Friday, 18 November 2011
The film is actually pretty good. Surprisingly good, in fact. The book is rubbish, I'm not afraid to say it (and to those of you who think they're all rubbish, "Breaking Dawn" is the worst) but they've done well considering the material they had to work with. Unlike the other films, which were unintentionally hilarious because they were so bad, this one's deliberately funny. Very funny in places. Sure, there's an absolutely awful bit with the wolves, but I can't even think about that without giggling.
The story's not bad, considering in an hour and fifty minutes not a lot actually happens. And it doesn't feel long, I think it's the shortest of the films (but don't hold me to that, the DVDs are upstairs and I can't be bothered to run and check).
And, most importantly, Robert Pattinson finally looks vaguely attractive in the film. I mean, sure, he wasn't bad-looking in the first one, but he looked ridiculous in "New Moon" and "Eclipse". In this one, however, he hasn't been dunked in a vat of white paint and his eyes don't look stupid. It's just a shame they couldn't give the same contacts to the other vampires, who still look fairly ridiculous.
If you didn't like the other films, you're not going to like this one, but I was really quite impressed. Oh, and there's an extra little bit partway into the credits, which is definitely worth staying for.
Sunday, 30 October 2011
It was her "Femme Fatale" tour, and we'd have preferred a greatest hits tour, to be honest, but it was still brilliant, and she did as many old songs as new ones. Okay, I don't know that for certain in terms of exact numbers, but I wasn't bored listening to dozens of tracks I didn't know. It was funny, though, that her cover of Rihanna's "S&M" got the best reaction any song had had by that point.
And thanks to Imogen McCarthy for these photos - I left my camera in Winchester!
Monday, 17 October 2011
The music pounded, the bright lights pulsed, the air in the packed auditorium was thick with excitement. It was almost time for the show of the year. The anticipation surrounding it had built to an astonishing level since it had been announced just two weeks before. The whole world was watching. There were cameras everywhere, already broadcasting images of the rich and famous to the rest of the world. Models, designers, actors and musicians, as well as anyone else who had managed to get their hands on a ticket to the most prestigious event of the year.
The music changed suddenly, the pulsing lights now static, waiting. All eyes were on the catwalk. All around the world, waiting. She appeared, stepping out of the bright white light, dressed all in black. It swirled around her as she walked, her long chestnut hair spilling over one shoulder, her famous smile in place. It wasn’t the cold, forced smile of most models; her dark eyes glimmered as though she was laughing. She reached the end of the catwalk and stood for a moment, all eyes on her, enraptured. The music as loud, too loud. Loud enough to mask the gunshot. She fell backwards, the smile not quite gone from her face. Confusion. Was it a stunt? Was it a part of the show? And then they saw the blood. And then the screaming started. The cameras kept rolling, broadcasting every moment to the world as panic took over. Tears and blood and screams. And Dana. Lying on the catwalk. Surrounded by people but completely alone. Dana. Dead.
Monday, 10 October 2011
Monday, 19 September 2011
Monday, 12 September 2011
1 - I am completely useless and should have updated this blog as these things happened.
2 - I'm living in Winchester again (yay, I think) but my internet is shit. I'm starting to think it may be my laptop, since I'm having the same problem here as I was at home, so if anyone wants to buy me a new laptop my birthday's coming up. The reason I'm announcing this here is so that I have an excuse I can refer people to when they ask why I'm updating. Dodgy internet connection, perfect.
3 - I completely forgot to announce that the first ever issue of MISSPELLED MAGAZINE went live like eleven days ago (told you I was useless). You can find it on the current issue page of this website: http://www.misspelledmagazine.moonfruit.com and just need to download the PDF file to read it. Please read it, send it to everyone you know and then leave feedback for the editors or contributors either on the current issue page or buy emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We'll make sure your feedback gets to the right people, all writers love to hear how wonderful they are, and some of them can even handle constructive criticism.
4 - In terms of the reviews that basically make up this blog, I do have more in the pipeline. I've been reading boring books for class all summer that I don't really want to write about because I have nothing to say (I made a special exception for "Wolf Hall") but I saw "Cowboys and Aliens" last week and have been meaning to review it. Expect it to be a rubbish review, since I've basically forgotten what happened.
5 - The basketball season has started again! Well, kind of. I went to a friendly match on bank holiday Monday and the first proper game is on Saturday. Actually cannot wait, but might not be able to go. This is the main reason I hate living in Winchester. Sigh. Expect me to be grumpy on weekends for the forseeable future as I check my phone constantly for score updates.
6 - Jumping back to upcoming blogs (I don't know why I've done this silly post instead of reviewing "Cowboys and Aliens" like most normal people would have done) I've been thinking about topics to write about concerning writing (since that was kind of the point of this blog) and some topics I plan to cover sometime before I expire include: dialogue, writing habits, chapter lengths, naming characters and coming up with titles, being a writer and overthinking things. All, some or none of these will be coming to a blog near you soon. Ish.
7 - I thought I'd mention the Reading Festival of Crime Writing, which I believe is taking place in November this year. The creative people amongst you might be interested to know that there is a short story writing competition, the details of which you can find here: http://www.readingfestivalofcrimewriting.org.uk/competition.html. You might even be competing against my entry, should I ever get around to writing it. I was doing so well with the planning, then I reread the page above - he instead of she! So frustrating!
