Testament of Youth Review

A while ago I watched the Trailer for Testament of Youth and I knew I wanted to know more about it. I bought the book or rather the memoirs of Vera Brittain, which the movie is based on, but I haven’t managed to finish it yet. Nonetheless, I finally decided to watch the movie and I do not regret not having waited any longer! I will keep this post Spoiler-free but I cannot say the same about the comments!

Here some basic facts:

Genre: Biography/Drama/History

Length: 129  minutes

Cast: Alicia Vikander, Kit Harington, Colin Morgan, Taron Egerton, Hayley Atwell, Emily Watson, Dominic West, Miranda Richardson …

Director: James Kent 

Testament of Youth is the real account of Vera Brittain’s life and keeping that in mind, the movie was just so much more heartfelt and heartbreaking than I thought it would be. I can tell you that they did not stick to the book a 100%, but that was a thing of impossibility anyway. What fascinated me so much about it though, was that the point of view wasn’t from someone at the front, someone involved in the actual fighting, but rather the view of a person who got left behind. Vera does everything possible to be of help, joining the volunteers as a nurse and in that way she witnesses her own horrors of war.

I always have my problems with war stories. There are never any real winners. Yet, the movie shows why people joined up, what their course of thinking was – their motivation. It also shows how war changed them and in consequence also their lives, their thinking and the people they love. Towards the end Vera gives an impressive speech in front of a pro-war crowd and she makes it her duty to never forget what happened to the people she cared about. I think we can all agree that she succeeded in doing that.

The movie is so beautiful and sad to watch (I’ll admit to having cried … a lot). The combination of strong visual pictures and quite striking poetry was extremely touching. Everyone involved did an extraordinary job and I was delighted with the work of  Kit Harington (Game of Thrones), Colin Morgan (Merlin), Taron Egerton (Kingsman) and even Hayley Atwell (Agent Carter) whom I barely recognised at first. The real reason to watch is Alicia Vikander (Ex_Machina) though! She gives a strong, sympathetic and worthwhile performance, that I’ll be sure to remember.

Fazit: very recommendable!

Have you watched it as well? Have any of you read Vera’s memoirs?

2014 – blogging in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for my blog and I wanted to share it with you. What a fantastic year it has been and that’s all thanks to you!

Here’s an excerpt:

  • The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 17,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 6 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.
  • The busiest day of the year was September 3rd with 666 views.
  • I wrote 90 posts this year and my longest streak was 5 posts in a row.
  • As of today, the most viewed posts were about Caleb Ruminer and Our Girl!
  • People from 121 countries visited my blog! (Muhahaha, I’m taking over the world!)
  • Funnily enough, people weren’t just referred to my blog from Facebook and Twitter, but also from a dating advice site. I’m not sure they found what they were looking for, but it’s still interesting information to me.

So I hope we can keep this up the next year and maybe we’ll even manage to grow our little community a bit. Again thank you for all your support and a Happy New Year from me (even if it’s a bit in advance)!

Doctor Who Christmas Special 2014

Before I start this post: I wish all of you readers happy holidays! It’s been a great year and I am thankful for all the support I’ve got from you. I’m truly happy about every visit to my page, like and comment! Thanks!

Now, on to Doctor Who! Despite the fact that the episode was named after the single most terrible Christmas song ever produced, meaning Last Christmas, the episode wasn’t nearly as bad. Beware of Spoilers ahead!

Last Christmas … I don’t even know where to start. This was definitely the most Inception-like plot ever, because there were just so many dreams in dreams and technically we still don’t know if they woke up (just like in the movie). There were parts I really liked and others I didn’t like so much. So, without further ado, here are my thoughts on this years’ Christmas Special of Doctor Who:

