Monday, 27 February 2017

Review: Behind Her Eyes

Don’t Trust This Book

Don’t Trust These People

Don’t Trust Yourself

And whatever you do, DON’T give away that ending…

I like Sarah Pinborough. I like her Twitter account, which makes me feel like we should be pals, and (more importantly) I also like her writing. I read The Death House in 2015  and Thirteen Minutes last year and I loved them both so I was ridiculously excited about Behind Her Eyes as soon as I heard it was going to be a thing, and then there was the whole hashtag thing going on – and whoever does Sarah’s publicity deserves a high five because this book has been all over my twitter for the longest time and the buzz generated by #wtfthatending has been pretty remarkable. It was like a secret gang and I totes wanted in.

I finally got round to reading it last week, and it’s the worst isn’t it when it takes you so long to read a book you really want to read; when it’s always there at the back of your mind and you just. can’t. get. to. it. Anyway, I started it one night about 10pm in a hilariously misguided ‘I’ll just read the first chapter’ which resulted in me not turning the light off til 11.30 and then thinking about it all the next day and stopping up waaaaay too late again the next night and it’s a problem really. It’s a problem because I need my sleep. All the sleep, I need it. I wasn’t working on Friday last week, so stopping up too late reading wasn’t as bad as it had been the night before but still, I had plans. Only with myself but still, there were plans.

I went to Skipton because I was going to be one of those ladies that mooches around pretty market towns being all carefree and stuff, but I had my Kindle in my bag and there was a Starbucks and I accidentally sat down with a coffee and read the last 30% because I could not stop with the page turning and then all of a sudden I’d finished the book and done zero mooching and it was time to head home again to hang with my bestie. Whoops. Not that I’m really complaining because in actuality, is there a better way to spend your day off than in a coffee shop with a good book? I think not.


This book.

It’s about Louise –  a single Mum in a bit of a rut who kisses a guy(David) on a night out, only to find out when she gets to work on Monday that the guy is her new boss. Her new married boss. I know, right. It gets better though, because Adele,  the new friend that Louise has just made? Yep, that’s David’s wife and trust me on this, you might think you can predict where this story is going. BUT YOU CAN’T.

First off the ending, and never has there been such an accurate hashtag because erm, #wtfthatending. AKA #wtfhow. It’s super good. It’s creepy and chilling and dark and so gripping. It’s twisty and turny and you know some serious shit is going to go down but you’re never quite sure what its’s going to be and you get totally drawn into this incredibly well -crafted story of lies and deceit and fucked up levels of control and you can’t relax at all because you don’t trust anybody and you don’t really like anybody all and it’s the most wonderful kind of messed up.
It’s obvious from the beginning that things are so far from right and the secrets are sort of just there, you can practically taste them, but you can’t quite reach them and you do have to suspend reality quite a bit and I don’t want to say too much about that either but basically, I loved it.
Mostly I loved it because just when I thought I’d sussed it, something else happened that had me thinking ‘what the fuck oh ok maybe not then.’ I mean, never has a character gone from being bad guy to good guy and back again as many times as David did in this book. It’s so clever and the characterisation is so freaking good – Adele especially. As character she’s freaking excellent, the kind of character you just don’t get to see enough of. Actually, this book as a whole is the kind of thing you just don’t get to see enough of. The story in itself is something else but what made it for me is what Sarah Pinborough does with words because the characters whilst excellent aren’t likeable and the story is nutso and it jumps back and forwards so much that a lesser writer would only leave you feeling a little seasick but Sarah Pinborough can write and she unravels this tale so beautifully and so cleverly and I was kind of mesmerised actually. And there is so much I want to say but I am afraid to because I don't want to accidentally give anything away but it’s out now and you should get involved.

Friday, 24 February 2017

If We Were Having Coffee

So I saw an excellent blog post recently, and I feel like a terrible person because I can’t remember where and I wanted to link back to it so as not to just be an idea stealer. Although, I’m pretty sure they’d seen the idea someplace else anyhow so perhaps it’s ok, and it’s not like I’m taking credit for it anyway, just sort of saying ‘kudos, that’s awesome, I’m going to have a go at that….’

The feature was called If We Were Having Coffee and it’s pretty much just a chance for me to talk at you about things that are on my mind that may not always be book related because sometimes I like to try and shake things up a bit. Who knows, if I like it I might make it a semi regular thing. I say semi regular because hello look at my blog please, there’s nothing regular about it: I am shamefully sporadic at best.

Anyhow, I'm not in the office today (hurrah for having Friday off) so it seemed like as good a time as any see how it goes. Grab a coffee – tea, hot chocolate, whatever -  and a cake (MMMM cake) and let’s chat.

