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29 March 2018

Monthly Favourites: January and February 2018

While January and Feburary have been intense months as far as studying, I also managed to enjoy this time of the year, which I usually find tedious because of the grim weather. I had some guests coming over to visit which gave me a break from routine, and I took a lot of time off for myself, which I hadn't been doing in the previous months. I read My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante (stay tuned for the review!), which was absolutely fantastic, and watched a few Spanish series to facilitate Spanish interpreting.

My absolute favourite thing about the past few months is that it snowed in Leeds! Obviously that doesn't count as an official favourite to list, but I loved the wintery, calm atmosphere of the snowy days that I spent reading, studying and chilling. Yes, I got stuck at home and I had to be very careful when walking to places (I don't have any snow-friendly shoes), but sitting by the window and sipping hot drinks while by watching the snowflakes falling was very hygge.

- TV series: Gran Hotel
The first series is Gran Hotel, a series that's very similar to Velvet for both cast and plot. In 1906, the working-class Julio Olmedo arrives at Cantaloa's luxurious Grand Hotel to visit his sister Cristina who works there. But when he gets there, he is told that she was fired for theft a month before, which Julio does not believe. Thinking that something happened to her at the hotel and there was a coverup, he takes a job there as a waiter and starts investigating with the help of Alicia Alarcón, one of the hotel owner Doña Teresa's daughters. I was very surprised to find out that there is also an Italian and an Egyptian equivalent of the series (there are probably even more versions I don't know of), so if you don't know Spanish or prefer to watch this in other languages you can actually do it, although I'm not sure the other series will be as good as this one.

- TV series: Morocco: Love in Times of War (Tiempos de guerra)
Although I have only watched half of the series so far, I am enjoying Morocco. This is a war-romantic series, and while I must say that I am not a massive fan of war film genre, I really enjoy the medicine side of things including the doctors, nurses and their tasks at war. The series is set in 1921 Morocco, and it's about a group of nurse trainees who leave Madrid to go and work in Melilla for Rif War soldiers, finding friendship and romance while saving lives. The series is a bit slow compared to the other Spanish series on Netlix like Las Chicas del Cable, Velvet or Grand Hotel, but it is still worth watching.

- Anya's Ghost by Vera Brosgol                                Anya's Ghost is a graphic novel about a Russian girl in her teens who feels very unpopular in a typical US high school. Her life takes a new twist when she befriends the ghost of Emily, a girl around Anya's age who died 90 years earlier. Anya goes searching for the truth about her death and makes some 'interesting' discoveries.             I really liked the drawings in this graphic novel and the fact that they were in a purplish tone. Definitely worth reading for a break from fiction or a dive into young adult.
- Alex + Ada by Jonathan Luna and Sara Vaughn
After having broken up with his girlfriend, Alex gets very lonely. His grandma decides to send him Ada, a robot which is capable of intelligent human interaction. The robot is initially incapable of self-awareness, as each android has a program that blocks any potential free thought or consciousness. But then Alex decides to remove this program and grant Ada her own mental freedom and feelings.                                      This science fiction, dystopian graphic novel is the last book I would have normally picked up as I am really not into robots. But having had a glimpse of the first few pages I could not put it down and decided to borrow it from the library! Now I'm reading the second part online and plan to borrow the third and last one when I go back to Leeds. 
- Thornhill by Pam Smy
This is the graphic novel you can see in the picture of the post. 
As she unpacks in her new bedroom, Ella is irresistibly drawn to the big old house, the Thornhill Institute for Children, that she can see out of her window. Surrounded by overgrown gardens, barbed wire fences and 'keep out' signs. It looks derelict. But that night a light goes on in one of the windows. And the next day she sees a girl in the grounds. Ella is hooked, and goes searching for clues on the story of Thornhill. 
This is a horror ghost story with some very impressive drawings and a story that reads very well. It has actually won the Leeds Book Award. I loved it though I was a bit puzzled by the ending.

If you're in Leeds, I recommend using the Central Library to borrow graphic novels. They can be quite difficult to find in bookshops but they are really worth reading. 

What were your favourites in the past two months? Share in the comments!

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