with your child is out of your control, but seeing Keira deal with the problems that confronted her, and move through them has made me incredibly proud. She faces new challenges now, but she’s a much happier teenager for what she’s discovered this year, and right now that’s pretty much all I can ask for.

 

 

 

 

 

Scorched Shadows Cover

I can finally reveal the cover for the final Hellequin book, Scorched Shadows in all it’s stunning glory.

 

 

 

In the final chapter of the Hellequin Chronicles, secrets will be revealed, friendships will be tested, and destinies will be fulfilled.

Avalon is under siege. A shadowy cabal, headed by a mysterious figure known only as “My Liege”, has launched a series of deadly attacks across the globe, catching innocent human bystanders in the crossfire.

Emerging from the debris of battle, Nate Garrett, the sixteen-hundred-year-old sorcerer also called Hellequin, and his friends must stop My Liege once and for all. But powerful forces stand in their way. To save Avalon, they will need to enlist the help of Mordred, once Nate’s greatest nemesis, now his most formidable ally. But Mordred is grappling with a dark prophecy that could spell Nate’s doom…

The fate of the world hangs in the balance. Even if Nate can halt the war, will there be anything left worth saving?McHugh-ScorchedShadows-24021-cv-ft.jpg

To pre-order this book, use the links below.

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

 

Youtube Video: Competition and Sales

I’ve just put up a new Youtube video where I talk about the competition winners from the previous video, and go through the sales my books are currently in.

51DLptNgtyL

There’s also a small peak at Scorched Shadows.

 

Here’s the link.

Scorched Shadows Release Date

People wanted to know when the new Hellequin book, Scorched Shadows is out.

 

17th October 2017.

 

Here are some links so you can go take a look. There’s no cover, or synopsis up yet, although they’ll be there soon enough.

 

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

 

Also, if you’re in the USA, the rest of the Hellequin books are still only $1.50 each. Seems like a good a time as any to catch up before the final Hellequin book is out. Click the picture to go to the sale.

 

Joined all 4

 

 

Hellequin Sale

So, it’s possible that in the next week or so I’ll have details about when Hellequin book 7, Scorched Shadows is going to be out.

Lies Ripped Open Front Cover smaller

In the meantime, all six Hellequin books are only $1.50 each. Here’s the link to go take a look: Hellequin Sale

 

 

Suicide Squad: A Review      

 

I did not like BvS. There were parts of it I liked, but as a whole, I found it disjointed and boring. So, it was with some concern that I went to watch Suicide Squad amidst bad reviews and stories of re-shoots by the execs. So, did they do a good job? Sort of.

SS

This review might contain a few spoilers, but nothing that hasn’t been seen in trailers or interviews, I hope. Certainly no huge story spoilers.

 

First things, first. Harley Quinn is the best thing in the film. Margot Robbie is brilliant, and every scene she’s in, she either steals from everyone else, or just goes to remind you how much more interesting she is than anyone else on screen. She’s funny (mostly), insane and liable to snap and kill everyone in a second. I’ve loved Harley since her creation for the Animated show many years ago, and this is a good version of that character.

maxresdefault

Other good things about the film include Will Smith, who does verge close to playing Will Smith on occasion, but is mostly excellent as Deadshot. He’s a favourite character of mine, so Will had a hard job of convincing me he was the person to play him.

 

Jared Leto is a good Joker. He’s not quite like any version of the character we’ve seen before; he’s a bit more physical for a start. But he is creepy as hell, and you really do get the impression that he would kill you for smiling the wrong way.

 

Many of you might have seen Batman in the trailer and Ben Afleck’s two minute cameo just reinforces how good Ben Afleck is at playing Batman.

 

Viola Davis is very good as Amanda Waller, a character I just can’t stand. She’s one of those people who does awful things and rarely gets her comeuppance, but she plays the character well.

 

Joel Kinnaman plays a good Rick Flag, a character that can best be described as bland. He’s just a bit meh, but Joel is perfectly okay in the role.

 

Killer Croc wasn’t all that interesting. He certainly didn’t come off at the sort of person that even Batman would be wary of. He had a few funny lines, but he was just there for the most part. Diablo is… well, he’s basically there to be latino. And a stereotypical latino too, he does very little for the majority of the film and he’s barely given any sort of character to work with. The idea of a violent man who wants nothing to do with violence is interesting when done right, and this wasn’t really done at all.

