The Clasp by Sloane Crosley These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly Sofia Khan is Not Obliged by Ayisha Malik

Best of 2012: Film

Sunday, December 30, 2012

This is a lot easier to do than the music list. It hasn't been an amazing year for film but it has definitely been better than 2011. I think I might even get an Odeon points card this year. Anyway, in no particular order, here are the films that have entertained me the most this year. 

Film

Margin Call
21 Jump Street
We Bought A Zoo
The Hunger Games
Avengers Assemble
The Amazing Spider-Man
Brave
Looper
Ruby Sparks
Skyfall
Silver Linings Playbook
Celeste and Jesse Forever
The Dark Knight Rises


Now, had they decided to release Les Miserables this side of Christmas in the UK, I would have probably been waxing lyrical about it. However, for some reason we don't get it until next year (anybody who knows why, please enlighten me. Is it to do with the Academy voting date change?) so no doubt it will end up on the list twelve months from now.  

Score/Soundtrack

I do love a good film score or soundtrack and this year's composers and music supervisors have not disappointed. I have listened to some scores belonging to films that I have not even seen or didn't like (yes, Prometheus I am looking at you). Stand out's were as follows:

Ruby Sparks by Nick Urata- I briefly touched on this in my review of the film but the score was so jaunty but sweet and nostalgic at the same time. 



Prometheus by Marc Streitenfeld- An epic score for a not so epic film. The opening scene with the gorgeous cinematography and the accompanying tremulous strings and horn fanfare (every film set in space needs a fanfare, no?) is simply breathtaking. Then the rest of the film happens and...well, I was not impressed. However, this score will probably remain one of my favourites. 


The Hunger Games- Songs from District 12 and Beyond by Various- I wasn't that keen on James Newton Howard's score. It didn't add or take away from the film. Although, shouldn't Katniss have a memorable theme? Even I remember Bella and Edward's little piano riff from the first Twilight. Anyway, that's all beside the point. There was an accompanying soundtrack featuring songs by artists ranging from The Civil Wars to Kid Cudi. I believe it was produced by T Bone Burnett.



Brave by Patrick Doyle- Brilliant film, brilliant score. So lively and fun. It came out just after the Olympics, so we were all in Team GB spirit still, so it was good to hear those Celtic themes. 



Celeste and Jesse Forever Soundtrack- Sunny Levine/ Zach Cowie- Just a really well thought out soundtrack. They didn't throw together all the latest hits and litter the film with well-known tunes. Instead, it sounds masterfully curated and that's just how I like my film soundtracks. 


Finally, an honourable mention for The Dark Knight Rises score. As I was going to sleep the night after watching the film, all I heard was the chanting theme. Thank you Hans Zimmer. 

Best of 2012: Music

Every year, like everybody else, I try and make a 'Best Of' list. However, it seems to be getting harder every year. I'm not sure what this means...nevertheless here is a selection of my favourite bits and bobs in music this year.



Albums


As with last year, I didn’t listen to too many albums- despite using Spotify a lot more than usual. However, of the ones I did listen to, these were the best:

Given To The Wild- The Maccabees
Devotion- Jessie Ware
Django Django- Django Django
Is Your Love Big Enough?- Lianne La Havas
Red- Taylor Swift
Girl On Fire- Alicia Keys
Fantasea- Azealia Banks


Songs

In no particular order, a sampling of my favourite songs of the year because there were just too many (apologies if you do not have Spotify). This will probably be the last year I do these lists because it has become too hard. We have so much music at our fingertips these days, which makes it difficult to keep track.



Live Acts


I haven’t seen many live acts this year, so the following win by default:

Dizzee Rascal, Katy B and The Wanted at the Olympic Torch concert the night before the Opening Ceremony.
Groove Armada, Kelis, Crazy P and Rita Ora at Lovebox.
Watch The Throne Tour

Holiday Road Trip- Day Four

Saturday, December 29, 2012






Best in YA Films/Television


Well, obviously the number one would have to be Gossip Girl. Just the other day, we said a final goodbye to our favourite Upper East Siders. Gossip Girl has been so much a part of my life, so needless to say I sat through the finale with a lump in my throat -especially that part where they all ran up- or maybe down- the steps of The Met to It’s Time by Imagine Dragons. In fact, here’s the song so we can all have a little weep:




Anyway, back to the task at hand, other YA films/television of note this year have been:

Switched at Birth- whilst I was on holiday, the new season was due to start so we watched the marathon. Now, we don’t have this show in the UK but I really hope E4- or somebody similar- buys it because it is a little gem. I usually have the TV on in the background whilst reading/writing or whatever but I had to actually watch Switched at Birth due to the sign language subtitles and it really made a difference.

The Amazing Spider-Man- this was so full of teenage angst and humour. Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone really added a new spark to the Spider-Man franchise.

