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BOOK REVIEW: AND THEN WE RAN BY KATY CANNON

12 April 2017

Written by Nafisha Atcha
for Daily Focal

You know when you read a book and it makes you feel every single emotion possible? That is what I felt when I read And Then We Ran by Katy Cannon.

And Then We Ran centres around Megan and Elliott who live in a small English Town where everyone knows each others business and cannot wait to give their two pennies worth. Both Megan and Elliott are about to make the next moves in their lives and as with all big decisions teenagers have to make, it comes with a lot of questions which need answers.

 Megan has finally figured out exactly what she wants she do in life. She is also trying to cope with the grief of her sister. Elliot on the other hand has is own family troubles which in a small town, leaves him feeling quite isolated. Both of them have felt the pain of growing up quickly compared to others their age. 

Cannon brings them together and we watch them embark on a joint journey of self-discovery. We see them laugh, cry, hide and even get angry. What is beautiful about Cannon and her writing is that we are meant to feel every single one of those emotions. From the crazy ideas Megan comes up with to the surprising ending I was hoping for but was not sure was going to happen. 

As I was reading it, I fell wholeheartedly into the world Cannon created from the seaside town to crying with the character as they embark on their journeys. I felt I was living in the town created by Cannon with Megan and Elliott standing by them as the story unfolds. 

And Then We Ran is a beautiful coming of age story written by a wonderful author. If you love an emotional Young Adult book this is one which will tick the box. And Then We Ran is available to pre-order from Amazon and hits the shelves on the 7th April.

WHY DOGS ARE THE BEST COMPANIONS

07 April 2017

Written by Kirsty Hanson
for Daily Focal

I’ve wanted a dog for as long as I can remember. I aways used to get so excited when my parents would offer to look after my Grandma’s dog when she would go on holiday for the weekend; I loved the feeling of looking after them and playing with them. But we never had a dog of our own - up until two years ago.


It was just so random. One day, my Mom came home and asked whether we wanted a dog. My cousin is in charge of a rescue centre for cats and dogs and there was a King Charles Cavalier that was looking for a home after being abused - she was used as a breeding dog her whole life. I saw the picture of her and I instantly fell in love. She had these eyes that were wide and gorgeous and she looked so sweet. Fast forward a few weeks and loads of paperwork and we welcomed Luna into our home. Two years later and she is one of the best things that has ever happened to me. 

At first, Luna was quiet and all she did was stay in her bed. It was understandable - she hadn’t been shown any love in her whole life and now here she was, in a strangers home, probably worrying if she would get abused all over again. I loved her with every ounce of my being. 

At the time of writing, she is currently lying on my arm and snoring her head off and making it incredibly difficult for me to type this, but I don’t care, because I would stop the world for her.

I think the moment I realised how much she actually meant to me was when I was going through a break up last year. It was the one of the hardest times in my life and words cannot describe how down I felt; it was just awful. I wouldn’t leave the house, I had completely forgot how to look after myself and even though my parents and my best friend was there for me 24/7, Luna would always come up to me and snuggle into my arms. She knew that I was feeling like I had had enough. I remember a very specific day where I just cried into her fur. I was painting the living room walls whilst my parents and my sister had gone out, and I suddenly just burst out crying and fell to floor. I was a mess. I was in a heap, shaking and crying. And then I suddenly had a panic attack. I couldn’t breathe, I felt the walls closing in and I was going dizzy. Luna found me shaking on the floor, nuzzled herself in my chest and looked up at me. I don’t know what happened but I could suddenly breathe again. I gave her a massive hug and cried into her fur and just spoke to her about how shit I was feeling and throughout it all, she just looked at me and listened. I have never been so grateful. She probably saved my life. 

Some people don’t understand how pets can do that. How they can mean so much to someone. I used to be one of those people. My best friend used to talk about her dogs and how much she loved them, but I could never really understand what she meant - until Luna came into my life. 

I just - ugh - I’m getting emotional now… I really don’t know what I would do without her. 
She saved my life. She’s my best friend. And I really couldn’t ask for a better dog to share my life with.

T2 TRANSPORTING | FILM REVIEW

05 April 2017

Finally, I can write about this. I’ve literally waited since my 15th birthday – that was the first time I saw Trainspotting – for the sequel. For years it wasn’t sure if there would be one, but I saw Trainspotting over and over again. I read Trainspotting and Porno over and over again, begging Irvine Welsh to push things forward. Then it happened, the sequel in cinemas end of January.

I’m such a stupid person sometimes. I got all hyped about the film being released at January 27th, that I didn’t pay attention. It wasn’t released here in the Netherlands till the 16th of February. It’s safe to say I was actually devastated when I walked into the cinema and they started laughing at me. I could actually cry tears to be honest. Might have done it too.

