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The Oldest House in London by Fiona Rule

Published January 16, 2023

The Oldest House in London by Fiona Rule

This was an interesting concept for a book but as I was reading, I could never decide if I was enjoying it or not. The hook for the book is following the history of London by means of the oldest house in the capital, and what historical events it has seen. I guess I might have wanted it to be a bit more domestic in places, whilst fully appreciating there’s only so much evidence out there. Even so it was interesting to think about what this house has lived through - plague, fire, various monarchs and religions, protests, rebellions, two wars, and plenty of rebuilding. Overall a decent read.

Walk 1000 more

Published January 15, 2023

Walk 1000 more

We’re halfway through January now so those who were going to set resolutions have no doubt done so by now. If anyone is still looking for something to get more active and get out there, the Walk 1000 Miles initiative by Country Walking magazine caught my eye. It’s a challenge to do exactly what it says on the tin, although really the goal isn’t necessarily the target but really to get outside and get more steps in than you have before.

Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness by The Smashing Pumpkins

Published January 15, 2023

Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness by The Smashing Pumpkins

I was nervous going into this album because a) hard rock and b) two hours long! But in the end, neither of those things were too much of a problem. It only occasionally gets too much into the hard rock category, otherwise it’s just regular rock with the ups and downs that are required in an epic double album like this. It is long and I would never particularly search out an album at this length but I was never bored during it or wishing it would end, so that’s a great sign. I don’t know how much of this is going to stay with me (1979 maybe), but I’m glad to have given it a listen.

Dirt Femme by Tove Lo

Published January 15, 2023

Dirt Femme by Tove Lo

This is a great album. It took me a minute to adjust to it because I was stupidly expecting something more like Halsey. But this is more dance, and I really like it. Grapefruit is such an important song. However, it’s not all perfect, I don’t enjoy the one that samples Popcorn because how annoying is that? There’s never a reason to put Popcorn in any music. But otherwise, a good listen, great beats, fab vocals.

How to be Perfect by Michael Schur

Published January 15, 2023

How to be Perfect by Michael Schur

I don’t think I can adequately describe how much I loved this. My knowledge of philosophy has only ever been ‘I think therefore I am’ and the trolley problem, and that’s even having watched and adored every series of The Good Place. But I remember listening to the podcast that accompanied the show and whenever creator Mike Shur was on, it was always fascinating. This book is basically an extension of those epiosdes.

The men with the maps

Published January 14, 2023

The men with the maps

I’ll be honest that I don’t watch a lot of stuff on YouTube, other than the memes and clips from talk shows that gain a lot of popularity. There are a couple of channels I keep an eye on (Pitch Meetings and Tom Scott have been mentioned here previously), but I never mind a new creator to add to the list - particularly when they have fascinating videos that teach you a thing or two.

The Library of Lost and Found by Phaedra Patrick

Published January 12, 2023

The Library of Lost and Found by Phaedra Patrick

This is a really nice, gentle book of family drama and rediscovering yourself. Martha finds herself always saying yes to people and drowning in a sea of helping others, but through a mixture of new friends and revealing old family secrets, she starts to come back to life and find her way. The book does fall into the trope of dipping back and forth in time to reveal a little bit more of the story each time, but it works very well, and I enjoyed a relatively peaceful read.

It's only a little miss

Published January 11, 2023

It's only a little miss

I don’t remember being particularly fond of the Mr Men & Little Miss books as a child or at any point in my lifetime, but they were certainly around. I potentially had an affinity with Mr Bump and was suitably horrified by Mr Tickle. I didn’t know they were still being created and books were still being released with new characters all the time, it must be quite the universe at this point.

Plus a bit more

Published January 10, 2023

Plus a bit more

Apple have released a comprehensive round up of their 2022 entertainment and services - inevitably happy about how successful they have been - with wisdom from VP of the sector, Eddy Cue. There are lots of facts and figures, as you might imagine, but I do like the summary from Mr Cue: It’s remarkable how much great content is at our fingertips; that’s a testament to the extraordinary work of creators worldwide.

The Last by Hanna Jameson

Published January 10, 2023

The Last by Hanna Jameson

Overall this is a good read - the story of survivors after an all-too-believable escalation of nuclear war leaves them stranded in a hotel in Switzerland. It’s page turning, and it’s an intriguing cast of characters, but I do wonder if the book couldn’t quite decide what it was going to be. It’s part apocalypse thriller, part crime and mystery story, and part social commentary, and I don’t know how well those elements blend together. But I do like how it ended, which is always hard to do in a survival story like this.

