A Few Words On Fangirl.

All Posts, Reviews

SPOILERS AHEAD

A Creative Writing student obsessing over FanFiction, dating an agriculture (range management) major … could there possibly be any more similarities to my real life than that?

Of course – Levi works in Starbucks after all!

Although there have been dramatic changes in my life since the point in which Fangirl could have been a biography on me, my love for the book itself hasn’t faded.  Rainbow Rowell provides, in Fangirl, a lesson on how YA Fiction should be done. Hearing Cather’s thoughts and emotions on moving out, college life and friendships as well as her and her family’s relationships with each other and their mental illnesses is a true to life depiction of the struggles faced by the average university student. Growing up and moving on isn’t easy, and Rowell just effortlessly understands.

As well as being perfectly relatable, Rainbow Rowell’s character’s and narration are brilliant.  The inner stress and contemplation of Cath are truly felt by the reader as she muddles through her first year in a strange place. The confident voices of Wren and Reagan are a stark contrast to her occasionally timid vocabulary.

Within the book itself, there are frequent inserts of FanFiction written by ‘MagiCath’ (Cath’s alias online) and they serve as an excellent addition to the book. The sections of fan-fic provide more insight into Cather as a character and offset her experiences in the world of Simon Snow.

Fangirl will always be one of my favourite novels, no matter how old I get. It’s the perfect book to remember what, that very first, unsure and surprising year of University was like.

Advertisements

Stranger Things 2 (Warning: Spoilers Ahead)

All Posts, Reviews

Stranger Things has taken a very different turn in the brand new season, released October 27th 2017.  Will is back, new girl max and her brother have arrived in town, and Bob, Joyce’s love interest this season, is new to the show.

As one of the most popular series on Netflix of last two years, Stranger Things has brought a retro feel to the Sci-fi world in a new, yet nostalgically brilliant way. It is a combination of comedy and engaging real world issues, wrapped up inside the small American town of Hawkins. In the new season of Stranger Things 2, issues such as racism and abuse are key aspects of the storyline, as well as the continuing themes of bullying which are present in the initial season. Aside from the programme itself, when it comes to real life, the actors in the show are continually dealing with issues of sexualisation and racism. Millie Bobby Brown (Eleven) is the focus of attention as she is continually sexualised by the media and public despite being only 13 years old.

Millie Bobby Brown

Source: IMBd

 

The new season brings out a darker side of Millie’s character, with Eleven’s return to Hawkins and adventure across the US.  This season the episodes almost have a disjointed feel, created by the dual narrative which takes place during a large part of the season.  The multiple storylines are a confusing part of the new season, in the sense that the secondary narrative in some way detracts from the main events of the season.  Despite the development of Eleven’s character, you might find yourself wishing her episodes were shorter, just to get back to Hawkins.

As a whole, the new season of Stranger Things has been a mixed bag, with several episodes resulting in disappointment after the year long wait. Ending on a cliffhanger once again, season two will not be the last we see from the Stranger Things cast, and despite the unusual format of this season, the lure of the upside down is too strong to resist.

Grow your own Forest (literally)

All Posts, Reviews

Forest is an app available on IOS and Android designed to help you focus and spend time away from your smart phone.

This is an app I recently re-discovered through a recommendation from one of my classmates at University and so far I have found it extremely useful. The app is designed so that your phone and notifications (apart from the app itself) are off limits to you for a period of time which you select. Depending on the time you select, you have a choice of different virtual trees and plants to grow in your own forest. If you leave the app to look at anything on your phone the tree dies and you have to start over. This method of encouragement to concentrate or spend time away from your phone really works as there are consequences if you fail.

Apart from the virtual forrest, there are also real-life implications for this app. After you have earned a specific number of coins, you have the choice to spend them on having a real tree planted in Africa through the charity Trees For The Future.  Therefore keeping consistently can now become a real benefit for the environment.

Personally I am going to persevere with the app as it has real lasting benefits for myself and the charity.

