21 September 2014

Showcase Sunday #51

18 September 2014

FILM REVIEW: Catching Fire

I decided to wait until all the hype had died down before watching Catching Fire as I didn't want it to give me any false expectations and I'm so glad I did. Catching Fire is a really great film that's actually even better than the first film in this trilogy, The Hunger Games

Some time has passed after the end of The Hunger Games and Katniss and Peeta have not spoken to each other at all since returning to District 12. Catching Fire opens on the day of the 'Victory Tour' around the country and President Snow unexpectedly arrives to tell Katniss that he is angry with her for sparking what could be a rebellion in all the districts. He wishes her to convince the public that the threat to eat the poisonous berries in the arena was an act of love and not one of rebellion or else he'll hurt her loved ones. Katniss reluctantly agrees but as the tour gets started and they move through each district, they see more and more acts of rebellion in the crowds and become more and more horrified by the Capitol's brutal treatment of these rebels. Later, it is announced that for the 75th Hunger Games, the third Quarter Quell, there will be a twist and the volunteers will be picked from the pool of previous victors. Katniss and Peetasoon find themselves back in the arena, this time with allies Finnick and Mags from District 4, and things are even more brutal before. 


Catching Fire has you gripping the edge of your seat from the very beginning. Now I know that sounds like a massive cliché, but it is actually true! There is such a tense atmosphere in this film as rebellion seems to be brewing and no one knows who to trust. This film is highly exciting and much flashier than The Hunger Games but this is definitely a good thing. The special effects are much better and highly impressive, as is the setting and the costumes. 

Although this is quite an action packed film, there were also many very emotional scenes in which I was on the point of tears in. This plot is actually quite moving as a lot of people are wronged and killed unjustly throughout the series and I'm glad that this more melancholic tone was able to shine through as well. That said, there are also several funny parts so it's not too depressing. 


I really liked the way that Katniss' character has developed since The Hunger Games. She was always a strong and brave character, but she's put up even more walls between herself and everyone else and seems to have age several years since she went into the arena. Although she is admirable, she is not always the most likeable of characters as she comes across as a little cold. In Catching Fire we see the relationship between Katniss and Peeta develop some more and we see more of Katniss' sensitive side which is interesting. Jennifer Lawrence continues to portray Katniss as a very real and raw character and seems to get it just right. 


I was a little disappointed by Peeta's part in this film as I felt that he didn't have a substantial role. Although he was often being talked about or seen on screen, he doesn't do a great deal of talking and his presence wasn't felt very strongly in my opinion. There were lots of sweet moments from Peeta but apart from these Peeta/Katniss moments, I don't think he was given much attention. I got the impression that Peeta doesn't really exist without Katniss which I did not get from the books. Although I expect Katniss to have a more dominant role, not least because she is the more dominant character, I still thought that there would be lots of emphasis on Peeta's character. 

This film is much more exciting than the first film as there are lots of new characters who all bring new plot developments with them. Finnick Odair, played by Sam Claflin, is a really great addition to the cast as he is both funny and serious, not to mention extremely hot! His other films coming out this year include Love, Rosie and The Riot Club, the two films I am most eagerly anticipating this year so I think Sam Claflin will be one to watch! 


Catching Fire was my favourite book in The Hunger Games book series and it will probably be my favourite in the film adaption too. The plot is a lot more intricate in this instalment with many twists and turns that keep you on your toes. Whether or not you've read the books, this is a must see film, though I would highly recommend watching the first film first so that you truly understand what they are fighting for in part two. This film is very long, lasting almost two and a half hours, but at no point during that time did I feel bored in the slightest. Time passed very quickly and before long the credits were rolling and I still wanted more! Speaking of the ending, Catching Fire ends on a massive cliffhanger so you absolutely must see it before watching the next instalment Mockingjay which comes out in November 2014. 

16 September 2014

GIVEAWAY - Falling For Books Blog Hop



It's giveaway time again! To celebrate Fall, and people going back to school/university, I'm participating in Tonya's 'Falling For Books' Blog Hop. Although you can pick any books of your choice, I would highly recommend picking one of the following titles which are must reads/upcoming reads for the season!


