Spring/Easter Playlist

Just for you (yes you), I give you not one, but two playlists today. This morning you had the usual weekly music series playlist (this week it was 1994 and can be found here) and now here’s another one!

I’ve done it. I can’t actually believe I’ve done it, but I’ve done it anyway. Here’s a playlist to accompany your Easter weekend and Spring-like feels. My proudest moment is when the playlist goes from Vivaldi straight into Chas ‘n’ Dave #playlistgoals. Enjoy and eat chocolate until you want to vomit.

 

Top Ten Tunes- 1994

Every Friday, I’m publishing my top ten songs from a single year and this week it’s the turn of 1994.

For previous top ten tunes, please click on the year: 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993

7C5ZMKZOCNDJ3EZQ7OQDHWJDL4

Police chase OJ Simpson and his driver on the 91 Freeway in California

In 1994, British Coal confirm the closure of 4 more pits, Stephen Milligan, a Conservative MP, is found dead at home, his death was due to autoerotic asphyxiation, police in Gloucester begin excavations at 25 Cromwell Road- the home of Fred & Rosemary West– they were later convicted of the murder of 12 young women, the IRA release three successful mortar attacks at Heathrow airport, women are ordained as priests in England for the first time, Ayrton Senna dies at 34 when he crashes at the San Marino Grand Prix, the Channel Tunnel officially opens, Love is All Around by Wet Wet Wet remains at number one in the charts for 15 weeks– the longest a British act has ever consecutively stayed at no.1, leader of the Labour party- John Smith dies unexpectedly of a heart attack, Tony Blair wins the Labour party leadership election, the IRA declares a ceasefire, the first UK National Lottery takes place, 0.5% of the UK population now have access to the internet, new Sunday trading laws allow shops to open on a Sunday in the UK, intermittent civil wars take place in Rwanda after the assignation of President Habyarimana, Nelson Mandela becomes president of South Africa, Brazil wins 1994 World Cup in America, OJ Simpson flees police in his car, Lisa Marie Presley marries Michael Jackson and Kurt Cobain commits suicide. The films Pulp Fiction, Four Weddings and a Funeral and the Shawshank Redemption are all released. I turn 18 years old and I guess, I officially became an adult (still waiting to actually become one though).

hiamxwYTqGi5jcQNYzQwZxZRYqvKxtw5_h264_3800_640x360_352124483894

Oh my God, this has to be another of my favourite years this week. There were so many good tunes this year and I had to narrow this list down from about 30 songs. It was quite the impossible task. Regulars such as Blur, Tori and Kylie appear again, but there’s quite a few first appearances too. Here’s my 10 favourite songs from 1994 in no particular order.

1. Sure Shot by Beastie Boys

0*iNfG9pMBCh_iO3uF..png

2. Loser by Beck

beck1994_l

3. Creep by TLC

4. Babies by Pulp

pulp_1306239380_crop_550x483

5. Supersonic by Oasis

JS79900993

6. Girls & Boys by Blur

Music

7. Confide in Me by Kylie Minogue

c2264abf7f7c25d9e4fb10f1e76b1dc8--kylie-minoque-album-cover

8. Cornflake Girl by Tori Amos

toriamos_sbard

9. Stay Another Day by East 17 (this song was released around the time I split up with a boyfriend, so it had me crying every time I heard it. Years down the line I found out that Tony Mortimer wrote it about his brother’s death, so now I still have problems listening to it without feeling emotional. On a lighter note, the video is worth watching just for the lads’ earnest performance in it)

10. Disarm by Smashing Pumpkins

rs-194106-86141921

Whilst Tori and Kylie are close runners up, it’s the Smashing Pumpkins* that are my favourites this week. Which is yours?

See you next week for 1995!

*I chose the Smashing Pumpkins as not only is it a fantastic song, but it also profoundly reminds me of a friend who I sadly lost in 1994 around the time of the song’s release. I just wanted to mention this as a loving tribute to her.

