The Enduring Appeal of Freaks and Geeks.

There are many TV shows that were cancelled before their time. Some still have a strong cult following, like firefly whose fans still lay in hope that it will come back once again in any form. Others have largely been lost to the mists of time. 

Then, there’s Freaks and Geeks. The 1999 TV show, though short lived is very well loved by its fans. It was where Judd Apatow and Paul Feig first cut their teeth, in fact it was partially based on some of the experiences of Paul Feig during his time in high school. 

From the beginning it is made clear this is not your typical teen drama, following popular kids as they navigate the life of cheerleaders or American football players. This is about the outsiders, the titular freaks and geeks of the world the ones who don’t fit in, and for the most part don’t really care to. The feelings of outsiderness are felt by and identified with almost everyone at one point or another so it’s easy to find at least one character you identify with strongly.

The story follows two siblings, Sam (John Francis Daley)  and Lindsay Weir (Linda Cardillini) as they make their way through the pitfalls of high school, though their storylines tend to stay separate.

Lindsay is an intelligent, well mannered, well performing student and captain of the mathletes. After witnessing the death of her grandmother she begins to question the world around her and she’s not so sure she like what she sees. Lindsay begins hanging out with the ‘freaks’, the kids who mostly hang out, smoke pot and listen to Rush a lot.

james-franxThough the story for the most part is told through the eyes of middle class Lindsay, her co-horts are mostly from a working class background, and are often struggling with issues of poverty and unstable home lives. We first see a glimpse of this in the episode Kim Kelly is my Friend, when Kim (Busy Philipps) invites Lindsay to her house for dinner. Lindsay thinks this is an olive branch for Kim’s hostile behaviour up until now, but it turns out Kim needed someone as an alibi for her late night activities. It is clear that Lindsay was not prepared for the sight of a low income family when she is greeted with a sheet of plastic in place of a wall, fried chicken for dinner, a brother asleep on the couch in the middle of the day and a shouting match over the table.

In another episode we see that the school has given up on Daniel (James Franco), it is also revealed that he has to help in the care of his ailing father as well as trying to be an ordinary eighteen year old kid who wants to escape all the pressures that are put upon him by the adults that are around him. Not many teen dramas of the time would be willing to look at the issues why the ‘burnouts’ became that way, but Freaks and Geeks when there, it wanted to tell the stories of the downtrodden, the given up on and the forgotten about. It was about those society has shunned and would rather not be there.

freaksThis willingness to speak for the often unspoken for combines with it’s subtle and rather gentle humour from the characters. Ken (Seth Rogan) is a great source of humour with his sarcastic quips and total apathy for school and for life, and Nick (Jason Segel) who falls desperately, and a little naively falls in love with Lindsay. This subtle humour allows for other topics such as drugs to be discussed without it being preachy, glamourising or simply ridiculous, which we can see in the episode “Chokin’ and Tokin’” when Lindsay tries weed for the first time after becoming concerned for Nick when his habit starts taking over his life. It’s refreshing to see a portrayal of drugs that does not speak down to it’s audience, it does not sensationalise the level of addiction by showing Nick becoming homeless and destitute, instead it shows us how he just hangs out listening to music and giggles a lot. Though accurate I would not say that it was a positive view of drugs as Lindsay decides she doesn’t want to get high again, but only after trying it for herself and experiencing some of the negative side effects first hand.

mr-rossoAnother great source of humour is the brilliantly played school guidance councillor, Mr Rosso (Dave Gruber). An ageing hippy who likes to dole out life advice based on his own experience, much to the annoyance and disgust of the pupils. He perfectly portrays an adult trying desperately to relate to kids who are at least twenty years his junior, and failing miserably.

 


Sam, Lindsay’s young brother, meanwhile gets things a little easier, his storylines are more the comedy relief, though his is not without his own trials and tribulations. At the bottom of the social pile he is a confirmed geek, with his small frame, clothes picked out by his mother and his Star Wars notebook paper (remember, this is set in 1980, before geeks were cool). Sam has to battle bullies, both literally and figuratively, has to learn to navigate the baffling world of girls, learning to make friends, and trying to make it with the cool kids. sam-and-the-gangHe has to help one of his best friends, Neil (Samm Levine) come to terms with the fact his father is having an affair, and deal with his other best friend almost dying after a bully puts peanuts on the sandwich of Bill (Martin Starr) who has a peanut allergy. All the geeks are lovable in their own way and I just want to hug all of them whenever they’re on screen. You’re with them every step of the way as they learn about the world and becoming teenagers.

Set in 1980, it was ahead of the nostalgia wave that was still only a ripple at the time. Though it might be a little less overt than some of its successors like Stranger Things, which specifically references the films of the time, F&G manages to subtly evoke the time period to before we had the internet and mobile phones, and the only way to play music was on a record player, making us yearn for a simpler time when things weren’t so complicated. Part of the authenticity is the fact all the cast are age appropriate, where many teen films and dramas would use much older actors Freak and Geeks wanted to make it feel more real, and it does, with the young cast giving great performances that feel real. It even helped to launch the careers of some of today’s biggest stars like Seth Rogen, James Franco and Jason Segel.  

