Friday 31 January 2014

Daily Shenanigans, 31/01/2014: The weather outside is frightful!

Let me start this blog post by telling you that as I write, the weather outside is absolutely vile! It has not stopped raining and the wind has been blowing for a number of weeks now (I think any hopes for any kind of snow this year are well and truly dashed) but tonight it is just dreadful. Right. British rant about the weather over, back to the subject of my post.

My day started early readers, I am without a car this week meaning I have to get up at ridiculous o'clock to catch a train for University. The lecture, luckily, went quickly and soon I was on my way home again. On he way back I wandered through the town, bought myself a lovely cake from the bakery and had to physically talk myself out of buying anything in the Oxfam bookshop because I already have a huge pile of books in my room and nowhere to put them. It was heartbreaking. Totally heartbreaking. I managed on both train journeys to get a bit more of 'Cloud Atlas' read (which made me feel quite productive) though in truth I probably got no more than a few pages further. I'm really enjoying this book and cannot wait to write a review of it, which should be up in the next few days (hopefully by Sunday if I can give myself a good enough kick up the arse).

After coming home, I got to spend the rest of the afternoon/evening with my partner. He currently goes to Uni in London so I only really get to see him at weekends when he comes home. We didn't do all that much to write about though I'm afraid, just relaxed at his house and played on the Xbox One (the lucky sod has one and I don't!) Assassin's Creed 4 is a great game, in case you were wondering. Tomorrow, we are off to the cinema to see 'Out Of The Furnace'. I wasn't terribly enthused at first as it's not my kind of film, but the more I hear and read about it, the more I actually can't wait. I'll give you a small review of that tomorrow!

In other news it's the 31st, marking the end of January and the beginning of the Chinese New Year. This year's animal is...drum roll please...the horse! I don't normally follow this stuff really but I've seen it everywhere today, so if you do, then I wish you a prosperous new year!

Thursday 30 January 2014

Daily Shenanigans, 30/01/2014: Coriolanus...again?

Well readers, here I was thinking I wouldn't have much to tell you about today. How wrong was I?! My morning was pretty uneventful, I wrote a review for Sarah Dessen's 'This Lullaby' on Goodreads, a book that I read quite a while ago, and quickly checked my emails but spent quite a lot of it getting ready for work that afternoon. Here, my day got a bit more eventful.

After forking out for a train ticket to get from where I live to where I now work (I transferred as it's closer to Uni), I arrived to find that my shift had been cancelled and someone had forgotten to tell me. I wasn't too annoyed though as I still got to work a couple of hours and best of all, it meant I was in with a shot of doing something I had previously thought impossible.

That's right. I'm talking about the 'Coriolanus' live stream.

For those that haven't the foggiest what I'm on about, I recently went to see a production of 'Coriolanus' at the Donmar Warehouse (more details and review in previous post), starring Tom Hiddleston. It had been announced some time back that this particular production would be streamed live around the world today, and due to my work shift, I thought that I wouldn't be able to go and watch it. "You've already seen it!" I hear you cry. Well...yes. I have. And going to see it in the actual Theatre was amazing. However, my seat was in the circle and very much to the side of the Theatre, meaning that at certain points of the play it was hard to see what was going on. The National Theatre Live stream meant that I would get a good view of all the action on a huge great cinema screen, featured an enlightening conversation with Josie Rourke, the Director of the adaption, and of course meant that I could see my idol perform once again live (in a sense). Of course I jumped at the chance when the opportunity re-opened. Plus it provided an amazing opportunity to see a friend that I haven't been able to meet up with for a while, and share the experience with her (needless to say she loved it).

So yes, an okay day turned into a fantastic one! Now I am off to read a bit more of 'Cloud Atlas' and then bed because I'm knackered and up early for a lecture tomorrow.

Wednesday 29 January 2014

Where I've been: 'Coriolanus' and 'The Phantom Of The Opera'.

So, in a solid attempt to get this blog up and running again, I feel it's time to let you know what I've been doing with my time instead of this! Obviously, University has taken up a large portion of it. As mentioned in my previous post, I am in my final year and so am working on my end of year project, a Multimedia Performance that centres on the story of 'Little Red Riding Hood'. I won't be performing, instead I will be directing and scripting the entire thing, as well as sorting out the programming for the multimedia aspect of it. I am so excited about this project, and have drafted in a good friend of mine to work on the art for it. As well as this for my other modules I am both Company Managing and providing Sound/Lighting Design for two separate nights of shows so as you can imagine I have been a bit of a busy bee!

