30 Books For My 30th – Number 22

30booksformy30th, 30th birthday, books, fucking awful, fucking obvious, thriller

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dscn7305Dear Gone Girl,

A few years ago, I lent you to my sister and you have been sat on her shelves ever since. At least until last weekend when she finally brought you back. I can’t say that I was very pleased to see you. Really, I only wanted you so I could take a picture to accompany this post. I’ve never liked you. I didn’t finish you. You annoyed the shit out of me and, if I’m honest, I was glad to get you out of the house. You have a ton of hype surrounding you even to this day. But I don’t get it. I feel like I’m the lone survivor of some awful disease that makes you love shit books.

You’re constantly being praised for being clever but you’re not. What you are is super obvious. How anyone can read the first half of the novel and not realise that it’s all bullshit is beyond me. I didn’t even finish the first half because I couldn’t be bothered waiting for the inevitable. And before you start crying and saying “but how do you know if its obvious if you didn’t finish it?” Bitch, please. I have Wikipedia.

I’ve put off writing this letter for ages because I just didn’t want to come face-to-face with you. I’ve never met a book that deserved its reputation so little. Even 50 Shades of Grey was acknowledged as being shit despite its massive success. But you. You fooled everyone. You continue to fool everyone and you’ve started an endless parade of increasingly poor psychological thrillers. Girl on a Train? Urgh. It was even more obvious than you were but at least I fucking finished it.

Whether it admits to it or not, at least Girl on a Train knows its place. It knows it’s trash. You have the audacity to think you’re better than trash. You suffer from the Dan Brown complex: a trashy novel that thinks it of great literary worth. Just because you put on a fur coat and some fake diamonds it doesn’t make you different. You’re still Jenny from the block.

So why am I writing this letter to you? After all, this is supposedly a list of the books that “changed my life”. Well, in spite of everything, you did change my life. You were the first book I ever purposefully did not finish. Before I met you I struggled through every shit book I picked up no matter how hard it was. No matter how long it took me. I mean, yeah, there are books I stopped halfway through with the intention of picking up again that still sit, unread, on my shelf. That’s not the same. See, I genuinely hated you. You made me angry. I was so annoyed by you. I couldn’t do it. I don’t know how you’ve managed to fool everyone else but I see through you. I see what you really are.

There is a lengthy and oft-praised passage inside you which discusses the idea of the “Cool Girl” and how it doesn’t really exist. You know what? You’re the ultimate Cool Girl. You pretend to be this clever and refreshing new type of thriller so everyone will like you. But it’s all just bullshit. It’s all just pretend. Your tagline is “there are two sides to every story”. Well, there is: mine and all the idiots you’ve managed to trick.

We complete each other in the nastiest, ugliest possible way

The line “Sleep is like a cat: It only comes to you if you ignore it.” is the biggest piece of bullshit I’ve ever read. This isn’t good prose. This is nonsense!

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30 Books For My 30th – Number 5

30booksformy30th, 30th birthday

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dscn7086Dear Hard Times,

You can’t like every book. It’s a fact of life I’m afraid. The fact that I really hate you shouldn’t be a bad thing. To use an old cliche, it’s not you, it’s me. Except that it’s totally not me. It’s you. Although, it probably has something to do with my old English teacher too. It’s unfortunate for you that I was forced to study you at the age of 17 with the only teacher I have ever disliked. So, maybe, it’s him? It certainly makes a difference. If you’re taught a book badly then how can you ever like that book? It was all pretty unfortunate that in my final year of school I was moved into a different set and taken away from my favourite teachers. I didn’t like his style and he didn’t like mine. It was never going to end well.

Although, to be honest, it was always going to be difficult for us to get along. I don’t have a great track record with Charles Dickens. I’ve never understood his reputation as one of Britain’s greatest writers. I get that he has some value in terms of his social and economic commentary. But, really, it’s all a bit much. For years I’ve heard people rave about the hilarity behind his names. Really? Yeah, okay, there’s some word play there but meh. Loads of people have written funny names and not gone down in history. He’s so long and cumbersome. We all know that he was paid by the word because he’s so fucking obvious about it. So much unnecessary description. He puts Ann Radcliffe to shame.

I made it through Great Expectations without wanting to kill myself but I had a great teacher. I really like A Christmas Carol but that could have something to do with The Muppet Christmas Carol. You, Hard Times, were too much. Considering you’re the shortest of Dickens’ novels that is really saying something. You’re stuffed to breaking point with characters and plot lines. I could barely remember what was going on at the time let alone years later.