  • Nick Frost as Santa together with his elves was simply hilarious. Also I was very happy to see Nathan McMullen, who I first encountered on Misfits, in this episode. I like the way they incorporated Santa and left it open as to whether he truly exists or not, even though we don’t actually have Santa in my country and I never believed in him, the thought of him is quite nice. And just fyi: I like getting tangerines. They are totally yummy!
  • Leave it to Steven Moffat to make dreaming unsafe. I generally didn’t dislike the episode, but it was really confusing and even repetitive at times. A very interesting concept, but at times copied from Inception (as I mentioned above).
  • Unfortunately I didn’t care that much about the other dreamers. The only thing that was a bit interesting to see was where and how they woke up.
  • A lot of people wondered why the episode was called “Last Christmas” because there were so many rumours about Jenna Coleman leaving. In truth though, it was Clara‘s and Danny‘s last Christmas together. It was heartbreaking to see them part yet again. Danny is just too perfect, even if he was just a projection in a dream.
  • Well, Jenna Coleman didn’t leave, although I read somewhere that she had a change of heart at the last minute and that they had to rewrite the ending of the episode. (This information was never actually confirmed though) It was originally planned that Clara would die at old age with the Doctor visiting her for the last time. It doesn’t really matter now that that didn’t happen, although that part of was brilliant. The prosthetics didn’t look as terrible as they sometimes tend to look and I just loved the whole scene. The way the Doctor still saw her the way she looked like when she was young and Clara telling him that there was only one other man than Danny, but that he was impossible. In the end, I am very happy though to see her for at least another half-season. We’ll see if she still stays after that.
  • Clara and the Doctor on the sleigh was so cute and lovely. Another one of my favourite moments!
  • I’m not exactly sure I can pinpoint it, but a lot of this episode reminded me of Donna. The way Clara dreamt about her life with Danny, made me think of Donna while she was saved in the library and the Dream Crabs really reminded me of that thing on Donna’s back during Turn Left.
  • While we still don’t know when Series 9 will continue, we have a title for the first episode: The Magician’s Apprentice. Sounds interesting.

It may still not rank as one of my favourite Christmas Specials, but it wasn’t bad at all. I quite liked it, what about you? What are your thoughts?

NaNoWriMo Challenge Completed!

I did it! NaNoWriMo ends tomorrow, but I’ve reached 50K and simultaneously the end of my story today! I’m now an official NaNoWriMo winner and I have the certificate to prove it.

I wrote a book! Can you believe it? I know some of you doubted it, but … I’m just kidding. You guys have been crazy supportive all through NaNoWriMo and I’m incredibly grateful for that. So, before I continue to talk about the final week of writing I want to thank all of you for being the awesome and supportive people that you are!

Now, how did the writing fare this week? I think I went totally crazy towards the end. You have to know that I write best shortly before going to bed, because I feel the need to reach my daily goal. This has worked just fine most days, but I tend to finish with a scene, turn off my laptop and go to bed and then I would just lie there, not able to sleep whatsoever. My characters kept me awake with all the possibilities of what could happen to them next. I do have a notebook right beside my bed, but I always had the fear that I wouldn’t remember what my notes meant the next day and rather turned on the computer sometime after midnight than forget what I wanted to write about.

Writing the actual ending was the hardest. I’ve made up so much of the story as I went along, that I lost sight of how I wanted it to end. I got closer and closer to my desired word count, but the finish line still wasn’t in clear sight, because I just didn’t know what to write. In the end, I knew that I wanted to have some final reference to the title (which is “Break Up Buddy”, just fyi), but I had no idea how to get there. I’m not a big fan of cliffhangers at the end of books (unless they are a series), so I wanted to tie everything up nicely and in the end I think I did that.

Also, I think I went a little overboard with the final scenes, but that’s okay, because what matters most is that I have a finished first draft! I really wasn’t sure I would make it this far and now I have something to work with, something to revise and edit. To be honest, I already forgot some of the scenes I wrote and it will be one heck of a fun to re-read and re-visit everything I wrote, because I’m sure there are some hilarious typos and plot holes in there.

Now, how did your month go? Did you participate in NaNoWriMo as well? Did you reach your personal goal? I’d love to talk some more in the comments below!

Winner-2014-Twitter-ProfileIf you want to read more about my journey during this month, click on the links below:

Participation Announcement

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

My NaNoWriMo Playlist

NaNoWriMo Week 3

So, week 3 of NaNoWriMo has come and gone. Time’s just flying by! To catch up, you can read my recap of Week 1, Week 2 and the participation announcement by clicking on the links!

