Thursday, 19 December 2013

Stop worrying about Christmas weight! Just listen to your body and enjoy yourself.

As summer approaches, women are told we need to get in shape so we look good in a bikini. As winter arrives, we are told to go easy on the mince pies so that we look good in our party dresses (though we are somehow also persuaded to indulge in said mince pies just so we sign up for the amazing new diets which will no doubt appear in the New Year). The very worst thing we can do is listen to the adverts!

Christmas is a time for family, for relaxation and, of course, for eating. We have more time off, more family meals and plenty of chocolate treats. It’s not surprising then that many women (and men!) put on a bit of weight over the holiday season – but this should not be a reason to panic! For one, there are clear reasons behind it. We eat a lot more chocolate, mince pies and other fatty treats and we don’t often get up from the sofa.

Personally, I couldn’t care less if I gain a bit of weight over the next few weeks. I’ll have fun doing it and in the New Year it will go away of its own accord when I stop eating so much chocolate and so many mince pies and start getting more active again. I’ve done the diet thing and it made me miserable. I lost far too much weight and became massively lethargic. I got colds far more easily and was constantly feeling run-down and in need of a rest.

This holiday season, I just want to enjoy myself with my family and friends, no matter what the adverts tell me about that party dress I simply must squeeze into. A party where I don’t relax or eat anything for fear of someone noticing that I don’t have the world’s flattest stomach doesn’t sound like much fun at all.

The holiday season would be thoroughly miserable if we all panicked at the sight of a mince pie or left half our roast on the plate for fear of calories. Diet book and class sales would no doubt do very well in the New Year but we’d have no fun in the interim. There are healthier alternatives for you to investigate if you’re worried but once the food is made just listen to your body (it will tell you when you’ve had far too many chocolates!) and enjoy yourself!

Maybe get the whole family out for a walk on Christmas Day too…

Happy holidays!

Book highlights of 2013

2013 was the year I prioritised writing over reading, but there was no way I could cut out reading entirely! As if!

An incredible debut which caught my attention was the first of a series by young writer Samantha Shannon. The book, The Bone Season, is a clever and captivating tale about clairvoyants who have been ostracised and forced into a life of crime. It creates that world within a world that will keep the reader hooked throughout and there is also a strong female lead and the fascinating Warden who takes her on.
One of the most sophisticated and classy novels I had the pleasure of reading this year was Laura Lamont's Life in Pictures by Emma Straub, a story of one woman's battle with both her private and public personas, as she moves from a rural upbringing to the bright lights of Hollywood's golden era.

Though the books are not new to 2013, film adaptations released this year have sent me to some incredible novels, including the complex and fascinating study of human behaviour, World War Z by Max Brooks and the delightfully dark and romantic Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion. There was also the superb memoir 12 Years a Slave by Solomon Northup and the delightful Austenland by Shannon Hale (which led to a rather entertaining and heated debate at the book vs film club!).

There were lots of great bookish events to enjoy this year too, including meeting the lovely Victoria Fox at the launch of her new book Wicked Ambition and the glamorous RNA winter party. The highlight, though, has to be a trip to the BBC to see Sarah Alexander record the vocals for The Wedding Knight by Sophie Kinsella as it was prepared for their Books at Beachtime series.

Of course 2013 was also the year the fantastic Kirsty Greenwood launched her book Yours Truly in paperback!

What have your book highlights been this year?

Monday, 16 December 2013

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug film review

I was one of the minority it seems in that I thoroughly enjoyed the first Hobbit film. It built at a great pace and was a fun, action-packed adventure. For The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, however, the careful pacing of the first film seems to have gone out the Hobbiton window, leaving behind a film that is, in parts, jaw-droppingly spectacular (seriously, my jaw actually dropped!) and in others, mind-numbingly dull.

As the film begins, a darkness is spreading over Middle Earth. Gandalf (Ian McKellen) is getting concerned and implores Bilbo (Martin Freeman) and the dwarves (led by Richard Armitage) to hurry along with their quest before their window of opportunity closes. Thorin (Armitage) starts getting more ruthless the closer he gets to reclaiming the wealth and home of his people and Bilbo begins to use the ring, which starts to reveal a little more of the power it holds over him.

There is plenty of action – between all the walking and running – including a hilarious sequence involving barrels. On their journey, the group runs into many scary creatures, including an animal who can shapeshift, many dreaded orcs and plenty of ill-tempered elves. Legolas (Orlando Bloom) makes an appearance and scowls his way through every scene he's in. Fortunately, many of these scenes take place alongside Evangeline Lily's newly-created Tauriel, who becomes a welcome breath of fresh air, bringing a spark, ferocity and heart to an otherwise dull group of male characters. The film boasts an impressive cast list but sadly most of the characters which are intending to be menacing or strike fear in the viewers are laughable and have no depth. You would think with all that time to develop their characters, a bit more attention could have been paid.