You’re also super preachy and negative. I realise that’s the point but sometimes you don’t want to be around such pessimistic people. You’re like those vegans who decide that, as well as changing their lives for the cause, they have to try to force their opinions on everyone they meet. Religious people who can’t accept that not everyone is willing to accept some sort of higher power into their lives. I don’t have room for people like that.

I respect your message, Hard Times. You were intended to show people the awful conditions some industrial workers faced. The problem is, you’re far too cynical. And I’m not the only one who thinks so. You aren’t the best novel Dickens has ever written and you definitely aren’t his most loved. You are so focused on the task at hand that you simplify everything and take things too far. Eventually, things become so pessimistic and sullen that you can’t see anything beyond it.

You’ve haunted me for 13 years. I’ve honestly never recovered from reading you. I’ve read books I didn’t like before but my short relationship with you was dreadful. It was toxic. I had such a ‘hard time’ reading you and had such a terrible time studying you. We’re incompatible. Different people. You can’t like everyone and you can’t like every book. You’ll sit languishing on my shelf. You can talk shit about me to your friends and I’ll talk shit about you to mine. I don’t need you in my life. I’m all about the fun.
People must be amuthed,



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30 Books For My 30th – Number 4

30booksformy30th, 30th birthday

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Dear Alice in Wonderland,

Today is my actual 30th birthday. Yes, the single, insignificant (on a global scale anyway) event that I’ve been banging on about for months now has finally arrived. As this is the whole reason that I started this project I felt that I should pick an important and meaningful book for today. That book is you. Thinking about that, it’s a weird choice. Not because you aren’t an important book to me but because I can’t actually remember the first time I read you. I always remember you being in my life though. You’ve always been on the sidelines, watching me. You’re the book from my childhood I remember most fondly but not because I remember reading during my childhood.

It all comes from my middle name. I am Laura Alice Murdoch. I’ve always been drawn to you because we share a name… kind of. Not that I use my middle name ever or talk about it a lot. I just remember thinking it was really cool that I shared the same name as your main character. And I loved you. I loved the idea of you. A girl who grows incredibly large and incredibly small. A talking rabbit and a stoned caterpillar. What kid wouldn’t love that? Growing up I had framed pictures of your illustrations on my walls. Now I don’t know whether my love for you prompted the pictures to be out on my wall or vice versa but it’s doesn’t really matter. Even if I wasn’t fully aware of your story, I adored you. After all, I was Alice.

I’ve been familiar with your film adaptation too, of course, but the first time I remember you as a book was when I was already an adult. I studied you during my final year as an undergraduate on a bullshit children’s literature course. That’s to say the course and its tutor were bullshit; not the literature. I must have read you before or, at the very least, had you read to me. I just never remembered. I’m sure my parent’s talked about you in my youth in a way that suggests I had a familiarity with the text. However, the memories aren’t there.

You are the book that I’ve been most familiar with in my 30 years but, from the looks of it, I took ownership of you without having any rights to do so. Having definitely read you now, I still love you and I still, secretly, think I am Alice. I forced my flatmates to see the Tim Burton adaptation for my birthday in 2010. It was the first night it was available and I loved it. Not as much but enough. You are one of my all-time favourite books and I feel an incredible connection with you. It’s just mad to think that the book I always thought of as being my childhood favourite is also the book I remember the least.

But, we’re all mad here,


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Throwback Thirty – Oliver and Company (1988)

30 years, 30th birthday, animals, animated, animation, anniversary, bullshit, Dickens, Disney, dogs, film, film blogger, film blogging, film reviews, films, meh, music, musical, TBT

oliver_poster5_star_rating_system_2_stars I never saw Oliver and Company when I was a kid but I remember seeing the trailer for it whenever we watched a Disney film on VHS. Every time I saw it I wanted to watch it but it never happened. Probably because I’d get too distracted by whatever Disney film I was going to watch.  It always looked really fun and, as someone who loved dogs, I was obviously into the idea of Oliver Twist being remade with animals. I mean if The Lion King has taught us anything it’s that taking a piece of great literature and retelling it with animals is a great strategy for storytelling. I mean who’d even heard of Hamlet before Disney introduced us to Simba, right? Plus, there is a whole host of Disney films that prove that dogs and/or cats having adventures together is an instant winner. I’m not a big fan of Dickens anyway so I couldn’t imagine how it could get any worse by involving household pets.

