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.