Friday, 30 October 2009

Throwing in the towel

As much as I hate to do this, it's gotta be done. I'm an avid reader but not a fast one and, lately with my new job and life being slightly more hectic, I've barely had time to read.

There isn't any way I'm going to read and finish four Classic books by the end of tomorrow and, as much as I'm really enjoying it, I'm not going to be able to finish Interview with the Vampire by tomorrow.

This means I'm throwing in the towel for my Classics Challenge and my R.I.P. Challenge.

Obviously my progress isn't as impressive to those of you who devour books like chocolate (oooh, yes please) but, meh, I did what I could considering I can't really buy any new books until my TBR disappears. :)

Result: 2 out of 6

Result: 1 out of 2

Oh well. I tried and gave it my best. That's what matters. :)  

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Happy 77th Birthday Sylvia.

Sylvia Plath
b. 27th October 1932

Today is one of my all-time favourite writers' birthday. If she had lived to the year 2009, Sylvia Plath would be turning 77 today. Happy Birthday, Sylvia.

While it is not birthday centred, I thought I'd post this poem by her - about the gift she really wants to receieve.

A Birthday Present
By Sylvia Plath

What is this, behind this veil, is it ugly, is it beautiful?
It is shimmering, has it breasts, has it edges?

I am sure it is unique, I am sure it is just what I want.
When I am quiet at my cooking I feel it looking, I feel it thinking

'Is this the one I am to appear for
Is this the elect one, the one with black eye-pits and a scar?

Measuring the flour, curring off the surplus,
Adhering to rules, to rules, to rules.

Is this the one for the annunciation?
My god, what a laugh!'

But it shimmers, it does not stop, and I think it wants me.
I would not mind if it was bones, or a pearl button.

I do not want much of a present, anyway, this year.
After all I am alive only by accident.

I would have killed myself gladly that time any possible way.
Now there are these veils, shimmering like curtains,

The diaphanous satins of a January window
White as babies' bedding and glittering with dead breath.
O ivory!

It must be a tusk there, a ghost-column.
Can you not see I do not mind what it is.

Can you not give it to me?
Do not be ashamed - I do not mind if it is small.

Do not be mean, I am ready for enormity.
Let us sit down to it, one on either side, admiring the gleam,

The glaze, the mirrory variety of it.
Let us eat our last supper at it, like a hospital plate.

I know why you will not give it to me,
You are terrified

The world will go up in a shriek, and your head with it,
Bossed, brazen, an antique sheild,

A marvel to your great-grandchildren.
Do not be afraid, it is not so.

I will only take it and go aside quietly.
You will not even hear me opening it, no paper crackle.

No falling ribbons, no scream at the end.
I do not think you credit me with this discretion.

If you only knew how the veils were killing my days.
To you they are only transparencies, clear air.

But my god, the clouds are like cotton.
Armies of them. They are carbon monoxide.

Sweetly, sweetly I breathe in,
Filling my beins with invisibles, with the million

Probable motes that tick the years off my life.
You are silver-suited for the occasion. O adding machine -

Is it impossible foryou to let something go and have it go whole?
Must you stamp each piece in purple,

Must you kill what you can?
There is this one thing I want today, and only you can give it to me.

It stands at my window, big as the sky.
It breathes from my sheets, the cold dead centre

Where split lives congeal and stiffen to history.
Let it not come by the mail, finger by finger.

Let it not come by word of mouth, I should be sixty
By the time the whole of it was delivered, and too numb to use it.

Only let down the veil, the veil, the veil.
If it were death

I would admire the deep gravity of it, its timeless eyes.
I would know you were serious.

There would be a nobility then, there would be a birthday.
And the knife not carve, but enter

Pure and clean as the cry of a baby,
And the universe slide from my side.


Monday, 26 October 2009

A Bundle of Everything

I feel as though there are a bunch of little things I want to say but none of them deserve their own post so I'm going to bung them all together here. :) As a result, each section might seem a little random.

First of all, I intend to write at least one review by the end of the day for my recently read books so my apologies if I clog up your Google Reader.



Seriously guys, I couldn't have done what you did. I get very easily distracted or end up falling asleep after reading for more than an hour in one place. You all did amazing jobs - I'm in complete awe. Give yourselves a pat on the back.


I have five days to finish Interview with the Vampire for my R.I.P. Challenge. That might not seem like a lot to those of you who read at the speed of light but yikes! I'm determined to finish at least one challenge this year and this seemed like the easiest to take on. I actually forgot how heavy Anne Rice's writing is. Oh well, crossed fingers!

After that, I'll be 10 books away from my 50 book challenge. Five a month so plenty of poking my nose into pages for the rest of the year.


A few weeks ago I wrote a 'random post' that seemed to come out of nowhere about the fact that I had no idea what I really wanted to do with my life and who I was. I actually got a whole bunch of comments I wasn't expecting - you guys gave me some really supportive words and made me feel better about myself so thank you so much. :) It's amazing how great a bunch of internet friends can make you feel.

I think I weighed up all my options for what I'd ideally want in life and what I'm comfortable with:

- I'm opinionated and enjoy expressing my opinions through writing.
- I have subjects I care passionately about and would love to spend my life writing about them (film, books, class, economy, environment).
- I want the freedom to live anywhere I want and travel as much as I want.
- I don't mind working extra jobs.

