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.
Christmas is only 5 days away and I’ve only got 3 days at work until I have a whopping 2 days holiday. Woo! Yep, I’m on the late shift on Christmas Eve and then back in work at 6am on 27th December. I never get a Christmas break as I’m always called upon to do this gem of a shift. It sucks but my manager’s aren’t willing to change their ways. Still, I am desperately trying to get in the festive spirit by watching Christmas movies, wearing Christmas jumpers, and endlessly listening to festive jingles. It works some of the time but, as anyone who works in any kind of retail/hospitality job this time of year knows, it’s hard to not let the season of good will break your spirit. No matter how many times I play my favourite Christmas song on repeat. Speaking of, what is your favourite Christmas song? I read an article recently that made the bold claim that the best was officially All I want for Christmas is you by Mariah Carey. I really doubt the validity of their statement because I, for one, wasn’t asked my opinion. I fucking hate that song and, whilst I’m at it, I hate Fairytale of New York too. It’s not cool to like it because it promotes alcoholism and includes swearing. It’s a shit song that doesn’t promote the festive spirit. My number one? Christmas Wrapping by the Waitresses or anything featuring the Muppets. I’ve got simple tastes. As you’ll see in yet another Christmassy book tag.
1. “You’re a Mean One Mr. Grinch”: Name a villainous character you couldn’t help but love.
What’s that It Crowd quote? “All women love a bastard”, right?! Well, in certain circumstances that’s true. Villains are just more interesting than most good guys. I mean look at Harry Potter. I’m far more interested in the likes of Bellatrix and Lucius Malfoy than I am in Harry himself. Harry’s a whiny, egotistical classic chosen one. I can’t stand him most of the time. I guess when it comes to the ultimate bad guy you can’t help but love I’d have to go with my traditional answer: Humbert Humert from Lolita. I’m not saying I actually love him but there’s something about Nabokov’s narrative that means you end up kind of sympathising with a disgusting paedophile.
2. “All I Want for Christmas is You”: Which book do you most hope to see under your Christmas tree?
There’s always loads of books I want but I don’t often get them because I’m useless at giving hints. I guess the ultimate goal is the second and third illustrated editions of Harry Potter and the Visual Editions’s version of Don Quixote. All very gorgeous and all over my personal book price limit.
3. “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer”: Name a character that overcomes major obstacles and learns to believe in themselves.
I feel like my answer to this isn’t going to be that original but, when you think of character development, isn’t it Neville Longbottom than first comes to mind? Look at how far he comes from the scared loner with no friends other than his toad to a strong young man who is leading the DA in a Death Eater filled Hogwarts. He’s a great guy. A much more deserving hero than fucking Harry.
4. “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”: a) Which character do you think would be on the top of the naughty list? b) Which character do you think would be at the top of the nice list?
Naughty List: Is saying every literary villain ever a cop out? What a silly question. Anyone who is vaguely bad should be on the naughty list but how to you quantify naughtiness. Who would be the top? Some kind of serial killer like American Psycho’s Patrick Bateman? Or Sauron from Lord of the Rings? Nah, how about Ramsay Bolton from A Song of Ice and Fire? He organised the Red Wedding… there’s no way Santa can even try to forgive that.
Nice List: Again, every hero or nice person in any novel ever. But, purely in the name of playing the game, I’m gonna say Winnie the Pooh. Why? It just popped into my head but that guy always tries to do the right thing. He’s niceness personified.
5. “Frosty the Snowman”: Which book just melts your heart.
I’m not much for the melty-heart kind of books these days. I prefer my novels to be hard hitting and dark. So much so that I’m drawing a major blank on this answer. It probably says a lot about me. I’m a fucking ice queen. I guess, if I were pushed, I’d probably say the Sophie books by Dick King Smith. I was obsessed with those books as a child and they’re so adorable.
6. “Feliz Navidad”: Choose a book that takes place in a country other than your own.
Anything by Haruki Murakami. Let’s say Norwegian Wood. I know that I don’t have enough diversity in my reading material but I’m trying to be better. It’s just that my TBR is kind of full of books written by white men and women. It’s always a question of trying to clear that or be more adventurous. I’m just drowning in books.
7. “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”: Which holiday themed book do you use to spread the Christmas joy?
I think A Christmas Carol is a great read and, probably, a book that people won’t be as familiar with as they think. Dickens’ original tale is a lot darker than many adaptations allow. The scene with Ignorance and Want is actually quite disturbing. But, it can’t be denied that the Christmas message runs through and, let’s be honest, it provided the basis for the greatest Christmas film ever made.
8. “Sleigh Ride”: Which fictional character would you choose to spend the holidays with (doesn’t have to be a love interest!)
I know it says one character but I’m just going to say the Weasley family. Imagine spending Christmas at the Burrow? It would be so cosy and full of love. Molly rushing around preparing food. Fred and George pulling pranks on everyone else. Arthur enchanting some muggle fairy lights. It’d be brilliant. If we’re talking romantic Christmas then I’ll have to leave the bookish world and say Chief Hopper from Stranger Things. My passion for that man is so strong. I’d spend Christmas with him in his cabin finding fun ways to keep warm!
