Monday, 26 January 2015

TV Things: Fortitude on Sky Atlantic. The Killing Meets Broadchurch Meets Twin Peaks.

image via

With its big budget and impressively all-star cast to boot, Fortitude, Sky Atlantic's new Arctic Thriller, has been on my radar for quite a while. I think the first promos aired back in November. Now, it's finally here.  Fortitude premieres on Sky Atlantic on Thursday January 29th and promises murder, mystery and dark secrets and a forever chilling setting.

Described as perfect for fans of The Killing, Broadchurch and Twin Peaks, Fortitude boasts a very impressive award-winning ensemble cast including Michael Gambon, Stanley Tucci, Christopher Eccleston and The Killing's Sofie Grabol.

Here's More:*

Academy Award nominee Stanley Tucci, Michael Gambon, Christopher Eccleston, Sofie Grabol, Richard Dormer, Jessica Raine, Luke Treadaway, Nicholas Pinnock and Johnny Harris will star in the 12 hour thriller, which is centered on a mysterious death in the Arctic Circle and will be filmed in Iceland and the UK.

Fortitude is a place like nowhere else. Although surrounded by the savage beauty of the Arctic landscape, Fortitude is one of the safest towns on earth. There has never been a violent crime here. Until now. In such a close-knit community a murder touches everyone and the unsettling, mysterious horror of this crime threatens the future of the town itself.

The local Chief of Police, Sheriff Dan Anderssen (Dormer), has to investigate alongside DCI Morton (Tucci), the detective who has flown into Fortitude so fast that questions are being asked about how much he knew, and when. As these two cops try to make sense of the killing, each finds compelling reasons to mistrust and suspect the other.

The murder is a catastrophe for Hildur Odegard (Grabol), the town's Governor. It threatens her ambitious plans to transform Fortitude from a mining town into a site for high-end tourism. And for Henry Tyson (Gambon), a wildlife photographer who only has weeks left to live, the murder is the catalyst to unearthing Fortitude's darkest secret.

Fortitude airs on Sky Atlantic in the UK and on Pivot in the US.

So, will you be watching?

* Additional information via

Reviewed by Arianne: Love Hurts Edited by Malorie Blackman +++ Giveaway!

Product details:
Publisher: Corgi Children's.
Paperback, 576 pages.
Release date: January 29th 2015.
Ages: 12+
Reviewed by: Arianne.
Source: Received from publisher for review.

 Malorie Blackman brings together the best teen writers of today in a stunningly romantic collection about love against the odds. Featuring short stories and extracts about modern star-crossed lovers from stars such as Gayle Forman, Markus Zusak and Patrick Ness, and with a brand-new story from Malorie Blackman herself, Love Hurts looks at every kind of relationship, from first kiss to final heartbreak.

Love is the theme of the moment when it comes to short story collections, whether that’s romantic love, familial love or – perhaps most essentially of all — love for oneself despite faults and fears. Following on from the success of 2014’s My True Love Gave to Me comes this UKYA offering, edited by Malorie Blackman. One of the best things about the anthology is the diverse range of experiences it features, particularly LGBTQ stories.

Short story anthologies are always divisive, but if there’s one thing I’ve seen consistently in reviews for Love Hurts, it’s that it needed more original stories, and I'm in total agreement. Most of the new stories written for the collection are magnificent and incredibly diverse, but there should have been new content on every page, not hidden away between extracts. While it could be a great way of allowing reluctant readers to experience an array of young adult fiction, this book’s best potential champions – long-time YA fans, advocates and book bloggers – are taken for granted. With that in mind, I'll only be reviewing the original fiction from the anthology, though it is worth noting that there are some great excerpts thrown into the melee, too.

Tumbling by Susie Day - 5 stars

My favourite story by far from the anthology. If you're going to buy this anthology, buy it for Tumbling, because it is ridiculously fantastic. On the surface it’s just the story of Shirin and Candy (also known as eyebrows and vaticancameltoes), but it's also about love, friendship, Tumblr, fangirls, Sherlock, self-doubt and honesty; it's engaging and fun, devastating and utterly relatable. I’m already campaigning for Shirin and Candy to get their own full-length novel! They’re impossible to resist. Susie Day is an author who just gets what it’s like to be a modern teenager. The writing is spectacular, too - it’s sleek, natural and so, so funny. 

