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As a makeup artist, and the owner of frankly rubbish skin, I am always on the lookout for the perfect foundation.
You know the one. Cheap, easy to apply, the perfect match for your skin tone, and most importantly long lasting.
I didn't find that with Maybellines "Dream Satin Liquid", so unfortunately, my quest for the holy grail of foundations continues.
The product promises a 100% pore less look, and airbrush finish, and lightweight but full coverage. The foundation comes in 8 shades including Nude, Ivory, Fawn, Sand, Cameo, Sun Beige,Light porcelain and Cocoa.
It comes in a little glass bottle, with a nude coloured press pump at the top. There's the logo on the front, the number and colour of the foundation (in my instance Ivory). Pretty bog standard, nothing to write home about. There are certainly prettier looking foundation bottles out there, but I seldom care about the packaging of my makeup essentials.
How does it go on?
Well, the pump dispenser at the top can be a little temperamental. You know, you press once and get a dribble, you press another time and an ocean comes out. I prefer a little consistency with my dispensers, because its a terrible waste of product when it releases too much. Its not as if you can scrape it back into the bottle (I have tried. The lid does not seem to want to come off).
I always dispense the product onto the back of my hand to warm it up, and then apply it to my face with a foundation brush.
Dream satin liquid is very wet.It almost sits on top of your skin, and unless you use it incredibly sparingly, it ends up looking like a foundation mask. The trick is to use very very little, and really work it into your skin with your foundation brush. This is rather difficult though. Whilst the product is wet, and never seems to fully dry until its secured with powder, it does settle in little lines made by your foundation brush. With most foundations you can just pat out lines with your finger, but with this one, any finger patting just removes the product from your face.
Is it worth it?
Not really. Its too liquidy. You have to really work it into your skin for it to look natural. It also doesn't seem to sit on the skin very well. it just hovers on top, ready to be budged by a stray finger wipe.
As for it achieving a pore less look, they must be joking. This stuff slipped off my face before I even had a chance to put my powder on. It has a very sheeny unnatural finish, and sinks into pores and fine lines like no ones business.
I even tried wearing it over a primer, hoping for better results, but it was just too wet to adhere to my face.
I have used this product on a few models faces, and I have to admit that if the wearer has absolutely perfect skin, this foundation looks nice....but most of us don't have perfect skin, and in all honesty, if one has perfect skin in the first place, they don't really need foundation.
Another thing I have found with this foundation is that all of the shades (which are fairly limited with only 8 shades) are all quite pinky in colour. unnaturally so. I would like to see some shades that are more suitable for people with cooler skin tones.
Would I buy it again?
I doubt it. It has its plus points. I mix it with another foundation for everyday wear, and because its so wet its quite good for mixing. Most people cant be bothered to mix separate foundations together though, and finding a foundation that does everything at once would be far more useful. The product doesn't even feel particularly nice on your face. Its a bit too sheeny and wet feeling. Also, every time I wear it, it ends up all over the screen of my mobile phone. Yuck.
If you have a great skin, but want to even out your skin tone, this would probably be ok for you. If you have temperamental skin like mine though, you probably need something a little more reliable.
You can buy from..
Here, for £7.82
*Film only review*
I love horror films, and every time a new one is released, I'm eager to see it.
Unfortunately, my fella does not share my love for the supernatural, so sometimes I have to wait to see films on DVD. Alone.
I didn't get around to watching "The Haunting In Connecticut" at the cinema, so when I saw it in Asda for £8.00, I snapped it up.
I settled down with some friends to watch it last night (safety in numbers), and I am pleased to say I lived to tell the tale.......although the film was so dull its a wonder I didn't fall asleep during..
Some background stuff.
Directed by Peter Cornwell, "The Haunting in Connecticut" was released in 2009. It was written by Adam Simon and Tim Metcalfe. The premise is (very) loosely based on the accounts of real life family Al and Carmen Snedeker, who lived in an apparently haunted funeral parlor in Connecticut.
OK, from what I could gather.
The Campbell family is in a quandary.
Matt, the son, has cancer, and for some reason, the only hospital he can be treated at, is 8 hours drive away, a journey that plays havoc with his health.
Looking for a solution, his mum Sara rents the first house by the hospital that she can find, after barely even looking at it. Regardless that the house is old, dirty, full of sharp objects and dangerous cubby holes, the family seem to think this is a good idea.
The family (two other children, and a cousin) move in, and the Father Peter makes the trip back and forth so that he can keep their business running.
When choosing their rooms, Matt opts to sleep in the basement, and his Mother willingly lets him.....which is bizarre to me. You would have thought that a cancer patient would have a pretty shoddy immune system, and any sensible parent would balk at letting him stay in a dirty dark linoleum floored basement, but who am I to give out parenting tips?
The basement comes complete with a set of locked doors. behind the locked doors are an old surgical room, complete with furnace, surgical instruments, and a morticians table. Rather than cleaning this stuff out, the parents seem to ignore its even there, letting their kiddies run around playing with bone saws and stuff. As you do.
To be fair, The dad is a little miffed that the house used to be a funeral home....but not miffed enough to find a new house, or to move his son out of the sodding basement.
Very soon, Matt begins to see things. Blood on the floor, objects moving, a burnt man, that kinda thing. The doctors have specifically warned Matt and his mother that hallucinations could be a bad side effect of his treatments, but they decide not to mention it, because they fear the treatments might be stopped. Wholly irresponsible in my eyes.
So, more spooky things happen. Matt seems sicker. We find out that the father is a bit of a drunk, and a bit of a bastard. The house is spooky, the mum is crying, blah blah blah.
Still, they don't find a new house. I don't buy the being poor thing. There was enough junk in that house to hock on eBay, and find somewhere decent.
Anyhoo. Matt is in hospital having another treatment, and meets another cancer patient. A nice fella who looks a bit like a young Robert De Niro, and who believes him about all the ghostly goings on. Luckily he is a minister, and has a fine line in *Exorcist priest" style hats.
So, after finding some spooky photographs and a box of eyelids in the house (yum), rather than telling the parents and getting the hell out of dodge, Matt and his cousin do some research and find out the history of the house, and who is haunting them. More running around being haunted commences, until Matt and his family have to face the entity that is causing all of the palaver.
Robert Pattinson wannabe lookalike Kyle Gallner is an entirely unsympathetic lead as Matt Campbell. he spend the entire film pouting and throwing his head back, all the while looking a bit pale and stricken and sorry for himself, because he has cancer.
Not once does he put his foot down, and tell his family that it would be a damned good idea to leave the house, because he is just too caught up in playing with the ghosts.
His Mother, Sara Campbell (Virginia Madsen) is not much better, and certainly not much brighter. Who on earth takes a sick child into an old dirty house, without really checking up on its history, and then not informing the doctor immediately when he starts hallucinating? She also spent the entire time berating/pleading with God, which annoyed the bejesus out of me. She also allows her wretched husband to come into the house and throw a semi violent hissy fit because everyone has dared to leave the lights on. I would have given him a sharp kick in the behind and left him in the damned house, whilst i moved my family somewhere warm, clean, well lit, sanitary and most of all NOT haunted.
Martin Donovan is boring as messed up father figure Peter Campbell. He seems to do very little, and care very little....apart from caring about light pollution. The light situation seems to take priority over his sick child.
The children and cousin (Amanda Crew,Sophi Knight,Ty Wood) don't feature particularly heavily, and are also utterly uninteresting.
The one character that shone (and it wasn't difficult, considering the meager talents of the rest of the cast) was Elias Koteas, who played the reverend Popescu. His character was well thought out and believable, and he played him quietly and competently, regardless of being given very little airtime, and actually being close to completely irrelevant to the plot.
What I thought.
I have many many gripes about this film.
Firstly, the story is at no point completely and satisfyingly explained. I didn't understand why the family couldn't seek treatment closer to their home. Surely there were hospitals within an 8 hour radius of their house?
I didn't understand why the Mother felt the need to rent the first house she spotted, on impulse, without considering the implications of living in an old, creaky, decaying, dusty house.
I didn't understand why the parents didn't feel the need to child proof the house at any stage, ie getting rid of the surgical implements, locking off any rooms that the children could sneak into and get hurt.
I didn't understand the lack of communication between the parents, and the doctors. Their kids health was at stake, surely they would have been more worried about him being healthy, and comfortable than they were about him getting this silly treatment.
I didn't understand the back story of the ghosts. Without giving any spoilers away, the situation was never satisfyingly explained. It was like the scriptwriters threw in as many ideas as possible, of what they imagined would be spooky, but then couldn't be bothered to actually link them together in a believable story.
The ending was incredibly silly, and entirely pointless, with a twee happy ending, and a *God is great* kind of sentiment.
Although i jumped a couple of times (literally twice), I didn't find the film scary in the slightest, and I am one of the biggest scaredy cats there is. The effects were nice, but not particularly creepy, and it was always very obvious when a jumpy moment was about to occur.
