Pet Sematary

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The Good

I loved how it was set within King’s Maine universe and even Derry is referenced. It pleases the purists to have those little nods and I can’t deny, I get that little buzz for noticing the Easter Egg.

John Lithgow is a welcome addition to the cast, if not a little underused. He stands among some great comedians who are able to play the darker characters with as much conviction.

Befriending young Elle could have come across a little Operation Yewtree, especially knowing King’s writing. The film being able to stay away from even undertones of creep is remarkable. There’s also a wonderful meta nod to one of Lithgow’s previous roles which was quite good.

The rest of the cast give solid performances. Notably Jason Clarke’s decent into madness/ desperation reminded me why I enjoy films with him in.

The ending is refreshing. It’s not overly rewarding or satisfying in terms of a plot resolution, but it’s definitely different.

The Bad

It’s a remake of a horror. The problem with the genre today is that it relies too much on the fast and noisy shocks that, in some cases, border on elements of torture porn that became prominent with the release of Hostel. Yes, I jump. Yes, I close my eyes when the music alerts me to a ’jump’ that’s about to happen, but I’m not thinking about it once I leave the cinema. It doesn’t chill me to the bone like some horrors did.

The Ugly

It’s Horror is in the gore and that’s really not for me. There was just a little too much of it.

With this being a King adaptation there are some plot points that seem to come from the boon and are a little redundant; Rachel’s past and sensitivity to death feels like it should connect with the rest of the story, but it never does, it has not true resolution and I can’t help but wonder if the film would have benefited from discarding this thread.

Hellboy

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Release: 11.4.2019

Rating: 15

Length: 2Hr 1

About: Based on the graphic novels by Mike Mignola, Hellboy, caught between the worlds of the supernatural and human, battles an ancient sorceress bent on revenge.

The Good

• Ian McShane stole the show for me. He’s long shed his humble Lovejoy roots, and he’s as much a staple in the American home now. He takes on the role of Hellboy’s adoptive father and plays it perfectly. There’s no apologises for the task he undertakes and he doesn’t handle Big Red with kid gloves.

• Harbour was essentially give a poisoned chalice. He had a big hand to fill and fans were never going to cut him a break. Add to this the tiny budget in comparison to Pearlman’s outing, it was always going to be a hard sell. Aside from a few times in which dialogue was mangled by Big Red’s prosthesis I’d say he did really well with the script he had to work with. I got What Harbour was trying to achieve with Red’s conflicted soul and it would have been perfect if the film gave that room to grow.

• I enjoyed the Arthurian legend coming into play and it was refreshing to see the film opening on a prologue about this. I’d have perhaps like to have seen this streamlined a little and even perhaps had Red’s arc focusing on him finding Excalibur.

• Course, it has to be a Scouser who helps bring about the apocalypse. It was awesome to hear current Line of Duty star Stephen Graham cursing his way through the film.

• I really liked the music. Not sure if they were quite reworkings, but they fit the film and I’d be happy to have the album.

• Thomas Haden Church was a wonderful addition as Lobster Johnson. I’m only sad we didn’t get to see more.

The Bad

• The accents of Daniel Dae Kim and Sasha Lane we’re so bad they bordered on offensive. Lane’s clashed with what we saw of her visually; nothing screamed that is was necessary for her to have the abomination RP that Lane insisted on having. Yes, I’m aware I’ve been spoiled with Joe Mazzello’s perfect iteration of John Deacon’s weirdly wonderful dialect (ironically, I was worried), but it came across lazy.

• Some of the plot and dialogue was at best clunky, but on the most part it was the biggest problem with the whole thing. It was lines like ‘if my face could talk…’ that gave a whole new meaning to cringe and the Osiris Club sub plot was a pointless exposition exercise that revealed its hand scenes earlier and removed any tension that may have been building.

• Another trailer and scene reveal misstep when it comes to Dae Kim’s Daimio. Obviously, for fans of the comic, it was known that Daimio is cursed to turn into a Jaguar at times of stress. However, the film tried to tease us with this and not outwardly reveal his condition until the final act. However, that proverbial and literal cat was out the bag and it really renders some storytelling pointless.

The Ugly

• The CGI was atrocious. I’ve seen my brother create scenes with his phone that were better than this. It was most obvious in scenes were Hellboy was facing off against some beastie or other and was very telling of the budget the film had.

• What happened to the cats?! That was the one thing I loved about Pearlman’s version. It was such a beautiful visual. Plus… cats!

Final Thoughts

I was a decent watch, but much like the other outings; I’m not going to rush for a rewatch any time soon.

Why the Exam Process is Fundamentally Flawed in England!

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Consider this a Will McAvoy style rant, in part inspired by a conversation I had with the wonderful Non Pratt and our viewing of the GCSES2019 feed yesterday. Enter at your own risk… All views are my own and don’t seek to throw shade on any school I’ve worked in, but instead the government that is needing a detention!

I’ve been out of teaching four months now and I’m still trying to come to terms with the fact that the state of education is not what I signed up for 10 years ago.

I have always been the sort of teacher who is proud of every child, regardless of their result. There is one condition; they have had to have tried their best.

Why? Why am I someone who never wrote “I’m disappointed” or “Must do better.”? Mainly because each and every year we put thousands of students (and teachers) into our own brand of kobayashi maru.

Right now it’s the Easter holidays for most schools. But their doors are not closed. Teacher’s have spent the week’s before scrambling Battle Royale-style to claim students for their ‘Easter School” and are currently making their way home from an intensive day of revision.

Students on the other hand are venting their frustrations on Twitter. Overwhelmed, stressed and anxious; year 11 students are making themselves ill.

I’m no longer on the front line, reassuring students that their health is more important and giving them the easy methods and tricks to revision; something I’d integrated into year 9 once I’d realised the new specifications where mere memory tests and no longer a test of anyone’s ability or skill. After all, revision at such an early stage moves information from short term memory to long term.

There are so many overlapping problems that I’m not certain where you would even start when it comes to fixing the issues.

Firstly, there is the issue of grading. Certainly since I started to train back in 2009 grade boundaries have been set not only post-exam, but post marking. This actually infuriates me. For the previous specification that ran for five years, there was an average increase on all grade boundaries of 5 – 10% until the passing C grade was an eye watering 70%. Only yesterday I saw a student wishing for everyone to do badly so that they could pass. No child’s grade should rest on the performance of others.

It also puts teacher’s in a stressful position. The one question that was posed to me repeatedly over the last few years has been ‘how many marks do I need to get the next grade?’ I answered in a way that perhaps the educational system was not wanting, but was perhaps the most honest; I didn’t know. I could tell students how to revise, I could give students the skills to answer the questions, but I could not tell them a true answer to what would help them cut corners. Student’s never liked it and only some understood. However, had I actually blagged an answer that would have placated them, but remove any flexibility in answering questions and any value to what I was teaching beyond the exam season.

Some teachers however do answer the question and it does give students confidence. However, they sit the exam and they do well. They jump through the hoops. Then, someone post-exam makes those hoops smaller. WHY? Why is that okay? Why is that fair?

Exam questions are assigned points based upon their complexity. Some subjects have their questions written at the start of the specification. If these questions have a value and demonstrate a skill; those grade boundaries should be fixed; allowing students and teachers to know exactly where they stand and ensuring that the grades are a true reflection of individual’s hard work.

But of course, the government isn’t really interested in fixing grade boundaries in order to give a true reflection of individuals or their abilities. Those leaders of education within the government are too scared of having a ‘weak’ cohort, they don’t have faith in young minds or the professionals within a system they’ve never worked in.

Government wants good results and statistics so that the data can be compared with other countries who are working within the IB framework. Yup, not only have we allowed government to restrict choices; it’s of no benefit to those who go through the stress.

Instead of pushing back against this, we’ve assimilated. Teacher’s pay, health and happiness in a vocation they’ve probably chosen long ago (I know I did) has been sacrificed so Britain can have a pissing contest with France and all those other countries we’re trying so hard to break away from.

This skewed motivation for the exam results is then filtered down. It skews how we teach; instead of the skills and independence that will enable a year 11 to answer ANY question, we (and I was guilty of this) throw out formulas and rigid methods of answers questions. Last years GCSES2018 feed was full of students before the English exam petrified that they would only be able to answer a question on three characters within Of Mice and Men; Lenny, George and the bird in the red dress.

We do it because we are pressured into grade orientated goals. We’re given a % pass rate target for a class, often irrespective of the ability. One year, early in my career I worked my arse off to drag some disenfranchised and unfocused students up to a predicted grade C. Was I thanked in the three weeks before the exam? Nope, I was asked what I would do to get them a B! These were students who were targeted Ds and Es. And my pay progression depended on these students playing ball on the day.

The best set of results I ever got? They were ones the school didn’t care about as they were sat in year 10; meaning they don’t count towards the aforementioned pissing contest. It meant I was able to teach my 35 students a three year course, in a year after school. The cohort was independent, chilled and confident. Not only did they get awesome grades that smashed their targets, a year 8 sibling of one got a C! At no point did a single child whinge that I didn’t tell them something. They all knew it was on them and they were there because they wanted to be.

What needs to happen?

• Have set grade boundaries

• Stop comparing the country’s results to others

• Stop performance related pay being linked to exam success

• Let teachers do their god-damn job

• Stop ranking your schools by results

• Reform the exams so they’re skill and knowledge focused and not simply memory tests

• Put someone that has worked in a school in charge of education

Wonder Park Review 2019

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Release Date: 8.4.2019
Rating: PG
Length: 1hr 26
About: Wonder Park tells the story of a magnificent amusement park where the imagination of a wildly creative girl named June comes alive.

The Good

The animation and story is sound. It certain kept the two little ones I was with entertained.it makes very clear distinctions between the real world and the world of Wonder Land.

The characters are lovable and funny enough for both child and adult to engage with.

There’s a very clear STEM (or STEAM as its called now) focus and I could certainly see how empowering it could be for young girls.

The Bad

It takes a while to get into. For a film that’s premise is focused on the theme park, it certainly doesn’t feel like much screen time is spent there. Instead, it choses to focus more on the relationships out in the real world. It makes sense; the one impacts the other. However, it does impact how much I enjoyed the film.

The Ugly

It’s a little on the dark side for my liking. While I can only applaude the film’s attempt to address illness, depression and grief it was not the light hearted romp I was expecting for an Easter treat.

Shazam

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Release date: 4.4.2019

Length: 2 hr 16

About: We all have a superhero inside of us — it just takes a bit of magic to bring it out. In 14-year-old Billy Batson’s case, all he needs to do is shout out one word to transform into the adult superhero Shazam. Still a kid at heart, Shazam revels in the new version of himself by doing what any other teen would do — have fun while testing out his newfound powers. But he’ll need to master them quickly before the evil Dr. Thaddeus Sivana can get his hands on Shazam’s magical abilities.

