Author Archives: Christa Bass

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Sovereign, Deadly, Perfect: Night Film Review

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I love this book and devoured it like a jumbo bag of sweet/salty popcorn. True story.

Compared by Good Reads to the works of Stieg Larsson, I knew it would be a read I would enjoy, although I hate those lazy taglines: “If you liked Gone Girl, you will LOVE this!”. Shut up, I will decide for myself!

The fact that the story is based around the life and times of an infamous, and reclusive, horror director and his family, made it even more intriguing for me.

Horror is my very favourite genre and growing up I would go out of my way to be frightened so although this isn’t as gory as I expected, the descriptions of the films of Stanislas Cordova have been right up my alley.

On this subject, I have to say, without giving anything away, the best bits in Night Film are those talking about Cordova’s films, and if not describing the various synopses, any anecdote about being on set with Maestro. A sinister mix of Hitchcock, Coppola and Argento, Cordova uses fear and pain as a means to total freedom; of the mind, body and soul.Thumbscrew

Were he real, I have no doubt I would be an avid Cordovite, spending my down time tip tapping away on the secret fan boards.

The story is this: 24 year old Ashley Cordova is found dead one night, having apparently committed suicide in an abandoned warehouse somewhere in the underbelly of NYC. She is the beautiful yet mysterious daughter of the (aforementioned) film maker, Stanislas Cordova.

Her death is senseless of course, but veteran Investigative Journalist Scott McGrath has his doubts about what really happened that night, and with his own personal interest in the Director, and a curiosity about Ashley he can’t quite explain, he starts to piece together the last few days of her life. But what is the truth?

And why won’t anybody talk about Cordova?

Woven into this really quite decent thriller are web pages, medical and police reports, articles, interviews about Cordova and postings from the dark corner of the internet, otherwise know as the Onion. These are most fun of all, as all manner of Super Fans share their Cordova theories and if they are ‘lucky’ enough, personal brushes with the man himself. Sure these segments are gimmicky, but who doesn’t like a little bit of that?

tumblr_mrxklqAQAy1sfwakko1_500I hadn’t read any reviews on Night Film before I picked it up, apart from that of my friend, Hannah (of Hannah Reads Stuff). I actually jumped straight on the back of her bandwagon as soon as I read the synopsis, because that’s just the kind of girl I am. Her review is better than mine for sure, but I thought it would be cool to review it from the point of view of a Hard-core Horror lover.

As for the whole Larsson comparison, I get it. In the sense that Scott McGrath is a disgraced journalist, found guilty of libel like my Beloved Blomvist. As a famous Journalist, he has gone slightly off the boil and he does enlist the help of some less than traditional ‘research assistants’, neither of whom, however likeable, would be fit to lick Salander’s motorcycle boots.

But that’s about it for me. The Millennium Series is perfect and addictive, everything you need from a nail biting ride and to compare anything else to it is a little unfair. Though personally, I think Night Film can proudly hold it’s head up.

I feel like I need a holiday now though.

Book details:

  • Title: Night Film
  • Publisher: Windmill Books (30 Jan 2014)
  • ISBN-10: 0099559242
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099559245
  • Bought paperback (secondhand)

I am desperate for more books of a similar nature, so if anybody has any decent recommendations, please let me know!

 

My Instagram Life: Singing, Ink and So Much Cake

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(From top left to right, by row)

  1. Ate cake ~ this beauty was made to welcome two of the women in our office back from being off for medical reasons. It was good to see them both and it was good to eat cake. Mmmmmm, caaaaaaake!
  2. Got a totes cool bag ~ how do I resist a beard themed cloth bag for all my bits?
  3. My lady jams arrived ~ I found some teenage memories cheap on the internet. These albums formed the soundtrack to my woeful adolescent years and I still love them.
  4. More cake! ~ Honestly, I will never get healthy in my office…
  5. On Wednesday I did a singing lesson and was well chuffed with myself ~ there is nothing, but nothing that feels as good as doing something scary and enjoying it. Honest.
  6. Mr Bee submitted his own ‘unflattering’ #nomakeup selfie on Facebook ~ this is my guy everybody.
  7. I planned my ‘To Read’ list ~ which you will no doubt read more about later.
  8. The first blossom showed itself ~ and made me a little swoony! It doesn’t take much.
  9. The highlight of my week, meet Mr Bee, the worker bee! ~ Got some new ink, didn’t I? A little after work special from a friend, Alex who is very good indeed. And yes, it did sting a bit. BOOM!

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Have a good week, all!

 

Truth Nuggets #101: The Project

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On the topic of self love, as I so often am these days, how true is this (left)?

It’s cool to be told you are worthwhile (sexy, cute, funny, cool, smart) by the one you love or the one you are sleeping with or your friends or anybody for that matter, but holding yourself in the same esteem is just as important; if not more so.

