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Monthly Archives: March 2014

Wow! Cannot believe that this is the 40th AskAlex post. I remember writing the first one and it doesn’t feel like 40 weeks ago at all! To mark the occasion, this post will be a bit different in that it’s not just a block of text of my rambles. This question requires more than words and it may be short but sweet but I hope you enjoy and laugh as much as I do!

Which really short YouTube video makes you laugh uncontrollably?

Short funny videos are often the funniest because they draw you in straightaway, normally with the title and it’s just an instant laugh. They’re often not what you expect when you press play either and this is why I love them. With the rise of Vine and Snapchat, quick bursts of something hilarious are commonplace now and their appeal is obvious really. You can get a laugh without having to set aside time to watch a sitcom or stand up comic.

This video of a penguin falling over is one of my favourites. The noise that the others make is just simply hilarious to me!

 

I also remember laughing like crazy when I first saw this one of a guy successfully sneezing with his eyes open.

 

And of course, this is just smileworthy too!

 

So that’s all for my happy quick videos. Feel free to comment with your favourites too!

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Any excuse to talk about my relationship with my boyfriend will be taken, so this week’s question is about just that!

What is something you didn’t find out about your significant other until a long time into the relationship?

We’re still happily together, so of course it was nothing major or life threatening to our relationship but I remember during a conversation about the words for male and female animals, Dan revealed that he’d thought a goose was a male swan. I laughed so much and just stared at him in disbelief waiting for him to tell me he was joking. However, he didn’t. It had been a perfectly innocent honest comment and I had no idea that he didn’t know things like that. We’d been together just over four years when that came out!

Another weird thing that I didn’t learn until fairly late into the relationship was that he wasn’t really a fan of potatoes. Even though he ate them in front of me, he told me a few years into the relationship that he didn’t really like them. It was very odd to learn because I couldn’t understand why he hadn’t told me before since he had eaten them with me.

For us, it has just been little things like this that we pick up. He didn’t know that I learned to play piano as a kid or that my teeth were a total mess before I got my braces. However, I think it’s a good thing that there are still things about each other to discover. It keeps it fresh and exciting and it’s great that we haven’t got stuck into a predictable cycle where nothing is new anymore. Dan never fails to surprise me and in turn, that makes me smile all the time. In fact, not giving everything away would be one of my top relationship survival tips. The longer you hold little things like these back, the more your partner has to find out about you and the more interesting you’ll be to them. Of course, don’t become a completely closed book but holding back little trivial things leaves room for them to come out during unexpected times making for plenty of fun and laughs.

 

fangirlTITLE: Fangirl
AUTHOR: Rainbow Rowell
EDITION: Macmillan Books
PUBLISHED: September 10th 2013

This book has received a lot of hype around the book blogosphere of late and it is definitely author Rainbow Rowell’s breakthrough release. Despite it first being published quite a while ago, it has now picked up a lot of praise and many contemporary lovers absolutely adore it. It is definitely a refreshing break from the hard-hitting, emotional dystopian series that teens and young adults are used to. With a beautiful mint green cover and quirky artwork to entice you in, Fangirl really stands out on the shelf and seems to smile at you as soon as you pick it up.

Fangirl is the story of 16-year-old Cath who is off to college alongside her twin sister Wren. Cath and Wren have been inseparable all their lives and together have written fan-fiction inspired by their favourite book and film series Simon Snow, which Rowell has said is based on Harry Potter. Now they are growing up and moving on, Wren is keen to separate herself from her sister and make new friends but Cath remains attached to her Simon Snow fandom and continues to write while battling the usual struggles of college -deadlines, new room mates and romance. However when Wren finds herself in trouble, the twins are reunited and it transpires that their joint love of Simon Snow and each other is undying.

On the whole it is a light-hearted read with plenty to smile about including Cath and Wren’s “emergency Kanye parties” when anything goes wrong for either of them and Reagan, Cath’s room mate is always full of one-liners that make you laugh. Cath herself is an endearing character who often appears to be clinging on to her past life rather than moving into the future. She is outside of her comfort zone at college without her sister and the novel is her coming-of-age story. Her inexperience with boys creates sweet and recognisable situations that a lot of girls in their late teens and early twenties know only too well. She is a believable and likeable girl with a passion and talent for writing and with every page, you are willing her to do well. There are times when she seems too hung up on other things to really push through with her work and this is really frustrating for slightly older readers as you just find yourself shouting “Use your talent as an escape, girl! Life will sort itself out!”.

