Posted in Books, Movies, Reviews

Book Versus Movie: Murder On The Orient Express

Murder on The Orient Express is currently showing in many major London cinemas and my sister and I decided to watch it on Sunday afternoon at Odeon Leicester Square. Being me, I hate watching a movie based on a book that is considered a masterpiece without reading the book first so I decided to give Dame Agatha Christie’s novel a go before going to the cinema. It’s a short book, you can finish it in a day (mere hours in my case).

853510As always, I am amazed at how Agatha Christie managed to squeeze a really compelling mystery in so few pages when lesser authors struggle to form a coherent story with more. Although I did not quite like the writing style in this one as much as I liked the other novels – I found it to be too disjointed and abrupt at times – one cannot deny that the story takes you to a journey, and as always, I found myself not even trying to figure out whodunit (because I knew I’d be proven wrong anyway) and just settled in for a good read.

I really liked the idea of twelve strangers in a train and Hercule Poirot having to figure out who the killer is amongst them. She’s done this before on ‘And Then There Were None’,  and I think she’s really fascinated by the idea of people coming  from different walks of life, with their individual histories and background, being put in a situation where they have to temporarily interact with each other. In this case, because the Orient Express is stuck in a snow drift somewhere in freakin’ Yugoslavia, Hercule Poirot has no other means with which to investigate and find the killer out apart from his own powers of deduction.

What can he find in these people’s pasts that can point to the identity of the killer? What is the motive? Is there a connection between some of the passengers that could mean that this is the work of more than one killer? Slowly, Hercule uncovers their secrets and separate the lies and half-truths from the truth. The twist, when it inevitably came, really surprised me even though I could see how we, as readers, were being led to this conclusion. I was also surprised that I wasn’t spoiled because apparently the real identity of the killer is some kind of cultural thing: EVERYONE knows it. Overall, it was a very satisfying read.

Now, the movie.


I have to admit, I slept through the first 10 -15 minutes of the movie because I got bored. There were a lot of unnecessary scenes and I was helped on to my path to dreamland by the knowledge that I already knew how this story goes. However, I’m glad that I managed to be more awake when the Orient Express finally started on its journey. I thought that Kenneth Branagh had a slightly more…eccentric and egotistical interpretation of Hercule Poirot. And I suppose in this day and age, you have to add a few action sequences because a movie where they all sat around talking about the murder won’t wash with today’s audience.

But I thought that even without the added action sequences, the story and the really strong acting performances by most of the cast would have carried the movie through. That dramatic ending, when we finally find out who the killer is, gave me chills and had me shedding a few tears. Patrick Doyle’s fantastic score, which I’m listening to as I write this blog, really added to the emotional weight of that scene. The flashback of the night of the murder…reading the book, you never realised the full extent of how tragic that was, and how much impact one event can have on so many lives.

I hear that this movie has been getting negative reviews, but I thought it was brilliant. Michelle Pfiefer in particular did such a good job as the annoying Mrs. Hubbard and of course I’ve always loved Dame Judi Dench. I think that the second half of the movie was stronger than the first, and I also think that audiences would find that the motive for the murder will really resonate with many of us. What is justice after all? Who gets to decide whether one should live or die or how one should be punished for their sins?

Can I just say though, that for me, the real winner of this movie is that damn score of Patrick Doyle’s. I would totally watch this movie again for that.

Check out both the book and the movie if you haven’t already. I’m also planning to watch the original one that was done in the 70s if I can find a copy of it. Happy reading and watching bookworms! x

Posted in Books, Reviews, romance, Young Adult

Book Review – Turtles All The Way Down

So there’s this saying about books that we’ve all heard that says we’re not to judge it by its cover. Yes, I get that its not meant to be taken literally, as in we’re not really talking about books when we spout that overused statement. But because I’m actually reviewing a book and finding myself unusually unsure about where to start, I’ll start with that. We don’t judge a book by its cover; we judge a book based on how much it makes us think and how it makes us feel.



