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Tuesday’s Reviews РLady Bird (2017)

lady_bird_poster5_star_rating_system_5_starsIn my attempt to watch all of the films nominated for Best Picture at this year’s Oscar I think I’m going to run into a slight problem. Every new film I watch is going to become my new favourite. I thought Dunkirk would always be at the top because it was, almost, flawless. Then I watched The Shape of Water and instantly fell in love with it. I couldn’t imagine wanting any other film to win in March. Until I watched my third. You know that thing where you think you’re emotionally stable until you watch a film and¬†start having a slight breakdown? That was my experience with Lady Bird. Then I made the mistake of Googling Saoirse Ronan’s age and became even more of a wreck. How can people so young be so talented and successful? It’s just not fair! I’ll admit that 3 weeks before my 30th birthday probably wasn’t the best time to be watching a film about an adolescent with their whole life before them. Nobody needs to be looking back on their achievements (or lack of) at a time like this.¬†Luckily for me the supremely wonderful Greta Gerwig is slightly older than me so I was spared another break-down post-Googling her. I genuinely don’t know what I’d have done.

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Sunday Rundown – That’s What She Read

It’s the start of the third week of the new year and I’m still in that smug phase where I’m keeping up with my good habits… for the most part anyway. I slip now and then but I’m getting there. Even Mary Poppins was only practically¬†perfect. I am, thankfully, doing okay at keeping up with my reading. I’m on course to finish another book in the next few days, which I’m quite proud of. Or at least I was until a friend of mine told me she’d already read 4 books this year. I guess I have some catching up to do. Either that or pretend to myself that those books were only a couple of pages long. Yeah, that sounds okay. Plus she doesn’t work 5 days a week like I do. So she has a young child? Like that’s time consuming…

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Book Review – The Power by Naomi Alderman

5_star_rating_system_3_and_a_half_stars¬†I have owned The Power¬†since April this year but have only just¬†got round to reading it. At first I was as excited about the concept as everyone else but it also worried me. The idea that Naomi Alderman has taken conventional gender roles and flipped them was inevitably going to interest me.¬†However, I thought there was too much potential for¬†this¬†to go down a violent road that I wasn’t that keen on. I’m happy to describe myself as a feminist and think the fight for gender equality is an important and difficult struggle. I just don’t agree with the kind of militant feminism that exists in certain quarters that believes anger is the answer. I understand there has been a somewhat violent and extreme nature to the feminist movement but times have moved on. We’re not going to get real gender equality with an “eye for an eye” attitude. We don’t need to teach men what we’ve been going through by doing it to them; we just need to teach men to be better. The only people that a more aggressive fight for women’s rights is helping are the so called “meninists” who like to make out feminists hate men.

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Sunday Rundown – That’s What She Read

Can you believe that we’re a week into 2018 already? I already feel myself becoming the ‘new me’. I’ve posted a record breaking 5 times this week and have got more than halfway through a book. I know! Who the fuck am I? I’m under no illusion that this greatness will last but I feel like making small resolutions that aren’t really resolutions is working better for me. It’s stuff like read more but only when you want to. Drink more water. Spend less. I’m not the kind of person who can just suddenly make major changes in their lifestyle. I’d never be able to wake up one day thinking “eating meat is a terrible strain on the environment” and just give up meat. I’d be craving chicken nuggets in no time. Secretly making trips to the supermarket to buy packets of sliced meat and eating them in dark alleyways to hide my shame. I’d need at least 2 months before I could even contemplate the idea of never eating steak again… and I so rarely eat steak. Ha ha ha! Rarely!? Steak!? Geddit? Nope? Okay, on with the business at hand.

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Tuesday’s Reviews – The Answers by Catherine Lacey


For a recent Instagram challenge I was asked to review my favourite September read using only emojis. This proved difficult for various reasons. The first being that I, shamefully, only read 2 books this month and wouldn’t really say I loved either of them enough to name a favourite. Then there was the problem of the actual review. It’s going to be difficult enough to sum up my feelings for Catherine Lacey’s¬†The Answers¬†with words so doing it using tiny digital pictures wasn’t exactly going to turn out great. I’m already working from the disadvantage of being a fucking idiot so trying to dumb down my already dumb opinions was a recipe for disaster. Anyway, I cobbled something together but it’s hardly the most useful review I’ve ever written. Not that I’m sure any of them have ever been any help to anyone but we’ve all got to have a hobby. I never read Catherine Lacey’s debut novel Nobody is Ever Missing¬†but I was drawn to her second novel from the first time I read about it. It featured in my ‘Most Anticipated Books of 2017’ list and I spent most of the year lusting after it. I don’t really know what I expected from this novel. Part of me thought it sounded like an episode of Black Mirror¬†and the other thought it might prove to be a bit more chick-lit. Whatever it was going to be, I knew it was going to be better than the truly disappointing One of Us if Lying¬†that was my other September read. There’s very little that could have been worse but I’ve already discussed that.

