A Book and Film Blog

Friday, 20 January 2017

Blog Tour: Relativity by Antonia Hayes

*I kindly received a copy from the publishers in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinions on the book.

I feel super honoured to be a part of this blog tour, talking about this very special book!
And this will sound completely contrived, but I honestly haven't read a book like this one before.

Set in Australia, Relativity follows an exceptionally smart and gifted boy call Ethan - a twelve year old obsessed with physics. He's been raised by his single mum Claire, who is extremely proud but also fiercely protective. She tried all his life, to guard him from the truth about his father. But as Ethan is getting older, he's becoming increasingly curious about his dad's absence in his life. The book is written from the perspective of Ethan and his parents - a family who were broken up after a tragic event when Ethan was a baby. Antonia Hayes then uses a three perspective to tell a story about this tragic event and how the family is forced to navigate their way to the truth, forgiveness, redemption and healing.
I get that that all sounded very vague and Nicholas Sparks movie-esque. But that's all the detail you'll need to fully appreciate and enjoy this book. Here's what I can tell you.

Ethan is what the doctors in this book (and I imagine, anyone reading this book) would define as a "genius". His obsession with physics and astronomy explains the book's title. Now a head's up: there is a surprising amount of physics and astronomy in this book - it's been researched to a T. For someone who doesn't remember any of the Science I learnt at school (though I'm pretty sure it's more advanced that A Level Science at times), Antonia Hayes' writing is just so pulling. Because as a reader, you get to know very quickly  how much science means to Ethan, and because it's something that connects him to his absent dad; it was strangely so engaging and emotional. Yes. Science. Emotion. Like I said, I don't think I actually understood all the scientific explanations but if you go into it knowing that it's of metaphorical importance, you can story to understand the science.

The three perspectives were also executed so seamlessly and I felt this book handled the dynamic between father and son with such sensitivity and craft. Character development in this story is so broad and full. Not too far into the book, we learn about the event that broke the family apart and; unlike many familial dramas where you can decide who was in the wrong, the lines are pretty blurred in this story.

All in all, I'm pretty blown away by this book and can't wait to see what this author writes next. It was heartwarming, funny, made me teary and challenged me all at once. Relativity is straight up, intelligent story telling at it's best.


And do check out the other blogs taking part in this tour today!


Sunday, 15 January 2017

being selfish with my time

Not as in,  grabbing all opportunities you find, or going out and doing a bunch of adventurous things that make you uncomfortable but you know #YOLO because #lifeisshort - though all these are great and valid and you do you. No I mean seizing the day as like, taking a day out of the week where you only do things for yourself.

Throughout the week, I feel like all I'm really doing is completing tasks for other people. Even at university, yes I brought myself here and what I'm doing will have a purpose later on blah blah blah. But when you're in that seminar at 9 am with that overpriced coffee of yours, it doesn't exactly feel like Me Time does it. In that moment you're not exactly living your best life.

I've decided to seize my Saturdays, as in - they are sacred. I don't do any work and  only do things that make me disconnect.  Literally doing only things that are good for my soul. So starting the day with a walk, cooking nice meals for myself, reading blogs (hey), skyping a friend to say hello (how rarely we do that?!) watching a really good film (I take this v. seriously - can't be watching mediocre films or TV on my sacred Saturday) reading, cleaning and napping (a lot).

Putting my work aside, and actually anything that reminds me of the week ahead, is pretty much self care in itself too. Out of sight, out of mind.  It's the only way to switch off completely.


Thursday, 12 January 2017

Film Review: Collateral Beauty

Collateral Beauty reminds me of Tom Hiddleston's recent "inelegantly expressed" Golden Globes speech - good intentions, poor, poor execution. To the point where you question it's intentions. 10 - 15 minutes in and you know the plot has gone to a place of no return. As in, nothing can be done to undo the damage. And so it's likely you'll sit there and start counting its cinema sins - of which there are many.


The film follows Will Smith's Howard, a successful advertising executive who falls into a deep depression after his young daughter dies and, stays in this dark place for about 3 years. To cope, he writes three letters to the abstract love, time and death. Now as you may or may not have seen, in the film's trailer, the letters "respond". Which is likely what pulled you in because how does that happen? Well rather than take the route of magical realism and actually make an effort to pull it off and explore the motif of grief in a new way; what's actually going is that Howard's business partners and "friends" - played by Ed Norton, Kate Winslet and Michael Pena (#namedandshamed) decide to hire a private investigator and three struggling actors to play the three abstracts. Their plan is that if they can get the investigator to follow him, and film the conversations he has with these actors and then digitally remove them, he'll look crazy and lose his job. Funnily enough, Collateral Beauty then tries painstakingly hard to to convince us, that this whole plan came about organically. It would honestly have been more meaningful, and realistic, were they just figments of his imagination.


What isn't surprising, is that the partners themselves have their own issues. And so what director David Frankel, is trying to get at is in their own warped way the human incarnations of love, time and death, have a thing or two to say about love, time and death. Deep? No.

It's as if David Frankel decided let's put everyone's favourite elements into a film. Everyone likes Christmas - let's make it a holiday film. National sweethearts? Throw in Helen Mirren and Kate Winslet. Grief films do well right? There is genuinely a scene where Howard is trying to commit suicide, as Christmas lights twinkle in the background.

Collateral Beauty uses it's all-star cast and misleading premise, as a money grab at best, and cynical and exploitative at worst. There is however a forcibly signalled twist towards the end, I'll give it gets points for that.



