This wonderful and powerful speech by civil rights movement activist Martin Luther King in 1963 is a definite must-watch. Sadly things have not changed much since then but it is great to see this trailblazer talking out against discrimination and adversity and promoting a coming together of everyone.
This very interesting video shows the long, long history of women putting themselves further for the presidency in America. A lot of the early occasions where women went for the presidency I didn’t know about so I found this video really intriguing.
Some of the commentary on this video is possibly heterosexist but that obviously doesn’t take away from the wonderful, entertaining and musically historic performance of Waterloo by ABBA which brought the band to the mainstream in 1974’s Eurovision Song Contest.
Staying with the Eurovision, let’s go to my home country of Ireland when in 2018 Ryan O’Shaughnessy performed Together. Alan McGrath and Kevin O’Dwyer performed some absolutely beautiful dancing and the whole team just done amazing. Stunning. Still melts my little heart to this day. 🙂
Just so much fun this is! I love the joy of this track in the film. Watch as the sisters smash I Will Follow Him.
Human Fetish (2019) by Rose Madon is a really great short read.
This book follows the romance of scientist Vulles and Sadie who she is doing tests on. At the start Vulles captures Sadie and takes her to a building where tests are being run on humans to see if they are prone to alien diseases. Vulles is an alien, Sadie is a human. Instantly they find each other attractive and have sex among the testing.
I really like this book. At the beginning, I was like whoa, what is going on here when Sadie was captured but the author manages to show very well that Vulles means no harm to Sadie (the complete opposite in fact in many ways) and their story is a beautiful tale of young love. Sadie is twenty-seven and Vulles is thirty and yes, I said young love because I’m thirty and I’m sticking to that! It was cool to read a story about two women of those ages falling in love because I could totally understand their feelings and the stage of life they were both at. I liked that the author wrote them as dedicated and focused but also fun and not old before their time or patronizing like a lot of characters of those ages are often wrote. I could relate very easy to these characters in those regards.
The chemistry between them both is both beautiful and hot. I think they really suit as a couple. I love how much they care about each other. There is highlighting in this book about not judging what someone’s gender is by how they present which I thought was really cool. I found the plot very fresh and modern. Some humour is thrown in there too. The idea of whether there is other life out there and people from different sections of the universe trying to understand each other if there was is written here in a really entertaining story.
I love how the book has a relationship between a trans woman and a cis woman. That was my interpretation of the story. I love how they were both so open to the idea of being with each other and embraced the relationship with such happiness and joy. It was nice to see that being represented by these two women. There definitely needs to be more relationships in stories between trans and cis characters.
Michael & Me (2020) by Harry F. Rey is a wonderful short read.
The book follows the story of Patrick and Michael who meet in 1990 in Glasgow. The story is told from the POV of Patrick. They meet outside a night club where they are talking and smoking together. Both are attracted to each other and soon they are having passionate sex. The book is about a brief period in both their lives before they move on and go their separate ways.
I read this book in one sitting. It is really engrossing and interesting. The idea was realistic to life and what does happen. Even though I must admit that the romantic in me wanted them to end up together! I liked their chemistry but it wouldn’t have been realistic for that to happen.
I love how the story deals with a lot of important topics like HIV, the lack of inclusion of sex education in schools for LGBTQ+ people when they are growing up and sexual and romantic identities which are weaved very well into the plot.
For such a short read there is a lot packed in here which is really great writing. I found the writing very natural and conversational which is totally the kind of writing I like best. My favourite character was Michael. I liked Patrick too but he seemed to be invalidating Michael’s bisexuality a lot and sometimes his assuming got on my nerves. My only flaw with the book was that while most things are tied up neatly at the end, there was still questions I didn’t know the answers to but maybe that was because Patrick and Michael didn’t know each other well. Maybe it was meant to be left a little bit vague at the end in some aspects which of course would make perfect sense if that was the case.
I did find it interesting reading about the time period this story was written in. Probably because I was born in 1990 so the span of the story is my whole life. It was interesting to see a story jump from 1990 to 2020.
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (1926) by Agatha Christie is an amazingly inventive thriller especially for the time it was written but even for today in many ways.
Set in the small town of King’s Abbot, Dr. James Sheppard is the narrator of this story in which Hercule Poirot investigates. He lives with his sister Caroline and one day he is called out to see Mrs. Ferrars who dies in what Sheppard suspects is suicide. He knows businessman Roger Ackroyd. It was rumoured in the town that Ackroyd had a relationship with her. Ackroyd tells Sheppard that he needs to speak with him and invites him over to his. He goes to visit Ackroyd and suspects he is been blackmailed. When he arrives home after visiting Ackroyd, his sister tells him that Ackroyd has been killed. He begins investigating the case alongside Poirot who is in the village growing vegetables.
