Friday, April 24, 2015

Feature a Movie (1)


Another new feature? Really, Romi?
I admit, I do seem to create new features with astonishing regularity, but I’ve got a lot of ideas, and possibly an equal amount of steam to present them with, so why not?
For a while, I’ve been wanting to start reviewing films, the occasional one, to try, so that’s what this is: each month, I’ll pick a film I watched and review it. It could’ve been the most memorable film, the strangest, the one that made me think or fear or- you guessed it- hope. You’ll just have to see.
And to start this feature off? I’ll be reviewing (links to IMDB) Pride.

Pride is a newly released film about the struggles of the miners in the UK when they were on strike (think Billy Elliot), and the LGBT group who decided to raise funds to support them, because they knew exactly what it was like to be standing for what you believed in.

I had… incredibly high hopes, for Pride, but I didn’t really know what I would get- a film about one party accepting the other, support, politics? I only knew it looked far too good to miss.

And oh. It is. It truly, truly is. Featuring a cast of actors who are perfect fits for the characters they are playing, this is a film that is real. And true. And so very genuine.  Was grinning with the spirit of it, letting out little laughs at the particularly amusing utterances of the characters, and I felt a real connection with the passion of L.G.S.M., the group formed to raise funds to support the miners.

So we have this big picture plot- a lesbian and gay group raise finds to help, encourage and stand by a Welsh community that is struggling from the effects of the strike, but then we’ve got the other stories- Bromley, his growing confidence as he became a part of this community that welcomed him and understood him in a way he must’ve known his family wouldn’t or couldn’t; Mark, the “leader” of the group and his dedication but also fear of the future; Jess, the first L. In the L.G.S.M., who I wish had got a bigger storyline for me to revel in.

This is a film of big things. Achievements, dance scenes, friendship, trust, self discovery, hope (of course), and I am so, so proud of it.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday (10) Favourite authors of ALL TIME.

I haven't been around for a Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by the Broke and the Bookish, for far too long. Let's break this miserable trend! And what better way than to celebrate people we love?

Alright, so I imagine it would be impossible, utterly impossible, for me to choose favourite authors 1-10 and say they, in that order, were my favourite, so after number one it's really just a mashed pile of LOVE.

1.
He the mighty, Gerald Durrell.
Gerald Durrell wrote my all time favourite book and he is, really, the definition of amazing, to me. His work is not only meaningful, collecting animals from around the world to ensure they don't go extinct by breeding them in his, now famous, zoo in Jersey, but filled with endless hilarity. Seriously. It is amazing how many laughs his books are full of.
Favourite book by author: My Family and Other Animals.

2.
Sarah J. Maas, she who writes with mastery.
Sarah J. Maas is one of my newest favourite authors, and her work is too stunning for me to really process and then put into words. She created the, basically, legendary Celaena Sardothian, a character of dark deeds and even darker, deeper depths, and I admire her (both of them, really) tremendously.
Favourite book by author: Heir of Fire/The Assassin's Blade. But really. Come on. ALL OF THEM.

3.
Diana Wynne Jones of the wonderment.
Diana Wynne Jones only came to me after I watched and loved Howls Moving Castle, but since the moment I first read that book, I was a changed reader. I appreciate the way she casts magic over her readers in such a way that makes us forget anything put the possibility of what lies on the page before her more than I can say.
Favourite book by author: Howls Moving Castle.

4.
Catherynne M. Valente who weilds the pen of beauty.
Her Fairyland series is home to me, like Hogwarts was to Harry, and to have a book that is that important... is phenomonal. She writes with beauty and humor and since the first sentence, I have loved all of it.
Favourite book by author: Fairyland #1 and #3.

5.
The lady of laughter, Bisco Hatori.
The creator of The Ouran High School Host Club, this is an artist we have before us. She creates characters who look exactly the way they would if I were to imagine them, characters who can be laughing and terribly amusing whilst alo having these depths of pain that you can't really even comprehend, not fully, and it's so very brilliant.
Favourite work by author: Ouran High School Host Club, particularly #17.

6.
Lemony Snicket, he of brilliance.
Lemony Snicket has been with me since childhood, but it's only been in recent years that I truly started to love his work. Horseradish is a book full of quotes for different occasions, and it is even better than it possibly sounds. He has created such a wide range of stories, and I love how they can be real even when they're ridiculous.
Favourite book by author: The End, Shouldn't You Be In School #3, Horseradish.

7.
Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell, the weilders of pen and brush.
These are a duo of writer/artist and they have worked on many of my favourite books, notably The Far Flung Adventures, The Edge Chronicles and Muddle Earth. They create worlds that are brimming with life, strange, fantastical, wonderful and slightly odd life. Scary. Unpredictable. Incredible.
Favourite book by duo: Muddle Earth, Far Flung Adventures.