Hart of Dixie- ok, so technically Rachel Bilson's latest vehicle is not really about teens but the main characters are young enough to qualify and they often interact with teenagers. Plus, it is on The CW. I don’t think there has been  such a fun, small town show like this since Gilmore Girls- please, correct me if I’m wrong. Burt Reynolds *in my best Lavon voice*! 


Best Music to Write To/ Be Inspired By


Difficult question, as it depends on what I am writing. However, these have been on constant rotation throughout the year.

All of the Lights & Runaway- Kanye West  




Smoke & Mirrors- Gotye




Help I’m Alive- Metric 



Holiday Road Trip- Day Three

Friday, December 28, 2012





Best “I Want To Go There” Setting in a Book


The Fault In Our Stars- Amsterdam. I actually managed to achieve this one last weekend. It's a lovely city and everything was very Christmassy so that made the trip extra special. However, we didn't manage to go to the Anne Frank House! Never mind, it is only 40 minutes away by plane (I know! I was surprised too) so I'm sure we will go again in the summer. 


Amsterdam 22/12/2012
Other notable mentions:

The Disenchantments- Road trip from San Francisco to Seattle
In Honor- Austin to LA road trip with a stop at the vortex place. I just loved this book.


Favourite YA Characters


Jordan Woods- Catching Jordan- A no nonsense, football playing  tour de force. Someone you definitely would want to be friends with.

Alex Patrick- The Mockingbirds Novels- Still upholding justice at her shady private school.

Colby, Meg and Alexa- The Disenchantments- Just too cool. Didn’t really like Bev though. 

Holiday Road Trip- Day One and Day Two

Thursday, December 27, 2012



Best Book Of The Year/Book I Can’t Get Out Of My Mind:



This Is Not A Test by Courtney Summers- 
I just had a quick scan through my Goodreads ‘read’ bookshelf and found that I have been quite stingy with my stars this year. Only three books have five stars and they are not YA. Therefore, the best YA book of the year for me goes to the most memorable- most haunting, in fact. This book was a disturbing rollercoaster ride. It wasn’t terribly scary in terms of the story- the zombies were just background scenery- it was just extrememly raw and unsettling. I remember feeling cold whilst reading it because the writing was so atmospheric. This book made me feel similar to one of my only five star novels of the year- Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. Both had destructive but misunderstood female protagonists- although Amy was a different kind of destructive to Sloan. Courtney Summers is definitely one of my favourite contemporary YA writers. All of her books have stayed with me and I have even re-read them, which is not something I do very often. I look forward to her next offering.





Most Unexpectedly Delightful Book Of The Year



The Catastrophic History of You and Me by Jess Rothenberg- It reminded me a little of Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin but I preferred the main character in this book. I liked the tone too- very...zingy, for want of a better word.

In Honor by Jessi Kirby- I can't even remember how I found this book but I'm glad that I did. 

Flat-Out Love- Jessica Park- This is a good one for those who enjoy older YA/ New Adult fiction. I liked that it was set in college and the characters were well thought out. Plus, one character was named Celeste, which is one of my favourite names. 


Best “New To Me” YA Author



This year, I got my hands on Catching Jordan and Stealing Parker. I love the world she has created. The characters are very real in terms of the way they talk and what they think. I like that faith plays a part in her work but she doesn’t preach at the reader- it is part of, rather than extra to, the framework. Finally, I do enjoy most kinds of sports so I appreciate that her characters are competitive and don’t mind getting their hands dirty- it’s not all about make-up and ‘will they, won’t they’.


Best Sequel


The Rivals by Daisy Whitney- I love a good old 'justice prevails' novel. Throw in a private school and some snooty posh kids and I'm in YA heaven. This sequel didn't disappoint. 

Best Debut



The Probability of Miracles by Wendy Wunder- If we're comparing novels with cancer fighting young protaganists then...*whispers* I preferred this to The Fault In Our Stars. I just liked the tone of this novel. Oh, and it was set partly in my favourite place in the world- Disney World. 

Girls In White Dresses- Jennifer Close- Technically, this isn't a YA but it could be classed as a New Adult novel. Like the show 'Girls', I wasn't completely sold to begin with but this book has stayed with me throughout the year. 

Best Guilty Pleasure Book


The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants by Ann Brashares- I had seen the films but never read the book, so this year I read the first and last in the series. Quite fun with a good message. 

NaNoWriMo Summary

Sunday, December 2, 2012

So, I managed to write over 50,000 words for this year's National Novel Writing Month. It was, as ever, an interesting challenge. The version that is currently sitting in Scrivener is by no means complete and the story isn't that good either (although how can we honestly judge our own work?). Overall, I am pleased that I won but I don't think I'll do it next year. Instead, I'll concentrate on one project over the next year or however long it takes.

