Review: From Up on Poppy Hill (2011)

From Up on Poppy Hill
Directed by: Goro Miyazaki
Based on: Kokurikozaka kara by Tetsurō Sayama and Chizuru Takahashi
Genre: Animation / Drama / Romance
Released: 16 July 2011 (JP) by Toho (JP) Walt Disney Pictures (INTL) Studio Canal (UK)
Running time: 91 mins (1 hr, 31 mins)
Rated: PG (USA) U (UK)
Viewed where?: On DVD
Rating: ★★★★

Set in Yokohama in 1963, this lovingly hand-drawn film centers on Umi and Shun, and the budding romance that develops as they join forces to save their high school's ramshackle clubhouse from demolition.
I recently made a decision to watch every single unwatched film that I have whether it be on DVD, recorded on TV, or saved to my Netflix list and this Ghibli film was the first film that I picked. I actually bought this film at Christmas and I'm surprised that I didn't watch it until now because I was so excited to see it last year when I saw a sneak peek on Film4 in April last year. I've liked pretty much every single Ghibli film that I've seen, and I tried to keep my expectations at a reasonable level because Ghibli's contemporary films aren't on as epic a scale as their fantasy films, but I do still enjoy them for a different reason. Plus, I have a bias in this film (just read the second name in that mini cast list up there) and that'll always be a good enough excuse for watching something.

From Up on Poppy Hill is the story of Umi and Shun, two teenagers in 1960s Yokohama, who develop a romance when they join forces to save their high school's ramshackle clubhouse that a major company has threatened to demolish. I loved how light Poppy Hill's story is and it definitely satisfied my taste for fluffy things. The story moves along at an incredibly smooth pace, but it does have a couple of slow moments and even one moment that felt like it came out of nowhere to me. And once the problem in this moment was resolved, it was pretty much not even mentioned ever again which just felt a bit strange. But apart from that, the storytelling has been done very well and I really enjoyed the story from start to finish and how light and fluffy it was. Another thing I liked is that there are other themes to the romance. We also see scenes that focus on friendship, as almost the whole school joins together to protest against their clubhouse being destroyed, and there is also a strong theme of family as Umi hopes for her mother to return from her studies in America and Shun strives to know the truth about his birth. I love it when light stories have more serious themes underneath, and Poppy Hill does that just perfectly.

I am definitely one of those kinds of people who will definitely watch a film if a certain actor is in it, which led me to be surprised by how many people I know of are in this film and I didn't even realise it until I watched the special features on the DVD. For example, I had no idea that Christina Hendricks, Jamie Lee Curtis, Bruce Dern, and even Emily Osment were members of the cast. No idea at all! But anyways, getting back on track. I loved Sarah Bolger's performance as Umi, who is an incredibly well-rounded character. I loved how she was kind and caring for everyone around her, and was determined to help the boys in the clubhouse, and at the same time she could have her selfish moments like we all do. I found this in a lot of the characters, which made me love every single one of them. I think this is what I like about Ghibli's contemporary movies: I like the main characters from the beginning of the film, whereas in their fantasy films that have human characters, I'm usually annoyed by them at the beginning but come to like them as they grow. Okay, now I want to fangirl a little bit and I will also pose a question. Is it possible to be attracted to a voice? I definitely know that it is because I spent 50% of this film just swooning over Anton Yelchin (which I pretty much do with every single film he's in). We all have our biases and he's been mine for quite some time no. I can't help it if he's attractive enough to make me swoon when I can't even see his face. I usually don't say things like this but in certain fluffy scenes, I just couldn't. I just couldn't handle those swoons! Anways, fangirling aside, he gave an awesome performance as he does in pretty much every single film that he's in and made Shun my favourite character in the whole film. For totally biased reasons though. But can you blame me?

As is expected from any Ghibli film, Poppy Hill is beautifully animated. Even though the studio is more well know for their fantasy films, Ghibli has this amazing ability to make everything look magical and that's why I like their contemporary films as much as their fantasy films. The colours are incredibly vibrant, and this can especially be seen in the scenes that take place inside the clubhouse, which goes from being dark and covered in dust, to being colourful and pretty. I'm a total sucker for traditional animation (I'm honestly sick of the onslaught of CGI-animated films and TV shows these days), and Ghibli has easily the best animation that I have ever seen in film. Every detail is payed attention to, even when things are in the background or slightly obscured. And while I'm on the subject of animation, I occasionally find in English dubs of anime that the voices don't quite match the flaps (either because of the animation style or the timing), and thankfully this doesn't happen at all and everything is perfectly timed, which is all down to the way the dub was produced.

From Up on Poppy Hill is just the cutest film I have seen in a looooooooong time. I don't think I could squee at the film enough, it's just so cute! I love the characters, the animation is beautiful, and I especially love how Ghibli manages to make even the most ordinary of situations totally magical. Apart from the slow couple of parts in the story, I loved this film and I think this is definitely among my favourite Ghibli films.

Armchair BEA: Expanding Blogging Horizons


Expanding Blogging Horizons


In terms of expanding my blogging horizons, I haven't really done much. I've actually completely overhauled my blog twice now, and I'm glad that I did it because now I'm definitely sure of myself as a blogger. However, I still think that I have quite a ways to go though, since I'm just starting to interact with other bloggers more. For a while I had this silly idea that people would just come to my posts, and that just doesn't happen. To me, expanding my horizons means for me to be a better blogger and I am determined to do so!

