The stars of Hank Green's The Lizzie Bennet Diaries read the book that was written by Hank's brother John :) I loved The Fault in Our Stars so much and I love Ashley and Daniel's reading of it. Although I'm sure that Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort will be amazing in the film I have to say that a part of me wishes that Ashley and Daniel had gotten to play Hazel and Augustus.
Wednesday, 30 April 2014
Monday, 28 April 2014
12th of May. YAY!
The BBC believes that most people will have read only 6 of the 100 books here. How do your reading habits stack up?
Note: the books I've read are in bold.
My total is 55 which isn't too shabby :D And I plan on reading at least 20 of the other books on this list too.
Note: the books I've read are in bold.
- Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
- The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien
- Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
- Harry Potter series – JK Rowling (all)
- To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
- The Bible
- Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
- 1984 – George Orwell
- His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman (I've read the first two)
- Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
- Little Women – Louisa M Alcott
- Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
- Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
- Complete Works of Shakespeare – William Shakespeare (I think I've read about a dozen of Shakespeare's plays)
- Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
- The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien
- Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks
- Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger
- The Time Traveller’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
- Middlemarch – George Eliot
- Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell
- The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald
- Bleak House – Charles Dickens
- War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
- The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
- Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
- Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
- Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
- Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
- The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame
- Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
- David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
- Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis
- Emma – Jane Austen
- Persuasion – Jane Austen
- The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis
- The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
- Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Berniere
- Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
- Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne
- Animal Farm – George Orwell
- The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown
- One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
- A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving
- The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
- Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery
- Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy
- The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
- Lord of the Flies – William Golding
- Atonement – Ian McEwan
- Life of Pi – Yann Martel
- Dune – Frank Herbert
- Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
- Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
- A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
- The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
- A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
- Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
- The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon
- Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
- Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
- Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
- The Secret History – Donna Tartt
- The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
- The Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
- On The Road – Jack Kerouac
- Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
- Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding
- Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
- Moby Dick – Herman Melville
- Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
- Dracula – Bram Stoker
- The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
- Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson
- Ulysses – James Joyce
- The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
- Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome
- Germinal – Emile Zola
- Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
- Possession – AS Byatt
- A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
- Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
- The Colour Purple – Alice Walker
- The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
- Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
- A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
- Charlotte’s Web – EB White
- The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom
- The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
- The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton (Probably. I read loads of Enid Blyton as a child)
- Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
- The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery
- The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
- Watership Down – Richard Adams
- A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
- A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
- The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
- Hamlet – William Shakespeare
- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
- Les Miserables – Victor Hugo
My total is 55 which isn't too shabby :D And I plan on reading at least 20 of the other books on this list too.
Thursday, 24 April 2014
Apparently Friday's Child was Georgette Heyer's own personal favourite out of her novels. I can't say I agree with her. Friday's Child has some funny moments and some likeable secondary characters but for the most part I found Hero and Sherry's antics annoying and frustrating instead of being amusing and entertaining. I suppose Hero is sweet and kind but she's also passive, silly and dim. Sherry was so immature, insensitive and selfish that I couldn't stand him. He even hits Hero on a few occasions! Sherry and Hero are sooo not my kind of hero and heroine!
If Friday's Child had only been about Sherry and Hero then I think I would have probably hated it. But thankfully Sherry's three best friends were so funny and engaging that they partly redeemed the book for me. I really liked that George got his own romantic subplot with Isabella too. It was was so much more interesting and entertaining than the romance between Sherry and Hero. Because of these secondary characters I do think that Friday's Child is worth a read if you're already a Heyer fan but I wouldn't call it a good introduction to her works.
Mojo (Harold Pinter Theatre)
To be honest I went into this play "blind". I knew nothing about it and I only wanted to see it because it was starring Ben Whishaw and Colin Morgan. Now that I've seen Mojo I wouldn't say I became a fan of the play itself. The story wasn't really my cup of tea. It reminded me of Quentin Tarantino's films and I'm not a Tarantino fan. There was too much bad language for my liking as well. I can get past some bad language in stories but not when every other word seems to be a swear! But I still managed to enjoy Mojo because of its cast. Its characters would all be really unlikeable on paper but the actors were great and they all brought a lot of humour to their roles. Ben Whishaw was my favourite in the cast. His character was creepy, mentally unstable and violent but Whishaw still managed to make him sympathetic. He even got to sing in this play and I was hugely impressed with his voice! I can completely understand why they've cast him as Freddie Mercury in that upcoming Queen biopic!
