Weekly Digest

This week I am digging:

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Search Party, Season Two

One of my favourite shows is back and I found out BY ACCIDENT! So I spend a whole weekend rinsing the second season and it was dark and funny – and a perfect reminder of how much I love the characters in the first place.

I’m going to give this show a post of its own so won’t go into too much detail but this season picks up right after the shocking events of the last, and sees our intrepid foursome dealing with some very hard truths in the cold light of day.

Love, love, love.

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The Mountain Between Us

I thought this film would be cheesy as all hell and it is. But there’s something kind of old school and wholesome about it – and I enjoyed the ride. The obvious thought here is who wouldn’t want to be stranded up a mountain with Idris Elba, even with a broken leg and certain death just round the corner? But I will not be that predictable.

Kate Winslet for the record is still a problematic fave. I like and respect her but I just can’t really get my head around the defending Woody Allen thing. Like, she’s allowed to have her own opinion but I’m surprised by it.

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Little Fires Everywhere

When artist Mia Warren and her daughter Pearl arrive in Shaker Heights, everything changes. Not least for the Richardson family who rent a duplex to the new arrivals. Mia promises Pearl that this time is different, that this time they won’t leave after six months for the next town that feels right – and Pearl starts to plant roots, starting with new best friend Moody.

Things are idyllic for a while but then something happens and the two families find themselves on opposing sides of an argument that threatens to split the perfect community in two. Secret pasts unravel, loyalties are tested and hearts are broken.

LFE is beautifully written by its author, Celeste Ng. The characters are vivid and wonderful. A good read for a cold Sunday afternoon, or anytime really.

What are you digging this week?

Such Small Hands (Book) Review

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It would be very hard for me to go in too deep on this book because it’s very hard to define. It’s stunning though; macabre, fascinating and eery as hell.

Marina is seven and has just become an orphan, after her parents are killed in a car accident. The same accident strips the skin from her ribs and leaves her body scarred for life. Her personal mantra has become “My father died instantly, my mother in the hospital” and she wheels it out whenever she’s asked to tell her story.

In the hospital, Marina is given a small spooky doll by the doctors and it becomes her constant companion, her confidante.

One day she arrives at the orphanage and creates a ripple amongst the little girls who already live there (less a ripple more a tidal wave, honestly). The girls’ obsession and their love for Marina while pure, isn’t always kind and they torture her daily with their teasing, their silence and their tricks. They steal her doll and deliver it back to her body part by body part, and bury what’s left in the ground.

But at night, everything is different. At night they play Marina’s game.

Based on a terrifying real-life event, Such Small Hands is a poetic horror story molded from the most beautiful prose I’ve read in a long time. It’s nightmarish and pretty at the same time, like some of the most appealing things in life and I couldn’t recommend it more. I hope it leaves you as breathless and creeped out as it did me.

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Book details:

Such Small Hands
Publisher: Portobello Books Ltd (3 Aug. 2017)
ISBN-10: 1846276438
ISBN-13: 978-1846276439
Gifted hardback (new)

What are you currently reading?

Kudos to Andrés Barba for his amazing author photo. Look at it! (above).

Misery (Book) Review

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“She can’t be dead, MISERY CHASTAIN CANNOT BE DEAD!” ~ Annie Wilkes

The latest in my long overdue Stephen King Odyssey and one of the best so far.

When I shared that I was reading this on social media, some of my friends popped up to say how brilliant it is, even in comparison to the film – and they weren’t wrong. The adaptation is great and although it’s been a while since I saw it, I don’t remember it being as tense as the book. I guess your imagination will do that to you and it must be hard to capture the inner workings of a trapped man’s mind on film (even if the film is still terrifying, don’t get me wrong).

Misery is, of course, the story of how famous novelist Paul Sheldon comes to live in the home of ex-nurse Annie Wilkes, seriously injured and against his will.

Following a nasty car accident one snowy night in Colorado, Paul is rescued from the wreckage and dragged back to Annie’s where she nurses him back to consciousness. While there is nothing conventional about this set up, Annie’s former career affords her the skill to keep Paul alive and his pain (mostly) at bay.

Though Paul distrusts spooky Annie from the get-go, he reluctantly becomes dependent on her particular brand of health care, not to mention the very strong medication she has been plying him with. Did I mention that our very own Ms. Nightingale is also Paul’s “Number one fan”? What a coincidence, eh?

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Nobody needs me to give away the rest of the story, since it’s a tale as old as time and if you haven’t read it, you totally should.

But Paul’s most famous fictional character, the titular Misery has just been killed off in his last novel.He’s keen to move onto new projects and put Misery to bed for good but when Annie finds out, she goes ape.

There’s only one thing for it as far as she’s concerned, and that’s to bring Misery back to life… I’ll leave the rest up to you.

I loved this book because it completely engulfs you, putting you in Paul’s shoes. Things could not be worse for him either. Not only is he a disabled prisoner aware of the expiry date above his head, he’s also being systematically tortured by the person who’s supposed to care for him. His only bargaining chip is his mind.

