November round up

November feels like its crept up on me and now its only weeks before the end of the year! I think we can all agree that the world feels like a very strange place thanks to events of November and I don’t really know where we go from here… In more local news, this month saw my niece turn five (HOW ON EARTH IS SHE FIVE YEARS OLD?!), I joined the Emotional Roadshow in Brussels and though the trip wasn’t quite as planned, Brussels was a very interesting place and the show was amazing, you can see more of that here! I also got to see Billy Elliot live on stage (by jove that was fun) and spend time in my home town hanging out with the fam. My parents and I did a tour of the Houses of Parliament, which was so good, I also got to witness my dad get mad at tourists for ruining his photo op when he was being a complete tourist! Actually, I spent a lot of time with my parents this month which has been really nice.

What I read this month:

26117652The Rest of us Just Live Here – Patrick Ness
Urgh. I love Patrick Ness so muuuuuch. So, like, you know all those stories where the unlikely hero/heroine is just this teenage kid that goes around slaying demons/ saving the world whilst handing in their history homework and stuff? Do you ever wonder whats going on with their classmates and what they think of the situation? Well, wonder no more! This is the story of Mikey, his friends and his family who live in a town regularly invaded by aliens, vampires etc but its ok because they’re not the chosen ones and the indie kids at school always sort those problems out for them which is fair enough cos Mikey has enough going on with his dysfunctional family life and all he wants to do is graduate and go to prom before yet another apocalypse begins so… Just pure and utter brilliance once again from someone who is fast becoming my favourite author ever. I’m not sure if by writing this Ness is admitting to being a complete Buffy fan boy or if he hates it, but either way. AWESOME. Also, if you didn’t know, Patrick Ness is the writer behind the Doctor Who spin off – Class, which is as the title suggests, Class. Check it out!

10814687Whispers Underground – Ben Aaronovitch
Finally I got around to reading the next in the Rivers of London series! I love the way these are written, I’ve said it before, the Peter Grant books are how I hoped the Harry Potter series would end up. Other than the magic, the wonderful narration, the humour and the way the mysteries are shaped, I do love books where the setting itself ends up being a character and as I love the city of London and know it well, its always a bit special seeing all these places I’ve stomped around coming to life as Peter goes about his business!

20733840Mr Penumbra’s 24 hour book store – Robin Sloane
This has been on my to read list for what feels like forever, then Sophie posted a review, so I had to bump it up a few spaces! Also according to my goodreads (be my friend?) a couple of other people started reading this around the same time as I did, so I’m looking forward to their thoughts! This was one of those really addicting books that I kind of felt lost without, its a mystery set around a bookshop with an enigmatic owner and has the power of google and the power of books coming together to solve the puzzle! That’s about as much as I can say without ruining it completely. If nothing else, you have to love a book about books!

16122237Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – Newt Scamander
(Should I credit this to JK Rowling or is putting Newt’s name on it ok?) After watching the film, I thought I ought to return to the magical world and so picked this up! Fun fact, I brought this with my first ever wage packet and haven’t looked at it since! While its a shame that this doesn’t include instructions on how to do the mating dance as beautifully demonstrated by Eddie Redmayne in the movie, it does fill my Harry Potter loving heart with joy!

Films I watched this month:

You may have noticed if you follow me on twitter, have been keeping up with my Film reviews in 10 tweets or less posts or this video, that I really like films and that I spend a lot of time watching them, so here are all the films (some new, some rewatches) that graced my television this month!

  • In Bruges
    Thought it would be a good way to prepare for going to Belgium. It just made me want to go to Bruges too!
  • The Aristocats
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
    This was so charming! I was a bit wary what with how bad the cursed child script is and the fact that Johnny Depp was named as a cast member, but it was just so lovely! I nerded out about it for about a week after seeing it and now I have so many theories and I love Newt and I want to give Credence a hug!

TV I watched his month:

  • Once Upon A Time
  • Class
  • The Missing
    It was recommended that I catch up on this and dear God, if you need a thriller that keeps you guessing at every turn you should track this down!
  • How to get away with murder
    All I have to say on this is Coliver: 
    iwillgodownwiththisship
  • Supernatural
  • Brooklyn Nine Nine
  • Gilmore Girls: Year in the Life
    I don’t know how I feel about the revival. On the one hand there is all the Luke/Loralai which I LOVED, the life and death brigade came back which I LOVED, Emily had the best storyline and there were so many wonderfully nostalgic moments but then there was that weird musical number and the destruction of Rory and the barely mentioned Lane and barely any Sookie and how has Chris not aged?! And of course, those last four words.

