Read, Watch, Listen 3

Every couple of weeks I like to share a sample of what I am currently finding entertaining. I have enjoyed reviewing books and TV shows in the past and now like to include something podcast related too. Here are three new suggestions that I’d like to recommend.

What I am reading

Currently I am enjoying several books and the one I am most engrossed by is ‘Apples Never Fall’ by Liane Moriarty. As usual, her books never give too much away at the beginning. She is brilliant at dropping us into a story and then, like a stone in a puddle, the ripples take us on an exciting journey.

With this book a young woman arrives at a house in a shocked state. The owners are an elderly couple who used to own a tennis academy. They take her in, believing they must know her but when they realise they don’t, they are already invested in her story.

We already know from the introduction that the old woman had kids and they are worried about her, so there is plenty of intrigue from the beginning. I am not even half way through but am totally hooked on this book.

What I am watching

Stranger Things Season Four has arrived after a long wait and so far it has lived up to expectations. If you have never watched this brilliant 1980s based sci-fi drama before, where have you been? It is a combination of comedy and horror, especially this season. I won’t give out any spoilers but suffice to say the song ‘Running up that hill’ by Kate Bush has featured heavily and is now at Number 2 in the UK pop charts as a result.

Winona Ryder leads a cast which includes some rapidly growing up kids and Lily Allen’s husband, David Harbour. Elle (Millie Bobby Brown) has a link to The Upside Down, a strange parallel world where horrible monsters seem to live. The town of Hawkins has a weird connection to this upside down world too and people keep getting either dragged into it or killed by it.

This is way too complex for me to sum up in a few sentences but my favourite thing about Stranger Things is the 1980s nostalgia which takes me back to my own childhood. Check it out soon and make sure you start from Season One.

What I am listening to

I love listening to this podcast all about Bees. It is hosted by the very funny Jane Horrocks (Absolutely Fabulous) and the talented Esther Coles. Although QueenBees podcast began as an homage to all things Bee, they now discuss lots of other related subjects such as making wax candles from bee products and gardening tips.

This fun and educational podcast is really just two best friends chatting about anything and everything, whilst hanging around beehives. Needless to say, I absolutely love it!

Thank you for taking the time to read my suggestions for a TV show, podcast and book. My last set of reviews is here and if you want to check out future recommendations please consider following my blog.

Read, Watch, Listen 2

A few weeks ago I decided to review a book, a TV show and a podcast in the same blog post and was happy with the outcome. So this week I have once again put together my three current sources of entertainment.

Each of these is worth checking out. I am half way through the book and the TV series. With the podcast, I am catching up on episodes and currently listening to all of the new episodes as they are published.

What I am reading

Currently I am making my way through ‘Different Class’ by Joanne Harris. It follows on from the brilliant ‘Gentlemen and Players’ which really got me rooted in these school- based dramas.

I really love this story as it builds so cleverly, with alternating chapters by two key characters. Joanne’s writing is always so brilliant and the way she creates a backstory for the latin teacher and new super head is nothing short of superb.

Let’s say the new headteacher is younger and used to be in Roy Straightly’s class. As we flick back and forth, we discover events that suggest that there is so much more to be said. Full of intrigue and skilful mastery of words, this book is totally immersive.

What I am watching

Last week I noticed that Imogen Poots was in a new sci-fi series on Amazon Prime Video. ‘Outer Range’ seemed really intriguing as it is set on a ranch in the USA and costars Josh Brolin as the cowboy patriarch (Royal) who I recall from the Kate Winslet movie, Labour Day.

A black hole has been discovered on landowner Royal’s land. A violent event leads to an investigation which is muddled by a battle for one section of land that seems to hold more value than it suggests. Meanwhile Autumn (Poots) wanted to camp in his field whilst poking her nose into local goings on.

The black hole seems to be a place to deposit bodies but can we be sure they won’t come back? When one does reappear it causes a whole load of contraversy.

What I am listening to

When I was growing up, I loved watching the hilarious ‘Big Breakfast’ programme every morning on Channel 4. Presented by Chris Evans and Gaby Roslin, it was a magazine show with great guests, funny sketches and crazy alien puppets called Zig and Zag.

