Tomorrowland_posterTITLE: Tomorrowland: A World Beyond
STARS: George Clooney, Hugh Laurie, Britt Robertson, Raffey Cassidy
DIRECTOR: Brad Bird
RELEASED: May 22nd 2015

As I sit down to write this review, I realise that this is the second Disney live action film I’ve written about in recent months. However, the latest offering promised to be a weird and whimsical adventure and I had to jump on board. Tomorrowland is named after an attraction at Disney theme parks and the striking skyline alone is the epitome of futuristic wonder.

The story begins in 1964, when a young inventor Frank Walker (George Clooney) takes his jet pack to the New York World’s Fair. Unimpressed by his invention, leader of Tomorrowland David Nix (Hugh Laurie) sends Frank away. A mysterious girl named Athena (Raffey Cassidy) is intrigued by Frank and gives him a pin that grants him access to the future via the It’s A Small World ride. He arrives in Tomorrowland, a futuristic city where inventors and artists are free to create their masterpieces without restrictions. It then jumps forward in time to the present day where science-loving teenager Casey (Britt Robertson) is attempting to save her father’s job as a NASA engineer by damaging machines that are destroying the launch pad he works on. Athena has been watching her and sneaks a pin into her motorbike helmet. When Casey is arrested the next night after attempting to carry out her mission, the pin is among her personal items when she is released. Therein begins a magical journey full of innovative creations, corruption and plenty of sci-fi weirdness.

The visuals and cinematography of the film is one of its strongest aspects. The setting of Tomorrowland itself is enthralling and original. There is a definite theme park feel to the entire film and many scenes are shot on Disney turf. The weakest part is the plot which is not the easiest to follow. I wasn’t able to grasp why characters were doing certain things and there didn’t appear to be a big climactic point in the middle of the film. There was a touch of emotion towards the end but it ended with an unfinished feeling that makes me wonder if a sequel will be made.

If you love films with stunning visual effects and plenty of fast-paced action, then I’d definitely recommend giving it a try. It does definitely sacrifice plot for high-intensity suspense and it almost had the feel of a late 80s sci-fi at times. The pulling off of robots’ heads and wacky tropes were perhaps inspired by some films from that era. Like them, it probably will gain a loyal cult following who fall for its undeniable charm and whimsy but if you’re looking for a good, fresh story, you probably won’t find it here.

rustysummerTITLE: Rusty Summer
AUTHOR: Mary McKinley
EDITION: Kensington
PUBLISHED: May 26th 2015

The synopsis of this book on Netgalley pulled me in. Talk of a small clique of misfit teens, a rescue dog and a road trip sounded like a nice light read that would be perfect for the beginning of warmer weather. Coupled with the sentence “there will be wild animals, and hot guys, and adventures and lies and heartbreaks”, I thought I’d got myself an awesome new YA in a similar vein to Paper Towns. When I discovered that it was a sequel, I bought the first book Beau, Lee, The Bomb and Me on my Kindle and read it, in order to be able to review it properly. Unfortunately, I wasn’t a huge fan of the first book and I was nervous for Rusty Summer as a result.

Rusty Winters is an overweight roller derby girl with a keen wit. Her best friends are Beau, an awkward and endearing gay boy and Leonie, a beautiful aspiring model. In the first book on their first road trip, they rescued an old husky dog who they name The Bomb. Together, they embark on another road trip, this time to Alaska to find Rusty’s father who left when she was young. Through the many dramas that befall them, they eventually arrive at their destination where Rusty discovers secrets about her father that hadn’t even crossed her mind.

Anyone who has read my book reviews before may have noticed that the previous paragraph should have been an in-depth analysis of the plot. However, with Rusty Summer, I struggled to do that. In all honesty, not an awful lot happened. Road trip books have never really interested me all that much unless something else in the synopsis jumps out at me but this isn’t the book to read if you want to get into them.

I also have mixed feelings about Rusty as a protagonist. At some points, I really liked her sass and maturity. She really carries her friendship group and comes across as the mother hen who is grown up enough to traverse the length and breadth of America without a moment’s thought. However, at other times, I wanted to slap all the silly slang words out of her mouth. This was a problem I had with the first book too. It’s packed full of irritating slang that I’m not sure is authentic to modern day teens -“whatevs” anyone? Beau is my favourite character and I was really rooting for his romance. I didn’t like Leonie but I actually thought she was one of the most realistic characters. I went to school with a lot of girls like her who were all just as irritating as she was.

The romance element of Rusty Summer was the most annoying part for me. Shane is described in such a way that I melted. In my mind, he was this beautiful, interesting god-like guy and Rusty’s reaction to him confirmed this. The finale of this thread actually made me snort with laughter. It was so unrealistic, I couldn’t help but giggle. Unfortunately, I can’t say much more due to huge spoilers but I would actually say that it might be worth trawling through 80% of silly drivel for that moment.