All in all, not a film for me. None of the actors really stood out for me, the storyline was convoluted and silly, and the ending lacked punch.
Where to buy.
Available from Amazon, at £.6.48
(link is seperated in the middle. just paste it all together)
Nothing fills me with more joy than a theme park, and if you are going to visit a theme park in the UK, I can recommend Alton Towers above all of the rest.
Alton Towers is the second most visited theme park in the UK (behind Blackpool pleasure beach). Its based in Staffordshire, and is built around a former stately home.
The estate has been around, in one guise or another, since before 1000 bc. It began as an iron fort, then a fortress, then a castle, which was demolished during the civil war.
Alton Towers was then resurrected as a hunting lodge until it was developed into a stately home, complete with beautiful gardens in the beginning of the 1800's.
In 1980, Alton Towers was opened to the public as a theme park, and purchased by the Tussauds group.
There are a few different ways to find yourself at the entrance to the Alton Towers theme park.
If you drive there, and park your car in one of the many car parks (normal parking is now £5.00 for the day, whilst closer parking is £10.00), you will probably find yourself a little way away from the park (unless you pay the extra for the closer parking. I assume this gets you closer to the entrance). If parking like me, and only coughing up a fiver, then you have to get the monorail from the car park, to the park entrance. The monorails come every five minutes or so, and only take a couple of minutes to get you to the entrance.
When visiting last week, there were large queues for the monorail, but they moved along quickly, and didn't cause too much hassle.
If you are dropped off by a coach, you are within a hop skip and a jump from the park entrance, and wont need to do the monorail journey.
Once at the park entrance, you purchase or pick up your ticket, and then pop it through one of the little turnstiles, and then you are in.Again, queues for the park tickets are usually quite big early in the morning, so it helps to book online.
Once in the park, you are immediately faced with *Tower Street*, which is kind of like Disney's main street USA, but smaller, and without a lovely castle at the end.
Along this street there are shops, and restaurants, toilets and cash machines. There is also a station to pick up photos that you have purchased from the rides, but more on that later.
Directly passed Tower street, there is the first Sky ride.The sky ride does what it says. Its like a little pod, that you sit in, that can take you to different destinations in the park, travelling above the park on high wires.
To take you on my Alton Towers journey,where I will be mostly discussing my favorite rides, rather than every single one, which would take forever, we will go left after Tower Street, to Mutiny Bay. Mutiny Bay (formerly Merrie England) has had a refurb since last time I went to Alton Towers. The serene swan boats drifting around the lake has been replaced by little pirate ships that squirt water at each other. To the left, you find sea life center *Sharkbait Reef* which has replaced the old 3d cinema. This area is aimed mostly at the kiddies, and beware, if you have small children. There is a large area that features games, where you can win large fluffy brightly coloured stuffed animal prizes. The games are very high priced, and the probability of winning anything is slim to none. The game vendors are also highly persuasive, and its very easy to lose a fair bit of loose change, all in the fruitless aim of winning a large purple octopus (trust me, I tried).
Mutiny Bay hosts a lot of places to eat, including a Burger King. There are live shows on in Mutiny Bay throughout the day, which can be quite amusing, but again are more focused towards children.
Next on the trip is Katanga Canyon, where the first ride to experience is the *Flume*. Like a regular log flume, except the logs are replaced by bathtubs. Queues can be long later on the day, but I have found this ride is generally quiet first thing in the morning.
You can fit five people in a bathtub, but it will be a squeeze. Several words of warning. There is no where to place your handbags/cameras/belongings on this ride. Unlike a lot of rides, there is no safe place for belongings at the beginning. You have to take them onto the ride with you, and there is a very large probability that you, and your belongings will get wet.
If you do have a camera, or anything else that wont function particularly well when soggy, buy one of the £2.00 plastic macs available in the machines along the way in the queue, and wrap your valuables in them, before popping them on your lap.
Secondly, prepare to get drenched, especially if sitting on the front seat of the flume.
Next up is Congo River rapids, which is surprisingly gentle, and a lot dryer than you would imagine. A large circular boat navigates you and your friends along a choppy river, which always threatens to soak you, but never quite manages the job.
Next on the adventure, we walk to Gloomy Wood, a dark and ominous place that houses *Duel*, what used to be, and still is in many respects, the haunted house. The queue for this ride always seems to be small to me, and I have never waited for longer than five minutes. you enter the haunted house, and are greeted by gloomy hallways, featuring a dollhouse with a ghostly girl inside, an ominous rocking horse, and a very disorientating slanted floor. After walking a small distance, you are greeted by a small ghost train. Each carriage sits five people, and each person has their own laser fun. As the train weaves its way through the haunted house, you aim your gun at little laser points, and shoot as many monsters as possible, trying to get a high score. Whilst a little unconventional for a haunted house, the shooting bit does add a certain charm. i am personally terrified of haunted houses, so being given a gun to try and mow the monsters down with, gives me a little added security.
After *Gloomy Wood*, you walk along into the next section of the theme park, *Forbidden Valley*. This section hosts the bigger rides, such as *The Nemesis*, *Air*, and *Ripsaw*. Queues for Nemesis and air are always very long. If you are willing to ride alone, there is the option to go in a separate singles queue, but if you don't fancy being separate from your friends, then you could often be waiting around forty five minutes.
There are drinks and snack machines dotted along the queues, but there isn't much in the way of entertainment (unless you count the far off screaming from the people lucky enough to already be on the rides). You can always purchase fasttrack tickets, but Ill tell you about those later.
The Nemesis and Air are however well worth waiting for, but not for the faint hearted. Nemisis is a very fast roller coaster, where your seat is suspended underneath the track, and your legs dangle in the air as you are hurtled along, at very fast speeds, with a couple of upside down turns.
Air is even more exciting, as you are suspended under the track again, but this time you are horizontal. Very fun for pretending to be superman, flying through the sky, but a little disconcerting.
After going on Air, I suggest taking the Sky ride to *UG Land*, during which you get a great view of the beautiful gardens, which are worth a look. Ug land is oriented more toward children, but does host new(ish) ride *Rita Queen of Speed*. Rita is a bog standard roller coaster, but travels so fast you almost lose your breath. Worth a ride, but its over so quick it makes the queue a little pointless.
As with every other section of the park, there are lots of place to eat in this section. I recommend *Ritas Chicken and Ribs*, which is like an informal sit down restaurant, that serves snacks, main meals, and also alcohol. As with every other place in the park, it is a little pricey, but not desperately so. For a bacon cheese burger, fries, and a large coke, I paid just under £10.00. The food is good, and arrives very quickly.
After eating, the next ride to visit is *Hex*. Its kind of like a haunted house, with an interesting twist on the inside. Not the most exciting rides, but it is interesting, and slightly boggles the brain.
Next stop is *The X Sector*, which hosts the ride Oblivion.
This ride is definitely worth experiencing, and the queues, whilst long, were not dreadfully so. There are also a few tv screens on the way, and drinks and snack machines to keep you occupied.
You get into a carriage, that has two rows, and are strapped in tightly. The carriage makes the steep climb to the summit of the ride, after which you are very slowly lowered over the bend, until you face a vertical drop. You are suspended there for a couple of (what felt like years) seconds, until the carriage races down the vertical drop, into a seemingly endless black hole, only to race up out of the other side.
Not a long ride, but definitely worth it for the five seconds of gut wrenching terror.
Nearly completing the circle back to Tower street, you encounter *Adventure land* which is firmly aimed at the kiddies, with *rides* (more like amusements) such as the *Squirrel Nutty ride*.
Important bits and bobs.
Fastracks get you onto the rides without the queues. They cost a little extra, but can sometimes be worth it.The Fastrack Scream (giving fastrack entrance onto Air, Nemesis and Oblivion) costs £8.00. fastrack Rita, for Rita Queen of Speed, costs £4.00.. Fastrack Ultimate costs £35.00, and lets you cut the queue for every single top ride, once. Fastrack Platinum costs £75.00, and lets you cut the queue for all the top rides, as many times as you like throughout the day. These can all be booked on the website (the link is at the bottom of the review).
Photos can be purchased on all of the top rides, and can be bought in the form of photos, t shirts, sweatshirts, key rings. Photos cost around £7.00, but I believe you can get discounts when purchasing more than one photo, from different rides.
You don't have to pick up your photo immediately, you can take a ticket, and pick it up from a place in Tower street on your way out, avoiding carrying it all day.
Cash points are available throughout the park, including a free one at the entrance. Don't pull your cash out outside of the entrance, as the machine charges, and you will kick yourself when you see the nice free one, just inside the gates.
Car park tokens are available at the main entrance, and in the entrance and exit of the monorail. You need to get a token to get out of the car park, so don't forget.
There are 6 baby areas inside the park,and seven baby changing facilities, and you can rent pushchairs from the main entrance.
There are designated smoking areas in the park, but most people seem to light up wherever they fancy, even in the queues, where it is strictly forbidden.
