October Wrap-Up || Books


Firstly sorry for the lack of posts this week! I’ve been very busy with work – I got a promotion! Which means a slight change and adjustment period – but it has been a good week and I am getting back into my stride.

I had a really slow reading month in October, at least to begin with, but then it sped up fairly quickly and then died againwe shall see how November goes.

So in October I read five books. I am currently reading 3 books simultaneously but I doubt I’ll finish any before the 1st of November so I’m going to leave it at five books.

Where Am I Now?
by Mara Wilson

*****

I won’t say much about this book – aside from the fact that I loved it – because I have already done a full review here. It is a memoir from Mara Wilson, the child actress from Matilda, Mrs Doubtfire and Miracle on 34th Street. It is a sweetly poignant read with some great anecdotes and comical observations which I just love. I want to be her best friend.

Matilda
by Roald Dahl

***

It seemed only natural to move from Where I Am Now to Matilda since I had never actually read Matilda by Roald Dahl. I recently read The BFG as well so my Roald Dahl reading is improving. It is a good children’s story and I finished it fairly quickly but I think I read Roald Dahl, or at least started reading Dahl, a little too late in life to find the funny, silliness of it all. I’m too realistic – I’ve officially grown up. Sad but true. Still a good story though – got to love the humble yet amazing Matilda. Fantastic character.

The Trouble with Women
by Jacky Fleming

****

A short, mosty pictures, book with a lot of satirical/sarcastic comments about women. It’s a silly read, not one I’d read again, but I enjoyed nonetheless. If you enjoy feminist reads – as I do – and you fancy a giggle just get this book from the library!

As You Wish
by Cary Elwes

*****

I loved this. It’s as simple as that. It is a day-by-day, almost, account of life on the set of The Princess Bride in the 1980s. Full of anecdotes – some hilarious! – and stories about the cast members and how the story came to be. As a person who grew up watching that movie constantly, I loved this book. It is not only Cary Elwes’s work, there is another writer alongside him and a lot of quotes and tit-bits from the other cast members. It is clear that the production of the movie and the relationships between the cast were just fabulous and I love the movie and the book even more now!

 The History Boys
by Alan Bennett

*****

My favourite play! In written form – I think Harry Potter has won the production prize. I could read this play, watch the movie/production over and over again. It is hilarious! The one-liners and the continuations are flawless an, as a history student, I understand what the concept of this play – the idea of journalism and taking new ideas about history instead of using the boring-old-normal-ones resonates with me! I think it is Alan Bennett’s best work and a great piece of theatre!

So there we have it. Five books. I’m one away from my Goodreads challenge of reading 60 books this year so this is great! 1 to go!

It has been a slow month but it picked up and it wasn’t a bad one in terms of quality!

Let me know what books you’ve been reading this month!

Happy Reading!

Harry Potter & the Cursed Child Part 2 || Theatre Review


You have no idea how hard it is to write this review.

I am having all the same feelings I had when I saw the last Harry Potter movie in cinemas, and I was a wreck that day.

It feels like it is all over. Again.

Now I know it’s not, as we have Fantastical Beasts & Where to Find Them out soon, but like my original feelings for the Cursed Child I’m not greatly enthralled by the idea, although I will see it!

As with Cursed Child, it may pleasantly – and amazingly – surprise me.

I’m sure by now most people are sick of seeing 5-star reviews of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (the play) but that is what it is. 100% good.

Okay99.5% good – the two main characters should have got together! But there was a less prominent need for this in the second half, compared to the first (see full review here) so I can forgive them.
Look at these seats! OMG!

It is a familial play. It is for families and children – the second half is additionally scary but then why not. Kids like to be scared – it’s why we have theme parks! – But just like the first part of the play it was greatly entertaining, exciting and exceptional.

As a piece of theatre it is just phenomenal! I can’t even begin to describe it.

The actors – particularly Anthony Boyle – were particularly strong in the second half. I think Sam Clemmett was perhaps stronger as well, which is impressive as he was very good the first half, but his comedic timing was perfect.

Every time these two mates, and they seem like genuine mates, came on stage I knew I was going to get a laugh. A genuine gut-hurting laugh. And it was the simplest of things like a giggle or the simple screaming of the word ‘Help!’ that made the entire audience fall to bits.

Alex Price, who plays Draco Malfoy, is also a great source of comedic entertainment in the second half, much moreso than the first. He is also a lot warmer. You just want to hug him!

You want to hug Draco Malfoy. Come on! That is a sign of a good performance.

