Sunday, 2 November 2014

Our Girl - TV Series Review

I've been really into our girl, which has just finished in the last week or two (shown BBC One, Sundays, 9pm). Rivalling the Downton Abbey ITV slot I didn't ever watch it live. That said, it was perfect viewing for a cosy night in, with a glass of wine.

I watched the TV film last year, so was really happy to see it had been commissioned into a series. Lacey Turner is fantastic as our girl, Molly Dawes. Never having watched Eastenders, I took her afresh. She was such a believable, likeable character.

That could be said for the two other members leading the cast, Ben Aldridge and Iwan Rheon. Aldridge and Rheon have been cast so perfectly, portraying the handsome, responsible league-above man, and the constant joker, kinda cute best friend. This comes to a head in the penultimate episode. There is such strength and determination in their characters, making us as viewers want to dig deeper in our own personal battles.

It focuses on elements of war I hadn't even considered - Two Section is deployed on a mission to escort children to school. It really puts things in perspective. Our world may not be perfect but we are so so lucky to have the lives we do. The contrast between Molly and Bashira's home lives really proves this to be true.

Though, in my opinion, the pairing of Private and Captain wasn't as well thought through at the beginning as it could've been, the programme has enough to keep us absorbed, and by the end we really are rooting for them. It shocks, excites and informs us of the realities of life in the army.

Creator Tony Grounds said his inspiration for the series came from a real encounter with a female army medic, and how people from all walks of life come to join the forces. As for creating a bond for Two Section, Grounds states:

They honestly became like a real section. They were thrown together for six months, not having met before, and, as with the army, what happens in that six months could change their lives. They went through a short but intense period of training to get their heads into army life, and had to retain that focus throughout the shoot. They had to get on, bond and work together so that they became like a real platoon. We tried to utilise their youthful energy and it definitely worked to our advantage.

The final episode had me absolutely stunned, despite the fact many may have seen it coming. It has stuck with me ever since. It demonstrates so well that cannot take anything for granted.

The series ended in a rounded way, but I really hope this is not the last we see of Molly Dawes.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Books are my bag...

Last week I got treated to two new books 'by my favourite authors' - with a view to writing my thoughts on here. They were Marian Keyes' The Brightest Star in the Sky and Jojo Moyes' The One Plus One.

I don't know if I've mentioned already, but I have a habit of reading the endings of books to find out if they're worth reading. If I can't predict the ending from the first and last few pages, I'll read it. If I can - I'll give it up. Anyway, first impressions of Keyes' novel passed the test. At the time of starting to write this post I am just shy of 100 pages in, and I'm still discovering what it's all about. I took it to work knowing I have limited time to read both books before next Sunday and just couldn't put it down!
Having finished it, it was a really good read. My only slight criticism is the plot holes - but that might be the speed of my reading. With so many characters, it was hard to figure whether their story had truly ended by the time the book had. Still, it kept me guessing and was easy to follow, humorous and thought provoking.
What fascinated me about The One Plus One was the emphasis on journeys, and their importance in our lives. Reading the end first - obviously! - I stumbled upon an article Jojo had included about them, originally published in The Times. I'm watching 24 at the moment, and we joke a lot about how much of it is spent driving but a lot can be discovered during this 'filling' time. Journeys are underrated; a real space to think and talk without distraction. There is nowhere to hide, something The One Plus One demonstrates beautifully. I am confused as to why it's called The One Plus One, however. I think the American title One Plus One makes much more sense with the storyline.
I'm finding that Jojo's books test us to see how far we'd go for others, this being no exception, and how there is always something to be learnt from the people we cross paths with.
Jessica is likeable from the start, reminding us what it's like to struggle as we all go through our own trials in our lives, and how to make the best out of worst case scenarios.
I just think Ed is a bit of a doofus. Loveable, but easily led and gets himself caught up in all the wrong things - again, something we can relate to.
It's a very real, warts-and-all love story, though not as emotional as Me Before You. Jojo is consistently good and I'm looking forward to discovering who else lives in her world.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Cecelia Ahern - How to Fall in Love

If you watched Pride of Britain the other week - rephrase - when you were watching Pride of Britain the other week, you will have heard a story about a man stopping on Waterloo Bridge to talk another down from the edge. Amazing stuff, and the two have since become friends.

Coincidentally, a few weeks before, I had read How to Fall in Love  - the latest venture from Cecelia Ahern. Perhaps most famous for her novel turned film PS I Love You, Ahern's books never fail to move you and warm the heart. How to Fall in Love is no exception, and I think in time can grow to be bigger than the aforementioned.

It questions everything we know about ourselves, humility, humanity and the human race. What would you do and what on earth happens next?

As much as the storyline ends predictably, that is not the point of the book - at least in my opinion. Through helping others discover what is good about life, we discover more ourselves. This novel demonstrates all that is good about the world and that these struggles happen to everyone. (Everyone's heard the tale of Pagliacci the clown!)

It has undeniable echoes of one of my favourite books, Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. It really makes you question how far you'd go to help others, how you are as a person and how much our regrets affect us in the short and the long term.