The Answers¬†has a very promising title. Even Douglas Adams couldn’t provide us with an adequate answer in Hitchhikers Guide. So, in her second novel, could Catherine Lacey really provide us the answer to life, the universe and everything? On the surface her novel is the story of a 30 year old woman with a chequered past and riddled with debt. After escaping from a childhood spent in isolation with a religious fanatic for a father, Mary found freedom in New York but spent beyond her means. It was then that her mysterious illnesses made her life a misery and modern medicine scratch its head in confusion. Unable to find any other way out, Mary turned to holistic healing in the form of PAKing; a strange alternative treatment that not only helped her immensely but added to her already considerable money troubles. In order to fund the necessary therapy Mary answers a vague job advertisement that changes her life.

She is accepted to take part in something called the Girlfriend Experiment or the GX for short. It is the brainchild of superstar actor/director Kurt Sky and a group of scientists interested in studying relationships and love. After experiencing years of romantic indifference and creative despair, Kurt is turning his attention to finding out what makes people tick. Why do human beings have such a deep seated desire to pair off and bond for life? Is it something that holds them back or helps them on their journeys? To find this out, Kurt hires a gaggle of women to perform specific duties in his life. Mary is the emotional girlfriend and is responsible for listening to Kurt’s feelings, fears and secrets. There are separate women acting as the Anger girlfriend, the Maternal girlfriend, the Mundanity girlfriend and a couple of Intimacy girlfriends. Can Kurt understand the human experience by scripting his entire relationship needs through these perfect strangers and will any attachments form along the way?

The Answers¬†follows this basic narrative whilst skipping between perspectives. We start and end with Mary’s first-person narrative but the main portion of the novel flits between third-person perspectives of Mary, Kurt and Ashley (the Anger girlfriend). Lacey uses these differing perspectives to question different aspects of the human psychology and various attitudes to relationships in general. I have to admit that it was jarring at first but the switching narratives ends up working with Lacey’s purpose. The Answers¬†isn’t, strictly speaking, a novel but, for the most part, reads more like a study of humanity. It is a very clever novel that spends more time ruminating over the question of love than it really does on its plot. It is highly intelligent and forces you to think about things in a way you never would have otherwise. It’s an exciting exploration into such a huge aspect of humanity and social constructs that there are times when you really forget you’re reading a piece of fiction.

That’s not to say that it isn’t a decent novel. It is very driven towards character and features a great deal of amazing writing. Lacey has a command of the English language that is both beautiful and fascinating. It is at times highly lyrical and fanciful and at others staunchly scientific and stiff. It is a style that only highlights the various questions and ideas on display. She also creates some interesting characters along the way. Both Mary and Ashley are fascinating and have a lot to say about gender and equality. They are two women who have experienced different forms of abuse in previous relationships and are hiding secrets from the world. They are both running from their pasts but using very different methods. The pair find themselves both drawn to and alienated from Kurt but are tied to him through financial necessity. The Answers raises questions about the place of females in society but it never quite manages to give the answers that its title so proudly suggests it will.

I really liked most of Lacey’s novel. I loved the set up of the narrative and was really drawn into her analysis of the human condition. There is a great deal of deep and wonderful writing on display and I was sure that I was going to love it. However, the ending left me a little cold. It kind of felt like everything got away from her a little and she just didn’t know where to go with it. Everything was set up for something magical but it just, sort of, fizzled out into nothing. But not in that “I’m being clever and saying something important” way. In the “what the fuck do I do now?” kind of way. It’s a shame because Lacey builds towards something important and intelligent throughout most of the novel. She just fails to provide the answers that she promises. Maybe she just wasn’t asking the right questions?

