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Now this is an interesting one! I think we could all spend almost as much time on this question as on 'what would you do if you won the lottery' but perhaps it would be best not to go too deeply into a list of things we hate! As many others have, I will say first that if this was a serious list it would be full of things like war, hunger, murder etc but I will look at it as more of a chance to have a rant!
So here is my list:
1, smoking during pregnancy. One of the most selfish, irresponsible things.. 2, driving whilst on the phone. As before. 3, Noisy neighbours. 4, Eating meat. 5, bad remakes of movies that were great to begin with. 6, Nail varnish that chips. 7, Ice road truckers (the show, not the people) 8, alarm clocks. Imagine a world in which we could all wake up naturally! 9, people having to do jobs they hate. 10, not indicating, particularly on roundabouts. 11, not knowing what junctions are for (please note I don't mean me!). 12, attempts to kill Prince Harry. 13, spiders.
I'm starting to feel mean and crabby now so I'd better stop. Please note this is probably not a complete list.
Am I allowed to say my boss?
I'm going to be honest and upfront and admit I don't buy lottery tickets because, ironically enough, I'd rather save the money! But we've all had that conversation and wasted hours thinking about what we'd do if money wasn't a problem and so, here's my list in no particular order:
Buy a flat in Shaldon, furnish the flat, go on a gap year in India, complete my degree, pay off my debts, quit my job and find one that I won't dread going to everyday, go on a road trip across New Zealand, go on a road trip across Britain, go on a road trip across America, get some proper photography equipment and get a big batch printed so I can't start going to craft fairs, backpack through Ireland, get my hair done properly and on a regular basis, get my gym membership back, buy Microsoft word for my laptop, give my car a thorough fixing and cleaning up, hire a decent gardener for my paternal grandparents, give my maternal grandparents enough so Gran could quit her job, buy the parents a new bathroom trek to everest base camp, go to any and all counties not yet mentioned, put money in an account for my brother's uni fund, get another tattoo, get a dog, but one of everything from the cosmetics and toiletries section of sainsburys, bake more, treat me and all my friends to a group holiday, buy everything on my amazon wish list.. I think I'd better stop there. Or I'd never stop..
I first had this phone when it was the latest thing - a few years ago now. It served me well and I enjoyed it, but upgraded at the end of my contract. The upgrade proved to be a nightmare and so when that contract ended I went back to ol' faithful and haven't looked back.
it is quite a basic phone when you compare it to some of the more high tech gadgets being released nowadays but it covers all the basics. You can send and receive texts, make and receive calls, play music and radio. It has Bluetooth, a decent camera and video recorder and also has space for a memory card which gives you much more memory than it would have otherwise. My personal favourite feature is that when you receive a text the senders name/number shows up on the screen. Maybe that's not as rare as I think it but this is the only phone I have ever had that does it and I like it.
It is small, compact and reasonably thin and considering how many times I've slid it up and down and dropped it, it seems to be made of pretty strong stuff! It's not particularly flashy or fashionable but I've pimped mine with some stickers and a personalised wallpaper and so I'm quite happy :)
My friends say it s a brick and/or it's from the stone age but I can honestly say it is the easiest, most reliable and overall most satisfying phone I have ever had. I don't intend to upgrade again any time soon.
To my great surprise, my younger brother rented this film and encouraged me to watch it after he had seen it at school. It is unusual for him to show such enthusiasm for a film with no explosions in it so I dutifully watched.
Based on diarys written by the students in question, the story follows a newly qualified teacher, played by Hilary Swank, who attempts to turn around the education and lives of her class of troubled teens. They are growing up in a rough neighbourhood where gang violence is the norm and only show up at school because they have to. Although it is frightening and challenging to a teacher who expected it to be so different, she rises to the challenge and begins to see improvements. Unfortunately this means she is spending less and less time with her husband at home and he's not happy.
I enjoyed the film a lot more than I thought I would. The characters are likeable and beleivable and I found myself getting sucked in to what would happen next. The teachers enthusiasm for her job and her class was/is inspiring and it's one of those films that makes you want to go outside and do something really useful! It was well acted, funny in places and very moving. It is also a true story which I think always adds something to a film, providing its done well, which in this case it certainly was.
