Posts Tagged: recommendations

[Guest Post]: How to Make Yourself Cry on a Plane

October 16, 2017 movies, recs, travel 2



I’m particularly excited to introduce my good friend and former roommate Bianca to you today! I’ve collaborated with her on my dormant YouTube channel before (Socially Awkward and The Friendship Test), so if you’ve been around for a while you might remember her. She surprised me with a fully written post that fits perfectly into my Movie Mondays category (if you don’t remember it, it’s because I only did it like twice and then forgot about it, but I recently found the graphic again, so clearly it was meant to be). I really enjoyed reading it, and I’m sure you will too. Don’t forget to show Bianca some love in the comments!



movie monday graphic on reviews and cake
Movie Mondays is a series of reviews, discussions, and general movie talk. Get yourself some popcorn, lean back in your seat, and enjoy the show.

Bianca’s Post

Hello lovely readers of Vlora’s marvellous blog about books, lifestyle, tv series, films and apparently also about cake. I wanted to write a guest post on this little corner of the internet for years and apparently today is finally the day.

A bit about me: My name is Bianca and I have been Vlora’s roommate for most of our time studying for our Bachelor’s degree. I love reading, watching tv series and traveling the world. Oh…and I also really love penguins (you should do some research on them; they are amazing)!

This July I did a bit of travelling to South Korea which is an absolutely beautiful place. However, this blogpost is not going to be about my time in Asia but about the time it took me to get there and to get back home. A flight from Germany (where I live) to South Korea takes about 10 hours 40 minutes. That times two makes over 20 hours of travel time. And what do you do when you’re on a plane for that long? You try to use the on-board entertainment as much as possible (given that your airline provides on-board entertainment). I was really lucky and had many film options to choose from.

However, my choices were, let’s say, strategically not the best ones since I had to hold back tears for almost half of my flight to not make the person next to me wake up next to a crying bunch of both misery and joy. Because you don’t want to be the one explaining that you neither have fear of flying nor homesickness but that you rather just weep easily.

Nevertheless, the films I watched were all really really good, and if you ever feel the need to let it loose and just cry a bit, may it be on a plane, on your sofa or wherever you want, these are three of my suggestions for you:

1. The Zookeeper’s Wife

This 2017 film is based on the non-fiction book by Diane Ackerman and tells the true story of Antonina Żabiński, her husband Jan, who was the director of the Warsaw Zoo, and their children. During World War II the Żabińskis rescued over 300 Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto by hiding them in their empty zoo. Prepare the tissues because this film is not for the fainthearted. It has amazing actors and is very beautifully shot but it does not fear away from portraying the brutal reality of the war and the absolutely terrible conditions in the Warsaw Ghetto. However, what ultimately made me cry my eyes out was the portrayal of bravery and humanity shown by the Żabińskis and the other people who risked their lives and safety for others. This story is a beautiful message of hope and shows that compassion can overcome so much and even save lives.

Vlora: I can confirm this. I slept through the first ten minutes of the movie (I probably finished an essay the night before or something), which my friends told me was the happy part, and then bawled through literally the entire rest of it. I was in a cinema and not on an airplane, but still. It was emotional, guys. I second the recommendation!

2. A United Kingdom

Things based on true stories always make me really emotional and these stories don’t even have to be sad. The film “A United Kingdom” tells the love story of Sir Seretse Khama and his wife Ruth Williams. I had never heard of these two before watching the film but their story is just beautiful.

Seretse is the heir to the throne of Bechuanaland. After World War II, he studies law in the United Kingdom and meets Ruth, who he falls in love with. They get married despite the protests of their families and the British government. Many political issues accrue, and Seretse is exiled from his country by the British government. Meanwhile, Ruth delivers their first child in Bechuanaland and becomes more and more accepted by the local people. Eventually, Seretse is allowed to return to Bechuanaland and tries to negotiate its independence from the British Empire. Finally, Seretse helps to lead Bechuanaland to democracy and becomes the first elected president of newly founded Botswana.

It just always makes me happy (and therefore cry) to see how amazing people influenced the world. I’m always just moved to see what a privilege it is to live in a democracy and to be able to vote for what I consider right, and films like this one show what it took to get there.