The main thing I took from this book is the importance of being kind and thoughtful. You never know what someone is dealing with, and you never know what could push them off the edge - or indeed bring them round.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Gone Girl. Warning - Spoilers!!

Sitting in the cinema on Tuesday night waiting for the film to start, I was absolutely petrified. I only went because my boyfriend wanted to see it, and my dread became even worse when I discovered it was 18 rated on my way into the cinema. 

I've only ever seen one 18 in my life (and it was American Pie Beta House - which I don't think counts!)

BUT - the film was not as scary as I had anticipated. It was good though. It kept us both gripped, and the two and a half hours flew by. Ben Affleck played Nick brilliantly. His performance was only flawed by the early violent scene where it appeared completely out of character - I didn't believe in him. Rosamund Pike on the other hand, was consistently believable as 'Amazing Amy' - a woman haunted by her idolised childhood. It seems to me she staged the whole thing because she's never been able to compete with Amazing Amy, and this is the first time she could. Only Amazing Amy could come back from the dead.

My main disappointment with the film is my own fault really. I had read the book during a summer where I was reading a couple of books a day. One of these books was Lucie Whitehouse's Before We Met, which has been praised as being the Brit's answer to Gone Girl. The ending of Gone Girl was much more muted than I was expecting due to this confusion.

So if you were also left a bit flat by the ending - I highly recommend reading Whitehouse's novel. I guarantee you'll be satisfied, and I hope somebody picks up the rights.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

An Introduction to Liberty's Library

The idea for this blog, and indeed the name, Liberty's Library, was stemmed from many conversations with my friends.

As an English Literature (Under) Graduate, my friends always ask me what they should be reading. I swear half my books are on other people's bookshelves! Since I'm practically a lending library anyway, I thought I'd take my recommendations online.

I am THE BIGGEST bookworm and can read two books a day when I'm on form. So I have read a lot, and I know what's hot and what's not, as such!

I thought I'd kick off with the Book Challenge, something that's been making its way around Facebook recently. The idea is to list books that have stayed with you in some way. Hopefully this will reassure you that I'm into a bit of everything, and the books I write about on here are not going to be too repetitive.

1. Tom and Pippo Series by Helen Oxenbury

Book number one then is one of the first books I ever remember reading. When I was little and mum used to take me to the library I was obsessed with these books, borrowing a different one every week. I even persuaded my mum to buy me my own Pippo after reading these books!

2/3. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank and Secrets by Jacqueline Wilson

Bit of a jump but The Diary of a Young Girl is probably the one book I read at primary school that completely stood out. Like most girls my age, I was obsessed with Jacqueline Wilson. In Secrets, India is fascinated by the story of Anne Frank to the extent their stories intertwine, and much more than you would expect. From reading Secrets, my own fascination with Anne's story began. I've read (and watched) various adaptations of her diary, and this expanded further in my degree - my dissertation was on Holocaust Literature.
4. The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged Thirteen and Three Quarters by Sue Townsend
My mum bought me this having read it herself as a teenager (already shows how this book is timeless). First published in 1982, it is  still totally relatable even in 2014. The trials and tribulations Adrian goes through are a rite of passage for young people, making this an absolutely hilarious read. I even styled my GCSE English coursework on it I found it so good.
5. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbowsky

*Definitely seeing a diary theme emerging here.*
Now a major movie starring Emma Watson, I was in love with Charlie way before the hype. Like Adrian, Charlie is a very relatable, loveable figure. The novel is also totally relatable, but in a completely different way - making the mess that is teenagehood suddenly seem normal. The rose tinted glasses childhood has of life is proved to be inaccurate, allowing us to embrace all that happens in our lives as it is what makes us who we are. Favourite line? We accept the love we think we deserve.
6.  Journey's End by RC Sherriff

Not strictly a book, but my teacher, (Mr Sewell)'s interpretation of Osborne was one of the many reasons I went on to do English at university. The way this play brought my entire class together demonstrates the power literature can have. I wish we could've seen it on stage, it really is a marvellous piece of writing.

7. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

My top romantic read for a cosy night in. (If you forget the virtually incestuous nature of the plot for a second.) Heathcliff's love for Cathy is the kind of love I've always aspired to have. The fact he can't even bear to be without her bones demonstrates what an intense love they had. And who wouldn't want to experience that in their life? Reading this book also led to my love of Kate Bush. What a woman!

8. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

The only book on this list I haven't owned (though I wouldn't pass up the opportunity to own it - hint hint). You don't know anything about life until you have read this heart rendering piece of excellence by Jojo Moyes. Often mistaken at first glance as chick lit, rest assured - it is so much more than that. As I don't own a copy I have only read it once, but it has stayed with me through the years since. It is my go-to book for recommendations, and so far is yet to disappoint.

So there you go. Not overtly varied but I'll read anything once - and you can hold me to that! I will be posting a blog every Sunday, but in the mean time I can be found on Twitter @LibertyClare so get recommending! I want this blog to become a kind of library/book club so we can all take ideas from each other. Use the hashtag #libertyslibrary and get the conversation going :)

Happy Reading!