That said, one character who is anything but dull is Bilbo himself. Thanks to Freeman, Bilbo manages to bring courage, inner turmoil over his precious ring and humour to the role. Many of the laugh out loud moments are thanks to him and his mannerisms and when he finally meets the dragon, Smaug (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch), he – like the dragon himself – truly shines. Smaug's arrival is undoubtedly the best part of the whole film. I'd say he is worth the wait but even that might be pushing it. Both the special effects used to bring Smaug to life and the incredible vocal talents of Cumberbatch make for one of the most incredible, breath-taking creatures ever seen on screen, from the moment his eye is first visible to that when he reveals his full size and power.

The real issue with the film is that the really good parts of it are far too sparse and by the time they arrive, you've barely got enough motivation to keep paying attention. The group spends so long walking and talking that every time a literal or figurative roadblock is put before them, you figure out a way out long before they do. It quickly becomes easy not to care and when Smaug finally appears, you may find yourself willing him on instead.

It is really such a shame that this brilliant story has been dragged out over three films. Though this second of the trilogy offered a few moments of spectacular, the rest just felt like filler. The end result is overly long and self-indulgent.

Film - 2.5 FOBLES

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Carrie (2013): Book vs Film

I was pleasantly surprised when I saw the new remake of Carrie and actually really enjoyed it. But how does it compare to the original Stephen King novel on which it's based?

For me, Stephen King is one of the greatest storytellers of our time. In Carrie, his first published novel, King proved he could not only get into the mindset of a teenage girl but that he could also go to incredibly dark places and weave a story together at a slow pace, leading to one of the most shocking endings ever written.

In the novel, King switches between the running story of Carrie and the reports done after the fact. Carrie's story is a tortured one. Firstly, she gets her first period and thinks she's dying, then she continues to struggle to deal with all the bullies at school. On top of that, she discovers that she has telekinetic powers. There's also her self-harming, religious fanatic mother to contend with!

It's a lot for her young shoulders to take but King moves fluidly between her 'present day' story and reports of what has come before. There are interview transcripts and reports from people who met her over the years like the neighbour who spoke briefly to Carrie when she was a toddler. There is more information on Carrie's life earlier life and more explanation as to what happened to her now absent father. By switching between the two, King paints a picture piece by piece and with every page, the reader better understands who Carrie is and her sheer strength at having managed to get this far! The story is not just hers but also that of her classmates: Sue Snell, who grows a conscience and decides it's time somebody did something nice for Carrie, and Chris who wants quite the opposite.

The book really builds to the now infamous explosive finale and, after the prom scene, has one of the most chilling deaths ever written - a death which has been changed for the purposes of both this film and the earlier 1970s version.

The main difference between book and film is that the film pays no attention to the backstory, choosing to interweave the key points - namely the relationship Carrie has with her mother - into the present without looking at the reports or stories found the book. The focus is very much on the here and now and, with it, the fundamentals of the story remain.

A massive change in this remake is that the story has been brought forward to our present day. The horrific bathroom scene which opens the story is now filmed on mobile phones and put on YouTube, something they obviously couldn't have done when King originally wrote the story. It works, however, and makes the film feel that much more current. The plot still resonates today so it makes sense to bring it up to date.

Chloë Moretz and Julianne Moore are both equally stunning in their respective roles as Carrie and her mother Margaret. The horror of both the psychological and physical damage Margaret inflicts on her daughter remains for the film, including one shocking use of a Bible! More is also made of Margaret's self-harming and the loving way in which Carrie tries to calm her moods. Moretz somehow manages to be both sweet and innocent and completely terrifying and handles the role with a maturity way beyond her years.

Overall, the film manages to remain loyal to the original but be brave enough to break new ground at the same time. The book remains utter perfection: endearing, horrifying and chilling.

Carrie is out in the UK Friday 29th November 2013. The book is available to buy now.

Book - 5/5
Film - 4/5

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Catching Fire: Book vs Film

*contains some spoilers*

My love of The Hunger Games is not exactly a secret but my enthusiasm for the books means that the films have a far higher bar to reach than others might. Fortunately, the filmmakers behind the first and second film in the series have done such a superb job at adapting Suzanne Collins's incredible novels that I doubt many fans will be disappointed.

Catching Fire sees Katniss and Peeta begin their victory tour and realise that the charade does not end when the tour does. As they struggle to convince President Snow they are actually in love, the lives of all those they hold dear are under threat.

All the major things you could hope to see are there in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. Two new additions in the book who immediately became fan favourites - Johanna and Finnick - are captured superbly on screen by Jena Malone and Sam Claflin. Malone is hilarious and twisted and pulls off her spectacular lift scene with apparent ease. Claflin similarly appears to take portraying Finnick in his stride, providing both the charm, heart and cheekiness that Finnick requires - and that sugar cube scene.

