Month: September 2017

Truly Madly Awkward by Beth Garrod #nspBookClub

Truly Madly Awkward by Beth Garrod
Buy it at here
Goodreads
From Amazon:

Bella Fisher is back – and is cool, calm and collected as ever. So: NOT EVEN REMOTELY. Her fledgling relationship with Hot Adam seems to have stalled mid-flight (he isn’t really speaking to her), her big sister Jo has gone off to university leaving Bella to deal with ditzy Mum on her own, something is up with her best-friend-dynamic with Tegan and Rachel and horror of horrors, horrendous ex-boyfriend Luke has an ACTUAL MODEL as his new girlfriend. Mum opens up a doggy ice cream parlour – Give a Dog a Cone – which Bella is forced to help out at on Saturdays. Yes, dressed up as a dog. For some light relief she enters a radio competition to secure a performance from hot band of the moment The Helicans at her school – but another contestant begins turning into her sabotaging nemesis. Throw in a suspicious new lodger and the world’s most chaotic dog agility course and you’ve got another truly hilarious, truly relatable and truly madly awkward story!

51jXO+uma1L._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_

The characters
I like Bella. She fills the geeky hole left by the ending of Holly Smale’s Harriet Manners. Bella is the geek that goes wrong and you love her for it.
Her crush, Adam, is sweet and charming. Although I don’t find myself rooting for them; I’m picky and he’s a little dull for my romance satisfaction.
Bella is supported by a well rounded group of friends, all lovely people with their own problems. It was quite nice to have a book where there wasn’t a single character I didn’t like.

Then there was the lodger who wasn’t all she seemed. There was a trickle of mystery behind her glossy look and it’s quite delightful to see the character develop.

The plot
The book centres on the opening and running of a shop Bella’s mum has opened which works in parallel with Bella’s own journey; winning a competition for the band of the moment to play at her school.

It’s a easy read plot of situation build up, catastrophe and resolution. It’s wonderful, and not entirely predictable like it could have been. There’s a great end that will leave any reader satisfied.

The writing
It’s a personal thing for me, but working with students all day means I have very little time for the ‘teen voice’ that is represented here in Truly Madly Awkward. It’s not bad, by all means, but is not something I enjoy. It’s actually a testament to the writer that she is so competent that all the other elements were enough to keep me invested. It wasn’t offputting, but it did sometimes take me out of the narrative.
My biggest issue was the coupled words and the abbreviations. They are things that are banned in my classroom. I have no reason for it, other than I think I’m getting old.

However, leaving my grumpy aging arse aside; the writing is very current and one that the intended readers will love and it enables those readers to engage with Bella further.

 

No Safer Place Book Club
The wonderful Zoe over at  http://www.nosaferplace.co.uk/ is holding a chat today at 6pm over on Twitter. Use the hashtag #nspBookClub, introduce yourself and come join us for an hour of fun, chat and bookish geekery.

Check out Hannah’s blog post about the Book Club here

credit Zoe

Designated Survivor Series 2 Episode 1 (One Year In)

Designated Survivor Series 2 Episode 1 (One Year In)
Netflix air date: 28th September 2017
From IMDB: Now, one year into office, Kirkman is a Commander-in-chief determined to rebuild the capitol and capture the terrorists behind the catastrophic attack on the United States. When Ukrainian nationalists hijack a Russian Air flight, the president is faced with a hostage situation in which his diplomatic skills are put to the test.

designated survivor 5

I’m not one for politics. Office politics, politics of the heart, actual politics. So it’s rather odd that I’ve found myself very excited when I got an alert to tell me this show was ready to watch this morning.

I got into the Kiefer Sutherland fronted show during a weekend trip to Copenhagen. Myself and a friend had made the most of what we discovered was ‘bottomless’ wine at our hotel’s reception. Their cunning plan worked; at the end of the hour we purchased a whole bottle, put our world weary feet in the tub and watched the first four episodes of this epic show. By the time we landed back in the UK 27 hours later, I was up to speed and awaiting the weekly updates.

designated survivor 3

So now, we’re one year in and Kirkman has changed. His wardrobe is smoother, classier than the pilot. He has grown in confidence and, damn, I like it. We get a glimpse of his daily life in Office before being shuttled right in as if we haven’t left.

