Tuesday, 27 June 2017

A Review of Strange the Dreamer

I have a weakness for
metallics on darker
coloured covers!
Strange the Dreamer is a book by Laini Taylor, the author of the Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy. Lazlo Strange is fascinated by stories, especially myths, legends and fairy tales. Nicknamed Strange the dreamer, he especially loves ones about the mythical lost city of Weep. When he receives the chance to see the lost city for himself, he jumps on it. Meanwhile, high above them, five blue-skinned teenagers live. One of them, Sarai, has the ability to go into people's dreams and alter them to her whim.

I know it's the first book in a duology, and I'm breaking my personal rule yet again, but I just had to talk about this one, since I'm thinking it might be one of my favourites of the year. I will say that if you don't like long, flowing descriptive sentences that sometimes fall into purple prose, this one may not be for you.

This book is so good that I was starting to wonder why I saw it trapped away in the Young Adult section. It's a giant middle finger to people who believe there can't ever bee good writing in YA, and as good a fantasy story as I've ever read, including ones aimed at adults. Than I realised that felt like I'm implying that Young Adult books can never have good writing. It's just a shame than many people who might enjoy it won't try it, as long as it's in that section of the bookstore. The writing is exquisite, and there were seriously no points where I was wondering if a sentence should have been phrased differently. How about we stop categorising books altogether?

The world is truly intriguing. Taylor has done something amazing, by creating a world that is both magical, but also not a place I would like to live. She really has created something strange and wonderful, and beautiful and full of monsters. The entire world has a dreamlike quality to it - fitting - that only goes up when we're inside someone's dream. It reads a bit like a fairy tale, playing into Lazlo's interest in them.

It's also been a long time since I've read a book with this many characters, with so many of them fleshed out into three-dimensions. Characters have a reasonable motive for their every action, even the more morally-grey ones. Yes, morally grey, because there really is no-one who's straight up evil in this book, except for the original Mesathim. Minya wants to kill humans, but when she was six, she saw them kill almost everyone she'd ever known. Eril-Fane slaughtered babies in their cot, but their parents subjugated his entire city for years, and left him with memories of love and hate. He genuinely thought the only way to be safe was to kill them all, shows remorse and regret at his actions, and is willing to listen if he thinks there might be another way. Thyon Nero steals Lazlo's research, but he's being beaten up because he can't produce the results his father requires. Taylor employs a switching POV narrative - we don't just stay with Lazlo and Sarai - and a third-person omniscient writing style to great effect.

I recommend this book to any fan of fantasy.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Personality Traits for an Only Child

Quick, write a list of all the character traits you'd associate with an only child!

Did you write spoiled, selfish, self-centred or bratty, or any synonyms thereof? Screw your list up and throw it in the bin. If you wrote lonely, set it on fire, first.

Let me first go through the issues with these first two ideas. Also, since we are not a monolithic group, these are based on my own experiences, and not hard and fast rules. Since I was used to amusing myself at an early age, I found I tended to get less lonely and bored than other children. I could happily play by myself, reading or playing video games, or playing pretend in the garden for hours. The other main one is that my parents did not spoil me. We were a middle-class family, but they certainly did not cater to my every whim and buy me everything I wanted. Mum said than when I had friends round and she put out snacks, because I wasn't used to fighting for things, they would be gone by the time I got to the table. And it was nice to share, since I never had anyone to share things with! And without siblings, I could never gang up on my parents to convince them that a trip to Lego Land/a trampoline was absolutely essential for our well-being!

