Saturday, 11 August 2018

Blog Tour: Future Movers - The Series

Five Futuristic Romances

For three generations the genetically altered Corban family have hid their talents from the Defence Department to avoid conscription.

Genetically altered at conception, William and Belinda begin this saga and pass their genetic cocktail to their children. The mixture of talents each character develops can at times be a blessing and, at other times a curse, preventing them from giving into their heart's desire. Intelligent, multi-talented, yet pretending to be boringly normal these characters continue to live their lives under the radar.

Follow the family's trials, loves, and achievements in this thrilling series of paranormal romances.
Well, due to the fact that it is the summer holidays and I've been busy keeping my kids entertained, I haven't been able to read the entire series yet. Although based on what I have read so far I most definitely will.

Despite the last book being the most recent, I decided to start at the beginning rather than just read the latest one for the blog tour, and so far I'm very glad that I did.

Just the prologue had me intrigued, in fact I'd go as far as to say that the 7 year old versions of the characters actually made me preemptively love their older counterparts, and that was before I even started the chapter one.

The premise behind the books is a great idea, children hiding their gifts in order to escape and live normal lives, and then going on to become a romance.

The main characters of Wills and Belinda are charming so far, and their first encounter was a perfect example of a 'meet cute'.

I definitely can't wait to continue with this series and see what other characters and romances I am yet to discover. I may add another review to my blog once I complete the series, although as always I will attempt to keep it spoiler free.
Author Bio:

I write futuristic and fantasy fiction, spiced with romance and adventure. This allows my imagination to run free, to create interesting characters caught in unusual circumstances and events. Sometimes I have the pleasure of watching science and technology catch up with my imagination.

I also write Young Adult, short stories and flash fiction; articles on writing and I am published in these genres. I self-published a children's rhyming book and once won a prize for a short screen script.

I'm a published poet and I endeavour to put my poetry skills into my fiction writing to enhance the word pictures I create.

I live in the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand which lives up to it's name. I belong to the Romance Writers of N.Z., Tauranga Writers, and Spec.Fic.NZ (speculative fiction NZ).

Thursday, 2 August 2018

Blog Tour: The Bookshop Detective - Review

When a ghost ship is spotted on the horizon one spring evening, bookseller Eleanor Mace decides to investigate the myths and legends of Combemouth, the seaside town where she runs The Reading Room. As Eleanor digs deeper into the town's history, she becomes intrigued by a Victorian crime report and is determined to find out what happened to a boy at the centre of the case - one with intriguing links to the present.

As Eleanor begins to uncover the truth - aided by the vicar but somewhat stalled by the local librarian - she has an unexpected challenge on her own horizon. Daniel - her husband of six months - is determined that they give up their separate homes and find a new place together. But Eleanor adores her cottage by the sea and resists, guaranteeing that things turn a little frosty as summer begins.

A celebrity book launch, an exploding dress and some salsa dancing pensioners make this a mystery with a difference.
After reading the blurb I wasn't 100% sure what to expect when I started reading The Bookshop Detective, which was quite nice, and I must say I was pleasantly surprised.

I definitely enjoyed the mystery aspect of the story of course, I mean who doesn't love a good mystery, especially about a ghost ship, however, since I don't want to spoil the story for anyone I won't say much about that.

Although I did enjoy the mystery as I said, the thing I enjoyed as much, if not more than that, was the rest of Eleanor's life outside of it. I've said in a previous review that the thing that will really endear me to a book and make me want to keep reading is when I fall in love with the characters, and I did that with Eleanor.

There was so much happening in her life outside of just the main story that it made her feel incredibly real which is what I really enjoy. Her relationship struggles and her friendships are what had me risking my tablet to read it in the bath because I wasn't ready to put it down yet.

I honestly really enjoyed it and would probably read it again even though I already know what happens (I always find myself going back to characters that I love), so I would definitely recommend it as a good read.
Jan Ellis began writing fiction by accident in 2013. Until then, she had led a blameless life as a publisher, editor and historian of early modern Spain. She fell into fiction when a digital publisher approached her to write a history book, then made the mistake of mentioning women's fiction, which sounded more fun.

In 2017 her four e-novellas were published in paperback by Waverley Books who also commissioned a brand-new title, The Bookshop Detective.

Jan describes her books as romcom/mystery with the emphasis firmly on family, friendship and humour. She specialises in small-town settings, with realistic characters who range in age from young teens to 80-somethings.

As well as being an author, Jan continues to work at the heart of the book trade. Jan Ellis is a nom-de-plume.

Friday, 27 July 2018

Countdown to Comic Con - It's Finally Here!!!

