February 2020 in review

How is it the end of February already? I already feel like the year is hurtling by at an alarming pace! And I’m ready with lots of exciting new blog content, particularly as tomorrow marks the beginning of Women’s History Month. Posts have been a little slow, mainly because I have some news… I submitted my PhD thesis three days ago! I’m so excited and grateful to everyone who has supported and helped me – but it has taken over more than usual this month! I’m looking forward to a little break pre-viva to get the creative juices flowing again with lots of new writing ideas, here and elsewhere. But I have managed a couple of reading and TV breaks… here’s what I’ve been loving this month:

Outlander – Season 5 (TV Series)

IT’S BACK. Droughtlander is over! Don’t worry, I won’t be writing any spoilers here, but will just say that Season 5 is off to an excellent start. I got into Outlander after my best friend recommended it to me and I binged the entire first season over a long weekend (I liked it so much I set early alarms before I had to go to university so I could squeeze in more episodes) – and it just keeps getting better and better.

For those who haven’t seen any of it yet, Outlander is based on the books by Diana Gabaldon, and is the story of Claire Beauchamp, an ex-World War Two nurse who finds herself struggling to connect with the husband she married in a hurry during the war, Frank Randall. They take a trip to Scotland, and Claire finds herself falling through the stone circle of Craig na duhn, ending up in eighteenth-century Scotland before the Battle of Culloden and in the arms of the handsome Jamie Fraser.

Outlander follows many twists and turns, going back and forth in time and moving between Scotland, the Caribbean and America. It explores many interesting histories and people, not shying away from the unpleasant parts of history, and has kept me gripped for now nearly five seasons. It’s already been renewed for a sixth season, which I already can’t wait for!

Find Outlander on Starz in the US and Amazon Prime in the UK. Watch a trailer for the new season here.

The Spring Girls by Anna Todd (novel)

I’ve spoken before here about how much I enjoy reading modern adaptations of classic works, and high off the recent Little Women film, I found this modern version of the book written by Anna Todd, famous for the After book series. In this, the four March sisters are reimagined living on an army base just outside of New Orleans, with a father deployed and a mother constantly worrying about money, and the paths her four girls are taking.

If you are a purist about plotlines, you might not like this – but I really enjoyed the way Todd took risks with the characters and worked with the spirits and personalities of each one to give them slightly amended storylines that were enjoyable. There were a few surprises but I liked that as a modern work inspired by the original, rather than faithfully sticking to every detail. I also really enjoyed the way specific locations in New Orleans were subtly incorporated – it has made me want to visit even more!

Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid (novel)

I’ve been wanting to read this book for a while: it’s about the rise of a female rock star in the 1970s and written in the style of a rock documentary. It certainly did not disappoint – I loved the telling of the female voice in music, and the life that was brought to the period. I was so convinced at the beginning by the style Jenkins Reid chose to tell the story in I found myself googling ‘Daisy Jones’ and ‘Billy Dunne’ before realising it was actually fictional.

Daisy begins the book as an ‘It’ girl in the hazy days of drugs and rock ‘n’ roll before realising she has a voice and things she wants to say. The Six are a rock band with a charismatic frontman, who does not initially want to record with Daisy. But together, they make what is fabled to be the biggest rock album of the 1970s. The story follows the highs and lows of love and music and family and has so many interesting characters. I really enjoyed Daisy but my favourite character was that of the female keyboardist of The Six, Karen. She had a stable voice throughout the story that showed her to be devoted to the music, yet a steady influence in the lives of others, charismatic with time to shine.

I was also really excited to find out, when I was googling Daisy and The Six, that a TV series is in the works with Riley Keough as Daisy and Sam Claflin as Billy. That I really cannot wait for!

What’s the best book you’ve read this month, or film or TV series you’ve watched? Please share all your history-related recommendations with me – both fictional and non-fictional – below!

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