8.
Neil Gaiman of... all of it.
Neil Gaiman, too, has created many books that have spoken to me on personal levels. Coraline, whilst scaring the socks off of me, was a book that I think I needed, really, at that moment; Stardust is a new fairytale and it's gorgeous and full of everything I want in fairytale, and The Sleeper and the Spindle. My gosh. Beauty inpersonated. In book form.
Favourite book by author: The Sleeper and the Spindle, Stardust.

9.
Douglas Adams of bizarity and creativity.
I don't believe I've ever read anything that has that certain bewildering assortment of creativity, oddness and wonderment that Douglas Adams wrote with, and not only am I in love with his Guide to the Galaxy, but he also wrote a conservation-game-changer of a book in Last Chance to See, and when a book impassions you, you don't forget it.
Favourite book by author: Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxt, Last Chance to See.

10.
Cornelia Funke of the places I dream of living.
Cornelia Funke writes the places I want to live. She writes places that are terrifying and full of equally terrifying things, and yet they also have magic and beauty and are just like any world should be. Good and bad and wonderful as they are awful, and they inspire me to imagine more deeply and strongly and bravely.

So that's my top ten! I'm glad I didn't miss this topic, and tell me: have you read any of these authors? Who is your... 5th favourite author?
x

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Learn things about me!

The lovely Glazia from Paper Wanderer, which is a seriously nice blog, nominated me for the Libester award; I'm not currently accepting awards here at the moment, but she asked some very interesting questions in the post, so I thought I'd have fun and answer them!
But before that, here are 11 facts about me! Woo. Everyone start to responsibly party!




1. I have seven pairs of converses. They are my collection, so it’s okay. I’m sure.

2. When I fall for something I fall hard and basically nothing can make me revoke that love.

3. I name my pets after fictional characters. Hugo my rabbit for Hugo Cabret. Kasta my puppy for Katsa (please let us all forget the fact I named her wrongly because I read, reviewed and squeed over Graceling’s protagonist, never realising I got her name wrong. Let’s just FORGET IT), Hester and Bob, my goldfish for… well one was a character from Miss Marple. Bob is just Bob. And I’ll have a cat called Serafina, for the gorgeous witch.

4. I grew up skiing and almost got lost in a snowstorm with two other 8 year olds. We didn’t navigate it well.

5. A ski lift stopped when I was going up an almost vertical slope once. I started sliding backwards (and note I was the only one with this dilemma, as no one else was on said lift) so jumped ship (lift?) and one of my ski’s came off and slid down the hill so I had to hobble-slide down to get it.

6. I used to be terrified of dogs. My scream was well renowned to mean a. I was unhappy, b. There was a dog, c. Or a leech was trying to consume my spirit. I told the dog thing to people at the animal shelter I once volunteered at and they thought it was hilarious, because I so often chose to walk the gargantuan dogs.

7. I love dogs and cats equal-pops.

8. But Snow Leopards and Lynxs are my favourite, no question. 

9. I have only been to three of the Australian states, including my own. Don't even ask about my international travel.

10. I didn’t always know I wanted to be a writer. Relatively, this is new.

11. I used to be a person who would pull everything off  pizza and only eat the cheese and sauce. Tell that to the anything-so-long-as-it’s-a-vegetable-stack-it-on-stack-it-on girl. My smaller self would be repulsed by the person I turned into. I have an intense dislike for pink now. I make my child self cry, sometimes. I mean, I have a dog for crying out loud- do I have no self restraint?

Now for Glazia's questions!

1. If you can assign a theme song to your favorite anti-hero, antagonist, or villain, what would the theme song be?
Well it’d have to be Dance Again from a Very Potter Musical. I mean, it was literally made for Voldy. I don’t know that he’s my favourite villain, but it was too perfect a fit to skip over.

2. What was the most recent book that made you laugh?
One of the Georgia Nicholson books- I read the whole series in January and though Georgia annoyed the socks off me, she was hilarious and I laughed a lot with those books. Though, more accurately, Angus, Libby and Gordy were the hilarious ones.

3. What types of books do you want to try reading more of?
Fantasy! It’s my favourite genre but I just haven’t read enough of it. Could I ever, is the question? Possibly not, is the answer. I’d also really like to read a mass more LGBT+ fiction, or even just stories that featured LGBT+ characters. It’s not too much to ask is it, oh world?

4. Who is your new favourite author?
Bisco Hatori, who writes the Ouran High School Host Club manga, and Laini Taylor. Both blow me away.

5. If you were trapped in an alternate fantastical universe, which book characters would you like to meet for help and/or fun?
September & co. from the Fairyland series and Celaena/Aelin from Throne of Glass. Also Lyra from His Dark Materials, and since it’s a part welcome Luna and Katsa! 

6. What is your preferred method of acquiring books – libraries, bookstores, friends?
Ooh… old bookstores. I love books that have been read and owned and have dozens more stories in them than the ones they actually tell. It’s somewhat magical. 