8 - This is not actually an announcement, just a question. Can you be allergic to lavender?
9 - I don't really have anything to say, but 8 announcements is just stupid. I must get to ten.
10 - Oh, I have one. Tomorrow (the 13th) the agent who finally accepted the Harry Potter books but told J.K. Rowling not to give up the day job is speaking somewhere on campus at 7.30pm. I believe it's in the Main Building, room 5, but it's definitely worth checking out.
Sunday, 11 September 2011
Day 10 - Favourite classic book
Wednesday, 31 August 2011
Normally, my mum contributes the pound and I somehow end up with it. Sitting in a car park yesterday, as you do, she mentioned this, to which I responded:
"It's my payment for taking the trolley back, pushing it out to the car, and being a fucking delight all the way round the store."
She laughed. A lot. Is it any wonder I am the way that I am with a mother like her?
Tuesday, 30 August 2011
Day 07 - Most underrated book
I had a really hard time picking this one, and the next one. So I decided to pick the book that I wish more people would read. It helps that it's a childrens' book, so most adults would never pay much attention to it.
"Coraline" by Neil Gaiman is an intriguing and frankly disturbing tale about a young girl who moves to a new house with her family and finds a tiny door. She goes through it and discovers a world that at first seems a lot like hers, but soon realises that it isn't like her world at all.
It's a fantastic book, the first of his that I ever read, and it isn't just for children. I was actually scared by it, and I can't honestly say that about very many books. You'll never be able to look at buttons in the same way again.
You might have heard of the film, which was a stop-motion animation (I think) with Dakota Fanning and Teri Hatcher doing the voices. The film wasn't that impressive, but the book is brilliant.
Day 08 - Most overrated book
This one was easier once I thought about it. "The Da Vinci Code" by Dan Brown is, to the best of my knowledge, one of the most raved about books of recent years. And I have no idea why. Admittedly, I found it quite a difficult read because the plot relies heavily on certain paintings, most of which I had never seen, meaning that half the time I wasn't 100% sure of what was happening. It isn't particularly well-written either, and this is something that a lot of critics agree with me on, so I think it deserves the title of Most Overrated Book.
A close second, however, was "Atonement" by Ian McEwan. Now, I don't actually know if this is overrated, I don't really know what anyone else thinks of it, but I bought the book after seeing the film and loving it. I expected the book to be better because, let's face it, the book is almost always better than the film (I wanted to say always, but knew someone would leave a comment that proved me wrong). The book is dire. It's interminable. I think I actually skipped the whole section when one character is off in Europe fighting in the war. Just an awful, awful book. And "Saturday," the other one of his that I've read, is even worse.
Day 09 - A book you thought you wouldn't like but ended up loving
This one was pretty easy. I hate books that I have to read for school/university. It's probably because I expect to hate them because someone else has picked them, because someone has decided they are worthy of being studied, or even because I dread picking the story apart until there's nothing left but facts that you can't enjoy. Whatever the reason is, I expected to hate "Wuthering Heights" by Emily Bronte. And I loved it.
Well, love is a strong word. For those that don't know, the book is split into two parts, with the second part occuring about sixteen years after the first and concerning the surviving characters of the first part and their various awful offspring. The first part is excellent, I don't think I can fault it in anyway, I even quite like the highly criticised opening narrated by Lockwood instead of Nelly, who tells the rest of the story. The second part isn't so good. In fact, I don't think it's good at all. I always felt it was unnecessary, and kind of tainted the first part. And to be honest, I don't think the second part even makes that much sense. I don't want to spoil it for you, but why would one character be so eager to see two other characters get married, when said character could marry one of them for his or herself? (I take spoilers very seriously).
Thursday, 25 August 2011
Day 04 - Favourite book of your favourite series
At Christmas, everyone comes together at Ralph's house for Christmas; assorted aunts and uncles and cousins, crazy great aunt Ida, and evil Granny who is happy to part with her cash when she thinks it's going to an organisation that teaches parents how best to beat their children. It's a madhouse, and I think most people can relate to it. Is there anyone who actually likes being crammed into a house with their extended family at Christmas? I didn't think so. I can't find my copy of the book, otherwise I'd share some of the funniest lines with you, so you'll just have to go buy a copy and see how funny it is for yourself.
Wednesday, 24 August 2011
So, I went to see "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" on Tuesday.
And I have no complaints. It was really very good.
Okay, I have two complaints. The first being the fact that there are two "of the"s in the title, which is just wrong, which I imagine is why so many people are referring to the film as simply "Planet of the Apes." My other complaint is a bit of a [SPOILER] so here is your [SPOILER ALERT]. The ape talks. Not all the way through, just at the end, but that really bugged me, because I'm pretty sure animals don't communicate in the same way that we do because their vocal chords etc. just aren't capable of doing so. Not because they aren't intelligent enough to communicate like we do.