The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey 
All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven


WIN A SELECTION OF BOOKS OF YOUR CHOICE FROM THE BOOK DEPOSITORY UP TO THE VALUE OF £20/$30 
Open Internationally as long as TBD ships to your country 
16/09/14 - 30/09/14

14 September 2014

Showcase Sunday #50


Showcase Sunday is a weekly meme hosted by Books, Biscuits and Tea. Its aim is to showcase your newest books and to see what everyone else received for review, borrowed from libraries, bought in bookshops and downloaded onto eReaders this week. If you'd like to join, click here.


Books picked up from Penguin: 

Beautiful Redemption by Garcia & Stohl
Skeletons by Jane Fallon
Working on my Novel by Cory Arcangel
Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari
Oh Dear Sylvia by Dawn French
My Husband Next Door by Catherine Alliott
The Mysterious Affair at Castaway House by Stephanie Lam
Love, Nina by Nina Stibbe
Man At The Helm by Nina Stibbe
Ecological Intelligence by Daniel Goleman
Expo 50 by Jonathan Coe
Girl Heart Boy 3 - Un de Trop by Ali Cronin (French translation)
Cousin Bette by Balzac
Republic by Plato
The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey
City of Women by David Gillham
The Party by Ricard McGregor

So as you can see I've got a lot of books this week. Yes, they are all from the past week. The two piles on the left are all the books I picked up from my work experience at Penguin this week. I'm most excited for The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey!!! It's not released until the 16th September and it's heavily embargoed so I can't reveal anything about it, but I'll be posting a review soon! I've picked up 18 books in total from Penguin. The two piles on the right are my university reading list - and I haven't even purchased all the books yet! There are 27 of those in total and they're all in French *cry*. I literally have nowhere to put these books so they're just littered all over my bedroom. 

Check out the diary I made about my first week of work experience at Penguin Random house here


Don't forget to enter my current giveaway to win a book of your choice from TBD up to the value of £8/$12 - Open Internationally!

13 September 2014

X Factor 2014: Style Wars


Undeniably, The X Factor has been going downhill in recent years, particularly since Simon Cowell decided to leave for The X Factor USA and Cheryl Cole was fired. I haven't really watched the series since the year that One Direction were on the show and I'm pretty sure I haven't missed anything significant. However, now that both Simon and Cheryl are back, The X Factor UK is making a come-back and I think things will be significantly more interesting this year.

The women judges are Cheryl Cole and Mel B, both fashionistas so it will be interesting to see what outfits both of them pull out. At the moment we're still in the audition stages, so no show-stopper dresses yet, but we've still seen some very trendy outfits. Cheryl seems to pick very classy outfits for every show, favouring lose clothing over the really tight pieces that Mel B seems to like. Cheryl hasn't worn as much colour as she usually does this year and there have been a lot of monochrome outfits with a simple white top and black bottoms. Mel has also been wearing a lot of black, usually very tight fitting, often made of leather or very short. Personally, I think Cheryl is winning the style wars by miles but who knows, maybe Mel B will catch up when we get to live shows. I feel that Cheryl's outfits are more fashionable and all wearable on a normal day whereas some pieces that Mel B has chosen have been a little 'out there'.

Below, I have created a mood board with two simple outfits that I think represent what both judges have been wearing to and from the shows and during the auditions. As you can see, I've chosen an all-black outfit for Mel - a tight fitting, mesh black top, with black leather jeans and black high heels. As for Cheryl, I've chosen a simple lose-fitting white t-shirt, paired with a  scuba black skirt and to add a splash of colour, a pair of bright green heels.


MEL B
CHERYL 

I feel like I could imagine both judges wearing the outfits I've chosen, though I will admit both of these are more on the casual side of these judges wardrobes.

What do you think of the outfits I've chosen? Do you think these would suit the judges?

So whose style do you prefer - Cheryl's or Mel's? Who are you betting on winning The X Factor this year?

