Like The Handmaid’s Tale? Check these out!

Do you know what the internet is missing? More posts like this /end sarcasm.

Anyway, the TV adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale is on at the moment and so everyone has done a similar post, but there are always more books to recommend am I right?

So, here are a collection of books I think you might like if you’re enjoying the Handmaid’s Tale.

The obvious one to go with is 1984, so instead of including it on this list, I’ll do some honourable mentions first, so you know, if you haven’t read 1984, then you totally should especially if you are a fan of dystopia. Other honourable mentions would go to Fahrenheit 451, the Hunger Games trilogy, the Divergent trilogy and the Flawed series, which yes, are all YA books, but show a society that are strictly governed. I’d also mention Children of Men, you know, cos the whole no kids being born thing. Anyway, on to the real list.

I’m going to start off with The Giver by Lois Lowry, it’s the first in a series, but I think the book stands well enough on its own. Like the Handmaid’s Tale, we have a very strictly regimented society in which everyone is given a job to do when they reach a certain age. For example, again like in the Handmaid’s Tale, certain people are picked out for giving birth, others are picked out to look after babies which are then assigned to family units. The story follows Jonah who is given the job of keeping all the memories of the world before and with the knowledge he acquires, he tries to escape the society in search of something better.

Second up, The Power by Naomi Alderman, which I only read recently but bloody hell, that was good!
The Power is a novel based on research notes (kind of like The Handmaid’s Tale is a bunch of people analysing Offred’s account of what happened to her.) of a phenomenom that happens to only women and the evidence of it dating back to biblical times. The women in this novel all have what appears to be an extra organ near their collar bone that allows them to shoot electrical charges at will and follows the stories of four people living through more trying times where war is breaking out and women are becoming the more dominant sex. It’s a very interesting novel and raises a lot of questions about what the world would be like if the roles in things like rape culture were reversed.

Never Let me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro, now I wouldn’t normally say this, but I think watching the film immediately after reading the book is highly recommended, I certainly thought the two complimented each other well. This is kind of a deviation because while society as a whole largely appears to be the same as… Well, normal life, there are moments in this where you get the feeling something odd is happening and then when you realise, the subtly makes it all the more haunting.

Next, here’s a sci fi dystopia, Philip K Dick’s Do androids dream of electric sheep? Yes. It is the book that inspired Blade Runner, so I guess you could just watch that because Harrison Ford. Or the new one because Harrison Ford and Ryan Gosling, but whatever. Like all Philip K Dick’s books, this has a lot of government conspiracy related stuff going on amongst the awfulness of general life. This is the story of a world ruined by nuclear war, it follows Rick Deckard who has to find and take out some androids to earn enough money to be able to have a pet because pets are a status symbol due to mass extinctions following the whole nuclear thing. It also features the whole Turing Test thing which to nerds like me is endlessly fascinating.

Finally, Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neil, which if you’ve not read the Handmaid’s Tale would be a great book to read either immediately before or immediately afterwards. I would describe it as being the YA version, but perhaps even creepier because these are all children that are being groomed into the ‘perfect’ female to then either be selected by rich men or be cast out. Also, while it isn’t technically the same genre, you should also totally read Louise O’Neil’s other work because sweet jesus, she is good.

So there you have it, some books to read if you’re enjoying The Handmaid’s Tale.

 

June Round up

Well, here we are six months into the year and wow has this been one of those months. Firstly, we had the General Election, or as I like to say, the day Theresa May scored a phenomenal own goal, we had all the ups and downs of the fall out of the election and then the tragedy of Grenfell and all that went with it. I don’t really know what to say, other than I hope that this is the thing that puts an end to profits before people. There were some fun moments in a month of uncertainty and anger though, like getting to see George Ezra debut some of his new material and hanging out with some old friends. I also did a big scary thing this month – I handed in my notice! By the time you guys read this it will be the start of July and I will no longer be working as a journalist, instead I’ll have moved into marketing at a new company, I’m very scared, but as I’m constantly told, if things don’t scare you, they aren’t worth doing.  Guess we’ll find out how that’s all going in the next one of these!

