Film Review: Aladdin (1992)

Length: 1Hr 30

Rating: U

Release: 17th November 1992

About: When street rat Aladdin frees a genie from a lamp, he finds his wishes granted. However, he soon finds that the evil has other plans for the lamp — and for Princess Jasmine. But can Aladdin save Princess Jasmine and his love for her after she sees that he isn’t quite what he appears to be?

First things first

This was my birthday movie for 1992. My neighbour went to see it just before Christmas and invited me, but I was a tool and turned the offer down under the argument of ‘it’s my birthday movie’. I was very surprised when my dad picked this to watch, but I suspect it’s because he wants to watch the new one that’s about to be released and can’t get to the cinema.

The Good

• Robin Williams marked a change in animation. Yes, Angela Lansbury had leant her vocal talents to Mrs Potts the year before, but she had always been part of the Disney stable and I would argue her box office potential. Williams brought about the start of employing box office stars to headline animations. What a choice it was?! There’s been so much talk about the upcoming live-action release and that’s centred around the casting of the Genie. How can anyone replace someone who made the role iconic?!

• It’s not only Williams’ familiar tones that we all love, it’s his humour that has adults and children alike belly laughing. The imitations and nods to pop culture are perfect and make sure that adults feel invested in the film too.

• The music is delightful and I think I prefer it to The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast. It has a happy beat, reminiscent of Jungle Book that you will always hum for hours after finishing the film. My personal favourite is Prince Ali. The only shame is that the songs are front heavy and we only get a brief reprise and reworking of Prince Ali at the climax.

• My favourite characters will always be Abu, the monkey and the carpet! I love the humour gained from both. I would say the Carpet is the precursor to BB-8; cute but sassy.

The Bad

• There are a few scenes that are using the high tech computer graphics. Only problem is, that what was high tech in 1992 no longer looks the case. As a result, the escape from the cave of wonders and some of the palace doesn’t blend as well with the rest of the traditional animation. It is perhaps why it’s not long before the Mouse House trade in traditional methods for a consistent computer created approach.

The Ugly

• It’s very Hollywood and very white washed. While the story is, without a doubt, perfect this was one of the animations in Disney Vault that should be given the makeover treatment. The animations are perhaps ‘culture neutral’, however when you see that most of the voices are produced by white Americans, it’s hard to deny it’s a little questionable. It’s certainly enough for me to feel a little uncomfortable and welcome the new live action.

(Side bar): I find it quite interesting how many people of ethnic origins are voicing white characters in animations. I’m not sure where I stand on this; should it go with the ‘no straight actor should play a gay character’? It’s something I want to consider further, but surely if I’m offended by Anthony Hopkins black facing Othello, this is of a similar ilk?

Final Thoughts

Casting aside, this is a perfect animated classic; funny, action packed and with a good hearted protagonist.

Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion

This was an Easter cinema trip for me and my mum in 1997. I’d wanted to see Men in Black, but mum refused point blank. The Lisa Kudrow film with the pinks and glitter would be more up her street, right?! Well, she took me and I enjoyed it. I remember her saying she regretted it, but I wasn’t certain why until rewatching it years later.

The Good

• It’s a cool, quirky and funny story that nearly everyone can relate to. It’s retro camp, styled beautifuly and the only thing that improves it, is going to an independent cinema and being handed a post-it by the boy behind.

• The sound track is fabulous. It’s that retro vibe that’s in right now. Hadn’t spotted it the millions of times before, but Whip It is played at the prom.

• Janeane Garoflo was the definition of angry sarcasm in the 90s and she steals any scene she’s in. Underused, as she is in many movies, but she’s certainly memorable and the film manages to give her a strong story arc that I prefer to the main two.

• Alan Cumming is a sweet, low key Hugh Grant in this. He’s able to switch from geek to chic with ease, but the perfect part is that he’s a likeable love interest. Perhaps rather unknown at the time, to me he was part of the High Life cabin crew and has forever remained a joy to watch.

• It’s as quotable as other 90s films, but the killer line comes after the quick outfit change. Who hasn’t wanted to bark Romy’s Line “and I don’t give a flying fuck what you think…” to their bully? It’s pure brilliance.

The Bad

• I still find that the dream sequence throws off the narrative. While it’s weird enough for me to like it in itself, as part of this film it’s very out there.

• The tone and it’s perceived target audience is totally off. It’s not the double entendre humour of Shrek; that ‘he’s making up for something’ that gets the parents chuckling, but a much more obvious humour that doesn’t altogether fit well with a film that could double with Clueless.

The Ugly

• That dance. It’s unbelievably cringe. As with the dream sequence, there are times when I watch and love it and its certainly what makes this film a cult classic, but it would never help Romy and Michele’s cause.

• Alan Cumming in the dream sequence is too ‘blow up doll’. It freaks me out and is as not, as Michele puts it, ‘dreamy’. I’d put it in with the same trope of the ‘ugly’ girl who just needs her glasses taken off to make her ‘hot’.

