Monday, 25 May 2015

Book review: The Three by Sarah Lotz...


The Three is a gripping thriller about Black Thursday. The day that four planes crash at almost exactly the same time at four different points across the globe. There are only four survivors, three are children who emerge from the wreckage seemingly unhurt, and the fourth is Pamela May Donald, who lives long enough to record a phone message. A message that will change the world. The message is a warning.

The most interesting thing about this book is that it is written documentary style. So it is a collection of witness accounts, articles, and online exchanges in chronological order after the events of Black Thursday. Because of this style the story seems very real, and at times found my self getting quite creeped out.

On the surface this story is a gripping and exciting thriller full of twists about a major worldwide event, and under the surface it is a very clever look at the power of fear. I think this is the side of the book I found most powerful, and conspiracy theories, and devout religious predictions of the end of the world actually leading the human race into a state of panic isn't so far off from our world now. People going mad with paranoia, and others taking advantage and cashing in on it seemed all too real and frightening. 

I really enjoyed Sarah Lotz writing style, and she managed to jump between different narrators and voices effortlessly, giving us many perspectives from all over the world. Some of the characters were unlikeable but they were all somehow relateable.

The Three had quite a few twists, and to be completely honest I had absolutely no idea where it was going to go. The last quarter was particularly exciting and the end was *BAM* like a punch.  I did not see it coming, but it was brilliant. 

I really enjoyed this book a lot, and gave it 5 stars on Goodreads. I really recommend picking this one up, it's definitely one of the best books I've read this year, and I'm already half way through the sequel! 

Find me on Goodreads here.
Check out my past book reviews here.

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Lately...

I love the cherry blossom, but it's never around for long

Books, books, books! I can't stop buying them. My tbr pile is getting crazily out of hand!

Finally got to see Avengers: Age of Ultron. I've seriously been counting down till it was out!

Got fed up with my long hair so decided to have it cut off. Feels so much better short.

Friday, 22 May 2015

Recently watched...


Avengers: Age of Ultron
I've been waiting to see this for so long, and it didn't disappoint! There was some great action moments, and I loved the camaraderie between the team and the very amusing downtime moments. There were a couple of things that irked me a bit (Hawkeye's new backstory, and the Banner/Widow thing which seemed too rushed) but I loved Scarlett Witch and Vision. Considering there were SO many character crammed in the film it worked really well, and Hulk smashed a lot so I'm happy! 4.5/5




Nightcrawler
A dark thriller set in LA about Louis Bloom a man who will do or steal anything to get by. Then he discovers the world of crime journalism and freelance camera crews who travel around LA filming car crashes, murders, fires and make big money selling footage to news channels- the gorier the better. This was a thought provoking and disturbing noir look at the news, crime, exploitation, and Blooms quest for success no matter what. 4/5



Begin Again
This was a big cheese fest of a film about a a record label guy with a drinking problem who has lost his job. The he discovers Gretta, a songwriter who has just broke up from her successful musician boyfriend. They decide to record an album on the streets of New York. Then what follows is lots of musical interludes, emotions, James Corden in a hat, singing street kids... yep, cheese radar is reading 11. But Mark Ruffalo is in it, and everyone loves Mark Ruffalo! 1/5 (the 1 is purely for the Ruff!)


Cold in July
Cold in July is a twist filled thriller set in Texas about a man who in panic kills a home intruder. The film looks at how one decision can change everything. The most interesting thing about this was it's retro style to match it's 80's setting.3/5


Mad Max: Fury Road


This film was amazing! Visually epic landscapes and action sequences this film was pretty much one long exciting car chase. In my opinion Charlize Theron stole the show as total badass Furiosa. Definitely a must see at the cinema. 4.5/5

Monday, 18 May 2015

Book review: The Line by William LJ Galaini*...


The Line is a sci-fi adventure about a team of historians and engineers who on board Janus are able to travel back in time and observe historical events for research. The team start to find that there is someone or something also travelling back in time to key events too- but instead of observing is creating havoc. 

I must admit, I'm fairly new to the genre of science fiction and aside from Doctor Who novels haven't read a great deal of sci-fi books. Although The Line did have the occasional science jargon, and tech terms that went a little over my head it didn't affect my enjoyment of the story. One of the things I liked most about the book was finding out about the team of people on board Janus, and their interactions with each other, and although a little slow the first half of the book really introduced the team and their dynamic well.

