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New Year with Shellie and Me

By Elle Homan

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This year has come to a halt as we begin to welcome the birth of another. This is the time of year when we voluntarily choose to start over. We choose to forgive and forget those who may have hurt us. We become thankful for the good and bad experiences that we have endured. We create new goals that we hope to continue within the following year (these usually end within the first week of the New Year). But most of all, we become thankful for being alive and for pursuing all the things that we once dreamt about. New Year is my favourite time of year because I can do all of the above and I do enjoy celebrating with a glass of Guinness in my hand.

I found that 2014 brought many exciting things to me. I cannot pick between them all because you will be reading forever and you will think that my ego is the size of an elephant. But, I will choose two things.

The first special thing I own is this blog. I suggested the concept of this blog just under twelve months ago to Shellie via text message (because I was too eager to wait until our scheduled meet up time). Of course, she was thrilled with the idea and she began to throw some creative (and very marvellous) ideas my way. At the time we were in the midst of completing our undergraduate degree’s (Shellie in English and me in Media Studies) but despite the pressure of university we remained keen on the idea of our new baby for several months afterwards. Then after we graduated (both with honours!) we joined WordPress and we met you. I think I write on behalf of both Shellie and myself when I express to you my gratitude in regards to you sticking by us throughout this year, because without you we would not have anyone to express our love of stories too, and for that we are most appreciative. We aim to continue to spread our message of story-telling throughout 2015 and we hope that you remain to stick by our side.

The second special thing I also own is a book. This is not just any book, oh no. It is a short story by a beautiful woman, wife, mother and writer named Giovanna Fletcher. Yes, this yummy mummy is known to many as “the wife of Tom from McFly” but I prefer to know her as Giovanna Fletcher because her talent for writing is outstanding. Her first published novel ‘Billy and Me’ was incredible and it is a story that I hope to share with you next year. Her second published book is ‘You’re the One That I Want’ which I am currently in the middle of which is (again) outstanding so far. But the book that I want to discuss with you is a short sequel to the story of ‘Billy and Me’ which is known as ‘Christmas with Billy and Me’.

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This story is unique because it features the same characters as it does in the first, but due to the fact that it surrounds Christmas time, it embraces a new story. If you do not know of the first book (which was released in 2013) then I fear you may be slightly lost in regards to the current story and its characters. Despite this slight flaw, this story remains interesting and sweet. At the moment I am only on chapter 2 because this was bought for me as a Christmas present and because I aim to drag out the Christmas spirit for as long as I can. I think the blurb captures exactly what this story is about and why it is a brilliant read for over this festive time:

When a smitten stranger emails Sophie to ask her if he can propose to the woman he loves in her little teashop, the romantic in her finds it impossible to refuse. Even though Christmas is her busiest time of year she has her own sweetheart, Hollywood actor Billy Buskin, to lend a helping hand. How could she say no to making someone’s dream come true?

As Sophie and Billy work together to plan the perfect fairytale proposal for this couple, excitement in Rosefont Hill is mounting. Who is this mysterious man? And who is the lucky lady he’s about to get down on one knee for?

This short story (much like the first) has captured my heart and taught me how to love again. Sophie, Billy and the mysterious guests have shown me the beauty of romance, while also opening my heart to the thought of having a reliable man back in my life. For now though I will continue to read and I will report back to you in 2015.

Shellie and I will be taking a short break over the New Year so we can celebrate with our families and each other. We hope you have a marvellous time and we hope that you have a very Happy New Year!
See you in 2015!
Much love from,
The Hooked on Books Official Team.







Photographs taken from Google.com (2014)
Book blurb taken from Amazon.co.uk (2014)
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Film: ‘A Christmas Carol’

by Elle Homan

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Once again, I wish you a Merry Christmas. Did you enjoy your day? Did you eat lots of food and drink lots of sugary drinks? Did you play any board games? Oh… and what about your family? Did you visit them too? I love Christmas and I had the most wonderful time (and that was not because I was off work for two whole days).

The biggest part of Christmas I say, is watching Christmas movies. My favourite Christmas movie of all time has to be Disney’s (no surprise, huh?) version of ‘A Christmas Carol’, which as I am sure you already know, was based upon the novel written by the wonderful Charles Dickens. I find that his stories ooze Christmas.

I watched this movie on Christmas Eve. I was accompanied by my dearest parents who fell a sleep through most of the movie, while I sat in my specially bought Chrimbo pyjamas feeling completely mesmerised by the magic of Christmas. I am pretty sure that you already know my true opinion of this movie but for technicality I must establish it here right now. IT WAS AWESOME!

This movie celebrates the progression in the production stages of screen development (aka CGI) as everything you see looks REAL. I mean… look at the picture at the top of the page, go on. Now… think of how Jim Carey looks in your mind. Now scroll back up, look at the picture and you tell me that the cartoon does not look anything like JC? If you cannot see the resemblance then I think you need to watch something Carey related because it is the spitting image of this man! Don’t stop there… repeat the process with Colin Firth and his character. Just wow. Saying that, everything you see in this movie feels real which furthermore makes you feel apart of it.

What I love most about this version is that it does not differ from the original. I despise it when a story is altered so much that it becomes practically a new one. This story is exactly the same. It includes ‘Scrooge’, ‘Marley’, ‘the nephew’, ‘Tiny Tim’ and the ‘three ghosts of Christmas’. Nothing is altered in this story and that is just how I like it.

This movie is not bound to solely Christmas Eve because the story carries such a beautiful message. Watch it now. Watch it on New Year. You could even watch it in the middle of July because the message will always remain the same. Treasure your life. Be grateful for those around you. Use your time to celebrate with your loved ones and say your graces. And… buy some good presents! Enjoy the festivities!

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Disney’s Cinderella

by Shellie Daintry

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There’s nothing like a classic, is there? Especially at Christmas time, nostalgia and Christmas seem to go hand in hand.

After the success of turning an animated Disney Classic into a live action spectacular with Maleficent, next year Cinders will be getting her turn again on the big screen in a new adaptation. Due for release in March 2015 and with Lily James cast in the title role, it looks like it is going to be a treat of a film, full of magic and glitz and beautiful ballgowns. I will most definitely be watching it!

But today, while I was feeling a bit down and full of the inevitable winter cold, I decided to indulge myself in the 1950s Cinderella, who is looking fabulous for nearly 65 years old, might I add! Now she has never been my favourite Disney princess, that spot is reserved for Belle from Beauty and the Beast, but she has a charm all her own. Very of the age and borderline cheesy but it is undeniably entertaining and a good remedy for a boring winter’s day.

The newer Disney Classics might be more interesting and have stronger female characters, but Cinderella has earned her place as one of the more popular Disney Princess fairy tales. Wouldn’t we all love a fairy godmother who can find us a prince and give us a killer dress for the party to boot?

I know I would!

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Film: ‘The Railway Man’

by Elle Homan

This movie is proof that we (the UK) own some great historical stories and the talent to make the feeling of time pass on by. ‘The Railway Man‘ was released on 10th January 2013 and it has taken me slightly under twenty four months to see it for the very first time. It shocks me more that it was released so long ago. Where the hell have I been for the past two years?

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I first discovered the availability of this movie on ‘Netflix‘ earlier this month and today I decided to divulge into this story as it is my day off from work. I must say, it was not what I was expecting but I mean that in a really good way.

This story is presented several decades after the Second Great World War and it focuses primarily upon the personal account of a war veteran named ‘Eric‘ who was later captured by a Japanese army. His story begins in the present day and in the adorable meeting of his future wife ‘Patti‘ who he meets during a pleasant train ride. This train enthusiast woos the girl by talking geeky and diverging in long-winded conversations about the progression of the train industry. After he exits at Preston train station, we assume that this love story is not meant to be but Eric proves us wrong by jumping onto another train and meeting Patti at the end of her journey. Awe. I can confirm that this is the quickest love story you will ever witness as they are hitched within the next ten minutes of the film.

After they marry, we begin to see Eric’s story unveil as he endures painful flashbacks of his time in the Japanese camp. Why was he captured? We are told by his close friend ‘Finlay‘ that Eric could not cope after the war had ended; he temporarily moved to Africa to build houses for the suffering communities and he was captured there. I must say, it was incredibly heart-breaking to hear and watch Eric go through such a horrifying ordeal. This movie goes into strong detail in regards to the level of torture that Eric was exposed to. If you are a sensitive soul, then I must say that this film will not be for you. Saying that, you could always hide behind a pillow? It is your call.

Throughout this story we crave the achievement of closure for both Eric and ourselves. But I think it would be impossible to find full closure if you experienced something as horrific as this surely? How could anyone find comfort after they found freedom? Believe it or not, Eric did.

There was a Japanese interpreter who was involved in Eric’s experience. He never once tortures him, but he never stops those who are hurting him either. He’s just the interpreter who haunts Eric during his isolation and during his freedom. Along his journey, Eric discovers that the interpreter is still alive. He lives a peaceful life in the United Kingdom while working as a tour guide assistant in a museum-like place. Eric searches for him, finds him and gives him a taste of his own medicine. Eric does not kill the interpreter but instead shows him the pain that he inflicted and how it has affected him decades after he was freed. The most shocking part of this story is that after their deep conversation they both received closure and a new friendship.

Did you know that this story withholds truth? Because I never. At the start of this movie it states ‘Based off a true story’ and I believe that to be the most shocking part of this story. Everything is true. Everything from the captivity, the isolation, the torture, the closure and the friendship.

This story showed me how positive life can be, once you let go of what was holding you back.

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Mad for Maleficent

By Elle Homan

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Believe it or not, I watched the movie ‘Maleficent’ last night. I shut out the entire world and I embraced the magic within this story. It continues to still be one of my favourite films as it inspires me in many magical ways. I am even wearing my Maleficent costume today too (JOKE!)

To my surprise, I discovered that Mac Cosmetics was also inspired by this desirable witch-like woman. Their limited cosmetics range named ‘Maleficent’ (not shocked) was released earlier this year. Just picture it. The oozing red lipstick, the gold shimmering eye shadow, the dusty coal eyeliner and the crystal effect foundation. Oh my word. What a marvellous creation?

I have no idea if this combo is even still available, but I MUST BUY IT. That way I’ll be able to dress up as Mally and perform the entire story to you. Best warm up my voice, “LISTEN WELL ALL OF YOU!” [bangs long stick-looking object on the floor].

Mwahahahaha!

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Satisfying my Inner Child

by Shellie Daintry

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We all have our guilty pleasures.

Some of us have more guilty pleasures than they do ordinary pleasures. I might be one of those people. Childish things still hold sway on my heart and here I am owning up to that fact.

Yesterday I went to watch the new Tinkerbell movie. Tinkerbell and the Legend of the Neverbeast, is its full title and there’s no hiding from it, it is targeted at kids, and only kids. Some Disney movies, I’d say, appeal to all ages, especially the Classics – and that’s what makes our love for them endure as we grow up. The Tinkerbell (or Disney Fairies) franchise is borne from the Disney Classic Peter Pan, which in turn is based on J.M.Barrie’s original tale. It doesn’t have the complexity of the original tale, and it has changed to suit children of today, but although I know I’m probably too old to enjoy this little film, I have to tell you I did enjoy it – very much.

This is the sixth in the series of films that form the centre of the Disney Fairies franchise, though I think it shouldn’t be called “Tinkerbell and…” anymore, the main character in this children’s tale isn’t Tink but another fairy called Fawn. She uncovers a strange beast in Pixie Hollow and befriends it which leads us into a tale about friendship and following your heart. Adorably designed, however, and the songs are quite sweet as well. The tale is entertaining and surprisingly moving for a film aimed at children. It reduced the children in the audience to tears. One little girl a few rows behind us, began sobbing before any of the others and her heart-wrenching tears almost made me cry along with her, she was so cute.

I might go as far as to say that it might be the best of the Tinkerbell films yet. (Yes, I’ve watched them all…I’m a child at heart). Children will love this film, and as a guilty pleasure I think it might entertain quite a few adults as well.