But other than that, I thought it was an excellent film. I actually cried at one point, but I thought the balance between the moving emotional stuff and the action was good. After seeing the trailer, I was worried that the interesting emotional stuff would be the first ten minutes and then it would all be mindless action, but I felt the balance was pretty much perfect.
James Franco was good, Freida Pinto was underused, and I think Tom Felton could do with a couple more voice-coaching lessons before he can convincingly pull off an American accent, but it was a lot better than many Americans I've heard doing British accents.
And don't leave as soon as the credits start - there's an interesting bit that follows. Although if you're desperate for the loo, like I was, just watch that little bit and then you can go. There's nothing else after it.
Tuesday, 23 August 2011
I read some really good books last year, but the best has to be either "American Gods" by Neil Gaiman, who is fantastic by the way, or "Good Omens" by Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. "American Gods" just edges out the other one because "Good Omens" got a little bit dull in the middle, when they had to get all of the characters to the same place at the same time and it dragged a bit.
1 - "Harry Potter", obviously
Sunday, 14 August 2011
I've never really been interested in fanfiction before. I never saw the point in reading something that was bound to be rubbish compared to the original, and as someone who wants to be a published author someday, it kind of bothered me that people could just take your characters and twist them to suit what they wanted.
Take the book I was forced to read a couple of years ago for Critical Reading. "Wide Sargasso Sea" by an author that I will not name because I object to the existence of this book, essentially tells the story of Mad Bertha from "Jane Eyre" by Charlotte Brontë. It's an incredibly dull book, which was my first objection to it, but then I realised that this woman is making money using characters that aren't hers. Storylines that aren't hers. And I object to that strongly.
Online fanfiction, however, I have mixed feelings about. On the one hand, yes, people are using other people's characters and creating whole new backgrounds or futures or whatever for them. But they aren't making money from it. They're doing it out of their love for the characters and the original text, the original author should be flattered. I know I would be.
I still didn't really see the point of it, though. Why read a Harry Potter fanfiction piece when I can just read Harry Potter?
And then I stumbled upon a story (not using StumbleUpon) and started reading. I don't really know why I did, but I was hooked. It's really well-written, it's a believable premise, and the writer has been very true to the characters. I'll admit that she slips in a few places, but that's to be expected I think, and otherwise it's really very good.
I sat and consumed the story in a matter of days, and it's not a short story. There are 42 chapters. The average chapter is about 4500 words, which is around 9 A4 pages single-spaced. So it's quite an undertaking, especially since it's on a screen not on the page and that makes it much harder to read (because the website's formatting isn't exactly reader-friendly). And then it hit me.
I believe I've discovered the problem with fanfiction - it's unreliable.
And I don't mean in the sense that it deviates from the canon and can find Hermione falling in love with Snape (there is an ASTONISHING amount of these stories online). I mean that many of these stories are written as serials, with the author posting chapters as they write them. I just reached chapter 42 of a work of fanfiction, and discovered that it wasn't finished. Reading the comments, it would appear that between chapters 37 and 38, the author took a year long break. A year. This story has been in production for more than 6 years. And that is the problem with fanfiction. I have no way of knowing when I can finish reading it, and it is incredibly frustrating. All the more so because the writer left the last chapter on a cliffhanger.
Two months ago.
Tuesday, 9 August 2011
First off, this film is not for kids. It may be rated 12A, and the cast may be primarily kids, BUT DO NOT TAKE YOUR CHILDREN TO SEE IT. Especially if said children are stupid little brats who will talk ALL THE WAY THROUGH and be completely unable to sit still.
Seriously, though, I don't think a lot of kids would understand it. I had to pay attention to follow it in places (and apparently I missed a crucial piece of information whilst fantasising about reaching out and strangling a small child) but it was a really good film.
I liked JJ Abrams last film, (I think it was his last) the new Star Trek, but I was a little put off by the fact that the film stars Dakota Fanning's younger sister Elle. I'm not a Fanning fan, but she was pretty good in the film, I have to admit.
It's funny, too, which I didn't expect. And although you can see the ending coming from several miles away (the middle, in fact) it's still quite a good ending, it works. It fits. It's not exactly a groundbreaking ending, or indeed something new from Spielberg (who acted as producer on this one) but it does work, and I guess I have to give them credit for that.
I only really had one issue with the film (after someone explained to me about that crucial piece of information I missed) and I should probably do a [SPOILER ALERT] now. So, if you haven't seen the film, or didn't work out from the trailer basically what's going on in the film, don't read any further. They fell into the trap of revealing the alien/monster/whatever. And once you've seen it, it's not scary anymore. The film isn't terrifying, it certainly made me jump, but it loses something once you've seen the monster. And there really wasn't much need to show it at all.
So, to sum up, kids should be banned from cinemas, it's not a kids film, and it's pretty damn good. I'm going to have to see it again now, though. At midnight. When all the kids are out setting fire to cars and buildings. Because obviously, not one person over the age of twenty-five is joining in with the rioting. Not even when the riots go on until 3am.
Thursday, 4 August 2011
My parents are away for a few days, meaning I'm responsible for feeding my little brother. Well, my younger brother, he's six-foot-four. He's also seventeen and should be capable of feeding himself, but that's a story for another time. So, since I'm at home for the summer because I can't afford to pay my rent in Winchester and my parents will give me FREE FOOD, I'm in charge of the kitchen.