1. Independence - this is an obvious one, when you think about it. Being more used to doing things alone means that we tended to be more independent. I was allowed to go on train journeys by myself earlier than my other friends, and now I find I much prefer holidaying by myself.
2. Maturity - since we become much more used to talking to adults at an early age, we can sometimes come across as more mature. I can distinctly recall family events where I was the only one present who was under 30!
3. Perfectionism - In some families, the desire to make your parents proud can be spread over a few people. One to be the perfect-grades-and-good-career one, and one to have grandchildren. In only children, all this is concentrated on one child, so the pressure can be increased. I've had bits of it since I'm my parents only chance at grandchildren, but I don't want to get married yet!
4. Can't get away with anything - bird knocks picture frame off our mantlepiece? My fault. Friends scribble on the walls? My fault. Things missing? My fault. Never being able to shift the blame to brothers or sisters meant I always got the blame, even for things I didn't do.
5. Liking solo activities - I remember how hard it was for me to get people to play board games with me! Since we have to amuse ourselves, you might find a more lasting interest in doing things we can do by ourselves, such as reading. And video games, even now, I prefer single-player games to multi-player. Also, you don't have to give a girl a brother to explain why she has a "boy" interest. Not that any interest should be categorised as for girls or boys, anyway.
6. Liking younger children - they were a novelty, so I was never as annoyed by my friends brothers and sisters as they were. And this has carried through into adulthood! Not having to listen to screaming young babies in my formative years means I seem to prefer them still, even now.
7. Introversion - okay, I won't say this is always an only child trait, but it's one I definitely picked up. Only children can genuinely prefer to spend time alone and require more peace and space than other children.
8. Close to parents - I wouldn't necessarily say I'm closer to them than children with siblings, but as I used to do a lot of things with Mum, like nipping to the shops, having a coffee or going to garden centres, we get on quite well know.

What about negative traits? I won't deny that there are some, and I also won't refute that some only children can be spoilt. However, some children with siblings can be spoilt, too. It's not a unique thing, and definitely isn't caused solely by being an only child!
1. Overly sensitive - never having built up a thick skin to siblings teasing means we can struggle more with bullies and their comments.
2. Trouble relating to peers - tying into maturity above, we may find it harder to socialise with people our own age.

Assorted oddities:
I never liked the front seat of the car. The back seat was comfier, and I could spread my legs out over it. I never had to fight with people for it, so I didn't want it because I couldn't have it. Since Mum liked me in the front seat so she could converse with me better, it just made me want the back seat more.
We never had much that I might need a second person to use - it took ages to convince my parents to get me a games console, since "you need a second person to play it with!"
I think I did more after-school activities than my friends, perhaps for the sheer fact that my parents wanted to provide me with something to do. Of course, this plays into the whole increased pressure thing listed above!

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

A Review of Seven Days of You

Seven Days of You is a book by Cecilia Vinesse. Sophia has lived in a few different countries, but Tokyo is the one place that feels most like home. In seven days, she has to leave it behind and move back to the States. The return of a boy who she exchanged some mean words with last time she saw him is putting her on edge. Her two best friends, one of whom she's had a crush on for a while, are determined to drag her out to have fun.

I honestly didn't like this one all that much at all, and since it's set in Tokyo, I thought I would love it.

The story is set in a generic city. If the story hadn't told me it's set in Tokyo, with a few recognisable landmarks, I wouldn't have known. I wanted to feel like I was standing in the famous Shibuya scramble crossing, which I have only seen through images. I wanted to taste sushi in my mouth. I wanted to see cherry blossoms in my mind's eye. In short, I wanted to experience Tokyo. If you've read my previous reviews, you'll know I usually love stories like this. I love being shown a new city while I'm reading, travelling around the world. And it's Japan, one of my dream places to visit! the key word here is shown, which this book doesn't do. And I mean... it's Tokyo! How did Vinesse make Tokyo seem so dull? There's no rich description of walking around, say, Harajuku, with the colourful archway, the famous clock and teenagers everywhere in Japanese street fashions. The few times we do go to a famous location, I never felt like I was actually there. And there was nothing on the day-to-day minutiae of being in a different country. What line on the subway do you take and where do you change, what do the everyday streets look like, how are the security checks before going into a tourist location? Also, Vinesse tells us, say, this history of Hachiko. I don't know if it's just how much I've researched about Japan, but I feel the majority of readers wouldn't need to be told this. Facts like these need to be inserted naturally into the story, so they don't break up the flow of it. She also told us what takoyaki and gyoza are - I felt like this book wasn't written for someone who is already enamoured with Japanese culture.

