Saturday, 26 July 2014

The Bucket List Tag

Hamlette of Hamlette's Soliloquy and The Edge of the Precipice has tagged me for the Bucket List Tag. For this tag each person lists 10 things that they want to do before they die and then they pass it on to five of their friends. Okay, in no particular order, I want to...

Have my own home library

Visit New Zealand

Visit India

Visit South Africa. My brother's going to Cape Town in November. I'm so excited for him but argh, so jealous!

Visit New York

Learn fluent French

Go Zorbing

Get a second tattoo. I just used this picture as an example, the tattoo isn't one I'd necessarily have. 

Read all of the 60 canonical Sherlock Holmes stories

Read all of Georgette Heyer's Regency romance novels

Edit: I also really want to go to San Diego comic con! I didn't include it in this list because I wanted to pick reasonably realistic things and I don't think the chances of me going to SDCC are realistic - but it would be an amazing experience!

And now I tag:

  • Mizzie of Music and My Mind
  • Samara of Wait + Hope
  • Bookwormans of Complete and Unabridged
  • And anyone else who wants to do this tag! :D You're supposed to tag five people for this challenge but I couldn't think of anyone else to tag who hadn't already done the list. 

Thursday, 24 July 2014

'The Bone Season' by Samantha Shannon (2013)

Synopsis: The Bone Season is the first book in an urban fantasy/dystopian sci-fi series. The book takes place in an alternate version of our world in the year 2059 - a version where our world is connected to a spiritual dimension known as the aether. Britain and several major European cities are being run by a dystopian government called the Scion. People with psychic powers ("clairvoyants") are being persecuted by the Scion and this has forced them to turn to organised crime for protection. Paige Mahoney is a 19 year old Irish girl who is living in Scion London. She's a dreamwalker, the rarest kind of clairvoyant, and is working for a crime lord called Jaxon Hall. But after a disastrous incident on a train, Paige is kidnapped and drugged. When she wakes up she finds herself in the lost city of Oxford. The city was supposedly destroyed 200 years ago but Paige discovers that it's now being controlled by a powerful, otherworldly race called the Rephaim. The Rephaim are waging a war against deadly creatures and are enslaving clairvoyants for their army. Paige is assigned to a mysterious Rephaite called Arcturus Warden who will be her master and trainer. But Paige is determined to escape and regain her freedom.

The Bone Season is the much-hyped debut novel by Samantha Shannon. She was still studying at Oxford University when she first began this book and was still only 21 by the time she finished it. Shannon has been called the "new J.K. Rowling" and critics have compared her book to both the Harry Potter series and The Hunger Games. Andy Serkis is set to direct this book's film adaptation. I'm a huge fan of both the Harry Potter series and The Hunger Games, especially the former, so I didn't think for one minute that this book was going to match the quality of those works. But the premise for The Bone Season sounded so intriguing that I knew I'd have to give it a read at some point. Overall my feelings about this book are mixed. For every positive thing that I can say about this book I can think of a negative.

I'll start with the positives. For me the very best thing about The Bone Season was its setting and atmosphere. Shannon's world is rich and elaborate and absolutely fascinating. I was very impressed by her imagination and ideas. I've never come across a book that combines fantasy, dystopia and organised crime/the Mafia before! Of course there were certain aspects of this book that felt familiar to me: the idea of people with special powers being hunted down reminded me quite a bit of The X-Men. But because of the way that Shannon combined all of these various elements together the story still felt fresh and interesting to me. Shannon's writing is vivid and atmospheric. The book has some interesting secondary characters: Jaxon, Warden and Paige's best friend Nick.

And now for the negatives. Sadly The Bone Season has some fairly major flaws. Although I admire how detailed and rich Shannon's world is the book did leave me feeling confused at times. I still wasn't entirely sure what Paige could actually do as a dreamwalker even by the end of the book, and I wouldn't know what the gifts of the different levels/types of clairvoyants are without looking at the book's flowchart. The pacing of the book isn't even either. There were times when I found this book exciting and gripping but then there were other times when I found it too slow-paced and a bit of a struggle. I liked Warden as a character but I don't think his romance with Paige was built up very well. There should have really been a few more pleasant scenes between them before their kiss. And finally, I couldn't quite make up my mind how I felt about Paige. She is determined, independent, compassionate and loyal but there were also times when I found her overly-aggressive and I struggled to understand some of her decisions. Why does Paige make things more difficult for herself? Why does she pick arguments/fights with people that she can only lose and will only put herself in danger? I'm not saying I want a perfect heroine who never makes mistakes but at the very least I want to understand why a heroine says and does things.

For all its faults The Bone Season is a hugely imaginative book and I see a lot of potential in this new series. I can't say that the book completely won me over but I will be reading its sequel The Mime Order.