John Green’s latest offering has me baffled, to be honest. On one hand, there are bits about it that I really really like and which I’ll get to later. On the other hand, a part of me found it really difficult to get through the book especially towards the end when things start to spiral out of control for our main character.

Aza Holmes is a teenager who is trying, really trying, to co-exist with the thoughts that live in her head. She tries to lead a normal life with her fearless best friend Daisy and even finds the time to dabble in a little mystery: the mystery of where billionaire Russell Pickett has hidden himself to avoid getting arrested for corruption. She also makes a connection with said billionaire’s son, Davis, whom she met at “sad camp” years ago and this connection slowly leads to – what else – the sweet sweet bloom of first love.

First of all, I think John Green did a really good job of not just describing what mental illness feels like but really getting the readers as close to the real experience as one can get while reading a fictional novel. The scenes where Aza becomes a helpless victim to her thoughts, to the point where she can’t even kiss a guy she likes without freaking out, were really painful for me to read. In that moment, I was as fully invested as Aza to the outcome of that situation and that speaks to John Green’s talent as an author.

I mentioned that I found it difficult to get through the book. I think what I meant to say is that it hit a little too close to home. Aza gets anxious about her health, specifically about getting an infection. I’ve already admitted in a previous post that I’ve always been a little bit of a hypochondriac. At one point in my life, I was so convinced that I had brain tumour because I found a lump at the back of my head. I remember crying in the dark in my room, crying in church and thinking about all the things that I will never get to do because I was going to die of brain tumour. I think I must have been about 12 or 13.

After a week, I managed to rid myself of these irrational thoughts and correctly concluded that I did not have brain tumour. Studying Nursing made my anxiety about my health both better and worse. Better because I can usually reason myself out of my worries by reciting the signs and symptoms of my imagined illness – signs and symptoms that I didn’t have – and worse because whenever I do have symptoms, my brain goes to the worst possible scenario there is.

I can usually laugh it off and make a joke about it. But reading this book makes me realise that its not a laughing matter when these thoughts start to take over your life; when you can’t even kiss a guy without worrying that his microbes will forever be a part of you; when you actually ingest a dangerous substance just to make yourself clean; and when you find yourself pleading for someone to just take you out of yourself so that you can stop having these thoughts. Yes, in some respects this book is really really dark.

The moments of levity come from Aza’s friendship with Daisy and of course, the romantic connection with David. I think that the friendship between the two girls is one of the strongest points of the novel. In fact, the novel can be mostly summed up by this line that Daisy tells Aza:

You know I love you right? My whole life I thought I was the star of an overly earnest romance movie, and it turns out I was in a goddamned buddy comedy all along.

The friendship takes a little bit of a back burner to the romance but I’m glad that it was made clear towards the end that it was one of the constants that helps Aza get through life.

And what about the romance you ask? Come on, this is John Green. You can bet your ass that there will be instagrammable and quotable quotes that the more emo half of the population will just devour. There is also the ever-present, ever-so-deep (and slightly pretentious) existential conversations that makes me ask whether teenagers really talk that way these days.

However, I think John Green made the right call by not making this seem like another book where love cures all but rather, the romance almost seems like a bittersweet postscript, a small but significant ode to the magic of first love:

You remember your first love because they show you, prove to you, that you can love and be loved, that nothing in this world is deserved except for love, that love is both how you become a person, and why.

If I could make a small criticism, I thought that bit with the mysterious disappearance of the billionaire was not only irrelevant and useless, it was also weird. Honestly, it did not add to the story except as a plot device for the MCs to re-connect with each other again. And also, who leaves all their money when they die to their pet lizard? It was just ridiculous and the reason why I only gave this book 3-stars on Goodreads. Apart from that, really good book for both fans of the YA genre and just readers in general.



Posted in Books, Horror, Reviews

Seven Reasons Why I Should Never Have Read The Shining

Remember that scene in F.R.I.E.N.D.S when viewers found out that Joey got so scared while reading The Shining that he placed the book in the freezer?

