It’s been one month since my birthday and so the first twelfth of my 34 Before 34 is under my belt. I’ll be honest, I’m feeling pretty chuffed with myself as I’ve actually managed to tick off a few bits on there! I’ll be sharing a little round-up post each month – more to hold myself accountable than for any other reason – but you can click on the 34 Before 34 link in the top menu bar of this blog any time to see how I’m getting on overall (if the mood so takes you…)
So, month 1 of 12 done – how did I get on…?
Read 20 new (to me) books – 1 completed
Daddy’s girl by Clifford Irving – I’m normally quite a fast reader, but for some reason this book took me a long time to finish. Following the story of the murder trial of a girl called Cindy Ray, who was accused of being involved of the murder of her parents, you follow the story from the point of their death up through the court proceedings until the final verdict. There’s lots of different players in the case, twists as turns as you would expect, and declarations of innocence and guilt. I won’t give away the ending (although a quick Google will tell you the answer) but it’s a really well written book, with the author sitting in court every single day of the trial and having access to both the prosecution and defence teams, witnesses and the accused. If true crime is your kind of thing, you definitely have to give this one a read.
Watch 34 new (to me) films – 13 completed
I had a bit of a strange stroke of luck with this one as towards the end of August I was struck down with some sort of horrible bad-cold-but-not-quite-flu bug and ended up spending a few days laid on my sofa feeling very sorry for myself and occupying my time by watching lots of films. I’m always more drawn to horrors and thrillers (I struggle to watch Rom Coms to be honest) and so I indulged in this rare opportunity to binge-watch to get some screen time in. We’ve also managed to squeeze in a few films during our weekends, which is always nice. Nothing better than cosying up on the sofa with something on the box!
Upgrade – Whenever I see a film attached to the Blumhouse Productions name, I have to watch it as they’re usually pretty good! This film focuses on a future where robotics are prevalent in the way we live our lives – self-driving cars, machinery carrying out household tasks etc – and how things might pan out if humans and robots were to combine. I’m not a big fan of robots as I definitely think they have the capacity to become self-aware and kill us all one day, and this film sort of plays on those fears and emotions. I reckon I’d score this one a 7/10.
Skyscraper – You’ve got to love The Rock, haven’t you? As well as being perhaps the nicest bloke in celeb land, he’s also a big name in the acting world these days and I’m genuinely so pleased to see things going so well for him – he seems like the sort of person that deserves it, I don’t know. Focussing around a devastating fire in a skyscraper, put in place by terrorists and in which his family are trapped, it follows his desperate battle to save their lives whilst eliminating the threat at the same time. It’s high-octane, a little bit cheesy and, in a lot of ways, reminiscent in a way of the Die Hard films. I actually quite enjoyed this so score it 8/10.
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom – I’ve got to say, I do love the Jurassic Park/World franchise. I mean, who doesn’t love dinosaurs?! The latest installment in this story, is a little different to the others in that it sees the dinosaurs leave the island and for humans to begin to treat them as commodities – a valid comment on humanity as a whole, I think. I was always going to love this film because DINOS, but I score it 9/10.
Happy Death Day – Another Blumhouse production this felt like a very 90s type of film and it gave me the same sort of vibes as the old Scream films. It follows the main character as she lives the day of her murder over and over again, each time trying to find out who is doing it so she can stop it happening. An easy watch that doesn’t take itself seriously, I think I have to rate this one 6/10 because it’s a bit of a cheese-fest, but that’s not always a bad thing.
The Mountain Between Us – I nearly didn’t watch this as I didn’t think it would be my kind of thing, but it actually turned out to be the film I’ve enjoyed watching most this month! It’s follows two people (Idris Elba and Kate Winslet) who are in a crash in a small aircraft and have to fight to survive in remote snowy mountains. It’s beautifully shot, shows an awareness of human emotion and there’s a dog in it, which is always a bonus. I definitely recommend this to anyone, no matter what genre of film is your favourite. I rate it a strong 9/10.
Friday The 13th – I put this on without reading the details properly and didn’t realise it was the 2009 remake (I thought it was the original). I’ve never seen any of the Friday The 13th franchise, which is crazy considering horror is my genre of choice, and I have to say that this felt a bit too try-hard and, all in all, I found a bit rubbish. I rate it 5/10 and I think I’m being generous with that.
Wolves At The Door – It says something about this film that I just had to Google it to remind myself what it was about… It was very obviously based on the Tate murders carried out by cult members of Charles Manson (down to the detail of one of the women being heavily pregnant, as Sharon Tate was at the time of the real murders). I don’t know whether it was openly confirmed as being based on those killings by the film-makers not, but it all felt a little… exploitative? I felt really uncomfortable about it for some reason. I rate this one 3/10.
White House Down – I’d never heard of this before I saw it pop up on the Sky Movies suggestions, but I’m partial to a bit of action when it comes to films so I thought I’d give it a go, and I wasn’t disappointed! Channing Tatum plays the father of young girl who is obsessed with American politics, so when he gets the opportunity to interview for part of the Presidents’ security detail, he takes her along with him. As you would expect, this is the prime opportunity for a terrorist attack and this film follows the attempt to bring down the bad guys and save the President’s life. I really liked the casting of Jamie Foxx as the President and, honestly, seeing a kind, humble and friendly leader made me really miss Obama. I rate this film 8/10.
Johnny Frank Garrett’s Last Word – This film was a bit of an odd one. A young man is falsely accused of a murder, found guilty and put to death by lethal injection. In his last statement he promises to make all those involved pay, and he returns from the afterlife to kill all those who had a part in the ending of his life. An easy watch but not particularly scary – 5/10.
