Monday, 27 June 2016

Sam Claflin's Thirtieth Birthday

He's a rising star and he's gorgeous to boot, so what better way to wish Sam Claflin a Happy Birthday than a feature about him and his film roles:


Tuesday, 21 June 2016

I Dreamt My DVD Collection Had Vanished

Around a week ago, my Hugh Grant DVD collection just vanished into thin air. I searched and searched, scratching my head trying to think where on earth they could be, willing them back into my library. I woke up before finding them but thankfully it was only a dream and they're still lined in two small rows sorted by colour for harmony's sake.

Many a time since becoming a Minimalist have I questioned their place in my home, as well as felt guilty at spending money on some of the titles, as they are clearly not worth re-watching. Sorry Hugh, but even I must admit that films such as Train to Hell and Small Time Crooks are not worth more than one viewing, if that.

However, despite this, I could never give away my collection or a part of it, simply for the sake of simplifying my life. The film world is a part of my life, whether people understand that or not, and I do truly enjoy watching the whole of an actor's filmography, examining each storyline as if it held the key to one of the world's secrets. And actually sometimes it does!

If I had not sought to buy those films of Grant's that are little known or not at all, I would never have stumbled upon Our Sons or Maurice, for example. Both these stories deal with gay protagonists in a world that is barely tolerant of them at best, and give a heart-wrenching portrayal of how cruel fate can be. They also strive to show that there truly is no need for such hostility, that humanity resides or at least should reside, in all of us regardless of gender, colour or religion, as well as also regardless of social class.

But I digress here. The point is that each DVD in my collection has given me something - a memory; an eureka; at times a whole new way of seeing things - and whilst I am able to remember all this regardless of whether the actual DVD still sits on my shelf, I treat what I call my HG collection as a whole and wouldn't dream of giving away a part of that whole, though I will always keep on adding to it still with new titles and old.

When it comes to DVDs, I think of them in batches - an actor's filmography, a whole series, Harry Potter, the Marvel franchise - and one missing title seems to throw the set off balance in some cases. However one thing I did learn along the way, is that unless a 'set' is made up of instalments that follow each other, I should feel free to buy only those titles that I either love already or think I might, rather than even those I would never dream of popping into the player. In the same way, I find that I am buying the BluRay version of films that benefit from the added image detail whilst getting DVDs of films that are not dependant on design of some kind, when there is a notable difference in price.

It is true that the size of the casing of the two options differ and also true that as a result, my Sam Claflin collection sits in two different places, his Hunger Games character mingling with Harry Potter and Downton Abbey characters, whilst Love, Rosie has taken up residence beside my husband's Lee Evans show DVD because sometimes size does matter, at least when trying to give some semblance of order to an ever-growing set of colourful and titled boxes.

I have written at length about a film collection that is slowly but surely gaining always more prominence in the living area of our open plan. This is still quite alright with me, as we are all three of us film enthusiasts at home and I am a film-lover as much as I am a Minimalist. When it comes to books, however, despite being an avid reader, I take a totally different stance, making sure they do not take over our little world. Here is a link to my 'Minimalist Library Mindset' entry:

Minimalist Library Mindset

I'm a bookworm... And an advocate for a tiny library!

How many books have you read in your life? How many of them have you read twice or more times? You could probably count them on one hand, two if you're lucky.

What about your 'grab in a fire' books? Assuming your home library is close to your fire exit but you still just have time to grab and go... Which book/s would you pick? I'm assuming there's only one or two titles that pop into your mind at such short notice.

Most book-lovers tend to hoard books because they could never let a book go, they say, both possessively and also with a kind of pride. So they buy another bookcase, spend more hours dusting over, under and around books (as well as the books themselves!) and continually add more titles to their collection. I have often come across avid readers with piles of still-unread books sitting around their homes, apparently not tantalising enough as they always get left behind for another day.

I once read this particular pearl of wisdom that I'm about to share. I believe I came across it in a book by Marie Kondo, the advocate for keeping only that which we love. Kondo suggests that unless a book is read immediately after we come across it and buy it/loan it, the probability is we never will get around to reading it at all. Now Kondo is a practical guru most of the time, and she would totally understand if you were leaving your book untouched because of more pressing matters such as exams, family commitments or more important reading material such as research for work or school. But the truth of it is, sometimes there is no real reason other than that we're always finding a more-interesting book to read than the one in the pile. In which case I agree with the KonMari method of letting it go. Another observation she makes in one or both of her books is that the less books we have in our reading pile, the more likely it is that we will read and enjoy the reading process. Because a pile reflects on the mind as a chore, as an unfinished business, making it less than enticing.

Given I was willing to try anything at least once when it comes to a Minimalist approach to things, I did start keeping only those unread books that still give me butterflies to think of. Just like anyone else, I must sometimes leave intriguing novels untouched for a while after purchase or after I borrow them out of the library as I always first read work-related books. However, we all know deep down which text will resonate with us, which one we will pick up with trembling hands once we have the time to read it through, and which ones have lost their allure since that trip to the bookstore many moons ago.

In the same way, even once read, a book is not automatically given a pass to my bookshelf. To get there it must have not only been interesting and received a good mental (or literal) review from my side. More than that, it must be one of the following:

a) something I plan on rereading as it was so fab
b) a film tie-in edition book as those I collect as part of my film-related memorabilia
c) a book that was so awesome that even should I never get around to rereading it due to remembering all the details in it for years on end, made such a wow read that I want to often be able to hug it like a friend (yes, call me weird but I have hugged books!)

