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Stuff we like

Want to know what gets us going? We've got film buffs, Spotify bandits, bookworms and exceptionally amateur sportspeople within our ranks. Check out what they're into.

If you've seen, heard or read something great that we haven't, tell us!


Music

Our favourite featured tracks from the office soundtrack for this month. Click a tune to play.

Our playlists

July 17 Sounds

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June 17 Sounds

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May 17 Sounds

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Books

Storm12's current reading list includes

The Blood of Strangers - Frank Huyler

Ben

The Blood of Strangers - Frank Huyler

Ben

This small book of stories gives a glimpse into the world of an A&E department in a large American hospital.

Shocking. Surprising. Wry. Human.

The author used to be a physician and the tales he tells are gripping, surprising, revealing, moving and intriguing. Some are just a couple of pages long and others are much more complex and in-depth. They all reveal something fascinating about human nature when it's placed in a difficult position. Link to Amazon

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Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks

Ben

Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks

Ben

I read this book a few years ago and it was incredible: a moving, harrowing, realistic story of life in France before and during WWI, told from the point of view of a young man.

Birdsong stayed on my bookshelf after I finished it and as I write this I'm reminded of the mix of emotions I felt as I read it. I really ought to pull it out and read it again.

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Inside Alcatraz: My Time on the Rock - Jim Quillen

Michael

Inside Alcatraz: My Time on the Rock - Jim Quillen

Michael

I was inspired to read this book after taking a tour of Alcatraz whilst visiting San Francisco and found it gripping! I couldn't put it down. I found Alcatraz a fascinating place to visit, full of mythical aura and mystery and this book really brings to life the daily life and conditions for the inmates.

Written by Jim Quillen, (prisoner AZ586), who was sentenced to forty-five years after previously escaping from San Quentin prison where he'd been serving eighteen months for armed robbery, this book recounts his ten years served at America's most notorious prison. You feel like you are living every minute of Jim Quillen's life with him, and it feels like it is written in a very honest way. It tells the full backstory to his upbringing and how numerous silly teenage pranks and bad decisions ultimately set him on a road to breaking the law, getting arrested and doing time.

It captures and details daily life in the prison, solitary confinement, encounters with 'the Birdman of Alcatraz' and the famous 1946 escape attempt which led to the forty-six hour Battle of Alcatraz riot.

If you've visited Alcatraz then this book goes to further enhance that unique eye-opening experience. Equally too, if you are fascinated by the mystery and legend of the place, this book is a must read.

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The Paradox Trilogy - Rachel Bach

Stefan

The Paradox Trilogy - Rachel Bach

Stefan

Wow. Just finishing this recently, and I am blown away. Tomb Raider meets Star Trek AND Star Wars. Loved this book (that is crying out to become a movie) with a central female mercenary that plays in this action packed, sci-fi spectacular and awesomely graphic (in my mind) thriller.

This has a plot of galactic proportions and is touched with an unlikely romance with an old story of human sacrifice that all come together in a race to save the universe.

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The E Myth - Michael E. Gerber

Matt

The E Myth - Michael E. Gerber

Matt

Why Most Small Businesses Don't Work and What to Do About It

The E-myth book was a great read, especially as a business owner. It talks about the three characters that we must embrace being a leader (entrepreneur, manager and technician). The entrepreneurial myth: the myth that most people who start small businesses are entrepreneurs and the fatal assumption that an individual who understands the technical work of a business can successfully run a business that does that technical work. This is most commonly, not the case.

 

Gerber walks you through the steps in the life of a business from entrepreneurial infancy through growing pains to the mature business perspective. Most importantly, he draws distinction between working on your business and working in your business.

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Only Forward - Michael Marshall Smith

Paul

Only Forward - Michael Marshall Smith

Paul

This was Smith's first book and it's jam packed with enthusiasm and completely mental ideas!

I love this book, i've never read anything like it. It's quite traditional in the way it's written but what makes it stand out for me is the way the plot changes, turns and the fantastic way the story unfolds.

 

It's hard to review as I don't want to give anything away but throughout the whole book, it keeps you guessing as to what exactly is the whole thing about.

