A Gaiman-esque birthday

Neil Gaiman is probably my favourite author; certainly my favourite living author. Even so, I was surprised (and very pleased) with quite how much Gaiman featured on my 29th birthday yesterday.

Jen got me Norse Mythology, which hadn’t really been on my radar, despite being released this month. I was delighted with the present, of course, but didn’t know what to expect – in just over 24 hours I’m now 3/4s of the way through and thoroughly enjoying it. Essentially a series of short stories, light-weight and a bit mad, they are none-the-less engaging and a fun read.

Then my parents went and got me two Coraline prints, both signed by Chris Riddell. They are from the 10th-anniversary edition – which I have signed by both illustrator and author, and which I consider an important part of my book collection – so I’m chuffed to bits with them. They framed one, the other will have to stay unframed for now.

All this Neil Gaiman talk made me think about American Gods. When I think about American Gods, I have to read American Gods. I consider it my favourite book ever, and this time around I decided to listen to the audiobook. It is very well done. Shadow has just been busted out of train-prison by his dead wife – if that doesn’t make sense to you, do yourself a favour and read the book.

Then, to end the birthday-day, we watched the film version of Coraline – one of the few films which I consider to be better than the book (only other one I can think of off the top of my head is Shutter Island, but I’m sure there are others) whilst eating homemade red Thai curry and dumplings by Jen.

On a non-Gaiman front, I also got the final Tribe Called Quest album, which is fantastic. 

Not a bad birthday all-round.

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Libratone Q Adapt Wireless Bluetooth Headphones

Before saying anything else, I’ll say that I’ve never before seen such an incredibly good-looking set of headphones. The Libratone Q Adapt are sleek, stylish and constructed with excellent materials. The leather is soft, the plastic and metals are smooth, the cloth is textured – combined with thought and care into something truly special to see and feel.

And that’s just first thoughts on taking them out of the box. When using them – because form without function is pointless – they show what they are really made of. Sound quality is excellent, with rich bass and nicely balanced treble. My writing today is being accompanied by The Juan MacLean’s In A Dream and it is immersive, but even when I switch to something more aggressive – Run The Jewels III, anyone? – the headphones keep up magnificently.

I’ve been using the Libratone Q for about 2 months now and I’ve only just downloaded the app. This has brought with it some helpful firmware updates that have fixed some of the issues I had with the touch controls – yes touch controls, some space-age stroking of the bird on the right side unit allows for changing tracks, volume control, phone answering and more – and has also introduced me to the impressive CityMix noise control.

I fell in love with these headphones as soon as I held them in my hands. Combine that with rich sound and advanced controls, I never want to take them off – a shame, seeing as Jen nabbed them for her commute within seconds of them arriving…

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These headphones were sent to me by Amazon for review, but my thoughts are my own and entirely honest. There are also affiliate links in this review.

Biographic series – Vincent van Gogh

Ammonite Press have recently launched a new range of books called Biographic, which are design led, infographic-style biographies of artists, writers and scientists. They are, simply put, gorgeous.

The first that I came across was Biographic: Van Gogh, but the range will also soon include:

The idea of using an infographic-style presentation for a book works fantastically, with so much information presented in an easy to digest way that also looks great. I’ve learnt a lot about van Gogh’s frankly tragic life, which I probably never would have otherwise, not being a big fan of heavy historical biographies.

I’m excited to get my hands on the rest of the series.

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There are some affiliate links in this article, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that I love these books.

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Lego Sweets all the way from Montana

Jen has just got back from visiting family in Montana.

As a reward for not burning down the house in her absence she brought me back a set of lego style building sweets from The Parrot Confectionary in Helena. These Pez-like sugar sweets are colourful, fun and taste pretty good!

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And, in honour of our American cousins, I built a wall for Donald Trump. It cost a little less than his proposed wall, but hopefully it will keep him entertained whilst the grown-ups get on with running the country.

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Bee9 iPad Mini Stand

I type this sitting on my sofa, with a bluetooth keyboard on my lap and my iPad Mini propped up on the coffee table. It’s the way I’ve been doing the majority of my typing of late, having despaired one too many times over my 5 year old windows laptop. Tonight it’s different though, tonight my ipad is propped up in style. Rather than the usual plantpot-coaster-glass combo, this time my ipad rests like a king in its beautiful hand-crafted wooden stand from Bee9 Design. Oh it is a happy ipad.

I had originally planned to get an apple folio case, like the one that adorns Jen’s Mini. However, although it works well enough, I’ve never been a big fan of holding the ipad with the case still attached, flapping around and getting in the way. So I looked for an alternative and found the Bee9 Design Groove. Crafted from bamboo, the design is ridiculously simple, but does the job perfectly and has a smooth and pleasing finish.

You can find out more and order yours (they come in a range of sizes, for iPhones, iPad Minis and iPads) by Clicking Here.

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All images copyright Bee9 Design.

Hook – A Mobile Puzzler

Hook is a mobile game created by Rainbow Train that is described as a “minimal, relaxing puzzle game”. I’ll give the developers 2 out of three, because Hook is minimalistic and puzzling, but it sure ain’t relaxing.

Instead, Hook is a delightfully fun and challenging little game where you need every ounce of concentration to succeed. Each increasingly taxing level has a number of… lets say ‘arms’, that the player has to release. Each arm can only be released if it has a clear space. Once one arm is released, it will usually create an opening for another, and so on. Here’s a nice, simple example to start:

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If this sounds like a simple premise to you, that’s because it is. And Hook’s beautiful simplicity is what makes it so engaging, that and its ever suprising complexity. Just when you think it has got as big and as tough as it is going to, bam, Hook hits you with a new level of devious puzzlement. Play it at home, play it on the train, play it anywhere and everywhere. Just don’t play it when tired, and don’t play it to relax.

Here’s a more complex level, followed to 2 steps towards completion:

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And finally, a real puzzler:

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Hook is available on the App store, the Google Play store and the Windows mobile store.