*This post has been sponsored by Betfair - all opinions are my own. I do not own these images. 

Week 1 at Penguin Random House

Day 1 


I have arrived way too early. I decide to awkwardly wander up and down the streets into random shops until a more suitable time. I finally pluck up the courage to enter the tall, tall, glassy building and I enter the Penguin reception. I pick up my visitor badge and take a seat. Next to me is a friendly looking woman who turns out to be doing two weeks work experience in the Publicity and Marketing Department of Penguin Children's too! I have a found a friend - good start. 

My new friend, Anami, has already done work experience at Penguin before so she knows the ropes and gives me a tour of our floor. Of course, this includes the 'Pulp shelf' which is where you're allowed to take two free books per day. BEST THING EVER. When I read this line of my contract I was incredibly excited, who doesn't love free books? 

And to work. We begin by updating the Puffin display board with some new newspaper clippings about Roald Dahl and his books which involves much printing and guillotining but is quite fun. Then we are presented with a huge (and I mean huge) stack of boxes that are full of ARCs of All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven - the new big YA release. If you're one of the lucky people I've just sent a package out then I'm so jealous of you! 

Was sent an email by the Publicity officer, who'd found out I was a blogger, asking me to participate in The Infinite Sea (The 5th Wave sequel) blogger campaign. Um... yes?! I need to create a post detailing what I'd pack in my apocalypse survival backpack in order to qualify for an arc of The Infinite Sea which is heavily embargoed.  Yayay!

That's pretty much it for day 1. There was much posting and printing but I think I'm getting the hang of things now so it's only up from here! 

The four books I managed to pick up today were: Beautiful Redemption by Garcia & Stohl, Skeletons by Jane Fallon, Working on my Novel by Cory Arcangel and Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari! 

Day 2

Still packing All The Bright Places. Finally finished!! I know there are more to come, but that's a problem for later. I actually rather enjoy packing the books into bags. It makes me feel like Santa's Little Helper or something, bringing joy to bloggers and reviewers all over the country!

I had the very important task of going to Tesco to buy two bars of Green & Blacks chocolate. I think they were to send to a *famous chef* to persuade him to get in on a Penguin campaign.

Chapter 1 of Half Wild by Sally Green needs to be sent out to lots of bookish people so I get to work on putting these neat little scrolls into tubes and I try (and fail) and try (and fail) and try (and fail) to create these cool Half Wild address labels to stick on the tubes. After what seems like hours, I give up and move onto the next task. I've wasted quite a lot of sticky labels but I'm at my wits end with this project and can't figure out what to do. (Even Google didn't help).

Books picked up: Oh Dear Sylvia by Dawn French, My Husband Next Door by Catherine Alliott and The Mysterious Affair at Castaway House by Stephanie Lam.


Day 3

I finally got the labels right! Rejoice! I think I may have jammed the printer, but when I come back a bit later, someone seems to have fixed it. After some time, I manage to get to the printer and get my labels all printed out. Stuck them all to the tubes and they're ready to go!

Need to note down all the important dates for our social media channels e.g. holidays, bookish events etc. Sounds easy but it's actually pretty difficult trying to find the official dates of a lot of events and whether they're for the UK or whether they're international. I've arranged them all into a spreadsheet but it looks rather messy so I play around with this for a while.

Books picked up: Love, Nina by Nina Stibbe, Man At The Helm by Nina Stibbe, Ecological Intelligence by Daniel Goleman and Expo 50 by Jonathan Coe. 

Day 4

Revisions of my calendar of dates again. Will I ever get it right?! I must admit the way I laid it out was really retarded but now I've sorted that out it should all be fine.

A box of biscuits from The Biscuiteers, to be used as a competition prize, came in today. They are all Charlie and the Chocolate Factory related and they're SO cool and they smell amazing!!

I had the exciting task of going out and about in Covent Garden to quiz people about what books they read as a child and what stories they'll pass down to their children etc. I had to wear these big headphones and carry a penguin microphone which was all rather cool but very clunky and it probably looked quite intimidating to the people I spoke to! There was a very varied response from people with some people very willing to share their stories with me and others who clearly wanted me to clear off. In the end I think I got about 6 or 7 good stories and managed to have a good chat with people about children's books which was nice. It was certainly a nerve-wracking experience but it was cool I must admit!

