The First Barsoom Omnibus by Edgar Rice Burroughs-Princess of Mars; The Gods of Mars; Warlord of Mars

With the upcoming release of John Carter in cinemas, I thought I would read the original source novels by Edgar Rice Burroughs at some point before it’s released on 9th March. So I have decided to read The First Barsoom Omnibus on which the film is based.

It features A soldier from Virginia named John Carter who gets inexplicably and unexpectedly transported to the red planet, Mars,  where he soon finds himself being held prisoner by the cruel Green Men of Thark. However Carter wins them over & soon earns their respect with his displays of  bravery and skill with the sword, and gains a friend in Tars Tarkas of the Tharks.

Carter then learns that the land of Barsoom is in turmoil and that the princess of the great City of Helium Dejah Thoris, is being held prisoner by the forces of evil, so he sets off to rescue her,   He also  learns that the fate of Mars hangs in the balance. Of course, Carter and the fiery Martian princess get off on the wrong foot, since Carter knows nothing about the culture of the red humanoid race, and the two of them are soon at odds with each other.

Carter wants to win the love of Thoris. But before he does, he will have to battle his way across the red planet, earn himself a royal title, unravel the mysteries of the River Iss, the Goddess Isis, and the Black Pirates of Barsoom. He soon finds himself in the midst of an all out war between the forces of civilization on Mars and those of destruction that will determine the fate of Mars and the survival of every single person on the planet!

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Happy Birthday Phil Collins

Best known as a drummer and vocalist for British progressive rock group Genesis, Brand X, and as a popular solo artist, the English singer-songwriter, drummer, pianist producer and actor Phil Collins LVO celebrates his birthday on 30th January

Collins’s professional music career began as a drummer, first with Flaming Youth and then more famously with Genesis, after he answered a Melody Maker classified ad for “…a drummer sensitive to acoustic music, and acoustic twelve-string guitarist”.

The first album Nursery Cryme was released a year later. Although his role remained primarily that of drummer and backing vocalist for the next five years, he twice sang lead vocals: once on “For Absent Friends” (from Nursery Cryme) and once on “More Fool Me” (from Selling England by the Pound). In Genesis, Collins originally supplied backing vocals for front man Peter Gabriel, singing lead on only two songs: “For Absent Friends” from 1971’s Nursery Cryme album and “More Fool Me” from Selling England by the Pound, which was released in 1973.

Following Gabriel’s departure in 1975, Collins became the group’s lead singer, and sang lead vocals on several chart hits in the United Kingdom and the United States between 1975 and 2010, either as a solo artist or with Genesis. His singles, sometimes dealing with lost love, ranged from the drum-heavy “In the Air Tonight”, dance pop of “Sussudio”, piano-driven “Against All Odds”, to the political statements of “Another Day in Paradise”.

Collins has won numerous music awards throughout his career, including seven Grammy Awards, five Brit Awards—winning Best British Male three times, an Academy Award, and two Golden Globes for his solo work. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Genesis in 2010, and is one of only three recording artists (along with Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson) who have sold over 100 million albums worldwide both as solo artists and (separately) as principal members of a band. In 2008, Collins was ranked the 22nd most successful artist on the “The Billboard Hot 100 Top All-Time Artists.

Happy Monday

Apparently psychologists are hailing January 30 as ‘Happy Monday’.A senior psychologist at Manchester Metropolitan University, has said: ‘We all go in to work on that Monday, January 30, with renewed vigour. ‘We are buoyed by the excitement of having money in the bank again and having one of the major family events of the year – the annual summer holiday – to look forward to. –  Renewed Vigour? Holday? Money in the bank? Yeah right – Unfortunately it’s not mine lol

January 30th is a day when we feel particularly happy (is it really?). The financial excesses of Christmas means that January is a particularly difficult and long month for most of us cash-wise, and the first salary payday of the year hugely reduces the stress of that long wait to reinvigorate our finances.’

It is no coincidence that Happy Monday falls soon after what travel agencies have predicted could be their busiest weekend of the year, the last weekend in January is traditionally the most favoured for booking a family getaway, according to Al Fresco holidays. The same weekend last year apparently saw bookings with the luxury outdoor specialist increase year on year by 50 per cent.

A total of E11even happy days have been predicted this year.They include the two May bank holidays, the day the clocks go forward in March and Midsummer’s Day in June. Despite the recession, he says, there is one more happy day than usual because in June ‘we will also feel buoyed by the celebrations and extra day off to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee’.

Pet Shop Boys – Format

I have been a big fan of The Pet Shop Boys ever since they released their first single “West End Girls” back in the mid 1980’s. and I would like to get Their next CD entitled “Format”, which  will be released on February 6th 2012.

