Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Movie Madness: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Welcome to another Movie Madness post!

Today's movie isn't a recent one, but it's one that I've wanted to see for a while: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. In case you've been living under a rock for the past 20+ years (hands up who used to watch the cartoon version? Me too!), TMNT is the story of four genetically mutated turtles who live underneath New York. They've been raised in secrecy, but when a kingpin threatens to unleash a virus across NYC, they're forced to come out into the light, and be the heroes their city needs them to be.

This film is a typical adult/kid crossover film - there's a whole lot of action for the adults, and a load jokes for the kids. Despite my utter love for everything TMNT and it's entertainment factor, this film did fall a little bit short for me.

Firstly, it did take a while for me to get used to seeing the turtles in 3D, rather than 2D. I was born and raised on the cartoon version, so it did take me a while to get used to it. But the graphics were good, although I did feel like they'd blown up each turtle's personality out of proportion. I already knew that Michaelangelo was the joker, Donatello was the tech guy, Leonardo was the leader and Raphael was the cool dude; but they just made it so completely obvious in the film that I found it wearing. Also, there's a part were Raphael makes a giant, heartfelt speech while they're falling from a skyscraper and all I could think was really? You're about to die, and instead of screaming, you're making a speech?? I know, I know, it's a kids film, but even so (in all fairness, they were falling for A REALLY LONG time).

Michaelango's jokes also started to grated on me after a while. I'm all for a funny character, but I personally don't like characters that have to make a joke every time they open their mouths. But I guess a kid would probably enjoy the jokes more than me anyway.

In terms of plot, I actually quite enjoyed this film. It followed a very similar vein to the more recent Spiderman films with the whole 'company trying to create a potentially deadly new form of technology and it's a race against time to shut it down' vibe. I actually thought the plot was quite sophisticated for a kid's film and despite the ridiculous jokes/action sequences, I did want to keep watching to find out what happened in the end.

Megan Fox played April O'Neil, and although I'm not huge Megan Fox fan, I thought she did okay. It would've been nice to explore her character a little bit more, as well as delve a little deeper into the bond between the turtles, but I guess they did have a lot to fit in in an hour and forty minutes. But the one thing I think let this film down was the villain: the great and irreplaceable Shredder.

I LOVED Shredder as a kid. In fact, I probably had a tiny bit of a crush on him if I'm honest (what can I say? I love my villains!) But in the film? He's a bit of a joke. He barely makes an appearance, and when he does, he's dressed in such a ridiculous outfit that I couldn't concentrate on what he was saying because I was too busy wondering how many knives one man really needed:

Personally, I think he's a tad underdressed...

I feel like they really wasted an opportunity to delve into Shredder's character, but maybe I just need to stop thinking about this film in adult terms. As a kid, I probably would've loved Shredder. Oh, but guess what the name of Shredder's terrifying 'clan' is? The Foot Clan. I could not stop laughing. There must be more menacing names for a clan than 'foot' surely?

Anyway, overall, TMNT was an entertaining film. If you've got kids, this'll definitely keep them entertained for one afternoon during summer; and if you're from the original TMNT era like me, I think this is probably worth a watch just for old time's sake.

Have you seen TMNT? What did you think? Did you used to watch the cartoons? Who was your favourite turtle?? Mine used to be Leonardo, but I have to confess that I do have a soft spot for Raphael's bad boy vibe now...

Monday, 17 August 2015

I'm still alive...

...just in case you were wondering ;).

It's been quite a while since I've blogged/been on Twitter/done anything remotely social media related. I went home for a couple of days, then my sister came to stay last week and I've spent the weekend on various boats/hanging out with my fiance for once. I haven't even been thinking about my blog, or writing, or being on Twitter.

And it has felt so good.

I can't lie. It's been amazing. All that pressure I felt at the beginning of summer (you may remember my panicked IWSG post? Yeah, that) has mostly melted away. True, when I think about what I wanted to accomplish this summer, I still feel a bit sad and panicky that I haven't managed to write two whole books and plan a further two - but then again, I've had such a good time just totally switching off, that I don't regret it at all.

