Weekly Recap – 16/05/16-23/05/16

What I’ve Been Reading:23766623

I finished A Court of Mist and Fury (Sarah J. Maas)!! God, this book took me FOREVER to finish. It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy it – it was a solid four-star read for me. It’s just that it was long. And I mean looooong. Whilst I appreciated the focus on character development and world-building, I did feel as though Feyre’s inner monologue got a tad repetitive at times. I’ll talk about this in more detail when my full-length review goes up on Wednesday, so look out for that!18335634

I also started reading Clockwork Princess (Cassandra Clare) this week and I’m feeling nervous. It’s my first time reading it and I have no idea what’s going to happen but I know it’s going to be emotional because everyone talks about it in their top 5 tearjerkers 😭 So I’m taking my time reading this because I really don’t want it to end but I reckon I won’t be able to stop myself from reading it all in one go! I need to show restraint here! 😂

Uprooted

The Girl of Ink and Stars

I also bought a couple of books, too. Uprooted (Naomi Novik) and The Girl of Ink and Stars (Kiran Millwood Hargrave), both of which look incredibly stunning and seem like the type of stories I would just devour so I’m very happy to add these two to my TBR.

My reading goals for this week: Finish Clockwork Princess and maybe start either Scarlet (Marissa Myer) or Uprooted (Naomi Novik). We’ll see what I’m in the mood for! Might read one or two of the fairy tales from Time Lord Fairy Tales aswell – they look hilarious 😂

What I’ve Been Watching:

I’ve been keeping up-to-date with all of the Britain’s Got Talent semi-finals so far this week and they’ve been awesome! I love watching BGT – it’s always something I can look forward to at this time of year. Although I don’t know if I can handle watching that sword guy again! It’s just too much for my stress levels 😂

Criminal Minds

I also watched the Criminal Minds season 11 finale in the last week and HOLY CRAP, what an episode! The way things were left right at the last minute or so of the episode left me with my mouth hanging open. CM has never really done anything like this before and I feel like the next series will be a bit of a game changer. But it doesn’t return until September 😭 so I’ll just have to re-watch old episodes until then!

My watching goals for this week: I really want to go to see the new X-Men film! But I’m currently waiting to watch it with friends so we’re trying to work out when we’re all free. But I might have to watch it anyway on my own because I NEED TO SEE IT ASAP 😂Stark Reviews Logo

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Weekly Recap – 09/05/16-16/05/16

What I’ve Been Reading:

Another week done and I still haven’t been able to read as much as I would have liked to. I’m out of my reading slump now but it was life that got in the way of my reading this time. If it’s not one, it’s always the other!

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I’m so close to finishing A Court of Mist and Fury (Sarah J. Maas) – about 100 pages left to go – and it is so so good! And I was right about Feyre becoming a strong character  over the course of the book. I feel like she’s a character I can really get behind now and cheer on. Also, the world-building in this instalment is fantastic. The histories and the lore are really nicely imagined and we get strong, vivid impressions of the Fae Courts and more detailed information of the Fae themselves. Speaking of, I’m finding this instalment to be highly character-driven (which I LOVE). I won’t go into any detail here but all of the newly-introduced characters have added so much more to the overarching story and I’m finding myself quite attached to them, too!

I’ll have a full-length review up of all my more detailed thoughts once I’ve finished reading it, but I think I can safely say that this series in no way suffers from second-book-syndrome. If you weren’t keen on the first instalment because you weren’t a fan of Feyre, I highly suggest you pick this one up anyway. I think you’ll be very pleasantly surprised!

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And I’ve finally finished reading The Wolf in the Attic (Paul Kearney), a review book I requested a while back. In fact, I believe it took me well over a month to finish. I ended up giving it 2.5 stars which I’m quite disappointed by. Whilst I thoroughly enjoyed the first half of the book with its beautiful writing and highly compelling MC, the second half was a bit of a let down. The world was very under-developed with many questions being left unanswered and the plot was pretty non-existent. So I definitely had mixed feelings about this one! You can find the rest of my thoughts here.

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I also decided to read a few fairy tales this week after my obsession with OUAT. I read a couple of Neil Gaiman ones (Hansel & Gretel and The Sleeper and the Spindle) which I both enjoyed. Particularly The Sleeper and the Spindle – I found it to be a very interesting take on two different fairy tales combined. And the illustrations for both books were simply stunning. Again, particularly The Sleeper and the Spindle.

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I also read a few fairy tale retellings from Carol Ann Duffy’s Faery Tales. I say I only read a few because I wasn’t all that impressed with the stories that I did read. I’m not sure what I expected when I picked this collection up from the library but it definitely didn’t do anything for me. It felt like I was reading a bunch of classic fairy tales but just with modernised language and I guess I wanted something a little bit more unique.

