Album of the Week 010 ~ My Universe by The Shires

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Album: My Universe by The Shires

Release Date: September 2016

My Favourite Tracks: Beats To Your Rhythm, Not Even Drunk Right Now, A Thousand Hallelujahs

Album Notes

I’m off to see The Shires again next week, so I thought it was about time that I had a listen to their second album.

I first discovered them having heard them on Bob Harris Country on Radio 2 a few years ago. Since then, I have been to see them numerous times (I think I’m up to four), and I just think they are great.

My Universe is much of the same as what has come before, which sounds derogatory, but isn’t. It’s a great blend of the vocals of Chrissie and Ben, who make up the band, and the songs are a great example of UK country music; they sound like true Southern US country songs but with that something slightly different that comes from being from somewhere else.

I’m really looking forward to heading to see them again next week, as well as stuff from the new album, I’m hoping to hear my favourites from the first one!

Photo an Hour #43 ~ February 2017

I’m not going to start this post bemoaning the fact that I am never up to date with anything – it just gets boring!

February’s Photo an Hour took place on Saturday the 18th, a day on which I had no real plans. This is often the way with a Saturday; they just end up involving pottering around and spending too much money.

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8am | Reading in bed. The best days start like this.
9am | My huge mug filled with tea.

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10am | Saturday mornings are invariably soundtracked by these two. (Some time I’m going to count up how many times they’ve appeared in my Photo an Hour posts!)
11am | Off out wearing a scarf my friend V bought me for my birthday (it’s a map of Manhattan). I look very orange in the photo, but my make-up tastes don’t lie that way, so I think it was a trick of the light.

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12pm | A vegan burger in a cafe in Sudbury called Kind Cuisine.
1pm | Charity shopping; Sudbury has some good ones.

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2pm | Heading home, and marvelling at the blue skies and sunshine that have since taken over our weather in recent weeks.
3pm | Home from the shops and admiring my bargain of a dress that went on to be worn at my friend’s wedding. £10 for a Billie and Blossom dress in Dorothy Perkins was very welcome.

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4pm | Reading again, with athletics on in the background.
5pm | My friend Hannah was dog-sitting on this weekend, so she went and picked up Scooby and brought her back to ours for the evening.

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6pm | The sunshine and blue skies hadn’t translated to a warm house, so the fire was on and crappy Saturday night television was being watched.
7pm | Neapolitan ice cream – sophisticated? No. Tasty? But of course.

And that’s where I finished off. A fairly short (and not very interesting) Photo an Hour day in the end!

As ever, one of the joys of a Photo an Hour day is the company we keep – there’s now a sizable group of us who join in together on Instagram and Twitter and through blogs after the event (though not usually this long after). If you’d like to join in with the next one, we’ll be playing again on Saturday 22nd April. I send out a quick email reminder a couple of days in advance (when I remember), you can sign up for that here or via the form on the right hand side of this page.`

February & March 2017 Books

February & March

Not having been in the blogging swing of things lately, I missed a February round up for books, so I thought I’d combine two months in one!

The Frog Theory by Fiona Mordaunt *
You can read my full review of this book here; it’s a very short novel about three teenagers coming to terms with their difficult starts in life and navigating early adulthood. It’s not a book that I would honestly recommend, having found it to lose its way fairly spectacularly in the final third. It starts off exploring some interesting themes, but I wasn’t overly fond of it in the end.

Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway
The premise of this YA book drew me in; a small child is abducted from by his father, who has recently separated from his mother. His next door neighbour, Emmy, was his best friend, but has had to learn to live in the shadow of his disappearance, until one day, when they are seventeen, he is found, and returns home. It’s an interesting idea, and the author neatly explores the idea that it’s not just Oliver who was affected when he went missing; the consequences are far-reaching. Ultimately though, it’s another enjoyable YA book that is fun while you’re reading it, but doesn’t blow your mind.

Last Bus to Woodstock by Colin Dexter
I picked this up in a charity shop a while ago, around the time that I first started watching Endeavour. Never one to just like a thing, I have to throw myself wholeheartedly into it. I have never actually watched Inspector Morse, so I thought I’d try and read the books first. This is the first in the series, and it’s fine, though very seventies in its outlook in terms of women and sexual violence. I enjoyed it as a crime mystery though, and at some point I will try and pick up the next in the series.

Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon
I have heard nothing but good things about Nicola Yoon’s novels, so thought it was about time I read one. Everything Everything is about a young woman, Maddie, who has such a severe immunodeficiency disease that she is unable to leave the house. Life has been plodding along in such a way for Maddie for almost the entirety of her life, until Olly moves in next door, and brings with him an exciting new possibility, as Maddie falls for him instantly. I liked this book a lot; though I guessed which way things were going, it’s beautifully written. The film is due out later in the year; having watched the trailer since reading the book, I’m not sure it’s necessarily going to capture the story in the way I want it to.