My only issue with the book is that I pictured James Caan as Paul Sheldon throughout and that was hard to shift. Further proof I let myself down as an adolescent by not reading more SK before watching the films.

Book details:

Misery
Publisher: Hodder Paperbacks (7 July 2011)
ISBN-10: 1444720716
ISBN-13: 978-1444720716
Bought paperback (new)

What are you currently reading?

Weekly Digest

This is what I’m digging this week.

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She’s Gotta Have It (TV Series)

I’m trying not to binge this one too quickly because I’m finding it really enjoyable. DeWanda Wise‘s Nola Darling is mesmerising to watch, so it’s no wonder she’s juggling three very different men at once. Not only that but the show addresses topics that include sexual assault, female sexuality and victim blaming (so far).

SGHI is of course based on the Spike Lee movie of the same name – and so far, I’m a fan. I love the soundtrack too, which handily is framed not just as an afterthought but as a character of its own – and all the tracks are clearly signposted.

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Doctor Foster

Everyone said it was good and maybe it’s been over-hyped just a smidge – but I still gobbled up the both series like the greedy guts that I am. It was satisfying but also infuriating and I think the take home I got from this is that people can be the worst. Men, women – everybody.

Doctor Foster herself isn’t even all that nice, hurting people in her own pain. Her female friends are all shits with no sense of fucking loyalty. The husband’s lying and cheating is the main event sure, but nobody comes out of this well.

Still, bloody compelling to watch though! I’ve actually just finished it and I hope they leave it there. I mean, of course I’d watch more – I just don’t think I can take it. I have thoughts on the ending, which I won’t share but I’m not surprised it split the nation so much, it could and should have been better.

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Utopia – Björk

Weird, wonderful and no, I probably don’t get the subtle nuances yet but I love Björk more than I love myself.

Also, this is a great walking soundtrack.

The Cold

Crisp mornings are the best. Cold evenings are even better. I love Winter.

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Call Me By Your Name – Andre Aciman

I’ve just been gifted this book for my birthday, which I’m overjoyed by. The film was so wonderful, truly one of the best of this year (and DBo, who gave me the book was also my movie going partner for that one).

I have high hopes – and it is now firmly on my Winter Reading List.

What are you digging?

40 Books

40 books that have shaped my life.

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We Need to Talk About Kevin – Lionel Shriver // Hollywood Wives – Jackie Collins
It – Stephen King // Geek Love – Katherine Dunn
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – Stieg Larsson // Never Let Me Go – Kazuo Ishiguro
Filthy: The Weird World of John Waters – Robrt L. Pela // The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
Dark Matter – Michelle Paver // The Secret History – Donna Tartt

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Carrie – Stephen King // The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe – C.S Lewis
Chances – Jackie Collins // Fingersmith – Sarah Waters
The Shining – Stephen King // The Thirteenth Tale – Diana Setterfield
The Little Stranger – Sarah Waters // Lunar Park – Bret Easton Ellis
Night Film – Marisha Pessl // No Country for Old Men – Cormac McCarthy

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American Psycho – Bret Easton Ellis // Wuthering Heights – Emily Brontë
Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert // The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13 3/4 – Sue Townsend
Dietland – Sarai Walker // YOU – Caroline Kepnes
Forever… – Judy Blume // Shopgirl – Steve Martin
Carol – Patricia Highsmith // Human Croquet – Kate Atkinson

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A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole // Life of Pi – Yann Martel
Red Dragon – Thomas Harris // Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World – Haruki Murakami
Sharp Objects – Gillian Flynn // Special Topics in Calamity Physics – Marisha Pessl
A Fraction of the Whole – Steve Toltz // Bette and Joan: The Divine Feud – Shaun Considine
Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? – Henry Farrell // I am Pilgrim – Terry Hayes

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Another near impossible shortlist!

Final Girls (Book) Review

I love me a Final Girl. The trope is one of my favourites, even though the rules of being a true FG could make your head spin clean off your neck.

Someone who hates the label though is Quincy Carpenter, the third survivor to join the infamous trio of the media dubbed Finals Girls. Comprised of Miss Carpenter (the amnesiac), Lisa Milner (the original) and Samantha Boyd (the enigma), this group of women share just one thing in common – they were all the last ones still standing after horrifying massacres.

Quincy is doing fine now, thank you very much. She’s moved on from the events of that night and even though there are massive chunks of memory missing, she’s faced her demons and come out the other side smiling. Now she’s a baking blogger in the big smoke with a handsome and supportive lawyer boyfriend and a nice home (paid for by insurance money from the deaths of all her friends, but still).

But are things as perfect as they seem? Given that this is a thriller I’m guessing we’re all here to witness the picture perfect world of our heroine unravel – and unravel it does.

When Lisa seemingly ends her own life one night, Quincy’s world is rocked – and it’s rocked even harder when Samantha Boyd turns up on her doorstep, fresh from a self-inflicted exile. And Samantha brings out a side of Quincy she never knew she had.

