Book Review: The Girl On The Train By Paula Hawkins

Posted on by 5WC in Book
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Over the past 12 months there has only been one answer if you’ve talked to anybody about psychological thrillers. It didn’t matter whether it was in literacy or cinematic form, want a story that will worm inside your mind and twist and warp and freak you out? Then Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn was the answer. I haven’t read the book, but I have seen the film (which is why I now won’t read the book as I know the twists), so when I wanted a psychological thriller to read myself, I started at Gone Girl and looked at the novels people recommended afterwards. The name coming up time and again was The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins.

I knew nothing about it as I started reading, I purely went on the strength of a few recommendations and Google’s own comparison of: Rear Window meets Gone Girl – not that, that means anything as I’ve never heard of Rear Window! However, within the opening few pages, reading the first few lines and the prologue, my heart sank. I was expecting a dark, teasing story, keeping it’s secrets hidden until the end and suddenly, light was being thrown upon it. It felt as though the book wanted desperately to release the tension I wanted it to hold on to and I wondered, whether, by not skipping to the actual first page, I’d naively, spoiled the entire book. Read more

Flight Reports: Royal County Of Berkshire Show 2015

Posted on by 5WC in G-CEGG, Hot Air Ballooning
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The Royal County of Berkshire Show, or Newbury Show as it was previously known (and still is locally), always takes place on the third full weekend of September and for me, represents the culmination of the hot air ballooning calendar. It’s not a true “end of season” but in my mind commercial ballooning in the UK starts with the London Marathon in April and ends at Newbury in September. Over the years there have been mass launches of 20-30 balloons, and during the hey-day of the 1990s bore witness to flying strawberries, cheeses and liquorice allsorts, to keep with the agriculture theme!

The hot air balloon display at the Show has been organised by my family for many, many years, in fact, my father has been “in charge” for so long now that I wouldn’t even like to hazard a guess to the exact length. Sadly though, with the decline in commercial ballooning over the past decade, as well as, a general malaise to ballooning in the area, the event has got smaller and smaller and now there are usually only 15-20 balloons registering and 10-15 actually flying from the launches. It’s still just enough to put on a spectacle for the public, but it isn’t as impressive as it once was. Read more

Book Review: Seconds To Snap by Tina McGuff

Posted on by 5WC in Book
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It’s slightlu hard to review a book that is, essentially, somebody’s life story. It’s difficult to dissect the truth or critique the story. A fictional narrative is easy, you can tear it apart, say which bits you liked, disliked, believed or found fanciful but with the truth that’s impossible. You have to ignore how the story moves from A to B. It has to solely rest on the emotion and feelings you draw instead.

Anorexia, strangely, have a competitive edge. I think it his partly because one of the personality traits that is mostly commonly found amongst suffers is perfectionism. You have to be the best and therefore, anything that challenges your idea that you are as good as possible at something needs to be disproved. As a result, suffers will often talk about triggers. How hearing stories about other’s battles with the illness has caused them to relapse, or to push on further. “If they can do it so can I”. Thankfully, that isn’t something that has ever affected me. I have never felt anorexia was a challenge or something to compare. I can read tales of suffers living on nothing but lettuce leaves and not feel bad that I eat more, in the same way I don’t wish I weighed less than I do because Tina McGuff managed to reach 6 stone. Read more

Film Review: Legend

Posted on by 5WC in Film

Possession may be nine-tenths of the law but reputation carries more weight and it’s fair to say that the Kray twins have some reputation. The stories of the life they lead, the violence they commanded and the fear they instilled still as powerful, and as shocking, today as it was in the 1960s. They may no longer be alive, they may no longer walk the streets, but still there is that little tinge of fear inside you when you talk about them. Fear that saying something out of turn may still cause a ripple and a repercussion.

I am not fascinated by the brothers, but I know their story. I know the outline plot to real life events that surrounded them and so, when I saw Tom Hardy (and Tom Hardy) bringing them back to life I was instantly hooked. As twins their characters really were the polar opposite, the virtual split of a single entity. One good, one mad but together very, very bad. And it appeared that Brian Helgeland’s latest film Legend was about to bring their individual parts, clearly and violently, back to life. Read more

Book Review: The Humans by Matt Haig

Posted on by 5WC in Book
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I wrote in my review of What Milo Saw by Virginia Macgregor that I follow a lot of writers on Twitter and, as a result, dip in and out of their literacy musings through the natural saturation of promotion they share. I spend so long flicking past tweets discussing, describing and advertising their books that I just become curious to the stories they hold. It’s like hearing constant background whispers, not really paying attention until one day, you just reach that point where you have to be let in on the secret. To know what’s being said.