Rating: 3/5

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

My Top 10 Favourite 'Lizzie Bennet Diaries' Episodes (2012-13)

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries is my favourite Pride and Prejudice adaptation and if you haven't already seen it then I would urge you to check it out. The Lizzie Bennet Diaries is an Emmy Award-winning web series that tells the story of Jane Austen's novel through a YouTube video blog and is set in the modern-day. It was created by Bernie Su and Hank Green (who is the younger brother of the bestselling author John Green). Its episodes are all roughly 3 to 5 minutes long. Elizabeth "Lizzie" Bennet is now a 24 year old student who lives in California and is studying for a postgraduate degree in Mass Communications. With the help of her best friend Charlotte Lu she decides to make a vlog as part of her dissertation. Most of the episodes are filmed in Lizzie's bedroom and Lizzie chats about her life, her family, and her friends. Lizzie's sisters and Charlotte make frequent guest appearances on the vlog and there's a great deal of dressing up and role-play as they re-enact conversations with other characters. We hear about Bingley ("Bing Lee"), Caroline, Mr Collins, Wickham and Darcy long before we get to see them on the screen. 

I can admit that The Lizzie Bennet Diaries probably doesn't sound all that great on paper and I can understand why some would be sceptical about it - but it absolutely works and I'm a passionate fan. I adore Jane Austen's novel and this adaptation is a truly wonderful take on the story. It's the most creative and unique adaptation that I have ever seen. It's remarkably faithful to the major plot-points and spirit of the book. It's incredibly funny and highly quotable. The way in which it modernises certain aspects of Austen's story (e.g. Mr Collins' proposal and the Lydia scandal) are deeply thought-provoking. The acting is fantastic. The Lizzie Bennet Diaries has also been hugely influential: it's kickstarted a trend in literary YouTube adaptations. There's The Autobiography of Jane EyreNothing Much To DoGreen Gables FablesClassic AliceThe Adventures of Peter and Wendy, Hank Green and Bernie Su's own Emma Approved, etc. So, yeah, if if haven't already seen The Lizzie Bennet Diaries already then go away right now and watch it because it's awesome. If you have already seen it, keep reading! :) This post is my top 10 list of its episodes. Now I'm not actually saying that these episodes are "the best" LBD episodes. These are just the episodes that I happened to enjoy the most and obviously it's going to be a very subjective list. If you agree with my favourites that's great but if you have different favourites then that's great too. 

1. "My Name is Lizzie Bennet", Episode 1
Right from the start I was instantly sold on this new Pride and Prejudice adaptation. This episode is very funny and, in just over three minutes, it manages to set up the tone of the series, Lizzie's personality, and Lizzie's relationships with Charlotte and Lydia. This episode even manages to incorporate the book's iconic opening sentence! And Ashley Clements is brilliant in this already. Her Lizzie is funny, clever and instantly likeable. Clements isn't my absolute favourite Elizabeth Bennet (that's Elizabeth Garvie BTW) but I do love her portrayal and, for me, she's the one who best portrays Elizabeth's growth from a girl to a woman.

2. "Lizzie Bennet is in Denial", Episode 15
This is quite an unusual episode for the show because it's one of the few in which Lizzie doesn't appear. At this point Charlotte and Jane are both picking up on Darcy's attraction towards Lizzie but Lizzie is refusing to believe them. So in this episode Charlotte hijacks Lizzie's vlog and convinces Jane to re-enact a conversation that they overheard between Darcy and Caroline Lee. Charlotte and Jane's impressions of Caroline and Darcy are hilariously funny and spot-on! This episode is the funniest in the whole series for me. The character development is excellent in this episode too. Whereas Austen's book is told in third-person, the LBD has Lizzie speak her thoughts out directly to the audience. This episode reminds the audience that Lizzie is an unreliable narrator and that we shouldn't treat everything that she says as gospel truth. Laura Spencer became my favourite Jane Bennet after this episode as well. Spencer's Jane is beautiful, kind, sweet and warm but she's funnier and more assertive than the Jane of the book.

3. Episode 22, "Nope! He Doesn't Like Me"
Mrs Bennet has found a way of getting Jane and Lizzie to stay at Netherfield by redecorating her house so this is where this episode has been filmed. Jane is still convinced that Darcy likes Lizzie and we get to see more of her fantastic Darcy impression. The conversation between Lizzie and Jane!Darcy seems to be the equivalent of Darcy asking Elizabeth to dance a reel in the book. The only other adaptation to have this scene is the 1980 version so I love that! This episode has also given me a head canon: that Darcy uses the "Hey, do you wanna get your groove thing on?" line whenever he asks Lizzie to dance :D

4. "Are You Kidding Me!", Episode 60
Daniel Vincent Gordh makes his much-anticipated first appearance as Darcy in this episode and he's brilliant. He shows just the right amount of pride and coldness in this video that it's not hard to understand why Lizzie has taken such a dislike towards him. Also, on a shallower note, he's gorgeous and a snappy dresser. The 11th Doctor would love his outfit! :D This episode is pretty intense and dramatic and its modernised dialogue is extremely well-written. And am I the only one who thinks that the writer was influenced by the 2005 movie? Just like in that film, we get to see Darcy attempting to justify his conduct towards Jane before explaining his conduct towards Wickham in a letter later on. This episode has a fantastic cliffhanger too. At the very end Lizzie accidentally reveals to Darcy that she has a video blog. Lizzie's horror and Darcy's confusion makes for a great shot!