And today, I discovered that I am a bonfide domestic goddess. My conversation with my brother about dinner went a little something like this:
ME: What do you want for tea? Pizza or sausages? Bearing in mind that pizza will be a lot easier for me since I don't know how long it takes to cook sausages and since you can't have just sausages for tea, I can either put the sausages and chips in together and we can have charcoal instead of chips. Or I can put the chips in later, and we'll have burnt sausages because the chips won't be cooked yet.
THE BOY: Pizza, then.
And do you know what I made him for tea? I made him the pizza that he so desperately craved. See? Awesome sister.
And now a note for my frankly disappointing siblings - my birthday's coming up soon. Just a thought.
Monday, 1 August 2011
I am obsessed with the stats for my blog, I'm ashamed to admit. I check the stats page more often than I check Facebook, and I check Facebook a lot. My stats tend to be very low, I suspect that my family and a couple of friends are the only people reading my blog, but I am always strangely delighted to see when someone from another country has looked at it. In the past couple of months, I've had people from the US, Japan, Spain, Germany and Denmark read my blog. I like knowing where these people have found my blog, and which posts people are reading. I am becoming obsessive about it. And it worries me a little bit.
What worries me more is how I feel when I read other people's blogs. It makes me feel like a stalker. Now, I don't technically know what stalking someone feels like (contrary to popular opinion) but this is close to how I think it must feel. Some of you might know the feeling from having explored a friend's Facebook page in its entirety. You know, look through all of their photos, read all of the information they've given you, look at every post on their wall. And then you think "what the hell am I doing?" It's like that with blogs. Except, actually, it feels worse, because these people aren't your friends. Well, not necessarily.
I recently found a blog which I love:
I don't actually remember how I found it, it was either a link on another blog I read, or I was flicking through the "next blog" option on Blogger, which I love. It doesn't really matter how I found it, what matters is that I have become obsessed with this blog. I've gone trawling back through old posts, read every word of them and then even read the comments underneath them. But the problem is that this woman doesn't know me. She'll never meet me. And there I am reading every word that she's written. It just struck me that I'm cyber-stalking someone. Well, kind of.
I guess the fact that she's put all these posts out on the internet makes it okay for me to read through it all. It's like she's asking to be stalked. It's like someone changing their clothes with the curtains open and all the lights on. Okay, it's not really like that, but you see what I mean. It feels wrong, somehow, to be reading the blogs of people I don't know.
It may well be the most boring book I have ever read, and I've read "The Dark Fields" (aka "Limitless") by Alan Glynn. In 650 pages, not one interesting thing actually happens. On a few occasion, interesting events are alluded to, but we don't witness them. We hear them discussed briefly to add context to background characters. I think three times in the book I became hopeful that something interesting was about to happen, only to be thoroughly disappointed.
A little background is probably useful for those of you who haven't read it, especially since you won't guess what it's about from the title, which, as far as I can see, has absolutely nothing to do with the book whatsoever. The book follows Thomas Cromwell's rapid rise in Tudor society as he assists Henry VIII in divorcing Katherine of Aragon and marrying Anne Boleyn instead, which should be interesting. Or so you would think. That period in English history must be one of the most written about, most fictionalised and most sexed-up. I had high hopes. I quite liked "The Other Boleyn Girl" by Phillipa Gregory. I was very disappointed.
I won't sit here and spell out everything that was wrong with it, I will just say that I found it really difficult to follow who was who. Cromwell, the main character, is frequently referred to in the narrative as simply "he," which becomes tricky when he is having a conversation with another man, which is basically all that ever happens in the book. It's also difficult to follow who is who, because their titles and positions change every twenty pages or so. Since they all have the same names (Henry or Thomas, mainly) their titles are all the more important, and I could rarely work out who was actually in a room at any given time.
Finally, I'd like to say something about the title. Wolf Hall is the home of the Seymour family in the book, and as I'm sure most people would know, Henry marries Jane Seymour after he has Anne Boleyn beheaded. And yet, their paths never seem to cross in the book. In fact, at the end, you are left with the distinct impression that it is Cromwell who intends to marry Jane, saying as he does that they have five days free in the summer and that he intends to pay the Seymours a visit.
In summary, it was all very dull, very difficult to read and made absolutely no sense to me. It may be just as boring as "The Dark Fields," but it loses even more points for being more than twice as long.
Monday, 25 July 2011
Okay, I hate Mondays, but today I have good news. Although I've had said good news since last Tuesday, I just haven't had the chance to update. Or I forgot. But being busy is a lot better than forgetting to do something. I had a point.
Oh, yes, my friend Sara and I (if you recall, I shamelessly plugged her blog a few weeks ago, scroll down and you'll find the post) are starting our own online literary magazine, "Misspelled Magazine" which naturally we're very excited about. We haven't released our first issue yet, so please feel free to check out our submissions page and send us your stuff, but the website's up for people to have a look at. I'll update here whenever we have something to update with.
Sunday, 24 July 2011
That's all I had to say, really.
Wednesday, 20 July 2011
And, I have to say, I'm glad I did.