Avengers: Endgame Spoiler free review

Length: 3hr 1
Rating: 12a
Release date: 25.4.2019
About: Adrift in space with no food or water, Tony Stark sends a message to Pepper Potts as his oxygen supply starts to dwindle. Meanwhile, the remaining Avengers — Thor, Black Widow, Captain America and Bruce Banner — must figure out a way to bring back their vanquished allies for an epic showdown with Thanos — the evil demigod who decimated the planet and the universe.
Trailer:

The Good

  • The first thing I’m sure people want to know is; does it do justice with the three hours? Yes, it does. It keeps a good pace and I’d say every minute is needed.
  • The characters are working more as a team as they ever have before. There’s a balance between all of the heroes and much like Infinity War, they boost each other, rather than fight for screen time.
  • It’s a clever plot that pulls together 10 years of MCU. It’s not ‘Bad Wolf’ smart, but its certainly Trash Panda ‘I need a…’ clever.
  • Nothing about Endgame is done to appease fans. There are nods, winks and Easter eggs but there’s no doubt in my mind, plot-wise, this is the Russo vision and there’s been no changes based on fan reaction.
  • Finally we have an Avenger’s crew that women can be proud of. The beauty of it is not that there’s a crew of bad-ass women looking out for each other, and the universe, but that it feels organic.

The Bad

  • There are some characters that don’t get the screen time they deserve or need. It’s hard to talk about without giving certain things away, but there are a few; old and new that needed something else.
  • I can’t help but think that Marvel/ Mouse House have deliberately made Bruce Banner/ Hulk shit so we’ll stop asking for a Mark Ruffalo stand alone. I do understand there needs to be a character arc over the ten year, three-phased saga, however he’s gone from character to caricature. Banner’s outcome aside, it’s fair to say Endgame does not do him justice.

The Ugly

  • There are so many ugly tear inducing moments. Bloody hell, it was like My Sister’s Keeper for me at some points (as in tears, not plot)
  • It has a very choppy start; like a stalling car. It does take what I feel is about 20 minutes to really get going. Some may argue that it mirrors Avengers Assemble opening, but when we’ve waited a year with baited breath, we really should hit the ground running. There’s at least one scene I would have pulled over from Endgame and had within the final moments of Infinity War. It wouldn’t have solved my biggest gripe, but it would have had me a little worried.
  • Its 3 hours. Believe me, it doesn’t feel like it. Not in the way that you feel every single minute of Civil War. It’s a clear-ish cut three act film with ONE epilogue and I walked away wanting more added, not less. So why am I putting this in my version of room 101?! Well, I was raised in awe of the cinema; toilet breaks were taken on pain of death. Three hours is a walk in the park for me when I can see it’s well made. However, the motherfucker in front of me who not only PAID, but UPGRADED made me feel time passing when he would check his phone EVERY THREE FUCKING MINUTES. Luckily, I wasn’t taking it; so I had words and the phone at least remained out of my eye line for the remainder of the movie. My worry is obvious; this was the first available screening of the first day. What’s it going to be like going forward?

Final Thoughts

I have some issues with Endgame, but that will have to wait until my spoiler-fueled rant. That aside, this is what the MCU has been working towards for ten years and its worthy of Stan Lee’s final cameo. I don’t think those involved with Iron Man’s origin even dreamed that a decade later, we’d have this epic. I think it will tick everyone’s boxes and the Russo brother’s have redeemed the ‘Avenger’ movies after Joss crashed and burned.
It’s a strong MCU film, its a strong piece of cinema and JJ is now undoubtedly shitting his pants.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments
Love Han x

Blog Tour King of Fools by Amanda Foody

BOOK INFORMATION

King of Fools (The Shadow Game #2)

by Amanda Foody

Publisher: Inkyard Press

Release Date: April 30th 2019

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult

 

About:

 

Indulge your vices in the City of Sin, where a sinister street war is brewing and fame is the deadliest killer of them all…

On the quest to find her missing mother, prim and proper Enne Salta became reluctant allies with Levi Glaisyer, the city’s most famous con man. Saving his life in the Shadow Game forced Enne to assume the identity of Seance, a mysterious underworld figure. Now, with the Chancellor of the Republic dead and bounties on both their heads, she and Levi must play a dangerous game of crime and politics…with the very fate of New Reynes at stake.

Thirsting for his freedom and the chance to build an empire, Levi enters an unlikely partnership with Vianca Augustine’s estranged son. Meanwhile, Enne remains trapped by the mafia donna’s binding oath, playing the roles of both darling lady and cunning street lord, unsure which side of herself reflects the truth.

As Enne and Levi walk a path of unimaginable wealth and opportunity, new relationships and deadly secrets could quickly lead them into ruin. And when unforeseen players enter the game, they must each make an impossible choice: To sacrifice everything they’ve earned in order to survive…

Or die as legends.

 

BOOK LINKS

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/37545571-king-of-fools

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2EdWU6R

Bookdepository: https://www.bookdepository.com/King-Fools-AMANDA-FOODY/9781848457300?ref=grid-view&qid=1550352060049&sr=1-1

Review

This was a wonderful read. I was hooked from the first chapter and I fell in love with Levi from the very start. I haven’t read Ace of Shades, but Foody does a good job at keeping newbies in the loop. While I don’t think I’ve lost anything by reading this first, I do feel I’ve got everything to gain in terms of my connection to the characters.