Throwback Thirty – Killer Klowns From Outer Space (1988)

30 years, 30th birthday, comedy, dark comedy, film, film blogger, film blogging, film reviews, films, fucking awesome, fucking creepy, fucking funny, fucking ridiculous, fucking stupid, fucking weird, horror, review, reviewing, reviews


5_star_rating_system_4_and_a_half_stars When I first came up with my Throwback Thirty idea there were a handful of movies that I was super excited about. This week’s film is one of the most exciting. I have always loved a good B movie and, despite my avoidance of traditional horror stuff, will always have time for a worthy comedy horror film… especially one starring aliens that look like clowns. I know a lot of people who are freaked out by clowns but I’ve never seen it. Maybe it helped that I never accidentally watched IT when I was a kid but I’ve never really been fussed either way about clowns. I did work with a guy who was absolutely terrified by them. I admit, we all kind of abused the situation and I was, at times, guilty of humming circus music whenever he was around. It genuinely used to freak him out because he was that scared. Yes, it was a dick move but, in my defence, it was really funny too. So I’d imagine that he’d never seen the 1988 classic Killer Klowns From Outer Space because that would be mental. Like the girl who was in the year below me at uni who was afraid of balloons and, during out college’s end of year party, freaked out during the balloon drop. I’d grabbed a balloon and she forced me to pop it. I was fucking livid! Mate, if you get so freaked out by balloons then why turn up to a place where you know there’ll be shit loads of them???? Not that I’m still bitter 10 years on or anything…

Throwback Thirty – Married to the Mob (1988)

30 years, 30th birthday, anniversary, FBI, film blogger, film blogging, film reviews, films, fucking sweet, gangsters, meh, Michelle Pfeiffer, mobsters, review, silly, TBT

5_star_rating_system_3_stars I have to say, I’m quite enjoying this journey back to the year I was born. I mean, politically it was a pretty shitty time in the UK but there are plenty of cool films that I’m yet to discover. I’m not suggesting that all films from this year are going to be stellar or even completely watchable but I’d say, on a whole, I’m not ashamed of my birth year. I discovered the other day that a lot of the films in my TBT jar are currently on Netflix UK. I guess its possible 1988 films are popular because of the big 3-0 anniversary but maybe it’s just cheaper. I don’t know and, really, I don’t care. If it’s as simple to get through my Throwback Thirty list as turning on Netflix and relaxing then I’m happy. Still, it does mean I’m taking the whole ‘randomly pick a film out of the jar’ thing a little less seriously. I genuinely picked a Netflix film this week but, after finding so many on there, I’m tempted to change the rules. The problem is, there are a lot of films in the jar that I love or am super keen to watch but a fair few that I think it will be tougher to get myself to watch. The more serious and filmy films. If I don’t stick to the “rules” then I’ll only watch the ridiculous films like Killer Klowns From Outer Space or Who Framed Roger Rabbit and not the films like Cinema Paradiso. Basically, I’d just watch films that meant I didn’t need to think. I wasn’t sure how I’d fair with today’s prompt but I sat down anyway. After all, I’m a big fan of Alec Baldwin’s face in the 80s and, even though he’s only in this film briefly, it was enough of an incentive.

Throwback Thirty – Beetlejuice (1988)

30 years, 30th birthday, blogging, film, film blogger, film blogging, fucking creepy, fucking funny, ghosts, Michael Keaton, review, TBT, Tim Burton

I have a confession to make before we carry on with out weekly business of reviewing a random film from the year 1988. This wasn’t the film that I originally pulled out of my jar for this week. Yes, I have (kind of) cheated on my Throwback Thirty mission and we’re only 3 weeks in. Last week I pulled Short Circuit 2 out of the jar and was all set to do my usual thing. However, in an act of insanity I decided it was only fair to rewatch Short Circuit before the sequel in order to get the best viewing experience. As such, my week just got away from me and I decided I wouldn’t have time to fit everything in. In an act of utter desperation and reeking with shame, I pulled another name out of the jar. So, I will watch Short Circuit 2 in time for next Thursday. I, bizarrely, feel genuinely quite bad about having to cheat this week. It’s madness because it’s a format that I imposed myself and a series of rules that I, alone, am enforcing. I could do whatever the fuck I wanted and nobody reading this would know. But it means a lot to me for some reason… probably because I have so little going on in my life right now. So, unfortunately, my viewing this week has been a little tainted with my disappointment in myself. An immense shame considering my second pick from my jar of films is one of my favourites in there. It’s also the only time that I can think of that I’ve found myself attracted to Alec Baldwin. There’s something about the combo of those glasses, that hair, and his tan trousers that just gets me… but I digress.