I have however found time to do other things that I will share with you because I am so excited about them and need somewhere to vent this excitement. Firstly, on the 16th January 2014, a friend and I traveled up to London to see the Donmar Warehouse's adaption of 'Coriolanus' (currently running up until about Mid-February). It starred Tom Hiddleston as the lead, and other famous faces included Mark Gatiss (Mycroft from the hit TV series 'Sherlock') and Alfred Enoch (Dean Thomas in the 'Harry Potter' film series). Readers I don't think I can quite put across just how excited I was to see this. I have always been a huge lover of Shakespeare, but to me, Tom Hiddleston is currently one of the finest actors of our generation and I have been a huge fan of his since watching him as Loki in Thor and The Avengers. Having watched his fantastic interpretation of Prince Hal/Henry V in the BBC TV Series 'The Hollow Crown', I knew I needed to see him in this, be it live or in the upcoming broadcast in worldwide cinemas. I was very lucky to get tickets to see him at the Theatre, as they sold out fast every time they were released.

The performance itself was stunning. The set was simple, yet effective and I found myself unable to draw my eyes away from the action for even a second, so lost was I in every cast member's performance. Deborah Findlay was every inch how I imagined Coriolanus' overbearing mother Volumnia to be played and I found her exceedingly entertaining. Gatiss was, as I imagined his Menenius to be, hilarious making his later emotional grief all the more difficult to bare. Hadley Fraser too struck me with his excellent and very brave portrayal of Coriolanus' sworn enemy Aufidius and I would very much like to see him act again. Finally, Tom Hiddleston's representation of the titular character, Caius Martius Coriolanus was quite frankly a breath of fresh air and showed fully Hiddleston's amazing ability to play a broad spectrum of emotions, and in doing so, create a complex character that an audience can instantly connect with. He made me laugh and cry many times as I watched Coriolanus' pride and passion draw him deeper into his inevitable fate. I have loved his many onscreen characters but to anyone reading I will say, if you ever get a chance to watch him act on stage then take it and don't look back. You won't regret it. All in all this adaption, directed by Josie Rourke, was a wonderful interpretation of a Shakespeare that is not often performed. Well done to all cast and crew!

After the Matinee performance, my friend and I decided we would go and eat, and then queue to meet the actors after the performance so that we may tell them face to face that we enjoyed it. We did manage to get an autograph from Alfred Enoch, who was also wonderful to watch, and he was lovely to chat to. Sadly, there was no sign of Mark Gatiss, who I suspect had snuck out of a different door. After much waiting (in the pouring rain I might add), Tom finally came out. My friend and I were at the front of the queue, along with a lovely girl from Latvia with whom we were sharing an umbrella, and I instantly felt terrible that the poor man was coming out to sign for us after two exhausting shows. His voice was a little hoarse but he was very friendly and seemed in fairly good spirits. I told him that I had really enjoyed the show, though I wish that I could have talked to him properly rather than having my mind go blank (yes, I was a little starstruck) but to be perfectly honest I'm just glad I managed to say anything at all in an existing language. He was very gracious and thanked me for my compliments. To be honest, it's all a bit of a blur, but I came away from it happy that I had finally got to meet someone that I really respect and admire and I hope I do get an opportunity to meet him again in the future.

I will also briefly mention (well, probably not briefly) that last week, on Monday 20th January, my boyfriend took me to go and watch 'The Phantom Of The Opera'. I was so, so excited about doing this because it is the show that got me interested in Musical Theatre, and subsequently Theatre in general, and I have been wanting to watch it since I was eleven and have never had the chance! I was so overwhelmed by it that during the Overture, I cried because my dream was quite literally coming true. But I managed to compose myself enough to say that it was a wonderful performance, definitely worth a watch. The costume, set, lighting, and sound were all beautiful and it was clear that a lot of work had gone into the whole production. The singing was just perfect,  and I came out of the Theatre with a huge smile plastered across my face and unable to stop singing. A true classic of the London 'West End'.

So there we have it, a general update on what I've done over the past couple of weeks. It's a bit Theatre focused, but other than Uni work that is really all I have been doing. With regards to the book reviews, my current reads are Stephen King's 'It' and David Mitchell's 'Cloud Atlas' which I shall definitely be reviewing so stay tuned for those when I finish them. I have a Goodreads account now so check that out if you want to see what I'm planning to read next and what, after I have gone through the books that I own, I want to buy. To fill any gaps, I'll also be letting you know each day, with a short blog post, what I've been up to and keep you all up to date with my future plans for this blog. For example, today's activities really involved sorting out my new Goodreads account and this blog, as well as doing a few bits and bobs for Uni, as this morning's lecture was cancelled. I hope you all enjoyed reading this rather long catch-up of my life, please do follow me on Bloglovin'!