Over the Pond in Amsterdam, Hannah is hot on the tail of wanted man; Patrick Lloyd. At first I’m thinking that it’s nice to see Maggie Q’s agent Hannah Wells with her hair down. Only, very quickly we discover she’s still working the mission.
Her target is discovered to be a mistaken identify and she intones “You’re a Brit pretending to be Dutch.”

Only I’m scratching my head, because I know this bloke is neither. I recognise him and I don’t know where from. However, I knew he was Australian. A quick IMDB search; ding, ding, ding it’s Frazer from Neighbours.

Back to the White House where the problem between rivalling Russia and Ukraine is reaching fever pitch. There’s a nice little pun thrown in by the Russian diplomat; “We don’t cry uncle.”

Kal Penn’s Seth is seemingly having a tough time. I’m a little sad because he’s sporting some facial fuzz and he’s one of very few crushes that I prefer clean shaven. Seth has a rather middle ground sort of episode, but rallies in the end with a moving speech.

designated survivor 2

New comer character Lyor Boone is introduced early on and it doesn’t take long for me to loath him with a passion. By the time he utters the words ‘Oh hey gang…’ I am hoping there’s a fiery death in his future.

designated survivor 1

About halfway through I’ve realised that the Russia hijacking plot is essentially the Humperdink plot from Princess Bride; Florin using Guilder guise to purposely start a war. It’s genius, and possibly happens more than we think.

When Kirkman discovers this and confronts both, he is able to speak fluent Russian. While part of me did a little fist pump at the fact that Tom Kirkman isn’t blindsided. However, I’m also a bit worried that it encroached into Mary Sue territory. Too perfect, too coincidental. Such a shame as I would have loved for a line to be dropped in the previous series. Ah well, no more please.

We end on a cliff-hanger; Hannah is looking in the wrong place for Llyod.

The Potion Diaries #bookreview #hanreview

The Potion Diaries #bookreview #hanreview

Release date: 2.7.2015

From Amazon: The Hunger Games goes Princess Diaries in this modern, magical teen adventure!
When the Princess of Nova accidentally poisons herself with a love potion meant for her crush, she falls crown-over-heels in lovewith her own reflection. Oops. A nationwide hunt is called to find the cure, with competitors travelling the world for the rarest ingredients, deep in magical forests and frozen tundras, facing death at every turn. Enter Samantha Kemi – an ordinary girl with an extraordinary talent. Sam’s family were once the most respected alchemists in the kingdom, but they’ve fallen on hard times, and winning the hunt would save their reputation. But can Sam really compete with the dazzling powers of the ZoroAster megapharma company? Just how close is Sam willing to get to Zain Aster, her dashing former classmate and enemy, in the meantime? And just to add to the pressure, this quest is ALL OVER social media. And the world news. No big deal, then.
‘It’s so cool!’ Zoe Sugg, aka Zoella
‘Inventive, romantic, and downright delightful, The Potion Diaries cast its spell on me from page one, and is the most fun I’ve had reading in ages!’ Sarah J Maas, author of the Throne of Glass series

Buy it here
Goodreads 

23344222

My first thoughts

Such a beautiful, wonderful and sweet read. It felt like it belonged in a world with Howl’s Moving Castle. It was a lovely commuter read; good to pick up and quick chapters meant that I could stop without jolting the action.

The Characters

I initially struggled because of the protagonist’s name. However, once I got over that bit of mind-shit, I fell in love with her. Her loyalty and pride were what struck me first.
Even when she gave up, she never truly was defeated. I loved it and her voice. I willed her to win and find her place within the world.
Princess Evelyn was an interesting character while under the spell of a misused love potion. While it did seem jarring at first, I was grateful to be shown the inner workings of her thought process while falling in love with her own reflection.