Here's how I would write these descriptions, so they don't interrupt the story but still inform someone who doesn't know too much about Japan what they are.
"I broke through the deep-fried takoyaki coating with my teeth, and enjoyed the way the salty flavour of octopus broke over my tongue. I always thought it tasted a little of the sea"
"I remember my dad used to tell me the story of how Hachi would wait for his owner at the station, even after he died. Even though it's a sad story, I always liked it."

The characters... I really don't want to talk about them. Sophia is white, and her two love interests are white. Sophia's friends call her Sofa, which is probably one of the stupidest nicknames I've ever heard. We know she's into anime, which is about as useful as saying someone is into films. What sort of anime? Tell me her favourite series and why she likes them. Studio Ghibli, but which movie in particular? We should be able to tell a lot about a character from their favourite media choices. She's also described as a maths and science geek, and because of this we're always told that she is smart, but she shows no evidence of this throughout the story. She wants to be an astrophysicist, but we never see her interest it it. She should be looking up at the night sky every night, and her room should be decorated with star posters and hanging planets. Sophia spends much of the early part of the book worrying because she's going to see a guy who she said a few mean things to three years ago. How old is she meant to be, again? Oh, and she has lived in Japan more than half her life, but her Japanese is pretty much non-existant. Plus, she engages in a lot of girl-on-girl hate. She hates Caroline, who is literally one of the consistently nicest people in the book, because she's dating the boy Sophia likes. David was an absolute asshole, and I couldn't see how he had as many girls after him as he did. And Jamie, we're told how nice and sweet he is, but I just couldn't see it, especially after how he taunted Sophia about her crush.

I don't do this often, so let's try a little rewrite, shall we? As I am white myself and doing this off the cuff, with no research whatsoever, I can't promise it will be perfect, but I'll try.

Kikuko, who's friends call her Kiko, was born in Japan to Japanese parents. She speaks both Japanese and English fluently. Since they travelled for business, she grew up mainly in the west, but they've been back in Tokyo for a few years. They enrolled her in an international school, so she has friends from many different countries. She loves anime, especially anything by Studio Ghibli, magical girl and josei genres. Her favourite series is Princess Jellyfish, as she feels she can relate to Tsukimi. She's a maths and science geek, with an interest in space, and she wants to study astrophysics. Her parents used to point out all the patterns of stars in the night sky, and she loved how the stars were always there, no matter where in the world she was. She also likes food, since they travelled so much she was exposed to many different cuisines growing up, but Japanese food is her favourite, since it reminds her of home. She hates wearing a kimono, however, and isn't into fashion at all. While in Tokyo, she starts crushing on a boy who was raised with an emphasis on Japanese traditions. He's lived in Japan all his life, with his mother, father, grandmother and sister and takes his responsibility and respect towards his family very seriously. However, the son of a friend of her father's, who she knew while she was in the USA, is coming over to visit during what happens to be her last week in Tokyo. They had a little turbulent romantic history, but nothing serious, so she decides to show him some of her favourite sites of the city, and some of the touristy things she hadn't got around to. Things like Tokyo Sky Tree, Tokyo Tower, Tokyo DisneyLand, the Studio Ghibli museum, Tsukiji fish market, Shibuya and Harajuku, where she didn't go much and Shinjuku and Akibahara, where she did visit often. They make a pact to eat at a different cute café each day and ramen or sushi every night. Obviously, there's a spark between them, but her other love interest is starting to show more interest in her, too. If there has to be a love triangle, make it worthwhile. Oh, and the book is set in April, because cherry blossoms.

I really don't feel I can recommend this book. If you want a book set in Japan, try Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto and if you want a good travel story, try One Italian Summer.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

A Review of Dumplin'

Dumplin' is a book by Julie Murphy, who also wrote Ramona Blue and Side Effects May Vary. Willowdean Dickson, a self-proclaimed fat girl, lives in South Texas with her former beauty queen mum. She works at a local fast food/diner restaurant. She has a huge crush on one of her co-workers, Bo and a best friend with a pet snake. At that year's Miss Teen Blue Bonnet beauty pageant, arranged by her mother, Willowdean ends up signing up with a group of other equally unlikely entrants.