I’m not going to lie, I had massive concerns about it the film. Trainspotting has some sort of cult status within British cinematography. It was so pure, so raw, so real. It was a film that not only gave you a sense of identification, to a certain degree. Don’t worry, I don’t do heroine. But it also let people see the struggles of young folk in their twenties, dealing (no pun intended) with love, football (for all the Hibs out there), friendship, career choices and trying to be better than the previous generation. This all made the film from 1996 brilliant in my opinion.




So 20 years later, I watch the trailers and I’m even more worried about it. I’m scared it got too much American. There’s nothing wrong with being American or the way they make films, but what I personally love about British cinema is that they focus on the quality of conversation in their productions. At least that’s what I hope. I was so afraid of the film being all about events, too much events. About violence and not about storylines or conversation. I’m so happy to say that I was completely wrong.

Yes, I will start talking about the actual film right now. I saw the first film over 50 times, I’m not going to pretend I didn’t and it’s good to watch the first film before you go see T2 Trainspotting. I guess you can understand everything that’s going on without it, but the thing that makes this second film better, is the continuity. I would say the biggest thing that makes this film good, is the character development. It’s a coming of age 2.0 as you will. We get insight into the past 20 years of every main character in the film – I love it that they have got the original cast, it made me so happy.


I think the main part of the storyline is that there’s unfinished business when Renton gets back to Edinburgh. Spud, Begsby and Sick boy all have different lives because of the event that occurred at the end of the first film. They all react in a different manner, but there’s one vital difference. Spud and Sick boy, keep their friendship with Renton, but the situation with Begsby escalated over the years as we can see from his prison sentence and his family situation.


For me, the film deals with two very important aspect of day to day life. It’s not as fun as you want, it’s no Disney. It deals with the relation between friendship and individuality. It shows the dilemma people have with keeping up friendships and doing what’s best for themselves. This balance changes over the film, as the main character value friendship more and more, except Begsby who can be described as doing thing solely for his own purpose.


Further more it also deal with something very real like deception and betrayal. These themes are themes mentioned and played out in the first film. This film continues on that path and it’s talked about more and more by Spud and the deceiving lady. It’s something that breaks the bond between certain actors in the film, but also brings together. Which is very interesting to see.

Of course we ask ourselves the question: Is this going to be such a brilliant film in British film history that will be remembered as its predecessor. No. It’s so much more different. Where as the first film is very raw, this film is much more sophisticated. Don’t get me wrong, it’s good because it gives the complete story it’s completeness. But it isn’t as cult, as the first film.


Although the film has an epic soundtrack again – especially Prodigy’s mix of Iggy Pop’s Lust for life, oh my word. – the visual effect and the music is of less importance to the film. That’s because not only have the actors developed over the years, it’s also director Danny Boyle who has developed as a filmmaker. 


I think the message of this film is that real friendships can last for a very long time. Even when you’ve grown apart and don’t see each other for 20 years. This film is an intelligent film, it tells you a story. A story of group of friends who still have the same habits, but have become wiser in the process.


God, I loved this film.

Marc's Film Review Ranking:

10/10



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MY SOCIAL MEDIA ADDICTION

31 March 2017

Written by Ashleigh Hitter
https://ashleighhitter.wordpress.com
for Daily Focal

Somebody said to me today that I was addicted to social media and I was completely affronted... Me? Addicted to social media? I got all moody and said I'm hardly ever on it, then I took a step back and realised I'm on it all the time! Because I now class myself as a blogger I use that as an excuse, got to tweet something lol, need to upload a sassy insty pic every other day, must share a thoughtful link or funny video on my Facebook page and although yes I do need to engage on social media if I want to get my name "out there" but maybe I should dedicate an hour a day to social media and find something more fulfilling to do in the other 23 hours of my day! Guess what? The world will still keep turning if you don't tweet one day! Here's a few ideas of what to do rather than pick up your phone and start mindlessly scrolling:


Catch up with your friends/family
How about rather than reading about people's lives who aren't that important to you on social media, taking that time to text (lol retro, I'd probably Whatsapp) a friend or family member you haven't spoken to in forever because "you don't have time" or, you could even pick up the phone and speak to your grandparents for 10 minutes, you know they'd love to hear your voice and they'll be telling all your other family members that you called.
[Number one grandchild award goes to me *inserts sassy girl emoji* lol]

Cook something
It doesn't have to be a calorie ridden divine Vicky sponge with fresh cream (although that would be bloody delightful) you could do something as simple as cooking your lunches for the week, not only do you get to eat the leftovers it'll also save you some money and prevent you from buying a sausage roll from the sandwich lady (again) and if you can't resist staying away from social media all night insty story your work of art or tweet about it! 

