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 This is a collection of previously unpublished stories presented together along with some biographical facts, letters to publishers and photos of Scott and Zelda.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
  • 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.


January Round-up.

How are we already a month into 2016. Time, you need to chill.
January has seen me celebrate my one month anniversary of living alone, getting hearing aids installed (is installed the right word? That makes me sound like a cyber man), returning to college and planning a major documentary project. (Sorry, there is no glory in the process.) It’s also seen me finally tick a book off of my TBR list that has been there for an embarrassingly long time.

What I read this month:

catchCatch 22 – Joseph Heller
This book has been on my TBR list for YEARS. Like, since I have been at school. That is an embarrassingly long time. Everyone tells me its a classic, I read books about people reading this book. That’s how significant it is in literature. As I don’t have any of my books in my new place yet, I took a trip down to my local library and this was the first thing I found on the shelf and I thought, you know what, now is as good a time as any. I can’t say as I enjoyed it as much as I thought I would. It was a bit tedious, though I am glad I’ve finally tackled it!

23164931Time and Time Again – Ben Elton
Time travel and history and Ben Elton all in one go? Wonderful. I seemed to have a very history orientated selection from the library, this was an interesting premise and you can see more of my thoughts on it here. Basically this is a historic novel about time travel and dystopian futures – what could possibly go wrong? I’d love to read more time travel novels, so if you can think of any, you should totally let me know!

11065009Chocolate cake with Hitler – Emma Craigie
This was probably a tad young for me, but was enjoyable nonetheless! It reminded me of the Prisoner of Night and Fog, which is also a story about a young girl who grows up with Hitler being a uncle figure in their life. This though is the fictionalised account of Helga Goebbels, the actual daughter of the actual Nazi commander. This picks up at various points of Helga’s life through the Nazi rise to power interspersed with time spent in the bunker with Hitler towards the end of the war. It was an interesting premise and I’m a history nerd so I liked it, but as I said, I think it would have been a better suited to someone much younger than me. If you’re interested in something similar and you’re an older YA reader, check out the Prisoner of Night and Fog series. I reviewed that here and here if you want to check it out.

22428751How many letters are in goodbye – Yvonne Cassidy
I apologise to the publisher gods that it took me so long to read this (I forgot to switch the wifi on on my kindle and the egalley didn’t download… My bad) anyway, this was a bit of an emotional rollercoaster! There was so much going on and so many important, hard hitting issues being tackled. It also featured one of the most interesting characters I have ever come across in a YA book. You can check my review here!

25413848 (1)Under the Dusty Moon – Suzanne Sutherland
I had such high hopes for this book, like look at that cover! The blurb made it sound like this was a coming of age story about the daughter of two super famous people being left alone for the summer, falling in love and finding herself without her mother being around to grab focus, but what we got instead was just a spoilt brat moaning about their summer. I don’t mind a book about first world problems now and again, but I like to go into them prepared, so I was a bit unsatisfied to be honest. I hate leaving bad reviews, but it was an ARC, so I didn’t have much choice, you can see my review here if you can stand it!

21799202 (1)The V girl – Mya Robarts
This was an interesting read, I don’t often pick up New Adult books, but the blurb really caught my eye. A sort of distopian erotica set in the back drop of a hard core civil war where sexual slavery and assault have become legal. Yeah, I thought it would be hella interesting. Unfortunately, though it had loads of potential and could have been incredible, it just… wasn’t for me. If you like your graphic sexual content though – it’ll be right up your street! My review will be up soon!


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!

  • Bladerunner.
    It had been a while, I remembered that the day of Batty’s conception was coming up, thought I’d dig it out! I still can’t make up my mind whether Deckard is a replicant himself or not. Thoughts?
  • Singing in the Rain
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens
    Second viewing, still great.
  • Cowboys and Aliens.
    I was having a bit of a Harrison Ford related month really wasn’t I?
  • Amy
    Woah, just woah. This was harrowing viewing, it felt almost a bit voyeruristic, amazingly well made documentary, but I can’t say as it was a pleasant watch. I’m not sure how I feel about it, did anyone else see it? It’s been nominated for an Oscar, which has apparently upset Amy’s father. Hmm.
  • Ant Man
  • Clueless
  • Napoleon Dynamite
  • Pitch Perfect 1 and 2
    HSM turned ten and I don’t have it at my place, it’s one of the many DVDs that still lives with my parents, so I needed something else involving pretty people singing and let’s be honest, Pitch Perfect and its sequel are amazing. Also, it has the best character intro of all time (you know I mean Jesse’s introduction right?)
  • Pride
    I just got a two month free pass to NowTv’s movie package and this was the first thing I chose to watch! What an emotional ride that was! It was Welsh and it was gay and it was anti Thatcher – all things I love in a movie! Also it featured a load of my faves and honestly, I had a cry at the end!
  • Only Lovers Left Alive
    Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton, two of the most beautiful people alive are vampires that are trying to make sense of the modern world. I wish there were more vampire movies about living in the 21st century.