Even after all of this, some books make it to my bookshelf for a while and then find themselves going to a new home anyway. Why? Because as an individual I change over the years, and what was once a story I would want to reread over and over again might now have lost its appeal in light of a new discovery, new material, new outlook on my part. I put this much more eloquently in the following post from a while ago:

Monday, 13 June 2016

Happy Birthday Cap'n!!

It's Chris Evans' 35th birthday today so it's only fitting that this entry be about him. He's gorgeous and he's charming, has a laugh that no one can match and a run that no stuntman could copy (he blames that on the dance lessons growing up!)

He is best known for his role as Captain America in the Marvel franchise but he's been in so many more films, as well as having made his directorial debut in the 2014 low-budget film Before We Go.

A little over a year ago I was doing intensive research for a feature about the guy and found myself against a brick wall, dealing with a star who doesn't divulge much about himself, especially as he is so self-conscious in front of an audience. Still, I wouldn't give up and watched as many of his films as I could, in order to present my readers with an informative feature which I published on

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Boycotting Characters... A New Extreme

I am a pro-lifer. It is evident on my social media where I often post pro-life messages, in informative comments I post disagreeing with pro-abortion articles, in my choice to take a stance during the recent debate regarding the introduction of embryo freezing in my country, regardless of whether I would lose followers for my views. I believe in morality, in life and also in being true to myself even as a professional and commercial writer. However I recently drew the line at an absurd turn that the pro-life movement took. Believe it or not, I even got myself to 'unlike' a page that strives to raise awareness against abortion, a page whose posts I must probably have often shared on my own profile.

What, you are questioning, could possibly sway me from my views? I am still pro-life, avidly so, but I disagree with all the articles and comments on such pages that are trying hard to get people to boycott the film Me Before You, the film I have been promoting these past months which is based on the book that I reviewed so positively only lately. (

Mind you, I have no commission for my troubles of promoting this wonderful story. As I say
in my review, however, the book taught me so much and one of its protagonists - Will Traynor - is a person I wish could have been real and who I could have met, despite that I would never wish anyone to live the horrible couple of years he goes through in the book.

Now the reason why pro-life organisations are striving so hard to bad-mouth this story is because they have misinterpreted the fact that euthanasia is one of the themes of the book/film as meaning that the author, as well as the actors who took on the main characters' roles in the film interpretation, must be promoting the right to and the sense in euthanasia. This is definitely not the case and not only are all the characters in the book save for Will himself against the idea of taking him to Dignitas but also find it hard to even accept his views and decisions. That in itself speaks to me of a pro-life stance in this plot? Meanwhile, actor Sam Claflin has been bombarded with questions, not just in interviews but also on an  #askSam session on Twitter, asking for his stance on the matter as well as how people in Will's situations don't really think like the character does about their life.

It's all well and good to give your view, even stick to your guns and openly challenge any opposition. However, to attack an actor, as some actually did with their words, simply because he is committed to his career role enough to know that once he embodies a character he must not question that character in order to portray him well, is to show the ignorance that seeps in with extremism in whatever the subject matter. Be it religion, values, race or gender issues or any other of the multitude of aspects of life that can have people taking sides, extremism can only ever lead to hate and never to a proper representation of what we believe in.

To me, to attack a writer for a creative and fictional work goes beyond sense, reason and even the cause in question. Apart from the fact that these articles and comments are misinterpreting the story and misinforming the public about it, causing unnecessary damage and harm, they also showed me that extremism can lead to ridiculous situations. Why was this film, out of all the thousands that come out each year, singled out for its message? (again, being pro-euthanasia is not even really the message here!)

If we can condemn a film for dealing with euthanasia (though to be honest given the particular life that Will leads in the book, his life always overshadowed by pain and sickness and a looming unknown death date but which hangs close nonetheless I can hardly condemn his personal choice), then we should be condemning also all the following:

- thrillers for using murder as the basis for a story and most especially Murder by Numbers for showing us the murderer's side of things.
- films that pose ethical questions and give both sides to the story (such as Extreme Measures).
- films that show anti-heroes which means we are glorifying the good side of a human who might also have a bad one (such as Puncture).
- films that put thieves in a good light (such as Gone in Sixty Seconds).
- films that use sexual content, even extensively, in the film in order to properly present the storyline and plot (Bitter Moon definitely falls in this category).

The above is by no means an exhaustive list but what I mean to say is, all of the above examples are of situations that are less than perfect, and yet no one, as far as I know, has openly opposed any of these films for the way they show things. As an author and aspiring novelist, I believe in creativity and that includes coming up with storylines that might at times include questionable activity on the part of the fictitious characters. This does not mean either that I agree with the character's choices or even that I am presenting these situations as ideals or endorsing them. Furthermore, I am sure I would be gutted if anyone were to consider my characters' actions as my own, moreso if I am attacked for these same actions.

And so, to conclude before side-tracking from my initial point, I will not be boycotting Me Before You, nor any other film for that matter, and feel free to form my own opinions not only about the characters' choices but also about whether they might actually have been necessary to the plot. And so what I will boycott is, rather, those organisations that I feel are doing more harm than good in their misinterpreted and as afore-mentioned extreme ideologies which are spread around for unsuspecting receivers to acknowledge and react to.

Picture found at