My reading goals for this week: Finish A Court of Mist and Fury and start (and possibly finish) Clockwork Princess. I think I’ll want to take my time with CP but I also think I won’t be able to resist reading all of it as quickly as possible which I shouldn’t do because I know it’s going to leave me a blubbering mess afterwards! 😭

What I’ve Been Watching:

I’ve just finished watching the Once Upon a Time season 5 finale and I’m not sure how I’m meant to survive until September without it. If you haven’t seen it yet, I won’t spoil you but there is a very interesting new character/storyline that I love watching retellings of and I’m very excited to see which direction the next series will take. The last series wasn’t my favourite – it was a pretty depressing series, really. I do miss the light-heartedness of the previous series. And the humour, too. Think everyone needs to just chill out a bit and take a holiday or something 😂

I also managed to watch The Jungle Book which was just wonderful. It’s not my favourite classic Disney animated film so I’d sort of forgotten what happens. But watching it made me very nostalgic for my childhood, especially when Mowgli and Baloo started singing The Bare Necessities! The CG was incredible, too. It was just a really lovely family film that I’d recommend to pretty much anyone.

My watching goals for this week: I’m not sure I should start any new TV series yet since I have a habit of getting a little obsessive when I find something I like 😁 So I’ll just try to catch up on a few of the series I’m currently watching.

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Weekly Recap -02/05/16-09/05/16

I’ve recently come to the conclusion that I’m not too keen on doing monthly wrap-up’s anymore so I’ve decided to start posting weekly recap’s instead. This way I can incorporate other elements I’m passionate about to my wrap-up’s, too, such as the films or TV shows I’ve been enjoying that week. I’m hoping this will be a way for me to be more creative with my content and enable me to share more of my interests with you guys. So here’s my very first weekly recap!heart divider

What I’ve Been Reading:

I haven’t been able to really get my reading claws into a good book so far this month. I started reading The Winner’s Crime (Marie Rutkoski) and managed to get two chapters in before I decided I wasn’t really in the mood for it. Then I picked up Scarlet (Marissa Myer), read a few chapters and decided, again, that I really wasn’t in the mood for that one either.

And it’s so annoying! I hate when I get into a reading slump because it affects so much for me. When I’m slumping I tend not to feel up to blogging or Instagramming either and then I feel like I’ve let myself down.

But then A Court of Mist and Fury (Sarah J. Maas) came out and, although it took a few days, I’ve become completely sucked in by it! And I’m so happy that I’m back in the reading mood.

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I actually tried to buy this on its release day but when I made the journey to my local Waterstones I was, and I’m definitely not over-exaggerating here, DEVASTATED to find that there were no copies available to purchase. But I went back a couple of days after and, thankfully, they had many copies available. And not just any copies, but SIGNED COPIES WOOOP. It’s my first signed book so I’ll have to forgive Waterstones for initially disappointing me.

I’m only 100 pages in but already I can tell it’s going to be much stronger than its predecessor and much better suited to my personal tastes. Feyre is pretty broken after the events of the last book and, as a result, has become a very weak character. She’s allowing herself to be walked all over and have decisions made for her. And as annoying as she’s being right now, I can just *tell* that she is going to go through a lot of character development in this instalment. Maas isn’t one for weak female characters so I’m eagerly anticipating reading about Feyre becoming a strong, badass, independent woman.

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I’ve also been (struggling) to read The Wolf in the Attic (Paul Kearney), a review book I requested a while back. I sailed through the first half but have since then lost all interest. The plot just isn’t interesting enough and, whilst the writing is beautiful, it certainly isn’t enough to keep me glued to the pages. But it’s being released tomorrow so I need to just get on with it and READ. I’ve only got about 50 pages left so I need to finish it tonight and get the review up in time for tomorrow. Wish me luck!

My reading goals for this week: Finish The Wolf in the Attic and A Court of Mist and Fury and start reading some fairy tales or fairy tale retelling’s in order to cure my OUAT hangover.

