February 2017

Well, February has been quite a successful reading month! I read 6 books, and the majority of them were 4 or 5 star books (although I did DNF a book, which I don’t usually do). I also ventured into the world of audiobooks, so from now on as part of my reading resolutions I will be reading one non-fiction, one classic and also listening to one audiobook a month as well as anything else I pick up. I also thought it might be nice to end these monthly wrap-ups with any other favourite things of the month, so here we go!

1.The Underground Railroad – Colson Whitehead

After reading Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi in January, I wanted to make a quick start on reading The  Underground Railroad in order to make a comparison between the two books, as some of their themes are similar. I found that this book really portrayed the struggle of slaves, their desire to escape and the repercussions they could expect if they were to escape. Although overall I enjoyed reading about the characters in Homegoing more, I would recommend this book to fans of the film 12 Years a Slave, as I was constantly reminded of this as I was reading.

Goodreads rating: 4 stars

2. The Year of Living Danishly: Uncovering the Secrets of the World’s Happiest Country – Helen Russell

I chose The Year of Living Danishly as my first foray into the audiobook world of Audible as I had heard it was a great book, but even better when listened to. The book is one woman’s account of moving to Denmark from the UK and all of the small (and sometimes large) differences between the two countries. As someone who has lived abroad, I was able to relate to the book, and it made me so keen to visit Scandinavia (or at the very least, try to be hygge!). I also really enjoyed the audiobook experience and look forward to my next one in March – I think I’m going to go for My Name is Leon by Kit De Waal, as it is narrated by Lenny Henry!

Goodreads rating: 5 stars

3. A Life in Questions – Jeremy Paxman

I picked this up after my dad had just finished reading it, as I fancied reading a memoir and something a little bit lighter. At first I wasn’t so sure about this book as I didn’t know how I could relate, particularly to the first part about attending a private boy’s school and then Cambridge in the 50s and 60s (and in fact, my dad said he thought was probably meant for a slightly older audience than myself). However, I did enjoy the rest of the book, which covers current and political events in the UK between the 1970s and now. I found his accounts be interesting on the whole, and I liked reading about Paxman’s various presenting roles at the BBC, particularly University Challenge.

Goodreads rating: 3 stars

4. The Trouble with Goats and Sheep – Joanna Cannon

I saw this book on special offer in the supermarket, and I am SO glad I picked it up. Set during the 1976 heat wave, it tell the story of two girls, Tilly and Grace, who set out to investigate the mysterious disappearance of one of their neighbours. I found that the characters and the time-frame of this book were fantastically written, and as someone who didn’t live through the 70s, it really brought the decade to life for me. The family element and the narrative style also reminded me of The Museum of You, which I read last year. I flew through this book, and would highly recommend – I just want to read more books set during the 70s and 80s.

Goodreads rating: 5 stars

5. My Cousin Rachel – Daphne Du Maurier

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Rebecca in January, and so for this month’s classic read I decided to go for one of Daphne Du Maurier’s later novels, My Cousin Rachel. Like many of Du Maurier’s novels, it is largely set in Cornwall, and follows the story of Philip Ashley, a rich bachelor who is joined in his house by his cousin’s widow, Rachel upon the death of his cousin. As typical of Du Maurier’s style, the writing is descriptive and suspenseful, and also has the classic twist at the end. I am really looking forward to the release of film version later this year.

Goodreads rating: 4 stars

6. Another Day in the Death of America: A Chronicle of Ten Short Lives – Gary Younge

This book has been sitting on my to-be-read pile for a little while now, so I thought I would pick it up during half term as I had a bit more time to get my teeth into it. The book is an account of just one day in November 2013 and the gun deaths which occurred in America on that day, which were largely left unreported by media at the time. As I was reading it, I couldn’t help but wish that this book was available when I was writing my dissertation – I found the accounts to be harrowing and important in equal parts, but the main message that came through was the sad fact that this is everyday life in America today.

Goodreads rating: 4 stars

7. Days Without End – Sebastian Barry

This book was the winner of the 2016 Costa Book Award – but I just don’t think that it was for me and ended up giving up on it halfway through. It is set during the American Civil War, which usually would be something I would be interested in reading about, but the plot was thin and I also struggled to get into the writing style.

Goodreads rating: 2 stars

Film, TV and Theatre:

My favourite TV show of the month was the two-part series The Moorside, about the Shannon Matthews disappearance, which starred Sheridan Smith. I thought the whole thing was acted brilliantly and made for very compelling viewing.

I also saw La La Land at the cinema, but I came away with mixed feelings. While I felt like the performances were well acted and I was particularly impressed with Ryan Gosling’s piano playing, some of the ‘showpiece’ songs and also the ending left me feeling slightly dissatisfied.

I saw two live shows this month: Jack Whitehall At Large in Newcastle, which was, as expected, hilarious, and also Beautiful: The Carol King Musical in the West End, which I didn’t know much about going into it but thought it was thoroughly enjoyable.

That’s it for February – happy reading!

Beth

 

 

 

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