The Plot

The plot is a joyous McGuffin filled adventure. Samantha becomes a Indiana Jones icon who aims to save the princess. Each item required for the potion comes with its own challenges.
Along the way, Samantha teams up with a wide array of friends, foes and locals. It’s never boring and keeps you on your toes.

The Writing

The writing is easy and light, ensuring you never lose your way and can pick up after a brief pause; not that you’ll want to if you can help it.
It’s world building will have you ordering the other books in the series before you’ve finished the last page.

Mental Health- Isolation and the Monster within

Mental Health- Isolation
Trigger warnings- depression, sexual abuse, PTSD

Petrol_CanStockPhoto_Isolation

Some of you are aware, I have been avoiding social media for the last few days. Few of you know what caused it. There is a list of 2 people that knew I intended to leave social media for good and leave the world of YA literature; something that all know has caused me some comfort following the escape from Dick.

Luckily, those two beautiful souls were able to make me see sense and open up to other people, who made me rethink my stance. You see, as I pushed them away, they pulled me back. These two wonderful people are very new to my life. They don’t know my fucked up nature or that I don’t respond like a ‘normal’ person.

So, when I perceive that I am being considered by other people as a nasty person, a bitch, enemy or even, as I felt in this case, a monster; I will punish myself. I unravel and lose all composure. I do so in the worst possible way, as it does incredible damage to my mental health; I isolate myself and it hurts.

So, on Wednesday evening upon returning home and having a panic attack I decided I had to hide away. Despite attending an event I was looking forward to and meeting Holly Bourne, a highly regarded author I’ve waited 3 years to meet I was painfully and unbelievably broken. I broke hard and fast and I cried until I fell asleep. I cried until my eyes were puffy and the eyelids were translucent. I hadn’t even cried like this about Dick; probably because deep down I knew him being removed from my life was a blessing and despite there being a connection to him within the YA community, I saw it as a lotus blooming out of the murky pond. How wrong I was.

I don’t know how I got up that morning and couldn’t bring myself to see people in work. I cried even more whenever I had 5 minutes or more alone. It was a busy day and this was the last thing I needed. I felt like my world was falling, crumbling around me; people who didn’t even know me had made a judgement that I was no good. Perhaps a bully, perhaps evil; I guess I will never know but I know I’d been feeling ostracised and it was confirmed on Tuesday. These were people I thought were part of a safe place, free of judgement or prejudice. It sucks that my joining the community coincided with my leaving Dick, but I was forbidden by him. Not that it matters; it was about me, not him. I never brought him up, she did. Talking about him was the last thing I wanted.  I just wanted a home and a welcome. It didn’t even have to be from her. It doesn’t matter who they are, or what parts are true. I don’t know how many of the community she’s told, or even what. Just that from some of the treatment, it wasn’t exactly positive. I’m not even angry, I don’t blame her; I’m just so very sad that without any communication I’m the one who gave up the community. I’ve made a sacrifice for her, yet I’ll still be seen as the bitch to them all. It’s how I feel, and that’s all that matters to me right now.

images (2)

I went to my counselling session on Thursday having cried all day, cut myself off from Facebook, Twitter and even my phone. I couldn’t tell him why this had happened; all I could say was that I’d been ignored by an individual since YALC and now others felt I was the one causing pain and suffering. He knew it all; my first ever session was all about Dick; how he had led me down this path, how he’d given me permission to contact his ex (he didn’t care and thought it would help me.) then screamed in my face that I was a ‘fucking freak’ when he found out I had.
All I could tell my counsellor was that it hurt that it had gone so badly, that I’d regretted approaching her before hand, but knew it would have been worse if I hadn’t we’d made friends and she eventually found out. I also informed him, in a pitch that only dogs could hear, that the community’s actions reinforced an idea that I deserved this treatment; that they’d seen the monster within me I’ve tried so hard to hide. That I’m of no value.

I do it all the time.

I run away, or people tell me I’m a bitch and I go into my punishment of solitude. Usually this is a result of one thing; I get tired of being walked all over. I find it hard to express my frustration and I walk away, or I speak my mind and I become the bitch.

