The sudden, pressing future

Picture this: you’re happily bobbing along in a nice little boat; you’ve been on this little, safe boat for as long as you can remember. Occasionally you think about when you get off this little boat but really there isn’t much to think about because you know why you got on this boat, you you’re your destination. Sometimes people tell you, you need to think about what’s going to happen when you get off the boat, when you reach the shore but why? Why think about that when it’s clearly so far away? Then one day someone tells you, the journey is almost over and you can see the distance, you don’t have a guaranteed destination, you have a thousand and one different places and they’re all so hard to get to. Some have passwords you don’t know and bridges that are too tall, someone tells you that a few of them people can’t even reach.  In fact there are some you were supposed to have turned your little boat towards a long time ago if you ever intended to reach it. The sea is suddenly choppier and there are people everywhere, flooding to the islands you want.

That is how I felt walking into the first day of my last year of high school (in a very convoluted, confusing analogy).  Unsuspecting, I walk into a bombardment of power point presentations on ‘careers’ and ‘further education’. My brain is full of thoughts and ideas and I suddenly feel the pressure that the people around me had seen the whole time.We are put into education at the age of 5 and we grow up attending school every day until all of sudden that obligation is gone and we have to choose what to do next. It simultaneously feels like having the world lying at your feet and having it leave you to fend for yourself.

At age 5 it had been a game- ‘when I’m older I want to be a ballerina’ (coming from a girl with two left feet who will now avoid dancing at all costs) and the like. Now it’s not a game and you have to decide in 3 months. I am not someone who has always known what I want to be. It has changed daily. If all my past selves put in their piece, I would be well on my way to being a part ballerina, part doctor, part writer, part artist, part fashion designer, one woman wonder.  But opinions change so easily. In that room, staring at that screen, I felt like doors I had assumed were still open were being slammed in my face. I needed work experience for that, a talent for this and a truck load of certainty about everything. Of course, this was not what they were trying to get across, but once I had put myself on that train of thought, there was no getting off.

I was being fed this idea that I had to choose one thing and I had to choose it now, something that would send most high school students into panic. This however is not necessarily the case. Keep all the doors open you can for as long as you can, don’t allow anyone to force you down a path, only to realise too late that you shut off all the other routes you could have chosen in doing so. Go to night classes if need be, experience everything that interests you, don’t miss the thing that could’ve been perfect for you by hurling yourself down one career path with tunnel vision. My mind changes so easily and is interested in so many things, I’m not ready to choose yet, I’m not ready to close off options for good yet.

Instead, I did an assortment of things: I began filling notebooks with ideas, researching courses, watching advice videos and coming out just as confused on the other side. Most of all though I reached out to the people around me, I told them my ideas, my possible options and something interesting happened. The people who were once telling me to reach for the stars, were now telling me to aim lower, to play it safe. The people who told me you’ll never know unless you try were the ones telling me to give it a miss because they don’t think I’ll make it. Aunties and uncles who usually only have the question ‘how are you?’ suddenly have a novel of career and general life advice, life mottos you’ve never heard them utter before, they suddenly have surprisingly strong opinions on someone they only have a brief conversation with once a year. There are of course a select few that still preach dream chasing and wishing on lucky stars. I by no means mean to say that I don’t appreciate every piece of advice I’m given, I need all of the advice I can get and being realistic is fair enough.

However, I did slowly but surely begin to create my own life advice so here is my piece for my own and yours if you’ll take it. If not now when? This is the point at which you have to choose to take the risk because in a month or two the risk will be gone and someone braver than you will have what you want. While I’m not encouraging reckless, crazy behaviour, I think a calculated risk is okay. Don’t make that decision and then expect everything to fall magically into place like the end of a feel good movie. You have to act, you have to work for it, start revising for those exams, get work experience with that one newspaper or magazine, start creating your own band, design some clothes, just don’t sit around waiting for the cartoon light-bulb to appear above your head with the perfect effortless way to get everything you want. Maybe you’ll fail, but I would rather go down a weird path of exciting risks than wonder what could’ve been.

