20 Books of Summer

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Every single Summer I fantasise about lying in a beautiful park reading beneath a huge shady tree to my heart’s content. This more or less never happens but maybe this will be the year.

Since I’m enforcing a No Shopping ban upon myself for the next two months (have I mentioned that?), I’ll be looking for thrifty ways to entertain myself until August and this might just be it.

Thanks to Cathy of 746 Books for the idea, I am totally in. 20 books is an awful lot and they’re supposed to be done between 1 June and 5 September but I will try my damnedest to stick to the plan. For the record, that’s 20 books in three months or 7 books a month for 3 months (give or take)!

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Image via Unsplash

I’ve been a bit lame about my choices and simply picked from the ‘To Read’ side of my bookcase. Turns out there was a lot of good stuff chilling there. I’ve been buying books and then forgetting about them a lot. Which is frankly criminal and must stop.

Here are my 20 books:

  1. In a Dark Dark Wood – Ruth Ware. I love crime and this ticks that box nicely. I’m also drawn to the fading friendship element, something I understand all to well. Let’s hope this really is the ‘Crime Novel of the Year’.

  2. The Bloody Chamber – Angela Carter. “Fairy tales reimagined for feminist times” – what’s not to like about that? Taking inspiration from some of my favourite fairy tales, including the sinister as all fuck Bluebeard, this is right up my street. I cannot wait.

  3. Capital – John Lanchester. This tale was recently turned into a BBC series which I didn’t see but it caught my attention anyway. Plus, both my brother and mother recommended it. The residents of a London street all receive the same mysterious note through their doors: We Want What You Have. But who sent it and what does it mean?

  4. Killer Next Door – Alex Marwood. I read The Wicked Girls, also by Marwood and enjoyed it, even though it’s very odd. I don’t even know what this one is about but I suspect that there’s a clue in the title.

  5. The Miniaturist – Jessie Burton. This has been on my shelf for so long and I’m not sure why I haven’t yet picked it up. Sometimes I struggle with period pieces but this comes highly praised, so we’ll see, won’t we?

  6. The Sisters – Claire Douglas. The tale of twin sisters, one dead and one alive following a tragic accident. I’m drawn to this because I find the whole twin thing naturally unsettling and how can I resist a deeply hidden family secret?

  7. The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks. I know it’s pretty bad that I haven’t read this one yet, given that it’s a bit of an oddball classic, but there we are. Glynn read it a few years back and raves about it so this is another one I can’t wait to dig into.

  8. Feed: The Newsflesh Trilogy: Book 1 – Mira Grant. Zombie infection, two bloggers and a conspiracy theory, I’m into this concept and have had this waiting for me for over a year. Glad to be getting to it, finally.

  9. Northanger Abbey – Jane Austen. This is heralded as Austen’s Gothic parody and draws my interest because it promises lots of twists and turns, mystery and decrepit old castles. Count me in, boi.

  10. The Hourglass Factory – Lucy Ribchester. This was recommended to me by my friend Helga. Set in 1912 against the backdrop of the Suffragette movement, Journalist Frankie is sent to interview a trapeze artist and becomes obsessed. Mystery and suspense entail – and I’m fully here for it.

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    Image via Unsplash
  11. The Cuckoo’s Calling – Robert Galbraith. I’ve already read the second Cormoran Strike novel, The Silkworm because I was given it and honestly, I really enjoyed myself. So I’m going back to the first. I think I might have a thing for Strike, ngl.

  12. Elizabeth is Missing – Emma Healey. Dementia scares the living shit out of me so I think this will be a hard read, even though it’s won heaps of awards and will be great. It tells the story of Maud, who’s very forgetful. Yet, despite this fact she knows one thing: her friend Elizabeth is missing and somewhere deep inside her mind is the secret to an age old mystery. Oooooh.

  13. Clown Girl – Monica Drake. I read somewhere that Kristen Wiig is attached to the film version of this novel and that can only mean one thing: I’m going to dig it. The heroine is Nita, a clown in the midst of a crisis as she navigates poverty, clown fetishism and heart ache.