Everyone in the office has run off to a meeting so I wrote my review of Half Bad (see here), which I wasn't that taken with but it was a good read.

Helped Anami, my fellow work experience buddy, fold up lots of song sheets for the upcoming Roald Dahl event next Monday. Attaching pens to the song sheets was an absolute nightmare because they kept falling off.

Books picked up: Girl Heart Boy 3 - Un de Trop by Ali Cronin (French translation), Cousin Bette by Balzac and Republic by Plato

Day 5


Need to print 20 Manuscripts for 'Girl Online', Youtuber Zoella's autobiography which is coming out in November this year. The printing takes years and then I had to punch holes in the pages and load them all onto the binding machine. I eventually managed to squeeze all the pages onto the binding machine and get the ring to shut but it's such a tight fit that I'm afraid all the pages will tumble out when their recipients get them. Got to order in bigger binders. Still printing copies. Other people in the office seem frustrated because the manuscripts are taking so long to print and the other printer is out of toner. Whoops? Off to Mark in the stationery store again to order in some binders and card.

Cut and paste lots of competition entries to the Roald Dahl invention competition that Penguin were running. Some of the entries were so cute, but some were just plain weird ngl.

Spinebreakers requests are in! It was so nice to be able to do something Spinebreakers-related as I'm
still so sad that the scheme is ending. To all you Spinebreakers reading this, your books are on their way!

Packed a big box of promo materials for goodie bags for the upcoming Bath Festival. If you're attending, then you'll no doubt be receiving one of these awesome bags with an assortment of bookish/Puffin related goodies!

Back to folding Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Cards and attaching pens. I also had to make question cards for the show next Monday but I get this tragically wrong and end up doing it again and again and again. And still getting it wrong. By this point I have run out of card and the stationery store is closed...

Books picked up: The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey, City of Women by David Gillham and The Party by Ricard McGregor.
---

So that's it guys! My first week of work experience at Penguin was pretty awesome. It's so cool seeing what goes on behind the scenes of the publisher that worked on pretty much all of my favourite titles. I think I did a lot more than what I detailed above, but I forgot to note down what I was doing during the middle of the week, which is why I haven't mentioned some stuff. I've picked up loads of new books to read but now I've got nowhere to put them! Looking forward to what next week brings!

Don't forget to enter my current giveaway to win a book of your choice from TBD up to the value of £8/$12 - Open Internationally!

10 September 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. 

Title: The Infinite Sea
Author: Rick Yancey
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Puffin
Publication Date: 16th September 2014
Goodreads Summary: The riveting follow-up to the New York Times bestselling The 5th Wave, hailed by Justin Cronin as “wildly entertaining.”

How do you rid the Earth of seven billion humans? Rid the humans of their humanity.

Surviving the first four waves was nearly impossible. Now Cassie Sullivan finds herself in a new world, a world in which the fundamental trust that binds us together is gone. As the 5th Wave rolls across the landscape, Cassie, Ben, and Ringer are forced to confront the Others’ ultimate goal: the extermination of the human race.

Cassie and her friends haven’t seen the depths to which the Others will sink, nor have the Others seen the heights to which humanity will rise, in the ultimate battle between life and death, hope and despair, love and hate. 

[[ Thoughts ]]

So I'm currently doing some work experience at Penguin Children's and there are currently copies of The Infinite Sea sitting less than 2 metres away from me!! This title has been heavily embargoed so I haven't even touched a copy yet but I'm so excited for its release. The 5th Wave was such an exhilarating read and was definitely one of my favourite books of 2013. I hope there's a bit more romance in this book but then again I like the darkness of The 5th Wave. The film rights to The 5th Wave have already been sold and Cassie is to be played by none other than Chloe Grace Moretz! As you can see, a lot of attention has been drawn to this series so I'm confident that The Infinite Sea will be amazing! 