There are of course going to be omissions but I find it is more a question of the feel of the piece - and of course the inclusion of pivotal scenes that define the characters. One big omission is that Haymitch (Woody Harrelson) doesn't get the backstory I so loved reading about in the novel. However, he remains a pivotal character in the story and the hilarious way Katniss wakes him at the start is still there for the fans to enjoy.

Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) undergoes one of the more notable transformations for the adaptation - for one thing, he can swim! It was a conscious decision by filmmakers to make Peeta a little less pathetic and 'nice' and it seems to have worked. The bond he shares with Katniss is unaltered and, though they don't really make too much of it, we do see them sleep by each other's side in order to keep the nightmares at bay.

Liam Hemsworth fans might be delighted to hear that he does get his shirt off - though it's not really the sexy scene many fans might have hoped for. His wounded portrayal of Gale, however, will no doubt still send many hearts aflutter.

Overall, the film remains beautifully true to the source text but is strong enough to stand on its own two feet and will appeal to both fans of the book and those new to the stories.

Book and film - 5 FOBLES

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

The new adaptation (yes another one!) of Stephen King's Carrie is actually rather good!

I know, shocking. It manages to be faithful to what has come before but be brave enough to be its own film. The cast (namely Chloë Grace Moretz and Julianne Moore) are STUNNING and the infamous prom sequence is heart-pounding.

For my full review of the film, check out Filmoria and if you haven't yet read the book - do!

Just don't mess with the girl with telekinetic powers. It's not a good move.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Live Coverage to Air Worldwide of Special The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug event

A select group of Hobbit fans will soon be able to see some exclusive first look footage from The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug as they take part in a live Q&A with Director Peter Jackson and the cast from four different locations across the globe. The event, which celebrates the second of three releases based on the beloved Tolkien novel, will be taking place today on Monday 4th November at 10 p.m.-11.20 p.m. (UK time) and simultaneous times around the world. The event will also be streamed live online via the video below so even if you aren’t at the event in person, you can still share in the fun – though the extended footage will be edited.

In London, Edith Bowman will be joined by Lee Pace, Luke Evans and the legendary man behind Gollum, Andy Serkis. In New York, Richard Armitage and Orlando Bloom will be answering questions. Evangeline Lilly, who plays new Elf warrior Tauriel will be in Los Angeles and the man behind it all, Peter Jackson, will be in Wellington, New Zealand where all the films have been based.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

The Ultimate Adaptations Book Bundle Giveaway

I love a great adaptation. That's no secret. It's largely because I adore both book and films but in the right hands a beloved book can become a great film and appreciated by more fans, just in a different medium.

So it seems only fitting to do a competition which celebrates some fantastic adaptations, with books provided courtesy of Robert Hale Ltd, Scholastic, Hodder, Hesperus, Canongate and Bloomsbury. 

For your chance to win all of the following great books, just send an email over to with your favourite adaptation ever made and why, including 'The Ultimate Adaptations Book Bundle Giveaway' as the subject line and the town where you live in the UK. Don't worry, they don't have to be from the list below!

Head to the Bates Motel to see what happens when a woman on the run from the law meets Norman Bates. Psycho by Robert Bloch became one of Alfred Hitchcock’s most iconic films.

Sparking a resurgence in young adult fiction Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins is the second novel in her Hunger Games trilogy which follows Katniss Everdeen as she fights to protect those she loves but somehow manages to put them in even more danger. Dramatic, powerful and gripping from start to finish, the adaptation – which stars Jennifer Lawrence – is out in November.
Carrie by Stephen King is one of King’s most beloved books as he follows a high school girl battling with a religious fanatic mother and her own powers of telekinesis. It’s so good, they’ve adapted it more than once!
12 Years a Slave by Solomon Northup was the film to watch at this year’s London Film Festival and received rave 5* reviews across the board. But it all began with a true story by Solomon Northup back in the 1800s. Read the memoir that started it all.
A book that was deemed unadaptable was adapted by Ang Lee thanks to 3D technology and an incredible performance from newcomer Suraj Sharma. Booker prize winning Life of Pi by Yann Martel is one of the most thought-provoking and evocative tales ever written.

As an extra bonus to this great bunch of adaptations, the competition also includes the fantastic The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon. Though the adaptation does not currently exist, Andy Serkis' company have bought the film rights and are working on getting it made!

*A new book has been added to the giveaway, courtesy of the lovely people over at Random House. Enjoy all the glamour and opulence of 1920s New York with F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic tale, The Great Gatsby.*

This competition is available to UK readers only and will close on midnight GMT Friday 1st November.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Book vs Film Club: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

After the general agreement of The Great Gatsby #bookvsfilmclub (the film was gorgeous, Tobey Maguire was just a bit meh), and the general disagreement of Austenland (opinions ranged from fun and adorable to stupid and patronising!), the next story has been selected and it's The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.