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Tuesday’s Reviews – Atomic Blonde (2017)


Okay, let’s get the awkwardness out of the way as soon possible, shall we? Charlize Theron is fucking perfect. It’s entirely possible that the only reason I had any interest in this film in the first place was because of this perfection. However, I grew to really want to see the film for itself. It looked liked everything great about the Bourne and Bond franchises but with a female lead and 80s soundtrack. I mean if anything’s guaranteed to get me excited then it’s that. Despite appearances, I’m a huge fan of great action films. Anyone shooting their way out of a situation or beating people close to death gets me super excited. Not in anyway that anyone needs to worry about. I mean I’m not repressing my secret urges to start my own fight club or anything. I just like watching actors fight other actors in screen. Before I saw the film, I watched a behind the scenes video concerning one of the films major action sequences. I’ll be honest, it made me feel things that previously only the sight of Tom Hiddleston’s face had been capable of. Watching Charlize Theron performing her own stunts is now the greatest thing I’ll ever see. If I ever have a near-death experience I want to see that video flash before my eyes instead of my life. She’s a fucking badass. In my mental list of top female badasses, Theron is now competing with my beloved Gwendoline Christie for top spot. Now that’s a fight I’d love to see.

Getting into the spirit of things, I’m listening to ‘Blue Monday’ as I write this review. After all, Atomic Blonde¬†is so wonderfully 80s that you could genuinly believe that you were watching a classic music video. Well, if it wasn’t for all of the super realistic violence. Director David Leitch has gone with a seedy and dark neon aesthetic that really shouldn’t work as well as it does. It’s a sign that this film is, when all is said and done, more about style over substance. Don’t get me wrong, this is a super cool and great looking film but I can’t say that I was overly blown away by the plot. Leitch, after all, is a former stunt coordinator so it is the action sequences that really stand out here. Everything in between just feels like filler. I found myself dozing off a bit every time Charlize Theron and co. got all talky and less punchy.

The narrative isn’t exactly anything new or exciting. Set just before the fall of the Berlin Wall, Theron plays MI6 agent, Lorraine Broughton, who is sent to Germany following the mysterious death of a fellow agent. His murder also resulted in the loss of a crucial list revealing details about a whole bunch of spies, which may or may not be in the hands of a double agent. You know, that all too familiar maguffin we’ve seen causing problems for governments countless times before. Broughton’s contact in Berlin is¬†David Percival (James McAvoy). He’s a super shady and completely unreliable person who always looks like he’s up to no good. It gets a bit of energy thanks to inevitable tension surrounding Berlin at the time and the fact that the KGB always turn up to spoil our heroes fun.¬†
However, there is little about this plot that makes it worthy of being placed alongside such brilliant action sequences. I mean if you really stop to think about the various motivations at play here, things will start to fall apart quite quickly. Then there’s the annoying way the plot is presented. Lorraine tells the story of her time in Berlin in a flashback as she is being interviewed by her superiors. It’s a feature that really doesn’t work. It adds very little to overall storyline except to add on an unnecessary additional layer of intrigue. If anything, it only highlights how convoluted and complicated the main story is. It also takes away time that could have been spent creating more character and depth. Throught the film it always feels like the plot isn’t really a key player in the proceedings. It’s more like the thing that is needed to break the fight sequences up.
Which is probably a good thing because if you had constant action on this scale it would, probably, blow your mind. You may not be able to remember about the¬†a Stasi officer played by Eddie Marsan and you may be a bit hazy about the final identity revelations at the end. However, the action sequences are presented with an amount of realism and care that the rest of the film is kind of lacking. I’m not being hyperbolic when I say that they are the best action sequences I’ve seen for ages. Take the sequence that is presented as a single-shot take, which sees Charlize Theron fighting her way in and out of a Berlin building using anything she can grab as a weapon. The action moves up and down stairs and ends in a thrilling car chase. It has been created thanks to much editing trickery but that doesn’t mean it is anything other than breathtaking. It is moments like that that make it okay that the narrative is so forgettable.
Although, it is the realism of the sequences that I found most exciting. Theron performed her own stunts and everything you see her do on screen is wonderfully realised. It’s not necessarily unusual to see women kicking ass in films but it is rare to see it done at this level. Lorraine gives some great punches but she takes just as many, if not more. Her opponents are all beefy Germans and there are moments where he pain is obvious. Atomic Blonde¬†may be referred to as the female James Bond/ Jason Bourne but she is so much more. Charlize Theron is, perhaps, the only woman who would be able to pull off such a mammoth task as this film. Despite the pummelling she receives, the audience is never in any doubt about Lorraine’s skills. Everything Theron does on screen, including just walking into a room, oozes badassery on a monumental scale. I say, fuck Tom Hiddleston, we have our next James Bond here. And she’ll do it all wearing uber stylish high heels.
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Banned Books Week: My Top 15 Banned Books