Yep. I now totally get why he did that.

Because I didn’t feel like dressing up for Halloween, I thought I’d celebrate in my own way by finally reading what some people call “the scariest book in the world”: The Shining by Stephen King. While it seemed like a good idea at the time, I will forever regret that decision because this book is scary as hell. I don’t know how I even got through it, except to say that my electricity bill must have gone up because I slept with the lights on for the entire week that I was reading this book. Here’s why I NEVER should have done it:


  1. The setting. I have always loved hotels; there’s something about it that fulfils my need to have someone at my beck and call (read: room service), and they always seem to have the comfiest pillows. However, after reading this book, I will never quite look at hotels in the same way again.
  2. The isolation. Jack Torrance, the main character, is asked to be a caretaker of The Overlook Hotel while it closes for the winter season (I didn’t even know this was a thing). He brings his wife and son Danny with him and because of the weather, the roads leading to the hotel are completely blocked. I am a city girl; I’ve chosen to live in one of the busiest areas of London because I like the noise and the hustle and bustle. I cannot spend months cooped up in a massive, creepy hotel with only two other people for company. I understand a little bit why Jack slowly starts to lose it.
  3. The haunting. The Overlook Hotel has been around for more than 60 years and its witnessed some pretty horrible stuff: crimes of passion, crimes of greed and others. So its probably only natural that some of those ghosts will linger in the confines of the hotel. Seriously, in the future every time I enter a hotel room I will now be thinking about the person/s who have been in that room before me and what their life was like. Jeepers.
  4. The slow deterioration of Jack Torrance’s sanity. Poor Jack. Abused as a kid, always down on his luck, never quite catching a break…I think life had set him up to fail. It would have taken a man of extraordinary character to overcome his less-than-ideal beginnings and be able to turn his life around. Jack does not have that character. He let his history defeat him and he could never quite take full responsibility for his part in the destruction of his career, marriage and his life in general. It’s understandable why he, out of the three people in that hotel, is most susceptible to possession by malignant spirits.
  5. The moments of clarity. I think that this is where the book will always have an advantage over the movie adaptation. The movie is apparently scary, but the book makes more of an impact because we get a glimpse into Jack’s thought process. And he has these moments of lucidity where his love for his son comes through and it just breaks my heart. It makes the other scenes, when he goes stark raving mad, all the more horrible because we know that this man, given half a chance, would have been a good man and a good father.
  6. Danny Torrance. Danny has psychic abilities, what the characters in the book call ‘the shining’ and he’s able to read people’s minds, look into the future and other weird things. The kid is creepy as hell; he has these weird dreams where his imaginary friend ‘Tony’ shows him visions. He dreamt about the happenings in the hotel long before they ever moved there. Later we find out who Tony really is and we understand these visions better, and I have no words for how incredibly creepy it is. Sorry, I keep repeating that word but it was just sooooo creepy.
  7. REDRUM. When the reader finally finds out what REDRUM means (and I smacked myself for not getting it sooner!), you just know that the book is about to reach its inevitable conclusion and it ain’t gonna be pretty. I can almost hear a horror movie score in the background when the climax of the book played out and I swear the hair on my arms stood on end. It was very well written!


Stephen King is a master storyteller. I can’t say I’m a big fan of his writing style, I sometimes find it a bit disjointed and jarring but I can’t deny that he knows how to write a freakin’ page turner that will have you up at night hearing a voice saying ‘HEEEEEREEEEE’S JOHNNNNYYYY!’


Damn you, Stephen King. Lol



Posted in Careers, friendship, relationships

How To Face “Challenging Behaviours”

In my 30 years of existence, I have inevitably come across people who are mental – excuse me – I mean, challenging. Before I moved to the UK, I used to be what is popularly called a doormat. It seemed my personal goal in life is to please people, no matter how many times I’ve been told that its impossible to please everyone. I had an intrinsic fear of authority figures and my first instinct when I’m told to do something is to say yes. Whenever I’d get shouted at or told off, even by my one of my personal friends, I would be the first to back down, give in and/or apologise.