Ticket prices are definitely cheaper online, where you will pay £29.00 per person, and £22.00 per child (children under 4 are free). If you buy tickets from the entrance on the day, expect to pay £36 per adult, and £27 per child. There are discounts for families, and the disabled and carers.
Two day tickets, and annual passes are also available on the website.like being tossed up and down. Alton Towers in itself (especially the gardens) is really beautiful, and its really a treat for the whole family.
Alton Towers has something for all the family. There are plenty of white knuckle rides for the thrill seekers, and plenty of more sedate amusements for people who don
How to Get there.
If driving, and you have a sat nav, pop this post code in ST10 4DB.
For coach or train travellers, check the directions on the website.
For more information than I could ever possible give you, please visit here.
I was browsing through my local Borders, in the kiddie section (hush. I might be 25 but I still like reading teen fiction. Its nothing to be ashamed of) when I happened upon *Marked*. It was sitting in the recommended section, next to *Twilight*, with a little note posted underneath, advising potential readers that if they had enjoyed Twilight, they would also enjoy this book.
Ever eager to find a new series to get my teeth into (and the pun is intentional, this is a Vampire book after all), I bought *Marked* and began to read when I got home that night.
Who what and when?
*Marked* is the first book in the *House Of Night* series, written by P.C Cast, and Kristen Cast, a Mother daughter writing team.
Currently, there are 5 books in the *House Of Night* series, including Marked, Betrayed, Chosen, Untamed and Hunted.
Zoey is a normal teenage girl, having problems with her boyfriend, and struggling with her life at home, when she is Marked to be a Vampire. This of course means leaving her life as she knew it, and moving into the *House of Night*, a school for other fledgling vampires like herself. Unlike the others of her age though, Zoey seems to be a little more advanced, something which causes her to gain enemies as quickly as she gains friends.
What I thought.
The beginning of this book is utterly dreadful. Really. Complete and utter dross. After the first couple of chapters I nearly put it down and wrote it off as an utter *Twilight* wannabe failure.
Fortunately, I persevered, and I'm actually rather glad that I did.
I will say this now, however much I ended up enjoying this book, the writing is mainly horrendous. The *teen-speak* is contrived and cliched, and sometimes the writing is so disjointed that its difficult to follow. This could be down to the dual mother daughter authorship, I don't know.
The characters are also contrived shallow stereotypes. There is nothing original, unique or new about the plot, and nothing is explored in much depth.
The plot is in most places ludicrous. You really have to completely suspend disbelief to actually enjoy this book, although it seems to try very hard to be based in reality.
OK. So, all of that out of the way.
I did enjoy this book, mostly because it was like a guilty pleasure. It really feeds into human desires, and what we all want from ourselves. We all want to be pretty and popular and talented, and to attract the prettiest boy/girl in school. We all want special powers, and we all want to get super fantastic revenge on mean people.
Well, at least, I know I do.
Marked isn't a book that will make you think deeply, or a book that will open up intellectual conversation. Its more of a book where there are lots of things happening that sound rather fun.
As far as vampire teen lit goes, there are far more worthwhile books out there. *The Night World* series by L J Smith for example, or the *Twilight* series. This book however was incredibly enjoyable, in a dirty little secret kind of way. I feel rather ashamed to have enjoyed it, but enjoy it I did.
It sounds like I'm completely ripping it apart...and I suppose I am, but if you can get past the terrible writing, shallow as a puddle characters, and silly cliche plot that has been done, in some form or another before, then this is actually very satisfying.
Think of *Twilight* mixed with *Harry Potter* mixed with *Mallory Towers* (I'm showing my age there).
I fully intend to go out and buy the next book, although to be honest, these books are meant for people far far younger than I.
Be warned though.This book is marketed towards teens or young adults. It is however chock full of more adult references, including an entirely unnnecessary scene about blow jobs. Please don't buy it for anyone too young (perhaps anyone under 15-16?), because if you do, I'm sure you will be warding off very uncomfortable questions for the next few days.
Where to buy.
You can buy *Marked* in paperback here, for £2.99.
(Link is split. Just paste it back together).
To visit the website.
I rather like Travelodges.
They are usually clean, always have tea making facilities, the baths are always deep (very important for a tall lass like myself), and there is always a bible in a drawer (no for reading. I just like the tradition).
I stayed in Covent Garden Travelodge in London, on Tuesday night.
We booked online, very easily and efficiently, and were emailed detailed directions, which were very helpful, including a postcode to put into the GPS.
Me and my family had booked two twin rooms, one for my Dad and little brother, and one for myself.
Getting there didn't proove too difficult, as the directions given to us by the Travelodge were clear and concise. Unfortunately, there were a couple of closed roads, which seriously prolonged our journey.
The Travelodge is on a road in Covent Garden, called Drury Lane, and the tall building is visible from quite a way a way, which is handy when completely lost. There are actually two travelodges within very short distance from one another. I'm still not sure whether they are just two separate buildings sharing the same name, or whether they are completely separate. My family actually booked in at the second Travelodge, but our rooms were in the first one. A little confusing, but not a cause of any major drama.
We were directed to a car park, off High Holborn, by the email that the travelodge sent us.
We were under the impression that the car park was part of the travelodge, but its actually an NCP car park. This is also rather easy to get to. You go up Drury Lane, past the first travelodge, straight over the crossroad, just past the second travelodge, and then the NCP car park is directly on the left, up a ramp.
The Travelodge provides a discount for the car park, and we ended up paying £12.00 from about 5 in the afternoon on Tuesday, until 10 o clock the next morning, which was rather decent for a central London car park.
Beware though, we had a few problems at the car park.
As we entered, the sign that told you to take your ticket, was a little confusing. It showed pictures of debit and credit cards, and told you how to pay. This is obviously intended for people leaving the car park, so there was no purpose to it being advertised on the entrance barrier.
My poor old Dad ended up getting a bit confused, and rather than pressing the button for the ticket, he put his credit card in the slot. The machine promptly swallowed his credit card, leaving us completely stuck. We couldn't get our card out, and no one else could get into the car park.
The NCP car park had real life attendants though (not just someone on the end of the phone) who helped us very quickly, and very patiently, getting our card back, and giving us a ticket.
Checking in the the Travelodge.
This took forever.
Like I said, we checked in to the travelodge closer the the NCP car park, directly over the road from the other one. We had a lot of bags, so were all a bit upset when we were eventually told we were not staying in the building we had checked into.
There was a very large queue, and it seemed to take the receptionist a very long time to deal with each family.
When it was our turn to check in, the receptionist had a few of our details wrong, for example, she thought we were staying for four nights, when we were actually only staying for one. There was also a bit of a communication barrier, as the girl only spoke very stilted English. We checked in in the end though, were given our room key cards, and directed over to the other building.
It was a very short walk (a couple of minutes) to our travelodge, but unfortunately, the walk involved a lot of stone steps. I was dragging a little carry case on wheels, which was entirely possible to wheel up the stairs.
There might have been a ramp somewhere, but I didn't see it. I can only assume that customers in wheelchairs, or with mobility problems, would be directed to the Travelodge with easier access.
Once inside the travelodge, we noticed a restaurant on the right of the main entrance, and a reception directly in front.
To the left of us were the doors that lead to the stairs and lifts to get to the rooms.
Another sore point were the Lifts.
There were two lifts available in the travelodge (we were on the fourth floor). One of the lifts only provided access to the basement and first floor. The other lift was active, but incredibly slow, and sometimes didn't turn up for about ten minutes.The lift was also very small, so sometimes, only half of the people waiting to get in the lift, could actually fit in there.
My room, upon first inspection, was clean, rather large, and comfortable. There were two twin beds (even though I only needed the one), which were very comfy, and the bed linen was very clean.
There was an en suite bathroom with a bath and shower, two plastic glasses in the bathroom for water.
The main room had a desk with a mirror, a table with a tv, overhead lights, and two little reading lights.
When I initially tried to turn the reading lights on (they were attached to the wall, on the headboard of the bed) they spluttered, and died.
Halfway through the night, the plastic casing around one of the lights dropped off, and fell on my head.
In my Dads room, the lights had singed black burn marks into the wall....which was a little worrying.
The windows in my room didn't seem to open, which was a bit annoying, but considering I was on a rather high floor, and the windows were tall floor to ceiling jobbies, I wasn't too bothered. I would rather be safe than ventilated.
I slept well, and didn't hear any outside noise, which is quite remarkable for central London.
Breakfast was an extra £7.50 for all you could eat, and was served between 7 and 10. I believe the times vary on bank holidays.
We went down to breakfast at 9. The restaurant was fairly crowded, but we still managed to find comfortable seats.
It was a self service kind of deal. There was toast, cereals, jams and juices available, as well as bacon, sausages, scrambled eggs, mushrooms, baked beans and tomatoes available. You could eat as much as you wanted, no extra costs, and everything was actually rather good, although it did have a feel of school dinners.