5. "C vs C", Episode 64
In this episode Caroline Lee shows up at Collins and Collins (Charlotte Lu's new office) because she wants to find out what was in Darcy's letter to Lizzie. Charlotte and then Lizzie use this as an opportunity to question why Caroline made no attempt to tell Bing about Jane's love for him. This confrontation never happens in the book but I'm actually quite pleased with this addition to the story because it's just so satisfying to watch Charlotte and Lizzie call Caroline out on her behaviour. This episode really showcases just how manipulative and bitchy Caroline is and Jessica Andres does a terrific job at playing her. I was thrilled when they found a way of bringing her into Emma Approved!

6. "Party Time", Episode 72
As I've already mentioned, Episode 15 is the funniest episode in the whole series for me but this episode isn't far behind. Lizzie is back at home and is reluctantly supervising Lydia's 21st birthday party. She's slipped off to her bedroom to make a video and enjoy some quiet time. She's then joined by her cousin Mary who is also after some peace and quiet. Lizzie then gets Mary to help her re-enact a conversation that she had with Wickham. Mary's acting is hilariously bad! I don't mind at all that they chose to make Mary a cousin of Lizzie's rather than her sister but I do really wish that we could have seen a lot more of Mary in this web series actually. True we do get to see some more of Mary in the spin-off The Lydia Bennet Diaries but, because the LBD does such a superb job at showing Lizzie's relationships with Jane and Lydia, it would have been fascinating if they'd developed Mary more and shown more of her relationship with Lizzie on-screen. Briana Cuoco does an excellent job at playing Mary too. Trivia: Briana Cuoco is the younger sister of Kaley Cuoco (Penny from The Big Bang Theory).

7. "Corporate Interview", Episode 83
If I have an absolute favourite episode in the LBD it's probably this one. It's completely adorable and it just makes me so happy! Lizzie is now doing an internship at Darcy's company Pemberley Digital which is based in San Francisco. Lizzie's interaction with Darcy here couldn't be any more different from their interaction in Episode 60. They're both much more relaxed and they're clearly enjoying themselves. There's even some flirting! It's so obvious that Lizzie is falling for Darcy here and the chemistry between Ashley Clements and Daniel Vincent Gordh is fabulous. Also, I love that this episode shows Darcy's sense of humour! It annoys me so much that the popular perception of Darcy is that he's this humourless, ultra-brooding guy - albeit one with a heart of gold - who never smiles. Fans of the 1995 version won't like me for saying this but I'm convinced that people have got this impression from Colin Firth's Darcy. It can't be because of the book. Darcy might not be as witty as Henry Tilney from Northanger Abbey or Knightley from Emma but he does actually smile quite a bit in the book and he does have a quiet, dry sense of humour. In the book Elizabeth thinks that Darcy is mocking her when they have their conversations and banter but that's not the case. The liveliness of Elizabeth's mind is what makes Darcy fall in love with Elizabeth. So I love that this episode emphasises Darcy's sense of humour. Daniel Vincent Gordh is my favourite Darcy :)

8. "Okay", Episode 88
What a relief this episode is! One of the major strengths of the LBD is its handling of the Lydia scandal of the book. The lacklustre movie Bride and Prejudice updated the scandal of the book into Lydia sneaking off with Wickham to ride the London Eye. Shock Horror! How will the Bennet family deal with this disgrace?! The LBD's handling of the scandal though is infinitely more dramatic and serious. In this adaptation Lydia is left absolutely distraught and heartbroken when Wickham releases a sex tape between the two of them online. Unlike Bride and Prejudice this version really hits home to a modern audience how lost Lydia's reputation would have been if Darcy hadn't saved her. Mary Kate Wiles plays Lydia's grief beautifully and it's heartbreaking to watch. It will probably take Lydia a good few years to fully get over Wickham's emotional abuse and betrayal but this episode shows us the first step in her recovery. Lydia and Lizzie both learn that the sex tape has been taken down. It's deeply touching to see the sisterly affection between Lizzie and Lydia here and it's heartwarming that they'll be spending more time together.

9. "Gratitude", Episode 98
Who doesn't love this episode?! After finding out what Darcy did for Lydia - buying the website with Lydia's video and shutting it down - Lizzie calls Darcy up and leaves a message on his voicemail. Lizzie then doesn't hear from Darcy for three full days and begins to worry that Darcy no longer loves her. But then he turns up at her house on her birthday. Darcy wanted to speak to Lizzie in person because he wanted to see the look on her face when he asked her "Why did you call me?" This episode is adorable and romantic and I love the look on Darcy's face just before Lizzie switches off her camera :D

10. "The End", Episode 100
And now I've come to the very end of the series. Lizzie is now planning to start her own company after she graduates and is going to be moving to San Francisco so she can be closer to Darcy. In this episode she says goodbye to her viewers. Lizzie shares this episode with Charlotte and Lydia and I'm actually quite pleased that Darcy isn't in it. As much as I love Daniel Vincent Gordh - again, he's my favourite Darcy - the LBD placed a very heavy emphasis on Lizzie's character development and the female relationships of the book so it feels more appropriate for Darcy not to be in this one. It's lovely to see that both Lydia and Charlotte are in a good place; they both get happier endings than they do in the book. Oh, and at the very end of the episode Mrs Bennet walks into the frame and asks what Lizzie and Charlotte are doing! A running joke of the series was Lizzie trying to hide the existence of her videos from her mother so this is a great moment.