  14. We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves – Karen Joy Fowler. You’ve gotta love a fucked up family and it sounds like Rosemary’s can give mine and yours a run for their money.

  15. The Road – Cormac McCarthy. I asked Tom at work what his favourite book was and he said this. I haven’t seen the film adaptation so all I know is that the story contains cannibalism. I loved No Country for Old Men though so I’m hopeful I’ll enjoy this.

  16. My Friend Leonard – James Frey. The follow on from A Million Little Pieces (which I’ve previously reviewed here), this focuses on the paternal relationship between James and former rehab buddy, Leonard. Leonard leads something of a criminal lifestyle – how will that impact James’ quest to rebuild his life?

  17. Filth – Irvine Welsh. Another familiar story, as we’ve reviewed the film adaptation previously for the collab. However, I love Irvine Welsh (even though his language can be difficult to get into) and I’m intrigued to see what the book adds to my life. Probably quite a lot. The story of DS Bruce Robinson is peppered with sex, drugs, violence and anything else you can think of (not that you utter perv!) but at the core is a heartbreak that explains (almost) everything.

  18. Me Before You – Jojo Moyes. Just about to be a film starring Emilia Clarke, this has been all over the place for a long time. I don’t know how I’ll enjoy it as I’m not a huuuge chick lit fan but I’m still curious. In short, everything changes when Lou Clark meets Will Traynor. A bit of popcorn never ever hurt anyone, right?

  19. Luckiest Girl Alive – Jessica Knoll. I’m expecting this to be a difficult read given that Knoll has revealed she was gang raped during her teens. Not only that but she suffered horrific bullying afterwards. So to have written a work of fiction based on her own life experience seems incredibly brave to me. Dreading it but also keen to know what it’s like.

  20. A Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara. I’ve wanted to read Yanagihara’s ALL for ages, as Twitter seems to have been awash with appreciators. Then I saw it on Mum’s nightstand, so I’ve nabbed it for myself (relax ma, I bought my own copy). Amazon describes this as “an immensely powerful and heartbreaking novel of brotherly love and the limits of human endurance.” Which sounds pretty intense. I might treat myself to this as my last book.

    So that’s what I’ll be doing for the foreseeable future. I reserve the right to change my mind about any of these books and replace them, although I’m not allowed to buy any new ones, so it will have to be a gift or a lend!

    Anyone else up for joining me? ❤

    UPDATE: My dear friend Lightle has signed up for a 10 book challenge and I’m stoked as shit for it!

Filth (Film) Review

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Jillian’s choice for our Free For All Fortnight and cor blimey it’s a good ‘un. If you like cocks, swearing, vomit, spit, shagging, cross dressing, cocaine and violence that is.

Luckily, I live for that shit!

All that really matters here is that I’m not watching If I Stay and being bored to tears so right away Filth has the upper hand. I’ve actually seen this film before but I don’t have to be asked twice to spend a few hours with Jame McAvoy, even if he is a git of the highest order here.

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Scream if you want to go faster!

I’m a big Irvine Welsh fan but haven’t actually read the novel Filth yet, though it is on my shelf. I’m told it explains parts of the film much better than the film does, but I’ll have to reserve judgement until I actually pick it up. Getting into the way Irvine Welsh writes can sometimes seem like a chore, though once you’re there it is well worth it.

To the film!

As always *Spoiler Alerts!*

Filth (2013)

Director: Jon S. Baird
Stars: James McAvoy, Jamie Bell, Jim Broadbent, Eddie Marsan

IMDB Synopsis: A corrupt, junkie cop with Borderline Personality Disorder attempts to manipulate his way through a promotion in order to win back his wife and daughter while also fighting his own borderline-fueled inner demons.

My Review:

Bruce Robertson is a bit of a mess, truth be told. Junkie, corrupt, alcoholic, arsehole – any one of these words and more could be used to accurately describe our friend. Yet, he’s happily married with a child and being considered for a promotion, from Detective Sergeant to Inspector.

