Better than Steve


I am, as a friend put it last night, part of the Apple eco-system. I have an iPod, an iMac and a macbook. Everywhere I go, I have an apple to keep me connected, but for some reason I don’t feel much connection with the iPad. Using it to read sheet music and playing board games on it sounds pretty cool but I think it would take a bit to get my head round paying for apps. Even buying iPhone apps that are more than £1 make me tense, as if it’s actually £100 a go. I’m sure in time I’ll come around though.

I mention this because I guess the iPad will be to a lot of people a reading device. I don’t like carrying a large handbag, and ones that can fit a book are on the large side for me, so I actually don’t end up reading much (as travelling is probably the only time I would be reading a physical product). There is of course also the Kindle, but I’m adverse at the moment to having ‘yet another device’ to cart round.

Last week James brought a life changer into play by showing me the Eucalyptus app on his iPhone. It, and various other apps (personally I’m using Stanza) are e-book readers for the iPhone. And if your eyes can handle it, are bloody amazing. They work by using something called Project Gutenberg. You might all be aware of this. Reading up on it I’m pretty aghast that in, what, 14/15 years of using the internet I’ve never heard of it. In essence and for this particular use, it’s a collection of lots of works of literature, articles and plays which are out of copyright (currently, books published before 1923). Wonder how supermarkets sell copies of Sense & Sensibility for 99p? It’s because they don’t have an author to pay. These works are available for free and Project Gutenberg goes about collating and digitising them. With an iPhone app that utilises it, you can download from a vast range of books and read to your heart’s content.

It’s an amazing way to really get to grips with classics that you otherwise wouldn’t find the time to read, or wouldn’t get round to because the latest Sophie Kinsella (nowadays I should probably say the latest Abby McDonald) has hit the shelves.

If you’re an iPhone-r, get on it pronto (particularly now Apple have just announced e-books in 4.0), and even if you’re not you can still download material to use on other devices. In any case tips for classics please! I’ve just done ‘The Curious Case on Benjamin Button’ and am now half way through ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’.

Thanks Gutenbergers, you’re amazing.

Hooray for Abby!


If you were knocking about in the ‘early days’ of pop music blogging, you’ll probably remember brilliant site Poptext crashing onto the scene back in 2004 fondly transfixed by the failure of La Lohan to create the perfect pop song yet Ashlee Simpson’s ability to do so.

It’s writer was Abby McDonald. We were both at university (different ones), frustrated by our trappings, addicted to American TV shows and finding blogs like Popjustice and Fluxblog our perfect bedtime reading. After lots of commenting on each other’s stuff, Abby and I finally met a couple of years, hanging out at Cargo interviewing one of our favourite pop stars – Robyn.

Today Abby’s debut novel gets published in America. It’s called Sophomore Switch and it’s amazing to see her dream turn into a reality. It tells the story of American party girl Tasha, and serious Oxford scholar Emily swapping studies and lives for three months and discovering new sides to themselves. You can read the first chapter here but I’m dying to get my hands on a proper copy to find out what happens next. Although you can order the American version from amazon, it will also be coming out in the UK under the title ‘Life Swap’ (cruelly denying the alliteration) later in the year.

Following that comes her debut ‘adult’ novel ‘The Popularity Rules’ (Sophomore Switch is youth) and then the amazingly titled ‘Boys, Bears & A Serious Pair of Hiking Boots’. I’ve got my fingers crossed that’s going to turn out to be a tale of a surprise climbing wall being installed in deepest, darkest Vauxhall.

Ghetto Princess


Remember trashtastic Big Brother contestant Aisleyne? She’s back. Not content with inexplicably becoming Charlie Brookers bezzie mate, her autobiography will be hitting shops this May. I was one of few people in my circle at the time who really didn’t like her on Big  Brother, but since, she’s become a bit of a giggle particularly in this week’s Snog Marry Or Kill, the uber-shonky makeunder show on BBC Three.

Now her autobiography looks unmisssable. Just look at that cover:

1. The title – Surviving Guns, Gangs and Glamour.

2. The quote – “Women like Aisleyne make the world go around . . .  She’s A Lioness” – AMY WINEHOUSE (?!)

3. The fierce pout.

Never mind the synopsis which includes life stories such as a childhood surrounded by Boy George, predatory men of the city’s gang culture and a potential marriage to Mike Tyson, all we really care about are the juicy details of the must-happen love affair between her and Brooker.

2009’s essential reading? Yes please. Bring it on.