What's everyone else waiting for this week? Any other fans of The 5th Wave out there? Let me know in the comments below! 

The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey - What's in my apocalypse backpack? #BePrepared #The5thWave

So The Infinite Sea, the sequel to The 5th Wave is being released in just under a week (16th September 2014) and so it's time to start thinking about what you'd pack in case the apocalypse really does hit! With The 5th Wave, you really don't know what's going to hit you next so preparation will be key to survival. Whether there's a nuclear war, an alien attack, a virus, climate change or even evil robots - you need to be prepared. Rick Yancey himself has said "More aliens! More mistrust! More betrayal! More explosions and mayhem! Twists, reversals, surprises!" so God knows what's coming for Cassie!

Title: The Infinite Sea
Author: Rick Yancey
Publisher: Puffin
Publication Date: 16th September 2014
Goodreads Summary: The riveting follow-up to the New York Times bestselling The 5th Wave, hailed by Justin Cronin as “wildly entertaining.”

How do you rid the Earth of seven billion humans? Rid the humans of their humanity.

Surviving the first four waves was nearly impossible. Now Cassie Sullivan finds herself in a new world, a world in which the fundamental trust that binds us together is gone. As the 5th Wave rolls across the landscape, Cassie, Ben, and Ringer are forced to confront the Others’ ultimate goal: the extermination of the human race.

Cassie and her friends haven’t seen the depths to which the Others will sink, nor have the Others seen the heights to which humanity will rise, in the ultimate battle between life and death, hope and despair, love and hate.

--- 

The 5th Wave was one of my favourite reads last year and I'm so excited that the sequel is finally here! I have so many favourite quotes from The 5th Wave, one of them being this:

"I had it all wrong," he says. "Before I found you, I thought the only way to hold on was to find something to live for. It isn't. To hold on, you have to find something you're willing to die for."

I'm really hoping for some romance in The Infinite Sea as well as lots of action, I guess that's the teenage girl in me shining through!

So here are a few essentials I'd pack in my backpack: 


1. The backpack

- Well you're not going to get anywhere without the backpack itself and you've got to think sensibly about what sort of backpack you want.
2. Sleeping Bag 
- We're in it for the long haul and we've got to keep warm at night! The sleeping bag could even be used to carry all the rest of your stuff

in if your backpack fails.




3. Windup torch
- Being alone in the dark is not pleasant. 

4. Knives
- Never worry about running out of bullets. This could be handy for hunting, self defense or even cutting yourself free. 

5. A water bottle + water purifier

- Water is ESSENTIAL. Clean water is often hard to find so some

sort of purifier or a makeshift way of filtering the water will also be important for staying healthy. 

6. Sewing/repair kit
- You're not going to have access to shops or new clothes for a looong time (*cry*), so best to bring some little tools to help you keep your stuff in shape or for making makeshift shelter etc. 


7. A map and compass

- God knows where you might end up.
8. Binoculars 
- Who knows what's out there, it's probably better if you don't get too close.
9. Rope

- Perhaps for tying yourself to a branch as you sleep? I think I've read too many books...


10. Your favourite book!
- Probably the most important thing on this list. You might be alone for a long while in an apocalypse, so a good book will be important for keeping you entertained. (You'll probably want to pick something uplifting). 
NB: Burning the pages to make a fire is not acceptable - even in a apocalypse.

So I may have gotten a little carried away with some of these but having done years and year of Duke of Edinburgh expeditions, I figure that these things will probably be useful as a basic 10 items for my apocalypse backpack! 

What would you pack in your apocalypse backpack? Let me know in the comments below! Or even better, created your own apocalypse backpack post/pinterest board/vlog and use the hashtag #BePrepared and #The5thWave

If you haven't read The 5th Wave yet, then you absolutely must! The film rights to this novel were snapped up in a 6-figure deal and the very talented Chloe Grace Moretz is set to star as protagonist Cassie Sullivan. 