7. Why did you start blogging?
I wanted to share the stories of my writing, editing and querying process, though also sing the praises of all the books and authors I loved, which I ended up focusing on, blog-wise.

8. What book(s) are you reading next?
Wandering Son Volume 1. I’ve already read all the volumes published in English (Come June! Now! Please!), but am rereading the first volume because a. It’s incredible, and b. It’s for my bookclub.

9. If you like book adaptations, what is your favourite book adaptation? 
Howls Moving Castle! I love how all the different adaptions of that story- novel, film, manga- all tell unique stories, and the film… *sigh* I don’t know if I’ll love a film more than that, not ever.

10. What is your go-to hobby (besides reading)?
Running. I love to run. Also I really love collaging. Surprisingly, my puppy only likes the latter, because she can sleep through it.

11. Dragons or Fae?
DRAGONFAE! I love dragons and fae equally, probably. So dragonfae are perfect, thank you.

Romi.x

Friday, April 17, 2015

The One Hundred and One Dalmatians by Dodie Smith...


Title- The One Hundred and One Dalmatians (audiobook).
Author- Dodie Smith.
Publish date- 1956, 2006.
Publisher- BBC Physical Audio.


Review time...

(A Brief) Synopsis:
One Hundred and One Dalmatians is the story of a husband and wife dog and their journey across the British countryside to rescue their puppies that have been stolen away from them. They may return with more than eight or twelve or even fifteen puppies.


What I thought:
Dodie Smith, author of one of my most favourite books, I Capture the Castle, was someone whose work I wanted to explore much more widely, but interesting fact: it is rather difficult to find One Hundred and One Dalmatians, which you wouldn’t think. I eventually got a copy of the audio from my local library and it was rather shocking. I watched the Disney film a number of times growing up, mostly because my siblings liked it, I believe, and know it well enough to be struck by how very brutal the book is. It’s kind of like Treasure Island, which is very violent for a children’s book if my memory serves me right.

The dogs, Pongo and Mrs., get more of the story, and there’s another dog- Perdita, who has rather a sad backstory- and one of my favourite things was the way the dogs see themselves as the owners of their humans, who they chose, in just the way we so often think of “our” pets. Another thing I loved was the coming together and fantastic community that the dogs made as they all helped try to find the missing puppies. There was also a staffy, which had an Australian accent, I think, which was rather amusing as I’m partial to the breed and Australian myself.
And note this: if there was a fictionalised version of the blogging community, I think it could be the dogs in this book. They’re absolutely fantastic and completely heartwarming.

But the downside of this enjoyable adventure story? Cruella de Vil. She waa violent as anything! And quite stomach turning, all her talk of ways to remove the puppies skins and kill them. It felt, maybe, too real for comfort.

Rating: Neither Poor nor Ooh, Very Good, but somewhere generally inbetween.
Exciting! Heartwarming! Bizarre! Scary! Fairly great, really.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

A Feature of Pictures (and books!) No. 10.

Ready yourselves for two incredibly splendid, touching, possibly even perspective shattering (or shall we dim it and go life changing?) picture books.


Mr. Tiger Goes Wild- Peter Brown.
This is a book you want to have. If there is anyone in your life who you want to know that it’s okay to go and follow their dreams, then I firmly yell Give THEM This Book! And give it to yourself, too, because it is fantastic and important and freeing and divine.
Set in a place where animals live in a Victorian era style, all wearing clothes and frowning on rambunctiousness, Mr. Tiger feels the call of nature (in a “my senses, my senses” way) and decides to follow it. He throws off his top hat and breeches and vest, goes on four paws, and he becomes a new animal. The other animals, his friends, spurn him and though he cares for his old life, he cares more for being alive in a way that makes him feel good. It is, in a word, fantastic.

I picked Varmints up at my local library, on the search for a book for my niece. I generally let my cover judgement run wild when I'm in the picture book section- it's the time I truly can allow myself to judge a book by it's cover, as the art on the cover is the same on the inside and I read picture books for the pictures, more than anything else. And Varmints... it seemed dark and different and I liked the look of the little creature on the front. It seemed familiar, something my own mind would conjour up.
And this story... to try and stop myself from writing a review in endless ellipses I'll use run on sentences and no structure (do I ever?) and go all out.
Varmints tells a story that is short and drifting and felt like it came from somewhere inside of me, somewhere I recognised and felt a kinship to. It's a shifting story of happiness to darkness to hope, and I read the words to my niece and I connected with every. single. one. The words that were subtle and the words that were hard to read and the words that left you wondering and all of it. They all left me hopeful. And what more could a picture book- any book- do?

Monday, April 13, 2015

Adorkable (audiobook review) by Sara Manning...