My favourite Instagram posts this month:

Grand place, Brussles as the lights start waking up

A photo posted by leeeeeeeeah (@leeeeeeeeah) on

Sorry not sorry for all the pics from Brussels…

I had a rather lovely day in London this month, during which my parents and I did a tour of the Houses of Parliament which was SUPER INTERESTING. The only thing that was kind of sad is that despite the fact that MPs are constantly on their phones during PMQs, you aren’t allowed to use your phone or take photos while in the building, there were so many ridiculously ostentatious rooms and so many pretty bits of design work and I’m worried I won’t be able to remember them!

What I did on YouTube this month:

What I loved on YouTube this month:

Firstly, Hazel Hayes did a Tipsy Talk with Amy Adams which was wonderful, she also made this little animation which was the cutest thing ever and I did love September’s instalment of Time of the Month, no matter how late it is! Philip DeFranco explained how the American Voting System works – I knew it was a bit more complicated than in Britain by wow, how did that system even come about? Lex made a beastly favourites to advertise Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, she also did a slightly spoilery review of the Gilmore Girls revival and I agree, so… Check it out! Also, Wes Anderson made a Christmas themed advert for H and M, yes, you did read that right. It’s amazing, watch it here!

Great Bookish Bake off – Maple Syrup Drizzle Cake

bookishbakeoff

The cakes I bake and the books I read while baking them. 

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So, my grandad gifted me a bottle of maple syrup and as bake off no longer exists and I have nothing else cake related to do on a Wednesday I decided to attempt some sort of cake involving maple syrup and came up with this weird but super nice and Autumnal maple syrup drizzle cake!

What you will need:

150g self raising flour
150g brown sugar
150g butter (I used vegan butter but you can use whatever!)
1 table spoon of cinnamon
1 table spoon of Maple Syrup
2 table spoons apple sauce (this was my egg substitute, so either use eggs or whatever other kind of replacement you like)
3 table spoons of water
scales
a mixing bowl
electric whisk
a loaf tin
The book of your choice. I was reading Whispers Underground, the third Rivers of London book – if you’ve never checked out this series before, do it! They’re amazing!

So, in the mixing bowl put the flour, sugar, butter, cinnamon, syrup and sauce into a bowl and start to whisk, once it starts coming together, add the water and continue mixing until you get a nice smooth mixture. Pour into a lined loaf tin and cook on 180 for 45 minutes. Which is ample time for reading! The Rivers of London books are kind of how I imagine life is like for ex Hogwarts students, Peter Grant is after all a police officer who also happens to be a wizard and spends his time solving supernatural crimes in London. If that doesn’t sound awesome enough, the whole thing is just so well written and funny and I did almost a little bit let the cake burn… I didn’t though its all good!
Once the 45 minutes are up, check the loaf is cooked and then stab it a little and pour a bit more maple syrup over the top. Leave it for a few minutes to soak in and then eat that bad boy because dear God, if there was ever something you didn’t know you needed, this is it.

When the floods came

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When the Floods Came – Clare Morrall

First things first I’mma eat your brains – wait, that’s Nicki, I’m not gonna do that… First things first I’m going to thank Bookbridgr and Hodder and Staughton books for sending this to me. Second I’m going to draw your attention to how pretty this cover is and third, I’m going to tell you all about this book cos reading it was a bit of an adventure. Also the posting of this was kinda appropriate cos Storm Angus was raging and my local Asda got flooded just when I needed a lightbulb.

For 22-year-old Roza Polanski, life with her family in their isolated tower block is relatively comfortable. She’s safe, happy enough. But when a stranger called Aashay Kent arrives, everything changes. At first he’s a welcome addition, his magnetism drawing the Polanskis out of their shells, promising an alternative to a lonely existence. But Roza can’t shake the feeling that there’s more to Aashay than he’s letting on. Is there more to life beyond their isolated bubble? Is it true that children are being kidnapped? And what will it cost to find out?

