I can hardly believe that it’s been a month since my last reading, watching and listening to post, or that our school holidays here in the North of Scotland are already half way through! We’ve had a lovely holidays so far, it’s been wonderful having my two favourite boys at home and I’m trying to make the most of lazier mornings and the chance to recharge a bit after a very busy term. July has brought a few ups and downs though and there have been several things playing on my mind. I’ve been doing a lot more writing aside from blogging and entering various writing competitions with fictional stories of my own. When my mind is full I find escaping into stories – my own or other people’s – a very welcome retreat. With that in mind, on to what I’ve been reading, watching and listening to this month – in entertainment terms, at least, July has been a really fantastic month.
The first book I kicked off with this month was The Silver Linings Playbook, by Matthew Quick. I’m a few years behind the pack with this one, and to my shame, I have to admit I only realised recently that one of my favourite films of recent years had actually started out life as a book! If you’ve seen the movie starring Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, you’ll know that the story follows Pat Peoples, who returns from a stay in psychiatric hospital desperate to reunite with his estranged wife. But first he has to contend with therapy, living with his parents again, and a new friendship with Tiffany, who also has a few issues of her own…. It’s a really funny, sweet novel and if you haven’t read it I’d really recommend. I have to admit I still have a soft spot for the slightly different way the story plays out in the movie – but maybe that’s just some sort of primacy effect of having watched the film version first. Slight movie bias aside, it’s a heartwarming summer read for everyone who loves happy endings. And if you like romantic novels that are also a little bit different, then I think you might love this one just as much as me.
My second read for this month was Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult, my holiday read for our trip to the Outer Hebrides and one that kept me up well past my bedtime on more than one occasion (something that doesn’t happen much!) It tells the story of Ruth, a black nurse left facing a homicide charge after the death of a baby – a baby she had been forbidden to care for by the child’s white supremacist father, Turk. Told from the perspectives of Ruth, Turk, and the public defender assigned to Ruth’s case, Small Great Things is an absolute must read and probably the best fictional work I have read so far this year. It’s a hugely thought-provoking story about racism – both the obvious kind and the insidious type that can seep into so many aspects of everyday life. It reminded me very much of the John Grisham novels I used to enjoy and when I mentioned it on my Instagram a couple of weeks ago I said that I could really imagine it being made into a film. Having just had a quick look at the Small Great Things website for this article I notice the picture of the novel is accompanied by the tagline ‘soon to be a major motion picture’. I for one can’t wait to see the movie. But for now, if you’re looking for a summer holiday read, this is one I really really REALLY recommend.
My final read for this month was a lovely bit of summer escapism by Rachael Lucas, an author I really enjoy following on Instagram to hear all about her writing life (and her chickens). So imagine my delight when I saw one of her novels on the shelf on a trip to my local library (sidenote: thankyou so much to my lovely local library who supply almost all of the books you see in my reviews). Coming Up Roses is a sweet little story about gardening, romance, friendship and the fight to save a quaint village from big developers. It’s been my handbag companion on a few days out this holidays and I’ve loved dipping into the odd chapter every time I’ve had a few spare mins!
On to what I’ve been watching this month, and we’ve seen several really good movies lately, including The Founder with Micheal Keaton, an interesting (and from my point of view, quite sorry) account of Ray Kroc, and how he transformed the first McDonald’s fast food joint into one of the biggest food phenomenons in the world. We also enjoyed Patriots Day, starring Mark Whalberg, a dramatization of events surrounding the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing and a poignant reminder of the bravery, compassion and kindness shown by so many in the face of unthinkable violence. Over the holidays I’ve also been catching up with Outlander on Amazon, something I only watch when I’ve got a bit of time to myself (it’s not family viewing and not something that really appeals to GB either). Thankfully it’s quite easy to dip in and out of – just as well really as it’s taken me almost a year already to get to season 2! This time around, the time travelling action has shifted from Scotland to France, but biased as I am, I have to admit I preferred it where it was. I’m hoping Claire and Jamie will return to Scottish shores soon for lots more misty, atmospheric backdrops. In the meantime I’m still enjoying all the 18th century romance and the (very believable) love story between the two.
I’ve been dipping in and out of the Shauna Niequist podcast quite a lot lately, after enjoying her book, Present Over Perfect so much back in June (you can read the post I wrote all about it here). I’m really enjoying Shauna’s podcasts and her interesting range of subjects. I particularly like her habit of asking every guest about their favourite books and their favourite things to eat – two ways I can always get inspired!
I’m always on the lookout for new podcasts to listen to so please do let me know if you follow any I might like. I’m particularly interested in those about writing or creativity, or that are just generally inspirational – please do let me know in the comments if you have any favourites you’d like to recommend!
That’s it for my round up of what I’ve been reading, watching and listening to this month. I’ve already started a few new reads for August so watch this space for next time – the month ahead is already looking good!
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