Yesterday I started a part-time job at a jewellers. It's not much money and it's never going to get me around the world, but it's currently enough to support me while I explore the option of freelance writing. I like the idea of writing about different subjects for different publications/websites/blogs and I'm keen enough to just go for it. :)


Most of you know who this man is, right?

Why is he supporting these idiots who are fast making their way to the final of The X Factor? The man produces the show - if he doesn't like them, why can't he just throw them off?

Those of you lucky enough to be in the US and don't get The X Factor on your tellys on Saturday night, please, click this link (go ahead, click it) and see what the British public keep voting in to stay. *slaps forehead*


This made me laugh . . . A LOT.

This comes from a hilarious website - Lamebook. One of my new favourites. :-D


Saturday, 24 October 2009

Best of Luck!

I wanna wish all my online book buddies who are taking part in this weekend's readathon the best of luck. I don't know how you guys have the stamina to go for 24 hours. I get way too distracted ... or end up falling asleep if I'm in one place at the same time. I guess caffeine's the option, right? ;-)

Anyway Good Luck, all! Am cheering you on and will be looking forward to your updates. :-D


Friday, 23 October 2009

Why I hate the UK . . .

... Okay, I don't hate my country but, as with anything that you love with a passion, it has its downsides. It has lots of things that get right on your nerves and you start to realise that that's the reason you have a blog - to vent your demons to a lot of anonymous followers who'll probably skim over that post.

My target for today? My fellow Brits.

Not all of them. Just a handful.

Last night, Nick Griffin, head of the BNP (British National Party) appeared on BBC's Question Time.

I didn't watch it. I didn't watch it because I couldn't care less about the BNP or what Griffin has to say. That also goes for Labour, the Conservatives, the Lib Dems, the Green Party, and every other UK political party.

I don't support any political party because no politician has ever impressed me. I can find fault with them all and I can honestly say I've never stood and listened to one of them feeling a great sense of inspiration. They're all the same - they're all idiots with empty promises.

My problem with Nick Griffin's appearance on Question Time came from the reaction on Facebook and Twitter from people who were watching it.

First of all: Apparently Griffin barely had a chance to speak without being booed and yelled at. Well done, liberals. You can rest assured that any on-the-fence supporters of the BNP looked at that 'victim' Griffin with sympathy last night and are willing to attach themselves to his name.

Secondly: Lots of Facebook statuses with "Nick Griffin is such an idiot" "I hate the BNP" etc., etc., appeared last night and this morning. This makes me laugh. Whether we like it or not, there are always going to be people who are ignorant racist bastards in the world. The BNP aren't ashamed of the fact that they're white supremacist Nazis and I don't condone that for a second. It's disgusting.

But instead of bitching about it on Facebook, why don't you do something about it?

You're going to feel hate for the BNP for a couple of days, moan about it, then go back to your jobs and lives and forget about it until the next awful thing happens.

I've always been a keen environmentalist and, even in my financially crap situation right now, I still do what I can. I sign petitions, I give the little money I can to charity, and am always on the lookout for more ways to help.

Moaning never got us anywhere. Try signing a petition. Organise a debate. Go to a protest. Find out why there are people feeling this way and try to educate them about why it's wrong to react this way.

Third: People loved the fact that Nick Griffin was made to come face to face with a Muslim who asked him, "What are you going to do with me if you take over the country?"

But shouldn't we be doing that with all the politicians?

It's looking like the Tories are going to win the next election. Why don't we sit David Cameron down with a gay man? (Do you think the majority of the Conservatives favour gay marriage/lifestyles?)

How about sitting Gordon Brown down and asking him why the Labour Party are doing such a bum job of keeping up with the Kyoto Protocol?

Or why don't we ask Nick Clegg, head of the Lib Dems, whether he has any sense of reality before he opens his mouth?

People also seem to forget that this year, the BNP were voted in for two seats at the European Elections. Nick Griffin is head of a fascist party. But it's our people who showed their support for him this year.

It's a sad day when something like that happens. But we can't blame the party for the result. It's the voters who chose them.

Why does Britain want this? A few people said it could have been because of the recession - Lots of people lost their jobs and complained that they'd been replaced by "foreigners who work for a cheaper price."

What is happening to our multicultural country? Since when was there a "Whites Only" sign on the Union Jack?

I realise that even now I'm complaining about the BNP and their supporters (it's hard not to) and that wasn't my intention for this post.

My point was that the BNP are never actually going to win the General Election. There're currently not enough supporters by a long shot.

But instead of focusing our aggression on a party who aren't going to win, why don't we turn our attention to one who will?

As usual it'll be the Tories vs. Labour with the Lib Dems holding third place. These are not perfect parties. Let's challenge them. We need them to make their party one we can believe in; one that'll inspire our county and bring acceptance and understanding to everyone.

It's almost as though we're too scared to ask them. Stop faffing about Nick Griffin - he's not worth your words. We need changes in our major political parties and soon. These are the people who will be running our country.