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Haven’t you ever been tempted? (All the effing time)

Quickly, however, it becomes apparent that things aren’t as they seem with this guy and that he’s suffering from a personality disorder. He’s not a nice person really, displaying all the traits of someone you would move heaven and earth to avoid (aka. my ex) yet, not everyone is onto Bruce yet.

Despite his secret campaign to bring down pretty much everyone he’s ever met, including his work colleagues (and competition), Bruce still has one true friend, Clifford Blades. This doesn’t make Bruce soft, however as he has a unique way to thank Clifford for his loyalty, and it ain’t flowers and chocolate.

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“No thanks, I’ve already eaten.”

The film begins with the unfortunate murder of a Japanese tourist, witnessed by a mystery blonde in a leopard print coat. The kids responsible for beating this poor boy to death are startled away when they realise they’ve been spotted.

Later, we find out this is the case Bruce is working on. The appearance of the glamorous blonde is significant as she bears more than a passing resemblance to Carole Robertson (Shauna Macdonald), Bruce’s wife. This may be the reason Bruce fails to mention her as their main witness to the rest of the team.

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Inception but with bras

As Bruce and his colleagues start to look into the murder case, he starts to lose it big time, suffering from severe hallucinations, not helped by the copious amount of drugs and booze he’s consuming. Bruce is haunted not only by these terrifying illusions but it seems also by a small ghost boy called Davey. What’s that all about, hmmm?

Bruce is obviously a troubled soul who might not be worth saving but he’s obviously arrived at this place through a serious of tragedies. We soon learn Carole has left for another man and taken their daughter with her, leaving Bruce bereft. Can he get this promotion and win back his family? (Don’t worry, questions section to follow!).

In the midst of all this trauma, comes a sliver of hope in the form of Mary (Joanne Froggatt), a recently widowed young mother. Bruce was there when her partner suffered a heart attack in the street and tried to save his life – so Mary thinks Bruce is a good person.

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The new Wetherspoon’s had gone very avant garde with its new decor

I feel like I don’t want to give too much away on this film as it is a bit of a caper, leading you down, down, down to rock bottom and beyond. He makes prank phone calls to Clifford’s wife, Bunty (Shirley Henderson) then frames Clifford; steals, lies, cheats and manipulates until there’s nowhere else for him to go.

Let’s just say Bruce fucks over people without prejudice, has violently abusive relationships, shags everyone and hurts the people who care for him the most. Admittedly, this list of loved ones is dwindling quickly.

But where will he go from here and can he get any lower?

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Jame is being very mean in this scene

Want some questions? I got questions! Is there a good person at the core of Bruce? Will he get his family back, or will he start a fresh elsewhere? Will he ever make it up to adorable Clifford, the one true friend he has?

Will Clifford ever get a decent pair of spectacles? And will he ever get anywhere with his perpetually unimpressed bride?

Will Bruce pull it together and get the promotion, or at the very least will he solve the murder? Who’s the mystery blonde, and where can I get her coat?

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My Thoughts:

Phew. This isn’t for the faint-hearted which is exactly why I liked it. I love James McAvoy and appreciate his diverse CV. I even fancied him in this which is pretty hard to do since he’s repugnant.

I must admit to watching this with redemption in mind, I mean most awful human beings in films (only films alas) end up redeeming themselves somehow, if not undergoing a complete moral turnaround. I can’t say if I was right to hope for this but I can say that I’d forgotten the ending until it started playing out again, and it hasn’t lost its impact.

BTW this film stars one of my all time favourite actors, Eddie Marsan who plays Clifford. He’s such a nuanced actor and recently moved me to near hysterics in a low-key film called Still Life (2013), which I really recommend.

All in all, I don’t have much bad to say other than a lot of things have happened to Bruce to make him who he is and it could get a bit all over the place if you weren’t paying attention. The surreal sessions he shares with his psychiatrist (Broadbent) get a little grating after a while.

Also, the bit I mentioned above that is elaborated on in the book (apparently) does not come through in the film at all.

My Rating: 4/5 (5/5 for Jame McAvoy, any day of the week)

What did Jill think? Pop on over for a look-see shortly!