While I haven't expanded my horizons much, I really would like to and here are a couple of things I have in mind:
  • Get a new blog design - I made this one myself and while I do like it, I would like a more professionally made one. Plus, this template doesn't let me enable threaded comments. I promise that I'm not ignoring your comments!
  • Attend a real-life book event with other bloggers - I would love to meet some bloggers in person and an event such as a convention or even a signing would be the perfect opportunity to do that!
  • Produce more original content - right now, I'm kind of limited to reviews and memes (even though I only take part in two), and I don't think that makes me stand out. So my plan is to make more original posts that I don't use a template for or just write sporadically (I used to do a Book vs Film feature whenever I had a lot to say about something, but I've stopped it for now because I ran out of things to do with it. Oops).
  • Generally be a part of the book blogging community more! - I haven't been all to social during my time blogging, and it's time that I stopped that. I've taken part in events in the past that have led me to find new blogs, and so has Armchair BEA. So far I've loved reading posts from all you lovely people and have enjoyed commenting on posts! I definitely hope to keep this up because, to tell you a secret, I am a terrible commenter. Before, I just didn't do it at all which was silly of me.

Maybe in the future I'll gain the confidence to branch out even more and try my hand at vlogging or even creating my own BookTube channel! That would be a huge step for me because I'm so incredibly camera shy (I don't even like having my photograph taken >.<).

How about you? What does expanding your blogging horizons mean for you?

Review: Origin by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Origin
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Series: Lux #4
Genre: YA Science Fiction / Paranormal Romance
Released: August 27 2013 by Entangled
Source: Purchased
Rating: ★★★★

Add to Goodreads | Purchase on Amazon | Purchase on TBD
Daemon will do anything to get Katy back.

After the successful but disastrous raid on Mount Weather, he's facing the impossible. Katy is gone. Taken. Everything becomes about finding her. Taking out anyone who stands in his way? Done. Burning down the whole world to save her? Gladly. Exposing his alien race to the world? With pleasure.

All Katy can do is survive.

Surrounded by enemies, the only way she can come out of this is to adapt. After all, there are sides of Daedalus that don't seem entirely crazy, but the group's goals are frightening and the truths they speak are even more disturbing. Who are the real bad guys? Daedalus? Mankind? Or the Luxen?

Together, they can face anything.

But the most dangerous foe has been there all long, and when the truths are exposed and the lies come crumbling down, which side will Daemon and Katy be standing on? And will they even be together?
Guess when I bought this book? When it was released last year. When did I finally get around to reading it? Last week. Yep, I am definitely tardy to the party with this one. And I don't really feel too good about it because Jennifer L. Armentrout's Lux series is easily one of my favourite YA series. So far, I've been impressed by every single book in the series and I went into Origin just knowing that JLA wouldn't fail me at all. And although I did enjoy this book, it took me too long to finish and there were a couple of things that I had mixed feelings on (that I will try to keep vague for the sake of spoilers).

Origin is told in a dual point of view from both Katy and Daemon, which was a little jarring at first but I very quickly got used to the format. The story picks up after the events at Mount Weather at the end of Opal, with Katy and Daemon having been separated and Daemon being determined to get her back. I liked how the story is told from both of their points of view, as we get to see what is happening with both of them, because if Origin was in only Katy's point of view, like the first three books are, it would be pretty stale seeing her doing the same things all the time, or even nothing at some times, so Daemon's POV definitely brought action to the story. And speaking of action, Origin is definitely more action-packed than the previous books. In fact, it feels like the romance had been shoved out of the way to make way for all of this action that really amps up towards the end of the book. Katy and Daemon are still mad for each other, and I wanted to see so much more of that because I don't feel like I got enough swoons here. While I'm on the topic of the end of the book, I have a few mixed feelings about it. I don't necessarily agree with the actions of a few characters (I'm not saying who!) because I thought things were moving just a little bit too fast, even though this is the penultimate book in the series. But, it's already happened and I'll just have to deal with it and slightly hold my tongue.

I definitely think that the best part of this whole series is the characters, who are just so awesome and lively and I can't help but love them (well, bar one but I don't have to worry about that character anymore). Although I will admit that at times I kind of forgot about Katy, I still like her. She couldn't exactly do anything about the situation she was in, but she wasn't sitting around on her butt waiting for Daemon to save her either, which I was so relieved about. In fact, there were times where she thought more of herself than of Daemon, which I would kind of do too if I was stuck somewhere. As usual, her narration has an awesome voice that is so much fun to read in and is both humorous and emotional. Ah, I just love it so much! Daemon, as per usual, is just amazing. I loved being able to read from his point of view, which has such an authentic voice. He sounded very different to Katy, so if it wasn't made clear who was narrating, I still wouldn't have known who it was. Daemon is still the same old asshole that we know and love, but this time he became a bit more fearsome. We already knew already that he can be dangerous, but now it's really emphasised just how powerful and relentless he is in his search for Katy. And while I did say that I would have liked more swoons, the swoons that I did get from Daemon were definitely the best, so that kind of makes up for it. Seriously, this guy just won't stop being to desirable. And that's definitely a good thing.