X-men: Apocalypse review

X-men is quite possibly one of my favourite super hero franchises of all time. My brother and I watched the first 3 movies in a day on the sofa back in 2011. I definitely prefer the prequels to the sequels (which in no way means I didn’t like the main franchise, i just prefer the actors in the prequels).  Whilst this one didn’t quite live up to the other two, it was still a brilliant film. I am a huge fan of Lucas Till and he did not disappoint, nor did Evan Peters as we got to see a lot more of Quicksilver in this film than the previous one. My favourite scene in the entire film was probably one of the Quicksilver freezing time scenes because the comedic relief of it is always used at just the right time. They know that this scene in Days of future past was a loved one and I’m glad they didn’t try to overuse it as I do think the humour would be lost if they used it too often.

This whole film managed to carry a really nice nostalgic feel to it as we were introduced to a lot of the main franchise characters when they were younger like Scott and Jean. Sophie Turner was a great Jean in my opinion as she had just the right amount of nervousness and badassery; I really enjoyed her character progression. Tye Sheridan as Cyclops really grated on me though, it really didn’t sit well with me when (*mild spoiler*) he first meets Jean and can’t see her and therefore thinks she’s a creep and whatnot and then as soon as he can see her takes all this back because she’s pretty. Typical teenage boy I suppose but it still annoyed me. Despite the fact he’s introduced as this main character in this film he did feel a little like a spare part as he didn’t really help that much at any point and we didn’t really see that much character progression. Another character that annoyed me was Angel. Angel seemed to have so much potential, at the start he shows that he doesn’t really want to fight, he does it to stay alive and so on. Then this piece of information is pretty much forgotten as he joins the super-villains and never looks back. It made him feel really two dimensional and it was almost as if they had a plot for him and then dropped it halfway through.

Xavier, Mystique and Magneto were as wonderful as ever. I especially loved Magneto in this one, there was an amazing emotional scene and his character is by far the most layered and complex out of any of them. Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique was perfect as usual, seeing her starting to accept herself was really sweet.  We didn’t really get that much information on the Mystique, Beast, Magneto (kind of) triangle which hurt my fangirl heart a little bit. We did however get a lot of adorable Xavier and Magneto flashbacks so my fangirl side was pretty happy.

As for the plot of this one, I will admit it was a bit typical as we did have the usual (*mild spoiler*) ‘oh god some evil guy is coming to start the apocalypse but it’s okay because teamwork and loyalty will win in the end’. The villain could have done with a bit more to him but I do feel like this film was to bring back the characters rather than have some wonderful intricate plot. Sometimes the plot itself was a little confusing as there are some inception-like dream sequences that are never really explained. Magneto’s plot however was an emotional one, I would like to think I wasn’t the only one in the audience crying. His connection to Quicksilver was explored a lot more in this one and it was had just the right mixture of a heartwarming and funny spin on it. We also have the plot I have casually been avoiding which is the Xavier and Moira romance. I just don’t know how to feel about it, I mean it does pull a few heartstrings and made for a few cute awkward moments but it was kind of rushed nearer the end and she still strikes me as rather boring. But who knows maybe we’ll learn a little more about her in which ever film comes next.

Overall I would give this film a 4/5 stars. Yes, in places it was a hot mess but I love the characters and I was thoroughly entertained throughout. I left the cinema with a smile on my face, feeling like it was 2 and a half hours well spent and you can’t really ask for much more than that.

 

Stars Above by Marissa Meyer Review

FullSizeRender (2)

Stars above is a collection of stories set in the Lunar Chronicles world and featuring some of the Lunar Chronicles characters. As a whole I would give this book 5 stars and I see it as an essential part of the series as a whole and would recommend it to anyone who has finished Winter and is craving more Lunar Chronicles. However my opinions on the stories did vary so here is a broken down review.

The keeper (3/5):

This one centred around Michelle Benoit (Scarlet’s Grandmother) and gave some much needed background to how Cinder was cared for before she moved in with her adoptive family. While I didn’t love learning about Michelle’s past and the romantic aspect fell a bit flat for me, I did enjoy learning a little bit more about Scarlet’s relationship with her dad.

Glitches (4/5):

This story told us the tale of how Cinder met her adoptive family and became the Cinderella style character she is. I love Peony so it was really nice to see how she and Cinder’s relationship differed from Cinder’s relationship with Pearl.