Honourable Mentions:
  • Episode 19, "The Green Bean Gelatin Plan"
  • Episode 20, "Enjoy the Adorbs"
  • Episode 37, "Lydia vs Mr Collins"
  • Episode 80, "Hyper-Mediation in New Media"
  • Episode 87, "An Understanding"
  • Questions and Answers #10 with William Darcy

Friday, 18 July 2014

'The Iliad' by Homer (c. 750BC)

Synopsis: The Iliad takes place towards the end of the Trojan War. Chryses, a Trojan priest of Apollo, has a daughter called Chryseis who has been enslaved by the Achaeans. He goes to the Achaean camp in order to plead for her return but she's been given over to the Achaean commander, Agamemnon, and he's refusing to give her up. In despair, Chryses prays to Apollo for help and Apollo responds by inflicting a devastating plague upon the Achaeans. Achilles, a demigod and the leader of one of the largest contingents of the army, calls for a meeting. It's decided that Chryseis must be returned to her father. Now under pressure, Agamemnon agrees but insists that he must now take Achilles' slave girl Briseis as compensation. Achilles flies into a rage and withdraws all support for the army. He then asks his mother, the sea goddess Thetis, to intercede with Zeus so that the Achaeans will experience terrible losses and will then realise how much they need him. Zeus agrees and the Trojans, led by Prince Hector, gain substantial victories. Agamemnon sends ambassadors out to Achilles but Achilles refuses to return to the army. This continues until Achilles' best friend Patroclus begs to be allowed to fight in Achilles' place. Achilles agrees and Patroclus is killed in battle by Hector. This finally prompts Achilles to return. He kills Hector and desecrates his body. Hector's father, the elderly Trojan King Priam, must then plead with Achilles for the return of his son's body.

This is going to be an unusual review. I read The Iliad but I wasn't able to finish it. To put that into perspective, the last time I abandoned a book was over six years ago. The Iliad is one of the oldest and most important texts in European literature and yet I hated it. That might make me an uncultured swine but it's the truth! And you know what else? I even prefer the movie Troy to The Iliad. I'm not saying that Troy is a great film or even a very good film but I can honestly say that I found it more entertaining than this poem. At least it's got some entertaining fight scenes and some eye candy in the form of Eric Bana and Sean Bean!

Certain reviews that I've read have described The Iliad as "fast-paced". I find that mystifying. "Fast-paced" certainly isn't the adjective that comes to mind when I think of The Iliad! I'd call it slow-paced and tedious! It's seriously one of the most boring books that I've ever read. I know that might sound strange since this is a story that features action, adventure, war, and the meddling of various gods and goddesses but it really was. The story is incredibly repetitive. The Iliad is a big book and roughly 2/3 of it consists of mind-numbingly tedious descriptions of characters getting killed off. There are long, long sections where it's just "This Person, son of This Person, shoved a spear through the chest of This Person, son of This Person, and stole his armour." And don't even get me started on the list of the ships and crew members in Book II! It goes on for pages and pages! I'm guessing that all of this information would have been more meaningful and significant to an Ancient Greek audience but as a reader from the 21st century I was bored to tears. And the characters! We learn absolutely nothing about Chryseis and Briseis and they're only in the story to serve as plot-points. Agamemnon, Paris and Helen are all aggravating. The various gods and goddesses are all aggravating. Achilles is despicable. He throws a massive hissy fit because of Agamemnon taking his sex slave away (What?! How dare Agamemnon rape the woman that I'm raping!) and then cries and whines about it to his mother. Then he sits in a tent and does some more whining and sulking whilst his comrades all die just so he can prove a point. His treatment of Hector - who is by far the coolest character in the book - is horrendous. And yet almost everyone in the book keeps going on about how awesome he is!

The only character in this story that I genuinely liked and felt an emotional connection to was Hector. He just seemed like a really loving husband and father. The scene where he says goodbye to his wife and then lifts his infant son up to the gods, praying that the boy will be a better man then he ever was, is genuinely sad and beautiful. It was easily my favourite part of the whole poem. Urgh, why did Hector have to die instead of horrible Achilles?! The point where I had to give up on this book was the part where Achilles tried to get a pack of dogs to eat Hector's face. By that point I decided that I simply couldn't take any more of this story even though I was actually quite close to the end.

I wanted to read The Iliad because I'm trying to incorporate more poetry into my reading and because I wanted to expand my knowledge of Greco-Roman mythology. But now I wish I hadn't bothered. I might still read Homer's The Odyssey because I hear it's a lot more accessible than this book but I'm going to give myself a nice long break before I do.