So basic premise, in what is one of the more believable dystopian futures, the earth has been ravished by extreme weather and a horrible disease which has wiped out almost everyone, apart from the anti social and the immune, Roza and her family are immune and are pretty much the only people left alive in Birmingham after most of the rest of the UK decided to move to Brighton. I don’t blame them, Brighton is wonderful! Though there is a serious lack of affordable housing, so I hope that in this dystopian future there was a bit more housing to go around. Anyway, Roza and her family hang out in Birmingham avoiding the awful weather, being suspicious whenever they cross paths with another human and working from home using whats left of the internet, which apparently can continue without the aid of engineers or people in IT. She also spends her time skyping a chap called Hector who lives in Brighton and who she intends to marry (they met online, its like Tinder but way more serious) because the disease wiped out almost everyone and very few fertile people are left so marrying random people you meet on the internet and procreating with them is pretty much the only way the humans can continue to exist. The government insist on it actually. This fact, as alluded to in the blurb, is also the reason why so many children do keep disappearing and why Roza’s parents are so right to be wary of any other people they come across.

o93ee

Indeed they are Nick Miller. Indeed they are. Especially child stealing ones. Overall, I really enjoyed this. It was a believable dystopia, if there is such a thing, but it was also a great story. There was a lot of intricate world building which is always welcome when describing a futuristic world where things have gone horribly wrong. My only real beef (or tofu for the non meat eaters out there) with the narration is that there was a tendency for the story to go off on a tangent and meander its way back to the original point, by which time I was like, wait… why was that important again?
This was definitely a slow burner, but its one of those delicious ones that you don’t mind waiting for because the scenic route is just so nicely done. Usually when you read a futuristic dystopia its all ACTION ACTION ACTION like Bruce Willis might as well be wearing a vest, packing weapons and reading the whole thing to you very loudly, this was much softer, it allowed you to get really immersed and the meandering nature of the narration allowed me to get to know Roza and her family and the world in which they’ve found themselves before the intensity of the story really began. I think the pacing is one of the key things about this book that made it so enjoyable, dystopias are usually so intense, so it was nice to be eased in gently with this.

I don’t know if its just because the protagonist is called Roza, but I pictured Aashay to look like Pimento from Brooklyn 99…

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Overall, this is an interesting and imaginative story, though similar in places to Children of Men, and is very well executed. The main thing for me with this was that this was completely viable! Without wanting to get preachy or political, the weather is getting a tad cray on this planet and its all down to the way we look after it and honestly, who is to say that random extreme weather patterns won’t at some point in the future cause the mass of destruction seen in this book? How do we know that weird mutated viruses won’t decimate the planet?!

Wow, what a cheery note to end on….

Brussels: an emotional roadshow

When I booked to go to Brussels to see twenty one pilot’s emotional roadshow, I didn’t know just how emotional a roadshow it would be. I think the best way to think about my recent trip to Brussels is that every cloud has a silver lining. Let me explain.
I was due to leave for Brussels at 10.30 a.m. on Monday morning. At 7 p.m. the Friday evening before, my travel companion told me they were now not coming. Cue two days of panic and stress as I tried to find someone to take their place or, alternatively, tried to make other arrangements. Which as you can imagine, is quite difficult with less than two days notice.
Spoiler alert: everyone carried on with their lives and I went to Brussels.

So, the trip didn’t get off to a particularly good start, this is where the silver lining bit came into play. Yes, this wasn’t the trip I had planned, yes, this was an emotional roadshow in more ways than one, but I do love a city and Brussels was, if nothing else, an interesting place to be.
My adventure began on my first full day in the city, after asking at the hotel reception how to get to Grand Place (the thing Lonely Planet recommended) I hopped on a tram (trams are a bit exciting aren’t they? Don’t see many of them in south England!) and less than 10 minutes later, I was wondering around one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. Grand Place is essentially a square flanked with the most incredible buildings, I couldn’t possibly capture all of it with my mediocre camera skills, but I did my best!

Grand Place |Brussels

If it was possible, it looked even more amazing as night drew in and the buildings lit up! (Also I accidentally caught a romantic moment during the taking of this photo!)

Grand Place by nigh | Brussels

Exploring Grand Place also led me to find the one thing that absolutely everyone told me I had to see, Belgium’s national treasure, Manneken Pis.