Willowdean is not perfect. She can be judgemental, herself, and sometimes comments on other people's body size, for example. However, sometimes either she or the narrative will call her out. For instance, she assumes Bo is rich because he went to private school, without truly understanding the circumstances around it. She also treats Mitch pretty awfully, despite the fact that he has been nothing but kind to her. She's also insecure, as much as she wants to own her size, she finds it hard, at times. I also loved her relationship with Bo. It seemed much deeper than a lot of YA romances, I thought. They had an established interest in each other before the book started, and since the book takes place over a number of months, we're able to see how their relationship develops.

I was never fat, although my mother often did tell me to "lose weight, eat healthier and do more exercise" in my more sedentary teenage years. If I do put on a couple of pounds, it tends to jump right to my hips and thighs, leading to occasional days where my jeans feel too tight. However, I do struggle with some parts of my body I don't like. I wish I could hold my head high and act like I don't care, but I can't. I saw my own struggles reflected in a lot of Willowdean's issues with her self-confidence. I hope that some of her's and especially, Jessica's attitudes will rub off on me.

This is one of a few books where I liked the supporting cast as much as the main characters. Everyone is shown to have hidden depths. Millie, the innocent girl who wants to do as well in a pageant as she can. Amanda, the girl with a disability who surprises the other characters (and me, too, I'll have to admit) by doing some awesome football tricks. Snarky Jessica, who warms up to the odd group she's with over time. Even Callie is shown to know sign language, which made me wonder if she may have a family member who is deaf or hard of hearing. And Willowdean's mother works in the local nursing home, a far cry from her beauty queen past.

I loved the story being set in Texas, because unlike most States, I've been to Texas! I was nodding along at the descriptions of the heat, and the unique culture of Texas is used well in the story, too.

I recommend this book for anyone who had ever felt uncomfortable in their own skin. I also recommend you read it with a playlist of Dolly Parton songs nearby!

Friday, 16 June 2017

A Review of One Italian Summer

One Italian Summer is a book by Keris Stainton. Almost a year ago, Milly's father died, and now she and her sisters Elyse and Leonie are going out to Italy, with their Mum for her sisters wedding. It's their first vacation without Dad, with whom they would go to Rome every year. With memories of her father around every corner, can the sisters learn to manage their grief and understand each other better? And can Milly get over the stupid thing she did with her cousin's best friend Luke after the funeral?

From the cover, I thought this would be a lighthearted summer read. I didn't expect I would be actually crying. I feel lied too.

I loved the three sisters and their relationship. I totally bought them as best friends and sisters. Milly is a worrier, something that has only got worse since the death of her Dad. Elyse is into fashion, and while the book doesn't go into it much, she's never presented as shallow for being interested in fashion. Leonie was my favourite of the three. I loved her attitude. I'm not the person to comment on whether her romance was handled well (she's been dating Gia, the Italian waitress, since last year) but I enjoyed it. Leonie's relationship actually seems more real than Milly's. Their relationship is based very much on physical attraction, but that's okay. As the book points out, you don't need to look for a deep and meaningful connection when you're 18. I would have liked this book to be three times as long, with switching POV from all the sisters, actually.

I didn't actually realise it was UK-based when I first picked it up, so that was a nice treat. And I could identify with things so much! My Dad uses "The Folder" when we go on holiday abroad! He's also a worrier, like Milly. He can't just switch off when he gets to the airport. And my Mum would totally do that thing where she can't figure out smartphone-based boarding passes!

This book is a huge reason why your opening sentence needs to be good. As opening sentences go, "Do you want to dip your finger in Dad?" is sort of off-putting. And I will say that the way characters use technology and text felt a little weird. They must have a very good international data plan!

I recommend it for people who like a little sadness in their summer reads, and for anyone who happens to be going to Rome!