Book Review: The Tale Of Raw Head & Bloody Bones; Jack Wolf

Well folks, here it is. I have read the first book in my huge pile of books to read that I own (in truth I had just finished it before yesterday's post) and it will mark my first book review. Just as a minor warning, there will be minor spoilers within this review.

SOURCE: Bought
TYPE: Hardcover

TITLE: The Tale Of Raw Head & Bloody Bones
AUTHOR: Jack Wolf
PUBLISHER: Chatto & Windus
PAGES: 560
GENRE: Historical Fiction, Horror, Gothic, Adult

RATING: 5/5 Stars

The year is 1750. 

Tristan Hart, precociously talented student of medicine practicing under the legendary Dr William Hunter. His obsession is the nature of pain and preventing it; the relationship between mind and matter and the existence of God. A product of the Age of Enlightenment, he is a rational man on a quest to cut through darkness and superstition with the brilliant blade of science.

Tristan Hart, madman and deviant. His obsession is the nature of pain and causing it. A product of an age of faeries and goblins, gnomes and shape-shifting gypsies, he is on a quest to arouse the perfect scream and slay the demon Raw Head who torments his dark days and long nights.

Troubled visionary, twisted genius, loving sadist. What is real and what imagined in Tristan Hart's beautiful, brutal, complex world?

What I Liked:
  • The detail! The book is set in the mid to late 1700s, and Wolf knows perfectly how to write it, well aware of all historical, political and social context of the time period. The writing style chosen by Wolf never wavers and he is consistent in his knowledge of the book's world. 
  • I really enjoyed every character. I found Tristan to be intriguing, complex, and at times quite funny. The other characters too were memorable in my mind and I did not particularly dislike any of them.The dynamic between Tristan and Katherine Montague came as a bit of a shock, as I was not expecting any form of romance. I felt her presence to be entirely necessary to the plot line however, and I took to her, and their relationship, instantly. 
What I Disliked:
  • My only real complaint is that at times, and I feel that this might be where people did not take to Tristan, I found his constant over analysis of ongoing situations to be very detailed and sometimes found myself skimming over these complicated thoughts. This is me really trying to find something wrong with the book though.
Overall Conclusion:
I would recommend this book to anyone, particularly if you enjoy historical fiction, fantasy, horror, or Gothic fiction. Overall, it is a fantastic book and a well thought out plot-line with many fast-paced twists and turns that kept me gripped and wanting more. Well done Jack Wolf!  

Tuesday 28 January 2014

A motivational speech to myself.

Well Readers, the time has come to make a change to my life.

After far too much procrastination, forgetting about and downright laziness I have decided to make a decision about this blog. Either get rid of it or commit. And I mean commit. After much thought, I have realised that the problem lies with my inability to find a reason to write this blog, and bad time management. I am quite busy with my Final Year at University, and when I'm not, I never feel that I have anything truly worth saying. The lack of definite purpose makes it very difficult for me to dedicate time to it.

This decision making process has come at a very important time on my life. After three years studying Performing Arts, I have realised now that what I enjoy most in life is writing, in particular plays and fiction. This is what I have decided to do with my life and in order for it to work, I need to once again show commitment. Sorting through my room recently, I have rediscovered piles upon piles of dusty, unfinished books that I started and never completed (a theme that seems quite prevalent within this post) and, after much persuasion from my sister (who is far more organised than I, her blog can be found here: , I would recommend a read! She actually regularly updates!) I am attempting to sort my life out and read through them all.

Reading and writing have always been a passion of mine, and something that I would like to consider myself fairly good at. I have spent too long worrying about being good at things I no longer truly enjoy, and not long enough engaging in and practicing the things that I do. On a recent shopping trip with my previously mentioned sister, we visited several Charity Shops and ended up coming away with a good six or seven books each that were real finds. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed doing that. Perusing the titles, examining their front covers, reading those first few lines and finally deciding that this book intrigues me enough to hand over the cash and take it home. I want, one day, to have written one of those books that someone finds accidentally on the shelf while searching for something else. Wouldn't it be lovely to be able to give someone else that feeling? To have someone want to read the words that I have painstakingly written?

Perhaps this is more a motivational speech to myself than a blog post as such. The point is, for my Final Year I am preparing a final piece that I must research and script for, tasks which I have thoroughly enjoyed and dedicated much time to. If I can put so much work into that, then I should be able to do the same with this blog by using it to review and comment on my favourite books or latest reads, as well as give updates on my own life and progress on my career dream to have my own book published. 

That is my plan. And I will stick to it.