Journaling, Life, Reviewing, Writing

Review: Morning Pages

Usually at this time of the week, I post a review of a book I’ve read. This week is going to be a bit different, as I would like to talk about my first week of doing ‘Morning Pages’.

Some of you reading may already be familiar with ‘Morning Pages’, but for those who aren’t, basically this concept was devised by the writer Julia Cameron and is featured in her book ‘The Artist’s Way’ . It involves a strict regime of writing three pages of stream of consciousness, preferably in the morning, every morning. By doing this, it is supposed to rid the mind of unnecessary clutter, allow for creativity and a clearer mind.

journalling

I have been writing a journal consistently for the last year or so and found the practise of daily writing, highly beneficial. It has helped me to deal with many issues and reduced stress. When I saw the term ‘Morning Pages’ mentioned in several YouTube videos connected with journaling, I decided to see if it would work for me.

At first, writing first thing in the morning wasn’t something I looked forward to, as I’m like a bear with a sore head most mornings. During my research of this process, I discovered that the majority of people doing ‘Morning Pages’ did their pages at the first opportunity, so that their ego didn’t get in the way of writing their true feelings.

My first couple of my entries were filled with ‘I don’t know what to write’ and ‘This is stupid’. I resisted the exercise entirely and toyed with the idea of giving up after only a few days.

One morning I remember writing such negative things, that that negativity carried on through the day. ‘How could this be beneficial?’ I thought to myself, as I felt like all I wanted to do was go back to bed and let the world get on with things.

Suddenly however, whilst I was writing my usual ‘I don’t know what to write’, I started writing down thoughts I didn’t even know I had. Through all of that mind fog, I was writing raw, unreleased emotions that were so surprising, that they didn’t even sound like me.

As the week has gone on, I still complain, moan and write utter nonsense, but I’m finding that after each of these writing sessions, I feel lighter and actually more motivated to create. So much so, that I felt compelled to try water colours, something I had previously been scared to try.

Whether this was because of the ‘Morning Pages’ I have no idea, but it’s giving me glimpses into parts of my mind, I never knew existed. It’s too early to tell whether or not this exercise will have long term effects on my creativity or moods, but I think I will continue to do this, despite the early mornings!

Some of you might think that ‘Morning Pages’ are utter nonsense, but I think this practise is worth giving a go if you are stuck in a creative rut.

I’ll post more on my progress after I’ve done a month of ‘Morning Pages’, that’s if I can keep it going for that long!

Do you do ‘Morning Pages’ or journaling? How does it help you?

Comedy, Films, Five Star Rating, Friday Film Chat, Writing

Friday Film Chat on ‘The Lady in the Van’ DVD (May Contain Spoilers)

lady in the van

 

Usually I go to the cinema on Thursday’s, but this week I wasn’t able to go. So this week’s ‘Friday Film Chat’ will be about a film I saw, about a week ago.

Actually, it was the second time I had seen this film. I originally watched this film when it came out in the cinema in 2015. I enjoyed it then, but was intrigued to see if I would enjoy this more on another viewing.

The plot tells the true story of a woman named Miss Shepard, who parks her van outside of the playwright Alan Bennett’s and stays there for 15 years. Doesn’t sound very exciting, does it? I can assure you, that this film is wonderfully quirky.

As time goes on, Alan discovers more about Miss Shepard despite his attempts to rid her from his driveway. He finds out that she had once played piano in a promenade concert, had tried to train as a nun but was kicked out for playing music in the convent and also, despite appearances, that she is learned woman.

What he doesn’t know, is the real reason she lives in the van in first place. She on the run from the law.

I love the gentle humour in this film. I think Maggie Smith does a wonderful job at making this unlikeable character well, likeable and Alex Jennings is uncanny as Alan Bennett. In fact during the end credits, the real Alan Bennett makes an appearance and the likeness is quite spooky.

As a writer myself, I could totally identify the two Alans featured in this film.  A writer’s mind is often divided into two, so the film had one Alan who carried out the duties of real life, whilst the other Alan spent the day writing. I loved the interactions between the two and it gave a great insight, on how a writer’s mind works.

The neighbours added a great deal to the story. The neighbourhood in which Alan lives in is quite affluent, so the different reactions to Miss Shepard parking her van in the street were quite amusing. This film makes an interesting comment on the British class system, because some of the neighbours see Miss Shepard as an insect that needs to be squashed quickly, in order to to protect the neighbourhood’s reputation, others see her as way to prove themselves as ‘Good Samaritans’, despite Miss Shepard’s protests against their home cooked meals and their children’s recorder recitals outside of her van. Only Alan and another neighbour, Ursula, really treat her as a human being.