Just Another Blog From a Woman has been nominated for an award. If you enjoy my blog and you have a spare few seconds, would you mind voting for me HERE It’s very simple and there’s no need to register or provide an email address, just vote for Just Another Blog From a Woman under the Best Pal category. Thank you SO much.

 

 

Top 10 American Sitcoms

A while a ago I wrote a post on my top 10 British sitcoms, so it only seems fair that I do one on my favourite American sitcoms. I think it’s safe to say that Americans are a funny lot (I’m referring to their humour here). I even know a few and they’ve made me laugh more than once. Sure, they’re not as funny as us hilarious Brits, but they certainly can crack a joke or two. So, it’s of no surprise that they know how to create a sitcom with admirable skill. I’ve always loved an American sitcom. As a child, I remember watching Taxi and then as I got older, as a family we all sat down together and watched the Cosby Show and Rosanne every week (ummmm, can I mention the Cosby Show?). My Dad was obsessed with both Cheers and Frasier, so much so that when I had to write an essay on a TV programme for my GCSE English project, he literally sat me down and forced me to write it about Cheers. Then, when I left home my taste in American sitcoms developed further. So much so, that some of my favourite TV programmes of all time are in fact American sitcoms. And I whole heartedly thank all those clever Americans for providing me with such joy over the years.

Disclaimer before we start: there’ll be plenty of sitcoms (yes that includes Seinfeld) that you’ll be surprised aren’t here in my personal top 10, but in all likelihood they’d probably all feature in my top 15, if that helps. So, here goes and just like my top 10 British sitcoms list, I found this so tough to do.

10. Rick and Morty

So let’s get this straight. Rick and Morty is disturbing, disgusting, confusing, ridiculous, completely over the top, surreal, harrowing and I absolutely love it. It may be all those things, but it is also intensely clever and not to mention- fucking funny.

rick-morty-father-son-relationship-tw

9. Cheers

Cheers was a master class in how to create and build up characters in a sitcom. We have seen the character of Woody repeated in so many other sitcoms ever since, it’s quite the tribute to the genius of Cheers.

rs-245780-Cheers

8. 30 Rock

Ok so from about halfway through season 4 and onwards 30 Rock went downhill slightly. However, Tina Fey’s multi-award-winning sitcom never failed to constantly make me laugh out loud before that. I adore the character of goofy, but lovable Liz Lemon, partly because I can relate to her obsession with food of course. However, it’s Alec Baldwin’s portrayal of the conceited Jack Donaghy and his unlikely friendship with Liz that really steals the show.

30rock_r

7. Arrested Development

Like many of my favourite sitcoms, Arrested Development is just silly. Whilst, I wasn’t so keen on the fourth “return” season. The first three seasons are sitcom perfection. Picking a favourite character on this would be pretty tricky as like all good sitcoms each character is so strong. Poor old George Michael (the name alone is hilarious), Tobias Funke, Buster and my life role model Lucille are probably up there. Although, obviously I have to give a shoutout to Annyong Bluth and the characters played by Liza Minelli (Lucille’s vertigo suffering chief social rival) and Henry Winkler (their terrible family lawyer). And let us not forget that the whole thing is narrated by Ron Howard.

arrested-development

6. Brooklyn 99

From one wonderfully silly sitcom to another. Brooklyn 99 follows the misadventures and blundering antics of a Brooklyn detective department. Jake Peralta is our whimsical protagonist and despite all of his and his colleague’s questionable approaches to solving crime, they always get the job done. Brooklyn 99 is laugh out loud stupidity and watching an episode of it cheers my day up endlessly. P.S. I am #teamCaptainRayHolt