I actually asked him if it was possible that I was a victim of some Dr Jekyll/ Mr Hyde. That perhaps that I black out and act like a heinous bitch without me knowing. That maybe I had done something wrong. That I do all my selfless acts and never waver because I am that horrible person deep inside.

You’re probably thinking, what the hell? Why, if it’s clear I’m not in the wrong, or even if there is NO ONE to blame (other than Dick, because God knows what he’s said to her) like with this week’s conflict that resulted in my diminished mental health, do I punish myself?

images (3)

The reason is this; even when I’m right, I’m wrong. It’s something that have followed me through life from one extremely traumatic event from my childhood.

I was sexually assaulted when I was 8 years old. It would have been so simple had it been an adult that had inflicted the act. My life would have been different had the attacker been male and of any age. But my assault was not that simple. It was not that clean; and therefore, not seen as an assault.

Instead, it was a girl who was only a year older than myself. I was seen as complicit; a consentual act but not something innocent or playful. Except it wasn’t consentual, it wasn’t something innocent and it wasn’t the first time. It was just the time that someone saw and told.

I was never asked to explain what happened and once I was punished it was never spoken of again. I was placed in my room and not allowed to speak to anyone; summer holidays were spent away from people my own age. All because of fear and an act of homophobia. I hadn’t known or understood what happened to me and it was only about 2 years ago I registered the incident as sexual assault.

If you went to school with me, you’ll have thought I was always stand offish and a little dreamy. However, between this incident and being told any boy you brought home was dead meat; it was easier to just keep to myself. I didn’t want to be punished again and I didn’t want any boys to be killed.

So, whenever I’m treated badly, or as if I’m the bad guy (no matter how big or small); I assume it’s because I deserve it. It hurts and the part of me that’s screaming ‘fuck this shit, you’ve done nothing wrong, you’re a fucking peach. Get a grip and throw them the finger.’ Is so unbelievably confused that it draws me into my depression. I hate that people do often believe so easily that I can be so horrible. I say sorry if someone barges into ME for Christs sake! It’s exhausting, it’s lonely and it’s heart-breaking. My answer is often to be nicer, kinder and more generous yet it doesn’t work.

Especially when I opened up to Dick and told him all this. I told him everything; yet he’s not only abandoned me, turned one person against me, but his actions and lies have probably turned a whole community against me.

The biggest part I gained out of my counselling session was that I was perhaps right going forward to avoid any connection to Dick, but I should not delete my blog or shut myself off from the people who have been reaching out. That if any further attempt is made to smear my name, I have every right to stand up for myself. We both agreed that wouldn’t happen until I’m stronger though and start to gain some self-worth.

On top of that, the remainder of my sessions will be considering why I don’t see any value in myself. Why I considered answering the twitter plea of a spare ticket to the event and give the Holly Bourne ticket to a random person I’d never met with no benefit to myself other than I knew it would make her happy (and that I was already feeling uncomfortable going because o); why I would keep a relative stranger (she’s now one of my closest friends) company while she waited in A and E one Friday evening after meeting her for only an hour and why I would not put myself forward for a job promotion so that the man I had a crush on would be guaranteed it then complete all the work for him, getting nothing for it.
Yet, when it comes down to it, I feel like the best gift I could give everyone would be not to exist at all. Yet, the selfless part of me stops me from doing anything that would take my life. Mainly because I’d only do it is God would give my remaining days to someone much loved and missed from heaven.

I don’t know how this article will be met. Please respect the fact that I don’t want my treatment on Wednesday explored or the people involved identified. I have come to a point where I certainly don’t want anything to do with Dick’s ex. I have no energy to ‘clear the air’ or listen to why she so clearly hates me. I have no respect for anyone who would not wait to get to know me before making any judgement and constructively making me feel excluded.

Most importantly, I don’t want the same thing to be done to them. I don’t know them well enough to identify most people in the community as nice or nasty; I’m not Santa and I don’t have a list. I will never name them and those who do know, respect me enough not to discuss it.