The Good

⁃ I really liked that it wasn’t a straight “Big with powers” as I was worried it would be. While I love Zachery Levi and he makes the perfect Shazam, I very quickly realised that Asher Angel was the scene stealer. By having the film alternate between the two actors, it gave a brilliant balance.

⁃ The message of family and finding a home is really quite charming. It felt sincere and it gave the film a realistic uplifting feel.

⁃ There’s some surprising casting that had me gasping in glee. I’m not going to say any more as it’s a little bit of a spoiler for anyone who, like me, hasn’t read the comics. (although, it is SLIGHTLY predictable)

⁃ There’s a beautiful little nod to Big!

⁃ It’s a good ‘origin’ movie with scope for sequels.

The Bad

⁃ Again, totally my bad but I’ve spent months imagining ZL as Shazam… and I didn’t get what I imagined. There’s an ego there that I wasn’t expecting and I didn’t buy that he was playing a suped-up 14 year old. I guess it was so hard to accept the douchbag persona as ZL is such a geektastic sweetheart in reality.

⁃ It felt a little disjointed and I was massively thrown off by the fact that we are presented with the back story of Mark Strong’s Dr Savana first.

⁃ I got the feeling it was trying to be DC’s answer to Deadpool, but it wasn’t given the age rating to allow for that scope so it kind of fell a little flat for me.

⁃ Mark Strong. I love Mark Strong. He seemed to be asleep at the wheel in this. Such a shame, because if he’d brought his A-game, the chemistry between him and Levi would have been electric.

The Ugly

⁃ Don’t worry guys, this is a massive personal problem and I do think it says more about me than the film. I really fell out of love with the film because of the fact that it was set at Christmas. The whole thing; even the prologue. I just felt like it brought me out of the film completely. It’s not a Christmas movie, but it is set at Christmas. So for me, I probably would have enjoyed it more if it had been given a Christmas release.

Overall, it was a flat superhero movie that is samwiched between Marvel’s most anticipated releases.

Have you seen Shazam? Let me know if you agree, disagree with my thoughts in the comments below.

Love Han x

Why Should You Subscribe? Wildest Dreams Book Box @wdbookbox

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Wildest Dreams Book Box: January (Theme was Loyalty)

There’s a ding alerting me to an email. “Your package is on its way”. I’m filled with joy, excitement and a little bit of frustration ‘I want it nooooooow’. Mainly because each month I’m left feeling as if these boxes have been curated with me in mind.

Wildest Dreams Book Box was conceived a little over a year ago by Zoe Collins; an inspiring and wonderful blogger, vlogger and all round awesome person. Her aim was to provide a monthly book box that was inclusive; from the price to the content. Each one centers around a theme for a recently released book and includes tea that is always out of this world and a number of beauty products sourced from up and coming independent companies.

I’ve never really been able to post photos before this month; as most people know my previous abode was not the most photogenic at the end. Plus, most months my box would end up at the post office. Every time I’d say ‘Wait until you’re home to open it.’…. Yeah, that never happened.

So here it finally is; a proud photo of a wonderful, heart-warming subscription box.

January’s Box

I’ve not had a book that I didn’t think I’d like. This month was no exception. Devoted has been a book I’ve coveted since YALC. I missed out on the hard copy proof. I lucked out and managed to bag a Ecopy through NetGalley, but it was certainly one I wanted to own.

I squealed a little at the addition of the wax melt. I’m not one for candles, so this little beauty is perfect for me. All the candles I’ve ever gotten have been so well scented that merely having them out and open is enough to fill a room with a literary smell.

Jewelry and art cards are always a welcome addition in the box. This month’s offerings are stunning and represent loyalty of two fandoms I love; The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Cassandra Clare’s Shadowhunters. Finally, my favourite part of my monthly Wildest Dreams is the tea. Loyal-tea is perfect for anyone who isn’t quite ready to say goodbye to the Christmas spirit. An added joy this month was opening the packet and getting my dad to guess the ingredients.

So, if you’re new to YA and haven’t got a clue where to start or you are simply wanting to gift yourself, or a friend, a monthly postal hug head over to Wildest Dreams and see the subscriptions on offer. Remember to follow on social media for updates on themes, renewal dates and waiting lists: facebook, twitter and Insta.

Love Han x

Not all Doom and Gloom

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From the Feeds

This first post is about inclusivity and how easy it can be.

Next up is this novel approach to how to read Fahrenheit 451.

Next is a story about Joe Manganeillo letting his geekness hang out with pride in order to bring joy to a hospital in America.

Daily Three

1. I’ve sorted out the internet and gotten a better deal. I’ve got to wait four more days, but I can cope with that.

2. I gave the kitchen a proper good clean and made spaghetti bolognese.

3. There have been so many little things that have made me smile today; from a blogger who is offering a proof to disadvantaged teens to the Starbucks barista who let me know I was able get a free refill on my coffee. But, the biggest little joy was the fact that there is a job going as an education officer in the Beatle’s Story. Well, if that isn’t a job made for me, I don’t know what is.

Incredibles 2 (2018)

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Length: 2Hr 5

Rating: PG

About: Everyone’s favorite family of superheroes is back in “Incredibles 2” – but this time Helen (voice of Holly Hunter) is in the spotlight, leaving Bob (voice of Craig T. Nelson) at home with Violet (voice of Sarah Vowell) and Dash (voice of Huck Milner) to navigate the day-to-day heroics of “normal” life. It’s a tough transistion for everyone, made tougher by the fact that the family is still unaware of baby Jack-Jack’s emerging superpowers. When a new villain hatches a brilliant and dangerous plot, the family and Frozone (voice of Samuel L. Jackson) must find a way to work together again—which is easier said than done, even when they’re all Incredible.

The Good

The best part of this film is the character of Jack-Jack. Not only is he cute, Jack-Jack brings with him some of the best scenes. From his face off with a tash panda to his sleepover with a fan favourite. I almost wish more time was spent on this plot thread.

Having Elastigirl take on the bulk of the crime fighting was a good move; it allowed for Mr Incredible to keep house and explore their dynamic a little further. I loved the scenes in which Bob helped his Children develop and I couldn’t help but chuckle at his screams over maths.

Interestingly, I loved the deep conversation that happened over dinner regarding how children should be brought up. An interaction that will go over most pint-size viewer’s heads, but it really struck a chord with me.

Michael Giacchino is back and he impecibly builds upon his original score. Giacchino’s work is brilliant and this is no exception.

The Bad

I’m not fond of the 1950s styling this time around. I’ve been spoiled by my Marvel movies and this blend of nostagia and future don’t work for me. However, I’m sure on another viewing it won’t bother me so much.

The Ugly

The first Incredibles came at the beginning of the superhero genre taking off. Unfortunately this second intallment has come at a time when the market is reaching its usaturation point. As a result, some of the plot points are too predictable and over used.

The momentum has definatly been lost with the length of time between films. I’ll admit, I haven’t recently watched the first installment, but a good film shouldn’t need you to.

The Indian in the Cupboard (1995)

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Length: 1Hr 38

Rating: PG

About: On his birthday, Omri (Hal Scardino) is given several simple gifts, including an old wooden cupboard and a small plastic figurine of a Native American man. When he locks the toy inside the cabinet it magically comes to life as a tiny, cagey warrior named Little Bear (Litefoot). The boy then places other toys in the cupboard and they too come to life, even engaging in entertaining battles. But after Little Bear is wounded, Omri begins to understand that his animate toys are not mere playthings.

First Thoughts

This was my birthday film when I was 10. Upon watching it today, I really do wonder why I chose this to watch. Turns out, I’d had quite a month in the cinema and The Indian in the Cupboard would have been my 6th outing in December. Quite incredible really; I don’t remember seeing quite so many in such a short space of time.

The Good

There’s some deep and meaningful themes within the story that appear to be pulled from the book from which the film is adapted. From exploring responsibility to death and funeral rituals, it’s an easily passive education.

The way in which the film has mastered the perspectives to have the actors as different sizes still stands and I’d say it’s better than films like the Burrowers, which had a larger budget.

It’s quite nice spotting Steve Coogan in a role of humanised toy soldier many years before becoming Octavian in Night at the Museum.

The Bad and the Ugly

Its an odd sort of kid’s film. The plot is rather slow, overly serious and somber for younger viewers, while adults probably would rather check out Mannequin than watch this anxiety riddled kid play with plastic made human.

It’s rather slow in a way that makes it feel overly long. Part of it is to do with the role of Omri; there’s no real development of his character other than him deciding to no longer use the cupboard. I’d have liked to have seen him become a more confident child. By lacking a significant development, it subdues what should be an uplifting ending.

Final Thoughts

It was nice to watch this film again, but I can see why I’ve not rushed to see it again.

Bird Box – 15

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Length- 2 Hr 4

About- When a mysterious force decimates the population, only one thing is certain — if you see it, you die. The survivors must now avoid coming face to face with an entity that takes the form of their worst fears. Searching for hope and a new beginning, a woman and her children embark on a dangerous journey through the woods and down a river to find the one place that may offer sanctuary. To make it, they’ll have to cover their eyes from the evil that chases them — and complete the trip blindfolded.

The Good

Sandra Bullock is able to hold her own in Bird Box. She’s long been considered leading lady material, but it’s taken her time to break out from the romantic comedy role or plucky positivity hound. The sour and angry demeanour that once seemed so alien and forced in some of her performances fits her like a glove. She is scary and heartbreakingly detached from the children in her care and I don’t think that was something I would have seen as a convincing role from Bullock even 5 years ago.

Let’s face it, this film is A Quiet Place with a different bodily sense being the focus. That in itself isn’t significant or would encourage those who’ve seen the John Krasinski directed film to watch this approach. However, what I will say this has, that A Quiet Place perhaps lacks is the body count. A Quiet Place feels stifled by its limited cast, while Bird Box allows you to explore the aftermath as a society, rather than a family.

It’s a curious story, which an ending that is much more hopeful than I was expecting. I’ve heard talk of A Quiet Place gaining a sequel, which is odd as I don’t think there was enough to it, or characters sympathetic enough for me to wish for more. Bird Box, on the other hand, is well set up for a sequel.

The Bad

It is a little too derivative. Something that I feel is more to do with timing than anything else. It’s A Quiet Place meets Mom & Dad; both films that were released earlier this year. Mom & Dad is in itself a sudo remake of the 1976 Who Can Kill a Child? Sometimes, with films like these it doesn’t matter which is better, just which one got there first.

It was a sensible thing to have it released on Netflix rather than a theatrical release. I’m not sure people would have dropped the money on a film that, on paper, seems to be A Quiet Place bandwagon jump.

The Ugly

Its a violent affair and it all comes at once. I’m not a squimish person, but I found a number of scenes just a little tough to handle. At the root of this, is perhaps the fact that when faced with this sort of situation, the mob mentality in our own society would result in this sort of violence.

