Lauren's Playground

I edit, I write, I proofread, review and teach.

What you’ll find on this blog:

Just like it says on the tin (or in the title), these are the things you’ll be reading about if you choose to follow me:

Book reviews.  This is probably what I write the most of – as of January 4th, I’d already read my first book of 2015.  It was the first of a trilogy and I wanted to read all of them before reviewing, that’s my excuse for taking until the 19th.

TV.  I watch so much TV that there really should be more, and yet… mostly reviews, sometimes my “Spotlight On” category in which I focus on a certain type of show, character, object or, in my last post, The Disney Channel. You’re never too old, right?

Film reviews.  Probably what I write the least of.  I do like films, but if I can watch TV instead, I usually do.

Week in Review. I will aim to post this every Sunday, with brief thoughts on one book, one TV show and one film I’ve seen in the past week.

And the rest.  Currently, just a review of the radio play Cabin Pressure.  It recently concluded with a final two-part episode, which means 26 wonderful episodes for you to go get a hold of! Welcome! I hope you enjoy your visit!

January 4, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Week in Review 5: The Flash

Book I’m still listening to: The Fault in Our Stars

I’m getting towards the end, which can mean only one thing: Warning! Tissues at the ready, the sad bit is coming.  Warning!

Later this week I’ll be posting about my 2015 reading project.  Which is actually my second project, but as this new one has a deadline and the first doesn’t… details. Everything will be read!

TV show I introduced someone else to:

Less growing-into-it (and dark) than Smallville, less violent (and dark) than Arrow, this is the kid brother to superhero shows that reminds you superheroes are supposed to be fun with a side of wisdom, not gruesome and overly serious (Gotham.) The comparison is never more obvious than the Arrow/Flash crossover with broody Oliver dealing with childlike Barry, which just served to make Barry even more adorable.

Being a relatively new show, it’s still more villain-of-the-week than an ongoing story (personally, I prefer individual stories, but I also watch enough shows to know it never lasts…), though naturally there are ongoing threads like, of course, What Makes Him Tick.  And The Love Interest.

In this case, it’s the death of his mother and the father who’s sitting in jail (falsely) accused of it.  Because it wasn’t him, it was the two blurs that were racing around her, the impossible things that no one believed in until… “an accident made me the impossible.” And a bunch of other people, but of course, they’re all bad guys.

Film I watched: Er… still no.  Hopefully I’ll get to watch TFIOS this week.

March 1, 2015 Posted by | TV Reviews, Week in Review | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Week in Review 4: The Fault in Our Stars & Backstrom

How’s that for two completely different things? One with nice teenagers who happen to have cancer, the other a love-to-hate kind of guy who drinks and smokes enough he’s lucky he’s not ill.  Well, more ill.  Though in his case, it’s not the focus.

(Audio)book I started: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

indexYou’re not going to tell me you haven’t heard of it.  Just the major Young Adult book that was the big thing before 50 Shades was the big thing.

The story of Hazel Grace Lancaster, a sixteen year old living with cancer and her good friend Philip, the oxygen tank she has to cart around with her.  Things start to look up when she starts a new support group and meets Augustus Waters, a fellow cancer-haver… survivor… tall drink of water… cute…

And thus begins the love story!  Of course, when your lovers are so ill, it isn’t going to be your run of the mill love story with a happily ever after – they don’t both die, but I’m not giving away who does.

A book about kids with cancer probably sounds depressing.  I won’t say there isn’t at least one part that’ll make you cry, but there are many parts that will make you laugh.  Which feels strange every time it happens, but it is what lends to it being such a good book.

I actually read the book a couple of years ago when I borrowed it from a friend (a signed copy that I was told to Handle With Care) but felt like I wanted to read – or actually listen, since I ended up getting the audiobook – to it again before watching the film.  So I still haven’t seen the film.  Next week, hopefully!

TV show I started: Backstrom

Based on a Scandinavian book series, this is (shocker!) a detective series that takes a little House – he’s unhealthy, and it starts with him in a doctor’s office getting a physical before he’s allowed to be a detective again – a little Sherlock – being offensive without caring what people think, though it’s indexintentional rather than ignorant – and then a little Backstrom on top.

What does a little Backstrom mean? Being a slob.  Eating a lot.  Drinking a lot.  Often having a cigar in his mouth.  On the detective front, his quirk is getting into the mind of his suspects verbally – or anyone, such as this speech to his doctor: “I’m a Hindu. I believe after we die, we come back to life. So why am I a doctor? Why am I working so hard at keeping people alive? Because I realize that reincarnation is a load of crap. We’ve only got one life, and it’s meaningless. I’m terrified of death.”

