blogmas

HAPPY CHRISTMAS!

Hope you all have a wonderful day, whether you celebrate Christmas or not, and spend the day having fun and doing exactly what you want to do.

Christmas is a small affair for me as I have a small family. The whole day is very relaxed as we eat a lot of food and we watch a lot of films. So when you read this, that’s probably what we’re doing!

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REVIEW: Bird Box (2018)

When a mysterious force decimates the population, the one thing survivors do know is that if you see it, you die. Blindfolded and following her last hope for safety, Malorie (Sandra Bullock) and her children embark a dangerous journey down a river to the one place that may offer sanctuary.

Bird Box starts with Malorie telling her two children the rules about what they’re about to do, the most important one being – never take off your blindfold. As they set off on their journey, the film goes back to six years earlier and that’s where you slowly start to learn how Malorie ended up in this dire situation and how the world started to collapse.

For the most part, the film manages these two plots well as there’s multiple flashbacks and in fact the majority of the film is about Malorie meeting other people and them all learning how to survive together. However, having these two plots does make it a bit over-stuffed and potentially a bit longer than it needs to be.

Sandra Bullock is fantastic. Malorie manages to be strong, desperate, thoughtful and cold all at once. She is the focal point of the film and you can feel her terror. The supporting cast is great too, some have less to do than others – it’s easy to forget about Jacki Weaver’s character – but when they’re on screen they all bring something to this desperate and very different group of people.

Bird Box knows how to amp up the tension and bring the scares when needed. It’s all about less is more, and it’s the fear of the unknown that puts you on edge. An eerie score along with tight direction makes the story which could verge on the outrageous, be more uncomfortable and enthralling.

Bird Box is tense and, at times, horrifying. The performances suck you in and at times it can be a heart-pounding experience. It’s now available on Netflix and is definitely worth a watch. 4/5.

Thoughts on… Blogmas

Blogmas is almost over and it’s been an interesting experience. I’ve felt I haven’t really given the blogmas challenge my all, especially in the past week, and that’s been due to life, a lack of inspiration for posts and not being as prepared as I hoped to be.

I’d decided I wanted to try and do blogmas way back in October. I had some blog ideas, had even started drafting some, but didn’t have anything properly written or scheduled. Then I was without a laptop for almost three weeks in November due to mine dying and having to be sent away to fix. I was able to borrow a laptop from work, but I definitely didn’t get as much blogmas prep done compared to if I’d had my own computer.

I took part and completed blogtober last year and towards the end of that challenge I was finding it hard to think of things to write about, so because blogmas is shorter (by six days but still) I thought it’d be easier. In some ways it was. I fell back on weekly posts like Book Blogger Hop and Top 5 Wednesday to help me out, and I had my usual weekly film and book reviews, but that still left three or four other days each week to fill. I did write some posts I’m proud of. I loved writing all my thoughts on audiobooks and how my attitude towards them have changed, and the Avengers: End Game trailer led me writing a trailer reaction for the first time in ages and one that was almost 800 words long.

I do enjoy how events like blogmas gets me to push myself when it comes to blogging. It gets me to think of more creative posts than my usual book and film reviews, but at the same time it makes me appreciate my weekly book and film reviews. I like having a routine with my blog, both because it’s nice for me and, I presume, my readers like the regular mix of film and books and don’t mind my eclectic tastes that much.

Blogmas, like blogtober and the A-Z in April Challenge, taught me that I can write more and manage to post everyday – whether that’s through being organised and scheduling days or weeks ahead, or by getting something up at about 10pm like this post is going to be. But I don’t want the pressure of posting every day if I don’t have to have it. Blogging should be fun, and for me it still is even after having this blog for five years now. That’s an achievement to me and I hope I still enjoy blogging just as much in five more years – if blogging is still something I want to be doing of course!

The Joy of Christmas Book Tag

‘Tis the season for another festive book tag! Aka it’s getting near the end of blogmas and I’m running out of ideas! The Joy of Christmas Book Tag was created by Sam’s Nonsense on YouTube.

1) Anticipation: The Christmas excitement is real, what book release(s) are you most anticipating?
I recently listed my top 5 most anticipated 2019 releases but I somehow managed to forget about The Fork, the Witch, and the Worm: Tales from Alagaësia Volume 1 by Christopher Paolini which is definitely my most anticipated book of 2019. Eragon was such a formative influence for me and I can’t wait to return to that world with a new book.

2) Christmas Songs & Carols: What book or author can you not help but sing its praises?
A recent read that I absolutely loved was Multitudes by Lucy Caldwell. It’s such an affecting short story collection and I want to check out more of her work soon.