Final Thoughts

It’s a decent watch and I’m always grateful to see Sandy Bullock on the screen but I can’t see it jumping to people’s most loved films. However, if I’m watching films of this ilk; I’d rather watch Who Can Kill a Child? again.

Blade Runner 2049

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What a pile of wank. I’m currently 57 minutes in and I’m starting my review. That’s after I’ve checked Wikipedia for the plot to find out what the fuck was going on. That’s not unique to be fair, I needed Wiki for the first one. Although I at least held off until the hour mark. This incarnation had me reaching for my phone 20 minutes in.

The Good

The basic premise is there: replicant sprogged up without anyone knowing so there’s a time sensitive Mcguffin and some connections to the original. Hell; this should be a fast paced, action heavy film that has them looking for the child of the replicant revolution.

Robin Wright is brilliant casting. A million miles away from Buttercup, but actually not all that different. Wright always seems to be drawn to strong female characters and this is no exception. Robin Wright will forever stand side by side with Carrie Fisher as powerful women and role models not only for me, but for all who want to level the playing field. Her presence in the film is strong, but I’d have loved to have seen more of her.

The female presence and representation on the whole is brilliant. Not only as female characters, but as women who aren’t held back by society; they’re strong, motivated and add something that was missing in the first.

The Bad

This is a personal thing, but visually this film isn’t right for me. It’s not a successor to the 1982 Harrison Ford helmed outing; its not strong enough and tbere’s nothing about this that will be seen as iconic decades to come. There’s a tonal asymmetry; from the barren landscapes and the concept that the the future is bright and bleached of all colour to the dark and Japan inspired landscape that became the benchmark of future landscaping in movies. For me, they don’t gel and really pull me out of an already precarious viewer attachment.

Another personal issue is how the future is represented. I would have preferred the style to have progressed from the 80s movie and not from the technology available today. Obviously, when I watched Blade Runner last year, the film looked more nostalgic than forward thinking, however if you develop the concept it then becomes an almost ‘alternative’ future. It needed some visual continuity that didn’t feel like homage. Plus, I’m sick of glossy technological futures. All you need to do is look in HMV (sadly, perhaps not for much longer) and see that vinyl, mock VHS and distressed books are all the rage right now. The creepy ‘full of crap’ dude in Labyrinth said it best ‘sometimes the way forward, is the way back’.

The Ugly

What sort of Frankenstein filmmaker casts Ryan Gosling in the staring role and strip him of all his charisma and personality?! You don’t bring someone like this to the table and neuter him. It’s not that he can’t act. This is all about direction and source material.

Is Jared Leto on mission to destroy his own career? While he may be pretty and have the most beautiful hair I’ve ever seen, between this and Suicide Squad I’m getting very close to avoiding his films. His character is not really needed, especially considering the violent and overtly rapey scene in which he cuts open the replicant’s stomach for not being able to reproduce. The scene is too intimate, too naked for me to be comfortable with it. Never mind the fact that I feel like he’s blaming the woman for his failings.

Why the fuck did it take 1 hour 41 minutes to get Harrison Ford on my screen and why, oh why, did I immediately wish he’d not showed up at all?! In the biggest casting disappointment since the Ghost and the Darkness (sold on the casting of Michael Douglas, who is in the film for no more than 20 minutes), Harrison arrives way too long after I’ve lost the will to live. And to add insult to injury, I don’t even feel like he’s Decker. I mean where’s this love of the crooner’s come from? Why do I feel like Harrison came to set, read the lines and took his wodge of money. Won’t lie, he peeked my interest with ’that was the plan’; but I couldn’t tell you what that plan was.

Final thoughts

Blade Runner was, without a doubt, style over substances; its a Christmas poo in which someone has swallowed a glitter pill. Blade Runner 2049 is neither style or substance. It’s that premature shit you have after a heavy night on the town and your early morning hangover coffee opens your bowels before you, or your guts, are ready.

Christmas Film Advent- Gremlins (1984)

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Christmas carolers. I hate Christmas carolers. Screechy-voiced little glue sniffers.

Length: 1Hr 47

Rating: PG

About: A gadget salesman is looking for a special gift for his son and finds one at a store in Chinatown. The shopkeeper is reluctant to sell him the `mogwai’ but sells it to him with the warning to never expose him to bright light, water, or to feed him after midnight. All of this happens and the result is a gang of gremlins that decide to tear up the town on Christmas Eve.

First Thoughts

This was horror film to me for many years. It scared the crap out of me. Obviously Gizmo was adorable and cute, but the creations of the after midnight feast was petrifying.

I wasn’t looking forward to watching this, and I wasn’t sure why. It recent years it’s become a classic that has stood up against some modern movies of similar ilk.

The Naughty List

  • What the hell was that Phoebe Cates monologue about?! “That’s how I found out there was no Santa Claus.” What the fuck? How do we go over an hour without knowing that this sweet slice of American pie loathes Christmas like a Grinch? While we’re at it, there’s no mention of her dad being dead. Just don’t think we need it
  • What happened to Judge Reinhold? They set him up as this massive dick and slime ball who has his sights on Phoebe Cate’s Kate. It’s brilliant; Zach has a challenger for her affections (It doesn’t matter whether Kate has any interest in him, Zach is worried that she might and that’s enough). Reinhold either needs a character development in which he helps them fight the gremlins or he needs to see his gristly end at the hands of Stripe.
  • Another dropped character was Corey Feldman’s Pete. Considering this is written by Chris Columbus, who is known for his friendship group films The Goonies and Harry Potter, its ripe for grouping the young ones together to fight.

The Nice List

  • The music is brilliant. I love the way in which it progresses from the theme of gizmo to the much more complex gremlin theme. This is certain a film I would love to see with a live orchestra.
  • I love the first hour’s set up. I’d mis remembered the wicked witch music playing when Mrs Deagle blasts through town and into the bank. I loved the way her character is disposed of by the gremlins; it’s quite possibly my favourite scene; even if it wasn’t when I first watched it.
  • I love that one of the most auctioned filled scenes is the one in which Zach’s mother, Lynn, gets to be a massive bad ass and take on the gremlins single handed. She does really well and dispatches at least two of the bastards before one attempts to strangle her.
  • The chief of police getting his after the shit he gives Zach is pure genius. I especially love his second in command’s mutters of fear.

Final Thoughts

I’m actually still not sure how I feel about it today. I feel as if the second half needs a little more work to match the first and I found myself feeling really restless once Kate’s ‘I hate Christmas’ blabbings.

I also feel it would have been improved by having Feldman and Reinhold joining forces to help beat the “little green men”.

Christmas Film Advent- Just Friends (2005)

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Well, if she wants Mr. Rogers, then I’m going to show her the biggest pussy she’s ever seen.

Length: 1Hr 35

Rating: 15

About: High school student Chris Brander (Ryan Reynolds) loves his best friend, Jamie Palamino (Amy Smart). He finally confesses his feelings, but she tells him that she just wants to be friends, and he leaves town in shame. Ten years later, Chris is a successful record executive and involved with self-absorbed pop star Samantha James (Anna Faris). He still pines for Jamie, though, and when his plans to go to Paris for the holidays fall through, he returns to his hometown to try and win her heart.

First Thoughts

This is another one that I know I’ve seen, was certain I owned on dvd but didn’t remember much about it. I don’t remember being to enamoured by Ryan Reynolds and I certainly wasn’t too impressed by his previous film, Van Wilder. I’ve not been inclined to rewatch it and I didn’t remember that it was set at Christmas.

The Naughty List

  • The plot is a little over complicated. The key problem I have is that it needs to lose at least one of the characters. Either Chris Kline’s Dusty or Anna Faris’ Samantha needs to be left on the cutting room floor for me, at the very least. I have a feeling that over the years I will change my mind as to which one causes the most problems to the plot. Today, it’s both.
  • On the one hand, Samantha is just too underdeveloped and too wacky for this sweet film. She’s a brilliant foil for Reynolds’s in a different movie, but her insistence that she’s dating Chris is a thread that’s not followed through properly and I feel as if parts of their relationship have been rewritten.
  • Then there’s Dusty; they live in a small town, how has Jamie never bumped into him before, why doesn’t his alter ego at the very least preceded him and why on Earth was he waiting to get his ‘revenge’? The better, funnier and missed story here would have been to have him make moves on Chris’ mother.
  • I’m not sure, in hindsight, Amy Smart was the best casting choice. In 2005, she was in everything and perhaps considered to be the next ‘Meg Ryan’. However, I find her a little too harsh and far from the sweet girl that would be friends with the larger Chris. She comes across as the mean girl cheerleader. The irony being that The Notebook, the film within the film, stars Rachel McAdams who effectively transitioned from mean girl to American sweetheart.
  • There were just a few sour notes that could have been sweetened by easy changes in the plot; Chris works in music and Dusty plays. Couldn’t we have had Chris help him out? I just find it odd that it’s so overlooked and it feels a little like a rewrite.

The Nice List

  • Chris’ development is brilliant. From his soured ‘I’ll hurt before I get hurt’ approach to a return to his teen-like persona is a heart warming and sweet approach to the film.
  • I absolutely love the relationship between Chris and his brother, Mike. Not only is it where you see Chris most himself, it prompts most of the laughs. I’d have happily sacrificed Faris or Kline to see more of this relationship.
  • I like that the film didn’t go for the obvious root of having Faris pretend to be his girlfriend to make previous love interest jealous, only to discover he now loves Faris. Although, not having this plot point makes me feel like Samantha is a redundant character.

Final Thoughts

A fair film and much funnier than I remember. While Reynold’s doesn’t have the balance of charming bastard he brings to the Merc with the Mouth, he won me over with this viewing.

Change the reason why Chris is on the plane that takes him home and remove Samantha and I think I’d be on my way to loving this.

Oh, and one final thought. Chris Pratt circa Guardians would be a perfect fit for the role of Chris and it would have been awesome to have seen him act alongside Faris.

Christmas Film Advent – Scrooged (1988)

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I’m gonna give you a little advice Claire. Scrape ’em off. You wanna save somebody? Save yourself.

Length: 1 Hr 41

Rating: PG

About: In this modern take on Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” Frank Cross (Bill Murray) is a wildly successful television executive whose cold ambition and curmudgeonly nature has driven away the love of his life, Claire Phillips (Karen Allen). But after firing a staff member, Eliot Loudermilk (Bobcat Goldthwait), on Christmas Eve, Frank is visited by a series of ghosts who give him a chance to re-evaluate his actions and right the wrongs of his past.

First Thoughts

This version of Dickens’ classic has been in my life so long I couldn’t tell you when I’d first watched it. I’ve always been a fan of Bill Murray and love him even more when he’s playing the grump.

Part of my enjoyment of Bill Murray and his films, Ghostbusters in particular, is that he reminded me of my brother. Murray’s dry humour, confidence and what I’ve always considered faux grump are comparable to my brother’s charm.