If we were having coffee I’d probably mention the mahoosive spot on my face that I know you’d have noticed but be too polite to mention because you’re a darling. I’d draw attention to it because I’m feeling self-conscious about it and that’s just the way I roll. I swear though, it’s massive. I asked one of the boys in my office if he could see it from his side of the room. He could. Probably you could see it from the moon. I’d blame my hormones and how shit is it please that I am almost 34 years old and I still have to suffer these breakouts every month. I’d probably also blame the fact that I’m using a Neutrogena cleanser instead of the one I’ve been using for a while because apparently my skin likes change about as much as I do which is not very (I use a Decleor micellar water thingy usually, if you’re interested, because the bottle is pretty and it smells nice.)

If we were having coffee I’d probably be ridiculously happy about the hopefully excellent latte I was drinking because coffee. I’d tell you how the Nescafe Azera I drink at home and the Gold Blend I drink at work just isn’t the same and that I actually take my own travel mug to the Costa machine when I’m walking to work most mornings because that third cup of coffee on the walk to work actually makes all the difference and (and it says Luke’s on it which means I get to pretend I live in Stars Hollow.) I’d ask you if you thought I had a problem. Although tea is not coffee, is it. & my first beverage of the day is usually tea, which is weird actually because I used to hate tea.  I’d ask you what you knew about coffee machines because I want one and I am currently torn between one that makes coffee like this one fromKitchenAid or one that will make me a latte like this Dolce Gusto pod one. I’m torn.

If we were having coffee we probably would end up talking about books because this is me after all. I’d tell you that I just re-read Handmaid’s for about the sixth time and still think Margaret Atwood is the Queen of Fucking Everything and that it’s actually eerie how relevant her work is and if you told me that actually you haven’t read The Handmaid’s Tale I would demand you did so right away because it’s SO GOOD.
I’d tell you started the new Sarah Pinborough last night which I’m majorly excited about, partly because I loved The Death House and really liked Thirteen Minutes and partly because her publicity team have done excellent work on Twitter with #wtfThatEnding. I’d tell you that actually that’s why I’m so sleepy today, because I stopped up too late reading it.
I’d get you to fangirl with me about The Book of Dust – can you even believe we have an actual date - and remind me that actually Northern Lights hurts my soul every time and that maybe I should remember that before I pick the series up to reread. I’d point out that I probably won’t listen to your advice on that.
& of course I’d ask you what you’re reading right now. All the recs all the time please.

If we were having coffee I’d probably compliment your outfit because you look lovely today and I wouldn’t say it out loud but secretly I’d wish I had that kind of style. Pretty much everybody I spend time with ever makes me wish I had a personal stylist. Ha.

If we were having coffee I’d tell you about walking to work and about how my fitbit might be the best gift I’ve ever been given because I was so lazy. Not on purpose so much, but because I had a sedentary 9-5 job and so I’m sat all day and then I’d get home and grab some food and then just be so tired. My fitbit makes me challenge myself: I walk to work and back most days now; I go for a little walk at lunchtime; if I don’t have plans at weekend then I get off my arse and go for a walk and I feel better for it. & I get a bit of a kick actually, out of looking at my 7 day steps and watching that average creep up. I’m at 7k per day right now and it’s bugging me because two weeks ago I was at 11. I’d ask you if you had one. & I’d invite you to a workweek hustle if you did because we’re all in this together.

If we were having coffee I’d probably mention Donald Trump because it’s a thing that’s at the back of my mind all of the time – mine and most other sane people on the planet I guess. The guy is a horror show. I find myself laughing sometimes because seriously how is this shit even real and then I remember it is real and my laughter dies in my throat. I wouldn’t want to get overly political because I know not everybody likes that but as we sat drinking coffee and eating cake I probably wouldn’t be able to help but tell you he makes my skin crawl and that every time he opens his mouth he scares the bejeezus out of me and that with all his fake new BS his big ol’ Sweden blunder this weekend was a joke and that impeachment would not surprise me.

If we were having coffee I’d tell you that my BFF has gotten Wimbledon tickets again this year and that the prospect of another minibreak to London with her, a couple of days of tennis and theatre and wine has me positively giddy because when I think about the best five days of my life two of them have been spent in London with her – the first when we went to Wimbledon the first time and drank Pimms even though she hates it and saw Roger Federer do this thing, and the second two years later, when it rained and we sat under an umbrella outside a pub and drank rain til the sun shone. It took a while. We were happily drunk.