Manneken Pis | Brussels

Yes. England has Big Ben. France has Eiffel Tower. Germany has the Brandenburg Gate. Belgium has a small, urinating child. Not only does this thing exist, but if you, like me, head to the Museum of the City of Brussels which is located in a wonderfully gothic looking building in Grand Place, you’ll discover that sometimes, they dress the statue up in various costumes and you can look at them all on display.
Here are a selection of my faves:
mannekenSo. Many. Costumes.
Literally, this thing has more items of clothing than I do.
Once I’d exhausted the many bantz to be had with Manneken Pis, I partook in a Belgian speciality, the famed waffle (wasn’t overly impressed tbh) and then found my way to the City Sight Seeing Tour bus. I’ve done the hop on hop off bus tours (you know the ones, they’re bright red open top busses) in a couple of different cities around the world and as it transpires that Brussels is very oddly laid out for a capital city, I figured it would be a good way to see some of the sights. Honestly, it was the worst of all the city tours I have ever been on.
In Brussels there are two routes, the first bus took me to some fancy gardens, the atomium (which was a part of a world expo) and looked a bit fancy and to a few other pretty buildings. Only… It didn’t actually stop at any of the places it was supposed to and after we got stuck in traffic and hit the end of tour time, the driver just made us all get off the bus! What an absolute shambles! Didn’t put me off attempting line two the second day, even if it did start half an hour later than advertised leaving me standing in the rain at the bus stop, this one took me to parliament, the EU and the royal palace and gardens. Only, again, it didn’t stop at any of the advertised stops!
Driving past the EU parliament bought back super sad memories of June 24th and realising we’re all screwed, though with the amount of traffic around that place I think I’ve realised why so many of the elected representatives never bothered to turn up to meetings. They’re probably just driving around the place trying to get there.

Whatever I said, whatever I did I didn't mean it, I just want EU back for good

A photo posted by leeeeeeeeah (@leeeeeeeeah) on

That evening though was the point of the whole trip, twenty one pilots at Forest National for the emotional roadshow. Now, one cool thing about gigs at Forest National is that they give you free tram tickets to limit the amount of people driving to the venue, which meant not only did I have a free tram ticket to the gig but also instructions of how to get there. Thanks Forest National! However, even if I did have instructions and a free tram ticket, I speak very little French and even less Dutch, so finding how to get to the tram was a bit of a struggle, which led to me approaching two girls wearing top shirts in the train station and asking them for help. Turns out they were Dutch (remember that bit about me not speaking any Dutch?), one of them could speak a bit of English, the other could not, but she could speak a bit of German. Many bants were had as they showed me how to get to Forest National with the three of us conversing in a mixture of English, German and Dutch and a slight tram hitch, but I got there, I got into the venue, I got a good spot and I had a bloody good time.
Firstly, Bry supported (yes, Bry, who I have been watching on YouTube forever!), he was awesome and his album is now on my must own list! Also after spending two days awkwardly trying to understand French, it was so nice to hear a familiar accent! Secondly, the emotional roadshow was just amazing! As lame as it sounds, it was kind of akin to a religious experience. It was so much more theatrical and exuberant than the last tour with Tyler literally disappearing from the stage and reappearing in the crowd seconds later and then dropping to the ground and appearing balancing on a pillar the next moment, the lighting, the staging… Just everything was perfection. I usually get a bit lame and emotional when talking about twenty one pilots so I won’t bore you with it, just know that they are the only band in existence that excites me and makes me want to be alive and create things.
Basically it was amazing and I want to leave you with this:

E m ø t i ø n a l r ø a d s h ø w

A video posted by leeeeeeeeah (@leeeeeeeeah) on

Of course, there were further adventures on my way back to the hotel, mostly because London tubes during peak time have NOTHING on those trams and my fellow gig goers saw a full tram and instead of thinking, wow, I’ll get the next one, all thought, challenge accepted. It wasn’t much better when I got on the tram, I was pressed against a window like a cartoon in a comedic situation. Still I got back in one piece, I survived being let down at the last minute, I survived Brussels and even though it wasn’t the trip I was expecting, it was still kinda lovely. I saw some beautiful buildings I wouldn’t have done otherwise, I experienced a unique city and I got to see an incredibly magical musical performance. I don’t know if I’d visit Brussels again, but I am keen to see more of Belgium and learn more about its culture and history… I’m thinking Bruges or Antwerp, anyone been to either of those places? Thoughts?