The Naughty List

  • About the only thing I can really pull this up on is the uptight ‘Lady Censor’ who pulls a Weinstein in the final act when she jumps the tied up Brice. Hell, I get that some people will find it funny, but but them in the reverse and people would be up in arms. It doesn’t matter what way an assault goes, or how ‘small’ the act is; if society is going to pull some up, we need to pull them all up.
  • I also wish the film presented us a different look at the Ghost or Christmas Yet to Come. It had done so well with the others, Marley being one of the most creative, I’d have like to have seen something different. However, I did appreciate how more time was spent within this perspective and how much of an impact it has on Frank.

The Nice List

  • The biggest change to the story’s narrative is the film’s biggest strength. Always relegated to a sub plot, the relationship between the titular Scrooge (Bill Murray) and the woman he loved and lost (Karen Allen) is the focus of Scrooged and the key to Cross’ salvation. The romantic element is heart breaking and setup from the appearance of the Marley figure. It ensures that it’s not just a paint by numbers retelling. It does mean that the ghosts do focus much more on her impact in his life and, in some cases, his on hers. It’s not a sweet romance, but you can’t deny that it’s true.
  • Ghosts of Past and Present are wickedly good. In all of the versions I’ve watched, these two incarnations are my favourite. David Johansen is wonderful as the Ghost of Christmas Past who takes no shit from Murray’s excuse giving Cross. Then there is the ever glorious Carol Kane with her high pitched, high maintenance fairy-like Ghost of Christmas Present. As a child I giggled away at the physical comedy she brought to the section and it wasn’t much different watching today.
  • The role of Cratchit is played by Alfre Woodard. I hadn’t really thought about it before, but the cast/gender changes of some of the characters is way ahead of its time and something to be commended. It’s a perfect example as to why you shouldn’t force artistic forms to conform to a politically correct tick box: this is organic and beautiful. The Cratchit family (named Cooley for this production) wouldn’t be complete without its Tiny Tim. Young Calvin has been rendered mute since his father died. It’s an interesting change and it’s understandable why it is something to worry about, but also is a better infliction to be cured than in previous versions. Calvin’s brave moment never fails to reduce me to tears before warming my heart.
  • Murray’s change of heart is powerful and his speech that goes out to all watching, ties up so many of the plots threads and, with a breaking of the 4th wall, brings the film to a musical end.

Final Thoughts

I was worried when I’d watch the 1951 version that this glorious 80s offering would pale in comparison. It’s been my favourite for so long that I wasn’t quite ready for it to be replaced.

It’s hard to compare the two side by side, as there are fundamental differences that make them both unique. It means that Scrooged currently, with a few days left to go, remains my all time favourite Christmas movie while it is fair to say the 1951 offering is the most true to the source material.

Christmas Film Advent- Rare Exports A Christmas Story (2010)

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Watch your mouth! It’s Christmastime, so let’s act like it

Length: 1 hr 25

Rating: 15

About: A young boy named Pietari (Onni Tommila) and his friend Juuso (Ilmari Järvenpää) think a secret mountain drilling project near their home in northern Finland has uncovered the tomb of Santa Claus. However, this a monstrous, evil Santa, much unlike the cheery St. Nick of legend. When Pietari’s father (Jorma Tommila) captures a feral old man (Peeter Jakobi) in his wolf trap, the man may hold the key to why reindeer are being slaughtered and children are disappearing.

First Thoughts

Rare Exports first came on my radar when it appeared on YouTube as a self contained short. It was something rather different. The training of feral Santa’s was unsettling in a weirdly good way. It perhaps was one of my first explorations into Christmas horror and the film itself became a Christmas Eve watch for me and my brother once our dad had gone to bed. Which year is was, I’ll leave to my brother to inform me.

I don’t remember the inclusion of what I would come to call Krampus (Joulupukki in Rare Exports) in the short and I’m definitely certain this was my introduction to the anti Santa.

The Naughty List

  • It’s length is a doubled edged sword. While a short film, it’s pacing is rather slow compared to the film short that preceded it. You feel every minute of celluloid. Some minutes even feel doubled. Watching it this time, I was able to appreciate how this creates atmosphere and comments upon a different lifestyle than the one I’m used to living, but when I watched it the first time; it felt like Rosemary’s Baby all over again.
  • It won’t feel very Christmassy to some when you consider that the profession of the main family is to kill Rudolph for its meat. The film could risk dampening your Christmas spirit, depending on your outlook. Me? I’d eat Rudolph for Christmas dinner if he tasted good.

The Nice List

  • It’s a short film at 82 minutes and if I was well versed in the original language it would feel even shorter than it already does.
  • Subtitles aren’t for everyone. Even I sometimes veto a film on original language alone, the only thing I hate more being a poor dub. Original language films get my attention better when I’m in a cinema and free of all distractions. That said, I would never want to see this film given a Hollywood treatment; it’s more about the culture and mythology than anything else.
  • The kid (Onni Tommila) holds his own in the film and it’s quite refreshing to have a young lead in this type of film.
  • I know this is stupid thing to pick up on, but I loved seeing Pietari using nails in a candle as an alarm clock. It’s such a vivid image that immediately came to mind before I started my rewatch.

Final Thoughts

It’s not one for the whole family and certainly one that would make very few people’s regular festive viewing. That said, with the lifestyle Swedish and Finnish becoming popular within the UK, this should be on everyone’s list to ensure they’re of an understanding that life isn’t all about hygge hipster bullshit that’s now bordering on a stereotype.

Jack Loves Rosie Blog Tour- Important Journeys

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Rosie Loves Jack by Mal Darbon is one of my favourite reads of 2018. It hooked me from the first page and reduced me to tears by the delightful ending. It is my absolute pleasure to be part of this blog tour, telling you about my own journey of discovery.

Getting Lost and Finding Myself

The Giant’s Causeway

In July 2016 I was in a weird place. I’d lost a bit of who I was while trying to be what I thought other people liked. Namely a boy. I’d convinced myself that if I lost enough weight, he’d at least look at me in away that wasn’t disgust. To me, he was beautiful, funny and I would have been happy for him to just be my friend.

He never did see me as anything other than ugly and pathetic and I didn’t speak to him again when I left my job in July. I was 3 stone lighter,but I was also beginning my journey into managing the chemical imbalance in my brain that had led to life defining anxiety and depression. I don’t think I’d ever hated myself more.

One of my favourite people in the whole world suggested a trip to Oban and the Outer Hebrides by way of landing on the beach of Barra. I jumped at the chance and hoped time away would mend my broken soul.

Finding Myself

One thing I decided before we left was that I would use this opportunity to try foods I wouldn’t normally. No burgers, no pizza and no salads. Being Scotland, my diet became primarily fish based. From the ‘best fish and chips’ to muscles, I tried it all.

The best part of this new mind set was trying oysters for the first time. London isn’t void of the shellfish; but they’re never cheap especially when you’re not certain you’ll like them. Turns out, I love them and that moment marked a much more experimental me when it comes to food.

The whole experience was documented

Searching for gods in all the Ancient Places

My friend, knowing I was struggling with my mental health,found some ancient rituals that took place in the area we visited. One was sacrificing wine to the god in order to be given good health over the following year. I didn’t have any wine on me, so I’m hoping the grapes I chucked were accepted with equally good grace.

The other was to walk 7 times around the church in a clockwise direction to improve your mental outlook. Having waded into the sea to offer my grapes, I didn’t want to put on my shoes. I figures the surrounding area of the church in question would be grass so off I went down the path towards the church.

How wrong I was. Not only was the quarter mile to the church(only accessible by foot) pathed with sharp rocks and nettles, so was the entire path around the church; it was almost as if someone knew I was going to attempt to do this barefoot.

The first lap was unbearable and I considered giving up and just letting my friend complete it without me. That was when I noticed there was a small concrete section next to the wall of the building. If I was careful with my footing and pace; I could walk it pain free. And so I did.

There were the corners that were hard and if I took them too fast, my feet paid the price. However, the last two laps were taken without a single misstep. Not sure it was what I was meant to take away from the activity, but I certainly saw it as a perfect metaphor for my own mental health.

From God to a Naughty Dog

I wasn’t the only person who was lost on this holiday in the highlands. While trying to find out way to our fourth (possibly fifth?) hotel of the trip, we encountered what looked like a frightened and lost terrier dog.

After getting our directions from the Post Office that just so happened to be back the way we’d come, I decided to walk while my friend drove ahead. This was in the hopes of me capturing the lost looking pup and getting him back home. I should point out here that I’m a little bit like Hagrid; I’d spent the entire trip trying to stroke the cows and any other animals we happened upon.

Alvie

However, I soon realised he had a cunning, yet dastardly, plan. The ankle height beauty would stand still, trembling until I got to grasping distance; when he’d run away at full speed. He then leapt over the grassy dip at the side of the road and waited on the other side. There was nothing for it but to jump over myself. Except I fell into the dip and plastered myself with mud. I swear I heard him laugh.

I gave up after that and decided to inform whomever lived at the house we’d just past, figuring that it must be theirs. The gentleman opened his door. Between myself and my friend, we explained that we’d seen this dog, that we’d tried to catch him and that if he was to hear about a lost dog we’d last seen it in what we assumed was his field.

“Oh, that’s Alvie! He’s forever getting out of my neighbour’s yard and causing mischief.”

Rosie Loves Jack is out now. 

Christmas Film Advent- Christmas Carol (1951)

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“There’s more gravy than grave about you”

Length: 1 Hr 27
About: Crotchety Victorian businessman Ebenezer Scrooge (Alastair Sim) has no use for festivity, even at Christmas. After resentfully allowing timid clerk Bob Cratchit (Mervyn Johns) to have the holiday to spend with his loving wife (Hermione Baddeley) and family, Scrooge is swept into a nightmare. The ghost of his late partner, Jacob Marley (Michael Hordern), appears, warning that Ebenezer will be visited by three more spirits who will show the cold hearted man the error of his parsimonious behavior.

If there’s ever a film that demonstrates the exact reason why remakes are redundant, this is it. 

The Good

I don’t actually know where to start. It’s not shiny, new or sickly sweet and I adore it. Alastair Sim is the Scrooge I never knew I needed; the bitterness that often comes across as one note is layered and tinged with such a regret that I feel for him, even before the supernatural visitors that will change his outlook.
 The famous Marley scene in which Scrooge is met with his late partner is nothing short of masterful; the music and sound effects are chilling, the acting is on point and Marley’s ghost is more realistic that the ghosts seen in 2016’s Ghostbusters. Sure, you can tell its some sort of camera trickery, but that is all part of its charm.
What caught my attention with this version was the religious commentary throughout. If you asked me to state one line from Christmas Carol, it would undoubtedly be ‘God bless us, everyone.’ Yet, I’ve never really considered it a religious film at all. Yet, the premise itself is one of salvation; Marley, knowing what awaits his friend sends Scrooge on a journey to save his soul. It’s a beautiful message that demonstrates a truer meaning of Christmas than any other film could ever address. 