Since it’s become somewhat of a routine, I’ll start with my current word count again. As of right now, my novel consists of 32,493 words and today’s goal is 36,000. So, even though I am still behind, I did catch up a little and reached my personal goal of passing the 30K mark during week three.

Week three has been a bit strange for me though. It wasn’t as dreadful as Week two, but I did feel like inspiration wasn’t exactly on my side. More often than not, I was sitting in front of my laptop, wondering what on earth I could possibly write. I was supposed to have reached the halfway point of my story, not just my writing, but I felt a little lost. By now, I think I’ve actually accomplished getting beyond that mid-point and am now looking forward to tying up all the loose ends during the next week. I have some sort of idea where the story is supposed to end, but as I am making most of it up as I go along it might just turn out a little different than I thought.

The problem with making it up on the way is that it’s easy to get stuck. You didn’t think it through and therefore have no major plot points to hold on to. During the last weeks I found several things you can do, when you have no idea how to continue your story:

  • Do something crazy! Whether it’s introducing an odd character who’ll be gone in a couple of chapters never to return again or turning your main character’s life upside down by giving him/her amnesia – just try it! I had my doubts if that would work, but it just makes writing more interesting again. The thing is, when you’re bored writing something, the reader will probably be bored reading it, so don’t be afraid of spicing things up every once in a while. It doesn’t mean that you have to leave it in your final draft.
  • Let your characters go on a road trip! Sounds simple because it really is that simple. I thought it didn’t fit my story at all, but then I kept thinking about it and just wrote it and it was fun and opened my story up for a lot of new possibilities.
  • Play the “What if” game! What if the worst possible thing happens to my character? What if my character gets exactly what he/she wants? Think it through and you might find a new angle to your story.

There are tons of other things you can do, such as writing prompts, word sprints or looking through the motivational speeches NaNo sends you every week (by authors such as Stephanie Perkins and the likes). Whatever you do, don’t give up in the last week! I know that NaNo isn’t for everyone and it’s completely up to you if you want to throw the towel or not, but I have to write about 2,000 words every day to get to 50,000 and I don’t know if I’ll make it, but I’ll definitely try!

Happy writing everyone! How are you doing so far?

NaNoWriMo Playlist

So, I just posted about how my experience with NaNoWriMo was thus far (you can read about it in my recap of Week 1, Week 2 and the participation announcement), but I completely neglected to mention how important music is for me during the writing process. Sometimes the songs are directly connected to scenes in Break Up Buddy and others just get me pumped in general, or best case scenario inspired. Below you’ll find a list of the songs I most listened to so far, which I’ll simply title my NaNoWriMo Playlist (no need to be creative all the time). Just click on them and you’ll be redirected to a YouTube video. Happy writing to all of you!

Run Boy Run – Woodkid
Like Real People Do – Hozier
War Rages On – Alex Clare
Wasting My Young Years – London Grammar
Moving On – Paramore
Shot at the Night – The Killers
It’s Okay – Tom Rosenthal
Hunger of the Pine – alt-J
Hold Me – Tom Odell
Maps – Maroon 5
Tell Her – Rizzle Kicks
You & I – Crystal Fighters
Forever Ever – Bastille feat. Kate Tempest and Jay Brown
Of the Night – Bastille
I Found – Amber Run
Rules – Nat & Alex Wolff

What are some songs that inspire you or that you listen to during writing?

NaNoWriMo Week 2

As you already know, I am participating in NaNoWriMo this month. Click here if you want to know how the first week went, or here if you just want to know what I’m talking about in general.

So, to get it out of the way: I am massively behind on my word count. As of right now, I have written 19,090 words and I am supposed to reach 25,000 by the end of the day. Yep, something went wrong and unfortunately I know exactly what it was – the curse of Week 2! Okay, I’m just kidding. It was my own fault.