There were quite a few big names in Mojo. I've seen Colin Morgan do stage work before (The Tempest) but I think he was even better in this play. His character was twitchy, dim, awkward and absolutely nothing like Merlin. I enjoyed his interactions with Ben Whishaw and Brendan Coyle - and his final scene was quite sad. Rupert Grint made his stage debut in this play and I was really surprised at how good he was. He was really funny. I'd never seen Daniel Mays act in anything before Mojo but I'd heard really good things about his acting and I really liked his performance in the play. He was really flamboyant and energetic. I seem to remember him getting all of the funniest lines and he had great chemistry with Rupert Grint. Brendan Coyle was in this play and is probably most famous for playing Mr Bates in Downton Abbey although to me he'll always be Nicholas Higgins from North and South (2004). Coyle brought a lot of gravitas to his role and was slightly sinister. As Tom Rhys Harries plays Silver Johnny he's off-stage for most of the play and he doesn't get anywhere near as much to do as the others. He was still very good in the few scenes that he was in though and hopefully he'll go on to do bigger things.
*If the cast hadn't been so good it would have probably gotten a 3/5 or mabe even a 2/5 rating.*
Richard II (Barbican Theatre)
I didn't go into this play "blind" like I did with Mojo. I was already familiar with Richard II thanks to the BBC's The Hollow Crown. I wouldn't say that Richard II is one of my absolute favourite Shakespeare plays but I like it very much indeed and The Hollow Crown's version of it is spectacular. Ben Whishaw is magnificent as Richard II. *Is this turning into a Ben Whishaw appreciation post?* I love David Tennant as well and when I heard that he was doing Richard II I of course wanted to see him do the role. I'm surprised I even managed to get tickets for it because the production apparently sold out really quickly!
With this play I was really impressed with its overall production. It had medieval-looking costumes and sets which I definitely appreciated. I'm open-minded enough to enjoy more modern interpretations of Shakespeare's work but I do have a preference for historically accurate settings. The production was quite modern in one respect though because the action took place on different levels (e.g. balconies). I loved the costumes and the use of lighting in the play. I loved the live singing. They had three sopranos sing at various points in the play and the choral music gave it a lot of atmosphere.
Even though I rushed to buy tickets for this production I had a hard time picturing David Tennant as Richard II. I was sure that he'd be excellent but I had a harder time picturing him as Richard II than I did for Hamlet and Benedick from Much Ado About Nothing. Tennant really did turn out to be a great Richard though. He's such a versatile actor! In many ways Tennant's portrayal was very similar to Ben Whishaw's. Their Richards are both effeminate, arrogant and impulsive. Whishaw's Richard is more vulnerable and child-like than Tennant's though and I remember Tennant's Richard being funnier and more aggressive. I have to say that Tennant's portrayal didn't leave me as powerfully affected as Whishaw's but I still really loved him in the role and I had a great night. Of the supporting cast I really loved the actors who played the Duke and Duchess of York (Oliver Ford Davies and Marty Cruickshank). They were really funny and entertaining. This production emphasised the humour of the play in general which was nice.
This might not be very relevant but I have to say I loved the Barbican venue! It's quite modern but it has the most comfortable seats out of any of the West End theatres that I've been to. And the seats are staggered so you'll have a good view wherever you sit :)
Coriolanus (Donmar Warehouse) - National Theatre Live
This stage production of Coriolanus was directed by Josie Rourke who also directed the David Tennant-Catherine Tate production of Much Ado About Nothing back in 2011. This production of Coriolanus starred Tom Hiddleston, Mark Gatiss and Hadley Fraser. I'm a huge fan of all of these men so as soon as I found about this production of Coriolanus I was dying to see it :D I wasn't able to get tickets for the live production in the end. The Donmar is a famously small venue and its tickets can be extremely hard to come by. In fact this entire production of Coriolanus was sold out in just under 20 minutes! But thankfully I was able to see the live broadcast of this production at my local cinema and I loved it. Tom Hiddleston was magnificent in the title role. I really do think that his performance is going to go down in theatre history. He was clearly giving it his everything in the role: both physically and emotionally. Hiddleston played Coriolanus exactly as the character should be played. I could buy him as a soldier and he made the character sympathetic whilst still portraying all of Coriolanus's negative traits. He gave an extremely layered and intelligent performance. Also, the scene where Coriolanus cries when his family are pleading with him to save Rome was beautifully-acted and deeply moving. He was amazing in the role.
