Help me meet Ed Sheeran!

Sorry, no review of any sorts this time. No, I’m asking for two seconds of your time to help me. 

Yesterday, I’ve entered a Belgian contest to win a meet&greet with Ed Sheeran (and many other cool Ed-related stuff) when he comes here in November to present his new album ‘X’. I’ve already got my tickets because Ed is by far one of my favorite artists, but a meet&greet would make it even more fantastic. 

Ed Sheeran

So if you could all just go to this link: http://mivbmusic.be/scorebord/1156 and click the heart in between to my name (Ellen De Smet), the score and the facebook icon. When you hover over it “Stem” will appear, which means ‘Vote’ in Dutch. And that’s all you have to do. Just click the heart, nothing more. It takes a second of your time, but it would mean so much to me. 

And it gets even better; you can vote once a day. So I’d really really really love you forever if you could bookmark the page and vote every day. But just once would already be bloody awesome!

So thank you in advance!

Until next time, 

With love, Ellen

‘Love Letters to the Dead” – Ava Dellaira

I only had to read the summary once to feel the overwhelming need to read ‘Love Letters to the Dead’ by Ava Dellaira. Also the fact that it’s from the same author as ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’ convinced me to read it as soon as possible.

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What is this story about?

It begins as an assignment for English class: Write a letter to a dead person. Laurel chooses Kurt Cobain because her sister, May, loved him. And he died young, just like May. Soon, Laurel has a notebook full of letters to the dead—to people like Janis Joplin, Heath Ledger, Amelia Earhart, and Amy Winehouse—though she never gives a single one of them to her teacher. She writes about starting high school, navigating the choppy waters of new friendships, learning to live with her splintering family, falling in love for the first time, and, most important, trying to grieve for May. But how do you mourn for someone you haven’t forgiven?

It’s not until Laurel has written the truth about what happened to herself that she can finally accept what happened to May. And only when Laurel has begun to see her sister as the person she was—lovely and amazing and deeply flawed—can she truly start to discover her own path.

My rating? 3/5

What I thought of it?

The idea of this book was simply so perfect that I was so eager to read it. But now that I’ve finished it, I’m a bit disappointed. The story itself was at times a bit boring and I was expecting more of it.

The entire book, you’re wondering what happened to Laurel’s sister May, but it’s pretty anticlimactic considering to how you get to know May in the book. It had expected more drama, not just about May but in Laurel’s life in general. She was a bit of a boring character and sometimes just seemed like a normal teenager. It was like the two events that made her stand out, weren’t present enought.

But on the other hand, it’s beautiful story about the unconditional love between sisters and friendship in general. It’s written in a simple way (maybe a bit too simple for a  15 year old?) so it reads really smoothly. And well, the idea is still so good that I still gave it a positive rating.

Until next time,

With love, Ellen

 

‘Clouds of Sils Maria’

Yesterday, I was one of the lucky people who got to go to the avant-premiere of ‘Clouds of Sils Maria‘ in UGC in Brussels. And to make it even more impressive, we were joined by the director of this movie Olivier Assayas.  I have been looking forward to this movie quite a long time because of Kristen Stewart‘s role in it, but also because I was so anxious to see her play alongside Juliette Binoche.

clouds-of-sils-maria-poster

 

What is this movie about?

At the peak of her international career, Maria Enders [Binoche] is asked to perform in a revival of the play that made her famous twenty years ago. But back then she played the role of Sigrid, an alluring young girl who disarms and eventually drives her boss Helena to suicide. Now she is being asked to step into the other role, that of the older Helena. She departs with her assistant Valentine [Stewart] to rehearse in Sils Maria; a remote region of the Alps. A young Hollywood starlet [Moretz] with a penchant for scandal is to take on the role of Sigrid, and Maria finds herself on the other side of the mirror, face to face with an ambiguously charming woman who is, in essence, an unsettling reflection of herself.

My rating? 4/5

What I thought of it?

First of all, I need to mention that I’m blown away by the scenery in this movie. Most of it takes place in Switzerland, in the Alps, and the environment is just so beautiful. I wanted to travel there immediately after the movie finished to admire it myself. So on that part, the movie was a definite success for me.

The story of this movie was well thought-out as well. It’s a really beautiful movie, with a strong plot about the private life of a movie star and how aging affects (female) actors. You can also feel the play ‘Maloja Snake’ they’re rehearsing for seep in in the actual movie and it all just worked. From the trailer, I had expected that the relationship between Maria and Valentine would be more out-spoken but you kind of had to read between the lines, which I actually prefered. And while the summary may make it sound like a overall dramatic movie, I was pleasantly surprised by how funny this movie was.

As for the acting, I’m completely blown away by the performance of the three main characters. Juliette is absolutely amazing as Maria. She takes the screen and just captivates your attention. This movie once again proves that she truly is an amazing actress. Kristen had a much bigger part in this movie than I actually expected and I absolutely loved her character and how she embodied Valentine. What I loved most about this movie, is the amazing chemistry between Juliette and Kristen. Specifically in their more light-hearted scenes. After the movie [during our Q&A session], Olivier mentioned that French cinema is usually more improvised than American cinema, and I feel like that’s most obvious in those scenes. And last but definitely not least; Chloe Grace Moretz. She was just brilliant as Jo-Anne. A Hollywood starlet who’s gone wild and doesn’t give a fuck about what everyone thinks. The Kristen fan in me couldn’t help but cheer every time Valentine praised her because in some way I felt like Jo-Anne was just the more “violent” and dramatic version of how Kristen takes on her Hollywood life.

And then one little point of criticism; for me, the movie was just a bit too long. The running time is little over two hours and I felt like sometimes, they were just telling the same thing as they were just a moment ago. But it wasn’t all that notable, so all in all, it really was a good movie.