3. Lion

Last but not least, I watched the beautiful film “Lion” which received six Oscar nominations including Best Picture. I wanted to see that film since it came out but never came around to do so. However, when I saw it on the on-board entertainment list I was so happy to be able to finally watch it, and it was definitely worth the wait.

Based on the true story of Saroo Brierley who, at the age of 5 gets seperated from his family in India as he falls asleep on a train and wakes up 1500 kilometers away from home. Since he doesn’t know the name of his mother nor of his hometown authorities are unable to bring him back to his family. Saroo is later adopted by an Australian couple and grows up in Tasmania. 25 years later, he begins to search for his biological family in India via Google Earth and ultimately succeeds in doing so.

I love films about family and this one has so much family in it. The love of Saroo’s adoptive parents for him and the desperation of his biological mother who didn’t know the whereabouts of her son for 30 years is both heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time. This film is definitely a tear-jerker.

So dear readers, now is the time to stock up on tissues and get watching! And if they don’t make you cry, you have at least watched some good films and maybe learned something new about history.

Please let me know in the comments about films that make you cry or experiences you had with the on-board entertainment on airplanes.


About Bianca

bio pic Bianca is a Peace and Conflict Studies student in Germany. She likes reading, traveling, and discussing the latest Riverdale episode. She’s active in her church’s youth group and has become very proficient at making flyers. She hopes to one day be a diplomat, or possibly a band member. She also let Vlora write her biography, so clearly she is too trusting.

Find Bianca

On Twitter: @stumblinpenguin
On Instagram: @b_p_k




Huge thanks to Bianca for recommending some great movies (well, I’ve only seen one, but I trust her taste in most things)! Don’t forget to follow her on her social media and let us know about the great movies you’ve seen recently.

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[Guest Post]: On Writing a Character With Anxiety + Mental Health Book Recommendations (Shattering Stigmas)

October 4, 2017 books, recs, writing 7



I’m absolutely thrilled to welcome Marie Landry to the blog today! Marie is an author, and she is going to tell you about her writing process and how much of herself she puts into her own characters in this post. She will also give you a couple of book recommendations for YA/NA books discussing mental health. Make sure to check out Waiting for the Storm and Marie’s other books. I’ll let Marie take over from here.



Shattering Stigmas graphic
Shattering Stigmas is a two-week blogging event focused on mental health in literature and mental health generally – check back for guest posts, reviews and discussions around mental health.

Marie’s story

When I started writing my YA book Waiting for the Storm five years ago, I didn’t intend for it to be about a girl with anxiety. Initially it was about a girl, Charlotte, who had finished high school at home while taking care of her terminally ill mother. After being shut away for almost a year, she had become anxious and jumpy, afraid of things that never bothered her before, and unable to cope with her emotions. As I continued writing and Charlotte became more fully formed in my mind, her actions – things like jumping to conclusions and overreacting – seemed familiar.
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Books About Twenty-Somethings

July 3, 2017 books, discussion 8

Talk To Me

is a no-nonsense discussion feature on this blog. No-nonsense means I’m too lazy to make it look pretty. It’s exactly what the title suggests: I’m going to pose a question or tell you my own opinion about something, and I want to know what you think about it! Obviously feel free to write up your own post on the topic and link it in the comments.


Topic

We all know about the omnipresence of Young Adult books. Books about characters in their teens hold a certain appeal, perhaps because we learn a lot about who we are and who we want to be at that stage in life. But where are the books about twenty-somethings? I’m in my early twenties, and I’ve been desperately looking for good books featuring characters my age. Obviously they exist, but I feel like they are few and far between. Maybe it’s just me, but I’m finding it much more difficult to find books about people in their twenties than YA or adult books. I was shortly excited when New Adult emerged as a category, but then I realised New Adult mostly seems to be erotica (nothing wrong with that obviously, but not quite what I had in mind). So where are all the books about people my age? Some of the ‘older’ YA books, like Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, focus on people going off to university, but they are few and far between.
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International Women’s Day: My Favorite Books by Female Authors

March 8, 2017 books, recs 14

Happy Women’s Day! In celebration of the many women shaping literature as we know and love it, I thought I’d celebrate some of my favorite female authors with this list today. Obviously, it’s hard to narrow it down, because so many of my favorite authors are women, but I can recommend all of these books from the bottom of my heart. I will be focusing on books that I’m not currently seeing everywhere, which is why you won’t find series like Shades of Magic by V.E. Schwab or The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer on this list, but know that I love those just as much. Hope you find something you like!

