February & March 2018 Books

What do we have here – a blog post? Surely not, I hear you cry, for that Jane calls herself a blogger but doesn’t actually write anything. But here I am, trying again, and at the very least making this a place where I talk about the books I have read, because I love talking about the books I have read.

I got a bit behind with logging my monthly reads, but instead of cutting loose and starting afresh, which is tempting, I decided to go back and round things up, because I really like having this as a log of what I’ve read. I’ve been doing it in one way or another on this blog since 2011, so it would be a shame to start leaving gaps now. So without further ado, let’s look back at my February and March 2018 reads.

Feb-March-2018

Word Play by Gyles Brandreth
I randomly picked this up in the library when I was returning another book, and I managed to read it over the course of one day. It’s a look at language and how we use it, so it explores the likes of palindromes, puns, spoonerisms, anagrams and so much more. It’s clear (if you didn’t already know) that Gyles Brandreth is a lover of language and words, and though he’s quite eccentric about it, it’s a lot of fun to try the word games that he suggests when you can’t sleep!

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
The last few months feel as though they have been quite heavy on books that I want to read before I see the film, and this is one such example. A Wrinkle in Time is beloved in the U.S., and with the film hitting cinemas a couple of months ago, I wanted to see what all the fuss is about. It tells the story of Meg Murry, a young girl whose father has gone missing, and her attempts to reach him wherever he might be. She’s helped on her quest by three mysterious women, and ends up travelling outside of the universe to try and reach him. In all honesty, I was slightly underwhelmed by the book, but I think that maybe I needed to have been immersed in the universe of the story as a younger person to appreciate it in the way that millions of Americans do.

The Red Parts by Maggie Nelson
I’m always on the lookout for good true crime books, and I’d heard about this on one of the many podcasts that I listen to. I had already heard the story of the murder at the centre of the story; a young student, Jane Mixer, accepted a lift from someone when she was travelling home from college in the late 1960s, and was murdered by him, though he was not caught at the time. I was expecting this to be a straight telling of the story of her murder and the killer’s eventual capture, but it was actually a lot different. It’s written by Jane’s niece, who never actually met her aunt, but whose murder has obviously affected her family’s lives ever since. The story mostly follows the trial of the man who was eventually arrested and subsequently charged with the murder, and it’s a powerful and personal account of the grief that her whole family had lived with for over 30 years.

The Viceroy’s Daughters by Anne de Courcy
My favourite type of biography centres around high society women in the early 20th century. Sure, for the most part, they are flouncing around at parties and sleeping with men who are not their husbands, but many of them were undeniably involved in world politics (either directly or indirectly) at a time when the world was veering from one disaster to the next. This one follows the three Curzon sisters, Irene, Cimmie and Baba, who were connected to incredibly powerful men, first through their father, and then through their husbands and lovers. I listened to this on audiobook, and aside from a couple of really bad sound quality issues at various points, I really loved listening to it.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Another book that I was reading before I saw the film. I’d had it on my TBR since last September, fully intending to read it in good time so that I didn’t go into the film with the story and characters too fresh in my head (that’s a sure way to put you off a film, I’ve found!). However, in true me style, I left it right to the last minute, and ended up finishing it mere days before I saw it at the cinema. I loved the book, way way more than I thought I was going to. In terms of world-building, it’s pretty much unparalled with anything else I’ve read, certainly recently. What a feat, to have created this virtual world and make it feel so immersive, and most importantly, ensure that it makes complete sense. That’s the way it felt to me anyway, and the story itself was exciting and engaging and kept me guessing all the way through. This isn’t a film review, but I’ll just say that while the movie adaptation clearly decided to veer off massively from the plot of the book, it’s still a hugely fun and enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours.

Books read in 2018 – 11

52 Films By Women 2018 ~ January, February & March

Last year I wrote about how I was trying to watch 52 films by women in 2017. I didn’t manage 52; I didn’t even manage half, finishing on 23 films that were either directed or written by women. That’s disappointing, not only because I didn’t manage to complete my goal, but also given that I watched 89 new-to-me films last year (which are the only ones I’m counting), really highlights the lack of opportunities women are given as opposed to men.

But I’m trying again in 2018, and this year, I’m even more determined to do it. Here’s what I managed in the first three months of the year.

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Their Finest – Directed by Lone Scherfig, written by Gaby Chiappe

The Greatest Showman – Co-written by Jenny Bicks

Unexpected – Directed and written by Kris Swanberg

The Post – Co-written by Liz Hannah

Blackfish – Directed and written by Gabriela Cowperthwaite

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The Big Sick – Co-written by Emily V. Gordon

Lady Bird – Directed and written by Greta Gerwig

Morvern Callar – Directed by Lynne Ramsey, written by Liana Dognini and Lynne Ramsey

My Feral Heart – Directed by Jane Gull

Montana – Written and directed by Limor Shmila

I’m really pleased with this run – I’m not exactly on track for 52 at the moment, but I’m getting there, and I’m just happy that I’m forcing myself to find more films that have women behind the scenes. Send me any recommendations you have for female-directed or written films!