 

Unfortunately Katana, apart from looking cool, has nothing to do in this film. She cries once, and wants to kill a few people, but that’s it. There’s nothing there to make me care at all about her.

And then there’s the Enchantress. She might be the most boring character in the film, and not by a short margin either. Her constant jazz hands and shaky dance movements are weird and Cara’s delivery is best described as phoned in. She was the very definition of meh.

suicide-squad-movie-characters-calendar

And before I forget, Jai Courtney, the man who has never been remotely good in anything in a film (although he was okay in Jack Reacher), is good in this. If getting him to play a massive dick is what it takes to get the job done, then just have him play those roles forever. He’s actually very entertaining. Although the unicorn thing is unfortunate after Deadpool. Not sure if that was in there before or after Deadpool came out, but it’s not exactly a big character part or anything.

images

The problem with the film isn’t the actors playing the parts, most of whom do a good to excellent job. The problem is a few things. Firstly the pacing. It’s just a mess. If this was meant to be an action-packed, summer blockbuster of a film, then why spend the first forty minutes introducing us to people, mostly in flashback form, for no reason.

 

We do not need to have flashbacks for every single character in the film. They take up too much time and they’re pointless. I don’t need to see Harley Quinn become Harley Quinn. That’s not a ten-minute scene that needs to happen. All it does is slow everything down so you can get a Joker scene.

 

Speaking of The Joker, he’s in it for 10 minutes. Now he’s very good in those 10 minutes but if you cut out all of the fluff, he’d have been in it for maybe 3. And at no point does he get a defining scene. There’s no pencil scene, or “wait till they get a load of me,” there’s just a constantly stream of creepiness and unease.

 

They should have made The Joker the main villain of the film. They could have had him go after Harley and all hell break loose while Harley realises that Joker is in fact an asshole. She tries to escape along with everyone else in the facility, and he goes after her. It would have been about a million times better than the actual villain, who seems to be an afterthought at best, and pointless at worst. And their plan makes no sense. Seriously, not one bit.

690067.jpg

So, the pacing is weird and the first 40 minutes constantly slow down so they can explain who the next person is, but then the last 40 minutes are weird too. The action in the final third of the film is best described as lackluster. It’s not awful, it’s entertaining, but at no point did I go, “wow, this is awesome.”

 

Also, it’s edited weirdly. There’s a scene where one of the squad is stabbed repeatedly. No explanation as to why, he just is. And the next scene he’s fine. It’s a problem throughout the film, as the editing is a bit all over the place.

 

So, it’s not great. It’s not dreadful either. Harley and Deadshot are brilliant when on screen, and it’s probably worth it for that, but it’s a weird film. It’s not got enough good action scenes to be a good action film, and it seems to want to be Deadpool quite badly, but is neither funny enough, nor has enough heart to pull it off.

 

It feels like a film where execs got involved and changed a bunch of stuff so that more things went bang, but then forgot to put the story in to make it all come together. In a year that gave us Civil War, this isn’t even close to being good enough. They can’t say it has too many characters, because Guaridan’s of the Galaxy managed to introduce a lot of characters and did it well.

 

I’d like to see a director’s cut, and I’d like the film to do well. There’s so much they could have done with these characters and it feels like maybe they weren’t allowed to. I’d say it’s a perfectly watchable, entertaining film, but it never goes above that, and for larger than life characters like the ones in Suicide Squad, that’s a real shame.

The Nice Guys – Review

Last year I picked up a cinema ticket that lets me go as often as I like to see whatever I like. It lasts for a year, and I mainly got it because I knew I was going to go see X-men, Civil War, Batman Vs Superman, Star Wars, and all those other big blockbuster films that I was looking forward to. I did not buy that ticket to see The Nice Guys. I didn’t even know the film existed until about a month ago. But I’m really glad I did.

download (1)

The Nice Guys is a film about Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling. It’s set in 1977 Los Angeles and it’s directed and written by Shane Black. Shane Black, for those who don’t know, is one of those guys who if I see his name attached to a film, I’ll go see it. He wrote Lethal Weapon, The Last Boy Scout, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, and a whole lot more.

