This month in media

Slightly late with this post (again), but that's because I took some much-needed time to relax over the Christmas holidays. I spent several weeks working, baking and catching up with old friends, as well as coming up with new blog ideas and an exciting new venture in Cambridge, which will be revealed soon. 

For now, though, I'll leave you with a little snapshot of what I have been reading and watching this past month. 

TV and Drama
The Great Christmas Bake Off  (BBC): would you have expected anything less from me?

Call the Midwife Christmas special (BBC) : I've been a loyal fan of this series since it first began several years ago. Though it has changed rather a lot since then - and this episode was no exception, being set in South Africa! - it always succeeds in making me laugh and cry (sometimes simultaneously).

Sherlock (BBC): like many Brits, I spent New Year's Day cosied up on the sofa with my family, eagerly awaiting the return of the twenty-first century's favourite detective. Episode One felt a bit too James Bond-y, in my opinion, without the subtle mystery and clever deductions of earlier series; but Episode Two blew all my doubts away.

'Big' the musical : we caught this musical during our short stay in Dublin and it was even better than I had expected. Granted, I haven't seen the 1988 Tom Hanks film so have nothing to compare it to, but the sing-along tunes and insightful jokes had me hooked from the beginning. I was really impressed by the children in the show, who had clearly worked very hard to ensure that their dance routines and American accents were just right. It was also the first time I felt myself identifying with the adults over the children, which was an interesting development!

Vis-a-Vis / Locked Up (4od) : a friend introduced me to this exciting Spanish TV series, which is basically the European equivalent of Orange is the New Black. You'll grow to like pretty, blonde Macarena, who, though she initially seems weak and feeble-minded, develops a strong character of her own over the course of the series. 

The Nightspinners by Lucretia Grindle: I wrote a long review of one of Ms Grindle's books just before I stopped blogging. I loved it, but wasn't so keen on this one. This book tells the tale of two identical twins: one is murdered, and a year later, her sister starts to receive sinister messages and signs similar to the ones her sister received before she was killed. Perhaps, as a twin, this story felt too real for me; and though I enjoyed the book, it did set my heart pounding late at night, which isn't a quality that I usually look for!

The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco : I first picked this up because its name kept popping up in lectures, and I'm glad I pursued it. I do love a good historical novel, and this one combines a series of chilling murders with an isolated monastery high in the Italian hills. This too made my heart pound, but it wasn't quite as frightening as The Nightspinners, purely because Italian monasteries are not places I tend to frequent in my day-to-day life.

Frenchman's Creek by Daphne du Maurier : this reminded me of why I fell in love with reading in the first place. Du Maurier's enchanting story about how a young noblewoman finds freedom from dull city life in the Cornish countryside captured my attention from the beginning. I could almost feel the warm sun on my face and the foaming sea on my feet as I read this, and ended the novel feeling relaxed and uplifted. Would definitely recommend. 

Cartas Marruecas by José Cadalso : this book is a set text for us this year, so I obediently worked my way through it over the holidays in preparation for my return to university. It's a series of letters sent to a Moroccan nobleman from his servant who is travelling through Spain, noting the cultural differences and practices between the two countries. The stereotypes he describes are just the same now as they were then, which made me smile. 

Le Bel Inconnu (author unknown) : this probably isn't a book you would want to read, but it formed part of my reading this month so I thought I'd tell you about it anyway. This is another set text (French, this time) about a young knight who has no idea who he is or who his parents are. When a quest to save a young maiden in a faraway land is presented at court, he jumps at the chance, hoping to prove himself to King Arthur and his knights. We follow this young knight through many dangerous lands and battles, sighing when he gets distracted by a mysterious fairy princess and cheering when he defeats the challenges that lie in his way. This book was tough, language-wise, but story-wise, it gets a nine out of ten from me. I'm looking forward to studying it in depth this term.