It satisfied my inner child at least! It was full of Faith, Trust and Pixie Dust! (Sorry couldn’t resist!)

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Film: The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

by Shellie Daintry

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Will you follow me, one last time?”

I did, and I’d do it again in a heartbeat. I can’t believe it’s actually over! This was our final journey to Middle Earth on the Big Screen and Peter Jackson let his epic adaptations finish on a high. I knew I would love it, when you are a big of a fan as I am of all things LotR or The Hobbit, it would have to have been drastically horrendous for me not to love it! Though what’s surprising is I think it might have made me love it even more than I do Return of the King, which was my favourite of the whole 6 film franchise. (I know, what a shocker!)

The beginning was epic, Smaug is a work of CGI genius (but I’d expect nothing less from the team at Weta) and Benedict Cumberbatch was the perfect voice actor for the dragon. I’d seen a film review on the TV that complained that Smaug was defeated too quickly (I know that’s a bit of a spoiler, sorry, but I won’t spoil much more), and this very same review hated that the battle of the five armies itself took too long. I don’t know what he was watching because I didn’t feel that way at all. Granted I think that the Smaug scenes could have been done in the last film, because that had a somewhat unfinished quality to it’s ending, but I do think it makes for a high impact,exciting opening.

The whole cast was a treat to watch but special mention must go to Ian McKellen as Gandalf, Richard Armitage as Thorin and the wonderful Martin Freeman as Bilbo. I don’t think anyone could have played the characters as well as they did. I think Evangeline Lily’s character, Tauriel, came into her own in this film as well, and although I wasn’t entirely convinced of her reason for being there the first time I’d heard about her in the last film, this time I loved having a strong female character to follow in a largely male cast. (Tauriel wasn’t the only girl, however, we did have the fabulous Galadriel doing her bit for feminine power as well.)

The story was played out in a way that kept you on your toes and surprised you even if (like me) you already knew the original story. The beauty of creating the LotR films before The Hobbit films, is that the audience already knows what happens after The Hobbit finishes, so it can foreshadow events, like Sauron’s return beautifully. I love how it sets up so many threads that I know eventually pay-off in The Lord of the Rings.

I won’t spoil the story if you haven’t ever read it (but I’m thoroughly surprised if you never have!) but it is a tear-jerker! I was moved by how it played out and I think that is down once more to the quality of the actors and the director. There are other reviews out there that believe it’s an anti-climax to the trilogy and they are generally mean to the film. Miserable sods. They must have been watching a different movie! I think it did what it needed to do, and it did it well. More than well, it did it spectacularly.

A fitting end to the wondrous journey into the most grand of fantasy worlds. Though for me it won’t be my final journey into Middle Earth. I have the books waiting on my shelf and because of this film it has made me want to dive back in and fall in love all over again.

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Reading is healthy

by Elle Homan

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I am sure that I have mentioned to you before that I am a sufferer of anxiety. I do not have it severely but it does feel that way at times. When I spoke to my doctor she gave me two options to choose from; the first was (and the most recommended) self-help and the second was a mild dosage of anxiety pills. I chose the first option.

From this I found this book, ‘How to master Anxiety’ by Joe Griffin and Ivan Tyrell. It is a self-help guide that allows you to understand and control your anxiety worries. Each chapter is a new subject which is filled with tips, techniques and creative scenarios. This book is brilliant as it removes the fear away from anxiety and helps you to breathe normally once again. It is a great book and one that I would recommend.

See, I told you reading is healthy!

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Too busy to read

by Elle Homan

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As we may have mentioned several times over, we understand that the task of reading cannot always be carried out. Some of us are not dedicated readers, some of us do not have the time to sit down with a good book, some of us may only keep their reading skills for the purpose of carrying out daily tasks and some of us may not possess the ability to read. However, I do believe that reading is for everyone – in someway or another.

I do enjoy reading but I would not class myself as a committed reader as I am very picky. So picky that if the book does not grab me instantly then I lose interest and I close the book (usually forever). I like fictional novels the best. I enjoy reading descriptive stories which allow my imagination to run wild and I have found that they tend to keep me entertained for a longer period of time. Sometimes I do not know how I managed to achieve my undergraduate degree because my set readings were all so… serious. Although, in having this strong desire to be entertained I always like to choose the printed version of a book. I like the way a printed book makes me feel about myself; I feel intellectual, focused, energised and interesting. I also love the way the book feels in my hand, as it makes me feel as though I am actually doing something worthy with my spare time. My favourite thing of all is breaking the spine of the book. I can hear all you readers tutting away at me because I am somewhat intentionally breaking the book but this honestly means that I love the book. In my case the more the spine is broken, the more I loved the book. Hey, you should see my copy of John Green’s ‘The Fault in Our Stars‘. That is love right there!

But as of late, I have found it difficult to carry out this passion of mine. I have not broken many spines for a while – actually I have not picked up a book for a while. With Christmas and New Year looming, my work schedule has increased which has left me feeling exhausted. I find it most difficult to read a book when I’m tired as my eyes tend to glaze over and my imagination focuses upon something else. Total nightmare!

But just the other day, after flying down to an amazing price of just £0.99 I snapped up Lindsey Kelk’s e-book ‘Jenny Lopez Saves Christmas‘. This bargain was perfect for me because I love the ‘I Heart…‘ series and I love Lindsey Kelk. Only for my having my Kelk obsession, I would not normally choose to purchase an e-book because it does not give me the same satisfaction as my printed version does. But this is one e-book that I am happy to own because it is fabulous. The first paragraph blew a few of the storylines in the ‘I Heart…‘ series (I am mid-way through the Vegas one) but it is still proving to be incredibly interesting.

This e-book has made my Christmas and changed my opinion too. Double whammy!  =D

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Old Secrets by Ian Ingram

by Shellie Daintry

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At first I was pleasantly surprised by this tale, then I was utterly shocked. It’s one of those stories that sneaks up on you when you’re least expecting it and pulls something out the bag that leaves you borderline speechless.

Old Secrets isn’t a heavy read, instead it is a lighthearted, humorous romp into the world of antique dealings. Though it certainly isn’t Antique Roadshow. There are a lot of characters to follow. My favourite was Freddie who is the very first character we get to meet. Though it was Sam and Simon that surprised me the most.

Ian Ingram’s comprehensive knowledge of antiques is apparent in his writing, and this leads to some very detailed areas of description. It wasn’t his knowledge that most impressed me (though it was extensive) – it was his writing style, witty and conversational and his characterization was spot on.

I had mixed emotions when first starting this book. It did something I usually can’t bear to read. It switches POV so often (at first sometimes within the same paragraph) that it was distracting. Is that an unforgivable sin? No I don’t think so, because around halfway through the book – it hit me in the face and I stopped noticing the quick fire POV changes. Without spoiling the story, by the end of the book I think having many POV characters helped build to the end scene (which is what left me speechless). In this case, the quality of the story over-rode my judging it on seeing inside too many characters’ heads at once.

I enjoyed the way the tale almost does a full circle on itself, and (not to repeat myself) I adore the way it ends. I’m a big believer in the ending being what stays with the reader long after you close the book. In the case of Old Secrets, I was very, very happy.

A quirky, lighthearted, good old English romp of a story. I’d recommend any one who wants an quick, entertaining read to pick this one up and give it a try.

Not perfect, but perfectly charming to read.

P.S. I love that the manor house is called ‘Sod Hall’ – genius!

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The truth about Markus Zusak’s creation

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by Elle Homan

Last weekend I confessed to you my love and passion for the story ‘The Book Thief’ which was created by Markus Zusak. In my post, I primarily focused upon the visual version (aka the movie) opposed to the original printed format. In that post I made a promise to you. I promised that I would return having attempted to read the book and I would deliver my true honest opinion on this fictional story. And that is why I am writing to you this very evening.

I did not get far in that far in the book, actually I do not think I even passed the first chapter. However, I read enough to know which format I preferred and the reason why. To destroy the suspense I have to vote for the printed version aka the book and this is why…

The book (well… the first chapter) gave me chills. It moved me in the way the film never succeeded to. As a literary blogger I understand (and believe) that the printed version is always better than the visual version because that is where the true origin of the story lies. The book continued to represent this factor which furthermore impacted my thoughts on the story itself.

The opening captured my attention and my heart. I love this story to death because of its powerful essence. It is factual in the sense that it is about the Great World War but more so, as it is delivered from the perspective of the German people. This strikes more of a chord with me because I am led to believe that my surname is German; I do not know this for certain but I cannot help but wonder as to whether this is part of my history too? Then we have the book stealing. Of course, it is no surprise that I support the action of reading books considering that I am a literary blogger and co-owner of that blog. However I DO NOT approve the stealing of the books (this is something else we support here at H.O.B.). I adore the way each character treasures tales and story-telling; for example the Father is a passionate reader, the Daughter is emotionally bound to the stories and the Mother prefers to avoid reading. I love how books are valued in this (partly) fictional world.

Even though I have made several comments, I must conclude my review with my most treasured one. The opening of the story and the dialogue from the narrator. In my last post I discussed how we are introduced to a character at the start of this story – DEATH. We instantly discover the personality of this character and we learn about the value of life from the one person who ends it for us. It is strange to say but I love that the narrator is death; with every sentence he delivers I continue to picture him as the Grim Reaper or something you would see in the ‘Scream’ movies.

And the line “ONE DAY YOU WILL DIE” continues to give me the shivers. GULP!

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Why I Love The Hobbit Films

by Shellie Daintry

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In an earlier post I mentioned that JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit was one of the books I adored when I was a child. I’d say it was what inspired me to start writing fantasy. I’ve been making up fantasy worlds since I’ve been a child and judging by my stories now I’ve never grown up. Naturally, I then followed through and read all three of The Lord of the Rings when I was 12 years old and subsequently became obsessed with it. Not helped by the film that came out around that time.

I love the book, but I was surprised that it had somehow been stretched into not 1 but 3 full sized movies. If any other film maker had taken on the project I’m not sure it would have been possible – nor would I have liked it I don’t think – but Peter Jackson is perfect because he is a true fan and stays faithful to the world that Tolkien created.

That is one of the reasons that I love The Hobbit films. Secondly, I love how they have incorporated all the stuff with the Necromancer, which rightfully occurs at the same time as the events recorded in The Hobbit. I love that Benedict Cumberbatch is Smaug…AND the Necromancer (why not be both baddies eh?). I adore that they brought back Legolas (enter excited fan-girl scream), again I think that was a wise choice – I mean he would have been there, Mirkwood is his home. I’m amazed how they managed to make Dwarves sexy…and I give a big thumbs up for the Dwarf women, beards and all.

I think I might have annoyed my sister when I got over excited by them starting The Hobbit trilogy with the same opening sequence as The Lord of the Rings. (Elijah Wood obviously doesn’t age.) But that is a stroke of genius.

I could go on and on. As you can tell, it is one of my favourite tales. Unusually, I think the films don’t detract from the original books but instead I think the film franchise adds to the books. I even think they encourage those who may not have tried to read them before to pick them up and give them a go.

So that is a small selection of the reasons why I love The Hobbit films.

The final installment of the franchise is out today! I am super excited and have my ticket booked for this Tuesday (expect my review of the film the day after). So if you get a chance try and catch it at the cinemas, and even better – if you get the time, revisit the original book because it’s a tale worth reading again and again.

That’s it for now. I’ll be back on Sunday with my review of Ian Ingram’s Old Secrets.

Happy Reading!

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XOXO

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by Elle Homan

Today was not the best day. Why? Well… after suffering with chicken pox, a sore back and what I believe to be either a viral infection or a winter cold, I have hit rock bottom. I was allowed to leave work today due to feeling poorly and even though I do not feel that much better, I feel as though I’m finally on the mend.