Thursday, 22 October 2009

The Wolfman (2010) trailer #2

Yup. I think this is an even better trailer. The film looks really ready now. And amazing! Love Benicio. Love Anthony (he's from my hometown, dontcha know? ;-) ). Love the look of it. I can't even complain about the special effects - for once, they look pretty awesome. (Watch in fullscreen for the full effect.)  

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

My Top 5 Scariest Films for Halloween

So Halloween's coming up and I'm actually going to be at someone's birthday party rather than at home watching scary films and stuffing my face with sweets meant for the trick-or-treaters.

The theme of the party is 'dead celebrities' and, while I haven't decided who I'll go as yet (any ideas?), I thought I'd get myself more in the Halloween-y mood and list the top five films that scared me the most. :)

5) The Exoricst (1973)

I can't imagine anyone would discredit me for having this on the list. Regardless of what my generation and younger think of the "old-fashioned" special effects in this film (GTFO!), this is a scary film. Unlike other ignorant souls, I can appreciate a film for what it is and how it was regarded when it was released.

People were having fits and throwing up at screenings of this thing. How can you not find it scary?

I mean, a girl is possessed. Need I say more?

But this is on my personal scare list because this is one of the films that stayed with me after I watched it and that's what makes it frightening. Whenever I went to bed I couldn't shake the image of Regan MacNeil on her bed. That possessed voice haunted me and still does. She's a scary MoFo.

4) Candyman (1992)

So ... how many people avoided looking in the mirror after this one? I sure did. This film makes number 4 because I still can't stand in the bathroom, brushing my teeth in the mirror, without trembling slightly. When a film affects you like that, you know it's done its job.

Not only is Tony Todd the most frightening man in cinema but that rusty hook and the choir-sung theme music makes every moment of this film that much scarier than most. Todd's baritone voice is made even deeper in this and I will never be able to get that haunting "Heee-leeeennn" call in the carpark out of my head.

I do have to say, though, that the last time I watched this I saw it from a completely different angle. The love story that's underneath it is terribly romantic and, kind of like the way I was with vampires (before the unspoken rule was broken), I can't help but swoon now.

3) Salem's Lot (1979)

What do you know? I managed to find a picture of the scene that made me switch this film off. That's right. Regardless of the fact that I've read the book by Stephen King, a 14-year-old me sat down with her father to watch this and I had to ask that it be turned off.

I haven't returned to it since and have no intentions to. I couldn't watch it through the first time, I can't imagine managing it a second time.

Look at that image. Just look at it.

That is a little boy who was buried that day (because he's dead). Now it's the middle of the night and he's floating around outside (yeah, he's floating in the air!) the window while scratching on the glass!

Like Candyman with the mirrors, this film affected me to the extent that I still find it really difficult to look out a bedroom window in the middle of the night. Would you want to see that?

2) An American Werewolf in London (1981)

As much as I love vampires, werewolves have always scared me. I mean, really scared me. Vampires are too prim and proper and have much too much vanity to be that scary. Werewolves on the other hand? If one catches sight of you, there ain't no way you're escaping.

There's something so frightening about a creature that wipes away every trace of human thinking and just becomes a beast.

I think films have affected me a lot more than I should have let them. I've already mentioned about Candyman and Salem's Lot. The mythical creature that is the werewolf affects me to the extent that I really don't like going outside when there's a full moon. And I mean, really don't like it. I don't want to take the chance that ... you know. (Yes, I know, I'm an idiot.)

If this film taught me anything it was that both villagers and city folk can be hunted by a werewolf. No-one is safe. The scariest scene is that poor guy on the tube. He's underground, on his own in the middle of the night, and hears a growl. Next thing you know he's running through those endless tunnels trying to find a way up. Really scary stuff.

If I could have one wish it's that Hollywood drops its plans to remake this. There's no need. The groundbreaking transformation scene is still amazing to this day - you can't do anything to make the special effects seem all the more awesome.

But, yeah. Number 2. Werewolves frighten me and this really is a horror masterpiece.

1) The Blair Witch Project (1999)

Yeah, yeah, judge all you want to but this is the one film that has consistently scared the s*** out of me the most.

The feeling of actually 'being there' is probably what did the trick. I do feel like I'm in a tent with those kids. I can hear something outside the tent and don't want to know what it is. Weird stuff is happening when I wake up. And the end scene? *shudders*

I have this film on DVD and here's my confession: the only way I'm able to watch it is with the director/producer's commentary on. They take you through the film, telling you, "Oh, that was my pile of stones ... That was my stick man ... That was me shaking the tent ... Haha! He has tights over his head when she says, 'What the hell is that?' " I'm safe in the knowledge that the filmmakers are playing pranks on the actors rather than some scary witch person in the middle of the woods following kids my age.

But when I watch it without the commentary, I get sucked into the woods with the characters and end up screaming at the slightest creak my house will make.

The scariest thing about this film is that it's all in your mind. You don't see a guy in a hockey/scream mask wielding a knife around. You see practically nothing. And that's what's terrifying - the power of your imagination.

That's my Top 5 Scariest Films. Tell me if you agree or disagree. And give me your own Top 5. :)  

Monday, 19 October 2009

Tried & Failed: Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak

Title: Doctor Zhivago

Author: Boris Pasternak

Year: 1958

Rating: Unfinished/Unrated

Plot: "Doctor Zhivago is the epic novel of Russia in the throes of revolution and one of the greatest love stories ever told. Yuri Zhivago, physician and poet, wrestles with the new order and confronts the changes cruel experience has made inhim and the anguish of being torn between the love of two women."