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

A Review of Love and Gelato

Love and Gelato is a book by Jenna Evans Welch. Set in Florence and a surrounding village in the Italian countryside, over the course of a summer. Carolina "Lina" Emerson's mother has died of breast cancer, and she sends her daughter to Italy, to stay with her father. While there, Lina finds her mother's journal, that was sent to Italy via post. Using the clues in the journal, Lina traces her mother's footsteps through Italy, and discovers that what happened their wasn't as simple as it seemed.

I was willing to cut Lina a lot of slack for her actions, considering that her mother had just died. She seems ungrateful to Howard, who has been nothing but kind to her, but her mother just died. She doesn't seem interested in exploring her surroundings, especially for someone who apparently had an interest in travelling the world, but then again her mother just died. We also find out that she's competitive and loves running, which is better characterisation than a lot of protagonists receive. However, she doesn't know what gelato is, and read about the Pont Vecchio but didn't know what it was? I could understand not knowing about, say, the Duomo, but gelato? Come on!

Of course, there's also a love triangle, between a very American Italian and a boy with a British accent. Is anyone else rolling their eyes now? What on earth is the big deal with British accents, anyway? The resolution becomes obvious from about the half-way mark. The friends she makes in Italy, who have been desperate to meet her since they found out she would be joining their school (Okay, I never remember the new kid getting as much attention as they do in fiction) all live in quirky-cool houses. A gingerbread cottage! A Medici palace! Yet we never see how normal people in Italy in normal houses live. Lina describes Howard's house as "any normal house in a normal neighbourhood." I'm sure any house in Italy would warrant a description of how it differs from a house in the USA. Sorry, but with travel books, I like to know about all of the differences in culture!

Other quibbles: a character's skin is described as "coffee-coloured" at one point. There's a very young girl who speaks nothing like how old she's meant to be. A child who is still the age at which she's proud of pooping the the right place will not sound like every other character. Also, the one of the love interests has a girlfriend, who proceeds to be bitchy to our heroine and blames her for getting harassed at a club. Also, how can Lina look both so much like her mother that people who knew her are taken aback, and so Italian that the locals think she speaks it?

This might seem like I dislike this book, which I did not. For it's sort of book - a sweet holiday read - it accomplishes it's role to take you away to a different place remarkably well. It's a light, easy beach read, that also does have a more serious side. Howard, the man she is staying with, isn't her true father, but the way he treats her even after this shows just why our birth parents aren't always the best for us. In fact, the parts of the book dealing with Lina and Howard's relationship are some of the best parts.

I recommend this book for anyone looking for a cute contemporary book to read this summer.

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

A Review of When Dimple Met Rishi

If this cover doesn't put you in a better
mood, I don't know what will!
When Dimple Met Rishi is a novel by Sandhya Menon. Dimple Shah is a computer nerd who likes coding and programming. She has been accepted into Stanford for college next year. This is her way of doing what she loves and escaping her traditional parents and their plans for her. Rishi Patel is a traditionalist, and is going to MIT. However, he's more a creative type, who enjoys drawing and used to make his own comic strips. Their parents have arranged a match between them, and are hoping the two of them will hit it off during a summer course before college.

At it's heart, this book is about ways in which old-fashioned traditions can be adapted for our modern day. The arranged marriage in this book is more similar to the way in which my parents might introduce me to a family friend at a party. It would be nice if we hit it off, but it's no big deal if we don't.

I loved how Dimple was the one really interested in coding, taking it seriously and really not looking for a relationship, and Rishi was the one who was more romantic and artistic. He claims to be a practical person but... ha. I do feel like their relationship switched from friends to love incredibly quickly, however. Maybe it was just a necessity because of how quick this book goes and their six week timescale? Also, they do have the cutest meet-cute ever. The two cutest meet-cutes ever.

However, Dimple can also be judgemental. She judges Rishi for being more into tradition, and her mother's Indian friends for the same reason. She judges the rich teenagers before she knows them. And I like it! It's good that characters can have flaws.

Hindi is used in this book, often where it would make sense, and the reader is often able to work out from context clues what the sentence above meant. It's a clever way of slipping in parts of the language to make these characters feel real.