B99_S3_Group_hires1

5. Parks and Recreation

There is something about Parks and Recreation that makes me so happy. I mean, apart from the fact that it’s absolutely hilarious that is. It just always leaves me with a nice, warm glowing feeling after watching an episode. I think it’s mainly down to our protagonist, Leslie Knope. Leslie is one of the best female TV characters ever written. She is a hero. Her optimism, vibrant energy, hard working ethics, caring nature and warmth leap out at you from the TV screen without ever being saccharine. If we all made the effort to be a little more Leslie Knope then the world would be a better place. Seriously. We might all have a worrying waffle addiction, but there’d undoubtedly be a lot less war and internet trolls. But it’s not just Leslie that blesses us with her presence in this gem of a TV programme. There’s the adorable, but beautifully simple Andy, super cool April, idiotic and lovable Tom, poor, stupid Jerry, another TV role model of mine- Donna (treat yo self!) and then there’s Ron Swanson. Oh Ron with your hefty dose of testosterone, your love of meat and carving wood and your sexy moustache. I won’t lie to you, he is my ideal man. Just writing about this programme makes me realise how much I miss it and Leslie.

640_Parks_and_Rec_Finale_Party

4. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

And on the opposite end of the spectrum from the lovely and fluffy Parks & Rec, we have It’s Always Sunny. A TV show with the most hatable TV characters possible. Similar to Rick & Morty, this is not a pleasant sitcom. It is grotesque, is borderline offensive and it is outrageous. Right up my street, in other words. The characters are idiots. Not even in a sort of likeable way. You have absolutely no sympathy for them, but thank God they exist. However you’re feeling or whatever you’ve done in your life, you can just reassure yourself and thank your lucky stars that you are neither Dennis, Dee, Charlie, Mac or Frank. Those guys are the worst (I love them obvs).

Side note: they were going to originally make Dee the “straight character”, but thankfully they thought better of it and made her just as despicable and hopeless as the rest of the cast. Could you imagine a straight Dee? What a waste of a brilliant comedic actor that would’ve been.

always-sunny-in-philadelphia

3. Friends

Of course Friends is in this list. Of COURSE it is. The influence that Friends had on our culture is phenomenal. I mean, could it BE anymore influential? I don’t need to tell you much about Friends because you know it all anyway. Such is the legacy of Friends. Which Friend are you anyway? I’m a perfect combination of Phoebe, Monica and Joey (I don’t share food). PIVOT!

2. The Simpsons

You probably haven’t heard of this animated sitcom before, so let me summarise it for you. It’s based around a family of yellow people who only have four digits on each hand. The Dad is a lazy beer and doughnut addict, the Mum has blue hair almost the same height as herself, the son is a little shit that the Dad regularly strangles, the sister is clearly full of existential angst and the baby sister hasn’t uttered a word (or has she?)* for the whole 31 years that this cartoon has been running. Trust me on this one, it is absolutely brilliant and you will love each and every one of these characters as if they are your own family members. Especially the Dad. You will love him and all his relatable failings the most. He is all of us.

[Please note my daughter’s favourite TV programs is the Simpsons and she helped me choose this clip. She also wants me to tell you all that her name is Bessie]

 

So here it is , my all time favourite American sitcom ever….

 

And it is….

 

1. The Office (or as it’s known over here in the UK The American Office)

God I love this programme, so very much. It’s not just my number one American sitcom, but it is one of my all time favourite TV programmes ever. A warmer, more sentimental version of it’s British cousin, watching this programme is the comedy equivalent of wrapping a cosy blanket around yourself and putting your feet up, but you know, in a funny way. Steve Carrell as Michael Scott was comedy mastery. Pam and Jim were perfect and yes adorable. Dwight was a fabulous twat. The supporting cast had to be the best collection of supporting actors ever. Stanley, Kevin, Angela, Phyllis, Meredith, Oscar, Creed, Andy, poor, poor Toby, Daryl, Erin, Gabe, the brilliant Jan and my favourite couple ever Ryan & Kelly were just sublime. All of them were such strong characters. You loved them like you would your own work colleagues- fully aware of all their flaws, yet you have a strange affection for them all anyway. Unless you’re Toby and your boss is Michael, then he’ll just irrationally hate you despite the fact you’re the nicest person in existence. I could actually write a whole blog solely on my love for this multi-award-winning sitcom. It’s incredibly worthy of my number one slot….that’s what she said.