Travel Diary: Sorrento, Pompeii and Capri

All Posts, Reviews, Travel

In the last week of June I travelled with my parents, using TUI, to Sorrento Italy.  Here I just wanted to re-cap some of the highlights of my trip and suggest some tips for anyone who is planning on visiting Sorrento.

Sorrento

The journey to Sorrento from Naples airport is a long one.  With one road leading the entire way down the Amalfi Coast plus the risky Italian driving style, you can imagine how congested the traffic was. The coach transfer between the airport was roughly 2 hours long but despite the length of the journey, the views were unbeatable.

Our hotel for this trip was the Hotel Minerva. The view across the bay of Naples, towards Vesuvius was incredible. The terrace dining room of the hotel meant that every evening we could sit and watch the sunset over the volcano. The sunlight picked out the brilliant white sails of the yachts drifting along the coast and the trails in the water left by the occasional Jet Ski.

The town of Sorrento is very traditionally Italian. Within the town centre, the main piazza is filled with shops and restaurants, with the main roads leading off towards the ports and the train station. The first trip we went on during the week was to visit Pompeii, which we visited by train.  Although it is advertised by the TUI reps as being a difficult commute, this was not my experience. The TUI goal is to sell you their excursions at extortionate prices, where it is actually very simple to  make the journeys independently.

Pompeii

As I mentioned, Pompeii was my first trip of the week. The walk to the train station from the hotel took around 20 minutes and was a straight route through the town centre. The train tickets for Pompeii cost €2.50 single and €5 return. The journey on the train takes around 50 minutes to reach Pompeii. There is only one train line which runs from Sorrento to Naples, making commuting on the train very simple. Before leaving the train station at Sorrento, a family of Romany Gypsies boarded the train to play music for the passengers, moving up and down the carriages. Just before the train left they jumped off of the train and made their way around to the next one.

We reached Pompeii at lunch time and easily joined a tour group who were about to set off into the city itself. Being an EU student made the entrance fee cheaper for me with the presentation of ID. It will be interesting to see if this remains the same for us in our post-brexit world.  The ancient city is a complicated place, and to get the full value out of your time there, getting an official guide is important. All of the official tour guides within Pompeii have degrees in the study of the city so therefore have a vast knowledge on the history of Pompeii. The city is also a lot bigger than you might expect so getting lost is easy if you are not familiar with the site.

Our tour lasted 2 hours, in which a lot of important parts of the city were covered. If I was to go back again I would definitely make the trip to see the amphitheatre which, because of the long walk it is away from the forum, I didn’t get chance to see. On the day I visited Pompeii the sky was clear, and the temperature was around 36 degrees, so I cannot stress enough how important it is to take bottles of water and suncream with you into the city.

Capri

The only other trip I took in the week was to the island of Capri.  Capri is the island where the rich and the famous come to live, and take their summer vacations. This is obvious from the streets filled with designer shops and high end restaurants, aimed at the vastly wealthy people who visit Capri.

To get up to Capri, from where the boats arrive, you have to travel either by taxi or on the funicular. From Capri you can also choose to travel up to Anacapri by chair lift, however as someone who doesn’t particularly love heights, this was definitely not an activity for me. This particular day, Anacapri was also shrouded in a thick cloud, making the journey up to Anacapri a pointless one as there would be no view out over Capri.

 

Overall the trip was an amazing one, although personally I don’t feel as though it is anywhere close to the sights at Venice. If I was to return to Sorrento again, visiting Herculaneum and seeing more of Pompeii are at the top of my list.

Pretty Little Liars: Till Death Do Us Part.

All Posts, Reviews

The final ever episode of Pretty Little Liars aired last week on the 27th June. This was an episode in which fans hoped some of the mysteries from the last seven seasons would finally be explained. Unfortunately, it is clear from the wide reaction on social media that this last episode was largely a disappointment and after following the programme for years, sadly I feel the same.