Travelodge prices vary from city to city, and depending on what time of year you stay, or popularity of the place you are staying.
The two rooms, for one night, with three guests in total (although this is irrelevant) cost £219.47, including three breakfasts. I know you can get rooms at Travelodges for far cheaper than this, in less busy areas.
Overall, Travelodges always do their job competently. The rooms were clean, the furnishings neat and comfortable, the price affordable (although, a little less so in central London). The service was fine, and apart from a few annoyances, like the lifts, the stay was enjoyable.
I would definitely recommend Travelodge to people looking for somewhere clean and comfy to lay their head, but if you want somewhere with a bit more individuality and character, I would advise you to look elsewhere.
Im only giving the Covent Garden Travelodge a 3 out of 5, but its a perfectly nice place to stay. The few bits and bobs (like the faulty lights and the lifts) just let it down.
Where to Book.
The last time (before tonight) I watched "Pretty woman", I was too young to know what a prostitute was.
I remember being completely baffled by the prettily coloured sweeties that Julia Roberts offers Richard Gere in the first half hour of the movie.
Imagine my surprise tonight when I realised they were condoms! What a minx!
When Vivian meets Edward for the first time, its in rather unusual circumstances.
Vivian is a prostitute, peddling her wares on Hollywood boulevard. When Edward (a very high powered business man) drives up in his fancy powerful car, that he is utterly unable to drive, asking for directions, Vivian is more than happy to oblige-for a price.
When she has successfully directed him to his hotel, Edward realises that he isn't quite ready to let her go yet, and invites her up to his room.
When the lines between work and play become blurred, Vivian and Edward both reevaluate their lives.
What I thought.
Whilst it has been a long time since I last saw this film, its always been one of my favorites. OK, fair enough, i was slightly too young to know what was going on, but what girl (regardless of age) can resist an extended shopping spree scene?
The reason this film appealed to me as a kid, is because essentially its a fairytale. A proper rags to riches, poor girl does good, fairytale.
Although simplistic, the plot is wonderful. Its a classic story, with a little twist. Its not very often, especially not back when this film was made (1990), that a prostitute becomes a figure of sympathy.
This is due mostly to Julia Roberts beautiful portrayal of Vivien. I had completely forgotten how breathtakingly gorgeous Julia Roberts is. She brings such an innocent fawn like quality to the role, making it utterly impossible to see her career choice as anything seedy. She instead comes across as a good girl, without a lot of choices.
Richard Gere is dashing and convincing as uptight Edward. Sometimes its easy to be angry at the character. His social standing and learned morals sometimes cause him to be patronising and snooty....but this eventually breaks down. Both characters grow and evolve, as a result of time spent with each other.
I love a good character development. I like seeing characters learn from experience, and change as a result of it, and this film doesn't disappoint in that respect.
The chemistry between Gere and Roberts is absolutely electric. I really believed that they were attracted to each other, and this is shown both in the lusty scenes (a piano scene that I had to turn away from when I was a kiddie), and the tender moments, when the characters are just talking. Sharing.
The dialogue and script is witty, fast paced, and so deeply etched in my brain that i found myself speaking along with the characters as I watched tonight.
There is something magical about someone remembering a script that they had not heard for over ten years, line for line.
The writers get everything perfect. There is the lovely contrast between Vivians innocence, and her more jaded *work* inspired lingo.
The one line that i will never forget, and I'm sure its the one line that sticks with other people also, is the beautiful moment where Vivian walks back into the snooty clothes store, that she had previously been thrown out of, by snooty sales assistants.
She waltzes in, laden with shopping bags, asking the sales assistant if she works on commission. When the assistant replies *yes*, Vivian lifts her bags, purses her lips, and states,
"Big mistake. Big. Huge. I have to go shopping now".
This really is a film that has everything. It has humour, and joy, and sadness and frustration, and ultimately love. Because obviously, that's what its all about. Love can spring up in the most unlikely of places....such as Hollywood Boulevard!
This film has a fantastic plot, brilliant quote-able dialogue, really tight intense performances, and above all, a really joyful cheesy schmaltzy love story.
Julia Roberts really lights up the screen, and Richard Gere is smouldering and charming. A fantastic coupling, with all the ingredients for an amazingly brilliant chick flick.
I enjoyed just as much tonight, at 24, as I did when I was a kid. More so actually....now that i know what condoms are.
Bits and bobs.
Writer-J F Lawton.
Where to buy.
You can buy the 15th anniversary special edition dvd, for the amazing price of £2.98, here,
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"Running with scissors" is a strange little book.
My friend bought it for me for Christmas, and I thought, after reading the back page, that it looked terribly depressing, so until a few days ago, I gave it a wide berth.
That was until, I ran out of other books to read.
I picked it up, and read it from cover to cover, not sleeping until i put it down. Rather than being the depressing tale of woe I first expected it to be, it was actually a very funny, very entertaining memoir of a little boys very strange life.
The book starts when Augusten Burroughs was 12 years old. His parents are fighting, and his home life is becoming increasingly fraught. Augusten busies himself by collecting shiny things, polishing money and displaying it in his room.
His parents marriage finally hits breaking point, and Augustens mother begins spending more and more time with her shrink, Dr Finch.
When Dr Finch suggests Augusten spends some time with him and his family, while his mother has a rest, Augusten is delighted. He envisions that a Dr's house would be clean and sterile, and an all out wonderful place to be. He is horrified to learn that the house, an family lives up to none of his expectations.
When Augustens mother hands over her parental rights to Dr Finch, Augusten has to learn how to live in a situation more chaotic than home had ever been.
What Did I think?
I thought this was a very funny, very charming book. Augustens narrative is interesting and detailed, and his account of certain events is so strange that you almost wonder if they actually happened.
The adult Augusten Burroughs assures that all the events are factual though (I watched a youtube interview of him....just to see what he was like).
The characters, although I am not sure you can call them such when they are real people, are interesting and detailed. We get to know all of them, and their individual eccentricities very well.
There are some very funny, and very charming moments in the book. For example, how Augustens Mother uses pantyliners as shoulder pads, or when Augusten decided the Finches kitchen was too dark, so he took down the ceiling.
This humour is tempered by more serious subjects though.
Many people in Augustens life were plagued by mental health problems. His Mother had psychotic episodes, and she was regularly taken away to hospital for treatment. Its also rather disturbing to read about Dr Finch's strange and worrying treatments. He gave out medication willy nilly, and even advised Augusten to stage his own suicide, so that he could be taken out of school. Not the actions of a sound mind, or a responsible doctor, in my opinion.
Another part of this book that I found incredibly disturbing, is the sexual relationship between Augusten, and Neil Bookman, the Finch's adopted son.
Bookman was in his thirties when the relationship started, and Augusten only thirteen. The relationship is discussed in a very blase manner, and no implication is ever made that Bookman was taken advantage, but I found it rather upsetting all the same.
The sexual scenes are very graphic, and it feels very wrong to read about sex involving a minor, regardless of the fact that the minor was by their own admission consenting.
I think though, that all of these graphic parts are integral to the book. Its a very honest, very open account, and I suppose to edit it, just to keep it light would have been an injustice.
For a true account of depression, broken families and underage sex, this is very funny. Like I said, i expected it all to be doom and gloom, and it really wasn't.
On the flip-side, its plain to see that Augusten Burroughs used humour as a defense mechanism, so the book can sometimes be a little sad, because the events truly are very sad.
If you like memoirs, and enjoy reading about this kind of subject matter, then buy this book. Its not the most entertaining or pacy book in the world, but it is thought provoking, and amusing.
I only recently found out that this book has been made into a film, starring Annette Bening, Joseph Fiennes, and Gwyneth Paltrow. Its definetly something I want to see, after reading the book....so if anyone has watched it, let me know!
You can buy from here, for £5.99
(link is split into 3, to keep it under 80 characters, just paste it back together).
To learn more about Augusten Burroughs, go here.
Last week, in school (I study film and media makeup artistry), I realised I had forgotten my Lipcote.
I asked everyone in the class, including my tutor, if anyone had any that I could borrow.
To my horror (insert horrified Lara face here), no one had any. Even worse than that, no one even knew what it was. Makeup students! My tutor made a mumbled comment about "not knowing they still sold that stuff", but that was the extent of it.
As a result, I am going to tell all of you about Lipcote, which is still being sold, and is an essential tool for any lippy wearer.
What is Lipcote?
Lipcote comes in a little 7ml see through glass bottle, with a red lid. It actually looks like a clear nail varnish, and smells like one too.The liquid inside is very watery, like nail varnish remover consistency.
There is a little brush on the inside of the red lid (again, like nail varnish), and that's what you apply the Lipcote with.
Lipcote claims to triple the lifespan of your lipstick, by kind of sealing it to your lips.
How to use it?
I don't know about anyone else, but I have endlessly tried lipsticks that claim to be everything proof, when in actual fact the only place they actually stick to are your clothes, your coke cans, and your boyfriend.