Today marks the beginning of Banned Books Week; a time where the literary world encourages people to pick up a book that has, at one time or another, been deemed unsuitable for society. There are endless great books that have gone unpublished thanks to various concerns regarding their morality. Most often is is books that are seen to contain dangerous amounts of sexual content, violence, or anti-religious sentiments that keep parents up at night. I’ve always thought the act of banning books is a really stupid one, not least because the majority of criticism is missing the overall point of the novels themselves. Of course, the major issue with saying outright that a book is “dangerous”is that it only increases the reputation of that book. How many people, upon hearing that their parents don’t want them reading something will instantly want to go and read it? A quick way to get people talking about and reading your book is to get it banned. How many people picked up a copy of the god awful Da Vinci Code¬†because of the controversy that surrounded Dan Brown’s novel? His first 3 novels were hardly making headlines and each had fewer than 10,000 copies in their first printings. I’m not saying it was the only thing that made Dan Brown a success but all of the criticism and debate that came from it must have had an effect. So, banning a book doesn’t always get the right result. Especially when those books end up being classic works of literature. It’s weird to think that a lot of my favourite books were once unpublished because people didn’t want society to read them. So, in the hopes of inspiring people to pick up a banned book in honour of this week, I’m presenting my favourite banned books (and a few extras).


1. Lady Chatterley’s Lover by DH Lawrence

DH Lawrence’s last novel has been the source of much controversy since it was first published privately in 1928. After an initial publication in Britain in 1932, the novel was not available until again until 1960. The story of a love-affair between a high-society married woman and a working-class man was seen as obscene and contained words that were not deemed suitable for publication. It was only after Penguin went to court to argue that the novel was of literary worth that Lady Chatterley¬†was published again. It subsequently sold out. I know a lot people don’t really appreciate Lawrence’s writing these day but this book is definitely worth a read. If only to honour the trouble that people went to nearly 60 years ago to get the damn thing published

2. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

Thanks to it’s questionable content regarding the love affair between an adult man and a young girl in his care, Lolita was banned in several countries after it’s initial release. The book was banned in the UK from 1955 to 1959 on moral grounds. Despite all of the controversy surrounding the book, Nabokov’s novel is not actually as erotic as it has been argued. Certainly not enough to see British customs officials seiing books that were entering the country.
3. The Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Lord of the Flies¬†has been one of my favourite books for years but, according to the¬†American Library Association it is one of the top 10 most banned books in the US. Golding’s cautionary tale of young boys stranded on a deserted island is constantly being called into question because of it’s use of violence, profanity and, in some cases, pro-racist themes. I first read this novel when I was studying for my GCSEs (about 14/15) so I find it impossible to believe anyone seeing it as dangerous. It’s a great novel that still has a lot to say about human nature.

4.¬†The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood’s tale of a dystopian¬†future ruled over by religious fanatics has, obviously, seen something of a popularity surge recently¬†thanks to the amazing TV adaptation. The novel tells the story of a young woman who is forced into sexual servitude for a couple unable to have children on their¬†own. Parents at a Texan high school demanded that the book be banned thanks to sexual content and the negative portrayal of religion. Far from being a dangerous novel, this is a book that everyone, especially¬†young women, should be encouraged to read. Atwood’s novel is becoming scarily more relevant so if you’ve not read it yet then I implore¬†you to do so.

5. 1984 by George Orwell

I could easily have picked another George Orwell book for this list and, very nearly, did go with Animal Farm¬†instead. Although, arguably 1984 is¬†George Owell’s most famous novel and it¬†is also one of the most challenged books in literary history. The story of a dystopian future in which all human activity is monitored by a totalitarian government has been seen as subversive or ideologically corrupting. It was banned in Russia and the UK and US for years. Orwell’s novel is a must read for anyone who hasn’t already.

6. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

This novel is such a loved classic that it’s hard to imagine anyone hating it. Of course, this is why we can’t have nice things. Harper Lee’s classic novel tells the story of a white lawyer defending a black man accused of rape. It has been the subject of many challenges in school thanks to its use of racial slurs, profanity and sexual content. As with the other books on this list, To Kill a Mockingbird¬†is a great novel that has a great deal to teach people that aren’t too narrow-minded to see it. Far from being dangerous, Lee has a great to say about racism and the role of race in society. I read this at school at a young age and I’m glad I did. I may not have fully understood it then, I think this is a book children (and adults) everywhere should get to read.

7. Beloved by Toni Morrison

Beloved by Toni Morrison is an award winning novel. It has won countless literary prizes, including the Pulitzer. It is the heartbreaking story of slavery and racism in the US and the tale of a mother coming to terms with the death of her child. It is a beautifully written and haunting tale of undoubted literary and social worth. However, it is still being challenged for its depictions violence and racism, its sexual contents and for scenes in which bestiality is discussed. This is another book that you should get your hands on as soon as possible. Morrison is a great writer and this novel is one that will stick with you forever. 

8. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

It’s widely accepted by most people that Brave New World¬†is a literary classic. Aldous Huxley’s tale shows the dangers of a society that has become too comfortable with artificial¬†comforts. Huxley’s future is far from bright and represents the worst of mankind. As such, it has been banned for its strong language, sexual content and, in Ireland, for its comments against religion. In India, Huxley was even branded as a pornographer. Again, this isn’t the kind of statement that would necessarily stop people wanting to read this book.

9. Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury

Fairly ironically, Ray Bradbury’s cautionary¬†tale about the dangerous of book banning has faced its own controversy. The novel shows a futuristic¬†society that burns all books for being dangerous. In the real world, Ray Bradbury’s book is seen as containing questionable language and themes. In 1953, a school gave their students copies of the book after the, supposedly, obscene words had been blacked out.

10. Tropic Of Cancer by Henry Miller,

What do you associate most with Henry Miller? If you said sex then you’ve obviously heard of Henry Miller. Tropic of Cancer¬†follows a young struggling writer‚Äôs sexual encounters and has, obviously, been banned thanks to its sexual content. The book was first published in France in 1934 and wasn’t allowed to be released in the US until 1961. However. even then, booksellers were faced with lawsuits for selling the book. After the Supreme Court declared the book was not classed as obscene, it¬†was delightfully described by a Pennsylvania judge as ‚Äėan open sewer, a pit of putrefaction, a slimy gathering of all that is rotten in the debris of human depravity‚Äô. I mean if that doesn’t make you want to read this book then I honestly don’t know what will.¬†

11. All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque

Erich Maria Remarque is a German veteran of the First World War and his novel is an¬†unflinching portrayal of the brutality of the conflict.¬†It describes the physical pain and mental stress that German soldiers faced during the war, and the alienation felt by many upon returning home.¬†It was banned in Germany from 1933 and was burned under the Nazi for being unpatriotic. However, Remarque’s work is considered to be one of¬†the greatest portrayals of World War 1 to¬†have been written.

12. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings¬†is Maya Angelou’s¬†¬†about the early years of her life. It is a coming-of-age story that sees Maya grow into a confident young women despite her traumatic life. She depicts her struggles with racism and being sexual assaulted as a young girl. This is an important piece of literature that discusses identity, racism, literacy, and, most importantly, the role of women. However, schools and parents alike have banned the book thanks to its use of profanity, sexual content, and its discussion of religion. The book is, for the most part, critically acclaimed and the most popular of Angelou’s autobiographies.

13. The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie

The Satanic Verses¬†is another of those banned books stories that has gone down in literary history. Salman Rushdie’s novel was¬†inspired in part by the life of the Prophet Mohammed. It was such a controversial book that¬†Iran‚Äôs Ayatollah Khomeini placed a fatwa on Rushdie’s head. It also resulted in the death of the Japanese translator and the attempted murder of both an Italian translator¬†and a Norwegian publisher.¬†The book’s publication sparked violent riots across the world and is banned in many Muslim majority countries, including Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

14. Ulysses by James Joyce

Now, I tried to read Ulysses a few years ago but only made it the end of the first chapter. Upon finishing the opening I realised that I had no idea what had just happened. I decided, instead of going back to the start, that I would store it away for another day. That day never came. Joyce’s novel is an oft confusing tome of great literary standing. So, I find it difficult to believe that enough people have finished the book in order to find something to complain about but they have. References to masturbation in the novel have meant it has been categorised as obscene and radical. It was banned in both the UK and the US for years. 500 copies of the book were burned in New York. Now, if anything is going to make me finish this damn book it’s going to be avenging those copies that were turned to ash.¬†

15. The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger

If there’s one thing this list has taught us, it’s that America is a weird place. Salinger’s tale of teenage angst and self-discovery is a staple on high school syllabuses¬†all over the US. It is also the most banned books in American schools. Talk about a weird contrast. Salinger’s tale is full of profanity, violence and sexual content that, supposedly, teenagers shouldn’t be introduced to. Of course, proclaiming¬†a book to be morally questionable is definitely going to stop teenagers trying to read it, right? Right? Now, I can’t claim to love this book but a lot of people around the world adore it. If you’re of the right age then I could potentially see why you would love it but I never got the whole adoration thing. Still, it deserves a place on this list.
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SUNDAY RUNDOWN – THAT’S WHAT SHE READ

