Thursday, 26 November 2015

Book Review: The Paying Guests

It is 1922, and London is tense. Ex-servicemen are disillusioned, the out-of-work and the hungry are demanding change. And in South London, in a genteel Camberwell villa, a large silent house now bereft of brothers, husband and even servants, life is about to be transformed, as impoverished widow Mrs Wray and her spinster daughter, Frances, are obliged to take in lodgers.

For with the arrival of Lilian and Leonard Barber, a modern young couple of the 'clerk class', the routines of the house will be shaken up in unexpected ways. And as passions mount and frustration gathers, no one can foresee just how far-reaching, and how devastating, the disturbances will be.

 I've read a couple of Sarah Waters novels now (The Little Stranger and The Night Watch) both of which I loved so expected this would be another book of equal excellence.

The novel is set mainly in the house of Mrs Wray and her daughter Frances. In order to keep up with the bills of their crumbling villa they take in lodgers and Frances' life is turned upside down with the arrival of the colourful, modern and young Lilian and her husband Leonard. As Frances falls deeper in a forbidden affair no one can see just how it will end.

I enjoyed this book but nowhere near as much as The Night Watch (which I loved!) the story was really good and the characters were well written but I found it dragged in places and became a little repetitive so much so that it actually took me quite a while to read this book, I'm a slow reader anyway but this took me longer than usual. 

For Sarah Waters fans I wouldn't dismiss this novel as it's a decent enough story I just don't think it's as good as her other two books that I've read.

Rating: ★★


Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Christmas 2015: Lush Wishlist

As is tradition at this time of year a few Lush Christmas products will be making their way into my basket the next time I go shopping. I absolutely love baths and the only thing that makes them better is the addition of a festive treat from Lush. I tend to go for warming and soothing scents and these four products sound just perfect. I'm genuinely already excited to go and buy these and sink into a nice hot bath.


Thursday, 12 November 2015

Florida Holiday Vlog

I finally have my vlog from Florida to show you (I've only been back 11 weeks...) I loved making this vlog so much, it's going to be such a great thing to look back on. I love all my little vlogs like this and I really enjoy making them so it would be great if you subscribed to my YouTube channel (here) if you enjoy them too. 

This one is longer than usual although it still only provides a very brief snapshot of what was the most amazing holiday ever. Let me know in the comments if you like these vlogs.


Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Book Review: Morrie: In His Own Words

In these remarkable pages are the profound, life-affirming words of Morrie Schwartz as he faced his own imminent death.

In 1994, at the age of seventy-seven, Schwartz learned he had ALS, commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease. Undaunted, the former professor embraced his illness, choosing to live passionately and calmly until the end. He also embarked on his greatest teaching adventure: sharing his evolving knowledge of living while dying.

Tuesday's with Morrie is without a doubt one of my favourite books, quite possibly getting the number one spot so I was looking forwards to reading this short book of Morrie's wisdom and life lessons. I was expecting a wide range of views on different subjects much like what appears in Tuesday's with Morrie however what I found was more of a guide to living with a terminal illness. Don't get me wrong there's some lovely thoughts in it but it wasn't quite what I was expecting and didn't have the impact of Tuesday's with Morrie because it was much less relevant to me. It's a fairly short book and pretty quick to read due to the layout. I'd see give it a go if you've read Tuesday's with Morrie but don't expect the same amount of profound wisdom on a range of topics.

Rating: ★★


Friday, 6 November 2015

An autumn walk at Newmillerdam

I've shared photo's on here before of Newmillerdam country park but it's just too beautiful not to share some more. It's a lovely place all year round but I personally like it best in autumn, there's just something about an autumn walk that you can't beat. The beautiful colours, wrapping up warm against the chill in the air. Perfect.

Josh and I used to go on quite a few walks but we've become very lazy this year so it made a nice refreshing change to be outdoors enjoying the fresh air. It definitely made me think I need to start doing more walking again!

After a nice walk around we decided the best thing was to warm up in a pub and have a nice hearty carvery, it kind of undoes the healthiness of a walk but I don't feel at all guilty because the carvery was delicious!


Wednesday, 4 November 2015

FILMS: What We Watched #16

The Purge: Anarchy
2014 | 103 min | Horror / Action
J: We watched the original Purge a while back, and it was alright. Nothing special. I did like the whole premise of murder being legal for one night only, but I felt that the idea wasn't used to its full potential, we were just kind of lumbered with this boring group of people in a house while some folks wanted to shank them. The second film was much better though, the stakes felt higher and the cast was really well used. This is everything the original version should have been!
L: I found the first Purge film to be a little boring, and although it was a really good concept for a film it just didn't live up to expectations. However the second offering is much better. It follows the same idea as the first one but seems much more action packed and with more of a storyline and character stories to follow. I wouldn't rush to watch it again but I wouldn't rule out a second viewing.
2014 | 100 min | Horror
J: Genuinely can't tell you all that much about this film...I kept falling asleep through it. That should tell you something about how much I enjoyed it and how much the story gripped me. Yawn! 