Guys, it's comic con tomorrow!! I'm so excited. There's been another guest announcement that is crazy exciting for me. Zachary Levi, the voice of Flynn in Tangled and of course the title character in the great show Chuck. I can't afford to meet him sadly, but he has a free talk scheduled that I will most definitely be going to.

Important announcement now ladies and gentlemen, drum roll please, my cosplay is officially finished! I'm not going to add a complete photo on here because I want you to see it to full effect with my friend as Ralph when we're at comic con.

I painted the white stripes on to the leggings which took a while, although it was ironing it to heat set the paint that was particularly tedious, however I think they turned out rather well in the end, and of course you've already seen the finished hoodie.
I've now glued the painted hair bits to some hair grips and tried them in my hair. I have also done a run through of my make up which went much better than expected, although on the day I will be adding false lashes as well. I actually had the side fringe cut in and dyed my hair black just for comic con.
The schedule for the day has been announced, as has the floor plan. I would recommend that anyone who is going check which photo area their photo shoots are in, and then check the floorplan in advance so that they know where they need to be.

This year they have also added rough ideas of which batch numbers are likely to get done in each shoot, which makes it much easier to plan your day.

I am pleased to announce the lucky winner of the Kaylee Frye teddy bear is Claire Davies. Congratulations, I very much hope you enjoy your prize!
Now, I have one last tip for anyone that is going to comic con, and that is to try to relax and have fun. It can get a bit stressful if you have a lot to do, but try to keep calm and take some time to take it all in.

So, you all know what I'll be wearing, if any of you see me on the day feel free to say hi. And if you don't see me on the day then keep an eye on my blog ready for my post about the day including plenty of photographs.

Sunday, 22 July 2018


Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god!! Guys, I went to see Wicked last week, and it was absolutely amazing. Honestly, I don't think I can find the right words to describe it, but of course I plan to try.

I went to see it at Leeds Grand Theatre, which is a beautiful venue, and the staff were incredibly lovely and helpful. Me and my friend missed our train and were very nearly late, but the lovely staff member got us to our seats pretty quickly and assured us that we had missed mere seconds of the show.
For anyone who doesn't know what it is, Wicked is the untold story of the witches of Oz. I won't go into details of the plot of anything because I don't want to spoil it for anyone who might want to go and see it, but I have to say that the whole story was completely amazing and not at all what I expected going in to it.
The songs were absolutely amazing, and Amy Ross who was playing Elphaba was phenomenal. It was really warm in the theatre, but I still had chills and goosebumps as she was singing. The most notable song was Defying Gravity, which even if you haven't seen the show you might have heard elsewhere. It might be a controversial opinion, but I honestly think I preferred Amy Ross' version to that of Idina Menzel.
At the interval once again the staff were lovely, even if me and my friend were a bit of a pain at the bar because we couldn't decide what we wanted. The bar was a bit expensive, but not as bad as I expected compared to other places that I've been.

The second half of the show was just as amazing as the first, and I left feeling absolutely amazing. The ending was absolutely wonderful, and I must say I absolutely loved Fiyero.
I definitely plan to see more musical theatre in future, in fact I very much want to see Jersey Boys which is also playing at the theatre in the near future, but the one I'm most excited to see is Full Monty which I believe is playing there in March 2019.
Obviously tickets to the theatre aren't the cheapest thing in the world so sadly I doubt I'll be able to see all of the shows I want to see, but it's definitely something I want to treat myself to (or get as a birthday gift) more often in the future, and I highly recommend it to anyone else.

(Thank you to Leeds Grand Theatre for allowing me to use their photographs in this post)

Friday, 20 July 2018

Countdown to Comic Con - 1 Week to Go!

Holy crap, I can't believe it's only a week now until London Film and Comic Con. There have been more announcements, but once again sadly the only one I'm interested in is a Sunday only, so to any of you that get to meet Matt Smith, know that I am incredibly jealous.

So, I'm sure you must be wondering whether I'm once again going to tell you how little I've done on my cosplay, which based on the past couple of posts would be a pretty fair assumption. But you would wrong, I've finally made some progress with it.

My skirt is finally finished, although I ended up not using my friends sewing machine. I did it by hand, which is all well and good, but I stabbed myself under my fingernail by accident and it really bloody hurt. Seriously, I was worried about bloodstains on the skirt the amount of times I stabbed myself. Or course sewing with a can of cider may not have been my best move.
I didn't use the fabric pens in the end, they would have taken forever and I probably wouldn't managed to get even coverage. I found some washing machine dye in aqua green, which has turned out to be the perfect colour.
Rather than trying to colour match fabric paint to colour in white tights, I also got some white leggings and dyed them alongside the hoodie. So rather than painting white leggings with coloured stripes, I painted coloured leggings with white stripes, which was much easier colour-wise. But you'll have to wait to see those since the paint is still wet.