This is actually the first time I’ve written a largely negative review of a book and I feel pretty bad about it. However, I’ve always vowed to be honest and it’s important to any readers who might be considering picking it up. If you liked Beau, Lee, The Bomb and Me then you might enjoy Rusty Summer. However, don’t pick it up expecting another Paper Towns-esque novel like I did.

Anyone who follows Taylor on Instagram will have seen the screenshots and character portraits that she has been posting for this video for quite some time. It’s possibly the most star-studded video ever made with a dark sci-fi setting full of guns, PVC and plenty of girl power. Lena Dunham, Cara Delevingne, Ellie Goulding and Jessica Alba are just some of Taylor’s famous friends who turn lethal assassin for the cutting pop ballad that is widely believed to be about Taylor’s ongoing feud with Katy Perry. Unlike the 1989 album version of the song, Taylor’s favourite rapper Kendrick Lamar has put in his twopenny’s-worth and added a hip hop edge for the video. Watch it now!

life-rules1I was recently tagged by Emilyannlou to take part in her 5 Rules I Live By series and I’m ready for something unique on my blog, so I agreed. Some (maybe all) of these will make you sit back and think “what a weirdo” but as Emily said in her post, we all are and we should embrace it. Ok, so here goes:

1. I never eat lunch before 12pm.

I don’t know why but I never have and never will. It doesn’t matter if I’m starving from having had no breakfast (which is nearly always), I still have to wait until 12. What is even weirder is that it is only lunch that I have this rule for. I don’t have a similar rule for breakfast or dinner. The more I think about this, the stranger it seems and I really have no reason for it at all.

2. Be kind to everyone until they are unkind to you.

Might seem an obvious one but you’d be surprised how many people I seem to come across who don’t live by this rule. I don’t see any reason why I wouldn’t offer my seat on public transport to someone who clearly needs it more than I do. I don’t think anything of helping someone or making someone’s life slightly easier in some way and you know what? It makes ME feel good. Writing that reminds me of the Friends episode where Phoebe tries her hardest to find a selfless good deed. I say that it doesn’t matter if you do it for selfish reasons. If you’ve put a smile on someone’s face, who really cares about your motives? Taylor Swift once said “Being kind is a wonderful legacy to leave behind”. Yeah, yeah it is.

3. I cannot control every little thing in my life and I must be OK with that.

This is something that I learned when I was in CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy for those of you who don’t know). I have written about it on this blog before but it was a while ago. Around two years ago, I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression because I could not stop worrying about everything AND I couldn’t remember the last time I’d felt happy so I began taking medication and attending therapy. My therapist was amazing and over the course of a year, she taught me that although I would like to, I cannot control how everything turns out. One of my biggest problems was obsessing over making sure that nothing went wrong in my life. Ever. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried that but it is incredibly stressful and really really tiring because *drum roll*… it is, of course, impossible. Who’d have thought, eh? For some reason I didn’t know that a couple of years ago but I have slowly learnt to accept that devastating fact and live with it.

FYI,  I actually JUST had an anxiety-fuelled half an hour while writing this post where I just stopped and couldn’t write because I realised that my house cat had been out for almost the whole day. My chest seized up and my breath shortened for an entire 30 minutes until he showed up at the door. So yeah, I’m not sure that demon will ever be completely exorcised.

I also still have days where I feel incredibly alone and sad especially since my six year relationship ended last September. There are days where I’d much rather stay in bed than go to work and face the world but I no longer take my tablets or go to therapy because finally, it’s not every day anymore. Sometimes I am actually happy to be alive and embrace those days wholeheartedly.  Progress!

4. Escape reality at least once a day.

For me, it’s mainly books. I am very into fantasy and a world full of magic and mystical creatures is as far from the bleakness of reality as possible and so it works for me. As well as the Harry Potter series, which has actually been my only constant companion since I was 10, I also love anything with princesses, superheroes, dragons, demons and ghosts. Supernatural, Game of Thrones, Disney. Throw me into any world that is farfetched, ridiculous but completely beautiful at least once every day forever, please.

5. When in doubt, think “What would Taylor do?”

It will be no secret to anyone who knows me that Taylor Swift is my queen. I love her in the way that most people love Beyonce. Not only do I love her music but I also love her image, her style, her strength and her determination. Whenever I’m scared or confused or feeling a bit shit about myself, I honestly do think to myself “what would Taylor do?” Taylor would always tell me to be fearless, dance like I’m 22 and to never grow up. So I’ll try my best, girl, I really will.

