Saturday, 31 August 2013

The Movie Review ~ The Mortal Instruments: The City of Bones

Seen: 31st August 2013
Rating: 2/5

KAlberta and I ditched the boyfriends a ventured into our guilty pleasure today when we went to see The Mortal Instruments. We the original Harry Potter generation so children’s literature of this kind is pretty much my favorite thing. Although I have yet to read this series -- KAlberta gave me the first book a few weeks ago -- I couldn’t resist but to accompany her to the movie -- especially as Lily Collins is the lead and I adore her. 

On the whole the movie was pretty bad. (Not as bad as Twilight - at least this cast could act!) 
The script was incredibly cheesy. However, the costumes, sets, and special effects were fantastic. 

The plot is a solid one as is the cast. It was great to see a barely clothed Jonathan Rhys Myers back onscreen! The character of Simon was brilliant portrayed. Most importantly Lily Collins being the heroine held up her part of the bargain and really carried the movie. 

There were unintentional giggles -- especially in the garden with the sprinklers. --
There were wincing with the disgustingness of the special effects -- especially with the rottweiler. -- There were even moments of fear -- the hooded men in the city of bones. --
All in all I enjoyed it. 
It was no Hunger Games but it was fun to watch. 

Thursday, 29 August 2013

The Book Review ~ The Winter Ghosts

Read: 23rd August

It takes quite a book for me to consume it in one setting, but I did with Kate Mosse’s “The Winter Ghosts”. I had read maybe a few chapters before boarding my train to Cardiff but the book was finished and back in my bag by the time we hit Newport. I just couldn’t put it down. My coffee was cold, my sandwich half eaten… The book pulled me completely in. It was brilliant.

Mosse creates this pathetic character that you cannot help but sympathies with as he begins this journey to rid himself of his grief, or his life. I don’t know how she creates such sympathy as on the surface he is rather ridiculous in his self-pity. There is something so sad about him that you cannot help but forgive him for his pathetic-ness. Then he meets Fabrissa and the story just leaps to life.

The descriptions of the Languedoc region are exquisite. Mosse’s words just transport you there. You don’t question the ghosts, the echoes across the moor – everything is made real and believable by Mosse’s descriptions and characterizations. The historical aspect of the novel is also phenomenal – I don’t just mean the set period, but the journey back to Fabrissa’s village. There is nothing Mosse misses, or overshoots. Everything is as iy should be and so perfect!

She is the most talented writer I have had the privilege of reading! 
Wow, and thank you Kate Mosse.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

The Book Review ~ How to be Lovely

Read: 17th August 2013

I have been reading this book on the side for a few weeks now. I love anything Audrey Hepburn, and have read a great number of books on her. This has to be one of my favorites. The Hellstern doesn’t fill it in with her opinions of Audrey and what she thinks Audrey thought- instead she uses Audrey’s own words, and the words of her friends and family. In fact the majority of the book is in Audrey’s own words.

Each chapter uncovers a bit about her, and looks at what everyday people knew of Audrey. Then Hellstern backs it up this with evidence in regards to what Audrey herself said, and what friends said about her.

The images are fantastic. The information is great – it doesn’t just reuse what everyone else has said. The author really has focused on new information about Audrey that is not really generally known or popular about her. It is an easy and light read. Well worth checking out.

Friday, 16 August 2013

The Movie Review ~ Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa

Seen: 15th August 2013
Rating: 4/5

I am not a Partridge fan. I should lay that outright now. I have experienced the TV series, Knowing Me Knowing You, and his autobiographical audio book - all through osmosis (from TidyBoy continually playing them over and over!) Unfortunately I had made him watch the tragedy that was The Bling Ring so the revenge was Alpha Papa. With all that said the movie was actually rather good… stupid, but really really funny.

The film does rest heavily on the talent of Coogan, but it also draws a lot on slapstick humour with the police blowing up a lunchbox used by a hostage to defecate in and Partridge losing his trousers and underpants while climbing through a window after locking himself out of the siege. It is not the ‘classic Alan’ of the TV Series, but in a way that works to the big screen advantage making it more accessible to the masses that are not familiar with Alan, and his Toblerone filled past.

The storyline is solid, the characters stereotypically British, and the music very fitting. It is a proper film in the sense of giving the audience great entertainment. It is light, comical and easily accessible to everyone in my opinion a great success.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Knowing What to Buy

I am a huge follower of Pinterest. It completely makes my day everyday! It is like an active magazine, constantly updating, always new. Not only does it provide great outfit inspiration, beauty advice, and home d├ęcor ideas – it also provides the most brilliant food for thought! 