What I read this month:

Hag-seed – Margaret Atwood
With the Handmaid’s Tale being on TV at the moment, I was looking into getting some extra Atwood in my life. I’d been interested in reading this ever since I saw Sanne over on Books and Quills talking about this and a few other Shakespeare retellings which were released a little while ago, so when I spotted it at the library, I chucked it onto my pile. This is the retelling of the Tempest, which isn’t one I’ve read before, I would like to track that down at some point so I can compare the two and of course, I want more of the Hogarth Shakespeare collection in my life!

Free at last, the diaries 1991- 2001 – Tony Benn
I’ve always admired the work of Tony Benn and this was a gift from my grandad many moons ago that has sat on my shelf for way too long, (I’m not allowing myself to let my bookshelf get untidy, so I must read everything on it that I haven’t read and give away the ones I won’t read again before I am allowed to go anywhere near a bookshop.) so  I figured I’d give this a read while the election campaign was going on. It really is a  fascinating read and I wish I’d started it sooner, also that I had more of Benn’s diaries sat on my shelf to work though. This was interesting from a political point of view in the sense that I learned a lot about a period of politics I didn’t know a lot about before and also got to see life in the commons, which I’d not come across before. There was of course the shade thrown at New Labour and hearing about the various things going on in Benn’s life which were also very engaging. I would be interested to read more books on socialism – anyone read Bernie Sanders’ book? Any good? – before moving on to other ideologies!

Release – Patrick Ness
I love Patrick Ness. Like, really love him. I think he might be my favourite author, I think I’ve read pretty much all the Patrick Ness available now and  I have loved all of them and this was no exception. This was recommended to me by Amazon, so of course, I downloaded it. Their one click buy thing is really quite dangerous and doesn’t help with my plan to read everything on my bookshelf and tidy it up. Anyway, this is loosely inspired by Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway (which I’ve read) and Judy Blume’s Forever (which I’ve not), Mrs Dalloway is a stream of conscious type novel that takes place over the course of one day and while Release takes place over the course of one day, it isn’t stream of conscious and has slightly connected story intertwining with the main story, I don’t know if that’s the Forever aspect, but what I do know is that this book was amazing and I would do a review, but its so incredible I am kind of lost for words!

Speaking out: Lessons in life and politics – Ed Balls
From Tony Benn to Ed Balls, I figured I might as well work my way through the whole of the Labour party. I’ve enjoyed Ed Balls as a public figure (who doesn’t love Ed Balls Day and his rendition of Gangnam Style?) but I didn’t know all that much about him and having read about the political landscape in the nineties and early noughties, I thought I’d learn about more recent times when I saw this at the library (again, not helping myself with the tidying of the bookshelf). While this was an interesting insight into life in politics, especially about how the civil service and the treasury worked, there were a few moments that had me despairing. I don’t know if it was the way the stories were presented, but I think I preferred the more intimate nature of Benn’s book tbh.

I am Malala – Malala Yousafzai
I think this should be required reading, like seriously, jesus christ, not only because Malala is an incredibly inspirational and intelligent young woman who has a lot of wonderful things to say about education and women’s rights to it, but because if, like me, you are a Brit, it is very easy to be ignorant to the world around you – it isn’t in the best interests of the people in charge for you to know too much about other cultures and this was so interesting learning about Pakistan and the different people who live there and its culture. It was also fascinating to learn about someone who had first hand experience of their religion being hijacked by extremists and living in close quarters to people who felt that way. I have many thoughts about this, so I wrote a whole thing, check it out.

The Misinterpretation of Tara Jupp – Eva Rice
Ok, so at the end of the month, I stopped pratting about at the library and on my kindle and started reading the stuff I had laying around on my shelf. Go me. I feel like I’ve had this book on my shelf forever, I picked it up in a discount book store because the cover is pretty and from the blurb, I expected the tale of a vicar’s daughter breaking into the music industry in the sixties and finally feeling equal to her older sister. Well, over half way through this book and she still hadn’t sung in front of anyone, let alone made it out of childhood. I just found the whole thing dragged on with lots of unnecessary stories, when what I was there for was the shock of suddenly being in a whole new world. The people of goodreads seem to love it and while the atmosphere of the novel is great, I just… I don’t get it. It couldn’t decide what the main story arc was or who the main character is and it really didn’t need to be as long as it is, the story could have been told better in fewer pages with less of the meandering about. The only misinterpretation of Tara Jupp I could see was whoever designed the cover and wrote the blurb, because they clearly didn’t read the book first. It isn’t a bad book, it is just very slow. Too slow for what the blurb promises. It’s exactly the sort of thing I’d recommend my grandmother.