By the time you get to week two, a couple of things happen. On the one hand you are flirting with the idea of writing an entirely different story, but on the other hand you know exactly that you wouldn’t like that story much either, if you had started with it. So, it is wise to stick with what you got and to stop worrying if it is any good or not. The most important thing during NaNoWriMo is to keep writing, no matter what. But during the second week, you are bound to get tired of your own story, therefore you are allowed to take a few days off from writing, but not more than two consecutive days in a row. Well, I didn’t write for four days and it totally backfired. I lost touch with my story, had to re-read a lot of scenes because I forgot some things, which lead to me editing a lot more than I should and it just generally showed in my writing.

But right now, I am actually pretty happy with my “novel”. I like my characters and think they have potential, but I am not yet halfway through the story, which is a bit worrying. Things that I wanted to happen during the course of a year, happened within a week and I might have to edit that after November is done, but right now I’ll just focus on continuing the story the way it is at the moment. I often have the feeling that I’m running out of ideas, until something really funny comes to mind again. Writing truly was an up and down the past week.

So, what am I going to do the next week? I will try to catch up on my word count and I definitely want to get my story moving. I have the tendency to write a lot of dialogue, which doesn’t really move things along. I have no idea how this little project will turn out, but I can tell you one thing: I am not giving up!

NaNoWriMo Week 1

So, the first week of NaNoWriMo is coming to it’s end and this is a little recap of how it went. If you don’t know what I am talking about, click here to read my previous post!

The first week went really well so far and I didn’t have a hard time reaching my daily goals. I am currently at a word count of 10,859 words, which means I am about 20% done (YAY!). Yet, it wasn’t all easy peasy the entire time and here’s why:

When you first start considering doing NaNoWriMo, there are a couple of things they tell you to do or not do. First, it is recommended that you put your inner editor in the kennel while writing, since it’s all about quantity and not quality. I can tell you, that is something I am not capable of doing! Of course you’re allowed to rewrite stuff if you start to contradict yourself or just changed your mind about something, but you’re not supposed to keep re-reading what you already wrote and to try and find a better way of saying it. But that is exactly what I am doing every other day. I just can’t continue to write something new if I am not happy with what I’ve already written. And at some point during the past week I just freaked and thought my story was an utter failure, because something just wasn’t right. I know, I know … the first draft is never that good and I can edit it all I want when the month is over, that is if I managed to finish it, but the thing is, I didn’t dislike the story in general, I was just unhappy with parts of it. So, I decided to not follow another recommendation.

While you’re writing, you can tell the whole world that you are doing NaNoWriMo, but you don’t actually show your story to anyone. If you want to work on it after the month is over, it is a great idea to show people the final version in order to get feedback, but you’re not exactly supposed to do this while you’re still working on it. It completely makes sense, because before you know it, everyone has an opinion on what is best and how it could continue, even though you are quite capable of coming up with these things all on your own. But I needed help and confirmation that I wasn’t going entirely over board and in the wrong direction with my story. I showed it to one person and as of today, she is still the only person who was granted a glimpse at my writing. I talked with her and she confirmed my suspicions about a problem in my story and gave me feedback, which immensely helped me fix it. In addition to that, she also boosted my confidence and gave me new motivation. I don’t know if this will work for everyone, but I was stuck and knew that I needed an outside opinion to keep the story from turning into a full blown disaster.

So, breaking the “rules” worked for me, but I am interested in seeing how it will go the second week. Motivation usually starts to drop around that time, but I am still determined to reach the 50,000 words and to finally finish a writing project. If you’re wondering what I am writing about, I still want to keep it a secret, but I can tell you that it is a Contemporary Romantic Comedy (aka ConRomCom) with the title Break Up Buddy. If you suspect that it is cheesy at times, you are absolutely correct, but that is just me – forever the hopeless romantic.

I hope your week proved as fruitful as mine! Read you tomorrow for the finale of Doctor Who!

NaNoWriMo 2014 Participation

As some of you may already know, I intend to participate in this year’s NaNoWriMo. In case you have no idea what that is, here’s a little explanation: NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month and is an event that takes place every November all over the world. In those 30 days you are supposed to write a novel with at least 50,000 words. Also, you are not allowed to write a single word for the story before November 1 and there is a time limit of maximum one month for plotting and character development. (If you want more information on the project and how to participate yourself, please click here!)