My speedy recovery was all down to a television boxset marathon. The addictive series named ‘Gossip Girl‘ distracted my mind with scandalous storylines while the paracetamol, warm clothing and mountains of bottled water did their magic. I never imagined that my day would plan out as it did, but I’m glad that it has because I’m once again addicted to this story – and that included my Mum too who hitched on the G.G. ride late on in series one.

As I watched the war between the elite Manhattan snobs and the grungy Brooklyn outcasts, I began thinking more about this story. I could not help but wonder, is this what really happens in the Big Apple? Do the people on team elite despise those on team grunge? And does team grunge really desire to be apart of team elite? Well… in reality I will never know because I’m not apart of either team. I’m the wannabe screenplay writer who’s fresh out of academia and lives her boring life in the United Kingdom.

As the level of distraction grew and my illnesses (I’m including all three) slowly wore away I began thinking more about what this story was doing to me. After the first three episodes (I watched six in total) I felt apart of the gang; I was living on both the posh and the not-so-posh side of N.Y.C and I was loving it. I felt pristine; my choice of clothing felt elegant, my hair was full of long bouncy curls and my make up was irresistible. The story made me feel like a beautiful, healthy woman opposed to the scraggy, slightly dirty, tatty headed woman that I am in reality.

Even though I still only feel mildly better, I have to thank G.G. for doing exactly what medication could not, which was making me feel more humane. I am unsure if the printed/digital version of this story would have the same effect but I suppose we can always find out. Keep those books handy throughout this winter period!

Thank you again, Cecily Von Ziegesar.

That’s all for now, xoxo

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Vampire Knight by Matsuri Hino (revisited)

by Shellie Daintry

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My very first review for Hooked on Books Official was of the Vampire Knight series by Matsuri Hino. It was a series I’d enjoyed but at that point the very last volume of the manga hadn’t been sent our way. Since then I have mentioned that I had read the ending but I have only now sat down to write what I thought.

To quote myself in my first review I said: “Sometimes the story-lines let the art down if I’m honest but as a guilty pleasure and a bit of harmless fantasy I think it’s a perfect bit of fluff.”

I disagree with myself on the ‘fluff’ part. The ending is anything but fluffy. Though I sadly hit the nail on the head as to the story-line letting the artwork down somewhat. I adore the start of Vampire Knight, I do honestly – that’s the bit I fell in love with. But somewhere after the Rido saga, I felt that as the artwork improved and improved, the story began to suffer. I was willing to overlook it if the ending left me feeling satisfied and happy. It didn’t. Well not completely anyway.

I am sorry to say because I still think the series is fantastic in itself but I was disappointed in how she ended this series. In her own write-ups she said she was determined to finish the series before it hit number 20 but this means that to me it seems volume 19 rushes to a conclusion. There should have been another book to allow for more space. Other characters, like some members of the night class, I felt were forgotten. Yuki lost some of the more pleasant parts of her personality. And if you want to read Vampire Knight (which I still think you should up until after Rido anyway) I won’t spoil what actually happens at the end but I think it was a little bit of a cop out.

Twilight did this. I don’t like Twilight. But it did what Vampire Knight did. There’s a love triangle. Vampire Knight‘s love triangle was better because it could have gone either way. Yet instead of having the protagonist actually making a choice, both of these cop out and make life easy for the heroine and take the choice out of their hands. Not happy. Mainly because I like Yuki’s character – she’s so much more likable than Bella, so I’m sorry for the comparison. Yuki could have made her own choice. Why didn’t she?

Okay, I’m being harsh, there are parts of the last volume that are very good. Artwork is beautiful and I kind of like Kaname’s ending but I don’t like how all the character’s we have gotten to know are brushed aside. Although, to give credit where credit is due the ending isn’t predictable. I do wish Hino had made another volume and spent time allowing Yuki to make a choice and letting it follow through – and showing us in more detail what happened to other characters – rather than skipping forward.

So in a nutshell, I love Vampire Knight, but I’m surprised about the ending.

Still worth the read. And believe me I will re-read the beginning volumes. They are awesome teen vampire fluffiness.

Happy reading!

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A dream is a wish your heart makes.

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I am sure that you will agree with me when I say that Shellie is a fabulous writer. She is, isn’t she? And that is exactly why I snapped up that talented young lady and (slightly) forced her to co-start this blog with me. I love her writing style and how her topics can be so random. Her posts always leave me feeling inspired; I like feeling this way because it forces me to not only achieve my dreams but to also write something good myself. I read her post from yesterday and again I felt the same way, but this time it was different.

Of course, I continued to feel inspired but this time I felt powerful. I felt determined and strong. So strong that I could have easily knocked down one thousand men and not even blink. I wanted to achieve my dream of becoming a screenplay writer and I wanted to (one day) become a part of the Disney crew. I also realised in that moment that I was also suffering from the unwanted condition that we call fear.

Screenwriting is a new goal for me. So new, that the idea only popped into my head a fortnight ago. It all started during my shift at my full-time job (I’m a sales assistant in a music store). I had an idea to make a ‘Disney Classics’ section and I wanted to place it at the front of the store. My manager was thrilled with my suggestion as he loved how creative I had been and how I had considered the needs of the customer. In truth, I wanted to make a Disney section because I’m a Disney addict, but hey! Anyway, I was placing the movies in chronological order and as I placed ‘Frozen’ at the end (it is number 52 in the growing sequence) I realised that I wanted to be “number 53”. I wanted my leading character to be featured on the shiny (and slightly blinding) sleeve cover and I wanted to create my own Disney mania.

Then in that moment I felt stricken by something. It was a feeling that surrounded my heart; it had infected my stomach giving me butterflies and uncontrollable hand/body shaking. I felt fear and I was subconsciously embracing it. Shellie’s post made me realise that not only did I have to figure out why I was afraid but also what I was going to do about it.

And today was that day. I realised that my fear lied within the essence of my idea; it was a new dream and for some odd reason I felt that this was wrong. I feel like slapping myself across the face because I’m aware of how stupid this sounds but I know that this feeling exists in others too. Just because it is a new idea, new dream or new thought, it is never too late to try.

Surprisingly, I soon came across a significant image which stated:

It is never to late to dream of something new.

Finally, the people have spoken! I am going to continue on dreaming and writing my first ever screen play.

Watch this space!

Elle.

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Endings

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Endings are the toughest part of a book to write. It doesn’t matter how fantastic your beginning or middle was – it will be the ending that stays with the reader long after they close the book.

I’ve been thinking a lot about endings as this week has started. December is literally the end of the year. I’ve come to the end of a few series I have been reading. The Hobbit/Lord of the Rings franchise is coming to an end (I know I keep going on about this but I am border-line obsessed with them). And finally I am approaching the very end of my own novel. In a few days I will be able to write ‘The End’. I’ve never completed a whole draft before. Ever.

Why was this? Well I think a huge part of me was afraid of the ending. I was afraid of finally calling it done, that would mean I would have to let it go out into the big bad world and allow other people to judge my baby however they wished. Terrifying. Scariest of all though is not what people might think, but it is finally allowing myself to complete something I’ve always dreamed about doing. Scary because it means I can put it down and turn to something new. Scary because I am afraid of letting it all down with a poor ending. That’s why ending something like this is tough.

I am putting all the worry behind me though, this last couple of months I have wrote without a care for what might come next and the ending is no longer as scary, but it is exciting. Ending the writing stage only means allowing myself to start the next stage, and the stage after that. I mean the end of December means the start of the new year. So an ending might be tough but it is can also be rewarding.

So I’ll leave you with that thought about endings and return to the remaining blank pages and finally write ‘the end’.

Wish me luck!

Happy Writing/Reading guys!

Shellie.

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The Book Thief. Part One.

Firstly I would like to apologise for being late in uploading my post. I won’t lie to you, I was out with Shellie. We started by spending the evening in Pizza Hut (yum!); we then continued our evening enjoying a drink (we could only have one because we didn’t have time to drink another) and we spoke about our blog. One thing in particular that we discussed was your participation within our publications; we would like to thank you all for speaking aloud and we appreciate the fact that you appreciate what we are doing. So, ‘Hooked on Books Official’ is here to stay!

After returning home I decided to continue my evening by watching ‘The Book Thief’. I must say, it was very good. This story is brilliant in many ways; the characters, the history and the storyline. It was all perfecto!

At first I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this story because it was based on a factual time that I don’t know much about. I wasn’t born; my parents were not born and my Grandparents were only teenagers. Even though I know what happened, I find it difficult to believe that it happened. However, this story changed my perception and I think for the better.

I felt as though I was part of the story. I started to believe that I was assisting the characters and encouraging the desire to steel books. Of course, that would be understandable as I’m co-owner of a literary blog but I still don’t believe in stealing them. But somehow this story gave me permission to do so because I was apart of it and I was apart of the war. My participation continued throughout the narration of the book. SPOILER ALERT: The narrator is death. It didn’t take me long to figure this out because his voice is exactly how you imagine Death to be and when he uses his opening phrase of “Someday you will DIE!”. Yeah, total giveaway.

I do not wish to reveal much about this story because I don’t believe that my account is over. In order to give a true account of this story, I need to see what the novel is like and how Markus Zusak paints it. The book is the size of a mountain so I can guarantee that I will have not finished it by next week but I can at least start it. Even if it takes me an additional month or two, I can promise you that we will all understand the beauty of this story.

For now though, I am feeling terribly ill. I’m in the last stages of having chicken pox; I have a crippled back and my head is pounding. What is the cure? A cup of tea and Disney’s ‘Frozen’. =D

Elle.

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Childhood Memories

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I saw something on the television today that sent me straight back to my childhood – well more specifically it got me thinking about the books I loved as a child. What put me in such a reminiscent mood? I saw the advert for the BBC’s adaptation of Roald Dahl’s Esio Trot. You don’t understand how happy that advert made me! Esio Trot was one of my favourite books when I was much younger than I am now. I remember how much I adored my little hardback version and I think it marked the beginning of my unending obsession with all things bookish.

As you know, I am a writer and one day I’d love to be a successfully published author and since I was little it has been my greatest dream. If I was asked who inspired me to be a story teller then I would say hands down it was Roald Dahl. I read book after book of his and the way he crafted characters and the enchanting stories he created set my tender young imagination alight.

I can’t wait to see how the BBC brings the story to life and I pray to God they do it well, because that story has a special place in my heart.

Another book that had a profound effect on my childhood mind was JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit. Whilst Roald Dahl first inspired me to start telling stories (which I did in abundance on the playground – even scaring the year below me with ghostly tales) it was The Hobbit which inspired me to create fantasy worlds. That opened up my eyes and I can say it is probably responsible for the things I write now. I love writing about magic and creating whole new worlds – fantasy is what I love to read and write. It all started when I was very young and was introduced to these fantastic books.

As you well know, the final installment of Peter Jackson’s massive adaptation of this beloved book is out very soon. So I will be able to revisit my childhood (sort of) all over the Christmas period. I’ll be watching The Hobbit on the 16th (so expect a post about that then) and Esio Trot will be on TV on New Year’s Day so I will be watching that for sure.

I have an urge to dig out my copies of both these books and treat myself to another trip down memory lane – so that’s what I will do! (If I can find them in that bookcase…)

Happy Reading!

Shellie

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My bookshelf.

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Yesterday Shellie published a picture of her bookshelf; she described how it represented her personality, favourite books (many commented on her Manga interests) and her ultimate literary influences. Even though I have known Shellie for over ten years now (it’s been a very long time, trust me) I discovered more of her true personality in her bookshelf opposed to the countless pub food and wine nights we have had in our local. It amazed me.

I then challenged myself by taking my own picture and analysing what I saw. I wanted to know if my bookshelf was a clear representation of who I was as an individual and could a complete stranger detect my personal qualities? In regards to my research, it matched perfectly and my personality could actually be detected by looking solely at my bookshelf. I find this somewhat embarrassing.

I tested this on my nearest and dearest. Of course, this test may have been (slightly) biased because they do already know me but I tried anyway. I will remain confidentiality because I’m in a sarcastic mood and some of my candidates may not wish to be featured on an iconic blog (the fools!).