I used some pink string for the stitches on the hoodie, and tied 2 pink shoelaces together to make the cord for the neck of the hoodie. The string was slightly lighter than the shoelaces though so I used a pink sharpie to colour it in so that they look better.

So my hoodie is done and the leggings are almost finished, my skirt is finished, I've done my hair bits just got to get them sorted for putting in my hair. Which means that now the main things to sort out are the hair and make up. Vanellope has side fringe bits down at the front, so I need to either get myself a fringe, or find a way to pin my hair in such a way that it looks kind of like one.

Hopefully in the next few days the schedule for the comic con will be released, at which point we can start to plan the day, looking when our group has photoshoots. Plus we can see when the free talks are, which are always a good source of entertainment, not to mention great if you need a sit down.

With one week to go you don't have much more time to enter the contest to win the Kaylee bear, so take the chance to enter now. You've got to be in it to win it.

Kaylee Bear Giveaway

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Blog Tour: To Snare a Witch - Review

To Snare a Witch by Jay Raven

No one dares spurn the lecherous advances of Sir Henry Cruttendon, 17th Century England's most reviled nobleman. To do so risks a retribution that would terrify the devil himself.

But Elizabeth Fiennes is no ordinary woman, blessed with stunning beauty, intelligence and guile. Coming from and influential family, she believes she is safe.

What she doesn't understand is that the Earl is determined to satisfy his lust and plans to use the wave of witch trials, fear and superstition sweeping the countryside to force her into his clutches.

And as he springs his malicious trap it triggers a chain of unholy events plunging hunter and prey into a maelstrom of deceit, terror and depravity - leaving them both staring into the face of true evil...
After reading To Snare a Witch I wasn't 100% sure whether or not I was happy or disappointed. That sounds rather negative, but that's not how I mean it. The premise of the book was actually interesting, and I did enjoy reading it, but because it is only 77 pages long, I felt like I didn't have enough time with the characters.

When I read a book the thing that generally catches me isn't the wonderful writing or complicated plots, it is the characters that I fall in love with. So even though this book was well written and had a great plot, I would have preferred it to be longer so that I could fall in love with Elizabeth and her beau more before the dark turns begin.

That being said I did enjoy reading it, I love history and horror so I suppose I count as the target audience for this book, and I do think there is potential for a follow up to it based on where the story ends, which I would read since it would allow me to spend more time with the people in the book, and also enjoy an extension to the story.

My favourite thing about the book though is actually the chapter titles, which might sound a little bit silly, but they are all lines from various rhymes that you learn as a child. I don't know why, but I found these little childlike titles juxtaposed with the dark content to be quite enchanting.

Overall a good little read, I would just have preferred a little more build up to the events of the story.

Jay Raven is the author of Gothic chillers and historical horror reminding readers that the past is a dangerous place to venture, full of monsters and murderous men.

He blames his fascination with vampires, witches and werewolves on the Hammer Horror films he watched as a teenager, but living in a creepy old house on the edge of a 500-acre wood may have something to do with it.

Saturday, 14 July 2018

Countdown to Comic Con - 2 Weeks to Go! (sorry it's late)

Firstly I need to apologise for this post being a day late, I was rather busy and forgot that I hadn't scheduled it to post. I will make sure it doesn't happen again next week. Sorry everyone.

Well guys, it's 2 weeks to go, just 15 days until comic con and I am not even close to being ready. But before I get to that, something devastating happened this week. Not devastating for everyone, but it was for me. Aidan Turner was announced for comic con this week, and I was so excited, until I saw that he's Sunday only, and I'm going on the Saturday. I went from be still my beating heart, to heart broken in a matter of minutes. I'm gutted guys, although considering how much it is to have a photo with him it might be for the best.

So, as far as my cosplay goes, my sewing machine has busted so I haven't stitched the skirt yet, I'm hoping to borrow my friends machine this week or next week. So It's stilled just pinned, although I'm considering just doing it by hand so that I get it finished. I did however re-pin parts of it to get the pleating more in line, so hopefully it will look better than it did.
I've made some more hair bits now, and they're coloured now so it's closer to being done. I was toying with the idea of getting a wig rather than dying my hair, but I'm not sure I'd be able to style a wig properly, which is a shame because if I used a wig I'd be able to glue the hair bits straight on to it. So I've went out and bought the hair dye and I'm going to dye it and do a hair run through this week.
I'm also going to do a make up practice run this week I think, so you might end up with a photo of me looking like a clown next week. Although I suppose it's better to look like a clown now than just do it and look awful on the day.