A little gem I recently came across was completely and utterly linked to my new series on finding your Fashion Mojo. I just had to share it with you:

Not only does this checklist give you the essentials, it also gives you the exact pieces you need to make a full, timeless and classic closet. Of course every season you want to add in one or two trend pieces, just to keep your style relevant (don’t forget to dispose of said items once the season is done though)!

The key advice to getting this checklist right is quality! You don’t want to grab the tops from Old Navy and Primark. The reason the classic closet works and is timeless is because of the quality of the pieces. You want a line that can be washed and worn, and yet remain in good-perfect condition. 

The classic closet is limited in selection allowing for each item to be invested in. To justify the payment you really need to see the Classic Pieces (off the list) are Investments. You will be wearing them to interviews, dinner parties – places that you need to make an impression. The impression has to start with your appearance. People will pay you more attention if you LOOK the part – then you can impress with your wit, academic knowledge, skills and personality. If you look a scruff the people you seek to impress will not give you the time of day. This is not vanity – it is common sense. 

 The Closet Cull is Done
Now you need to see what you have and what is missing.  
Use this list and examine your closet. 
 Then using your outcome make a new personal list of what you need to get… 

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

The Closet Cull

With the weather being on the brink of change now is the perfect time to start the Closet Cull. You can throw out half your Fall/Winter stock and not worry about having nothing to wear as technically you should be still in your Summer Stuff! By the time the autumn starts you will be equipped and ready to go with your closet already holding the gems of the season fully pressed and organized.

Before you start shopping, especially on a limited budget you need to know what you have, and what you need. This is where the Cull really begins. 
Everyone becomes attached to their clothes… you wore it on your first date; you wore it to graduation etc. BUT that does not mean you will ever wear them again. The memory will live on without the pit-stained sparkle tee! You need to be harsh and set boundaries before you even begin!

You are looking for:
1.    Clothes that clearly Fit You!
2.    Clothes that make you Feel Good.
3.    Clothes that Suit You and your lifestyle.
4.    Clothes that are in Good-Near-Perfect Condition.
5.    Clothes that you wear Regularly.

There is your initial Cull. Anything that does not fit into one of those five categories needs to go. 

BUT it doesn’t end there so don’t get the hangers out yet…

Now you have the basics of your wardrobe left you need to edit them 
(just like an essay – you never finish at the first draft!)

This round you are eliminating item-by-item. You need to take a close look at each item you have kept and check for certain defects, and of course asks yourself some hard questions!

1.    Are there Pit Stains, or Holes?
2.    Has the Item been Stretched or Shrunk?
3.    Is the item Worn or Bobbily?

 If you answered YES to these questions, or even paused to consider them, the item needs to be thrown away! Remember this is what will represent you to a future employer!

Those are the obvious things to consider. On Edit 2 you need to dig a bit deeper.

1.    Have you had the item for over Two Years?
* If the answer is YES the wear and tear will show, if not to you to your ‘viewers’. It     is always good to have a two year rule – anything older… it is time to put it into retirement!

2.    Was this item part of a Trend?
*  If the answer is YES then throw it NOW! The point of trends is they come and go. Do not listen to your parents, or friends who say that trends always come back, they may well do but they never come back the same! So don’t waste space and time waiting for something to come back – Throw it OUT!

3.    Have you worn this item in the last Year?

*  Really simple one folks! If you haven’t worn it in you never will. Use the space for something you will love and wear all the time. 

There are two exceptions to the cull. For the exceptions to work you really must be harsh on yourself:

Firstly if there is something you want altered get it done IMMEDIATELY or else it will go back into the closet unworn, and taking up space.

Secondly if you really love something put it in a VISIBLE spot in your closet. If you wear it great, if in a few weeks time it is still there, unworn you are not going to wear it so clear it out!

Congratulations the Closet Cull is Completed!

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Finding Your Fashion Mojo on a Limited Budget

Being a student you are often faced with the dilemma of what to wear, and the result of staring at the same clothes day-in-day-out nearly always leads to you getting stuck in a fashion rut. This is not always the case many people have the ability to just keep going in their familiar clothes complete with holes, and fading, but when I loose my fashion mojo everything goes down the toilet! So how do you pull yourself out of such a situation especially when there is no money for a closet makeover? 