Handle with Care – Jodi Picoult
I don’t think I’ve read any Jodi Picoult before this, but I’ve always meant to. Which is probably why I picked this up and then left it gathering dust on my shelf for ever. I remember buying this. I was 20 and I’d picked it up in a charity shop before going to work at my shop job because it was a Thursday night shift and I’d forgotten my kindle charger. I am 28 now. I’ve had it that long and not managed to finish it, until now. It was interesting to read about Willow and her life because I’ve never come across anyone with OI before, but I had the same problem with this as I did with Me Before You in that it made me feel a bit… icky about the way that able bodied authors are portraying disabled people.

Films I watched this month:
You may have noticed if you follow me on twitter, have been keeping up with my Film reviews in 10 tweets or less posts or this video, that I really like films and that I spend a lot of time watching them, so here are all the films (some new, some rewatches) that graced my television this month!

  • Insurgent
  • Lady Chatterley’s Lover
    I read the book what feels like a lifetime ago and I spotted that two versions of the film were on Netflix, so I whiled away a Sunday checking out the BBC adaptation.
  • The Propaganda Game
  • American Beauty
  • Under the Sun
  • Amazing Spider Man 2

TV I watched his month:

  • House of Cards
  • Handmaid’s Tale
  • Doctor Who
  • Pretty Little Liars
    Now I feel like I need to rewatch the entire thing because seriously, wtf happened?
  • iZombie
    THAT FINALE THOUGH!!

My favourite Instagram posts this month:

live broadcasting rn from a field

A post shared by leah-marie smith (@leeeeeeeeah) on

❤️💛💚💙💜

A post shared by leah-marie smith (@leeeeeeeeah) on

the end of an era

A post shared by leah-marie smith (@leeeeeeeeah) on

Had a little going away party at work because I’m well… going away to another job! Getting my P45 and watching other people come in to interview for my position has been SUPER WEIRD.

What I did on YouTube this month:

What I loved on YouTube this month:

While the election is over now, I have the mention this video from LukeisnotSexy, James Corden spent the day working at Harrods which I’m sure was way more fun than actually working at Harrods, Louise Pentland made a very special announcement and her video telling her friends made me cry a bit! This video from Dan(iel) Howell was a bit too real tbh but I’m listing it anyway. Anthony Padilla has left Smosh and gone solo, his return to YouTube as just himself was very funny. Finally, Jack and Dean’s latest sketch was very on point.

I am Malala

I am Malala: The Story of the girl who stood up for education and was shot by the Taliban – Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb

This had been on my TBR ever since I first heard the news of Malala and what had happened to her and was one of the books I wanted to begin my quest of non fiction with. Here we are almost a year later and we’ve finally gotten around to reading it after finding it at the library and bloody hell, I would feel like I had done the world a great disservice if I didn’t put it out there that this should be required reading.

I come from a country that was created at midnight. When I almost died it was just after midday.
When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley in Pakistan, one girl spoke out. Malala Yousafzai refused to be silenced and fought for her right to an education.
On Tuesday, October 9, 2012, when she was fifteen, she almost paid the ultimate price. She was shot in the head at point-blank range while riding the bus home from school, and few expected her to survive.
Instead, Malala’s miraculous recovery has taken her on an extraordinary journey from a remote valley in northern Pakistan to the halls of the United Nations in New York. At sixteen, she has become a global symbol of peaceful protest and the youngest-ever Nobel Peace Prize laureate.
I Am Malala is the remarkable tale of a family uprooted by global terrorism, of the fight for girls’ education, of a father who, himself a school owner, championed and encouraged his daughter to write and attend school, and of brave parents who have a fierce love for their daughter in a society that prizes sons.