Origin barely takes place in the series usual setting of Petersburg, which I kind of liked but felt a bit apprehensive about at first. It felt weird not being in school anymore, or even seeing Katy's mum, but I quickly got used to this and started to like it because I guess the characters had to branch out and go to other places sometime soon. I liked being able to see inside of Daedalus, and how all the secret stuff was going down. I always like it when characters are thrust into a setting that is totally alien to them (see what I did there?), because it really stretches who they are, and that really happened with Katy as I feel like I saw her at her strongest, and also with Daemon, as his pursuit really brought out how much he feels for Katy.

Overall, I did enjoy Origin and I'm still looking forward to the final book in the series, but I'm a bit conflicted on how things have happened at the end of the book. I liked the way that the majority of the story played out and the characters were as awesome as they ever were. I'll definitely be reading the final book, but my one big hope is that the series doesn't do a huge 180 and end on a bad note, like The Hunger Games did for me *crosses fingers*.

Armchair BEA: Introductions

Design by Amber of Shelf Notes

Hey gang, I've decided to participate in Armchair BEA this year! This is my first time taking part and I'm really excited about this, but I will only be posting every other day because I still want to post my reviews. I'll also be taking part in the Instagram challenge, and I have linked to my page down below!

Introductions


1. Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who are you? How long have you been blogging? Why did you get into blogging? Where in the world are you blogging from?
My name is Louise and I'm blogging from England. I've been blogging for almost three years now (although I did take an extended hiatus from last September until January just gone) and I don't exactly remember how I got into blogging properly. I think it was because the members of a Goodreads group that I used to be in were sharing links to their blogs and I was inspired to make one of my own. I'd honestly thought that it wouldn't be something that I'd keep up with all the time, but here I still am!

2. Describe your blog in just one sentence. Then, list your social details -- Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. -- so we can connect more online.
"Nerdy ramblings from the alien-obsessed biggest kid in the known universe" (that sounds good to me!)

I can be found on:

3. What genre do you read the most? I love to read because _______
I read a lot of science-fiction, which is my favourite genre of everything because robots, aliens, and going to different planets is just the coolest thing ever to me. I love to read because I'm able to piece together descriptions with my own imagination and get a picture of how I imagine things to play out, whereas with films and TV shows (which I do still love, though) I'm given how another person imagined it, which a lot of the time is quite different. Plus, I've always loved reading! It's fun!

4. Spread the love by naming your favourite blogs/bloggers (doesn't necessarily have to be book blogs/bloggers).
Some of my favourite blogs include:


And I also have a few favourite BookTubers too!:


5. What book would you love to see as a movie?
I would love to see the Leviathan trilogy by Scott Westerfeld (one of my favourite book series ever) be made into a movie series. I was watching a BookTube vlog a little while back that said that the series would be amazing as an animated film (it would be the most awesome thing ever if Studio Ghibli made Leviathan into a movie) and I can't help but agree so much. An animated Leviathan movie by Studio Ghibli? Uh, yes please!

Life of a Blogger: 101 Things I Hate

Life of a Blogger is a weekly meme hosted by Jessi from Novel Heartbeat, where we talk about what we do when we're not reading. Click HERE for more info!

This week's topic:
101 Things I Hate


Another list! This time it's a list of things I hate, and hoo boy, this was an easy list to make. Just like how there's tons of things that I love, there's plenty of things that really get under my skin and make me want to rip my brain stem out of the back of my head. And plus, I've put a couple more gifs into this post (just to seperate things out because the way lists look in HTML is another thing that I hate)! Let's get to it!

Review: Godzilla (2014)

Godzilla
Directed by: Gareth Edwards
Based on: Gojira by Toho Studios
Genre: Action / Science Fiction / Monster
Released: 15 May 2014 (UK) 16 May 2014 (USA) by Warner Bros. Pictures
Running time: 123 mins (2 hr, 3 mins)
Rated: 12 (UK) PG-13 (USA)
Rating: ★★★★★

The King of the Monsters is pitted against malevolent creatures who, bolstered by humanity's scientific arrogance, will threaten humanity's very existence.


Up from the depths, thirty storeys high, breathing fire, his head in the sky GODZILLA! GODZILLA! And some new moooonsteeeeers... For quite a few years I've expressed an interest in the Godzilla franchise but I haven't seen any of the original Japanese films, or any of their American dubs, possibly due to them being before my time and not aired on TV when I was a kid (Japan does share a region code with the UK, but they're still a bitch to find with English subtitles on them). Before going to see this film the only Godzilla film I'd seen is Tri-Star's 1998 film Godzilla, which we just don't talk about (the creature in that film is now considered a completely different monster). Once this film was first teased, I was totally on board and I've stalked this film for about a year now. And while I still have yet to see the original Godzilla film, I did a lot of reading and watching of fans' top ten lists so I feel like I know the lore enough to know whether things have been done right or not.  We all know how hyped up this film is, and while I'm usually sceptical of hyped up things, I put a lot of faith into Gareth Edwards because he seemed to know what he was doing, and man, he really did know what he was doing.