It’s a bit of a geeky fact, but whilst watching this film I was delighted to see that the principal cast of ‘The History Boys’ (minus Richard Griffiths), made a cameo during this film. It was a nice nod to one of Bennett’s most popular works.

You don’t have to be familiar with Alan Bennett in order to enjoy this film, though. I think it’s lack of shiny special effects and wealth of brilliant characters make this film a gem to watch. I highly recommend it.

My Rating *****

Have you watched this film? What did you think of it?

 

 

Books, Fiction, Reading, Reviewing, Three Star Rating

Review: ‘My Sister’s Keeper’ by Jodie Picoult (Contains Spoilers)

my sisters keeper

 

Anna Fitzgerald doesn’t want her sister to die. But she’s sick of helping her to live.

Anna was born to be a perfect genetic match for Kate, who at just two years old was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia. For thirteen years, she has acted as donor to her sister.

Now, Kate needs a kidney, and nobody is asking Anna how she feels about it, they’re just assuming she will donate.

Until the Sheriff serves the papers that will rock their family’s world: Anna is suing her parents for the rights to her own body . . .

My Thoughts:

Seeing as my last book review was of ‘The Tenth Circle’ by Jodi Picoult, I thought that I would jump start my reviews, with another one of Picoult’s novels.

The premise of this novel seemed very interesting and grabbed my attention straight away. I think that Picoult’s attempt to tackle controversial topics, is something which drew me to her books in the first place.

This book approaches the idea of genetically modifying a child in order to save another sibling, with diverse writing.

Each of the chapters are dedicated to the points of view of several different characters; Anna Fitzgerald the main character, Kate Fitzgerald, Anna’s sister who has a terminal illness, Jesse Fitzgerald, their brother and their parents Sara and Brian  Fitzgerald.

Outside of the Fitzgerald family, chapters are dedicated to expressing the points of view of Julia Romano, who acts as Anna’s guardian during legal proceedings and Campbell Alexander, Anna’s lawyer.

Whilst I liked the idea of reading the situation from different perspectives, at first, I found the individual chapters, took a bit of getting used to. I frequently had to keep going back, in order to remember who each character was. Despite that, I think that Picoult’s characters are equally believable and well rounded. Each character had its strengths and weaknesses and I think this helped me to invest in the story.

I even thought that the romantic element between Julia and Campbell fitted in very well with the book’s very heavy topic.

The main problem for me about this book and it was a pretty big one, was the ending.

Due to the fact that this novel asks you to believe and invest a lot of time and emotion in the characters, the ending left me feeling furious and cheated. ‘My Sister’s Keeper’ goes into great detail about the proceedings of a court case and is very thorough at presenting a realistic representation of the law. Therefore, to simply put all of her characters through all of this heartache and stress in the court case, to come to a decision and yet write an ending which just felt convenient, I feel that Jodi Picoult demeans her readers by giving them that ending. I was so annoyed by the last few chapters, that I actually wanted to throw the book out of the window in frustration!

It’s not the first time this has happened with Picoult’s novels. So far, I have read two of her books and both have had endings which have nicely wrapped up the story, but have not tackled the gritty topics she focuses on, in a satisfactory way.

I’m willing to give Jodi Picoult one more chance, but after that, if her novels still continue to offer the reader a patronizing, ‘warm and fuzzy’ ending, then I will not continue to read any more of her novels.

‘My Sister’s Keeper’ starts with promise, but falls very flat at the end.

My Rating ***

Have you read this book? What did you think of it?

Action, Comic/Book Adaptation, Films, Four Star Rating, Friday Film Chat, Reviewing

Friday Film Chat about ‘Spiderman: Homecoming’ (Contains Spoilers)

 

Spider-Man_Homecoming_poster

 

I love the Marvel Film Universe. With the exception of Wonder Woman, who is within DC Comics, I’ve always favoured films and TV programmes featuring Marvel characters such as The Incredible Hulk, X-Men and Spiderman.

Spiderman’ is my favourite film franchise but also for me, the most problematic. Why? you may ask.

Well it’s not that I haven’t enjoyed any of the ‘Spiderman’ films, but what has frustrated me is the fact that with every new actor who has taken on Spiderman (Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield and now British actor Tom Holland), this has meant a re-telling of the story of how Peter Parker becomes Spiderman.

Andrew Garfield’s take on the origins of Spiderman actually worked very well in my opinion, better than Tobey Maguire’s, but when it was announced that Andrew Garfield was no longer reprising the role, my heart sank at the thought of another rehash of the same, old, story.