My Thoughts: I really wanted to love this book. I really, really did. And, to be honest, I didn't hate it. I just found it really hard going.

I think one of the main reasons I wanted to enjoy this book (major name dropping about to happen) is that my boyfriend is Boris Pasternak's great-nephew. One of the first things my boyfriend would tell me about, when we first met, was the stories his Pra-Babushka (Boris's sister) used to tell him and his sisters as children. From what I gathered, a handful of the family moved in secret from Russia to Britain during the war as Jewish refugees. It sounded fascinating and I wanted to learn more about my man's family history.

So I turned to the famous Boris himself.

There's nothing wrong with Doctor Zhivago. In fact, I can understand why this is thought of as a great novel: it's fabulously well-written (though my boyfriend tells me the untranslated version is much better), says a lot about Russian politics and also speaks in great detail about the human condition and a lot of famous philosophers (that, incidentally, Pasternak hung around with). On top of that, I began to uncover this great love story I'd been waiting for.

So why couldn't I get through it?

Well, I managed to read about a third of it before realising that I wasn't having fun. This novel took a lot of effort and strength out of me because, for a majority of the time, I didn't understand much about what was going on. I don't know the first thing about Russian history. I know that it's a Communist country (is it still a communist country?) but that's about it. I don't know anything about any revolutions that happened over there, any dictarships, nothing.

And I've never taken a philosophy class in my life so every philosophical theory that's referred to in passing went straight over my head.

These are subjects that I'm very ignorant about though I am willing to learn. For the last year I've had A History of Russia on my wishlist (that's more to do with my vow to learn more about countries I was never taught about in school though) and I think Zhivago's going to have to wait until I've read that instead.

Otherwise I'm going to find myself getting premature wrinkles from scrunching my face up so much at all the references I don't get.

I don't blame Pasternak at all for alluding to the history of his country - I mean, the book was written in Russian, for the people of Russia. It's just our fault that we're not taught enough about the wider world. I hope that one day I'll be able to pick this book back up and read it through properly and get captivated by the story. For now, it's going back on my TBR until I can get a proper history lesson.

From what I read, it's really well-written and the characters seem to be well-developed and interesting. If you have a pinch of knowledge about Russia's history, give it a go. Otherwise you might find yourself in my shoes and struggle.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

It's a funny ol' world

The weirdest thing happened to me over the last hour which has proven how much we rely on information from the internet these days.

Let me explain:

About an hour ago, I was browsing YouTube and noticed that one of the people I'm subscribed to (a Satanist) had a new video up. It was literally a 3 second video of a close-up of himself saying, "I'm f***ing bored" and nothing else. As I was also bored, I started messaging him and over a couple of pm's we came to the conclusion that through mutual boredom, the logical thing to do would be to get married. (If you're not following our dry sense of humour, that was a joke.)

I Tweeted and updated my Facebook status saying, "Think I just got engaged to a Satanist."

And, low and behold, within half an hour, I have messages congratulating me, and my (real-life) boyfriend has had messages sent to him. Even my little brother knocked on my bedroom door with a very puzzled expression on his face.

I think what I'm trying to say here is that it's absolutely amazing that people will believe anything that's written on the internet, right?

My boyfriend and I laughed about it on MSN. The main reason being that he's a very outspoken atheist (which we thought all of our friends knew!). If we were getting engaged, why would I write that my fiancé is a Satanist? He came up with the reasoning that a lot of people can't seem to differ between the two anyway. :P

But, like I said, it's a funny ol' world. If something's written on Facebook and Twitter, it must be true. (But it was a joke, silly noobs. :P)  

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Review: The Cement Garden by Ian McEwan

Title: The Cement Garden

Author: Ian McEwan

Year: 1978

Rating: 3/5

Plot: After the death of their parents, four children try to come to terms with their grief and relationships with each other.

Review: I've been on an Ian McEwan hiatus since I read his collection of short stories, In Between the Sheets, earlier this year. In Between the Sheets was released in the same year as The Cement Garden and, I later found out, released to coincide with McEwan's debut novel as a double publicity feat. It was rushed and not up to his usual standard of work in my eyes. I was disappointed and distanced myself from a former favourite author for succumbing to publisher's demands rather than write for himself.

I picked up The Cement Garden (gathering dust on my TBR pile for nearly a year) a few weeks ago and decided to take a chance on McEwan's writing once again. Luckily, this time, I wasn't disappointed.

Jack is our teenage protagonist, living with his two sisters, Julie and Sue, and his younger brother, Tom, after the death of their father. Unable to cope with an unmentioned illness and the loss of her husband, their mother takes to her bed for a couple of weeks before passing away too. The children realise that without parents, they will likely be taken into care so, to avoid being split up, they hide their mother's death from the world by taking her to the basement and covering her with cement.

The story then continues with each child trying to cope with their own grief and responsibilities in an adult world. As Sue begins to lose herself in her books more and more, little Tom starts to experiment with transvestism while also resorting to acting like a toddler in front his mother-ish older sisters. Meanwhile, teenagers Julie and Jack enter into an incestuous relationship.

