August round up

Another month another comic con – this time my local one (again I was very good and didn’t buy all the Spider Man merch, so I feel like I deserve some sort of prize). My friends and I came up with a new tradition of playing board games on a Friday night and I got to not only witness my niece’s first ever trip on a plane, but also her first trip to Disneyland and bloody hell, it was the cutest thing I have ever seen.

What I read this month:

Gather the daughters – Jennie Melamed
Dear God this book was amazing, Bookbridgr sent me a copy of this just as the Handmaid’s Tale was wrapping up on TV, its almost like they knew I’d need something to fill the Offred shaped void in my life. There is so much to say about this book, so head here to see my full review, it’s incredible and was written by a woman who owns three shiba inus. So you know she has to be awesome.

The Profession of Violence – John Pearson
Yes, I did buy this book because of the double Tom Hardy on the front. Fun fact, I am descended from cockneys, my grandparents are from the east end, my grandad’s older brother knew the Kray twin’s brother Charlie from boxing and you know, around. Yes, the Kray’s had a brother. Not that you’d know that if you read this book because Charlie is only mentioned about five times in the whole thing. Whenever I’ve spoken to my grandad and his family about life in the east end under the Krays, I’m always told though they weren’t the sort of people you’d want to introduce your mother to, they kept their streets clean and stopped any sort of bother. Which if you know the east end, is quite a feat because that place was dodgy af. So I wanted to find out more about these people and read the book that inspired the film. It was ok, but I don’t feel like I learned anything I didn’t already know.

The Big Lie – Julie Mayhew
I’ve read a couple of ‘alternate reality’ stories exploring what could have been if Nazi Germany had come to Britain before Russia and been successful, but none aimed at younger readers or specifically about young LGBTQA+ women. This is the story of Jess, living in what was Britain in 2013, but Britain is part of the Greater German Reich, everyone speaks a mixture of English and German, she attends a school where the curriculum is influenced by the rules of the Hitler youth, and all other aspects of Hitler’s rule are every day life. Only because of her friend questioning everything, Jess starts to see that life isn’t as it seems… It was such an interesting read though such a shame that actual Nazis started hanging around America while I was reading it.

Six of Crows – Leigh Bardugo
Last month I was at YALC and got given some Six of Crows art print things from a stall there, and this month I found the book at the library and oh my, this quickly became one of my favourite books of the year! The world building was spot on, the characters were brilliant and the story was incredible! I need all the Grisha novels in my life now!

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/ cinema screen this month!

  • Dunkirk
    Yes, I saw it again.
  • Vampire Academy
  • Jurrasic World
  • Valerian and the city of a thousand planets

TV I watched his month:

  • Game of Thrones
  • House of Cards
  • Shadowhunters
  • Rick and Morty
  • Atypical
  • Defenders

My favourite Instagram posts this month:

successful first game night 📸 @krisskarnage79

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

whenever there is a star war, you'll find these folk guarding the galaxy

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

and we're off ✈️

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

💙

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

What I did on YouTube this month:

What I loved on YouTube this month:
Last month this section was just filled Dan Howell, this month we’re full of James Corden! Firstly, this he’s also killing it with the interviews, like this where Jaime Lanister picks up Alexander Hamilton  and this Crosswalk Musical We also got great new vids from Charlie and Emily this month. Sammy Paul gave us a video that was a year in the making and this from Elliot Gough for Last Week’s guest edition!

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Gather the Daughters

Gather the Daughter – Jennie Melamed

The lovely people of Bookbridgr sent me a gorgeous hardcover of this (seriously the dust jacket is beautiful) right around the time that the Handmaid’s Tale was wrapping up, it’s almost like they knew I would be hunting for something to fill the Offred sized hole that was left behind and this book, dear God this book. It, as the kids say, left me SHOOK.

GATHER THE DAUGHTERS tells the story of an end-of-the-world cult founded years ago when ten men colonised an island. It’s a society in which men reign supreme, breeding is controlled, and knowledge of the outside world is kept to a minimum. Girls are wives-in-training: at the first sign of puberty, they must marry and have children. But until that point, every summer, island tradition dictates that the children live wildly: running free, making camps, sleeping on the beach. And it is at the end of one such summer that one of the youngest girls sees something so horrifying that life on the island can never be the same again.

Honestly, I’m a bit lost as to where to begin with this. It was as hard to read as it was to put down.
That doesn’t explain a lot, does it?
Sorry, let’s try again.

This book reminded me of lots of other things, but at the same time it was so original. What we have is a cult like community where the patriarchy rules, each family is given their own profession, couples are paired up and allowed two children and when they become too old to be useful, they are put out to pasture. They are confined to their island and are not told anything of the world outside, much like The Giver, which is one of my faves. The only freedom allowed is for those considered children, every summer they’re allowed to live as though feral, in an almost Lord of the Flies kind of way. The adults remain inside and those girls unfortunate enough to start menstruating have to do their summer of fruition, which, like in Only Ever Yours, is when they’re gathered up and presented to a group of single men to be picked and matched up. By winter they’re likely married and pregnant and the cycle continues. In this society the birth of a boy brings celebration, the birth of a girl brings sorrow for before the girls belong to their husbands they belong to their fathers. Yes that sentence is heaped with innuendo and here’s the part where I chuck you some trigger warnings. This is a society where child molestation and sexual assault are not only normal but are insisted upon. There is also a character with an eating disorder, just fyi.

The story is told from the point of view of four girls aged between 17 and 13 living in this society and one of them sees something they’re not supposed to which throws this whole community into turmoil. Now you can see why it was so hard to read, these girls’ lives are horrific but Jennie Melamed tells it with such subtlety that it creeps its way into your subconscious and haunts you. Her author profile tells me that she’s a psychologist that works with abused children and you can tell that she’s someone who understands the sensitivities and employs them with care. A lot of the incidents in this book are inferred, nothing is gratuitous. The bio also tells me that she owns three shiba inu’s and frankly, that’s brilliant.

Gather the Daughters is a wonderful and horrific book (can that be possible?) that should be a must for anyone who’s into their dystopians or is interested in reading more about cults.

Here’s another thing, this hasn’t been done in a while, but this was so good it gets a Nick Fury Seal of approval.