I don’t need to tell you that women’s rights, including their right to education and their right to live as equals are under threat all over the world. Yes, in some places more than others, mostly in lands that are hugely far removed from anywhere I have ever been. For anyone that doesn’t know, Malala is a young girl from Pakistan who found herself being denied an education when the Taliban took control of the area where she lived. I don’t need to tell you that the Taliban don’t have everyone’s interests at heart either, I live in the west, so I am constantly being told that the Taliban are the enemy and this book doesn’t sway from that narrative. Malala, with the help of her father, who was an outspoken man who believed in equality and the provision of education for all, stood up for herself and girls everywhere living under Taliban rule, speaking out about the way in which women were denied the right to education and denied the right to go about their business. She was then targeted and shot in the head by the Taliban. (That’s not a spoiler seeing as it is literally in the title of the book) I said this should be required reading and honestly, Malala is an inspirational young woman, but her beliefs and her strength aren’t the only reasons why this should be read by everyone.

This book not only covers Malala’s story, but also the history of Pakistan, which I knew nothing about – how did I not know that Pakistan has only existed since 1947?! It also talks about the culture of Pakistan and in particular, Swat, the area that Malala lived, from reading this I now know a little more about the different tribes that made up the country, as well as how the Taliban came to be and how they managed to take control. Reading about life under Taliban rule was in equal parts horrifying and interesting. It reminded me so much of books I’ve read about life in Germany after the Nazi rise to power. I have seen people who have reacted with scepticism about this book in regards to how much Malala wrote herself and if any of the events were embellished, as well as making the point that life in Swat is not indicative of the whole of Pakistan and while to some extent I agree that despite her home being besieged, Malala was better off than many people living in Pakistan – there are many girls all over the world who do not have access to education. I’ve seen the same argument about Emmeline Pankhurst, yes she was wealthy and of a higher status in life than many of England’s women, but without her, what voice would women at the time have had? Whether or not you fully believe Malala’s account, she is a great role model for young women every where and a  wonderful advocate for education and this book is an eye opening look at a country that I’d not previously heard anything about.

Double feature: political biographies

Hello there, been a while since I either had enough thoughts to warrant opening this window or felt obliged to, so you’ll have to forgive me for being a little out of practice. I am about to do a thing I’ve seen other bloggers do, but not something I’ve ever done myself. Apart from refer to myself as a blogger of course. Do people actually do that or is that like a thing that grown ups say? Anyway, I see on my subs that people like to take two similar books and do mini reviews in one, so I’m going to do that. Because originality.

*edit* mini review? lol.

Anyway, if you’ve been here before (hello! thanks for sticking around) you’ll know that I kind of set myself a goal to read more non fiction because I was in a bit of a fiction rut and well, the most accessible form of non fiction is biographies, so I’ve decided to start with those. And then I thought I’d make it difficult for myself by reading biographies of a political nature and, if you’ve been keeping up with my goodreads, I read two recently from two politicians that belong to the same party, but had very different political ideologies, so I thought I’d do a little discussion. Because why not.

Firstly, for any non Brits who might be reading or just anyone with a social life, who are these people?

In the Red corner we have Tony Benn, aka Anthony Neil Wedgeworth Benn, a titled gentleman who joined the Labour party as a socialist and was one of the countries longest serving MPs who tried to renounce his title so he could continue to fight for worker’s rights. He became a bit problematic for the Labour party at times because he was very sceptical about the direction of New Labour and wanted the party to continue to work with unions and stay firmly on the left. He also claimed the basement of the House of Commons as his own and would hang dedications to some of his favourite people there. As you do. He was an influential public figure who, while never making it to the front benches, did an awful lot of work during his time in parliament and wrote a number of books, one of which, Free At Last, a collection of his diaries from ’91 to ’01, I read recently.

In the slightly less Red corner, we have Ed Balls. Aka… erm… Ed Balls. Though not aristocratic, he was a fairly middle class, left leaning chap who came from a Labour supporting family and after going to Oxford and Harvard, joined the Labour party and worked in the civil service before working alongside Gordon Brown in the Treasury and then head of the Children’s Department and Shadow Chancellor. I also recently read a book by him, the newer version of his autobiography, which has added bits about his time on a reality TV show. He is also one half of the countries first ever MP marriage, his wife is also a prominent Labour politician. Unlike Benn, who survived many a general election, Balls served two terms and lost his seat in 2015  and has since become more famous for his rendition of Gangnam Style on Strictly Come Dancing and for the creation of Ed Balls Day, where we in Britain spend a day celebrating the fact that he once accidentally tweeted his own name.

