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?

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?

 

 

 

Books, Fiction, Four Star Rating, Reviewing

‘The Tenth Circle’ by Jodi Picoult (May Contain Spoilers)

the-tenth-circle

Description:

Trixie Stone only goes to the party that night to get her boyfriend back.

By morning, Trixie is under police protection and Jason, her ex, has been arrested on suspicion of date rape.

There are no witnesses. The physical evidence is inconclusive. It is her word against his.

Who is telling the truth?

My Thoughts:

I’m one of those people who, when a friend recommends a novel, I’ll give it go, despite whether the books’ genre isn’t something I would usually read. In this way, I’ve discovered some fantastic novels.

I had never read anything from Jodi Picoult until ‘The Tenth Circle’ was recommended to me but overall, I thought it was a good read. However there were some elements that I feel could have been better.

Firstly, the positives. I liked the fact that a sensitive issue such as rape, wasn’t just focused on through a female’s perspective, but how a father would feel, if their daughter were a rape victim. I could identify with the characters and thought that they were believable. I cared about them enough to find out what was going to happen to them.I also thought that the interweaving of the comic book the male character is working on, as a metaphor for the events and feelings the characters were experiencing throughout the book, was an interesting concept, particularly being a Marvel fan myself.

The main problem for me though, was towards the end. Whilst at the beginning of this novel I thought that this was going to be about how each member of the Stone family dealt with Trixie’s rape, it kind of unravelled into being something that you would see in a cheesy tv movie. The journey in which the characters were taken on, seemed over sentimental and just a bit too convenient, rather than dealt with the real issues at hand. It felt like Jodi Picoult had given up trying to finish the story and gave us a half hearted one, rather than a strong and gutsy ending that I think this story deserved.

All in all, I wouldn’t say that I hated this novel. I will probably read more Jodi Picoult novels in future, but I hope that any future novels I decide to read have better endngs than this book.

 

Rating: ****

 

Books, Fiction, Films, Life, Reading, Reviewing, Sin categoría, Writing

6 Months!

It has been 6 months since I last posted on ‘The Avid Reader’!

That’s not to say that I haven’t been reading, I’m as avid as ever ( In fact,  I’m currently getting to the end of my third re-read of ‘The Hobbit’,), but I lost my mojo for writing. Not just writing blog posts, but writing more of the detective novel that I’ve been trying finish for the last 3 years or so.

Part of the reason that I lost my mojo, is that life has got in the way. I won’t go into any details of that (I don’t want to use this blog for whining and whinging, I feel very lucky with what I have) but over the last week or so, I’ve found the joy for writing again hurrah!

To be honest, I’ve probably read too many books in the last 6, to properly catch up with reviews on the blog but I will try and post my thoughts on a few of them shortly. Let me know about your best reads of the last 6 months.

I’m also going to see ‘Bridget Jones Baby’ next week, so I with review it after I have seen it. I’m not a big fan of Chick-Lit, but I have enjoyed the ‘Bridget Jones’ series. To wet your appetite, here’s the trailer:

 

Books, Fiction, Reviewing, Sin categoría, Three Star Rating

Review- ‘We need to talk about Kevin’ by Lionel Shriver (Warning- Contains Spoilers!)

kevin

What the ‘blurb’ says:

Eva never really wanted to be a mother; certainly not the mother of the unlovable boy who murdered seven of his fellow high school students, a cafeteria worker and a teacher who tried to befriend him. Now, two years later, it is time for her to come to terms with marriage, career, family, parenthood and Kevin’s horrific rampage in a series of startlingly direct correspondences with her absent husband, Franklyn. Uneasy with the sacrifices and social demotion of motherhood from the start, Eva fears that her alarming dislike for her own son may be responsible for driving him so nihilistically off the rails.

My Thoughts:

Firstly, forgive me if this review is a bit all over the place. It has been more than a week week since I finished reading this novel and I still haven’t been able to exactly pinpoint my thoughts on this! Warning though, this review has spoilers.

The story plot from the point where Eva meets her husband, through to motherhood and finally the present day.

The reasons why I can’t pinpoint whether I enjoyed this novel or not, are varied. Firstly, I wasn’t too keen on the writing style. At times the writing seemed forced and too formal. Considering the fact that the book was supposed to be constructed in an informal letter style, in my opinion each chapter would start almost in letter form and then jump into regular prose. However, I felt like the writing improved during the novel.

Secondly, I didn’t really like the main character Eva. She was cold, selfish and in some ways, just as bad as her son…I think.

At times, this felt wrong to even be reading this book, both main characters were twisted and the subject matter, dark. However, I found some of the psychology highlighted within this novel, fascinating. I also enjoyed the tale unfolding. I’m not much of a fan of slower paced books, but I think that the slow unfolding of events to be effective during this novel. I also liked the twist at the end.

As I said at the beginning of this review, my thoughts on this are messy. ‘We need to talk about Kevin’ isn’t exactly the most enjoyable book I’ve read this year, but it’s the most interesting and thought provoking.

My Rating ***

I would love to know if anyone else who has read this book,  felt as conflicted when they read this book as I do.

Books, Fiction, Reading, Reviewing, Romance, Two Star Rating

REVIEW- ‘The Notebook’ by Nicholas Sparks

the notebook

What the ‘Blurb’ says:

How far can love endure?

Noah Calhoun has just returned from World War Two. Attempting to escape the ghosts of battle, he tries to concentrate on restoring an old plantation home to its former glory. And yet he is haunted by images of the beautiful girl he met there fourteen years before, a girl who captured his heart like no other.

But when these distant memories begin to slide into reality, the passion that had lain still is ignited once more. Though so much is in their way, the miraculous force of their love refuses to fade.

My Thoughts

Firstly I have to admit that romance isn’t a genre I normally read, but on the recommendation of a friend, I decided to give this novel a go.

What I liked about the story was Noel, one of the main characters. He is believable and likeable. The romantic story between Noah and Allison, is very well told. It does come close to being too over sentimental, but just about gets away with it.

The problems I had with this book, were contained within the later half. The issues this book deals with is, as far as I can imagine, were well told and researched. I do think that those issues could have been developed more though.

I also felt disappointed with the story, at the last page of this novel. I didn’t expect this book to end as it did. Some people may be satisfied by the way this novel ends, but I thought that it was slightly far-fetched and ruined the story a little for me.

I wasn’t entirely keen on the slow pace of the novel either. I can imagine this novel to be perfect for the lazy days of summer, when there is no rush to go anywhere. I prefer slightly faster paced novels.

After reading this review you may think that I didn’t enjoy this novel at all, but I thought it was a reasonably enjoyable read.

Whilst I wouldn’t rush to read this again, I think that ‘The Notebook’ would make a readable, beach novel.

My Rating **