This movie definitely isn’t something for a mainstream audience, but it’s a movie that cinema-lovers will greatly appreciate. In Cannes, it also got a lot of praise and after seeing it, I can only agree with those reviews. If you love French cinema, you’ll definitely love this one.

 

Until next time,

With love, Ellen

 

‘Sempre’ – J.M. Darhower

For a long time, this story was called ‘Emancipation Proclamation’ and it was one of my favorite fanfiction stories ever. Now, J.M Darhower has published this amazing story, and called it ‘Sempre’ . I will admit that it took me a long time to finally read it, because I was scared the story would be changed too much, but now I’ve finally pushed myself to read the book.

 

sempre-cover

What is this story about?

Haven Antonelli and Carmine DeMarco grew up under vastly different circumstances. Haven, a second-generation slave, was isolated in the middle of the desert, her days full of hard work and terrifying abuse. Carmine, born into a wealthy Mafia family, lived a life of privilege and excess. Now, a twist of fate causes their worlds to collide. Entangled in a web of secrets and lies, they learn that while different on the surface, they have more in common than anyone would think. In a world full of chaos, where money and power rule, Haven and Carmine yearn to break free, but a string of events that began before either of them were born threatens to destroy them instead.

Murder and betrayal are a way of life, and nothing comes without a price-especially not freedom. But how much will they have to sacrifice? Can they escape their pasts? And, most of all, what does it mean to be free?

My rating: 5/5

What I thought of it?

I’m beyond happy. The story is still intact. As beautiful as it once was, it still is. The whole plot of this book is one of the best I’ve ever read and I’m over the moon that it hasn’t changed. There have been some additions, all of which I really liked and only improved the story in my opinion.

First of all, I really want to mention that I’ve never been a fan of mafia stories because they’re either too brutal or just too romanticized. But this book just brings a perfect mix of it. You get a feeling of the mafia life, but it’s not solely brutal murder etc. So if you’d put of reading it because of the fact that it involves the mafia, I can only encourage you to put that aside and give it a try. It’s worth it.

From the first page, you’re immediately pulled into the story. It grips you and doesn’t let you go. You fight along with Haven for her freedom and along with Haven and Carmine for their relationship. You can’t help but fall in love with these characters and their strenght.  You’re also constantly pushed between good and bad. The line becomes so blurry sometimes because you’re roothing for these characters you fell in love with.

But to give one point of criticism; I could see a bit too much of fanfiction ‘Emmett’ in Dominic. Not that I don’t absolutely adore him as a character, but I just wish it would have been a little less obvious. But other than that, I absolutely adored every bit of it.

Another thing I’d like to mention (non plot-wize), is the great author’s note about human trafficicking in the beginning. It really just struck me and it stayed with me the entire book. There really are people – children even – out there who are abused and enslaved. Their lives and freedom taken away from them without second thoughts. I really hope that this book – as small as it may seem – can actually help raise awareness to this horrible problem. Because ‘if we don’t fight for them, who will?’

That being said, all I still want to say is; read this book. It’s worth your time and I hope you’ll love it just as much as I did.

Until next time,

With love, Ellen

 

‘Severed Heads, Broken Hearts’ – Robyn Schneider

Once again a book that got me with the summary alone. And that’s basically the only reason why I picked up this book.

Severed Heads

 

What is this story about?

Golden boy Ezra Faulkner believes everyone has a tragedy waiting for them—a single encounter after which everything that really matters will happen. His particular tragedy waited until he was primed to lose it all: in one spectacular night, a reckless driver shatters Ezra’s knee, his athletic career, and his social life.

No longer a front-runner for Homecoming King, Ezra finds himself at the table of misfits, where he encounters new girl Cassidy Thorpe. Cassidy is unlike anyone Ezra’s ever met, achingly effortless, fiercely intelligent, and determined to bring Ezra along on her endless adventures.

But as Ezra dives into his new studies, new friendships, and new love, he learns that some people, like books, are easy to misread. And now he must consider: if one’s singular tragedy has already hit and everything after it has mattered quite a bit, what happens when more misfortune strikes?

My rating: 2,5/5

What I though of it?

When I started this book, I had expected it to start with tragedy but then move on to some feel-good story about great adventures with amazing people. But those great adventures just never came. I must say that I’m disappointed in this book.

First of all, I didn’t really like the characters. Ezra is just unstable in his choices. One day he’s all happy about hanging out with his new friends, and the other; he wants to hang out with his old crew who basically abandoned him after his accident. I mean, if my friends never bothered to visit me in the hospital after such a life-changing accident, I’d never ever want to talk to them again. No matter how popular they are. Cassidy also disappointed me because I had expected her to be more happy-go-lucky and adventurous, but she wasn’t all that special. The only characters I liked where Toby and Phoebe, because they seemed like the kind of people I would hang out with.

The storyline wasn’t that bad though. I liked it despite I had expected more of it. There were some great lines and never really got bored reading it. And I must admit that I laughed quite a lot as well.

And then there is one thing that annoyed the living shit out of me that I can’t help but mention. Apparently, the author thought it would be funny to bash Twilight in about every chapter. I’ve lost count of how many times there was a mocking reference towards it but there were at least five. One joke, I can take, but this was just too much. I must admit that it made me lower my rating, and I’m sure other people will be annoyed by it as well, because the audience of this book is the as the Twiligth one, so I guess she’s just cutting off her nose to spite her face. Yes, Twilight wasn’t a literary masterpiece, but this book wasn’t either.

Either way, the story isn’t bad, but it’s not all that life-changing.

Until next time,

With love, Ellen