Rating: No Stars. I couldn't finish it. Oh alright, 0.5/5. Because of Hector.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

The Answer Post! (Part Two)

And now I've come to my second and final Answer Post :) Mizzie, Samara and Evie's questions will be answered in this one. Again, a big thank you to everyone who commented and submitted questions. I had a lot fun answering them! They were all so good! I hope that you all got to know me better and I hope that I can continue to get to know all of you better :)

Mizzie-Me of Music and My Mind asked:

Have you seen other tv/film adaptations of Sherlock Holmes besides BBC Sherlock, Elementary and the Ritchie films? If you have, what did you think about them?
Yes, I've also seen Disney's Basil the Great Mouse Detective. I love it! It was one of my favourite Disney films when I was growing up and it would have been my introduction to Sherlock Holmes! It's such a fun film and it's incredibly underrated. It's about a mouse called Basil who is Sherlock Holmes' rodent counterpart. Basil isn't technically Sherlock Holmes but he's definitely more Sherlock Holmes than some of the portrayals that share the name. Or let me put it this way: Basil is definitely more Benedict Cumberbatch than Robert Downey Jr or Jonny Lee Miller. Also, Vincent Price plays the villain! I'm planning to do a more in-depth review of TGM later this year. Then, when I've finally read all of the Arthur Conan Doyle stories, I want to start watching the ITV Granada programme.

If you could meet one historical person, who would you choose?
I'd want to meet Jesus but that's kind of an obvious answer when you're a Christian. There are lots of other historical figures I'd love to meet. Most of my favourite writers are dead after all. Then there's Martin Luther King, King Arthur (if he really did exist), Nelson Mandela, Audrey Hepburn, King Ludwig of Bavaria and his cousin the Empress Elisabeth of Austria. Also, Prince Rupert of the Rhine who has been my big historical crush for years :D I've just started reading a biography about him by Charles Spencer - Princess Diana's brother - and it's fascinating stuff. Aside from being famously good-looking he had a brilliant military career, spoke several languages, and was passionate about the arts and sciences. He was an explorer, an inventor, and was - quite literally! - a Pirate Prince. Ladies allow me to let me repeat that for emphasis, a Pirate Prince! I genuinely can't believe that there hasn't been a biopic about his life!

In your opinion, what is the ONE musical that everyone should see (on stage), even if they're not that into musicals?
Mycroft Holmes would despise me but I'm going to follow my heart and say Les Miserables. It is my favourite after all :)

What is the oldest movie you've ever seen? (and of course, when was it made?)
That would be the silent movie adaptation of The Phantom of the Opera which was made in 1925. It's an excellent film but it's not my favourite Phantom adaptation. I prefer the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical and the 1990 miniseries. *I think you'd really like the 1990 version, Mizzie. It has a very similar feel to the ALW musical and it has Charles Dance as the Phantom. It's up on YouTube too*

Who are your three favourite Disney villains?
Ooh, tough! This changes depending on my mood but at the moment I'm going to go for... Hades, Scar and Frollo. Hades is easily my favourite thing about Hercules. Even as a child I wanted him to win. He's so much more entertaining than everyone else in the film! James Woods plays him with such relish and I do love the sleazy lawyer/Hollywood agent vibe that he brought to the role. Disney's Maleficent has made a ton of money and I would be thrilled if they ever decided to do a film about Hades. Scar is another favourite villain. Jeremy Irons does such a fantastic job in the role - it helps that he's got such a great voice! And then there's Frollo who is just so chilling. He does terrible, terrible things but what's really scary about him is that he genuinely believes that he's a good person and that he's doing God's work. He's scary because he's so realistic. And Hellfire is a brilliant song! Other Disney villains that I love are Ursula, Shere Khan, Jafar, Gothel, Gaston, Captain Hook, Yzma, Rattigan from Basil the Great Mouse Detective. I do love my Disney villains.




Have you read books in other languages than English?
I had to read and translate parts of The Canterbury Tales at school and that's written in Middle English. Does that count? Middle English is hard! When it comes to reading or watching Shakespeare plays I have no problems. Oh alright I might not be able to understand every single word but I can always follow what's going on. But Chaucer...grr!

Do you read poetry?
Ooh yes and I'm trying to read even more of it :) I love, love, love Edgar Allan Poe. His poems are so wonderfully eerie and beautiful. Also, he was an early pioneer of science-fiction and without his detective stories we might never have had Sherlock Holmes. He was a genius! Recently I read T.S. Eliot's The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock and it's utterly gorgeous. It's also Benedict Cumberbatch and Tom Hiddleston's favourite poem which makes me love them even more. Tom Hiddleston recites a little bit of it here. I love the Shakespeare sonnets that I've read. Some other specific poems that I love are:

  • I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud by William Wordsworth
  • There is a Pleasure in the Pathless Woods by Byron
  • Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll
  • Jerusalem and The Tyger by William Blake
  • The Splendour Falls on Castle Walls by Tennyson

What was your favourite film from 2013?
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. I admit that it's not a perfect film or adaptation but it still made me ridiculously happy :)

Samara of Wait + Hope asked:

Wonderland or Neverland?
I'd much rather visit Neverland because then I'd get to smoke funny things. It cracks me up that this happened in a Disney film... :D

But seriously, the reason why I'd want to visit Neverland is because I'd get to fly :)

Next to Cumberbatch and Hiddleston... who is your favourite male actor?
That's hard! At the moment I'm thinking Lee Pace because, you know, The Fall! *Samara and I have both recently discovered that film and we're huge fans :) * Also there's his Ned and Thranduil. I love him in both of those roles. And I really can't wait to see him and Karen Gillan in Guardians of the Galaxy.