Throwback Thirty: The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988)

30 years, 30th birthday, films, fucking beautiful, fucking funny, Monty Python, reviews, silly, TBT, Terry Gilliam, Uma Thurman

Back for the second in my new series Throwback Thirty. Where I randomly pick a film from 1988 and review it in honour of my upcoming 30th birthday. Self-obsessed? Maybe. Fun? Well, that depends on the film really. There’s a mixed bag of serious and silly in my jar so I do have a slight fear every week that it’ll be something I’m not in the right frame of mind for. As much as I wanted to pick all of the shittest and strangest films I could find, I decided, if I was going to do this, I should at least do it properly. This means there are a fair few films that I’ve not seen. Including today’s pick. I’m a fan of Monty Python because, let’s face it, who isn’t a fan of them? Not only am I British, so it’s in my blood, but I’m a huge fan of weird humour. And it doesn’t get much weirder than those guys. Still, my love of Python hasn’t completely pushed me towards the films of Terry Gilliam. I’ve not seen them all and it’s mainly because I don’t know where to start. Gilliam has had a mixed career as a director in the minds of many people but also hailed as a genius. The Gilliam I’ve seen has also been a mixed bag. So I was quite excited about the prospect of watching this film. It is infamous for having a troubled production and bombing at the box office. If I’m going to work my way through Gilliam’s back catalogue I might as well start here.

Throwback Thirty – Twins (1988)

30 years, 30th birthday, Arnie, Arnold Schwarzenegger, buddy comedy, Danny DeVito, films, fucking awful, fucking ridiculous, review, TBT

So today is the first in my new series that I have, ingeniously, called Throwback Thirty. As I laid out in my blog update post, for the next 52 Thursdays, I will review a film that came out the same year that I was born. This is all in honour of my 30th birthday: an event that will take place on March 5th. Am I making a big deal of it in the hope it distracts me from the fact that I’ve not made it to the point I thought I’d be at this age? Maybe? Am I also hoping that seeming okay with it will make me comfortable with being a 30 year old? Maybe? Am I just using it as an excuse to watch loads of questionable 80s movies? Erm… hells yeah! I am a huge love of 80s films anyway so a year of watching some of my old favourites and some that I’ve never seen before sounds perfect. I’ve put the title of loads (way more than 52) films in a jar and each week I will pick out a title. By happy circumstance that first title I picked out was Twins. I guess it’s only right considering I am, in fact, a twin myself so this is also my sister’s 30th birthday year. In our 3 decades together, my sister and I have never got involved in a dodgy deal about a prototype fuel injector but we’ve got into some scrapes. I’ve got no doubt that I’d be the Danny DeVito of the pair and she’d be Arnie… although I’m not sure she’d necessarily think that was a good thing. We’re very different people. Me? I’ve been practicing trying to say “put the cookie down now” in my best Arnie voice ever since I watched Jingle All the Way last month.

Blog Update: The story of how one blogger intends to drag out her 30th birthday for an entire year

30th birthday, birthday, blog update, blogger, blogging, book blogger, book blogging, books, films, TBT

Today is the first of January and a traditional time for people to make promises that they have no intention of keeping. So it seems fitting that I lay out my plans for my blog because chances are, my life will become so hectic again that I fail to live up to my promises. A common thread I’ve been coming back to on Instagram these days is one of setting goals. In that context, it is mostly about TBRs and the negative impact they can have on your reading. I’m not the kind of person who likes to set herself reading goals because I don’t see reading as a competitive sport. I’m not active on my Goodreads account so maybe that explains my lack of drive. I just don’t see what the number of books you read in a year has to do with you as a person. Why do some feel the need to constantly brag about it? If anything, I’d find it suspicious if people were getting through too many books a year. I mean, how well can they be reading each individual book? What are they sacrificing in the rest of their lives to give so much time over to reading? I work 9-10 hour shifts 5 days a week. I simply don’t have the time to read that much… or at least I don’t if I want to get enough sleep to be able to function at a physically demanding job. It’s something that has always confused me about certain members of the bookish community. It’s as if there are better readers than others and the only way to tell is by keeping a tally of the books they’ve read. This is bollocks.