Friday, March 04, 2016

The Great 2016 Monthly Challenge: February

The February Challenge: 2016
Determined to follow on from my whole New Year Challenge thing, I hit February with the same gusto I reserved for January:  i.e. I realised on the 5th that I hadn't done anything and thought I'd best make a start before March grabbed me by the throat.  
This is the new stuff I discovered in February: 
New Author:  
I picked up a copy of John Grisham's 'The Confession' in my local charity shop for 85p and decided to give it a go.  I told myself that because it was actually a 'legal' thriller, this totally set it apart from all those crime novels I'm so fond of.     It does have crime in it, though.   Lots of crime.   
The main thread of the story is about a young black man from Texas who is convicted for the rape and murder of a young white student.   He's left to rot for 9 years, while his lawyer fights to clear his name.    At the very last second, the real killer comes forward and it's a battle against time to submit paperwork and earn a stay of execution for his client.     
The Confession is a very powerful book, focusing on the racial bias and laziness of a Southern small town police force and the dangers of the death penalty.  It had a great twist, which took me by surprise, and also made me very sad at times.   It's simply incomphrensible to me that any type of racism exists because I simply don't understand it.      I'm in a mixed race relationship and it has come as nothing but absolutely stunning to me to hear some of the comments levelled at my partner; both by his own family, in relation to my race, and members of the public, in relation to his.   It never fails to truly disgust me that people judge others by the colour of their skin, their ethnicity of religion.  
The February Challenge: Reading
I read an actual book, not a Kindle one.   Bonus points for me.  
New Music: 
I haven't found any new albums this month, as I'm still far too obsessed with Beyonce's 'Formation' video.   Oh, and that Superbowl Halftime performance.   I like Beyonce in a 'how can that woman be so bloody amazing' kind of way.   I don't own any of her music, though, but, like Madonna, she's just one of those artists that I'm not a particular fan, but I know the words to so many of her songs.        
I was sick from work the day after Superbowl 50 and was on Buzzfeed (it's my source for EVERYTHING) and spotted that she'd dropped a new song on the Saturday.    I flew over to Twitter and had a look at some of the comments and knew I had to see what the fuss was about.    I was far from disappointed.   I can't stop watching the video and I love the whole theme and concept of the video.   I can also see why it's so controversial as there are a lot of sensitivities to race relations and the Black Lives Matter movement, but who better to use her voice to speak on it?   We all voice our opinions all the time and she's no different.    It's just that people listen when Beyonce does it.   
What has been interesting to me is the backlash and the strength of feeling both for and against the song and its video.   As a 38 year old white woman, living in rural North Wales, I don't exactly have my finger on the pulse of US news so, although I followed all the themes in the video and was horrified to learn that people had actually been criticising Beyonce's daughter's afro (who ARE these people and WTF is wrong with them??).  The Superbowl Halftime show sign with 'Justice for Mario' made me google the shooting of a black man in California and educate myself as to what had happened.   
I love the song and the Southern influence of the video, but I love it more for making someone like me, far removed from any of the topics in the track, learn a little bit more about the issues.   If that's not a brilliant way to speak through your music, then I don't know what is.   
The February Challenge: New Music
The glorious colours of New Orleans. 
New TV: 
Due to my early February sickness, I had a few days at home and watched Season 2 of Hinterland.   If you haven't already heard of it, it's a Welsh crime drama (because obviously) and is set in and around the beautiful Aberystwyth area.   Season 1 was originally made in Welsh, but proved so popular that it was redone in English.   And I'm extremely grateful that it was.    
It features a pretty stereotypical troubled male lead detective who is ably assisted by a long suffering female colleague.   Basically, it's a tried and tested format and it works really well.   I love being able to spot the scenery and find new places to explore, much like the buzz I get from watching 'Shetland' on BBC Scotland and shouting out when I see some spot that I've been.   
The February Challenge: Cycling
Exactly like my cycling, expect mine is stationery and done in the spare bedroom. 
I kick started February by being ill for a few days, so exercise for me was just managing to get out of bed and put the kettle on.   I did eat a LOT less during those first few days as the only thing I could face was coconut yoghurt and blueberries (at quite stunning combination, BTW).   I improve towards the middle and end of the month and kept up with my cycling, but running has, once again, taken a back seat.    I suck at this so bad.    

Suzanne x 

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