Freaks and Geeks only lasted eighteen episodes, but it managed to cover a whole host of different issues affecting teenagers, no matter the era or the social standing, but especially those that have been thrust to the sidelines by those that are deemed more desirable in society. Why has Freaks and Geeks lasted so well for a show that didn’t even make it to the end of its first season, because it’s a voice for the broken, the forgotten, the free thinkers. It manages to capture both the simplicity and the complexity of high school and growing up in a way that no other show has managed to do. It manages all at once to be hilarious and tragic, insightful and kinda dumb.  

 The final episode sees Lindsay blow off the academic summit she had been invited to (something that could have helped her get into an Ivy league school and with future employment) and instead jump in the van with her new hippy friends to follow the Grateful Dead. We’ll never know if she really did spend her summer following the Grateful Dead or if she made it to the summit, but we can all enjoy her adventures of trying to make her way through high school in one piece.

What the Hell is the Nintendo Switch?

You may or may not have seen that Nintendo dropped a trailer for their new console set for March 2017, the Nintendo Switch!

There have been credible rumours circulating for what feels like forever about what this console is but this is the first time Nintendo has officially confirmed it. Thankfully the trailer wasn’t just a teaser, it does answer a lot of questions but also raises some new ones. 

What We Know

True to all of the rumors, the Nintendo Switch is basically a halfway point between a handheld and a home console. It’s like the DS and the Wii rolled into one. You can seemingly play full versions of all the games on your tv or on the go with very little interruption. This means no more rushing to finish a mission before you leave the house. You can just take it with you as long as you’ve got a bag because this doesn’t look like it’ll fit in many pockets. 

There hasn’t been any official dimensions revealed by Nintendo at the time of writing but Ars Technica has been doing some snooping and have figured out some rough dimensions. It looks as though the screen with the two controller parts (or Joy-Cons) attached is about 10 inches x 4.2 inches. It’s similar in width to an iPad or Kindle Fire HD 10 on its side but a little bit thinner vertically. I’m not sure if I’d feel comfortable taking this out to play on the bus, maybe if I had two seats to myself. I was definitely expecting the handheld part to be closer to a 3DS XL but Nintendo have their reasons for these dimensions.

All of the processing power of the console is contained in the tablet portion. People have been assuming that the dock that connects to the TV may handle some of the processing power when the Switch is docked allowing for increased performance. However, the day after it was announced Nintendo spoke IGN and told them that “The main unit of the Nintendo Switch is the unit that has the LCD screen”. This is a little worrying to me but Nintendo hasn’t tried to be the most powerful console on the market since the N64, their signature visual style can go a long way on underpowered hardware. 

Nvidia announced that they will be partnering with Nintendo on the console and the Switch will contain a new custom version of their Tegra chip that they use in their Nvidia Shield tablets. While this hardware may not be as powerful as a PS4 it’s certainly leaps and bounds above any Nintendo handheld. 

Cartridges are back! We see a quick shot in the trailer of someone inserting a little SD card looking game into the tablet. A move away from discs is quite exciting. Solid state storage is much more reliable and loads quicker than most disc based methods. Larger sized SD cards are becoming more affordable so you can easily match the storage capacity of the Blu-ray Discs PS4 and Xbox use. 

What We Don’t Know

Does the 3DS have any place in this Nintendo Switch future? I hope Nintendo just goes all in with the Switch. I want all of their awesome portable games like Pokémon, Animal Crossing, Monster Hunter, Dragon Quest and many more all available in glorious HD and ready to play anywhere. Sadly I could also totally see them running the 3DS along side the Switch because they’ve never been afraid of a little brand confusion. 

Nintendo have recently confirmed that the Switch won’t be able to play any physical versions of Wii U or 3DS games so they haven’t ruled out some kind of backwards compatibility in a digital sense. Speaking of digital, I really hope they don’t expect us to buy all of their Virtual Console games again. I think I’ve hit my limit for how many times I’ll re-buy Super Mario 64, Xbox One is an shining example of backwards compatibility done right and I hope Nintendo have taken notice.  

It will be interesting to see what kind of price this comes in at. At the time of writing Nintendo’s competitors Microsoft and Sony are selling their consoles at £250.00 – £300.00 depending on hard drive size and model. I’d expect the Switch to be in a similar price range, Nvidia Shield tablets are around £200.00 by themselves so with the controllers and the Nintendo Seal of Approval that seems reasonable. 

Hopefully some of these questions will be answered in the not too distant future. Gone are the dark days of the Wii U and motion control, it’s finally an exciting time to be a Nintendo fan again. The Nintendo Switch seems like the right step for them in this current console climate. Instead of trying to compete with Microsoft and Sony on power they are offering something that neither of them can provide at the moment. One thing I know for sure is that I’ll be there day one. 

The Accidental Dictionary – Paul Anthony Jones (book review)

