I think you have to be a special kind of crazy to attempt NaNoWriMo during your first year of teaching. Well, I think I might just be the right amount of crazy to attempt it.
I completed NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in 2014. I wrote 50,000 words in one month. I wrote my first adult novel and it was a great achievement. I wanted to prove to myself that I could complete a longer piece of writing, as I was used to writing poetry and short stories. Over the last few years, I stopped writing. Life happened and I stopped putting pen to paper. The ideas were always there but my motivation to actually write them disappeared.
This year, I have started to slowly put pen to paper and write again. I have had an idea for a children’s book for a little while now and I’ve decided to use National Novel Writing Month to begin writing it. I am not going to give myself a target of 50,000 words. With my crazy teaching schedule, it wouldn’t be achievable. Instead, I’m going to give myself a more manageable goal of 5,000 words. Although, I would be amazingly happy if I even reached 1,000! The whole idea is for me to START writing this children’s novel. No pressure. Just a chance to fall in love with writing again.
One of the greatest films I have seen in years, the gorgeous and captivating tale of finding your way back home, Dev Patel stars as the Indian orphan Saroo, who uses Google Earth to find his way back to the family he lost at the age of five.
Based on a true story, Lion begins by showing how 5-year-old Saroo was tragically separated from his brother one night and ends up getting lost on the streets of Calcutta, thousands of kilometers from home. Many cruel encounters follow, making you sit on the edge of your seat, wondering if he will make it to a place of safety.
Luckily, he gets adopted by an Austrailian couple and manages to live a privileged and contented life, far away from the poor streets of his hometown. At the age of twenty-five, Saroo longs to see his birth mother and brother again. Due to the technology of Google Earth, Saroo finally has a chance to use the memories he has to find out where he came from.
There is a terrific cast, Sunny Pawar is adorable and really sets the film alight with his realistic role as five-year-old Saroo. Nicole Kidman and David Wenham shine as the charismatic couple that adopt him.
If you do one thing this weekend, watch this incredible film, you won’t be disappointed.
On a rainy Monday night in Manchester, the stars of the hit American TV show Nashville brought sunshine as they graced the stage to sing.
The spotlight shone on the stage as Chris Carmack (Will Lexington) kicked off the show with ‘What If I Was Willing.’ The atmosphere in the beautiful Bridgewater Hall was electric, excited fans all sharing the same passion for a TV show that encouraged people to fall in love with country music.
Charles Esten (Deacon Claybourne), Sam Palladio (Gunnar Scott) and the beautiful Clare Bowen (Scarlett O’Connor) followed with an eclectic set of original music and hit songs from the TV show.
There were so many shining moments during the show. The contrast of gentle ballads and uprising anthems took the audience on an emotional roller coaster. A few highlights to note are the incredible vocals that Sam Palladio showcased on the Nashville tune ‘You Can Count On Me’, the enchanting spell that Clare Bowen cast on the hall as she dedicated her performance of ‘Love Steps In’ to her brother who is currently battling cancer.
The brilliant Charles Esten sent echoes throughout the hall with the popular ‘I Know How To Love You Now’ from Season Three. Chris Carmack surprised the crowd with his heartfelt and melodic original ‘Pieces Of You’ from his newly released EP. He was then joined onstage by Sam Palladio as they collaborated on Sam’s original called ‘Headed To The Fire.’
A personal highlight for me was when Clare and Sam sang ‘Fade Into You’ from Season One, the on-screen chemistry was transported to the stage, the room fell silent as we listened to the blend of harmonies between the duo. Clare and Charles took it one step further as they paraded through the aisles of the stalls, grabbing the hands of giddy fans and dancing with glee.
The cast arrived on stage to perform one last song and received a standing ovation from adoring fans. The lights dimmed and moments later the room sparkled again with fireflies as the cast all came back on stage for an encore of the feel-good tune from the show ‘A Life That’s Good.’
A inspirational montage of hallucinations, beauty and heart. Wild captures the struggle of addiction, grief and loneliness and still manages to uplift, reminding you that no matter what happens, you have to keep moving forward, one foot at a time.
Based on Cheryl Strayed’s best selling memoir Wild: A Journey From Lost To Found, Wild is a great comeback for talented actress Reese Witherspoon. Far away from the blonde bombshell of Legally Blonde, Witherspoon shows her vulnerable side and shows the world that she is anything but a one trick pony.
The film deals with sex, drugs, addiction, grief and learning from past mistakes but the dark themes are juxtaposed with inspiring moments of faith, freedom and enlightenment. Cheryl Strayed is a flawed character but that only makes her more relatable.