Whether intended or not, I got a very steampunk vibe from the world building which added a richness to what developed over the 600 pages. This story-verse would work well on film; whether is be in a live action or animated form.

It ends with enough of the plot resolved for readers to be satisfied, but if the final chapter doesn’t pull a gasp from you; you’ve been reading it wrong.

I can’t wait to read the final instalment, but I guess I can distract myself with the first outing in the meantime.

Songlist

Wanted: Dead or Alive/ Bon Jovi

Summer in the City/ The Lovin’ Spoonful

There’s a Reason These Tables are Numbered Hunny, you just haven’t realised it yet/ Panic! @ the Disco

Poker Face/ Chris Draughty

Dream Cast

Levi– Keiynan Lonsdale

Harrison Augustine – Joe Mazzello

Jac Mardlin– Jack Gleeson

Vianca– Bryce Dallas Howard or Rachelle Lefevre

Enne– Maisie Williams

Lola– Zenaya

Grace– Katherine Langford

TOUR SCHEDULE

Please include this link on all your posts

http://fantasticflyingbookclub.blogspot.com/2019/03/tour-schedule-king-of-fools-shadow-game.html

 

GIVEAWAY

Prize: Win a copy of KING OF FOOLS by Amanda Foody (US Only)

Starts: 22nd April, 2019

Ends: 6th May, 2019

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Emily Eternal by M G Wheaton

About: Meet Emily – she can solve advanced mathematical problems, unlock the mind’s deepest secrets and even fix your truck’s air con, but unfortunately, she can’t restart the Sun.

‘A visionary work of science fiction’ Blake Crouch, author of DARK MATTER

She’s an artificial consciousness, designed in a lab to help humans process trauma, which is particularly helpful when the sun begins to die 5 billion years before scientists agreed it was supposed to.

So, her beloved human race is screwed, and so is Emily. That is, until she finds a potential answer buried deep in the human genome. But before her solution can be tested, her lab is brutally attacked, and Emily is forced to go on the run with two human companions – college student Jason and small-town Sheriff, Mayra.

As the sun’s death draws near, Emily and her friends must race against time to save humanity. But before long it becomes clear that it’s not only the species at stake, but also that which makes us most human.

Characters

Emily is the strangest main character I’ve ever had the pleasure to have met on a literary journey. Experiencing the story from the sole perspective of an AI, one that feels and learns gives a unique voice to her. Her skills and personality are engaging and you are emotionally invested from the start.

Jason is only ever seen through Emily’s eyes, but he’s a likeable character and I do enjoy Emily’s conflict in her engagement with him.

Plot

The plot is a high octane ticking clock. It kept my heart racing from the moment all hell broke loose up until the moment Emily Eternal resolved.

Writing

It was the writing that made sure I was able to follow this otherwise high concept story. The form grounded the characters and the plot in such a way that removed any confusion that would have been present at the hands of another author.

Pet Sematary

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

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!

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

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

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

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

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)

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)

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

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

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)

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)

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)

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)

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

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)

“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

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

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

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

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

“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

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

thVLVTRTW9

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.

lonely child

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

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

rick-morty-mad-max

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 Hitman’s Bodyguard- 15 #Hanreview

The Hitman’s Bodyguard- 15

Release date:17th August 2017

Tagline: Never let him out of your sight. Never let your guard down. Never fall in love.

Starring: Samuel L Jackson, Ryan Reynolds, Gary Oldman

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From IMDB: The world’s top bodyguard gets a new client, a hit man who must testify at the International Court of Justice. They must put their differences aside and work together to make it to the trial on time.

The Good

SLJ and Reynolds work so well together as the comedy thriller duo. It’s a joy to see the two of them wind each other up and help each other out when needed. It’s a typical buddy film; hating each other first, but ending with a mutal respect for one another. SLJ surprisingly got the funnier lines and the lighter characterisation and it was quite beautiful to see him play up against Reynold’s straight laced ‘boring is best’.

The humour is there, but there’s also heart behind the plot. What motivates each man is not something to chuckle at; leaving you on the edge of your seat for a whole different reason.

Gary Oldman, doing what he does best. The one thing I love about this man is his versatility. You can find him in blockbusters, Indie flicks and Oscar bait. Here he’s playing the villain to a tee. Accent is a little hammy, but it’s Oldman. We will let him off.

The violence and action sequences where well shot and had the same gloss as recent films like Kingsman. It’s a good touch for people like me who find the realism of violence a little hard to take in a comedy film.

The Bad

I really don’t like the setting. Normally I would be very excited to see a film set in London, but I just wasn’t quite sold as to having two American leads running around the UK. I also don’t get why SLJ was arrested somewhere else and ends up in Manchester.

It’s about 30 minutes too long for me. I was starting to feel a little restless and with a quick edit, they could have brought it down to a comfortable length.

There were two scenes that didn’t quite have the impact I think the film makers were wanting. Firstly, was Reynold’s character pissing into a bottle, for SLJ finding it later in the movie. I suspect at some point, the plot involved someone drinking. But as it stands there was no payoff for the initial scene.

Secondly, the revelation of the ‘mole’ within interpole was missing something. As an audience, people may miss it as we already know quite early on who it is. However, the part that gives the person away to Reynold’s ex makes no sense. It’s missing a scene or dialogue saying the action is a trade mark move of the dictator.