Having read some of McEwan's later work (Atonement, On Chesil Beach) and some of his earlier (First Love, Last Rites, In Between the Sheets) it's fair to say that as time went on, he improved with his writing and found his niche. As a young author, it's clear from his work that McEwan's full of ideas that he needs to get down on page as quickly as possible. More to the point he seems fearless and not afraid to shock.

In his debut novel, McEwan tackles the subjects of death, incest, and transvestism. I imagine that in 1978 these topics were even more taboo than over 30 years later. What's interesting about McEwan's approach is that he doesn't tiptoe around these things. Jack and Julie's attraction to each other is never hidden and they are not wary or careful about what they might do. To them it is one of the most natural things in the world and, following the death of their parents, they are thrown together even more for comfort.

This is a disturbing novel, I'm not going to lie. I've been surprised at how intolerant some of the book blogging community are towards certain books - they'll quote a passage and deem it 'disgusting and dark' while I'll sit back and think, "You haven't lived! I've read way more disturbing things that that!" A lot of people will think this book is weird and strange and kooky while touching on things that can make a lot of people feel uncomfortable. I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that McEwan almost seems unsure of himself at times.

Reading the novels he's written in his later years, you can see that he's taken a hold of his talent and knows how to use it. A young McEwan struggles at times with his first novel; It feels like he doesn't know how to display his talents properly and use them to their full extent yet. Nevertheless it's a fascinating read. The children don't seem relatable a lot of the time and act in strange ways but that could be McEwan's ways of showing us that these children really are alone, have no structure, don't know how to deal with their emotions and loss, and live in an isolated world that they create for themselves.

I'd recommend reading this if you don't mind unusual atmospheres and situations and aren't instantly offended by taboo subjects. While this wasn't one of my favourites of McEwan's, I still enjoyed it and thought it was a good debut from him. I'm glad I've gotten over my hiatus, will definitely be carrying on with more of his books in the future, and look forward to observing him grow as a writer through his work.  

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Review: Dorian Gray (2009)

Title: Dorian Gray

Rated: 15
Release Date: 9th September, 2009
Country: UK

Director: Oliver Parker
Starring: Ben Barnes, Colin Firth, Ben Chaplin, Rachel Hurd-Wood, Rebecca Hall, Emilia Fox

Rating: 3.5/5

Plot: A naive young man arrives in London and is quickly taken under the wing of Lord Henry Wotten and artist Basil Hallward. Inspired by Dorian's youth and beauty, Basil paints a grand portrait of his friend which is praised by all who lay eyes on it. Meanwhile, as Wotten encourages his young protégé to grasp life firmly with both hands and take advantage of every passion that comes his way, Dorian begins to notice that his wild activities are having no affect on his own body but on the picture in question. As the years go by, he begins to realise that while his outward beauty is everlasting, the ugliness of the portrait grows inside him.

Review: Rather than write up a very long and comprehensive review, I'm going to highlight what I liked and what I didn't like about this film.

What I liked about the film -

1) The casting of Dorian. Dorian needs to be someone that has 'obvious' good looks and youthful exuberance. I don't know much about Ben Barnes (as I've never seen the Narnia films) but I couldn't have imagined anyone else in the role. He has a beautiful face, great acting chops, and a good ability to carry the film.

2) The casting of Henry. Colin Firth shows that he isn't just the 'Mr. Darcy' man. Henry Wotten was always my favourite character in the book because he really didn't care what he said. Firth was brilliant. He gives the film its charm (without being charming).

3) The music. The main theme music to this film is spooky and haunting while giving you that great turn-of-the-century atmosphere. Brilliant. Probably my favourite thing about the film.

What I didn't like about the film -

1) The ending. They changed the ending in a more-than-obvious attempt to make it more 'movie dramatic'. I enjoyed the film up until this point. The ending to the film made me sick with its gratuitous attempts at making Dorian seem like a 'good guy' (whereas anyone who has read the book will know that while he remains forever young, he gets uglier and uglier on the inside - duhhhh, that's why it's a 'curse').

2) The addition of a character - Emily Wotten. So Henry has a daughter ... and she becomes Dorian's new love interest. Call me crazy but I'm pretty sure this is a made up character. I don't remember any Emily Wotten in the novel. And there are two reasons why this character doesn't work - 1) The character is unbelievably '21st century' compared to everyone else. I love Rebecca Hall but she struts around London with Dorian as though she's taken a time machine to the turn of the century. She's not believable as a Victorian young woman and that's probably because the writers threw her in amongst characters that had already been created. 2) The whole Dorian/Emily romance completely takes away the significance and tragedy of the Dorian/Sibyl Vane story.

3) The sets. They might as well have filmed this on a stage in the West End. Incredibly wooden and unbelievable sets which is very distracting when you want to believe that this is Victorian England.

