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Best of 2012: Film

Sunday, December 30, 2012

This is a lot easier to do than the music list. It hasn't been an amazing year for film but it has definitely been better than 2011. I think I might even get an Odeon points card this year. Anyway, in no particular order, here are the films that have entertained me the most this year. 


Margin Call
21 Jump Street
We Bought A Zoo
The Hunger Games
Avengers Assemble
The Amazing Spider-Man
Ruby Sparks
Silver Linings Playbook
Celeste and Jesse Forever
The Dark Knight Rises

Now, had they decided to release Les Miserables this side of Christmas in the UK, I would have probably been waxing lyrical about it. However, for some reason we don't get it until next year (anybody who knows why, please enlighten me. Is it to do with the Academy voting date change?) so no doubt it will end up on the list twelve months from now.  


I do love a good film score or soundtrack and this year's composers and music supervisors have not disappointed. I have listened to some scores belonging to films that I have not even seen or didn't like (yes, Prometheus I am looking at you). Stand out's were as follows:

Ruby Sparks by Nick Urata- I briefly touched on this in my review of the film but the score was so jaunty but sweet and nostalgic at the same time. 

Prometheus by Marc Streitenfeld- An epic score for a not so epic film. The opening scene with the gorgeous cinematography and the accompanying tremulous strings and horn fanfare (every film set in space needs a fanfare, no?) is simply breathtaking. Then the rest of the film happens and...well, I was not impressed. However, this score will probably remain one of my favourites. 

The Hunger Games- Songs from District 12 and Beyond by Various- I wasn't that keen on James Newton Howard's score. It didn't add or take away from the film. Although, shouldn't Katniss have a memorable theme? Even I remember Bella and Edward's little piano riff from the first Twilight. Anyway, that's all beside the point. There was an accompanying soundtrack featuring songs by artists ranging from The Civil Wars to Kid Cudi. I believe it was produced by T Bone Burnett.

Brave by Patrick Doyle- Brilliant film, brilliant score. So lively and fun. It came out just after the Olympics, so we were all in Team GB spirit still, so it was good to hear those Celtic themes. 

Celeste and Jesse Forever Soundtrack- Sunny Levine/ Zach Cowie- Just a really well thought out soundtrack. They didn't throw together all the latest hits and litter the film with well-known tunes. Instead, it sounds masterfully curated and that's just how I like my film soundtracks. 

Finally, an honourable mention for The Dark Knight Rises score. As I was going to sleep the night after watching the film, all I heard was the chanting theme. Thank you Hans Zimmer. 

Best of 2012: Music

Every year, like everybody else, I try and make a 'Best Of' list. However, it seems to be getting harder every year. I'm not sure what this means...nevertheless here is a selection of my favourite bits and bobs in music this year.


As with last year, I didn’t listen to too many albums- despite using Spotify a lot more than usual. However, of the ones I did listen to, these were the best:

Given To The Wild- The Maccabees
Devotion- Jessie Ware
Django Django- Django Django
Is Your Love Big Enough?- Lianne La Havas
Red- Taylor Swift
Girl On Fire- Alicia Keys
Fantasea- Azealia Banks


In no particular order, a sampling of my favourite songs of the year because there were just too many (apologies if you do not have Spotify). This will probably be the last year I do these lists because it has become too hard. We have so much music at our fingertips these days, which makes it difficult to keep track.

Live Acts

I haven’t seen many live acts this year, so the following win by default:

Dizzee Rascal, Katy B and The Wanted at the Olympic Torch concert the night before the Opening Ceremony.
Groove Armada, Kelis, Crazy P and Rita Ora at Lovebox.
Watch The Throne Tour

Holiday Road Trip- Day Four

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Best in YA Films/Television

Well, obviously the number one would have to be Gossip Girl. Just the other day, we said a final goodbye to our favourite Upper East Siders. Gossip Girl has been so much a part of my life, so needless to say I sat through the finale with a lump in my throat -especially that part where they all ran up- or maybe down- the steps of The Met to It’s Time by Imagine Dragons. In fact, here’s the song so we can all have a little weep:

Anyway, back to the task at hand, other YA films/television of note this year have been:

Switched at Birth- whilst I was on holiday, the new season was due to start so we watched the marathon. Now, we don’t have this show in the UK but I really hope E4- or somebody similar- buys it because it is a little gem. I usually have the TV on in the background whilst reading/writing or whatever but I had to actually watch Switched at Birth due to the sign language subtitles and it really made a difference.

The Amazing Spider-Man- this was so full of teenage angst and humour. Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone really added a new spark to the Spider-Man franchise.

Hart of Dixie- ok, so technically Rachel Bilson's latest vehicle is not really about teens but the main characters are young enough to qualify and they often interact with teenagers. Plus, it is on The CW. I don’t think there has been  such a fun, small town show like this since Gilmore Girls- please, correct me if I’m wrong. Burt Reynolds *in my best Lavon voice*! 

Best Music to Write To/ Be Inspired By

Difficult question, as it depends on what I am writing. However, these have been on constant rotation throughout the year.