 

All I can say is read it! It's well worth it!

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Film

Netflix, Prime, the silver screen - you name it, we'll watch it. Current favourites are

Gone Girl

Ben

Gone Girl

Ben

Watched this the other night without knowing a great deal about it, but thinking it was a bit like Taken: butch and action-y. Gone Girl turned out to be a really gripping, clever and well-acted psychological thriller.

A recently-married couple's life gets a bit complicated when she (Rosamund Pike) disappears (gone girl..) without warning, leaving behind evidence that the disappearance involved violence. Her husband (Ben Affleck) is a bit of a cold fish and quickly arouses suspicion that he was somehow involved. The truth is rather more complicated.

 

The story is complex but entirely realistic and somewhat understated.

Oh, and it lasts two and a half hours yet my wife stayed awake for the whole thing, which says a lot!

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SPLIT

Paul

SPLIT

Paul

Another great film from M. Night Shyamalan, the guy who directed The Sixth Sense, Signs, Unbreakable and more. It's a cracking thriller and it's connected to one of his other films but I won't spoil which one for you.

Three girls get kidnapped right at the start and the film follows four main characters (well maybe 27), the three girls and Kevin Wendell Crumb, the kidnapper (amazingly portrayed by James McAvoy), who has been diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder and has 23 distinct personalities.

 

It's really engaging, scary in parts and as the film progresses it brings in some freaky supernatural elements that keeps you on your toes.

 

A highly recommended watch with some fantastic acting and a really exciting storyline. Watch.

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Star Wars: Rogue One

Kate

Star Wars: Rogue One

Kate

Being an avid Star Wars fan (I grew up in the '70s) I was doubtful that the spin-off would be any good. My son wanted to see it, so I reluctantly took him. I felt sure it would not be up to my nerdy standards and expected gaps in the storyline, details that had been overlooked, etc. None of the main characters were going to be in it and I really couldn't imagine a Star Wars film being any good without Harrison Ford in it (yes, I know his character has been killed off but I'm in denial!)

All I can say is what an epic film! The storyline was brilliant and perfectly led into the original Star Wars New Hope trilogy. It seamlessly fits the gap between the 70s old school and ultra-modern special effects. All the way through the film there are visual acknowledgments to previous Star Wars films and even deceased actors have been revived using digital manipulation (I understand this can be alarming to some people). I don't want to give the storyline away so I'm not mentioning it! But I will say this, nothing is predictable and there are plenty of twists and turns in the plot. The main character 'Jyn' is played by Felicity Jones who is a class act and has all the grit and determination of Ripley, played by Sigourney Weaver in the Alien films.

 

A not to be missed film for sci-fi lovers

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Sing

Paul

Sing

Paul

Sing is a great family film. I went to see it with my girlfriend who is a sucker for this sort of movie and I really wasn't expecting to enjoy it but I was very pleasantly surprised!

 

The storyline is simple enough for kids but engaging enough for the adults and it relates quite well to what we see nowadays with all these talent show style TV series. It really well voice acted by some big names and the music is pretty good with some pop along with some Stevie Wonder and Elton John along the way.

 

I would absolutely recommend this for anyone that's looking for an easy watch and a good fun day out at the cinema, you'll leave with a smile.

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Legend

Paul

Legend

Paul

Everybody has heard of the Kray twins, and if you haven't, they ran organised crime in London for most of the 60's. One of the best things about this movie is that both twins are played by Tom Hardy. I don't know how they did it but it's filmed really well (especially when they're fighting each other in one scene) and two cracking performances from Tom Hardy wrapped up in one film.

Legend is a great gangster movie and follows the twins as they take over London. The twins are very different, Ronnie being completely crazy and wreckless while Reggie is calmer and more calculated, having to reign in his brother. Ronnie is eventually the cause of their fall from organised crime kingpins, shooting a high ranking member of an apposition crime syndicate.

 

There's a great supporting cast including Taron Egerton, Christopher Eccleston, David Thewlis, Paul Bettany, Emily Browning, Tara Fitzgerald and there's even a few appearances from Duffy who did a lot of the singing in the Krays' club.