4) The lack of subtlety. The beauty of Oscar Wilde's novel is his ability to write a sentence that could have five possible meanings. Homoerotic undertones and subtlety about Dorian's wild activities are not left to the imagination in this film. In fact, nothing is left to the imagination. And I mean nothing - even the relationship between Basil and Dorian. I've studied this book in university - the great thing about it is that you could sit there for hours in class having in depth discussions about the relationship between Dorian, Basil, and Henry. What does it mean? It is really a sexual thing? Are they just being protective and providing a guardianship to the young orphan? There's nothing in this film to provoke any thoughts - It's boldly put in front of you, and you have no choice but to go with it.

5) That line. Why oh why did they have to include one of the most overused lines in cinema?

Emily: What's your secret?
Dorian: If I told you, I'd have to kill you.

I could almost hear the eye rolling of every person sitting in that cinema. That line is not funny, nor is it effective. End of story.

Conclusion -
Overall, I did kind of enjoy the film. In fact, I very much enjoyed the first half. It was when Emily Wotten showed up and the whole second half changed that I had a problem. The lack of subtlety is something I could have dealt with because this is a film, not a piece of literature, but Emily Wotten's presence ruined everything for me. Poor Sibyl (and Rachel Hurd-Wood) - that storyline is completely overlooked and underplayed because of the new character. The film had really great potential and will probably be enjoyed by those who haven't read the book. Unfortunately, I found it disappointing and could only watch it again if I knew I wanted to switch my brain off and not take it too seriously.

The 3.5/5 goes to the first half of the film for having its good moments. The second half is best left unrrated. :P

Favourite Moment: Dorian's mother/daughter seduction within minutes of each another. I couldn't help but giggle.  

Monday, 12 October 2009

My Secret Friend

I've been feeling pretty uninspired as far as blogging goes lately. I read a ton of books last month and felt superproud of that. Only 13 more books to go and I'll hit my 50 books challenge. Unfortunately it's nearly half way through October and I'm still faffing about with the same book - Wicked by Gregory Maguire. :P

In the meantime, I can enjoy a new music video by one of my all-time favourite bands. (There's only four.)

IAMX has teamed up with Imogen Heap and the music video is incredible. It's directed by Chris (IAMX himself) and his and Imogen's appearances are somewhat ... hmmm? Surprising ... and AWESOME!

Drag to the max!

Take a look . . . (Fullscreen)


Sunday, 11 October 2009

Happy National Coming Out Day

Today is National Coming Out Day. Tomorrow (October 12th) the UK celebrate it. But today it's celebrated in the rest of the world.

I'm proud to be a bisexual woman but not so proud of the fact that I live in a world that still refuses to give gay people equal rights.

Homosexuality and bisexuality is as natural as heterosexuality . Why should two men or two women not be allowed to marry? It is not a dangerous environment. Open your eyes.

Here in the UK, two people of the same sex are allowed to enter into a 'civil partnership' which gives the individuals pretty much the same legal rights as those in a marriage. This is great. It's fabulous. People can celebrate their love.

But if they have the same rights and responsibilities as a hetero couple, why not call it a marriage? Why can't it just be a wedding and a marriage and be called exactly the same thing?

Same-sex adoption is currently legal in these countries:

- Andorra
- Belgium
- Canada
- Denmark
- Iceland
- the Netherlands
- Norway
- Sweden
- South Africa
- Spain
- the UK
- Uruguay

Only 14 states in the USA support it. And one territory and state in Australia (ACT & WA).

In Germany, Finland, Greenland, Israel, and the Australian state of Tasmania, "stepchild-adoption" is permitted, so that the partner in a civil union can adopt the natural (or sometimes even adopted) child of his or her partner.

I hope that 2010 sees a better awareness of the importance of gay rights. It is not a disease. It is not a sin.


And it is now Purple ...

Just messing around with colours now. All the HTML training my Mum gave me a few years ago is coming back to me.

What do you think of this colour? Less intense ... Opinions? :)  

'Tis Pink

Aye. If you hadn't already noticed (how could you miss it? The neon looks like what the gangs of girls in Cardiff dress up in when they go out on a cheap imitation '80s night), I changed my blog design. I was sick of flowers and butterflies - they don't reflect my personality.

Neither does the colour pink but I love the background, and it's the closest thing I could find to being what I wanted. It's only temporary until I find that *perfect* layout but it'll do for now.

The colour is no reflection on the name of this blog. As I've explained before, the phrase "not in the pink" comes from a Queen song titled "I'm Going Slightly Mad." Listen to that song and you'll get the general idea of what I was trying to do. It's just a coincidence that the colour and the name clash. :P

I'd really like it if you could leave me a comment about how it looks on your computer. I want to know if things seem a bit squinty, not-aligned, you can't see columns because they're all over the place, etc. At the moment, my only problem is that my header and blog description (at the top) aren't perfectly aligned at the centre, and I want the header to be slightly bigger (Any HTML whizkids who can help me out with that?). Everything else looks fine on my computer - there are three columns, they seem to be matching in width or near enough.

But what does it look like to you, dear readers? Feedback would be much appreciated. And I'll send you each a muffin for every comment you leave.

It's 4.15am here. I was supposed to have an early night - The parents are back from holiday tomorrow and I'm supposed to be getting up early to clean the house. Instead, after changing my template, I lost all my blog widgets and spent a few hours fixing them. Now I'm still up and watching Jeremy Kyle on YouTube. Bugger.