As the line from Wicked says, we are “led to those who helps us most to grow, if we let them“, so I suppose there’s a reason why October has been absolutely  rubbish for me in terms of my interactions with other people. I have had enough confrontations in October to last me a lifetime. It has not been particularly pleasant, BUT, looking back its been a real learning experience. I think I can now write the following tips with some authority. I’m hoping to avoid any conflicts this month (and for the foreseeable future, obviously) but hey, if more conflicts come my way I’ll soon be a subject matter expert. Anyway, here’s some of the things that I’ve learned to do when coming across bullies. 

1. Present Reality
I am of the opinion that most bullies are delusional, in the sense that they think its all about them. This whole “me, me, me” attitude is what makes them bullies in the first place and they are unable to look beyond their own narrow perspective to the bigger picture. 
I find that when facing people with this attitude it works to bring them back to reality and make them aware of everything and everyone else that’s involved in the situation. 

2. Acknowledge Their Feelings (as well as your own)
Look, we all have bad days. And when someone you normally get on with becomes confrontational, there’s usually a good reason. Also, they usually have a point even if that point has been communicated in less than desirable ways.

It always pays to be humble enough to acknowledge your part in the conflict, or to acknowledge that the other person is entitled to be mad or upset while still making the point that there is no call for rude behaviour. 

3. Don’t Make It About You
I think sometimes the issue is bigger than the both of you (or how many other people there are involved in a confrontation) so after you’ve acknowledged your feelings, move on to the bigger picture. Yes, your feelings have been hurt but don’t let that overshadow any bigger issues at hand. If you make it all about you, you’re no different from the bullies whose behaviours you’re trying to challenge. 

4.  Make Use of A Mediator
Its rather presumptuous of me to make this list because I have been known to make confrontations worse by saying the wrong things or just plain giving in. So if you’re like me, the obvious thing to do would be to phone a friend and have someone there who’s not involved and who can remain calm and who can defuse a situation when the shouting (inevitably) commences. Make sure this someone has a level head on their shoulder and maybe a good right hook in case physical violence ensues. Lol

6. Remain Calm

Again, I am so bad at this. As most of my followers know, I tend to be dramatic (understatement). I hate the fact that I also tend to tear up when I’m really angry. 

However, most of my friends are men. I work in a speciality that’s about 80% male and men do not respond well to tears. They’re either afraid or contemptuous of it. I feel like I lose all their respect when I cry because they think I’m using the sympathy card. So no, getting emotional helps no one. Remain calm and get through a difficult conversation with your composure – and dignity – relatively intact. You can find a nice toilet stall to bawl your eyes out later, after all is said and done.

7. Don’t Burn Your Bridges
Look, no one likes to lose friends. Most of the time you get into fights with people that you actually give a shit for, and their friendship is worth saving. I think its why you’ve fought in the first place, because you actually give a toss about each other. 

Its the same with work colleagues. I’m not saying you want to remain friends with them but like it or not, you’ll have to work with them at some point in the future in a professional capacity. So if issues can be resolved without completely damaging the relationship, that’s the best outcome to aim for. 

8. Speak up. Stand Up For Yourself. 
All of the preceding points don’t matter if you don’t speak up when you feel you’re being wronged. Its difficult to be the one to rock the boat, but like I said these past couple of weeks, sometimes one must show that one is not pleased. I’m a pretty easygoing person, I don’t have a lot of pride and I have a pretty strong tolerance for bullshit BUT when I do lose my patience…it ain’t gonna be pretty.

You’ll never change things if you keep quiet. You’re not gonna get the help you need if you don’t tell someone that something’s wrong or that you’re not happy. So if you’re faced with challenging behaviours, challenge them. Confront them. Do not suffer abuse – or bullies – gladly. You (and I) deserve better. 

Happy weekend everyone! X