It's brilliant. I really, really enjoyed it. Sure, it's a little bit long, there are a few sections where I'd have trimmed it, but there was nothing majorly wrong with it. Actually, yes, there is one thing majorly wrong with it, and it is this thing that keeps it from being the best of the series. The first four films feature rather a lot of the wonderful Hugh Jackman, and that is this instalment's only downside. Plus, it has James McAvoy in it, an unforgiveable casting decision (I won't go into it, it's a long story and I'm not sure I could explain it in a way that anybody would understand) but he didn't ruin the film. That's the best I can say for him.
So, this story goes back to the beginning of the X-Men. It's worth noting that originally it was supposed to be an "X-Men: Origins" film, featuring Magneto almost exclusively. I think this is a much better idea. Don't get me wrong, Magneto/Erik was excellent (where has Michael Fassbender been hiding?) but I don't think they could have built an entire film around his background. And if they did, I can't help thinking that it would be incredibly traumatic.
Speaking of which, I wasn't overly impressed with Kevin Bacon's Sebastian Shaw. He started off brilliantly, perfectly sinister, but when he switched from speaking German to speaking English, he lost a lot of his menace, I think. At times, he was a bit of a camp villain, and didn't exude the same darkness as Michael Fassbender, which is a bit of a shame, considering he was supposed to be the big bad guy. I did see on IMDB, however, that they had also considered Colin Firth for the role, and I just can't even picture that. (For future reference, I can't stand Colin Firth, either.)
The film is epic in scale and impressive to watch, and it really is difficult for me to find anything bad to say about it. Those of you that know me will appreciate how rare that is for me, I seem to be able to find fault everywhere, but I really did enjoy this film. I was a little disappointed, though, that there was nothing after the credits.
Saturday, 16 July 2011
But weirdly, I wasn't.
"Deathly Hallows" is not my favourite of the books. In fact, I find the first half of the book really quite boring, so I was impressed by the first half of the film. I didn't come out of the cinema bitching about everything they'd done wrong, which was a first. The second half, on the other hand, didn't meet with the same reaction.
It started brilliantly (don't worry, I'm going to avoid spoilers as much as I can. I might refer to things from the book, but I'll try not to give them away to anyone who hasn't read them. Also, if you haven't read the books, read them.) The scenes in Gringotts are wonderful, they're beautifully done and I was very impressed. I wanted to cry when I saw the dragon, that was how involved I was within, say, ten minutes. I was also quite impressed with the way they handled Harry finding the Horcruxes (I won't tell you, but you'll remember that Dumbledore didn't give him enough information in "Half-Blood Prince" to be able to do it.)
So, the film's going along nicely, I'm completely engrossed, and then it hits my favourite part of the books. The part that upset me more than anything else. For those of you who are wondering, it's the part where a pivotal character dies and their history revealed. And it's amazing. It really is, I loved it. I wept. I was trying to cry quietly, because there were only five other people in the room and I was very conscious of how noisy I was being. It's easily the best part of the film. And that's the problem, in my opinion.
After that, nothing comes close to being as upsetting. And I know, it doesn't need to be upsetting, but I thought it would be. And a part of me wanted to come out of the cinema in floods of tears (I can't explain it, I'm afraid.) But after that point, it was...fine. There's a surprising amount of humour, which keeps it from becoming too dark, even when beloved characters are being slaughtered left, right and centre. And as in the book, the scene in King's Cross Station (the one that isn't the epilogue) is an annoying break away from the story, though, mercifully, it has been shortened significantly in the film.
Of course, they've changed things. We knew that from the trailer - "let's finish this the way we started, together" by jumping off a cliff - but, actually, instead of making me furious, I felt the changes worked. Now, I haven't read the book in a long time, but I seem to recall that the climax basically involved Harry walking around in a circle and explaining things. Which, let's face it, would have been pretty dull to watch. The changes they've made have improved the film, they add drama, and I can't complain about them.
This brings us to the epilogue. The epilogue that, if I remember correctly, they went back and reshot because it looked ridiculous. I dread to think what it was like before - it is unintentionally hilarious, and instead of being sad or proud or whatever else I might have felt, I was trying so hard not to laugh. [OKAY, THIS MIGHT BE A SPOILER IF YOU HAVEN'T READ THE BOOK, ALTHOUGH I HIGHLY DOUBT ANYONE IN THE WORLD DOESN'T KNOW HOW IT ENDS. EXCEPT MY DAD. I TOLD HIM HARRY DIED AND HE GOT MAD. OOPS. ANYWAY, POTENTIAL SPOILER ALERT] The four main characters (I'm counting Ginny in that) don't look any older, clearly they've had their hair done and then put on grown-up-clothes. Draco Malfoy (who I love, who is my favourite character after Snape) looks absolutely ridiculous. But you only see him for a moment, long enough for your brain to register that he looks ridiculous and make you start laughing, but not long enough to figure out why it is. So if anyone's seen it and knows what it might be about him that looks so stupud, please let me know.
So, that's it. The end of an era. The end of the most successful film series of all time ("Deathly Hallows - Part Two" took a record-breaking $95 million on its first day of release alone.) The end of my childhood. And, honestly, the actual ending was a little disappointing. If only those brilliant scenes had been a bit closer to the end of the film, rather than coming in the middle and marking the difference between the first and second halves so clearly.