I've seen that people weren't too pleased with Godzilla's plot, but I honestly didn't mind it. In fact, I liked it. The film's opening scenes takes place in 1999, with Dr. Ichiro Serizawa (played by Ken Watanabe) being called to a mining site in the Philippines where something peculiar has been found; then we move on to a few days later and see Joe Brody (played by Bryan Cranston) go through what I can only describe without spoilers as being the most heartbreaking day of work in the history of fictional characters going to work. Then we skip 15 years forward and the main body of the film commences. On the whole, I did enjoy the film's plot line but I had a few issues that stopped Godzilla from getting top marks from me. First of all, the time jumps at the beginning felt a little too abrupt and I initially had a little trouble keeping up. Thankfully, that problem was solved. My second issue is that I don't think Godzilla got enough screen time. I realise that this film focuses more on the human side of things but a character whose name is the title of the film should really have a lot of screen time, which he didn't. And my last issue is the end of the film. It just stops. I had expected that once all the fighting had finished that we'd see humanity go back to normal and rebuild itself, but nope. It just ends and the credits roll. But despite those issues, I really enjoyed the plot line. It managed to keep me on edge pretty much most of the time and even though this is a film about giant monsters, I liked seeing the human characters. And yes, there's a couple of cliched shots in there, such as the child and the dog being the first ones to notice that there's a giant monster coming and the person the camera's focused on won't stop looking behind them while they're running away, but I really didn't mind that at all. Sometimes I love a good old cliche.

Unfortunately, the characters is another area that lead to Godzilla losing out on top marks. The two best characters in the film (that aren't monsters) are Joe Brody and Dr. Serizawa. Bryan Cranston gives yet another amazing performance as Brody, and I don't think he's in the film enough at all. Why? You'll have to see for yourself because I'm not telling. Pretty much everybody thought that he was the main character and he's not. But in his short screen time, he gives a phenomenally emotional performance that doesn't feel forced or cliched at all. You always get you "mad scientist" type character in monster movies, but Cranston has done it very differently because Joe Brody is sane because he's right about everything. As for Dr. Serizawa, I really liked Ken Watanabe's performance as him and out of the main characters, I remembered him the most. I thought the rest of the cast were good, but obviously their characters could have been better. The rest of the Brody family felt a bit generic with the army dad, nurse mum, and the little boy (children in monster movies all tend to be the same anyway). I think that if their characters had been fleshed out a lot more in the writing stage, I would have remembered them a lot more. Oh, and there's Godzilla himself. He's awesome as always. You won't lose him in the middle of a city (take that, Roland Emmerich).

I definitely think that this film is a good way for people who are new to the Godzilla franchise to get into the Japanese series because it does give Godzilla and the MUTOs origins, which isn't entirely complicated at all. Although I do love how Ken Watanabe's pronunciation of Gojira becomes GAHDZILLA when said by the American characters. Just beautiful. I also liked how much sense the monsters' origins made (for a film that's totally fictional, it made sense). If I'm going to compare it to Tri-Star's Godzilla, which is just all wrong even for a monster movie, the origins are more true to the original movie Gojira, but unlike Tri-Star's movie, we're given a more realistic time line. Here, Godzilla and the MUTOs are prehistoric beasts that have irradiated over a huge amount of time, compared to Zilla who was a marine iguana in French Polynesia where marine iguanas aren't even indigenous and had a bomb dropped on him by the French in 1968 (I didn't even know the French did nuclear tests). I think I know which one would be more believable. Okay, no more talking about Zilla. Anyway, the origin of Godzilla here is more true to the Toho series because Godzilla is a dinosaur, and it would have taken an incredibly long time for him to evolve to the size that he is. And the A-bomb attacks on Japan will have helped with that too (in the real world, Godzilla wouldn't have been created if Japan hadn't been bombed). Although the origin story isn't completely condensed, it's very easy to understand for people new to Godzilla, like myself (although I had read up on it before).

The special effects and cinematography of Godzilla are just amazing. I mean, holy crap, just look at Godzilla! Look at him! He's freaking huge! Well, Godzilla's freaking huge anyway, but here's even freaking huge-er (bigger than in any other movie, at 106.68 metres, and I don't know how many feet that is but I'm going to assume that it's a lot). The design is definitely true to Toho's Godzilla, which is that he is a freaking huge-ass dinosaur, but not exactly the kind that you would see in Jurassic Park. And while we're on the subject of monster designs, the MUTOs look damn spooky. There are two MUTOs, one is a male and one is a female. The male MUTO is the smaller one and can fly, whereas the female is about as big as Godzilla is and resembles a spider of some sorts. They look pretty scary and in the film's darker scenes they really amp up the fear factor by just appearing as red slits for eyes. Spooky. As for the 3D, I didn't go see Godzilla in 3D but now I really wish I did. I definitely want to get the full experience to see what it's like.