Is it good? I think so, and I say that as someone who doesn’t love detective shows.  I like them to be as different as possible, which this seems to manage, at least based on the first two episodes.

Film I saw: I didn’t.  And I can’t use Endeavour again.  (Which continues to be good!)

February 22, 2015 Posted by | Book Reviews, TV Reviews, Week in Review | , , , , | Leave a comment

Cold Shoulder by Lynda La Plante

In the first book of the Lorraine Page trilogy, we meet Lorraine, whose identity shifts from talented Cold Shoulder, lukewarm reaction.police lieutenant to rock-bottom alcoholic in the early chapters so that she can spend the rest of the book getting back to a sense of normality by (reluctantly) doing what she does best; helping catch a murderer after almost becoming the latest victim. If complex crimes interest you, sex doesn’t put you off, and a realistic story about addiction intrigues you, then this could be the book for you. If you make it through the rather slow beginning and lengthy ending, it’s a good story that I imagine does justice to the true story it’s based on… though personally I probably won’t be picking up the next two in the series. ♥♥/5 Continue reading

February 20, 2015 Posted by | Book Reviews | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Week in Review 3: The Librarians and The Muppets

The book I’ve just finished: Cold Shoulder.

Review coming soon!

TV show I finished (the season of): The Librarians

Following the current trend of adapting films into TV shows, The Librarians is (so far) ten episodes based on the made-for-TV movies starring Noah Wyle.

Magic! Mythical creatures! Mystical objects! What’s not to love?

While Wyle still recurs here, he spends most of the season off being The Librarian while four others train to be Librarians themselves: Colonel Baird, the ex-NATO agent turned Guardian, Jake Stone, the art history expert trying to keep himself away from another bar fight, Ezekiel Jones, cunning thief putting his skills to good use for a change… mostly, and Cassandra, a hallucinating mathematician due to a “brain grape.”

You don’t need to have watched any of the films and you don’t need to watch the episodes in order (though the first one – and the second one – are a really good place to start).  If Indiana Jones and Relic Hunter (Claudia’s in it!) are what you like, then this should be just the dose of King Arthur/dragons/witchcraft and Santa you’re looking for.

Film I saw: Muppets Most Wanted

Here's Kerrrrrmeet! Or is he?

Two Kermits! Can *you* spot the difference?

Picking up right where the first film left off (literally, they’re still cleaning up), this is a love story within a mistaken identity story within a Muppet Show Tour that includes all the silliness, puns and songs you would expect from The Muppets.

Dominc Badguy (“Badgee” – it’s French) approaches the Muppets to give them the idea for a world tour so his boss can use it as a cover for a little crime spree.

Said boss? Just so happens to look like a certain green frog, and with a tiny Gulag escape and cosmetic alteration reminiscent of Superman’s glasses and hair Kermit finds himself locked up directing the Gulag’s annual revue while Constantine takes his place taking charge of the tour. (His leadership leads to Gonzo staging an indoor running of the bulls.  I won’t spoil how that goes.)

A nice way to spend a couple of hours if there’s nothing else on, but I have to admit, it’s been less than a week and none of the songs are still in my head.  Earworms might be annoying, but the only thing worse than getting one is not getting one when you expect to.

February 15, 2015 Posted by | Film Reviews, TV Reviews, Week in Review | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Week in Review 2: Fresh Off The Boat, Endeavour

The book I’m still reading: Cold Shoulder.

It seems to have hit the point where all the people that weren’t being told what was going on are now being told – separately – which is good for helping you keep track of everything, but not particularly for moving things forward.  That said, it’s still good, and I’m only 20% (or however much further it goes from 83%) from seeing how things turn out!

TV show I started: Fresh off the Boat

From Orlando to DC and everywhere inbetween, there's no going back

From Orlando to DC and everywhere in between, there’s no going back


Similarly to Black-ish, it’s a show about a family, this time Taiwanese rather than black, dealing with – in the first two episodes – moving to a new town and school “issues.” (When was the last time you saw straight As being used as a problem?)

Not similarly, it shows them being “fresh off the boat”, adapting to new ideas and working out how to be successful in 90s America rather than focusing on race.  I don’t dislike Black-ish, but in comparison at least these are real cultural differences rather than what sometimes seem like overreactions.