I definitely recommend this film, to anyone really. Anyone who fancies a good story and a bit of a boost in your belief in humanity!
When 29 year old first time mother Claire is beginning to relax after giving birth to her new baby she is naturally pleased to see her wonderful husband of three years, James, come to see her. What she doesn't expect is that he has come to tell her that he has been having an affair with the woman downstairs and he is leaving. Shell shocked, newly single and newly responsible for a child, Claire goes to Dublin to spend time with her family and get her head together. Little by little she begins to rebuild her life and her self respect. The next time she hears from James will he seem so wonderful after all?
I hadn't actually heard of Watermelon, despite Marian Keyes being my favourite author (!) Until I spotted it in a charity shop. I might be wrong but I get the impression from the 'thanks' at the beginning that this may have been her first book? Right or wrong, that impression had me prepared to not enjoy it as much as her more recent novels and for it to be slightly less gripping.
Wrong. When a character appeared that I wanted to know more about I was afraid he'd only be making a camio appearance but thankfully not :) I actually found myself skimming the upcoming pages for his name to try and gauge whether or not I would enjoy what was coming up. Anyway.. Enough about that. I'll be going the game away next.
As always Marian is incredibly insightful, there is no aspect of life she is not expert in and writes beautifully and absorbingly and I couldn't put it down. She's such a wonderful writer and I passionately recommended anything she's written, Watermelon being no exception. Although it probably wasn't my favourite of hers, I laughed, I cried and I was tempted more than once to punch someone in the face, actually gasping out loud at the brass neck of him!! But I'm giving it away again.. Read it and you'll see what I mean.
I also love that it's called Watermelon.
I've always been a big fan of Cecilia Ahern since a school friend thrust P.S I Love You into my face and demanded I read it. Her last book (I think??) Time of my life, was one of my favourites yet so I was glad when I got this one for Christmas.
The story follows a journalist named Katherine 'Kitty' Logan who has recently made the biggest error in judgement of her career, publicly and to the detriment of an innocent Man's life. She is paying for it in cruel pranks, distrust at work and even her friends aren't impressed with her. At the same time, her friend and mentor Constance Dubois is in hospital with cancer and she doesn't have long left. She needs to sort her life out and rescue her career before its too late. When Constance passes away she leaves a clue - a list of one hundred names - the only evidence of a story she'd wanted to write, and the task falls to Kitty to get to the bottom of the story and write it, both as a tribute to her friend and to prove she still has what it takes to be a good writer. But with only two weeks and a list of names to go on, is it even possible?
I can't say I enjoyed this as much as some other books of Cecilia Ahern's, it took a bit longer than usual for me to get into it. I liked the characters and as the plot and the significance of the names unfolded I began to enjoy it more. It made me laugh and the overall message of the story comes across well and makes you think a bit about your own life.
I found the ending a bit sudden and felt at first it might have benefitted from one last chapter but upon reflection I can see why it ended where it did, it was just a bit of a cliff hanger in a way. I think perhaps the whole book could've done with being a bit longer so some points could have been developed a bit further. That said perhaps the slightly rushed and busy feel of the book is a good and accurate reflection of the journey the character is going through.
Overall I enjoyed it, it didnt take long for me to get through it and i would recommended it to fans of Cecilia Ahern or the chick lit genre in general but don't get your hopes up TOO high as it is not as good as it might have been.
I picked this book up from my local library completely on a whim. I had never heard of Paul Smith and I'm not a twitter user but it seemed like such an unusual travel story I couldn't pass it by.
The basic idea is that Paul Smith, a twitter enthusiast trying to make it as a freelance writer after beginning his career in radio is stood in his local Tescos (other supermarkets are available) when he has a crazy idea. Would it be possible for him to travel across the world relying totally on the support (physical, emotional and financial) of other twitter users? Would he be able to make it from his family home in Newcastle to the point physically the furthest he could get from his front door - Campbell Island, off the southern coast of New Zealand? Swept away by the excitment of it all he set up a twitter page and blog for the occasion and cautiously told his wife of five days (!!!) what he was planning. Far from expecting the public to just finance a free holiday for him, he did it in he name of Charity:water and planned to raise £3000 for them during the trip. The surge of interest and support that followed was incredible and before he knew it he was leaving New Castle on the adventure of his life. If it wasn't already difficult enough, he had a time limit of 30 days and a number of self imposed rules to follow. His supporters had to be relied upon to provide ferry crossings, coach trips, flights and places to stay. If a suitable offer didn't present itself it would be game over and if only one offer came up he had to take it no matter what it was or where it would take him. The trip hung in the balance the whole way and relied entirely on the generosity and openness of friends and strangers alike.