As a former English language student, I’ve developed a love for words and their origins. At university I decided to study both English language and literature and while I adored reading Austen and Shakespeare, I would look forward to my lectures on language where I would find out the history of English language and how it’s used today. 
I soon began to find that other than my language text books, there were limited books on language that were actually readable and enjoyable so when Paul Anthony Jones started releasing books, I became obsessed. 
I started off with The British Isles: A Trivia Gazetter, a reference book which gives the origins of the names of towns and cities all over Britain, of course I skipped to find all the places I’d ever been first but afterwards I sat down and read it properly. I loved it and I loved every book that followed so when I got the chance to get my hands on an ARC of The Accidental Dictionary, I jumped at the chance.
The Accidental Dictionary is list of words that once meant something completely different (‘alcohol’ once meant ‘eye shadow’ and ‘foyer’ once meant ‘green room’ and so on.)
Now as I say, I love words and I’m always on the hunt for a book that will educate me while entertain me at the same time and I have to say this is the perfect combination. The information in the book is accurate and interesting while it has a casual tone throughout meaning it doesn’t read like a school book. Small jokes are placed within the chapters and this helped the flow of the book; although the book is informative, it meant that I didn’t have to take it too seriously. I also like that the chapters aren’t long and too informative, they get the point across without becoming a bore. I was able to read two or three chapters (one chapter = one word origin) at a time and put the book down for a while, I never once dreaded picking it up again as it was an easy read and never felt like a chore to read so at night before I would fall asleep, I was sure to pick Jones’ book and read a little more. 
There’s not a lot that I can really say about a dictionary, it has words and it explains what they mean (or in this case what they used to mean) but I can say that if you like this sort of thing then it’s certainly worth picking up and reading, it’s a fun read which will teach you a lot while making you feel like a clever person who reads the dictionary. Like me, you’ll probably end up at work the next day explaining to people how the word ‘nice’ meant ‘ignorant’. 

A Parisian Affair – Guy de Maupassant (Book Review)

A while ago I decided I was going to try and read more classics, the thing I completely forgot? I hate reading classics. This isn’t to say that I hate classics, I actually rate Pride and Prejudice and Tess of D’Uberilles as two of my favourite books but generally I find it hard to read classics. As someone who generally reads a lot of young adult, it’s pretty hard making the move over to classics. The writing is different, the setting is different and on whole the books are hard to get into because although classics are generally set in a world that I’m familiar with, the way of living is completely different.cover-jpg-rendition-460-707

That said, I’m still trying and I thought I would ease myself into some classics, I bought a tonne of the Penguin Little Black Books in the hope that they would give me an insight to a lot of authors writing style then I could pick some that I enjoyed the most and continue with those. I also picked up A Parisian Affair… I thought short stories were the perfect way to get into classics (let’s just forget that I didn’t even finish James Joyce’s first short story in The Dubliners)

A Parisian Affair is a collection of short stories written by Guy de Maupassant and translated by Sian Miles. Set in Normandy and the French Riviera, the thirty four short stories follow a number of characters with one thing in common; they’re rich. The stories follow high society women, wealthy men who like to play around and prostitutes, among many more.

Naturally this book jumped out at me, not only because by the blurb it sounded ahead of it’s time but also because it was set in Paris and even if I hated the book I could just read all about Paris and remember how much I love it there.

I’ll be honest, the first story, Boule de Suif, was a bit of a bore to me, although I liked the main female character, I just found it hard to get into and the first story alone took me a week to read. Naturally, I started to worry that this was going to be one of those books that takes forever to finish. I’m not someone who can leave a book, I have to finish and I worried that my reluctance to leave a book would mean that at the end of the year, I had only read half of my target book goal.

Luckily I was wrong, after finishing Boule de Suif, I found myself reading the next short stories right away and I found that I loved the head strong women of France along with the love struck men and lovers. I started to see Paris in the book; I saw the romantic city where love and romance can be found on every street corner. I felt like I was back in my favourite city, feeling all the emotions of Maupassant’s characters and walking their footsteps. It has to be said that once I got into the writing style, I felt like I was in the book; Maupassant has an amazing way of making you feel like you are one of his characters (well I did).

My two favourite stories by far were Mother Sauvage and The Jewels. Mother Sauvage tells the story of a woman whose son goes to war and never returns; while they are away she hosts some soldiers from the opposite army. The end result is twisted but hilarious, there was a moment when I wondered if it was ok that I should be laughing at this story but in the end I decided to go with it.

The Jewels tells of a man who falls deeply in love with a woman he meets and then goes on to marry, the only problem is that he doesn’t share her passions so is relieved when she befriends someone who will accompany her on outings to places like the theatre where he would prefer not to go. In his wife’s death he is devastated and can’t seem to find it in himself to go out and earn so had to look around for something to sell in order to live. Again, I loved the ending, I don’t want to give away what happens (it’ll only take you nine pages of the Penguin Pocket Classics to read and find out for yourself) but I found myself glued to the pages wanting to find out more.

If you’re interested in reading more classics, then I would certainly recommend A Parisian Affair, it may not be the most well-known or the most highbrow but it is good fun and easy to read.

Dirty 30 -Movie Review

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I have a confession… I haven’t bought a movie for years. I get DVDs for Christmas but generally I just wait until a film is out on Netflix or NowTV before I watch it.

Dirty 30 was different. I’ve been watching YouTube for years now and Grace Helbig was one of the first people I ever subscribed to and of course this lead to me to following Mamrie and Hannah Hart (not related). I’ve followed the holy trinity for years now and they’ve never failed to keep me entertained.

In 2014 the three YouTubers starred in Camp Takota and after seeing many a YouTuber try to make is as an actor/actress, I was wary that my three favourites would follow in their footsteps and appear wooden and over act. Nevertheless, I bought Camp Takota (probably the last thing I bought before Dirty Thirty) and was pleasantly surprised when I found that the three women were good actresses and I enjoyed the film more than I had a lot of high budget films.dirty-30-mamrie-hart-grace-helbig-hannah-hart

When I heard Dirty 30 was being made, I knew it was something I would eventually want to watch and I looked forward to behind the scenes on YouTube. I didn’t realise however, that I would be buying and watching Dirty 30 the day it came out because I was just too impatient to wait until it was on Netflix.