The romance aspect between Cath and Reagan’s ex Levi is a beautiful thread that runs through the story. He starts out as someone who struggles to read books and through his interest in her and her writing, he becomes sucked into the Simon Snow world and Cath’s interpretation of it. The scenes where she is simply reading her work to him are really powerful because you can feel how Levi is falling deeper in love with her through her words. Their love isn’t superficial or based on anything physical and this is really unique in a teenage relationship. It proves that young love isn’t just for beautiful popular people as teens often believe but that intelligent, bookish teens can also find their perfect boyfriend or girlfriend.

Although Cath does mature and deal with some serious issues in the novel, there is the message that your childhood interests and passions don’t need to be left behind when you grow up. Fangirl tells us that becoming an adult doesn’t mean that you have to give certain things up or distance yourself from friends and family. You should actually hold them closer to you and follow your own dreams whatever they may be without letting the words and wishes of others deter you -a great message for Rowell’s young readers to take away.

 

 

 

A really interesting question this week that I do have some definite answers to. The concept of the question is intriguing too. Thinking of different afterlives is something that really interests me and I’d love to explore that in a creative way at some point.

When you die, you find that in the afterlife you are given a TV that only plays one show but with infinite new original episodes. What show do you choose?

This afterlife does sound awesome. Maybe I would get sick of the same show over and over again but there would always be new episodes to look forward to! The show whose new series I always look forward to most is Family Guy. I have all of the boxsets which have been released in the UK and the release of a new one always gets me excited.

I love the way that it’s always so silly yet so funny. It’s not an eye-rolling, juvenile humour that you get bored of but a witty style that occasionally throws a curveball. Yes, it’s random but the randomness isn’t just shoved into place. In a way, it’s not random at all. It all serves a purpose of making the show the way it is -unpredictable, heart-warming and undeniably hilarious.

The characters and dynamics between familial bonds and within friendships are just perfect. It’s such a well done show that for me, it became addictive. As soon as I began watching, I was hooked on the whole world of Quahog and its inhabitants. I’m not the biggest fan of other Seth MacFarlane shows. Although they’re amusing enough, they just don’t match up in my opinion.

If I was only going to watch a show forevermore, nothing but Family Guy would suffice. There’s no way I could go without laughing the way that show makes me chuckle.

movies-the-book-thief-posterTITLE: The Book Thief
STARS: Sophie Nelisse, Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson
DIRECTOR: Brian Percival
RELEASED: February 26th 2014

Marcus Zuzak’s World War Two tearjerker was one of my favourite books that I read last year and I was both excited and nervous for the release of the film adaptation. It’s such a beautiful, heart-breaking story that I wasn’t sure how well it would translate to screen and whether the emotion would really carry over in the same way that it does in the book.

Set in Nazi Germany in the late 1930s and early 1940s, the story follows the tragic tale of Liesel Meminger (Sophie Nelisse) who is travelling by train with her mother and younger brother who dies on the journey. Burying the boy at the side of the road, Liesel picks up The Gravedigger’s Handbook which she finds on her brother’s grave. Liesel’s mother is a communist and due to the growing conflict, Liesel is placed in the care of Hans (Geoffrey Rush) and Rosa Hubermann (Emily Watson). Befriending a local boy of her own age Rudy Steiner, Liesel lives a simple life. Her stepfather Hans teaches her to read with The Gravedigger’s Handbook, which leads to Liesel’s long-time obsession with reading. When there is a mass book burning at the command of the Nazis, Liesel retrieves a book which is witnessed by the Major’s wife. Hans and Rosa are meanwhile hiding a Jewish boy Max  in their basement and Liesel becomes close friends with him. When Rosa asks Liesel to deliver laundry to the Major’s house, his wife invites her into their library and tells her to read whenever she wants. However, the war brings troubled times to the community and the ending is one that you’ll remember forever.

Both the film and the book are narrated by Death -a voice who never makes a physical appearance but is a constant dark presence. Having him interject every so often brings you back out of Liesel’s sweet simple life and reminds you of the reality of the time. No matter how safe and happy life may seem, Death is always there during war time. The severity of the country’s situation is shown so many times and you can’t help but wonder how different things would be if the war weren’t going on. Every single death in the film is shocking and simply heartbreaking, so that you leave the cinema feeling utterly drained of emotion.