It's going to be a long Sunday. :-S  

Friday, 9 October 2009

Review: The Hollow by Jessica Verday

Title: The Hollow

Author: Jessica Verday

Year: 2009

Rating: 4/5

Plot: When Abbey's best friend, Kristen, vanishes at the bridge near Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, everyone in the town assumes that she is dead. Everyone, that is, except Abbey.

Struggling to come to terms with Kristen's disappearance and desperately seeking some answers, Abbey finds herself drawn more and more to the mysterious - and drop-dead gorgeous - Caspian, who keeps reappearing in her life. But Caspian has secrets of his own, and when Abbey uncovers the frightening truth about him, she starts to question not only their emerging love but also her own sanity . . .

Review: When Abbey's best friend, Kristen, disappears and is assumed dead, Abbey feels as though she has no-one left to talk to. Refusing to believe that Kristen is really gone, ... (click here for more)  

random & pointless post

Bugger me. I can't remember the last time I left it a week before I blogged again. Think my addiction to the internet's getting ridiculous. But it's been a good couple of days away from it. No pressure to post anything of importance. Then I opened Google Reader this morning to find 729 unread posts (and that's just from book blogs) - I'm trying to catch up with everyone's blogs but if I miss out one or two of your posts, understand that I'm not a miracle worker. ;-)

So, what's new? Has everyone had a good week?

The parents left for their anniversary holiday last weekend and it's been up to me and baby brother to look after the house. So far, he's done the best job. I've nearly burned the house down . . . twice!

Was cooking Gypsy toast on Tuesday (think you guys call it eggy bread/French toast) and spilled some butter onto the electric hob. Poof! Up comes a flame. I managed to blow it out ... which was a stupid thing given that fire thrives on oxygen.

And this morning I'm getting dressed and the shopping arrives (my parents have it delivered). Baby bro and I dash downstairs to collect it and put it away. Twenty minutes later I realise I've left my hair straighteners switched on ... lying on my bed! Finally managed to get rid of the burning smell but it's safe to say I should never be given any responsibility from now on. How did I manage to live on my own for four years?

I've been having one of those weeks where your head's just at random places. I've been thinking about my new year's resolutions for next year; have decided I'm getting my tattoo darkened (red's just not my colour anymore); and that I really really don't know what I want to do with my life.

That last bit sounds really heavy, doesn't it? But after reading The Hollow by Jessica Verday recently (review up soon), I realised how lucky some people are - The protagonist, Abbey, knows exactly what she wants to do with her life. She wants to open a perfume shop in Sleepy Hollow and design unique scents for every customer (it's a little more in depth than that but you get the general idea). Some people are so lucky that they know exactly what they want to do.

My little brother's the same. He's always wanted to write - has always been a natural, talented writer - and made his mind up a long time ago that he'd get into teaching to financially support his dream.

I have zero clue what I want to do. Not really. I've been through the whole list of career options:

- Vet (Doesn't every 7-year-old want to look after animals?)
- Pop star (Fabulous dreams of a 13-year-old that couldn't sing)
- Actress (Let's stick to that as a hobby)
- R.A.F. pilot (Doesn't work now because I don't believe in war. What stopped me at the time was having Asthma, flat feet, awful hearing, and short-sightedness.)
- Blurbologist (*snores* I need something a little more exciting.)
- Midwife (I think that dream lasted for a whole four days until I realised I suck at science)
- Film Reviewer
- Book Reviewer
- Author (Despite what the boyfriend says, I am not a good fiction writer. Descriptions are plentiful in my writing but stories never appear.)
- Journalist (Long, boring reasons for kicking that option in the teeth.)
- Teacher (Ah ha ha. That's a no. I hate children - Couldn't teach them. And university lecturers are too middle class for my liking.)

Anyway, you get the point. :P

I have no idea who I am and what I want to do . That's why I want to go travelling. I think travelling might help me in my 'road to discovery' and make me decide what I really want to go for in life. As much as I dream about reviewing films and books for a living, I don't know if I could actually go through with it. So many are made for money and say nothing important about the state of the world.


Enough of that heaviness. I took a two hour break between the last bit and now so I'm feeling a little perkier.

Last week I joined the 100 Mile Fitness Challenge. This is being hosted by Trish from Trish's Reading Nook. She also hosts the Classics Reading Challenge. As I'm failing that challenge, hopefully this exercise challenge will be one of hers I'll be able to complete. :P

The rules are that you walk or run 100 miles between the beginning of October and the end of December. This is something I need to do. I know how much chocolate I'll end up guzzling by Christmas time so it won't hurt to start getting some exercise now. I'm so unfit - unbelievably unfit, in fact. If I hit 50 miles by the end of the year, I'll be proud. Any more than that will be a bonus.

I can't remember why I started this post now or what the point to it was. :P

Anyway, more reviews and random stuff to come when I can get a moment's peace from my phone's constant ringing. For the last two weeks I've had three seperate scammer companies phoning me and leaving weird messages. I'm thinking of changing my number. Has anyone ever had to deal with this on their mobile before? What did you do?