So, I've been having trouble finding the right coloured dye for the hoodie which is a pain, I got some fabric pens that might work, but I'm not sure if I'll be able to just sit and colour it in, so I'll have to keep working on what to do about that one.
Honestly, with 2 weeks to go, I am so much further behind than I ought to have been, but over the next 2 weeks I will be getting everything ready as quickly as I can whilst still making it look good. I'm hoping by next week I'll have a rough costume to show you with just the finishing touches. Fingers crossed.

I can't believe comic con is only 2 weeks away now, I'm getting crazy excited. This year I don't think any of us have any diamond passes that we need, however for anyone that is going, the order I would suggest for the morning is to go to get any virtual queue tickets you might need first, the if you have any diamond passes go get those, and then once you've done those 2 things you can sort out a plan of action for the rest of the day.

Also, make sure you look at a map to have a rough idea of layout, and if you have talks and photoshoots then I would recommend either printing a schedule of saving it to you phone so that you can keep an eye on times for what you're doing, and so that you don't accidentally go to the wrong photo area.

Don't forget that the contest is still running to win the Kaylee bear guys, good luck, and to anyone else going to comic con I hope your cosplay is going better than mine.

Thursday, 12 July 2018

Go Ape!

So, a couple of weeks ago I went to Go Ape, and let me start off by saying that there is a good reason that they have you sign a disclaimer before you start. Of course every precaution is taken to keep you safe, but that didn't stop me from managing to give myself a massive horrible bruise.
That being said it was a fantastic day. It was tiring and tough as hell, but so much fun. If you're afraid of heights it's probably not for you, but if you fancy an adventure climbing in the treetops and ziplining around, then this is exactly the day out you need.

We went to the Go Ape in Temple Newsam, and we were booked in advance, however when we got there the booth said that they were fully booked for the day, so if you want to go then I would definitely recommend that you pre-book in order to avoid disappointment.

There are 3 different levels, we did level 3 which meant we did courses 5-9. They were all different but required similar skills to pass. When we first got our harnesses on we went through a short tutorial about attaching and detaching ourselves. And then we just went to the starting point of the courses and went through each one.

The first one we did I think was number 6, and it was pretty good, although there was one section where you could take the easy way or the hard way. As you can probably guess, I took the hard way. I don't regret it because it was tough in the best way, however it is the reason I ended up with my huge bruise. I had to go from ring to ring with my feet in them, and while I was trying to grab the next ring my arm slipped and got a bruise/rope burn, I'd do the same again though given the chance.

Most of the courses involved a zipline at the end, and some were from tree to tree as well which was amazing. One of the courses ended in a vertical drop, which it is impossible to land gracefully, or at least it is for me since I completely lack coordination.

My personal favourite however was definitely the Tarzan swing. It was pretty scary, and I wasn't 100% sure I could jump off without help, but I did it. It took 2 attempts to get up there since we had to come down at one point to let someone off that couldn't make the jump. Once we got up there though it was really high and you basically had to jump off the edge and then basically drop and then swing into a net, it was scary but amazing. Climbing up the net afterwards was a challenge though.
I'm the exhausted one second from the left

Overall, I was aching, sore, and exhausted at the end of the day, but I was also exhilarated, happy, and quite proud that I managed it all. It was a great day that I would recommend to anyone, just make sure you really want to do it, because once you're up there you can only come back down by getting to the end.

Friday, 6 July 2018

Countdown to Comic Con - 3 Weeks to Go!

Guys I can't believe it's only 3 weeks until comic con eve, which I get as excited for as I do Christmas eve. There have of course been more guest announcements, and oh my god, David Duchovny! I was never a big X-Files person, but he was absolutely amazing in Californication (which if you haven't seen I would highly recommend, unless you don't like vulgarity, in which case it's definitely not for you).

So, I've made a little bit more progress on my cosplay this week. As you know, last week I had only managed to make some of the hair bits, this week I have slightly more to report, although I still have a long way to go.

I have spent so many hours online trying to find a hoodie that's the right colour and had no luck at all, so I finally realised, after a comment from a friend, that the best way to do it might be to get some dye and do it myself, so I have a plain white hoodie and ordered some dye, so hopefully next week I'll have a hoodie to show you all.