I have a theory about films released by Warner Bros: if you don't hear As Time Goes By when the logo appears, shit's about to go down. As soon as the opening credits roll we're treated to the film's amazing score which is one of the reasons as to why I was on edge throughout a lot of the film. Sound is definitely a prominent element of Godzilla because this film is loud. If you thought Man of Steel was a loud film, you haven't seen Godzilla yet. I was sitting at the very back of the screen in front of the VIP box, and I could hear the glass vibrating. This is the kind of loud that you can feel. I could feel the sound in my chest and my ears, and every time one of the monsters roared, my heart thudded for about two minutes afterwards. Not because I was scared (I was on edge, but not scared) but because those roars sound incredible. Especially Godzilla's, which has gone from this to this terrifying roar (turn your volume down!), which pays homage to the original classic roar. The MUTOs roars on the other hand, are incredibly interesting. To me, the growls sound like creaking wood, and I can't really explain the actual roar so have a listen for yourself. Many of the classic Toho kaiju villains have incredible loud roars like Godzilla, but the MUTOs have much creepier roars which made them pretty scary.

Holy crap. I don't think I can get enough of this film. As soon as it was over, me and a bunch of other guys sat and waited until the credits were over to see if there were any mid-credits or after-credits scenes. There aren't any, but I'm glad that I stayed the full running time because I was in total awe of what I'd just seen. Yes, there are a couple of things that have knocked it off top marks but I still loved this film, and it's definitely one of the best that I've seen this year. And let me tell you this: if you see any bad reviews or people telling you to not see this film (guy on my Twitter feed did that. I unfollowed him.), you should ignore them. My opinion's more important than their's and I say you should definitely go see Godzilla. Just kidding! But seriously, go see this film (and plus, a sequel's already been announced! I've already got a monster that I want to see in mind).

IMPORTANT: If you're planning on seeing Godzilla in the cinema and are sensitive to loud noises or flashing images, I would advise you to be careful as this film is very loud and has infrequent scenes that use strobe lights. And if you're thinking of taking young children, make sure you read the content advisory on IMDb.

I'm Finished with Uni for the Year! (+ my goals for the summer)

(this gif is so relevant because GUESS WHO I WENT TO SEE ON THURSDAY!!!)

I'm finally finished with university for the year! My last assignment (which was a total nightmare) has been handed in and I'm finally free to read as much as I want and read what I want. Yahoo! Since I don't have any work to do until September (which seems like forever away), you guys will be seeing me a lot more around here because I'm finally going to get my butt in gear and make my presence known in the blogging world (I've tried before and failed). So, here are some of my goals for this summer!

Blogging goals


  • Post more frequently - I already have my reviews on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, as well as Life of a Blogger on Fridays, so I'm going to try to post on days where I don't usually have anything (I've already got a new feature planned!).
  • Write more discussion/personal posts - I'm not really the best person at articulating thoughts onto paper as soon as I think them, and this blog is kind of limited to just reviews at the minute, so I want to add more of a 'me' element to my posts
  • Comment on blogs - I am the worst commenter in the world. Don't even try to argue on me with on this because I just don't do it (mainly because I'm shy, even behind a computer screen). So, I am going to comment on posts that I read, to show people that I am interested in what they have to say (when I was on Mibba, back when it was more popular, a lot of people used to say "don't be a silent reader" and I don't want to be a silent reader anymore)
  • Be more social on Twitter - I've started using Twitter more since I've returned to blogging, and I'm still not all that social with other bloggers. So it's about time that I changed that! If you follow me on Twitter, tweet at me! And if you don't follow me on Twitter, why not? Go follow me! (I'm kidding, you don't have to follow me if you don't want to.) You'll always know who I am, because my profile picture is Homer Simpson.
  • Participate in more events - Last month I took part in LGBT month, and although I enjoyed it, I think I should have participated a lot more, instead of just reading books, posting reviews and linking them up. And there's lots of great events that happen and I'd like to take part in ones that interest me, and do it properly.
  • Go to a book convention! - Okay, maybe I'll save this one for next summer, or after my birthday (which is at the very end of August *winkwinknudgenudge*) because I'm currently broke. And I'd love to meet some of you lovely people in real life (realistically, it would be UK bloggers that I'd meet because I live in the North and even going to London can be expensive)!

Personal goals


  • Leave the house more often - I'm not doing anything on a regular basis for five months so I can't just sit in the house all the time. Even if it involves leaving the house to go to someone else's house, I'll still be doing something.
  • Save money - This one's important because I have about £500 to last me until September and my friends are wanting to do a lot of things over the summer. And on top of that, I'm going to Switzerland in August with my Guides unit, where I'll be feeding myself. It's a good thing I tend to not spend too much money abroad.
  • Get in contact with my school friends - This is really personal for me because I haven't seen any of my old friends since last year and they barely talk to me anymore. I mean, I haven't sent them any messages, but it goes both ways. So, I'm going to send my best friend a message and ask if she wants to meet up for coffee or something. Just anything will do because I don't want us to drift apart any more.
  • Get active - I refuse to put on more weight over the summer, and I think my gym member ship has expired so my friend and I will be looking for a cheaper place to go to. By bye, flab!
  • Generally take better care of myself - I didn't really want to admit this onlne, but I am a really lazy person when it comes to taking care of myself. There are days where I just don't get dressed and stay in my pyjamas all day. I don't want to have this habit forever, I'm definitely going to change that.
  • Finish Pokémon X (and Metal Gear Solid) - I must do this before November! I must I must I must! I got this game in October when it was released and I just didn't have the time to play it (I managed to finish A Link Between Worlds over Christmas vacation though). And plus, the Hoenn remakes are coming out in November and I never finished Sapphire because I lost it, so that game will be so important to me.
So, these are my goals for this summer! I really think that I can do this if I try, and that's exactly what I'm going to do! Starting today, you'll definitely be seeing a lot more of me, and I did try to have a review up tomorrow but I failed there because that assignment got in the way of reading. I'll see you all around the net!