All of the Lights & Runaway- Kanye West  

Smoke & Mirrors- Gotye

Help I’m Alive- Metric 

Holiday Road Trip- Day Three

Friday, December 28, 2012

Best “I Want To Go There” Setting in a Book

The Fault In Our Stars- Amsterdam. I actually managed to achieve this one last weekend. It's a lovely city and everything was very Christmassy so that made the trip extra special. However, we didn't manage to go to the Anne Frank House! Never mind, it is only 40 minutes away by plane (I know! I was surprised too) so I'm sure we will go again in the summer. 

Amsterdam 22/12/2012
Other notable mentions:

The Disenchantments- Road trip from San Francisco to Seattle
In Honor- Austin to LA road trip with a stop at the vortex place. I just loved this book.

Favourite YA Characters

Jordan Woods- Catching Jordan- A no nonsense, football playing  tour de force. Someone you definitely would want to be friends with.

Alex Patrick- The Mockingbirds Novels- Still upholding justice at her shady private school.

Colby, Meg and Alexa- The Disenchantments- Just too cool. Didn’t really like Bev though. 

Holiday Road Trip- Day One and Day Two

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Best Book Of The Year/Book I Can’t Get Out Of My Mind:

This Is Not A Test by Courtney Summers- 
I just had a quick scan through my Goodreads ‘read’ bookshelf and found that I have been quite stingy with my stars this year. Only three books have five stars and they are not YA. Therefore, the best YA book of the year for me goes to the most memorable- most haunting, in fact. This book was a disturbing rollercoaster ride. It wasn’t terribly scary in terms of the story- the zombies were just background scenery- it was just extrememly raw and unsettling. I remember feeling cold whilst reading it because the writing was so atmospheric. This book made me feel similar to one of my only five star novels of the year- Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. Both had destructive but misunderstood female protagonists- although Amy was a different kind of destructive to Sloan. Courtney Summers is definitely one of my favourite contemporary YA writers. All of her books have stayed with me and I have even re-read them, which is not something I do very often. I look forward to her next offering.

Most Unexpectedly Delightful Book Of The Year

The Catastrophic History of You and Me by Jess Rothenberg- It reminded me a little of Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin but I preferred the main character in this book. I liked the tone too- very...zingy, for want of a better word.

In Honor by Jessi Kirby- I can't even remember how I found this book but I'm glad that I did. 

Flat-Out Love- Jessica Park- This is a good one for those who enjoy older YA/ New Adult fiction. I liked that it was set in college and the characters were well thought out. Plus, one character was named Celeste, which is one of my favourite names. 

Best “New To Me” YA Author

This year, I got my hands on Catching Jordan and Stealing Parker. I love the world she has created. The characters are very real in terms of the way they talk and what they think. I like that faith plays a part in her work but she doesn’t preach at the reader- it is part of, rather than extra to, the framework. Finally, I do enjoy most kinds of sports so I appreciate that her characters are competitive and don’t mind getting their hands dirty- it’s not all about make-up and ‘will they, won’t they’.

Best Sequel

The Rivals by Daisy Whitney- I love a good old 'justice prevails' novel. Throw in a private school and some snooty posh kids and I'm in YA heaven. This sequel didn't disappoint. 

Best Debut

The Probability of Miracles by Wendy Wunder- If we're comparing novels with cancer fighting young protaganists then...*whispers* I preferred this to The Fault In Our Stars. I just liked the tone of this novel. Oh, and it was set partly in my favourite place in the world- Disney World. 

Girls In White Dresses- Jennifer Close- Technically, this isn't a YA but it could be classed as a New Adult novel. Like the show 'Girls', I wasn't completely sold to begin with but this book has stayed with me throughout the year. 

Best Guilty Pleasure Book

The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants by Ann Brashares- I had seen the films but never read the book, so this year I read the first and last in the series. Quite fun with a good message. 

NaNoWriMo Summary

Sunday, December 2, 2012

So, I managed to write over 50,000 words for this year's National Novel Writing Month. It was, as ever, an interesting challenge. The version that is currently sitting in Scrivener is by no means complete and the story isn't that good either (although how can we honestly judge our own work?). Overall, I am pleased that I won but I don't think I'll do it next year. Instead, I'll concentrate on one project over the next year or however long it takes.

Anyway, here's a summary of my NaNoWriMo journey:

  • 50,434 words and I actually managed to write an ending this time and come up with a title, which is rare. Very rare.
  • I did not change the main character's first name (or last) for the first time ever.
  • However, I did change the little character picture on Scrivener. Everyone else stayed the same. 
  • 4x episodes of The Good Wife, Arrow, and Hart of Dixie missed. 
  • I did not manage to finish my Coursera course because the novel took over.
  • I found my characters had more of their own minds this year compared to last year. 
  • I didn't care so much about accuracy in terms of the vibe of certain places and sticking to specific time frames compared to last year and other writing projects.
  • Much more disciplined this year- pretty much wrote everyday from 6-8pm. 
  • Halfway through, I sent everything I had written to my Nook and I must say there's nothing quite like seeing what you've written look like a proper e-book. Even if it doesn't sound like one...
  • An ever evolving playlist to provide a suitable soundtrack for the novel. Thank you Spotify and 
Ha! Let's hope when I re-read what I have so far, it makes more sense than what I have written here. But, I am tired and a little fed up of writing. So, happy holidays to one and all- enjoy the final month of what has been a brilliant year (at least over here anyway)!