If we were having coffee then I'd probably tell you about The Kitten Dilemma. The Kitten Dilemma is, perhaps not unsurprisingly, the dilemma I am having about kittens. Specifically about owning kittens and whether or not I should. I had a cat - my ex got custody when we split up 2 years ago and I am still terribly sad about it; I miss that little furry creature so hard. I also miss the company of a kittycat and I spend a lot of time thinking it might be nice to do something about that and get a couple of kittens - a couple because I'm at work all day and also two is better than one when it comes to these things, right? I only have to worry about myself now, just lil ol' me and the company would be nice and I'd love it, I would. I've even named them in my head. I think. 
But then on the other hand, it feels like a bigger decision to make somehow when I'm making it on my own and my life would be restricted a little more and what if I ended up living with somebody again and that person was not a cat lover and is it ridic to base this decision on a vague possible future scenario that may never come to pass and what is it that's stopping me really other than my inability to make a decision. So indecisive I swear.
It's a constant source of amusement to My Best Guy how I see things I want and don't get them and then regret not getting them for months only to finally decide to get them, usually by which point they've sold out, Unless I'm lucky, sometimes I'm lucky. But even then I get mocked for the fact that it took me a year to decide to buy the shoes/coat/whatever. That's what this is I think. But I'd ask you, if we were having coffee - to kitten, or not to kitten?

If we were having coffee I’d ask you about you because I want to know all the things, please. What’s been going on in your world – where have you been and what have you been doing and what have you read and watched and seen and what plans have you made? I would want to know it all. 

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

A Quick(ish) Catch Up

I’m pretty grumpy today, mostly because it’s freezing cold and I’m not caffeinated enough and also because I got up late and didn’t have time to straighten my hair (think Hermione circa CoE) – or I guess I could have straightened my hair but then I would have had to drive to work and I’m trying not to drive to work because I keep eating Crème Eggs and large(r) lunches and If I’m going to do that I need to do walking and so I’m sat in the office in a hoody with mahoosive hair and that’s fine, normally but today I got an unexpected visit from a supplier I am in a battle with and not only did I not know they were coming, the girl was also all high heels and smart suit and perfect hair and makeup and I’m looking the most unprofessional ever and felt totally wrong footed. I’m grumpy about it. Glamourous people scare me. & holy run on sentence, batman. & I have one of those hurty pieces of skin sticking out of my nail bed, you know the ones? OUCH. Ill probably rip it off later and it will bleed and hurt more and I’ll have regrets. Such is life.

Anyhow, enough of that.

I want to talk to you (at you? to you?) today about the things I’ve been reading and watching and looking at. About what my life has looked like I guess, for the last couple of weeks. Grab a Creme Egg – because who actually cares if it’s ages off Easter, they’re in the shops now. Eat them all – and make yourself comfortable. This might get long.

The Secret Life of Bees is one of those books that I actually cannot believe it has taken me so long to read because I really really liked it. & the crazy thing about that is that if my fabulous pal Natalie hadn’t bought me a copy for Christmas I might never have read it and that is ridiculous. So so ridiculous. It’s such a me book (not about the Holocaust Helen, hush) which Natalie totally knew, mostly because I went on at her for the longest time to read The Help which is one of my faves (and its film adaptation one of my faves also) and this is a book that’s pretty much in the same vein of that.


Anyhow, The Secret Life of Bees is a book about family and equality and hate and love and what it means to be different and with all the shit that is going on in the world right now, with the real life horror show that is Donald Trump, it feels like a book that carries one of very many important messages. But it
’s also an easy read, it feels warm and comfortable. It’s the perfect book for that lazy Sunday, for the sofa and a blanket and snacks. It feels, pretty much right off the bat, like an old friend.

The book is set in South Carolina in the 1960’s, when Lily Owens thinks she killed her Mother, her Dad is a complete ass-hat and her black nanny Rosaleen, on her way to register to vote, insults the biggest racists in town and ends up in a prison cell. Lily springs her free and the two of them make a run for it, ending up in a small South Carolina town that Lily thinks holds some answers with regards to her Mum and taken in by three (black) beekeeping sisters. 

The characters are flawed, which I liked a whole lot: it kind of had that TKaM feel about it sometimes, vaguely, if I squinted. Take Lily for example, who mostly I loved, but who I also sometimes really wanted to shake; sometimes the way she treated Rosaleen made me rage, even though I knew that she loved her probably more than she loved any other person ever. That’s what made her real and that’s a big part of made this book resonate with me; Lily’s a teenager, a white girl growing up in the South where racism was so deeply ingrained that people like Lily didn’t even realise that to a degree they were part of the problem – little things said and done in a heartbeat without even realising the damage they had the potential to cause, probably, and I liked that that was addressed: unconscious prejudice.