I don’t think it’s too much to say that The Nice Guys is the best film I’ve seen this year. And i adored Civil War. The Nice Guys is everything I want in an action comedy. For a start, it’s actually funny. Not chuckle funny, but laugh out loud in the cinema funny. The lady behind me snorted like a pig. Actually snorted. And she was about eight rows behind me. That’s how funny this film is.

nice-guys-movie-crowe-gosling-angourie-rice

Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling are superb, Angourie Rice (who plays Ryan’s daughter) is brilliant every time she’s on screen. She’s not one of those annoying kids who you get tired of, she’s genuinely funny, and even though she comes across as wanting to be treated like an adult, she also has those moments when she is a thirteen year old girl who is trying to hold everything together.

Honestly, the acting is great throughout, and there’s a brilliant script for the actors to work with. The twists are surprising for the most part, and… look, if you haven’t seen this film yet, go. Now. This film deserves to make a huge amount of money. They rarely make films like this anymore, and it’s a shame. But if anyone could have pulled it off, it would have been Shane Black, and damn if it hasn’t done it in style.

Promise of Wrath Update

While there’s no cover yet, there is a blurb. And here it is:

download (3)

 

 

A powerful sorcerer. A forgotten past. Hellequin is back, and the end is near.

A terrible storm is brewing in London, and Nathan Garrett, the sorcerer known as Hellequin, is the only one who can stop it.

But his enemies have other plans. Harnessing the power of an ancient stone tablet, they cast Nate and his allies into another realm, where a bloody conflict rages between creatures twisted by magic. Meanwhile, with his friends’ lives in danger, Nate must put centuries of differences aside, and place his trust in one of his greatest foes.

Time is running out. Trapped and outnumbered, Nate must use all his wits and power to survive and find his way home before his enemies start a war that could destroy everything he holds close. Welcome to the penultimate chapter of the Hellequin Chronicles.

————————–

I know what you’re thinking, there’s that word penultimate. To answer the next question, yes Hellequin Chronicles will finish with book 7. No, that doesn’t mean it’s the end of Nate’s story. I can’t really reveal more at the moment, but rest assured, Nate’s story isn’t done with book 7.

In the meantime, you can pre-order Promise of Wrath HERE

Promise of Wrath

download (3)

There’s no cover, or blurb, but there is a pre-order for Hellequin Book 6, Promise of Wrath. And there’s a release date for the ebook version: 13th September (the print copy will follow in Nov).

UK

USA

However, because I’m feeling really nice, here’s the setting for the flashback sequences in Promise of Wrath;

Kingdom of Jerusalem. September, 1195.

X-men Apocalypse

I’ve just got back from the cinema to watch X-men Apocalypse.

Now, I’ve enjoyed all of the X-men movies bar X-men 3, which was awful, and Wolverine: Origins, which is a crime against film goers that Deadpool managed to make me forget about.

I loved X-men First Class, and really enjoyed the sequel Days of Future Past. Unfortunately, Apocalypse doesn’t live up to either of them.

x-men-apocalypse-launch-quad-poster.jpg

I’ll go through what I liked first, and then say what I didn’t. There might be a few spoilers, but I’ll keep them light, if you just want to read my thoughts go to the end.

What  I Liked:

1. The cast is brilliant. Everyone is very good in their role. Special mentions go to Sophie Turner as Jean Grey and Evan Peters as Quicksilver, but everyone was good.

2. It looks very good. Seriously, some of it is incredible to watch.

3. Quicksilver’s action parts are incredible.

4. The end battle is really quite cool.

5. Pheonix.

6. Wolverine. In fact his whole bit probably steals the film. Again.

X-Men-Apocalypse-Poster-No-Text.0.0

 

What I Didn’t Like:

1. The story jumped around all over the place.

2. It had a massive cast and didn’t build up people it wanted you to care about: Storm, Psylock, Angel, and several others were given cursory background information and then cast into the melee to sink or swim.

3. Apocalypse’s power is basically; whatever the plot needs him to do. I know he’s been absorbing powers for ages, but every time the plot needs him to do something, he suddenly has a power that can do it.

4. Apocalypse is boring. Like, really, really boring.

5. It’s another Magneto vs Xavier with Mystique flittering between them film. This was getting old in the last film, here it’s just tired and dull.

 

xmen_apocalypse_posters

 

My Thoughts.

I didn’t hate the film. In fact I found it quite enjoyable, but it tried to do too much with too many characters, and didn’t really manage it. It’s worth a watch, but it made me think, “I wonder what Marvel would do with all of these characters.”

Maybe they should have just done an Age of Apocalypse film, but this feels like it’s the middle part of something larger. Still, I’m glad I saw it, and the 2 and a bit hours flew by. I just wish they’d done so much less to achieve so much more.