I felt a little deflated with one scene between Ron and Hermione – which had made me cry when I read it in the script, yet it didn’t distil the same reaction in the play - but I know why and that is because it is a rushed moment – which it had to be – and it is also a scary moment. There’s not really a chance to cry over it, until later and by then it is just sweet.

There was just the right balance of sweetness, fear, comedy and drama in this piece. None of which really came from the antagonists, who are scary but then aren’t that important. You can tell from the curtain call at the end – at which everyone stood up before any of the actors came on the stage – that the characters people reacted to the most were the 7 mains:

Draco, Scorpius, Ginny, Harry, Hermione, Ron and Albus.

I was in tears by the end. Not because it was bad or I was upset, I just didn’t want it to be over. Again.

I wrote this facebook post when I got home, buzzing and over-excited, yet still deflated – a feeling that I am experiencing right now as I write this. It sums up how I felt about the show, the performance and just the overall experience.

I’m thankful I saw it. I want to see it again. I will see it again.

I implore people to see if it they get the chance. When a show can resonate so strongly with someone, even when they disliked the script and they thought it was a glamour projectwhen a show can prove someone so wrong.you know it is something special.

Love Ellie x




P.S. It kind of made my night that my tweet of being in awe of the performance got liked by Anthony Boyle & Sam Clemmett also. Just a little fan-girling going on. No biggie :)


Harry Potter & the Cursed Child Part One || Theatre Review


This could be the smallest review ever as I could simply use one sentence to describe the play: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

You can’t read it, you must see it.

I was a sceptic about Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. I thought J.K. Rowling was after more money or that the world had gotten a little too bored of vampires and that it was simply a glamour project.

I told myself this yet still stayed up until 2am to read the play when it was released.

I didn’t get on with the book so well – see my review here – and I thought that this confirmed most of my fears. But it wasn’t all bad and I wanted to see the play, to give it that chance.

Unfortunately, by this point, the tickets had all sold out.

So begins the tale of spending my Friday afternoon lunch breaks hovering over the keyboard for ‘Friday Forty’ when Nimax release 40 tickets for Harry Potter the next week.

I never won buton the third attempt I decided not to bother waiting in the queue and just look at the availability and lo and behold there was a cancellation.

I booked part 1 – got great seats in the stall! – and then waited patiently for a cancellation of part 2. I got really lucky and was able to get tickets for both parts of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – Part 1 on the 19th of October and Part 2 on the 21st

As you can have guessed – particularly if you follow me on any social media, I saw the first part last night.

Ohmygod. It was so good!

I go to the theatre a lot – probably more than most – and I love it. The atmosphere, the adrenaline from the fear that something will go wrong, live theatre is just fabulous! Now incorporate Harry Potter, live magic tricks, special effects and a massive story into a stage show and you can’t even begin to comprehend the impressiveness of the situation!

Whilst the things I found wrong with the script remain – of course: for example the relationship between the two protagonists which should have been ‘more than just friends’ but wasn’t and the slightly fan-fiction subplot – the actual show was brilliant!

The casting is the best I’ve seen in a while! Scorpius Malfoy, played by Anthony Boyle, steals the show. When he first appears you think he’s a quivering geek with a really odd accent but actually by the second scene you have so much affection for him and his friendship with Albus. He also has the best one-liners! He had the whole audience in fits with the simple shouting of the word: ‘no!’ His comedic timing is on point.
Scorpius and Albus - rights attributed to Manuel Harden

Sam Clemmett is also great at Albus but I do wonder if he gets overshadowed by Anthony Boyle just a bit, but it’s not the end of the world.

Jamie Parker and Poppy Miller are fantastic as Harry and Ginny. I found Harry to be a bit of bastard in the script, I couldn’t picture him without seeing him as this arrogant angry man but actually, Jamie Parker brings a realistic pain to the role of the boy who lived trying to be the man who lives normally.

Of course you have to mention Noma Dumezweni and Paul Thornley as Hermione and Ron. Such a gorgeous coupling. The best scene is one between ‘’Ron’ and Hermione and it’s the funniest piece of theatre I’ve seen in years. I missed the next scene partly because I was still crying with laughter!

The casting is simply great.

The setso simple yet effective. Turn-tables and staircases and youve got it in one. Very simple yet there is one scene of intricate choreography which says so much with so little.

Characters – I was always a bit miffed by the lack of characters that transferred over into this production – no Neville, Luna, Molly Weasley or Ghosts! But when Dumbledore comes on-stage – for the briefest of cameos – people in the auditorium cheered. I don’t know what it is about that character but I felt uplifted seeing him depicted on stage. It was weird. Like Dumbledore was real all of a sudden? It really was a magical moment.