When the film begins, we learn about Cheryl and how her mother’s premature death has sent her into a downward spiral of self-destruction. Cheryl is determined to find herself again so she decides to hike the Pacific Crest Trail, alone with her thoughts, she works through everything she was previously trying to forget.
The film incorporates Cheryl’s backstory by using hallucinatory memories, poetry and songs. The narrative is honest, the acting is superb and the message is crystal clear. Wild is a terrific film that brings to life the real story of one woman’s journey that helped her find herself again.
Rating – 5/5
Critics are calling Love, Rosie a mediocre Rom Com with no depth or originality but after watching it, I have to disagree. Love, Rosie is so much more than what it appears, if you look deeper into the story, it will definitely steal your heart.
An adaptation of Cecilia Ahern’s epistolary novel Where Rainbow’s End, the film focuses on two characters, Rosie (Lily Collins) and Alex (Sam Claflin). They met at the age of five and have been best friends ever since. The two characters face the highs and lows of growing up and deal with the complexities of love, life, family and friendships.
I have no doubt that the audience will be charmed almost instantly by their unbreakable bond but wonder if there is something else between them. The film is a little bit predictable at times but sometimes all you want to watch is a simple love story with relatable characters and an uncomplicated plot.
Missed chances, miscommunication and mistakes, drive the characters two apart and as Rosie and Alex try to carry on with their separate lives, a force always pulls them back together again. The sentiment of the film is sweet and I really enjoyed watching it.
Love, Rosie is a heart-warming and likeable film, give it a chance, it is a nice relaxing love story, perfect to watch on a Friday night.
Above: The people of Bon Temps raise a glass to an easy life and a happy ending.
The last drop of blood has been tasted as the curtain falls on the last True Blood episode.
The fans had high expectations of the finale season and even higher hopes for the finale episode titled Thank You. There have been many complaints about the way the supernatural TV show has ended but I have to say, I think although it was a safe ending, a lot of loose ends were tied up for all of the main characters.
The episode is an emotional one as Bill dies but what I and many of the other fans don’t understand is why he wanted Sookie to kill him? I mean, hasn’t he done enough harm to her? He wanted Sookie to use her light bomb to kill him which would give them both what they wanted, Sookie could be ‘normal’ and Bill could die at a time that was right for him. In the end Sookie decides to keep her light and I’m glad she did because it is a part of who she is and in the end she finds happiness with a mystery man, who appears to be human.
The biggest problem I had with the finale was that there was a gaping hole in the plot. During the last few episodes of season seven we are led to believe that Bill could possibly be turning human. He has many human visions, he tells Sookie that having Hep V has made him feel more human and Sookie reads his thoughts in the final episode. I think the writers screwed up with that one. It would have been a more sufficient ending if Bill turned human again and he and Sookie lived happily ever after. It makes no sense that Bill had a problem with Sookie being with a vampire when he didn’t mind Jessica marrying Hoyt, who is human.
I know what the writers were thinking with the finale, they wanted the entire story to go full circle. The first episode began with the people of Bon temps and that’s exactly how it ended. They used a flash forward to show the viewers what happened in Bon temps when the balance was restored. They paired Jason with Bridget, they had three kids. Arlene ended up with a vampire named Keith. Lafayette finally found happiness with vampire James (I’m still annoyed that he didn’t get his moment in the finale) and Sookie is pregnant and with a mysterious man which in my opinion should be Bill. The finale felt rushed and sloppy and I think the writers actually ran out of ideas. I still love the show and I, like many others believe that it had definitely ran its course as a TV series.
I hate to give it a three star rating but I was definitely disappointed in the way True Blood ended.
Lucy is a heart-pounding action packed thriller with eccentric possibilities.
Luc Besson’s latest film Lucy has been compared to Limitless, a previous film starring Bradley Cooper but the thriller explores further fictional realms. The plot begins with the main character Lucy played by Scarlett Johansson, a student living in Taiwan. Her latest boyfriend Richard tricks her into delivering a case to a group of business men in a fancy hotel. In a matter of minutes Lucy is thrown into a mess of blood, drugs and crime when she and three other men are used as drug mules to transport a mystery drug CPH4 to different countries.
After being kicked in the stomach where the drugs are stored Lucy experiences the devastating effects of the drug leaking into her body. The sub-plot centres around Professor Samuel Norman played by Morgan Freeman, who’s area of academic expertise surrounds brain activity and cerebral capacity. The plot switches between the action of Lucy discovering her abilities and Professor Samuel Norman talking about what would happen if humans could use more than 10% of their brains.