Which Hogwarts house are you?
Well, I tend to come up as Gryffindor as quizzes but I'm not really sure why because I've always wanted to be in Ravenclaw! I even own this Ravenclaw top! :D I like to think that I can be brave if the situation calls for it but I would hardly call bravery my defining characteristic. And I place an immensely high value on intelligence, wit, learning and knowledge. The goal of my life is to know all the things :D That should count me as a Ravenclaw, right? We know the sorting hat takes your choice into account after all :)

Which is your favourite Harry Potter character?
Umm... I love Snape and I think he's the best Harry Potter character. He's complex and tragic and Chapter 33 is my favourite out of the entire series. I seriously think this single chapter is one of the saddest and most beautiful love stories that I've ever read :( But I'm also pretty certain that if I was to actually meet Snape in real life that I wouldn't like him at all. As much as I love him I really can't ignore the fact that he was unkind to his poor students. So I think Hermione is my favourite Harry Potter character, then Lupin.

What are your two favourite Lizzie Bennet Diaries episodes?
I'm actually working on a Top 10 LBD episodes list at the moment! :) My absolute favourite is probably Episode 83. I love it even more than Episode 98 and of course I love that episode as well! This episode is just so... so... It just makes me so happy :)

The second episode position is actually more difficult but I think I'm going to go with Episode 15. It's the funniest episode in the whole series for me. It's absolutely hilarious to see Charlotte and Jane acting out Caroline and Darcy :D The character development in this episode is excellent too. Unlike Austen's Pride and Prejudice the LBD is told in first-person and this episode reminds the audience that Lizzie is an unreliable narrator and that we shouldn't take everything that she says as gospel truth. Laura Spencer became my favourite Jane Bennet after this episode too. I even love her more than Book Jane. Spencer's Jane is more assertive, which I like, and she's far funnier.

Rank the Lord of the Rings books? Would the film adaptations be ranked differently?
With the film adaptations I'd put The Two Towers as my least favourite (I still love it though!) with The Fellowship of the Ring and The Return of the King battling it out for the top spot. I suppose it would be the same for the books.

Is there a classic author that you're surprised you haven't read (I've never read a whole book by Mark Twain :P )
Neither have I! Yes, there's quite a few. Apart from Twain there's L.M. Montgomery, George Orwell, George Eliot, Rudyard Kipling, E.M. Forster, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Ernest Hemingway and Edith Wharton.

What are your top 5 (New) Doctor Who episodes? [I know, that's a hard one. Don't have to be set in stone, just based on how you're feeling now...]
Ermmygosh! That is hard! *Thinks for ages*

Human Nature/Family of Blood

This story is a masterpiece. The concept is simple yet brilliant. It's tense, suspenseful, perfectly-paced and it has a very Classic Who feel about it. Paul Cornell's script is beautifully-written: the "He's like fire and ice and rage" and the "Fury of the Time Lord" scenes never fail to give me the chills. David Tennant is brilliant as both John Smith and the Doctor. In my opinion this story features his best performance. Martha is badass in this story. How people can slate her I'll never know! The Family of Blood and their scarecrow henchmen are fantastic villains. Harry Lloyd and Thomas Sangster are two of my favourite Doctor Who guest stars and I get a huge kick out of the fact that they later went on to star in Game of Thrones. They're Viserys Targaryen and Jojen Reed! :D Paul Cornell hasn't written for Doctor Who since this story and that really makes me sad. I was desperately hoping that he'd come back and write a story for the 11th Doctor. Trivia: Steven Moffat and Paul Cornell are close friends and Steven Moffat was the best man at Cornell's wedding.

Well, what can I say about this episode that hasn't already been said? It's another masterpiece. Steven Moffat's story is incredibly clever and is full of wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey ness. Sally Sparrow is a terrific character and is the best companion the Doctor never had. Carey Mulligan does a wonderful job at playing her and has to pretty much carry the entire episode by herself. The secondary characters are fun and I especially love Larry. The Weeping Angels are terrifying. This episode is very scary but also extremely funny and highly quotable. But the Whovians among you already knew these things anyway ;)

A Christmas Carol
Moffat was obviously inspired by the Charles Dickens novella and this episode is hands down my favourite Doctor Who Christmas special. It's a wonderful take on the story and is full of heart. It's a bonkers steampunk fairytale but it's also deeply moving and beautiful. The production values are gorgeous. Matt Smith gives one of his very best performances. Katherine Jenkins' rendition of "In the Bleak Midwinter" is beautifully-sung and even her acting is surprisingly good! The only flaw of this episode is that Amy and Rory don't get very much to do but this is only a minor flaw. Everything else is perfect.

The Doctor's Wife
This episode was written by Neil Gaiman, one of my favourite authors, and he didn't disappoint. He came up with a genius premise and his episode is a fun, funny and beautiful love letter to the Doctor and his sexy blue box ;) All of the scenes between the Doctor and Idris (the TARDIS in human form) are adorable and an absolute joy to watch. Suranne Jones is a terrific guest star and Matt Smith's pain at saying goodbye to Idris is a beautifully-acted scene. Many fans think that this episode features Matt Smith's best performance as the Doctor and I think they might just be right.

The Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone
This two-parter is a fantastic sequel to Blink. It really is the Aliens to Blink's Alien. Blink is basically a haunted house story with menacing statues instead of ghosts but this story feels like a mini action movie. It's brilliantly tense and exciting. It's hard to believe that it features Matt Smith and Karen Gillan's first performances for the show. They're both utterly wonderful, especially Matt, and their chemistry is already there. This story also features the return of the fabulous Alex Kingston as River Song. Oh, and another big reason why I love this story is because of the cliffhanger to The Time of Angels. A brilliantly acted and brilliantly written scene.

Honourable Mentions: Hide, The Fires of Pompeii, The Waters of Mars, The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances, Midnight, The Silence in the Library/The Forest of the Dead, The Eleventh Hour, Let's Kill Hitler, The Day of the Doctor, Vincent and the Doctor, The Name of the Doctor, The Unquiet Dead, The Girl Who Waited, The Wedding of River Song, The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang, Dinosaurs on a Spaceship, The Girl in the Fireplace... I love Doctor Who! 

Evie Brandon of A Period Drama Fangirl asked:

Have you seen Downton Abbey?
I have. I've seen the first three series of the show plus the first two Christmas specials. My mother and I both stopped watching it a few episodes into series four because we weren't enjoying it any more. Sorry! I can tell you're a big fan.

If so who is your favourite character?
My favourite characters were Sybil, Matthew and William :( Thomas is a really fun character though in a love to hate him kind of way!

Who is your favourite and least favourite Harry Potter actor and actress?
Well, my least favourite Harry Potter actor is probably Michael Gambon. I do like him in Emma and in Doctor Who's A Christmas Carol but I loathe his Dumbledore! The scene where he shoves Harry against a wall and shakes him makes me want to die. It's just so massively out of character! It's obvious that he never read the books! I loved Richard Harris's Dumbledore though. He was warm, kind, gentle, calm, friendly. Someone you would actually want to have as your grandfather. Gambon's Dumbledore was nowhere near as likeable. I'm really not a fan of Gary Oldman's Sirius or David Thewlis's Lupin either. They're nothing at all like the characters that I imagined in my head which really makes me sad. I love the Marauders :(

To be fair there are many HP performances that I do enjoy though. Alan Rickman and Helena Bonham Carter are probably my favourites. I love them as Snape and Bellatrix Lestrange :)

Thank you and bye for now! :)

Thursday, 10 July 2014

The Answer Post! (Part One)

Yay! I feel so happy with the amount and quality of the questions that I received in my "Ask My Anything!" post. You girls really are the greatest and thank you so much! :) I'm definitely going to do this again next year. I'm actually thinking of doing it twice a year. It's a good way of letting you all know more about myself without writing really deep, introspective posts. Anyway, in today's post, Monica, Sarah and Hamlette's questions will be answered. I'm aiming to answer Mizzie and Samara's questions by Wednesday although if anyone wants to ask any more questions to ask before then I'll try to answer them as well. And now I'll begin...

Monica of Spilled Ink asked:

Who's your favourite singer/actor?
Oh, wow! There are so many singers and actors that I love! I could never name just one! I'll name several so you can get an idea of my taste.

"Popular" singers that I love:
  • Jeff Buckley
  • Florence Welch 
  • Adele 
  • Kate Bush 
  • Ellie Goulding 
  • Bono 
  • Sam Cooke.

Christian Worship singers that I love:
  • Kim Walker-Smith
  • Phil Wickham
  • Tim Hughes
  • Chris Tomlin

Musical Theatre singers that I love
  • Lea Salonga
  • Sierra Boggess 
  • Kristin Chenoweth 
  • Aaron Tveit 
  • Ramin Karimloo 
  • Hadley Fraser 
  • Samantha Barks 
  • Laura Michelle Kelly

Some Actors/Actresses that I love:
  • Benedict Cumberbatch
  • Tom Hiddleston 
  • Romola Garai 
  • Carey Mulligan
  • Richard Armitage
  • Anne Hathaway 
  • Leonardo DiCaprio
  • Christian Bale
  • Amy Adams
  • Johnny Depp 
  • Emily Blunt 
  • Lee Pace
  • Audrey Hepburn 
  • Jennifer Lawrence
  • Shailene Woodley (after seeing her performance in The Fault in Our Stars I had to include her!)
  • Ansel Elgort (again, this is after seeing his performance in The Fault in Our Stars)
Sorry, there are so many actors that I love!

Is there an instrument you'd like to play?
Yes. The piano, the violin, the guitar and the cello. I think it's too late for me to learn them now but if I ever have kids I'm definitely making sure that they learn some musical instruments. Living vicariously through my kids and all that.

