Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

Having finished Nightflyers I am now reading Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. It features the demon Crowley (the serpent who tempted Eve to eat the apple) and the angel Aziraphale, (the guardian of the Eastern Gate of Eden). It starts when Crowley and Aziraphale discover that the Apocalypse is rapidly approaching. So they decide to join forces to save Earth and keep an eye on The Antichrist who is destined to be the son of a prominent American diplomat stationed in Britain. However due to an unfortunate mix up at the convent hospital, where he was born, Warlock, the child whom everyone thinks is the Anti-Christ, is just a normal eleven-year-old boy, while the the real Anti-Christ is in fact someone completely different….

Then the events written in a 17th century book entitled “Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch” start to happen. (Initially This book did not sell very well due to being incredibly cryptic) and Agnes Nutter only published the book so she could receive a free author’s copy. Sadly As with many other witches Agnes Nutter was tragically burned at the stake by an angry mob due to the cryptic nature of the book; however because she had the gift of prophecy she had foreseen her own future and prepared an explosive contingency plan. Now The book is currently owned by her distant relative Anathema Device.

In the meantime, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse assemble: War (a female war correspondent), Death (a biker), Famine (a dietician and fast-food tycoon), and Pollution (a young man–Pestilence having retired after the discovery of penicillin). Now, As the world gradually descends into chaos, Anathema, Newton Pulsifer (one of the two last members of the Witchfinder Army), The Antichrist, Aziraphale and Crowley all gather to try and prevent the Horsemen from causing armageddon and stop the impending apocalypse….

Friedlieb Runge

German analytical chemist Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge was born 8 February 1794 near Hamburg. From a young age, Runge conducted chemical experiments, serendipitously identifying the mydriatic (pupil dilating) effects of belladonna (deadly nightshade) extract. In 1819, Runge was invited to show Goethe how belladonna caused dilation of the pupil, which Runge did, using a cat as an experimental subject. Following the lecture Goethe gave Runge a bag of Coffee as a thank you and A few months later, Runge identified caffeine and noted its rejuvinating effect on the mind.

Runge studied chemistry in Jena and Berlin, where he obtained his doctorate. After touring Europe for three years, he taught chemistry at the University of Breslau until 1831. From then until 1852 he worked for a chemical company, His chemical work included purine chemistry, the identification of caffeine, the discovery of the first coal tar dye (aniline blue), coal tar products (and a large number of substances that derive from coal tar), paper chromatography, pyrrole, chinoline, phenol, thymol and atropine. He was the first to notice in 1855 the phenomenon of “Liesegang rings which he observed while experimenting on the precipitation of reagents in blotting paper. Unfortunately Runge was dismissed from the company by a resentful manager and died fifteen years later on 25 March 1867, in Oranienburg.

Vince Neil ( Mötley Crüe)

Vince Neil, the lead singer with American heavy metal band Mötley Crüe was born 8th February 1961 .Mötley Crüe formed in Los Angeles, California in 1981. The group was founded by bass guitarist Nikki Sixx, and drummer Tommy Lee, who were later joined by lead guitarist Mick Mars and lead singer Vince Neil. They became successful in the United States after playing at the US Festival, and gained the attention of heavy metal star Ozzy Osbourne opening for Osbourne on his 1984 world tour. The band members were well known for their backstage antics, outrageous clothing, extreme high-heeled boots, heavily applied make-up, and seemingly endless abuse of alcohol and drugs as well. Their music was a mixture of heavy metal and hard rock with influences by AC/DC and Aerosmith and guitar picking style of Judas Priest produced several best-selling albums during the 1980s, including Shout at the Devil (1983), Theatre of Pain (1985), and Girls, Girls, Girls (1987), which showcased their love of motorcycles, whiskey and strip clubs, and which told tales of substance abuse, sexual escapades, and general decadence.

The band members have also had their share of scrapes with the law and life. In 1984, Neil was driving home from a liquor store in his De Tomaso Pantera when he was in a head-on collision; his passenger, Hanoi Rocks drummer Nicholas “Razzle” Dingley, was killed. Neil, charged with a DUI and vehicular manslaughter, was sentenced to 30 days in jail (though he only served 18 days) and received a $2,000,000 fine. The album Theatre of Pain (1985) was dedicated in Dingley’s honor, and the band also release two box sets titled “Music to Crash Your Car To”. On December 23, 1987, Sixx suffered a heroin overdose and was declared legally dead on the way to the hospital, and his near death experience were the inspiration for the song “Kickstart My Heart” which featured on the 1989 album Dr. Feelgood. Sixx kept a daily diary of his heroin addiction before entering rehab in 1988. In 2006, Sixx published his diaries as a best selling novel: The Heroin Diaries: A Year in the Life of a Shattered Rock Star, and in 2007 Sixx’s side project band Sixx:A.M. released The Heroin Diaries Soundtrack as a musical parallel to the novel.