Anyway, here's a summary of my NaNoWriMo journey:


  • 50,434 words and I actually managed to write an ending this time and come up with a title, which is rare. Very rare.
  • I did not change the main character's first name (or last) for the first time ever.
  • However, I did change the little character picture on Scrivener. Everyone else stayed the same. 
  • 4x episodes of The Good Wife, Arrow, and Hart of Dixie missed. 
  • I did not manage to finish my Coursera course because the novel took over.
  • I found my characters had more of their own minds this year compared to last year. 
  • I didn't care so much about accuracy in terms of the vibe of certain places and sticking to specific time frames compared to last year and other writing projects.
  • Much more disciplined this year- pretty much wrote everyday from 6-8pm. 
  • Halfway through, I sent everything I had written to my Nook and I must say there's nothing quite like seeing what you've written look like a proper e-book. Even if it doesn't sound like one...
  • An ever evolving playlist to provide a suitable soundtrack for the novel. Thank you Spotify and Last.fm. 
Ha! Let's hope when I re-read what I have so far, it makes more sense than what I have written here. But, I am tired and a little fed up of writing. So, happy holidays to one and all- enjoy the final month of what has been a brilliant year (at least over here anyway)! 

NANOWRIMO 2013- HELP!

Thursday, October 25, 2012


So, November will be with us in one week, which means National Novel Writing Month. And Movember if you're a male (or a very dedicated and unselfconscious female). Last year, I won Nanowrimo for the first time after trying since around 2006. I basked in smugness for months, and I mean MONTHS, afterwards. So much so I couldn't wait for this year's challenge. I thought I was slick, I had an idea stewing away during the summer and made vague plans in my head. However, when it came to writing it down for my outline, I realised I didn't love the idea anymore. I got stuck. So, I tried to make the best of it and merged parts of that plot with some rejected plots from years gone by. But, it's just not working. It feels like a fail already. I'm not passionate about the story. As a result, I have no outline- just a page of rambling. HELP!

I am suffering from severe writer's block. So much so, I can't even write coherently on this here blog of mine. Ridiculous. Also, this year is the most busy November I've had and I'm just not sure I have the time to baby a plot. 

I need some inspiration. Should I try and force this story or work to come up with another?

Ruby Sparks and Celeste + Jesse Forever

Sunday, October 21, 2012

This week, I have managed to squeeze in two trips to the cinema. First of all, I watched Ruby Sparks, which I was pleasantly surprised to find showing at my local Odeon. Usually, for these types of films I would have to go to London.


Ruby Sparks is about Calvin who is suffering from a bit of writer's block. His therapist provides him with an activity to help alleviate the problem (along with many of his others) and as a result he ends up bringing to life his dream girl. 

I really enjoyed this film. It was the right length, had enough humour to keep me entertained, and most importantly had a strong supporting cast (Elliot Gould, Annette Bening, Chris Messina) . I think Paul Dano did a great job because on paper his character is not the most likeable (especially towards the end of the film) however he still managed to make Calvin seem human. Zoe Kazan out manic pixie girl'd all those who had gone before her (at least in the last couple of years anyway). 

However, one of my favourite things about this film was the score. The opening chords that accompanied the first scene reminded me of 500 Days of Summer (a score that I loved- wasn't so keen on the film) and then this motif returned each time Calvin sat down at his typewriter (an image that became more and more sinister). It reminded me a little of Philip Glass' Symphony No.4. 

Anyway, I really liked this film and I will be purchasing the soundtrack once I find it. 





I was lucky enough to see this yesterday at the BFI London Film Festival. I'd been hearing about this film throughout the summer and I'm a big fan of Rashida Jones, so I was looking forward to watching this. I was definitely not disappointed- I loved it! 

Celeste and Jesse are best friends. Who are married. But are separated. Much to the bemusement of their friends. However, the balance is eventually tipped as a few more people are added to their friendquation and the two have to confront their issues despite the pain. 

This film was bittersweet- something that is quite difficult to achieve. It was obvious that there was a lot of truth to the story (and this was backed up by the director, Lee Toland Krieger, in a Q&A at the end), which will always make a more authentic end product. Celeste was a very human character, especially after watching Ruby the day before, and we were shown a lot of her 'flaws' yet she still demanded sympathy from her audience. This was mostly due to the supporting cast and the relationships she had with them (Emma Roberts was good in her small role; Chris Messina popped up again too) - obviously, mostly with Jesse. Andy Samberg could've played Jesse as the man/child character that seems to be in every film these days, however he portrayed a character who would probably resound with more than a few thirty-somethings who are in the creative sector during this bad economy. 

Once again, music was very important to this film too. The songs fit the mood of the film perfectly. They weren't trying to force the latest indie artist down your throat and most importantly, the music wasn't too loud! So often nowadays the songs are so overwhelmingly loud! 