The film adaptation arrives in UK cinemas on 31st January so soon after the club will be meeting up to discuss both book and film versions of the story. That gives you plenty of time to get reading!

To register your interest, email or Tweet me @filmvsbook.

*UPDATE* Check out my book review of this incredible story at Novelicious.

Happy reading!

Friday, 4 October 2013

Andy Serkis discusses adaptating Samantha Shannon's 'The Bone Season'

By the time Samantha Shannon's debut novel The Bone Season was published by Bloomsbury in August earlier this year, Andy Serkis's Imaginarium Studios had already acquired the film rights. The first impressive novel in what is sure to be a phenomenal seven part fantasy series, The Bone Season looks at a world where clairvoyants are outlawed and forced into a life of crime. 

In this Q&A, Andy Serkis discusses what drew him to the project and how it really is a world he cannot wait to create. Check out the Q&A below.


Even a dreamer can start a revolution.
The year is 2059 and nineteen-year-old Paige Mahoney is working in the criminal underworld of Scion London, employed to scout for information by breaking into people’s minds. For Paige has an unusual gift, she is a dreamwalker, a clairvoyant and in her world she commits treason simply by breathing. But outside the repressive boundaries of Scion, a powerful, otherworldly race waits in the shadows. The Season has come and Paige’s life is about to change for ever.

1. What is it about The Bone Season that compelled you to include it in The Imaginarium Studio's very first slate of films?
We first came across the manuscript at the London Book Fair and immediately fell in love with the scope, the scale and the exceptional detail of the world Samantha had created. It’s a really compelling story with such a great central character – we all immediately saw its potential as a fantastic feature film.

2. Have you met Samantha Shannon and how involved will she be in the film's production? 
Yes of course – she’s a delightful, incredibly intelligent person. She’s very warm and a passionate storyteller- dedicated beyond belief. We’re working very closely with her on all aspects of bringing the world of the book to the screen. We’ve been involving her with all the early concept artwork that we’re beginning to put together. Obviously it’s her world so we want to make sure we bring it to life in the way that she wants.

3. Can you tell us about how the creative process for adapting a story like The Bone Season begins?
It begins with knowing the story you want to tell. There are thousands of stories contained within the world that Samantha has created- we have to be very disciplined about opening up the world in a way that will lead us on to further investigation in the rest of the series. We need to find the emotional heart of the story; the relationships; the tension; the suspense and the drive, and of course working closely with Samantha is going to make it much easier.
At this very early stage it’s about finding the right writer and the right approach to telling the story. Hand in hand with developing the screenplay it’s also about developing the visual world and bringing that to life, finding the right visual effects team who understand Samantha’s concepts.

4. You have been part of bringing some of the world's most famous and well-loved fantasy worlds to contemporary audiences. Which of your experiences across film, tv, stage and video games would you say has been most helpful in preparing you to produce The Bone Season?
It would be impossible to single out any one single experience, it’s an accumulation of all my experiences to date, but obviously having worked on The Lord of the Rings and Tolkien’s extraordinary world with Peter Jackson is incredibly useful. Peter basically gave me the opportunity to work on a lot of extraordinary characters in a lot of extraordinary worlds and has opened up my eyes to a genre that I knew very little about before.

5. Will performance capture will come mostly into play when portraying Shannon's Rephaim race on screen in The Bone Season? Can you give us any insight into how you'd like these characters to appear?
We’re in very early stages of designing how we want to portray these characters, and are exploring a variety of avenues to bring these characters to life. We’re certainly not tied to any one production technique at this early stage.

For my 10/10 review of The Bone Season, head to Novelicious.

Happy reading!

Austenland: Book vs Film Club

Shannon Hale’s 'Austenland' is about one woman’s obsession with Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice and – to be precise – Colin Firth’s portrayal of Mr Darcy.

This short and easy-to-read novel is an absolute delight to read (and easy to carry on the commute!). The characters are hilarious, especially Jane herself, and the comedy in throwing a modern day American woman into an Austenesque retreat in the English countryside is non-stop. Jane is endearing, despite her ridiculously outdated ideas of love and romance, and it’s easy to warm to her.

It really is the perfect, enjoyable read for any Austen fan – especially anyone who fell in love with Firth's Mr Darcy. Your face will ache from smiling.

The film adaptation takes a much more slapstick approach to the story and takes the whole setting to more theatrical depths, with the emphasis more on gags than witty banter. 

It does provide plenty of laughs but the Austenland story is very specific in its appeal. If you love Austen and are in the mood for something silly it might just work for you. It is, though, incredibly indulgent and the humour (especially in the film) is very tongue in cheek – so much so that many may find it more patronising and insulting than clever and witty. It is a story designed to be taken as it was intended: silly escapist fun. 

