July roundup

July began with that huge change that we talked about in June, I started my new job! This month has mostly been learning about robots, amongst other things! This month saw the fourth anniversary of my book’s release, you can check out Harley’s Angels on the sidebar if you know… You like! It was great for movies, Spider Man, Baby Driver and Dunkirk are all amazing, it was the month we got a new Doctor and DEAR GOD THEY’RE FINALLY A GIRL! I also headed into London at the end of July to attend YALC and try and fail to stop myself buying ALL THE THINGS. I made a little thing about my YALC swag, check it here!

What I read this month:

When it happens to you – Molly Ringwald
So, Molly Ringwald can act, she’s fabulous and she can write! I’m not sure how to explain this book, the story is presented in a really interesting way – so we have a collection of what is essentially a series of short stories, but all the characters over lap into each other’s stories and are some how related and complement each other’s lives. It is engaging and addictive reading and how I hope Molly Ringwald has another book in her because I really loved this!

The Power – Naomi Alderman
If you’re looking for something to follow the Handmaid’s Tale, this is kinda perfect.  I think that, this and Only Ever Yours are the feminist novels we have longed for this whole time. What we have is a novel set out almost like a research paper of a phenomenon where women all over the world suddenly develop the power to harness and use electricity and how they use it to overturn the patriarchy. Utterly genius and made me think a lot about how different life would be if women were the dominant gender.

The Song of Achilles – Madeline Miller
I picked this up because long ago I was given a list of things to read and on it were many retellings of the Iliad (which I’ve never read) so when I saw this in the library I thought I’d give it a go… While the story was interesting, I didn’t like the way it was written, it had a lot of short sentences which made the pace a bit juttery and kept taking me out of the action. Think I’d like to give more books like this a go though!

Strange the Dreamer – Laini Taylor
Dear God, this is my favourite book of the year. I’m not even adding a ‘so far’ on the end of that because I don’t know if I’m going to be able to find anything else that quite matches up to this. I did tell myself that I wouldn’t buy any more books until I’d read everything on my shelf and gotten rid of what I don’t want any more, but honestly, I am breaking that because I need this in my life especially so I have it to re read for when the sequel comes out!

Optimists Die First – Susan Nielsen
I’ve read Susin Nielsen before and this was very similar in tone, it was a sweet, flippant tale of a young girl with anxiety dealing with the aftermath of a traumatic event and the odd characters she comes across during her therapy sessions. While this was a fun, easy read, I did think that the whole anxiety thing was dealt with a bit too easily. If only my own mental health problems could be solved by a tall boy with a bionic arm. Once the story’s big reveal came about it was all wrapped up very quickly and nicely, I’d have rather spent a bit more time on it, but it was a fun read nonetheless.

The One We Fell in Love with – Paige Toon
I was really looking forward to reading this because everyone tells me they love Paige Toon, but honestly, wtf did I just read? This is the story of three identical triplets who fall in love with their childhood next door neighbour… who is also in love with all three of them and at one point in the novel kisses two of them 24 hours apart. Like… I’m supposed to think this is romantic? He’s a douchebag. Anyone who dates you and when not dating you is going after your sister is a douchebag. These girls deserve better. No one should read this and think of it as romance and aspirational. Don’t fall for emotional fuckwits who don’t respect you enough not to bang your family members! I know there is a big reveal that some how makes it ok but no. Really no. Its a shame because I liked her writing style but the story didn’t sit right with me.

The Jane Austen Book Club – Karen Joy Fowler
As Jane Austen got herself on the ten pound note this month and was listed as Andrea Leadsom’s favourite living author. Yes, seriously. This is a woman who tried to become prime minister and she thought Jane Austen was still alive and writing. Anyway. This was a nice quick read, but I’m not really sure what exactly Jane Austen had to do with it?

Easy Way Out – Steven Amsterdam
I was sent a copy of this by the lovely people over at Bookbridgr and while I had a vague idea what the book was about, I really wasn’t prepared for this at all. I have a review coming for this if you’re interested, but for now here are a few trigger warnings for you because you know I can’t be recommending people things without letting you all know if there is content that might hurt you. This is a book about assisted suicide, there is also some explicit sex in there and lots of mentions of terminal illness and hospitals. Just so you know.

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!