Mark Gatiss played Menenius in Coriolanus. Meninius is probably the most sympathetic character in Coriolanus and Gatiss played him really well. He brought a lot of humour to the role and his sadness at Coriolanus's behaviour towards the end was quite sad to see. There was this one aspect of Gatiss's performance that I did find unintentionally amusing though. At one point Gatiss patted his stomach and it reminded me so much of his Mycroft Holmes that I laughed out loud! :D No-one else laughed and I'm sure it wasn't meant to be funny but oh well! Hadley Fraser is one of my favourite musical theatre stars and he played Tullus Aufidius in Coriolanus, a rare non-singing role for him. The Volscians were given northern accents in the play and although Hadley Fraser's accent was a bit over the top I still really liked his performance. I hope to see him in more non-singing roles. Not too many though, I love his singing too much for that! Fraser worked really well with Tom Hiddleston and they had a pretty cool sword fight at one stage. I know some reviewers have complained about the homoerotic elements of Aufidius's relationship with Coriolanus being played up in this production but it didn't bother me. It's very heavily implied in the text itself and they didn't play it up anywhere near as much as they could have done. Aufidius only kisses Coriolanus once in a way that I wouldn't describe as being particularly passionate or erotic
As for the rest of the cast: Deborah Findlay gave a powerhouse performance as Coriolanus's mother Volumnia. She'd make a terrific Lady Macbeth! Birgitte Hjort Sørensen played Coriolanus's wife Virgilia and brought a lot of sensitivity to the role.Her role contrasted quite nicely with the cold and ambitious Volumnia. Elliot Levy and Helen Schlesinger played Coriolanus's enemies Brutus and Sisinia and they worked really well together. Schlesinger's character is a man in Shakespeare's text but was rewritten as a woman for this particular production so that she could be in a romantic relationship with Brutus. It worked surprisingly well. Alfie Enoch had a minor role in this play as Titus Lartius which made me happy. Alfie Enoch played Dean Thomas in the Harry Potter films and Bainbridge in the Sherlock episode The Sign of Three. Titus Lartius is a pretty minor role but Enoch played him well.
I think Coriolanus was a hugely underrated play and apart from a few minor issues I really enjoyed this production. I do really envy the people who got to see the production live but by seeing a filmed version of the play I was able to get close-ups of the actor's faces and I got to focus on characters that I might not have thought to pay attention to during certain scenes.
As I mentioned, there were a couple of things about this production that I didn't really like sadly. In the interval of the recording Josie Rourke gives an interview with Emma Freud and all Freud can talk about is Tom Hiddleston's sexiness. Like... seriously? This production has one of the best actors in the world right now who is giving an absolutely amazing performance in the title role! And all she can ask Rourke about is his sexiness?! Show some bloody respect! Also, the ending of this production is more depressing than the ending of the written text. In the written text Aufidius and the Volscians are filled with sadness after they kill Coriolanus. They then decide to honour his memory and give him a hero's funeral. But in this particular version Aufidius doesn't seem to be the slightest bit upset about Coriolanus's death. He even bathes in his blood! Admittedly this is probably a much more realistic ending but it's quite a downer! But still, I did really love this production.
Saturday, 19 April 2014
I got tired of that name a long time ago and I've changed my blog to reflect that :) Happy Easter!