This is a novel about race and it’s a novel about feminism and it’s the kind of novel that if I had a daughter, I would want her to read.. It’s not in your face with its messages either, not that I AM WOMAN HEAR ME ROAR kinda books are in any way a problem at all, just that this isn’t one of them. It’s subtle but no less powerful for it. And it makes you want honey because there are bees in this book, so many bees. Which, and this might surprise you because it surprised me and is part of the reason it took me so long to pick it up – did I really want to read a book about bees? Not so much – actually works really well and makes the whole thing gel and is really clever, actually. And also interesting.  & it left me with all the feelings. Seriously, I was a hot mess of emotions when I finished this book, which is not to say it’s sad so much, more that it gets under your skin, and burrows deep into those places where your feels are kept.

If you like TKaM (are there actually people who don’t like TKaM?) or The Help or Fried Green Tomatoes then this might be a book that you should consider picking up. Except you probably have already because I am incredibly late to this particular party. Le sigh.

Also, I’ve just read The Girl on the Train. I know, right? How am I just reading that now? I think I might actually be the last person left in the world to read this book. I get like that about a book sometimes, when it’s had all the hype. I either jump right on that bandwagon to see what all the fuss is about, or I put if off because it can’t possibly be that good.

With The Girl on the Train I put it off. Til now.

I liked it though, when I finally read it. I mean I didn’t devour it in one sitting like I half thought I might and it took me a while to really get going with the story, and Rachel kind of bugged me for a while and Anna bugged me more later on and you know actually I don’t think there is a single likeable character in this whole book which makes it a fairly interesting read actually and a good character study as well as saying rather a lot about Hawkins’ writing because keeping me engaged in a story that centres around a group of people I actually think a pretty awful, that’s kind of impressive. Although you know me – I love an unreliable narrator and this book is bursting with them. And it did grab me, once it got into its stride and once it grabbed me, it grabbed me, grabbed me to the point that I read the last just-less-than-half in a night, tucked up in bed with a Crème Egg. All the Crème Eggs all the time.

Do I need to properly review it, with a synopsis and  everything? I feel like that might be a bit meaningless now, what with everybody ever having read it and all. In a nutshell though: Rachel gets the same train every day, which stops at the same place every day and offers her tiny view at the lives of the people who live in the houses right there by the tracks. One day she sees something at one of the houses and then the lady that lives there disappears and ALL THE DRAMA.

I liked it a lot. Did I say that already? I was gripped, and it wasn’t predictable and even though I had kind of worked out where the story was going before The Big Reveal the writing was sharp enough and had enough pace and enough suspense that I still couldn’t turn pages fast enough and there were plenty of red herrings which I have liked since my Enid Blyton days although the red haired guy? What was the point of him, exactly? Were we supposed to think he did it? I didn’t; I just got irritated by not seeing the point of him and wanting to get back to the story. Also, why did the police not do more about questioning Rachel because should she not have been a suspect? She was there; she was drunk; she had no recollection of what happened and no alibi. Oh, hello PRIME SUSPECT. That was weird.

I should watch the film now I guess although Emily Blunt? Is it me or is that some strange casting?

Talking about watching, what have I been watching?

I had a big empty space once I’d finished watching Gilmore Girls which if you haven’t seen then you’re doing life wrong and perhaps at some point I shall do a post just about that how and fangirl so hard I give myself an injury (yes I did just order a hoody with In Omnia Paratus printed on the front I had a voucher don’t judge me)
You know what. Have some gifs because then you may understand why I think this show is my spirit animal:

So there was a void and I filled that void with Homeland over Christmas (and it’s now back on Channel 4 hurrahs) and now I’m all about Gossip Girl – I know, yet another party I’m late to, whoops.  It’s a funny one really, because what is it about ridiculously privileged and bitchy young adults that I find myself so drawn to? I know not. I am drawn to it though. & I think I have a crush on Blake Lively. I want to be her friend. I want to be her.  I’ve got Lemony Snicket lined up to watch next. And I really want to watch The OA mostly I think because Jason Isaacs. Also it was suggested to me yesterday that I watched that thing on the BBC with Sheridan Smith. Moorside? I didn’t because I thought it would give me a sad but I’ve been told that I should have, so perhaps I’ll do that tonight. Watch that and start a new book – either The Trouble With Goats and Sheep or a re-read. I’m sensing Handmaid’s might be due another read…..

Helen and I have watched LaLaLand recently, which I think we need to watch again mostly because on first watch both of us were what can only be described as underwhelmed, and Joy which I liked. I like Jennifer Lawrence and it was a lovely way to spend a Friday evening – a film and Chinese food and my bestie. Yes thank you that will do. Also The new Trainspotting. Anyone seen that yet?

In other news I am in a wall art related dilemma because I have wall space that needs filling and I keep changing my mind what to fill it with which is ridic because I’ve had my house for a year and a half now. So that’s going on, with the googling and the imagining and the deciding and the mind changing and I am driving myself so very crazy. And Irregular Choice keep releasing more shoes and they’re all so pretty I want to cry and that, pretty much, is my life.

Til next time.