The book is the day by day account of the adventure including the run up and the return journey. I won't reveal how far he gets because that would ruin it for you. The thrill of the book is following the highs and lows. The good days and the days he thinks hell never make it. The days full of laughter and new friends and the days where more than anything he wishes he was home.
I cried, I burst out laughing and it has heightened my already existing plans to travel anywhere I get the opportunity. I sped through it and especially like that he has included genuine tweets that were exchanged at the time. A heart warming and reassuring account of all the good people that are still out there despite what the papers tell us and a huge world just begging to be explored it'd be an awful shame if you missed out. Read immediately!
When eighteen year old Jem, Ginny's only daughter, heads off to Bristol for university, Ginny's not sure how she'll cope and for a while she doesn't. From being falsely accused of shoplifting to the untimely demise of a beloved canine she's not feeling great. But then she decides to rent out her spare room, in the hopes of meeting a new friend to keep her company and instead meets the charming Perry who proves to be a catalyst for a series of unfortunate events. Not to mention she gets a new job - working for the guy who 'caught' her shoplifting! Meanwhile, up in Bristol Jem has met a charmer of her own, the trouble is she's the only one who thinks he's charming and his presence in her life causes more harm than good. Then there's Gavin - Jem's father and Ginny's ex husband - who can't help but get involved with every woman who walks past him. They're an eclectic bunch.
This is a classic Jill Mansell, funny, uplifting and unputdownable with likeable characters (and a couple not so likeable ones) that I would definitely read again. One of the best/worst things about Jill Mansell's books is that moment (there's one in every book) where one of the characters gets the wrong end of the stick about something and so doesn't go ahead and do what they want to do and the audience knows that they should and its all so frustrating!! It makes me feel like I'm going to get a stomach ache and from that point on I absolutely HAVE to keep reading just to make sure it's definitely all going to come right in the end.. This has one of those moments, so brace yourselves. Luckily the ending is as satisfying as expected.
I laughed and I cried and it took me all of five minutes to devour it.
Starring Will Smith's son Jayden Smith and Jackie Chan this film is a modern remake of the original, 1984 film The Karate Kid.
When Jayden Smith's character, 12 year old Dre Parker, is forced to move abroad to China when his mum is relocated for her job, he finds it hard to fit in, in a new school and in such a strange new place. He meets a girl but gets a hard time from the other boys, not to mention the girl's parents and feels he will never be happy there. Then he befriends his building's handyman, Mr Han, played by Jackie Chan who teaches him karate. They aim to enter him in a famous competition to prove to the boys at his new school that he is not a weakling and that they should leave him alone and at the same time try to prove to the girls parents that he has enough about him to be allowed to be 'friends' with her.
I actually saw this film before I saw the original and really enjoyed it (especially when my dad tried to rein act the famous move at the end.. I won't spoil it) in particular I couldn't look away from the final scenes. It is a surprisingly emotional film in some parts and I loved seeing a bit of China through it, particularly the scene where they are training at/on the Great Wall of China. It is a classic underdog movie and I highly recommend it. It inspired me to watch the original too.
Jayden Smith is so cute you can't help but warm to him and he plays the part brilliantly. He obviously genuinely learnt the skills he needed to portray in this film adding more believability. It seems unnatural for a child to be THAT ripped! Jackie Chans character is sweet and funny. He is easily my favourite character, acting as a sort of really cool but really strict surrogate Granddad. I didn't warm to the character of Dre's mother quite so well, but then maybe we're not supposed to since the story isn't about her in the same way.