Candidate 1: “You are a very organised person. You can see this in the way you have organised your books by genre and publication date. Look at the Twilight series on the end. You start with Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse and even the novella which was from Eclipse. Then of course, you have Breaking Dawn at the end.”

Candidate 2: “She’s right. You are very organised but look at the odd book where you’ve just threw it on top because you couldn’t be bothered. You are slightly lazy.”

Candidate 3: “You’re a very picky reader. You know what you like and which authors so that is why you have multiple ones of the same author.”

Candidate 4: “You are totally a film person. I mean look at all those movies! You have more movies than books. Ah… so that’s why you’re head of film!”

I must agree with every comment made because all of the points where spot on. That is exactly who I am and who I’m proud to be. I challenge you to do the same and see if your bookshelf forms a clear representation of you and your identity. Tweet us at @hooked_book with your pictures and the tagline #mybookshelf. Go on… it’s a bit of fun! 

See you tomorrow, Elle.

Ps. How cool is my tinsel? I love Christmas!

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Bookshelf Shame

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Yes, unfortunately that is what my bookcase looks like…

It’s embarrassing isn’t it?

We are trying something new here at HOB official, trying to be keen bloggers and keep on writing. So here I am, with my messy bookcase suggesting that for a reader, the bookshelf says a lot about your personality. Honestly, I do think that is true! Looking at someone else’s bookcase is like getting a sneak peak at their brain. Their likes and dislikes are apparent, their reading habits certainly are and (in my case) you can see whether they are a child at heart.

So what do you think mine says about me?

Okay, I think it rightfully says that my mind is a jumble of conflicting ideas, that I am a Disney geek who copied Peter Pan and refused to grow up, that I am a creative and that I’m really not organised. And I’m praying that it suggests that I am an interesting person?

Mind you, it could just be screaming “Please Shellie, tidy me up! Let me Breathe!

I love seeing what people have on their bookshelves, it can speak volumes. (And not going to lie, it’s a good way to see what I can read next…there’s always a book on someone’s shelf that I have never seen before.)

What’s your bookcase like? Are you a messy, throw it on the shelf any old way kind of person – like I am? Or are you super organised, alphabetically ordered and grown up?

I’d love to hear from you. Now I’m off to write some more and carry on reading!

Speak soon!

Shellie

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I’m a history buff.

Earlier today I posted a truthful tweet saying, “As of late, I have become a history buff”. I have never been one for history because I found it to be somewhat boring. I would refer to it as “The three D’s”; dull, dreary and depressive. I never saw the point in looking back into the past because it was over. It was not like I could change anything or make a historical difference. So, yeah.

That was until it came to looking at ‘The Book Thief’. This is my personal choice which I shall be studying very deeply throughout the first half of December. This recommendation first came from my Grandparents; they are not particularly history buffs themselves but they are slight “know it all’s” when it comes to talking about what happened. I think that’s because they lived through historical periods such as the Great World War (part 2).

Their recommendation pushed me to look at other historical times, which furthermore led me to one particular story named ‘Made in Dagenham’. I bought this DVD several weeks ago at a whopping price of £3.00 from a very well-known music and DVD store. In regards to my December choice I decided to give this one a watch and I must admit, I was extremely pleased with this movie and I was proud to be British.

Oh, and female!

I watched this movie with my parents. This part was hilarious because my Mum thought Dagenham was in Germany; my Dad was quick in mocking her while I sat in silence because I thought Dagenham was actually in Holland – HA! Anyway, I discovered how we (us women) enforced action and helped to create the ‘Equal Pay Act’. Thank you to all those women because if it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be getting paid the same (minimum) rate as my male buddies!

This story did open my eyes. Not only because it’s the truth but because I finally know something about my history. I think this story in particular is important to all women and British people out there – even more so if you’re both like Shellie and I – because it’s fact. It’s the truth. I love living in a fictional world but sometimes, it’s nice to live in reality and ‘Made in Dagenham’ is most definitely the way to go.

Peace and love, Elle.

 

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Happy December!

The countdown to Christmas and New Year has begun! For the last month of 2014 we have a great line up of book and film choices for you.

Elle’s Films of the Month are going to be the film adaptation of The Book Thief and to get us in the Christmas Spirit (literally) she will also be watching The Christmas Carol.

As for me, I will be reading the first of Veronica Roth’s Divergent series so I can catch up on what I’ve been missing and I’ve also got Ian Ingram’s Old Secrets, which has kindly been sent our way. I can’t wait!

So I hope you’ve all got plenty of books and books made into films on your Christmas lists this year, I know I have! So a few more beauties may sneak into our December reads thanks to Santa, but we will have to wait and see.

Oh, and before I shoot off to start reading, I’ll just let you know that by some miracle I actually managed to get over 50,000 words written for NaNoWriMo!

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Granted I still haven’t typed the final words in my book but I am proud that at least 80% of my book is done.

This looks to be an exciting end to the year!

Happy Reading and Writing!

Shellie.

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Antisense by RP Marshall

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Finally I managed to sink my teeth into Antisense.

It had been sat on our reading pile for about a month and it had peaked my curiosity. Antisense is a suspense thriller and is an incredibly intelligent book. It makes quite a change from the immense amount of young adult fantasy I have been reading of late. Author RP Marshall’s background in science and medicine comes through in his writing and is nicely juxtaposed against the suspense drawn from the human relationships examined alongside. It’s always refreshing to come across a book that can teach you something and after spending all night with this book I have come away knowing so much more about neuroscience (and the dangers thereof) than I ever have before. Also, you did read that correctly, I spent all night reading this book. It is a cliche to say that one can’t put down a book, but I literally didn’t until I’d read the very last word.

This is the debut novel from Marshall and it’s a stonking good way to start. It’s a smart and dark tale of family secrets, evolutionary theories, insanity and a seemingly inescapable fate. A neuroscientist begins to question whether his study into hereditary behaviour might mean that his very genes could force him to relive the dark past that he discovers has remained hidden by his family for years. Aside from the terrifying suspicions that build inside him, we find that his relationships with the people around him are terribly dysfunctional and we (and he himself) begin to question his sanity.

RP Marshall has an authoritative voice and has skillfully managed to craft his tale to unfold lightly and subtly but draw us in to the claustrophobic world of the book. The lead character, Daniel Hayden, is an interesting if at times unlikable character to follow but I love that it was a first person narrative. I found myself discovering twists in the tale almost at the same time as Daniel and it kept me enthralled. Using the intense scientific knowledge as a way to up the pressure and strain on the main character’s sanity was fantastic, it left me wondering what he would do next – hence why I couldn’t put it down.

I would recommend this to anyone who loves a good scientific thriller. If you want to be kept on your toes and delve deep into the workings of the human mind then please do pick this up and give it a read!

Tomorrow I will be back to announce what our December choices to watch and read will be! So until then,

Happy Reading!

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Film: Gone Girl

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It’s been a couple of weeks since I watched this and having to wait until now to write up my review has given me time to mull it over. You know what? Even after that amount of time I’m still not entirely sure if I liked this film or not. I want to err on the side of ‘not’ but there’s a part of me that still found it intriguing. I can pretty much guarantee that the book will be better than the film, even though I haven’t read it yet, because the twists in the story would be far more shocking in written form.

I felt like this was a film of two halves. I liked Rosamund Pike as Amy, but Ben Affleck’s performance I found to be a bit flat, though admittedly it might have been right for his character. The first half of the film took a while to build, and at times it was painfully slow (and I am not going to spoil anything here) but after the unexpected twist I was far more interested. It is not a light watch at all, and if you do end up watching this adaptation, know you will have to have your brain in gear to keep up with the ups and downs of the tale. It likes to do the unexpected, and is a bit creepy. Clever though, as it deals with how public opinion can be so easily changed and how you can never really judge someone by their outward appearance.

I am glad I watched it even if it left me feeling a bit confused and odd. I want to read the book because I think I would feel so much happier with the conclusion of the tale if I could read how it was meant to be. As it was I felt slightly dissatisfied with the ending, especially considering it follows what I think is the best part of the film with Neil Patrick Harris’s character being one of my favourites aside from Amy herself.

So if you’re curious, it might be worth the watch but even as I wrap up this little review, I still can’t decide whether I like this film. I guess I think the tale has merit but the film could have been better. Although as a suspense thriller, it does keep you on the edge of your seat so without comparing it to the book it is an alright watch in that respect.

If I was giving it a mark out of 5 it would be a 2.5.

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‘The Fault In Our Stars’ by John Green.

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I decided to change my font colour to ‘indigo blue’ because I found that it captured the true essence of my chosen book for November. I chose indigo blue because it represents the glittering stars we see in the deep sky; many of us choose yellow as our colour to create stars, but I much prefer the real deep colour hence the indigo blue. This month I indulged within ‘The Fault In Our Stars’ by John Green because I saw the film, I knew the story and I wanted to see if the stars glistened more in the book compared to the DVD. They most certainly glistened more in the book than the film.

For me, this story changed my life. How? Simply by opening my eyes and encouraging me to celebrate the beauty of life and the opportunity that I have been given to enjoy it. This is something that I like to embrace on a daily basis by only living in the moment, but as I’m sure that we all do, we don’t always think only about today. We dream about what is ahead and what we have left behind. This is wrong and John Green certainly illustrates this throughout his story and the accounts of Hazel Grace and Gus.

My passion and desires lie within the characters of this book because I think they truly make the story special and they also provide the example that John Green aims to deliver. Okay, life is short and we know that it is, but what are we supposed to do in order to make it wonderful and worthy? This is where Hazel Grace and Gus enter. They show us love, friendship, passion, desires, creativity and ambition. They show us various ways to embrace the opportunities in life that we can have. And what I love most about this duo is that negativity does not exist in their world and it does not actually exist in ours. Of course, that’s if we choose not to let it defeat us. If you take anything away from this article, the book or the story then all I ask is that you never let anything beat you. You keep going and you make the most of what you have been given. You are you and that’s because you’re the only person who could handle your life. I know how ridiculous that sounds but I don’t care.

 When opening the book, I felt my stomach being wrapped in dread because I feared one particular part of the story. The cancer part. I knew it existed throughout the story and I was afraid of it. For me, my aunt is a survivor of cancer; she had breast cancer several years ago but her fight was a success and she is now my beautiful healthy aunt again. But the idea of cancer still frightens me; I’m still baffled by the fact its your own body making tumours. I don’t understand why your own body would want to hurt you or even kill you? But John Green also fights cancer; he uses the tale of Hazel Grace and Gus to create awareness of this devil and how it’s just another part of us. This somehow dissolved my fear of cancer (for now anyway).

Until reading this story I never thought it was possible to fall in love with a character. Now that I have finished the book I can admit my true desires for Augustus Waters. I love him. I really do. The way he approaches life appears to mesmerise my mind and I become lost in the dialogue. I idolise the way he sees and speaks to Hazel, by calling her Hazel Grace. The way he supports Isaac through his break-up and loss of eyesight while he fights his own battle with cancer. This man should be a prime representation of how all you other men should be. If you do become another version of Gus Waters, I can confirm that no woman will ever turn you down. I love this man and I think I always will.

Finally, I would like to thank and applaud John Green because this story is fabulous. It creates awareness on cancer, life and how men should be. He has encouraged me to not just live but to LIVE. Be the woman that I want to be and let nothing stop me. To forgive and forget if I really want to. To decline any form of negativity and forget about these plans that I have in my head but instead simply go with the flow. John Green is a story-making genius and he truly makes you feel like a glistening star.

Okay?

Okay.

Elle.

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Film: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1

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I feel a bit like a broken record, but again here I am talking about yet another film adaptation of a dystopian fantasy series. What can I say? I think I might be addicted to this genre somewhat. The Hunger Games, though, I feel this series opened the floodgates in the first place. As far as the plethora of films that rose following it’s success is concerned, The Hunger Games is in a league of it’s own.

