What’s on our Watch and Read List
Book, Podcast and Show Recommendations
Kane Lewis: Big Little Lies
One of my new favorites, the American drama television series Big Little Lies, based on the 2014 novel of the same name by Liane Moriarty, delivers a chilling, yet alluring take on a slow-burning dark comedy, set in a beautiful seaside town in California. The story revolves around four emotionally troubled women (Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon, Shailene Woodley, Zoe Kravitz), who become suddenly involved in a murder case investigation. Soon enveloping in the quick to implode drama of little lies shared amongst a small community, the group soon realize that between husbands, wives, children, and school teachers, backfire can become a lethal weapon. Alongside this encompassing plot, the beautiful beach houses, sunset-washed dinner scenes and drives along the coastline work well to reel in the aesthetics, as well as the acting and drama does to nourish the soul of a regal Nicole Kidman or an overdramatized, energetic Reese Witherspoon fan.
Corinne Nolte: American Gods
A few friends who are big fans of American Gods (the fantasy novel by Neil Gaiman) were surprised when I said I’d never heard of it. Which led to me being invited along for the ride of watching the recently released TV series of the same name. The first and second seasons watched back-to-back were a challenge for me to follow, with many characters with complicated storylines, which saw me regularly getting lost and having to hit pause for explanations. Nevertheless I was super drawn in and impressed by the cinematography. It was a reminder of the lesson I learnt as a kid – always read the book first! So I read the book before watching season three, and it became much easier, and more entertaining as it all fell into place. If you like the idea of escaping to a fantasy world involving a strange mix of old and new gods, modern America and war, you’ll love this – but remember, book first, TV series second.
Campbell Brown: The Adventure Zone
Suppressing my inner-nerd became more difficult upon stumbling into the world of Dungeons & Dragons podcasting. My initial interest was to understand the game better, but I stayed listening due to the immensely creative storytelling and jovial banter between brothers Griffin, Justin and Travis (My Brother, My Brother and Me). They cleverly bring their father along for the ride, who is the resident “I don’t know what I’m doing in this game” person, which is both helpful in breaking down the game and good for a few laughs as well. If you have a powerful imagination like me, this podcast will paint pictures in your brain and have you buzzing like the little nerd you know you really are.
Sarah Park: All Our Shimmering Skies
I was one of the hordes of Australians who raved about Dalton’s first book Boy Swallows Universe back in 2018, so I was excited to hear about the journalist-turned-author’s second novel All Our Shimmering Skies. Like his debut, this story also follows a young protagonist – Molly Hook – who I loved for her eternal optimism and (sometimes heartbreaking) view that all people can be ‘good’. All Our Shimmering Skies is somewhat fantastical and verging on a fable in its style. Reading it transports you to another place, on a quest with Molly Hook to remove a curse from her family. Dalton describes events in vivid detail and the story gives you an insight into northern Australia in the 1940’s (it is based around the Darwin bombing). Although some moments seem a little too unbelievable – a stranded Japanese pilot is thrown into the story for example – if you suspend belief, you’ll enjoy the drama.