Dirty 30 follows Kate (Mamrie Hart) on the approach to her thirtieth birthday. After receiving a letter in the post which she wrote to herself as a child, she realises her life is in a rut. Kate’s two best friends, Evie (Grace Helbig) and Carlie (Hannah Hart), manage to convince Kate she should have a big party for her thirtieth in the hope that she will maybe get out of her rut.

I loved everything about this film. Not only are the main three YouTube starts great actresses but the supporting cast are excellent. Never once did I feel any of the cast were wooden and the real life friendships between the cast was clear on screen as well as they normally are off.

The story itself was great, I’m anyone’s for a bit of romance and this film was full of it with a nice helping of comedy to go with it. I loved the character of Kate and, as a 28 year old female, I felt I understood her completely as a single female just trying to work it where their life if headed. Along with this I felt the friendship between Kate, Evie and Charlie was just brilliant. They were the perfect mix of people who met in school and stayed friends despite living completely different lifestyles.

dirty-30-movie-poster-612x380Evie and Charlie were the perfect sidekicks, I loved Evie’s constant enthusiasm, wether it was about throwing a party or helping alpacas with alopecia while Charlie’s competitive nature made for excellent comedy.

As I said, I love a bit of romance and I was completely absorbed with the romance between Kate and Dan, I spent a lot of my viewing time just waiting for them to realise their love for each other. Like a lot of Grace Helbig fans I also ship Grester (Grace and Chester See) so much and from the second Ben (Chester See) took a shot from Evie’s belly button, I was hooked.

Now I don’t want to ruin anything for those who haven’t seen the film but the ending was just as great as the beginning and middle. If you want some light humour with a good helping of romance then I would certainly recommend Dirty 30.

5/5 stars.

To watch the trailer click here.

My Top 5 Harry Potter Conspiracy Theories

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I’m going to start off with apologising. I’m aware I’ve been a tad awol the last few weeks but I’ve been moving house and between my lack of Internet and the constant stream of visitors, I’ve just not had a chance to post. I’m back now, however, and I plan to stay back.

Last week Jake gave us his top five Pokémon conspiracy theories. Now I love Pokémon and I really love conspiracy theories so naturally I read the l straight away before reading it a second time to make sure I took it all in.

Now if you’ve read any of my previous articles then you’ll know how much I love Harry Potter (if you’re not aware, I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned the books is in every non review piece I’ve written here) so naturally I got the idea to go hunting for some Harry related conspiracy theories. I’ll be honest, there’s not many out there and most of the ones I read about were very questionable, (I know, all conspiracy theories are ridiculous but most of time they make some sort of sense) some of them were utterly terrible with no evidence to back them up. Nevertheless, I thought I would give you my top five;

1 – Draco Malfoy is a werewolfimage

I chose to start with the worst one on the list – they get better, I swear.

After book 6, it is regularly mentioned that Draco is sickly looking and paler than normal. The theory is that after Lucius Malfoy failed to get the prophecy in book 5, Voldemort decided to punish him. We’d previously been told that if someone got on the wrong side of Voldemort, he would use Fenrir Greyback to bite the wrongdoers children by way of punishment which is how he is bought to get revenge on Lucius.

We have some evidence to support this theory, to start off with, the book never actually confirms that Draco is a Death-Eater (ignore the films-I’m aware he shows his Dark Mark at the end) so many believe that when Draco goes into Borgin and Burkes at the beginning of book 6 and shows Borgin something on his arm and mentions how he is a friend of Fenrir, he isn’t showing a Dark Mark, he is actually showing off his werewolf bite.

On top of this, when Voldemort learns that Tonks and Lupin are having a baby, he turns to Draco and says ‘maybe you can babysit the Cubs’

Yes, this is very far fetched and yes, J.K. Rowling has confirmed this one isn’t true. I kind of like the idea that Draco’s blood isn’t so pure anymore though.

2 – The Dursley’s are really lovely. They were just moody from being around a horcrux too long.image

As we know, Harry is a sort of horcrux and in order to save the wizarding world, he had to kill the sort of horcrux within him. We also know that while Harry, Ron and Hermione are on the hunt for horcruxes and are carrying around the locket, they all get really moody because of the evil spirit within the locket.

What if that’s why Vernon, Petunia and Dudley are so miserable all the time? Maybe they just got moody because of the evil spirit within Harry…

Whoever thought of this theory is clever but it doesn’t really make sense. I mean Petunia was always jealous of Lily and called her a freak when she used her magic… Harry wasn’t even an egg in Lily’s overies at this point never mind a horcrux.

3 – Harry and Ron are actually good at divination.image

I don’t know if this one can actually be classed as a conspiracy theory because it was probably written into the books on purpose but in Goblet of Fire, Ron and Harry haven’t done their homework for divination so they just make up some stuff.

They write:
-in danger of burns (Harry’s first task against a dragon)
-loses a treasured possession (Harry’s second task where he must find Ron)
-‘stabbed in the back’ (the third task where Moody-but-not-actually-Moody sets him up)

So are Ron and Harry secretly seers? Probably not but I like this one.