Yes. If you’d ever gotten the notion that Brits are a bit daft, you’re absolutely right, we are.

It is also worth noting that Ed Balls served as part of the New Labour government that Tony Benn disliked so much and was around for much more of the modern stuff that was going on. His political career was working alongside Ed Milliband (yes he of bacon sandwich and then radio 2 fame), Gordon Brown (Scottish prime minister with a glass eye)  and Tony Blair (the long serving prime minister who kicked off the Iraq war), whereas Tony Benn’s dealings with Ed Milliband was because he was friendly with his dad and had Ed come in and do some work experience with him. (He refers to him as one of his original TEABAGS which is an acronym for the kids who would come in and work in the Benn archive, not whatever you were thinking.)

So, two very different people, but members of the same party and books of a similar subject. Let the discussions commence.

Out of the two people, Ed Balls is the one I remember most in parliament, as I was actually old enough to do politics when he was hanging around the commons, but Benn is the one that I knew (prior to reading these)  the most about because my grandad was also doing stuff with the unions, so it was a name that I’d heard a lot, but this is the first book of his I’ve read.

Both political memoirs were interesting, Benn’s historically as there was also mention of the Irish troubles and the Iraq war and a whole manner of other things that I am too young to remember and Balls’ because of the amount of anecdotes set during his time in the civil service or just generally while working in the Treasury or as an adviser to higher party members. To me being a massive nerd, both were fascinating glimpses at life in the House of Commons. Though we all know that the civil servants are the ones really running the country, I had no idea just how much is going on in those offices, I would say though, somewhere that Balls’ book slipped for me was the fact that I am not particularly numerically fluent and he spends a lot of time in the Treasury and talking about working for the Financial Times and other such stuff that went right over my head. Tony Benn’s book I found to be more warm and chatty and a more intimate picture of his day to day life, though it is worth mentioning that the book was a collection of his diary entries, he eventually published about sixty years worth of diary entries. Ed Balls’ book was more like structured essays around the themes of lessons he’d learned during his time in the public eye, so although anecdotal and revealing, the chapters didn’t feel as open as they did reading Tony Benn’s book, though certainly if you wanted to read something without having any prior knowledge, Ed Balls’ book would be a better place to start because stuff is actually explained as part of the text.

What is particularly interesting was learning about other political figures from these two men’s perspectives.
From Tony Benn you see Ed Milliband painted as the son of his friend who did a bit of work experience for him and was always seen as a nice young chap, who had ever so slightly disappointed him by choosing to work for someone Benn had little time for. From Ed Balls, you see him first as a close friend and then at very best, a work colleague. From Tony Benn, you see Jeremy Corbyn as being a upstanding member of the community, from Ed Balls you see him as the destroyer of the Labour Party. Both of them had similar complex thoughts about Tony Blair. But then Benn hated the idea of New Labour and Balls worked with Gordon Brown, so not much surprise there. What was surprising and quite nice to see was that while in PMQs and on TV, Labour and Tory were at each other’s throats, when it came to working for the country and generally getting stuff done, there as a bit of camaraderie. Benn had a civil, bordering on friendly relationship with both John Major and Ted Heath, whereas Balls actually entrusted George Osborne to look after his children. I doubt this is interesting to anyone but me, but the level of differences in opinion between these two people who have given their lives to one political party is just super fascinating to me. The idea that one party can hold so many different factions of people who, although having fundamentally opposing views, can still commit to the same ends. Both of them want the party to succeed, both of them care about the people who put them in that position, both of them care about the continuation of the health service and education, Benn wants these things achieved by socialist means and Balls by centralist. SO INTERESTING.

It was also interesting to see how much politics has changed over the course of these two people’s lives and how things like social media have influenced both voters and politicians. Twitter didn’t even really exist through most of Tony Benn’s time in parliament, yet Ed Balls is arguably more well known for being viral on social media than he was for his time in politics. I certainly knew of him more for Ed Balls Day and being on TV than for his work in government. Sorry about that Ed, but I feel more informed now I’ve read your book!