The one that almost made it: Broad City. These girls are basically me and my best friend 20 years ago in a different city.

images-2

You know what I’m going to ask next, which is your favourite American sitcom? It will be interesting seeing the varying answers between Americans and non-Americans too.

*she actually has and was voiced by both Elizabeth Taylor and Jodie Foster. However, these are brief moments and the running gag is that she never speaks.

Top Ten Tunes- 1993

Every Friday, I’m publishing my top ten songs from a single year and this week it’s the turn of 1993.

For previous top ten tunes, please click on the year: 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992

clinton-inauguration

In 1993, James Bulger a 2-year-old is murdered by two 10-year-old boys, unemployment reaches 3,000,000, IRA bombs are planted and explode at gas holders in Warrington, the IRA bomb Warrington again this time in the town centre and kill a 3-year-old and a 12-year-old and injure 50, black London teenager Stephen Lawrence is stabbed to death in London in a racially motivated attack, massive IRA bombs explode in London destroying a medieval church, badly damaging the NatWest tower and Liverpool Street tube station and killing one person, the government declare the end of the recession, the Queen opens Buckingham Palace to the public for the first time, Bill Clinton becomes the president of the United States, Islamic Fundamentalists bomb the World Trade Centre killing 6 and injuring over a thousand, tennis player Monica Seles is stabbed by a spectator– an obsessed Steffi Graff fan, Slovakia gains independence when Czechoslovakia divides into Slovakia and the Czech Republic, the films Schindler’s List, Groundhog Day, Jurassic Park and Mrs Doubtfire were all released and I turned 17-years-old.

NEEDLENOSE_NED

1993 is another fantastic year for music. And oh yes, there’s Blur again, there’s REM again and there’s Queen Bjork again. Here, in no particular order are the top ten tunes from 1993 (Spotify playlist at the end).

1. Jump Around by House of Pain

MI0001326764

2. Cannonball by the Breeders

thumbnail_8_352

3. Stutter by Elastica

elasticatop3

9963212ad67c7808e65158588ae6791e.500x327x1

And as a bonus, here’s a photo of peak Justine (Elastica) and Damon (Blur). Gawd bless ’em.

4. Regret by New Order

new1

5. It Was a Good Day by Ice Cube

1337741282_ice+cube+bonnie+and+clyde

6. Venus as a Boy by Bjork

d148564e703b997bc3951d8868e10cd8

7. Animal Nitrate by Suede

Suede-resize-1-800x497

8. For Tomorrow by Blur

9. La Tristesse Durera (Scream to a Sigh) by Manic Street Preachers

manic-street-preachers-5OY3_o_tn

10. Everybody Hurts by R.E.M.

Tell me fam, which is your favourite from this week’s list? For me, it’s the Breeders. Oh, but also, try and keep me off the dance floor when House of Pain come on.

See you next week for 1994!

Just Another Blog From a Woman has been nominated for an award. If you enjoy my blog and you have a spare few seconds, would you mind voting for me HERE It’s very simple and there’s no need to register or provide an email address, just vote for Just Another Blog From a Woman under the Best Pal category. Thank you SO much.

Don’t Make Me Go Out

Oh my God, please don’t make me go out on a night out. Don’t make me go out out. I’m very almost 42 year of age and I’ve finally come to the conclusion, I fucking hate going out. Now, don’t get me wrong, this isn’t an anti-social piece. I love socialising. I love my friends. I love getting together with them for a gossip  discussion about world politics and down bucket loads of pinot grigio enjoy a tipple or two with them, BUT going out into the outside world and rubbing shoulders with strangers just isn’t my ideal way to spend my spare time anymore.

I’ve been thinking about my favourite social appointments that I’ve had over the last year and which ones I’ve enjoyed the most. Every single one of them has involved being inside a home rather than actually being out.

1) A Halloween party- at a friend’s HOUSE

2) A 50th Birthday party- at my cousin’s HOUSE

3) A wedding anniversary party- at my aunt’s HOUSE

4) My Mum’s 70th- at my brother’s HOUSE

5) Drinks with all my Mum friends- at one of their HOUSES

6) A dinner party- at a friend’s HOUSE

7) A New Year’s Eve party- at a friend’s HOUSE

You get the idea. Love socialising. Hate being in the real world.