You will find my presence much more infrequent over the next month. This is quite a revealing post and has come at a great cost to myself. I’m now in need of an evening to myself, good book in hand and a cuppa on my bedside table. I have allowed Dick to take the joy of films away from me, I will not let him take reading away from me by proxy.

IMG_1723.JPG

It Only Happens in the Movies by Holly Bourne #bookreview #hanreview @holly_bourneYA

It Only Happens in the Movies by Holly Bourne #bookreview #hanreview
Release date: 1.10.17

From Amazon: Bad boys turned good, kisses in the rain, climbing through bedroom windows… It only happens in the movies. When Audrey meets Harry, it’s the start of a truly cinematic romance – or is it? Audrey knows that Harry is every movie cliché rolled into one. But she still chooses to let him into her heart…
Buy it here
Goodreads

tumblr_otp0n9be571udd0ljo1_1280.jpg

My first thoughts
Holly is one of my favourite authors. I had a Waterstones voucher and there was something about Am I Normal Yet? that jumped out at me. I devoured it and then selected it as my World Book Night giveaway.
Bourne is the author many of us needed when we were teens. She’s honest and unflinching with what she covers. It Only Happens in the Movies is about to be released and I’m adamant it’s her best piece of work yet.

The Characters

Our protagonist is Audrey; self-aware and recovering from a brutal break up. She has support from her friends, but she’s slowly cutting them off.
She’s likeable, spunky with a delightful side of family-based anger. Anyone who has had family drama will relate to Audrey’s pain.
I totally understand where she’s coming from; she’s under pressure and copes by closing off, to everyone but the beautiful fuckboy Harry.
Harry. Now, Harry! If ever Bourne writes a sequel to this novel, I would love to see something from the perspective of Harry. He has all the markers of a Fuckboy, but I want to believe he was genuine. The only way I’ll ever be sure though, is if Holly tells me.

The Plot

The plot spans many months of Audrey’s final year in 6th form. Between dealing with her heart-broken mother and her mounting work, she takes on a job in the independent cinema.
The story follows and subverts many Hollywood tropes as we see her develop feelings for Harry. It allows Audrey, and Holly, to explore the challenges and dangers people face when considering the ‘romantic’ actions of people in movies.
By the end of the story, Audrey has made headway with her family and made a discovery about Harry. She is given a choice in her own love life and her decision will surprise you. Most of all, it will give you hope.

The Writing

Holly’s writing is like a warm cup of tea on an autumnal afternoon; it soothes, it comforts and it feels like home.
Most of all, there is a delightful confidence hidden between the pages. She’s allowing her characters to breath and come to life, while ensuring you don’t miss a beat.
It certainly is her best book to date and I one day hope to have a daughter of my own whom I can present these novels to, in the hopes that she can become a well-adjusted young lady who can aspire to be strong and confident, just like Audrey and very much like Holly.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle- 15 #filmreview #Han

Kingsman: The Golden Circle- 15
Release date- 20.9.17

images (1)

Trailer
Review for Kingsman the Secret Service (2014)
From IMDB: When their headquarters are destroyed and the world is held hostage, the Kingsman’s journey leads them to the discovery of an allied spy organization in the US. These two elite secret organizations must band together to defeat a common enemy.

The Good
It ticks all the boxes from the first movie: the sleek filming style, amazing talent rounding up the cast and a larger than life plot to give you a satisfying 2 hour escape from the real world.
Taron Egerton is wonderful, as always, playing rough-boy gone posh Eggsy. There’s some beautiful moments where he shows some vulnerability; namely to do with his connections with friends and family.
Mark Strong’s Merlin is upgraded with extra screen time this outing. Strong is a wonderful addition to any film and Kingsman is no exception. Just wait for the final act and he will bring a tear to your eye with a song.
The American counterparts are a welcome detour in the film’s proceedings; Berry, Tatum and Bridges take on the Statesmen roles with charm and wit. They feel right at home with our smart dressed boys.
Hallie Berry, in particular, is a delight to see working alongside Strong. She plays his American counterpart; Ginger Ale. She longs for field work, only we never really get to see how successful she’d be.