Photo an Hour #48 ~ July 2017

We did Photo an Hour on 15th July, and there’s a couple of classic Jane’s-doing-photo-an-hour photos in here! We have Wittertainment, public transport, books, and a wing mirror shot. (Oh, and a whole bunch of missing hours.) The only thing missing is Pointless Celebrities!

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8am ~ Up nice and early to get into town, and of course, as is standard for a Saturday morning, catching up on the Wittertainment podcast from the day before.

9am ~ Waiting for an appointment.

10 11

10am ~ Still waiting!

11am ~ There’s a really good charity bookshop in Colchester, and I have to avoid it like the plague if I’m trying to limit the amount of books I am trying to buy. Otherwise this kind of thing happens.

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12pm ~ Is there anything more boring than a photo of a bus?

3pm ~ After a few missing hours of travelling, I was at my nephew’s birthday party, watching him delight in his new Stretch Armstrong.

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4pm ~ A wing mirror shot! What else can you take a photo of when you’re in the car, seriously?

5pm ~ We were on our way to Stratford for an evening of para athletics at London 2017, where we saw Richard Whitehead storm to victory. It was a great evening!

That’s the end of the photos, because although I took a fair amount at the athletics, they weren’t strictly part of Photo an Hour.

In case you’d like to play next time around, April’s day is set for 28th April. It’s really easy to join in, just take a photo each hour and upload it to Instagram using the hashtag, or save them for a blog post (or do both, like I try and fail to do in a timely manner). More details can be found here.

Three Reasons to listen to Casefile

 

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I’m a true crime/murder podcast nut. Seriously; I already listen to many, many podcasts on the subject, but I am always looking for another one to add to my ever-growing library on my phone.

Casefile is a true-crime podcast whose tagline is ‘Fact is scarier than fiction’. There’s currently an archive of over 70 episodes, all of which take a look at a different crime. Here are three reasons why you should listen to Casefile.

  • The cases are incredibly interesting, and where it’s an Australian production, many of them are ones that are not quite as famous as their American or British counterparts. Not all the episodes focus on Australian cases, but many do, and even the ones that feature crimes from outside of Australia, tend to be less famous. When you listen to a lot of true crime podcasts, you tend to hear the same cases crop up over and over, but that always feels less likely with Casefile.
  • The host has a great voice. He’s Australian, and committed to remaining anonymous, so we know him as the host, and that’s it. He might be discussing the most awful crimes that humans have ever perpetrated, but there’s something slightly soothing about his voice, so you may find yourself falling asleep and having horrific dreams.
  • There are plenty of true crime podcasts out there that combine crime and comedy (My Favorite Murder, All Killa No Filla, Last Podcast on the Left, S’Laughter), and they are (mostly) a lot of fun, but that’s not what Casefile sets out to do. It deals solely with the facts, even interspersing the highly researched script with the actual emergency phone calls and interview audio recordings from time to time.

My favourite episodes: Case 18 – The North Hollywood Shootout; Case 42 – Sherri Rasmussen; Case 49 – The Moors Murders (three parts); Case 50 – Jennifer Pan. Check out all Casefile episodes on their website, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Three Reasons… is an ongoing series.

Just Jane 002

A semi-regular series in which I share a fact or three about myself.

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Me, circa 1984

I’m one of six children; chronologically I come fifth, though intellectually, I’m obviously at the top. (Just kidding, any siblings who might be reading this.) We’re three boys and three girls, and that many siblings mean that I’m an aunt many times over (five nieces, five nephews, a great-niece, two step-nephews, a step-niece, and a step-great-niece). I love being part of a big family, and I can’t imagine it any other way.

I once made the statement: “I never wear lipstick.” (It was swiftly followed by “Sometimes I wear lipstick,” which has gone on to become one of those things that my friends repeat with much hilarity due to how overwhelmingly ridiculous it is.) Pretty much since that day, I’ve found that wearing lipstick is a really good way to lift my confidence. This is not news; it’s been the way of the world for many years, but it took me a while to cotton on. Now, you can usually find at least two lipsticks in any bag I own, and I’ve bought the same MUA colour about sixteen times (without using any up first).

I really like my name. I never, ever find it on personalised things like bookmarks or pencil cases, but I’m mostly OK with that. I like that it’s a bit of an old lady name because it means that I rarely meet people of my own age with the same name. I like that it’s one syllable because it can’t be shortened but it can be lengthened. I’ve been known as Janey and Janus in the past, though mostly now I am just Jane.