The Queen’s army (5/5):

So long story short, I am a huge Wolf fan, he was in fact my favourite of all the guys in this series. Therefore I loved this one. This was all about how Wolf became part of Levana’s army and how he ended up becoming Alpha. While there was a lot of fight scenes (too many maybe) and I would have liked to see more conversations between him and his brother, I did enjoy the insight on exactly what Levana created and I liked seeing it from Wolf’s perspective.

Carswell’s guide to being lucky (4/5):

Another long story short: I am not the biggest Thorne fan (shock, horror) so I was actually pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this. It was a nice relief from all the seriousness of the other stories before it and I have to admit I did laugh once or twice. This one was centred around Thorne when he was younger and how he helped a girl called Kate Fallows. It was interesting to find out about his background even if he did annoy me a little at times.

After sunshine passes by (3/5):

This one is about how Cress ended up on the ship alone and why she ended up there. While it did drag a little, I did like Cress more afterward. When you see her as a child and see what her aims were, it’s more difficult to find her annoying.

The princess and the guard (5/5):

So I love, love, love Winter and Jacin (almost as much as I love Scarlet and Wolf) so I enjoyed this one very much. This was the backstory as to why Winter stopped using her gift. And it was actually quite thought provoking and approached the topic of freewill and freedom of choice in a really difficult scenario. We saw more of how Jacin and Winter’s relationship has changed over the years which is always good.

The little android (3/5):

This was a retelling of The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen but with an android rather than a mermaid. I actually didn’t like this one very much. It didn’t really have any relevant characters, instead it was trying to compare androids (with glitches that have effectively made them into artificial intelligence) with humans and it made me weirdly uncomfortable. In my opinion at least, this one didn’t really grasp what it is to be human, the transformation from android to ‘human’ was just a more realistic looking body. On top of all this, the main character had random violent thoughts and the crush she had was rather disturbing and I just found the whole thing kind of creepy.

The mechanic (4/5):

This was pretty much just Cinder and Kai being Cinder and Kai. It was their first meeting told from Kai’s perspective and while it was just a conversation, I really enjoyed it.

Something old, something new (5/5):

This was the ending to the Lunar Chronicles I had wanted at the end of Winter. It wasn’t dramatic, instead it was wonderfully mundane, just a long reunion and wedding scene. I had really wanted to see all the characters together again and where they are now and reading the interactions between them all was just perfect. I couldn’t have asked for a better conclusion to the series.

Queen Of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas Review

IMG_1946

*Spoilers ahead, you have been warned*

‘Then she smiled with every last shred of courage, of desperation, of hope for the glimmer of that glorious future. “Let’s go rattle the stars.”’

I loved this book. It was probably my favourite in the series so far, yet it has taken me an entire year to read it. I picked it up when it came out, then again in February until I finally got into it two weeks ago. So why did it take me so long? I think it was because it felt like the characters and their relationships with each other had really changed from the previous books, so much so that it really threw me off to begin with. We start off with Chaol and Aelin flat out hating each other, Dorian as a demon prince, Rowan not even there what so ever and Aedion just being Aedion. Funnily enough the character change that sucked me in the most was Lysandra, for the first couple hundred she was what kept me reading and by the end she was one of my favourite characters.

One of the many things Sarah J Maas can do really well is write balanced, realistic characters. She doesn’t have any character that is all good, just the same as she doesn’t have any character who is entirely evil. Aelin herself is a brilliant example of this. While Aelin is the main protagonist, we are still given things to dislike about her and the other characters are given space to dislike certain things about her too. For example, there is a point when she has to go back to being Celeana and even Rowan was worried because you see just how horrible she used to be and how she has grown from the beginning of the series. This character progression is key as what she’s been through would change her and to make her character a lot more believable we need to witness that change. The change in relationships is also essential as it shows that yes, not every relationship lasts forever but that doesn’t have to lead to full on hatred. Long ago, in the first book, there was a romance between Dorian and Aelin and we hear nothing of that now, they are now best friends instead and that’s fine. Just the same as Chaol and Aelin don’t get along very well anymore; having the main character always have the exact same opinion on everyone the whole way through the series would be rather boring.