Hereditary – I was so excited to watch this having seen it lauded as the scariest film of the year but I was left massively disappointed. I won’t tell you too much about the storyline because it has some twists that I don’t want to spoil, but it felt like the majority of the film was building up the backstory and, honestly, the only parts that I felt could even be construed as scary were literally in the last 20-minutes or so and it felt like even then, it was rushed through in order to wrap up all the loose ends and get to an ending. I was gutted; I really wanted this to offer more and I think the storyline definitely had the potential to do so! 6/10.
Extinction – Ah this was so good! The male lead keeps having recurring dreams about beings from outer space coming down to Earth and causing a mass extinction – except it turns out that they aren’t dreams; they’re premonitions. You follow the story as he tries to save his family and get them to safety which sounds like a pretty normal route for a film to go down, but there’s a great little twist in here which really got me thinking about how us humans as a species feel it’s ok to go into another habitat and take over, causing loss of homes and lives for other creatures. A good watch and a subtle comment on society. I really enjoyed this and rate it 8/10.
Adrift – Based on a true story this follows the life of a couple who set out to sail halfway across the world, only to be caught in a terrible storm which leaves their boat in ruins and letting in water, and leaving them to fight for their lives. I’m terrified of water so for me this is my worst nightmare, and knowing that it actually happened in real life makes it all the more horrifying. Definitely worth a watch – an incredible story of love and survival. I rate it 8/10.
Mission Impossible: Fallout – I’m not a big fan of Tom Cruise as a person, but I do like the Mission Impossible series of films and their most recent offering didn’t disappoint. You’ve got the usual high octane car chases and explosions, with Cruise’s character, Hunt, racing to save the world. As always, despite my general dislike for him, I couldn’t help but be seriously impressed by the stunts he undertook, including jumping between buildings (during which he broke his ankle in real life, the resulting pained run away upon landing was actually real) and him doing a halo jump which looked absolutely terrifying and he managed to continue acting throughout. You know what to expect when you settle down to watch a Mission Impossible film and they never fail to deliver – 8/10.
Feature 12 blogger spotlight posts
I wrote all about the incredible Grace from Almost Amazing Grace. I waxed lyrical about my absolute fandom of this friend of mine, so I won’t say too much here, but go and take a read of it here.
Go on a Jack The Ripper tour
I ticked this one off thanks to Haydy who booked us on to a tour with Strawberry Tours as my birthday gift! It was such a good night and so interesting. A lot of the sites where the ladies lost their lives are now lost as they’ve been built on, but it was humbling to wander the same streets and alleyways as they would have done all those years ago, struggling to make enough money to feed themselves and find a bed for the night. The first murder was 130 years ago the very next night after our tour which made it all the more poignant.
Visit a London museum
I guess I kind of did this when I visited the British Museum of Food’s Scoop! Exhibition in King’s Cross and learnt all about the history of ice cream. I’m going to leave this on the list though as I might try and see if I can squeeze in one of the other, bigger, museums at some point within the next year.
Keep a hand-written diary and write in it (almost) every day
Well I tried… I’ve written exactly 2 entries, whoops! I just keep forgetting and by the time I go to bed I just want to sleep. Perhaps I need to think about changing the time of day I write it and go for first thing in the morning, recounting the activities of the day before? Or perhaps I just need to pull myself together and actually do what I set out to do?
Declutter our house
I’ve made a start on this. We cleared out all the kitchen cupboards a couple of weekends ago and next on the agenda is to start sorting through our bedroom and then the spare room. I have so many clothes I don’t wear anymore, plus cupboards and drawers that we haven’t looked in for ages; we can definitely throw out the contents of those, I’m sure! It feels good getting rid of clutter, I have to say!
Have one date night a month
We went along to a local cinema that was hosting a special showing of Terminator 2 in their 4DX screen. I had never seen anything in 4DX as I always thought it was a bit of a gimmick, but it was brilliant. The chairs moved interactively with the action on the screen, air was blown towards us and past our ears during high speed chase scenes, and water was sprayed in our faces when it suited the storyline. I really enjoyed it!
Put up more photos around the house
Well, not photos as such, but I have hung five prints that I bought from Desenio a little while ago, plus have some other bits and pieces on their way from Amazon which will be going up to make the house a little more ‘us’ and homely. Because we live in rented we don’t like to bang too many nails or screws into the wall, so we’re using Command strips for everything and OH MY WORD they are amazing! I don’t know how they can hold so much weight, but they do, and when you take them off the wall once you’re done using them, they leave no marks – it’s like they were never there. A total must-have for your ‘Drawer Of Bits’ (we all have those, right?)
Make lunch 4 out of every 5 working days
For the most part, I’ve done alright at this! Our fridge-freezer died so we were without food for a few days and I had to buy lunches, but generally I’m doing well at this! Ben likes to have his ‘Filthy Fridays’ where he buys himself something nice for lunch, but I try to take lunch in with me every day as it just saves so much money.
Finish decorating the house
I’m onto approximately the 57th coat of white paint on the doors, panelling and skirting boards in the bathroom but they don’t seem to be getting any lighter. I’m losing the will to live with it to be honest! Other than the paint, I finished all the other elements of the bathroom early on today, putting up shelves for all our toiletries to make the room look more tidy, and adding candles and artificial lavender to try and make it look a little more cosy and welcoming. I keep going upstairs just to take a look at it – does anyone else do that when they’ve made part of their home look amazing?!
Overall, I don’t think this is a bad start for the first month! Most of these have involved being at home, which is ideal for a little hermit homebody like me, but I will have to crack on and do some more of the more sociable, outdoor tasks soon!
I’ll check in next month to let you know how I’m doing… fingers crossed!
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