The Ugly

How many motherfucker’s can you fit into a film?! I lost count in the first 20 minutes. I was around 12, but I was only counting SLJ’s and then Salma Hayek fired off about 4 in quick succession. Reynolds was right, SLJ was ruining the word.  Did I laugh; yes, I did. However, few hours after I watched it, I’m finding the joke a little spent. One word does not a catch phrase make.

Film Review: Toy Story (1995)

Length: 1Hr 21

Rating: PG

Release: 22nd March 1996

About: Woody (Tom Hanks), a good-hearted cowboy doll who belongs to a young boy named Andy (John Morris), sees his position as Andy’s favorite toy jeopardized when his parents buy him a Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) action figure. Even worse, the arrogant Buzz thinks he’s a real spaceman on a mission to return to his home planet. When Andy’s family moves to a new house, Woody and Buzz must escape the clutches of maladjusted neighbor Sid Phillips (Erik von Detten) and reunite with their boy.

First Thoughts

This film scared the crap out of me and seemed to angry to enjoy. I think this was a cinema trip with my neighbour.

The Good

  • “You uncultured swine” there are so many pun-tastings lines in this beauty. It makes the dialogue smart, funny and, therefore, a film that grows with a child.
  • The Joss Whedon influence. ‘They’re not lying down on the job.’ – scene moves to the soldiers lying down on the job. While I don’t know I can confirm that he wrote THAT line, but Whedon has explained that it’s something he did in Avengers Assemble. There’s a few other lines like this and in this they come across like dad humour, which I find strangely comforting.
  • You couldn’t have better actors than Tom Hanks and Tim Allen. That line ‘you. Are. A. Toy.’ has perfect delivery and one I parrot.
  • It’s pace is brilliant and never has any lulls. In fact it’s the perfect cause and effect movie for any Film Studies student to analyse.

The Bad and the Ugly

Sid scared me as a child. He still scares me now. The only thing that scares me more are the mangled toys. I don’t know if this makes me a pussy, but it gave me nightmares and was pretty much the reason why I didn’t like it as a kid.

Final Thoughts

It was, much like a Lion King, a film I disliked as a kid. However, I’ve grown to love it and I’m very much looking forward to part 4 in a few weeks time.

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Film Review: Three Wishes (1995)

Length: 1Hr 55

Rating: PG

Release: 15th December 1995

About: Description

When single mother Jeanne Holman (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio) turns to avoid hitting a dog with her station wagon, she unwittingly hits bearded drifter Jack McCloud (Patrick Swayze). Against the protests of her scandalized neighbors, Holman insists that the injured man stay at the Holman residence to heal. As the eccentric McCloud recovers from the accident, he becomes a positive influence on — and an unexpected father figure to — her young sons, Tom (Joseph Mazzello) and Gunny (Seth Mumy).

For Starters

I am pretty certain I saw this in the cinema. The only thing I’m not sure about, is who I went with. I’m convinced it wasn’t my birthday movie so it must have been a pre-Christmas trip with my neighbour. However, what I’m certain of is that it was something I chose to watch because ‘the kid from Jurassic Park’ was in it. It was one of many films I coerced my mum and others into taking me to see with that line. Jurassic Park also saw me watch Tremors at a much younger age than I should have because Mazzello’s onscreen sister was in it.

Anyway, I definitely saw it in the cinema and I think I’ve only seen it that one time before today. I have fond, feel good, memories linked to it.

The Good

• Its a beautiful story; the sort that isn’t made today. That dreamy, feel good nostalgic look at the 50s that was seen in films like Now and Then, Stand By Me and Forest Gump.

• At its heart this is a baseball movie. Tom and his team pretty much suck, but over the course of the film, they improve enough to win a game. As much as I would have loved to have seen more of this, it was more about Tom earning his place within the group that segregates him.

• What struck me when watching this time was the Buddhism approach to baseball that Patrick Swayze’s Jack teaches the boys. Not only does it help transform the boys and helps them win, the coach embraces the approach Jack offers. It’s quite a stark contrast to the toxic masculine leadership originally shown and something I couldn’t appreciate at the time.

• Joe Mazzello demonstrates once again why he was one of the best child actors around. His chemistry with Patrick Swayze is something I truly love; the distrust that melts away to accept a different father figure that the 50s was pumping out. How Tom is treated is heartbreaking; he’s not accepted because he doesn’t have a father. Mazzello has this amazing way of being a brat, but you knowing deep down he’s a good (if not impressionable) kid. There are actors out there who would make Tom an unlikable character, but it’s with scenes like the batting practice that shows you how much Tom wants to be happy.

• I love how strong the film allows Jeanne to be. In a period of time in which is was expected for her to remarry, she passes up a proposal and chooses to raise her boys alone. It’s empowering as a female viewer

• Finally… a film that shows the passage of time with the moon. This is silly, but I’ve been very frustrated to see a full moon in pretty much every single tv show or movie that shows the night sky. I was so very happy to see that when the moon appears for a second scene, days later, it is in fact waning.

The Bad

• The fantasy element is really good and I really wish there was more to it. This suffers in much the same way as Radio Flyer, the fantasy is so subtle you wonder if it really takes place. In Three Wishes, it might just be the case; the fantasy aspects only really present themselves once Gunny is diagnosed with cancer. It’s a shame, as if this was the main focus it would have added a lot of charm.