Film I saw: Endeavour

We shall endeavour to keep you entertained

Morse and his man Friday… er, Thursday

Okay, I know it’s like Sherlock and it’s a TV show in film format, but I haven’t seen any other films this week so I’m using it.

Endeavour, as you may or may not know, is the first name of a certain Inspector, which makes this series a prequel to Inspector Morse.

Shaun Evans stars as a young Detective Morse just getting started in the investigation game and no doubt picking up all the characteristics and meeting all the people Morse fans would recognize.  Even if you’ve never seen Morse, there’s nothing to stop you from enjoying this show set in 1960s Oxford.

February 8, 2015 Posted by | TV Reviews, Week in Review | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Week in Review 1: Lynda La Plante, Witches of East End and Blackhat

Cold shoulder, heart warming? We'll see.

Doesn’t deserve the cold shoulder.

A book I started: Cold Shoulder by Lynda La Plante. 

For a book I only have because it came with my (gifted) kindle, I’m enjoying it, even if it is a little slow. Also has one of my kindle gripes: no back cover.  I had to go and look it up after a couple of days.

The story of Lorraine Page, a disgraced police Lieutenant who chose the bottle over the job, now trying to get her life back together after six years in a drunken limbo.

What better way than to get back into the land of the living – and forget about wanting a drink – than to accidentally get involved in finding a serial killer?





The ladies of East End. Not to be confused with Eastenders.

They even still look like three sisters!

TV I watched: The Witches of East End

As a fan of Charmed, it’s fun to see something similar that isn’t vampires or overly violent.


I’ve only seen the first episode and I’m betting it ends up complicated, but it has just the right blend of mystery, comedy and magic. You know, so far.

Extra points for having a character actually mock the idea of “please don’t tell me I had the power within me all along!”


A film I saw: Blackhat

What happens when you decide to go the cinema first and check what’s on second? You end up slightly bored and quite confused by Blackhat, chosen (a) because Chris Hemsworth is in it and (b) because the rest of the town was there to see Taken 3.


Even Chris Hemsworth (rarely) shirtless can't save it.

There’s a point in here somewhere…


Which isn’t to say it was bad… it just felt like a good story spoiled by bad storytelling and an overly long running time; by the time it got to the point, I’d almost forgotten what was being twisted.  Throw in a romance there just for the sake of being there and somehow they managed to take hacking, something cool (not that I’m endorsing it!), and make Blackhat, something… not cool.

February 1, 2015 Posted by | Film Reviews, TV Reviews, Week in Review | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Desert Sheikh Trilogy by Katheryn Lane

indexFirst book(s) of the year!

An example of three “books” that are more like three parts of the same story; I would recommend buying the 3-in-1 copy, though they are three separate stories if you prefer not to commit.

Inspired by the true story of a family who were kidnapped and said that they had been treated well, this is “what if?” – what if it had been a young single woman instead, one free to fall in love with her kind captor?

Enjoyable, but best read as one three-part book that could use a little more depth. ♥♥♥♥/5 Continue reading

January 19, 2015 Posted by | Book Reviews | , , , , | Leave a comment

Spotlight On… Disney Channel shows

Yes, I’m a 26 year old who (occasionally! When there’s nothing else on! … Usually!) watches the Disney Channel.  Enough of the shows to have some favourites.


No, not about a person called Charlie who brings good luck.  Also nothing to do with Good Luck Chuck.  The title is about an older sister, Teddy, starting a video diary as a way of passing on advice on dealing with their crazy family to her baby sister Charlie.

Bonus: Charlie’s adorable, and to an extent you get to see her growing up. Continue reading

January 4, 2015 Posted by | Spotlight On... | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Animal Crackers (Liberty Heights, book 1)



 You’re fired. Manhattan workaholic Hayley Weaver is out of work, out of money and out of luck. Facing eviction, she grabs the first job offered, house-sitting movie star Paulette Stone’s New Jersey home. Hayley swore she’d never go back to Jersey but she’s hit rock bottom. The job sounds like a snap and the answer to her prayers. She should have known Jersey would throw a curve ball. Paulette neglected to mention her exotic menagerie and more critters than the Beverly Hillbillies in residence. Small town Jersey veterinarian Jake Marx is desperate to meet a woman he hasn’t known since kindergarten. Animal phobic Hayley has Jake on speed dial and the whole town is backing Hayley as their candidate to solve Jake’s love-starved life. Continue reading

December 12, 2014 Posted by | Book Reviews | , , , , , , | Leave a comment


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 28 other followers