Overall, I really enjoyed Celeste + Jesse Forever and I hope it does very well at the box office over here when it comes out. 

Clear Eyes, Full Hearts

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Not every song that makes me nostalgic is from my childhood. For example:


First Breath After A Coma- Explosions In The Sky




I think this is one of my favourite pieces of music in the world. During my first year of university, I finally listened to my friend and bought the first season box set of Friday Night Lights. I was hooked after the first episode, shocked at the rawness that radiated from this little show that hardly anyone (over here anyway) was talking about. I couldn't understand why it wasn't on British television. One of the strenghts of the show was definitely the music, particulalry the theme tune (which used to be my alarm clock tone but I had to delete it after the series finale because it hurt to much to hear it). This piece of music by Explosions in the Sky describes perfectly how I felt watching Friday Night Lights.

Devil Town by Tony Lucca


Similar feelings towards this song. I can't really say anything else except if you've never seen Friday Night Lights- go and buy the first season!

Also, here's an article on the music of Friday Night Lights.

And I Know That It's True, I Can Tell By The Look In Your Eyes

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Continuing with my little music project, today I am remembering three tunes that I associate with childhood summers in Essex.

Lady (Hear Me Tonight) by Modjo



This laid back track just oozes summer vibes and reminds me of when it was actually hot during the summer months- as opposed to this Indian summer thing that's going on these days.

Another Chance by Roger Sanchez



I don't actually know if this was released during the summer (feel free to correct me) but it reminds me again of lazy days. More than anything, I remember the video. I was quite young when I saw it but it made me sad. Then it was played on Top of the Pops and I remember my uncle telling me about Roger Sanchez and then the story of house music.

Groovejet- If This Ain't Love- Spiller


 

 This song will always, always, always remind me of the first season of Big Brother. That summer- the year 2000, the new millennium- was brilliant. I was only 11 but completely enthralled by Big Brother- it was groundbreaking television.

A Midsummer's Nightmare by Kody Keplinger

If I had read this book during the summer, I probably would have been raving about it for days. However, as the cold is starting to settle in and I am missing the Florida sun, I was not really in the mood for a summer novel (although the clue was in the title- I should have known better!). 

Whitley is a wild child intent on enjoying her summer break in between graduating from high school and starting college. Better still, Whitley is looking forward to doing all of this with her dad who is like her long lost BFF. Just before embarking on her summer stay with dad, Whitley ends up getting very drunk and has (what she believes to be) a one night stand. Her dad picks her up and suddenly the bombshells begin to drop, the main one being that he is remarrying and, oh yes, her fancyman is also her step-brother-to-be. Over the course of the summer, Whitley deals with cyber bullying, a physically present but emotionally absent father, a persistent almost step-mother, a too-cute little sister and a kind of brother she just can't get out of her head. 

I think the main thing I wasn't so sure about was the premise. I mean, I know we've been there and done the step-sibling love thing on Clueless but it just felt a little more creepy here- particularly as Whitley seemed to care for her new family (as far as I can remember, we never met Josh's side of the family in Clueless). I must say, I preferred The DUFF. Bianca was such a different and fresh voice whereas Whitley felt more like a regular YA good girl turned bad turned good again. 

I was going to discuss the name choices- particularly Whitley- but then I thought better of it. To each their own. Live and let live. I love the site Nameberry and there are some far more interesting name combinations on there than Whitley. Some people would probably hate the names I have chosen for my various projects. 

Anyway, overall I think A Midsummer's Nightmare would have made for a great summer read but ended up as just an average Autumn one. 



A little Midsummer music: 

Music Makes The People Come Together Yeah

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Every time I visit The Guardian website I see a link to the Six Songs of Me Project. So, this evening I decided to check it out and ended up completing the survey. The results are here: Six Songs of Me.
Most days little bits of songs re-enter my head associated with a memory of some sort- many more than six- so for the next month or so, I will share some of these tracks. 

Firstly, since I quoted Madonna in the title it would be rude not to start with Her Madge.



Looking at the release date of this song, I was probably about 9 when it came out. It must have been on one of those compilation CDs that most kids get and I just associate it with fun times. It will always be one of my favourite Madonna tracks. I loved Frozen as a kid too. I distinctly remember seeing the video and being enthralled and I'm sure I cut the lyrics out from either Smash Hits magazine or Top of the Pops. In hindsight, I probably enjoyed it because it sounds a bit like a Eurovision song.



I Need A Dollar...And This Coat

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Once again, I have become obsessed with a coat and I still haven't even purchased my winter coat yet.

So, without further ado I present to you Exhibit A:


Mila Kunis in a fabulous tweed, cocoon/funnel neck coat (Fashionistas help me out- I don't quite know the correct terminology). I don't even know the brand (if anyone can help, I'd be grateful) but it looks so cosy! 