I know some people seem to take issue with the film saying 2hrs, 20mins is excessive but I personally didn't think so. There was enough backstory to prevent it from being purely an action film but enough action to keep it moving and I didn't get bored. My Dad and younger brother also watched it and although my Dad didn't think it as good as the original they both enjoyed it which I think shows it's suitable for all ages.
Fun, well acted and funny with a great soundtrack, this is a great remake although as it turned out, I do prefer the original.
'Jacket on, Jacket off, Jacket on..'
Starring Susan Sarandon and Julia Roberts, Stepmom is an emotional roller coaster of a film that has been one of my favourites since I watched it with my mum when I was little.
The 'stepmom' in question is Isabelle, (Julia Roberts) engaged to Luke and at war with his two kids Anna and Ben and ex-wife Jackie (Susan Sarandon) none of whom can stand her. The fact that the opening scene is her hitting the ground running with Queen's 'pressure' thumping in the background, says it all! To begin with Jackie is up for the fight but the situation changes when she is diagnosed with cancer. She is forced to accept that she will not be around forever and that the kids will be left with Luke and Isabelle. She has to help them bury the hatchet so that when her time is up, they are left with a secure family unit and not stuck in war zone.
Although It would have been very easy for this film to feel heavy and depressing, and it is certainly sad, It is an incredibly moving story with funny moments and a very believable, well acted family set up. The strength with which Jackie deals with the fact that she does not have much time left and has to leave her kids has never left me and when Isabelle says teary eyed that her worst fear is that Anna, on her wedding day will turn around and say 'I wish my mum was here' is one scene that I can never get through without crying. Timeless, to me this movie never gets old.
Grab the tissues!
You'll remember always, always.
Being well known for her Adrian Mole series which I read back in the day, I was interested to see Sue Townsend had a new book out which looked to be so different from what she is known for. The title also appealed to me (as i think it does to every woman who ever happens to glance at it) so I gave it a go.
The story is centred around the Beaver family and more specifically Eva; wife to astronomer Brian and mother to twins Brianne and Brian Junior. The story begins on the day the twins first leave for university. Whilst Brian is out driving them there, Eva takes to her bed and makes the conscious decision not to get out again for a year.
This book is extremely well written. It would be easy to assume that a book about a woman lying in bed for a year could be boring and slow moving but it is actually very funny, touching and easy to relate to. The reactions to Eva's decision, along with the thoughts of Eva herself allow a deep insight into each of the characters and their complex relationships and although there are some very thought provoking ideas and messages stuffed in there, they are subtle and the book is a light, fun and easy read.
I hadn't heard of the Hunger Games book series until the film came out but being a fan of fantasy and sci fi in general it looked like my sort of thing so I went to see it. I was instantly hooked.
The story is set in a future North America where the population Is organised into one rich, overfed 'Capitol' and thirteen poor, starving 'districts'. The districts rise up against the Capitol starting a civil war which they then loose. As a constant reminder to the districts of what would happen if they chose to start another uprising, the Capitol decrees that every year, each district must put forward one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 as 'tributes' to fight in the Hunger Games, a televised fight to the death. At the reaping for the 74th Hunger Games Katniss Everdeen volunteers in her sisters place and we follow her story from there.
As if fighting 23 other tributes to the death in an arena wasnt enough to have to think about, along the way Katniss has to finally take a look at herself and decide how she feels about the two young men in her life, hunter Gale who is her best friend in the world and Peeta, the bakers son chosen as the boy tribute from her district, whilst unwittingly causing all sorts of trouble for the Capitol.
The film was obviously made with a lot of care and love and is very exciting. Having now devoured the books (all three in a matter of days) I can see how true to the book the film stayed which I always find pleasing.
The only thing I will say is that the film does not (and could not) show properly the depths of the stories and the inner workings of the characters so well as the books. Buy the film and enjoy it, but buy the books too!
I can't wait for the next instalment!
I was a late comer to Avatar, waiting until it came onto channel 4 to watch it although I already had a hunch it would definitely be my sort of thing. I was not wrong. Despite channels four's showing being about 5 hours long (adverts) I hardly looked away from the screen in all that time.