Their decadent lifestyles almost shattered the band but the hey sobered up by 1989 and released their fifth album, Dr. Feelgood featuring The title track and “Kickstart My Heart”, which was nominated twice for Favourite Hard Rock/ Heavy Metal Album, losing once to Guns N’ Roses’ Appetite for Destruction, but winning the following year, beating out Aerosmith’s Pump and Poison’s Flesh & Blood. Mötley Crüe was also nominated twice for Favorite Hard Rock/Metal Artist. In 1991, the band’s first compilation album, Decade of Decadence 81-91, was released. However, Neil left the band in February 1992, at a time when other bands in the 1980s glam metal scene (Ratt, Stryper, White Lion, Winger, Europe, and Britny Fox) also broke up because of the rise in popularity of grunge although controversy exists over whether Neil was fired or quit. Neil was replaced by John Corabi (formerly of Angora and The Scream). The band reunited with Neil in 1997 and Motley Crüe released Generation Swine. In 1998, Mötley Crüe’s contractual ties with Elektra Records expired, giving the band total control of their future.

In 1999, the band re-released all their albums, dubbed as “Crücial Crüe”. The limited-edition digital re-masters included demos, live, instrumental, and previously unreleased tracks. Mötley Crüe released their compilation album Greatest Hits in late 1998, which had two new songs Bitter Pill and Enslaved. In 1999, Lee quit the band and was replaced by former Ozzy Osbourne drummer and longtime friend of the band Randy Castillo. The band released New Tattoo in July 2000. Tragically though Randy died of cancer in 2002 and the band went on hiatus. Vince Neil was then featured on the first season of VH1’s reality show The Surreal Life, and had his own special titled “Remaking Vince Neil” which focused on his solo career. A 2001 autobiography was also published entitled The Dirt naming the band as “the world’s most notorious rock band.”

A Mötley Crüe reunion, was mooted and in 2004, Nikki Sixx and Vince Neil returned to the studio to begin recording new material. In December 2004, the four original members announced a reunion/final tour which began February 14, 2005. A compilation album, Red, White & Crüe, was also released in 2005. It features the band members’ favorite original songs plus three new tracks, “If I Die Tomorrow”, “Sick Love Song” and a cover of The Rolling Stones’ classic “Street Fighting Man”. The Japanese release of Red, White & Crüe includes an extra new track titled “I’m a Liar (and That’s the Truth)”. Mötley Crüe participated in an animation-comedy spoof Disaster!,written by Paul Benson and Matt Sullivan, which was used as the introduction film to concerts on their Carnival of Sins tour in 2005. Then In 2006, Mötley Crüe went on the Route of All Evil Tour, co-headlining with Aerosmith. Mötley Crüe’s ninth studio album, titled Saints of Los Angeles, was released in 2008. In 2010 Motley Crue headlined the popular ‘Crüe Fest’ music festival, alongside Buckcherry, Papa Roach, Trapt, and, Sixx:A.M and also headlined Ozzfest in 2010, along with Ozzy Osbourne and Rob Halford.

Saints of Los Angeles was originally entitled TheDirt alongside the autobiography of the same name, but the title was later changed. iTunes picked “Saints of Los Angeles” in their “Best of 2008” in the Rock category as the number one song; the song was also nominated for a Grammy Award in the “Best Hard Rock Performance” category. In 2009 Motley Crue played at the Download Festival at Donnington and also made a guest appearance in the season finale of “Bones” entitled “The End in the Beginning”, performing the classic song “Dr. Feelgood”. Mötley Crüe also headlined Crüe Fest 2 festival, Supported by Godsmack, Theory of a Deadman, Drowning Pool, and Charm City Devils, performing songs from Saints of Los Angeles, the band also celebrated the 20th anniversary of Dr. Feelgood by performing the album in its entirety on each night of the tour and re-releasing the album as a special 20th anniversary deluxe edition. In 2011 Mötley Crüe co-headlined a tour with Poison and special guests New York Dolls for the band’s 30th Anniversary and Poison’s 25th anniversary. Mötley Crüe, along with co-headliners Def Leppard and special guests Steel Panther, also announced a UK Tour. In 2012 Motley Crüe toured with KISS and released the song “Sex”. In 2013, Mötley Crüe touredCanada and later Australia with KISS