Another phenomenon that seems to have appeared in recent years, the splitting of a book into two movies or parts (or three as The Hobbit has endeavoured to do) once again rears it’s head. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay has been split into two parts, something I approve of, because one of the worst things about translating a beloved story into film is when they cut huge amounts from the original book. Having two (or more) parts allows for more, if not all, of the book to be explored in the film.

My sister is a massive Hunger Games fan and has already read the whole series, something I embarrassingly haven’t got round to, but I had her helpful concerns already in my head as I sat down to watch the movie. Would it do the book justice? I can’t say for sure until I do read the book but as a part 1 I really enjoyed it. It is a lot darker than the first two books/films and Katniss is not handling the events of the last film very well. I love Jennifer Lawrence, and I think she portrayed the complex emotions so well. I did miss the pomp and circumstance of the actual ‘hunger games’ and the format that had provided before but I welcomed the difference in tone and style. Gale had more of a role which was nice to see and my favourite parts of the movie were the moments when you saw what was happening elsewhere, not just what Katniss could see. This is something only the film could really do, in the book (I have been told) these events are only alluded to rather than seen.

It seemed to be over very quickly (but that could have been because I found it enthralling) and the beginning was a little slow and quiet for me. Other than that I think they managed to pack enough into this film to whet our appetite but it does feel incomplete without the second part. Part 1’s have to end in the middle of the book, so naturally it would struggle to have a ‘ending’ – Mockingjay Part 1 did manage to provide a more satisfactory ending than other part 1’s I’ve seen. Really quite good.

So overall The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 gets a thumbs up from me. But I think I am looking forward to the second part being so much better.

There are so many films coming out very soon that I can’t wait to see. I’m so happy that adapting books into films seems to be a trend at the moment – at HOB we like to see stories told through more than one medium. It allows us to really compare and enjoy the original tale!

So that’s me for now, I’ve fallen behind with my NaNoWriMo word count, so here’s to a weekend of manic writing to catch up!

Happy Reading,

Shellie.

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NaNoWriMo: Reading vs. Writing

Hello again,

It’s been a very busy November for us all at H.O.B official. Elle has been hijacked by her life and Sex And The City (If you haven’t a clue what I’m on about check out her latest post just below!) As for me I am slightly behind on my reading of Antisense, though my Gone Girl film review is ready and waiting for the end of the month, because I have been throwing my all into this year’s NaNoWriMo. As you know, I am a writer and an aspiring novelist, so embarking on a mad dash to finally finish my first novel (in a month) is an important decision. However, in doing so my other priority has fallen by the wayside – my reading. So my question, as I start the third week of novel writing is, which is more important to me as a writer? Reading or Writing?

Don’t laugh. It’s a sensible question. Of course, you have to write in order to be a writer – that’s a given. Yet, how would we ever know how to craft a story, what genre we like and to hone our skills if we neglected to read the work of other writers? The more I write the more I should read and vice versa. Yet how do I allocate time to indulge in a good book when I have to sprint to catch up on my word count goals? I guess it’s a real test of my time management.

So there it is, the battle between my writing and my reading…and everything else I have to do in my life. I hope everyone who is currently embarking on NaNoWriMo is finding it easier to fit the writing in around their other priorities! And I promised to update you on my word count – I’m currently at 20,504 words. Not quite at the half way point so I have to get a wiggle on to push for 25,000 and beyond.

Hang in there, and I’ll let you know how successful my balance of reading vs. writing will be!

Happy reading (and writing)

Shellie.

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Life, work and ‘sex and the city’ marathons.

Okay, so lately I have been distracted with my health, love life and work schedule, which has (unintentionally) delayed my progression in reading John Green’s book ‘The Fault in Our Stars‘. I would like to give myself some brownie points as I have watched the film (AWESOME!) and I am pretty much half way through the novel. But why have I been so distracted? I mean, here at H.O.B. we understand that life can get in the way; and this is partly what happened to me but my attention has been mainly hijacked by four women… Carrie, Miranda, Samantha and Charlotte.

I have become fond of my new BFF’s as they make me feel sexy, powerful and extremely honest. The latter appears to be somewhat dominant as I even asked my (real) BFF’s for some advice using the ‘Sex in the City’ (S.I.T.C.) manner as I asked, “Please tell me the things that I should hear, not what I want to hear”. The greatest thing was that they both understood exactly what I was searching for. Even though the matter in question (not spilling the beans today) was overthought somewhat on my part (actually, I know it was overthought) and they told me the things I needed to hear but in the nicest tone. However, they may have not been as sincere if it was in person. However, I was totally inspired by S.I.T.C. and the multiple non-stop episodes continued to both inspire me to achieve greatness and to avoid Jonathon Green.

Normally I would get a clip around the ear from Shellie for writing about only a TV show but this time I know she can’t. Why? Shellie was the one who introduced me to S.I.T.C and also because S.I.T.C. is based off a novel by Candace Bushnell. I think we should all be reading these novels too. Anyone read a Bushnell book? Get in contact with us!

Despite my naughty streak, I know that I have to complete this book. I’m terrible at finishing books and the only reason is because I simply don’t want the story to end. It’s funny because I don’t have that same feeling about movies and TV dramas – ha!

Let the marathon continue. Elle.

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Nanowrimo week 2…am I a mad-woman?

nanobadge

I am a bit late to the party but like many, many people across the globe I am throwing my all into my dream and participating in NaNoWriMo 2014. I started my attempt on Thursday and I’ve not done too badly, having written nearly 5000 words so far – 4832 to be precise – so if I knuckle down I think I might be able to do this.

So why do I think I’m a mad-woman? Well for a start the whole NaNoWriMo thing is a little bit crazy, awesome but crazy, I mean a whole novel in a month? But if it was just that I wouldn’t think I was mad. As Elle has been saying in her recent posts, life has been in the way of my reading and writing, life does that sometimes, it throws you a curve ball and you have to carry on regardless. Dramatic changes in my job situation, for example, threatened to take up almost all my time. Yet I still made the decision to try and finish my novel (and still read our books/watch our films for this blog!) before the end of November. Am I mad? Perhaps. But am I excited and so ready to not only accept the challenge but to complete it? Absolutely!

So, 4832 words and I have watched our film of the month, Gone Girl, but I’m saving the review for our usual posting date. Therefore, I’ve decided to recommend a writing resource book that I came across during my search for books that would aide me in the organisation and time management part of writing a book. Now, I love reading and I love writing so naturally I adore books about writing – I mean that’s the best of both worlds! Last month I discovered one such book, and I might even venture to say that it’s the best that I’ve read so far! It is called Book in a Month: The Fool Proof System for Writing a Novel in 30 days by Victoria Lynn Schmidt, and I love it! It is bound like a little folder and is organised in neat sections for each week of the month, complete with fold out pages and checklists for what you need to achieve. Her writing style is not too heavy nor is it scarily academic and she imparts shed-loads of information without making you feel like your head will explode. Even better is the worksheets at the back of the book and (for big kids like me) there’s even stickers that say ‘I’ve finished my novel’. I loved it so much that when another book arrived about writing a book in a month (that I’d forgotten I’d ordered) I didn’t even bother paying it much attention – it was nowhere near as good as BIAM.

So if you’re looking for something to help you along as you embark on NaNoWriMo, or you just need a little bit more motivation then get this book! I couldn’t recommend it more!

That’s all for now, but I will check back in with my word count and with my posts on what I read as the month progresses. Happy reading (and writing)!

Shellie x

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The fault in our perception.

As I am reading ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ by John Green, I thought it would be vital to watch the visual version. I have previously embarked upon this (very emotional) journey by watching it first on its release date in the cinema and on its DVD release date which was earlier this week. Again, I sobbed and I realised how lucky I was to simply be alive.

It’s not something that you openly admit on your blog (especially a blog that is dedicated to only the literary word) but as of late, I have found my life to be on the dull side. I have obtained a few problems regarding my health; I have contracted a very unwanted (but very common) gum disease called gingivitis (some of you may have had this before) and my anxiety levels have been through the roof because my daily lifestyle has been so overwhelming.

But after watching this movie, everything changed. I realised that my gingivitis can be cured by simply brushing my peggies longer and my stressful lifestyle can be easily fixed by altering my aims. My issues are tiny compared to what Hazel Grace and Gus are dealing with.

I asked myself why can’t I simply be happy in my life? Why am I taking it for granted?

When I curse myself like this, my Mum often reminds me that we do not have this outlook all the time because what we are currently dealing with is our reality. John Green encouraged me to realise that we should not dismiss these negative issues in our lives, despite their severity, because it is happening to us and we really shouldn’t ignore it. However, we should embrace life and throw caution to the wind. We should remind ourselves that this is our time and we should do whatever we want in it. I decided to write from the heart this week because John Green’s story brought mine to life. I can now see how precious I am, how lucky I am to be on this Earth and despite my near strong health I am still not invincible.

Comment or tweet us your thoughts on the movie. It is now on sale in several stores.

Elle.

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Bloggers on the go!

Okay, so I’m one whole day late in writing this post. Why? My life has been incredibly hectic, in which, has caused me to feel incredibly exhausted. Furthermore this factor (not excuse) has been interrupting the life of Shellie too. Isn’t it a good job that we understand how life can simply just get in the way sometimes?

However, we have returned with our new November choices and we are dedicated in delivering the nitty gritty to you this month. I’m so dedicated that I’m writing this post while sitting on the train home after a very long busy day at work.

So, what have we chosen for this month? We have collectively searched for the stories that we think you’ll love and we have some cheeky surprises!

Book of the month: ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ by John Green. (Read by me, Elle)

Film of the month: ‘Gone Girl’ (viewed by Shellie)

We have also been asked by ‘Publishing Push’ to read and report on a new book called ‘Antisense’ written by R. P. Marshall. It appears to be a brilliant read which both Shellie and I will be tackling this month. Please feel free to view this book in addition to our monthly choices. Furthermore if you have any recommendations yourself (novel or movie) then feel free to drop us an email or a tweet tweet.

Let the novel reading and movie watching commence!

Much love, Elle.

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Film of the month: ‘Maleficent’

maleficent

 

“Listen well all of you. The princess shall indeed, grow in grace and beauty, be loved by all who know her. But. Before the sunset on her sixteenth birthday she shall prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel and DIE!” – Maleficent (Sleeping Beauty)

I am about to declare my “nerdy nature” by confessing to you that I wrote that quote from my own memory. I told you that I was a true fan of Sleeping Beauty, didn’t I? And of course, it’s also no surprise that I (as we say in Liverpool) “fuzzed” Maleficent as my pick for our film of the month because I wanted to see if it would exceed my expectations and it did.

This is the second time I have viewed this film; once in the cinema and the second time in my own home. I can’t say that I love it more than Sleeping Beauty because despite the internal connection between these stories, they are actually different in their own way. The best way I can describe this story is by comparing it to the Broadway show Wicked. It captures the other side of the story that you never ever knew existed and it allows you to discover a love for a character you once despised. Yeah, I think that captures the differentiation of the story but what else is there?

Well, this story celebrates magic more than what we see in Sleeping Beauty. Magic exists in the old classic through the fairies and curse but in Maleficent it lives through everything you see. Maleficent is a fairy; a very talented one with wings, so large, they slither upon the floor as she walks and they are forever supportive when she touches the skies. This factor surprised me because I never knew this about Maleficent as I didn’t know she was magical, I just thought she practiced magic. In addition the film showcases magic through the setting, characters and the natural flow of the narrative which just makes you feel… magical.

Many people have been asking me, “is it a copy of Sleeping Beauty?” well, I can honestly answer “No.” Like I mentioned earlier, you see the opposite side of the story, in which, I believe is fantastic because they do say that there are always two sides to a story! I think it continuously stays aligned  with the classic version; we see this throughout scenes such as the christening (true fact: I didn’t actually know this was a christening until I watch this movie!), Maleficent cursing Aurora and the pricking of the index finger. I loved this because it captured the original but yet it stayed completely away from it too by showcasing things we never imagined. In the movie, Maleficent and King Stefan begin by having a friendship which blossomed into a loving one, that’s before it all came crashing down on them, of course! But we don’t see things like this in the classic, so yay for this story!

