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What we loved: September 2023
The Thursday Murder (fan) Club, cool stories, favourite TV shows returning and live performances.
We are moving into my (Michelle’s) favourite month of the year: it’s my birthday on the 4th, my wedding anniversary on the 26th (so expect some pics to celebrate in next month’s Substack 😏), and in the northern hemisphere, the leaves are changing as autumn colours shine. Plus, it’s the best time of year for UK telly.
(Sorry, I always end up bringing up the weather in these intros. Must try harder next time.)
We’ve also got a diary full of exciting author interviews for season 11 of Better Words, which will be heading to your podcast feeds mid-month. We hope you love these authors and books as much as we have.
September has been wonderfully bookish, too. Some big new releases we’ve loved, along with new seasons of podcasts and TV shows we’re fans of.
Please let us know in the comments what you enjoyed reading, watching and listening to in September and what you’re looking forward to in October!
*denotes review copy
The Last Devil to Die by Richard Osman (Thursday Murder Club #4)
Regular podcast listeners will know my love for Richard Osman’s geriatric amateur detectives. In preparation for The Last Devil to Die, I re-read books two and three and it was like being wrapped up in a cosy blanket. Brimming with the trademark humour and heart, I loved every minute of this. Don’t be put off by there being four books in the series – they’re such an easy read and so, so heartfelt.
Lola in the Mirror by Trent Dalton*
Through work, I was lucky enough to read this gem a bit early. It’s so special, what is there to say except, ‘Trent Dalton’s done it again!’ Lola in the Mirror follows a girl and her mother on the lam. The girl has no name, because it’s dangerous to know your name when you’re on the run. It’s a big story about love, family, fate, who we are, who other people see when they look at us, and who we see when we look in the mirror. Trent Dalton’s writing is so absorbing, you’re just with this girl from the very beginning and the whole way through. I love her, and I loved this book.
In Memoriam by Alice Winn
I didn’t think this one would be for me, but I read it for book club at my local Waterstones after it was picked for the brand’s Debut Fiction Prize. I was pleasantly surprised by the pace of this narrative. In Memoriam is the story of Henry and Sidney – two teenage boys secretly in love with each other, whose relationship is torn apart by the outbreak of war. It’s a visceral but moving exploration of love in all its forms and the futility of war.
Five Bush Weddings by Clare Fletcher
Consider this your first clue for our upcoming season… I read Five Bush Weddings in a weekend, laying around on a Saturday morning opening a new book I immediately fell in love with Stevie and Johnno. Stevie is a wedding photographer living in Brisbane, but often travelling around to regional and rural towns to photograph bush weddings. Her ex is getting married, and his fiance has asked her to photograph it. Plus her mate from uni, Johnno, is back and keeps showing up at Stevie’s jobs as the best man. It’s a second chance/friends-to-lovers rom-com, and the regional Queensland settings are so fun!
The Following Events Are Based on a Pack of Lies
I raced through this twisty and darkly comic mini-series about two women taking down a con artist. Alice sets out to save author Cheryl from falling victim to her scammer ex – the man she believed was dead after he disappeared one day with all her family’s savings. It’s infuriating at times because the gaslighting is real but the ending is oh so satisfying.
Morning Wars (season 3)
Don’t really have any new or groundbreaking watch recommendations this month, just been watching new seasons of things. That includes my favourite really intense and serious drama, Morning Wars, which back on Apple TV. I’m always impressed by this cast; their performances playing such complicated characters are amazing.
Ultimate Wedding Planner
I am a sucker for a frivolous competition show and the latest is wedding planning! Honestly, it’s worth the watch just to see some showstopping weddings in plenty of different styles. But I was fascinated by all the stuff going on behind the scenes of organising a real wedding in just three days. Enjoyable, sugary TV.
Sex Education (season 4)
Another favourite is back on our screens! The look and style of this show make for an amazing viewing experience, I never get sick of it. The sets, the costumes! As this is the last season, I’m excited to see what this cast does next. Sex Education has always been a wacky watch, and this fourth season is still wacky. I’m glad there’s more, but is this fourth season their best? I haven’t actually finished watching it so I’m undecided.
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The Race for the Bomb by We Are History
Okay, so I have recommended this podcast before and, quite frankly, struggle not to share it every month because I’ve been binging it nonstop. Anyway, Angela and John are back for a new season and kicking it off with a concise and understandable exploration of the race for the atom bomb. If you want to know more about Oppenheimer but don’t fancy feeling a little silly as you sit through a 3-hour movie not quite sure what’s happening, this one’s for you. Having seen Oppenheimer, I really enjoyed the extra context of what was happening outside America’s Manhattan Project in the development of nuclear weapons.
Synced & Race to 35 (Armchair Expert)
I’d seen that Monica Padman and Liz Plank have started a regular podcast under the Armchair Expert umbrella called ‘Synced’. The clips looked funny and I’d been meaning to listen to their ‘Race to 35’ series from the end of last year, where they documented freezing their eggs together. So, of course I went back and listened to the whole of ‘Race to 35’ before listening through the regular episodes of ‘Synced’. Each episode is such a fun listen as Monica and Liz discuss big things (like power dynamics, how female friendships evolve etc.) and small things (like girl dinner, and do men enjoy their birthdays).
Who is the Real Russell Brand and Can You Cancel Russell Brand? by The News Agents
There’s been a lot of coverage following the accusations against Russell Brand, but I found the coverage from this daily news podcast respectful and insightful. These episodes include interviews with one of the journalists who researched the documentary and with the former Sun showbiz reporter who shared some reflections on the industry/climate at the height of Brand’s celebrity.
Cool Story with Bri Lee & Bridie Jabour
We’ve been lucky enough in the past to interview both Bri Lee and Bridie Jabour in the past. Their new podcast, Cool Story, is all about stories. They tell their own stories from the week, discuss interesting stories in book recommendations, and talk about the a big news story. Bri & Bridie are both so brilliant and funny, while listening I feel like I’m part of a really smart discussion. I’m not obviously, but it makes me feel smart so if you would like to feel that way I recommend listening!
Hecklers Welcome by James Acaster
At the start of September, Jack and I headed to Dublin for a weekend to watch our absolute favourite stand-up James Acaster’s new show, Hecklers Welcome. And, yes, I know it’s a bit mean to share something I saw live, but I’m hoping that it will be filmed and released in the future. This new show is perfect Acaster: deeply moving and painfully funny. If you’ve not watched Repertoir yet on Netflix, start there. And if you’re a seasoned fan of that 4-set series, then buy a copy of Cold Lasagne Hate Myself 1999.
Live theatre & performances
In September, I saw three plays, one musical, and one concert. It was honestly kind of a lot, but I adore live performances and we’ve all been missing it for a while. One of the plays was a classic I’d never seen, The Importance of Being Earnest. It was amazing! The concert was Darren Criss, and singing along and dancing with friends I felt like I was 14 years old watching Glee for the first time again. If you feel like you haven’t seen a play, or a musical, or a concert, or dance, or any kind of live performance for a while, please look up what’s on near you soon and go see something!