I don’t want to give the story away but the twist is brilliant. It was quite an historic twist for that time. Christie was the first writer to do it so it was inventive though it has been repeated since. Agatha, you trailblazer! I found it a really interesting story and so cleverly written. No loopholes. There was a lot going on here so it must have been a nightmare for Christie to keep everything making sense! The characters are interesting, the plot is superb and intriguing. It’s a flawless mystery that has you guessing right up to the end. Excellent writing throughout and a fabulous ending.
Brilliant. A must-read.
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The Burden (1956) by Mary Westmacott is a wonderful romance with a touch of mystery and drama and a lot of family dynamics.
The novel follows the protagonist Laura Franklin who is unhappy when her younger sister Shirley is born. She can’t stand the new addition to the family but one night a fire breaks out in the house and she saves her younger sister’s life. After that, Laura becomes very protective to Shirley but finds that the love she has for her sister is obsessive and detrimental to the both of their growths and happiness. Then a man becomes interested in Laura. Can she throw herself into this relationship and give herself and her sister the freedom they need in their lives to find their own ways?
You probably gathered that this book is very psychological and it is. It is a portrait of human emotion and the elements that can make people react how they do. It’s a book about fear of yourself and the world wrapped in a family dynamic and romance story. It shows that being overprotective is not healthy for either but I love the backstory of why Laura is so overprotective of her sister. Everything in this book fits very well and there is no loopholes by the end. There is a touch of mystery to it where not everything is quite as it seems and I thought that was great. I didn’t see that coming at all. I think the pacing and build-up of everything is done very well. I think Westmacott managed to get across both the love between the sisters and the unhealthiness of Laura’s overprotective ways. Finding that balance I can imagine was a tough job and I think she done it very well. The romance element is there but it does very much play a secondary role to the relationship between the sisters.
I also love how there is a lot of debates and sections which are philosophical and deal with morals, religion, emotions and all sorts of issues. That was absolutely fantastic.
This is a great book, a must-read. And if you don’t know it already, Mary Westmacott is the pseudonym of the amazing Agatha Christie who wrote six romance novels under this pseudonym. I think maybe doing this gave her an opportunity to show other sides of her that she couldn’t as Agatha Christie and I’m very glad she did get that chance to because I love these sides of her just as much as her mystery writing.
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In Cold Blood (1966) by Truman Capote is a superbly written true crime book. It is the second best-selling true crime book of all time.
The book is about the real-life murders of four members of the Clutter family in Holcomb, Kansas in 1959 which were committed by Perry Smith and Richard Hickock. They murdered Herbert “Herb”, Bonnie, Nancy and Kenyon Clutter. Capote went to Kansas to interview investigators and residents with his friend fellow writer Harper Lee. He spent six years writing and researching the book.
It is a brilliant book. The book is very well researched, there is clearly an awful lot of research put into this book. Everything is very detailed from the town to the people in it. I think it was a different sort of approach which Capote took to this book than a writer who always or more often writes true crime or non-fiction. He brought his style of conversational, down-to-earthness to the book which is more suited to fiction generally but it totally works. There is a warmth to the way Capote writes about the people in the town and about the victims. He also helps us really get to know both the stories of the victims and the murderers. And though he tells the stories of the killers’ backgrounds, you never feel he is giving them any kind of excuses, even the slightest excuse, which was very admirable of him and unfortunately not always what happens.
It is obviously a very heavy book given what the book is about. Capote does not sensationalist nor does he leave out facts. He gives the whole picture of everyone involved and I think the way that facts even outside of the case are in this book like the personalities of the people and the lives of the people really makes the book the masterpiece it is. It is sad, gripping and very accurate. The mundane mixed with the cruelty of the murders gives readers a real sense of the reality of it and that something like this could happen to any of us.
A must-read. A truly amazing, amazing book.
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The Mirror Crack’d from Side To Side (1962) by Agatha Christie is an interesting read. The title comes from Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s poem The Lady of Shalot which is quoted in the book.