Ultimately, as the subject of the book vs film club, there were mixed – and extreme – reactions to Austenland in both formats but the difference in opinion certainly made for a more fun discussion than Gatsby, which everyone seemed in agreement over.

Film - 3/5
Book - 4/5

Thursday, 12 September 2013

JK Rowling to revisit the magical world she created

 ‘I always said that I would only revisit the wizarding world if I had an idea that I was really excited about and this is it.’

Harry Potter fans rejoice! JK Rowling is returning to the world of witchcraft and wizardry but not as we know it. The author is giving scriptwriting a go now with a film based on her book ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ and its supposed author, Newt Scamander.
Rowling says:

‘Although it will be set in the worldwide community of witches and wizards where I was so happy for seventeen years, “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” is neither a prequel nor a sequel to the Harry Potter series, but an extension of the wizarding world.  The laws and customs of the hidden magical society will be familiar to anyone who has read the Harry Potter books or seen the films, but Newt’s story will start in New York, seventy years before Harry’s gets underway.’

Wands at the ready if you’re excited!

Friday, 23 August 2013

The long and short of film-making: films worth getting (un)comfortable for

A bad film - no matter how short - can feel too long. After all, if it’s no good then all you’re thinking about is how much longer you have to sit through it. How much longer must you wait before you can leave? If a film is good though, really good, time flies. You can sit in a cinema for hours and be so taken in by the story that, before you know it, three hours have gone by! Some stories, often those which are more complex, more elaborate and more detailed, simply cannot be told in 90 minutes. Or at least, they cannot be told well.

Before seeing Cloud Atlas on the big screen, I had heard plenty about how very long it was but, having already struggled with the immensely complex novel on which it was based, I was prepared. I nipped to the loo, ran for the premiere seats, and marvelled at one of the most ambitious, most impressive films I have ever experienced. Cloud Atlas lasted 172 minutes (just under three hours) and there is not one scene I would have lost. Enough had been trimmed already in order to make the story more palatable.

Similarly, Zero Dark Thirty was a film of great depth which dealt with political controversy and the very real and current events we all witnessed post 9/11. It had an incredibly impressive story arc and followed one woman’s determined mission to track down the world’s most wanted man. The final twenty minutes were so unbearably tense, I almost forgot to breathe. Zero Dark Thirty ran for 157 minutes.

We may not have the grand sweeping epics of earlier Hollywood these days but, for those who are still able, some filmmakers are, fortunately for film-fans, brave enough to make films that make you think, make you sit back in awe and ultimately just make you sit still for more than ten minutes. Which, in the current climate of speed and technology, may just be a marvel in itself.

Do you have a cut off time when it comes to cinema outings? What longer films do you think are worth sitting that long for...?

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Book Review: Joyland by Stephen King

Is there anything Stephen King can't do? Apparently not. 

For his latest novel, Joyland, King has turned his incomporable writing style to a piece of pulp fiction which follows a young man as he recovers from his break-up, by working at an amusement park. 

As is always the case with King's stories, each and every character - no matter how small - is so intricately woven that you care about each relationship, each event.

Joyland is more of a coming-of-age tale than anything else for the most part but throw in a haunted ride legend and a mystery woman with a sick kid and you have every ingredient for a great King tale.

Joyland is endearing, adorable, frightening and it really is a joyous read.


Saturday, 10 August 2013

The Female Doctor Arrives: a fan's love letter to the sexists

I never imagined that writing an article where I simply raised the question of whether or not it was time for a female Doctor Who would get such an insane reaction. Apart from the many who simply said they would rather the Doctor remained a man (fair enough!), there was also numerous so-terrifying-it-was-positively-hilarious comments on the article, ranging from the notion that I was simply being PC for PC's sake to the belief that a woman as the Doctor would never work because she would be on her period and doing her make-up all the time.

So, in answer to all those narrow-minded sexists, I have written my own little intro for a new Doctor who likes to go on adventures, take a companion along for the ride and visit new worlds. She also happens to be a woman. 

Matt Smith's Doctor is no more and his overly long locks have grown even further into those of a female. 

Doctor: I'm a woman! Oh this is going to be fun! Wait, where did Clara go?

Assistant: She had to leave. Figured it was time for her to go, seeing as she'd already saved you over and over. Some women just can't help saving you, huh?

Doctor: Yeah I do kind of bring that out of people don't I. Well, women. Ooh like me now!

Assistant: But I thought Timelords were all men?

Doctor: Why?

Assistant: Well it is Timelord isn't it?

Doctor: So? Who do you think gives birth to them all?

Assistant: I guess. 

Doctor: Besides. You're all human aren't you. I mean there isn't a huwoman race out there I've been missing is there?

Assistant: Nope. Just us.

Doctor: Wait up. You're a guy!

Assistant: Yup. Sometimes guys want to be whisked away by a woman for an adventure you know. Times change.

Doctor: Excellent! Where shall we go first then? I'm driving.