The Bad

This isn’t so much a bad, but more of a sad. We spend so much time with the ghost of Christmas Past, and yet the Present and Future seem nothing more than fleeting lip service. It’s a shame because it’s quite clear a lot of his change in view happens within the latter two ghosts that its hard not to feel. in hindsight, a little overdosed by exposition. Of course, at the time I was just happy to see how the story played out.
Then, there’s the matter of what the ghost of Christmas Yet to Come shows dear Ebenezer. It’s hard to make out at first when the audience arrives at the Rag and Bone man’s shop who the three people are talking about with such disregard. Then you feel the knot tighten in your stomach and you hope that your suspicions are not going to be right. It’s the curtains that give it away; they’ve ransacked Ebenezer’s house for all its worth. It makes for an interesting contrast to Scrooge’s treatment of Marley’s estate, but this is something that has been overlooked in modern retellings. I can see why; its a dark, ashamedly realistic, portrayal of humanity. It, again, is here in the bad not because it shouldn’t be there, but because it pulled me up short. I’m certain its exactly how Scrooge would have felt hearing it.

The Ugly

Not something about children again?! Yes, I’m afraid so. Only, this time our leading man is free and clear of my wrath. This time my issue is with Tiny Tim. What the hell?! Aren’t I meant to feel sorry for the character whose described in ways that are no longer politically correct?! The actor they’ve got is an over acting little shit and I all but cheer at the future that sees him buried in a ‘lovely’ patch with shade.
That’s not how Tiny Tim should be; you should understand his popularity within the Cratchit household and feel the insurmountable loss that his absence brings with it.
Luckily, he isn’t burdened with my favourite line and outside of Christmas present, the actor’s lines are kept to a minimum and I can pretend he’s cuter than he really is.

Final thoughts

This film has not only shot to the top of my Scrooge/ Christmas Carol movies, ousting long standing Murray from his perch, it currently is claiming top spot of the all the movies watched so far this advent. I’ll be honest, it’s going to take something amazing to replace it.
I’m off to watch Lethal Weapon on my phone; the internet won’t play night and stream the Gibson festive offering on my TV. Humbug!

Good night and god bless us, everyone x

Q and A with Victor Dixen

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If you were part of the crew, waiting to meet your future partner, what would your approach to the speed dating be?

 

Well, I think I would adopt the same position as Léonor: enjoy the trip to space and try to stay authentic, escaping the show business madness.

I would probably use a “logical” rule as she did, inviting each contestant the exact same number of times to attend the speed-dating sessions with me.

But is it really possible, to be both part of the game and out of the game?

This is one of the questions raised in Phobos 

 

 

The Phobos series feels very epic. Would you be happy to see your work turned into a film or tv series?

Actually, I wrote Phobos a bit like script or a storyboard. Instead of “chapters”, I chose to organize the text around “sequences”, each of them corresponding to a different camera angle. Since Phobos is primarily a novel about images and screens, I thought it would be logical and impactful to have this kind of partitioning.

 

I really visualized this story in my head while writing it, and I would love to see it again on a real screen – re-imagined by a director!

 

 

If the series was turned into a TV show or film, do you have any cast in mind?

Not really…

But I’m always interested to see the proposed casting posted by readers on social networks and blogs. I gathered a few of them here: https://www.facebook.com/pg/victor.dixen.books/photos/?tab=album&album_id=1046079018771786

There is one actress though who I could totally see playing the role of Serena, though: the great Tilda Swinton!

 

 

Were you ever tempted to make fundamental changes to the series before translation?

It always feels great when I learn that one of my books will be published in another language, because it means that the story will be shared with new readers.

For the English translation, a very talented translator has been appointed by my British publisher Bonnier: Daniel Hahn. He actually pointed out a few things we should change for the English edition, for the sake of cultural background or consistency. Apart from that, I didn’t feel the need to make significant changes.  

 

 

 

If you could give your readers an insight into the third book with three words: what would they be?

NEVER . ADMIT . DEFEAT

 

What was your initial inspiration for the series?

There are two ideas at the origin of Phobos.

The first idea is linked to space conquest, a theme that has always interested me since I was a child. Today, we have the technology allowing us to go to Mars, but not to come back. The possibility of a one-way ticket stimulated my imagination.

The second idea is linked to the way our world seems to be fascinated by images. We are surrounded by screens, for better and for worse. On the one hand, screens give us the possibility to establish dialogues and relationships throughout the world, and they are also an unlimited territory for creativity. But on the other hand, it is difficult to escape from the flux of images: screens prompt us to react emotionally and instantly to every stimulus, without thinking first. 

That is the reason why images are so important in Phobos :image of the self, image of the others, false appearances. 

 

 

Which other French authors, other than yourself, would you recommend for young adults taking their GCSEs in order to develop their language skills?

Christelle Dabos has built a great fantasy world in her series “La Passe-Miroir”, that has just been translated to English this year under the title “The Mirror Visitor Quartet”. It’s great that this story is available in the 2 languages, for readers who want to develop their French while still keeping an eye on the English text. You will find here the same sense of wonder in the magical “His Dark Material” series, by Philip Pulman.

For those of you who would like to win the first two books, comment on this post telling me who you would most like to head to Mars with.

Distortion by @VictorDixen @HotKeyBooks

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About:

After a speed-dating show that is literally out of this world, twelve young astronauts are set to become the first humans to colonise Mars. They are also the victims of the cruellest of plots.

Léonor thought she was a pioneer on an extraordinary mission. She thought she had left all regrets behind her on Earth. But when memories are this painful, there can be no forgetting . . .

Characters

Leonor is as wonderful as ever. Her relationship with the rest of the crew is a little more open. It gives the story scope and allows her to become the leader, whether she wants it or not. She is the consistent within a world of chaos and you’ll want to stay by her side from start to finish.

Returning characters Harmony and Andrew are thrown further into the fray in Distortion and they are a welcome addition to the narrative. Now Andrew is not trying to put pieces together on his own, the tension has changed somewhat. Allowing him to spend time with Harmony gives the reader more scope into his character and he’s someone I want to spend even more time with.

Plot

Not going to lie, I wasn’t sure where the sequel was going. By the mid way point I was convinced there wasn’t a sequel. I assumed that perhaps the trilogy was condensed, and it was leaving me a little sad. It’s on of the reasons why the final act pulled the rug from under me and yet again had me begging for the sequel. 

Collision cannot come quick enough for me. The writing is engaging and the story is compulsive. You can’t put it down and it certainly would make the perfect TV show for all ages.

 Pick up Distortion and Ascension now. Collision is due April 2019

https://amzn.to/2AmrhVq

Review: Condemned and Admired by Bree Wolf

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Author’s Bio

USA Today bestselling author Bree Wolf has always been a language enthusiast (though not a grammarian!) and is rarely found without a book in her hand or her fingers glued to a keyboard. Trying to find her way, she has taught English as a second language, traveled abroad and worked at a translation agency as well as a law firm in Ireland. She also spent loooong years obtaining a BA in English and Education and a MA in Specialized Translation while wishing she could simply be a writer. Although there is nothing simple about being a writer, her dreams have finally come true.

“A big thanks to my fairy godmother!”

Currently, Bree has found her new home in the historical romance genre, writing Regency novels and novellas. Enjoying the mix of fact and fiction, she occasionally feels like a puppet master (or mistress? Although that sounds weird!), forcing her characters into ever-new situations that will put their strength, their beliefs, their love to the test, hoping that in the end they will triumph and get the happily-ever-after we are all looking for.

If you’re an avid reader, sign up for Bree’s newsletter at http://www.breewolf.com as she has the tendency to simply give books away. Find out about freebies, giveaways as well as occasional advance reader copies and read before the book is even on the shelves!

Book Blurb

A French privateer’s daughter. A marquess’s son.

And a chance encounter on the high seas.

VIOLET WINTERS, a French privateer’s daughter who fled England with her mother when she was a little girl, takes the chance to return to her home country unrecognised when fate delivers an English lord into her hands. OLIVER CORNELL, EARL OF CULLINGWOOD, fascinated by the adventurous gleam in her eyes, does not hesitate to offer his assistance…and pose as her husband.

Can a privateer’s daughter and a marquess’s son ever have a happily-ever-after?

 

Links:

Webage: www.breewolf.com

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7333700.Bree_Wolf

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/breewolf.novels/

Facebook EVENT: https://www.facebook.com/events/408576936315941/

Where to buy

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Condemned-Admired-Cunning-Second-Chance-ebook/dp/B07D3TBHL7/

Nook: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/condemned-admired-the-earls-cunning-wife-bree-wolf/1128641189?ean=2940162096047

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/condemned-admired

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/condemned-admired-earls-cunning-wife-9-loves-second/id1382213939?mt=11


Review for Condemned and Admired

This stand alone in the Love’s Second Chance series is my first outing into Bree Wolf’s writing, but it certainly won’t be my last.

Characters

Violette and Oliver are beautifully strong characters that stand out among the others. Their alternating view points give strength to the narrative. Both hold modern outlooks within a period world, which makes for a refreshing read.

Plot

The story deals with putting right something Violette feels is an injustice. It’s fast paced. with an exploration into characters and motivation as Violette completes her personal mission. You won’t put it down once you’ve started reading. Unless of course you’re like me; you’ll put it down once, to order the other books.

Writing

The writing is clear and engaging. It is the part that will keep you reading until the end. The comfortable read, that doesn’t rely on period language which is a big turn off for me. The focus is on the characters and society in that period.


To win one of five e-copies of Condemned and Admired, answer the question below in the comments section.

Giveaway question: Have you ever fallen for the wrong guy?

Excerpt:

Drawing in a shuddering breath, Oliver reached out and drew her hands into his. “Once your sister makes her decision,” he said, “what will you do then?”

At his question, her eyes dropped to the ground. “You know what I will do,” she replied before forcing her gaze back up. “I need to go back where I belong. There is no place for me here.” Regret shone in her blue eyes as well as the agony of disappointed hopes.

“Stay,” Oliver said before he could stop himself, knowing that he had no right to ask that of her, no right to force that decision on her. “I don’t want you to leave.”

Violet’s eyes grew wide as she stared at him. Then she swallowed, and to Oliver’s utter astonishment, her lips curled up, clearly tempted to smile. “A part of me wishes I could,” she whispered, her hands squeezing his gently. “I wish I could stay with you, but I can never–”

Tugging her into his arms, Oliver silenced her objections with a searing kiss. His hands pulled her closer, one sliding up the graceful line of her neck and up into her hair as he kissed her with a passion unmatched as it was fuelled by the desperate need to forget that their love was a doomed one.