4 – Rita Skeeter is J.K. Rowling

This one is probably my favourite. The theory goes that after telling one too many false stories, Rita Skeeter was banished to the muggle world. Here she fell on hardliners and took up writing to get by. She decided to write about the most famous boy she knew – Harry Potter.

Of course if this one is true then it means that J.K. Rowling is actually Rita and the wizarding world is all real. That’s why this one is my favourite.

5 – Dumbledore = deathimage

When I read this one, I was so confused but then when I got my head around it all, it was brilliant.

So Harry, Snape, Voldemort and Dumbledore make up the characters in the Tale of Three Brothers.

It had previously been suggested that Voldemort, Snape and Harry made up the brothers.
Voldemort was greedy and wanted something to make him powerful (The Elder Wand) but in the end, it was the thing that made him powerful which killed him
Snape was forever in love with Lily and after her death he looked for ways to remember her (the resurrection stone) but in the end he could never really bring her back and so he died.
Harry just wanted a peaceful life really (the invisibility cloak) and when his time was up he greeted death willingly.

Now to go along with this theory, someone wrote that Dumbledore represents death and it seems to fit perfectly.

In the tale, Death gives each brother an item. In the books, Dumbledore makes sure Harry has all three items in the end and just like in the end of the Tale of Three Brothers where the third brother greets death like an old friend, Harry greets Dumbledore like an old friend when he is about to die.

J.K. Rowling has even agreed that this one is great so that’s why it’s number 1.

My Top 5 Movies About Moving House

Moving, moving, moving. Everyone around me seems to be moving house at the moment, myself included. So with just a couple of weeks to go before I embark on my 10th move in 10 years (seriously) I thought I’d take a look back at some of the best movies that involve moving home in the hopes of trying to fool myself that my move will go better than some of these!

5) Inside Out

insideoutA beautiful film that follows the personified emotions inside the head of Riley, a twelve year old girl as she makes the tough move from Minnesota to San Francisco.

Along the way Riley has to deal with feelings of isolation and fear as she makes her way in a new school, a new house and no moving van with all her home comforts. All whilst also pining for her old life that she loved so much.

Not only is this a movie about how sadness can be an important emotion and is integral to being happy again, but also about the art of mourning the past and being able to move forward.

4) Footloose

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Don’t tell me this doesn’t turn you on?!

So, you’ve just moved into small town America from The bright lights and wind from Chicago only to discover that these red neck hicks have banned dancing! What do you do? You start a dancing rebellion, of course! Well, that’s what Ren McCormick  did!

With his fancy city dancing and new fangled cassette Walkman Ren (Kevin Bacon), brings down the tyranny of the two left footed and really rather dour Father Shaw (John Lithgow), Moore and all the kids danced in the streets.

It’s a perfect cheesy 80s movie with the soundtrack to go with it. It’s so lovable and ban so silly you can’t help but get caught up in it all and by the end you’re dancing with the best of them!

 

3) BeetleJuice

beetleuiceAdam (Alec Baldwin) and Barbara (Geena Davis) are poltergeists stuck in their quaint farmhouse. Despite their best efforts to spook them away, The Deetzes will not move. In their desperation to get rid of this vile couple they employ the services of one Beetleguese, a human exorcist to do the job for them. They end up making friends with Lydia, the daughter whose interest in the ‘Strange and unusual’ allows her to be able to see Adam and Barbera.

Beetlejuice manages to marry up dark comedy and horror in a unique way. One of Tim Burton’s earliest films, it’s full of his visual style and slightly warped sense of humour (anyone who commits suicide is doomed to be a civil servant for their afterlife). It’s a great warning for anyone moving into an old house, you never know, it could be haunted!

2) Coraline

coralineOne of my favourite films, ever. Coraline Jones is a feisty young blue head. She and her parents move into an apartment in a kinda creepy looking flat. Her parents, busy working all the time leave Coraline to explore the grounds and meet the new neighbours. Her adventures bring her to the Other Mother, who tempts Coraline to sew buttons into her eyes by showing her the magical and perfect alternate world she could be inhabiting. 

It’s glorious stop motion animation combines with it’s reluctance to talk down to kids to create a wonderful world that is filled with both beautiful wonder and darkest nightmares all at once.

With a kick ass lead character who can fight for herself and stand up for what is right, this is a great story for young girls. It is also a great story about exploring new places and learning new things, and perhaps that if something appears too be good to to be true, maybe it is.

 

1) Toy Story

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Woody has the cold, dead eyes of a killer

One of the greatest films ever, revolutionising not just CGI animation but how kids films are perceived by the wider public.

In this classic tale of jealousy and betrayal Woody, the rootinest tootinest sheriff in town, starts to get green eyes when a shiney new Buzz Lightyear appears on the scene taking over as the coolest toy in town. A mishap makes it look like Woody got rid of Buzz on purpose, so he goes on a quest to bring Buzz back into the fold, the clock is set, as they need to make it back before the moving van takes Andy and his family to their new home. Culminating in a tense and very emotional scene as Buzz and Woody try to catch up with the van.

This was the first feature length offering from Pixar, and it was an instant success. It’s revolution in CGI animation intrigued audiences, but they took it into their hearts because of the amazingly well developed and lovable characters and universal themes that we can all identify with, even if they are played out by toys.  

Finger crossed I don’t end up with creepy Other Mothers, ghosts or a fight between the toys!