Get creative
Off the top of my head I can tell you 3 things I have been meaning to do but just don't have time... Well I would if I put my phone down. I still haven't completed my America scrapbook.I went over a year ago. My great British bake off (yep you heard right) colouring in book although so enticing has been left untouched and my positivity book has seldom complete pages! Surely more enjoyable than getting thumb ache from all that scrolling? And think of all the pretty pens/pencils it gives you an excuse to buy!  Once again if these delights are completed it makes much more exciting content for you to tweet/blog/insty about.

Exercise
I'm not talking running a marathon here, but go out for a walk, bike down to the shop/park/river (the closest 3 exciting things to my flat) or just go out and get some fresh air. I downloaded the Fitbit app as was pretty sure smashing 8,000 steps in a day would be easy, oh how wrong I was. Just to put this into perspective it's 11:03 and I've done 64 steps, granted it's Sunday AKA bed day, but still set some targets (start small) and get a bit competitive with yourself. I'd much rather walk 1,000 steps than sit on my lardy for half an hour, because I can do that for the rest of the night! 

BEAUTY & THE BEAST | FILM REVIEW

29 March 2017

Written by Lauren Francis
for Daily Focal

A tale as old as time Beauty and the Beast is one of the most iconic Disney movies, and the hotly anticipated live action remake has hit our screens. Sticking true to the premise of the original story, Belle (Emma Watson) is a strong willed young woman who is defiant in breaking free from the small, narrow minded village and adamant she will not marry the self obsessed village hottie, Gaston (Luke Evans). Meanwhile in the castle nearby the Beast (Dan Stevens) resides following a spell from the enchantress who cursed him and whoever was living there, only to be broken should the Beast fall in love - and be loved - before the last petal falls from the Enchanted Rose. 

I am throwing it out there early on that I am not the biggest Emma Watson fan, and was wondering whether I could look past this and enjoy the film. I did spend a portion of the film having flashbacks of Hermione and thinking will you please untuck that dress, but overall she does quite the dazzling job at portraying Belle. Dan Stevens had quite the uphill battle having to push past the CGI and make his character visually believable, which he did.


As with any remake change is to be expected and you will come away comparing it to the animated film. It very much focus on the love story between Belle and the Beast and discovering inner beauty. Despite the unease she experiences to begin with, I think most us would be petrified at the very thought of being locked up forever by an angry beast in a crumbling castle, she however warms far too quickly to him without there being any real character development. The Beast is somewhat on the sidelines and although there was some eluding in the prologue to set the scene on how he became a Beast, the focus remains firmly on Belle, her journey and snippets of her past.   

It is incredible to see how far animation has come. It is certainly evident from the outset that this is no half-hearted effort. I sat there totally engrossed on more than one occasion feeling like I was in the thick of it. The Beast’s kingdom was dark, gloomy and had me, metaphorically on the edge of my seat. Despite knowing the film inside out it didn't feel predictable.

We cannot talk about Beauty and the Beast and not mention the talking furniture whom actually steal the show. Emma Thomspon plays the talking teapot and the mother figure throughout the film bringing the air of reason to all. Chip, although not as cute as the animated number, you are still going to want him in your life. The real favourite was Lumière, the candelabra. Get past Ewan McGregor’s eccentric stereotypical French accent and he is just oh so loveable.

Gaston (Luke Evans) is bang on what you expect, self obsessed, narcissistic, and a swagger that oozes arrogance. I would like to mention the ‘exclusively gay moment’ between LeFou that caused some uproar, what an overhype that was. Why this should even cause outrage when this is 2017, is beyond me. 

The accompanying sing-a-longs were perfectly placed, with Watson, Evans and Stevens doing a far better job than expected. Thankfully those of us who are true to the original film will be happy as some of the classics were included as well as some new catchy tunes. Be Our Guest was a vision of jam packed action, proving to be visually the most vibrant and memorable part. Sadly I was a little let down by the iconic Beauty and the Beast which was flat and didn't bring the elegance and emotion to match the pinnacle dance between Belle and Beast. 

Beauty and the Beast is magical, witty, pulls on the heart strings and keeps you on your toes. It’s not easy to remake a classic and with the best will in the world it wasn’t ever going to replace the animated version. It has stayed true to the nature of the original film with some slight changes and didn't leave me disappointed. This 129 minute film is a must watch, in fact I would happily go right now and watch it again. 

Lauren's Film Review Ranking:
8/10

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THE MOST ANTICIPATED BOOK ADAPTATION BEING RELEASED IN 2017

24 March 2017

Written by Kirsty Hanson

for Daily Focal

Since I’m a massive book lover, whenever I hear news about books being adapted into films or television shows, I instantly become nervous; especially when they’re adaptations of books that I have read and enjoyed! There are a lot of adaptations coming in 2017, so I decided to compile a list for you with their release dates (if there is one!)



