I felt like I already knew these characters to a certain extent because we’d reviewed City of Ashes for the Burn Bright Book Club previously. I was pleased to see where their character arcs originated.

City of Bones is essentially about Jace and Clary finding one another and realising that you may not be able to pick your family, but you can certainly pick your friends. 

Cassandra Clare has me enchanted with her use of landmarks around New York, Brooklyn, and the surrounding areas. The unknown has always held some sort of magic to me and to have these places glorified in an enjoyable book makes both things more special.

The interesting bits will be to see how much the film, which is ‘based on’ this book, will be able to bring the chemistry between characters, the plausibility of the supernatural aspects, and the way the setting is allowed to speak for itself and isn’t just left as decoration.

I honestly hope Harald Zwart tries to keep the film as close to the book as he possibly can, though 500 plus pages will be difficult to contain within a standard film-length adventure.

Bring it on!

Paperback, Movie Tie-In, 506 pages

Published July 9th 2013 by Walker Books Ltd (first published 2007)

original title

City of Bones




Consider me blown away. The casting was spot on, the CGI and special effects department were well on top of things, and the fact that Cassandra Clare was part of the script writing process helped beyond measure.

The key plot points were dead on target and the slight changes were forgivable as long as you went into it knowing it’s a film ‘based on’ the book, not a close adaptation. If you are expecting a word for word recreation, you will not enjoy it, though many of the memorable quotes remain in the script.

Belinda_kisses_tnBelinda Hamilton interviewed our favourite teen mentor about her latest girl power project.


The rite of passage of having a Pen Pal seems to have died out with email and instant messaging. Was the Pen Pal Project 2014 an initiative with traditional paper and pens, or was it mostly electronic?

The Pen Pal Project 2014 exchange was electronic due to our limited working time frame–Monica Murphy, the girl’s teacher was in their village for only a few months.  Originally, we wanted to use traditional paper and pens; however, their mailing service would not allow our letters to arrive until weeks after we sent them. We wanted to communicate back and forth as much as possible, so we resorted to email. The only source of technology Monica had with her was an iPad. The girls read our emails and responded on the iPad one at a time, so we still received their authentic answers, and the iPad served as a learning tool for the girls as they experienced advanced technology. 




Most of the girls featured in the Vimeo clip look to be around 15. What are their biggest worries?

The girls’ biggest worries are very similar to young girls in the United States, as they were worried about their relationships with friends and family, social status, and getting good grades. Bullying is a big deal in Ghana; however, since the majority of them do not use social media, everything is done in person, which quickly results to violence. Another big issue that was discussed was the pressure to fit in. Just like here in the United States, the girls got excluded from groups of friends and felt that they were not good enough to socialize with the richer and more “elite” girls. 

What was the most difficult question you were asked?

It is so hard to choose the most difficult question I was asked because I was honestly so impressed at how intelligent and curious the girls were about serious issues. They wanted to know what leadership meant to me, how to become a leader, how they could have the opportunity to attend a University in the United States, etc… I even had to do some research for some of the questions, such as “How do I become the President of your country?” Their determination and drive was astonishing, and it makes me sad that these girls, who are already so intelligent and starving for an education, are deprived of it. Meanwhile, my peers here in America complain that their parents are “making them” go to college. It doesn’t seem fair.

 PenPal profect


What do you hope the PenPal project achieved?

I hope the PenPal project inspired these young girls to believe they can be anything they want to be, and they shouldn’t allow their background or current economic status to deter them from their dreams. I also hope it made them realize how bright and successful they already are, and that they should have confidence in themselves. Part of the purpose behind the PenPal project was also to inspire others in the United States and help them realize the beautiful and intelligent girls that are being deprived of a higher education in not only Africa, but other parts of the world as well. A lack of peer to peer mentorship is apparent. I can only imagine what these girls could achieve if they had positive mentorship on a regular basis. 

 Penpal project 2


What other projects are you involved in or do you plan to develop?

I am currently in Stoneham, Maine working at Camp Susan Curtis and giving Girl Talks to inspire the girls there to be kind to each other, confident in themselves, and to THINK before they speak, type, or text. This is my second year in Maine. I love seeing the message take hold as these girls find their Girl Power. My future plans are to organize a trip to meet my Pen Pal girls and continue our conversations. Although any type of positive communication and mentorship is a great opportunity for young girls, I always prefer to meet with them in person; I feel that it makes a larger impact. I am realizing this more and more as I work with the young girls here in Maine and develop meaningful relationships with them. I can’t wait to come back again next summer! Another project I am excited for is the release of my second book this fall titled “Kissing Frogs: In Search of Prince Charming.” This book is written for high school girls as they begin the dating process. My stories, lessons, and exclusive chapter “The Good Guys” written with J.K. Schaffer, linebacker for the Cincinnati Bengals, gives girls an insight to finding a good guy, aka prince charming! 

Lauren Galley



Rowling_HPPhilosophersStone_HI don’t think there is actually an official book trailer for this one; if there is, I couldn’t find it.

Now, I have a confession to make. Before this blog series, I had never really wanted to read these books, mainly because of the incredible hype surrounding them, so I came to the party over a decade late.

My first impressions are of a charming children’s story about a young boy who learns there is more to life than we can believe. I’m intrigued to see how the CGI and special effects will help or hinder this story’s transitions to the film medium.