So there we are, some rambly thoughts about two different political biographies in an overlapping time frame, but by members of the same party. I think I’d like to read about more political figures, I did spot Ken Clarke’s book when I was at the library, so maybe I’ll venture into the Blue Corner next time I’m perusing the shelf and of course, I am always open to recommendations from you guys!

Like I was going to leave this post without linking you to an actual man that actually served in government doing a rendition of Gangnam Style on live TV.

#LoveThisQuote -Milk and Honey

So I am on a mission. Well, I say a mission, I am actually on two missions and this particular post will introduce you to both of them. Firstly, I am looking to broaden my reading horizons, I have mentioned before that I want to read more non fiction, I also generally want to read outside my comfort zone and it’s not really going very well for me so far! I decided to start with some adult fiction in a genre I don’t usually go for and well… I wasn’t the intended audience and next, a poetry book, Milk and Honey.

the thing about writing is i can’t tell if it’s healing or destroying me

That line though.

Here’s the thing, I didn’t really like Milk and Honey, I don’t know if its just that I’m not experienced with poetry or if it was the intensity of the content but I didn’t get on with it that well. This line though this is all about the second mission. You see, I am currently in a long going battle with writer’s block so for me the writing or lack thereof is kind of destroying me.

Slutty Brownies?

The books I read and the cakes I bake while reading them

So, I found a thing on the internet called slutty brownies, now normally I would be against calling anyone or thing a slut, you do you, but these were downright dirty and sometimes, that’s exactly what you need. I veganised these, because ya’ll know I have an insidious agenda to push, so here we go!

There are a lot of ingredients in this so bare with me!

You will need:
A mixing bowl
A baking tray of some kind
Something to mix it with.

For the cookie dough base:
170g flour (any kind you like)
150g brown sugar
tablespoon milk (I used dairy free!)
50g chocolate chips

For the brownies
320g flour (I used self raising, but feel free to use gluten free stuff if you like!)
240g brown sugar
240g caster sugar
150g cocoa powder
225ml cold water
225ml vegetable oil
2 tea spoon vanilla extract
80g  chocolate chip

The book of your choice, I was reading F Scott Fitzgerald’s new anthology (I’m still not coming to terms with that sentence!)
And some double stuffed oreos.

So, first things first. Make your cookie dough, mix your ingredients together and mould into a ball, leave to chill in the fridge for ten minutes, during which time you can wash up the mixing bowl and start working n the brownies.
When the cookie dough is adequately chilled, pat out into the base of your tray and cover with double stuff oreos, leave to the side and make your brownie mix, pour batter over the top and put in the oven for 35-40 minutes on 180 degrees. Check the brownies are fully cooked when they come out of the oven and then go to town!

There was something special about eating a multitude of deserts moulded together whilst enjoying some F Scott Fitzgerald!

May Round up

May was a bit of a whirlwind if I’m honest. We started off with a bank holiday (always good), playing a charity gig with the uke orchestra, interviewing potential parliamentary candidates and spending a few days in Brighton! I finally broke through the wall of writer’s block and this month seems to have been one where my creativity has been able to actually work – looks like the whole documenting my life every month is starting to work! We also had some pretty horrific things happening in the UK this month, but that keep calm and carry on attitude has kept us all strong and able to continue being kind and caring in the face of adversity.

What I read this month:

I’d die for you and other stories – F Scott Fitzgerald
New Fitzgerald claxon! Seriously, who expected there would be new F Scott Fitzgerald? This is a collection of previously unpublished stories presented together along with some biographical facts, letters to publishers and photos of Scott and Zelda. I enjoyed some of the stories more than others, but it was interesting seeing Scott attempt a different style of narration and genre to some of his more famous works.

Career of Evil – Robert Galbraith
What a disappointment this was! I adored the first of Cormoron Strike’s adventures and I enjoyed the twists and turns of the second instalment, but this one… I don’t know, I just found a lot of the misogyny very gratuitous with this one. While I know that there are people who do think the way the antagonist (no spoilers here!) did, I was just a bit like, really? I also found a lot of the tension between Strike and Robin in this one kind of ruined the relationship that had been built up over the past two books. Won’t stop me reading the next one though!

