It’s not vegetating, it’s enriching – honest! Binge watching TV

I’ve recently become a convert to ‘binge watching’ television series. Instead of the days where you had to watch an episode a week of your favourite drama, waiting desperately for Sunday night to roll around again,  there are so many ways you can set some time aside and watch episode after episode. The Guitar Man and I like to watch 2-3 at a time for a few nights in a row. Three such series we’ve watched recently that you can get from Christchurch City Libraries in boxed sets, are Peaky Blinders, Outlander and Hinterland.

Dinosaurs relax watching TV
Dinovember display at New Brighton Library, November 2014. Flickr CCL-2014-11-05-DinovemberNB-DSC.JPG

These are all very different and interesting in their own ways:

Peaky Blinders is a tale of gangs on the gritty streets of Birmingham after the First World War. It stars not only Cillian Murphy, he of the startling blues eyes and chiselled features, but our own Sam Neill, with a very impressive Northern Ireland accent. It’s a fascinating watch and one thing I enjoyed was the lack of ‘Game of Thrones’ gratuitous violence and random sex scenes. It’s gritty all right, but not excessive. There are strong women together with men both damaged by war and desperate to make better lives, in any way possible.

You think I’m a whore? Everyone’s a whore Grace, we just sell different parts of ourselves.

Outlander is a television adaption of the Diana Gabaldon series of books of the same name.  I’ve not read the books, as romantic history is not usually my bag, but it proved to be quite a riveting series, full of Scottish highland scenery, intrigue, romance, fights, and enough hearty men in kilts to keep anyone into hearty men in kilts happy. I also find you can never go wrong with a Scottish accent.

Hinterland is a gritty bleak murder mystery series, set, not in Scandinavia as all my favourite ones have been lately, such as The Killing and The Bridge, but in Aberystwyth, Wales. Interestingly, it is the first series to be filmed in both English and Welsh, with two different versions made. Each scene was done in English, then immediately in Welsh for the first time ever. Sadly, my Welsh leaves a little to be desired, so I only saw the English version. Wales does bleak very well and Tom Mathias, is a troubled DCI with a mystery past. It’s tightly scripted with great characters, but some of the crime scenes were a little bloody and graphic, just a heads up if you’re not into that sort of thing.

With the winter dragging on, perhaps a little binge watching is in order. Do you have some favourites?

Boy + iPhone = iBoy

Are you inseparable from your cellphone, iPhone or iPod Touch?  You have instant access to information and can connect with friends and family at the touch of a screen.  Imagine though, if you had access to any cellphone, could hack into any computer system, and you had your own built-in defence system.   When Tom Harvey wakes up in hospital with fragments of an iPhone imbedded in his brain, this power is inside him.

In Kevin Brooks’ new book, iBoy, Tom lives in a high-rise housing estate where violence, drugs and gangs are a part of daily life.  At nine and a half minutes to four on a Friday afternoon, as Tom is walking back to his flat, a 32 GB iPhone is thrown out a window on the 30th floor, landing on Tom and shattering his skull.  When he wakes in the hospital, he discovers two things 1) that his friend, Lucy, has been brutally assaulted and 2) fragments of the iPhone are still imbedded in his brain and have given him the powers of an iPhone plus much more.  Tom becomes ‘iBoy‘ and must now decide whether he will use his powers to exact revenge on those who have hurt Lucy or keep quiet.  But will Tom be able to control his powers or will iBoy take over?

Although Kevin Brooks has been writing for years I’ve only just discovered him.  His stories are gritty and often portray the harsh realities of life, but his characters are just normal teenagers who have to find ways to deal with their problems.  Unlike some young adult novels, Brooks doesn’t pile his characters up with problems just for the sake of it.

If you like your young adult books with gritty storylines and real characters, rather than sparkly vampires and swooning girls, try iBoy by Kevin Brooks.