• Phil, the man courting Jeanne, is a dick. I really hate that he’s in it at all although I understand why. He enables the commentary of Jeanne ‘having’ to remarry in order to fit in within the nuclear families that were blossoming in the prefab homes.

The Ugly

• The target audience is a little unclear and while it’s sold as a family film, there’s a little too much adult-only screen time for little ones to enjoy and it really has such a slow pace that I don’t think would make this an all time favourite with adults.

• The narration approach doesn’t work with how the story unravels. We discover at the end that it was being ‘told’ by Tom. Yet there was so much of what we see that Tom wouldn’t know. I think it’s in this where the answer lies; he should have been the sole protagonist rather than it being an omnipresent narrator. By having that shift and perhaps allowing him in on the fantasy Gunny sees, it would make for a much more fluid story.

Final Thoughts

I’m so very glad I watched it again. I’m having fun going back and watching Maxzello’s early work. There was also a lovely surprise in catching sight of a pre-Arrowverse Neal McDonough and a pre-Gilmore Girls Scott Patterson.

It’s by no means perfect, but it’s a perfect Sunday afternoon watch with family.

Meat Market by Juno Dawson

Details: Jana Novak is catapulted to superstardom when she’s scouted by a model agency. But the fashion industry is as grimy as it is glamorous, and there are predators at every turn.

Meat Market is the read of 2019!
I’ve read all of Juno’s work since 2014 and I’d just arrived in London. I’d been given news that an amazing up and coming author who loved Point Horror just as much as me was going to be a contestant on a literary radio game show. Juno was the first published author I’d ever met and the experience was AMAZING.
I can’t deny that Juno’s back catalogue represents a talent I’ve not seen elsewhere in a long time. However, even then, there was just something about Juno’s books that didn’t match the person I’d met.
Then came Clean and I realised what it was. Juno had yet to give her full self to her books, Hell, everything before Clean is flawlessly written and I adore Say Her Name (It’s my favourite non PH EVER), but Clean was real. There was no holding back and it’s what made it the success it was.
I’m not going to lie, I didn’t think Juno could do better. Not because of any limitations, but because I didn’t think anyone could craft something better than Clean.

Then I got two chapters into Meat Market and I realised just quite how wrong I was. What hit me first was that voice. It was a carefully crafted, fully engaging and lyrically beautiful voice that Jana was given. I’ve never wanted to be a model (I’m 5’5 and a hippo in human skin. Seriously, I often think there’s a hidden zipper back there and a Slitheen is going to come farting its way out), so I was half expecting this to be a surface read for me, but I was full invested before we even left Thorpe Park.

The story pulls no punches and you get an itchy sense of foreboding very early on, but you do fall under the same spell as Jana and you are convinced that things aren’t as bad as they seem. Until they really, truly, fucking are and as a reader, you’ll be gasping for air and begging your stomach to keep calm.
It mirrors the time so aptly, so cleverly, that Juno Dawson will forever be the woman that has done for modelling, vulnerable young girls using YA literature what Shonda Rhymes has done for women, people of colour and politics within the realms of TV.
Meat Market is not a book you go into to enjoy, there are elements that make that a side effect. No, you read Meat Market to become an educated, informed and empowered individual regardless of gender. This is a book that makes you feel uncomfortable, demands you sit up and evaluate the systems that society have allowed to exist for too long. Dawson dares you to understand that there are no excuses left, that there’s nowhere predators should be allowed to hide and, most importantly, that no one should ever accept being shut down or silenced when it comes to the #metoo movement.

We often talk about how Handmaid’s Tale is a groundbreaking, trailblazing, story that is still relevant today. It would be so easy to compare Meat Market to Atwood’s dystopian future, but it would do Juno Dawson a disservice. What Dawson has done is groundbreaking in its own merit.

Blog Tour: Beauty Sleep by Kathryn Evans

Published: 4th April 2019
Publisher: Usborne
Pages: 336
About: Who am I? What am I? When am I?
Laura can’t remember who she is. But the rest of the world knows. Because Laura is famous – a dying girl who was frozen until she could be cured. A real-life Sleeping Beauty.
But what happens when you wake up one day and the world has moved on forty years? Could you build a new life – while solving the mystery of what happened to the old one?

Characters

Laura is a stunning and vulnerable character that you wi ll instantly fall in love with. She has the nostalgic brilliance of an 80s girl in a modern world. Shem is a completely different type of vulnerable. He’s a lost boy, abandoned my the society around him.

Plot

It’s a thrilling mystery that you’re thrown into; one that is fast paced and will have your heart in your mouth the entire time. I don’t want to give too many details as it would ruin the experience of reading. You’ll want to figure the mystery behind Laura right away, but not before you experience life at a boarding school.

Writing

I fell into the writing of this book. It’s almost as if it was written for me in a style that would easily transfer to film; something I hope it eventually does. Having a protagonist from a different time allows for some changes in language to be explained. That type of language prediction is something I love. There’s an asymmetry to the duel narrative that with any other writer would not work, but Evans makes it work and ensures the perspective of Shem adds to the story, rather than detracts.
While it’s compared to Stranger Things and Black Mirror, I feel it takes the best from each and makes it something much more accessible.