What would your dream bedroom look like?
It would be bright and colourful, big but cosy, and slightly old-fashioned. There would be a painted walls and wallpaper combination. There would be a window seat. There would be an ensuite bathroom and an ensuite dressing room. And I'd have a slide that would take me down to a swimming pool :)

What's your favourite vegetable? ;)

Sarah of How to Watch a Movie asked:

If you could live in any fictional world, which would you chose?
Narnia, Hogwarts, and certain parts of Middle-earth. They're the three major fantasy worlds of my childhood and will forever have their own special places in my heart :)



Middle-earth (or, if you want to be technical, New Zealand)

Hamlette of Hamlette's Soliloquy and The Edge of the Precipice asked:

What INFJ fictional characters do you especially relate to?
This was a very thought-provoking question! There are many characters that I can relate to who aren't INFJs. Hermione Granger is an ISTJ, Belle of the Disney film and Once Upon a Time is an INFP, Hamlet is an INTJ, etc. But after quite a bit of thought I settled on two INFJ characters...

1. Elizabeth Bennet - Pride and Prejudice
Elizabeth is usually considered to be an INFJ, or sometimes an ENFP. I've always found Elizabeth relatable but I used to think that she was an extrovert: because she's much more outspoken and expressive than Darcy and Jane and also because she seems so confident in social situations. But even though Elizabeth isn't an obvious introvert she does actually spend most of her time by herself. She often goes out walking by herself as you'll see from this gorgeous shot from the 2005 movie. Jane and Charlotte are her only close friends. And even on those occasions when Elizabeth is at social gatherings she's quietly talking to one person or reading or playing the piano. She won't go out of her way to talk to everyone. I can relate to Elizabeth in so many ways. Okay so I'm nowhere near as witty as she is. I'm nowhere near as self-confident in social situations. I'm shyer/more socially awkward than your average INFJ so, in that sense, I do have a bit more in common with Darcy there (who is always typed as an INTJ). But in all other respects I truly connect with Elizabeth. She's very thoughtful, sensitive and serious - I'm like that - but she does have a lively, playful side - I'm like that when I'm with my family and closest friends. She's polite and kind but she's extremely passionate and has firm opinions and convictions. I'm the same. She's very independent and isn't desperate for a husband but she's actually quite the romantic. I'm the same. She can be bold and direct and I'm like that as well when the mood takes me. For a long time I didn't think I was like that at all but one of my closest friends told me otherwise and now I think she's right. Elizabeth makes judgements based on her gut feelings and is very intuitive. Her judgements about Darcy and Wickham were wrong of course but most of her assumptions about people are right. I'm like that as well. I get very strong vibes about people and I can usually tell within minutes - sometimes seconds! - whether I'm going to like a person or not. I also share Elizabeth's faults. I can be extremely stubborn and I always think that I'm in the right. I can be really bad at holding grudges. Elizabeth is definitely the Austen heroine that I find the most relatable although I do think that there's a fair bit of Marianne Dashwood in me as well (I certainly share Marianne's melodramatic tendencies!)

2. Jay Gatsby - The Great Gatsby
Gatsby is sometimes typed as an extrovert as well, because he throws lavish parties and is so charming and charismatic. But I don't think Gatsby is an extrovert at all. The only reason why Gatsby hosts parties is because he's hoping that Daisy will turn up at one of them. And although Gatsby is charming and charismatic I believe that this is mostly down to him putting up a warm front. Gatsby is far from being the centre of attention at his parties, most of his guests don't have a clue what he looks like! And Nick becomes Gatsby's one and only true friend. I don't find Gatsby as relatable as Elizabeth but I can still identify with him to a great extent. He's a sensitive, emotional guy and I'm sensitive and emotional. He's a planner, he's always thinking about the future, and he has a keen vision for his life. I can relate to that: I'm always making plans and I get very upset when they don't work out. He's a dreamer, he's a romantic, he's hopeful about the future and yet he still suffers from bouts of depression. Yep, I might not like it but that's me!

Thanks for giving me more reasons to love Pride and Prejudice and The Great Gatsby, Hamlette :)

If you could guest-star on any current TV show, which would you choose, and who would you play? (You could even replace a regular, but an original character might be more fun.)
If I could guest-star as a character in a current TV show I'd replace Alex Kingston's role as River Song from Doctor Who. I'd be ecstatic if I was cast as any Doctor Who companion but River seems like such a fun character to play and I'd get to do scenes with both the 10th and the 11th Doctors. And hopefully the 12th Doctor too!

You're a librarian. Do you hate or love the song "Marian the Librarian?"
*Marian the Librarian? I've never heard of it! Oh please don't let it be some really famous song that I've never heard of! Ok, let me YouTube it. Ah, so it's from The Music Man then? That will explain why I've never heard of it. I don't know that musical. Oh great, the librarian's wearing some ridiculously frumpy outfit! Why do people think librarians aren't well-dressed?! I think my sense of fashion is really good! Hey... this song isn't all that bad! It's actually really nice! He totally digs this librarian! He's not singing about how she needs to ditch the glasses or her outfit to be attractive. He likes how she is. Awesome!*

I love it!

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Ask Me Anything!

The title sums this post up! Leave me some questions in the comment box - any that you can think of - and I'll do my best to answer them all. They don't necessarily have to be related to anything that I usually blog about so if you're dying to know what my favourite vegetable is now's your chance :D I guess I've pretty much guaranteed that question haven't I? I'll write an answer post in a couple of weeks. Bye for now!