I’m not going to lie, this has been a terrible work week. The girl who is responsible for out rotas messed up everyone’s holiday so we’ve been pretty short staffed this week. As it’s the school holidays that means we’re extra busy so we’ve all been feeling the strain. It’s times like this when everyone starts to feel unappreciated and used. There’s a very bad atmosphere in the branch right now and it’s not a great place to be. It’s also meant that I’ve been super tired and not really in the mood for reading much this week. So I’ve barely got any further with my reading. And it doesn’t help that I’ve officially got 3 books on the go. Even though student me was more than capable of reading three books at once, it seems that 30 year old me is only just able to cope with one. But I really don’t see why I care so much. I think starting Instagram has made me more competitive about reading quickly but this also means I’m more likely to read badly. If I’m focusing on quantity rather than quality then I’m not giving each book my full attention. So I’m vowing to give up on yearly book quotas and just focus on getting better at the basic act of reading.

Currently Reading

  • Sense and Sensibility¬†by Jane Austen
The only bit of reading I’ve done this week has been to get a few more chapters into this book. I’m reading my old university copy so it’s both lovely and cringe-worthy to read my old notes. Some of them of so silly that I’m a bit ashamed.
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets¬†by JK Rowling
I’m gonna just say it. I hate The Chamber of Secrets. If I decide to get back to this then I might skip a few chapters until Harry and co are back at school. It’s just too boring at first.
  • The 7th Function¬†of Language¬†by Laurent Binet
It’s frustrating that I really want to finish this but that I need to focus on Sense and Sensibility. I’m going away for a few days next weekend so I’ll take this with me and see how it goes.

Recently Purchased 
  • Jane Austen Collection¬†(Arcturus Classics) by Jane Austen

I couldn’t resist this hardcover boxset of Jane Austen novels when I found it pretty cheaply. I’m not exactly her biggest fan but these covers are to die for. You may have seen them grace my Instagram recently and I can promise you that you’ll be seeing them time and time again.¬†

  • In Cold Blood¬†by Truman Capote
I bought this book for three reasons: 
      1. I have an upcoming Instagram prompt that I need it for. 
      2. I really have wanted a copy of this for ages. 
      3. The new eau-de-nil covers for Penguin Modern Classics are just gorgeous. 
I mean, for a book with pictures of two murders on the front, this is one beautiful book. I’ve spent all day filling my virtual basket with more of the new green backed classics and watching the as the total racks up to an insane amount of money. I’ll probably just buy them sporadically instead of all in one go.

Recently Watched 
  • Netflix Binges: Futurama, Veep
I’m quite enjoying my subscription to Now TV. I miss Netflix, obviously, because their original content is pretty damn good for the most part. However, there are plenty of shows I’m finally getting the chance to rewatch or start from scratch. I’ve only seen the later seasons of¬†Futurama¬†once so I’m not as familiar with them but there are some great episodes that I’d forgotten about. I’m not as big a fan of the series of specials but season 7 onwards has some gems. Then there’s Veep¬†which I’d never seen until now. I love it. It’s got everything great about the Thick of It¬†but with Julia Louis-Dreyfus being awesome as an added bonus. I’ve also got my eye on Silicon Valley¬†but have yet to start that binge.

  • Baby Driver
An ex-colleague and I have a standing arrangement to get together at least once a month to go to the cinema. She and I have pretty similar taste in films but she desperately wants to see Valerian. I managed to convince her that Edgar Wright’s new film was the better choice. Come back Tuesday to hear my thoughts.
  • Rough Night
Had been quietly tempted by this because of my love of Kate McKinnon. I should probably stop basing my film choices solely on my love for the actors involved. I reviewed this for my last Tuesday’s Review.

  • Very Bad Things
There have been plenty of comparisons between Rough Night and this 90s dark comedy. So I decided to revisit it to see what all the fuss was about and so I had something to talk about for TBT this week.
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bullshit, drugs, films, fucking awful, fucking ridiculous, Kate McKinnon, meh, Scarlett Johansson, silly, women

Tuesday’s Reviews – Rough Night (2017)