The Magic!

Okay first of #KeeptheSecrets I’m not saying much. I can’t. But it is great. I had about 4 moments of ‘how did they do that?’ throughout the show. One moment being a particularly fabulous piece of acting by the mains which will haunt me – in a good way – in wonderment of how they possibly did what they did!

It is worth going just for the tricks.

Overall, whilst the first half was much stronger than the second – partly due to the comedy that it instils, and the lack of a more romantic relationship (writer’s fault, not actors! They play it beautifully) between the two mains, it is a 5-star performance.

The worst thing about itI probably wont be able to see it again for another 2 or 3 years due to it being sold out! Soooo good!

I hope everyone gets a chance to see it. I would highly recommend it. Don’t miss out by being a sceptic. Give it ago and then make up your mind.

Part 2 review to come at the weekend!

Happy Reading!





Top Ten Halloween Reads || Books


So it is that time of year again when we all dress up and try and scare each other. Or in my casesit home with a load of candy and read books in a onesie.

Woop Woop!

I love this time of year!

I thought I would share with you some of my favourite Halloween reads. It is pretty similar to last years as Halloween reads are few and far between it seems!

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
by Ransom Riggs

A pretty standard Halloween read, but a unique one. The inclusion of photographs is what makes this books so universally interesting. The plot itself is, at times, confusing but the visuals are easily pictured due to the creepy photos that are in the book and which inspired the characters. My personal favourite characters are the bee boy and the girl with the mouth in the back of her skull!

I haven’t seen the movie but I imagine it is also a great Halloween see as well!

The Signalman
by Charles Dickens

If you are looking for creepy and short why not take a peek at this simple yet haunting – get it haunting! – short story. Set at a haunted railway junction, a signalman receives three warnings before three terrible incidents happenincluding the premonition of the Signalman’s own death! Very unnerving.

Jane Eyre
by Charlotte Bronte

I maintain that not all Halloween reads have to be scary novels, they can be romances or Sci-Fi’s too with a spooky element. I think the madwoman in the attic is a spooky idea. Imagine living in the house of the man you love with his insane wife living upstairs without you knowing it! Creepy!

Harry Potter
by J K Rowling

They can also be novels with traditional Halloween elements to them! Like Witches and Wizards! Who doesn’t like a fun Halloween read. I imagine children were pretty scared of Voldemort. Once upon a time

Fairytales
by Brothers Grimm or Hans Christian Andersen

That last line led me perfectly into this next collection of short stories: fairy tales. I’m not talking the Disney-fied versions but actual fairy tales! The story of Snow White trying to be killed by the creepy witch; Hansel and Gretel being abandoned by their parents and eaten alive by the wicked witch! Horrid!

The Wizard of Oz
by Frank L Baum

The Wicked Witch of the West is awful! The movie version still creeps me-the-hell-out! I skip over the ‘do-dup-do-dup-do-der-der’ moments when the witch comes riding in on her broomstick with the billowing green smoke. UhhI’m picturing it now! *shudder*

Graphic Novels

I haven’t actually read any horror graphic novels but I just think they must be the most terrifying thing to read at night before you go to sleep! Can you imagine reading The Woman in Black as a graphic novel and then trying to sleep with your door open? Nope. No, can do.

Frankenstein
by Mary Shelley

Another classic. I don’t see this as a horror now, so much as a philosophical book but the idea of a man made up of different body parts is pretty awful. The treatment of him by his master is worse though!

Dorothy Must Die
by Danielle Paige

Another Wizard of Oz themed book.  This one is much more gruesome and bloodthirsty. You don’t think it at first, you think it’s a bog-standard YA, but then again Danielle Paige wrote episodes of Hemlock Grove which was like Twilight without the romance and more blood! Paints you a picture of this book too.

1984
by George Orwell

With room 101. The basement of torture where all your worst fears are kept. Pretty vivid idea of horror here, but psychologically. Imagine Brexit but with my tortureimagine the US Presidential Election and Brexit combined!

So there are ten Halloween reads to be getting on with over the next few weeks! Like I said, I anticipate reading a few Graphic Novels over the coming days – I just need to pick some up first!

Let me know what books you’ll be reading this Halloween

Happy Reading!

6 Places to Find Inexpensive Books


So if you’re anything like me and have a book-buying habit (or issue, whichever way you look at it) then you probably know most of these tricks!