 L: I'm just going to get straight to the point and say this was a pretty boring film. It wasn't at all scary and it just sort of trundled along with no real jumps or action. I really wouldn't bother with this film if you haven't seen it because you're not missing anything.

Good Will Hunting
1997 | 126 min | Drama
J: Right from the get go I knew it was going to be a good film because it had Robin Williams in it, and who doesn't love a Robin Williams film?! Secondly I knew that it was going to be an emotional ride as Robin had a beard, and as we all know, if he has a beard it's going to tug at your heartstrings. These are facts. The entire cast were really good, and the story is a classic. I've never seen it before, but I've seen so many friendly parodies of it from Family Guy and such that I felt like I'd seen the film before. It took nothing away from it though, I really enjoyed it.

L: How had I never seen this film until now?! I love a good Robin Williams film but this one just seemed to have escaped me. I was sure I'd cry because I do at a lot of Robin Williams films but I just about kept it together with this one. It's a great story of a self taught genius who works as a janitor and can't seem to keep out of trouble until he meets his match in the form of a psychologist. Of course Williams plays an excellent part as psychologist Sean Maguire but Matt Damon is equally as good as the troubled self taught genius, Will Hunting. This is definitely a film I'd watch over and over again.
The Muppets
2011 | 103 min | Comedy / Musical
J: Wahaaaaay, a Muppet film! Amazing! They're like timeless friends that never age and never get not funny! It's everything you want in a Muppet movie: singing, dancing, boomerang fish, comedy, heart warming know! There are also some really great moments of breaking the 4th wall and making them seem clearly aware that they're filming a movie (for example, travelling by map and using a musical montage to get things done quicker). Another thing is it segues really nicely into it's followup, Muppets Most Wanted. Though because of the strength of the songs in that one, I feel it has a slight edge over this one. Still loved it though!

L: You can't beat a good Muppets movie just for the songs alone (although I do think the songs in the Muppets Most Wanted are catchier than the ones in this film!) The Muppets have to join together again to save their studio from falling into the hands of an oil tycoon meaning Kermit and Miss Piggy have to heal their rift and everyone has to dust off their acts and take to the stage one more time. They also get a little help in the form of Walter, a new member of the Muppet gang looking for his place in the world. I can't really find fault with this film as it's just simple, feel good fun.
2014 | 103 min | Horror
J: This one was confusing. Well, it was and it wasn't. There's some crazy ass mirror that makes people kill themselves and stuff, and there's a lady, and the boy,and he's a psycho, but he's not because it's real, and then your teeth fall out, and then the affair and the chains, and then it’s in the future and the past, but they're at the same time because the mirror is magic. Okay? Clear? Thought not. That's kind of how I felt watching this movie. Not that I didn't enjoy it, and I'm sure it was filmed in that way to help mess with your head and confuse you in the same way that he characters were meant to be confused. It was...confusing. But good. Oh just judge for yourself! 

L: For Halloween night we both picked one film each from Now TV to watch, Oculus was my choice. It's not the worst film I've seen by a long shot but I probably wouldn't watch it again. It was a decent story and the way it jumped from past to present and then combined the two was pretty clever but it seemed to lack any real scares or jumps that I look for in a horror film. I like to be hiding a behind a cushion feeling terrified and I just felt kinda 'meh' with this!
2012 | 94 | Psychological Thriller / Slasher
J: This was a proper lets-choose-the-crappiest-film-we-can-find kinda Halloween film, and guess turned out to be a really good movie with a really unexpected twist. A boy and his mother get abducted by a taxi driver who rapes and kills the mother and chains the boy up and keeps him as a slave for years. The acting is brilliant, and the implied rape scenes are really awkward. Awkward in a good way though. And surprisingly, despite all the crazy stuff the guy does, you kind of feel sorry for him and empathise with him. Imagine that, empathising with the abducting rapist murderer. Heart warming, I'm sure you'll agree! This was definately an unexpectedly amazing film. A hidden gem, you could say!

L: For our second Halloween night film (and Josh's choice) we had Chained. I was completely mentally unprepared for this film, psychological thriller is certainly the right genre for this film. It follows a serial killer who kidnaps and adopts a young boy and eventually attempts to turn him into his protege. Their are certainly some very dark and twisted issues in the film and I felt like it really messed with your head as at times you felt sorry for the serial killer and you could see that in some weird way he probably wanted a son to raise. The ending has a pretty good twist too!

If you only watch one of these films it should be...
J: Chained
L: Chained