Friday, 15 July 2011
I just wanted to express my utter delight that I was able to see the film in 2D. Despite being told ny Vue customer service that under no circumstances would they be showing the film in 2D at midnight, I arrived and saw it on the board. A quick word with manager Natalie and we had a full refund, two 2D tickets, the best seats possible and an almost empty screening room. I think I was more excited about that than I was about the film, and I was pretty damn excited about the film.
Wednesday, 13 July 2011
Edward Cullen has ruined vampires. Okay, that's a bit unfair. I actually like the Twilight books, I think they've got good stories even though the writing is appalling. I've read all four, plus the novella, because the story's pretty good. In my opinion. And this is something that seems to divide people. Twilight is the new Marmite.
It's been incredibly successful, which has led to the market being absolutely flooded with vampire stuff, be it books, films or tv shows. Vampires are popular right now, Twilight's success has made other series popular, like the Charlaine Harris novels. They've been around for years, but only now have they been picked up and turned into the brilliant series "True Blood." You can't walk into a bookshop without being faced with a "dark romance" section.
But, at the same time, vampires have never been less cool. I don't know why it is, since I'm someone who's embraced the current craze, but if you tell people that you write or read about vampires, they automatically label you in a certain way. You're a Twi-hard (a name I object to generally, and don't think I deserve because I'm not actually obsessed with it) and that's it. People will laugh in your face, and you have to defend yourself. So, here goes.
I've been writing about vampires for five, almost six, years now. I started my first vampire novel three whole years before I'd even heard of Twilight (I have been genuinely asked on more than one occasion "Oh, is it based on Twilight?" when I've told someone I write about vampires) and have now written sixteen vampire novels. Which is 94% of the novels I've written (I wrote one sci-fi one about a parasite, but the less said about that the better.)
But why? I think about that a lot, mainly because people ask. They ask lots of stupid questions, don't they? Okay, that's unfair. But I do get asked why I write about vampires, especially since I've written so many now. And the reason I give is that it's like writing about people, except there are no limits. You don't have to worry about what's realistic, what would happen in the real world, how a normal person would react to something. You can create your own mythology, you can set the rules. I think of those things, the not having to know how a real person would react is probably the most important to me. This sounds like attention-seeking, but I'm fairly abnormal. I often find myself unable to understand why the people around me say and do certain things, even when everyone else seems to get it. So I worry that, if I write about normal people in a normal world, it just won't work. Vampires, on the other hand...well, I choose how they would react to things. I have total control, I can do whatever I want. And I love that.
So next time someone tells you that they write about vampires, or they like to read about them, don't judge. Don't laugh. They'll have their reasons. And if you're still unconvinced, I'm sure there was a vampire in Harry Potter. I do believe his name was Sanguini, and he appeared on page 374 of the "Half-Blood Prince."
Saturday, 9 July 2011
"But we often have to wait one month or two months for those shows to be shown legitimately in the UK,"
which is bollocks. I waited a YEAR for True Blood, and several months for the Big Bang Theory. I honestly don't think people would mind so much if it was just a month or so, but it's not. It's ridiculous. And I don't see why we should have to wait so long to watch on TV content that we can get online. It's all free, isn't it? Not like watching films.
Oh, the article is here, if anyone's interested:
Tuesday, 5 July 2011
Doing the sums is bad. It will only make you miserable.
So, as you may or may not know, I'm a student at the moment. I'm also unemployed. And paying rent. And already £800 into my overdraft. I've been worrying about money recently, mainly because nowhere is hiring, and when I do find somewhere hiring, they don't want to hire me. (I know this is supposed to be a blog about writing, but while I'm this down, I can't seem to write, so it's totally relevant.)
And so, I thought, since I was worrying so much, it would be a good idea to sit down and do the sums, work out exactly how much I'm going to spend this year and how much, given the fact that I survive solely on my pitifully low student loan, I'm going be in debt by this time next year. It turned out to not be such a good idea.
As it stands, I will have -£1.364.41 in my account by next July. And this doesn't even take into account my living expenses. This is simply current balance, minus rent, plus student loan. Which is not good. I mean, unless I give up the luxury of eating (which might not be a good idea, given the size of me), I'm screwed. I think I preferred it when I didn't know how bad things were going to be next year.
But hey, you don't care. It's not your problem. Something good...I get to see Harry Potter next week, and I actually can't wait. It is in fact the only thing in the forseeable future that I have to look forward to, especially since I'm also going to have give up going to the cinema. Even if it wasn't ridiculously expensive, I'm sure I couldn't afford it.
You may have noticed that I haven't written anything about the book I'm writing in weeks. I've decided to put Outsiders on the back-burner for now. I can't seem to make any headway with it, I haven't even looked at it in over three weeks. The problem seems to be that I'm very conscious that it's aimed at teenagers. Before, I've always just sat down, written a book and never even thought about who might like to read it. So it's being officially put on hiatus for a while. I'm thinking about re-writing one of my other novels from scratch. I've made three serious edits to it (it lost fifty thousand words in a single edit, then gained twenty thousand, then lost another twelve) and I still can't seem to get the damn thing right. So I think I'm going to make a completely fresh start on it, and try not to think about my target audience. Because if I do, I'm not sure it'll ever get written.