Final Thoughts

It’s the perfect read for those who love Big, Back to the Future and Pretty Little Liars as well as the aforementioned Black Mirror and the brilliant Stranger Things.

Detective Pikachu

Length: 1Hr 45

Rating: PG

Release: 10th May 2019

About:

Ace detective Harry Goodman goes mysteriously missing, prompting his 21-year-old son, Tim, to find out what happened. Aiding in the investigation is Harry’s former Pokémon partner, wise-cracking, adorable super-sleuth Detective Pikachu. Finding that they are uniquely equipped to work together, as Tim is the only human who can talk with Pikachu, they join forces to unravel the tangled mystery.

Forethought

I’ve not seen a single episode of Pokemon. I once had a dream about owning a Pokemon, called squirtle. I looked it up, and it was real. As in it WAS the Pokemon called Squirtle. I’ve played Pokemon Go… until it updated and lost all my progress. Then I waited until the Jurassic World one was up and running!

So I pretty much into this with no knowledge of the franchise and just to hear Ryan Reynolds.

The Good

• The story was quite clever and was able to give us a world that embraced what came before and give the audience something unique.

• Jurassic Park alumni Justice Smith holds his own as the human protagonist in the film. While Tim perhaps doesn’t have the character development you’d expect, he really does charm and endear himself to the viewer. I’m hoping if we get a sequel, we get to see his confidence grow.

• Pikachu has the perfect voice with Reynolds. Not going to lie; I wanted more Deadpool in a cute outfit, but I’m happy he wasn’t completely PG’d. There were a few quips that will go over the little one’s heads and give the adults a giggle.

• Having a London/USA/Tokyo mashup city was a brilliant touch and they blended it all really well. The CGI was on point, although time will tell if it stands up to repeated viewing.

The Bad

• The casting of Chris Geere actually reveals more of the plot that it should have. It’s a shame because if they’d cast someone else, someone like Raffe Spall for example, I think the impact they were going for would have been achieved. As it stands, I saw the ‘twist’ a mile off.

• There’s slightly too much slight of hand and throwing the viewer off the ‘truth’. Which is fine if you don’t make it so obvious that’s what you’re doing.

The Ugly

• Kathryn Newton’s introduction as Lucy was appallingly clunky and does the actress, or the character, little justice. The visual set up of her being a femme fatale is awesome: and then she opens her mouth. I’ve seen the actress in other things and she’s good, so I’m not entirely sure how this made the cut.

Final Thoughts

It’s viewer newbie friendly, funny and with a lot of heart. It’s certainly worth a watch but dude to its ‘go big or go home’ approach, I’m not sure it’s going to give us another instalment.

Movie Review: Long Shot

Length: 2Hr 5

Rating: 15

Release: 3rd May 2019

About:

Fred Flarsky is a gifted and free-spirited journalist who has a knack for getting into trouble. Charlotte Field is one of the most influential women in the world — a smart, sophisticated and accomplished politician. When Fred unexpectedly runs into Charlotte, he soon realizes that she was his former baby sitter and childhood crush. When Charlotte decides to make a run for the presidency, she impulsively hires Fred as her speechwriter — much to the dismay of her trusted advisers.

The Good

• There was a good story underneath all the shit. In fact, the characters of Frank and Charlotte were really good.

• Charlize Theron was actually really good in this and she reminded me of Michelle Pfeiffer. Had this have transitioned from stoner rom-com to something more mature, Theron would have easily been able to carry it over.

• Ya man from Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul does a brilliant job as mash up president of Trump, Brush and the fictional Barlett. When they started to describe POTUS as playing a president in TV, I so thought we were getting the West Wing alumni, Martin Sheen.

• Frank’s concern about helping Charlotte was on the mark and made a very powerful message about politics and media.

The Bad

• There’s something about Seth Rogan’s comedy that doesn’t sit well with me. It’s not a confident or sharp sort of humour which I think this film needs. It often comes across like he’s practicing a routine in his bedroom and knows that he’s shit. Too many of his lines just patter out and are almost lacking punch lines.

• While I laughed at the sex references, I know it’s what will stop me coming back to it for repeated viewings. Its slightly too immature and repetitive; it strips the film of any charm it might have had.

The Ugly

The drug humour doesn’t sit well with me. I don’t like that some celebrities abuse the health system and degrade mental health issues. I don’t agree with people in positions of trust and power casually using illegal drugs and I certainly don’t find it funny when it’s made light of in films.

• I find it hard to buy Frank’s insistence of Charlotte having/needing a moral code… when he’s got a pocket full of drugs!

Final Thoughts

I don’t feel like I wasted two hours of my life, but I do feel like there was a better film to be made, if only Rogan did as many of the cast told him to throughout the movie and toned it down.

With a little more of what he gave in Zack and Miri or Green Hornet and less of The Interview and The Night Before this would have been a gem of movie.