There’s a lot to be said for my love of Kate McKinnon. I was almost 100% sure that I didn’t want to ever watch Rough Night¬†but every time I saw the trailer I couldn’t help but think “Kate McKinnon though…”. So I decided to just go with it. Best case scenario: it’d be the new Bridesmaids. Worst case scenario: well, I’ve seen both of the¬†Sex and the City movie and it’s got to be better than that, right? Don’t even ask me how that happened but it did. When you’ve seen those films and Mama Mia¬†it becomes really difficult to imagine a film that I can hate quite as much. With every second of SATC2,¬†each cell in my body started to shrink into itself out of anger and embarrassment; embarrassment for the people who made it, the people who liked it and for me, for making the decision to watch it. The good thing about writing this blog over the years is that I have a different range for what is good and bad. It’s like studying novels of sensibility during my Masters degree. I suddenly found a new appreciation for all of the books I thought were rubbish because they all had something more than just countless stupid young women fainting at the slightest sound. Once again, provided nobody in Rough Night¬†fainted in the arms of their creepy uncle/step father then this definitely wouldn’t be the worst story I’ve ever experienced. So that’s something.


For one moment back in 2011 it seemed as though the world was finally ready to accept that women deserved to be given the chance to be a outrageously funny as men. As though everyone else was as sick of seeing the guys from films like The Hangover¬†get into drunken capers and were as desperate to let the ladies have a go. Unfortunately, the change never really happened and the path towards gender equality in terms of comedy films has been a slow and painful one. It’s not as if people haven’t tried. Hell, Paul Feig is and Melissa McCarthy are trying desperately to make the raunchy female lead comedy land. It hasn’t quite worked in the way we wanted. Look at the internet’s reaction to a female only Ghostbusters¬†for fuck’s sake. Clearly, that glass ceiling is still as thick as ever.

But that doesn’t mean Hollywood isn’t willing to give these types of films as chance when they arise. The latest is Rough Night¬†from the writers of Broad City¬†and boasts a great cast of female talent. It is also, in its basic form, like a female reworking of the 1998¬†Jon Favreau film Very Bad Things¬†with a slight hint of The Hangover. A while ago I read a comment on the internet, probably YouTube, that was basically an outcry from some guy about remaking Very Bad Things¬†with women. Now I can just about get that people were worried about Ghostbusters because it’s such a classic. But Very Bad Things? Nobody is worrying about that reputation being ruined. I mean it’s not exactly gone down in cinematic history. Who’s thinking “oh, I vividly remember watching¬†Very Bad Things¬†for the first time and don’t want my important memories to be destroyed”? Yeah, no one.

But, as it happens, Rough Night¬†actually builds on the¬†Very Bad Things legacy by being forgettably bad. The film is set around one night on the bachelorette party of wannabe Senator Jess (Scarlett Johansson). It is being planned by her college roommate Alice (Jillian Bell) who is feeling neglected by her old friend. Joining the pair are their fellow college friends,¬†Blair (Zo√ę Kravitz) and Frankie (Ilana Glazer), who are battling with their messy romantic past as well as problems in their current lives. A random element turns up in the shape of a woman Jess befriended during a year studying in Australia. Pippa (Kate McKinnon) is a bit of a weirdo and instantly puts Alice’s nose out of joint by appearing to be much closer to the bride-to-be. After a night of cocaine, drinking and choreographed dance routines, the group return to the house they’ve rented to carry on the fun. Blair orders Jess a stripper but, a ridiculous accident, causes his untimely death. The ladies are then left with a body on their hands.

From the outset, Rough Night is desperate to prove that these women are ready to party and there is no underlying sense of judgement going on. The women are all allowed to enjoy their night out without the audience getting the feeling that it’s wrong. It also helps that the characters naturally fit together on screen. Their attempts at typical lad banter feels more natural than it does in a lot of these types of films. Rough Night isn’t a terrible film and there are plenty of funny moments. However, most of these moments are the smaller, throwaway gags that get lost in the mess. The rest of that mess is catered to specific criteria set about for commercial purposes. There is the generic slapstick silliness from the trailer and the cringey attempts to bring big laughs to all the idiots that are rushing out to see this film. It’s mostly just a big miss and the best moments are brushed aside for supposedly “guaranteed” laughs.

Rough Night¬†isn’t the worst movie of this type around and, thanks mostly to the cast, manages to create some positive and memorable moments. However, it is a film that is clearly at odds with itself. It is written by clever writers who know how to bring the humour out of weirdness and stars actors willing to get a bit freaky. However, it ends up playing too close to the stereotypical humour of these R rated comedies. It’s a bit too big and brash to really work completely. Everyone is working overtime to make it come together but it’s a runaway train of outrageous comedy. As the narrative moves forward and more insane subplots keep popping up it just gets out of hand. Rough Night¬†is trying so hard to be The Hangover¬†that it’s forgotten the heart that made Bridesmaids so appealing.¬†It’s so annoying in it’s desperation to appeal to everyone that is forgets to be funny or sweet. Although, there are some positives to take away. Most notably the relationship between Blair and Frankie, which is played out more naturally than most same-sex romances you see on screen anymore. This film could have been good had it focused a bit more on emotions and character than on trying to compete with the guys.