Monday, 4 July 2011
You can find her blog here:
Friday, 1 July 2011
Now, I don't want anyone reading this to think I just hate all films, but...no, wait, I wrote nice things about "Bridesmaids." I think. Anyway, I don't hate all films, but I was pretty unimpressed with "Green Lantern." No, unimpressed is the wrong word. I was bored. Really bored. I couldn't even enjoy the 'exciting' action sequences because the rest of it had bored me so deeply. And I like superhero movies, I do. Christopher Nolan's Batman series (not technically a superhero, but whatever), "Iron Man," "Spiderman," and even...well, I can't think of any others off the top of my head, but I don't hate the genre. I missed "Thor" but fully intend to see it on DVD, and I'm even going to see "Captain America" (although that may be entirely due to the presence of Richard Armitage.) X-MEN! That's the other series I like, even if they're mutants rather than superheroes.
"Green Lantern" is different to these in a very specific way, which I identified while staring blankly at the screen while a voiceover told me lots of things I couldn't care less about. "Spiderman" begins when Peter Parker gets bitten by the radioactive spider, "Iron Man" begins when Tony Stark is taken captive and builds the special suit, "Batman" begins when Bruce Wayne realises he has lots of money to burn and even more time on his hands. What I'm saying is that the stories in these films starts with the characters' introduction to this new world/idea/whatever. "Green Lantern" doesn't. It has several millenia of backstory to trawl through before Hal Jordan gets a magic ring, and, quite frankly, it is unessential to the story and utterly boring to sit through. My brother disagrees, he thought the film was brilliant and he knew all the backstory crap before he went in (so he should have been even more bored than I was.)
What's interesting, though, is that in direct contrast to the info-dump of superhero-alien-backstory, there is a distinct lack of backstory concerning the human characters in the film, the ones to whom we are presumably supposed to relate. Sure, everyone picked up on the fact that the two leads slept together at some unspecified time in the past, but how did they meet? They keep saying they've known each other since they were children, but how? Why? (Thinking back, Hal's father may have been the star pilot for Lois Lane's dad's plane company, but I don't think it was said outright.) And then they introduce the mini-villain (who is being controlled by the mega-villain), and claim that he's known them both since childhood as well! And at the beginning, Hal goes to his nephew's birthday party, and engages in conversation with three adults who are presumably family members, though they are never identified.
I'm not a Ryan Reynolds fan either. I decided that yesterday. I liked him in "The Proposal," but I think Sandra Bullock's genius must have been rubbing off on him, because I wasn't overly impressed with this one. I also don't believe that those muscles he has when the aliens are studying him (though funnily enough they let him keep his underwear on) are his. I just don't.
I didn't enjoy the film. I think a sequel (which is already being discussed despite a poor box office performance) would be better, because it wouldn't be bogged down with so much unnecessary detail and could really get into the story, although of course they'll have to recap it constantly, so maybe it will be just as bad. It was just...ugh, it was just so dull. I can't even think about it anymore.
No, actually, one more thing. The special effects were pretty good, I actually thought the mega-villain creeping over the city was incredibly good. Very impressive. What I don't understand is how they can do something as brilliant as that, but they can't make it look like Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively are actually standing on a rooftop. Seriously, the green screen at that point was so bad, I'm assuming they'd blown the budget and had to make a hash of that scene.
Saturday, 25 June 2011
But that's not what this blog post is supposed to be about, though it is related. In a way. "Wolf Hall" starts with a contents page, which I personally think is pretty unnecessary. It annoyed me in the Twilight books, when it was completely unnecessary, and I have yet to see whether it serves a purpose here.
After the contents page, however, there is a list of characters. A cast list, if you like. And just seeing it filled me with dread. A cast list makes sense in a play, where you don't have a narrative that can fill you in on the details of the cast. "Wolf Hall" is a 650-page novel. It shouldn't need a cast list, because all of this information should be told/shown to me in the main body of the novel. Having a cast list says a lot. It warns me that the book is not going to be well-written enough to give me this information as it should, and that I will probably need to keep referring back to the list to find out who all these people are, which should also be shown in the text.
It got me thinking because a cast list isn't something you often see in a novel. In fact, I didn't think I'd ever seen one, and I assumed that this meant "Wolf Hall" would be a rubbish book because it needed something that no other book did. I'm not saying this is the case, because I can't really say that until I've finished it. But then I remembered another series of books with a cast list. A series of books that I actually love.
Every instalment in the "Pure Dead" series by Debi Gliori, beginning with "Pure Dead Magic" and ending with "Deep Fear", features a cast list at the very beginning. And a contents page. I actually liked this feature in the series, which is aimed at children/young teenagers, especially since the "Dramatis Personae" is actually quite funny. It works. It doesn't make the book seem poorly written, it adds something to it. With "Wolf Hall", I have to admit that I took it as a bad sign. I'll let you know how it works out. I'm only forty pages into the bloody thing.