I do wish we'd seen more of the coding side of things. After a brief few chapters, the technology aspect isn't really focused on at all. Instead, the course holds a talent show around the midway point, and most of the pages are dedicated to the characters practising for that and their burgeoning relationship. You don't really get a sense on how the development on their app is going, and since it was for something important to Dimple, I wanted to know more about it.

I recommend this book to anyone looking for a lightly funny, romantic summer read!

Monday, 5 June 2017

A Review of Sisterhood Everlasting

Sisterhood Everlasting is a book by Ann Brashares, as a sequel to The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants series. Set ten years on from the events of Forever in Blue, we catch up with the girls and find they've scattered all over the map. Tibby is in Australia with Brian. Lena is in Providence, finding work as an artist. Bridget is in California with Eric, and Carmen is in New York, finding work as an actress. Under a cut, because I can't review this book without talking about that spoiler. This was a hard review to do, because while I don't absolutely love this book, I also don't dislike it as much as a lot of people do.

Sunday, 4 June 2017

A Review of The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants series

The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants is a series of four by Ann Brashares. The four books are The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants, The Second Summer of the Sisterhood, Girls in Pants and Forever in Blue. There is also a sequel book, Sisterhood Everlasting, which I will review in it's own post. The four girls, Lena Kaligaris, Bridget Vreeland, Tabitha "Tibby" Tomko Rollins and Carmen Lowell, have been best friends since before they were born. One summer, the girls are all going off to different places, but they find a pair of pants that fit all of them, despite having different body types. So, they decide to send the pants around to each other, as a way of keeping in touch.

The four girls are really quite different. Lena is artistic, quiet and shy. She is beautiful, and she knows it, but she actually wishes she was less so. I've always thought she was an interesting take on the "girl doesn't know she's beautiful" trope. Bridget likes sports, and is implusive, flighty and reckless. She acts rashly, without thinking about the consequences. Tibby is into film and often tends to act unfeeling to people. However, she does care deeply underneath the surface. Carmen has a temper and a propensity for drama. She's described as a math-geek in the first book, but I don't think that's mentioned again. I had been hoping she would find a career that allows her to use her maths skills to full effect, but at the end of the books she wants to be an actress. She does play into one of my least favourite tropes - the selfish, spoilt only child. I don't mind her having those traits, but the narrative tends to assume she's that way because she grew up without siblings. However, she is my favourite character. Distilling the girls down to a few personality traits downplays the many nuances and the development they go through over the books.

I think a lot of people agree that the first book was the best, and in the later books, I like individual story-lines more then the whole book. However, they are all worth checking out. In the second book, I liked Tibby's story the best, since she finally gets a chance to shine away from home. Lena and Carmen both get their best moments in the third book. And all the girls grow and develop in the fourth book, after being away at college for a year. One of the big problems with these sequels is that the girls tend to forget the lessons they learnt in previous books. However, it is implied that the girls (especially Carmen) are aware of where their behaviour can lead, they just struggle to keep their emotions in check. This is one thing - the girls are never perfect, and they behave like realistic human beings a lot of the time.

I can't write a review on these books without mentioning the movies. Both of them really captured the spirit of the books, treating the friendship between the girls with the importance it deserves. There are some changes in the movie that I didn't like. For example, Lena's complex relationship with Kostos was changed into a more standard Romeo and Juliet style tale. Overall, though, they are very well done film adaptations. And I love that the actresses have remained friends!

I recommend these to anyone who has ever had a group of close friends, and who might be looking for a summer read.

Sidenote - it's extremely weird for me to have written "pants" so many times in this review, considering pants in Britain mean... something completely different.

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Movie Review: Wonder Woman

That. Was. Awesome.