Lipcote solves this. You apply it after your lipstick, and its keeps it put.
After you have applied your lipstick, just slick a coat of Lipcote on. Try not to press your lips together until its dry (sometimes it can take a couple of minutes), because otherwise your lips can stick together and look a bit cakey.
Is it any good?
Yes. Its fabulous. I don't very often wear lipstick, but when I do, its always bright coloured. I have a nasty habit of constantly touching my mouth, either because I'm drinking, or gesturing, and smoking, or smooching. Without Lipcote, this makes wearing lipstick impossible. There's nothing worse than having your lipstick smudge all over your face.
When wearing Lipcote though,my lipstick truly stays put. I can kiss, and drink, and smoke, and it doesn't budge. No more looking like I have been eating blackberries! (or pink berries.....or orange berries).
After a few hours, the colour on your lips does begin to fade a bit, but its just a case of removing it, reapplying, and then reapplying the Lipcote.
The bottle is little, so its easy to squeeze into a handbag, and even though there is only 7ml in it, it lasts quite a long time.
Putting it on is very easy, but you do have to be careful to tap the excess off the brush before you apply it. Sometimes when i put it on with too much product on the brush, it can run off my mouth, leaving little track marks in my makeup. This is easily solved though by being sparing with the application.
A couple of words of warning.
Lipcote stings when you put it on, esspically is you have chapped or sore lips. in fact, if your lips are in anything other than tiptop condition, i wouldn't recommend wearing this. It doesn't sting for long however. Just a few seconds, so its definitely worth it.
Secondly, as I mentioned before, Lipcote is stinky. It smells like nail varnish remover, and the smell is very strong when putting it on your mouth. again, this doesn't last very long, and is not enough to put me off the product.
Also, I wouldn't recommend putting more than one coat on. It can get a little cloggy and sticky with repeated coats, whereas with one, its lovely smooth and dry.
No matter how stingy or stinky Lipcote is, I find it absolutely invaluable, and considering its so cheap, its definitely worth buying a bottle to stick in your makeup bag.
You can buy.
You can buy Lipcote directly from their website (link below) for just £3.35 before postage.
Its cheaper to buy it at Superdrug though, who are currently selling Lipcote for £2.93.
Some novels are meant to be devoured, and enjoyed.
Kelley Armstrong's novels usually have this effect on me. Pure delicious juicy fiction, with wonderful characters, and fantastic plots.
"Men of the Otherworld" is an interesting book. Its based in the same fictional world as Kelley Armstrong's "Women of the Otherworld" book series, but is obviously written from one of the male characters perspectives.
Some back story.
"Men of the Otherworld" (released this year) is like an offshoot of Kelley Armstrong's "Women of the Otherworld" series.
Kelley Armstrong is a Canadian fiction writer, born in 1968, and is best known for her supernatural fiction, her novels involving wonderful creatures such as werewolves, vampires and witches.
Other books in the series include;
~Dime store magic (2004)
~Industrial Magic (2004)
~No humans involved (2007)
~Personal demon (2008)
~Living with the dead (2008)
Clayton was always a little different, but when he gets bitten by a werewolf, willingly, as a child, his life suddenly takes a whole new form. Literally.
Like a modern day Mowgli, Clayton becomes a child of the wild...that is until found by Jeremy, who is to become Clayton's mentor, father, and friend.
With Jeremy, Clayton learns about who he is, what he is, and what it takes to keep himself, and his new family safe.
What i thought.
Men of the Otherworld, although it reads like a novel, is actually an anthology of short stories. They interlink so beautifully though that I was completely unaware that it wasn't written as a novel.
The stories focus on Jeremy and his nasty black sheep (or wolf should I say) of Father, Clays childhood and introduction to the wolf world, Clays growing up, and finally a glance into the relationship between Jeremy and his girlfriend Jaime.
Like I said, i didn't have any clue that this book was actually a collection of short stories, until I was on the website looking up bits and bobs for this review. Oh well, we learn something new every day. I'm actually rather glad that I was clueless. I'm not a fan of short stories ( I like to get my teeth into books), so I would have been less inspired to read this had I known.
So, don't let the short story thing put you off. This book, as far as I am concerned, reads like a novel.
The plot was compelling, pacy, and action driven from beginning to end. The twists and turns were magnificent, and the writing really keeps you firmly hooked. Like I said, i finished the book in one day, and whilst it isn't exactly an epic, its certainly not short.
I enjoyed the characters immensely. Getting to know Clay and Jeremy, characters I had previously read about, but not learned much of, was lovely. It was nice to see their take on different things, and to get a glimpse into their minds, something that was previously denied to readers of the books written from the female characters perspective.
I also enjoyed reading about Jeremy and Clays history. the introduction of Jeremy's father was wonderful, as he was such an immensely loathsome creature. Its always good to have a dastardly villain in a book.
I believe that out of all of the different supernatural races that Kelley Armstrong writes about, werewolves are her strong point. She writes about the subject beautifully, even managing to make the affliction seem plausible. Perhaps it is. Perhaps I am a werewolf too, and i don't even know it yet.
All in all.
A brilliantly enjoyable book, with loads of twists and turns, believable three dimensional characters, and enough history, detail and back story to please the most pernickety of readers. If you like supernatural fiction with a bit of humour, this is for you.
You can buy from...
..Here, in paperback, for £5.00.
To visit Kelley Armstrongs website, go here,
Sometimes I imagine my house is a castle. My neighbours are subjected to my tough, but fair rule. I give out alms to the poor, and i have even founded a leper hospital, over in the village beyond the playground.
Sometimes, people try to attack my castle. Fortunately, I have fantastic military skills. I usually send my Welsh long-bowers out before me, and they usually thin the numbers of the opposition. If that fails, I climb upon my trusty steed, and advance, with my sword in one hand, and my shield on the other.
On the field, I am a fair opponent. I only kill if needs must. Otherwise I capture my opponents, and hostage them, picking up a hefty ransom for their safety.
Well. All of that would be true, if I lived in 12Th century England.
Although, actually, I live just over the border in Wales, so I would in all probability wield a longbow myself, and live in a tree.
Who is Sharon Penman?
Sharon Penman is, in my humble opinion, is the most exciting, most entertaining and the most descriptive historical fiction writer I have ever stumbled upon.
Until I picked up her book "Here Be Dragons" a couple of years ago, I had absolutely no interest in history whatsoever. That all changed when I read about her beautiful characters, and exciting battles. Most wonderful of all, all of the things she wrote about were real.
What is the Devils Brood?
The Devil's brood is the third in the series of Penmans books primary concerning Henry the 2ND.
The first in the series (When Christ and his saints slept) concerned the civil war between Henry's Mother (the Empress Matilda), and her cousin Stephen (who naughtily sneaked the crown from Matilda). The second book, "Time and Chance" recounts Henry's rise to power, and the beginning of his rocky and passionate love affair with Eleanor of Aquitaine, and the third "Devils Brood" chronicles the animosity and struggles between Henry and Eleanor, and Henry and his sons.
The Devils Brood was released in Hardback this year.
"Devils Brood" begins with Henry returning to England, after a self imposed exile, because of the (albeit small) part he played in Thomas Becket (the archbishop of Canterbury's) murder.
Things have generally become a bit rocky for Henry. First his wife betrayed him, and then his sons, one by one.
Henry struggles to be a good King, a good father, and a good husband, and in other peoples eyes, cannot meld the three successfully.
With danger coming from all sides, and his sons increasingly pushing the boundaries, Henry has to find a way to secure his empire.
What i thought.
I blood love Henry the second. I truly do. He was a fantastic character. This is such a fantastic period of history, and Penman captures it beautifully.
The characters are brought perfectly to life. As in reality, no one is perfect.Henry the second very firmly has his head up his own arse as far as the feelings of his wife and sons are concerned, but this is understandable, considering his wife and his sons really don't seem to give two hoots about Henry's feelings.
Henry was a fantastic King, and in this book, he comes across as a fantastic man, although at the same time a flawed man. he had very definite ideas about how to rule his kingdom, and mostly, they were good ideas. his own problem was, that regardless how old his children got, he never believed they were ready to share his power.
Eleanor is one of the most wonderful female characters I have ever read about. she is strong, and feisty, and completely unwilling to lose her composure, or her power. When Henry imprisons her (although very comfortably) for plotting against him, she doesn't crumble. She waits out her imprisonment in dignity, never giving an inch.
Henry's sons are brilliantly brought to life. We learn about the more famous Richard (Richard the lion heart), and John (the bad one from Robin Hood), but we also learn of the lesser known sons Henry and Geoffrey.
The book is so immersed in the period that its easy to believe that Penman has actually experienced it herself. The way that she puts together fact and evidence, and sews it all together beautifully with wonderful characterisation and storytelling is magical.