Monday, 14 April 2014
After A Christmas Carol, Oliver Twist is probably Dickens' most famous and adapted work. Back in 2012 I was fortunate enough to see a touring production of Oliver! The Musical which I absolutely loved :) But now that I've finally got round to reading Charles Dickens' novel I realise that my love for that particular stage production was more to do with the Lionel Bart songs and Samantha Barks' performance as Nancy than its story. Oliver Twist is my fifth Dickens book and it's unquestionably my least favourite. I really didn't like this one. Whereas the Fagin of the Lionel Bart musical is mostly used to provide comic relief, the Fagin of Dickens' book is a far more evil and sinister character. He has no redeeming features whatsoever and is constantly referred to as "The Jew". Fagin isn't a villain who just so happens to be Jewish either. His villainy and Jewishness always seem to be linked. I know that prejudice towards Jews was rife in Dickens' time but I still found the racism in the book rather upsetting. Another issue that I had with this book was Oliver Twist himself. He's so cloying! He always says and does the right thing, doesn't appear to have any flaws, is completely pure and innocent, and even talks in a more refined way than the other child characters do in this book. He's so good that it's sickening! Urgh! And my third and final problem with Oliver Twist was all of those massive coincidences. Mr Brownlow turn out to be the best friend of Oliver's father, Rose Maylie turns out to be the younger sister of Oliver's mother, and Monks turns out to be Oliver's evil half-brother! I know that London was a lot smaller back in Dickens' time but how many long-lost relatives can Oliver keep bumping into?! I could have accepted Oliver meeting just one long-lost relative but three?!
Having said all that, I have to say that I didn't hate this book because I was still able to find a couple of things about it that I liked: namely the visual imagery and atmosphere of London and the character of Nancy - who might well be a 17 year old heavy drinking prostitute but is by far the most well-rounded, interesting and complex character in the entire book. Nancy has an inner kindness and strength that sets her apart from Fagin and the other members of his gang. She strikes me as being the female equivalent of Sydney Carton.
Saturday, 5 April 2014
In King's Landing, Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance) has taken over the position of the Hand and his grandson King Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) has broken off his engagement to Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner). Joffrey has now agreed to marry Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer) which is much to the vexation of his mother. Cersei (Lena Headey) hates Margaery and is fuming over her son's new engagement and her father's meddling in her affairs. Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) is also unhappy. He's resentful about the loss of his position, his family's lack of appreciation for his role in saving King's Landing, and the attempt on his life by one of Joffrey's men. Sansa Stark is still being held captive in King's Landing but her situation looks brighter than before. Both Margaery Tyrell and Littlefinger (Aidan Gillan) are offering her their help and assistance. Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), who was previously being held as a prisoner by Robb Stark, has been freed by Catelyn (Michelle Fairley) so that he might be exchanged for Sansa and Arya Stark. He's now being escorted back to King's Landing by the female knight Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie). The pair's relationship is initially antagonistic but along the way they begin to form an unexpectedly close bond.
Arya Stark's family still believe that she's in King's Landing and have no idea that she's been on the run ever since the end of season one. Arya (Maisie Williams) has now escaped from the fortress of Harrenhal with her companions Gendry (Joe Dempsie) and Hot Pie (Ben Hawkey). They then find themselves meeting a band of outlaws known as the Brotherhood but can Arya trust them?
Arya's brothers Bran and Rickon are also on the run. They've managed to escape from Winterfell and are now travelling with Hodor (Kristian Nairn), Osha the Wildling (Natalia Tena) and their direwolves. They're going to the Wall in search of Jon Snow (Kit Harington). Along the way they meet a mysterious pair of siblings called the Reeds. Jojen Reed (Thomas Sangster) is able to explain to Bran (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) the significance of his dreams and visions. Bran then begins to realise the extent of his powers.
Jon Snow has fallen in with the Wildlings beyond-the-wall and is now working undercover for the Night's Watch. He then finds his vows to the Night's Watch being sorely tested when he falls in love with Ygritte (Rose Leslie). Jon knows that he will have to choose between her and the Night's Watch. He won't be able to have both. Meanwhile, the rest of the Night's Watch scouting mission have been decimated by an attack from the White Walkers. The few survivors are now trying to get back to the Wall and Jon's friend Samwell Tarly (John Bradley-Walsh) finds his life in danger.
Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen) wakes up to find himself in captivity after getting knocked unconscious at the end of season two. He is then tortured by an unknown person's command. After making his way back to Dragonstone, Ser Davos Seaworth (Liam Cunningham) attempts to kill Melisandre (Carice Van Houten). Davos is convinced that Melisandre is evil and that it's she who is to blame for the defeat at Blackwater. He is then swiftly imprisoned by Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane). Davos then attempts to regain Stannis's favour.