9. “Baby it’s Cold Outside”: Which book that you didn’t like would you sacrifice to a fire to warm yourself up in the cold?
Which book would I burn? Now normally I’m against damaging any book, no matter how terrible, but there is one book I’ve read this year that leaps to mind. One of Us is Lying is the most offensively bland and unoriginal book that I’ve ever read. It deserves to be destroyed in a horrible way just for being so fucking blatant. Urgh, I’ve never hated a book this much and I did a whole course on novels of sensibility. Those books are super sexist.
10. “Do you hear what I hear”: Which book do you think everyone should read?
Oh loads. The one I’m always pushing on people is The Monk by Matthew Lewis because it’s fucking crazy. I love it. However, my books of 2017 have to include First Love by Gwendoline Riley and Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders. I’d recommend reading First Love and listening to the audiobook of Saunder’s Man Booker winning novel. I adored them both in very different ways.
- TUESDAY’S REVIEWS – Jim and Andy: The Great Beyond (2017)
I’ve been waiting for this documentary to come to Netflix for so long and, when it finally did, I couldn’t wait any longer to watch it. Was it worth it? Find out in my review here.
- BOOK POST – The Guilty Reader Tag
Amazing! I finally have something to say for this section of my rundown. It’s not very inspiring but this tag might give you a little bit of insight into who I am as a person. Find out for yourself here.
- TBT – Man on the Moon (1999)
I couldn’t not watch Jim and Andy and then miss the chance to (re)watch the original film. Did the behind the scenes view have an impact on my viewing? Find out in my TBT post here.
- Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
- Autumn by Ali Smith
- Cheap book haul
So I bought a couple of new books when I found them on offer on Amazon for Cyber Monday and I also snagged a few new Vintage Penguins. Amazing result.
- Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie – I bizarrely don’t seem to have a copy of this book anymore so I couldn’t resist the gorgeous new (I think) hardback edition from Harper Collins. Plus, it was also only £4. Genius.
- Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood – Another cheap buy and one that I’ve wanted for ages. Although, I’ve have a few of these Shakespeare rewritings on my shelf for a while and never got anywhere with them. The Tempest really isn’t my favourite play but this sounds really good. And if anyone can make it interesting then it’s Atwood, right?
- Vintage Penguins – I bought a few more of these than I needed to but I can never resist a beautiful vintage penguin.
- Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
- Scoop by Evelyn Waugh
- My Man Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse
- One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
- The Nuremberg Trials by R.W. Cooper
- Netflix Binges: QI, Compete to Eat
- TUESDAY’S REVIEWS – Thor Ragnarok (2017)
After trying to organise a cinema trip with a friend for ages I finally got to see the latest Thor. It’s no real spoiler to say that I fucking loved it but if you fancy more information my review is up here.
- BOOK POST
I promise you I was planning on writing a bookish post this week but, when it came to Wednesday, I just had nothing in me. I was exhausted and fell asleep far too early. I’d rather post better quality stuff than rigidly stick to my schedule so this could be happening more than I’d like.
- TBT – Hunt for the Wilderpeople
Watching Thor Ragnarok gave me the perfect excuse to finally watch Taika Waititi’s Hunt for the Wilderpeople for my TBT review this week. Everything you need to know is here.
- Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
- Oxfam book haul
Believe me, there were plenty of books I could have walked away with but the stupid card machine wasn’t working and I only had a limited amount of cash on me. Thankfully I guess. I still managed to pick up four bargains.
- The first was a gorgeous simple copy of The Stranger by Albert Camus. I’ve not read any Camus besides The Plague, which I gave up on halfway through. This is widely considered to be his best book so I figured giving it a try might inspire me to restart The Plague eventually.
- The second was a vintage copy of Crime and Punishment with a weird, trippy cover. I already own too many copies of this book considering how many times I’ve tried and failed to finish it. This is the smallest though so it might be better for reading on the go.
- The third is a find I’m really excited about. You can so rarely find good quality Penguin Clothbound Classics in charity shops that I couldn’t pass up the chance to get Great Expectations. I book this just for the edition but this is one of only 2 Dickens books that I genuinely really like.
- The final book is my favourite of them all. It’s a gorgeous and slightly creepy illustrated edition of Animal Farm. The illustrations are really striking and I just couldn’t put it back. I had to have it. The book didn’t have a price so I was super worried it would be out of my budget. Thankfully the woman named an incredibly reasonable price of £2.99. She even looked apologetic about it! I seriously could have hugged her.
- Netflix Binges: Wet Hot American Summer: 10 Years Later, Johnathan Creek, Jack Whitehall: Travels with my Father
In mid-November I had a dream. It was a crazy, naïve dream that came out of my guilt surrounding my failure to update this thing very often: I told myself that for every day of advent I would write something Christmas related for this blog. These ranged from the mundane (and lazy) top 10 lists to the more ambitious reviews and general musings. Considering this is my first Christmas themed post and we’re already in mid-December I think it’s safe to say I failed to live up to my expectations but better late than never I say. Oh and quick warning, I’m about to write about a film that is probably my all-time favourite Christmas film so be prepared for it to get a bit sentimental.