There was no happily-ever-after for them. She belonged out at sea while he had his place here…as the future marquess. He had a duty to the realm, and he knew that she would never be happy here. Even if she stayed, their love would not survive such a strain. It would undoubtedly end in a disaster until the day she finally did choose to leave. To return where she belonged.

Lost in the moment, Oliver did not hear the man’s approach. Only when rough hands seized him from behind did he realise that they were no longer alone.

With a harsh snarl tearing from the man’s lips, Oliver was flung backward and crashed into the seating arrangement set up on the western side of the terrace.  His ears rang, and his back ached from the collision. Still, Oliver was back on his feet without a moment’s hesitation, all thoughts focused on Violet. Was she all right? Who was this man and what did he–?

As Oliver rushed forward, the air was knocked from his lungs as he stared at the dark-haired man standing beside Violet. In that moment, he seemed like a messenger of doom, and Oliver could barely keep himself from sinking to the ground in despair.

Blog Tour: Not the Girls You’re Looking For

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Characters
Lulu is a brilliant young woman, growing up in a mixed culture household and not knowing where she truly belongs or its impact it has on her identity. That’s all before we even get onto the fact that she’s a teenager in high school and dealing with the social etiquette of that too.
I love her fire and loyalty. She’s honest and uncompromising with her views; it gives you a good basis for the plot to revolve around.
James is a curious individual who isn’t overly likeable at first, but as Lulu gets to know him, you’ll be forgiven for having a change of heart.
Plot
It’s Easy A meets Heathers, by way of Mean Girls. You get an understanding of teen life, before Lulu’s life is turned upside down. It causes her to confront aspects of her life that she has always questioned; enabling her to understand herself a little better before the status quo is finally reached.
You don’t leave Lulu’s perspective, so her friend’s views are given to us through Lulu’s perspective or second hand news. It gives you an interesting view of what Lulu thinks of herself and others.
Writing
The writing is crisp, clean and emotional; you can clearly feel the torment of a person caught between two cultures. It is perfect for anyone wanting to understand what it feels like to almost have your very existence questioned.

Not the Girls You’re Looking For – Book except

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“It’s a matter of principle.” Audrey crossed her arms.

When it came to Audrey and her sister, everything was a matter of principle. Lulu shrugged. What Lulu knew of sisters, apart from Audrey, she had taken from fiction. Lulu suspected that Audrey found her sister to be a Mary Bennet– priggish and pedantic– while Audrey’s sister probably thought of Audrey as a Lydia Bennet– thoughtless and selfish. Or maybe they were Amy and Jo March and this was all about a burnt manuscript and an heiress of a boy. Lulu found the idea of sisters fascinating, but her only vocabulary for the relationship was borrowed. She did the best she could to keep up, given the circumstance.

Audrey turned the radio back up. Lulu flicked Audrey’s fingers, like swatting a fly, and turned the radio back down. Audrey sighed. After waiting a beat, she turned up the radio in one grand, sweeping effort, “So where to first?”

“‘Emma’s, then Lo’s,” Lulu punched off the radio with her knuckles. Her ears vibrated from the aftermath of that decibel level. “Then I’m thinking tacos. We haven’t had tacos in forever.”

“Two weeks. Yes, that was forever ago.” Audrey used as much condescension as she had in her. And Audrey had been bred to hold plenty of condescension.

Lulu laughed. Her freshly won freedom made her gracious enough not to hold a grudge. She had taken the blame for the night of the pool incident, getting Audrey off nearly scot-free. But Audrey would do the same for her, even if Audrey knew the world to be a certain way. A way that didn’t hold water, but still.

Lulu made an unprotected left turn and Audrey swooped in to turned the radio back on. Lulu paid these antics no further attention. They constantly danced around like this, attracting one another with what ought to repel. The two girls chatted and laughed until they became four. How any of them could hear one another, over each other, or the music, or the wind coming into the car as it sped along, was anyone’s guess.


BOOK INFORMATION

 

TITLE: Not the Girls You’re Looking For

AUTHOR: Aminah Mae Safi

PUBLISH DATE: June 19th 2018

PUBLISHER: Feiwel & Friends

SYNOPSIS:

Lulu Saad doesn’t need your advice, thank you very much. She’s got her three best friends and nothing can stop her from conquering the known world. Sure, for half a minute she thought she’d nearly drowned a cute guy at a party, but he was totally faking it. And fine, yes, she caused a scene during Ramadan. It’s all under control. Ish.

 

Except maybe this time she’s done a little more damage than she realizes. And if Lulu can’t find her way out of this mess soon, she’ll have to do more than repair friendships, family alliances, and wet clothing. She’ll have to go looking for herself.

 

Debut author Aminah Mae Safi’s honest and smart novel is about how easy it can be to hurt those around you even if —especially if—you love them.

 

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35795940-not-the-girls-you-re-looking-for

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1250151813

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/not-the-girls-youre-looking-for-aminah-mae-safi/1126791458?ean=9781250151810#/

IndieBound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781250151810

Audio (Amazon): https://www.amazon.com/Girls-Youre-Looking-Aminah-Safi/dp/1250314577/ref=tmm_abk_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

 

AUTHOR INFORMATION:

Aminah Mae Safi is a Muslim-American writer who explores art, fiction, feminism, and film. She loves Sofia Coppola movies, Bollywood endings, and the Fast and Furious franchise. She’s the winner of the We Need Diverse Books short story contest. Originally raised in Texas, she now lives in Los Angeles, California, with her partner, a cat bent on world domination, and another cat who’s just here for the snacks.

 

Author website: http://www.aminahmae.com/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16090821.Aminah_Mae_Safi

Twitter: https://twitter.com/aminahmae

Instagram: http://instagram.com/aminahmae

Tumblr: http://aminahmae.tumblr.com/

Ascension by Victor Dixen @VictorDixen

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Release date: 28.6.2018
About:
Six girls, six boys. Each in the two separate bays of a single spaceship. They have six minutes each week to seduce and to make their choices, under the unblinking eye of the on-board cameras. They are the contenders in the Genesis programme, the world’s craziest speed-dating show ever, aimed at creating the first human colony on Mars.

Leonor, an 18 year old orphan, is one of the chosen ones.
She has signed up for glory.
She has signed up for love.
She has signed up for a one-way ticket.
Even if the dream turns to a nightmare, it is too late for regrets.
Pre-order here


Characters

I love Leonor. She’s a good voice to have when you’re stuck in space; she grounds you, so to speak. When you have a character like her; passionate, flawed and insightful. The way she works through the speed dating is interesting and something I easily identify with. Not only that, it adds a level of internal conflict that some narratives miss.

We learn bits about the other crew, but it’s those left on earth that are the most interesting. We have Serena, who communicates directly with the participants and becomes the ‘host’ of the broadcast. She’s a piece of work, you’ll quickly learn, but I want you to find that out for yourself.

Plot

It reads like a brilliant Sci-fi blockbuster. There are many threads in play and they change your perspective like a rubrics cube, waiting to be solved. Being the first in a trilogy, you go in knowing that you will have a resolve of some sorts, but there will be questions left unanswered to ensure you want more. It’s expertly done so that it doesn’t feel like it’s the first in a sequence, but a story in its own right.

Writing

Being a translated story, there’s always a worry that the writing loses something. This story, I’m delighted to say, doesn’t. It’s language is clean, its engaging and powerful. It makes for such a consumable, compulsive read.
I just wish I knew enough French to read the other two books in the series. Yes, they’re already published guys but you need to have progressed further than a GCSE in French to be able to access them.

Rampage – 12A

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About 

Release date  11.4.18
Summary
Primatologist Davis Okoye shares an unshakable bond with George, the extraordinarily intelligent gorilla who has been in his care since birth. But a rogue genetic experiment gone awry transforms this gentle ape into a raging monster. As these newly created monsters tear across North America, destroying everything in their path, Okoye teams with a discredited genetic engineer to secure an antidote, fighting his way through an ever-changing battlefield, not only to halt a global catastrophe but to save the fearsome creature that was once his friend.
Time 1hr 47


Trailer


The Good
This is a Dwayn ‘the Rock’ Johnson movie and I’ll hold my hands up here and now; there’s no wrong this man can do (sidebar: My dad calls him The Fairy because of The Toothfairy. When an actor or film gets a Dad Hunter pseudonym, that means they’re on the win list). With Johnson, so come some film expectations. There’s going to be fast paced action, quips and smouldering. There’s also an understanding that the plot will stretch reality to provide a fun plot and indeed it does provide. Bucket loads of it to the point that I’m not so sure we can really call it Science Fiction.
Johnson’s character works well with George, the CGI Gorilla saved from poachers during infancy and taught to sign (Yup, We verge into Congo territory. I’ll reassure you though; I think this one will be considered a little better). Some of the best scenes involved the two of them interacting. There’s heart and humour in their banter and it allows you to feel for them and root for their survival when the shit hits the atmosphere about 2 minutes later.
In addition we have Naomie Harris and Jeffery Dean Morgan helping Johnson ‘save’ his friend and Malin Akerman and Joe Manganeillo playing for the company that caused the mutations in the animals.

The Bad
It really is a shame that most of the film sees George and Johnson’s Davis separated. Not only that, but essentially on opposite sides. They truly do have amazing chemistry that no one else can come close to and it removes some of the natural humour. If the film could keep them together by tweaking the plot it would keep the comedic tone and not seem to be bookended by a separate movie.
The two outside sections have a lighter a tone and sees everyone in on the joke and having fun, however the bulk of the film takes itself a little too seriously.

The Ugly
The CGI is rather ropy and it’s worrying that I picked up on it the first viewing. Normally because it’s all new, I miss the little flaws and only catch them during a repeat viewing, usually at home. It means I wasn’t as engaged in the story as I normally would have been and that could be because of many factors; one being the lack of feeling for the characters.


Cinema offences

A new segment for my reviews. I’m going to list the problems with the cinema going experience as it is something I think we all face issues with.

Viewing date/time: 12.4.2018/ 11.40 showing (Odeon Uxbridge)
Fullness: Quite a busy showing for early in the morning. That said, there couldn’t have been more than 40 people.

Late comers (5 minutes or more into a movie): 4 people in 2 separate groups
Phones (Texting/games/checking the time. Essentially anytime I see/am distracted by the glow of a phone): 0
Talking: 3 separate groups, all persistent.
Oh this was a big one today. Fresh off the back of my annoyance from The Quiet Place I think my patience had already warn thin. However, it was people in the row right behind me and it was persistent; like a running commentary on a DVD. Imagine my horror, when I turn around to bollocks the tween triplets I’d mentally given three chance to are not in fact three kids, but a mum and her two sons. Instead of telling her kids to stop, she was engaging them in conversation. I was rather reserved, for me; I politely asked them to stop talking. Well, my dear readers, I might as well have taken a dump right there on her lap based on the look she gave me. All I heard was ‘don’t listen to her’ from the mother and I’d had enough. Premiere seats be damned, I got up and moved to one of the nice seats; I figured Odeon owed me this for allowing this sort of behaviour to become the norm (Disclaimer: It’s not an Odeon problem, the is a all-franchise epidemic. Seriously, this woman will have spent at least £25 on tickets. Alone. I’m sure she’d jacked her kids up on sugar too and when a ‘kids pack’ starts at £4.50, surly just setting fire to your money would be better?! Or at least buy a dvd, rent one from Sky and then let them chatter away to their hearts content at home.