Finally, Daenerys Targaryren (Emilia Clarke) is still continuing in her mission to take the Iron Throne of Westeros. Having been able to secure gold and a ship in the city of Qarth, Dany travels to the city of Astapor. She then considers whether to buy a vast and highly elite slave army called the Unsullied. Dany also gains a new companion called Ser Barristan Selmy (Ian McElhinny) who is a famous ex-knight from the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros.
Bran Stark and Jojen Reed
Jon Snow and Ygritte
Margaery and Olenna Tyrell
MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD
As A Storm of Swords is such an immense book the GoT producers decided to adapt that book over the course of two seasons. That's probably why the pacing of season three is slower than in the previous two seasons, especially during the early episodes. The pacing starts to pick up at around three or four episodes in though and in many ways this season is my favourite of the show to date. The production values and acting are as fantastic as ever. The storylines are as fantastic as ever. The sex scenes and nudity are handled in a way that's better than ever. They're still a part of the show but they felt less gratuitous this time around, and tellingly season three is the only season of the show not to receive an 18 certificate.
In season two I enjoyed Tyrion and Arya's storylines the most but with this season I loved Daenerys and Jaime's storylines best. Dany's was my absolute favourite. It was so much fun to watch her go about conquering the slave cities of Astapor and Yunkai! Her liberation of the Unsullied is an especially amazing moment and quite possibly my favourite moment in the entire show to date. Jaime Lannister's character development this season was wonderful and I loved his relationship with Brienne. Jaime is well on his way to becoming one of my favourite characters in the show now. I never ever thought I'd say that back when I was watching season one! Yes, Jaime is very good-looking and has always had funny one-liners but he had an affair with his own sister and pushed Bran out of a window! But in this season Jaime changes due to Brienne's influence and we see a different side of him. I had a huge smile on my face during the Bear scene and that wasn't solely because it reminded me of Anchorman either! I love redemption storylines and I really hope that Jaime's character development continues for the duration of the series. I also really loved Jon and Bran's storylines this season. The only storyline that I really wasn't fond of in season three was Theon Greyjoy's because his torture scenes went on for far too long and were horribly uncomfortable to watch. Iwan Rheon is brilliant as Theon's torturer Ramsay Snow though. He's terrifying and scarily convincing in the role! His character is so evil that I was honestly starting to think "You know what, Joffrey doesn't seem to be quite so bad now!" That's how evil Ramsay Snow is!
Of the new characters my favourites were Margaery and Olenna Tyrell (Dame Diana Rigg). Margaery Tyrell was introduced in season two but she gets more screentime this season. I loved her character and Natalie Dormer's portrayal. Margaery might be manipulative and cunning but she really does seem like a genuinely sweet and caring person. I loved her efforts to befriend Sansa because that poor girl really deserves a friend! Also, Cersei hates Margaery so that really helped me to like Margaery. I really wanted some of Margaery's dresses. Her grandmother Olenna is pretty badass as well! Her character is very similar to Violet Grantham from Downton Abbey. I loved Olenna's scene with Tywin Lannister.
I suppose I really can't wrap up this review without mentioning The Rains of Castamere. Game of Thrones fans have come to realise that Episode 9 of any season will always be the one where the s*** goes down. Episode 9 of season one featured the execution of Ned Stark. Episode 9 of season two was focused solely on the Battle of Blackwater Bay. Episode 9 of season three features the brutal murder of Robb Stark, his pregnant wife, his mother Catelyn and even his direwolf Grey Wind! It's one of the most tragic and heartbreaking things I have ever seen on television! Even though I already knew it was going to happen it still left me feeling empty inside! Even though he made some bad decisions I really loved Robb and I was very sad at what happened to him and his family :( In many ways season three is my favourite of the show's run to date but the Red Wedding... that was tough. It was also quite alarming because it reminded me that my dream ending for both the books and the TV show is probably much happier and soppier than the ending that George R.R. Martin has in mind.
This will be my last Game of Thrones review for a good long while. I've caught up with the show now and I'm going to be focusing on reading and reviewing the rest of the ASoIaF books this year. I'm seriously excited about season four though! I'm really hoping that we'll see more of Littlefinger this season - he's a fascinating character - and I'm looking forward to seeing Mark Gatiss in the show. The trailer below has made me even more for the season. It's awesome and the song choice is inspired!
Film Certificate: 15