As well as being a creative writing student, I also work 40 hours a week in a publishing house. The office is very casual and I find myself wearing pretty much anything into work. I think that is where my problem begins. My inability to define work clothes from fun clothes! As Maria in The Sound of Music says “The Children Must Have Play Clothes!” (Even if they are made from drapes!) – There is also the idea of dressing for success – one can’t expect to get anywhere showing up in Mavi boyfriend Jeans and a Bazinga T-shirt! Plus on a low day the outfit defines my mood and productivity. You could say I have SAD but CAD (Clothes Affective Disorder).

Can I be cured on a non-existent budget, and a closet full of last seasons (and the season before) clothes? How can a fashionista find her mojo again?

Before anything is bought, exchange, or gifted there must be a closet cleanse. Holes that cannot be fixed discreetly and sweat patches are the worst. Not even Oxfam will want those. Then there is the random “trend pieces” that you bought on a whim last year – those will find a great home at the charity shop. What should remain are the essentials. 

Next is the checklist. The list that every fashion guru declares one must own: the LBD, the white button down and the simple black pumps (you know the one). With just those the regular person can live happily. But, for the fashonista this is the bare essentials… bare being the emphasized word. The hunger to own something new and in style is just too much for me, and a season cannot pass without something new being introduced into my closet. This is where things get complicated and planning is needed!

As a foreign student, studying at Oxford, and funding herself funds are tight. When it comes to clothing allowance the funding is just non-existent. How can you buy on trend clothing without taking out of your food allowance for the month? You can’t! It’s as simple as that. What you need to do is invest in timeless pieces. Counting on endless Primark clothing that might seem cool this week but will either fall apart or be out of trend next month is not the way to go. You just end up spending more money, and not gaining anything from it. The same can be said for saving up and buying the latest Galliano skirt that is so hot right now. Living in a dorm with old washing machines is going to shorten the life-expectancy of the skirt. Plus are you really going to be wearing it to and from the Bodleian library, and back and forth to lectures, and riding your bike in between? What I am talking about is investing in the High Street Brands. The expensive but the sensible… Maybe living in the UK and in close proximity to Kate Middleton is rubbing off on me?! But she has the right idea – she is current but each outfit is suitable and relevant to what she is doing. When you are in John Lewis or walking along the high street that is what you need to ask yourself. What is relevant to my day, what is suitable, and what can I wear countless times and still look on trend? – Plus most of the high street brands wash and tumble dry! 

So over the next few months (and probably beyond) I am going to start taking my own advice, and start on my own closet reinvention. With a budget I am happy to share, and a lifestyle you can sympathize with I will tell you what I am doing and why, even the outcome (bad or good) of my choices.

The reason is simply. I am no longer a full-time/ early twenties student – I am a graduate student on the brink of becoming a professional. What I wear is about to become as important as what I produce in my work. So here goes! Taking a deep breath we shall plunge into the pile of cotton together! What will we find?! 

Sunday, 11 August 2013

The Book Review ~ Ghostwalk

Read: 11th August 2013
Rating: 3/5

Rebecca Stott creates a great web of details and plots and twists… but perhaps a little too many. The story builds and builds giving little to nothing away as to why these strange occurrences are happening. There are pop ups of courts rooms, and dead animals and reflected rainbows, and mediums that get the reader caught up in the world of Lydia Brooks, but also gets them highly confused as to what the heck is going on.

Everything is related and yet nothing is related. By the end of the book what is real, imagined and actually causing the problems and deaths are completely entangled. Was everything supernaturally caused, or governmentally caused? She had enough of a story without the animal rights angle and I really think that second plot ruined the book.

Everything wonderful and intriguing about the novel was found in the connection between Sir Isaac Newton, Alchemy, and the mysterious Mr. F. The manuscripts that make appearances are spell binding and beautifully written.

The tangled personal relationships between Lydia, Cameron, Sarah and Kit were fabulous too. The characters and situations were superbly written, and this surface plot kept everything moving in the realm of reality.

Then there was the animal rights, neuroscience, and government organization plot line that literally felt thrown in on top and in the end really didn’t need to be there at all! It just ruined the fantastic story of Newton and Lydia.

The first half of the novel is so focused on building these illusions and throwing the reader off that it becomes hard to get into the story. Luckily I waded through and found the last 25% off the book spellbinding enough to read it in one sitting. It is a real shame that Stott tries so hard to make the multilayers work, and keep the reader guessing to a point of loosing their attention when her core story is so brilliant!