I started following Matt Haig on Twitter after I read his semi-memoir Reasons To Stay Alive, which I found uplifting and enjoyable, if not overly engrossing. It is essentially a mission statement of what it means to be alive twisted through his own personal story about a battle with mental illness. But, before it though, he had dabbled with writing about mental illness by creating The Humans, a book that thinly veils the isolating bleakness of depression and what it means to recover from it by using the metaphor of an alien hiding on earth, adapting to the unknown stimulations of life. Of being Human. Read more

Film Review: The Diary Of A Teenage Girl

Posted on by 5WC in Film

I have noticed over the last few years that films classification appears to be getting tamer. Movies that I would expect to be an 18 arrive bearing a 15 instead. Whether society is just becoming numb, more accepting or blind is another debate, but it’s obvious that in the digital world we now live in where content of any desire is so easily accessible, what we are prepared to let people see at younger and younger ages is ever changing.

It is, therefore, surprising when the debate turns full circle. When the outcry isn’t that a film is available to an audience too young to understand it, but rather, that it’s been too harshly judged and as a result, completely shut out the exact people who should be viewing it. The Diary Of A Teenage Girl is in that exact situation. It’s been given an 18 certificate due to the prolonged and repetitive sexual and drug related nature of its story, but that’s it point. It is trying to talk to teenage girls about the pitfalls and dangers of sex and drugs and coming of age, but in doing so in such a graphic way it’s shut the door on them. Read more

Film Review: Mistress America

Posted on by 5WC in Film

I said in my review of American Ultra that I am naturally drawn to Jesse Eisenberg only to be constantly disappointed by the end result. The same is somewhat true with director Noah Baumbach. I will actively watch his films: The Squid & The Whale, Greenberg, While We’re Young, only to be left deflated by a story that doesn’t seem as quirky, or as interesting as I expected or believed it would be.

Even though they haven’t worked too much together, in my mind I view Greta Gerwig as Noah Baumbach’s muse. It’s a combination that instantly grabs my attention because together they created Frances Ha, a film about a character I hated but who left such a lasting impression on me I named it my third favourite film of 2014. So when I heard they were collaborating again on Mistress America, it was guaranteed I’d seek it out. Hoping, expecting, that together they’d again provide something to equal my memories of Frances Ha. Read more

Film Review: American Ultra

Posted on by 5WC in Film
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I’ve never seen a Twilight film but I really like Kristen Stewart. Still Alice, Clouds of Sils Maria, On the Road and The Cake Eaters providing more than enough proof that her name alone will draw me to a film, even if I don’t always like the end product. Whilst my relationship with Jesse Eisenberg is similar but more strained. I regularly convince myself that he’s better than he is. I’ll sit through Night Moves, Now You See Me, The Social Network, Zombieland or The Squid And The Whale expecting more than he delivers. Somehow pretending to myself that he’s better than he is, that no matter how good or bad his previous films, that this time, he’ll have learnt how to act.

So, placing Stewart and Eisenberg together would always grab my attention. They previously starred in Adventureland, which I actually enjoyed (even if Eisenberg was true to poor form and Stewart a bit to Hollywood A-Lister) but even without their natural draw, for me, the trailer alone was enough to suggest that American Ultra could have something about it. That it was a film worthy going to see. It just looked a fun and novel spin on the political spy thriller, with a cast you wouldn’t naturally expect to see tackling those roles. Read more

Book Review: What Milo Saw by Virginia Macgregor

Posted on by 5WC in Book
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When it comes to social media I am a far greater fan of Twitter than I am of Facebook. I have always felt that Facebook is somehow egotistical. That’s it’s “friends” structure forces a culture of boasting and voyeurism, whereas, Twitter is about engagement. It’s about finding people: friends, strangers, companies or brands, and talking, debating, listening. It’s not about showing off but rather, about sharing interests.

And it was Twitter that lead me to What Milo Saw by Virginia Macgregor. My interest in reading and my love of writing mean I like to follow authors on Twitter, whether it’s the obvious “big names” like Stephen King and J.K. Rowling, or the smaller influences on my life like Matt Haig, they provide a constant source of interest with their tweets and it’s through them that I came to be following Virginia Macgregor. Read more

Film Review: Me And Earl And The Dying Girl

Posted on by 5WC in Film

I had simply passed a tertiary glance towards Me and Earl and The Dying Girl and moved on. The name gives nothing away, the poster is minimalistic and judging a book by it’s cover, it appeared to be nothing more than a simple throwaway teenage rom-com, albeit set within a joyless subject. Cancer.

Listening to Empire Magazine’s weekly podcast, however, they started raving about it. They gave it 4 stars, arguing that it could have even been 5, and said that it was “the summer’s most sincere and beautiful indie”. Comparisons were made to The Fault In Our Stars, but with added compassion and clarity, and I sat there listening, wondering, if I’d completely misjudged it. If in fact, this was a hidden gem of a film that would pack an emotional punch way above it’s weight. Read more