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – John Tiffany and Jack Thorne (Script Review)

So I’ll start by saying this will contain spoilers, I honestly don’t know how to talk about this book without spoiling pretty much everything. You’ve been warned!download (6).jpg

If you’ve read any of my blogs before or if you’ve ever met me in real life, you’ll be aware that I’m Harry Potter mad and knowing I was counting down the days until the new book was released, won’t surprise you. If you’ve never read a blog and don’t know me then all I can tell you is that I love the Harry Potter series so much that I got a pair of glasses and a lightning bolt tattooed on me.

As soon as I found out Harry Potter and the Cursed Child would be released in book form, I jumped on Amazon and pre-ordered it. As soon as the book was posted through my door, I read it and I did so within a 24 hour time frame – something I haven’t done in a long time… Probably not since The Deathly Hallows was released.

So where do I start with my review other than gushing about how much I loved it? Well in case you didn’t know, The Cursed Child follows Harry’s middle son, Albus, as he embarks on his own adventures in Hogwarts. Albus soon realises that Hogwarts isn’t all that fun when you have Harry Potter, the greatest wizard of all time, as your father and living in his shadow is pretty hard.

Now, once again, if you haven’t read the books, you might want to stop reading. Some major spoilers are coming up.

I started crying at the very beginning, as the script picks up where the last book left off, I suddenly found myself overwhelmed with memories of how it felt to be reading the final Harry Potter book and that bit where Harry says ‘Albus Severus, you were named after two of Hogwart’s greatest headmasters’ (this may not be the actual quote, my copy of the book is currently packed up in a box somewhere) will forever make me cry.

Now I loved everything about this book, to start with the jobs that the adults have… Hermione as Minister of Magic? Yes please! If there’s a role Hermione was made for, it’s minister. She’s perfect for the role, she has seen how previous Ministers have coped with some of the worst events in history and she seems to have learned from their mistakes. I love that Ron is working for Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes, I’d previously read that he was an auror after Hogwarts and for me the job just never suited him. Although Ron is a great wizard, I love him being the slightly silly fun one of the group and a minsirty job just didn’t seem right to me. And of course Harry becomes head of magical law enforcement, he was always destined to be great and a mediocre job just wouldn’t have worked for him.

The star of the show (or script) has to be given to Scorpius Malfoy, after Albus is sorted into Slytherin, he becomes best friends with Scorpius who is just adorable. Scorpius has heard rumours that he is actually Voldemort’s son after a time turner has been used in order to ensure Voldemort produces an heir, now Scorpius isn’t sure what to think of these rumours and constantly worries they’re true. Along with this Scorpius is just a really lovely kid, he’s bullied for potentially being Voldemort’s child but he never seems angry at the other kids in school and he’s nothing but lovely to others around him.

Albus on the other hand, is sometimes pretty annoying. He resents his father for being so perfect and constantly seems angry. At first I didn’t like this and I got annoyed at Albus for not realising that his father was forced into being a hero but as I began to read, I began to understand Albus and I started to sympathise. I realised that he just wanted to live the same life that his father had, he wanted to show people that he could be just as great as his father but unfortunately he doesn’t seem to be very good at most magical things so he finds it harder than he hoped.

After overhearing a conversation between his father and Amos Diggory, Albus decides he will go back in time with the help of a time turner and he will try to save Cedric Diggory’s life. With the help of Scorpius, he goes back to the Triwizard Tournament and changes two things in the hope that Cedric will win and therefore will never touch the portkey that eventually leads to his death. I LOVED this aspect of the book, the two changes bring about two alternative realities, one where Ron and Hermione never quite get together and one where Voldemort wins the battle of Hogwarts. These brought up ideas that I had previously thought about. The idea of a reality where Voldemort had eventually won was really intriguing to me and I thought it was done incredibly well.

The book was pretty light and it felt very easy to read, after about forty pages I knew that I wouldn’t be putting the book down until I was finished and I was so glad that I took the time to read until the end. Overall, the book was pretty much just one big fan fic but who doesn’t love fan fic?

Five out of five stars without even a shadow of a doubt.

Since You’e Been Gone – Morgan Matson (Book Review)

I may be a little late to the party but I’ve turned up eventually.

Now for a while, I’ve heard a tonne of people rave about Morgan Matson and Since You’ve Been Gone seems to be THE book of the summer so I finally decided to pick it up and give it a go.18189606

Since You’ve Been Gone follows Emily, known in school for being Sloane’s best friends. Most people know Sloane and they’ve seen Emily at her side but they couldn’t tell you Emily’s name. One summer Sloane and her family gone missing, this isn’t uncommon but this time they’re gone longer than normal. Whenever Sloane and Emily have been apart, Sloane always makes a list for Emily to complete, knowing she won’t actually complete it. This year is different; Emily feels that somehow by finishing the list she will fine Sloane so off she sets on her crazy summer enjoying a list of things she would never have done before such as skinny dipping and stealing.

I didn’t think I would love this book but I was wrong. I originally thought that I would find it to be yet another young adult book (which it is) that focuses around romance but in the end I realised the focus was primarily around friendship and how important that is in life.

While trying to work her way through the list, Emily teams up with the good guy around school, Frank, his best friend and school joker Collins and a girl from the pizzeria she works next door to, Dawn. Although it becomes evident pretty early on that Frank will be a love interest, the story doesn’t focus solely on this. I loved Emily’s relationship with Collins, someone she never normally would have struck up a friendship with yet someone who was willing to accept her into their group without any questions asked.