Even though at the time I hated the slow start, I understand now why it was there. We needed to see the change and get to grips with all the points of view and the new characters added like Elide and Nesryn. Elide and Nesryn, winners of most boring characters in this book. I found them both to be completely two dimensional, especially Elide. Despite having read all of her chapters, I still can’t picture or care for her much at all, the same goes for Nesryn. I understand that we needed Nesryn to try and bring some of the old Chaol back but Elide seems to have no purpose as of yet other than to help us like Manon. Manon is another character I had a problem with as she felt far too much like Aelin in parts. Her friend Asterin however is absolutely wonderful so I’ll tolerate my issues with Manon because Sarah J Maas created Asterin.

For all my moaning, the other 3 quarters of this book was amazing. I loved the action scenes and she had the perfect balance of dialogue and plot. The conversations between the characters are always my favourite parts, particularly Aedion and just about anyone. The relationship between Rowan and Aelin was absolutely adorable and it provided the relief from all the (needed) doom and gloom in this book. The humour came through in these parts and Sarah J Maas can definitely make me laugh. On top of all of that good stuff, at no point was I confused. Sarah J Maas has made a complicated plot and a complicated world but it is all explained so well that she doesn’t leave the reader confused. The use of multiple perspectives is executed perfectly and I understood exactly whose perspective it was and what was happening.

How could I review a Sarah J Maas book without raving about her beautiful writing style? Every sentence is crafted so brilliantly and she uses certain phrases to pack such a punch and put across so much emotion. The line at the top of this review honestly gives me goose bumps every time I read it and there are so many beautiful sentences like that throughout. You can always feel the personalities of her characters coming out through the narrative and I will forever be in awe of her.

The best part of this entire book was its conclusion. The characters shone and the plot came together beautifully. I was up at two in the morning sat reading the last 100 pages because you honestly can’t put it down. The conclusion quite honestly had the best few action scenes I have ever read. This is coming out in a jumbled mess because I honestly have no words to describe how I felt about those last 100 pages. All that is left to say is that the second that 5th instalment comes out, I will be running to the bookstore and I’ll be the first one to buy it.

My top 5 favourite 80s films

In honour of me watching the breakfast club for the first time today (we don’t count the actual first time because I was 12 and in that ‘I must hate everything my parents like because I’m just that cool’ phase), I have decided to list my top 5 favourite 80s films. Just as a bit of background information, I first got quite into 80s films last summer so I haven’t seen that many but I’ve seen enough to have a top 5.

  1. Back to the future (1985) –

My brother and I watched the franchise back to back years ago and I’ve loved it ever since. It’s a film about Marty Mcfly travelling 30 years into the past in a time machine called the Delorean (if anyone can find me one let me know) to try and get his teenage parents together. It’s hilarious and the plot is really clever; I should really watch it again sometime.

2. Ferris Bueller’s day off (1982) –

This is a comedy about high school student Ferris Bueller as he, his girlfriend and his best friend ditch school to have an eventful (and vaguely destructive) day out. Ferris is definitely the best thing about this film, his casual cockiness and underlying kindness is really endearing. I watch this film whenever I’ve had a bad day and it never fails to make me laugh.

3. Pretty in Pink (1986) –

This is a film starring Molly Ringwald as a quirky teenage girl who is asked out by a popular guy in her school, leaving her best friend Duckie (my favourite person ever) feeling very jealous. This is one of the only films with a love triangle I actually like. While I’ll admit I was mainly there for Duckie and his adorableness, Blane was pretty okay too. The ending caught me by surprise but I kind of like the ending now too.

4. Heathers (1988) –

This was the film that got me into films from this era; I watched it one afternoon last summer and fell in love with it. Be warned, Heathers is a rather weird film. In the past when I’ve tried to explain it to people I’ve been given a few funny looks but here goes. Veronica is part of a horrible clique of girls (who are all called Heather) and she hates them all so when she meets a new guy who offers to help her kill them and fake their suicide notes she thinks it’s a good idea. It’s vaguely disturbing but JD was kind of funny in his own twisted way and it really did suck you in.