The Twins at St. Clare’s by Enid Blyton
I was a Malory Towers girl, and despite having at least some of the books on the family bookcase, I’ve never actually read any St. Clare’s books. Starting at the beginning of the series, I realised that Enid Blyton essentially wrote two different boarding school books without changing an awful lot. Many of the characters are just carbon copies of one another! But here we have twins, instead of one central character (Darrel Rivers 4eva), which lends a slightly different air to things. I don’t own all the books, so I’m reserving the rest of them at the library!

Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz
This was on my reservation list at the library for months and months, but it finally arrived, and it was totally worth the wait! The story is made up of two parts; a book editor receives a book called Magpie Murders to read, the latest in a series by the small publishing house’s star author. We get to read the manuscript in its entirety – almost. When she gets to the end, she realises that it’s unfinished, and this sets in motion an amateur investigation by this editor, as she starts to uncover mysteries surrounding the author and his life. I really enjoyed it – two mysteries for the price of one is never a hardship – though I was slightly put out by the denouement, which I won’t spoil here. The reveal of the mystery was fine, it was rather the way in which our central character ended the story that bothered me slightly, but it’s a small complaint, and multiple mentions of Simon Mayo and Radio 2 definitely helped up the star rating (if I had star ratings).

A Secret Garden by Katie Fforde *
I used to read a lot of Katie Fforde. Something about the middle England settings and the romances really appealed to me. My reading habits have changed somewhat since then, but when I spotted this one on Netgalley, I thought I’d give it a go. Nothing has changed; this is a story about two white women; one of whom is middle aged, one of whom is younger. The middle aged one is also middle class, working for a living but comfortable, and enjoying friendships with the local aristocracy. The younger one is poorer, but not destitute, and evidently has enough money to pursue her dream career that doesn’t pay a lot of money. The story mostly follows their romantic lives (both are straight), though there is a side story of the secret garden of the title. There’s nothing wrong with this kind of book, it’s just that I think the world has moved on, and I certainly have, from this very white, very straight, very middle class collection of characters.

The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer
The only thing I have ever seen Amy Schumer do is Trainwreck, the film she wrote and starred in a couple of years ago. I’ve never seen her television series, and though I followed her on social media for a while, I had to unfollow because she started to get on my nerves. She’s a funny lady, and this is an interesting book; she covers everything from her father’s multiple sclerosis, and her former life as a shoplifter, to oral sex and her career as a stand up comedian. She’s eloquent and interesting, and she doesn’t make excuses for herself; she’s relentlessly honest, or certain appears to be. I didn’t laugh all that much with this book, there were a few asides that I felt were trying too hard to get me to laugh, and they didn’t quite come off. But I found it interesting, and with each ‘chapter’ simply an essay on a topic that she feels strongly about, it’s an easy read.

Books with an asterisk were provided by publishers for a review.

Books in 2017 – 11

Album of the Week 009 ~÷ by Ed Sheeran

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Album : ÷ by Ed Sheeran

Release Date : March 2017

My Favourite Tracks : New Man, What Do I Know?, Bibia Be Ye Ye, Barcelona, Supermarket Flowers

Album Notes

Well look at me, talking about an album that has only been out for eleven days! It’s almost as though I am cool or something. Except, of course, I’m not. I have no huge love for Ed Sheeran, as such; I like the odd single that he has released and I have heard on the radio, but I’ve never listened to an album. I only really listened to this one because I work with people who have an average age of around 23, and they had been talking about it.

All in all, this isn’t really my kind of music. I know that it’s very popular, and I’m not just saying this to be contrary. It’s just not entirely my cup of tea. That’s not to say that I don’t like anything on here; as you can see from my favourite tracks up there, there’s a few that I do like, and I like them a lot. I was surprised to hear what can only be described as a Bellowhead-style track with Nancy Mulligan, and ultimately I find the whole thing quite disjointed. We jump from Supermarket Flowers, which is a sad and poignant song about loss, to Barcelona, which is an upbeat pop song with (obviously) Spanish influences. But it’s an enjoyable enough way to spend 45 minutes!

Album of the Week 008 ~ La La Land Soundtrack

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Album : La La Land – The Soundtrack

Release Date : December 2016

My Favourite Tracks : City of Stars, Mia & Sebastian’s Theme, Someone in the Crowd, Start a Fire

Album Notes

I didn’t really want to include soundtracks in my weekly (or thereabouts) albums, because they aren’t properly albums. But last week, this didn’t leave my turntable. Just kidding – as if I can afford to buy this on vinyl? Spotify all the way.

I know La La Land, as a film, has divided film lovers. You either love it, or you really, really don’t like it. I completely understand why people don’t like it; if I didn’t like it, I wouldn’t like it either, if that makes sense. But I do like it. I like it a lot. And a lot of that has to do with the music that has been stuck in my head for a week. It’s hard for me to describe just how much I like this music. It’s a bit like it’s always been in my head, and it took this film to come along and unlock it – that sounds totally pretentious, I know, and possibly as though I think that the score and songs are somehow derivative. But I don’t mean that at all, I just think they feel familiar in a really, really good way.

it’s City of Stars that has really been doing the rounds in my brain, and I do absolutely love it, but it’s the piano on Mia & Sebastian’s Theme that has really won my heart.

 

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