Collins was a character that I generally loved and quite honestly I would have loved to see a little more of him. He’s that person we all know at school who acts silly and makes fun of everything around him because it’s his only way to feel confident. When he meets Dawn, he acts differently because it’s someone he genuinely likes and he’s terrified she’ll reject him. Collins felt so real to me because at that age, I knew a lot of boys like that and Matson paints a perfect picture of a teenage boy.

The romantic aspect of the book was done well in my opinion, I liked the fact that it was a little more serious than your typical YA love triangle and instead the issue with the romance was the fact that the love interest is in a committed relationship throughout the story. I liked that this posed a question as to if it’s ok to be attracted to someone who you know is off limits and I found it interesting to read how Emily dealt with the situation and how she struggled with her feelings.

Family life played a huge role in the book as it does with a lot of young adult; it was nice to see that there was more than one role portrayed within the book. We had Emily’s family who may be a little strange but there’s no doubt they love each other and although her parents can sometimes be in their own world, it’s clear that they will focus on their children if needed. Next we have Sloane’s family, her parents generally neglect her and leave her to do her own thing. Her parents obviously love her but they don’t seem to be around a lot and they’re not very responsible so Sloane becomes extremely independent. Last we get to see Frank’s parents, a couple who are very successful but who hate each other and are in the middle of a divorce. They’re often seen in public with smiles on their faces playing the happy family but anyone who sees them at home will know the truth. I thought this was interesting to show three very different relationships and to show how all them can be normal and how with good friends who you can confide in, it’s easier to deal with parents who are not always there.

Overall I really enjoyed the book, I read it pretty quickly, I enjoyed the writing style and story and it’s certainly a book I would recommend as a light summer read.

 

Mid-Year Wrap Up

So we’re over half way through the year and I’m not even half way through my reading goal of 50 books. By now I should be on book 26/27 but instead I’m only on book 24 ao I thought I’d share with you the books I’ve read so far this year.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and P.S. I Still Love you –Jenny Han15749186

This series follows a girl called Lola-Jean who has loved a few boys in her life but never told any of them. Instead she writes them a love letter which she addresses but never sends, choosing to hide them in a hat box instead.  One day she realises her letters have been posted and she now needs to confront each guy. This is a great read and I enjoyed the second book more than the first, a third book is to be released, I only hope it doesn’t ruin the series so far.

Everything, Everything – Nicola Yoonbook_cover.jpg

Maddy is allergic to everything, hence the book’s title. She lives an isolated life with her mother and her nurse, Carla, being the only people she has any interaction with. Maddy is happy with this life until she spots a new guy moving in next door. Olly also has his share of problems at home and strikes up a friendship with Maddy by sending messages through their windows and later progressing to online messaging. Maddy is soon begins to wonder what life could be like outside her own home and realises she has to take a chance in order to live a little. I didn’t hate this book but I didn’t love it either… It was good, I’ll leave it at that.

Only Ever Yours – Louise O’Neilldownload

In a world were only men are born naturally; women are now created and trained in the arts of pleasing men. When a woman graduates, they will become a companion, concubine or teacher and most of the girls are aiming to become a companion. Freida and her best friend Isabel have always been two of the top rated girls in school and are sure they’ll go on to become companions. In the final year however, Isabel does the worst thing she can possibly do and puts on weight. Soon Freida realises she has to decide if her friendship is worth saving and she now needs to become the perfect woman all by herself. I loved this book, it was insightful and clever.

Full review here.

Almost Famous Women – Megan Mayhew Bergman51bqo1NSzFL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

A collection of short stories about women who were almost famous, some of the women are related to famous people and some are notorious women from throughout the ages. The stories are brilliant and inspiring, they shed some light on how women can do anything than a man can do and often they can do it better.

Disclaimer – Renée Knightdownload (2)

Disclaimer follows two protagonists, first we have Catherine, a prestigious documentary maker who one day finds a book on her nightstand and after a few chapters she realises that it is about herself. The book tells of her worst memory and time that she thought she had passed. Our second protagonist is Stephen, the author of the book and a man who holds a grudge. This book was great, it was full of twists and each chapter ending made me want to read more.

Full review here.

Quidditch Through the Ages – J.K. Rowling51V-oMWTcOL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

I’m sure we’re all familiar with the Harry Potter series by now, it feels like not a week does by without mentioning my favourite book series. Quidditch Through the Ages is a book which is read within the book series (book inception) and was brought to life for Comic Relief. The book tells us the history of the game of Quidditch and explains a lot of the rules.

Down the Rabbit Hole – Juan Pablo Villalobosdownload (5)

This book follows Tochtli, a child of a famous drug baron, who is living the life of luxury. He lives in a house big enough that he describes it as a palace, he has his own zoo and he has no need to leave the house; everything he needs is brought to him. He does however, have a house which often has hit men and prostitutes passing through. Tochtli’s only want is to have a pygmy hippopotamus to add to his zoo. This book is tiny and can be read in a matter of hours or possibly less depending on how fast a reader you are but it’s brilliant.

Lorali – Laura Dockrill24910026

On his sixteenth birthday, Rory is sitting by the beach when a storm hits and he has to run for shelter. He realises that he’s not alone in the shelter when he comes across Lorali, a naked girl who he instantly feels he needs to protect. It soon becomes apparent that there is more to Lorali than first meets the eye, she is actually a mermaid who rejected her life under the sea but a number of people turn up at the same time as she does and it seems that they’re determined to bring Lorali back home. I was a tad disappointed with this one, I thought I would love a book about mermaids but I got bored after about 10 pages.

