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What we loved: May 2023
Does one of the most-anticipated books of the year live up to the hype? Plus rom-coms galore.
May is a very busy month in the bookish world! If you were able to attend, we hope you enjoyed the many writer’s festivals that were on this month. Caitlin attended the All Day YA sessions at Sydney Writers Festival, hearing from many past guests and hopefully many future guests.
May was also a very busy month for us, season 10 is all wrapped up! We’re so proud of this season and hope you enjoyed listening along. Forgive us again this month for mentioning books we’ve already recommended on the podcast, but next month our wrap-up will contain all new recommendations.
What did you read/watch/listen to this month? Leave us a comment and let us know!
*denotes review copy
Double Booked by Lily Lindon
Georgina has everything in life worked out: she’s got a shared calendar with her long-term boyfriend, an okay job and some good friends. Then she sees indie lesbian band Phase on a night out with her bestie and starts to question everything.
As she comes to terms with her bi identity, Georgina makes the (frankly, unwise) decision to try and have the best of both worlds. She’ll be Gina by day (piano teacher with boyfriend) and George by night (playing keyboard in a lesbian band).
You may already have guessed that things don’t go well with that plan. But what unfolds in Double Booked is a fun contemporary novel about learning to love a new part of yourself, finding community and (surprisingly) coming to terms with regrets and grief. I really enjoyed it, even if Georgina’s actions had me cringing sometimes!
Yellowface by Rebecca Kuang*
The book of the year. Yellowface is out next week, and yes I did have the opportunity to read it early because of my job at HarperCollins. But holy moly, it’s incredible and I have not stopped thinking about it. It’s so captivating, intelligent, and thought-provoking - it’s just so brilliant I can barely articulate my thoughts on it. I recommended it ahead of our interview with Ashley Kalagain Blunt, so please listen to that if you would like to hear me gush about this book further.
Gwen and Art are Not in Love by Lex Croucher*
In this historical-ish/fantasy-ish, queer rom-com we follow Gwen and Arthur as they uncover each other’s deepest secrets and make a pact to fake-date. Meanwhile, Gwen is falling for lady knight Bridget and Arthur is increasingly drawn to Gwen’s brother (and heir to the throne) Gabriel.
This book is FUN. It was such an enjoyable reading experience that really left me feeling happy. I mean, it’s being described as “Heartstopper meets A Knight’s Tale”. So, if you’re in the market for something like that, then you definitely need to read this!
Nobody Puts Romcoms In The Corner by Kathryn Freeman*
If you like reading fun rom-coms that reference rom-coms a lot, then this is the perfect pick. I mean the main characters’ names are Harry and Sally. They’re roommates and one night because of a drunken bet, they film a TikTok video attempting ‘the lift’ from Dirty Dancing. The fail video goes viral and leads to them recreating more iconic rom-com movie moments in an attempt to make money from TikTok sponsorships. Is it unrealistic? Of course. Is it fun? Absolutely.
The Great (season 3)
This show is an absolute marvel and, three seasons in, it feels like the characters and storylines have really hit their stride. Jack and I tried to savour this as much as possible, only watching one episode a night. The season really took an emotional turn and I wouldn’t be surprised to find that it won’t be returning because the ending did feel wrapped up. However, there will always be a place in my heart for this darkly comic historical-ish comedy. If you’re yet to watch it but enjoy Bridgerton, it might be for you.
The Sum Of It All
This four-part documentary series is such a good companion to the new ‘Subtract’ album. It follows Ed Sheeran and his wife Cherry as they come out of a really dark and difficult time, including the death of Ed’s best friend, Cherry’s serious health problems ahead of the birth of their second daughter, and how Ed put it all into his music. It’s a really moving watch, as he pays tribute to his friend or performs Subtract for the first time. Selfishly, I really loved seeing more of Cherry, but hearing why she was willing to be involved with this documentary is also moving. I cannot recommend this enough.
Frayed (seasons 1 & 2)
I devoured both seasons of this in a matter of days - mainly because the episodes are only half an hour, so they make for an easy binge. Set in the ‘80s, Frayed follows Sammie as she flees high-society London after her husband’s embarrassing death (mid-sex act with an escort) and subsequent discovery that he’s squandered their fortune. Sammie is plonked back in her hometown of Newcastle, giving her two English children quite the culture shock. Antics ensue as they all try to fit in and Sammie tries desperately to climb back up the social ladder. This is such a fun watch and I think the comedy will stand the test of many re-watches.
Once again, a much lighter recommendation after a more serious one. This new Netflix series is a spin-off from the To All The Boys movie trilogy, following Lara Jean’s younger sister Kitty. After a very busy week, this was the perfect fun, light, enjoyable watch last weekend. There are fake dating hijinks, dorm mix-ups, a school camping trip, and a whole day in detention. Just about every fun thing that could possibly happen to a bunch of teenagers figuring out their feelings happens, but if there’s a season 2, I will be right there waiting to watch!
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Jules and Sarah: The Podcast
This podcast used to be such a comfort to me. I’d listen as soon as episodes dropped on a Friday and this pair’s gentle nattering kept me company through my solo travels in the UK in 2017. I was delighted to see Jules and Sarah have revived the podcast after a few years away with a season of episodes loosely themed around various topics (like home, friends, holidays etc). Featuring all the warmth and love I hadn’t realised I’d been missing in my podcast feed.
Jonas Brothers on Armchair Expert
I don’t have any brand new podcasts this month, so I’m going to be specific and recommend two episodes. Firstly, Kevin, Joe & Nick Jonas on Armchair Expert. If you aren’t a fan, you probably wouldn’t be interested anyway, but also I don’t know how you’d tell them all apart! Five people chatting on a podcast is kind of a lot, but it’s such a delightful chat. It’s great to hear a bit more from Kevin, especially as the oldest as they talk about their family dynamic and how it’s affected the band.
We Are History podcast
I’ve previously recommended You’re Dead to Me and We Are History is a similarly comedic take on history - although, as hosts Angela Barnes and John O’Farrell point out, without any actual historians. There are a wealth of episodes already out, so you’re sure to find one that takes your fancy. But I started with Radium: A Toxic Love Affair (related recommendation: The Radium Girls by Kate Moore).
John Stamos on And That’s What You Really Missed
As Jenna Ushkowitz said, Uncle Jesse himself! John Stamos was on Glee for only four episodes as the incredibly memorable Dr. Carl. This conversation is so wonderful, to hear how much he enjoyed being on the show and that he’s kept in touch with some of the cast. Plus how he invited Kevin & Jenna to ‘a friends house’ to screen the ‘Britney/Brittany’ episode and they ended up watching with Full House creator Jeff Franklin and the entire Tanner family! (They discuss this a bit more on their ‘Britney/Brittany’ recap episode).
Culling my TBR pile
At the start of the year, I started to look at my physical TBR and question how many of these books I really wanted to lug overseas with us. Some of the books had been on my shelf for nine or ten years! With our flights now booked and shipping paid for, the past month I’ve really ramped up the process of testing books and deciding within 20 or so pages whether they’re headed for a new life in the charity shop. And it’s been SO cathartic. I felt a bit guilty at first, knowing I’d held onto books for so long without reading them. But I’ve also looked at it as an evolution of my reading tastes and a reminder that maybe in the future I’ll be using my library more…
Demi Lovato’s Rock Versions
Earlier this year, Demi Lovato released their rock version of ‘Heart Attack’ and I had it on repeat for days. Last week, ‘Cool For The Summer (Rock Version)’ was released. Obviously both these songs were incredible originally, but after Lovato’s album ‘Holy Fvck’ last year, it’s awesome to hear these new versions.