I do not wish to blow the ending of this story, so if you haven’t seen it then skip to another post because I’m about to do just that!

The ending of Maleficent was heart-breaking and heart-warming. It steered away from the idea of a handsome prince saving his girl, but instead chose a different kind of true love as Maleficent’s kiss was the act of true love. Even though I’m a romantic I love how this altered the typical ending because we can find true love in everybody – it doesn’t have to be someone of the opposite sex! Heck, I have true love for my three goldfish and I should be able to celebrate that, tar Disney! (I’m aware that I have become even more nerdy and more strange so I will wrap it up now!)

This story captured my heart. It hasn’t swayed me away from Team Disney but instead it’s made a place right beside it. Maleficent is a cracking film and you need to watch it if you haven’t already? In addition to this movie they have also released a book called Maleficent (shocker!) which I intend to read in the future for you. I wonder if the literary form will make me Team Maleficent? Oooooh!

Hope to hear from you guys very soon. Let the commenting begin!

Elle.

Ps. HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

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Bram Stoker’s Dracula

draculabook

 

Time is baffling. When you have nothing to do it seems to drag along at a snail’s pace, yet when you have a million and one things to do (including reading a wonderfully long book) it flies past and you’re left with not much to show for it. Perhaps that’s a bit dramatic, because despite the odds I do indeed have something to show for it but I am disappointed at my reading speed this month. It’s Halloween so I’m going to blame it on a malevolent spirit but up until literally a couple of minutes ago I hadn’t finished Dracula, I hadn’t even moved an inch from where I’d last read! Life seriously got in the way.

Yet despite that I have been enlightened as to the ‘original’ story of Count Dracula. As with most of you I’m sure, I’ve seen my fair share of adaptations and ‘new spins’ and the classic tale. Even this year there was a TV series and a film presenting us with yet another Dracula. I expected that I would prefer Bram Stoker’s Count, and I wasn’t wrong. He is seriously creepy!

The story builds slowly and the clues are all there. I adore the way it is written in the form of correspondence and diaries/journals – it creates the illusion that perhaps this could be a real collection of writings (I’d be extremely happy – terrified but happy – if they were real!). He is a shadow for the vast majority of the novel – lurking in the shadows of the text and appearing rarely in front of the characters until they become more aware of what powers are really at play. The Count is suave and Stoker has that fantastic Victorian attention to detail, and the tendency for describing every inch of his characters so that we can be in doubt as to how we should perceive them.

The character who freaked me out the most, however, wasn’t any of the vampires – though his ‘brides’ are a close contender – it was zoophagus patient Renfield. He is nothing like the noble, loyal, almost cuddly Renfield that appears in the series with Jonathan Rhys Meyers. What he does is equivalent to the devouring natures of the vampires but it’s all the more horrific because he is human – and he has none of the seductiveness of the undead.

My favourite character surprisingly was Lucy Westenra, I’d been expecting to absolutely hate her, because I have been conditioned to dislike her in almost every version I’ve seen. This is a Victorian novel so I can forgive her blushes and beauty and need to be saved by a brave man, and I can especially forgive it because (sorry if this is a spoiler…) she isn’t saved, rather she breaks out of the confines of her original role thanks to the Count. Her sleepwalking and the entries in her letters and diaries as she is haunted at night are fantastic.

As you can guess I absolutely loved this. It was the perfect read for a Halloween night – a pleasant alternative to the usual Halloween antics. I am going to go back and take time over it again because time forced me to rush this masterpiece. That’s what it is, it’s a masterpiece, and if you like vampires and still haven’t read this then what is wrong with you?? You’re missing out! Stoker’s Dracula is and will always be the best incarnation.

Fang-tastic! Sorry…I’d done so well up until then, but I couldn’t resist!

Happy Halloween! Hope you’ve had a ghoulish night!

Shellie.

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Film: The Maze Runner

 

maze runner

I watched this movie with my sister the other day and I thought it would be the perfect choice for my first film review for HOB. The Maze Runner was released earlier this month, the 10th of October, and is still in the pictures if you fancy catching it. It is based on the novel of the same name by James Dashner and is part of a trilogy plus one prequel (and there is talk of another prequel to be released sometime in 2015). Being part of a trilogy, I would assume that the movie franchise will aim to have three movies at least. But as for the first one, I thought the film was alright actually. It’s riding the wave of the seemingly popular (if not overdone) genre of dystopian young adult fiction. Now don’t get me wrong I don’t mind that genre at all. Scratch that, I’m lying, I love them – they tend to be thought provoking and often question the human identity, and that is always fun to question.

In The Maze Runner‘s post-apocalyptic world we find a group of young boys living in a place called the Glade, which happens to be in the centre of a massive labyrinth or maze. The maze is magnificent, I like the idea of it a lot and in the film I think the scenes inside the maze are some of the better ones. Dylan O’Brien plays the lead role of Thomas, and his character is an interesting one. He is very likeable and O’Brien played him well – I was expecting to just see Stiles from Teen Wolf when I saw he was in the film so I am pleasantly surprised.

I would have liked there to have been more lead females, I haven’t read the book so I am unsure as to whether there is some particular reason why the cast is so male-heavy. I wasn’t thrilled with Kaya Scodelario’s Teresa – it might not be her fault, it might be how the character is meant to be but I found her a bit annoying. Again that is another reason why I would have liked more girls in the cast.

I did find it an enjoyable watch though and would happily get the book and read how it is meant to be. It is an unusual twist with the maze and I won’t spoil it on you but the ending is surprising, but good – really good! It is fast paced and doesn’t get boring at all so if you like films like Divergent or The Hunger Games then this film is worth the watch!

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Sleeping Elle

sleeping-animals-5

I am exhausted. I am peeling back my eyelids, inhaling caffeine and pinching myself continuously all so I can write this blog post for you. But why am I so tired? The answer is work and the intake of customers was very large, so large that I was not prepared for the amount. How can I relax? Simply with a movie.

When I choose a movie I take into consideration three things. 1) what mood am I in? 2) do I fancy watching an animation or life-like story? and 3) will I fall a sleep while watching it? In regards to this notion I decided to choose not one, but two options.

The first being ‘Sex and the City‘. As many of you will already know this TV series is based (heavily) upon the books by the wonderful writer Candace Bushnell. Until today I have only watched (and studied) a small number of scenes which furthermore led me to the understanding that the story is about sex, powerful women, delicious men and more sex. Just before writing this blog I watched the very first episode. I was very impressed; I love how this story is already unfolding as we are introduced to the idea of women and men having sex in New York. The big red apple appears to be tricky but yet inviting and I like how this story will plan out. But can I just say? How intriguing is Mr. Big?

Then after watching Sex and the City I decided to choose a movie. In regards to my chosen movie of the month which is ‘Maleficent‘ (get watching it if you haven’t already?!) I decided to take the first step in watching the original. Now the “original” is actually the story from the Grimm Brothers but my original is the story from Walt Disney. I truly idolise this movie because I find the story to be so enlightening. How wonderful would it be to be kept away from danger, live in a peaceful place, talk to animals, wear no shoes and then meet a beautiful prince who can sing. Then to top it all off the same prince awakens you from the deep slumber you have endured for one hundred years and his kiss is the key to unlocking a curse! Ah, it sounds so wonderful!

However, the sleeping for 100 years part sounds REALLY GREAT right now.

Keep checking back to see my thoughts on ‘Maleficent‘ and whether this story actually sways this hardcore Sleeping Beauty fan?!

Keep reading and keep watching! E. X

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MeruPuri by Matsuri Hino

merupuri

Hello again! It’s been a little while since I last wrote to you but rest assured I have been very busy. As Elle has told you it was her birthday last weekend and we celebrated AND managed to come up with are new Film features too. Books are still our main focus of course. We sat and had a proper think about everything and we realised that it is story-telling that we love, and a story might find itself told not only in the written word but also in pictures on the big and small screen. It is all very exciting and our first film review post can be found just below by Elle.

While I am still ploughing through the gothic brilliance of Stoker’s Dracula for our monthly choice my attention was diverted somewhat by another story from a mangaka I have covered recently. My very first review for HOB was on Hino’s Vampire Knight series, and Merupuri is another of her manga series, written before VK. It was my sister who placed the first book under my nose and I couldn’t resist, I find that you can read manga volumes very quickly and it enables me to dip in and out of the world as I please.

The artwork is some of her earlier work and I would say I slightly prefer the later Vampire Knight artwork but this has a charm to it and I like how the main character, Airi, is drawn. The premise of the tale is that Airi, who is in high school, dreams of one day just marrying the man of her dreams and having a perfectly normal romance. That is until a young prince from another world comes out of her mirror and messes up her plans. I didn’t expect it to be as funny as it was, she has combined magic and normality nicely and the characters aren’t taken too seriously. I am only one volume into the series (which has four volumes in total) and would like to see an actual bad-guy appear. At first I anticipated that Jeile would be the bad-guy but I was mistaken, he was more of a love interest than any sort of antagonist.

I can see similarities between the three main characters and those that appear later in Vampire Knight and I can’t help but draw comparisons – though I admit they aren’t carbon copies and I like the lightheartedness in this tale a bit more. Hino still has her sidebars where we can hear from her and it’s nice to see the makings of the manga and how her initial ideas formed. The extra character descriptions are a pleasant addition as well and allows for a better understanding of how they came to be in Hino’s mind. These are my favourite bits but that might be because I am a writer myself and love to hear how a storyteller pulls everything together.

It’s a pleasant teen romance and makes for an entertaining, if very quick, read. I recall calling Vampire Knight a bit of fluff, but I think I should take it back because this is fluffier! I do wonder how the story develops and I miss a bit of grit in the plot lines but really that’s asking a bit much from it. Overall I enjoyed it and would read it again.

Now to escape the fluffy pink Merupuri world and delve back into Dracula…that is after my next post – which will be my first film post!

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FILM: ‘The Best of Me’

best-of-me-poster

 

At Hooked on Books Official we decided to get all “jiggy wiggy” with our online content because we wanted to make our readers happy. Shellie and I took on board the critique from our readers, guest authors and even Shellie’s Aunt furthermore allowing us to make new additions to the blog which you will surely love. An example of this new addition is this very article.

Films, movies and DVD’s. Whatever you want to call them we have got them for you right here!

In my bio, I have written about how I am more of a film lover and a book lover mixed together. I adore the written word and the visual word too. So in regards to my personal passion (which I am sure you share with me) we will now be looking at films too. Not any and every film but only the films based from books – see what we did there? Anyway, let us commence with the first article surrounding a favourite movie of mine!

‘The Best of Me’ was released on October 15th 2014 and is based off the novel ‘The Best of Me’ (2011) by Nicholas Sparks. The entire H.O.B. crew visited an independent cinema in the centre of Belfast in order to view this very film and in celebration of my 25th birthday. We left the cinema feeling very depressed but incredibly satisfied and this is why…

The narrative was beautiful and this is what I love most about Nicholas Sparks. I love how his narrative surrounds romantic love stories that many of us only dream of; they push the boundaries of romance which goes beyond that level of “cheesy” and all to the point of hard-core love. Many of us (including myself) often deny how much we love a good romantic film or novel because we feel that it’s somehow too good to be true but Sparks’ narrative allows us to believe and appreciate what we have or may have one day. The narrative itself surrounds two destined lovers who were (unfortunately) separated from each other and they rekindle their love after a 20 year period all because of one man. This narrative captures the essence of time and if you see this movie then you’ll know what I mean!

It’s a total tear jerker and if you are emotional as I am then you are destined to cry. There is one line in the movie which sets off your unstoppable tears, “you are my boy!” which comes from this from this mystery man who ties these lovers together. This movie is great if you want to just believe in love and fate. I am continuously thinking about romantic tales and this allowed me to appreciate those around me and who I value as “my boy“. So, I do advise that you take tissues! Actually stuff that one and take two boxes!