The Bad
Colin Firth! Sigh, it’s so hard to put this as a negative, but when a film rewrites a narrative to bring back a character, it’s a little bit of a bitter pill. Now, I may be wrong as I’ve never read the comics however, I will never watch the first film and that scene in which Firth takes the bullet to the head with the same gravitas.
I have the same issue with Agent Coulson in Avengers Assemble; it means any following character deaths lose their power or believability. It stops me feeling for any character demise as I’m always holding my breath for their return.
That said, how Vaugn brings Firth back is quite ingenious and his character does add to the film’s dynamics and even the plot.
Alas, he also draws attention to my second negative of the film. Pedro Pascal’s hand is revealed too early as turncoat agent. I had my suspicions, but Firth’s character confirmed it. Nothing is done to deny this or make it out to be a red herring; so you’ll be shouting at the screen at Eggsy for doubting Galahad Snr.

The Ugly

It was too ‘filming by numbers’ for my liking. The same gags were used, they had the same fights in different locations and even the villain was the same character in a different body.
Okay, I’ll give Kingsman points for casting Julianne Moore as the peppy Poppy, hell bent on showing the world what she can do to the drug market. However, she was still exploiting a mass market item to her own benefit.
Her predictable demise feels a little anti-climactic which would have been fine had Agent Whiskey’s betrayal been the sucker punch reveal it deserved.

Sweet little Cherry
Elton John’s cameo was a delight. It trumps the Mark Hamill guest star from the previous film and he provides some of the film’s best laughs.

kingsman_1920x1080

Final Thoughts
I’m so happy it was made and it’s certainly an enjoyable 2 hours, but it pales in comparison to its predecessor and I do hope that there isn’t a third waiting to be green lit.

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

The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon
Buy it here
Goodreads

51H4NsPcAKL._SX325_BO1,204,203,200_

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!

Bumped by Megan McCafferty #bookreview #gem @gemlovesbooks

Bumped by Megan McCafferty
Buy from Amazon

31y0WUbdhuL._SY346_

I read this book in January 2013 and I am STILL thinking about it!

The concept of bidding for conception contracts and receiving cash, college tuition and liposuction in exchange for carrying a baby doesn’t seem too implausible… and that’s what makes it scary! It’s the kind of thing that you think, yeah, in another 20 years that could definitely be happening.
Melody and Harmony are wonderful characters and their feelings towards each other and the situation they are in are complicated and fascinating. I really liked seeing how their relationship with each other progressed along with the plot. It’s really fast paced and I couldn’t stop reading. Their dual narrative gave an insight in to each of their characters and highlighted the fact that even though they are identical twins, they are completely separate people and deal with their circumstances in entirely different ways.
The society it is set in, and the advances in technology are so fascinating! I would love to see a film version of these books.
I would strongly suggest buying Bumped and thumped at the same time so you can binge read this fantastic duology.

Butter by Erin Lange #bookreview #gem @gemlovesbooks

Butter by Erin Lange
Buy from Amazon

31UM8KqnuKL

A truly original and heartfelt tale of one boy’s struggles with his weight and his peers who are relentless in their bullying.

This is the kind of book that will have you laughing out loud on one page and sobbing your heart out at the next.

I genuinely didn’t know whether Butter would go through with his plan – to eat himself to death live on a webcam. It’s written with such intensity and insight into how he feels about himself and they way he is treated that you can’t help but fall in love with him and desperately want him to realise that he is so much more than just a fat boy, his personality shines through and I just wanted to scream at all the people who were bullying him.
If you like stories that are heart-warming as well as heart-breaking then this is for you!