Over the years They have become one of the most commercially and critically acclaimed British groups ever, and this prolific song-writing and recording duo have so far achieved eight platinum, two gold and four silver albums in the UK alone, with songs like West End Girls, Suburbia , Alright, Heartbeat  Rent,  Go West and many others.

This album contains a less well-known but equally great collection of b-sides and bonus tracks, which have been remastered and the album follows on from the 1995 release, “Alternative”, which collected the duo’s b-sides from 1985 to 1994. So far an incredible 38 b-sides and bonus tracks have now been collected together from singles released between 1996 and 2009, to create Format.

War Horse by Michael Morpurgo

Having heard great things about the film, I thought I would read this inspiring & poignant novel by Michael Morpurgo.

Told from the perspective of the horse in question it features a lad named Albert who lives a quiet existence on on a Farm in Devon with his parents, and a horse named Joey. Until This idyllic existence is rudely shattered by some Soldiers who requisition the horse for the First World War. Unbeknownst to Albert his father sells Joey because he needs the money. Angry when he finds out what has happened, Albert vows that when he is old enough he will join the war effort and search for Joey.

So Joey goes off to war where he meets a handsome black stallion named Topthorn and sees the horrors of warfare for himself as he is put to work as a cavalry mount, which does not go well. Terrified and riderless after the charge he flees trying to find a place of safety and is taken by German Troops who look after him & put him to work pulling an Ambulance.

He is stabled with a kindly old French Farmer, whose daughter Emilie takes quite a shine to Joey and looks after him only to have more German troops take him away to pull Gun Carriages. Unfortunately after an ambush Joey finds himself wandering about in the middle of No-Mans-Land whilst looking for a place of safety.

Wounded & Looking rather bedraggled He is rescued and taken to a vets where he is looked after, regains his strength and finds himself reunited with an old friend…

12th National Story-Telling Week

The National Storytelling Week starts on Saaturday 28th January and runs until Saturday 4th February. It’s the twelfth such annual event and is run by the Society for Storytelling which has Lottery Funding via Arts Council England.Over the coming week There will be many events happening at events in schools, libraries, theatres, cafés and other public spaces all week.  There are festivals and celebrations every day until and including 4 February.

Over the past twelve years we have gone from strength to strength Storytelling can be found enriching lives everywhere: from nurseries to schools, from bereavement aids in hospitals to strengthening communication in the business sphere, from reminiscence centres to support groups for those with special needs, and in theatrical performances.  The sharing between teller and listener empowers, feeding the imagination from one generation to the next.

Here are just some of the organisations who are holding events for NSW in 2012:

Sure Start Children’s Centres; Bristol Storytelling Festival; York Festival of Storytelling; Winter Storytelling Festival, Devon; St Helens Libraries; Plymouth Libraries; The Idea Store, Whitechapel; The Story Museum, Oxford; The Art House, Southampton; Exeter Central Libary; World Stories website; Raold Dahl Museum; Selfridges, London; The Horniman Museum, London; London Metropolitan Museum; Haringey Libraries, London; The Cuming Museum, London; Harrow Arts Centre; The Bulgarian Cultural Institute, London; Flag Fen, Peterborough; and hundreds of schools through the UK!

Sherlock Holmes series one DVD collection

This weekend, the Daily Mail is offering every reader the chance to claim BBC One’s much praised, multi-award winning contemporary drama Sherlock, absolutely FREE. With a cast including Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, Rupert Graves and Una Stubbs, this modernized version of the Conan Doyle characters see’s Sherlock and John navigate a maze of cryptic clues and lethal killers to unearth the truth.

Writers Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, also appear. Gatiss plays Mycroft, Holmes’ brother. Thoroughly modern, yet retaining traditional elements of the stories, such as the iconic Baker Street address and Holmes’ archenemy Moriarty, a truly frightening nemesis. This series is a contemporary classic.

You can claim series one of this fantastic series, including all three feature length episodes FREE with the Daily Mail this weekend – you just pay £1.72 postage, and To claim the rest of the episodes, simply collect six differently dated tokens that we will be printing in the Mail from Saturday, January 28 until Friday, February 3 2012. there are also many other Sherlock Holmes adaptations available too

  • Sherlock Series 1 and 2 – claim both today for just £20 plus £2 p&p. Series 2 see’s the award winning TV show back for a second series. Sherlock Holmes and John Watson return in three of their most exciting adventures.
  • Sherlock Holmes: The BBC Collection Box Set – claim for just £13 plus £2 p&p The BBC Sherlock Holmes Collection – A 6-DVD Box Set featuring Peter Cushing, Richard Roxburgh and Rupert Everett takes on the role in The Case Of The Silk Stocking.
  • Sherlock Holmes Collection Box Set – claim for just £13 plus £2 p&p The Sherlock Holmes anthology series starring Peter Cushing-A 3 Disc Box set featuring Five Classic Sherlock Holmes stories