Book review: I Hold Your Heart by Karen Gregory

Karen Gregory’s third book has cemented her as the most current and much needed author out there. Her work isn’t about escapism, but about emphathy, relatability and recognision. Countless was such a popular book within my plending library in school that I had to purchase three additional copies to keep up with demand. It was also the book that developed a number of students into ‘reader’; begging for other books ‘like this’

Characters

Gemma and Aaron are such important characters that represent so many different people in the real world.

Gemma’s voice is strong and emotive. I see not only much of myself in her, but I know many other peopoole who would relate to her and her friendship group. She’s someone you’ll take to your heart as things go wrong; long before Gemma realises it herself.

Aaron is someone who breaks my heart. He’s the guy I fell for only two years ago. I fell for all the lines, all the promises and accepted all the abuse. While he wasn’t a carbon copy, there was enough there for me to regonside. It’s quite clever how Aaron’s been created as he is able to present as a number of types of ‘toxic’ partners while being a well rounded character in himself. For me he represents a narcasist who went from ‘as you wish’ and ‘I’m looking for a flat to rent near you.’ to ‘your crush on me is sad. I stopped loving you, you should do the same about your crush’ and ‘I never said that’ within a blink of an eye. However, to others Aaron will be the constrictive and obsessive boyfriend who cuts a girl off from everyone else in her life.

Plot

The scariest part about the plot, is the short space of time it takes up. It’s the key of a toxic relationship and it’s surprising how easy it is to get caught up in one. By presenting it as part of a fictional story, it allows the reader to consider their views from a safe environment. I hope that it allows readers to recognise warning behaviours and, hopefully, it will ensure they don’t allow themselves to be suckered in.

The sub-plot is wonderful and allows the reader to root for Gemma. By giving her the Country singing and songwriting competion, you can truly see how much she is being controlled.

The writing

As always, Gregory has a wonderful way with words that gives her characters authentic and truly relatable voices. Having this story told from the perspective of both Gemma and Aaron makes for a rather interesting read. I was overwhelmed at my own wish to be educated on the inner voice of a person who is able to do what Aaron does to someone else.

However, what I did find comforting was the message found within the pages; that I didn’t actually need to look for those answers. That actually, the most important thing was that I didn’t need the answer to tell myself that it wasn’t something I’d done to change my Aaron. It was always going to end that way and what I needed to have done was recognise the behaviours before I compromised my dream like Gemma did.

Final Thoughts

I’m so incredibly gratful for this read. It was painful, at times, but so bloody inforrmative. There’s a moment that chilled me to the bone, there were moments I wanted to pull Gemma out of the story and away from Aaron but the cathartic relief I gained from knowing I’m not the only one to go through something similar, is so valuable.

Film Review: Please Stand By (2017)

Length: 1hr 33
Rating: 12
Release: 26.1.2018 (but is considered a 2017 film due to having its premire on 27.10.2018)
About: Wendy sees things differently: she’s fiercely independent, with a brilliant mind and a mischievous sense of hilarity. Wendy also has autism. To her, people are an indecipherable code and the world is a confusing place. Inspired by her no-nonsense caregiver, Wendy comes of age and escapes from her care home on the road trip of a lifetime to deliver her 500-page script to a screenwriting competition.

The Good

  • Dakota Fanning is wonderful in the part of Wendy, a woman on the spectrum trying to enter a script writing contest. Fanning will be able to demonstrate a detachment from her own emotions while filling you with all of the emotions.
  • Alice Eve and Toni Collette are amazing support. Eve’s role as the sister infuriated me at first, but over the course of the film I felt I had more of an understanding of the position she was in. It is through both characters that you really get an understanding of the specific challenges Wendy faces.
  • Patton Oswalt can do no wrong. He’s an absolute star in this film’s final act. His ability to connect with Wendy will give you the biggest smile and reduce you to tears of joy.