Friday, 24 June 2011
This is just a quick update, because I can finally switch off my laptop and leave the house. Okay, that's a slight exaggeration (why on earth would I leave the house?), I just mean to say that I can finally stop refreshing Vue cinema's website every 20 minutes (or 60 after 8pm) because I HAVE TICKETS TO A MIDNIGHT SCREENING OF HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART TWO. Yes, I am a little bit excited.
Although not as excited as I should be. In fact, I'm pretty pissed off about the whole thing. I have to go to a midnight showing. Not just because I HAVE to, but because my schedule means that if I don't see it at midnight, I won't see it until the next week. Possibly the next weekend. Which is unacceptable. So, I have to see it at midnight. That isn't an option for me. Which is fine, I guess, because I wanted to go at midnight anyway.
Another option that I don't have is whether I see the film in 2D or 3D. I want to see it in the 2D. My cinema will only permit me to see it in 3D. Which is unacceptable. No, more than that, it is an absolute disgrace. I don't want to pay the extra money to see a 3D film, especially not when it means wearing a pair of 3D glasses over my regular glasses. Noses are not designed to accomodate more than one pair of glasses at a time. They're just not. I saw Tangled in 3D, and spent the entire film holding up the 3D pair of glasses because they kept sliding down my nose until the frame was blocking the screen.
Maybe it's me, maybe it's just my nose, but even if I didn't wear glasses, I would be furious about this. All films should be available in 2D from the day of release. 3D should be the bonus, not the other way around. I wanted to see Thor, really wanted to see it, but the cinemas near me were only showing it in 3D when it was released. Six weeks later, they did their first 2D screening. And I couldn't go.
I'm sick of this 3D thing. I didn't mind it so much when it started. If people want to waste their money and watched a film that's dimmer and a little fuzzier, just so that two or three times in a couple of hours something can jump out of the screen...well, that's their choice. But to interfere with the 2D screenings? No, this is unacceptable. Something has to be done. Unfortunately, I can't find anyone to complain to about this except individual cinemas. Who don't really give a shit, because they're making more money of 3D screenings.
Thursday, 23 June 2011
So, on Tuesday, I saw a preview of "Bridesmaids" with Kirsten Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Rose Byrne, Chris O'Dowd and Jon Hamm. It's been described as "the female Hangover" but I'm not sure I'd agree with that description.
Friday, 17 June 2011
Tuesday, 14 June 2011
I discovered the books two summers ago, I think, around the time Skin Trade came out in hardback. The cover caught my eye, and I almost bought it, but then I discovered that it was number sixteen in the series. So I spent the summer reading the series from the very beginning, Guilty Pleasures. I got really into them, and would order the next two as soon as I was halfway through one. I actually regret this now, since I paid for all of the books myself and am currently in rather dire financial circumstances. Had I been prepared to wait a little between each book, I'm sure my parents could have been persuaded to buy them for me. After all, what parent doesn't want to encourage their child to read more? (I should probably point out that I'm now 20, but I still think it's important for my parents to encourage me to read and, you know, keep buying me books)
I had a point. Oh, yes, Hit List. Before I talk about Hit List specifically, I want to say something about the series as a whole. I do like them, Jean-Claude is my favourite character and I was a little disappointed that he didn't get so much as a phone call in this book, but that's a personal matter. I've been worried for a few books now that there are too many sex scenes, and that the stories are being lost in a sea of endless sex. I'd gotten to the point where I actually said that if I didn't like Hit List, I wouldn't read another Anita Blake book. (Yes, I did actually say this, but I really don't think I meant it). Not that it matters, because the balance is much better this time.
My main issue before (I cannot stress the before part enough) I read Hit List, is that it was an Edward book. People who've read the books will know that they tend to fall into certain categories - vampire books, wereanimal books, and Edward books. Of course, most of them cross over, but there's always a strong theme. I don't like the Edward books. I don't know why, I quite like Edward as a character, and Olaf is fascinating (as psychopaths in literature always are), but I was disappointed that Hit List was going to be an Edward book. Almost as disappointed as I was when I received my copy of Flirt and discovered that it was more of a short story than a novel.
I really enjoyed Hit List. It is the first Edward book that I've enjoyed, and now that the balance between sex and everything else has been established, the series seems to be getting back on track. It's fast paced, exciting, and the ending wasn't what I expected. I actually read it twice, because I thought I'd missed something key. Anita is becoming a much more rounded character, as her good qualities grow in number and she accepts her flaws as a part of herself. There's nothing worse than a perfect heroine. Anita is a lot more likeable than Sookie Stackhouse, who lets the men in her life trample all over her half of the time, and in a way she could be seen as a good role model, (for adults, not kids!)
I honestly really enjoyed Hit List, I found it hard to put down (because the chapters are so short that you have to read at least ten in one go to feel close to satisfied) and it's great to see the series getting back on track. I think it benefitted from reducing the number of men hanging around Anita all the time, but I'd really like to see Jean-Claude in the next one. I'm pretty sure he's the only other character that's survived all twenty books (although please don't quote me on that), and he's certainly not one to just fade into the background. Bring on number 21!
(Oh, and the photo above is by me, Lesley Whyte)