The Binti series by Nnedi Okorafor



Nnedi Okorafor is one of the most imaginative authors I’ve read. I originally found this, because it was recommended by John Green in a video. I think he pitched it as something like “girl who travels through space to attend university” (paraphrased), which sounded pretty awesome to me. Now I think his description is underselling the work, but I also find it hard to come up with a good one myself, because you really just have to read this one for yourself. As far as I can tell, it’s a trilogy of novellas (according to goodreads, the last one is set to be released this September), so it’s not a great time commitment, but there’s enough worldbuilding for longer books. I feel like this book is more relevant to my Cross-Cultural Communications degree than most of the academic texts I read (don’t tell my lecturers). I’ve seen a few authors mention these novellas, but I haven’t seen them on many book blogs, so get reading, people!
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2016 in Books I Read

December 30, 2016 books, miscellaneous 15

One more day of 2016! I usually do the End of the Year book survey everyone does, but I need something short and sweet this year, so I’m making up my own questions that totally aren’t fitted to the books I read this year at all. Feel free to steal and link back if you haven’t done yours. My goodreads challenge says I finished 58 books this year, which I’m quite happy with. Some of those I skimmed and DNF’d and there were a lot of audiobooks, but with everything else going on this year, I think that’s a good number. Let’s take a look at the selection!

Favorite Books I read in 2016

a gathering of shadows book cover on reviews and cake

A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab
Sweetgirl by Travis Mulhauser
Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

I loved all of these books for various reasons, and I’m really excited to read the next book in the Shades of Magic series!
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Why You Should Read The Lunar Chronicles

April 12, 2016 books, reviews 14

I know everyone and their mum already read the Lunar Chronicles, but just in case you haven’t, I have compiled a handy list to convince you to drop everything and start reading them immediately. I resisted for a long time, because I was worried they’re overhyped, but when I finally picked them up, I enjoyed them a lot. Since I already reviewed them on Goodreads, I’m doing this instead. Veeery mild spoilers ahead.


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Ten Feel Good Movies For When You Need Some Light Entertainment

December 7, 2015 fun, miscellaneous, movies, recs 6

I was looking for posts on feel good movies earlier today, so I figured I’d just make one of my own. When I need some distraction, I tend towards the light and entertaining, and I could write a whole essay on why these kinds of feel good movies are just as important as all your dark, critically acclaimed epics, but I’ll give you this list instead. Feel free to add to it in the comments; I’m always looking for recommendations! These are some of my very favorites, the créme de la créme of movies that bring a smile to my face.

What a Girl Wants

The classic modern day Cinderella story set in London’s royal society, starring Amanda Bynes as Daphne Reynolds, a girl from New York who is trying to figure out who she really is. I’ve watched this movie too many times to count when I was younger, and I still enjoy it now. My memory isn’t usually good enough to quote movies, but I can mouth the lines to this one.


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Happy Endings Are …Underappreciated?

November 12, 2015 fun, recs, reviews, tv shows 4

TV Show Thursdays on Reviews and Cake

Welcome to TV Show Thursdays, where I discuss TV Shows, review episodes and give my commentary on anything TV Show related!




Happy Endings is one of the most underrated shows I’ve ever come across. No one I know has ever heard of it, let alone watched it, so it’s one of those I’m-the-only-person-in-my-fandom situations. I started watching it without realizing there were only three seasons and was completely dumbstruck when it suddenly ended. Still, there are three seasons, and they’re worth watching, so I’m giving it a shout out here.