It’s perfect for fans of R.J.Palacio, Jennifer Niven and John Green.

mother! 18 (Spoilers within) #filmreview #Han @gemlovesbooks

mother! 18
Release date: 15th September
Trailer- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XpICoc65uh0
From IMDB: A couple’s relationship is tested when uninvited guests arrive at their home, disrupting their tranquil existence.

mother-poster-jpeg

The initial thoughts

My head was messed for a good few hours after watching this film. I predicted some, but not all, of the metaphors within the film. It was only one of the final act’s lines that gave me an indication as to the biblical allegory presented within the set piece of a house.
Since reading up about the Biblical context, it’s easier to seen some of the more overt imagery and themes. Something which would have sat better with me had this been an open interpretation.

The Good
The film contains a good calibre of actors who work well together. Jennifer Lawrence is amazing at ‘Mother’; always at the edge of sanity as her husband pushes her boundaries and seemingly put guests before her. She is our eyes within this crazy world; you feel her confusion and abandonment. However, even going into the final scene, you are left wondering if it’s all in her head.

The scene stealer has to be Michelle Pfeiffer as ‘Woman’; wife to Ed Harris’ ‘Man’. I hadn’t realised until after the credits had rolled and I was halfway home; none of the characters were ever referred to by name.

Domhnall alert! Not in it long, but I was grateful for the few scenes he was in. Playing the ‘Older brother’ to his own brother, Brian it did leave me wishing that casting had gone in for a hattrick and put Brendan in place of Ed Harris.

The Bad

It’s slow. It’s quiet. It’s NOT a horror. Whoever they have in charge for the marketing campaign needs to be sent back to film school; yes, there are horrific scenes, however that is not what the mass audience will expect when paying their £10 plus to put their bums on the seats.

It picks up speed in the final act, but it becomes so busy I felt like I was on a fairground ride. It’s hard to keep track of the action and you can’t help but feel on edge.

The Ugly

Literally the phrase ‘viewer discretion is advised’ has never meant so much. As I’ve mentioned briefly, this film is a Biblical allegory. Mother, is representative of mother earth and both ‘Man’ and ‘Woman’ are Adam and Eve.

While most of the plot contains itself to Genesis, the final act draws on the development of humanity and religion along with the treatment of Jesus. Jennifer Lawrence shows a different form of immaculate conception as she just ‘knows’ she is pregnant. It’s a scene that sits uncomfortably with me.
However, it would have been my winner had her baby; who remains unnamed is passed around the cultish gathering within their family home. I think you have to have a stomach of lead to get through the scene in which a baby less than 24 hours old becomes a metaphor for the last supper and crucifixion of Jesus.

I’ve failed to talk about ‘Him’. The creator who abandons his wife because he need to be with his ‘fans’ and allows his new born baby to be killed, only to insist on them being forgiven. Of course, this is the allegorical God; played by Javier Bardem in a depression filled role. It doesn’t sit right with me.
While it can be said that he plays a good characterisation of the God within the Old Testement, it was Bardem’s performance that stopped me from working it out sooner.
The creator is too flawed, too weak and too petulant to be my understanding of God; no matter which Testement He is taken from. God should not be flawed; meaning the beginning and final scenes are rendering God no longer infallible. (Quick, someone get Bethany. Up is about to become down, black will become white…)

Not only that, this divisive interpretation puts the blame of the destruction of the world at God’s door. Many people who know me, know I’m agnostic and do not practise any faith. However, Global warming, idolatry and the perverse acts of mankind (killings, rape, Trump) are our own doing. To not only encourage the thought that it is the fault of a higher power, let alone have it come from ‘His’ mouth, is simply insulting.

Also, I’m an RE teacher! Do you have any idea how frustrating it is to discover these films rich in religious content, to realise that the age rating disallows its use? Hollywood; give me some age appropriate goods.

Suits Series 7 Episode10 (Donna) #review #Han (Spoilers) @gemlovesbooks

Suits Series 7 Episode10 (Donna)

From IMDB:
Mike and Harvey’s power move is countered, putting their backs up against the ropes. Rachel fears her father’s judgment is clouded by the past. Louis aids Alex when his client comes under fire.

donna on the stand

I’m not going to do a character breakdown this week. It was such a good mid-season finale that I only managed to make a note of my two counts.