Meet Me In Paris – Juliette Sobanetimg_2253

Juliette’s memoirs follow her post-divorce w
hen she meets a good looking man (still married) who she begins an affair with. It’s an honest telling of life after your world changes and how with good friends and strong will, you can get through anything. I thought this was great, it was nice to see a story that is real and unashamed.

Full review here.

Shopaholic to the Rescue – Sophia Kinsella9780812987706

This is book eight in the Shopaholic series. This time Becky’s father has gone missing and he has taken Suze’s husband Tarkie with him. Becky, along with her family and friends, go on a mission across America to ensure their loved ones are ok. I think this series needs to just finish now and I’m sort of tired of hearing about Becky doing something stupid and affecting her whole family in the process. This book was better than the last few but still not half as good as when the series started

Dark Places – Gillian FlynnDark-Places-Gillian-Flynn.jpg

When Libby is a child, her mother and sisters are murdered. Libby hides throughout the whole situation but acts as a witness, at age seven, to give evidence against her brother who she thinks she heard killing the rest of her family. Twenty-Five years later and Libby is no longer able to survive on the charity money given to her as a child so she seeks other ways to get money. She comes across the Kill Club, a group who are interested in serial killers and where she realises that she might have been wrong about how her family died. I still can’t tell you how I feel about this book, it was great but disturbing.

Full review here.

The Moth Catcher – Anne Cleeves61pxu1qZLEL._SX323_BO1,204,203,200_

The book series which the UK TV show, Vera, is based on. This is the seventh book in the series but the only one I’ve ever read. Each book has its own story so I don’t feel it’s essential to read them all before starting this one. This book sees two bodies being found in a small town not far from Newcastle. The victims seem connected but their bodies were found apart. Vera must get to the bottom of the murders and work out who the killer was. I’ve honestly forgot who the killer was already but I enjoyed the book, it wasn’t full of suspense but seeing as I’m from Newcastle, it was great to read about places close by.

The Harry Potter Series – Books 5-7 – J.K. Rowlingdownload (3)

I’m sure I don’t need to explain these books. I re-read 1-4 last year and finished my re-read this year. I loved them. As I always do.

My five favourite things about Harry Potter.

Game of Thrones- Books 1 and 2 – George R.R. Martin9780007448036

Again, I don’t feel like I need to explain this series and even if I did, I don’t know how I would. Way too much happens in these books to really explain. I hope to finish the rest of the books by the end of the year but I’m listening to audio book versions of them and at 40+ hours per book, I’m not sure if I will.

A Court of Mist and Fury – Sarah J. Massdownload (2)

The second book in the ACOTAR series, this book sees Feyre, newly turned fae and living with the fae who she believes to be the love of her life, Tamlin. Tamlin however keeps Feyre locked up and wont allow her to leave the safety of their estate in fear she will get hurt. Move aside Tamlin and allow Rhys to enter. Rhys rescues Feyre and allows her to become part of his close-knit court where she learns to use her newfound fae skills and fight for herself. I completely loved this book, along with the rest of the world, I thought it was great.

Full review here.

All the Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerrdownload (3)

Like Disclaimer, this book has two protagonists, Marie-Laure and Warner. Marie-Laure goes blind at a young ages but lives with her father who takes her with him every day when he goes to work at Paris’ Natural History Museum. As WWII progresses they realise they must leave Paris and with them they take a beautiful diamond which they plan to keep safe for the museum. Warner is an orphan who has a great skill at fixing radios. He eventually becomes part of the Hitler youth and progresses to be one of the best soldiers on field. Marie-Laure and Werner eventually meet and the book follows their childhood to show how this happens. I honestly didn’t feel anything for his book, it was well written but none of the characters felt real to me.

Full review here.

The Paris Effect – K.S.R. Burns26089265

I had to check Goodreads to check what this book was about despite the fact that I only finished it a matter of weeks ago… It follows Amy who clearly has an eating disorder and who has just recently lost her best friend. She’s not completely happy in her marriage so when he husband goes away for a week on business, she leaves for Paris. I just didn’t care for this book. Amy never seemed to get over her eating problem and I don’t feel like it was ever explained that her eating disorder was a bad thing. I love Paris but this book just didn’t give me what I needed.

Sold – Patricia McComerick201114.jpg

Lakshmi is thirteen and lives in the mountains of Nepal with her mother and step-father. Lakshmi enjoys school and looking after her goat but she can’t deny that her family have money issues. To rectify this, her step-father decides to sell Lakshmi to what she believes will be a rich family within the city where she will be a maid. It soon becomes apparent that she will not be a maid and she will actually be a prostitute, living a life she is desperate to escape. This was a brilliant book and a must read for anyone. It’s insightful and intelligent and at times it broke my heart.

A Series of Unfortunate Events – Books 1 and 2 – Lemony SnicketThe_Bad_Beginning_(UK).png

Another popular book series that I’ve started to read. There’s soon to be a Netflix TV show released and I decided to read the series before the show starts. I like the books but have series concerns about why there are no responsible adults looking after the children. I never read these books as a child so I don’t think I have the same emotional attachment as most do.

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