What it’s about

You know how every TV show featuring an ensemble cast of friends gets compared to Friends? And how there are so many of them? Well, there’s a reason: a lot of times they fail, but when they work, they work (see: HIMYM). Happy Endings is one such show. It starts off with Alex and Dave at the altar, ready to get married. Only things don’t go according to plan, because Alex runs out on him, jeopardizing not only her relationship with Dave, but the entire dynamic of their clique. (Isn’t clique such a nineties word? I’ll keep it in here just because of that. And because I can’t think of another one at the moment, but psht.)
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Modern Family

May 14, 2015 recs, reviews, tv shows 6

TV Show Thursdays on Reviews and Cake

Welcome to TV Show Thursdays, where I discuss TV Shows, review episodes and give my commentary on anything TV Show related!


Yesterday was the worst day. Why am I whining about it on the internet? Because I can. But also because I want to tell you a little something about Modern Family. When I don’t feel good, a new episode of Modern Family will almost certainly cheer me up. On a sucky day, it’s one of my go-to comfort sources. And so it was yesterday.

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So why is it such a feel good show? Mostly, it’s because you know that (with maybe one exception) at the end of the episode everything’s going to be alright, and everyone’s going to love each other. That’s true for a lot of shows like this though. What makes Modern Family stand out is that it’s also clever. It’s not just flat humor and stupid jokes (even though you could probably make an argument for that too), it’s satire and social commentary and loveable characters. The show doesn’t take itself too seriously, and that’s why it’s seriously fun.

Another thing that sets it apart is the style. It’s hard to explain the brilliance of it if you’ve never seen it, but it’s a “mockumentary”, which means it’s filmed in the style of a documentary, but completely fictional. This means you get the characters’ commentary on their own actions, but it’s so seamlessly a part of the show that it never throws me out. I probably didn’t even notice it was unusual the first time I watched the show.

Like with most shows, you probably need a couple of episodes to really get into it, but once you do the characters grow on you like no one’s business. You see the kids grow up, the family grow together and the characters growing into better versions of themselves. If you’re in the mood for something lighthearted and fun, then you should definitely give Modern Family a try – you won’t regret it!

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The 100 (Best Looking People Get Saved)

February 28, 2015 reviews, tv shows 8

TV Show Thursdays on Reviews and Cake

Welcome to TV Show Thursdays, where I discuss TV Shows, recap episodes and give my commentary on anything TV Show related!


If you’re following me on twitter, you might have noticed that I’ve been talking about little else but The 100 the last couple of days. I started watching the show last week, and I’m all caught up in time to watch the finale with everyone else next week. You know the people who watch an episode a time and then get back to their life? Yeah, that’s not me. When I like something, I’ll binge watch until I’ve seen everything there is to see, and that’s what happened with this show. I kept hearing about it the last few weeks, so I thought I’d give it a try. Then it took over my life.

The 100
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The Triumphant Return

February 25, 2015 fun, miscellaneous 12

Cake Conversations Banner Kopie - Kopie

The Party

I’M BACK ONLINE. You guys probably didn’t notice, but I didn’t have wifi for weeks. WEEKS. That’s decades in non-internet times. I might as well have been frozen in solid ice only to wake up in another millennium. What do you mean I watch too many movies? I dare you to say that again. Anyways, I have wifi again, which means I’m finally able to respond to comments and stalk your blogs write posts again. I only use this gif for special occasions, but I’m pretty sure this qualifies.

Loki Party Gif
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Movie Review: The Imitation Game

February 18, 2015 movies, recs, reviews 10

Remember waaaay back in December when I talked about wanting to watch The Imitation Game? If you need a quick refresher on the basic premise of the movie, check out that post. Anyways, I finally watched it!

benedict cumberbatch the imitation game poster


…and OH MY GOD WAS THIS MOVIE GOOD.

It was everything I expected and more.

Great Acting? Check.

Coding? Check.

Frenemies? Check.

A TEAR MY HEART OUT BECAUSE I’M DYING OF ALL THE FEELS story? Doublecheck.

It’s no surprise that Ben rocked the role like Axl Rose on his best day, but I was really suprised that Keira Knightley was right up there with him in terms of quality acting. Now I knew she can’t just play the damsel in distress and she’s had some good roles before, but out of all the movies I’ve watched with her, this was definitely her best performance.