Set in the future, an ex-marine named Jake travels with a team of scientists to a planet called Pandora. Jake, who is a paraplegic is given the opportunity to walk again in the body of an Avatar - a blue body created from a mix of human DNA and the DNA of Pandora's indigenous people, the Na'vi. Jake is given the task of infiltrating a Na'vi tribe and peacefully convincing them to move from their home so the humans can mine a mineral that is found there. He is promised that if he succeeds in this, he will be able to get his legs fixed, but things start to get confusing for him when he realise he feels more at home with the Na'vi than he does with his fellow humans,and that his bosses motives in being here might not be as clear cut as they seem.
The main thing people always seem to rave about when talking about Avatar is the graphics and I can see why. Although I have only seen it in 2d the effects are beautiful and it's obvious that in 3d Pandora really would come to life. Pandora is constantly aglow with vivid colours and teeming in unusual and beautiful wildlife. The Na'vi themselves are just as beautiful and intriguing to watch and I am keen to see it in 3d as I think it is supposed to be a big part of the experience and that I would be suitably blown away. That said, I didn't MISS the 3d, I enjoyed it very much as it was.
For me, the classic story of good vs evil and man vs nature is one that cant be told often enough (at least until we start paying attention) and it was done so beautifully I bought the DVD immediately after watching the film the first time. I even made my very sceptical mum watch it and although she wasn't QUITE as taken with it as I was she was very surprised at how much she really did enjoy it. I'm still working on my sceptical dad.. Philistines..
I laughed, I cried. It's fantastic. It's not often a film grabs me so completely and so immediately as this one and the final scenes had me holding my breath until the very last moment.
In some ways perhaps it could be classed as a bit of a boys film, but anyone who likes adventure/fantasy type films like I do will (should!) love it. And there is a bit of romance thrown in ;)
A Perfect Proposal - Katie Fforde
The odd one out in an otherwise very academic family Sophie Appleby is unsure what to do with her life. Luckily, when her family packs her off to look after a rich uncle (not so secretly hoping he'll reward them handsomely) it starts her off along the right path and an adventure she never expected. After discovering at her uncles house that her family may be genuinely entitled to some money from drilling rights if they all pull together, she sets off for New York to track down the remaining members. Along the way she befriends Matilda, an elderly lady who asks Sophie to help her on her own search for a Cornish house she knew when she was younger. As accommodating as Matilda is, her Grandson Luke has his reservations but as they are made to spend more time together, might something else be developing?
Although i enjoyed the majority of the book, and the ending was as happy and as consistent at tying up loose ends as Katie Fforde's stories always are, I felt it read like it was a bit rushed and not as well done as it could've been. I felt a bit disappointed.
That said, I would still recommend this book to fans of Katie Fforde and of chick lit in general.
So far, this is the first and only book I have read of Sophie Kinsella's but having always enjoyed a bit of chick-lit I decided to give it a go. The plot I'd roughly as follows:
Lara's life is a mess. She is still in love with her flakey ex boyfriend Josh, Natalie, her best friend and business partner has run off to India and left her to run things alone and unable to tell them these things, she feels cut off from her family. But When she is forced to attend the funeral of a Great-Aunt she can't remember ever meeting and during the service meets a strangely dressed girl no one else seems able to see or hear, her life takes a strange new turn. Her Great-Aunt is not ready to leave this earth just yet, she has unfinished business and is determined Lara is the one to help her finish it! Lara is made to live a sort of double life, trying to fix her business, her relationship and her family issues whilst simultaneously searching for a special necklace she's not even sure exists, dating a man she's not interested in on her Aunts behalf and keeping a ghost occupied without anybody else noticing that her behaviour is becoming increasingly erratic. Along the way she discovers a heart breaking love story, whether or not Josh is all he cracked up to be and which family members she really needs to worry about.
I wasnt sure about this book when I first started reading it but as you get to know Lara's Great Aunt Sadie you can't help but enjoy her company and keep reading until the end which is fitting and satisfying. A touching book that makes you laugh and think about your own life and family in a new light (with a bit of amateur detective work thrown in).
Not the usual chick-lit type read in my opinion. I found it lighter and in some ways less interesting than others I have read, although the different type of story line was fun. I would consider reading more Sophie Kinsella in the future, but this time hasn't left me dying to try another any time soon.