Advantages to socialising in homes rather than the real world:

  • don’t have to queue to get a drink
  • economically pleasing
  • nice and cosy. Ooh I do like cosy
  • much more comfortable. Call me boring, but I like a seat and a comfortable seat at that
  • I can actually hear what people are saying
  • not as much pressure to dress up. I think I’m done with dressing up. I can’t wear heels anyway and I’ve no interest in anyone else finding me sexually attractive and quite frankly, I just can’t be arsed.
  • you get to stay in one place the whole evening. No faffing about, walking from bar to bar and as this is the UK- usually in the rain.
  • don’t have to contend with being felt up at the bar. Some people might actually miss this special feature of going out out though.
  • free snacks
  • warmer. Your evening begins inside. You stay inside.
  • More potential to have control over what music is played.

Advantages of going out out:

  • I like pub quizzes. I don’t mind going out for a pub quiz. And just staying in that pub all evening. You know, a nice cosy pub with comfortable seats and an open fire and music not too loud. Like a home from home kind of pub.
  • And I like eating out because you know- food. However, not too often. And I prefer eating out during the day really to be honest. A boozy lunch. I’m up for that.
  • Going out in the evening is good if you like going out in the evening. I don’t.

Now please understand, when I have gone out out with friends, I’ve had plenty of excellent nights. It’s just that as I get older and let’s be completely honest here more boring and much, much more lazy, I like these nights out to be few and far between. Unless you’re inviting me to your gaff for a knees up, then I’d be there in a shot. In all seriousness, I really struggle to hear what’s being said when I go out out, so increasingly it’s just not that much fun for me. The best nights I’ve had out out in recent years have been nights out with just one other person and that’s probably because everything they say is directed towards me at close proximity i.e. I get to hear most of what they say. However, hearing problems aside, I do also feel like I’m a lazy arse when it comes to going out out, so I still don’t think I could be bothered to go to the effort of going out even if I could hear perfectly.

In conclusion, going out is shit and I’m surprised it’s still a thing. Staying in is everything.

What about you? Are you team going out or team staying in?

IMG_8140

Here’s a recent picture of me going out whilst remaining inside a house. I thoroughly recommend it.

 

Top Ten Tunes- 1992

Every Friday, I’m publishing my top ten songs from a single year and this week it’s the turn of 1992.

For previous top ten tunes, please click on the year: 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991

1511362261813.jpg--

Windsor Castle ablaze

In 1992, IRA bombs in Omagh kills 7 and injures more, the Queen commemorates her Ruby Jubilee, the Duke and Duchess of York (Andy & Fergie) separate, the Conservative party are re-elected for the fourth consecutive term, the IRA detonate two bombs in central London killing 3 people, the first female Speaker of the House of Commons is elected- Betty Boothroyd, the Olympics takes place in Barcelona, two IRA bombs explode in London, but no one is injured, the government closes a third of all mines, the IRA force a taxi driver to drive to Downing Street where they detonate a bomb- again no one is hurt, the Church of England vote to allow women to become priests, a fire breaks out in Windsor Castle causing over £50 million worth of damage, another IRA bomb is detonated in Manchester city centre causing millions of pounds of damage and injuring 65 people, Prince Charles and Diana separate, 4 people are injured by an IRA bomb on Oxford St, London, Euro Disney opens in France, rioting breaks out across Los Angeles following the acquittal of four white police officers accused of beating Rodney King, Mike Tyson is convicted of rape and the Maastricht Treaty is signed founding the European Union…

The films Reservoir Dogs and Basic Instinct are released and I turn sweet sixteen.

reservoir-dogs

I loved 1992. In 1992 I did my GCSEs, left school and started at Henley College where I did my A-Levels, met Stephen and went to my first ever Glastonbury festival (the first of muddy many). At Glastonbury, I saw Shakespear’s Sister, Blur, Joan Armatrading, Primal Scream (you can read about how that went here) and PJ Harvey (and many, many others). I ended 1992 by attending a Blur gig and gate crashing their afterparty in a recording studio. 1992 marked the start of my regular and slightly obsessive attendance of gigs around London. Brixton Academy, the Town & Country club (later the Forum) and the Astoria were all regular haunts of mine. Here, in no particular order are my favourite songs from 1992.