This week has been a really busy week, so I haven't managed to finish my skirt, but it is all pinned and ready to sew over the weekend. I used the existing hem so that I don't have to hem the second level of skirt meaning that I just need to hem the top layer, and sew the second layer inside. Hopefully the pleating will remain intact and it will end up looking like the upside down Reeses cup that she wears. It's not as wonky as the photo makes it look, it was just really hard to arrange the pleats for a photo.
I'm still not sure about how I'll make the Redvine that she wears as a hair tie though. I need to be able to wrap it round my ponytail, which means it needs to be flexible. So I can't just make it out of clay like the other hair bits. I've honestly considered using an actual redvine (or cheaper equivalent), coating it in some sort of clear varnish, and putting some wire down the middle, but I don't really know how effective that would be.

So overall my hair bits need painting, the hoodie needs dying, I need to do the tights, and then the cosmetic stuff like my hair. Hopefully by next Friday I'll have the hoodie and skirt to show you, then after that it's the tights. Luckily I already have plenty of suitable footwear to use.

Since it's only 3 weeks to go it's time for me to have a serious think about exactly who I want to meet so that any virtual queue tickets that I might need can be prioritised as soon as I get there, plus it's about time to get parking booked and things like that. It would be cool to hear from anyone else that is going to London Film and Comic Con, and what you guys are cosplaying as. Here's another of my previous cosplays from when I went as vampire Willow from Buffy.
I tried to look like a bored vampire, but he was just too lovely
Also, don't forget to check out my previous comic con post for a chance to win a Kaylee Frye teddy bear.

Friday, 29 June 2018

Countdown to Comic Con - 4 Weeks to Go! Giveaway!

Well guys there are now only 4 weeks and 1 day to until London Film and Comic Con. I'm getting really excited now. More guests keep getting announced, and every time they post saying that there will be an announcement the fun of guessing just adds to the excitement, and even if it isn't someone I want to meet it's nice seeing the reactions of people who do want to meet them.

Right now for me the main person I want to meet is still Jewel Staite. I'm on a bit of a budget this year so I can't be frivolous and just meet anyone that's a passing fancy. For example, I'd love to meet Jason Momoa, but it's expensive and unlike Firefly isn't something that I love so much and absolutely can't miss.

Since I mention how much I love Kaylee you might be wondering why I'm not cosplaying as her, and the answer is that I've done it before. Me and my friend Andy (who is going to be Ralph to my Vanellope) went as Mal and Kaylee to London Film and Comic Con a couple of years ago, but I prefer not to be one of many, and I assume there will be a LOT of Kaylee cosplayers this year since Jewel Staite will be there.

Now, speaking of cosplay, you might be curious as to how much I've done on mine so far, and the honest answer is, not nearly as much as I'd like. I went to start work on the hair pieces and realised I needed to get needle nosed pliers to make it easier (side note, as a woman with no one to do my DIY for me I really need to get some tools). I had to wait for them being delivered, but I have now made a start on them and you can see a few of them below.

I still have a lot of work to do since they need painting, and I haven't even started on the skirt or tights, however most of it is going to be fairly simple once I get started on it. The skirt will probably take a few hours so I can do it over one or two evenings next week. The tights, I'm trying to find the right colour fabric paint for them which is hard to judge online. If anyone has any recommendations then please feel free to comment.

Hopefully I'll have more progress to report on my cosplay next week, however as promised, this week I'm holding a giveaway. You can win the adorable Kaylee bear, the winner will be announced on the 27th July, which is the night before comic con and the last in my countdown to comic con series. Kaylee Bear Giveaway

Tuesday, 26 June 2018

Cineworld Unlimited - My Experience

I'd like to start off by saying that this is in no way an ad for Cineworld, I just happen to live close to 2 of them and really like films, so I absolutely love my unlimited card.

For those of you who don't know, Cineworld Unlimited is a where you pay a set amount per month and then you can see as many films as you want at not extra cost unless it's for an IMAX or 4DX upgrade. You also get discounts on snacks and drinks at the cinema and at various restaurants.

To make having an unlimited card worth it you only have to see 2 films a month, which is fairly easy, but personally I like to get my moneys worth. For me, only seeing 2 films a month would be the food equivalent of going to an all you can eat and just having a main and dessert. I'm not sure exactly how many films I see a month, but my record is 6 in one day and 3 in a day is the average for me.

I use cinema days as an escape from the world, just bouncing from film to film forgetting that everyone else exists. People think I'm crazy for going to the cinema alone, but I feel like it doesn't need to be a group activity since I don't allow talking in films anyway.

The one downfall of Cineworld Unlimited is that it enables me to see some awful films that I never would have gone to see if I had to pay for them. For example, my 6 film day was going to be just a standard day seeing 2 or 3 films until I decided to stick around for a midnight showing of Star Trek Beyond, so to kill time in between I saw the lady Ghostbusters, I regretted it even though it was free.