Ever since, I have remained a firm fan of Gaby Roslin and so I was pleased to see her begin a podcast where she chats with famous people from all sorts of backgrounds. Starting with her friendly and fun Kate Winslet episode, I have started working my way through her previous series.

I seem to remember Gaby interviewing Kate in 1995 when she was promoting Sense and Sensibility. Gaby mentions this in the episode and The fact that Kate came on this podcast (after all her interviews are rare) shows her high regard for Roslin as a broadcaster. The banter between them is funny and honest.

Other highlights include a chat with Judi Dench, Alicia Silverstone and Jill Halfpenny. I also found Sebastian Croft from Heartstopper really interesting. There are so many cool people on it and I am yet to check out Jim Broadbent and many others.

Thank you for taking the time to read my current suggestions. If you want to check out my previous recommendations please click here. Hopefully you enjoyed this article and may consider following my blog for more of the same.

Heartstopper TV Show – Ground-breaking!

Always someone to welcome and encourage diversity, I am excited to write about the new Netflix series based on the incredible YA books written by Alice Oseman. It was definitely intriguing to see her work get picked up by Netflix but I was initially anxious that they may not represent it as wonderfully as she has.

Thankfully Netflix got Alice on board as script writer and producer during the making of the TV show and integrated some of her unique style into this brilliant take on LGBTQ romance. If you want to know more about the books, check my previous review of Heartstopper Book One here.

Heartstopper Review

This particular TV production was filmed last year in England and has been hotly anticipated ever since. Tiktok has always been fond of Alice Oseman’s best selling webcomic-turned book and the series trailers started to inspire a whole new set of inventive Heartstopper Tiktok videos right away.

Heartstopper tells the modern tale of a nervous, but likeable, Charlie Spring who is openly gay but pretty intimidated by the English equivalent of jocks (otherwise known as rugby players). Being asked to sit next to a slightly older rugby lad in class, Charlie is instantly smitten, despite that guy being apparently straight. Played by a newbie, Joe Locke, Charlie takes us on a journey through his crush.

Nick Nelson is the other lead character. As a charismatic lad who is in with the cool crowd, it surprises Charlie just how much interest in him he shows. Nick is played by Kit Connor who famously had the role of the young Elton John in the movie Rocketman.

Why is Alice Oseman so cool?

Alice originally published a book about Tori Spring, Charlie’s sister, in 2014 after signing a book deal at the age of seventeen. She followed this success with other novellas and, of course, a webcomic which was first put out weekly as a series of Tumblr cartoon strips.

Heartstopper illuminates Alice’s ability to shine a light on diversity in relation to LGBTQ issues without making the stories obscure. She has a way of handling such subjects with respect and cleverness, weaving them naturally into stories without making them seem awkward.

Following trans characters and topics such as confusion over sexuality, she has a way of making her characters very relatable and intriguing. I wish her material was around when I was younger as it would have made such a difference. It promotes acceptance and celebrates individuality.

So, in answer to my own question, Alice is cool because her stories grab readers and enable them to think carefully about these situations and feel more comfortable about their own feelings and insecurities.

The Heartstopper TV Show Itself

The director has a great way of capturing emotions and the actors are really well cast. It is a nice surprise to find out that Olivia Coleman has a guest role as Nick’s mum and it is also good to see Sebastian Croft (a young Ned Stark in Game of Thrones) playing the role of Ben, the guy who toys with Charlie’s affections while remaining safely in the closet.

Without giving too much away, this series of eight half an hour episodes is beautifully laid out with a well written script. The use of some cartoon images really adds a bit of extra Alice Oseman spark. For instance, colourful cartoon leaves float in and out of shot at key points in the episodes.

Summary

If you haven’t had time to check out this fresh and refreshing new Netflix phenomenon, what are you waiting for? It is great to see a series that discusses those issues that can consume you when growing up (and forever after). This show is a genuine heartstopper and is beautifully acted, in keeping with the thought-provoking feel good books of the amazing Alice Oseman.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my article about Heartstopper TV Show. If you enjoyed the post, please drop a comment below and consider following my little blog for similar future content.