The wonderful Leigh Kramer does a monthly ‘what I’m into’ post, and I thought that was a fab idea! So I’m linking up with her, and do take a while to look round her blog– she’s one of the nicest people in the blogosphere.
Here’s what I’ve been into in May. (If you want to read some excellent blogs on suffering, ME awareness, spirituality or the recent SGM spiritual abuse case, click to my May Bits’n’Blogs post).
- Brother of the More Famous Jack – Barbara Trapido. A friend sent this in the post as a surprise present, and it was just what I needed this month. A cross between Franny & Zooey by JD Salinger, and Mansfield Park by Jane Austen, with a more contemporary twist, I found this the ultimate comfort reading. 1960s? 70s? (I’m a bit fuzzy on exactly when) – a girl is introduced to her lefty, bohemian history professor’s family. It’s simultaneously a celebration of liberal politics and a very gentle critique of it, and a good old love story. I just loved hanging out with the characters. It was intelligent, but easy to read – the equivalent of sitting down to a leisurely breakfast with black coffee, a croissant with Bonne Maman raspberry jam, and The Guardian on Saturday. (And short chapters. Praise be for short chapters.) (Trigger warning: baby loss). Get it from amazon.co.uk or amazon.com.
- Parenting (illustrated with crappy pictures) – Amber Dusick. I love Amber Dusick’s website so much, and if I am ever feeling a little down, I spend about an hour on her website and laugh again. If you are a parent (and don’t object to the occasional irreverent word or reference to faecal matter), then you will cry with laughter at these stories, illustrated with cartoons (aka ‘crappy’ pictures). If you have never read any of Amber Dusick, you must do so immediately. It is an order. Start with this. And this. Should you get it if you have read her website religiously? Perhaps not. Much as I loved it, there was little that was really fresh material, and I prefer the blog format to the book format. But if you are new to Amber’s stuff, you will love this book, and I reckon it would be a fantastic present for stressed Mums, particularly if they don’t ‘do’ blogs. Get it from amazon.co.uk or amazon.com
Les Miserables – I finally got to see it! I have been waiting for the DVD to come out for SO long. It was amazing to finally see it. So. You need to know that I am not just a fan, but something of a fanatic when it comes to Les Mis. (We’re on nickname terms, Les Mis and me.) I first saw the musical in London when I was an oldish child, maybe ten/twelve. I loved it so much I was still crying on the tube ride for ten mutes afterwards (yes, I have always been somewhat emotional). We saw it again. We bought the music, and I played the piano and my sister and I sang them all, over and over. Then, I later read the novel (the two volumes). It may well be my favourite book of all time. Jon told me not to review Les Mis, the film, because I would pick it apart and just ruin it for everyone. So I shall try restrain myself.
There were some changes to the musical I liked: the parts where it is more true to the book (the ending, in particular, made more sense than the original musical). The scenes of the barricades and the chorus numbers in Paris were spectacular, and brought back much of the details of the book to me. However, I didn’t like the changes to the music. Much of the dialogue was chopped, particularly from the beginning, and it felt musically disjointed. In terms of the actors, I thought they were all good, though few were outstanding. I am a singing snob, so the fact that I only laughed out loud twice (once at Amanda Seyfried, once at Russell Crowe), is pretty good. I wish that Anne Hathaway and Hugh Jackman could have just stood still in their solos. The music is so emotive, and their acting was so ‘dramatic-dramatic’, that it all became just too distracting, too hammy, too much, and I felt emotionally distant from it; whereas even listening to a recording of the music I feel more emotionally connected to it. The music has enough power of its own: which is why Russell Crowe, even though he had a much weaker voice, did an okay rendition of Stars. Eddie Redmayne was a near-perfect Marius, and his Empty Chairs at Empty Tables was THE moment of the film for me. Hugh Jackman was great – his voice doesn’t have that magic of Colm Wilkinson, (the original Valjean, who plays the Bishop in the film), and I do wish he wouldn’t pace around so much, but he was eminently likeable and intense. I had goosebumps when Colm’s voice came in as the Bishop – even with so few lines he steals the scene. Samantha Barks as Eponine was very good. The Thenardiers were perfect – Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter were superb. And I loved Enroljas – for me, he was the best of the lot.
Okay. I shall stop now. I did love it, overall. I ought to mention that. Overall, it is excellent, and I shall watch it again and again. If you are also a diehard fan, let me know what you thought of it in the comments. If you have never seen Les Miserables – oh my goodness! – stop what you are doing and get it immediately! Seriously. Buy from amazon.co.uk or amazon.com
As it was M.E. awareness day this month, I thought it might be helpful to highlight some books on M.E.
- Reviving the Broken Marionette: Treatments for ME/CFS – Maija Haavisto. I thought I would highlight this book again, as it has been so helpful for me. A list of possible treatments for ME, with details of the relevant trials and success rates. Get it from amazon.co.uk or amazon.com
- Everything Beautiful in Its Time – Catherine Ashenfelter. Catherine had severe M.E. and was miraculously healed from it. I came across her story via the Grace Charity for ME (run by Catherine), which offers excellent links and resources. I often refer to it. Her story is compelling, I read it in one sitting. It so vividly describes the institutional abuse of M.E. patients by the medical community. I loved her thoughts on prayer and healing, and how people react to miracles. If you enjoyed my ‘When God doesn’t heal’ post, I think you would enjoy this. She writes with thoughtfulness and theological nuance. Download it – for free! – here (PDF) or here (Word document)
- A Beginner’s Guide to ME/CFS – Nancy Blake. Written by a former nurse, and M.E. sufferer, this is really helpful and reassuring. If you have been recently diagnosed with M.E., this little book is fantastic for answering the ‘what do I do now?’ question, particularly on explaining the importance of rest and pacing. Get it from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com
Art/ greetings cards
I’ve discovered a new writer and artist recently: Beth Morey. Sometimes a friend is going through a hard time, and I want to send some kind of card. The standard ‘in sympathy’ cards just don’t cut it, and I don’t have the liberty of spending a long time in a card shop to choose just the right thing. Beth’s cards are perfect. Even with shipping from the US, it works out at approximately £1.50 for each card, and they are such excellent quality. You can order them from her etsy shop, epiphany studio.
Revlon lip butter: candy apple. Halfway between lip balm and lipstick. Sometimes, when I’m lying in bed in my PJs, I like to put on bright red lipstick. Just because.
May has been characterised by writers’ block and an M.E. relapse – so not much has been going on here. I’ve been thankful for sunshine!
Over to you:
What have you been into this past month?
**Disclosure: I have become an Amazon affiliate, which means if you click on a link above of something I have recommended and buy it, you will donate a few pennies to me, at no extra cost to you! How good is that?? (Needless to say, I only recommend stuff that I like.)**
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