I loved the description of Janus itself, particularly the part where Gustavo, it's designer explained that he'd modelled one of the rooms on his favourite movie theatre right down to the seats and flooring. I also enjoyed the many references to time travel themed films throughout the book (especially Twelve Monkeys- love that film!)

By about the half way point things got really interesting, and there was a twist that hit me that I did not see coming at all. After that the book was much pacier (and sometimes quite gory) and I raced through.

The book definitely threw up a lot of interesting ideas, and explored the question of what would humans really do if they were able to travel through time. 

My favourite character incidentally wasn't human but I will say no more as I don't want to spoil it! Overall I enjoyed The Line,  and would certainly recommend if you are into sci-fi or time travel.

Find me on Goodreads here.
To see my other book reviews go here.

*Many thanks to Ally and William for providing me with a copy of The Line for an honest review :)

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Mental Health Awareness Week: My bipolar story...


All this week it has been Mental Health Awareness Week- a week where people are encouraged to discuss and be open about mental health and try and break down the barriers that cause stigmatisation. I had drafted up a post about my own experiences with mental health some time ago, but since then I have been too nervous to publish it. To be honest I tend not to talk about my illness as I have seen too many people change the way they treat me upon finding out. The truth is mental illness is no different to physical illness, we are still human beings just like everyone else, and there is nothing to be ashamed of. Today I have decided to bite the bullet and go for it, and publish my post. I would love to hear other people's stories, or links to any posts you've written. Here's mine... 

Ten years ago, at age 18 I was diagnosed with depression. It was something that took immense courage on my part; to go to a doctor and actually be honest about my feelings. Talking about my feelings to anyone was something I felt very difficult about. After that diagnosis, and over a few years I was put on various anti-depressants, and saw various councillors but nothing helped. My depression would come and go with no warning. When it was here it was intense, and heavy, and tore my life apart. Then it was gone, and I'd be fine again.

Skip forward a few years, and I had a good job that I enjoyed, I lived in a lovely flat, and had a great social life. Everything was good. But then depression struck again. One morning I was sat at my desk when my face started burning up, I needed to cry. I felt hopeless. I left work, feigning illness and rushed back home to shut myself off from the world. The depression was back. I ignored phone calls and texts from worried friends and family. Nothing mattered to me apart from this unbearable pain I felt. I decided I had to go back to my Doctor, as I couldn't go on like this.

In the Doctors office we started tracing back and noticing a pattern. It was then I realised there wasn't just intermittent episodes of depression in my life, but there were unexplainable highs too. Of course at that point they'd never raised a warning sign to me because in those moments I felt good, so going to a Doctor was the last thing on my mind. But with those highs came risky behaviour, bad decision making, not sleeping, and acting out of character. The Doctor mentioned Bipolar. I didn't know much about it at that point, but went home and as I usually do researched the hell out of it. Everything made sense. I remember crying with elation. Remembering more incidents through my life. Reading other people's experiences and knowing there was a name for it. That I wasn't alone.

Of course it wasn't as simple as that. Bipolar is a complex illness (how many times have I been told that...) and a diagnosis wasn't easy. Over the years my episodes got worse and more intense. Even the highs were unbearable now. They just turned into anxiety filled days of being constantly irritated by everyone and everything, unable to concentrate on anything, shaking with frustration and not eating or sleeping. I'd lost countless jobs, and homes and friends.  At the age of 27 I was referred to a CBT therapist after being misdiagnosed with borderline personality disorder. Through the ongoing sessions she saw my moods play out and went above and beyond to help me. I will always be grateful to her.

Mental health service in the UK needs a lot  improvement. I've heard so many terrible stories of bad treatment or lack of treatment people have received. I have plenty of my own stories too. After years of being pretty much ignored I had finally found a professional who not only listened, but wanted to help. She referred me to a GP who specialised in MH and with both their help last year I was referred to a psychiatric hospital where I eventually received my diagnosis. It meant I could finally start getting the right treatment.

There's still a long road ahead of finding the right medication (and so many side effects!) but at least I'm on the road now. Before I think I must have been stuck in a lay by somewhere with no petrol. Here I am now aged 28, and ready to start living my life without this illness weighing over me. It will always be there, but now I am more equipped to cope with it. I am bipolar,  but bipolar isn't me. That is the most important lesson I have learnt: there is hope. 