In this book, Miss. Marple is brought to meet American actress Marina Gregg by her friend Heather Badcock. Heather is a huge fan of Gregg’s and met her in Bermuda many years before where she got her autograph. Gregg has just moved into Gossington Hall after buying the prestigious property with her husband producer Jason Rudd from a friend of Marple’s Dolly Bantry. Gregg and her husband host a housewarming party in aid of first aid charity St John Ambulance which Miss. Marple is invited to. Other guests in attendance are Lola Brewster, Mrs. Allcock and her husband Councillor Allcock, Ardwyck Fenn, General Barnstaple, Jim Galraith, Donald McNeil, Margot Bence as well as Heather and her husband Arthur. It is Heather’s last party as she dies from a poisoned daiquiri which many suspect was meant for Gregg. Gregg had been seen staring at a painting reportedly with a frozen look at the party. Miss Marple begins investigating as does Detective-Inspector Dermot Craddock.
In their investigations, they find out a lot about Gregg’s past. For a long time, she was unable to have biological children and adopted three children. One of her adopted offspring Margot was at the party. Eventually, she had a biological son but her son was intellectually disabled and Gregg had a nervous breakdown over this. More murders happen. Rudd’s secretary Ella Zielinsky is poisoned and Gregg’s butler Giuseppe is shot.
I think this is a great book. The backstory of the plot especially in relation to Gregg’s backstory is incredibly well thought out. The mystery element is very well and cleverly put together. It is very interesting how Hollywood and a small English country village are brought together. Gregg is not an easy character to like. She was certainly never a good mother to her four children but she is a complex and interesting character all the same. This plot is well thought out. You know that none of it is just thrown in as filler. Everything is tied together in the story perfectly that by the end you are like of course, how did I not work that out? But it isn’t easy to work out yet it all fits amazingly together when you finally do read it. A very interesting cast. I loved Heather. She was like all fans and her joy was infectious. I loved how Agatha wrote her. I could imagine her reading all the Hollywood gossip in the papers and magazines.
A great read.
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Billy Porter and cast and crew of Pose joined together to do a special version of Love Yourself. A lot of fun, I dare you not to start dancing to this! 🙂
A classic music video here from a-ha with Take On Me. Amazing animation.
This dance is great. Like a scene out of a film or a TV show. It might be actually. I’m not sure but I think it’s great anyway. I love Tango and I love it even more when it’s done well and it’s done very well here by the two women. And the 1920s outfits are absolutely gorgeous.
In this video, we learn about the aftermath of The Great Fire of London in 1666. I found it very interesting. It was something I heard about of course but I didn’t know much about it and this was a great introduction to look further into this period in history.
Relax and enjoy a haircut this week courtesy of RIVER ASMR. Super relaxing!
A Christmas Carol (1843) by Charles Dickens is a great classic read.
Set in London, it follows the story of greedy businessman Ebenezer Scrooge who is visited by four ghosts: his former business partner Jacob Marley and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come in one night as they try to show him the error of his ways.
It is a great plot with an effective message. Be a kind person. I suppose to me at least it wasn’t completely clear whether by the end Scrooge changed his ways for the right reasons or not but I was glad he did all the same. But in saying that, I’m not sure whether he did it because he became understanding of what the ghosts were saying or because he got a fright and he didn’t want to die. I like to think it’s the former but I’m not completely sure if it was the latter or a combination of both. The final one there would be ok too as long as the bigger chunk of the reason was that he cared.
I do think Dickens wrote his backstory and his past very well. He showed where this hardness and cruelty in Scrooge came from without excusing it in any way. He was treated badly in some ways by people and was hurt so he lost thinking of other’s feelings along the way because he lost faith in people. He believed everyone would hurt him so he decided he would not get close to anyone and hurt them before they hurt him. His backstory shows that he wasn’t always like that which means there is hope for him yet.
I like the approach Dickens took to the moral issues with Scrooge. He put people in the story who would help him but he didn’t wrap him up in cotton wool. You know say that everyone is a lot like Scrooge and that it’s normal to be like Scrooge. Though it’s in the extreme for novel drama, he writes these ghosts in to show Scrooge that he not only would needs to change to be a better version of himself but also to acknowledge the pain he caused others. I don’t feel that Dickens ever strays into sympathy or empathy with Scrooge and it always feels like he is on the side of those wronged by him which I thought was really cool.
The plot is imaginative and well executed. There is a gorgeous poetic flow to the book. I don’t mind either way but a big difference in this book to a lot of other works by Dickens is that while there is quite a number of characters, there is less here to keep up with. The atmosphere throughout is great and that is not easy considering we change landscapes on the regular. The book is very well paced. It is extremely well-written.
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