Life of a Blogger: 101 Things I Love

Life of a Blogger is a weekly meme hosted by Jessi from Novel Heartbeat, where we talk about what we do when we're not reading. Click HERE for more info!

This week's topic:
101 Things I Love


A list! And it's of the perfect length for me to ramble on and be indecisive! There's a lot of things that I love, both big things that I don't get to do all the time, and little everyday things that make me feel all warm and fuzzy on the inside and they're all in this big long glorious list. So, let's get this show on the road!

Life of a Blogger: Pet Peeves

Life of a Blogger is a weekly meme hosted by Jessi from Novel Heartbeat, where we talk about what we do when we're not reading. Click HERE for more info!

This week's topic:
Pet Peeves


Oh boy, do I have my pet peeves. I'm one of those people who's just naturally annoyed by everything, and I hate it. I'm annoyed by people, I'm annoyed by little habits, I'm annoyed by the way things are organised, I'm even annoyed by myself. There are things that I do myself that annoy me! I really should become a hippy or something because my irritability may get progressively worse. So, ready for my pet peeves? I know I am...

Review: Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Lola and the Boy Next Door
Author: Stephanie Perkins
Genre: YA Contemporary Romance
Released: September 28 2011 by Dutton
Source: Purchased
Rating: ★★★★★

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Could the boy from her past be the love of her future?

Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn't believe in fashion... she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit - the more sparkly, more fun, more wild - the better. And life is pretty close to perfect in Lola's world, especially with her hot rocker boyfriend. That is, until the dreaded Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood and unearth a past of hurt and anguish that Lola thought was long buried. When talented inventor Cricket steps out from his twin sister's shadow and back into Lola's life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.
Want to know what I thought of Anna and the French Kiss? Click this link for my review!

I am totally in love with Stephanie Perkins's work. For reals. I loved Anna and the French Kiss so much that I had absolutely zero doubts that I would love Lola and the Boy Next Door too. And you know what? This book was left sitting on my shelf for far too long. I don't know why I didn't read it sooner (well, actually I do know why. i just like saying that) because this book is just so gosh darn adorable! Stephanie Perkins is quickly being cemented as one of my favourite YA authors because I just couldn't get enough of this book.

Lola is the story of Lola Nolan, an aspiring costume designer who lives in San Francisco with her two dads and has an older hot rocker boyfriend, who her parents aren't particularly fond of. And then one day, her old neighbours from when she was a kid, Cricket and Calliope, move back next door and screw things up for Lola. Compared to Anna and the French Kiss, this story is just a little more of an everyday circumstance, but it isn't any less wonderful or magical. Lola's story made me feel everything: I laughed, I felt bad for people, and I definitely got that magical-ness that was also in Anna. I don't know if I would call this a first love story because Lola already has a boyfriend at the beginning of the book, but it definitely felt that way. There was only one thing in the entire book that I didn't like and that was the numerous descriptions of Lola's outfits. Bad fanfiction has taught my to just not care about what a character is wearing because most of the time it's not necessary. But since Lola is a costume designer, I kind of expected this to be an ongoing thing since the first description. That doesn't mean I have to like it though.

As with Anna and the French Kiss, Lola and the Boy Next Door has a cast of awesome characters. I loved every single one of them! Our main character, Lola is incredibly quirky but she's not the kind of quirky where a person is so out there that it makes them a little hard to like. No, she's not like that at all. Lola is very unique compared to other quirky YA girls. She's an artsy person, but she can still be relatable depending on the reader. I felt like I could somewhat relate to Lola because at one point (I hope this isn't a spoiler!) she is told by another character that she doesn't exactly know who she is, and the way she dresses reflects that. And while that's not necessarily true, I could definitely relate to that because throughout my teenage years, which are slowly coming to an uneventful end, I went through about three different phases and I'm still not entire sure of who exactly I am (although I'm too lazy and insecure to experiment with things). But despite that, I love Lola's bubbly personality and loyalty to her friends, which made her a completely lovable MC. As for Cricket, he is definitely my new book boyfriend and I want him all for myself. This dude is pretty much the guy of my dreams: he's kind, sweet, thoughtful, smart, and dresses really well. And while I initially thought that I shouldn't like him from little hints that were dropped in the narration, I couldn't help but love him and every time he appeared, I felt like a dog when it sees its owner.

Apart from the romance aspect of the book, which is obviously the most important element, Lola is also about growing to become a better person and making hard decisions that sting at first but will ultimately make things better. I liked that this was also an important part of the story because it shows that romance isn't everything in life. It's nice to have someone (says the girl who's never had a boyfriend), but it's very important to do things that will better your life, even if it involves breaking off ties with people who are unhealthy to you and unintentionally hurting people. That's just how we grow.

Lola and the Boy Next Door is told in a similar narrative style to Anna and the French Kiss, which is a first-person narrative from Lola's point of view and in the present tense with PLENTY OF CAPS, which in one of the many reasons as to why I love Stephanie Perkins's writing style. She manages to perfectly capture her characters' voices in the narrative, which is both humorous and emotional, and makes reading the books just that more fun and even makes me love her characters even more. And also, even though Lola is more of an everyday situation (the boy next door comes home and then all those past feelings come back), there isn't any shortage of how magical it feels.