Honestly though, I can't recommend it enough for anyone who loves cinema, I get to see all sorts of films I wouldn't necessarily see but thoroughly enjoyed, such as Book Club last week. A funny film that I wouldn't have thought to watch if it wasn't just starting as I got to the cinema.

Once again, not an add, I just happen to get a lot of use out of my unlimited card and thought other people might benefit from my experience.

Friday, 22 June 2018

Countdown to London Film and Comic Con - 5 weeks to go!

Right then, there are now 5 weeks (and 1 day) to London film and comic con, so every week in the lead up to the event I'll be posting a countdown blog to keep you up to date with how my cosplay is coming along, and to offer various tips for people who haven't been to a busy con before on ways to stay organised and get the best out of your day.

So the first thing that you  need to know is that my cosplay this year is going to be Vanellope Von Schweetz from Wreck-It Ralph. My friend will be joining me as Ralph, and after the show I'll make sure to post photos of us both in costume.

For now I'm only just starting to get it ready, I have some wire and air drying clay to make hair accessories that twist in rather than using bobby pins which will be more noticeable in my hair. I also ordered a brown pleated skirt on Ebay that I will have to make alterations to in order to make it look like her Reeses cup skirt, and the only other thing I have so far is some thick white tights which I will need to figure out how to paint since both of her legs have a different pattern on them.

For my make up I found a really good tutorial on YouTube, although it might take a few attempts to get it perfect so I might end up posting a photo of me looking like a clown after my first attempt so wish me luck. I'll also have to dye my hair black, but that won't be until the week before the con so you'll have to wait for that one.

Since this is just the 1st post to let you know what's happening and where I'm at with everything it's only a short one, but if you come back next week not only will there be more progress on my cosplay, but since the actress will be at comic con I will also be running a competition to win a Kaylee (from Firefly) teddy bear, so make sure you keep an eye on my blog next Friday for details on how to win.

PS - If anyone has any tips to help with my cosplay I'm always open to ideas so feel free to comment.

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

4DX review

So, last week I went to the cinema to see Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, and decided to give 4DX a go. It only just became a thing at my local Cineworld so it was my first time.

*Just a side note, my local Cineworld has been making changes recently, so as well as 4D, they also have some screens with fabulous reclining chairs that make you feel like you could be sat in your living room.

Anyway, I went in for the 4DX screening and I was immediately struck by how big and plush the seats looked. I must say that I definitely wasn't disappointed; however unlike the reclining chairs in the other screens, it soon became apparent that this was going to be nothing like my living room.

The 3D was what you'd expect, but even though I knew what the 4D was going in to it, it still came as a shock when my chair started moving. But the real surprise came when the rain started on screen and all of a sudden I was getting rained on and then the wind picked up. I don't know what I expected when I read the description of 4D, but what I got was a crazy ride that even included the feeling of rubble falling at my feet. It was really exciting being thrown around and exposed to the elements, although if you decide to go, I would definitely recommend a cardigan or jacket of some sort. I was pretty cold by the end of it since the rain and wind were general coming at the same time, leaving me feeling like I was actually outside.

Overall it was an enjoyable experience, but I did feel that to some extent it distracted me from the film, so I will probably need to go see it again to fully appreciate it, but without the added extras next time. I have a Cineworld Unlimited card (which I would highly recommend to anyone who loves films) so I only had pay the upgrade costs, but without it the 4DX would be fairly expensive, so you'd have to decide for yourself whether you think it's worth it or not.

So, in short, I really enjoyed the experience. It was fun and a bit of something different, but for the most part I think I'll be sticking to normal 2D, 3D, or IMAX.
3 Little Buttons

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Mischief Managed....

I should start this post by saying that I am a huge Harry Potter nerd. So when I say that my trip to the Warner Brothers Studio Tour was one of the most amazing things I have ever experienced, you will know how true it is, and how much it meant to me going there for the first time. Be warned that there are what could be considered spoilers of the tour in this blog, so if you haven't been and want a complete surprise then I'm not sure you want to read on.

I went with a friend of mine as part of an invite only bloggers event, which as a new blogger was an amazing opportunity for me. When we arrived we were given our lanyards we were told to collect our tickets at the end of the entry tunnel, and honestly, before we even got to the end I was like a kid at Christmas since the walls were decorated as though they were a part of the Marauders Map. Honestly I was ready to explode with excitement and we weren't even in there yet. When we got our tickets, it was a lovely Goblet of Fire lanyard and contained not only our entry tickets, but also tickets for some opportunities inside the studios. This included a green screen photograph, a drink of butterbeer, a souvenir chocolate frog, and complimentary food and drink. We were also given a guidebook of the studios.