Love yourself. Treat loving yourself like an ongoing project.

Do the things you know will make you feel good.

If that’s dressing a certain way or celebrating who you are or being healthy or walking or not – it’s your project, the end goal is yours to decide upon. Nobody else gets to decide for you.

I think I’m starting to get it…

 

Sing When You’re Winning

Florence and The Machine

A few years ago I decided it would be beneficial to my creative soul to start doing at least one thing a year that took me outside my comfort zone. Like a course, or join a club, that sort of thing.

The first was the Stand Up Comedy course which was terrifying but easily one of the best things I have ever done. That the last thing I will ever be is a Stand Up isn’t the point, it was fun and frightening and mortifying and rewarding. And I’d probably do it all again just for the way it made me feel when I had graduated.

I’ve done a few courses, met a lot of people, felt pretty proud with myself. It’s good to be able to say you are a do-er even though there is next to no evidence of this in your everyday life. I am proud to say if I want to do most things badly enough, I will.

So my next step is singing lessons. If you know me in the real world then I will allow you a small moment to giggle to yourself. If you have ever heard me belting out a power ballad in time to the radio you will be fully aware that I can’t hold a tune to save my life. When I say I am bad, know that I am actually horrid (or so I thought).

Step in Maya.

Maya is so lovely. She put me at ease right away and I knew she would as her messages had all been very encouraging and warm. Thankfully that warmth totally translates in person, which I can imagine makes her very popular with her students.

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First off, now I have had my first taster, I can say with confidence that I’m not quite a shit as I thought I was. Apparently, I have good range for somebody who has never really sung before and I hit all the right notes. This is a lovely thing to hear.

I actually sang in front of a stranger! Real words and everything. With confidence, and more lessons, I hope I will be able to belt out my chosen song with a little more gusto. What did I chose? Oh only You Got The Love, because I’m delusional!

One day, eh?

To Maya. if you read this, thank you so much. You really helped me step outside my comfort zone and I did march home from our session feeling like Wonder Woman. (More scoop on Miss Maya Wolff here).

I can’t wait until my next lesson!

 

An Object of Beauty: Getting to Grips With Self Love

I read this cartoon (left) on Facebook yesterday morning. It made me smile.

Of course it simplifies the Body Hate issue somewhat, but I don’t feel it diminishes the message: you wouldn’t starve, verbally abuse or overfeed a pet, would you? So why is it okay to do it to yourself?

Since Self Love is something I have been halfheartedly working towards for the last few months, something about this strip sticks. Plus the simple issue of general Body Standards and how absolutely no woman can win, no matter who she is.

This topic, for me, is a hard one. It’s hard to admit that you are starting to despise parts of yourself, or to admit that the view you have of yourself is out of control; that you feel like The Blob on your very worst days and would happily stay indoors until you have enough strength to fake some confidence.

It’s hard when you read a lot of blogs by so-called ‘plus size’ women (yuk to that phrase) who inspire every day and you know – you know they are right – that we must say fuck off to this unrealistic standard of beauty. Yet, we still beat ourselves up, don’t we?

My relationship with myself is full of contradiction, as most women’s doubtless are. I am happy to be bigger than most of my female friends, yet I’m not happy being *this big*But then, the smaller I get and more I see positive results, the more critical I get of myself. Then there’s the self-sabotage and the panic that I will lose who I am, if I lose the things that make me Me.

Where the fuck does it end? (Spoiler alert: I don’t think it does).

Anyway, this is not all woah is me. I’m here to talk about how I am going to handle my shit. How I propose to start loving myself.

Clue: I’m going to start treating my body like a puppy!

It’s going to be this simple: I will eat good things, but also cake when I feel like it. I will walk everywhere as much as possible. I will ignore that horrible bitchy voice within that tells me I’m a monster.

I will stop comparing myself to others, because that will never end well. I will get on with life, go out. See people.

When it all gets too much, and I find myself throwing insults at the mirror, I am going to remind myself that if my body was an animal, would I speak to it this way? Would I speak to another human being in this fashion? And would I accept it, if someone spoke to me like that? Probably not, so I’m not going to accept this behaviour from myself either.

It stops today!

So what do you do to make yourself feel better when you’re not feeling your best? I’d be interested to know any and all techniques!

 

My Instagram Life: Sex Addiction, Bar Openings and Puppy Love

This blog isn’t all book reviews you know. Sometimes I get out of the house and spend time with real human people!

I thought it might be nice to start a series called My Instagram Life, since I spend so much time on it. I’m not so sure why this particular app is so much more addictive to me than others, I can only assume it is down to the people I follow who have such picture perfect existences*!

*Yes, I realise any life can look extraordinary with the right filter – even mine!)