In 2014 Mötley Crüe announced they would retire after touring America alongside Alice Cooper A country-music album Nashville Outlaws: A Tribute to Mötley Crüe, was also released in mid-2014, and their movie The Dirt, based on the book The Dirt, was released in 2015 and it was announced that the band’s career would end with international concerts in Japan, Australia, Brazil and Europe before heading out for a second leg of North American concerts throughout 2015, ending with a concert at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. the band also played the Rock in Rio festival on the main stage and performed for the very last time at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on December 31, 2015.

Mötley Crüe have been described through the years as the World’s Most Notorious Rock Band and has sold more than 80 million album copies worldwide, including 25 million in the U.S. The band members have often been noted for their hedonistic lifestyles and the persona they maintained. All of the original members have had numerous brushes with the law, spent time in prison, suffered from alcoholism, suffered from long addictions to drugs, had countless escapades with women, (including Pamela Anderson) and are heavily tattooed. Their ninth studio album, Saints of Los Angeles, was released on June 24, 2008, certified Gold album in January 2012. Motley Crue has been working on their tenth studio album, was released in 2013. Mötley Crüe are ranked tenth on MTV’s list “Top 10 Heavy Metal Bands of All-Time” and ninth on “VH1′s All Time Top Ten Metal Bands”.

John Grisham

American Lawyer, Politician and Author John Grisham, was born February 8 1955. Best known for his legal thrillers, he. graduated from Mississippi State University before attending theUniversity of Mississippi School of Law in 1981. Grisham started working for a nursery as a teenager, watering bushes for US$1.00 an hour. He was soon promoted to a fence crew for US$1.50 an hour. He wrote about the job: “there was no future in it.”At 16, Grisham took a job with a plumbing contractor, but says he “never drew inspiration from that miserable work.”Through a contact of his father, he managed to find work on a highway asphalt crew in Mississippi at the age of seventeen. It was during this time that an unfortunate incident got him “serious” about college. A fight had broken out among the crew on a Friday, with gunfire from which Grisham ran to the restroom to escape. He did not come out until after the police had “hauled away rednecks”. He hitchhiked home and started thinking about college.

His next work was in retail, as a salesclerk in a department store men’s underwear section, which he described as “humiliating”. He decided to quit, but stayed when he was offered a raise. He was given another raise after asking to be transferred to toys and then to appliances. However A confrontation with a company spy posing as a customer convinced him to leave the store. By this time, Grisham was halfway through college. Planning to become a tax lawyer, he was soon overcome by “the complexity and lunacy” of it. He decided to return to his hometown as a trial lawyer. Grisham practiced law for about a decade and also won election as a Democrat in the Mississippi House of Representatives from 1983 to 1990 at an annual salary of US$8,000.Grisham represented the seventh district, which included DeSoto County. by his second term at the Mississippi state legislature, he was the vice-chairman of the Apportionment and Elections Committee and a member of several other committees

Grisham’s writing career blossomed with the success of his second book, The Firm, and he gave up practicing law, except for returning briefly in 1996 to fight for the family of a railroad worker who was killed on the job. his official site states that “He was honoring a commitment made before he had retired from the law to become a full-time writer. Grisham successfully argued his clients’ case, earning them a jury award of US$683,500 — the biggest verdict of his career.” Grisham said the big case came in 1984, but it was not his case. As he was hanging around the court, he overheard a 10-year-old girl telling the jury what had happened to her. Her story intrigued Grisham and he began watching the trial. He saw how the members of the jury cried as she told them about having been raped and beaten. 

It was then, Grisham later wrote in The New York Times, that a story was born. musing over “what would have happened if the girl’s father had murdered her assailants”, Grisham began writing his first book A Time to Kill, in 1984 and took three years to complete it. However Finding a publisher was not easy. The book was rejected by 28 publishers before Wynwood Press, an unknown publisher, agreed to give it a modest 5,000-copy printing. It was published in June 1989. the day after Grisham completed A Time to Kill, he began work on his second novel, The Firm, this novel concerns an ambitious young attorney who is lured to an apparently perfect law firm which turns out to be too good to be true. This remained on the The New York Times’ bestseller list for 47 weeks, and became the bestselling novel of 1991. The Firm has also been adapted into a film starring Tom Cruise and a TV series in 2012 which continues the story of Attorney Mitchell McDeere and his family ten years after the events in the first novel.

