R is for Rag’n’Bone Man

This guy is my new favourite artist when it comes to music. His voice is amazing and he’s breaking records, achieving number ones and winning awards left, right and centre. His music is soulful and heartfelt and kind of beautiful in my opinion.

The single Human went to number 2 in the UK Singles Chart and peaked at number 1 in eleven countries while his debut album, also titled Human, was the fastest-selling debut album by a male act during the 2010s! He even beat the likes of Ed Sheeran and Sam Smith! Now that is some achievement. This year at the BRIT Awards he won both British Breakthrough Act and the Critics’ Choice Award, tying with David Bowie for the most wins of the night.

Human was the first song of his I heard and I instantly sat up and took notice. It’s such a different sort of song to what I’d heard before and I love the bass beat. Skin is the latest single to be released and it’s just as wonderful. His debut album is brilliant and I’m currently recommending to everyone. I think if you like acts like Bastille and like soulful voices then you should definitely give Rag’n’Bone Man a listen.

I love his entire album so much it was so hard to choose which song to include in this post. Bitter End and Arrow are two of my favourites from his album but I had to choose Human – it the first song of his I heard and it still gives me shivers.

READ THE WORLD – Denmark: The Keeper of Lost Causes by Jussi Adler-Olsen

Copenhagen Detective Inspector Carl Mørck has been taken off Homicide to run a new department for unsolved crimes and he’s not happy about it. Soon things get busy when his first case concerns Merete Lynggaard, a politician who vanished five years ago. Everyone says she’s dead, he thinks they’re right. But that might not be the case, and Merete’s time is running out.

It’s been a long time since I’ve read a detective thriller and The Keeper of Lost Causes did not disappoint. Carl is one of those typical cranky detectives who doesn’t work well with others, his colleagues don’t really like him but they still ask his advice on difficult cases, but he’s still a decent person who’s good at his job. It’s great to see bits of the case come together because as the reader you sometimes know more than Carl but you never get the whole story till the final chapters.

Carl Mørck’s department is in the basement of police headquarters and it’s just him and his assistant Hafez el-Assad. They’re an odd combination and provide some moments of humour. Assad is Syrian so he doesn’t always get how things work in Denmark but he’s never portrayed as stupid, in fact he’s a great help to the case, seeing things others don’t. It was really nice to see how Carl respected Assad’s religion, getting a floorplan of the station so Assad knew which direction to pray – the religious aspect of Assad’s life was so natural and just a part of him and no one made a big deal of it.

Assad is a very likeable character with some hidden talents, I enjoyed seeing him and Carl slowly start getting to know each other, each dealing with each other’s unusual habits and personal traits. Carl is definitely a character I didn’t like to start with but he grew on me, especially because he has a very dry sense of humour and is often brutally honest.

The Keeper of Lost Causes is a proper-page turner, there were revelations at the end of most chapters and a sense of desperation as the novel progressed as you learnt more about Merete and the horrible situation she’s in. 5/5.

Q is for Queen

No, not her majesty of Great Britain but Queen the band. Even though Freddie Mercury dies just a couple of months after I was born, I’ve grown up listening to his music. This is thanks to my mum, she’s a huge Queen fan so she’d have the cassette tapes (then the CD’s) playing in the car when I was little. We would sing along and it cemented my love for the band.

I think it’s brilliant that so many Queen songs have become an everyday part of our lives. We Are the Champions is sung at spot events, and so many of their songs have been featured in films. Bohemian Rhapsody in Wayne’s World, Somebody to Love in Ella Enchanted, We Will Rock You in A Knight’s Tale and so many more. It always puts a smile on my face when I hear a Queen song in a film or TV show.

It’s pretty impossible to choose a favourite Queen song, there’s so many of them that I even forget a few of them. I love the headbangers, the proper sing-along songs and the ballads, I love them all. So, I had to go with a medley of songs and what better than Queen’s performance at Live Aid in 1985. I love watching their performance, Freddie Mercury has the audience in the palm of his hand and I love when they all clap along in perfect time to Radio Ga Ga – both in the audience at Wembley and all the way in Philadelphia. The Audience Improve part gives me shivers every time I see it.

P is for Red Panda

I love red pandas. They are my favourite wild animal (my favourite animal in general are dogs) and just seeing a picture of them puts a smile on my face.

I think the first (and only) time I’ve seen a red panda in real life was at Central Park Zoo in New York. They looked so cute snoozing in the trees and I instantly fell in love. They are such weird creatures when you think about it. They are very distantly related to the giant panda and while it’s stiped tail is a bit like a racoon it’s not really related to them either. I love it when animals, or nature in general, doesn’t really fit in the boxes we humans try and put it in.