1.People Everyday by Arrested Development

maxresdefault-9

2. Hit by the Sugarcubes (this will not be the only time Queen Bjork features in these playlists)

bc9f60f74aa0aeacca327c5356340b70

3. Finally by CeCe Peniston

A-5876-1283895968.jpeg

4. End of the Road by Boyz II Men (Mate, I loved a bit of Boyz II Men back in the day and I’m here all day, everyday for the Barry White-esq sexy talk bit in the middle of this song).92endoftheroad

5. Motorcycle Emptiness by Manic Street Preachers

manics140912w_600_385

6. Friday I’m in Love by the Cure

hqdefault-6

Robert Smith’s 1992 hair game was strong

7. Pretend We’re Dead by L7 (thought I’d add the video of L7’s infamous 1992 appearance on the brilliant/awful The Word. Anyone around my age and from the UK will remember watching this programme half-cut on a Friday after the pubs closed)

8. Stay by Shakespear’s Sister

9. Creep by Radiohead

radiohead-3-resize

Aah look at baby Radiohead

10. Winter by Tori Amos

pic01

My favourite song from this lot is Tori Amos. That song is just stunning and I still have to stop what I’m doing and just listen whenever I hear it now. Sooooooo, which one of these gems is your favourite? Please someone say Boyz II Men…

See you next week for 1993!

Just Another Blog From a Woman has been nominated for an award. If you enjoy my blog and you have a spare few seconds, would you mind voting for me HERE It’s very simple and there’s no need to register or provide an email address, just vote for Just Another Blog From a Woman under the Best Pal category. Thank you SO much.

Memories of the Grandadest of Grandads

A while ago I wrote a piece for the wonderful Angela at You Are Awesome about what makes a good grandad and I talked about my own amazing grandfather. I’ve just realised that I never shard it with you on this blog. So, with tissues at the ready you can have a read of it here on Angela’s website. Please leave your comments over at her blog too rather than mine and whilst you’re there, check out some of her other posts. Many thanks!

165124_10150123711325119_5184651_n-2

This photo is of my Grandad in 2010 with my daughter. She is the youngest of his great-grandchildren and as he died in 2013, this meant he got to meet all of his great-grandchildren.

 

Top Ten Tunes- 1991

Every Friday, I’m publishing my top ten songs from a single year and this week it’s the turn of 1991.

For previous top ten tunes, please click on the year: 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990

john-mccarthy-arrives-at-raf-lyneham-after-his-release-from-five-years-of-captivity-in-beirut-136399670344703901-150807155140

The release of John McCarthy

In 1991, 27 people die in gale-force winds across the UK, a train crash at Cannon Street, London injures over 500 people and kills one, the Gulf War begins, the PIRA (provisional IRA) attacked 10 Downing Street and blew all the windows in of the cabinet room during a session at the War Cabinet, the IRA detonates bombs at both Paddington and Victoria stations, John McCarthy a British journalist who had been held captive for 5 years in Lebanon is free, rioting breaks out across the country, business tycoon Robert Maxwell is found dead, two IRA bombers die in St. Albans when a bomb detonates prematurely, Terry Waite a British hostage held for 4 and a half years is freed, Freddie Mercury announces he has AIDS and sadly dies the next day, USSR is dissolved and many countries gain independence, Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi is assassinated, apartheid is dismantled in South Africa, Slovenia and Croatia declare independence from Yugoslavia, police are captured on video beating Rodney King, the internet is now made available for commercial use and the films Boyz in the Hood, Thelma and Louise and Silence of the Lambs are released. I turn 15 years old.

c3e53cb7b1973d15e988bb98ba5ad1e1

From here on in, watch me delve into the British alternative music scene, but never fear there will always be plenty of pop and American tunes thrown into the mix too. So, here in no particular order, are my top ten tunes from 1991.