In all honesty, as much as I love being a part of the online writing community, it's not very good for my mental health. I'm one of those people who constantly obsess over little things, and I feel like I'm doing something wrong because everyone else seems to living the dream, whereas I'm just constantly plodding along behind, desperately trying to catch up. My worst habit is comparing myself to others, and although I know I'm being stupid, my anxiety still doesn't let go. It's no good telling someone with anxiety to simply 'get over it', or to 'stop worrying' because the point is, they can't. Trust me, they want to - they want to stop obsessing more than anything in the world, but it's incredibly difficult to break the cycle of obsessive thoughts and worrying once you get into it. You just need time, and patience and - for me at least - to get out of your own head for a while.

So, really, what I'm trying to say is that I may not be around as much as I have been. Don't get me wrong, I'm still going to try and blog every week, but I'm not going to exhaust myself trying to do it. I'm also going to be cutting my time on Twitter - me and social media have had an on/off relationship for years and it's only lately that I've realised how much social media feeds my anxiety. It's why I barely use Facebook anymore. I'd rather not put myself through the pain of obsessive and depressing thoughts for days on end, just because someone I barely know got a new hairstyle, and my hair hasn't been cut in weeks. Sound stupid? That's because it is. And yet, my poor brain will still go into overdrive.

I'm hoping that by cutting my time on social media, it'll not only give me a proper break and a chance to relax, but it'll also help me start writing again. I have the ideas and the inspiration but I do appear to be procrastinating rather a lot (or maybe this is what every author goes through before writing their second book? If so, let me know in the comments!) and once again, if I happen to see that Author X, Y & Z have all got book deals/movie deals/releasing their 10th book in a year on Twitter, then it'll just make my anxiety worse (see above. See, told you it was a vicious circle).

This week, I'm going to visit a friend in London for a few days, before spending my last week of the holidays up north with my family. I'm ssooo looking forward to it. I may feel inspired to write a little today, but then again, I may not, and that's okay too. To be honest, I'm mainly planning on spending today sitting in the sunshine, reading - I bought a new book last week for the first time in forever, and it feels great to be reading again (for those of you who are curious, it's a little book called The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, and you're not allowed to tell me ANYTHING that happens, okay? Okay, good) - reading a great book always inspires me to write, so it's not going to be time wasted at all ;).

I'm off now to sit in the sun and relax. Sorry for the ultra-long post, but I thought you guys deserved a decent explanation for everything.

Have a great week, everyone!

Have you ever been on a social media break? Did it help you write/focus/relax at all? How's your summer going?

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Happy National Book Lovers Day!

Today is National Book Lovers Day! To celebrate I've teamed up with the lovely people at Casper to bring you a list of my favourite bedtime reads (because what better way to celebrate Book Lovers Day than curling up in bed with a good book?).

I haven't actually been doing a lot of reading in bed lately - it used to be my favourite pastime; going to bed early, reading til past my bedtime then going to sleep dreaming about the story I'd just read. But for various reasons, that just hasn't happened over the last few months. So instead, I'm bringing you a list of my top five bedtime reads I had as a child:

1. The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton

To be fair, I could've mentioned any book by Enid Blyton, but it's this book in particular that's stuck with me through the years. I LOVED reading about all the different lands at the top of the tree, but even more than reading about the magical lands, I loved reading about the food. Yup, typical Rachel; always loves reading about food! Whenever I used to read this book in bed, I always wanted to get up and have a midnight snack. The friendships that are formed in this book are simply beautiful; I loved how well the children got on with the folk in the Faraway Tree, and reading about all their adventures - especially the ones where they snuck out of the house at night! I used to wish I would meet my very own Silky and Moonface in the woods around where I lived (but not Saucepanman - I didn't really like him). In fact, I have such great memories of this book, that when me and my partner saw it on sale in a supermarket a few years ago, we just had to buy it. And needless to say, it was just as magical reading it now as it was when I was reading it all those years ago.

2. The Usborne Book of Legends

You know when you read a book over and over as a child, that even now you can vividly recall the illustrations and parts of the text? That's what this book does for me. I simply adore the pictures in this book! It's a collection of Greek legends, and these tales fascinated me as a child. Even though I knew how each story ended, every time I reread the book my heart would start thumping again because I was terrified the hero wouldn't survive! I genuinely don't think I have a favourite Greek legend that I can pick out...although a lot of the tasks Hercules was set still stick in my mind. I was so happy when I managed to track this book cover down on the internet - just seeing the cover brought back so many memories. We had a couple of other Usborne books in our house too, and once again, although I can't remember the titles, I can still remember the cartoons!