To sum up, here are the things I learned from this trip:

  • My French sucks
  • I want to learn all the languages
  • Belgian waffles are over rated (sorry)
  • For a city, there are very few road signs
  • The army appear to hang out in the train stations which really doesn’t make me feel safe!
  • Any city that has a small weeing boy as their thing is a city I want to spend more time in.
  • The Belgian clique are super friendly
  • The coach is the worst way to travel
  • My parents are awesome (though I did already know this)

So, there we go, that was my very emotional Belgian roadshow.

#LoveThisQuote: And the Hippos were Boiled in their tanks

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You may know, if you actually managed to sit through this entire video (and if you did, I’m sure you deserve a medal) that I have never really been into the Beat Generation, but always wanted to explore them a little more. I read On the Road a little while back and even though Kerouac’s writing style is very different to what I usually like, I kind of fell in love with it. On the Road is the perfect book for people like me who aren’t really sure who they are yet and have fantasies of roadtrips. This has a similar narrative structure to On the Road, but fictionalises a real life event, that is the murder of David Kammerer. If you’ve watched Kill Your Darlings, which you totally should, the story won’t be new to you, but it was still interesting to see it from Jack Kerouac’s and William Burrough’s points of view. Also I am still on the look out for more Burroughs to read, so let me know if you’ve ever read any of his work and if its any good!

Anyway, in the opening pages of this book, I found the following:

I’ve figured out a whole philosophy on the idea of waste as evil and creation as good. So long as you are creating something it is good. The only sin is waste of your potentialities.

You know when you find a phrase or a quote and you’re like, that is so true, I should live by this? Well, I need to live by this.

Any of you guys ever read the Beat Generation before? Got any recommendations?

October round up

Winter is coming.
I can now legitimately say that. That is terrifying, 2016, you need to slow the eff down. Anyway, October. Firstly, the month started with my friends, Chris and Julia tying the knot! The heavens may have opened, but it was such a lovely day and so nice to see them happy! Also Chris and a bunch of my buds performed in the band at the reception which was incredible! Well done guys! This month, I also spent a few days at Disneyland Paris, it was cold af, but there was barely anyone there which was amazing, I may be British and therefore good at queuing, but I do not enjoy queuing, so it was amazing to only have to wait five minutes to enjoy all my favourite rides.  This time I got to actually stay on site, which I’ve never done before and was a bit of a surprise as my friend booked the whole trip and kept that bit quiet until we got to the airport. I do bloody love Disneyland, like, seriously, I do well up every time I walk towards that big pink castle.  October also called for another birthday event, this time for Charlotte’s birthday, which involved us trying really hard not to cry at the stories on Stand Up To Cancer in front of each other while she opened her presents. And of course there was the terrifying clown epidemic, big bag of nope. This month, the aforementioned Chris and I also began our next writing project…! You can download our previous collab here for free!

What I read this month:

7537072I heart Paris – Lindsay Kelk
As I was in Paris at the beginning of the month I thought I’d give this a go. I haven’t read the other books in the series and I don’t know if I’ll bother tbh… While this saw me through an hour and a bit on the train as I started my travels to Paris, (I got upgraded to first class for part of my journey purely for being the only person on the train! Result!) I spent most of the time shaking my head in bewilderment at what was printed in front of me. Like for serious, how does so much ridiculousness happen to one person? Seriously, the mishaps in Bridget Jones were believable, the mishaps in this one? Nope. Not one bit. How has this woman managed to survive this long?!

19501Eat, Pray, Love – Elizabeth Gilbert
I’ll admit I was a little sceptical about this… Most people I know who have read this have complained about it so I was a bit wary, but I was loaned it because of the whole wanting to read non fiction thing. Anyway, I think Elizabeth Gilbert is a great writer and a talented story teller, reading about Italy and its culture was super interesting, as was learning more about a subject I don’t have an awful lot of knowledge on (yoga)… However, it was a tad religious for me and I couldn’t ever really get past the fact that the writer is in an incredibly privileged position and had the opportunity to run away for a year to learn Italian, find herself and then find love… The majority of people suffering from depression and existentialism don’t have the financial support to be able to do those things and I think that should have been acknowledged in the book, but it was a solid ok, so… Non fiction reading is clearly going well. I also watched the movie this month.