Obviously having title ‘Donna’, does mean she was the focus of the episode. Thankfully, we were not treated to any flashbacks this week. Instead it all focused on the court case and her feelings for Harvey.

A lot of other things were resolved in this episode, including what I feel will be the last cameo of Jessica. The result of the case sees Jessica’s name off the wall; when we return in July 2018, it will be the law firm of Specre and Litt. If Alex is bumped to regular for the second half, I would expect him to be gunning for a piece of that wall.

We did see an unusual flashback in the form of Robert Zain this week; his relationship with his sister and motivation for the pro bono suit. It was quite beautiful to see a different side to Rachael’s father. I can’t remember if the suit was resolved, and I didn’t particularly care. I was all about the father, daughter bonding.

suits Donna Rachel and Robert

I can’t leave without mentioning that final scene. The one I’ve certainly been waiting for since I binge watched the show 2 years ago. Donna kisses Harvey before uttering ‘I just had to know.’

suits donna kiss

GAH! What?! But Harvey loves you back. Surely you know that Donna?! And now I have to wait 8 months to find out the consequences. I’ve got to say though, best cliff-hanger they’ve ever done.

Bullshit count 3

God Damn count 3

 

Questions/predictions

  • Harvey will admit his feelings for Donna to Mike
  • Donna will have moved on by the time we return; boyfriend or job. Not sure which.
  • Harvey will either leave Paula or uncharacteristically propose
  • I’m still leaning towards Rachel being gone by the end of series 7 and I really think it will be that she dies; perhaps this episode was setting up Robert for a story arc for after her death.
  • Louis will consider adoption.
  • He will Gatecrash the wedding
  • September 2018 will see the start of the Jessica spin off

I am Traitor by Sif Sigmarsdottir #bookreview #han @gemlovesbooks

I am Traitor by Sif Sigmarsdottir
Buy it here
Goodreads
From Amazon: At the end of the world, who can you trust? The story of one teen’s fight against an extra-terrestrial invasion. For fans of Michael Grant, Suzanne Collins and Robert Muchamore.
London has been targeted by extra-terrestrial life and victims are transported to a terrifying other world.
Amy Sullivan is an unwilling hero. She runs until she can’t run any more. Then, she is taken.
To have a chance of saving herself, and her planet, Amy will have to put faith in those she fears the most. But what if it means becoming a traitor to everyone she has ever loved?
A modern-day War of the Worlds from one of Iceland’s bestselling authors.

513S+qFXo-L._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_

My First Thoughts

My first book after returning to work meant that my way of reading changed. Instead of a one-sitting blitz of the book, it became my 40minute muti-transport commute companion. It suffered as a result of my interrupted reading.

The Characters

I didn’t bond well with the protagonist, Amy. I can only imagine it was because I didn’t invest enough time in the initial read; my mind was always making sure I didn’t miss my next stop. The other characters are likeable enough; or unlikeable depending on their relationship with Amy.

The Plot

It’s a fairly standard sci-fi plot. I do like that the book starts after the invasion initially happens. There’s some look backs to life before the ‘Visitors’ arrived that adds some depth to the story.
As Amy crosses over from ‘invaded’ to ‘prisoner’, it progresses into a wonderful ‘Great Escape’ plot with a heart wrenching ending.

There was quite a lot of flipping between past and present which did remove some of the novel’s suspense. It was hard to be in the moment with Amy, when you already knew what would happen to her.

The Writing

There are some beautiful bits of writing within this book. From the description of the ‘Visitors’ to a stunningly accurate portrayal of London’s Canary Warf free of all people in a dystopian future.

However, there are some sections that are what I would call ‘conversational exposition’; more than a few times I felt that the conversation only enlightened the reader and not the characters that were having the exchange.

I really struggled with the afore mentioned past and present; partly because it removed any suspense or mystery to some parts of the plot, but mainly due to it taking the form of a diary. I’ve always struggled with mixing forms within narratives. It really upset me as I loved the premise completely.