Read, Watch and Listen (July)

My regular readers will know that I love nothing more than a good book, a great TV show and something cool to listen to. Now that it is finally the summer holidays I intend to spend a lot of quality time immersed in great books and absorbing plenty of worthwhile entertainment. So let me find you some tasty morsels to read, watch and listen to in July.

Today I particularly wanted to share with you some of the most intriguing content that is keeping me occupied currently. As I lounge around on the settee, I need nothing more than access to a couple of paperbacks and a TV remote in order to be totally satisfied. Yes – I am easy to please. I do have high standards though and will soon give up on a TV show or story if it doesn’t sustain my interest. A podcast has to be eye-opening or funny to keep me coming back for more.

Heartstopper 3 by Alice Oseman

I love Heartstopper. It is easy to read any one of the (currently) four books in a single sitting. These stories originated as web-comics which were firstly posted in bursts on Tumblr and then published after the success of Oseman’s first novel – Solitaire.

Charlie and Nick have a love story that is full of twists and turns. It looks at the issues facing young people as they come to terms with their sexuality and is done in a fun and entertaining way. I feel that Heartstopper is groundbreaking and would have made so much difference if it existed in the nineties when I was growing up.

If you like to dabble in YA books, then these LGBTQ+ books are feel-good pockets of joy. I read the first two a while ago and have finally opened the third instalment, which was just as good as the rest.

HiJack – Apple TV Plus

I am in the middle of this exciting Apple TV Plus drama about a flight from Dubai to London which was taken over by hijackers. Starring Idris Elba as Sam, the confident tactician who finds himself amidst a hostile takeover in the air, this series is gripping and relentless.

Although we expect a hijack from the start, there are so many interwoven plot points which make this TV show unpredictable. It is cleverly written and fast paced. Each episode keeps you on your feet as you try to work out what on Earth is going on.

The Witch Trials of J K Rowling

This controversial and detailed seven episode series is a podcast which explores some of the issues surrounding J K Rowling being ostracised by parts of society.

I honestly knew very little about her situation but was aware that she had upset a large community because of her posts on twitter. I was recommended this podcast as a neutral exploration of the build up to this subject.

It is easy to take sides but I felt I didn’t have enough information to make an informed judgement. This podcast delves into unfair treatment of trans people and the possible interpretations of J K’s words.

I can see now from both sides what some of the issues are. Listen for yourself to be better informed about the matter. The podcast host probes J K deeply and cross-examines protesters as well. It seems a fairly balanced production with eye-opening revelations from both sides.

And Finally

I hope that one of these suggestions has grabbed your interest. Every month I try to recommend something to read, watch and listen to and I value your thoughts on my choices. Please drop a comment with your take on any of them and your own suggestions.

If you are looking for another gritty drama, check out my review of the Paramount Plus series – Yellowjackets. Also please consider following my blog for similar future content.

Two TV Shows I Am Enjoying

Always looking for entertaining TV shows, I thought it would be fun to share a couple that I am currently loving. I watch all sorts of dramas and comedies and sometimes documentaries as well as films on TV streaming services. Today I am talking about two TV shows that are keeping me hooked for different reasons.

I am enough of a TV fan to pay for lots of streaming apps that I dip into all of the time. I use Disney Plus, Apple TV Plus, Netflix, Now TV, Paramount Plus and Amazon Prime. It sounds like a lot but I treat myself to these and definitely get a lot out of watching them.

And Just Like That (Season 2)

Having been a regular viewer of the excellent ‘Sex and the City’ series back in the 90s, I was always going to try the new incarnation. Already on its second season, the revamp of SITC is already a hit.

Seeing Carrie Bradshaw going through midlife challenges alongside her trusty friends is satisfying. Instead of writing a column for a newspaper, she is now a successful podcast contributor and novelist.

Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) is back with Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) and Charlotte (Kristin Davis) and some new mates. Miranda is getting to grips with being bisexual and struggling to negotiate a separation from Steve. Meanwhile, Charlotte is parenting two teenagers who keep her on her feet.

The storylines have been varied and funny. I have laughed out loud at some scenes and had teary eyes during the dramatic parts.

The Bear (Season 1)

This fast-paced show is about a chef who has taken on the family business, an American diner, after his brother died. Having worked in a top class restaurant in Copenhagen, Carmen (Jeremy White) leads a great cast in a programme about competition, survival and family ties.

Sydney (Ayo Edebiri) comes on as second-in-charge but as a young chef she finds it hard to win over a long standing cook. The interaction between the characters is believable and interesting, with heightened emotions coupled with kitchen disasters and moments of silliness.

I feel like I am learning about the fine art of cooking while also gobbling up plenty of drama with every episode. The acting is strong and the half hour instalments are really gripping.

The series is edgy as the restaurant, called BEEF, often has breakages which result in inventive money raising. For instance a fridge condenser needs repairing and so the owner’s cousin decides to sell drugs in order to fix the fridge and get the place on track.

Final Thoughts

If you haven’t tried either of these programmes, you definitely should. The Bear is on Disney Plus and was nominated for awards. It will be back with its second series on 19th July.

And Just Like That has returned with great storylines and plenty of tongue-in-cheek humour. It is well worth checking out on Now TV or Sky.

Thank you for reading my article about two TV shows I am enjoying. You can find out about another great Paramount TV show called YellowJackets here. Please drop a comment below about any of these programmes. Perhaps also follow my blog for similar future TV, film and book reviews alongside environmental articles.

Yellowjackets Review

Today I wanted to share my thoughts on a massive Paramount TV production. This TV series has just concluded its second season on Paramount Plus and is due a third season. If you are looking for something exciting and quirky to watch, read ahead for my ‘Yellowjackets’ review.

What’s it all about?

When a group of girl soccer players were involved in a 1990s plane crash, they made their home in an abandoned hut in the forest. Yellowjackets follows their story as they tried to survive, while also showing them as grown ups in the present day.

To begin with, the flashbacks are quite short but as the seasons go on, we see more and more. The characters include a quirky carer, a politician, a cult leader and a troubled mum of a teenage girl. As we track each personality we explore how messed up their lives are. The time spent in the wilderness certainly had a lot to do with that.

Strong Characters

Melanie Lynskey (Heavenly Creatures) plays the mum and wife at the centre of this story. Her husband was dating her friend when they first got together and they have a difficult history. She is distracted by an artist who tempts her to have an affair. At the same time she will do anything to stop people find out the tragic things that her friends got up to whilst stranded in the forest.

Misty is a carer who is less than conventional, played by Christina Ricci, who is known for her role as Wednesday Addams in the 1990s films. She is hilarious in this role, with her quirkiness and good intentions. The young version of her is very believable as are the other teenage actors.

Juliet Lewis plays Natalie who is a hardened drinker that stirs things up. She went through a lot in the wilderness and discovers a suicide of a guy she was close to as a teenager. Getting back together with the Yellowjackets, her character is edgy and willing to do what it takes to protect her friends.

In A Nutshell

This is an exciting TV show that is filled with adventure and emotions. I love the combination of danger and humour. One minute I am belly laughing and the next I am freaked out. Yellowjackets is not for the feint hearted as there are some fairly gruesome scenes. Nonetheless it is probably my number one TV programme at the moment and I cannot wait for its return.

Final Thoughts

I can totally recommend this show to you. It is full of intrigue, drama and laugh-out-loud moments. The acting is great and the narrative is very twisted, with lots of unpredictable events. You will find the first two series on Paramount Plus, which is accessible through Amazon Prime with an additional payment.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my Yellowjackets review. If you are looking for another TV show to watch, check my review of The Last Of Us. Please consider following my blog for more book, TV and film reviews.