TV I watched this month:

  • Making a murderer.
    Yes, me and just about everyone else in the world, I wrote a blog post about my feelings after finishing the series. Interested to see what the documentary makers come up with next!
  • Agents of Shield
    series 3 has just come back and although I think I’ve missed something somewhere, it was still pretty good return to form!
  • Tattoo Fixers.
    I bloody love Tattoo Fixers! I also subjected a friend of mine to an entire evening of Tattoo Nightmares the other day, sorry Stacey!
  • Pretty Little Liars
    I have been waiting so long for this to return and I’m not entirely sure why they don’t all just get the hell out of Rosewood, but still. Home is home I guess.
  • Shadow Hunters
    hated the film, not sure how I feel about the TV show… Anyone else seen it?
  • Crashing
    wtf even is this show? I have no idea, but I do bloody love Damon Malony, so why not! It’s about a group of twenty somethings who all live in a renovated hospital in London and their various escapades. I know I’ve only just moved, but I want to move to London and I know that if I do, it’ll likely be somewhere as mental.
  • Supernatural
    the boys returned on the 20th and Jesus H Christ. I was amazed by Misha Collins’ acting prowess in that first episode back like OMG. Has anyone else seen it? Can we flail together?
  • The girl who forgave the Nazis
    What an incredible lady. I visited Auschwitz a couple of years ago and I’m fascinated and disgusted that it even happened, its Holocaust memorial day in January, so these programmes are always around this time of year, this was such an interesting documentary on how a survivor could find it in themselves to forgive those actions. If you missed it and can find it on catchup, it was an interesting watch.


My favourite Instagram posts this month:

Just finished my 2015 scrapbook!

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

I finished my 2015 scrapbook! I’ve never kept a scrapbook before and its definitely something I will be continuing into 2016, it was so much fun and really weird looking back on all these pictures and events that took place over the year!

Birthday boy!

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

My nephew, Freddie, celebrated his second birthday!

Internet, do these look more like foxes now?

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

I made use of the fox shaped cookie cutter I received for Christmas (and some vegan butter that really needed using up) to make foxy biscuits, maybe I’ll feature them as my first Great Bookish Bake Off post of the year?


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

January suddenly got very cold! This was the view I woke up to one morning!

I learned depth of field

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

Finally getting the hang of depth of field after three weeks of photography lessons. Also remember back in May when I said I wasn’t going to collect tsums and would only have the Big Hero 6 ones. Yeah, that didn’t really work out for me.

Lastly, a picture of a picture, it was my Grandad’s birthday on the 29th, so I insta’d my favourite picture of the two of us together, also featuring my dad and a large slab of chocolate cake that I appear to be force feeding to the aforementioned birthday boy. (I have no recollection of where this photo was taken. Also yes, I was once a natural blonde, why it couldn’t stay that colour, God only knows.)

What I did on YouTube this month:

Leah Loves 4: Not A Christmas Haul

2015 a year in review

What I loved on YouTube this month:

As always, I watched everything that Casey Neistat uploaded because he is like the King of vloggers, though I suspect everyone saw his video of him snowboarding through New York because that was all over the internet and all over the news in the last few weeks, I also enjoyed the very welcome return of Crabstickz, PJ battling some evil pens, Dan and Phil beginning a series of Undertale, which reminded me of Pokemon, my friend Joe doing an incredible dance recess, the conclusion of Hazel’s Time of the Month series and of course, James Cordon’s carpool karaoke with Adele!

What have you guys been up to this month? Have any of you seen/read any of these things? Let me know!