I had a little search and found a couple similar coats. 


On the left, we have Won Hundred Factory Cocoon Coat from Urban Outfitters.
Top right is a little more mature from Phase Eight.
Finally, bottom right is from Topshop. The colours on this one wouldn't suit me but it's nice for the right person. 

Hopefully, by the end of next week I will have purchased my own winter coat because I cannot keep wearing my old Whistles number.




The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick

Monday, October 8, 2012

I walked into Waterstones the other day and noticed The Silver Linings Playbook on promotion. I  had been hearing (and reading) good things about the film adaptation ever since TIFF, so I decided to give it a go and WOW. I think it is my favourite read of this year. 

The story is told from the point of view of Pat who has just been released from 'the bad place' and is desperate for 'apart time' to be over between him and his wife. Over the course of the novel we journey with Pat as he comes to term with some home truths about his wife, his friends and family, and Hank Baskett. Amidst all of this, Pat befriends Tiffany, who was also in her own version of 'the bad place'. 

Now, don't get me wrong, it's not terribly profound or life-changing. It's not 'literary'. However, the genuineness of all the characters was so overwhelmingly palpable that I was charmed. The book was definitely alive- for me, at least. The story was simple, which is always the case in these kinds of novel, but there was a pureness that shone through as the characters confronted their personal demons and the mistakes they had made in the past. There was an innocence cocooned inside what is quite a dark subject. Also, Pat's voice made a nice change from the wise-cracking, cynical, man-about-town types that are so frequent these days. 

I am now more excited than before to see the film. Even though I had watched the trailer prior to reading the book, it didn't stop me from picturing the characters. For Pat, I heard (rather than saw) Zachary Quinto's voice and for Tiffany I pictured Olivia Wilde. However, I like the pairing of Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper and I think Robert DeNiro is going to be a perfect version of Pat Sr. I also can't wait for all of the football scenes. I've been tempted to look up the Eagles chant but might just hold out for the film. There's a lot of awards buzz surrounding this film already and if it ends up anything like the book then I can already say it is throughly deserving of any accolade bestowed upon it. 

So, I urge you to go out and buy your copy of The Silver Linings Playbook and get reading before the film! 




Wanty Wanty

Sunday, October 7, 2012

This week, lots of different things have been catching my eye around the web and it made me think of my mum and grandma saying (in their Jamaican accents) 'wanty, wanty, can't get it, getty getty nuh want it'. So, without further ado, here is this week's most coveted item:

Emma Stone's Gorgeous Coat



I'm looking for my winter coat at the moment and I would love one similar to Emma Stone's Maje number (sidebar: does anyone know how you actually pronounce Maje?). It's stylish but functional and she looks very chic in it. Then again, she looks chic most of the time. In fact, I could add her whole wardrobe to my want list. However, at $775, this is way out of my price range.

So, here are two I've found that don't quite measure up to the Maje but are more in my price range:




Whistles Floretta Funnel Neck Coat- £225.00






Everyone's A Winner Baby

Sunday, September 30, 2012


It has been a week since the Emmys and the fashion buzz has fizzled out, so I can finally look at everything without bias. Overall, I don't think anybody was awfully dressed. Most looks were very good. Very few (if any) were head turners but then again I think that was expected. However, this is the nice thing about the Emmys: We see these stars in our homes everyday (compared to say, The Oscars where to be honest most of us haven't seen half of the Best Picture nominees- even us so called film addicts), and then they turn up on a red carpet in their designer gowns looking all 'aw shucks, it's just me in this little old thing', therefore the Emmys is more of an accessible red carpet.

Anyway, here were a few of my favourites from the event:



Leslie Mann in Naeem Khan was my favourite look of the night. I would love to wear this dress, as it is simple but a little bit quirky (with the intricate beading) but not too outlandish. She looks comfortable and happy, which is always a bonus. Also, the turquoise jewellery is an unexpected treat. 

Similarly, Padma Lakshmi's Monique Lhuillier dress was simple but effective. The colour looked gorgeous against her skin tone. I'm not a fan of the fishtail dress but I did like it on Padma. Finally, Jessica Lange just looked cool in her sunglasses and J.Mendel gown. 





Mindy Kaling (St. John) and Allison Williams (Oscar de la Renta) both rocked emerald green. They proved the colour is flattering on all skin tones. Also, I LOVE Allison Williams' neon pink Oscar de la Renta dress from the pre-Emmys party. It's youthful but sophisticated and I want one similar to it. 




A pregnant Claire Danes shone in yellow Lanvin and Kerry Washington shimmered in Vivienne Westwood. Both leading ladies were radiant on the carpet. 



Finally, these young leading ladies stepped up to the plate in stylish but age appropriate outfits. Kiernan Shipka of Mad Men looked all kinds of classy in Zac Posen and Ariel Winter looked adorable in Katharine Kidd. 


Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

I'm not much of a Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants kind of girl. I think I missed the boat. I saw the films and liked them well enough but never read the books until this year I decided to try them. So, I purchased the first one for Kindle and wasn't particularly overwhelmed. However, had I read it when I was sixteen, I would have probably raved about it. I liken the Sisterhood to the Jessica Darling novels. I know some of my friends read Jessica Darling later in life and didn't really see what the fuss was about, however I started reading them when I was about seventeen so ended up being around about the same age as Jess as I read them all. Therefore, they are synonymous with my little bit of growing up. But I digress, this is a Sisterhood review. 

I decided to skip all of the middle books and catch up with the girls on their last (or should I say latest?) outing. Lena is teaching and seems a little bit of a Debbie Downer; Bee is dreadlocked free spirit who still likes to sleep outside; Carmen is a minor celebrity; and Tibby is...in Australia. The friends still keep in contact but the bond is not as strong as life, and everything that comes along with it, proves too distracting. However, they are reunited through Tibby and her wishes for all of them. 

I have to say, I found the first half of this instalment very difficult to get through. Nothing was happening even though something 'big' does happen. The girls all seemed very monotonous and stuck in their boxes. However, I soon started paying closer attention to the quotations that preface every chapter and before I knew it, things started to pick up. The introduction of characters such as Effie, Kostos, train guy and Brian really helped to bring the girls out of themselves and their world started to become a little more three dimensional. By the end of the novel, I was fully invested in all of the characters and was even able to overlook the slightly too cute wrapping up of the story. I think my main issue with this Sisterhood novel is that the girls didn't seem like twenty-somethings, especially compared to the voices of Jennifer Close's 'Girls In White Dresses', which I have recently read. Then again, perhaps this is to do with target audience. Is it for adult readers or young adults? Or is it 'new adult'? This is more about whether or not an adult can realistically review a young adult novel, something I'd like to talk about another day once I get my thoughts in order. 

Anyway, I ended up quite liking Sisterhood Everlasting. 

Soundtrack Suggestion: 

My Hustle, So Russell

Friday, September 14, 2012


The job market in the UK right now is DIRE. Despite reports of unemployment falling it is still hard out there for a recent graduate. Yesterday, I did a stupid thing and roughly counted how many applications I had saved in my documents folder. It surpassed 100. And those were just the CV's and cover letters that I had tailored to specific jobs. I've sent far more standard CV's and completed countless online forms. 

Then to make matters worse, I was scrolling down my news feed and saw that a friend had posted about their unemployment. I commiserated silently and was about to continue scrolling when I noticed all the comments. These were not sympathetic comments like my silent one. No, these were job offers- and proper one's at that! Well, if I'd known you could get job offers just by posting on the internet, I would have done it sooner. Except, all of my friends on that site are actually my friends, and surely if they had jobs they would have offered them sooner? So, more than ever, it is about who you know and who you've connected with over time. I am going to have to take advice from Hov and make like Russell Simmons. Here are some pointers for my fellow unemployed grad's feeling a little down today:

First, equip the mind. It is evident that the Tech industry is the place to be these days, so I have started an online Computer Science course over at Coursera (and signed up for a Logic course, which is more for fun). Add new skills. The more you have to offer, the harder it is for them to dismiss you. 

Second step, broaden your circle. I'm wary of social media like Twitter and all that but it seems like more and more people are making their work connections on there. 

Third step, take heed of the wise words written by Emily Dickinson: "Not knowing when the dawn will come, I open every door". Keep pushing, knock on every door. In fact, burst through it and declare "I'm here!" like Juwanna Mann. Someone will take you under their wing, eventually. 

Finally, just keep on keeping on. It's hard but it's something that has been going on for time immemorial. Your time will come. Just make sure that when it does, you're ready. 



Why Mindy Is My Jess




Whilst I was away, I was able to take advantage of the brilliant service that is Hulu. I caught up with Community and also managed to watch two pilots. One of these was The Mindy Project. 

This time last year, almost to the date, I was browsing the internet and came across some sample chapters from Mindy Kaling's "Is Everybody Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)". First of all I was immediately gripped by the title because that is my motto. It goes through my neurotic little head on a regular basis. I then found myself laughing out loud- at my internship- as I read the samples. So, when I got home I pre-ordered the book (I hardly ever pre-order. I didn't even pre-order the new J.K Rowling. Who's going to sell out of that one? Nobody.) and Mindy and I have been besties ever since. 

So, I was excited-and a little nervous- to watch my imaginary BFF's new show. I loved it. Naturally. My initial thought after viewing was "there's finally someone on the television that I can relate to". I know, from reading Vulture, that Mindy doesn't really want it to be about race and I agree on some level. But when there are little people like me out there who are just so glad to see somebody their colour fronting a show that's not about cops or gangstas or the president (ok it's about doctors but I can work with that), you kind of have to touch on the issue. 