I’m not going to go into the end of the movie or the great twists and turns throughout because I want you all to enjoy the full experience, but trust me when I say it’s great storytelling. At times I knew I was being emotionally manipulated (okay basically the entire point of a movie is to emotionally manipulate you, but you know what I mean), but I didn’t care. It was just heartbreaking and awesome and did I mention it’s a good movie? It’s somewhat anachronological and it took me until the middle of the movie until I understood the exact timeline, but I think it was mostly well done. The soundtrack wasn’t revolutionary, but in this case I don’t think it was a mistake to go with what worked before.

For some reason I kept being reminded of other movies while I watched it. Like, at the very beginning of the movie there’s a scene where a newspaper boy calls out 800 000 children evacuated and you can see the station with the trains leaving and I couldn’t help but think meanwhile in Narnia. And then later you can see kids with gas masks and how can that NOT remind someone of Are you my mummy? (unless that person has never watched Doctor Who, I guess, but in that case what are you even doing with your life)? Then there’s this revelatory scene in a bar that reminded me of A Beautiful Mind (which, by the way, is also a very good movie).

The Imitation Game is nominated for 8 Oscars, a fact I’m very happy about. I never cared much about the Oscars, but I’m planning to watch them this year, and I will SO be rooting for this movie to win a couple of awards.

Have you watched the movie yet? Are you planning to? And what do you think about the Oscars – must watch or totally irrelevant?

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Spotlight: My Favorite YouTube Videos

January 23, 2015 discussion, fun, miscellaneous, recs 3



I love YouTube. I just adore the concept of a creative space where everyone with access to the internet and a camera can upload their videos for everyone to enjoy. I’m sure it has a positive impact on my life to watch people to whom I can relate. I’m honestly so grateful I was born in the age of the internet! I thought you might enjoy some of these too, so I collected some of the videos I find most inspiring and/or fun:



This video is called popularity, but it’s also about self-confidence and getting out of your comfort zone. I like Christine for her positive vibes, and I love this video for reminding me to be more self-confident and to trust in myself.
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End of the Year Book Survey 2014

December 28, 2014 books, fun, miscellaneous, psa, recs 6



I love filling out surveys, so I figured this is as good a reason as any. If you want to do it yourself, you can follow the link to Jamie’s Blog or click on the picture above and link up your own post. And now, let’s see what I read this year!


Number Of Books You Read:

According to Goodreads, 39. I think it was a couple more, but 40 give or take should be correct.

Number of Re-Reads:

Four.

Genre You Read The Most From:

Fantasy/Urban Fantasy, but scifi and contemporary are strong contenders as well.
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Spotlight: The Imitation Game

December 17, 2014 movies, recs 2

I just decided to introduce a new feature to this blog!



will give me an opportunity to ramble about all the random things I enjoy without it taking over my blog. Although I guess my whole blog is already exactly that, so mission failed. Anyways, here we go.

benedict cumberbatch the imitation game poster


For some reason I never really liked Benedict Cumberbatch. It wasn’t that I hated him as an actor – I hadn’t really watched anything with him in it – it was just something about him that always pissed me off. Strange, I know. Then my roommate introduced me to Graham Norton by showing me the Doctor Who-related clips, and for some reason I decided to watch an episode of the show with Benedict Cumberbatch in it. Turns out the guy is really smart and funny, who would have known? Stop jumping up and down while yelling “ME!!!”, Cumberbitches, I know all about you.

One of the things Ben (we’re on nickname basis now that I like him – he’s totally cool with it) talked about on the show was this movie, and it sounds so frickin’ awesome that I cannot WAIT to watch it. It’s about Alan Turing and his team of code breakers. If you need a quick refresher (I did), Turing is the guy who helped the Allies win World War II by breaking German ciphers and who spent his spare time inventing the computer and theorizing on how tigers got their stripes. He was thanked by society with a chemical castration because he was gay. Go humans.

It looks like Benedict Cumberbatch is an actor that approached this role with great respect and dedication, which is why I’m looking forward to seeing this movie ASAP. Since I want to watch it in English, and German cinema has the annoying habit of dubbing all foreign movies, it might be a little while though. That’s okay though, I’ll just be over here anticipating the crap out of this one.

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