1. There’s No Other Way by Blur

2. Gett Off by Prince

3. I Touch Myself by The Divinyls

divinylsgal_1

Clearly playing a particularly tricky game of Twister

4. The Size of a Cow by the Wonder Stuff

THE_WONDER_STUFF_NEVER+LOVED+ELVIS-6486b

5. Dress by PJ Harvey

pjdm

6. Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana

dave-grohl-krist-novoselic-kurt-cobain-nirvana-1991-by-gilbert-blecken-1-810x537

7. Unfinished Sympathy by Massive Attack

0d1c4bb0ce949b22cae68f6d4ddb4a6d--massive-attack-blue-lines

8. The Whole of the Moon by the Waterboys (originally released in 1985, it was only when it was re-issued in 1991 that it became a big hit)

1200x630sr

9. Sit Down by James (I had to include this. My first ever gig was James at the Oxford Apollo in 1991)

James

10. Losing My Religion by REM

rem-1991-3980fd5e-0337-40b2-b3bf-44a4bd171262

REM are a close second, but it’s the lads- Nirvana that are a clear winner this week.

So, gang…….which is your favourite?

See you next week for 1992!

Just Another Blog From a Woman has been nominated for an award. If you enjoy my blog and you have a spare few seconds, would you mind voting for me HERE It’s very simple and there’s no need to register or provide an email address, just vote for Just Another Blog From a Woman under the Best Pal category. Thank you SO much.

Just Another Book Club- February Book

Please leave your comments below or within the appropriate post on my Facebook page. Please feel free to peruse other people’s comments and respond to them.

***Please be aware this is a book club discussion, so there is the possibility that my review or the comments left by others will contain spoilers***

Hold Back the Stars

by

Katie Khan

51F452mNI8L._SY346_

Synopsis

Imagine that you only have 90 minutes of life left and you’re spending that time with the love of your life. Oh and minor detail, you’re floating in space in space suits. Hold Back the Stars is a love story set in an utopian future and sees two lovers deliberating over the ultimate sacrifice.

My Review

This book is an excellent debut from author Katie Khan. The story line is incredibly original and I enjoyed that it was set in the future. I thought it was refreshing that Khan wrote the future as utopian rather than dystopian, but like all societies through history it was not perfect.

I found the technical talk specifically in the first third of the book made me lose my interest at times. It sometimes got a bit too heavy or continued for too long for me personally. So, I would at times find my mind wandering and not realise what I’d just read. However, the book picks up after the initial section and I found myself gripped for the rest of the book.

I thought the non-linear timeline where the book alternated from Carys and Max in space to scenes in the past, but on earth worked really well. It was an excellent way to see how their relationship grew.

Reading about the loss of Carys and Max’s baby was very difficult, but I thought it was sensitively written about. Their reflection on their baby was very moving. I loved this quote about the afterlife:

“The afterlife is what we leave in others”

I also enjoyed their analysis of what utopia truly is, whilst they were floating in space:

“In Greek, Utopia means ‘no place’….a perfect place isn’t a political state or a philosophical movement. It’s this, it’s us”

Hold Back the Stars is a very visual book and it makes sense that the author herself works in the film industry. I found myself imagining the book being turned into a film as I read it and my research tells me that it is indeed going to be film (produced by the same people that produce Stranger Things and Arrival and directed by the director of Riverdale).

Whilst, at first I was slightly confused about how the author was continuing the story in the final section, it eventually made sense. The end scene was incredibly moving and possibly one of the most beautiful and stunning endings for a book that I have ever read.

Often, I don’t like to see the film version of a book that I’ve read, but because of the spectacular visions that you imagine whilst reading this book, I cannot wait to see the film.

This is a very promising debut and I would be very interested to read another novel by the same author.