3) Gingerbread Houses: What book or series has wonderful world building?
While I didn’t particularly like the majority of the Chaos Walking trilogy by Patrick Ness (mainly because I couldn’t stand Todd) I did think the world building in the series was brilliant.

4) A Christmas Carol: Favourite classic or one that you want to read
I don’t really read enough classics to have a favourite, but a recent classic I read that I enjoyed a lot is The Three Musketeers by Alexadre Dumas.

5) Christmas Sweets: What book would you love to receive for Christmas
I think I really need to get my hands on a copy of Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi. I’ve heard nothing but good things so that’d be a nice Christmas surprise.

6) Candles in the Window: What book gives you that warm fuzzy feeling
When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon. I rarely read contemporary YA but every now and then I make the exception and When Dimple Met Rishi was a wonderfully quick, light-hearted and sweet read.

7) Christmas Trees & Decorations: What are some of your favourite book covers?
I’m a sucker for buying a book because of a pretty cover. Here’s some of my favourite covers (I could’ve listed way more) though I can’t comment as to what’s inside them as I’ve yet to read these books.

    

8) Christmas Joy: What are some of your favourite things about Christmas And/Or some of your favourite Christmas memories?
My favourite thing about Christmas is having a lot of free time. Especially now I’m in a 9-5 weekday job, having the free time to see friends and family, watch films or catch up on reading is much appreciated.

I tag anyone who fancies doing this tag!

Why I Love… The Lord of the Rings Film Trilogy

I finished my yearly rewatch of The Lord of the Rings this week. I watched The Fellowship of the Ring (my favourite in the trilogy) on Monday, The Two Towers on Tuesday, and The Return of the King on Wednesday. These were the theatrical editions because while I own and have watched the extended editions a couple of time, it’s the theatrical editions that I love the most – because it’s those versions I saw in the cinema and fell in love with.

The Lord of the Rings is inexplicably linked to Christmas to me. That’s because when each film was released, me, my mum and my gran would go together to see each one on Christmas Eve. It was a family tradition for three years and I loved it. Now I always rewatch The Lord of the Rings in December, as close to Christmas Eve as possible. When I was at university and had longer holidays and less to do in them, I even watched all three films on one Christmas Eve before. Now with work and having to travel home for Christmas, I can only do watching one per evening, three nights in a row.

I love every film in the trilogy, but my absolute favourite is The Fellowship of the Ring. I think I love that one so much because it is kind of the most light-hearted of the trilogy. It’s the one that introduces all the big characters, is more hopeful but it also has some scary moments and brilliant battles. The Mines of Moria sequence is one of my favourites in the whole trilogy, both the battle and the chase to the bridge. Also love the Skirmish at Amon Hen at the end of the film. That’s a brutal battle but one that’s so motivated by the characters you’ve grown attached to over the course of the film.

While the Battle of Helm’s Deep is fantastic, and I always get goosebumps when Haldir and the elves arrive to help, I think The Two Towers is my least favourite. That’s because I don’t love Frodo and Sam’s plot until they meet Faramir but I like the Merry and Pippin stuff with Treebeard and I adore seeing what Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli are doing. That doesn’t mean to say The Two Towers is bad, it’s still immensely enjoyable and does a great job of reintroducing all the characters we’ve already met and setting up the importance of Rohan and its people in the first 20 minutes – that’s a great screenplay.

The Return of the King is the perfect end to a perfect trilogy. I love every character’s plot; the battles are phenomenal, and the story is so full of hope. Yes, it has a dozen endings, but I love every single one of them and they send me on an emotional rollercoaster.

I love The Lord of the Rings trilogy because of the way it makes me feel. It’s got nostalgia value for me as it was such a formative influence on my taste in films and stories, so every time I watch it it feels like a warm hug. I’m still constantly surprised that no matter how many times I watch the trilogy (this year was my 14th full trilogy rewatch) there’s still little things that I notice and that bring me joy.

The Lord of the Rings trilogy just makes me happy. It makes me smile, makes me cry, and I still get completely taken in by the battles and the whole world of Middle Earth. I love it so much and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to put into words how much I love these films or how much they mean to me.

REVIEW: The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell

One summer’s day in 1984, teenage runaway Holly Sykes encounters a strange woman who offers a small kindness in exchange for ‘asylum’. Decades will pass before Holly understands what sort of asylum the woman was seeking….

The Bone Clocks had been sitting on my shelves for four years. I’d read, and enjoyed, Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell but from that I knew his stories could be fantastical and epic and I was never really in the mood for the concentration I’d need to have to read a story like that. In the end, I got the audiobook from my library and that got finally got me to read this story. The audiobook I listened to was narrated by Jessica Ball, Leon Williams, Colin Mace, Steven Crossley, Laurel Lefkow and Anna Bentinck, and I thought they all did a fantastic job at bringing the many characters to life.