So where should they go next?

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Book Review: World War Z by Max Brooks

World War Z by Max Brooks is more of a sociological report than a novel, beginning with the origins of the undead outbreak and taking the reader on a journey across countries as each society deals with the threat in their own way. As people join forces or cut their losses, Brooks uses the very unhuman undead to explore the human psyche, the need for survival and the lengths people will go to out of fear and desperation. After all, you may be able to avoid being bitten by a zombie, but will you manage to stay warm, find food and continue living?

Every few pages, the interviewer (who is never revealed - though I suspect may have led to the Brad Pitt character in the film adaptation) moves on to a new subject in an apparently never-ending attempt to understand what happened and how it all began. Some stories are very personal about average people surviving against all odds while others look at military personnel and officials. But each story is unique and compelling in their own right. My personal favourite involves a blind man who survived in the forest by himself!

The detail of the zombies is beautifully captured, too, as it is done through the eyes of so many different interviewees.

The interview style and the fact that the stories are broken up so regularly makes the novel something of a difficult read but it is easy to keep picking it back up and delving further into the story of a planet in crisis.
Book - 4.5 FOBLES - fascinating and beautifully crafted

Having not seen the film I am in no position to compare the two but from what I've been told, the film is massively different. Have you seen it? What did you think?

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

The Hunger Games continues Catching Fire with new exciting trailer

The wait is finally over for fans of The Hunger Games series - the new trailer for 'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire' has arrived!

This time around, something is notably different and it is Katniss Everdeen's little sister Prim (Willow Shields) who says just what that is in the trailer - hope. The hope Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) has inspired, of course, also brings with it an immense and very real threat to both herself and those she loves - a threat she is desperate to flee from as evident when she begs best friend Gale to run away with her before they are killed.

There are two elements of the trailer, however, which are even more exciting to see. Firstly, there is a lot more of the infamous conversation which takes place between President Snow (Donald Sutherland) and Katniss. This conversation - as fans will already know - is what starts the story and makes Katniss decide to do all she can to keep Snow on side. 'Would you like to be in a real war?' Snow asks. 'What do I need to do?' Katniss asks in response.

Secondly, and perhaps even more importantly, is the first real look at the victors who will be joining Katniss and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) in the arena. None of them have been allowed to speak yet in this trailer but - in true Hunger Games fashion - they are far more captivating showing off their fighting skills. Unsurprisingly, we have been treated to a glimpse of a half-naked Finnick Odair (Sam Claflin) and a rather intimidating Johanna Mason (Jena Malone) - though no sight yet of that much-loved first appearance of hers.

The trailer also shows something that is not often seen in any of The Hunger Games stories - a surprised and rather annoyed President Snow - after Katniss's magical transformation from blushing bride to Mockingjay.

Arguably, the most powerful and lingering part of the entire trailer is that of Haymitch's parting words for Katniss, spoken once again by the incomparable Woody Harrelson: 'Remember who the real enemy is.'

The promotional team behind the film are being careful not to give too much away too soon. The first trailer for 'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire' was focused on the immediate aftermath of the first film and the struggle the two victors faced under the Capitol's spotlight. Now, with this second trailer finally released, and only four months left until the film hits cinemas, fans of the franchise are able to see what happens next, meet the other victors and get a look at the arena itself. The more footage I see, the more it looks like this will be another stunning adaptation of the Suzanne Collins novels - and the more I cannot wait to see the film itself.

What's your favourite part of the trailer?

Monday, 15 July 2013

Pacific Rim puts the fun back into summer blockbusters

Remember the effect Jurassic Park had on the big screen? Independence Day? The incredible effects, the comedic one-liners, the characters we all cared about? It's been ages since I've felt that in the cinema - until now!

Pacific Rim ticks every box and delivers with every scene. The 3D enhances the cinematic experience and both the aliens and robots are simply spectacular. Care and detail has gone into making them more than just Power Rangers on steroids and the result is mesmerising and breathtaking to behold. Behind the action and epic robot vs. alien fight sequences, though, there is heart and emotion. There is a fantastic female actress (Rinko Kikuchi) who doesn't need to parade about in a bikini amongst the men to make people take note, there is Idris Elba leading the troups, Charlie Hunnam scarred by the loss of his brother.

The story has it all and backs it up with everything you could want from a proper summer blockbuster: action, comedy, thrills and pure unadulterated fun.

Go and see it. See it right now, at the cinema, in 3D. You will not be disappointed. Your face may hurt though from all the smiling!

5/5 FOBLES - if only more filmmakers could deliver like this does

Friday, 12 July 2013

Kirsty Greenwood's 'Yours Truly' gets a gorgeous new paperback cover!