Title- Adorkable (audio).
Author- Sara Manning.
Publish date- 2012.
Publisher- Whole Story Audiobooks.



Review time...

(A Brief) Synopsis:
It’s the story of a not all that lovely lady who meets and loathes a possibly not so lovely guy, who in turn despises her. So why do they keep snogging, I ask you? And I tell you I Do. Not. Know.

What I thought:
Adorkable was a fast listen for me. Generally it’s difficult for me to settle on an audiobook, because on matter how good the story, the narration- if not to my liking- throws the whole thing. Another thing with me and audiobooks is that I tend to listen to them when I have no (or very little) intention of trying to actually read the novel myself. They’re a last chance stand, kind of thing. And easier than reading, often enough. I do a lot of stuff that I can listen to an audiobook during but can’t read during. Though they have the habit of keeping me awake at night.
So Adorkable, had I picked it up in paper form, would have been given up on fairly quickly. Jeane isn’t likable or nice, Michael isn’t fantastic, and even the narration wasn’t, in my thoughts, that wonderful. When the female actress did the male voices it felt weird, same with the male voicing the females. And often they weren’t all that distinct, the secondary characters they’d voice. The characters sound droll and whiney and manipulative, slack and unkind. And they are.
But for some reason… I kept listening. I wasn’t even enjoying it that much. Then… I started to.

Adorkable is, basically, the story of a famous blogger who stands for those who are different, who wants her army of “dorks” to take over the world; then she meets Michael, the “perfect boy” whom she loathes just because of what she thinks he is, and he hates her, too, because she’s not “normal” (there are also many, many, many references to how ugly she is). So. Many. Labels. And the thing that really struck me was how judgmental and unforgiving and hypocritical  Jeane was- and Michael, too. She stood for people who were different, but as Michael points out that only applies if they suit her definition of different. She never once considered that everyone was different in their own way- she just loathed everyone who didn’t act like her- which isn’t much of an “individual” definition.
Michael however… he tried to talk to everyone. But in a parallel to Jeane, only the ones who seemed “normal”. It was so limiting, both their views.
And then together? The description of this book says how they can’t stop talking, but really they can’t stop kissing. All of the times. And they were so unhealthy for each other; it was never a nice union, not when they only wanted the other to fit their wishes, when they wanted the other to change so desperately and  never believed in the other. It wasn’t romantic so much as incredibly damaging- I’d recommend, with their attitudes and feelings, they get away from each other before they severely damage the other’s mental health.

But I did kind-of-quite enjoy the story. Even though it doesn’t sound like it. Or like I’d even recommend it! It was good, in plenty of sections, and interesting, and something quite fun to listen to. Just I never liked either of the protagonists.
Bonus point- it had a healthy, present view on sex! And I mean that Jeane had her wants and needs and she spoke to Michael about them and it was brilliant.

Spoilery- I can’t believe Jeane would ever make the decision she did towards the end. It felt so unreal and untrue for all her character had been. Giving up everything she lived and stood for, just to fit in?
- I didn’t really get why Jeane was so upset when she found out Michael had been following her on twitter and they’d interacted. I mean, it made sense that she could be upset, but she was wild in her fury and I just did not get that.

Rating: Hmm...
Now I don’t believe the characters were meant or good for each other, there was a huge judgement and hypocrisy, and they weren’t really nice, but it was an enjoyable book to listen to. Though I wouldn’t say I ever really believed Jeane was a “dork”.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

From me to you and back again -1-

-You want to know about my new feature? I am touched. This is where I talk about something. Something that comes to mind and sticks there and I want to describe so that it sticks in other peoples minds and makes them think, because that is what this is about. I want to be thinking. I want to be lit up and even alight. And I want you to leave this post with the memory of the thoughts it made you have. -

Reading.
What does it make you think? How do you describe what reading is to you- and please do, in comment form or by closing your eyes and coming up with a word or an answer or a reason. For me, reading isn't always the same: it's completely different from writing, with some books it is mostly a process of getting through it, but not with all. Not with my current read.
Some of you may have seen me commenting about my intense love for the Inkworld trilogy over the years- it was one of the first books I reviewed on this blog and that was almost five years ago, so I've had a long time to keep my love for the books growing. And when I read them? Well. I am rereading the first book now and it's just... such a enjoyable, memory-churning, fantastic process. I turn the pages and I feel the beauty and the magic of the story seep out and it is truly a joy to have the chance to be reading a book like this. It isn't perfect. But it's brilliant.

Reading can be so different- I have hundreds of books on my bookshelf and the process, apart from in the occasional series, has been different from each one. I have books that lagged but made me laugh, books that startled me into reading a new genre and kicked me in the thinking muscles, books that were so beautifully illustrated I could almost not handle it. Books that were terrifying and books that made me hold. my. breath.

And it's all books. And it's all words. And it's all reading.

How do you describe reading?

R.x