What I’ve Been Watching:

On the plus side, however, I have been watching a lot of great stuff. Namely, Once Upon A Time. I am Chris Traeger *literally* obsessed with it. I started it the Thursday before last and am currently on episode 18 of series 5. Whoops. It’s just so compelling! And I ship everyone and it’s so painful to watch sometimes. Yes, I am talking about the agony that is the Rumbelle ship *cries of frustration* I am far too invested in their relationship. And this show. Please send help. Definitely going to have the worst hangover once I’m all up-to-date. Even thinking about it now, I’m stressing about what I will do afterwards. Probably re-watch it from the beginning. Yep, that sounds like the healthiest thing to do 😂 77209236b29e21bb6e90264a16c62f85

I also watched Captain America: Civil War this week and it was glorious. I prefer Marvel films so much more when they don’t focus on mass destruction and life-or-death situations. The emphasis on characterisation and character dynamics made for a deeply compelling watch. Obviously, we still had all the usual quick-witted humour and clever dialogue but the themes and issues the film covered brought up some interesting points of discussion and made it very relatable and intensely realistic. Definitely one of my favourites thus far. Also, how amazing was Spider Man in this?! I wasn’t too excited for a new Spider Man film but, after that performance, I honestly can’t wait to see where Marvel will take Spider Man from here.

My watching goals for this week: Obviously to catch up with OUAT (and cry when it’s over) and also to finish watching the last series of Luther and maybe go to see The Jungle Book if it’s still in cinemas.Stark Reviews Logo

Films for Review – March 2016

I had a really good month for films in March, seeing three newly-released films, crossing two more off my film bucket list and re-watching a couple of my favourites, too. So, all in all, a pretty successful month!

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New Releases:

Hail,_Caesar!_Teaser_posterTitle: Hail Ceaser
Genre: Mystery/Drama
Length: 106 minutes
Studios: Working Title Films/Mike Zoss Productions
Rating: 7.2/10

Synopsis from IMDb:
“A Hollywood fixer in the 1950s works to keep the studio’s stars in line.”

My Thoughts:
I found myself really enjoying this film. Essentially, it came across as a love letter to the golden-age of film. Although there is a main plot to follow in the film, it’s more of a character driven story (and we all know how I love those!)

The costumes and the set and design were dazzlingly gorgeous. And the humour was very on point – it was a subtle kind of humour that left you thinking, ‘oh, that’s awfully clever.’

For me, Channing Tatum by far gave the best performance. During the musical scene, I couldn’t stop myself from snickering throughout.

I would say, however, that this film is definitely not for everyone (my Dad couldn’t help ripping it to shreds after seeing it). But I would still say it was worth a watch and I’d probably say it was a film for true film-lovers.

Batman_v_Superman_posterTitle: Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice
Genre: Fantasy/Science-Fiction
Length: 151 minutes
Studios: DC Entertainment/RatPac Entertainment/Atlas Entertainment/Cruel and Unusual Films
Rating: 5.8/10

Synopsis from IMDb:
“Fearing that the actions of Superman are left unchecked, Batman takes on the Man of Steel, while the world wrestles with what kind of a hero it really needs.”

My Thoughts:

Ah, this film. To be fair, my expectations weren’t all that high in the first place, so I couldn’t be too disappointed. And yet, I still was.

First of all, the film was unnecessarily long and drawn out and I felt as though it never really got going. Everything was building up to the big fight between the two ‘heroes’ and too quickly/simply was their feud resolved (in a wholly unrealistic way, might I add).

The character development was a little off for me, too. Superman was bland and boring. Batman was the epitome of an angry boy with his toys trope. I liked Gadot’s interpretation of Wonder Woman but we definitely didn’t see enough of her throughout the film. She was pretty awesome in the end fight though and I can’t wait to see what they do with her character in her origin film, coming out late next year.

But Eisenberg’s performance, for me, was hilarious. Hilariously bad, that is. I think he tried to give a performance somewhat reminiscent of that of Heath Ledger’s Joker. But for that to work he would have needed to be somewhat intimidating. And the way he delivered his lines was just plain cringy and awkward at best.

There were a few good lines in the film though, such as the following:

Lois Lane: You’re psychotic.
Lex Luther: That’s a three-syllable word for any thought too big for little minds.

And I adored the score. I mean, it was Hans Zimmer, so obviously I was going to love that.

I’m still going to watch other DC films coming out soon (Suicide Squad) but, honestly, this film was just plain bad.

ZootopiaTitle: Zootropolis
Genre: Action/Adventure
Length: 108 minutes
Studios: Walt Disney Pictures
Rating: 9.2/10

Synopsis from IMDb:
“In a city of anthropomorphic animals, a rookie bunny cop and a cynical con artist fox must work together to uncover a conspiracy.”

My Thoughts:
I absolutely adored this film. And I was quite surprised by how much I like this actually. I can’t say I had terribly high expectations going into it for some reason and I was completely blown away by it.

I never cease to be amazed at the level of imagination that always goes into making a Disney story-world. And the world of Zootropolis was in no way an exception to this. The world was unbelievably clever. As was the dialogue and the interactions between the characters. Not to mention, it was incredibly funny, too. The characters themselves felt real and complex and very relatable and I found myself rooting for them all the way through.