Is there more to Lisa’s suicide than meets the eye though – and what about the volatile Ms Boyd? Where’s she been and what’s she been doing with her life since she fought so hard for it all those years ago?

I will say that even though I enjoyed the premise of this story and the setting of Pine Cottage  (described to us in flashback), it was very predictable. I am the worst plot-guessing person on this planet and hardly ever figure out an ending before it’s presented to me, so it says a lot that I clocked it from almost the beginning. Go me. 

I could have described exactly the very last scene to you too so I think that says a lot. But, it’s still enjoyable, particularly if you have an interest in classic horror scenarios. The massacres take place in quite traditional horror movie settings and although the book is descriptive, it is not gratuitous. It tries to go deeper into the psychology of surviving an ordeal like these women have and I liked that.

It just could, and should have been so much better.

Book details:

Final Girls
Publisher: Ebury Press (Fiction) (13 July 2017)
ISBN-10: 1785034022
ISBN-13: 978-1785034022
Bought hardback (new)

What are you currently reading?

Winter Reading List ❄️

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I didn’t do so badly with my Autumn Reading List, crossing off all but one of the books I’d planned to read.

I’ve been reviewing them where I can on the #onewomanbookclub tag (which you can access via the menu up there at the top, if you wish). And now it’s Winter and that means I’m even less inclined to leave the confines of my cosy, messy flat unless I absolutely have to – perfect reading conditions.

Here are the books I’m planning to devour over the next few months. You might notice a theme:

Little Deaths

I’m a few chapters in and this already has me hooked. I bought this because I thought it was the next book by The Girls author Emma Cline. It’s not, and I’m an idiot but it was a happy accident as this is written beautifully and has a sheen of mystique to it that I so far love.

Oh, the synopsis? Ruth Malone is an attractive single mother of two kids who go missing one day in 1965. When the police make a horrifying discovery, all eyes point to the woman in charge of their care – and her provocative appearance and ‘questionable” lifestyle do not go in her favour.

Because of course they don’t.

The Devotion of Suspect X

This book had me at ‘The Japanese Stieg Larsson’ tbh. Which is one of the taglines printed on the cover. I didn’t even look deeply into what it was about, just clicked buy and here we are.

For those interested this is Amazon’s synopsis, in a nutshell:

Yasuko lives a quiet life, working in a Tokyo bento shop, a good mother to her only child. But when her ex-husband appears at her door without warning one day, her comfortable world is shattered.

It’s well rated and it’s been compared to one of my favourite authors so I doubt I’ll be disappointed. I’m a massive fan of Asian cinema (mainly Korean) so I’m expecting to be blown away. No pressure, Mr Higashino.

Final Girls

I’m cheating a little bit by including this on the list as I’ve just finished it. I thought it was worth a mention anyway. I’m intrigued always by the concept of the Final Girl and this takes that a little bit further by offering us three real life versions.

When the original FG, Lisa seemingly kills herself, it’s up to her fellow club members to find out what the fudge happened, and why. Given that our main FG, Quincy Carpenter has a massive hole in her own memories of that night at Pine Cottage… she might already have more than her fair share to contend with.

I think I’m going to review this in a couple of days so you can find out if I like it or not. Spoiler alert – it was okay.

Alex

This was passed on to me by my lovely friend Alice and I can’t wait to get stuck in. She handed me a pile of horrid sounding thrillers which is both amazing and a little disconcerting. The comfort I get from reading/watching horror/thrillers is hard to explain and sometimes feels like my dirty little secret so when someone else just gets it, it is amazing but odd.

Amazon’s synopsis:

Alex Prévost – kidnapped, beaten, suspended from the ceiling of an abandoned warehouse in a wooden cage – is in no position to bargain. Her abductor’s only desire is to watch her die.

Doesn’t sound like a walk in the park now, does it?

Six Four

Another Japanese crime thriller that is meant to be unique and fantastic. I couldn’t be more in. Again, I haven’t really done too much digging about this one but I am expecting to be impressed.

Amazon’s synopsis:

For five days in January 1989, the parents of a seven-year-old Tokyo schoolgirl sat and listened to the demands of their daughter’s kidnapper. They would never learn his identity. They would never see their daughter again.

The Roanoke Girls

Sometimes, when I see a book has been recommended by the Richard and Judy Book Club it makes me want to avoid it. But this looks too good to pass up. Another book about family secrets and mysterious girls – delicious.

Amazon’s synopsis:

The girls of the Roanoke family – beautiful, rich, mysterious – seem to have it all. But there’s a dark truth about them that’s never spoken.

Ooooooooooooooh!

Under the Skin

Last but not least, a book I’ve been intending to pick up for a long time, even before I saw the deeply weird film versionWhat Page Are You On mentioned it in their episode about book to film adaptations and I took from that that this is far more accessible than the Scarlett Johansson starring movie (which I loved but found very hard going).

I’m not a massive sci-fi nerd really (besides Star Wars) but I think the earthly setting and seductiveness of main character Isserley will keep me gripped. Here’s hoping.

What are you guys reading? Let me know!