5. The Breakfast Club (1985) –

The breakfast club is essentially 5 high school students attending detention on a Saturday but it’s so much more than that. It is a film that shows how little labels mean and how ridiculous stereotypes are. While this film doesn’t have a plot as such, the characters are captivating and the ideas and thoughts it puts across are so important.

So that’s my top 5, there are so many more I want to watch and would be super grateful for any recommendations. The next film I plan on watching is The Outsiders as I’ve read the book but am yet to watch the film.

It’s kind of a funny story by Ned Vizzini review

 FullSizeRender (1)

‘It’s such a silly little thing, the heart. Badoom. It feels good the way it cleans me. Badoom. Screw it. I want my heart. I want my heart but my brain is acting up.’

‘It’s kind of a funny story’ is pegged as ‘a beloved book about a teen grappling with suicidal thoughts’ and as ‘funny and disarming’ which is quite a strange combination. It follows Craig Gilner’s life before his suicidal episode and the week following it in which he is admitted onto a psychiatric ward. For me this book wasn’t laugh out loud funny but at the same time it wasn’t half as upsetting and disturbing as you may expect. Does it have an intricate beautiful writing style? No. Does it make you laugh with every line? No. Should every teenager who struggles with or is merely curious about mental health read it? Yes, definitely.

As someone who does have quite a lot of knowledge about depression and who has read a variation of books and articles on the topic, it showed a new angle. I’ve never felt I understood the thought process of someone struggling the way Craig is struggling as much as I did with this book. Ned Vizzini makes depression into this almost physical, visual thing. Craig describes his triggers as ‘tentacles’, this includes his school work, his worries about money etc… and he describes the things he enjoys as his ‘anchors’ which includes riding his bike and watching people play video games. Then possibly the most helpful term was ‘the Shift’ which is for lack of better words a cure, a switch that would make the depression disappear and return him to the way he was a year before. All this helps you understand him and really relate to the book, as well as helping you evaluate the tentacles and anchors in your life.

This book did take a while to properly start, it does say in the blurb that Craig spends time on a psychiatric ward; this however doesn’t happen until almost a third of the way into the book. While I hate to criticize this book, I do think it could have done without a lot of the first 100 or so pages, especially when talking about his time with Aaron. As a character, I didn’t particularly like Aaron, he lacked personality and I found myself bored when any of his parties or any conversations with him were described. The same goes for Nia, who I found completely insufferable but more on that later. It did go into a lot of descriptions about Craig experimenting with drugs with Aaron which while I understand is necessary to mention, I did get a bit sick of it.

I enjoyed this book much more once he’s in the psychiatric hospital because the characters introduced were just amazing. You have Armelio who has proclaimed himself the president, Humble who is a confusing character but my personal favourite, Noelle who has scars all across her face and is kind of a mystery for most of it and a few more strange and wonderful characters. After he is admitted it feels like a series of interesting life lessons which I suppose for Craig it is. For example a lot of his issues come from school stress and it does really help put things into perspective and explain what’s really important. As well as this, the way it goes into so many different characters lives, each one giving a slight moral to it, really helps you see a variation of accurate representations of mental illnesses. It teaches you that there isn’t just some miracle cure that it is something that some people struggle with for their whole lives but that you can find ways of coping and that most of all you can find ways to live.

Despite romance not being a central plot of the book, I did love the romance between Noelle and Craig. It wasn’t overdone or melodramatic; it was, like this entire book, realistic and that was the beauty of it. Neither of one of them is perfect, they’re flaws kind of complement each other and their conversations are some of my favourite parts. Initially it does seem that Aaron’s girlfriend, Nia, is going to be the main romance and unfortunately she is in it for quite a while. She kind of served to show how you shouldn’t react to someone telling you they have depression and continues to serve this purpose most of the way through. I suppose in that way she was necessary but that didn’t stop me wanting to drag her out of the book and scream at her (not my finest moment I’ll admit).

At the core of this book is hope, it’s a positive, encouraging and understanding story. You put it down and you feel a little bit more determined, a lot less judgemental and a lot more open and ready to talk about mental health and I think all of us need that in our lives.