The Bad

While the film’s plot is centered around Star Trek, I’d had loved to have seen more Easter Eggs beyond casting Alive Eve as the sister. It’s a viewer expectation, but it was Trek that caught my attention and I kind of expected to see a few familiar faces along the road.


The Ugly

It felt a little like it was a film about autism rather than it being a film about a character that just so happens to be on the spectrum. It might seem like a petty thing, but its much the same way films with gay central characters have their ‘coming out’ be the focus of the plot.
It makes autism seem like something that needs to be taught, that its a new phenomenon that people need to be held by the hand when exploring. Yes, films like this have the power to inform and educate, but its more important mission is to ensure people on the spectrum have someone to look to. Its as much their film as any others.


Final Thoughts

It’s cute, geeky and will make you cry. Even though it was light on its Trek, I still enjoyed the journey. Not something I’ll rush to rewatch, but I’m glad I caught it before it left Now TV.

Film Review: X-Men Dark Phoenix (2019)

Length: 1 hr 53

Rating: 12a

Release: 5.6.2019

About: This is the story of one of the X-Men’s most beloved characters, Jean Grey, as she evolves into the iconic DARK PHOENIX. During a life-threatening rescue mission in space, Jean is hit by a cosmic force that transforms her into one of the most powerful mutants of all. Wrestling with this increasingly unstable power as well as her own personal demons, Jean spirals out of control, tearing the X-Men family apart and threatening to destroy the very fabric of our planet. The film is the most intense and emotional X-Men movie ever made. It is the culmination of 20 years of X-Men movies, as the family of mutants that we’ve come to know and love must face their most devastating enemy yet — one of their own.

The Good

  • It was an interesting, low key change of pace from the all out action of Avengers Endgame. The drama really takes centre stage and while it wasn’t exactly well executed, it still packed a punch.
  • It was well paced and the Mutant elements are brilliant. The human impact is almost sidelined in order to break the relationship between the X-Men and POTUS. I would have liked that to have been further developed.

The Bad

  • There are a few sketchy sections of CGI in the final showdown. I think I’ve become a bit of a snob, but it does take me out of the moment.
  • Jessica Chastain bugged the hell out of me. I can’t put my finger on why, but for all the mouthing off about human’s being weak, I felt like I could take her out with a well aimed fart. There was no threat. There was no jeopardy.
  • Sophie Turner, while giving a solid effort, is not leading lady material in this sort of film. While she didn’t make me want to tear my own eyes out much like her portrayal of Sansa did, I didn’t feel won over by this performance.
  • If Evan Peters has gained the franchise some amazing reviews in the past, why relegate him to one liners?! I don’t get it. While I was very much over the musical CGI slow mo scenes, I needed more interaction with him.
  • J-Law can act, we know she can, she got the Oscar to prove it. So why couldn’t she act like she wanted to be there? She was not Raven in this film, she was J-Law being J-Law. It’s a shame as bringing her A-game would have really brought some emotion to the film.

The Ugly

  • The biggest flaw lies not necessarily at the feet of this film, but the franchise. As a viewer, I see this section, that began with First Class, and the Stewart/McKellan helmed trilogy one and the same universe. So, my problem is continuity. By the end of this film we should have been all set up and ready to meet Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine. Only this film introduces a timeline, without spoiling the fate of the characters, that makes the next set of films impossible.
  • Perhaps, then, the biggest problem is that it was essentially a reboot of the Last Stand. Of all the comic incarnations of X-Men, why Fox thought their final film was best being a rehash of a badly received film is beyond me.

Final Thoughts

After such a good film with Booksmart, this feels a little like a franchise killer. So much so that I swerved my third film of the day in fear that it also would be a redundant edition to its franchise (MiB).

It’s a better watch than Last Stand when you consider it in isolation. However, bring in all of the other films and this plays so fast and lose with the laws of franchise continuity, you’d swear Rhian Johnson was behind this outing.