The World According to Renee

Views, Reviews, Short Stories and More…

The Other Hand aka Little Bee

The cover of this novel says only one thing about the plot: two women’s lives collide one day when one has to make a terrible choice. Two years later, they meet again. This is where the story starts.

This is a novel which doesn’t want you to know about it before you read it. That’s somewhat difficult- how do you know you want to read it? (My tip was the Staff Recommendation from my local bookstore). I can say this: You do want to read this novel. It’s powerful, provocative, mesmerising. There are moments when your breath will hold and your heart will beat in anticipation. You know this novel is not going to end the way you hope it will, yet you cannot pull away…

Without giving anything away, this is the story of two women who are strong in every way you can imagine. Little Bee is a Nigerian refugee; Sarah is a British journalist and mother. ‘United they stand, divided they fall’ is the phrase that springs to mind when speaking of their relationship. Fate brings them together in unimaginable ways.

There is so much I want to say about this story yet I won’t. You need to discover the intertwining secrets for yourself. The cover describes this as “magic” but it is far from any definition of magic I know; perhaps the magic of the human desires for freedom and survival?

I cannot praise this book highly enough. It weaves the story around you until you are but a witness to your imagination. I will say this though: if anyone out there has a book club- read this book. Form a facebook group and let me participate!

The Other Hand (known as Little Bee in the US) by Chris Cleave. You won’t want to put it down.


September 22, 2010 Posted by | Reviews | , | Leave a comment

Go M.A.D.

Some years ago, I went to an Amway seminar. You know the ones- people talk about the ladder of success and how many recruits they’ve gotten that month. Everyone in the audience is hyped up and yells “Yeah!” at every opportunity. One thing that has stuck with me through these years was the phrase Go MAD! It stood for Make A Decision.

Although we make decisions all the time, every day, about every thing, often we don’t think about the decision. If we’re driving, it’s a split second decision. If we’re on the phone with a client, we stop and think about what we say next (well, hopefully…) Just as often, the decision not to make a decision leads to bigger decisions later on. For example, if you’re in a job you hate, you’ve made the decision it is easier to stay than to leave.

Last week, I made such a decision. Fueled by big dreams, I made the decision to move away from the comfort zone. I started actively looking for things I can do in order to achieve these dreams. I made a decision and let the universe know about it.

Two days later, things started shifting. I noticed people asking for small things in relation to writing. I got an email from my copywriting coach about an opportunity (which I have since accepted). I’m finally moving into the realm where magic happens- because I made a decision not to stay here in my comfy little rut.

Is it scary? Sure! Am I nervous? Yep! Both of these are sure signs that I’m leaving my comfort zone, widening my horizons, exploring these dreams which have been constant companions.

By making a decision, you’re choosing the path of your life. You are actively navigating the road your life will look like. And every decision you make, is the right choice for you at that moment.

September 17, 2010 Posted by | Copywriting, Thoughts & Reflections | Leave a comment

Tomorrow When the War Began

This was a much loved book when I was in high school, and ever since 1996, they’ve been planning a movie. Now, finally, it’s here!

Seven teenagers take a trip into Hell, a little-known camping place amongst rough terrain. It’s a week away together before school starts, a chance to unwind before the seriousness of their final year begins. Have a few laughs, some silly summer romances, all the two minute noodles you can eat. One night, they are woken by jets flying overhead and when they come back to their houses, no one is home. The dogs are dead, the phones and electricity have been cut. Soon they find all their houses the same. A war has begun, their country has been invaded.

During the first twenty minutes, I thought it was one of the worst movies I’d ever seen. It was cliched, juvenile and silly. The characters weren’t as I imagined and a lot was left out. Then, the war began and it quickly turned into a very good movie. Even though I’ve read all the books and know what eventuates with each character, I was still biting my nails waiting to see what happened next. Wisely, the romance was largely omitted in favour of more explosions, which kept the movie’s momentum from falling into its own version of Hell. The cast really have nothing to offer although Deniz Akdeniz is a standout and will definitely go a long way.

Unfortunately, this brings me to the reasons I didn’t particularly love this film. For some reason, everyone sounded like they have the clipped accent of the English, not the rural Australia they live in. They are completely unbelievable as country dwellers and the first scenes of Ellie (Caitlin Stasey) doing every day farm activities was laughable. It was as if young Sydneysiders were appearing in an episode of The Simple Life. The explosions, although plentiful, were clearly enhanced by pyrotechnics and CGI. This in itself isn’t a huge issue but added to the unbelievable atmosphere plaguing the film.

The cinematography was outstanding, but then again, I am a little biased considering the scenes in and round Hell were shot in my hometown of the Blue Mountains. In fact, Hell itself is in bushland near my mum’s house and I have been there many times on my bushwalks. Still, it was exciting to see it used. The bay and bridge integral to the plot were, alas, computer generated and at times isn’t as seamless as it should be. Even though I know there is no water visible from the area, there is still moments when the characters aren’t blending with the background- a sure sign of green screen CGI. The transition between innocent teenagers to guerillas is as bumpy as it should be considering the circumstances they find themselves in. Yet the cast managed this with some humour, which was refreshing and never out of place.

All in all, if you loved the books, you’ll enjoy the film adaptation. It’s not perfect and incorporates modern speech and technology not available 17 years ago when the novel was written, so perhaps the purists will not love it so much…

3/5 popcorns

September 5, 2010 Posted by | Reviews | , | Leave a comment

Tell Me Sweet Little Lies

Firstly, let me just say  I have not seen the new documentary, Catfish. It is about the ‘security’ of facebook and what can happen to people you meet there.

A couple of years ago,  I became aware of a website called Please Rob Me, which scans facebook and twitter updates for key words and phrases (like “I’m on holidays!” or “I’m at a friend’s place”) and then posts that status on their website. They are not condoning that you should go out and rob these people who are telling the world they’re not home, rather they are showing the loopholes in security: posting something on a social networking site is akin to telling the world your deepest thoughts. Imagine standing in the middle of a sell out crowd in the MCG and shouting “My tampon is stuck” or “I’m going to the pub and then spending the night at Mary’s house.”

Whilst it can be amusing for some people to hear that your tampon is stuck (leading to popular sites like failbook or lamebook), telling everyone that you’re not at home can lead to some nasty surprises.

Facebook can be used to meet people, but I use it to keep in touch with people I’ve already met and trust. There are some people who may read this and say, “Hey- you haven’t met me!” (especially those of you who are overseas!) but I know and trust you through online communities, which are just like real life communities (in my opinion) but better.

I don’t accept friend requests from people I went to school with, unless I was friends with them at school (why would they want to be facebook friends anyway? They didn’t care then, why should they care now?) and I refuse requests from people who may know me through various communities just because they recognise my name. I’ve also blocked non-friends from sending me facebook messages: I posted something on a facebook fan page (The Ellen Show) about Train’s appearance singing Hey Soul Sister. I hated the song from the first time I heard it (still hate it!) and it’s not the Train that I know and love. I vented my disappointment and ended up with half a dozen messages from random people telling me what a bitch I was because I didn’t like the song. (As tempting as it was to write back telling them they were bitchy for not accepting my opinion and actually taking the time to tell me this, I restrained myself and changed my security settings instead).

The message I’m trying to get across is: Don’t post anything on facebook that you don’t want 175 people to know. Or 3000. Or the capacity of the MCG if your posts aren’t private.

Oh, if you want to post about your tampon, please please please tell me lies and post something else!

September 5, 2010 Posted by | Thoughts & Reflections | , | 1 Comment