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October 2015

Book Review: Educating Simon by Robin Reardon

By Amazon, Books & Authors, ReviewsNo Comments
educating-simon-robin-reardon-book-cover Sixteen year old Simon’s life is turned upside down when his mother announces that she’s met and is marrying her new partner. Brian, Simon’s future step-father is from Boston, USA. Brian can’t move to England to because of his daughter Persie.

So Simon is forced to give up Tinkerbell, his cat and Graeme, his imaginary boyfriend. Moving to Boston puts the shared dream of Simon going to Oxford University at risk. The dream being shared by Simon and his deceased father.

In Boston, Simon’s new life is busy both with school work and socially. As part of his school work he is assigned Toby/Kay to Mentor for a Spelling Bee. Toby/Kay is an eleven year old trans, who feels like he was born in the wrong body and wants to start hormone replacement therapy before he hits puberty.

Educating Simon was an idea with a lot of potential, but unfortunately none of it’s potential was realised.

Main character Simon writes the story from his perspective in diary entries. His character is un-relatable and doesn’t cause the reader to care about him. The character was also inconsistent. Reardon sometimes getting the mentality, emotional maturity and behaviour of 16 year old Simon spot on and other times getting it completely wrong.

All the other characters felt two-dimensional. Toby/Kay’s storyline lacked depth and felt more like it was about having a trans representative than truly telling her story.

Educating Simon is overwritten with pacing that crawled along like a snail. The book doesn’t really get started until at least fifty pages in.

The sense of relief when the book finally ends was the main sense of enjoyment. It’s not the worse book I’ve ever read, but it’s pretty close. This isn’t Reardon’s first book and I would be willing read another one of his books, but would have low expectations and be wary.

Review soon,


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Book Review: Sane New World – Taming the Mind by Ruby Wax

By Amazon, Books & Authors, Health, ReviewsNo Comments
sane-new-world-ruby-wax-book-cover The self-acclaimed poster girl for mental health Ruby Wax went to Oxford University and completed a Masters in Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy. Wax wanted to understand the neuroscience behind her own mental health and maybe find a better way to manage her mental health.

On completion on Wax’s Masters she wanted to share her own mental health story, along with what she’d learned at Oxford. So she embarked on a tour of mental institutions, before widening the tour to the general public.

I went to see Wax’s Sane New World Tour, but for anyone whose not had the opportunity or wants to know what secrets Wax learned at University, they can read her book Sane New World – Taming the Mind.

Sane New World is a funny, informative and captivating book on the subject of mental health. It’s easily the best book I’ve ever read on the topic. So it is a MUST read for anyone interested in or whom has experienced poor mental health.

In Sane New World Wax covers:

  • What Drives Us Crazy.
  • The Critical Inner Voice(s).
  • Emotions.
  • Depression, Anxiety, OCD, Stress, etc.
  • How Our Brain’s Work – Neuroscience.
  • The Functions of Serotonin, Dopamine, Oxytocin, Cortisol and Other Chemicals in the brain and body.
  • How Our Brains Grow and thought/behavioural/emotional patterns can be changed.
  • The basics of Mindfulness.
  • Some good, but brief mindfulness exercises.
  • Alternatives to Mindfulness (if it isn’t your sort of thing or doesn’t work for you).

Throughout the book as I have mentioned Wax tells her story. Sane New World includes some wonderful illustrations that give an insight into how Wax operates and is relatable to all. After all, we are all human beings and all being stretched by life to the point of breaking. If we’re not careful we might actually break. We need to take hold of the reins in our minds and in our life and if necessary make some changes.

Sane New World will improve your understanding of mental health, teach you how to be and remain mentally and emotionally healthy and be an enjoyable read, all at the same time. It will teach you how to be in control of your mind, rather than it being in control of you. Definitely worth the investment in my humble opinion.

Sane New World by Ruby Wax is available to buy on Amazon and at all good bookshops.

Review soon,



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A Magical Evening: British Musical Fireworks Championships at Southport

By Friends & Family, Happiness & Joy, Inspiration, Life, Music & RadioNo Comments

Simon & I, excited for Fireworks and Music.

On an early Autumn evening, as the sun set on a Sunday, Simon and I headed to Southport for British Musical Fireworks Championships. There was something magical about fireworks timed to music being combined that created an awesome experience.

The British Musical Fireworks Championships goes on over a weekend Friday – Sunday, with different Pyrotechnic Professionals competing to be judged as the Winner of the Championships by a panel of judges. The public can buy entry to a large park where fireworks displays takes place in time with the music. In the park are fast food vans, coffee vans, a performance stage (for live singers prior to the main event), toilets and even seated tickets are available.

Here are some photos from the event, but without the music they really don’t do the experience justice:


The Entrance to the British Musical Fireworks Championships at Southport.


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Click on any photo for full-size image. Once in full-size image, there is also the option to play a slideshow.

Blog soon,


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Wheatus Live: The 15th Anniversary Tour at Manchester Academy 3

By Friends & Family, Gigs & Shows, Happiness & Joy, Music & RadioNo Comments

Wheatus Ticket

Recently a friend and I went to see Wheatus at Manchester Academy 3.

The warm-up bands varied in quality. The Hipstones were terrible. Gabrielle Sterbenz as a three piece girlband had charisma and a good stage presence. Mike Doughty I just remember being rather annoying, tall and bald. After about an hour of warm-up bands, it was time for the main event.


Warm Up Act 1 – Gabrielle Sterbenz.


Warm Up Act 2 – Mike Doughty

Brendan B. Brown was superb. He hit all of the high notes in the songs with precision, despite a chest cold that he’d apparently caught in Ireland. Rather than a setlist Brown encouraged the audience to shout out the tracks that they wanted to hear.

The audience were not shy, shouted out and Wheatus played. The audience started out with head nodding as the band played. The alcohol flowed, more familiar tracks were played and the audience responded by properly rocking out.

Here are some Wheatus photos from the gig:


Time For Wheatus!


Wheatus – Taking song requests from the audience.


Wheatus – Singing one of their classics (1).


Wheatus – Singing one of their classics (2).

Wheatus played all of their tracks on their self titled album, including: A Little Respect, Sunshine, Truffles, Hump ‘Em N Dump ‘Em, Hey, Mr. Brown, Leroy, Punk Ass Bitch, Love Is a Mutt from Hell and Wannabe Gangstar.


Wheatus about to sing the finale – Teenage Dirtbag (1).


Wheatus about to sing the finale – Teenage Dirtbag (2).


Wheatus about to sing the finale – Teenage Dirtbag (3).

The finale was of course being their iconic song Teenage Dirtbag. Teenage Dirtbag was released in 2000 and quickly a number one in most of the charts across the world. Since then it has been covered many times, but you can’t beat seeing Brown play it live. My friend and I had a great night. Wheatus are well worth seeing, hearing and enjoying live.

Blog soon,


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