The plot is enthralling, and made all the more magical because its mostly factual. Sharon Penman tries very hard to keep her novels accurate, and always writes a foreword or afterword notifying the reader of what events were accurate, and which were fabricated. The most amazing situations however, are always real, and Sharon Penman often comments that sometimes these situations are so fantastic, that you just couldn't make them up.
"The Devils Brood" is a long book, but I found it very easy to get through, as the subject matter was so engrossing. Despite the length, the book is pacy, exciting and consistent. There are no lulls that you sometimes experience in historical fiction. The action is constant.
I came away from the novel with a far wider knowledge of that particular period in history than I ever knew before, so not only did I enjoy the book, I learned something at the same time.
Anything bad about it?
As with all historical fiction, sometimes the characters can be a little hard to keep track of. People are called by their given names, but also called by the name of the place they own or govern over, for instance, someone could be called "Fred", but they could also be called "Chester" if that's where he governed over. It takes a little concentration to keep all of these characters in line, and to remember who is who, but its fairly easy to do once you are into the book.
The only other failing that I can think of, is that it is currently the last in the series. I believe Penman plans to write more concerning that period, but I don't think she will be able to write fast enough to satisfy my curiosity.
If anyone can point me in the direction of other fiction novels featuring this period, I would be very grateful.
All in all.
A thrilling, engrossing, beautifully written book, filled with amazing action, battles and characters.
...read more about Sharon Penman and her work here,
..and buy the book in Hardback for just £11.99 here.
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I first saw the trailer for "The Unborn" a few weeks back, when I was at the cinema to watch "My Bloody Valentine".
The trailer was so horrifying, terrifying and disturbing, that I ended up sat in my best friends lap, my head nested into her shoulder.
Considering I had such a dramatic reaction to the trailer, I knew I would have to watch the film when it was released, regardless of what it would do to my blood pressure, and my poor best friends lap.
Last night, we bit the bullet. Me, Sam and Bridget.
Sam and I were clever. We decided that there was strength in numbers, and arranged for her to sleep over at my house, so that if we were traumatised after the film, we would not have to make the journeys home separately and alone, and so that if we were attacked by ghosts in the night, we would have a better defense as a pair.
Unfortunately, poor Bridget was to travel home alone, but I shall get to that later.
Armed with our food, drinks, and comfy cardies (to hide underneath), we made our way into the cinema (which i might add was three quarters empty) an sat down to watch what we expected to be an utter exercise in terror.
Casey Beldon (Odette Yustman) is an only child, a normal student, with normal friends and a normal life. She likes running, and babysitting, and snogging her boyfriend, and everything is grand.
That is, until, she begins to have weird dreams, about a small boy, a nasty looking foetus, and a British bulldog wearing a lady mask.
Anyone else would blame the dreams on too much cheese, but Casey is troubled by them.
Things get stranger, when babysitting the neighbours children. She finds their little boy, standing over the baby, holding a mirror to its face. When Casey questions what he is doing, he smacks her, and tells her that *Jumby wants to be born now*.
When a friend notices a strange mark in her eye the next day, Casey goes to the eye doctor, who reveals that Casey's weird eye thing only occurs in Twins.
From then on, Casey's life turns upside down, as she faces demons from her Mothers past.
What did I think?
Well, overall, I think this could have been a bloody good film. All the components were there. The plot, in essence, was a good one. It was just handled terribly. There were unanswered questions all over the place, and the plot flew from one place to the next, with no consideration for continuity or common sense.
Certain things completely confused me. Like why the weird mark in Casey's eye automatically meant she must be a twin. It was never properly explained, so whilst there might be a plausible medical reason, it just seemed like an easy time saving plot device.
The idea of Casey's twin is something that is never fully realised, and never delved into enough. We end up confused over whether its casey's twin who is the malevolent spirit or not, and whether he actually has a part to play in the film or not. In the end, it just seemed as if the film makers had a formula, and decided dead twin = scary.
We never learn anything in depth about the characters. We know that Casey goes to school, or college, but it is never determined why she is here, what she is doing, or what she wants to be.
We know she has a boyfriend, but we never see much of their relationship, or learn how they got together.
The relationship between Casey and her father is also left pretty vague, as is the relationship between Casey and her best friend.
The acting, on the whole, was appalling at best, diabolical at worst.
Odette Yustman (casey) is a pretty girl, and her bottom looks nice in knickers (which is all she wore for quite a lot of the film), but beyond that there wasn't much to say.
Her character is whiny, defeatist, vulnerable and fragile. She doesn't seem to want to help herself very much and utterly relies on everyone around her to solve problems that only she herself can solve.
She doesn't seem like a particularly likable or interesting person, and its impossible to imagine her having any kind of personality to speak of.
She spends the entirety of the film looking scared, despondent, lonely, tearful or resigned.
I personally prefer my horror heroines to have a bit of fight in them, but Casey, to me, completely lacked any fighting spirit, and a a result, i didn't really think she deserved anything but being terrorised by an evil spirit.
Casey's best friend Romy (played by Meagan Good) is slightly more interesting, but only because her character is utterly obnoxious. Her dialogue is trite and cliched and her acting is overcooked. There is no best friend like chemistry between the two characters whatsoever, and whilst neither character has much personality to speak of, they certainly don't seem to have anything in common.
Cam Gigandet plays Casey's boyfriend, Mark Hardigan, and he is a slight improvement from the girls. His character again is very dull, very lifeless with little to no back story, but he does show a little backbone, and a couple of scenes showcase moments of vulnerability, which make him quite likable.
I also quite liked him because he was in the film "Twilight", but that's another story.
The only saving grace to the entire cast, and the biggest question mark, is Gary Oldman. Firstly, why the bejesus he signed up for this film is beyond me, although I am rather glad he did. Although his performance is nothing to rave about, its a damned sight more convincing than that of any of the rest of the cast, and his portrayal of Rabbi Sendak is interesting and believable.
On the other hand, the motivations of his character are almost laughable, and he pops up in the strangest place, never having the airtime he deserves.
The scares were frequent, and spine tingling, however, even these fell short. The trailer had obviously condensed all of the films scariest moments into two minutes, which really packed a punch. unfortunately, a handful of scares in a one and a half hour movie, is not enough to keep the tension up.
Sometimes, a scare would pop along, i would jump a little, wait for worse, but the be disappointed as the scene changed. It was perhaps a clever technique used to lull the audience into a false sense of security, but it didn't work. It was generally just a lull. and a long lull at that.
The ending has a small twist, but a rather predictable and unexplained one, that probably leaves an opening for a sequel. There is no resolve, no explanation, and no climax.
Like i said, "The Unborn" could have been good. If the plot and script has been tighter, simpler, and less convoluted and trite, with maddening forays into Nazi Germany, and strange "The Ring"-esque video footage, then the story would have been satisfying.
With a better script, then i think the actors could have done a decent job (I blame the writing, not their talents). Had the film had a better, more suspenseful soundtrack, and a better sense of timing as far as scares and surprises went, then it could have been very very scary.
As it was, it was more silly than anything else.The idiocy of some of the lines, and some of the actions of the characters left me rolling my eyes and laughing, rather than hiding behind my fail safe cardie, scared half to death.
In the end, the trailer for "The unborn" packed a greater punch than the actual film did, which is actually very sad.
As a result, i was left completely unaffected, and drove home happily discussing the various monsters, special effects techniques, and how annoying the main character was.
I must point out though, poor Bridget, my friend who had to drive home alone, was utterly traumatised, and drove home in a state of terror. Obviously having a chum to drive home with numbs you to the films fright factor.
This might scare younger people than I, or people who are generally a bit jumpy, but if you are a horror movie veteran, this is unlikely to make you do anything other than laugh. There are some nifty tricks in this film, like the upside down headed dog, and the crab walking OAP (very original uncut Exorcist ), but beyond that, its not worth watching.
Bits and Bobs.
Film cert- 18.
Director -David S Goyer.
Writer- David S Goyer.
This isn't available on DVD yet, but you can still go see it at the cinema.
If you fancy visiting the website, go here.
Tom Perrotta is known best for his books "Election" (which was adapted into the film starring Reece Witherspoon and Mathew Broderick), and "Little Children" (the film adaptation starring Kate Winslet).
I had never read any of his books before, although i thoroughly enjoyed "Election" the film, but when I was browsing through Borders in Leeds, I happened upon "The Abstinence Teacher" and thought it looked like a good book for my fella.
I ended up reading it before he did (that night), and I think I probably enjoyed it more than him.
"The Abstinence teacher" plops the reader firmly in NorthEastern America, in a small town called StoneWood Heights.
There we meet Ruth Ramsey, a sex education teacher, who has recently found that her all too honest approach with children, can land her in hot water with the local evangelical church, and their growing clutch upon the residents of the town.
When Ruth discovers that the girls soccer team, in which her daughter plays, has been guided in prayer by their coach, Tim, she goes ballistic. She doesn't want her children praying, just because someone has told them to.