I absolutely loved Lola and the Boy Next Door; it's so cute! I loved reading every single word of this book, I just couldn't get enough and didn't want it to end. I loved the story, the romance, and the characters, especially Cricket. If I could magically make Cricket real and have him all to myself, I would be an incredibly happy bunny. Once again, Stephanie Perkins hasn't let me down and I've already pre-ordered my copy of Isla and the Happily Ever After!

Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth

Divergent
Author: Veronica Roth
Series: Divergent #1
Genre: YA Dystopian / Science Fiction
Released: March 5 2011 by HarperCollins
Source: Purchased
Rating: ★★★

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Three flying birds...
One for each member of the family I left behind.

Sixteen-year-old Tris is forced to make a terrible choice. In a divided society where everyone must conform, Tris does not fit.

So she ventures out alone, determined to discover where she truly belongs. Shocked by her brutal new life, Tris can trust no one. And yet she is drawn to a boy who seems to both threaten and protect her.

The hardest choice lies ahead.
I'd seen the Divergent series floating around the blogosphere quite some time back, but I never really payed much attention to it until it became hyped up recently, due to the film being released. Naturally, I had to see what all the fuss was about and got myself a copy of the first book in the series. I actually DNF-ed Divergent at first, but promised myself that I would come back to it later. And while I'm glad that I did pick the book back up and continued reading, I wasn't exactly wowed, like I expected to be.

Divergent is set in a world where every person is sorted into a 'faction' based on their personality traits, for reasons that were so vague I can barely remember. These factions dictate how an individual dresses, acts, and even thinks in order to fit in with each other, and any person who does not fit into any faction is 'divergent', which is incredibly dangerous for someone to be. Tris, our heroine, chooses to leave the faction she was born into and transfers to another, which is a stark contrast to the routine life that she lived before. Although I did enjoy the book's story, I found it incredibly difficult to get into. The first quarter of the book moves at a near snail's pace, which is what caused me to put it down. However, when I came back I soldiered on through the more boring parts of the book and things definitely got a lot more exciting. As for the end, however, I'm very on the fence about it because it just came out of absolutely nowhere. There were little clues leading up to it happening, but I just didn't expect it at all (it was almost like Mockingjay all over again).

Divergent's characters were what I liked the most about the book, especially Tris. Most of the dystopian heroines I've seen usually start out being a little bit on the tough side and grow to be even tougher. Tris, on the other hand, started off being more complacent due to the way her faction raised to be, and grew to being stronger and stronger, thanks to all of the bullshit she has to put up with from other people in her new faction. And I don't like to use this word too much, but she was definitely a strong MC. As for the other characters, I either liked them, or wanted bad things to happen to them. That can definitely be said for Peter, who was probably the biggest scumbag I have ever seen in a YA book. If I'd ever met the guy in real life, I would definitely act out violently towards him. As for Four, I liked him, but I feel like I'll probably like him more as the series continues. I realise that he is supposed to be a mysterious person at first, but he constantly went from hot to cold so much that at times I didn't know what to think of him.

While I did find the world of Divergent to be quite interesting, I thought that the world building was quite poor. We're just dropped into this society of factions and rules that these factions have to adhere to and the choosing ceremony, with little to no explanation of why the world is this way. I was told by a couple of friends of mine that we're not told because the point is that apparently the characters don't even know. Even if it is intentional, that doesn't mean that I have to like it, and I didn't. I'm pretty sure that introducing the world and why it's so shitty is a highly important component of the first book of a dystopian series. At times I was left feeling confused and asking far too many questions.

As much as I like Tris, and this is going to sound a little strange, I liked her more in the dialogue than when she was narrating. There were times when I was relieved to see dialogue because the narration had a tendency to get bland at times, especially when there was something not particularly significant going on. I think this is what led me to DNF Divergent the first time; the lack of things going on, being confused, and then a not particularly engaging narration made me skim read at times, but thankfully it got better the more I read. I liked the way that dreams and simulations were described, as they really gave a vivid image of what Tris could see was happening. I know I've pretty much contradicted myself, but this is the best way that I can say how I felt.

Overall, I liked Divergent, but I think that I could have been better. Although the characters and story were great once I'd managed to fully get into the book, the world building was quite poor and almost non-existent. There were far too many questions that I wanted to be answered, which I don't think is a good thing for the first book in a series. Hopefully things will be explained further on into the series, which I will be continuing on with.

Life of a Blogger: Bucket List

Life of a Blogger is a weekly meme hosted by Jessi from Novel Heartbeat, where we talk about what we do when we're not reading. Click HERE for more info!

This week's topic:
Bucket List

Before this topic came up, I'd never really had a bucket list. I have a list of things that I would really really like to do, but not necessarily a list of things that I absolutely must do before I die. Because, y'know, I don't like to think of those kind of things. I'm more of a 'live in the moment' kind of person. When it comes to life experiences, I prefer to do things sporadically than plan things. But, anyways! Here is my "things I would really like to do but if it doesn't happen that's okay" list!