BEFORE I FALL BY LAUREN OLIVER
(Release date: 3rd March)

This is an amazing book about a popular high school senior called Samantha Kensington, who is enjoying living a wild day in February until she suddenly dies in a car accident. However, she still wakes up the next morning and the next morning, and the next (think Groundhog Day). Sam lives the last day of her life seven times until she finally realises that by making the slightest changes, she holds more power than she ever imagined.



WONDER BY R.J PALACIO
(Release date: 7th April)

The book follows the character of August Pullman who was born with a facial difference that previously prevented him from going to a mainstream school. But now, he’s starting fifth grade at a prep school, he just wants to be treated as an ordinary looking book, but his classmates just can’t seem to get past his face. The book begins from August’s point of view and then switches to his classmates, his sister, and others point of views. The film stars Owen Wilson, Julia Roberts and Jacob Tremblay.



EVERYTHING EVERYTHING BY NICOLA YOON
(Release date: 19th May)

We follow the story of a girl who is quarantined in her own home due to being allergic to everything. She is not allowed to step outside in case she dies. But then a boy moves in next door and she becomes fascinated by him and the mysterious life that he leads. Together, they will both discover a world that they never knew existed.





THE DARK TOWER I: THE GUNSLINGER BY STEPHEN KING
(Release date: 28th July)

This is an adaptation that I’m particularly excited about because I can’t wait to see Idris Elba portray the role of Roland! The book follows the Gunslinger, Rolans Deschain as he roams an Old West-like landscape in search of the dark tower, in the hopes that by reaching it, he will preserve his dying world. 

(No Trailer at Current Moment)

13 REASONS WHY BY JAY ASHER
(Release date: 31st March)

I really didn’t like this book. I think I gave it 2 stars or something like that so I’m hoping that when this series comes to Netflix, it will be better than the book (because it can’t really get much worse!) The story will span over thirteen episodes (ha, see what they did there?) and follows Clay Jensen as he comes home from school to find a parcel on his doorstep containing cassette tapes from a girl names Hannah, who committed suicide.Throughout the book, we learn about why she committed suicide.



AMERICAN GODS BY NEIL GAIMAN
(Release date: April - exact date unknown)

Neil Gaiman’s fantastic book - American Gods - will be receiving a television series on Amazon Prime in April. It will previously be aired in March on Star network in the U.S but unluckily for us U.K folk, we have to wait an extra month. I cannot wait for this adaptation as I’m quite curious as to how Ricky Whittle will be in the role of Shadow Moon. The book follows Shadow, a man who returns to his hometown to find that the love of his life and his best friend are both dead. He is then left on his own to put together the pieces of what happened. It is set in an alternate version of the U.S where gods of the Ancient Egyptian and Norse mythology live in hiding among the every day people. 





So there we have it guys! Those are my most anticipated book adaptations for 2017. I’m sure that they’re are going to be more that are going to be announced over the coming months and of course, we have the adaptations that have already come out this year like Lemony Snicket’s: A Series of Unfortunate Events. You can read my review of that here.

THE POSITIVITY KIT

22 March 2017

Written by Ashleigh Hitter
https://ashleighhitter.wordpress.com
for Daily Focal

I have always been a bit of positive Patricia, maybe verging on the side of annoyingly so. However, since hitting my mid (late) 20's it seems that I'm more of a moaning Morticia these days, which if I'm quite frank is a pain in the arse. I used to love waking up with a fire in my belly and a passion for things and turning those negative things into a positive, unfortunately of late that just hasn't been there for me. 

Buy here
With all this in mind and to try and focus my mind and spirit someone wonderful bought me "The Positivity Kit" a book by Lisa Currie and boy oh boy, it's just what I needed. With an opening scribe insisting "this is not a book to just look at. It's a creative space for you to draw, write, doodle over ad cut and paste. Soon it'll be a catalog of everything that makes you feel good and excited"  Just reading this got me in the mood and armed with crayons, fineliners and hope I started pouring everything into my delightful work of art. I'd like to point out here that my art is worse than my 3 year old nieces but I've enjoyed trying really, really hard.  

Every page is filled to the brim with things to draw, colour in and really gets your mind thinking about happy memories and things that fill your heart with joy. It will definitely take me forever to complete but I like the idea of that and I read through the whole book before I even put pen to paper..... because I didn't want to ruin anything, although it is aparent you can't do something wrong in this book because it is yours all yours and something to refer back to whenever times are hard.

This book has already helped me get that little bit of Patricia back and I hope she will shine through the more I complete of it. 

Let us know if you've competed a Positivity Kit or if there are any other great books that would help us on our journey!

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