3. Cosy Corner Stories by Meg Daniels

This is a collection of short stories that I got as a gift one Christmas from a family friend. I can still remember curling up in a chair with a bar of chocolate and reading this book over and over again (have you noticed a common theme yet?). Although I don't think this book was that well known, it meant a lot to me because of the person who gave it to me and the fact that I used to read it so much. As you can see, I still have it today. The stories were only very short; they were all about animals and usually had some theme running through them, but to me, this was a delightful collection of tales that kept me entertained throughout the years.

4. Grimm's Fairytales/Favourite Fables

I've been a little bit cheeky and combined two in one here, but as a child, these books went hand in hand. Even before I found these books in our spare room so I could take a photo of them, I can still remember the illustrations in these books. What is it about illustrations that makes them stick in your mind so much?? I can also remember being in bed and and thinking about how heavy the book was while I was reading Favourite Fables, which as you can see, is a pretty hefty title! I was so excited when I got both of these books - I have a feeling they were gifts, but it's the Favourite Fables book that I remember being super excited about (that should give you some idea of how much of a bookworm I am - who else would be so excited about a massive book they could barely lift?). To this day, I have a special soft spot for fairytales, traditional tales, the Brother's Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen.

5. Spooky Stories 

I've saved my favourite book for last. Spooky Stories is a collection of scary short stories and creepy poems, which I used to absolutely LOVE reading, especially before I went to sleep! There's one poem that I can remember even now - it was about a ghost who wanted hot buttered toast, and whenever I read it, I immediately wanted toast (and quite often, I'd go and made myself some!). This is an absolutely fabulous book that I enjoyed well after I grew up. It was just so fresh and original when I read it, that there's no doubt in my mind that it's subconsciously influenced my writing - in fact, whenever I do get the urge to write a horror story (which happens more often than you might think), it's always a short story I write, never a novel. When I moved out of my parent's house, I knew immediately that this was a book I simply had to keep. And you may not be surprised to hear, that this was a birthday present from my mum and dad - and I think the fact that I still have it and cherish it now speaks volumes.

So there you go! Those are my top five books that I remember reading by the light of my bedside lamp (which was shaped like a tortoise and I called it Tilly) for many years. These weren't the only books I read (and reread) - I had boxes and boxes of books crammed into my wardrobe, as well as a bookcase downstairs, but these were the titles that immediately sprang to mind when I was asked to write this post.

I hope you enjoyed finding out about my favourite childhood bedtime reads! And a special thanks goes to Casper for giving me the opportunity to write this. If you fancy finding out more about Casper and what they do, you can check out their website here (which has nothing to do with friendly ghosts, I promise).

What were your favourite books to read as a child? Do you still remember them now? What bedtime books would you recommend?

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

IWSG August: Writing Blues

It's that time of the month again, where writers from all around the blogosphere share their insecurities and encourage others in their writing. You can check out the full IWSG list here, and you can also check out the IWSG website here.

I haven't actually been doing any writing over the past few weeks. There, I admitted it. And now I feel horrible.

I knew before summer began that I'd probably take the first week off and just relax and do whatever I wanted to do for once. But now it's halfway through the second week of the holidays, and I've been flicking through my diary this morning, only to discover that I'm actually pretty busy over the next three weeks - which means I'm in danger of my whole holiday going by and not doing any writing whatsoever. And because I now have this fear in my head, I'm even more reluctant to start writing, because I'm already panicking over my lack of time.

I always do this. I know a lot of you will probably be rolling your eyes and thinking, 'what does she have to complain about? She gets a five week summer holiday!!' but here's the thing: if you've been following my blog for a while, you'll probably know by now that I suffer from anxiety. This means I get really worked up over tiny things, and I can spend days obsessing over certain thoughts. It's not pretty. And it's exactly what I'm doing now. I'm obsessing over the fact that my holiday will end 'soon' (because I always do this - whenever I take a holiday, I immediately start counting down the days until it ends, which means I never feel like I fully enjoy my time off...does anyone else do this??), and I'm berating myself for 'wasting' last week when I should've been doing work. So I feel like I'm stuck in-between a rock and a hard place, because I feel crappy for not writing, and I'm worried I won't get anything done, and I'm upset because I feel like I'm wasting my time doing other things when I should've been writing...in a nutshell, I just feel like I'm doing everything wrong. And I really hate feeling this way.