But to those of you out there still buying books and watching your bank balance deplete at the same time here is a list of places to search for those best-sellers and escapist tales!

1.    Netgalley – For those of you with blogs, who work in PR or in a library/bookshop this is your next go-to stop. It is PR book library in which the publicity departments of every publisher known to man – slight exaggeration – across different continents can place their latest or upcoming books in ebook form for early reviews. You simply create a profile search through the many lists of books or publishers and request a book. I hated ebooks until I found this online and now I find I get most of my books from here! See Ragdoll and Smoke for more details.

2.    Charity Shops – I spend most of my weekends in charity shops, possibly sad but true. Most of the books in charity shops are £2 or less and you can find some absolutely bargains in here! This used to be the place I would come when looking for my GCSE classics as there was always one charity shop which had the book of choice in stock! But now I come here to peruse for the latest over-hyped book, on the red-spine vintage classics I now collect and sometimes just for the next quickie read on the train. You give to charity, get a bargain and enjoyment at the same time! What is not to like!

3.    Amazon – It had to be included didn’t it. You’re less likely to find a ‘bargain’ on amazon as you are to find a discounted book, if you get what I mean. All newly released books are generally about £2-3 cheaper on Amazon but that’s still about £12-16 in most cases. You can get some absolutely cheap classics and old books so it is great for School and University students!

4.    Supermarkets – Yes Supermarkets. An example – when Girl on a Train first came out in hardback and people were spending £14.99 in Waterstones to buy it many people didn’t know it was £6.49 in Sainsburys and brand-new. Supermarkets get a discounted rate off the book they buy in bulk which means that they can sell them for a discounted rate. You’re unlucky if you find a newly-released book for over £10 in there! And now that we’re nearing Christmas it means more books and cheaper prices! Great place to find the next big thing for less than Amazon!

5.    Fairs – Boot Fairs, Summer Fayres, Winter Bazaars whatever you like. They’ll always be one stall selling off books for a £1 or a stall of ‘surprise books’ – which were always my favourite (books that are wrapped up with a brief description on so you don’t know what book you’re buying but have a rough idea of what it is about) normally the books are a little ratty but then if they’re only a £1 or less what does it matter.

6.    Discount Stores – Be it an independent store or online there are plenty of places to find a bargain in a used-bookstore. I will be doing a post on the best used-book stores in London soon so I’ll say more then! But online there is the Book Depository, The Book People, World of Books and many more!

There are several places to find inexpensive books! I hope it helps and that you’ll find your next favourite read inexpensively in one of them!

Happy Reading!

Where Am I Now by Mara Wilson || Book Review



Author: Mara Wilson the former child star of Matilda, Mrs Doubtfire and Miracle on 34th Street turned writer/comedian/witty commentator on twitter. She lives the happy life of obscurity in the Big Apple and it seems to suit her just fine.

Rating: ****

Review:

She’s the child star we all know and love and now the actress turned writer we should know and love some more!

The moment I heard that Mara Wilson had written a book and it was coming to the UK I had to pre-order it. Amazon’s ‘next day guarantee’ is a load of crap, as it took two weeks to arrive from the day of publication in the UK, but it was worth the wait.

I read it in two days. Four pleasant yet emotional train trips later and I was nodding in admiration of Mara Wilson.

As a child I wanted to be like her – in all of her movies from Matilda to A Simple Wish - yet as a 21 year old navigating a big-city on a minimum office-wage with a lack of social skills and a head full of the weirdest dreams, I value her work even more.


I’m gushing a little, but why not. The book itself, a witty memoir of sorts, resonated with me. I finished it feeling like the British counterpart of Mara Wilson, which may or may not be an unintentional insult since the book itself leaves a feeling that Mara Wilson does not wish to be emanated, nor appreciated in some ways, but simply heard for what she herself has to say.

The book has no set chronological feeling – at least it doesn’t feel like it – it’s more like a diary of jumbled thoughts in which each chapter was a surprise. But to have an entire chapter about show-choir, where all I imagined was Glee gone wild, and then the poignancy of Mara’s beautiful blogpost after Robin William’s untimely death was a little jarring.

That being said you cannot discount the book for originality and humour even in the face of some heart-rending, troublesome things.

The book deals with abject loneliness, depression, OCD, suicide and the awful passing of Mara’s mother from cancer. She approached all the topics with honesty, which was sometimes blinding, but also restraint in some places. It is her memoirs so she can pick and choose, but there were moments I wanted to know more, particularly with regards to the path of recovery when Mara was diagnosed with depression and OCD at the tender age of 12.