Sunday, 8 January 2017

Best Books I Read in 2016

2016 seems like a while ago but I'm still talking about it because .. I haven't yet talked about my favourite books from last year! To get on this exclusive list, these books had to be a. books I rushed to finish whilst simultaneously didn't want to end; b. books that challenged me, made me think, and feel and laugh and c. books I think everyone I know should read. Just being a Samaritan, sharing the love. So in no particular order...

#Girlboss by Sophia Amoruso

I don't think this book needs much introduction. #Girlboss by a Sophia Amoruso, is a memoir about her rise from a 17 year old who left school to pursue a life of hitch hiking and petty crime, to starting a now successful vintage clothing business, Nasty Gal, and all the lessons she learnt along the way. It's both hilarious and inspiring without being patronising. It also finds itself here because despite being a pretty short and breezy read, it changed the way I talk to myself. #Girlboss is literally what I say to myself to rile myself to get stuff done. Being a woman and a boss can and guess what, are mutually exclusive. I love that #Girlboss just took over social media last year. It is time everyone got used to it. It is also time you read this book if you haven't already.

Not That Easy by Radhika Sanghani

The only fiction book on this list! (I was generally pretty disappointed by fiction this year). But this book is HILARIOUS. In every sense of the word. I actually stumbled across it by accident and it brought me such joy. It follows Ellie, a recent graduate who takes an underpaid internship (we've all been there or know someone) in London and start dating more. Sounds like a pretty basic plot line but Radhika Sanghani's voice is genuinely gold. There isn't a book I read last year  that has more funny, genuine and truthful voices than the ones I found in this book. Not only does it present female friendships in the most beautiful and empowering light; it handles millennial struggles and anxieties to a T without glamorising the experience; AND has a main character of colour whose experiences and voice aren't exclusively about her race. SO refreshing, I would legit buy you a copy of this book - that's how much I want you to read this! Oh Joan Rivers even said “Even Bridget Jones’s Diary could take a page from this novel” - when talking about this book.

Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg

Yet another book that shaped how I talk to myself last year. It is so important, not just to lean in in the workplace, but in every aspect of life. It's not just about mothers and women in the workplace, it's a lot about standing up a little taller and using your voice. Sheryl Sandberg is just so wise and despite being uber succesful, she's really honest about her own insecurities and mistakes.

Ctrl Alt Delete by Emma Gannon

You can read my review/love letter to this book here. Since starting this blog, I've never used the internet the way I do now since starting this blog. And the book sheds light on both the great and not so great about the internet. But Ctrl Alt Delete is so much more than just an ode to social media. It's about becoming self aware and gaining wisdom.

Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling

Are we seeing a pattern here? Hilarious memoirs by successful and talented women. Pretty much all I ever read. I read this book in January 2016 and thought about it for the entire year. I never wanted these essays to end. I literally curled up in a ball and re-read my favourite essays throughout January. Mindy Kaling's voice is one of my favourites. You feel like she's talking to you. That she's your friend. These essays give invaluable life lessons without even trying. It also helps that she's a gifted comedian.

Everyday Sexism by Laura Bates

I've never read a book that  is essentially just facts, data and quotes, that has left me so shook. I cried at times reading this book. If you thought sexism and the treatment of women was a. getting better or b. that you understand/know the scale of the problem - you've got no idea. If you read one book on this list, let it be this one. It is heartbreaking and will open your eyes.

And that's it! I started as I mean to go on and so this year, I'll continue to read more books by talented women. I didn't even go out of my way to read books by more women, it just happened! It's so greta that's its getting so easy to find female voices on our shelves. I didn't read that many books by women of colour so that really is my only bookish goal this year and I urge it to make it yours too! The books are out there, I've just been lazy in finding them. And of course, I'd recommend every.single.book I listed here. They are all great, inspirational books to start the year with!


Sunday, 1 January 2017

2016 Things I Learnt in 2016

Jokes lols. But '2016 things I learnt in 2016' is crazy old snappy title, right?! 

I'm just going to quickly go on and say that 2016 was collectively a pretty crap year. And it wasn't a great year personally either. Having such a nice and relaxing Christmas holidays has been SO welcome and needed. But let's not dwell on the past. With all the not so great things that happen, are loads of lessons. I thought instead of resolutions, I'd share a few lessons and good habits I picked up last year, that I plan to carry into this year.

- Be kinder to yourself.

- Exercise always makes you feel better.

- Female friendships are super important. Treasure them.

- Don't be scared of being "difficult". Stand up for yourself.

- Be disciplined. Set time aside to do stuff you love. Literally carve out Me Time.

- Solitary walks are good for the soul.

- It's better to have fewer friends, whose company you actually enjoy. 

- Don't have your phone out around people. Give people all your attention and time when you're with them. Even if the convo is super boring.

- Know who you are and own it. Don't feel awkward or uncomfortable for just being. 

- Compliment and lift people up. Even if you don't normally talk to them.

- You don't always have to be right. 

- Own your opinions and views. But also read up on others, don't be ignorant.

- Listen.

I'd say 2016 was the year I fell back in love with blogging. I've now got so many personal plans and goals for this blog and I'm really excited about it! From now to September, I'd say I've got a lot more time on my hands than I've had in a long time. SO I plan to read, a lot more. Now that I've learnt that life changing magic of not finishing a book you don't want to read, I'm hyped. I will do this. I also want to write more film content - my favourite to write but it personal takes a while and I get pretty lazy about it. Not this year. There's a lot I'm already looking forward to seeing and reading this year which I'm sure I'll share over the next few weeks!

So for now I'll say, have a happy, successful, productive and blessed New Year 

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