Tim in the meantime is a recovering alcoholic and drug user. He has become a firm member of the Tabernacle of the Gospel Truth, where he tries his best to adhere to God's word....or at least the word that the Tabernacle hears.
With Ruth trying to understand the difference between what she wants and expects for her children, and what they want and expect from her, and Tim struggles to live his life the way he is being told to, the town of StoneWood continues to let the influence of the Church seep into every day life.
What I thought.
The Abstinence teach explores how otherwise unreligious people respond to evangelical christianity, and how it seems to be adopted as a search for a cure for many of life's woes. It also explores how unwanted its influence can sometimes be.
When Ruth's honesty about sex offends the local evangelical church, they demand that the school runs an alternative sex education class, or more to the point, an abstinence class. Ruth's frustration at this completely limited education is apparent, and its easy to sympathise with her. The idea that the best education is denial is an interesting one.
I don't think this is a particularly balanced look on religion. The characters not involved in the evangelical church somewhat look upon it with disdain, and the devout characters are almost parodies. well, hopefully they are. It was obvious to me that author Tom Perrotta was giving a somewhat amused view on the whole idea of strict religion slithering its way into everyday life.
All of the characters are flawed and human. Ruth is an every day, utterly normal forty something woman, who struggles with the upbringing of her children, her divorce, and her love life.Tim however seems to think he has found the solution to all of his woes, in God, and because of this, he widely ignores the unsatisfying relationship he has with his altogether boring, and Church approved wife Carrie.
There is no big clean answer by the end of the book. We never find out whether the Church wins, or even whether there was ever a battle to begin with. The characters continue to stumble along, attempting to do whats right, and making plentiful mistakes along the way.
I quietly enjoyed this book. It wasn't anything magical, and it didn't leave me questioning my religion or lack of it afterward, but it did engross me for few hours, and I put it down having very much enjoyed it.
Its just a very quiet look at a section of American suburbia, with lovely well thought out characters, amusing dialogue,and bizarre situations.
This book is funny, mildly thought provoking, and in the end entertaining, which is probably what I find most important in a novel.
buy from here, for £4.39.
(Link is split in 3, to keep it under 80 characters. Just paste it back together).
I went to see "The Watchmen" by accident.
Me and the fella had actually intended to go and see "Gran Torino", but due to my perpetual slowness, we got to the cinema a little too late, and decided on The Watchmen instead.
I don't know what "Gran Torino" is like, but I am jolly glad I missed it, as "The Watchmen" was definitely worth catching.
"The Watchmen" is based upon Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons's graphic novel.
Right. This will be as simple as I can possibly make it, although be aware I am not entirely sure I understood the plot myself.
OK, The watchmen takes place on Earth. Not our earth, but one just like it. An alternate earth, if you like.
In the film, the present day is the mid 1980's. I'm telling you this, because the watchmen chops and changes a lot through time, with flashbacks and suchlike...so its handy to know where you are.
In the present day, a man named "The Comedian" has just been brutally murdered.
From there, we learn that "The Comedian" was one of the original masked vigilantes who fought crime in the 1930's and 40's, in a group called the MinuteMen. "The Comedian", real name Edward Blake, had been working for the government, after masked vigilantes were outlawed.
Some people however, refused to adhere to the law. Specifically masked vigilante named Rorschach, who has been working illegally. Once Rorschach finds out about Edward Blake's murder, he decides that someone is trying to kill off the masked heroes. He sets out to warn his friends, the retired masked vigilantes.
Whilst all of this is happening, Dr Manhattan, one of the "Watchmen", who was radically physically altered by radioactivity, giving him the ability to manipulate space and time, is pondering what will happen, and what part he will play in the threatening nuclear war.
I will add a short character list, to keep this review from becoming utterly confusing.
(active during the 30's and 40's)
Silhouette, Mothman, Dollar Bill, Nite Owl, Captain Metropolis, the Comedian, Silk Spectre, Hooded Justice.
(active decades later, mostly retired, or undercover by the 80's)
The Comedian-Sexy but dangerous. smokes lots of cigars, which i am sure is some king of phallic suggestion.
Nite owl (x2, no relation to the original)-looks a bit too nice to be fighting crime. probably trying to rebel from over protective parents (I'm guessing. his parents are not mentioned).
Ozymandias-Looks like he spends all of his time in the pyramid hotel in Vegas, having his hair done.
Silk Spectre(x2, daughter of the original)-also looks good in tight clothes, has an enviable blunt fringe, and dislikes threesomes.
Rorschach-Seems very angry. Probably because under his dirty mask, he is ginger and freckled. being ginger and freckled seems to trouble him greatly.
Dr Manhattan-A big blue ball of superpower energy. Doesn't wear clothes, shows a lot of penis.
What i thought.
The first 15 minutes of this film were fantastic. We are shown a super montage of the history of masked vigilantes, with footage of the Minutemen, what happened to the MinuteMen, important historical occurrences, the beginnings of the Watchmen...all fantastic scene setting stuff.
This 15 minutes promises a very different film from the one we eventually experience, but I think that's more of a lulled false sense of security, rather than a let down, or a manipulation.
What in fact follows this is the most pacy, most action packed, most visually beautiful, and most visually disturbing *comic book* genre film I have ever seen.
That's not to say that I completely understood it. I probably spent a good majority of the film with a cocked head, and a quizzical expression, but my lack of comprehension in no way stopped this film from being a feast for the eyes. Especially the eyes of a trainee special effects makeup artist.
Comic book (is that the right term? I didn't want to offend any die hard fans) adaptations are always difficult. There is always a core fan base, who want everything to appear exactly as it did in its original form, or exactly how they expect it to be in their heads. Obviously, this is completely impossible, so I was rather pleased to see this film with no prior expectations or hopes.
It would have, however, been helpful to me to have a little bit of prior knowledge. I was confused by a few aspects that i was too dozy to comprehend during the film. For example, do the Watchmen have super powers? No? if they don't, how come they are so super duper at fighting? Are they vampire slayers?
OK. Perhaps not the vampire slayer part, but you see what I mean. I had a lot of questions, and a lot of things that I just didn't get from the film. I suppose if you have a thorough knowledge of the back story, and the plot, from reading the comic books, then you wouldn't have been quite as confused as little old me.
Confusing plot aside, it is an interesting story. I was drawn in from the very beginning, to the very end, no mean feat with a film that is 162 minutes long. Usually, during long films, I begin to fidget, and have to wee a lot. Not with the watchmen. When the lights came on at the end of the film, I was astounded to realise that my bum was fast asleep.
It made walking home rather difficult.
What i enjoyed most about the Watchmen, was the absolutely amazing, and absolutely grotesque special effect, both from makeup and what I assume was CGI.
I have never seen a film so gloriously and unashamedly violent (perhaps I don't watch enough films). There were bullets going through flesh in slow motion, peoples arms being slowly sawed through, peoples heads being chopped into, and bones breaking through skin. Not for the faint hearted (I peeked through my fingers most of the time) but absolutely riveting to watch.
The acting is competent and entertaining, but nothing to write home about. The characters were beautifully portrayed, but being mostly an ensemble piece, there just wasn't room for any outstanding solo performances.
Beyond anything else, this film is a visual treat.
Its like "300" director Zack Snyder has poured himself, and his style into this film, and you pick up similar filming styles, and action scene choreography that have seeped from 300 into "The watchmen".
Very enjoyable. This is no *spider man*. behind all the action, and the Lycra, and the swinging penis (it was very distracting), there is a firm message behind the "Watchmen" and it very cleverly pushes on issues like fascism, and nuclear war, and free will, and what it is to be human.
The action is incredible, the costumes are scanty, the acting is sound and enjoyable. The plot is a little difficult to get to grips with, and it is a tad long, but the overall awe inducing action scenes are enough to compensate.
This film is dark and gritty and sexy and violent, occasionally funny, and sporadically silly.
I would definitely recommend this, although only to people over the age of 18 (its film certificate is 18), and only to people who don't mind a bit of well timed blood and guts.
The film is not available on DVD yet, but you can visit the website for the film here.
I am an avid reader, and have no problem wading through page upon page of lengthy description and rarely used words. In fact, I revel in a tough novel, as I feel like I am being challenged.
Sometimes though, challenges are just not worthy of the effort.
I am a huge Anne Rice fan. I think her descriptions are haunting, her characters beautiful.
Because of this, when I was on holiday in France a few years ago, I was excited to see "Violin", one of the only English books in the store.
I took it back to my hotel, and began to read. Within the two weeks, I put the book down, and forgot to pick it up until I got home, when I began again.
Again, I put it down half way through.
Over the years, I have picked this book up, put it down, and then repeated the process. no matter how hard I tried, I couldnt help but become bored part of the way in.
Eventually though, I got through the entire book.
The plot revolves mostly around Triana, a woman in New Orleans, who has suffered a lot of loss, most recently her partner Karls death.
Whilst she grieves for her losses, she escapes into visions of a beautiful Violin player.