Once we had our tickets we waited in the main entryway for the tour to begin, and once again the excitement started to build since this room had a giant Triward Cup in it which was used at the movie premiere, not to mention Mr Weasley's flying car suspended from the ceiling. As we queued to enter the tour we were also able to see the cupboard under the stairs, which of course was Harry's bedroom for his first 11 years. All of this before we even entered the tour, the excitement of everyone there seemed like a tangible thing at that point.

As we finally entered the tour it was introduced and we were treated to a quick show of how Harry Potter came to be made, and then into what was pretty much a cinema to watch a lovely introduction video, and then the doors to the great hall were magically revealed, and honestly the emotion that rose in me then was surprising even to me.

The great hall was amazing, it was so beautiful, and everything I wanted it to be. I almost expected a group of Hogwarts students to come running in and sit down at the house tables.

But the highlight of this room wasn't all of the beautiful props and costumes on display, although they were all amazing, it was seeing the Goblet of Fire in action throwing out the piece of paper that set a whole series of events in motion........

After that, the guided part was over and we were left to go round the tour at our own pace, which in my case was pretty slow because I needed to see absolutely everything (and quite possibly annoy people around me by giving random facts about things too).

The first area we came to were the castle interior sets and props. The yule ball costumes and props were all extremely beautiful (I'm particularly fond of Ron's dress robes even though they are the least pretty to look at).

The Gryffindor tower sets were extremely cosy, which is exactly as I expected since they always seem to have roaring fires and plush furniture, in fact a part of me just wanted to go and curl up in one of the armchairs with a copy of Hogwarts: A History. The boys dormitory set was no less cosy seeming, although you can certainly tell that the beds were built at the beginning of the series since they certainly weren't made to accommodate the full grown Gryffindors in the final films.

The potions classroom was alive with details, including labels on each of the ingredient bottles, and copies of Advanced Potion Making on each desk making it easy to pick out Harry's old battered copy amongst the others. You have the chance to look in the Mirror of Erised, which in my case did show my hearts desire since it showed me myself at the studios, wouldn't have minded it showing me a bit taller too though.

Then it was on to the magnificent room that is the office of the greatest headmaster that Hogwarts has ever seen, Albus Dumbledore. Past the iconic griffin-door, and into the beautiful room lined with portraits of past heads of the school.

There are so many books and instruments on shelves around the walls, and in pride of place is the pensive, which looks very mysterious lit from beneath, you can certainly see why it made teenage Harry curious. Outside of the office is a cabinet with the horcruxes in it (not Nagini of course, but you do get to see her later on in the tour).

Following this are 2 of the most homely (and cluttered) sets, Hagrid's hut, and The Burrow. Hagrids hut is lovely to see, especially with Fang sat at the entrance keeping watch. But it's the Burrow that really gets you, not only does it have Mrs Weasley's unique clock, but you can also do a bit of magic yourself in this area. With just a wave of you hand you can make some knitting work by itself, along with other household tasks. If only it was that easy to do it all in my own house.

Sticking with interactive opportunities, after this we moved on to the quidditch area, where you can do the green screen broomstick experience. Riding a broom through various scenery, and also having your photo taken flying. You may think that you'll look a little silly riding a broom in front of a green screen, but once you get on there you're too busy having fun to care what you look like. And once we had our photos it was on with the tour.

Next is the dark arts section of the tour, including the sets from Malfoy Manor and the Ministry of Magic. Seeing Charity Burbage suspended over the table at the Manor was quite chilling to be honest, although given that it is clearly a set I think it might just be my mind filling in the blanks that caused that to be the case. The Ministry was magnificent, and the Magic is Might statue was everything I thought it would be. However my favourite parts of this area were the Riddle grave because it was so sinister and imposing, and best of all, Mad Eye Moody's trunk because above it was a mirror that showed a reflection of the real Moody inside the 7th level of it, which I think is an amazing effect. After that we moved on to a section of the tour that was not necessarily any less dark, but dark in a very different way.

Even though I knew that I was inside and it was just a film set, walking in to the Forbidden Forest was eerie enough to make a little bit of my brain forget that. The darkness, the mist on the floor, the huge trees surrounding us, all of it came together to make me feel like I was really there in a creature filled woodland. Seeing Buckbeak in there just added to the effect, and I actually felt like I needed to bow before I approached him (which of course I did). As we carried on through there were more spiderwebs, and just like Ron I don't like spiders, so when we were confronted with Aragog and his children it was pretty terrifying, even though they weren't real, seeing giant spiders descending from the ceiling is a rather jarring sight.