When the characters collide the fast paced plot soars and the mind blowing blend of science and fiction creates an exciting film experience. The words that really stood out to me during the film were ‘Without time we don’t exist.’ This profound sentence captivates the entire meaning of the film and makes you wonder if we actually exist at all. There are very few films that leave a lasting effect on the viewer, Lucy is one of those films. It is a gem, the best film I have seen this year and if you love science fiction, action or thrillers you will definitely love this film.
Five stars *****
A beautifully plotted TV series with heart wrenching moments of truth.
Orange Is The New Black is the latest TV craze to spark controversy and gain instant fans. This comedy drama set in a prison was everything I wanted it to be and more. The writing, first of all is absolutely brilliant in this show. The characters are individual and I really liked the way that each episode focused on their backgrounds, how they ended up in prison and how much they have changed since their crime.
There is a diverse cast and some of the stories are lifted from Piper Kerman’s memoir ‘My Time In A Women’s Prison.’ The series began as a rich to rags story about the main character Piper and her ways of adapting to the prison life. Although I enjoyed the first few episodes, it wasn’t until the end of season one that my anticipation grew.
However, as the first season progressed and season two began, the main arc of the series focused on the conflicts between inmates and how their stories coincided. I personally loved the character Suzanne Warren, often referred to as Crazy Eyes. She was a wonderful character with many layers to her back story and I am glad that justice happened in the end for her character in the season two finale.
I now have to wait like everyone else until next year for the next instalment of Orange Is The New Black, but after that spectacular season finale. I am left feeling satisfied and warmed by the surprise endings and the sweet karma that killed an inmate that definitely had it coming.
Watch it! I promise you won’t regret it.
The Fault In Our Stars is the story of Hazel Grace Lancaster, an intelligent and witty teenager living with terminal cancer. Her parents encourage her to attend a cancer support group and it is there that she meets to love of her life Augustus Waters.
Hazel and Augustus embark on an ambitious journey to grant Hazel’s only wish, she wants to know how her favourite Imperial Affliction ends. After contacting the author and taking a life changing trip to Amsterdam, the two fall in love and enjoy every moment they have together.
I read the novel shortly before the film release, but knowing the contents of the story did not spoil the film adaptation for me it only enhanced the emotions I felt as I turned the pages of the heartbreaking novel. I often feel an aching disappointment when I watch film adaptations of novels I feel emotionally attached to but in this particular situation, the film amazed me with it’s similarities to the book. John Green stayed clear of the typical cancer clichés and approached the story in an original way, the film also achieved this.
The film is sombre in places but the balance is restored with lots of laugh out loud moments between the cute on screen couple. The chemistry was electric between Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort and many readers will agree with me when I say that they are the perfect Hazel and Gus.
The plot of the book and film isn’t anything exceptional but the story is character driven and the beautiful simplicity of young love pushes the story forward and keeps you on the edge of tears from beginning to end.
The Fault In Our Stars is a roller coaster of emotions and it explores the honest, funny and thrilling moments of being alive and in love.
Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) is back with the second adaptation of The Hunger Games Trilogy.
Catching Fire is a wonderful addition to the first film and it has definitely stayed true to the book and true to the characters that the readers created in their minds when reading the series. I am always sceptical when I watch adaptations because most film makers ignore some of the important points in the book and leave them out of the film. Catching Fire was an exception to this. It was exactly like the book! The first Hunger Games left out a couple of key points but the film contained all of the plot points that were needed to tell Katniss’ story.
The story takes place in a futuristic place of Panem, where people live in districts and teenagers compete in a televised fight to the death called The Hunger Games. In the first book we are introduced to this concept and follow Katniss as she wins The Hunger Games alongside Peeta Melark (Josh Hutcherson), a boy from the bakery who also lives in district 12. The Capitol, who are in charge of the games were not best pleased with the stunt that the two young teenagers pulled and their act of rebellion would definitely come back to haunt them this time round.
President Snow, still in charge, decides to hold a Quarter Quell for the 75th Hunger Games, which means that victors from all of the games compete together. There are some new quirky characters in the second film, Katniss and Peeta fight, holding hands, pretending to be in love for the sake of both of their lives. This Hunger Games was set in a tropical jungle, the challenges that they face are even more dangerous than before. Catching Fire is a step up from the first, Mocking Jay is hoping to be even better. There are rumours that the final film will be split in two parts. I can’t believe that I have to wait another year to see Mockingjay in the cinema.
Catching Fire is an excellent film, the book, written by Suzanne Collins is equally excellent. The perfect young adult fiction series since Harry Potter in my opinion. Collins has created her own franchise, just like JK Rowling. I really believe in The Hunger Games franchise and I know that it will carry on being successful.
If you love the books or just want to see a fantastic action-filled exciting adventure then Catching Fire is for you. This film adaptation exceeded my expectations and more.
It definitely will not disappoint you!