Gosh, that was a bit more of a rant than I meant it to be! I think this afternoon I'll do the baking I was planning on doing (because baking always calms me down when I feel myself getting worked up), then sit down with my current WIP and just see what happens. It's not like I haven't had any ideas over the past week, it's just because I've been trying to relax/been procrastinating ever-so-slightly. So we'll see how it goes...

What do you do when you get yourself worked up about lack of writing? Do you ever get worked up by the little things? What are your fears this month? Thank you for stopping by!

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Cover Reveal: The Story's End by Danielle E. Shipley

Morning all! Today, I'm honoured to be part of the cover reveal for the lovely Danielle E. Shipley's upcoming book, The Story's End: Book Seven of The Wilderhark Tales. Check out the awesome cover and book blurb below!

For Gant-o’-the-Lute, “ever after” has been less than happy. With the last of Carillon’s charm over him gone, the minstrel-king puts royalty behind him in pursuit of the music he once knew and the lifelong dream he let slip through his fingers. But dark whispers on the wind warn that time is running out – not only for Lute and the apprentice in his shadow, but the whole of earth and Sky.

The Story’s End
Book Seven of The Wilderhark Tales

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An enchantress’s curse turns a spoiled royal into a beast; a princess’s pricked finger places her under a hundred-year spell; bales of straw are spun as golden as the singing harp whisked down a giant beanstalk – all within sight of Wilderhark, the forest that’s seen it all.

You’ve heard the stories – of young men scaling rope-like braids to assist the tower-bound damsel; of gorgeous gowns appearing just in time for a midnight ball; of frog princes, and swan princes, and princes saved from drowning by maidens of the sea. Tales of magic. Tales of adventure. Most of all, tales of true love.

Once upon a time, you knew them as fairytales. Know them now as Wilderhark’s.

Author bio

Danielle E. Shipley’s first novelettes told the everyday misadventures of wacky kids like herself. …Or so she thought. Unbeknownst to them all, half of her characters were actually closeted elves, dwarves, fairies, or some combination thereof. When it all came to light, Danielle did the sensible thing: Packed up and moved to Fantasy Land, where daily rent is the low, low price of her heart, soul, blood, sweat, tears, firstborn child, sanity, and words; lots of them. She’s also been known to spend short bursts of time in the real-life Chicago area with the parents who home schooled her and the two little sisters who keep her humble. When she’s not living the highs and lows of writing, publishing, and all that authorial jazz, she’s probably blogging about it at www.EverOnWord.wordpress.com.

General info

Genre: fairytale novella
Release date: October 13, 2015
Available to add to your Goodreads shelf
Future availability: Paperback (Amazon and CreateSpace) and e-Book (Kindle and Nook)

Monday, 3 August 2015

Changing habits...

When I was in school, I was the type of kid that would HAVE to complete her homework and handed it in a day early. There was absolutely no question of me not handing it in - I'm just not a rebel at all.

But as I get older, I'm starting to notice that I tend to leave things later and later. I've always loved schedules and lists and working to deadlines, but lately...I've noticed that if I don't absolutely have to do something by a certain time, I won't. It's an annoying trait that I wish I could stop developing, but somehow, I just keep procrastinating.

This isn't just to do with writing. For example, I've known about a particular job opening for a good three weeks now - so when do I decide to apply? The day applications close. It's like my brain knows I have to get cracking, but there's a delay between my brain and actually, y'know, getting stuff done. I'm kinda hoping this is something I can grow back out of, as I've always prided myself on being an organised person, and if I'm honest, it really does irritate me. I constantly beat myself up for not doing whatever it is I'm supposed to have done, and yet, I still keep putting things off! I like to tell myself it's because I work better to deadlines and under pressure, but the fact is, I'm actually useless under pressure. I panic and sweat and get very VERY anxious.

I don't know - is this something that happens to everyone? Or now that I don't have to get up everyday to work on the farm/go to work, am I just getting lazier? Hopefully it is just a phase - one I'm sure won't be helped by the summer holidays - but one I can eventually change ;).

Happy Monday, everyone!

Do you find that you put things off until the last moment? Do you mind, or do you have a way to break the cycle?