 

Defenately put it on your watch list!

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Alien Covenant

Kate

Alien Covenant

Kate

Set 11 years after the events of Prometheus, Covenant is a sequel that attempts to bridge the gap with the first Alien film.

The crew of the Covenant, a colony ship transporting a cargo of frozen humans to an Earth-like planet for colonisation, take the fatal decision of investigating an SOS sent from an uncharted world. Their hope of discovering ‘paradise’ is short lived after two crew members inhale sinister spores and die when the xenomorph bursts out of their bodies (gruesome stuff!) The landing craft explodes and the remaining crew are left stranded with David, the unbalanced droid who features in Prometheus. We are led to believe David killed Elizabeth Shaw years earlier to conduct twisted experiments in a bid to create the perfect alien species. Eventually a shuttlecraft is despatched from the colony ship to collect the remaining survivors, together with an unwanted guest.

 

As expected crew members get killed one by one and the film’s climax echoes the first alien film set on board the colony ship with a rogue alien scuttling around in dark corners, randomly killing the remaining crew.  Unsurprisingly, the remaining crew (Daniels and Tennesse) set a trap and manage to suck the alien into space. But David has other plans, and the final scene shows him coughing up alien embryos and putting them alongside human embryos for future experimentation.

 

The special effects are brilliant and the link between Prometheus and the original Alien film is enlightening. However, many questions are left unanswered, namely how the aliens got to LV-426 which is where the Nostromo crew discover them in the original Alien film. The storyline is predictable in places and relationships between the crew lacking.

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TV

Storm12's selection - the best of the box

Thirteen Reasons Why

Thirteen Reasons Why

Thirteen Reasons Why is a Netflix original series based on a book written by Jay Asher. My partner works at a school and there has been a lot of talk about this from the students, so she was intrigued as to what it was all about.

Apart from being well written and acted, Thirteen Reasons Why has had a lot of attention due to the subject matter. It's about a high school student that takes her own life but before she does, she records 13 tapes, each of which has a reason why she decided to take her own life. Pretty heavy I must admit and I'm in two minds to whether I would let a young teen watch this. Part of me thinks it's good to expose them to this sort of mature content but it does depict some graphic scenes including rape.

 

Moving on from that, the series follow Clay, a former class mate, who finds these tapes on his doorstep and quickly realises that he's not the only one to have had these tapes. There are 13 episodes, one per tape, and we follow Clay listening through these emotional audio diaries. Full of mystery and teenage angst, worth a watch but warning if you are watching it with kids, there are so hard to watch moments.

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Just Tattoo of Us - Car Crash TV

Paul

Just Tattoo of Us - Car Crash TV

Paul

I spotted this on MTV the other day and let's face it, MTV is the place to go when you want something that takes absolutely no effort to watch.

So, the idea is simple, two people (friends, family, partners), choose a tattoo for each other and don't get to see it until it's permanently inked. It is truly unbelievable - I think I've seen one or two that have actually had nice tattoos, everything else has just been terrible. They range from ex-girlfriend names all the way to feminie hygiene products, yes that's right, two "best friends" and one of them picked to have a tampon tattooed on the other. It was a really well done but come on!

 

That's it from me, just thought I'd share that in case anyone wanted to see some people ruin their bodies for life!

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Loaded

Mark

Loaded

Mark

Two episodes in and Loaded has divided the critics, some labeling it genius, some crap. We're enjoying the exploits of the four guys who went from zero to £240m courtesy of their Cat Factory game app.

For us, what works is the mix in the lead characters - the brash marketing guy, the shy nerd, the ex-addict genius behind the app and the guy desperately trying to hold it all together while wracked with guilt over his new found fortune. Definitely worth a watch, even if you think you don't quite get it at first - Mondays, 10pm, Channel 4.

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GT - Grand Tour

Matt

GT - Grand Tour

Matt

Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May are back with The Grand Tour.