Ebook sensation, Novelicious creater, champion of women's fiction and all-round lovely lady Kirsty Greenwood has already dazzled with her debut novel, Yours Truly, which rocketed to within the top 10 ebook sales soon after its launch. Now, having signed on with Pan Macmillan, Kirsty has today revealed the new cover for the paperback edition - due out in November - and it is GORGEOUS!

Courtesy of @kirstybooks
Here's what I thought of this delightful debut!

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Theatre Review: The Hothouse with Harold Pinter panel discussion

Guardian theatre critic and Harold Pinter biographer Michael Billington joined actresses Gina McKee and Lia Williams, writer Nick Payne and theatre director Jamie Lloyd for a special panel discussion of the playwright's work last week, ahead of the production of his play The Hothouse which stars John Simm, Simon Russell Beale and Harry Melling.

The panel discussed the influence of Pinter as a playwright, from the Pinter pause and the real meaning behind what is not said to the importance of timing in his dialogue. Pinter, they said, was revolutionary in the world of theatre and was amongst the first group of playwrights to provide works with ambiguous endings, where audiences could interpret the play the way they wanted to. Every line and every gesture, according to the panel, had significance.

Harry Melling (Lamb) - The Hothouse
Photo Credit Johan Persson
The Hothouse follows the staff of a mental health facility as Christmas Day brings the news of both a birth and a death amongst their patients. Chaos ensues as the chief, Roote, starts to panic about the implications of such events taking place under his roof.

The play moves at breakneck speed with the dialogue delivered as quickly as a Wimbledon tennis match - flying from one actor to the next and back again. The performances are often manic, adding to the hilarity but, though it is hilarious throughout and provides numerous belly laughs, the play is incredibly dark. The patients are never actually seen but hearing the way the staff talk about them is horrifying. They refer to them in numbers and look at them as an imposition and inconvenience. The news that one of the patients has given birth means that one of the staff has been having sexual relations with her but this reveal is met more with indignation at the extra work the birth has created rather than horror at the relationship itself. The most horrifying scenes are that of Lamb (played by Melling) undergoing electric shock treatment. His performance is so vivid that the result is immensely unsettling. 

For the most part, The Hothouse follows a steady rhythm but it leaps, rather unexpectedly, into one of the more shocking and unresolved endings for which Pinter is now so well known.

A clever, insightful but slightly disjointed work.


The Hothouse runs until August 3rd at Trafalgar Transformed.

Friday, 7 June 2013

New Carrie poster arrives

A new poster has arrived for the long-awaited - and, annoyingly, delayed - Carrie adaptation which stars Chloe Moretz and is out later this year.

What do you think? Will it be more like the Stephen King novel? It certainly looks that way from the trailer...

Source: Shortlist

Monday, 13 May 2013

The ‘reality’ of The Hunger Games

Stanley Tucci and Jennifer Lawrence in The Hunger Games. Credit: Murray Close.
Suzanne Collins, author of 'The Hunger Games' trilogy says she first came up with the idea for the stories when she was channel hopping between the news and reality TV. There was something terrifying in turning the violence and horror we see every day on the news into a reality TV show. Sparked by this idea, the annual hunger games began.

As 'The Hunger Games' begins, viewers see many of district twelve preparing for the reaping ceremony - the ceremony where one boy and girl will be chosen at random from each of the twelve districts to take part in the games. Even though they are sending two of their own to probable death, each citizen must dress up for the occasion, with the girls doing their hair in some special way. If they are not seen to be making an effort, they are likely to be punished.

The entire ceremony is also, of course, televised and broadcast across the nation of Panem. This is not an event you can simply call in sick for. Everyone must attend. Those in charge want the parents, siblings, friends and relatives of those selected to witness not just their selection at the reaping but everything that follows - right up to their death. They want everyone to see their power and what they can make Panem's children do. It is essential to their control.

The violence found in 'The Hunger Games' has, of course, been done before. Children killing children can be found in many stories - from 'Lord of the Flies' to 'Battle Royale'. However, we currently live in a world of reality TV - from Chelsea to the Geordie Shore via Laguna Beach. People film everything on their camera phones nowadays and some even film people being attacked or abused so that others can watch for their 'enjoyment'.

Collins managed to tap into this social phenomenon by incorporating this reality TV element into her stories and it was this focus that made 'The Hunger Games' that much more menacing - and oddly captivating. This is what allows for the film to be both inherently violent and not remotely gratuitous. None of the violence is glamorised. If anything, the focus is more heavily weighed on just how horrific it all is. Viewers of the film watch not just what happens within the games but everything that happens outside them too. As Panem's citizens are forced to watch their loved ones fight, kill or be killed, so is the viewer.

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Sumptuous new stills from Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby

As if I wasn't excited enough about the impending The Great Gatsby adaptation release (which I'll be seeing with some fellow book vs film devotees who are all currently reading the book!)... these images have made me even more excited (click to enlarge the images)!