You probably think this is crazy. “How could a person write a whole book in just one month?”, but let me tell you this: it can be done! In fact, very famous novels such as The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde or Fight Club have been written in much less time. Yet, I would not exactly call myself a writer and NaNoWriMo will definitely take up a lot of time. I’m just really happy that it’s more about quantity rather than quality. Nonetheless, this means my blog might suffer a little in terms of regular blog posts, but I hereby promise to still write about the two-part finale of Doctor Who, and after finally catching up with the latest of episodes of Downton Abbey, about that as well. If you are interested in hearing about my writing ideas and my general progress on NaNoWriMo, let me know in the comments below and I will blog about that as well. And last but not least, if you are participating in NaNoWriMo and you still want a writing buddy, don’t hesitate to add me! Click here for that!

Wish me luck for reaching 50,000 and tell me what you think about my plan to participate in this ludicrous event!

Mummy on the Orient Express

What sounds like an Agatha Christie mystery is actually this week’s episode of Doctor Who. You know the drill; this review of “Mummy on the Orient Express” includes several Spoilers as I am laying out my thoughts. Proceed with caution!

I loved this episode from start to finish! All the references, the cameos and the whole 20’s look of it – brilliant! Visually, this episode really was another gem of this Series. In my opinion, putting the clock on screen was another smart move. But let’s not just talk about cinematography, but about the storyline as well. This episodes was supposed to serve as final farewell journey for Clara and the Doctor before they part their ways. Of course, in the end she couldn’t leave him, because just like a drug addict, she needed another shot of adventure. But let’s break it down a little more:

  • I was actually surprised to see Clara in this episode. As much as I love her, I expected the Doctor to sulk a little after their huge fight last week and to go on an adventure by himself. However, in the end I didn’t mind at all that Clara was on board, because the episode was not centered around her. I enjoyed seeing them talk about their fight and their future together. Clara’s relationship with the Doctor is so special and I am never sure how to categorize it, but not everything needs a label anyway – I just love their dynamic together. Also, I am really glad that Danny doesn’t stand in the way of Clara and the Doctor hanging out together, but I would like to actually see him tag along on one (or several) trip(s).
  • All through this season, I had the impression that the Doctor wasn’t even fazed or distressed when people died around him. It seemed like that wasn’t much different this episode, but I then was relieved to see him step up and actually put an effort into saving people. He is not heartless, well he in fact has two hearts, and I am happy about that.
  • The Mummy as a monster wasn’t the most terrible idea I’ve ever seen, but they always rush the ending so much. The creatures seem invincible and intricate most of the time and then they get defeated in a matter of seconds. Literally 66 seconds this time! I don’t want to complain too much, because this episode was mostly very well executed, but this is more of general feeling throughout the entire season so far. Please don’t keep rushing the endings!
  • I thought it was funny that all the experts, doctors and so on, looked a bit like famous dead scientists. Did I spy an Einstein?
  • Again no Missy!  With all those people dying, I thought she’d make an appearance for sure. But maybe she is behind “Gus”? Who knows …
  • Loved some of the cameos and actors. That interpretation of “Don’t Stop Me Now” by Foxes was amazing – I didn’t think I’d hear a Queen song on Doctor Who when I got up this morning. Also, Frank Skinner as Perkins was delightful and amazingly helpful to the Doctor. When he first appeared, he seemed a little creepy to me – lurking in the shadows and all – but he then redeemed himself. You should never say “No” to the Doctor though, when he asks you to tag along on the TARDIS.
  • The references were great and I was sitting on the edge of my seat waiting for them to come up. On the one hand there was the obvious one to “The Empty Child” – meaning “Are you my Mummy?” – and on the other hand there was the reference to “The Big Bang“. When the Doctor said that Gus tried to coax him into coming before, he actually referenced to the time of Amy’s and Rory’s wedding where the Doctor got a call, where it was mentioned that an Egyptian goddess was loose on the Orient Express in space. I know that a lot of people are tired of the references to Matt Smith/Eleven, but I will never be one of them.

So, I probably forgot to mention something, but if that something comes up, we can just discuss it in the comments. “Flatline” looks like another potentially creepy episode. As always, I’m already looking forward to more next week. Read you soon!