The Bone Clocks is so much more than its two-sentence blurb suggests, but at the same time, I have no idea of how to give this story a concise and somewhat spoiler-free summary. The Bone Clocks is a story that spans decades, and while the story might not always be told from her point of view, Holly Sykes is always connected to the characters you’re introduced to in some way. It’s equal parts confusing and fun, especially in the first half of the book, seeing how this character you are now following is connected to Holly and how their relationship with her will unfold. While Holly is the central character that a lot of the big events and decisions revolve around, the other characters each have their own story and personality that’s usually just as engaging as Holly’s.

Holly Sykes is a character that grew on me. She’s young and naïve when you first meet her, and somewhat unlikeable too but seeing how her experiences, good, bad and unexplainable, affect her life, she becomes more sympathetic and mature. She suffers a trauma at a young age and doesn’t know how her life will be affected by granting the strange old lady, Esther Little, asylum. She becomes entangled in something much bigger than herself, and it take a while for everything to become clearer, and even then, there’s some events and characters that almost can’t be explained. The other characters are fully-formed with some being unlikeable while others are almost undefinable. Ed Brubeck was probably my favourite character as he felt the most realistic and relatable to me.

The Bones Clocks is well-written with some beautiful passages and engaging characters. It is weird and fantastical, but at its core there’s Holly Sykes and her very human life. There’s so much going on in The Bone Clocks, it’s hard to give it a definitive genre. There is magic, secret wars, family drama, death, and souls play a major role too. The Bone Clocks is an epic story, but it is an odd and sometimes confusing one too. You spend so much of the novel, not know what’s really happening or how everything is connected, that when things are explained, there is a lot of exposition.

Still, I did enjoy the audiobook and I think consuming the story that way helped me take it in and become more enthralled by it than if I was reading a physical copy. 3/5.

The Festive Christmas Book Tag

It’s been a while since I’ve done a Book Tag but as it’s blogmas and I’m looking for blog posts, here’s a seasonal appropriate one. This tag was created by Girl Reading on YouTube and I came across it via Bookables video.

1. A fictional family you would like to spend Christmas dinner with?
Is it cliché to say the Weasley’s? Because they are the first family I thought of and I can’t think of a better fictional family to spend Christmas dinner with.

2) A bookish item you would like to receive as a gift?
If we’re talking about items from a book, could I get a Time Turner? That’d be very handy. Or bookish items in the real world, I’m a big fan of book sleeves. I love there’s so many designs and companies out there. I have two from BookBuddle which I love, and I received a Black Panther one in a subscription box which is very relevant to my interests.

3) A fictional character you think would make a perfect Christmas elf?
Samwise Gamgee. He’s so kind, helpful and thoughtful that he’d make a great Christmas elf! Plus he’s resourceful so if there was any mishaps, he could sort it out quickly.

4) Match a book to its perfect Christmas song.
I find this kind of thing really difficult but after a lot of thinking I came up with Step Into Christmas by Elton John to be paired with The Martian by Andy Weir. My thinking is, it’s just the kind of song that Mark Watney would be stuck listening to months on end.

5) Bah Humbug. A book or fictional character you’ve been disappointed in and should be put on the naughty list?
I read the Chaos Walking trilogy by Patrick Ness this year and was so annoyed by Todd through the entirety of the first two books, and then through a good chunk of the third book too. He disappointed and frustrated me with his naivety so he’d be on the naughty list.

6) A book or a fictional character you think deserves more love and appreciation and deserve to be put on the nice list?
The Murdstone Trilogy by Mal Peet. It’s a completely bonkers fusion of fantasy and real life and when the line blurs between fiction and reality it’s a lot of fun. I don’t know anyone else who has ever read this book so it definitely needs more love – or at least, I need to find people who have read it to talk about it.

7) Red, Gold and Green. A book cover that has a wonderfully Christmassy feel to it.
Now this one I found really difficult and I thought I was going to skip it as I didn’t think I had any books with Christmassy covers (mainly because I don’t tend to read books set at christmas time) but then I remembered by copy of The Awakening by Kate Chopin. I haven’t read this book yet (it’s been on my shelves for years though) and while it might not be exactly Christmassy, it’s definitely wintery with all the snow and mountains.

8) A book or series you love so much, you want everyone to find under their Christmas tree this year, so they can read it and love it too?
As the spin-off is coming in the New Year and I’m so excited, I’m going to have to say the Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini. I think Eragon, and The Lord of the Rings films, was my gateway into fantasy. I’ve reread the Inheritance Cycle a few times over the years and I still love it.

I tag whoever wants to do this tag!