The reliable narrator

Published January 9, 2023

The reliable narrator

The Guardian published an interesting post last week about audiobook narration and the impact artificial intelligence could have on it. The post talks to an author who was working with Apple on a secret project that allows AI voices to provide the narration on an audiobook - and evaluates whether it’s any good or not. From sentence to sentence, the cadence of the narrator’s voice glides forward, then snags on an artificial syllable.

The best godmother in the world

Published January 8, 2023

The best godmother in the world

I was so busy watching Sam Ryder do his thing on New Year’s Eve for the BBC that I totally missed what was happening in other corners of the world - in particular Miley Cyrus pulling out all the stops and performing with a variety of guests for NBC. Dolly Parton was one of the featured friends, and the pair cruised through Wrecking Ball and Jolene and a few other hits.

Troublegum by Therapy?

Published January 8, 2023

Troublegum by Therapy?

The first track of this album almost immediately put me off as it was just a lot of screaming. But then once that was out the way, it was better… some pretty standard 90s hard rock. I don’t know that it’s an album that will live with me or I will particularly remember in future but it was fine to listen to and was an energetic start to the year!

Through the Madness by Maddie & Tae

Published January 8, 2023

Through the Madness by Maddie & Tae

The way artists release music is continually changing and evolving and so I keep adapting the ‘rules’ of this album adventure to try and keep up. I don’t think in the past I would have even considered listening to EPs, but these two were branded as the first and second half of a singular album, so I’m saying it counts. In terms of the music, it’s just good solid nice country pop music - nothing hugely groundbreaking and not the big focus on storytelling like some of the other country singers, but enjoyable songs that are nice to listen to.

TBR, TBC

Published January 7, 2023

TBR, TBC

While we’re talking about books, one of the new year resolutions I haven’t specifically talked about is the one about not buying any more books to take up space on my digital bookshelf. I don’t want to talk numbers because I’m embarrassed, but I’ve built up quite a collection of books for an excessive TBR (to be read) list, and it’s going to take some time to get through them.

The Happy Hoofer by Celia Imrie

Published January 7, 2023

The Happy Hoofer by Celia Imrie

I’ve seen Celia in plenty of film and TV over the years but didn’t know a lot about her life so this was an interesting read. It starts with a turbulent childhood, including a real struggle with eating disorders because of the body pressures on being a dancer, and then through a lengthy and varied career on stage and screen. Every moment is told with humour but there are the occasional reality checks and moments where Celia realises something about herself. It’s fun to hear about the moments behind the scenes of much-loved creations, the Exotic Hotel, working with Victoria Wood, and of course some of Britain’s best-loved TV. Not all of it is great but all of it is a lesson. A good read, this one.

Five star book report 2022

Published January 6, 2023

Five star book report 2022

I read a lot last year, in all sorts of formats. Along with the poetry and comics that I was trying out for the first time, there were the regularly scheduled books, audiobooks, reference books, shorts and a great mix of genres through them all. I’ve noticed a few more physical books creeping into my life, mostly as gifts but occasionally because that just is the best format for reading something in.

Cogs and the machines

Published January 5, 2023

Cogs and the machines

I’ve written about previously stumbling on Richard Hammond’s Workshop, the Discovery+ programme that follows Mr Hammond trying to get his new classic car restoration business off the ground. A second series just finished in December, and I enjoyed the second just as much as the first, although found it just as frustrating. Hammond still likes to throw money at a problem before actually sitting and thinking about the consequences but you can’t fault his enthusiasm.

Q1 movies - Life's a scream

Published January 4, 2023

Q1 movies - Life's a scream

Thanks to a Halloween binge and the inevitable Christmas slush-fest of films, we just about managed to watch 100+ movies last year. That’s always the aim, but it was a close run thing. There just haven’t been many that really grab attention, aside from the regularly scheduled Marvel and Star Wars releases. But it’s always worth keeping an eye on what else is coming up and these are the movies that are due to be released over the next three months that I’ll give a second glance.

News for a new year

Published January 3, 2023

News for a new year

I have not been very good at following global news over the last couple of years, mostly because the news tends to focus on all those things that are, you know, the end of the world. I find it hard. But I’m maybe starting to lift my head out of the sand a little bit and do want to keep up with events where I can, so have been approaching news outlets that focus on more than just the obvious topics.