The next set that greeted me also brought me up short, but not because it was terrifying. Platform 9 3/4 was just around the corner, and seeing that huge crimson steam engine made me feel like an 11 year old going to Hogwarts for the first time, heart racing with excitement and a huge smile on my face. Before boarding the train of course I had to push a luggage trolley through the wall, and then finally I experienced the moment that every Potter fan secretly (or not) dreams about. I boarded the Hogwarts Express. I walked down the corridor, looked in the compartments for each year of filming, and I waved out of the open window at the people in the station below. There was a compartment set up with the props from each year, and then at the end one set up with not only the sweets and sweet trolley, but also the costumes from the Philosophers Stone, Harry and Ron making friends for the first time. There is also a green screen area here which I didn't expect; however sadly we didn't have time for this, and we had already used our green screen pass on the quidditch, but if I go again it's something that I very much want to do.

After that it was past the glass cabinet of props, including a beautiful Marauders Map, and then into the Backlot Cafe. Here we had our choice of hot meal, and it was nice enough, but honestly the star of the show here was of course the butterbeer. It wasn't necessarily my cup of tea to be honest since the idea of fizzy butterscotch doesn't really appeal to me, but the cream on top was lovely, and the ice cream was to die for. I am however very happy to have tried butterbeer even if I won't necessarily have it again next time I go. I think I'd prefer firewhiskey, shame they don't serve it really.

From inside the Backlot Cafe you can see out into the actual lot, which is where we went next. This is where you can see the outdoor sets, so looking out of a window and seeing Privet Drive was quite the sensation, although not quite as good as walking through it's front door. Another amazing outdoor attraction is the triple decker Knight Bus in all it's purple glory, and you don't even have to hold out your wand hand to flag it down. The Hogwarts bridge is also there and walking across it was wonderful, but I think for me, the best of the outdoor sets has to be the exterior of the Potter's house. Standing there viewing it as Harry and Hermione did with it's roof blasted apart was great, although I must admit that I was a little disappointed not to see a sign with messages of hope for Harry, but of course you can't have everything, and even without it the house was perfect.

The next thing we saw was the creature room, there were some amazing models in here; although we didn't spend much time in here because we still had a lot to get through, seeing Dobby was a magical moment for me, as was seeing the Thestrals. A more disturbing part of this room was the miniature Voldemort that goes in to the cauldron, It was cool to see, but not exactly the prettiest of the things we saw in there.

Walking into Diagon Alley was pretty much a dream come true for me, as lovely as the tour gift shop was, this is where I wished I could be doing my shopping for real. Obviously my eyes were seeing this amazing set surrounding me, but my mind was thinking of the books/films and all the things that happened in these places, Harry having ice cream at Florean Fortescues, meeting Malfoy for the first time in Madam Malkins, getting Hedwig at Eyelops. All of these little moments were flooding my brain and seeing the places where they happened was just mind blowing for me. But of course I can't talk talk about Diagon Alley without talking about the jaw droppingly fabulous Weasley's Wizard Wheezes, I mean, who doesn't want skiving snackboxes, and extendable ears. I could just picture walking in there and seeing the twins in their element, it really was a magical moment for me since the twins were my favourite characters.

The highlight of the entire tour for me though was without a doubt the Hogwarts Castle model. I walked around the corner into that room, and I almost cried at the sight that greeted me. I'm posting pictures here, but honestly there is no photograph that I could show you that would do it justice. The entirety of the English language seemed to fly out of my head leaving me at a total loss for words to try to describe what I was seeing and feeling at that point. I can write about how beautiful it was, and how amazing it was seeing the castle lit up inside, and all of the fantastic details, but really, it's something that you just have to experience for yourself.

After that it was into the wand room, it was basically like walking in to Ollivanders, wands lining the walls from floor to ceiling. Only in this case each wand box had the name of a cast and crew member who worked on the films, and the scale of that is just unimaginable really. One person for each of these boxes, working in this amazing studio is just such an amazing thought, and really gives an idea of the scale and magnitude of just how much effort from how many people went into making this epic story become a reality.

Finally we made our way into the studio shop, where although I tried to not bankrupt myself I did have to buy at least a couple of souvenirs from my visit, including a beautiful embossed Ravenclaw notebook, and a Ravenclaw charm. Sadly after that the tour was over, although even though the experience ended, it's safe to say that the feelings it inspired in me (just like the books and films) will stay with me for a long time to come. I really hope I will make it back there again some day, because even though I have already seen it, just like when you re read your favourite book, I get the feeling that there are still more surprising and unexpected details to make themselves known. If you haven't been then I really would advise you to go, especially if you are a Harry Potter fan, I promise that you won't regret it.