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The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon #bookreview #gem @gemlovesbooks

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The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon
Buy it here
Goodreads

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Paige’s world is so exciting; it’s full of magic, mystery and danger!
It’s a very refreshing take on a dystopian genre with the beautiful writing, the language which is used and the imagery that has been created drew me in from the very first page and kept me utterly hooked until the last word.

It’s more literary, and more *clever* than The Hunger Games and Divergent etc., but by no means does that mean it’s hard going; I was completely enthralled by the plot, I loved Paige and Warden! The relationship that builds between them is not what I expected, and as the plot progresses and we learn more of Sheol 1 and the Rephaim, this adds an extra element of intensity and mystery. To me it’s one of those books that you just want other people to read so you can talk to them about it – there are plot elements that aren’t resolved (as you’d expect for what is projected to be a 7 book series) so I want to know if other people think the same things as me!
What I will say is that I hadn’t realised there was a glossary as if I turn to the back I have a naughty tendency to read the last few lines, so make use of that, it will help you get to grips with the different characters much quicker than I did.
NB. I wrote this review on 10th January 2014 and since then I have bought over 10 copies to give to friends and family, organised a Q&a and signing at Waterstones Bham with SS and her wonderful publisher sent me a box of copies to give away at raffle prizes for one of our fan parties. I always made sure this book was displayed in both the YA and fantasy sections of the shop so I could get more and more people to discover Paige’s world.

My love for The Bone Season and subsequently The Mime Order and The Song Rising) knows no bounds!

Rick and Morty. S3 Ep2: Rickmancing the Stone

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Background
I’m incredibly new to this show, but oh so very passionate. My ex introduced me to it and we watched all of series one in a single sitting. Every so often he would pause it to tell me something offensive was coming up thinking I would hate it and demand for it to be turned off. Far from it, I loved every second.
I will always remember him texting me a screenshot of an episode and him being incredibly impressed that I’d gotten it with one guess and having only seen all the episodes once.
Since our split I’ve been determined to not do my usual thing and for once, not create attachments to a show we shared. Hell, if I did that, I’d have nothing left to watch seeing as I we both loved the same shows, films and he’d even started to get me into gaming.
In the past I’ve stopped watching shows such as Lost (although I hear I didn’t miss much) and films like Goonies had not been watched by me in 8 years since my first boyfriend and I parted ways. Some couples have THEIR song, I tend to have that one movie that will forever be mine and that person’s.
I had explained this to my ex, that I have emotional connections to movies and shows even to the point where I’ve walked away from screenings I’ve paid money for because I’d known the situation would take away from the film I’d loved (Example: a screening of Scrooged was meant to be my works leaving do. I knew had I stayed, I would no longer watch that will in the same way). However, it didn’t stop him from using a conversation we had to inspire him to watch my favourite film (Leon) with another woman literally a day after the conversation. It also didn’t stop him shouting at me for being upset about it.
So, I’m not going to let that happen this time. I don’t want to lose any of the shows I loved before I met him (Stranger Things, House, How I Met Your Mother… hell Star Trek.)

I figured if I blog about the episodes it’ll give me a little bit of motivation to watch them as they’re released. I couldn’t find someone to watch it with me, so I’m afraid my dear readers, you’re the ones holding my hand through this.

 

So, into the fray with go …

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Rickmancing the Stone takes no time in reminding us about the divorce between Beth and Jerry. It’s always been there in the background; Beth’s frustration has built over the two series. I never thought the showrunners would break them up though and I’m very happy they did. Things are tense when Jerry pops over for a visit and the siblings use Rick as a means of escape. Seconds before the title sequence comes a whisper only Jerry can hear ‘loser’ the wind calls. It’s genius; I love to hate Jerry and this is just the kind of abuse I want him to get.

I’m loving Summer’s active role in travelling with Rick. Long gone is the Summer of Series 2’s Ricks Must Be Crazy. She doesn’t shy away any more. It’s when they travel to the post-apocalyptic dimension that we really start to see how strong Summer has become. In fact, she’s the catalyst for the whole episode and long may it continue.
Her story sees her find herself very much at home in this world, but she soon works through her issues regarding the divorce and comes to an interesting conclusion that resolves some of her angst by the end of the episode.
It’s interesting to see her romance develop. I would love to see Summer become the Kirk of the traveling trio. Also- Sumsum! Rick gets to give all the best nicknames.

Morty is as annoying as ever. I know that’s the whole point of the character, but I’m starting to need the showrunners to pull a South Park Kenny on his arse.

We see him take on a revenge mission that is worthy of Game of Thrones (another show I’ve stopped watching owing to a man). It’s a brilliant. Very WTF and ties nicely into the Mad Max homage they have throughout the dimension. It’s good to see how he works through his hang-ups about his father and the divorce. Although I reckon some of you are like me and would have liked to have seen what Morty would have done with the muscle memory had Jerry been there himself.

Rick was as awesome as always but there was very little in way of progression for him. I want him to show some real concern relating to the divorce and I hope we’ll get it in the next few episodes.

Overall, I have found the episode to be tackling a tricky, complex and relevant subject. They are doing it well, exposing some of the rawness to comedy (and gore) will probably enable viewers who have experience divorce to see it from other the other side. From my understanding of the audience it gets here in the UK, it certainly will be helping those most effected by divorce.

Questions/Predictions

  • Will there be any fallout from Summer’s relationship? We’ve obviously done the pregnancy thing with Morty before but I’d certainly like to see that storyline come back.
  • Rick and Beth need some bonding time during her divorce to Jerry.
  • Will Beth and Jerry reconcile by the end of the series?
  • Will the Cthulhu from the title sequence make an appearance this year?

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Fan Entitlement

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I’m a fan! We’re both fans. Of many things. Find us on twitter, give us a topic and we’ll talk… at length, whether you want us to or not. We love music (Panic! At the Disco, MCR, The Killers), TV (Buffy, Hex, Star Trek for Han) and Films (Jurassic World, Princess Bride, Harry Potter). We are advocates of YA (Holly Bourne, Laini Taylor and Non Pratt) and have just spent an amazing weekend at YALC.

However, we’re both upset right now. Mainly because of this article: http://www.altpress.com/news/entry/brendon_urie_wont_be_meeting_fans_after_kinky_boots_shows_anymore

I know Brendan has refused to sign at Panic! Gigs for the last few years for essentially the same reason. In 2015 I (Han), caught the set list at a Hammersmith Apollo gig and waited for two hours at the “stage door” to be told he’d been accosted at a gig in the US. He’d agreed with his body guard and not signed since.
Thanks to “fans”, people are now losing out on meeting a role model and idol. We’d normally have our bitch together if it was an isolated incident. But it’s not. And it’s not fair.

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Tom signing and posing for photos early in the Coriolanus run,

Back in 2013/14 Tom Hiddleston was in Coriolanus at the Donmar in London’s West End. I had tickets, I watched the play and then queued for SIX hours to have the honour of telling him how amazing he was. However, my anxiety is a bitch and I didn’t get to say a word to him while he signed my programme.
A month later I had another ticket to see him. Due to the restrictions at the stage door, this meant I had the chance to join the line for his autograph. I decided at the last minute to join. Only what I saw as I approached was nothing short of chaos; mob mentality ensued and the main door was so swamped that a man in a wheelchair struggled to get out. Fans refused to move in fear of missing their chance to get a photo with Hiddleston.
This alone disturbed me. However, that was before I was informed why Tom had refused to leave via the main door that evening, meaning his security was not policing the crowds.
The reason, as I feared, was fan related: two girls a few days before had crossed the line with Tom. They attempted to place their hands down his pants while he was signing for them. This ensured that for the remaining 5 weeks of the production, no one managed to engage with Hiddleston. This did not make the news. Had it been Sienna Miller, who is currently starring in A Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, it would have made front page news. It would have been sexual harassment. However, Tom kept this quiet.

Now Brendan has had to do the same. He was doing something he loved and fans enjoyed, however warped sense of entitlement that meant the minority has spoiled it for the majority.

My reason for stage dooring or wanting to meet celebs is not to say “I’ve met Mr X or Ms Y”, but to tell them they have made an impact in my life and thank them for the performance they’ve just been in. Because of my anxiety, I find programmes for plays they’re in are the perfect prop. While they’re signing, their attention is elsewhere and I can talk. It doesn’t always work. Heck, its worse without a prop though. Upon being wingperson for a friend when meeting Domnhall Gleeson all I could muster was “My brother is really looking forward to seeing you in Star Wars”. Not the fact that I adored his recent film Frank or that he broke my heart with About Time. This was before my crush on him had fully developed too.

I’m certain I’m not the only one who thinks like this. It takes courage to open my bloody mouth. In fact I’m starting to avoid stage doors because of these sort of situations. Yet out there are “fans” who not only take advantage they have this sense that it’s okay and that the celebrities welcome this behaviour. I’ve also seen these people melt down when they don’t get what they want. Even if they’ve already had countless opportunities to meet the person.

Case in point: I went to see Lyndsey Lohan in Speed the Plow. It was an okay play, but her performance was appalling. I had a moral dilemma; I wanted Richard Schiff and Nigel Lyndsey’s autographs (By autographs, I mean I wanted to tell Schiff that I loved him in The Lost World and the Infidel. That he is an awesome actor and in all honesty I just wanted to see him smile.) but it was a three person play, Lyndsey was a full house. I was struggling to bring myself to do this as I didn’t have something positive to say about her performance in the play. I text a few people to gage their opinion about the stage door and how to handle it.

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I need not have bothered seeing as everyone and their aunt were outside; their cameras ready, sharpies poised on their Mean Girl prints. People who had not even seen the play were there, in the prime positions as well.

All I could hear during my wait were vile comments. Links to Lyndsey’s drug use past (and predicted present) and her bad performance of the play. I couldn’t help but wonder why these people were waiting let alone coveting the spaces at the front of the barrier.

After a time we were informed that Lyndsey has already left the building via a different exit. I totally understand that and was ready to get home and move on with my day. However other people did not. What followed the announcement was abuse. She was a whore, people would not watch her work again and she was worse than Satan and someone even wished her dead.