They're like Marmite, you either love them or hate them. Even though the new show is somwhat contrived, I can't help but still love to watch the natural chemistry, banter and car challenges between the three presenters. Episode seven and eight for me, are the best from the series. They're challenged to complete an epic journey across Namibia in three beach buggies, each built to their own spec.

 

It's an amazing adventure across some of the most incredible desert scenery Africa has to offer.
Go on, buy Amazon Prime and login

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Generation Kill

Paul

Generation Kill

Paul

So, do you really want to watch a seven part mini-series about the Iraq war? When it's written by the guys that wrote The Wire, YES!

If you're watching it for action then there's not as much as you might expect but it's superbly written and really gripping, but don't worry, you get some brilliant action along the way.

 

It doesn't pull any punches, you see the smart, well trained marines and then the contrast of some idiots in charge of the infantry units and their stupid decisions.

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Blacklist

Paul

Blacklist

Paul

So I'm now on season 4 of The Blacklist and I'm really enjoying it! It's fast paced, exciting and there's always some twists and turns in each episode. It's pretty well acted with James Spader taking the leed as Raymond "Red" Reddington who is the FBI's most wanted fugitive.

I'll try not to give anything away if you haven't already seen it but it follows Red after he inexplicably hands himself in to the FBI in order to capture the first name on his "Blacklist" of criminals that are so powerful and dangerous that the FBI don't even know about, all on the condition that he only talks to Elizabeth Keen, a young FBI profiler.

 

Spader is fantastic as Red with a swagger and style you would expect from criminal mastermind but with a hint to some injustice in a previous life that makes him really likable.

 

I hope this gives you a little insight into the series and makes you want to give it a go! I really would recommend it!

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Sports

Playing, watching, armchair commentating - we love a whole bunch of sports

The Lions Tour to NZ

Mark

The Lions Tour to NZ

Mark

Say what you like about the squad selection and why a team from four combined countries should take on one, but the Lions Tour is one of the great sporting spectacles and I've been watching the clock for about eighteen months waiting for this one.

We're sad that we're not among the 25,000 travelling fans, but nevertheless as lovers of the game, you can't really ask for more than five weeks of top class international rugby in the summer. I've had Sky Sports installed specifically for this tour - so you know where I'll be. The Tour opens on 3rd June with a far from easy clash with the New Zealand Provincial Barbarians, and we can't wait.

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Boxing - Vasyl Lomachenko

Paul

Boxing - Vasyl Lomachenko

Paul

If you're not really into boxing then most of what we see or what gets most of the publicity is the big heavyweights that are quite slow and it's all about power. But this guy -
Vasyl Lomachenko - is one of the best boxers I've ever seen.

Such a clever fighter. He's not the most powerfull guy and he's not a knockout king which means he needs to use his head to win a fight. He's not been a pro long, with only 8 fights as a pro, which makes his 2 world champion belts at two weights all the more impressive.

 

If you watched all of the London Olympics (like most of us did), you may have seen him win his second gold medal to go along with the two amateur world championship gold medals he won. Vasyl has a quite astonishing amateur record of 396 wins from 396 bouts.

 

If you like a bit of boxing but don't know who or what to watch then I would definitely watch out for this guy at light and featherweight. The lighter weights are so much more exciting and Vasyl could be looking at a fight with Manny Pacquiao at some point soon which is either going to prove me right or wrong about him.

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Wimbledon

Paul

Wimbledon

Paul

It's that time of year again! Is it wishful thinking that we could have three champions? Johanna Konta in the Ladies Singles, Andy Murray in the Mens and Jamie Murray in the Mens Doubles?

Well, yes, it's wishfull thinking but we can dream right? Johanna is in great form at the moment and won what is probebly the biggest title by a british woman for 40 years - the Miami Open. Jamie is also in form but the doubles always flies under the radar. Andy has not been in great form, with a couple of injuries but he is still the world number 1 and let's hope he can pull it all together when it really counts!

 

And as I'm writing this, Andy Murray has just won his first match 6-1 6-4 6-2 against Alexander Bublik, c'mon Andy!

 

Enjoy some strawberries and cream for us if you're going and fingers crossed the weather stays great!

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