  • Travel to anywhere east of Germany or west of Spain
  • Do a road trip around America (British road trips are incredibly boring unless you like motorways)
  • See my favourite bands/artists perform live
  • Attend San Diego Comic-Con
  • Cosplay
  • See Charlotte Martin perform (this is incredibly important to me because she doesn't tour outside of the US)
  • Finish a novel
  • Learn how to cook more meals than I know how to now
  • Become comfortable with my appearance (I'm already working on it but I still have quite a ways to go!)
  • Have a significant other (marriage would be nice, and I've already decided that I don't want human children. Fur babies will do me fine!)
  • Attend a movie premier
  • Have my own place to live (house or apartment, I'm not really bothered)
  • Learn to speak French
  • Read all of Ernest Hemingway's work (I'm becoming obsessed with Hemingway)
  • Go to BEA
  • Go on a Frankenstein or Dracula tour (one literary tour I would never do is Bloomsday. No thank you.)
  • Ride every roller coaster that holds a current world record
  • Learn a craft or skill
  • Attend Whitby Goth Weekend
  • Own a car (I need to be able to drive first)

What's on your bucket list?

Review: Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Directed by: Anthony and Joe Russo
Starring: Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, and Samuel L. Jackson
Based on: Captain America by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby
Genre: Superhero / Action
Released: April 4 2014 by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Running time: 136 mins (2 hr, 16 mins)
Rated: 12 (UK) PG-13 (USA)
Rating: ★★★★

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For Steve Rogers, awakening after decades of suspended animation involves more than catching up on pop culture; it also means that this old school idealist must face a world of subtler threats and difficult moral complexities. That comes clear when Director Nick Fury is killed by the mysterious assassin, the Winter Soldier, but not before warning Rogers that SHIELD has been subverted by its enemies. When Rogers acts on Fury's warning to trust no one there, he is branded as a traitor by the organization. Now a fugitive, Captain America must get to the bottom of this deadly mystery with the help of the Black Widow and his new friend, The Falcon. However, the battle will be costly for the Sentinel of Liberty, with Rogers finding enemies where he least expects them while learning that the Winter Soldier looks disturbingly familiar.
In the past, I didn't like Marvel at all (I blame Sam Raimi's Spider-Man films and Fantastic Four for that) but after seeing The Avengers in cinemas, I decided to give the Marvel Cinematic Universe (or MCU) a chance and checked out some of the films (well, Thor and Captain America to be specific. I don't particularly like Iron Man). I enjoyed the first Captain America film and made plans to see the film when it was released, and I really enjoyed The Winter Soldier (and making my dad sit through the credits) despite a couple of niggles that I had.

The Winter Soldier takes place after the events in The Avengers and sees Steve Rogers adjusting to life in the twenty-first century after being frozen for seventy years. Not only does he have to catch up on popular culture, but the way that terrorists work too as shown when S.H.I.E.L.D. is attacked. Going into the film, I didn't really know all to much about the story so a lot of the things going on were new to me, mainly when it came to S.H.I.E.L.D. that I barely knew anything about. I really enjoyed the film's story because it kept me on my toes and always anticipating what was going to happen next, although I was doing the common thing of guessing the next event (which is only okay when you keep it to yourself). As with every Marvel film, I stayed until the very end to see the after credits scenes and I'm glad that I did because they definitely grabbed my interest.

I'm not all too familiar with Marvel's characters outside of the MCU because I'm a DC girl (I have a special face reserved for people who think that Superman is boring), but I do like the way that they're portrayed by the cast in the films. As with the first film, and The Avengers, I really liked Chris Evans's performance as Captain America. He brought not only a great amount of effort and emotion to the character, but a bit of humour too. Steve made me laugh a few times and I love the way that he handles himself when faced by many enemies at one single time. As for Black Widow, I'm glad that she was included in the film because she really showed a contrast between modern day agents, and the soldiers of Steve's time. I'd only seen the character in The Avengers before and I didn't like her as much as I do now, but that's mainly because I barely knew anything about her. Scarlett Johansson gave an awesome performance as her again and I'm looking forward to seeing her again in the next Avengers film. My only issue with the characters, and I think that people may disagree with me, is that I don't think that the Winter Soldier got enough screen time as he should have. To me, it didn't feel like he was the main villain, but rather a puppet being used by who I thought was the main villain. And I feel like it's a bit of a shame because Sebastian Stan gave an excellent performance, but I feel like I still don't know the character apart from the basic facts about him.

For a film that doesn't use as much CGI as most superhero films, the effects used in The Winter Soldier are really good. I didn't see this film in 3D, but I may do so in the future so that I can get the full effect. My only qualm is that at times the camera went to being handheld, which is something that I really don't like due to it making me feel nauseous and there were a few times that caused me to look at my knees rather than the screen. But, despite that one little issue, this is still a good-looking film with awesome cinematography.

I really enjoyed The Winter Soldier so much that despite the long running time, it felt like it flew by because I liked it so much. I liked the story, loved the cast, and will definitely be watching this again. However, I do think that the titular Winter Soldier didn't get enough screen time and that's why I think the film missed out of five UFOs from me. But other than that, I would definitely recommend this film to fans of superhero films! This doesn't mean that I'm abandoning my beloved DC though...