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A book, a board game and a box set to get you through lockdown
It's not often that you find a brilliant book, board game and box set over Christmas all of which you can recommed without reservation, but this blog is proof that it can happen!

Posted by Andy Brown on 05 January 2021

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3 recommendations to get you through lockdown

Another year, another lockdown - how to survive it?  Here are 3 things we've discovered over the Christmas period to keep us entertained: a book, a board game and a box set.

The Book

So far 3 members of our family have read The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, and we all loved it:

Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

Each day the lead character adopts a different person's body, as he tries to solve the mystery of who murdered Evelyn Hardcastle.


The book is almost impossible to categorise.  Reviews on Amazon would suggest that people either loved it or hated it, so here's a paragraph from the second page to help you make your mind up:

Sample paragraph

The book is written in the first person, in the present tense.

One of the few books I've read in recent years that I would whole-heartedly and unreservedly recommend!

The board game

Our family have been big fans of The Settlers of Catan for some years now - playing Settlers is like playing a game of Monopoly, but with everyone having a chance of winning even towards the end.  But now there's a rival for our gamey affections, playable by between 3 and 7 players:

Seven Wonders

In Seven Wonders you aim to accumulate tokens, in a similar style to Settlers of Catan.

You can choose to play or pass on cards in a number of different areas, such as science, military build-up and construction.  Once you've mastered the rules, each game typically lasts about half an hour.  Despite having played it a fair few times over Christmas, we still can't work out what the best strategy should be!

Just one hint: I defy anyone to learn how to play the game from the meagre rules provided (they nearly put us off playing altogether).  Instead invest some time in watching a video (I liked this one).

The box set

I've tried a few box sets, but just can't get into them - who wants to devote that amount of time to watching one program?  But someone on one of my courses tipped me off to watching Black Mirror, and I'm a complete convert.  Here are my favourite episodes so far in order (there are 23 in total):

Episode Notes
USS Callister How can an affectionate take on Star Trek end up being so scary?  You will never look at Captain Kirk in the same way again ...
The National Anthem A famous person is kidnapped, with an unconventional ransom request: that the Prime Minister should have sex with a pig live on TV.  The brilliance of this episode is in seeing the PM's options narrow, and his reaction to this.
White Christmas Two men stuck in a cabin together over Christmas share intimate stories from their pasts, although as always in Black Mirror not everything is as it seems.
Playtest One of the scariest things I've seen on television - three of us watched this through various items of clothing, so we could look away if necessary.
Hang the DJ A dating app with a difference (the difference being that you get to find out at the start how long you will spend with your date!).
White Bear You know throughout watching this program that there's going to be a twist at the end - the fun is in working out what on earth it's going to be.

Above all else Black Mirror is brilliantly written, acted and directed - I normally drift off in the middle of watching TV, but I defy anyone to watch USS Callister without getting completely hooked.

Please feel free to leave your thoughts on anything in this blog as comments!

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