This week:

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(From top left to right, by row)

  1. Spent the night with Mr von Trier ~ As you know, I spent much of my night watching a lot of sex on the big screen (and stuffing my face with Metcalfe’s Skinny Popcorn). I decided to skip the jumbo hot dog… My thoughts on the experience here
  2. Came home to cupcakes ~ My friend Colleen has specially made me red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese icing as a thank you for getting her a job at my work. No need, but I will always accept such treats; nom!
  3. Went to an opening of new cafe bar, Al CampoMy boss got tickets to the opening of this frankly lush new venue so we went for some free drinks and tapas after work. This place is really cool! It’s huge, everyone is really nice and the food; double nom!
  4. Got F to #selfie with me ~ We’re a relatively new team so this was a nice bonding exercise (The evening, not the selfie)
  5. The details ~ Al Campo has some incredible details but I think my favourite is the painted rings on some of the tables. A thrifty but artistic way to vamp up any old table (or whatever you fancy)
  6. I ate Baba Ganoush ~ Although I knew this was a dish, the name has always stuck in my mind because it’s so delicious to say! I also thought it was a character in Fables, but apparently I was thinking of Baba Yaga. Awkward
  7. B & B met ~ The Little Prince is a little frightened of dogs, especially yappy ones but thankfully Baxter is a dream, so he was able to conquer a bit of fear this weekend. I am so proud of him and is was total cute overload!
  8. A Dog’s Life ~ I am completely in love with Baxter myself. I want one of my own so much
  9. The first sign of sun ~ And it’s time for the obligatory couple shot! I love my man very much, look at him!

So a good week with lots of highs. It’s amazing what good company, food and a little bit of Vitamin D can do!

Are you a prolific picture snapper or do you prefer to be in the moment?

 

Tried To Make Me Go To Rehab: A Million Little Pieces Review

I’m only a decade behind the hype on this quite hefty rehabilitation story by James Frey. Which might be a good thing.

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Several years after it was first published, its author came under fire for embellishing much of what happened within. Originally presented as a memoir, once this exaggeration came to light, James Frey became Public Enemy #1. Oprah had him on and everything, making him apologise to The World for his ethical misdemeanors.

Since I was aware of the controversy and everybody and their mum was going on about it, it was easy to shrug and let it slip by. But I saw it in The British Heart Foundation for £1.25 the other week and I figured now might be the time.

I am glad I picked it up. The copy I have contains a Foreword by Frey, apologising again for letting people down. I think it sounds sincere but I also think, what is the actual big deal?

I mean, yes I get that people have been through similar themselves, and to embellish what is already horrible and traumatic seems unnecessary but this is also a book. A book written for other people and a certain amount of artistic licence has be to be granted, non?

millionSo I’m not all that fussed about the faux bits. Bring it on, Frey, I say! Or I would of, had I met him at the exact moment I had picked this up and started it.

We begin with James waking up on a plane to Chicago, with a bloody face and next to no memory. We don’t know how he got here, all we know is that his parents are there to pick him up at the airport and without ceremony, they drop him on the doorstep of an unnamed Drug Rehabilitation Centre. They don’t actually dump him that callously, they walk him in and hand him over, but you see how easy it is to embellish for effect?

James is only 23 but he has already been an alcoholic – and more recently a crack head – for ten long years. He has fallen down a flight of stairs, lost his four front teeth and broken his nose; prompting swift action by his friends. Or the friends he still has.

I’ll let you dig in for yourselves, if you haven’t already, but James begins with the reticence you would expect. And boy, is this book orally fixated! There is a lot of vomit, a lot of blood and a particularly wincey dental scene, straight out of my own nightmares.

A sizable corner of the internet has criticised that it is so graphic but I don’t mind at all. Frey writes in an unstructured, hazy manner that suits this disgusting detail. It also make you feel like you are right there with him, rubbing his back and telling him it will all be okay, even though you might not believe it.

As with most books of this ilk, the real heart lies in the characterisation; in James and in the people he encounters along the way. Great humour is found in Leonard, James’ slightly sinister ‘father figure’, great tenderness in Miles, James’ gentle Federal Court Judge roommate and the lovely loving Lily with the troubled past. You want them all better, no matter what they have done and who they have hurt in their pasts.

I won’t tell you that James makes it or that there is a complete transformation at the end but I will say that you want him to. Or I did. I like James, I find him amusing and I agree with quite a lot he says, about religion in particular.

Luckily for me, Frey followed up Pieces with My Friend Leonard so I can keep some of my favourites going for a little longer. Perhaps not straight away though. I might need something fluffy next.

Book details:

  • Title: A Million Little Pieces
  • Publisher: John Murray; New Ed edition (10 May 2004)
  • ISBN-10: 0719561027
  • ISBN-13: 978-0719561023
  • Bought paperback (secondhand)