22466429Kids of Appetite – David Arnold
Firstly, many thanks to Bookbridgr for sending me a copy of this! You can see a much more thorough review here, but for now, let me just say that I really enjoyed this! I liked the last David Arnold book I read, though it did have a few moments that were a bit problematic…. it was kind of wonderful to see how much he’s developed as a writer with this follow up. This was just so engrossing and I really enjoyed the way the story was told. Also, how interesting were all the characters? Do check this out if you get the chance!

29638189When the Floods Came – Claire Morall
Yet more thanks go to the lovely folk over at Bookbridgr for also sending me this! Its so pretty, look at that cover, also a very believable dystopia about future Britain after being ravaged by extreme weather and disease. The narration was a little hard to get to grips with at some points as it goes off on tangents and then back to the original point frequently and it is very slow, its definitely something that you are going to spend a lot of time on, reading this is almost a committment… Anyway, keep your eyes peeled for a review coming soon!

Films I watched this month:

You may have noticed if you follow me on twitter, have been keeping up with my Film reviews in 10 tweets or less posts or this video, that I really like films and that I spend a lot of time watching them, so here are all the films (some new, some rewatches) that graced my television this month!

  • Pitch Perfect
  • Nightmare Before Christmas
  • Hotel Transylvania 2
    This is my niece and nephew’s new favourite movie. I think I’ll be watching it many times in the coming months
  • Drive Me Crazy
    I couldn’t not watch this after hearing Sophie’s podcast!
  • Wayne’s World
  • Eat, Pray, Love
    I read the book this month, so thought I’d check out the film.
  • Corpse Bride
  • Paranorman

TV I watched his month:

  • Gogglebox
  • Ripper Street
    Dat ending though! I’m debating getting Amazon Prime just so I can see the new series now!
  • Go 8Bit
  • Great British Bake Off
  • Luke Cage
    I’m not sure what to make of this, I’m not sure I enjoyed it as much as Daredevil and Jessica Jones, but it was entertaining! I might give it a rewatch!
  • National Treasure
    Technically, this aired in September, but I finally got around to watching it this month and OMG it was incredible. All the awards, just take them now.
  • Once Upon A Time
    ITS BACK CAPTAIN SWAN HAS RETURNED
  • Brooklyn 99
    I am up to date now. Also I have a planet sized crush on Jake Peralta. Don’t tell anyone.
  • Supernatural
  • New Girl
  • Class
    Is it technically a webseries? Whatever, I watched it and it was amazing. Legit, this show is better than the last few seasons of Doctor Who, I may write an essay and present it to Steven Moffat. Well played Patrick Ness. If you don’t believe how great this show is, “Holy mother of Kanye” is a genuine line from it.

I accept that I have watched a ridiculous amount of TV this month. In my defence, I don’t have many friends. Also – even though I dip in and out rather than watch religiously, I do have to give a shout out to Emmerdale this month, not only was their car crash story line incredibly well done, but an actual character on actual British TV actually said the line “I’m bisexual.” I thank the Gods for Robert Sugden.

I was thinking of doing a whole post about it… But then I found this article that summed all my thoughts up so much better than I could do!

My favourite Instagram posts this month:

Awaiting the arrival of the world's best glam rock band #ChrisandJuliasWedding

A photo posted by leeeeeeeeah (@leeeeeeeeah) on

So this month began with Chris and Julia’s wedding, which was such a lovely day and included the groom performing in the wedding band – pretty awesome!

Sorting through photos and unpacking. I wanna be back in dlp

A photo posted by leeeeeeeeah (@leeeeeeeeah) on

💤

A photo posted by leeeeeeeeah (@leeeeeeeeah) on

The biggest thing I miss about living with the parents is that they have cats and I can’t have cats! I want to live with cats again!

What I did on YouTube this month:

What I loved on YouTube this month:

If I were more interesting, I would aspire to do a monthly video round up like Erica’s videos because CRAMPS is honestly one of the best things on YouTube and the September instalment was incredible and heartbreaking and I felt all the emotions (just check out her whole channel its so good). I am mentioning this episode of the Philip DeFranco show, partly because Philly D is part of my daily routine (also a bit because I tend to accidentally recite his outro whenever I’m telling someone I’ll see them tomorrow) but mostly because there has been some crazy clown nonsense going down and like most people I am TERRIFIED of clowns but my boy Phil got my back with his three rules on how to cope with a rogue clown. Also, as its halloween month and all, have to mention Spooky Week on Dan and Phil Games really don’t we? And of course, here’s my bud Joe being all articulate and intelligent again.