Collision by Victor Dixen

Published: 18th April 2019
Publisher: Hot Keys Books
Pages: 736
About: The third book in a heartstopping, high-octane new space series.
The Genesis Programme reality TV show has brought twelve young astronauts to Mars, to face unprecedented hostility. An even greater danger is now threatening Earth, but the viewers are too glued to their screens and the rescue mission to see what is really happening.
Leonor is ready to risk everything to bring out the truth and warn the world. She can never admit defeat – but can she fight her last fight alone?

Review

This is quite possibly the best conclusion to any trilogy I’ve ever read. It retains it’s blockbuster feel throughout and you won’t want to come up for breath.
I did find myself reading this much more slowly than the others as I was conflicted; part of me wanted, needed, to know what happened but there was a part of me that wasn’t ready to say goodbye to this world, or Leo.

There are two new frames of reference for me with this final installment. Since reading Distortion, I’ve watched Capricorn One, which is this amazing American Consiparcy Thriller from 1978. Wow, the tone from the movie was pitch perfect for this final book and it has me itching to see this trilogy on the silver screen even more.
The other was Brexit. I know it’s been around in the UK since 2016, but it’s Collision that holds a lot of the political vibe and characterisations of those in power at the moment.

There is amazing resolves for all of our favourite characters and while I’m left feeling satisfied by the plot resolutions, Victor doesn’t hide away from adding new elements in during this final act, which allows it to feel even more like the world will continue beyond the final page.
The establishment of rules and laws on the planet is a particular highlight and does raise a number of ethical questions about creating an isolated society. It gives us some of the best interactions between the characters.

The writing, as always, is perfect and flawlessly translated. I’m hoping the end of this trilogy will mark the start of more translated work of Victor Dixen as his imagination is daring, challenging and wonderful.

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson

Published: 2nd May 2019
Publisher: Electric Monkey
Pages: 432
About: The case is closed. Five years ago, schoolgirl Andie Bell was murdered by Sal Singh. The police know he did it. Everyone in town knows he did it.
But having grown up in the same small town that was consumed by the murder, Pippa Fitz-Amobi isn’t so sure. When she chooses the case as the topic for her final year project, she starts to uncover secrets that someone in town desperately wants to stay hidden. And if the real killer is still out there, how far will they go to keep Pip from the truth?
A debut YA crime thriller as addictive as Serial and as page-turning as One of Us Is Lying.

First Thoughts

I’ve been waiting for this book since YALC last year. I love crime thrillers and have done since I was introduced to Faye Kellerman’s ongoing series back in 2003. It was a genre that had remained rather quiet within the YA section for a long time. While I love the detective thrillers, especially those from Chris Carter and Chelsea Cain, there’s always something a little more passionate when it’s a teen sleuth whose not paid to solve the crime.
As soon as I’d heard the plot of Holly’s debut novel, I knew it was going to feel like a painful wait until the publication. I’ve never heard of such a brilliant ARC campaign either; those who were lucky enough to get their hands on one were missing one key thing; the ending.
Since reading the opening chapters and the whole book, I’m very happy I didn’t get a copy. I think not having that ending for so long would have driven me insane.

Characters

  • I love Pip as a character and as a person. She’d determined, passionate and headstrong. Her character is motivated from the start, and while its personal for her, it’s given that sense of objectivity you would want from a detective.
  • Her relationships and friendships are key to the progress of the story; she’s unapologetic about her geeky personality. It’s a humbling confidence that will endear her to any reader.
  • Pip is supported, challenged and scared off by a well rounded selection of friends, classmates and adults. Whether they provide leads, red herrings or suspicions, they all feel like important interactions.
  • Andie and Sal are interesting characters in the sense that they are ever changing. We only get other people’s opinions and with each reveal, you are left questioning who they really were.

Plot

  • Well, it’s really hard to talk about the plot because I don’t want to give anything away. Safe to say, the book opens five years after the case regarding Andie Bell has been closed. Pip is constructing an essay on the evidence for and against Sal being the person who abducted and killed his girlfriend on the night in question. There was no trial as Sal’s suicide note was considered to be a confession to the crime.
  • Pip pulls on threads throughout the narrative and it leads to some excellent questions, curious reveals and plenty of dead ends. You’re with Pip every step of the way and the reader will be just as invested to get to the truth.
  • It’s pacing allows for only the slightest of pauses for you to catch your breath and asses your own thoughts on who the criminal really is.

Writing

  • Jackson’s writing is unique and rather clever. It’s so clear and descriptive that it felt like a cinematic thriller, much in the same style as Se7en, Kiss the Girls and Along Came the Spider.
  • The narrative is presented to the reader in so many different forms; Pip’s essay logs, transcripts and even text messages. Its a refreshing way to tell a story and actually would be a perfect book for students in school to study.
  • I would have personally have liked a larger printed font and I would recommend those of you who struggle, purchase this amazing book in Kindle so you can alter it to your liking.

Final Thoughts

Not many books would have me buying multiple copies so I could get to the end. I was so invested that when I’d left my copy on holiday at my brother’s (late night followed by an early morning flight meant I was a little sleep deprived) and had to buy another copy on my way home.
I couldn’t wait. There was no way I was waiting for it to be posted to me so my trip home included a stop off at the Waterstones.

My advice is; buy it now, read it quick and keep your copy safe.