That Close – Suggs
I’ve had this book sitting on my kindle for what feels like a life time, Madness are one of my favourite bands and I have always enjoyed Suggs’ humour and found him a very interesting fellow in his forays into television. While this was great because I got to see bits of London I know and love through his eyes as he was growing up, this was a very disjointed autobiography. It wasn’t like those memoirs that are a collection of essays and it wasn’t a chronological look at his life either, every now and again, something would link back to the original story, but I found myself lost at times as he meandered through life! He does have a very engaging and friendly voice though, so no complaints from me!

Big Little Lies – Lianne Moriarty
The folk at Penguin very kindly sent me a copy of this, as I’d been searching the shelves at my local library and agonising over buying a copy every time I walk into a book shop, it was a little serendipitous that it turned up! I’ve yet to watch the TV show, so I’m not sure how they compare, but this was unlike anything I’d read before in terms of layout and pacing I wasn’t sure how something could be so subtle and yet in your face at the same time! It kept me very entertained on the train to Brighton however and I’ve reviewed it for you here

My Life – David Jason
Oh I do have a little soft spot for David Jason, perhaps its because we used to watch a lot of Open All Hours and Only Fools when I was growing up or perhaps its because he reminds me a bit of my Grandad because they’re both quite tiny and from London. Although, unlike David Jason, my grandad actually is from Peckham. This was such a charming and interesting read, I loved hearing about growing up in Finchly during the war and reading about the late, great Ronnie Barker was a delight.

Mind the Gap – Phil Earle
I saw this at the library and may have side stepped a small child heading in the same direction to pick this up and was it worth it? No. Not really. Honestly, this was on my TBR because I heard someone talk about it on YouTube and as the cover had a London tube map and I’m one of those Londoners that no longer lives in London so anything to make me feel close to my roots. Honestly, I am not the intended audience for this book which was why I was ultimately so disappointed, but for younger readers, this would be a great book about dealing with grief.

The Muse – Jessie Burton
Woah. Honestly, I picked this up because I liked the cover, but bloody hell that was an intoxicating read! I’ve not read any Jessie Burton before, but now I want to read her shopping lists, she writes so eloquently! I’m not into art, which is the main thread of this book, but I am into beautifully written prose about interesting, creative people and this was just… vewy noice.

 

Films I watched this month:

You may have noticed if you follow me on twitter, have been keeping up with my Film reviews in 10 tweets or less posts or this video, that I really like films and that I spend a lot of time watching them, so here are all the films (some new, some rewatches) that graced my television this month!

  • Saving Mr Banks
  • Casting Jon Benet
  • Captain America: The First Avenger
    I was watching this as the results for the French election came in. Thought it was appropriate.
  • Clueless

TV I watched his month:

  • Teen Wolf
  • Pretty Little Liars
  • Riverdale
    THOSE LAST TWO EPISODES THOUGH
  • Once Upon A Time
    I know series 7 is coming, but I might just decide to end with series 6 cos it really was kind of a perfect ending if you ignore the flash forwards.
  • Doctor Who
  • iZombie
  • Brooklyn 99
  • Miss Fisher Mysteries
  • House of cards
  • The Handmaid’s Tale
    Honestly, I could barely breathe let alone anything else while watching the first episode, my God, that was intense, it was everything I remember the book being. 

My favourite Instagram posts this month:

Awesome mix vol. 2 was the soundtrack of the day

A post shared by leah-marie smith (@leeeeeeeeah) on

☂️ they're back ☂️

A post shared by leah-marie smith (@leeeeeeeeah) on

that's more like it, Brighton

A post shared by leah-marie smith (@leeeeeeeeah) on

What I did on YouTube this month:

What I loved on YouTube this month:
Firstly, let’s talk about Leena’s video about being ginger, mostly because it made me think so much I ended up rambling to a camera myself! Liam Dryden’s Scottish roadtrip part one and part two was so good, it made me want to go back and explore more of Scotland! I’ll mention the end of the My Horse Prince saga purely because it became the soap opera I never knew I wanted! What sort of roundup would this be without Carpool Harry-oke, is it the best one yet? And well, I can’t not mention bae can I? My crush on Darren Criss was fully reignited by his band’s new music video and I was a bit blown away by Lucy Moon’s last 168 Hours.