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BBC, Dr Who, feminism, fuck yeah, women

Quick Post: Women can be Doctors too

So I’ve just finished the first episode of Season 7 of Game of Thrones¬†and I have so many thoughts buzzing through my brain. Which is why I’m not trying to get an early night ahead of my 7 am start tomorrow morning. Instead I wanted to write a quick post in response to yesterday’s announcement about the new Doctor Who as there has been so much controversy. Naturally, people have a lot of feelings on the matter… but that’s hardly new. Every regeneration has had some amount of hatred. Even the amazing Peter Capaldi still has his doubters as I discovered today when a female coworker proudly proclaimed that she hated him. I really had to bite my tongue at that moment. Capaldi has suffered because of terrible writing but has done wonders with the character. His version of the Doctor is one of the best we’ve had in years but his stories haven’t served him well enough. I have nothing against Matt Smith or David Tennant but Capaldi tried to do something different with the character and I will defend him to anyone. I imagine that the people who dislike him are also the same stupid people that fail to accept that Donna was the best companion. I reckon they’re all fans of David Tennant and Billie Piper and just can’t move on. Speaking of moving on…


After the men’s finals as Wimbledon yesterday, the BBC annonced that Jodie Whittaker will take over from Peter Capaldi and become the next Doctor Who. Yes, the new Doctor is a woman and I’m pissed off. Why? Because I wanted to be the first female Doctor. But I’m not an actor and have never wanted to be so that’s fucking crazy. So, putting those jealous feelings to one side, I’ve decided I’m okay with it… but I have some provisos. As a proud feminist, I’m all for better representation of women on television and better roles for women. As a fan of pop culture, I’m also all for making sure this happens organically and not for the sake of it. I understand why people are so excited that after 50 plus years the Doctor will be played by a women but I also worry about permanently tying the news to some sort of political benchmark. It should be about making sure the transition is handled correctly. Which is where I really worry.

In my opinion,¬†Doctor Who has been steadily declining in quality since the fourth season. That’s not to say before then was all stellar but it’s undoubtedly gone to the dogs since Russell T’s final episodes. I can barely remember anything about Matt Smith’s first two series and the first two with Capaldi were abysmal. Moffat can crank out astonishing one-off episodes but, when it came to his time as showrunner, he’s allowed a lot of shitty episodes to make their way on screen. If Jodie Whittaker’s entrance is handled that same way Matt Smith or Peter Capaldi’s were then we’re in trouble because she’ll fail to make an impression. If the switch is handled for laughs then it will play into the naysayers hands. Whittaker needs to be given a well-defined and new characterisation of this well-known character. It’s going to be tricky.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t think it should happen. I love the idea of a female Doctor and I think Whittaker is a great actress. I’m remaining hopeful that this could be the best thing ever. Even now, as a 29 year old woman, I’m excited to see this character that I grew up watching is becoming someone I can relate to more. The image I have of Doctor Who from my childhood is Jon Pertwee’s face. Doctor Who has always been a white haired, white skinned man. Maybe this is why the show didn’t really stay with me as I grew up? Well, that and the fact that the older series were so rarely shown. When it came back in 2005 I watched it and loved it but it was always lacking. There was no really powerful female presence. I know people loved Rose but she didn’t cut it for me. Especially when she started going ga-ga over Tennant. That’s why Donna, so underrated, is my fave. She’s a genuinely strong and independent female who shows real growth. We need a female Doctor who takes after Donna.

And we do need a female Doctor. The show gets a lot of views and has a young audience. It is right that we show young people that women can take roles like this. It’s wonderful to see the reactions of young girls or parents who are rejoicing that their Doctor is a women. In the same way that we needed someone like Rey to be the hero of the new Star Wars films. It’s important and is everything this show has been about. The Doctor has never been about a specific gender but more about the ethos that has stayed with every incarnation. It’s about this good being who wants to explore and helps people along the way. The show has always been trying to encourage it’s audience into taking an interest in science and the universe around them but it’s always been a very traditional take on that world. The older male scientist and his sexy young assistant. It needed to be changed to reflect the real world.

And, no matter what the majority of angry fans are saying, there has always been room to make this work. The Doctor is an alien being who travels in time and changes his face every few years. If you can accept that but can’t accept that he can change into a woman then you really are a narrow-minded fuckwit.

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