Beginning with A Painted House in 2001, the author broadened his focus from law to the more general rural South, however he continued to write legal thrillers and has also written sports fiction and comedy fiction. in 2005, Grisham received the Peggy V. Helmerich Distinguished Author Award. The award is presented annually by the Tulsa Library Trust. In 2010, Grisham started writing a series of legal thrillers for children between 9 and 12 years old. It featured Theodore Boone, a 13-year-old kid who gives his classmates legal advice from rescuing impounded dogs to helping their parents prevent their house from being repossessed. He said, “I’m hoping primarily to entertain and interest kids, but at the same time I’m quietly hoping that the books will inform them, in a subtle way, about law.” he also stated that it was his daughter, Shea, who inspired him to write the Theodore Boone series. “My daughter Shea is a teacher in North Carolina and when she got her fifth grade students to read the book, three or four of them came up afterwards and said they’d like to go into the legal profession. as of 2012, his books had sold over 275 million copies worldwide. a Galaxy British Book Awards winner, Grisham is one of only three authors to sell 2 million copies on a first printing, the others being Tom Clancy and J.K. Rowling And eight of his other novels have also been adapted into films: The Chamber, The Client, A Painted House, The Pelican Brief, Skipping Christmas, The Rainmaker, The Runaway Jury, and A Time to Kill. His books have been translated into 29 languages and published worldwide. His latest novels include The Whistler and Camino Island.

Jules Verne

Best known for his novels Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (1870), Journey to the Center of the Earth (1864), and Around the World in Eighty Days (1873), the French Science Fiction Author Jules Gabriel Verne was born February 8, 1828 in Nantes France After completing his studies at the lycée, Verne went to Paris to study law. Around 1848, in conjunction with Michel Carré, he began writing libretti for operettas, five of them for his friend the composer Aristide Hignard, who also set Verne’s poems as chansons. For some years, he divided his attentions between the theater and work. However, some travelers’ stories he wrote for the Musée des familles revealed his true talent: describing delightfully extravagant voyages and adventures with cleverly prepared scientific and geographical details that lent an air of credibility.

When Verne’s father discovered that his son was writing rather than studying law, he promptly withdrew his financial support. Verne was forced to support himself as a stockbroker, which he hated despite being somewhat successful at it. During this period, he met Victor Hugo and Alexandre Dumas, who offered him writing advice. Verne’s situation improved when he met Pierre-Jules Hetzel, one of the more important French publishers of the 19th century, who also published Victor Hugo, George Sand, and Erckmann-Chatrian, among others. They formed an excellent writer-publisher team until Hetzel’s death. Hetzel helped improve Verne’s writings, which until then had been repeatedly rejected by other publishers. Hetzel read a draft of a Verne story about balloon exploration of Africa; the story had been rejected by other publishers for being “too scientific”. With Hetzel’s help, Verne rewrote the story, which was published in 1863 in book form as Cinq semaines en ballon (Five Weeks in a Balloon). Acting on Hetzel’s advice, Verne added comical accents to his novels, changed sad endings into happy ones, and toned down various political messages and was able to make the science fiction genre successful in Europe.

From then on, Verne published two or more volumes a year. The most successful of these are: Voyage au centre de la Terre (Journey to the Center of the Earth, 1864); De la Terre à la Lune (From the Earth to the Moon, 1865); Vingt mille lieues sous les mers (Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, 1869); and Le tour du monde en quatre-vingts jours (Around the World in Eighty Days), which first appeared in Le Temps in 1872. The series is collectively known as the Voyages Extraordinaires (“extraordinary voyages”). Verne could now live on his writings. But most of his wealth came from the stage adaptations of Le tour du monde en quatre-vingts jours (1874) and Michel Strogoff (1876), Many of his novels involve elements of technology that were fantastic for the day but later became commonplace. He is the second most translated author in the world (after Agatha Christie). Many of his books have also been adapted into live-action and animated films and television shows. Verne is often referred to as the “Father of Science Fiction”, a title sometimes shared with Hugo Gernsback and H. G. Wells.