As a reader, I really connected with Liesel and as a result, my heart was in my mouth for a lot of the film. Although I had read the book, Sophie Nelisse was the perfect Liesel and the character really came to life in front of my eyes. Her friendship with Rudy is a beautiful touch that keeps in mind the innocence of children in such a dark time. The tragic ending and the final words from Death are so haunting and I’m so glad that Zuzak’s wonderful story wasn’t messed with too much.

It is one of a rare breed -a very good book-to-film adaptation. The Book Thief is a story that so many people love and are deeply affected by, so it was important that the film was done well. The casting was perfect and every important aspect of the book was included. Creating an authentic World War Two setting is something is seen a lot but rarely from the point of view of a bookish little girl trapped in the terrible world she has found herself in. If you love emotional, dramatic films then The Book Thief is definitely for you!

Another book question this week, which I love. Talking about books is almost as fun as reading them, so I do love when Reddit goes a bit bookish. Consequently, I’d love to receive some book questions from my readers, so do let me know in a comment if you’ve got one for me!

What book absolutely blew your mind?

For me, all books with deeper meanings that what you see on the surface are mind-blowing. The way that some writers can create whole second stories underneath the main thread is really inspiring and keeps you interested. Books that leave you with a lasting message or lesson really touch me and often impact my life.

I’ve been reading Maus by Art Spiegelmann recently. It’s the first graphic novel I’ve ever read and it has been a great experience. Maus deals with shocking, harrowing tales of the Holocaust told by animals representing the various groups -mice are Jews, cats are Nazis and Poles are pigs. It follows the tale of Artie the mouse who is writing a book about the war and its effect on the Jewish race. For his research, he questions his father Vladek -an Auschwitz survivor- on his experiences in the concentration camps.

Hearing such terrible stories about things that really happened to people during World War 2 has an effect, of course but there’s something about depicting the people as animals that gives it a different spin. Seeing the characters drawn as animals sometimes causes you to forget that the events being talked about actually happened to humans. When you realise that Vladek’s stories are true or near to true for so many Jews, it really hits home and you’re smacked in the face with shock and sadness.

On a lesser level, Animal Farm by George Orwell is also like this. It uses animals to describe a big historic event that affected so many people. However, using animals to re-enact it forces you to see it in a different way. The eventual reconnaissance that it isn’t just about an animal story, that the animals are metaphors for humans hits you in a way that other books just don’t.

I’d really advise everyone to read Maus even those of you who aren’t big readers. Due to the nature of graphic novels, they’re not full of chunks of text and description that can seem impossible to penetrate. I’ll certainly be reading more in the future!

 

A very general question this week that has so many answers for me. Once again, I’d love anyone reading this to answer it too and leave any questions you would like me to answer in the comments!

What are you currently obsessed with?
I’ve always had quite an addictive and obsessive personality. Once I discover that I like something, I tend to stick to it rigidly and as a result I’m actually quite reluctant to try new things. As a result of this, I am always obsessed with something. More often than not, it’s several things at once i.e. a certain food, a certain activity or certain form of entertainment.

Right now, my biggest obsession is probably book buying. I’ve always loved books but I did recently come across the wonderful BookTube community on YouTube and cannot stop watching the hauls and reviews of a select few BookTubers. Due to this, I have recently got into the habit of buying books for as cheaply as possible and have acquired a huge number in the past few months. In fact, I have to keep getting rid of books too because I only have limited space on my bookshelf. Rather than curb the habit, I have a purge of books that I’m unlikely to re-read. There’s something about having so many fictional worlds to choose from that excites me. Seeing them displayed neatly and together on my shelf is extremely satisfying too.

I’m also obsessed with the wonderful Taylor Swift at the moment too. I find it crazy that I only got deeply into her music when Red was released at the end of 2012. I know that she isn’t considered to be the coolest artist around and I’m sure I’ll get a few groans when I admit that she is one of my current obsessions. However, both Red and its predecessor Speak Now are amazing albums and I honestly believe that every young girl should own both of them. She has this amazing air about her that is so beautiful and her lyrics are amazing. She writes for every single woman out there and it’s so clear that she is as down to earth as her fans are. Not ashamed to say that I am a relatively recent Swiftie recruit!

So that’s what I’m currently obsessing over. Let me know what you are too!