The finale left many questions unanswered. It also featured a shockingly clichéd ending which I personally think added nothing of value to the episode but opened up questions over a possible PLL spin-off series.

So here are my seven main issues with Till Death Do Us Part:

1. Alex Drake 

Despite the gaping plot holes there was one thing that bothered most fans of Pretty Little Liars more than anything, and that was Alex Drake. More specifically the obviously fake accent that Troian Bellisario had adopted for the character. The accent completely destroyed any moments of suspense between Alex and the other characters by having the audience crying with laughter. The effect of the accent should definitely have been more carefully considered by the directors before filming.

The secondary issue with Alex Drake (A.D) is that she was only introduced during the final episode of the season. Despite the evil twin theory being popular online before the finale, it was possibly one of the weakest ways to reveal A.D. Personally I feel that A.D should have been a character who was heavily involved in the entire last season, instead of being introduced within the finale and explaining her entire back story. Surely one of the existing characters would have resulted in a more shocking twist.

2.  The Basement 

During one of the previous seasons the mums were all trapped in a basement by A. At some point the mums all get free from the basement however it is never revealed how. During the rehearsal dinner for  Ezra and Aria’s wedding this is brought up again but still left without an answer for the audience. Why this loose end hasn’t been resolved is unclear.

3. Jenna and Bashful 

The problem of the twins in the season finale is further complicated by Jenna and Bashful the horse. There is some confusion over why these two characters in specific were able to tell the difference between Spencer and Alex but yet Toby, Ezra and the Liars all couldn’t. Toby has possibly been the closest to Spencer throughout all the seasons and for him to only work out that Alex wasn’t her through a book was questionably weak.

4. A.D Discovery 

The discovery of A was a long process. The complicated backstory behind A , Alison and all of the liars took literally years to develop, both in the real-life process and in the character’s story lines. This long process made logical sense as the characters had time to fully explain the events of the show. What did not make sense was the rapid discovery of A.D and the location in which she had Ezra and Spencer trapped.  Why did Alex reveal herself and her location to Mona so easily? This is possibly the most confusing part of the entire plot. This fast paced discovery is the reason why Alex’s backstory is rushed, leaving supporters of the programme disappointed that A.D was a brand new character.

5. Wren 

Throughout the show Wren is a character who appears many times. It is revealed during the season finale that he is also a character who cannot be trusted due to his strong loyalties to Alex. It is also disclosed within the episode that Wren is the father of Alison’s twin babies. Although this is an excellent twist to the show, the fact that Ali and Emily never discover this is somewhat problematic.

It is also unclear whether or not the other characters, beside from Spencer and Alex, ever hear of Wren’s death or the fact that Alex turned his ashes into a diamond. There is also the question over what happened to the Wren diamond after Alex’s arrest.

6. The Wedding

Throughout the numerous seasons, Aria’s character has always been supported by her family.  Family and relationships is the main theme which follows Aria in her entire storyline. Therefore arguably the biggest plot hole in the narrative is Mike’s absence from the wedding. Considering the importance of family to Aria as a character, her brother missing her own wedding is ridiculous.

Another flaw with the wedding scene is the interruption of the service by I.Marlene King. Although the writers and directors most likely assumed that she had a right to be in the final ever episode after all of the work she has done on the show, personally I feel that the way she was presented was too obvious and broke up the natural flow of the scene.

7. The Final Scene

Potentially the worst part of the episode was the ending. Although it refers back to the very first series, in which Alison disappears from the barn, the style of ending has been heavily overdone.  Personally, the ending was far too similar to the end of Mean Girls. It was almost a complete copy of the ending. The ending also detracts from the completeness of the programme. If the episode had ended with Mona, Alex and Mary then it would have been a near perfect end, regardless of the other issues.

 

Despite all of these flaws with the final episode, the last seven years of Pretty Little Liars has been a rollercoaster of emotion. Although the end was inevitable , PLL will always be one of my favourite TV shows of all time and will be missed by many fans around the world.