Mindy is not stereotypical- at least where ethnic stereotypes are concerned. No, Mindy is to me what Jess was to all of my friends last year. Except, The Mindy Project doesn't really remind me of New Girl so much as it reminds me of my old favourite Ugly Betty (taken from our screens far too soon. We love you Betty!). Despite being a half hour show like New Girl, The Mindy Project shares Ugly Betty's more grown up approach. I suppose you could say that an ethnic woman (Mindy, Betty, Olivia Pope) has to be shown going above and beyond to serve as an inspiration- whether they like it or not. I don't think an ethnic actress playing Jess' role would ever be received the way Zooey Deschanel has been. 

However, like Mindy, I don't really want it to be about race either. I just want to enjoy a good, hearty comedy with an abundance of pop culture references. But it is nice to finally be able to relate to an onscreen character, isn't it? 

Winter Is Coming...

I've only been home for four days but it is getting increasingly chillier by the hour. So, on that note, I bid farewell to summer by sharing a few of the tunes (new and old) that got stuck in my head whilst the sun dared to show it's face.

Call Me Maybe by Carly Rae Jepsen

Obviously I got swept up into the hype of this song but boy is it catchy. I hardly ever remember lyrics but for some reason I can recite most of this song.

Gangnam Style by Psy

I will always associate this song with our long trip to the Miami area.

Beamer by Mele feat. Kano

This reminds me of the beginning of the summer and the Euro's as we kept singing "Teach them how to Balotelli". 

Disparate Youth by Santigold

If I could be an artist, I'd definitely want to be like Santigold. Love this track. It's mellow but still has a summer vibe. 

Superstylin by Groove Armada




An oldie but a goody. I managed to hear this live again this year at Lovebox with sis.

I can't really post Youtube videos for all my summer tracks but I've created a Spotify playlist of the rest.


Summer Reading

Whilst on holiday, I managed to burn through five books (one of which I have already reviewed on here) so I thought it would be easier if I wrote mini reviews. 


How To Talk To A Widower by Jonathan Tropper 

After reading This Is Where I Leave You, I purchased this Jonathan Tropper novel. It was similar thematically (death, family, religion, love) but they still felt like two very different books so I was not disappointed. 

How To Talk To A Widower follows Doug who has become a widower and a step-dad before he has even hit thirty. Doug is trying to come to terms with losing the love of his life whilst: writing a column for a magazine on his stages of grief; trying to start dating again; and dealing with his family who all have their own paritcular forms of baggage. His closest confidante and champion is his twin sister and with her help Doug realises he has to start living again.

The characters were fun but full of humanity, which is a difficult thing to accomplish. Jonathan Tropper seems to be gifted when it comes to writing about life and death, as he manages to make it poignant and hearfelt without an abundance of tears and wallowing. 

Once again, it was so easy to picture the main characters (definitely Bryan Greenberg for Doug). I'm sure this will be turned into a film too- although I think it would be better as a mini series. Overall, I was very impressed with this book and would reccomend it to people who, like me, might fancy a break from the YA and don't necessarily want chick-lit but also aren't quite ready to delve into one of those bigger tomes (Cloud Atlas- I'm looking at you). 

Soundtrack Suggestion: Days Go By- Dirty Vegas


North Of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley 


Terra is a high achieving high schooler who happens to have a big birthmark on her face. After trying another round of laser treatment, she heads off to China and tries to come to terms with her life. 

I struggled with this one. I almost didn't bring it on holiday even though I was halfway through it. I really, really wanted to like it because the subject matter makes you feel like you should like it. However, I think I just didn't get the main character, Terra. It seemed like the birthmark was going to be the main story and the main issue but it wasn't. Instead, it just seemed to be about her "high status man candy". her "hot body", and her "army of skanks"- ok not really 100% true but I like to get a Mean Girls reference in whenever I can. 

Anyhoo, the story just didn't seem to be going anywhere for me. What was it supposed to be about? I read it, so I should know, right? But I don't. I think there were too many elements- art, birthmarks, high school, boyfriends, China, distant brothers, angry dad... I could go on. In addition, I didn't think the relationship between Terra and her fancyman was very believable. Also, I think if a book is going to focus on a year in the life of teenager X then teenager X needs to be very bloody interesting. A good example, in my opinion, is a book I read recently called Flat-Out Love by Jessica Park

However, I will say that Terra's mother's story was very compelling. In fact, her story would have made for a much more interesting novel, which is now making me wonder if Justina Chen Headley has written any adult books. I will have to take a look. 

All in all, it was not my favourite but that's ok. You can't like everything. 