Questions to Consider

1. In Hold Back the Stars, the author uses dual time lines to tell the story of Max and Carys’s journey to space. In what ways does this enhance the story? Which time line did you feel more connected to?

2. Carys and Max had radically different upbringings from each other. How do their philosophies differ on utopian ideals?

3. In Europia, the individual is prized above all else, yet there is a particular irony in a utopian society valuing individualism. In what ways does Carys see that, and how is Max blinded to it?

4. According to the Couples Rule, romantic couples are not allowed to form until an individual reaches thirty-five. How could this rule benefit our own society? How might it hurt it? How would the rule affect your own life?

5. Max says, “We show our true colors facing the end” (p. 75). Do you agree? Why or why not?

6. As part of a Founding Family, what kind of pressures was Max feeling during his relationship with Carys? Do you think he was justified in feeling the way he did in the beginning?

7. How does the author use details to highlight themes or plot points in each time line? For example, the origin of the crumpled daisy in Carys’s ear does not become evident until after the two time lines converge.

8. Max’s parents essentially excommunicate him after he reveals his relationship with Carys. Can you think of parallel examples in our own society of this kind of familial rejection?

9. Which “ending” seems the most realistic to you? What kind of choice would you have made in the same scenario?

10. How did Carys and Max each cope without the other? What did their coping mechanisms communicate about their personalities?

11. Hold Back the Stars confronts the idea of choice—or lack thereof—and the question of whether true freedom can exist in a utopian society. In what ways were Carys and Max free? How did their concept of freedom change throughout the story?

12. Neither Carys nor Max can live without the other in their respective “endings.” Do you think it’s possible that, for some people, time cannot heal certain wounds?

13. How do you interpret the last chapter of Hold Back the Stars in light of the alternating perspectives of Carys and Max?

14. What were the best examples of strong relationships in Hold Back the Stars? What made them strong? How did Europia foster—or hinder—forming relationships?

15. What do you think it means to do something for the “greater good”? Can a utopian society exist without its citizens striving for a common “greater” cause?

March’s book is Slade House by David Mitchell. I’ll be starting the conversation for this on Tuesday 3rd April.

A list of all the books we’ll be reading for the first half of 2018 can be found here

I’ve finally sorted out my Goodreads page, so as a few people have asked, you can view it here

Best Oscar Outfits 2018

Here’s my annual collection of favourite outfits from this year’s Oscars.

Best Dressed Women

IMG_8176

Jennifer Lawrence

IMG_8177

Lupita Nyong’o

IMG_8178

Oscar nominated Meryl Streep

IMG_8179

Oscar nominated Greta Gerwig

IMG_8180

Oscar nominee Mary J Blige

IMG_8181

Oscar award winner (for best supporting female actor) Allison Janney. I think Allison looks absolutely stunning and it’s her outfit that is probably my favourite this year.

IMG_8183

This dress might divide opinion, but I absolutely love this colour on Viola Davis. I think she looks glorious.

IMG_8185

Oscar award nominee Sally Hawkins

IMG_8186

Dame Helen Mirren

IMG_8187

Whilst I’m not convinced by the shoes, I love the rest of Oscar nominee Dee Rees’s outfit. She was one of several women to go against convention and wear a suit rather than a dress.

IMG_8193

Special mention for Rita Moreno who wore the same dress she wore when she won an Oscar back in 1962.

Best Dressed Males

IMG_8182

British Oscar nominee Daniel Kaluuya

IMG_8184

Armie Hammer

IMG_8191

Oscar winner James Ivory

Best dressed couple

IMG_8188

Mahershala Ali and Amathus Sami-Karim

Cutest Kid

90th-Academy-Awards-Oscars-Arrivals-Hollywood

Maisie Sly from the Oscar winning Best Short film The Silent Child

The What-the-Fuck-is-Going-On-Here Award

IMG_8189

Haley Bennett. Great name, terrible dress.

That’s it folks! See you again same time, same place next year.

And don’t forget to tell me, which one outfit is your favourite outfit…