What I thought.
Unusually for me, not much of a plot. That is because I just didnt get this book. At all. Its so bogged down in description, and musical references, that it loses all focus. The character of Triana goes off on mad descriptive tangents every couple of pages, and its really hard to keep track of what is going on in the reality of the novel. Characters are brought in haphazardly, and in their droves, never really making much of an impact on the book, or letting you get to know or care about them.
Dont get me wrong. The descriptiveness, and lushness of the book is classic Anne Rice. The pictures she weaves with words are beautiful, and as ever, her writing is wonderful. Its just that the story is so convoluted and confusing.
Like i mentioned before, the musical references are plentiful, but I couldnt identify in the slightest, having no real in depth knowledge of classical music. Maybe a reader who does have that info tucked away in their noggin would appreciate this book more.
Another sore point, for me with this book, is I feel that perhaps it was a way of venting frustration and grief for Anne Rice herself. I believe that Anne Rice lost her daughter when she was 6, to Leukemia. This loss has shadowed her other books (namely Claudia in the Vampire chronicles), but in "Violin" it doesnt shadow. It overwhelms. Its almost as if this book was therapy, with the characters grief mirroring the authors.
I have no problem with the writers drawing inspiration from real life to write their books, but I actually felt slightly uncomfortable reading this...like I was reading something too personal.
As for the main character, Triana, i really struggled to identify with her. Actually, thats a lie. actively disliked her. Her physical description was uninspiring, and she seemed so bogged down in grief, and regret and misery, that it was very hard to like her.
I personally really struggle to enjoy a novel if I have no affinity with the main character, and this was one of my main problems with Violin.
The book was actually a little claustrophobic. Everything is memory, or reflection, or fantasy, and there is very little tangible action.
The ending of the novel was all a bit silly. Very quickly tied up, and I didnt really understand, but oh well. A silly novel deserves a silly ending.
I hate writing bad reviews, esspecially about an author I adore as much as Anne Rice, but I truly felt like "Violin" was a chore, rather than a pleasure.
Very disappointing. I almost wish I had never finished it, because than at least i could have told myself that it probably got better.
It didnt, and thats a real shame.
If you fancy reading some Anne Rice, then i would steer you toward the Vampire chronicles, The Mayfair Witches, or "The Mummy". All are interesting, plot driven, but still have the beautiful lengthy description that Rice is famous for.
On the other hand, if you are a classical music lover, who enjoys a lengthy, endless, poetic stroll through an uninspiring characters mind, then have a go at this....and let me know if it made any sense to you!
You can buy from,
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I should know about music. I should be able to write a review, and talk about melancholy chords, and phrasing, and key signatures, and all of that lovely stuff. I should be able to, because i have an A level in music.
Unfortunately, because I had never studied music before A level, and sang for my practicals, I have never, and will never have the knowledge i should do. Perhaps i should have studied harder. Sigh.
Beyond all that, I know my Musicals.
I have been obsessed every since I was a child, when my dad took me and my brother to see "Starlight Express". I know, I know. Not the classiest of musicals, but it lit a fire in my tummy that has never really left me.From that moment on, I knew what I wanted to do in life.
I wanted to be a singing train.
Fortunately, many many musicals later, my ambitions have changed somewhat. I have been through all of the stages. I have wanted to be a small curly redheaded orphan, an old weathered cat, a hip thrusting finger clicking murderer who courts the press, and finally, and most heart wrenchingly, a french peasant, on the brink of death, hopelessly in love with a man who doesn't know she exists.
Of all the musicals I have ever seen, nothing has moved me more than Les Miserables.
I went to see it for the first time with My Dad, my little brother, and my fella (wastingtime on here). I don't think anyone was as thrilled to go see it as I was, (or thrilled at all), but what i saw, and more importantly, what I heard that night, brought me to tears, and still brings me to tears, every time I play the soundtrack in my car.
Normally, a plot would bear little importance in a music review. Not so for Les Miserables. Obviously, as a musical, the songs are not only important to the plot, but they are the plot. There is very little spoken dialogue in Les Miserables. Dialogue, plot and emotion are all conveyed through music.
Les Miserables is a musical adaptation of the famous novel by Victor Hugo. It follows the character of Jean Valjean, in the beginning of the 19th century, in France.Valjean has spent a miserable 19 years in prison,as prisoner 24601, after stealing a loaf of bread ( I know of murderers who have served less). Valjean breaks parole, and soon after meets a priest, who takes pity on him, and shows him the first kindness he has experienced in years. The priest changes his life, and the way he treats other people.
Valjean just cant escape his past, however hard he tries. he is hounded by a police inspector, Javert, who becomes obsessed with finding Valjean and putting him back in prison.
There are many intertwining subplots involved with Les Miserables. Fantine is a single mother, who has turned to prostitution to provide for her daughter Cosette. When Fantine dies, Valjean adopts Cosette as his daughter.
Cosette is loved by Marius Pontmercy, and Marius is loved by Eponine, the daughter of Cosettes first foster family (still with me?).
My favorite songs.
One day more-
This song begins light and optimistic, with one solo voice, to which others are added, all singing bits from previous songs, all stung together so that they overlap and intertwine beautifully. The song sets the scene for the beginning of the revolution, and how the different characters relate to it. As the song progresses, more voices join in, building up the tension, before the curtain closes on the first act.
This song gives me goosebumps every time I listen to it. Its beautifully put together, and so clever in the way that the previous songs all pop up, all beautifully melded together to build a new song.
On my own-
This song is probably the most famous from the show, and is performed by the character of Eponine. Like I said before, Eponine is the daughter of the horrible couple, Monsieur & Madame Thénardier, Cosettes original foster family. Eponine is hopelessly in love with Marius, a love that he doesn't respond to.
"On my own" is about something most of us have experienced. Utterly unrequited love.The first section of the song is like a story telling, until it falls into the familiar strains of the main song. The first section is very gentle, very dreamlike. Eponine is thinking about a different world, one in which Marius feels the same way about her that she does about him.When we get to the chorus, the song changes tack. Eponine is acknowledging that Marius truly doesn't feel that way about her, and the singing becomes more powerful, and more desperate.I love this song especially, because I sang it for my A level music practical. i still remember it word for word, and feel like crying whenever I perform it!
(I'm so soppy)
A little fall of rain-
The uplifting strains in the first few bars make a heart wrenching contrast with the story behind the song.
Its the story that gets to me. Eponine is dying, lying in the arms of the man she loves, who doesn't love her back, but has the kindness to pretend for those few moments before she goes.
The song is a duet, and the singers alternate verses, until the tension of the song builds up, and the voices meld together in a devastating unison.
Bring him home-
I cannot hear this song, without immediately bursting into tears. The song is so full of emotion, and longing, it raises the hairs on my arms. It takes a powerful male voice to bring this song justice, and a huge vocal range, something that the fella who sings as Valjean on the original London recording possesses.
Its almost like a lullaby at the beginning. Very song, and beautiful, sang in falsetto by the actor. Its the contrast between the original softness, and then the power vocals at the end of the song that make it one of the most memorable from the musical.
The music from Les Miserables is so utterly powerful, that its hard not to respond to it emotionally. There are ballads, funny skit-like songs, angry songs, soft songs....oh everything.
The theme is generally quite miserable. Its the french Revolution, not a tea party, but this makes the music even more powerful in my opinion. Nothing inspires a song more than love death and revolution.
If you are fond of musicals, and want a soundtrack to really get your teeth in, then this is one for you. Dont be mistaken. This isn't Grease. There is no car driving off into the sunset in the end...its all a lot darker, and far more miserable than that, but much more beautiful, and much more solid.
Track List, and other bits and bobs.
(more bobs than bits).
The Soundtrack contains two discs. Its the original London Cast recording.
Performers include, Colm Wilkinson as Valjean, Frances Ruffelle as Eponine, Rebecca Caine as Cosette, Patti LuPone as Fantine, Roger Allam as the persistent Inspector Javert, Michael Ball as Marius, Zoe Hart as young Cosette.
1. Prologue. Work Song
2. Prologue. Valjean Arrested/Valjean Forgiven
3. Prologue. What Have I Done?
4. At the End of the Day
5. I Dreamed a Dream
6. Lovely Ladies
7. Who Am I?
8. Fantine's Death. Come to Me
9. Fantine's Death. Confrontation
10. Castle on a Cloud
11. Master of the House
12. Thénardier Waltz
14. Look Down
15. Little People
16. Red and Black
17. Do You Hear the People Sing?
1. Love Montage. I Saw Him Once/In My Life/A Heart Full of Love
2. Plumet Attack
3. One Day More
4. On My Own
5. The Attack
6. A Little Fall of Rain
7. Drink with Me
8. Bring Him Home
9. Dog Eats Dog
10. Javert's Suicide: Soliloquy
12. Empty Chairs at Empty Tables
13. Wedding Chorale
14. Beggars at the Feast
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