The overall message of the film was great, too. That you needn’t be defined by your appearances or by what society expects of you and the boxes it places you in. You can be whoever/whatever you want.

By far, Zootropolis was my favourite film of the month. I came out of the cinema and, straightaway, I wanted to watch it again. I see a lot of potential for sequels or perhaps even a television series in the future.

Film Bucket List:

220px-Snow_White_and_the_Huntsman_PosterTitle: Snow White and the Huntsman
Genre: Fairy-tale retelling/Fantasy
Length: 127 minutes
Studios: Roth Films, Universal Pictures in 2012
Rating: 6.8/10

Synopsis from IMDb:
“In a twist to the fairy tale, the Huntsman ordered to take Snow White into the woods to be killed winds up becoming her protector and mentor in a quest to vanquish the Evil Queen.”

My Thoughts:
After having recently seen the trailer for the upcoming sequel in the franchise and being quite excited by it, I decided I should probably catch up with the series and watch the first instalment. And I have to say, it wasn’t too great. Definitely wasn’t terrible. But, really not that great.

Undoubtedly, the one thing that kept my eyes glued to the screen in some scenes had to be Charlize Theron’s portrayal of Queen Ravenna. To put it simply: she was magnificent. I could really feel her evil – her callousness, her unpredictability, her anger – in every expression, in every single word. Her performance gave me the shivers. But I couldn’t look away; she was incredibly mesmerising. And her backstory created the perfect amount of sympathy for her character. It made me feel quite conflicted. So, as you can imagine, I am definitely looking forward to the sequel to see Theron reprise her role.

But, the rest of the elements of the film were just… okay. Nothing too special going on at all. Yes, I did enjoy the dark and gritty spin on the Snow White fairy-tale and the feel of the film was certainly aesthetically pleasing. But, I found the plot to be quite repetitive, predictable and, at times, even a little cringy.

Having said all this though, I am still very much anticipating the sequel.

The_Princess_and_the_Frog_posterTitle: The Princess and the Frog
Genre: Fantasy/Romance
Length: 97 minutes
Studios: Walt Disney Productions
Rating: 6.2/10

Synopsis from IMDb:
“A waitress, desperate to fulfill her dreams as a restaurant owner, is set on a journey to turn a frog prince back into a human being, but she has to face the same problem after she kisses him.”

My Thoughts:
After realising this was one of the few classic Disney films I hadn’t seen, I sought quickly to remedy that. And, although I’m glad that I did, this film didn’t really do much for me.

What I did love, however, was the backdrop of the film. The era and the New Orleans setting, combined with the jazz-style music kept me very intrigued.

I also greatly appreciated the representation in this film. Disney has a bad habit of white-washing a lot of its characters so it was so wonderful to see POC taking the lead for this film. And Tiana is a really important role model for young girls – she has a lot of ambition and she never lets herself be side-stepped from her dreams. Tiana advocates for hard work even when others laugh in her face or tell her it would never be possible. I enjoyed the message of the film in general.

I didn’t really dislike anything in particular about the film, it just didn’t stand out for me at all. The songs were nice (albeit quite forgettable). Whilst I didn’t dislike any of the characters, I didn’t find myself emotionally connected to any of them either. Basically, this film was just… nice. Definitely wouldn’t watch it again though.

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My Film Bucket List

Now, there are many, many films I’d like to get around to watching in my lifetime, so I thought I’d make an ongoing list of all the films I’d eventually like to watch one day and cross them off as I watch them. This list of films will range from the critically acclaimed classics to the light-hearted rom-coms to the action dramas and to the comedic golds. I like a huge range of films and it’s likely that I’ll give any film a go, so if you have any suggestions to add to my ongoing list, I’d love to hear them!

A

A Clockwork Orange

Alien

American Psycho

B

Blade Runner

C

Citizen Kane

D

E

The English Patient

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Ex Machina

F

Fight Club

Forrest Gump

G

Gladiator

Good Will Hunting

H

The Help

Her

How to Train Your Dragon

The Huntsman: Winter’s War

I

It’s a Wonderful Life

J

K

L

M

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Martian

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

N

O

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

P

Pan’s Labyrinth

The Pianist

The Princess and the Frog

Psycho

Q

R

Room

S

Saving Private Ryan

Schindler’s List

Se7en

The Shawshank Redemption

Sin City

Snow White and the Huntsman

T

To Kill a Mockingbird

U

V

V for Vendetta

W

Whiplash

X

Y

Z