(Edit: Oh, and if you haven't already done so, vote in my poll ;-) )  

Friday, 2 October 2009

Review: (500) Days of Summer (2009)

Title: (500) Days of Summer

Rated: 12A
Release Date: 2nd September, 2009
Country: USA

Director: Marc Webb
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Zooey Deschanel

Rating: 5/5

Plot: Heartbroken Tom Hansen (Levitt) reflects back on the last year and a half spent together with the love of his life, Summer Finn (Deschanel), a girl who refuses to believe that love exists.

Review: Having watched Levitt and Deschanel team up together for the powerful indie flick, Manic, a few years ago, I was eager to see them reunited in a film that critics haven't been able to stop praising since it hit the Sundance Film Festival at the beginning of the year. Needless to say, I wasn't disappointed.

Perhaps the best thing about (500) Days of Summer is that it never promises to be bigger than it is. This is a simple tale about a boy who falls in love with a girl, and the complications that arise from that relationship. Hollywood has its legendary love stories - This is not one of them.

Over the course of 500 days, we explore the friendly meet-and-greet between Tom and Summer, the flirtations, the first kiss, and so on and so forth. But, as the viewer is warned from the very beginning, this is not a love story.

It's hard to describe what gives (500) Days of Summer that edge. What makes it different to other films that expore relationships? It's not filled to the brim with modern day wit; It doesn't contain a handful of classically over-the-top 'uh oh' comedy scenarios; It doesn't give you a toothache from unrealistic sweetness. Instead, what makes (500) Days of Summer different is its realism.

It realistically portrays a one-sided love affair and never overplays those touching moments (usually prolonged in Hollywood films for sentimental value). Tom and Summer aren't perfect characters, and that's what makes them so endearing.

Over the summer, critics have shown that they can't get enough of Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Since his turn as Tommy in 3rd Rock from the Sun, the 28-year-old has shyed away from the media, choosing to work on his craft rather than stardom, in indie flicks such as Stop-Loss, Brick, and Mysterious Skin. With the surprising success of Days of Summer filmgoers and critics alike are amazed at how much talent Gordon-Levitt is showing since his days as a child actor. And I'll join them on that.

As Tom, Gordon-Levitt shows that he is not a former child star - He's a natural talent. He's clearly grown into a man who cares about his work, looking to film as pieces of art (rather than money, like a lot of young film stars these days). Having caught up on the other indie films Gordon-Levitt has been dabbling in in between 3rd Rock and Days of Summer, I was reminded of a young Pacino, Hoffman, or DeNiro - an actor who has strived to prove himself as an actor, not a celebrity.

It is Gordon-Levitt's natural charm that makes Days of Summer's Tom so appealing and, though the character isn't the most complex, it gives audiences a taster of more great things to come from the young actor. Tom's clear giddiness when he first meets Summer, and the horrible pain he goes through as things begin to take a downward turn are the kind of emotions so brilliantly portrayed that we can't help wanting to celebrate with him at first and then take him in our arms and tell him it's all going to be okay.

Zooey Deschanel's slight quirkiness and old-star elegance brings Summmer the depth she might have otherwise lacked and, together, the couple's chemistry combines to make a wonderful onscreen pairing.

(500) Days of Summer isn't a huge film. It won't overwhelm you and blow your mind with special effects. But it will make you laugh, cry, and think about those you hold close to you.

While it was The Time Traveler's Wife that was predicted to be the big hit romance film of the year, it is in fact this small-budget picture that has garnered a better response. And that's because (500) Days of Summer is everything The Time Traveler's Wife promised to be and wasn't.

(500) Days of Summer covers every aspect of a relationship from start to finish in its own understated, simple and sweet way. Nothing is missing.

I'd recommend just about everyone to go and see this. This isn't a chick flick. It isn't a love story. So guys, you make sure you go see it too. It'll be worth it. I promise.

Favourite Moment: The dance sequence after Tom and Summer's first night together.  

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Please Help . . .

As some of you may have already heard, Tuesday saw a horrific tsunami wash upon the islands of Samoa, American Samoa, and Tonga.

The prime minister of Samoa said 110 people were dead on his islands and the devastation "was complete".

Officials said planes carrying aid supplies were arriving on Samoa and nearby American Samoa.

They said tens of thousands of people need help in villages swamped by waves triggered by Tuesday's huge earthquake. The United Nations said it was sending an emergency team to Samoa. Some villages have been completely washed away. Several hundred people are still missing after being swept out to sea.

As some of you might know, recently I've been reading a lot about and studying the history and cultures of the Pacific Islanders. I am absolutely devastated to hear of this tragedy and I do think that's it our job to not just sit back and watch this happen.

The world's falling apart and, while we can't do a lot to stop these natural disasters, we can get together to help those who need us.

The people of Samoa and Tonga have had their community washed away in a matter of 10 minutes and it's our job to help restore their faith. I don't know about you but, as with the Thai tsunami a few years ago, I feel so hopeless sitting here in my home on the other side of the world.

I've set up a Relief fund online and am trying to encourage people to donate a little something to go towards the islanders. Every bit makes a difference.

Today, in the Daily Telegraph, an article was published telling the story of one family currently mourning the loss of 21 members, including a year-old baby girl, after this disaster.

It's families like this we need to help. Hundreds are homeless. Please do the right thing.

You can donate and help on my relief page here:

Thank you so much. It really means a lot.

See pictures of the disaster here.