I sniggered enough while reading on the bus that the driver nearly missed a green light because he was staring, waiting for me to tell him what was so amusing. 

The world building is fun and allows the characters to get up to plenty of mischief. The Quidditch games were fast-paced, as one would imagine them to be, and there is no way a film could down-play the excitement generated in the book and still remain a box office success.

I picked up my battered and bruised copy of The Philosopher’s Stone at Lifeline Book Fest in January for 50 cents, so I won’t make judgement on the cover.

Paperback, 223 pages

Published June 30th 1997 by Bloomsbury Publishing (first published 1997)

ISBN 0747532745 (ISBN13: 9780747532743)


Let’s get on with watching the movie, shall we?

The Film


The film brought to life some of the more complicated moments in an extravagant way. Fluffy was a stand-out for me. Considering I came from the era of George Lucas experimenting with some of the first computer animations in film, this adaption was extremely entertaining. The use of green screen is becoming less and less obvious, and this really makes anything seem possible.

I was surprised to see some of my favourite actors/ comedians who include but are not limited to Zoe Wanamaker (My Family), Warwick Davis (Willow), and John Cleese (Fawlty Towers). There’s also an uncredited part played by one Zoe Sugg (Yep, Zoella was in it). It’s really no surprise that the box office was bursting at the seams when this film made its debut in 2001.

The verdict – I think I’ll go against the norm here and say the book was better, hands down. I did like the film; it was a rollicking good time, but I think the power of the page wins out here. Perhaps the filmmakers didn’t want the dark elements to take over in something aimed at families, but I think those parts needed a bit more exposure.


It’s Ramadan, which means Eid al-Fitr is on its way. I believe that this year it falls on the 28th/ 29th of July? (Depending on where you are in the world)

For those who are unfamiliar with it, I guess Ramadan is similar to the 6 weeks of Lent. Though both are a time for spiritual reflection and the idea is to abstain from certain things, the things that makes Ramadan different are that it only lasts for 29-30 days and during the hours of sunlight, food and drink are not to be consumed.

The day after Ramadan is completed is known as Eid al-Fitr or breaking of the fast. This is a time to celebrate, feast, and show the common goal of unity. I usually get a call from my high school friend on the last day and we talk away the last few hours of sunlight.  

Here’s some fun tutorials for us those of us who may be gearing up for their own Eid celebrations or  just people who’d like a little beauty in their lives.

Some strikingly spectacular Arabic make-up by Julia from MissChievous

A lovely henna mehndi design by SuperPincessjo

And what would any feast be without cookies…? Here’s a clip for Kahk, which are Egyptian cookies with sweet fillings.


Wishing you a blissful Eid. Assalamu Aleikom!


Belinda_kisses_tnBelinda discusses the movie vs book versions of this crazily popular story.





I managed to get my hands on a copy of the unabridged audio book–cheaper than the paperback and it’s lovingly narrated by Kate Rudd.

I knew I was in for a blubber fest; YouTube is positively buzzing, and has been for years, about this book by John Green. I think the whole world will have read this book by the time the DVD comes out.

It covers themes that are well and truly in your face. There is no hiding or sugar-coating here, and in the brutally honest storytelling there is a delicate love story.

Though there were tears, there were stretches of incredible joy. Kate told the tale unflinchingly. How the heck she managed to do this through the emotions is beyond comprehension. She isn’t dissimilar to how Hazel is in the movie, so if you have a chance to give the audio book a go, I do recommend it.

Cancer is an abhorrent disease; it affects so many. When it touches and takes the lives of children, the pain is all the more excruciating. My only hope is anyone who has been moved by the book (or the film) will take the time to consider giving to charity, donating their time where possible, and striving through scientific fields to find a cure.

Okay? Okay.

Paperback, 316 pages

Published January 3rd 2013 by Penguin Books (first published January 1st 2012)

ISBN 0141345659 (ISBN13: 9780141345659)

 Audio Book



I managed to see the film in the cinema by myself on a Friday night. There were plenty of dates happening, a bunch of school girls taking up the entire row of seats in front of me, and probably about 40 of us in the theatre in total. *Sorry if I coughed too much everyone, I did try to keep it to the transitional scenes*

You could obviously tell those who had not read the book, because they didn’t always get that the actual punch line was yet to come in some scenes. Pre-emptive laughter is usually a dead giveaway.

We ALL cried our eyes out. Hugs were handed out (man, I wish I wasn’t alone) and tissues were in high demand. Boyfriends snuffled quietly and, oh jeez, we were glad the lights didn’t come up immediately. Was it worth the red noses and swollen eyes? HELL YES!

The cast was perfect. From Sam Trammell (True Blood) to Shaileen Woodley (Divergent), they could not have picked it better. I honestly hope the award season does them justice.

This was, by far, the best screen adaptation of a book I have ever seen in my life.


BOTH. Book first, for the other tiny bits the film couldn’t fit in. Then watch the film because it is really going to be a classic. It’ll be one of those movies you put in when you want the bitter sweetness of a good, sad, love story.

Some links to consider…

Keep in contact through the following social networks or via RSS feed:

  • Follow on Facebook
  • Follow on Twitter
  • Follow on Pinterest
  • Follow on Google+
  • Follow on GoodReads
  • Follow on Tumblr
  • Follow on LinkedIn
  • Follow on Keek
  • Follow on YouTube
  • Subscribe