9 September 2014

FILM REVIEW: What If


What If, starring Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan, is without a doubt one of the best romantic comedies I have ever seen. Dubbed as the best rom-com since 500 Days of Summer, I would take this one step further and say that it is not only the best film of its genre since, but that it is even better than 500 Days of Summer. 

What If tells the story of two friends Wallace and Chantry who meet through Chantry's cousin and Wallace's best friend, Allan (Adam Driver). The two get on from the beginning but Wallace is shocked when the night ends and Chantry asks for his number whilst also mentioning that her boyfriend of five years is waiting for her at home. Undeterred by this, Wallace still wants to be friends and the two become the best of friends. Chantry and Wallace are basically inseparable and their best friends Allan and Nicole are convinced that the pair are in love but both Chantry and Wallace continue to deny this and Chantry is still with her boyfriend, Ben. As work and life begin to get in the way, Chantry and Wallace remain friends but things become more complicated... 


Whilst What If sounds like your typical rom-com and to be fair, it does have the same framework as most other romantic comedies, there's something very different about this film. It is both incredibly moving and funny at the same time. Although there were lots of clichéd moments within the film, the plot doesn't fall into step with all the other rom-coms and there are lots of twists and turns to accompany every cliché making this a really refreshing rom-com. Towards the end of this film I found myself with tears streaming silently down my cheeks as I felt like I was feeling the characters' pain with them and what I was watching was so beautifully sad I just couldn't help myself. 


There is an amazing chemistry between the characters Chantry and Wallace to which the film probably owes its success. Radcliffe and Kazan get their characters absolutely on point which, I must admit, surprised me immensely. Obviously Radcliffe has been trying to drop the notion that he is Harry Potter and nothing else for years now but I don't think that he has entirely succeeded. However, after watching What If, I am convinced that Radcliffe has well and truly left the boy wizard behind and is really making something of himself in the world of acting. Both Chantry and Wallace are very quirky characters and it takes a lot to portray these sorts of characters well, without making them look either too weird or too clichéd. Alongside Radcliffe and Kazan were Megan Park, Allan Driver, Mackenzie Davis and Rafe Spall who are a great supporting cast and they all bring something different to the table which when put together makes this film a brilliant watch. 


The soundtrack captures the essence of this film perfectly. It's the sort of music that makes your heart warm up slowly from the inside out and puts you in a good mood and fills you with a sense of hope. There are a lot of acoustic guitars and it's all rather slow and mellow - all perfectly in tune with what's going on on screen. The majority of the soundtrack is instrumental and yet I could discern exactly what kind of message was being brought across by it. 

This is quite a long film, lasting around two hours, which for most films of this kind is far too long, but I found myself wanting more even as the credits began to roll. This film is cheesy in the slightest, it is very raw and real and if someone told me this story was about two ordinary people that they knew, I wouldn't be surprised in the slightest. This film is definitely more mellow and poignant than your average romantic comedy and a lot of the humour is typically British awkward humour which I loved. In addition, this film is set in Canada so it was nice to see a film set outside of either the UK or the States which just gives this film even more brownie points. All in all, this is an absolutely amazing film that breaks the mould in its genre of romantic-comedy. It is a must-see for all those with a heart, particularly if you're fans of 500 Days of Summer. This film is beautiful and will both break and mend your heart whilst watching it and I cannot recommend it enough. 

"Good friends, bad idea?"

8 September 2014

Giveaway!

Photo courtesy of @thebirdybook on Instagram
Today I started my two week work experience placement at Penguin Random House which was so awesome! I was mostly only mailing books and posters out today but I found this strangely enjoyable. I'll probably post a one week update this weekend so you guys can see what I've been up to. Anyways, in order to celebrate all things bookish, I'm hosting a giveaway!


There are so many fantastic new books coming out soon so I'd recommend picking a book that I can pre-order for you or maybe the book of a upcoming movie for example, The Maze Runner, Mockingjay, Where Rainbows End (Love, Rosie) and so many more!

One winner will receive their choice of book up to £8 ($12) from The Book Depository

Enter via the Rafflecopter below!


This giveaway is open to all as long as TBD ships to your country.
Giveaway ends 16/09/14