I can’t believe we’re into April already, that longer Spring evenings are finally here, and the school Easter holidays are just around the corner – yay! Despite the move towards British summertime, and spending more time in the evenings outdoors, March was still a good month for me on the reading, watching and listening front, and I managed to pack quite a diverse range of books, films, tv programmes, and my new favourite – podcasts – into my little pockets of entertainment time. I’m also accumulating a healthy-looking ‘to read’ pile, and I can’t wait to share some of the books I’ve got lined up for April with you next month. If you find yourself struggling to find the time to read, I recommend you have a look at this article from one of my favourite bloggers, Hayley, on fitting reading time into your lifestyle – I loved it. And if you’re just struggling to find a good book to read, great film to watch, or inspiring podcast to listen to, then read on….
The first book I kicked off with in March was The Establishment, by Owen Jones, an unusual one for me as I tend to steer well clear of anything to do with politics. The book was however recommended by my husband and in the spirit of marital harmony and post-9pm conversation I decided to have a read. And I’m glad I did – as despite my indifference on politics, I do firmly believe in living in a society that is fair, just and which provides equal opportunities for everyone. The Establishment takes a critical look at modern Britain, and exposes an infrastructure which only seems to further the interests of a minority. This extremely well researched, thought provoking book would be a good read for people who like to post status updates on Facebook about how immigration and people on benefits are the root of all our country’s problems (just for the record I’ve never been one of those people). For my own part, it’s made me much more aware of the interlinks between government, media and other pillars in society, and also determined to seek out news sources which are as free from political bias as possible (if anyone can advise me in this area, please do let me know). All in all, ‘The Establishment’ was a fascinating read, and I can only hope that in the future, Jones’ dream of a more egalitarian society – shouldn’t that be a dream shared by all of us? – comes true.
After The Establishment I was in need of lighter fare for my bedtime reading, and You and Me Always, by Jill Mansell provided the perfect anecdote. I love Jill Mansell’s witty, accessible style, and this story about a young woman who seeks out her late mother’s old boyfriend, whilst negotiating a fling with a film star and a complicated relationship with her childhood friend Dan, is filled with charm, humour and heart-warming moments. I literally sailed through this novel and didn’t look back. And I can’t wait to add more Jill Mansell stories to my ‘to read’ pile soon.
My last book for this month’s round up was A Song for Issy Bradley, by Carys Bray, a novel recommended by one of my other favourite bloggers, Sarah at Mostly Yummy Mummy (do have a pop over if you like all things book, fashion and yumminess related). ‘A Song for Issy Bradley’ is a story of family tragedy, faith, and looking for answers to the unfathomable. It’s a truly heart rending story – so heart rending, in fact, that at one point I wondered if I could even continue reading. But I’m so glad I did – as it’s one of those books most likely to stay with you forever. It’s a beautifully written tale which balances the portrayal of grief with a sense of hopefulness for the future. And whether you’re religious or not, it leaves you with the feeling that even when we’re falling apart at the seams, there can be a way to find home.
The kids and I have been doing lots of reading lately, and in our continuing Roald Dahl phase (which is likely to last forever), we’ve been re-reading The Twits which is always such a funny story. I love the quote which says: ‘A person who has good thoughts can never be ugly..if you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.’ Roald Dahl just had a way of saying things that were exactly, completely right.
We’ve also been reading the Rabbit and Bear books by Julian Gough and Jim Field lately. They are such sweet and funny books with a lovely little moral and The Pest in the Nest is a particularly nice one for Spring. My littlest also enjoyed Schnitzel von Krumm’s Basketwork by Lynley Dodd, we love the rhyming Hairy Maclary books and this one about Hairy’s friend Schnitzel was just so sweet.
This month, we also took out a subscription to First News, a weekly newspaper for young people aged 7 to 14. With reference to my comments about unbiased news earlier, this publication might just actually fit the bill. It’s packed full of interesting articles about news stories, animals and science, and my boys get really excited when their weekly happy mail drops through the door. It’s actually made me realise that I prefer news aimed at 7-14 year olds. And I’ll let you into a little secret – I might just have learned a few things from reading it myself!
Our post-kids-in-bed viewing this month has most often been The Crown, that fantastic series about the early reign of our current monarch that has made me glad I recently reinstated our monthly Netflix subscription. In between episodes, we watched The Replacement on BBC iPlayer, which if you didn’t catch it was a sort of mash up of ‘The Hand That Rocks the Cradle’, ‘Fatal Attraction’ and a nightmarish maternity leave scenario. Last week we watched the Rio Ferdinand documentary, Being Mum and Dad, about the struggle the former professional footballer and his family have faced in coming to terms with the tragic death of his wife in 2015. The programme was beautiful, heartbreaking and ultimately very brave – and I’m sure it will have helped many people out there who are facing the daily battle of moving forwards after loss.
On a happier note, our little family went on a trip to Edinburgh to watch Joseph the Musical a couple of weeks ago, and I wrote all about it here on the blog last week if you’d like to find out more. We also went to see the new version of Beauty and the Beast at the cinema last week and suffice to say I absolutely adored it. It’s a film I could happily watch again and again – and again. Do try and catch it if you like musicals, love and very happy endings.
Music-wise, it’s been all about firm favourites this month, and I’ve enjoyed listening to the new Take That album, Wonderland on Spotify and daydreaming about the time I met Gary Barlow at John O’ Groats at 5am in the morning (along with a couple of hundred other females, and the odd male, I should point out). Possibly even more exciting though, has been my discovery of podcasts thanks to a couple of well timed updates from friends over on Instagram (thankyou, Insta-buddies!) – I have to admit that until then podcasts weren’t even on my radar and I didn’t actually realise that 1) they are free and 2) there was already a built in app on my phone to enjoy them. I’ve been loving listening away while I’m making dinner or tidying the kitchen, and so far have got through several episodes of Hashtag Authentic, an inspiring series about using Instagram, and The Worried Writer, a fascinating series of interviews with authors about their writing processes. All of this has tied in well with an online Creative Freedom course I am currently doing through author Joanna Penn, about ways to make a living from your writing. Added together, it’s all left me feeling inspired, creative and ready to start April – and you have any suggestions for podcasts that you think I might find interesting this month, please do let me know!
That’s it for my reading, watching and listening update this month. I’ll be back next month with some more reading, watching and listening highlights – I do hope to see you then.
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