December has been a busy month life-wise; and in addition, I am suffering some difficulties with my health which has been harder than I can tell you. However, I have managed to keep up with my reading as it is always a little piece of joy in what can sometimes be a very difficult day/night.
This month I have finished reading 8 books, 2 physical books and 6 on audible, they were as follows:
- One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins-Reid
- Money Mum by Gemma Bird
- The Secret History by Donna Tartt
- The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah
- Night Road by Kristin Hannah
- Brutally Honest by Melanie Brown (Mel B from the Spice Girls)
- Neither here nor there by Bill Bryson
- The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
First, the books I enjoyed the most: The Four Winds was my favourite book of the month, hence why I wrote a full review, but to summarise quickly, it is a powerful book about survival during the dust bowl era in America, during the 4 year drought, about how terribly migrants (those from other states) were treated in California and how bad working life was before the Unions enabled fair pay. It is a shocking book, very sad and powerful.
Another book I enjoyed and was surprised by was a book I randomly picked out at a book shop, by an author I have read before and enjoyed, but the story was deeper and more enjoyable than I thought it would be. One True Loves is about a young girl in love and about to celebrate her first year anniversary, suddenly becomes a widow when her husbands’ helicopter crashes into the ocean. She is broken, devastated and unable to move on, for years she pines away, and then somehow finds the courage to move back home and very slowly move on with her life, she even gets engaged – and then bam her husband is found alive after 4 years! So now she has a husband and a fiance…! I read this physical book very quickly, and I almost am never able to do that. Loved it.
Night Road by Kristin Hannah was as compelling as her novels always are; this time however I found the protagonist to be utterly and supremely annoying and unlikeable, not so that it ruined the story, I just had strong feelings against what she was doing. Jude is a helicopter mum to twins, she is obsessed over them, constantly worried about them and involved in every aspect of their lives, then a terrible event happens and Jude and her family seem like they will never recover. 6 years later and Jude is the worst grandmother you could imagine, her grand-daughter is scared of her and thinks she doesn’t love her and then someone from their past returns. I wanted to slap Jude hard across the face for the way she treated her grand-daughter and more for what she did to Lexi. Interesting story and easy to read.
Brutally Honest by Mel B is just that, it is brutally honest, which is what you would expect from the loud-mouthed ex-Spice Girl. I found her very likeable and I still feel for her, for her difficult marriages, the way Stefan treated her was criminal, literally! I enjoyed hearing about her relationship with Eddie Murphy because you never hear much about his private life, and I am a big fan so it was fascinating. I do love autobiographies of the famous! We always have a certain view of celebrities and they are almost never realistic, so I am glad that my opinion about Mel B has been improved by her book.
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck was difficult to read and slow-going, particularly at the beginning, however, I am glad I read it and think it is one of those books that we should all read (instead of ‘Of Mice and Men’ at school). It is a tragic and terrible tale of those going West in search of work during the Great Depression in America; it is just as shocking as the Four Winds, however, the language is definitely more poetic and philosophical; it feels like you are reading a classic novel.
Neither here nor there by Bill Bryson was better than I expected. I think because it was set in the 1980s (I think) I thought that it would not be so relevant, since it is a travel book of course, but Bill Bryson’s humour and William Roberts’ narration makes it as appealing as his other travel books. Plus he travels little known countries such as Estonia and Lithuania, so I found it interesting. I may not, however, read it over and over like A Walk in the Woods and Down Under, which are my absolute favourites.
I have only been to the cinema once in two months (due to my condition) so do not have any to choose between, however, the one movie I saw was possibly the best movie I have seen all year, and is important for everyone, particularly women to see.
She Said – this movie may trigger you, so be warned it is hard-going. The story is about two investigative journalists in America (women), seeking to uncover the truth behind Harvey Weinstein, and thanks to them we now know the terrible truth of what happened to many of the famous actresses in Hollywood (including Ashley Judd, Gwyneth Paltrow and Rose McGowan). Thanks to these journalists, not only was this uncovered but he was fired from his job and was later taken to trial (and is now in prison for sexual abuse). I implore you to watch this movie! I read Rose McGowan’s autobiography last year, which was very hard to read where she doesn’t name him but explains exactly what he did to her and how he went on to ruin her career.
Maxine (Channel 5) – 4 episodes
This limited docuseries tells the story of Maxine Carr, the girlfriend of Ian Huntley during the period that he killed the poor 10 year old girls Hannah and Jessica in Soham (Cambridgeshire). I remember this vividly as it was all over the news. It was a fascinating portrayal of their relationship (Maxine and Ian); and showed how they got together and the fact that Maxine was 100 miles away when the murders took place. I actually felt bad for her; she was just naive and didn’t appear to have any idea what was going on. Fascinating.
The Crown (Netflix) – Series 5
I loved series 4, so much that I inhaled the season in a day, I loved seeing the Charles and Diana drama and the writers interpretation of what he believed may have happened, and season 5 picks up where that drama left off but moving forward into the early nineties, finally, a time that I remember – the music, the cars, the PM and events happening that I remember albeit as a 10 year old. I’m still saddened to see the way Diana was treated.