Girls In White Dresses by Jennifer Close


I do enjoy these twentysomething coming of age dramedy novels. If I were a marketing exec at Amazon or whatever I would sell this in conjunction with the HBO's 'Girls' box set.

Girls In White Dresses follows three best friends (Isabella, Laura and Mary) as they navigate the rocky territory between graduating from college and "adulthood". Mostly, this involves moving to new cities, getting new jobs and of course, attending all of the weddings. 

First of all, I liked that this book had proper chapters. Chapters that weren't too long, had substance and were titled. I also liked that it spun out from the main characters into their peripheral friends every now and then without seeming too random. It must be difficult to control three characters and all the emotions and events they are going through but Jennifer Close always seemed in control and never out of her element. This was probably helped by her simple, reported style of writing which was refreshing. It kept the lenght in check too. I don't need to be bogged down by too much description. 

Girls In White Dresses definitely won't appeal to everybody, in fact it will probably only appeal to a small minority due to the subject matter but I liked it. There were lots of observations that rang true for me and that's what usually tips a book from just being ok into your well liked pile. 

Soundtrack Suggestion: All My Friends- LCD Soundsystem

Bond Girl by Erin Duffy

Like Girl In White Dresses, Bond Girl will not be everybody's cup of tea, especially as people seem to equate Wall Street/City workers with devil spawn right now (which is not really true but too big of an issue to go into here). However, I loved it. 

The blurb/the press/someone of Goodreads compared it to The Devil Wears Prada, and it was similar in the sense that we get a glimpse into a world that is generally still mysterious to the general public. However, the aims of the two novels are different I think and I preferred Alex to Andi. This is mainly because I know Alex's world more than Andi's. I could nod and simle knowingly at Alex's descriptions of the games, the pranks, the nicknames, the lingo. 

It was more of a thinly veiled memoir than a full on novel. There didn't seem to be much of a story, no themes to speak of, no great arcs resolved at the end (except for maybe the colleague storyline, which was handled well), yet that still didn't seem to matter as I raced through the pages. The supporting characters were all very good and you can tell they were 100% based on Erin Duffy's friends and colleagues. Chick was a great boss. 

Overall, I found this to be highly compelling. However, if you're looking for a beach read and you're not interested in government bonds then perhaps this is not for you. 

Soundtrack Suggestion: Opportunities- Pet Shop Boys
                                       Mo Money Mo Problems- The Notorious B.I.G

Growing Up Is Hard To Do (Especially With A Baby Face)

Friday, September 7, 2012


THE VENICE FILM FESTIVAL: SPRING BREAKERS


Those of us who trawl the gossip blogs on a daily basis will be well aware of this film as we were constantly bombarded with candids from the set of Spring Breakers. At first everyone was shocked to see the tween queens cavorting around in neon bikinis and then interest turned to bemusement as candids of a James Franco in some K-Fed 2.0 get up hit the interweb. The IMDBers and other film lovers were anxious and excited to see what Harmony Korine was creating. I haven’t seen anything from him before (to be honest, I’ve never heard of him) but I have to say I was-and still am- intrigued as well. The consensus from critics at the festival seems to be that it is not as controversial as the on set pictures would suggest but it is a decent enough film.

However, all of this background chatter is kind of irrelevant for the tween queen’s as they will be hoping this film is the bridge for them to crossover into more adult roles- the life raft out of teeny bopper land. This is what fascinates me the most. I want them all to do well. I have a soft spot for Selena Gomez because, like me, she unfortunately has a baby face (well unfortunately for now anyway. She will be grateful for it in twenty years time, I’m sure). As a result, people are often quick to forget that she is actually twenty years old (it also doesn’t help that she is constantly papped with The Biebs). Therefore, it’s about time she starts to shed her Disney persona and begins to branch out. The same goes for Vanessa Hudgens who I often, inexplicably, feel sorry for. I think she was done over by the whole Zac Efron thing and it’s high time she got her chance to shine again. 

But enough amateur gossip analysis, onto the style transformations that solidifies this whole Time To Grow Up campaign. 



Selena Gomez attended the photocall with a nod to Autumn's luxurious brocade trend in a decadent Dolce & Gabbana number. She then glammed up in Atelier Versace for the premiere. Both looks are mature without being too try-hard. 


However, my favourite has to be Vanessa Hudgens. Such a nice surprise, particularly as she won this year's Fug Madness over at Go Fug Yourself. The Blumarine dress she wore for the photocall is elegant and very Emma Stone. Her bob has grown out nicely too. Every time I see this wavy do, I'm tempted to head down to my hairdressers. Yet, it is the gorgeous Temperley London dress she wore to the premiere that is my absolute favourite. It is definitely one of the best dresses I have seen this week. Ah, good old Temperley London. 

But for now, good luck Selena, Vanessa and Ashley- may the odds be ever in your favour. Will you be watching Spring Breakers?