Gentlewoman by Laura Dockrill - 4 stars

A powerful, haunting, immersive tale of identity and self-worth which reaches far beyond the pages it’s given. Stark, contemporary and sometimes bleak, it's the kind modern YA everyone should be reading.  It focuses less on romance than the other stories and stands out because of it; well worth checking out.

Humming Through My Fingers by Malorie Blackman - 2 stars

The story of a blind girl and a sighted boy's first meeting, the execution of the opener is a catastrophe. As it's the anthology's opener, my disappointment with this story almost made me put the book down. I’ve never seen so many tropes packed into so few pages! Worse than that, the sheer lack of understanding of what it’s like to live with a visual impairment borders on the unbelievable. Main character Amber is treated as if her sole purpose is to improve the lives of the able-bodied people around her. Any flashes of her own agency are quickly quashed. I wanted to see her selfish or angry or delirious with joy, but she’s never even given the chance to seem real.  Really did not enjoy this one.

The Unicorn by James Dawson - 4.5 stars

A brilliantly woven, highly emotional and surprisingly entertaining story, proving that you don’t have to lose out on character just because you’re dealing with big themes. A rollicking war-era story, there’s a sense that every word counts. It fits neatly with the rest of the anthology while still making you want to return to it time and again.

The Liar’s Girl by Catherine Johnson - 4.5 stars

Undoubtedly the most unique short story in the entirety of Love Hurts. Like The Unicorn it’s historical fiction, but it has a very different feel. Chilling, fierce and just a little bit dangerous, it’s told directly to the reader and balances a creepy atmosphere with a tale of passionate love like an acrobat on a high wire. 



Want to win a copy of the Love Hurts anthology and check out these stories for yourself? Just leave a comment on Arianne's review (along with a contact email address)* to be entered into the draw.

Competition is open: Internationally.

Competition closes: February 9th 2014.

*If you don't want to post your contact email address in comments, please send an email to with 'Love Hurts' as the subject line. Please include your email address and the name you have used to comment on this Arianne's review in your email.

Friday, 23 January 2015

Book Review: I Was Here by Gayle Forman.

Product details:
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK.
Paperback, 288 pages.
Release date: January 29th 2015.
Rating:  3½ out of 5.
Ages: 14+
 Source: Received from publisher for review.

 From the bestselling author of If I Stay - this summer's YA blockbuster film.

This characteristically powerful novel follows eighteen-year-old Cody Reynolds in the months following her best friend's shocking suicide.

As Cody numbly searches for answers as to why Meg took her own life, she begins a journey of self-discovery which takes her to a terrifying precipice, and forces her to question not only her relationship with the Meg she thought she knew, but her own understanding of life, love, death and forgiveness.

A phenomenally moving story, I Was Here explores the sadly all-too-familiar issue of suicide and self-harm, addressing it in an authentic way with sensitivity and honesty.

 A new novel from YA Tour de Force Gayle Forman is always a cause for celebration – and high expectation. If I Stay gave all of us all the feels, while Just One Day and Just One Year saw us captivated by the romantic adventure that was Willem and Alyson’s whirlwind love story. With I Was Here, however, Forman has changed track. She’s gone dark. The topic is suicide, and the grief left in its wake. As such, I Was Here is a sometimes bleak read, a book without hope, because the awful thing, the worst thing that could happen, well, it’s already happened.

That said, while I Was Here deals with the most tragic of events – awful, heart-wrenching events, it failed to have an emotional impact on me. Here’s why:

When we first meet Meg she’s already dead; our introduction to her is a suicide note sent via time-delay email to her loved ones – her parents, and her best friend, Cody. By the time Meg’s suicide note is read by Cody, it’s too late.  There’s nothing Cody can do to save her best friend, no way she can turn back time.  Cody is in complete shock, and understandably so. Cody and Meg were like two peas in a pod, so everybody said. They were inseparable. Meg was the leader in their pack of two. And Cody is lost without her. Where does she go now? What does she do? It’s sad, right. I know it is. But it didn’t work for me. Why? Because Meg is already dead. We don’t know her. We’re never going to get to know her. This friendship of her and Cody’s. We don’t see it.  Meg is in the past.  We’re told that she and Cody are best friends, but we never get to see their bond in motion.

And it’s a problem too, because Cody is the focus here, and she’s not a particularly likeable character.  As the friend that got left behind, Cody is angry, and while that’s understandable, as a reading experience, it’s not particularly enjoyable. Cody is angry at everyone, herself included. Cody is sure that had there been signs to Meg’s depression, then she would have seen them. As Meg’s best friend, how could she not have seen this coming?  Cody is convinced that there’s more to Meg’s death that meets the eye: and when she finds an encrypted file on Meg’s computer – she’s sure she’s found the key to the answer she so needs.

Cody’s search to find the truth about Meg’s death leads her on a road trip, where she’s accompanied by Ben McAllister, a beautiful guitar-playing boy who dumped Meg after a one-night-stand and broke her heart. Cody thinks Ben is a jerk, and she treats him accordingly, but as they delve into the mystery of Meg’s suicide, they find themselves inexplicably drawn to each other. You know where this is going, right?

As a study of the aftermath and impact of suicide and the grief and confusion that abounds, I Was Here hits the right notes. And as always, Forman’s writing is just lovely to read: her writing –always worth reading- is maybe the reason I’m rating this book a 3.5 instead of a 3.  The story of I Was Here, though really doesn’t break any barriers; its tropes are little tired, especially the road trip and ensuing Cody/Ben insta-romance that has been done so often before, and better than here. This, coupled with characters and relationships that I felt were lacklustre and even a little bland at times, means that I’m not recommending I Was Here as a must read. 

If you’ve enjoyed Forman’s previous novels, then I say give this one a go. It’s definitely not the best I’ve read from her though, lacking the originality, wonderfully drawn characters and emotional punch we’ve come to expect from this much lauded author.

Gayle Forman Must-Read: If I Stay.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Beauty on Trial: Ren Flash Rinse 1 Minute Facial.

 From time to time I'll be putting beauty products (and their sometimes very big claims!) on trial and reporting back after a month or so with my findings.

First up, is Ren's Flash Rinse 1 Minute Facial.  Adored by Beauty Bloggers galore, this Vitamin C infused mask promises to transform your skin in sixty seconds, no less.

The Lowdown*

What is Ren's Flash Rinse 1 Minute Facial exactly?

A transforming treatment that instantly revitalizes and visibly rejuvenates the skin. Formulated with potent water-activated Vitamin C it will neutralize urban grey in a flash, leaving skin looking firm, toned and smoothed, while reducing the signs of fatigue, photo-ageing and skin imperfections. Skin instantly glows with renewed health and radiance. 

What results can I expect when I use this product?

Skin instantly looks and feels re-energised, re-awakened.
Reduces the appearance of lines, imperfections and photo-ageing.
Tones, firms and banishes urban grey. 

How do I use it?

Use every 3 days. After cleansing, apply over face and neck massaging with circular movements. Dampen finger tips with water and massage again to activate the Vitamin C. Leave for 1 minute. Rinse thoroughly.

What Skin type/s is it suitable for?

All skin types except those prone to sensitivity.

First Impressions

So, I have to confess that when I was reading all those glowing blogger reviews of this product -and even when I purchased the product from Look Fantastic - not once do I remember ever reading in any of those reviews or in the product description on the LF site, that this product is not suitable for skin that's prone to sensitivity. Uh. I first spotted the sensitivity warning on the back of the tube, and it is clearly listed on the official Ren site, so maybe I should have looked there first, eh?

However, not all products that warn against use for skin prone to sensitivity make me break out, so I will try this out, but maybe not three times a week - maybe once a week to start. Lisa Eldridge, in her review, noted that this was maybe a little too grainy for her skin, and so she smoothed it over her skin, rather than rubbing it in, and I think that's what I'll be doing too. 

I have done a patch test, and no redness has occurred (so far!) so hopefully this will work out for me. Otherwise it'll be a rather sweet gift for my sis!

As for the smell, well, it's a little medicinal - and very citrussy. (I guess that'll be all the Vitamin C!) Oh, I've just had a flashback to my childhood right there and realised that this smells exactly like the orange-flavoured cough medicine that I used to take as a kid .  Exactly like it! This isn't orange in colour, though - it's green.

I'll be reporting back with my full review of Ren's Flash Rinse 1 Minute Facial a few weeks from now. In the meantime, if you've used the product, I'd love to hear your thoughts!

*Product description 'answers' via
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