It is a private disorder, in the sense that it effects everyone differently, and to discuss it openly is to reveal your inner self entirely. But the recovery process is often neglected in my eyes – people discuss the troubles of having mental illnesses and the struggle to be diagnosed yet, as I felt with Where I Am Now, the recovery seems quick and simple. When I know it is not.

The criticisms are minor however.

And like I said before the similarities and admiration I have for Mara have grown over the years.

I too mistake a posh, or sometimes not so posh, British accents for personality – and often I swap with Mara and do the same with an American accent – I watch way too much British TV when I’m down or bored. I crave good writing experiences and am quickly disillusioned with my own work so crave some sort of return from an audience and/or writing group. I wrote stories as a child until my fingernails dug into my palms and acted out so many ‘plays’ for friends and family that it became tiresome for them before I was 4 years old!

All of these experiences and more have occurred to me and equally to Mara, and whilst each experience will have a difference – we’re entirely different people still – the fact that I am not alone in some of my oddities and tendencies makes me appreciate Mara little more. Here is a role-model, here is a written friend.
Rights attributed to Ari Scott, of AriScott.com.

That brings me onto the topic of friends that Mara discusses readily within her memoirs. The sense of happiness on the set of Matilda was readily supplied and if you read this book alone for the titbits and backstage information of filming the cult classic then you won’t be disappointed.

I was very intrigued by the friendships and the loss of friends that Mara describes in her book. The loss of friends is something I can resolute with whole-heartedly; the best friend turned bitch is entirely recognisable on my end. Perhaps it occurs to all teenage girls? After all children are the nastiest people on the planet (I sound very Trunchball-like) but it’s true.

Children – from toddler to teen – are wicked. We say awful things to one another, turn on one another and cannot except one another unless we are exactly the same it seems! Even Mara, the child star who you’d think would be popular suffered greatly and it only goes to serve her purpose to humanise herself.

She is not ‘that girl off the TV’ she’s Mara Wilson. A female in New York, among other things also.

All in all, the way Mara approaches life and depict events as she judges/sees them are all things that resonate with me. She is chronicler of the millennial age and a voice of mental illness awareness, feminism and even hopes and dreams.

If I am half as courageous, honest and deep as Mara Wilson I would feel proud of myself. I can only hope that she does too.

Happy Reading!

September Wrap Up || Books


Well September was a pitiful reading month for me!

I read two books. Yes two. Just two.

However out of the two books one of them was meh and the other was Oh My God! So the last does make up for it slightly.

The two books I read were:

Vinegar Girl
by Anne Tyler**

I have done a full review of this book so I can’t say much about this book. It was alright but a big disappointment to what I wanted/expected it to be. It is a retelling of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, and basically carried on the blantent anti-feminist, all-girls need a man kind of story that the original was. Fair dos, it’s a retelling. It was just a little dull. A shame.

And then I read

Ragdoll
by Daniel Cole
*****

Oh my god! As I said before. I received this book via Netgalley but all my thoughts are my own.

This book was all anyone was talking about at the London Book Fair in April. It got a lot of buzz in the publishing industry and it sold for mega-bucks to Trapeze, a new imprint of Orion. It is a piece of fiction, set to be a series of books, which started as a TV script some time ago. Daniel Cole had a lot of trouble getting this made/published but thank god he did!

This is the first story of a potential series revolving around the main character ‘Wolf’, a police officer, but Ragdoll can be read as a stand-alone so don’t worry about any long-term cliff-hangers. It revolves around two cases – a serial killer case from 2010 and a new serial killer case in 2014/16. It is a fast-paced, wonderful piece of crime/thriller fiction set from the perspective of many different police officers after they find a body made of different people’s body parts and sewn together into a ragdoll shape! Everything is linked and everything is on a timer when the serial killer hands in a list of names and dates of the people he intends to kill next!

I will do a full review nearer the time of publication!

The book itself doesn’t come out until 2017 and I cannot wait to give it as a gift to several people who I know will love this book! It is a brilliant piece of writing and in a genre that I never pick up so for me to say that is quite a big deal for me.

I will be buying/asking for Daniel Cole’s next piece of work as and when it comes out. He is one to watch – perhaps the latest Paula Hawkins ‘Girl on a Train’ to hit the book market!

So my September Wrap Up is bit bare and although I can’t class it is as a good reading month Ragdoll was stupendous!

I hope next month will pick up slightly, particularly since it is my favourite reading month! But we shall see!

Happy Reading!