  • The Circle
  • Baby Driver
    This is my new favourite film, please see it!
  • Spiderman: Homecoming
  • Escape from Planet Earth
  • While we’re Young
  • To the bone
  • Captain America Civil War
  • The Amazing Spider Man
  • Dunkirk
    mate what a film!
  • War for the Planet of the Apes
  • Before I fall

TV I watched his month:

  • Doctor Who
  • Handmaid’s Tale
  • Rick and Morty
  • House of Cards
  • Ripper Street
  • Game of Thrones
  • Shadow hunters

My favourite Instagram posts this month:

baby driver more like bae-by driver

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four years has passed since harley's angels came out – head to leahsmith.webs.com/my-books to get a copy!

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playing frome festival tonight

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thanks for the awesome book post @bookbridgr

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So. Many. Books

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What I did on YouTube this month:

What I loved on YouTube this month:
Firstly, Dan Howell and Anthony Padilla’s collab was hilarious! Here’s more D Hizzle because he is bae, ok? Also because I literally only joined Tinder so I could find him and charm him with my awkwardness and then I left because I couldn’t find him and then this. Damnit Daniel. Why not fill this whole section with his face to hide my disappointment, here’s Anthony, Dan or a Rat for your pleasure and a PSA on former emos.  Not had enough yet? Here’s TomSka’s latest sketch! I also want to mention Lucy Moon’s latest 168 Hours and James Cordon’s protest song because yes.

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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.

 

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

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☂️ they're back ☂️

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that's more like it, Brighton

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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.

In February I read…

 

I seem to have spent most of this month reading ARCS so I haven’t done as well on my challenge for this month, but not to worry, I think March’s challenge is going to be a bit of a doddle!

ari Aristotle and Dante Discover the secrets of the universe – Benjamin Alire Saenz,
I wasn’t a believer until I discovered this, there is a God and whoever God is, they created this absolute masterpiece and my life will be incomplete unless every single person in the world reads this. See my review here

sky Under the Never Sky – Veronica Rossi
Dystopian novel number one for the month!
I have to be honest, I was terribly disappointed, this took me ages to get through because for some reason I just couldn’t get excited about this. I know that world building can be tedious, but it is sort of necessary, I read this really slowly and I still had no idea what was going on. I have the sequel but I don’t think I care enough to read it.

taleThe Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood. 
I first read this for my English A Level and loved it so much that I actually went out and purchased a copy. I’ve not read it for a couple of years and thought it was about time that I picked it up again, especially as this month’s topic is dystopia and this is one of the most amazing dystopian novels I’ve ever read.

because2 Because of Her – K E Payne.
Two of my favourite things are LGBT fiction (done well) and the city of London and this was a bit good. I reviewed it here for your reading pleasure and now I have to track down the six other books written by this lady!

16115038-1Grim – I don’t think there is anyone who hasn’t contributed to this book!
This is a collection of modern day takes on classic fairy tales written by just about everyone working in YA these days, I reviewed it here.

summer1The Summer I found you – Jolene Perry
I seem to have spent all my time reading ARCS this month. This was a cute, short, sweet summer read that I think people should get a copy of if they’re planning a beach holiday this year, I’m just hoping that the kinks are ironed out before it is available. You can see my review here.

luxLux Guardians 1: The Forgotten – Saruuh Kelsey.
I’ve been following Saruuh on Tumblr for a while and have been watching the progress of her writing, I’ve been waiting for this to be available for a while and if you’re quick you can get this for free on amazon too! It’s seriously good and really my only gripe with it is I have no idea what happened to Bennett!

whiteWhite Space (Dark Passages 1) – Isla J Bick
I wanted to like it, I really, really did. But I ended up having to throw in the towel before I got half way through, this book was just far too confusing for my tiny brain to handle. I did a review as best I could which will be up in the next few days, but intend to revisit it, perhaps when I have less going on in my life to try and make sense of it and finish it off.

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The genre for February is dystopia which is like, my favourite so I was really looking forward to getting stuck into loads of dystopians this month which didn’t really pan out for me! I ended up requesting LOTS of ARCS that all came through at the same time so I’ve spent more time reading those than anything else but I did manage a couple.
This month, the dystopia I read were:
Under the never sky – Veronica Rossi, which I didn’t like,The Handmaid’s Tale which I loved and The Forgotten which is a sort of steam punk sci fi dystopian and was all kinds of awesome.

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