Based on the DC comics, Wonder Woman stars Gal Gadot as the titular character, along with Chris Pine, Connie Nielson and Robin Wright and was directed by Patty Jenkins. Diana, Princess of Themyscira, daughter of Queen Hippolyta (Nielson) lives on her island populated entirely by a race of woman known as Amazons. She trains under General Antiope (Wright) until a soldier from WWI is shot down from the sky. The soldier, Steve Trevor (Pine) takes Diana with him to London in her wish to stop the war. According to her legends, Ares, God of War is the reason why Mankind started to fight, so she is determined to find him and put a stop to it.

I love the character of Wonder Woman. I like how she's allowed to be strong, yet still show her emotions and a more feminine side. She is upset when her mentor dies and cooes over a baby on the street. I also like how the men don't question her skills, once she's proved herself. The few times she's asked to stay behind, it's more because her skill set isn't right for this particular job, then any judgement on her fighting capability. And I feel like there has never been an actor who has enjoyed playing a role as much as Gadot enjoyed her role here.

One thing I didn't like as much was the villains. German villains are almost too-easy, and it felt like they were following the standard formula for WWII, despite WWI being different. Ares, for all his buildup, is pretty usual for a villain in a comic book movie. I was actually hoping that the German chemist Isabel Maru would get more attention!

This movie absolutely does show that darker comic book movies can work. It does not gloss over the reality of war. I also like that it focused on WWI, since many movies have focused on WWII before. However, it never fails to show it's lighter side, either. The dialogue is in places comedic in nature, and the characters are fun when they're not showing their more serious side.

I feel like this movie must have been a costume designers dream. From the fighting outfits of the Amazons to London in WWI to a fancy German party, the costumes are a treat. The island of Themyscira is also beautiful. Using a brighter colour pallet than previous DC movies works so well for this one.

I recommend this movie to any fan of superhero movies, even if they haven't enjoyed other DC comics movies. In places this movie did feel more like a Marvel movie to me, but that will probably not be everyone's opinion.

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Pros and Cons of Summer

This is the last of my seasons series, where I discuss what I like or dislike about each season. Summer isn't my favourite, but it isn't my least favourite, either. Do you count summer as officially starting on the solstice, or on the 1st of June?

1. Summer holiday! (Or vacation as some people might call it) I was never one of those who enjoyed school. Sitting behind a desk for so many hours straight having to try and learn what a teacher was talking about was never fun, and I'm awful at keeping my work up together, and I didn't have many friends. So, summer was six weeks where I didn't have to do anything but chill out and watch TV. And yes, it is six weeks in Britain. Which means we don't have the summer camp culture that the USA does, but possibly means there was less time to get bored.
2. Going on holiday! (Or vacation) Since I'm a travel-lover, even as a child I loved going on holiday. Some of my more vivid memories are of things that happened abroad. I am a firm believer that nothing is quite as stimulating to a child as a holiday, and the enrichment they get is worth any amount of time spent in class.
3. Good weather! Nice, not-too-hot sunny weather with a little cloud and a light breeze. Outside reading in the garden with an ice cream soda. That's the best life.
4. Barbeques! Amazing food, cooked perfectly. I think barbequing is the best way to cook most things. What's not to like?
5. The clothes! I much prefer a summer dress to being wrapped up in ever-so-many layers. It's much comfier, and I feel prettier, too. I'm more likely to buy clothes in summer than winter, just because they look nicer in the shop.
6. Easier to wake up. Waking up when it's light outside, warm and the birds are singing is bliss. Waking up in the cold and dark? No thank you.

1. Sometimes, it's just too hot. In England, air conditioning is rare in houses, which means there's no way of cooling your house down. 30C without air-con is harder to deal with than 40C with it.
2. And then, it's sometimes cold. I think there might be some science here, as to why 15C in the summer feels colder than 0C in the winter. But you wake up, and it's cloudy, but you put a summer dress in the hope it will warm up later, but it doesn't and you're cold all day. If you're unlucky, it might even rain. I think this might be a British phenomenon more than anything.
3. Hay fever/summer cold. I suffer from allergies and pick up summer colds easy, and I can never tell when one ends and another begins. Late summer into autumn is my worst time for allergies.

Do you agree or disagree with any of my points? Do you have your own reasons for liking summer?