I would say about 90 percent of my encounters have been amazing, uplifting and unique. The best experience I had was meeting Star Trek Deep Space Nine’s Alexander Siddig when he was performing at the Globe. I headed to the stage door and thanked every cast member who came out (cast of 25 and I got every single autograph, meaning I was able to thank every single one of them for a play that meant so much to me). There were two other women there, just hanging out for Alexander Siddig; to the point they blanked other cast members when they drew them into the conversation we were having owing to them being stood so close.

Out came another cast member and when he finished signing for me he questioned whether we were waiting for Siddig. The girl’s ears pricked up and they listened intently as I was told he would be in the bar and that if I had any issues, to tell Alex that he’d sent me.

I watch these two girls run to the bar and shadow him. By some stroke of luck he ended up beside me as I was calming myself at the bar. I was able to have a chat to him (before the women I might add) and express my gratitude for playing the character that got me into Star Trek. We ended with him asking for a hug and telling me his name. The one thing I love about my encounters is that I seem to have a way of making them forget the fan/celeb line and they introduce themselves to me as if I haven’t got a clue who they are. I mentally tell myself as I walk away “That’ll do Pig.”

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With Alexander Siddig

I have no desire to meet many of them again (Who am I kidding, there are a few I would love to see again. But in a ‘let’s go for a cuppa, put the world to rights’ sort of way.) I know I can’t improve my experience or gain them as my friend, so it blows my mind when people will actively repeat their actions, gain nothing out of it but a photo and/or autograph. How can it be fulfilling and don’t some of the more ‘devout’ fans see the look of fear on their target’s face?

What can we do to take back our fandoms my friends? I want these victimised stars to know that we’re not all the same. I also want to be able to continue to stage door without having to compete with these people who despite having 5 autographs, will step on your neck to get another. Even if you were to explain to them that you’ve never met them before.

The Perfect Date

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The Good

Well Noah scores a Netflix hat-trick with this installment. He truly is the teen rom-com king that we really have been missing in the wake of super-hero saturation.

Just like Seirra Burges and To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, he plays a lovable guy who loves without discrimination. What’s not to like about a guy who sees the beauty inside as well as out.

It follows similar tropes that 10 Things, She’s All That and even Pretty Woman that had us in our comfort zones back in the nineties and noughties. It’s your baggy tee and boy does it make you feel good.

Brooks’ ’girl friday’ is equally as recognisable; all the sassy of Kat Stratford, the snark and independence of Janis Ian and the vulnerability of Josie Gellar. Laura Marano plays Cecilia with charm and with, which makes you wonder why we don’t meet any of her friends.

The Bad

I LOVE Riverdale’s Camila Mendes, but she is wasted in this film. Her character is flat and it almost feels as if Shelby is so similar to Veronica Lodge in persona, background and aspirations that those watching will merge the two and assume she was something more than a cardboard cutout.

While on the topic of things wasted; I would have loved to have seen the Deuce Bigalow element expanded upon and see the dates he goes on. The few we do see are endearing to Brooks and it would round out his character a little more. Plus, it would open up the humour a little too.

The Ugly

The Yale plot was too easily discarded and didn’t mesh as well with Brooks’ character. Someone that driven wouldn’t give up so quickly really?! Nor would they be half assing their application. I needed to feel his motivation for him to be redeemable. As it stands, he’s a dick who treated people like dicks for no valid reason.

Final Thoughts

It’s the weakest of Noah’s three Netflix movies to date, but it’s an alright watch if you’re bored of watching 10 Things About You again.

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Summer Bird Blue by Akemi Dawn Bowman

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Details

Bowman’s writing has such an ease and flow that her books are easily on sitting reads; Summer Blue Bird is no exception. I started reading it because I forgot to take my current read out with me; I couldn’t put it down. I fell in love with the characters, the situations and how much I related.
The plot develops around a core thread of grief. It’s not simple, it’s’ not clean but rest assured Bowman is there to guide you through Rumi’s turbulent summer of anger. The story deals with grief, loss and abandonment in such a way that the book is a cathartic read. It’s a must read for anyone who has experienced loss and for those who haven’t and wants to empathise.

March Wrap Up

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What I Got

  • The Secret Runners of New York by Matthew Reilly
  • After She’s Gone by Camilla Grebe
  • State of Sorrow by Melinda Salisbury
  • The Graces by Laure Eve
  • My Secret Lies With You by Faye Bird
  • The Holiday by T.M. Logan
  • The Woman Who Wanted More by Vicky Zimmerman
  • Bloom by Nicola Skinner
  • Bible Infographics for Kids Volume 2 by Harvest House Publishers
  • Guardians of the Wild Unicorns by Lindsay Littleson
  • Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell
  • The Sages of Chelm and the Moon by Shlomo Abas
  • The Kindness Method by Shahroo Izadi
  • Literary Places by Sarah Baxter
  • My Special Brother Bo by Britt Collins
  • A Colorful Tail by Joan Waites
  • The Vanishing Baseball Cap by Misti Kenison
  • The Golden Acorn by Katy Hudson
  • Just Like You by Sarah J. Dodd
  • Anne Frank by Isabel Thomas, illustrations by Paola Escobar
  • Smash Poetry Journal by Robert Lee Brewer
  • Call It What You Want by Brigid Kemmerer
  • Arctic Zoo by Robert Muchamore
  • King Of Fools by Amanda Foody
  • Tigeropolis by R D Dikstra
  • Richard Dawkins, C. S. Lewis and the Meaning of Life by Alister McGrath
  • All We Could Have Been by T.E. Carter
  • Ask Me Anything by Molly E. Lee
  • Blink of an Eye by John H.K. Fisher
  • The Boxer by Nikesh Shukla
  • Viper by Bex Hogan
  • The Woods by Rob Hodgson
  • Tales From Nature: Bee by Magali Attiogbe
  • Tales From Nature: Ladybug by Magali Attiogbe
  • The Great Big Book of Life by Mary Hoffman
  • We Are the Gardeners by Joanna Gaines
  • Baby Bird by Andrew Gibbs

What I read

  • Wildcard by Marie Lu
  • My Special Brother Bo by Britt Collins
  • A Colorful Tail by Joan Waites
  • The Vanishing Baseball Cap by Misti Kenison
  • Just Like You by Sarah J Dodd
  • The Great Big Book of Life by Mary Hoffman
  • We Are the Gardeners by Joanna Gaines
  • Baby Bird by Andrew Gibbs
  • Emily Eternal by M. G. Wheaton
  • The Secret Runners of New York by Matthew Riley
  • My Secret Lies With You by Faye Bird
  • The Woods by Rob Hodgson
  • Tales From Nature: Bee by Magali Attiogbe
  • Tales From Nature: Ladybug by Magali Attiogbe
  • The Graces by Laure Eve

Goodreads

April TBR

Love Han x

Star Trek Discovery Series 2 Ep10: The Red Angel

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Air Date: 21.3.2019
About:
Burnham is stunned when she learns her ties to Section 31 run deeper than she ever fathomed. Armed with the identity of the Red Angel, the U.S.S. Discovery goes to work on its most critical mission to date.

  • What just happened? Hugh, Giegou and Paul
  • Hugh and Cornwell
  • The Red Angel is Michael
  • Spock and Michael
  • Ash and Michael
  • The bait and the trap!
  • That reveal!

Book Review: Twisted by Steve Cavanagh

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Publisher: Orion
Pages: 352
Release Date: 4.4.2019
About: FROM THE BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF THIRTEEN

‘This guy is the real deal. Trust me.’ Lee Child


BEFORE YOU READ THIS BOOK
I WANT YOU TO KNOW THREE THINGS:

  1. The police are looking to charge me with murder.
  2. No one knows who I am. Or how I did it.
  3. If you think you’ve found me. I’m coming for you next.

After you’ve read this book, you’ll know: the truth is far more twisted…

Twisted is such an apt title. This well-written roller coaster of a thriller has so many shocks, reveals and corkscrew twists that its the Nemesis of books.
It took me longer than I thought it would to read this, and that’s a testament to the plot and writing; I didn’t want to rush. It enabled me to pin point clues that i’ll happily admit perplexed me right up until the penny was dropped.


The movement between the perspectives of a number of characters was interesting to me. Especially considering I trusted very few of them and it added to the mystery, rather than detract.
As the body count racked up, my nail length was almost down to the quick; through a cleverly written, almost-meta, narrative a tense atmosphere is created that will mean so many readers will find this an addictive read.

Read it now so you can say you read it before it became the best seller of 2019.

Love Han x

Star Trek Discovery Series 2 Ep9: Project Daedalus

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Air Date: 14.3.2019
About: The Discovery crew infiltrates Section 31’s headquarters and suspicions arise that the crew may have a traitor in their midst. Meanwhile, Burnham tries to help Spock, but her efforts don’t go as planned.

This was an incredible, heartbreaking episode. Not only do we get to learn more about Airiam, fall in love with the character and brutally have to say goodbye.

This series is feeling more and more like a game of chess each week, and this episode is no exception. We get the payoff from Airiam’s connection to the futuristic leech and a feeling that the Red Angel story line is coming to a head.

Airiam has always been a fringe character, and while I wish we’d had more contact with her throughout the show I’m quite happy with how this episode showed her character, relationships and background. Not seeing more of her doesn’t make me feel her loss any more than I do. In fact, it makes me feel it more.

It is her relationship with Tilly that ensured I spent the last 20 minutes or so watching the episode play out with tears in my eyes. God, Tilly is just adorable and her attempt to make Airiam fight the virus that sends her on a mission to Section 31 is bittersweet. Knowing as much as we know about Tilly means we get a deeper understanding of who Airiam is. This is such a subtle and clever show.

The secondary story lines bring Spock and Burnhams relationship into focus and we say hello to Admiral Cornwall who I’m hoping will stay on board for the remaining episodes of the series.

Love Han x

Book Review: The Secret Runners of New York by Matthew Reilly

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https://amzn.to/2UXKXbg

Wow! I was hooked in the first page and it took me on a heart-in-mouth adventure with an amazing ‘Stranger Things’ quality. Which is exactly what I need to keep me going while I inch towards 4th July’s 3rd series.


I missed my lunch because I couldn’t stop reading; I was as obsessed as the well developed and mysterious characters I met and this is the first book of 2019 that I read in one sitting. I zoned out the tv completely and fell into this world completely.


Red and Blue are the perfect twin characters to take us along on the journey. Blue’s narrative is epic; she’s speaking from a point of hindsight and that makes for an interesting read and adds a chilling tension. From the very start we know something is going to go wrong, but we’re never sure what it is. Until it’s too late of course.


I can imagine this becoming a film and being well received by anyone who is missing Pretty Little Liars being on their screens. This book screams beautiful, unhinged people. Some of whom you will love to hate.
The descriptions are detailed and perfect for anyone who hasn’t visited New York before, but for those that have, there’s a hidden layer to keep you engaged too.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

Love Han x