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I tag YOU to carry this series on. I found this really therapeutic and enjoyable, so I really think that anyone reading this should dig in deep and realise your rules. Even if you don’t have a blog, write down your rules and read through them every now and then. Who knows? Ten years from now, you might look back and realise what a strange, awesome, unique person you were.

ice-cold-love-artworkTITLE: Ice Cold Love
ARTIST: Sofia
LABEL: Let’s Play Records
RELEASED: May 18th 2015

Kooky folksy female singers are always something that I’m interested in and Sofia is exactly that. Her new single Ice Cold Love is a chilled affair that is perfect for kicking back to this summer.

The half Venezuelan, hsofia-promo-02alf Lebanese singer based in London has been writing songs about her varied background and life since she was 13. Her first EP Once Upon A Time was released last year and she has appeared in The Huffington Post and For Folk’s Sake. She is also popular on the LGBT scene with features in Curve Magazine and Gay Times. This year she embarked on her first UK tour and is now recording her first full-length album called In The City.

Sofia has a pure distinctive voice and there is an endearing innocence to Ice Cold Love. The bouncing folk beat combined with the bluesy guitar spurts fit the song which is both sad but hopeful. It’s about walking away from a negative relationship and finding what you really want. Simplistic and pared back, the instruments really yield to the storytelling of the lyrics.

The beginning of the second verse begins “Tried my hardest to hold on to you but you threw me away like an old pair of shoes”, which sums up the heart of the story. However, it’s ultimately about letting love go for better things. After all, nobody wants ice cold love!

Sofia considers herself an advocate for social change and world peace and Ice Cold Love fits that attitude. It’s peaceful and easy-going, gently washing over your ears. Listen below!

boobookTITLE: Boo
AUTHOR: Neil Smith
EDITION: William Heinemann
PUBLISHED: May 21st 2015

On receiving an arc of this on Netgalley, I was quite excited. The synopsis sounded very unique and heartwarming and I had to read it right away. Boo is the debut novel by Canadian writer Neil Smith who is best known for his short story collection Bang Crunch, published in 2007. Bang Crunch was named the best book of the year by The Washington Post and received rave reviews from The Guardian.

Boo follows the protagonist Oliver “Boo” Dalrymple who finds himself in a heaven reserved specifically for dead American thirteen-year-olds. Having died in a high school shooting, Boo wakes up to discover that heaven is split into ages and nationalities, where spirits must remain for fifty years. Although they do not age during this time, after fifty years of being suspended in a thirteen-year-old’s body, the spirits re-die and disappear to somewhere no one knows. Whilst discovering his new surroundings and making new friends, Boo learns the true nature of his death and the terrifying realisation that his killer may also be in heaven. With his friend Johnny Henzel, who also died in the same tragedy, Boo embarks on a journey to uncover the identity of the mysterious Gunboy.

Boo is a very endearing and lovable character. He reminded me of a younger version of Don Tillman in Graeme Simsion’s The Rosie Project, as Boo is obsessed with science and the chapter titles are named after the chemical elements. He is incredibly bright, very mature for his age and I learnt a lot from him. His friends Thelma and Esther are also great characters, portrayed as strong feisty women who live independently and stand up for what they believe is right. Seeing thirteen-year-old girls depicted like this is really refreshing and I commend Smith for doing that.

The concept of heaven is highly original too. The idea that there is a different heaven depending on your nationality and age at the time of death is really interesting and I did find myself thinking of all of the other heavens that must coexist with it. I haven’t read a YA that has really kickstarted my imagination in the way that Boo did.

I also loved the almost letter-structure of it. The entire story is Boo narrating his afterlife to his parents and it gives it this heartbreaking dynamic that makes the reader want to reach into the pages and give him a warm hug. There are moments when he drops in memories of his parents and he often mentions how much he misses them. It’s devastating but heartwarming at the same time, as it really shows his deep love for his family, which again is quite unusual for a kid in their early teens. However, Boo is far from usual!

I would highly recommend Boo to anyone who is looking for a story about teens told in an adult fashion. It fits into the YA genre but there aren’t any frustrating love triangles or unrealistically attractive characters. The characters are very genuine and relatable and the plot is perfect for anyone who wants a story that is simultaneously tragic and uplifting.

 

Milwaukee indie band Shoot Down The Moon played their new song Carry Me Carefully for the first time at an intimate gig organised by music discovery company, Sofar Sounds. Playing in their hometown in an intimate setting, the band gave lucky fans a glimpse of what’s the come from them. I reviewed their album Meetings And Greetings way back in late 2012 and found it to be a great mix of American indie and headbanging rock. They appear to have transitioned into a more folk sound now.

Sofar Sounds (Sofar standing for Songs From A Room) started in a North London flat when a group of frustrated live music lovers decided to put the magic back into gigs. It organises private gigs for real music lovers that connects bands and artists directly to their fans in real, humble settings. What began in a single flat in London has now stretched to a business spanning 150 cities around the world. This gig was held at the Art Is For Lovers Gallery in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

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