As a woman of the arts I have a tendency to adore the chosen actors and again I was not disappointed. James Marsden. OH. MY. GOD. He is adorable and utterly gorgeous! He plays the leading character ‘Dawson‘ and I can assure that you will fall in love with him. Ladies and Gents, he even shows us his topless body as he hacks away at wood, mud and every other sexy form of rubbish! And Michelle Monaghan? Oh, she’s gorgeous too and plays a brilliant ‘Amanda‘ but I prefer Marsden and his body! As one of our H.O.B. crew member cried, “Oh, come to Mama!

Do contact us if you have joined the ‘Best of Me‘ bus and let us know what you think by tweeting us @hooked_book or by commenting in the box below.

Remember the movie of the month is ‘Maleficent‘ which was released yesterday on DVD! I will be reviewing this at the end of the month, so stay tuned!

Elle. X

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Reading about Vampires…Writing about Vampires…

Vampires, Vampires everywhere, and not a drop of blood to drink.

Okay that was poor, but I couldn’t resist. In Elle’s last post she delved into her love for all things Vampire, and I’d like to reply by saying I was Team Spike all the way when it came to Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

I am still loving my excursion into Bram Stoker’s world of the Count, but I haven’t progressed as fast as I did at the beginning of the month so I am going to share something a little different today. I love Vampires as much as Elle does, and not only do I like reading about them but I quite like having them creep into my writing too.

So, I am getting over my reluctance to share my writings and posting a short story I wrote a while back. Let me know what you think, and I hope you like it!

The Girl Who Cried Vampire by Michelle Daintry

The TV droned on and on, about one disaster or another, something about a dangerous man and then something else about the local fair. The heaters creaked and groaned under the strain of the boiling blood in their veins. Suzy had called three times that night, to remind her to lock her back door. Carrie never locked her back door, she purposely left it open so that her favourite ‘vampire-hunter’ would come and scold her for her carelessness, “because they worried about her.” The town may as well have been renamed “Worry”, for that’s all anyone seemed to do. It was a well known local fact that bad things were attracted to Carrie’s town. Chief among these were the ancient infestations of blood-suckers. Yes, that’s right, according to legend, they had a vampire problem.

“There isn’t anything there.”

Ben shut the back-door loudly behind him, and knocked the snow off his boots. His face was flushed red by a mixture of winter wind and growing impatience.

“Check again.”

She leaned against the door frame that led out of the kitchen to the hallway, feigning concern and wringing her hands for added effect.  Ben sighed and rubbed his temples with his gloved hands.

“Look, Carrie, we are getting too old for this. This is the last time I’ll come down tonight, do you hear me? There isn’t anything outside. No one is going to get you. And there are no such things as vampires.”

“That’s not what the festival planners say.”

Carrie began to well up. She cried a lot. It was a talent she had perfected at a very young age. When she cried people, especially men, did what she wanted them to. Now, however, she was genuinely annoyed that he hadn’t even pointed out the unlocked door yet. Or suggested he stay a little while until her nerves had calmed. This was a well rehearsed dance of theirs and Ben was skipping the beat.

She groaned, “You haven’t even looked properly!”

Ben checked the time on his phone, then returned it to the inside pocket of his parker jacket. He walked through the kitchen, knocking Carrie slightly as he moved past. He was a big man, muscled  from the heavy training he had received to become a town “vampire-hunter”. They played a pivotal role in the festival, they labelled it as a fantastical type of martial art. Ben used to believe it was important, but more and more to Carrie’s horror he had resigned his training to be nothing more than a silly tradition.

“Ben?” she whimpered, grabbing his arm to stop him.

He turned around and the look in his eyes wasn’t the look she had expected to see. He looked tired, not angry.

“I didn’t want to come and check. Not this time. If it wasn’t for Suzy I wouldn’t have, she seems to still believe you, she wanted to know if you were okay. But you know even she doesn’t believe in monsters, she just thinks you do. I knew there’d be nothing here, there never is, and there never has been.”

“If you’d just stay a while?” Her tears where taking longer than usual to track down her face so she abandoned the tactic.

If he would stay, it would be like old times. They could laugh and allow familiarity to re-attach the bond that Ben had so gleefully cut away. Since childhood they’d performed the same routine, Ben would protect her from vampires. He was her shadow, together so often that their parents had imagined they’d be destined to marry. Then Ben had attended a different college, and along came Suzy. She was a friend of Carrie’s, a sort of temporary addition to her thralls, but Ben had forgotten his duty to her and suddenly Suzy wasn’t so temporary. Five years on, Carrie still assumed he’d eventually tire of her.

Her question somehow seemed to rile him and he snatched his arm away from her.

“I’m going home. I’ve had enough of your lies!”

The door slammed, snow on the porch outside thumped to the ground in response. This wasn’t how it was supposed to end, she paused as she absorbed the venom he’d left her with. Did he see through her need? It can’t be a lie if you have good reason to tell it. Having Ben near was a better reason than any. Carrie inhaled the sounds of the house, creaks and clicks, hums from the living room, whirring of the washing machine and nothing else. She was alone again.

She threw a petulant kick at the front door, rattling it in its frame.

“Everyone else believes in bleeding vampires. You should’ve tried harder,” she scolded herself.

She flew into the kitchen, Suzy floating around in her head. Concerned for poor Carrie, all on her own, no wonder she makes up vampires for attention.

“Stupid Suzy.”

She flicked on the kettle, with enough force to rattle a misplaced teaspoon that sat beside the sugar bowl.  A loud thud disintegrated her temper, she swung around. The back door had flown open, the cold night air flaying strips off her warmth. It swung angrily on its hinges to the thunder in her chest. Then she laughed shakily.

“I left the door open for Ben, didn’t I?”

She shook her head and clasped the door to release the night wind’s hold on it, she looked up just before she even tried to close it again. She smirked to herself, so where was the vampire when she needed it?

“Come on then, you damn vampire, show yourself. Come on in, give me an actual reason to keep Ben here.”

She said it to herself more than for the sake of her grim, snowy garden, but as the misted breath left her mouth she heard something rustle somewhere in the shadow. The full moon flung off her cloudy veil and illuminated the garden in a ghostly light. A figure stood at the foot of the garden. Carrie’s breath froze in her throat, white knuckles on the edge of the door. The kettle began to boil behind her, a dreadful rumble, like a waking monster. The figure seemed to repel the light of the moon, like a pit of purest shade. It looked misshapen and monstrously hunched. Then it seemed to move its head, something glinted were its hand should be and a cloud of icy breath rose from it. It took a step forward.

Carrie slammed the door, stumbling backwards. The kettle began to roar as if calling whatever was outside to come in.

“Oh God.”

She ran to the hallway, bashing into the kitchen doorframe. Tripping over her own haste. The TV groaned, the house shrieked, she ripped the house-phone from the wall, scratching her wrist on the holder, bloody and shaking she pressed speed-dial one.

“Please, Please, Please.”

“Hello?” It was Ben.

“Oh, Thank God! Ben, please, you have to come back. It’s here. But really this time there’s something outside. You’re the only vampire hunter I know,” she hissed, glancing back at the kitchen.

There was a long pause, she could barely hear him breathe. Then he said,

“Just give it up Carrie.” The line went dead.

“I’m not lying this time. Ben? Ben?”

She glanced at the small screen, her wrist throbbing, “call ended”. She dropped the phone with a clatter, gulping past the knot of panic in her throat. She heard the kettle finally pop, like a timer, and a louder clunk followed. She slowly turned around. The back door was wide open once more.

She tried to scream.

A man stepped into view, the steam of the kettle coiling about him like a tame snake. His face was laced with shadow, but she saw the snow dripping from his dark hair into his wide, grinning mouth. He looked directly at her, and his eyes were lumps of black diamond. Cold but they glimmered with anticipation.

Carrie fell to her knees,

“You can’t come in. Vampire’s need to be invited,” she began to sob as her own words fell useless. She knew what she’d said to the darkness.

The man cackled. He stepped over the threshold.

The End.

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The Count, Bram and I

So as you may already be aware, Shellie and I are reading the same book throughout October. Why? Well… there are 3 individual reasons; it’s something quirky for our blog, we thought you might like it and we both have a fascination with vampires.

Since I was young I have always loved vampires. Actually, when I was around 10 years old I was convinced that I was a creature of the night because I found my canine teeth to be more sharp than what they were expected to be. Then after finally accepting the truth that I am a human of the day (boo hiss!) I started to find vampires attractive instead. My first ever crush was on David Boreanaz who played ‘Angel’ in ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer‘. I was always “Team Angel” never “Team Spike”; Angel was to be my future vampire husband while Spike would be my BFF. Then as we progressed onto the Twilight Saga I was automatically turned OFF because vampires are most certainly NOT suppose to glitter like a diamond in sunlight.

On the other hand, in having this (strong) interest for vampires it made me question several things. Who was the original vampire? Who was the creator of this iconic creature? And were vampires actually real?

After discovering the name ‘Bram Stoker‘ and his marvellous imagination of ‘Count Dracula‘ my whole perception on the vampire species changed. Not only was I disappointed to discover that vampires did not exist and nor had they ever but it still made me want to know more about them. I wanted to understand the nooks and crannies of the Count and discover whether he was as scary as he appeared in my imagination.

My prayers were answered when Shellie and I agreed to read this legendary novel because not only would my curiosity be fulfilled but this was as close as I was ever going to get to this legendary writer (that is until we meet in the afterlife and he turns me into ‘Count Elle’ over a delicious pot of Transylvanian breakfast tea). I am heading into chapter 4 of this book and I am already surprised by what I have read. I have fell in love with Count Dracula; Stoker paints him as a man who is considerate, kind and appreciative of Jonathon Harker. At the present moment I am divulging into his description of the Count; his description explores how his missing reflection, pale-looking skin, mysterious charm and his reluctant desire to have staff members in his Transylvanian castle. This means that we (the reader) are left wondering what is this man?

I hope Bram Stoker knows just how much we treasure “the vampire” and how its affected our literary and visual media industries. What do you think of it all? Let us know via the blog or by tweeting us at @hooked_book

Until then I hope you enjoy reading your book MWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

I hope it’s bloody good! HA! Elle.

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Elle talks…

So, while reading October’s choice ‘Dracula‘ I have been recording some podcasts for you all. This weekend I have published two (yes, two!) just for you.

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https://soundcloud.com/michellehoman/elle-talks-daniel-powter

The first is about Daniel Powter and his single ‘Bad Day’. Remember that one?

 

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https://soundcloud.com/michellehoman/elle-talks-christina

The second follows Christina Aguilera and my passion for the movie ‘Burlesque‘. Watch this movie if you haven’t already seen it?

Maybe I should record one about Bram Stoker? Oh, the opportunities are endless!

Write to you next week! Elle.

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Don’t Judge a Book by it’s Cover?

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Hello all! Hope you’re all enjoying the start of Autumn and your October reads. It’s only been a few days and I’ve spent only a few hours with Dracula and 100 pages in, it has me well and truly caught. Now I will willingly admit that I love the Victorian Gothic. Actually I’m a fan of most Gothic tales regardless of the era it was written.

I can’t believe it has taken me this long to read Dracula! I love how it is set out as sections from the diaries and letters of the key characters, and the opening foreword allows you to almost believe it might be creepily true (well we might like it to be).

I don’t know about you, but it should have come with a warning – never read this at night! I got a little bit too into the first 6 or so chapters and had to stop myself reading because I was scaring myself silly! It gets pretty dark in my room with just a lamp on and to make matters worse, I’d just left off in the story when the great storm had hit (I shan’t say more if there’s a slim chance you don’t know the original story) and would you believe – last night there was a veritable rainstorm outside! Creepy! Think as I progress this story will haunt me!