Kids of Appetite

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Kids of Appetite – David Arnold

Let’s get some house keeping out of the way first, I need to thank the lovely people at Bookbridgr for sending me a copy of this and apologising profusely for not reading and reviewing this sooner, you see, I didn’t actually receive the book until I came back from Paris at which point I was half way through something else and then I ended up going over board on all the TV I had to catch up on and I didn’t finish this in my usual prompt manner. SORRY. Anyway, thanks for the book, I liked it and I will now get to the task at hand!

Victor Benucci and Madeline Falco have a story to tell.
It begins with the death of Vic’s father.
It ends with the murder of Mad’s uncle.
The Hackensack Police Department would very much like to hear it.
But in order to tell their story, Vic and Mad must focus on all the chapters in between.
This is a story about:
1. A coded mission to scatter ashes across New Jersey.
2. The momentous nature of the Palisades in winter.
3. One dormant submarine.
4. Two songs about flowers.
5. Being cool in the traditional sense.
6. Sunsets & ice cream & orchards & graveyards.
7. Simultaneous extreme opposites.
8. A narrow escape from a war-torn country.
9. A story collector.
10. How to listen to someone who does not talk.
11. Falling in love with a painting.
12. Falling in love with a song.
13. Falling in love.

Right, now we’re on track where do I even start with this?
You might remember I read Mosquitoland a little while ago, while I liked it and thought it was quirky and existentialist and all those fun things that I like, it did have a few things that niggled me, so I may have gone into this with my guard up but honestly, I had no reason to. This book was (like Mosquitoland) quirky and interesting, but it was also a beautiful, cleverly put together story of grief and forgiveness with the most interesting band of characters I have come across in a very long time.

What we have is a rag tag gang of sorts, Baz, the ring leader with a dark past, Zuz, his younger brother who manages to say so much by saying so little, Coco, she’s from Queens and she says what she thinks and then we have Mad and Vic. Vic the sentimental heart thinker who is pure gold and Mad, the girl running away from all her problems. These are the kids of appetite. Our story centres around Mad and Vic told  in their words in increments interspersed by police interviews, the two of them are in custody for an awful thing that has happened to an awful man. The kids of appetite are somehow involved, Mad and Vic are the key witnesses and slowly, but surely, we learn their story, what happened, how and why.

I think part of the beauty of this book is the way its told, the story itself is a sombre one, these are not happy kids, they are not in a good place, they all have their own baggage that they drag around with them. Even though this is a story about grief and forgiveness, it is also about the overwhelming bonds of friendships and connections. It has its own language in a way, we have the heroes (the super race horses) we have the villains (the side ways hugs) and we have all those people that fall in between. I feel like, in a way, Kids of Appetite is like a more existential, serious version of Wayne’s World in that it creates its own pop culture. Honestly, I’ll be seriously surprised if phrases from this don’t end up in every day conversation. David Arnold has kind of out done himself with this one, however, I do think his narration errs on the side of pretentious at times and there are a couple of moments when he slips off the edge and I end up rolling my eyes like come on dude, don’t try to outdo John Green with the epiphanies and stuff here, just tell me about these kids and where they’re going. For some, the style might be a bit much, I certainly don’t know any teenagers that talk this way, but then, I am a language nerd, I love seeing words used in interesting, fun new ways, so I was instantly drawn into Vic’s way of seeing the world with his super race horses and his heart thinkers, I loved the pace at which Coco’s thoughts and speech bound from one subject to another, I loved Baz’s straight talking and the way he considered stories and writing, I loved Mad’s infatuation with the Outsiders and weirdly, I loved Zuz’s silence. It’s eloquant, but I fear, might be an acquired taste.

If you’re looking for a non linear story with some smart alec kids, an interesting bunch of characters, a heavy story line and a pinch of hope, then I urge you to give this a try, its wildly different from anything else I’ve read this year also I’ve really not explained this very well at all which I blame entirely on the book, its kind of hard to explain a story like this that has so many different layers running through it!