I hope this helps or makes sense to at least someone... If you or someone you know has mental health problems then never be afraid to seek help. If you have any questions about bipolar please feel free to ask. You can also reach me at themetaltree@gmail.com if you'd rather talk in private. 

Here are some useful mental health websites:
Mind
Rethink Mental Illness 
Time To Change
Mental Health Foundation
Samaritans 

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Pop in a Box April...


Aprils Pop in a Box arrived literally on the last day of the month meaning I had to go a long time without being able to buy pops or fear of duplication. After endlessly checking my account to see if it had been marked as dispatched and many updates about delays it finally arrived! What did I get...


Batman. Truth be told I was a little underwhelmed, after such a wait and seeing so many other subscribers getting really good pops. I could go to any supermarket and get this guy for a tenner which is cheaper than I paid. Still I can't complain too much as I had thumbed him up, and he will be a welcome addition to my collection.

Due to all the constant delays from PIAB and after looking at the ones I've had over the last few months I've decided I am going to put my subscription on the back burner for a bit.

To see my other PIAB posts go here

Monday, 4 May 2015

April reading round up...


Uglies (#1) by Scott Westerfeld
Book one is a YA dystopian trilogy this follows Tally and soon to be sixteen year old who is an Ugly. She can't wait for her Birthday so she can finally become a Pretty which means she will get cosmetic surgery to make her beautiful and exactly like all the other Pretties who get to spend their time having fun. But then she befriends Shay, who doesn't want to be Pretty and Tally has to decide what is more important to her. The concept of this series is really interesting but I found this very slow for the first half. Tally was not the most likeable protagonist (Shay was far more interesting) but the story really picked up towards the end- inevitably dragging me in and making me want to read the next book! 

The Bed and Breakfast Star by Jacqueline Wilson
I was a huge fan of Jacqueline Wilson when I was a kid, I'd eagerly await each new book, and this one was one of my favourites. I wanted to read it again to see what I thought of it as an adult. I think it's a mix nostalgia and the fact that it's a sweet story that made me still enjoy it but I must admit it does read like it's an adult writing as a child and sometimes sounds really dated and cringey. Despite that I still gave it 4 stars (and my favourite character is still Naomi.) 

Kiss Me First by Lottie Magach
An interesting dark thriller looking at real life vs online life. Read my full review here.

The Line by William LJ Galaini*
A time travelling sci-fi adventure about a team of historians and engineers who go back in time to observe past history. When they discover there is another traveller causing serious changes to the past they must try and find out who or what it is. This was an exciting story that I'll be reviewing in full next week. 

The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins
This was an enjoyable crime thriller set in London. You can find my full review here.



Alex + Ada Volume 1 by Jonathan Luna & Sarah Vaughn
A sci-fi drama set in the not too distant future where you can buy androids with artificial intelligence. Alex is gifted android Ada, and at first is freaked out and wants to return her, but can't bring himself to do it. Frustrated with her lack of opinion or feeling he goes on a quest to find out what it is to be truly "real." Volume 1 introduced the characters, setting and story brilliantly without dragging or getting boring, and although set in the future was very real and believable. The art is fairly simplistic, and there is a lot of repetition which I think really helps to capture Alex's monotonous world. I raced through this and can't wait to get my hands on the next volume.

Alex + Ada Volume 2 by Jonathan Luna & Sarah Vaughn
True to my word I immediately ordered the next volume, and still love it. Alex and Ada are both really interesting and likeable characters and although this isn't a fast moving story it really kept me gripped right until the last page. Now I'm eagerly awaiting volume 3 in September! 

Lazarus Volume 1 by Greg Rucka & Michael Lark
Lazarus is a series set in a dystopian future where rich families rule what's left of the world. Each family has a Lazarus: a person created to be the strongest and best. This story is centred around the wealthy Carlyle family and their Lazarus called Forever. Although it doesn't particularly offer anything new to the genre I still enjoyed it and will definitely continue with the series.  

Outlaw Volume 1 by Robert Kirkman & Paul Azaceta
Outlaw is a new horror series from the creator of The Walking Dead about Kyle a man who has been plagued by demonic possession his whole life and decides he wants answers. This first volume is a great introduction to Kyle and his background, set in an eerie small town. I really enjoyed this and particularly loved the colours (by Elizabeth Breitweiser) which were stunning!

*A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review