I think red pandas are some of the most chill animals around yet they still get over excited or super surprised by little things – there’s the video of a red panda in Japan seemingly showing off to a rock which is adorable. I think that’s one of the things I like about them so much, they are a very gif-able animal – in fact there’s a Buzzfeed article of “The 27 Best Red Panda GIFs Of All Time” if you ever need something to make you smile.

Fun Fact: I had to get a cuddly red panda from the shop at Central Park Zoo because I’m a big kid and I named it Boris after the nice taxi driver we had that day.

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Top Ten Things That Will Make Me Instantly Want To Read A Book

Top Ten Tuesday is a feature run by BrokeAndBookish each week. This week the topic is all about those key words or phrases that will make me want to read a book. I feel like the following ten words and phrases will give you a great look into my tastes. So, in no particular order off we go!

Heists/Cons
I love stories about heists. I love the planning of them and then the reveal of how it’s all done and I definitely love all the types of characters you get when it comes to heists. There the grifter, the hacker, the distraction, the money guy, the patsy, the driver, the inside man and many, many more. I love it when characters fit neatly into these tropes and when the subvert them.

Spies
I love the intrigue that goes with spies, figuring out who’s telling the truth and all the gadgets and skillsets that comes with following a spy character. Like with heists, I love all the tropes that come with stories about spies, the gadgets, mission control. It’s just the best.

Family of Choice
This is my favourite trope in any type of media. Maybe my love for it comes from the fact I have a very small biological family and my friends are closer to me than some of my family members. I just love the idea of finding and choosing the people you consider to be family, those you’d do anything for and love unconditionally. (more…)

O is for On a Mission by Gabriella Climi

So this song is one of my favourite feel-good, motivational songs. I’m not sure how I discovered it but it was during my University days. It became part of the soundtrack to my final year of Uni, especially when I was writing my dissertation.

I’d play it as I was getting all my stuff ready to leave my flat to head to the library for the day. It would get me all pumped and motivated, feeling like I was going to achieve something that day.

On a Mission will always bring back strangely fond memories of studying in the library for hours with my friends. While no doubt I was stressed and worried about my dissertations and the various essays I was writing, I still had a lot of fun writing in the library with my best friend sat next to me, bouncing ideas off each other. The song was (and still is) a part of my Kick-Ass Inspirational Playlist and even today if I need a boost I’ll listen to that playlist and it helps me throw my shoulders back, stand tall and get on with whatever I was putting off in my life.

REVIEW: Fast & Furious 8 (2017)

When Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) is seduced into the world of terrorism by the mysterious Cipher (Charlize Theron), his family and crew must join with old foes in order to stop him.

Fast & Furious 8 really steps it up a gear in terms of stunts and spectacle. There’s car chases on the streets of New York, a giant wrecking ball taking out cars and, of course, a submarine vs cars on ice sequence. They shouldn’t work and sometimes it’s a little chaotic to follow where everyone is but it’s best to let the adrenalin start pumping and go along for the ride.

Cipher is a very different kind of villain to what the crew has faced before. She’s almost all seeing and all-knowing thanks to her hacking skills and is powerful enough to get Dom to turn on his family for her. Most of her scenes are with Dom so it would’ve been nice to see her interact with more of the characters and see how characters like loud-mouth Roman (Tyrese Gibson) would react her.

It’s weird going into a Fast and Furious film without Paul Walker being there and they do have a reason why he and Jordana Brewster are not in the film, but the film generally still holds up with the old crew and a few new additions. There’s Eric (Scott Eastwood) Mr. Nobody’s (Kurt Russell) new protégée, who takes a while to gel and Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) is roped in to join the team. The conflict between him and the team is a bit hit and miss, the film quickly brushes off his history with the team (they almost killed his brother and he in turn killed one of their own and tried to kill the rest of them in the last film) and it would’ve been nice to see some more of that conflict. The one place you do feel that tension is between Shaw and Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), their chemistry is great and there’s a lot of humour from them two trash talking each other.

Each member of the team has their moment to shine but in many ways, this is Dom’s film. He has the emotional beats of the film, along with (to a lesser extent) Letty (Michelle Rodriguez). She, as his wife, is the most visibly torn up about his betrayal and while she does have some cringey lines, she gives a good performance.

What can I say, if you’ve seen any of the recent Fast and Furious films then you know what you’ll be getting into – a world where the laws of physics don’t apply and the main crew of street racers are more like spies or superheroes nowadays. Fast & Furious 8 continues to be a lot of fun with a thrilling finale and a lot of laughs all the way through the film – it’s mad but it works. 4/5.