The Great Gatsby stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Carey Mulligan, Joel Edgerton and Isla Fisher and hits cinemas in 3D and 2D on May 16th.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Unable to Write: The Perils of RSI

About six months ago, my wrist started to hurt. It got so bad that I asked my boss for a new keyboard and mouse mat with better wrist support. For a couple of weeks, it got better. But then, sadly, the pain returned.

I bought a cheap wrist support from Boots which seemed to stop the incessant clicking but as time went on, the pain only seemed to worsen. By the time I went to the doctor about it, she said it was highly likely that I had RSI. She referred me to a physio who discovered that most of the pain in my wrist (and now arm) had begun from the sheer amount of time I spent using my phone – and was certainly not helped by the amount of time I spent typing. I had apparently angered the tendons in my right thumb, by texting and emailing one-handed.

I immediately cut back on all my typing outside of working hours, greatly reduced the amount of time I spent on my phone (and was very aware of whether or not I was using my thumb too much), and started physiotherapy, chiropractic treatment, and acupuncture. I figured if one didn't work, all three surely would.

I'm happy to say that the treatment does seem to be making a difference, albeit a slow-moving one. I still need a wrist support every time I use the computer, I have to take numerous breaks and have an inordinate number of stretches and strengthening exercises to do every day. I also have one of those fancy pens you can use on a touch phone and have discovered the joy of voice recognition software (thanks to some brilliant advice from a certain author!).

Sadly, though, I don't see returning to full writer mode any time soon. It's only improving because I'm allowing my wrist and arm time to rest and working diligently on strengthening the wrist itself. If I were to suddenly start typing for hours at a time (like I used to!), all of the hard work that has been done so far would surely have been for nothing.

The saddest part of all of this, of course, is that writing is what I love to do. It was never an obligation. I looked forward to going home so that I could write a discussion topic for Novelicious, a review for Filmoria, or delve deeper into the book I seem to have been writing for months. I can't really do a lot of what I used to and it's certainly been an adjustment. However, there does seem to be a very small light at the end of this proverbial tunnel. For example, this entire post has been written using said voice recognition software. So I suppose there really is no shutting me up – no matter how much my body may tell me to.

Have you been affected by RSI? Share what's worked (or not!) for you in the comments.

Friday, 5 April 2013

First Book vs Film Club: The Great Gatsby

I made a new Twitter friend recently - @timothyeraw. This may not seem particularly newsworthy to many of you, were it not for the fact that this Twitter connection sparked an idea. What about a club? A club for those who want to read a great book, see the film adaptation and (most importantly!) discuss it!

But who has the time? So I looked ahead a few weeks and discovered, right there in the middle of May, the new Baz Luhrmann adaptation of The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald – and with that, the first #bookvsfilmclub was born!

So, with over a month still to go before the film hits cinemas, there is plenty of time to get your copy of the classic American novel. (Try the gorgeous new edition, designed by Tiffany & Co: The Great Gatsby (Vintage Classics)).

When May 16th comes around, join us – either in a London cinema in person or via Twitter using the #bookvsfilmclub hashtag – to discuss what you thought of both book and film.

For more info, find me at @filmvsbook or check out those already taking part at!


Monday, 25 March 2013

New Interactive Cover Revealed for Stephen King's 'Doctor Sleep': the sequel to The Shining

Fans of Stephen King's The Shining rejoice! The sequel to the chilling story, Doctor Sleep - which looks at where now middle-aged Danny Torrance's life has ended up - is out this September. Check out the synopsis and interactive new cover below...
King says he wanted to know what happened to Danny Torrance, the boy at the heart of THE SHINING, after his terrible experience in the Overlook Hotel. The instantly riveting, stand-alone novel, DOCTOR SLEEP picks up the story of the now middle-aged Dan.
On highways across America, a tribe of people called The True Knot travel in search of sustenance. They look harmless - mostly old, lots of polyester, and devoted to their comfortable Recreational Vehicles. But they live off the ‘steam’ that children with the ‘shining’ produce when they are slowly tortured to death.

Following a childhood haunted by the time he spent with his parents at the Overlook Hotel, Dan Torrance has been drifting for decades, desperate to shed his father's legacy of despair, alcoholism, and violence. Finally, he settles into a job at a nursing home in rural New Hampshire where his remnant ‘shining’ power provides the crucial final comfort to the dying. Aided by a prescient cat, Dan becomes ‘Doctor Sleep.’

Then Dan meets the evanescent Abra Stone, and it is her spectacular gift, the brightest shining ever seen, that reignites Dan’s own demons and summons him to a battle for Abra’s soul and survival...

Publication of the hardcover, eBook and digital download will be September 24, 2013. 

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Iron Man 3 posters may be sexiest posters ever made

Seriously! Even if you haven't got the hots for Robert Downey Jnr. (why not you crazy person!), these posters are just so damn... well, sexy! Roll on 26th April 2013 (3rd May 2013 USA).