‘Spiderman:Homecoming’ was a pleasant surprise. The film already assumes that you know about the pesky spider biting Peter Parker, thus giving him his Spidey sense. So the story starts, at the point where he is getting used to his relatively new powers.

The timeline of the story has also been pushed back. to show a 15. Instead of a Peter Parkers, who is just about to go off to college, as in the previous films, Peter is now 15.

This version of Peter is a nerd, who lives with his Aunt May (played by Marisa Tomei) and loves nothing more than building Lego Death Stars with his best friend, the hilarious Ned and taking part in Academic Decathalons. Their relationship throughout the film is warm and extremely funny. It is one of the things that I like best about this film.

Obviously this doesn’t make Peter very popular and he is often bullied by a teen called ‘Flash’ (not sure if this is a reference to ‘The Flash’ of DC comics).

Despite his nerdy appearance, Peter has a secret identity and holds a secret crush on Liz, a little known character who appears in the ‘Spiderman’ comics.

This film doesn’t just feature Spiderman though. Peter’s main concern throughout the film, is whether he can prove his worth to Tony Stark AKA Iron Man, so that he can join ‘The Avengers’. He also investigates and tries to defeat The Vulture, who likes to get gun happy with crazy alien weaponry, played by Michael Keaton.

What I liked about this film was its fresh, exciting approach to the franchise. It didn’t feel like something I had completely seen before. British actor Tom Holland does a fantastic job at playing a teenage, slightly awkward Peter Parker. I’m also relieved that his american accent was pretty decent. One of the things I hate most in films, is when an actors can not pull off a decent accent, different from their own (I can just about forgive Dick Van Dyke’s Cockney accent in ‘Mary Poppins’).

There are only two small criticisms that I would like to make about the film. Firstly, I felt like this film felt a tad too long. This film lasts 2 hours and 13 minutes, which is pretty standard for most Marvel films. However, the last 20 minutes dragged for me. This is probably because it felt like it was going to end, but then we were presented with a twist, which kicked things off again.

Another observation I made in this film, was that at 53, Marisa Tomei was a very youthful looking Aunt May. So much so, that it felt like she was more Peter’s older sister, than his aunt. She provides the only background for Peter in this film.

It was surprising that neither Peter’s parents nor Uncle Ben were particularly mentioned in this film. It makes me sad to think that the writers of this film, decided not to include the close relationship which Peter had with his uncle which was an important emotive element within the previous ‘Spiderman’ films.

Being a fan of Marvel in general, I think that my review was always going to be slightly biased towards the positive. However, I think if you enjoy films packed with action and comedy, then you will enjoy ‘Spiderman: Homecoming’, regardless of whether you have seen the previous ‘Spiderman’ films or not.

My Rating 4/5

Have you seen this film? What did you think of it?

 

 

 

Blogging, Books, Life

I’m back!

I’m a terrible blogger. There, I’ve said it.

I could write another one of those posts where I apologize for not posting in a long time and give you the reasons why, like life got in the way and all of those usual excuses, but I won’t.

Instead, I’ve come back to what I love doing and that is talking about books, films and TV programmes and I promise you that I will do my upmost best to post at least twice week. If I can post more frequently, then that’s a bonus.

I haven’t stopped reading since I last posted though. Reading remains a constant in my life. Over the last few months I have read the following novels:

‘A is for Alibi’Sue Grafton

‘A Street Cat Named Bob: How One Man And His Cat Found Hope On The Streets’James Bowen 

‘Harry Potter and The Cursed Child’ John Tiffany 

The ‘His Dark Materials’ Trilogy-Philip Pullman 

‘Billy and Me’Giovanna Fletcher 

‘My Sister’s Keeper’Jodi Picoult

‘The Gunslinger’Stephen King

It has been a mixed bag with my choices of reading. Some of these titles I have enjoyed like ‘A Street Cat Named Bob: How One Man And His Cat Found Hope On The Streets’ and some that I haven’t enjoyed, for example, ‘My Sister’s Keeper’ (possibly a controversial choice). However, I haven’t stopped enjoying the reading experience.

Writing has been put on the back burner over the last few months, I’ve probably written a handful of pages. By getting back into blogging, I hope that this will re-ignite my passion for writing.

I have some exciting plans for future blogs. I want to start a regular film reviewing series and possibly collaborate with other bloggers, so keep coming back to see what’s new on the blog!

If you have any suggestions or would like to collaborate with me on future posts, then post in the comment box below, or send me a tweet on Twitter.

Have you read or want to read any of the books I have read over the last few months? Have you made any new book discoveries that you think I need to read?

Look out for some film talk on Friday!