Scarlett Epstein Hates it Here – Anna Breslaw

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Scarlett Epstein

 

I read the first few chapters of Scarlett Epstein Hates it Here by Anna Breslaw, through the book review website netgalley. As an aside, I’m quite new to the site but it looks great – you apply or request advance or proof copies of books and then, if you’re approved, they get sent to an electronic device for you to read and review.

Scarlett Epstein is a fanfic writer who loves a show about monsters (which is Buffy The Vampire Slayer, basically) and is devastated when it’s cancelled. Her best friend IRL doesn’t understand the obsession but that gap is fulfilled by a number of online fellow fan friends, some of whom are adults who have real life jobs. Scarlett’s an only child in a single parent family and feels inferior to her peers and classmates, who have whole, rich family lives (in monetary terms if not emotionally).

Her crush and love of her life, Gideon, has been stolen by her nemesis and arch enemy, who just happens to be her best friend’s sister.

The story is good and I have to say, I wanted to read more and I was a bit upset when the sneak peek ran out. My favourite character was her rebellious, weed smoking octogenarian neighbour. It reminded me a bit, bizarrely, of Anastasia Krupnik’s friendship with Mrs Stein.

I would also say that there’s more than a passing resemblance to Rainbow Rowell’s fangirl, and another parallel to be drawn with Patrick Roth’s pithy script for high schoolers. Just because it’s not entirely original does not make it a bad novel, of course.

I am looking forward to reading the rest when it comes out on April 19th – Amazon link here.

Marathon de Paris T minus 5

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Paris. My eleventh marathon and my third go at Paris. I’ve had two PBs which include my current PB of 4:12. I love the route – the city is wonderful and the parks at either end are beautiful. I even love the people who wheel their bikes/scooters/prams out into the raceway (although maybe not so much at the time).

paris route

Five months since my last running post.  That was a bit of a deliberate space, to be honest. Amsterdam was so pressured and there was so much else going on, that I couldn’t blog alongside Paris as I started a new job which takes me away from home four days a week. It felt like another Thing To Do, a chore to be put on the list, and that’s not what I want running to be about. Or blogging, for that matter.

 

As you’ve probably seen from Instagram, I’m still running and baking! We also got a new addition to the house – Peggy the ragdoll kitten. I’m in love, dear readers. She is so adorable. Even when she’s purring into your face at 6am while standing on your neck. At the moment, she’s asleep on my legs as she’s a massive heat whore and it’s a bit chilly today. She is really beautiful too, she looks like Daryl Hannah’s character, Pris,  from Bladerunner.

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We went to Edinburgh for Hogmanay which was lovely until I got sick and spent ALL day in bed on January 1st. Not a great way to start the year, to be honest.

 

In running terms, I did Adnams 10k with some friends in a lovely leisurely 1 hour 15, I think. I was grateful because I thought the storm would cancel it, so I had a few too many pints the night before. We did drink some of the Adnams beer given out on the way round!


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Going back a bit further, I had a panic attack in the middle of St Neots half marathon and had to stop to hyperventilate a bit. I’m being flippant about it now, but I worried about the worry. I think that episode was to do with stopping my anxiety medication and from starting a new job within a fortnight. I do not recommend anyone to do that, by the way. I am now on a pretty even keel and it’s all fine, although I’m still taking asthma medication. The first couple of months were horrible though, and I ended up having another panic attack during a run on Christmas Eve, where I burst into tears on Mr Charming’s shoulder. I am so thankful I have amazing friends – my running bud Hayley Hamster is awesome, and she took care of me. She didn’t let me give up.  On the upside, I did Christmas Day parkrun with friends and had a lovely time.

 

I’ve followed the up to 55mile week P&D Training plan. It’s been tough – getting up at 5am four days (or five) a week to get in 10-12miles before work, chasing the lampposts. Sitting in a hotel bedroom eating porridge at 5.15 to run around a city that you don’t know. Getting up at 5am on a Saturday to run 17miles before parkrun.  Clocking up 40-50 miles a week over five days where the rest days are the ones where you’re driving 200miles – 4hours+. Through all of this though, I’ve been getting stronger. I’ve done a 10mile race and just about equalled my half PB at Cambridge.  

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Cambridge half marathon splits

Cambridge half marathon splits

Three runs left. 6miles tomorrow. 7miles dress rehearsal on Wednesday with 5miles at MP – 9minutes per mile. Paris parkrun on Saturday at a very leisurely pace.

Then race day. I would absolutely love to do a sub 4. I know that, in my heart of hearts, when (and it is when, I know I am capable) I get it, I’ll almost immediately want faster.


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I want my race on Sunday to be the best race I can be. Controlled, fun, enjoyable. Perhaps not entirely comfortable – I don’t want to finish like Amsterdam, as if I hadn’t done anything. I want the last three months, the last 484.2 miles to be worth it. If that means a PB, brilliant. A sub 4 – even better. 30 seconds off per mile is a big ask and I know it needs to have everything to come together to work. Each mile at a time.

 

Well wishes and luck, please!

 

The Life and Death of Sophie Stark – Anna North

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I imagined Sophie to have brown eyes tbh

I imagined Sophie to have brown eyes tbh

The Life and Death of Sophie Stark by Anna North was chosen by my IRL book club (as opposed to my online book club, obvs). One of the things I love about book clubs is that it introduces me to books I wouldn’t have read otherwise, perhaps because I don’t get to go to bookshops or libraries that much at the moment, or because, in all honesty, it would have gotten lost amongst the other samey covers/titles on the tables in Waterstones. I’m glad it didn’t get lost.

 

There will be spoilers in this review, so please don’t carry on if you don’t want it spoiled.

The format is interesting in that it’s told from the perspectives of a few different people, who quickly are identified as important people in the titular Sophie’s life (and death). A brother, a lover, an agent. A first crush and husband. Sophie’s voice is absent, of course, but comes through as a layering of the recounting of her career as a promising film director.

 

As we hear from more people and follow her journey from weird girl at school to, well, weird woman with a budget to make films, the picture becomes clearer. Sophie Stark isn’t even Sophie Stark as she changed her name before university. The first film she makes, about the all star basketball player whose girlfriend shaves Sophie’s head in an attempt to make her stop stalking him, is an underground success.

From there, all of her films are successful at the expense of someone else. She makes a film about her husband’s dying mother’s suicide without his permission, and uses a personal and intimate secret about her girlfriend’s past in a film that her girlfriend is playing the lead in.

 

There is a wider question about  Sophie’s moral compass, the outcome of which depends on your own standpoint, of course. I didn’t like her as she seems to be able to pick and choose when she feels emotion, and uses those closest to her in the name of Art. That might be because I just don’t understand that level of creativity. I’ve never been driven by that need to Make Things and to express emotion so vividly and powerfully that nothing can stand in my way. I mean, apart from my teenage diaries, of course.

 

She lives, she dies and inbetween she makes beautiful films. The trouble with the medium of film in a book is, of course, that we take their word for it that it’s beautiful, through the description and reaction of the people around them and the audience.

Although it wasn’t an amazing story, I still enjoyed the descriptions and I was still taken aback at her death. She isn’t a sympathetic main character, but I didn’t hate her enough to enjoy her death.

 

I probably won’t read this again, but I did like reading it and it was reasonably quick to read too. A good beach novel, for when the summer finally arrives.