Love Han x

Spoiler-filled Review of Avengers Endgame

As the title suggests, this review contains many a spoiler for Avengers Endgame

The Good

• The Nebula/ Stark relationship. Bloody hell, I never knew I needed that pairing. I loved that it showed how much both of them had grown. Tony shows a lot more patience than he did for Peter (sob) and Nebula is … well, the fact that she’s not killing him is amazing. His ‘you’ve won’, her joy at winning and her insisting he eats made my heart ache. There’s the added bonus of giving her a Beatles inspired nickname!

• Time travel!! So much good from this. The references, the Easter eggs. Basically, it’s this that gives Endgame the Bad Wolf feel. It’s not flawless by any means, but I’m not going to complain. Not in this section anyway. It allows the middle act to be a ‘greatest hits’ of the last decade.

• Captain America; swearing, fighting and passing the torch. Everything about the end of his story arc is awesome. It’s a fitting bow out and a kind way to ‘kill’ Steve Rogers.

• ‘Hail Hydra’ was the best Easter egg that gained a whoop from the audience and brought me more joy than the swears. Cap wielding Mjölnir is something fans have been waiting for since Age of Ultron’s post party worthiness test.

• Tony Stark has some brilliant moments in this film. His story literally couldn’t have been written, or acted, and better.

• The cameos are brilliant, the best being René Russo’s reprisal as Thor’s mother and John Slattery as Howard Stark. Anyone who has lost a parent will know how much they wish for moments both Stark and Thor get. They’re tender scenes, with the right balance of humour thrown in.

• Peter Parker and his beautiful and oh so god damn polite ways. In the middle of battle, he still finds time to introduce himself to Captain Marvel.

• ‘We’ve got her covered.’ It’s fair to say that this is still very much a ‘boy’s club’ film (on screen, our female characters are relatively isolated from each other), but there is one moment in which the film does give the audience a wonderful sisterhood. It gave me goosebumps and tears of joy. THESE. WOMEN. CAN.

The Bad

• Time travel. I’m still a little unsure about how it all works and why killing baby Thanos wouldn’t be the best plan. It’s timey whimey nonsense. If you don’t think about it too long, all is good.

• What happened to Goose?! Come on, he ATE one of those stones for safe keeping. He’s invested.

• While I loved the scene dealing with the soul stone and I wouldn’t have expected anything less, I don’t know what to make of Nat’s death. One, either it’s really shit because she’ll escape death when it comes to her solo outing. Or, as sources have informed me, we’re getting a movie that predates phases one and two; which is also shit (unless, at a push, it’s the infamous Budapest assignment), as she will never be in any danger. Plus, you’ve wrapped up the Thanos saga… don’t fuck about with the timeline. Leave it, move forward. The final thing I don’t get, it was a trade: soul for soul. Steve gave it back; quid pro quo dear Red Skull.

• It’s no one’s fault as I don’t think anyone would have predicted the juggernaut this franchise was going to be. Imagine if they had the foresight and was able to drop hints to some of the time travel and stone switches. It would have been glorious.

• Did the stones come with a user manual?! Did it include some form of ‘clap on, clap off’ technology? How did they know a click of the finger would bring people back? How did Tony know his finger snap would dust all the bad guys? Why was it a finger snap and not Death-Starring the whole glove up the user’s arse?! (Come on, if it was Deadpool, you know that would have been a thing)

• There were a few instances in which the CGI just wasn’t up to its usual standard. While this is a spoiler review; I’m not going to pinpoint these as they are the sort of thing that you might not notice the first time unless it’s pointed out.

The Ugly

• Captain Marvel. I mean what the actual fuck?! You’ve set up one of the best female heroes in cinematic history and you reduce her to a plot device?! We need Tony back on Earth in the first third (firstly, do you really?!), we’ll use Captain Marvel to give the oxygen deprived ship a piggy back. You need the stones taken to the end field and all your players are tagged out; use Captain Marvel (side bar: this should have been Black Widow, the first female Avenger and nice symmetry to Infinity War).

• Captain Marvel doesn’t have an emotional stake in the proceedings because we don’t see her fight and the one person who called her to arms has zero interaction with her. ZERO! In fact, despite fans being informed that her namesake film is not required viewing to watch Endgame, I’m not sure people would make the connection between the Infinity War pager credit sequence and the Swiss Army knife of superheroes.

• Errrr, Fury and Agent Hill didn’t join fight? Neither has a line of dialogue! Nope! That is so many levels of wrong.

• What the FUCK happened to Loki?! He’s got the tesseract after Hulk’s hissy over the stairs is thwarted and snides off like the snake he is. But, and this is timey whimey again, Tony and Steve go further back and steal it, preventing Battle of New York from happening unaware of Bruce’s promise. When they’re returned, the battle still happens… so did Cap stop off and find Loki?!

• Hulk/Banner hybrid! What and why? There wasn’t a resolution to his Erect-o-Hulk dysfunction. I get that it’s about him finding a balance; but he’s been reduced to such a ridiculous caricature that I’d have rather had Howard the fucking Duck in his place. Everything that made him the best Banner/Hulk in Assemble has been fucked off in much the same way Luke tossed the sabre in Last Jedi.

Misc Question

• What the hell happened to Agent 13? Just because she was dropped as the Cap’s romantic interest doesn’t mean she couldn’t make an appearance, right?