Now, I do know the old clichè: ‘Don’t judge a book by it’s cover’ – and it is generally true…but please look at my copy of Dracula! (Oh and the sneaky Frankenstein that is hiding behind it). I fell in love with it the moment I saw it. They are the 2011 Barnes and Noble editions and if I wasn’t a poor student at the time I guarantee I would have bought the rest of the Leather-bound Classics series. As it was I limited myself to two that I didn’t already have. (Though it was a pull not to buy Wuthering Heights again).

So Don’t Judge a Book by it’s cover, but by all means drool over a gorgeously bound classic!

Catch you later!

Shellie.

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October’s Chilling Classic Read!

Hello all!

October is finally here, bringing with it shorter days, colder weather and Halloween (not to mention a few important birthdays too!). Since this is the month of Halloween we have decided to embrace the spookiness in choosing what to read this month and it is a good one! For the first time in our blogging history we are tackling the very same book!

This month’s choice is Bram Stoker’s Dracula:

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Neither of us have ever gotten around to reading this bit of Gothic brilliance. Naturally we have seen so many adaptations but nothing from the original. So we are using this blog as a reason to catch up on what we have been missing and sink our teeth into this month’s read (get it?).

So there you go, Dracula is October’s read!

Fang-tastic!

Sorry couldn’t resist,

Catch you later!

Shellie.

 

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I’m not mad about the boy.

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Throughout September I have been discussing how Helen Fielding’s book ‘Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy‘ has captured my heart. I have been overwhelmed with the dramatic narrative it displayed; alongside the introduction of new characters, tragic loss of leading fixtures and the expected slime ball. In this book, I found my world of escapism. It’s amazing what you can discover in 100 pages, huh?

Yes, I didn’t pass page 100 and I did not reach the end of the book. My uncontrollable flaw of not finishing books was not to blame here, even my hectic schedule was not at fault either, but my continuous nagging emotion of being bored really took its toll. I was disappointed in this book because I didn’t feel motivated to read more. This is not what I expected from Helen Fielding.

The things I did like about the book where the characters, unexpected turns and the expected personalities. My heart is devoted to Bridget’s children ‘Billy’ and ‘Mabel’; I loved how they idolised their mother and how they uncontrollably tugged on my heart strings. This was love. Having their father (Mark) die of some horrific illness or accident (can’t remember which) was awful; I loved how Helen Fielding worked this into the starting point of the narrative because it enabled personal emotion immediately and it also made me see how life can be taken away just like that (clicks fingers). Then I was pleased to see Daniel Cleaver and his dirty dirty little personality but as I crept towards page 100 I started to feel awkward. Well done, Helen!

I still felt confused by the layout; before you think that I’m thick, I know it’s supposed to be a diary but I found it difficult to follow in novel format. But maybe that’s just me? I also felt bored by Bridget’s daily schedule; I wanted to feel inspired by her adventures opposed to feeling as though my life as a sales assistant and nursery practitioner is actually more exciting. Alongside all of these negative qualms, I hated how Bridget was so obsessed with men. I mean, this woman can rock being single so why is she becoming so stressed over texting one guy? I’m aware that my stone-heart is not as sentimental but Bridget represents independent women and how they embrace every moment in life. The old Bridget would not have hesitated in texting a man in a Leatherman jacket but instead she would have ran to the hills with him in her famous giant knickers!

I would still recommend this book to you all but I would not use it for a challenging read. This book is more for leisure time opposed to reading it within one month. However, I would love to hear what you think about this book? What is your opinion? What would you like say to Helen Fielding? Did you finish her novel?

We have now arrived at the end of September. Check back again to the blog tomorrow as Shellie will be writing to you about our chosen reads for October – they’re very fangy! Ha!

Write to you shortly, Elle.

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The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

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I might have been struggling to read when I spoke to you last but this book captured me well and truly and I sped to the finish line and I can happily say I understand why this is a fan favourite. Cassandra Clare’s first book in The Mortal Instruments series, is a fantastical introduction into the dark and admittedly pretty sexy world of the Shadowhunters. From the opening chapter we are thrown into the underworld of New York and shown what creatures lurk in the shadows. This is a amazing fantasy world and as a lover of all things fantasy it was right up my alley.

Clare has created memorable characters and a heroine that I really wanted to root for. Even though I adored Jace, it was Clary who was the star of the show, and it was mostly her eyes we saw through. I have a soft spot for Alec though and I think his character arc is just as interesting as the main two of Jace and Clary. Plus I can’t wait to meet the rest of what promises to be a magnificent cast of characters as we progress through the series.

As I mentioned previously, I had unfortunately watched the film adaptation before I’d read the book and the book is so different from the movie. Naturally it meant that the big surprise at the end (I shan’t spoil it on you if you haven’t seen or read this) was expected, but it came across with far more impact in Clare’s book. I felt pained for Clary and Jace was being a damned idiot, which I admire because if it can illicit such strong reactions from me as I read it means it was brilliantly written. However, I prefer Valentine here than on screen, he is a creepy bad guy and part of what makes this book one that lives on with you after you close the last page. I was naughty and read a little into the second book in the series (City of Ashes) because I finished my monthly read early and can see that they have stolen a few things from this to shove in the movie version (which they shouldn’t! They could have made such a better film if they’d stuck to the first book properly!).

As you can tell I love City of Bones, actually I don’t just love it, I ADORE it. It would appeal to anyone who enjoys young adult fantasy series. If you enjoyed the Hunger Games or Divergent or even Twilight (though it is ten times better than Twilight – I apologise to any Twilight fangirls but it’s true) then you HAVE to read this. Go on, if you don’t then you are seriously missing out.

I hope everyone enjoyed their monthly reads as much as I did! I’m off to catch up on writing my novel and maybe indulge in some more of Clary’s world in City of Ashes. See you for October’s reads!

Shellie.

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Dating advice from Bridget Jones.

It is an incredibly poor attempt, even for a social reader and book blogger, but I am exactly 100 pages into my chosen book for September. At the start of the month I basked in my excitement as I believed that Helen Fielding’s book ‘Bridget Jones: Mad About a Boy‘ would be a right corker and I’m now embarrassed to say that I’m starting to think the opposed.

The book is not dreadful. I am enjoying the narrative and frequent references to Mark Darcy;  but I just… I feel… lost. I find it difficult to follow the diary entries; I have no idea what chapter I am on due to its confusing layout. I’m on page 100 if that helps anybody?

Despite being completely baffled at the moment, I gained an insight into the proper way of dating. Yes, from Bridget Jones. Around the 100 page mark you will notice that Bridget is trying to date “leatherman jacket” (I thought that they were called “letterman” jackets. Guess not!) and she voices the things you should NOT do or say to a dating prospect.

The one that stood out to me the most was ‘do not text when drunk‘. I’m lucky that I don’t drink many fizzy dizzy drinks anymore so I’m covered here. However, isn’t it common sense to not text them when you’re drunk? I mean, you either tell them one of three things: 1) they’re cute, 2) they’d be lucky to have you and 3) you’ll be waiting behind the bush at around 4am (where in fact you will be in bed, sick as a dog and praying that you wake up with no hangover). Next time you fancy a guy/girl and you’re drunk as a fart then just turn the mobile off.

Another thing I noticed with Bridget was how much she obsessed about leatherman jacket man. I mean, is it a good thing to dream about your potential man? I mean, if he’s gorgeous then I think every woman/man should be allowed to day dream but when is enough enough? If you have read up to page 100 or even further (yay, go you!) then I think you’ll agree that she’s obsessed with this man, right? However, Bridget did teach me how to be cool when communicating with a guy I fancy. Next time, I’ll try to play it cool by not checking my phone every 60 seconds and obsessing over why he hasn’t texted me back already (puts mobile down).

Finally, Bridget taught me that we shouldn’t base every moment of our day around the male species. You have other responsibilities; work, friends, children, hobbies, career and exercise (I’ll let you off with the last one!). Men are not all we have and/or will always have. Bridget taught me that I need to get off my bum, I need to enjoy my life and that’s exactly what I’m going to do. Here’s to me writing my own screenplay. Thanks Bridget!

Elle.

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Elle talks… Cilla.

So, while attempting to take a break from my reading choice I decided to record another podcast for you. This week’s choice was inspired by a television programme named ‘Cilla’ which featured on ITV last Monday evening. As a born and bred Liverpudlian, I was attracted to this programme and its soundtrack, in which, I discuss throughout this podcast. Take a look and let me know what you think!

Write to you again soon. Elle. X

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Finding Inspiration

I have a confession. The positivity of last week seems to have been somewhat misplaced. Although I am happy to say I have been consistent in my writing, I am not so happy to say that my reading has suffered as a result. I wouldn’t mind that too much if I’d written a ridiculous amount, but I haven’t. Now I know a little progress is still progress but as any fellow writers will attest to, it can be discouraging.

I have not got very far with my monthly read, City of Bones, so the race will be on for me to finish by next week! Therefore, unfortunately I can’t really pass judgement on the book yet, though I will say that already I can see a huge difference from the film version and so far I really like it. (Some things are just done better in a book!)

Instead I want to tell you about something I watched the other day on Channel 5. I think it was a repeat but I hadn’t watched it before and since I’d lost the battle with procrastination I sat down to enjoy it. It was called “Magic Beyond Words” and was the life-story of Harry Potter author J K Rowling. I am a huge Potter fan so I love her as a story teller anyway but I didn’t know a huge amount about the woman herself. As I watched I was moved. She never gave up even when she thought she wasn’t good enough or that life had thrown one too many hurdles at her. She never gave up and we all know how life changed for her in such a spectacular way. From a divorced single mum on benefits to a hugely successful writer, it was a story magical in itself. If you can catch it, then do watch it, I don’t want to spoil it too much but she goes through so many trials and heartaches before Harry Potter even gets published. More importantly, I saw things about her dreams that resonated with mine. By no means do I want to write to be a millionaire (although I wouldn’t turn it down) but like her I write because it makes me happy, and I can’t imagine not doing it.

This inspired me. So no matter how discouraged I feel at the moment I am going to fight through and keep doing what I love. And, even if it’s a slim deadline, I will finish my monthly read and have a splendid review ready for your perusal next week.

See you soon,

Shellie.

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Did you ever imagine Daniel Cleaver could be a BABY SITTER?

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WARNING! This post WILL blow the starting chapters of the book, so if you are not up-to-date yet then I’d advise you to check out Shellie’s latest post instead. For those who have passed the first couple of chapters then do continue reading because I’m sure you’ll want to share your grieving comments.

In picking up Fielding’s book, I was expecting a story about true love. Instead it appears to be a tragedy as I have discovered that Mark Darcy has… died. (SOBS!) My sexy character passed away and now Bridget is left single again. However with TWO children this time, ‘Billy‘ and ‘Mabel‘. How can Fielding do this to us? to Bridget? to their beautiful children? It’s heart-breaking!

I was astounded to see that Fielding had killed off  Mark Darcy but at the same time I’m quite pleased that she did. Hold those tomatoes! I adore this character but it does make the narrative precious and unpredictable. Mark was so supportive throughout the past novels (so I’ve heard) but by killing him off, it’s made me see how life is so precious and unpredictable. I think Fielding is a genius and this move will keep us all hooked.

Not to mention those two beautiful children; Billy somehow reminds me of Mark, while I find that Mabel’s personality is SO infectious. As the reader I somehow feel connected to Bridget. I sense her level of grief throughout the novel; I want to be supportive but it kills me that I can’t actually help her. URGGGGGGH ITS FRUSTRATING!!!!!!!!

So, Bridget’s single, Mark’s gone, Daniel is babysitting and I’m grieving. What a combo?!

Elle. X

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Roar.

My blog post is late this week. Why? Three reasons: 1) I have been super busy with work, 2) work has made me too tired to type and 3) my spare time has been dedicated to recording this podcast.

I have been receiving beautiful comments about my podcast series alongside our work here at Hooked on Books. I would like to personally thank you all for your support because I would not be able to write or record with out YOU. So thank you!

Listen here: