Audiobook Review and Reflect: Talking As Fast As I Can – Lauren Graham

laurengraham

I’ve just had that ‘staring-at-the-wall-with-a-fresh-book-shaped-whole-in-my-heart’ moment. Loralie Gilmore (I mean, Lauren Graham) just spent four hours reading me a book.

I was in the city today, so I’ve been on a lot of trains and tubes. It was a new experience to listen to someone talk to me as I tapped in at London Bridge Station, or raced down the stairs to catch the next Northern Line tube. Her soothing voice filling my head. She had me in fits of laughter, followed by bursts of sadness or melancholy. I suspect I looked slightly deranged on public transport today.

In the background, as I absorb and write this review, There She Goes – The La’s, plays quietly through my headphones. I felt the need to listen to The Gilmore Girls soundtrack; stopping Stars Hollow from leaving me straight away. There’s a warmth in my fingertips that I only get when I need to write.  It’s late, so I’ve got a hot chocolate sat, steaming in my chilly office space, waiting to be sipped.

It is strange, listening to her voice. I can picture her, sat with her legs curled up on a comfy sofa, coffee cupped between her hands. She’s telling me her story, her life. But it’s like hearing a familiar tale with a whole new character. I know it, and yet I don’t.

Loralie Gilmore raised me. I was Rory. Luke was my step-dad. Books made me safe. I’m back in Stars Hollow, however now it has that dewy glaze of a warm memory. That’s what it’s like listening to Lauren Graham read Talking As Fast As I Can: From Gilmore To Gilmore. 

gilmore-girls-header__span

Talking As Fast As I Can is a charming, delightful book, and makes for an interesting audiobook on Audible. Graham takes us on a journey from Kindergarten to the end of filming Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life.

She shares a lot, the usual witty anecdotes, but also some deep, personal information that anyone may have left out. Lauren Graham’s attention to detail is also someone quite wonderful to observe. She goes on a tangent about a blue coat from The Gilmore Girls set for several paragraphs, which is simply enchanting to read.

lauren-g

Lauren Graham makes every single word seem and sound magic. Speaking in particular for the audiobook, hearing her read the book herself gives it an added layer of intimacy which is missing from some audiobooks. You can hear the laughter in her voice when she recalls a conversation with a beloved friend. Her tone carries the weight of the time they found of Gilmore Girls was over. She sounds… affected. It is beautiful to listen to.

I realize this is more of a Lauren Graham worship than a review of her book as a format, or as a piece of writing. Perhaps I have been influenced because I listened to it rather than read it. But all I know for sure is, Loralie Gilmore just told me a story, and I loved every minute of it.

If you are a fan of Gilmore Girls, of Parenthood or just of the wonderful Lauren Graham as a human being, I strongly urge you to read or listen to this book. It’s life-affirming, charming and downright enjoyable to consume.

 

Gilmore Girls Spotify Playlist:

 

Advertisements

Goals Changed For The Better | A New Chapter

We all have a plan for our lives, whether it’s short term; ‘lose five pounds’, or long term; ‘I want to have a career in XYZ by the time I’m 30’. We all also know, that life likes to get in the way of our plans.

 

goals (1)

#goals graphic, created with Fotor by @melissaholden94

 

My original life plan (at 16) was as follows:

  • Do A-Levels
  • Get a job and earn money
  • Go on lots of holidays
  • Get married
  • Get a Husky called Jeff
  • Learn to drive
  • Get a big house

…And that was effectively all I wanted from life.

Then, at 18, this was my plan:

  • Go to university
  • Get a degree
  • Get a part-time job
  • Save loads of money
  • Write my first book
  • Go travelling
  • Rent a house with friends
  • Get a tattoo

I did well on some points, and not so well on others.

At 20, my plan looked a little like this:

  • Get a temp job in home town
  • Go do my Master’s in October 2015
  • Graduate
  • Rent a house with Ashleigh
  • Go travelling
  • Pay off my overdraft
  • Save money
  • Learn to drive
  • Write more books

20-year-old Me was ambitious and didn’t plan for other people to affect her life plan. I had to move back home to be close to an ill family member. I had to leave all my uni friends behind and get a job in Bluewater.

Graduates-hats

What I also didn’t expect, was to have graduated my Bachelor’s degree, moved back to the home town I hate, and fall in love with my new ‘supposed-to-be-for-six-months’ job. I ended up with a good, stable job in optics, and didn’t follow the plan. I didn’t start my Master’s degree in October. Instead, I was doing training at work to improve my skill set.

I ended up with a good, stable job in optics, and didn’t follow the plan. I didn’t start my Master’s degree in October. Instead, I was doing training at work to improve my skill set. I also, 2 years in, ended up being promoted to a Team Leader position, and am loving it.

I also didn’t move in with my best friend, because she moved back home to be close to her family, and to look after herself  – cannot argue with that, really.

Now, at 22 (nearly 23), my plan looks more like this:

  • Save my Student Loans and pay off my overdraft
  • Start my Master’s in October 2017
  • Graduate in June 2018
  • Finish writing Finding Jennifer
  • Move out to my own place
  • Start looking for ‘love’
  • Spend more time with my friends and family
  • Be present in the moment
  • Be positive
  • Blog more
  • Read as many books as possible

Perhaps some of those are loftier than others, but I love all my goals and aspirations the same. I am glad that my priorities have changed because it means I have grown and developed as a person, and I’m pretty proud of that.

What are your goals in life, and have they changed over the years? 

 

500 Followers, A Milestone Post

Since it’s conception in 2013, this blog has had many purposes, many milestones, many birthdays. It is the one safe place; the one continuous space, where I can write freely and know my words will not only be seen but appreciated.

I just wanted to say thanks, to old and new followers – you make it worth posting. I know I am a bit of a sporadic blogger, but my work/life balance leaves something to be desired. I really appreciate the loyalty.

Thank you all so much for the love and support, and I hope we will be seeing more of each other soon.

Love, Mel ❤

Brainy Belle, Sarcastic Beast and the Periodically Accurate Teapot (Beauty and the Beast Movie Review)

One of my first memories was of watching a charming, witty, brown-haired bookworm teach the men in her life a thing or two – and I was enthralled. I am delighted to say, that Disney has done it once again and given us a brainiac for a princess.

STOP HERE IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE MOVIE – THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

eu_batb_flex-hero_header_r_430eac8d

Belle-in-dress-comparison-475x441

Belle herself is physically matched with Emma Watson, however, the 2017 live-action gives us a few more (very much appreciated) quirks. For one, her everyday ‘peasant’ dress is slightly askew to show that she wears trousers/bloomers underneath – which is always seen as a deliberate wardrobe choice for empowered female characters.

The Beauty is also the Inventor in the new story – not her father, which was a wonderful way to show her independence when she invents the washing machine so she can read for longer.

Along with the addition of her dearly departed mother’s back story, there are some charming tweaks to the story which I am sure many fans will be happy with.

Belle’s script doesn’t change an awful lot when it comes to her conversations with the Beast, although there is certainly a lot more humor and sarcasm between the two of them, which adds a whole new layer to the famous library scene.

beautyandthebeast-trailercomparison

Speaking of the Beast – he was a surprise and a half on-screen. A live-action movie meant that the actor playing Beast (Dan Stevens), could have his facial expressions portrayed more accurately, making the character far more realistic.

There have been several online comments about how the Beast isn’t attractive enough once he transforms – which is absolutely ridiculous for two reasons. Firstly – Dan Stevens is a very attractive man. Secondly – those people are missing the point of the movie. It’s a beautiful tale about a girl falling in love with the man underneath the darkness, seeing past the physical to get to his soul. Belle certainly isn’t going to go through all that, see that he’s not that hot and change her mind.

mrspotts

I went to the cinema quite hung up on the change to the appearance of the enchanted antiques, ie Mrs. Potts, Chip, Lumiere, Cogsworth. However, I will concede to the fact that they are almost certainly more periodically accurate.

Emma as Mrs. Potts was a wonderful choice, although I’m not sure about her accent choice; her singing is simply perfect for the role. (Oh – and she has feet now!)

I was quite fond of the animated versions, but I am aware they faced many challenges when it came to actually animating and interacting with the character; one being Lumiere doing a can-can kick during Be Our Guest. But with the addition of some suitable limbs, he can kick away with the side plates.

lefou-comparison.jpgGaston and Lefou are interesting characters, and I’m sure there are many articles discussing at length the obvious sexual orientation of Lefou. But I am more interested in some of the more subtle aspects to their personality.

Lefou is not a simple character by any means, which is shown in the end battle when he helps Mrs. Potts and turns his back on Gaston.

the-new-beauty-and-the-beast-trailer-and-the-original-side-by-side-will-reawaken-your-disney-nostalgia.jpg

Gaston is given a new layer in regards to his attitude and violence, by making him a soldier who has recently returned from war. Whilst somewhat implied in the original movie, it is plainly said in the new version. What’s more, he is made to look a fool in terms of literacy, when Lefou says ‘Ah, je ne sais quoi’ and Gaston replies, ‘I don’t know what that means.’

Beauty-beast-christmas-disneyscreencaps.com-3032

The only addition to the story that I wasn’t moved by was the Enchantress. She is added to the plot as a homeless spinster who has been watching over the corner by Belle and Maurice’s house for many years. This is probably supposed to be an act of foreshadowing, but it is certainly a change that will go straight over a child’s head.

ad_236267590-e1488317501218.jpg

The Romeo and Juliet string to the plot appears once more. Not only is it supposedly the loose basis for the story, it is also mentioned by the characters in both movie versions.

Literacy plays a huge part in both, however, in the latest edition, it is far more significant. For one thing, not only can the Beast read, but he knows his Shakespeare and even goes as far as to mock Belle’s enjoyment of the famous star-crossed lover’s tale.

beauty-beast-2017-posters

The soundtrack is incredible – there is no doubt about it. It is the perfect mixture between the classic, well-loved songs, and some beautiful new tracks. The Beast gets his own song when he pines for Belle, and it really adds to his character.

The singing wardrobe has her own mini love story with her husband the grand piano, which is quite sweet to watch. She is also featured in a lot of the soundtrack as she as shown as one of the performers from the first ball at the beginning of the movie.

Whilst I will always have a place in my heart for the 1991 version, this new portrayal certainly deserves a place too. The cast, the music, and the quirks are stunning, and I can’t wait to buy the DVD, all the merchandise and probably the soundtrack.

Oh, and Disney – you need to make Enchanted Christmas as a sequel!

 

 

Saying Farewell to my Pseudonym

The blog-fans among you will know that I have removed my pseudonym, Melody Carter, from the Internet. She’s gone now. *RIP fictional version of myself*

melody-carter-banner

I’ve waved goodbye to her website, her Facebook page, and her Twitter. I’ve exported all her churlish attempts at Children’s Fiction or bizarre tries at Adult Writing. She isn’t working well for my writing career, so, like the proverbial rose – she had to be dead-headed.

(Although the design for that website was pretty awesome, so I may have to move the typography over to another site… we will see!)

I found Melody Carter no longer had a place or standing in my writing portfolio; she had become just an extra tab on my social media to ignore and avoid during the low moments.

Any writer can tell you that this is not a fun career choice by any means – particularly as there is no money in it. So it becomes hard to justify your meager efforts when you are spread so thin across your many pen names.

cropped-melissaholdennewbanner-june2016.jpg

Instead, (if rather late in the day) I have decided to solely write under my own name; no pseudonyms or pretenses. Just little me and my little words on my little books.

I hope you can all get behind me on this, and as you have all been such lovely readers; I am sure you will be.

I’ll be back soon with some news about my upcoming novel, Finding Jennifer, but for now; I’m off to drink tea and ponder over Chapter 12.

Alan The Christmas Donkey | Recent Reads

​Recent Reads: Whilst on the train back from Wales recently,  me and my mom ended up reading Alan The Christmas Donkey by Tracy Garton. 

It’s a sweet, funny book all about the donkey sanctuary the author set up twenty years ago, and the donkeys she adopts along the way; the most mischievous of all being Alan. 

It’s a quick read and a good laugh, and quite an eye opener to the amount of work that goes into these sanctuaries. Worth a read! 

They have a website where you can learn a little bit more about their donkeys: http://www.radcliffedonkeys.com

Sex In Books | Not That Sexy (16+ content)

sex in books.pngEveryone loves a cheeky sex scene in a romance novel; or those secret make-out sessions in your favourite Young Adult series, but there’s a line.

With a society that is climatized to seeing sex in everything, perhaps no sex in a book is the New Sexy?

If an author tells you they have never written a salacious sex scene – they ar lying. But, ask them if it ended up in the book, and some will say no.

For my novel, Searching For Katherine, I wrote a sex scene for the night of Jennifer’s wedding – and then deleted half of it. Yes, I kept some of the build-up and the tension in, but there is no actual sex in the sex scene.

Sometimes, the idea of sex is sexier than the act itself. And sometimes, sex isn’t sexy. 

the-russian-concubineIn The Russian Concubine by Kate Furvinall, there is a sex scene between the two main characters who are roughly fifteen or sixteen years old. The boy is injured and weak, the girl tending to his wounds as she hides him the shed from her family.

It is a sweet, tender moment, but it is – naturally – a very awkward and fumbling scene. Why? Because virgin teenagers don’t know how to have sex, so it would be ridiculous for the author to have pretended otherwise. It is a beautifully written scene and one I have specially marked in my copy. I read it when I need reminding that sex isn’t always the sinners show it’s perceived to be. Sometimes, sex is communication.

It is a beautifully written scene and one I have specially marked in my copy. I read it when I need reminding that sex isn’t always the sinners show it’s perceived to be. Sometimes, sex is communication.

fifty-shades-of-grey-movie

It’s difficult to write an article about sex in books without mentioning the elephant in the room: Fifty Shades of Grey. Originally written as a sexy Twilight fan-fic, and quickly tidied up when the website when crazy and was picked up by a publishing house; Fifty Shades is the perfect example of Sex Overload in fiction.

I won’t waste too much time talking about this series, but if memory serves me right; there’s a lot of pretty ridiculous sex in this book series. They have sex anywhere and everywhere, several times a day and it some strange positions and situations. I think Mr .Grey needs to see a therapist because he just can’t keep it in his pants.

The sex is completely unrealistic – however, it also proves that sometimes there is only one way to write a sex scene: badly. E.L James repeats the same phrases and rhythms throughout the book, giving all the scenes a very samey vibe. But, she is an international best-selling author; so she must have gotten something right!

porn v books.png

Perhaps sex scenes in books scene somewhat ridiculous because they are a little bit more real than we’re used to.

Most adults have watch pornography at some time or another, and we’ve all seen those perfect six-pack muscle men with engorged penises and perfect bodies. They give women expectations of what a man should look like in bed, and I’m afraid to say that not every man is built like Superman. Nor, should they be!

And for the men, those poor bastards are relentlessly shown swimwear models with tidy, toned bodies and tiny waists. None of these women have scars or stretch marks, none have bore children and they certainly don’t look like the women we see in the high street doing their shopping.

Why is porn so popular? Because we like to fantasize. Why does sex suck in books? Because sometimes… you’ve just got to use your imagination – and the only references most of us have are porn sites and some embarrassing sex stories of our own.

And because reading the word penis is never going to be as sexy as seeing one! 

So maybe next time you read an awkward sex scene in a book; remember that sometimes it’s better in real life than it is on the page; give the author the benefit of the doubt. And, if it’s really bad, just skip it.

Got an opinion? Share it in the comments!