Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Song-writing ambition

I've only ever tried to written a song myself once. I was in eighth grade and one of my teachers heard of this song-writing competition by Tracy Chapman and had the entire class enter the giveaway.  I never did find out which song won that but I think it'd be really interesting to know.  The song I entered was utter crap and I feel embarrassed that other people have read it.

N used to write his own lyrics and compose music. He found some of his old songs the other day and he played them for me and some friends a few weeks ago.  It was pretty obvious where his inspiration for some of the songs came from but others were just downright not what I would have expected to come out of N's head.  I've always been really impressed with N's creativity. At different times throughout my relationship with him, he's written a screen play, songs, picture books, a graphic novel.

But listening to the music and lyrics that he'd written really got to me.  And in the same sort of time period, I started listening to Christina Perri's music.  Two of her songs in particular were songs that I wanted to listen to again and again and I often did leave them on repeat.  There are other songs that I listen to like this on repeat because I feel some connection to them: Breakaway by Kelly Clarkson, The Writer by Ellie Goulding, I Shall Believe by Sheryl Crow. But I thought today that I would talk about these two Christina Perri songs in particular.

Jar of Hearts 

I first heard Jar of Hearts on the radio when I was driving somewhere.  Luckily I was on my own.  It was on the radio quite often for awhile and every time I heard it, I'd turn the music up and sit there quietly to listen to it.  There's something about the lyrics to the song and the way that she sings it that makes me want to sit up and take notice of it.

It's such a strong and haunting song about moving on from a bad relationship and I love it. It feels like a song I'd have wanted to hear after I found out my first boyfriend was cheating on me.

A Thousand Years 

I didn't know until I was writing this blog post that this song appears on one of the Twilight film soundtracks.  It sort of makes sense that it is on that soundtrack based on the lyrics. But it's still a really, very pretty song about love.

My favourite lyric in this song is when she sings 'I will be brave/I will not anything take away/What's standing in front of me' and when I hear it, I like to think she's singing about herself rather than about a man or about a relationship and that the song is about being hopeful and about finding happiness (rather than love) after a difficult or trying time.

I listen to these songs and I'm amazed at how powerful they feel and how emotionally connected I am to the music and the lyrics.  It's after listening to these songs over and over again that I think I'd like to do that. I'd like to take an experience or a feeling and put it into words so that maybe someone else can feel it or experience it as well and do it in such a way that it can be relateable. 

Have you ever listened to a song and felt inspired to write your own lyrics or music? Do you listen to your favourite songs on repeat? Share in comments!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

REVIEW: Rebel Heart by Moira Young (Dustlands, #2)

Oh man, Rebel Heart by Moira Young was good.  I was worried about how I'd feel about this second book in the series especially because the first book, Blood Red Road, was one of my favourite books that I read awhile back.  And when you love the first book as much as I did, it always makes me think that maybe the second book won't quite live up to my expectations. 

While I would have liked to see more of my favourite characters in Rebel Heart (I'm lying. I really just mean more Jack!) I still really loved where this book went.  The ending of Blood Red Road had Saba thinking that everything would now be fine and her and her newly-rescued brother, Lugh, and their little sister, Emmi, and Tommo and their little band that is left after the big fight against the Tonton are all set to ride off into the sunset and into their happily ever after.  But that is not to be the case. 

First, Jack, has gone on his own mission that he can't get out of. I understood Jack's reasons for separating from Saba and the group and while I felt like it meant that something vital was lost within this book, I also still really appreciate that he's done this.  He's putting his own honour and necessities over that of his romantic relationship and I really liked that.  Even if it meant that his original plan of returning to Saba is thrown out for other reasons.

And with the loss of Jack in her life, Saba is really struggling.  She's barely functional at the start of Rebel Heart because of the grief that she feels because of the friends she has lost.  Especially Epona. Epona and all the lives that she came up against when she was fighting for survival and led Saba to be know as the Angel of Death haunt Saba. And even when she has the idea of freedom and the Big Water to look forward to, all Saba can see is what has past and how her actions have led so many to their deaths. 

While I did find it a little uncomfortable at the start to read of how much Saba was suffering - hearing voices, panicking, not being able to fire her bow - I found it really interesting to see Saba's journey towards being okay with herself. Another strength of this book is how wonderfully populated this story is with really amazing characters.  I loved seeing Saba trying to repair her relationship with her younger sister, Emmi, and to also find some sort of peace with her twin brother, Lugh.  One of my favourite characters though is definitely, Tommo.  Somebody that I perhaps overlooked in the first book and to who I quickly took more notice of in Rebel Heart. 

I love that this book sees us going back. Back for Jack but also towards Saba's destiny.  Saba has been fighting what the stars have in store for her for awhile, but in this we see her charge towards it in her own single-minded way. I love how badly she messes up, how rash and emotional she is but also how determined and capable she is throughout. She faces some grim (but exciting!) times ahead of her and I for one cannot wait! 

If you haven't yet started the Dustlands trilogy that I strongly urge you to do so, and immediately!

Monday, April 21, 2014

REVIEW: Huntress by Malinda Lo

I've had a copy of Huntress by Malinda Lo on my TBR pile for such a long time.  I can't think now why I waited so long before tackling this wonderful novel?  Huntress is set in the same world as Ash but many centuries before it and is filled with great characters, an exciting adventure and a world filled with the detail and influences of Chinese traditions.  I found it very easy to relate with these characters and with this interesting fantasy world. 

Huntress is the story of a band of travellers who are on a quest to visit the mythical Fairy Queen who might have answers to why the crops are failing, why the seasons have stopped changing and why strange things are happening and why dangerous creatures have started appearing in their lands.

On this journey are Taisin, who is studying to become a Sage. She is inexperienced in dealing with the otherworldly but is also someone who holds great promise and skill who is able to see visions of what the future holds. With her is Kaede, the daughter of the King's chancellor and who is somebody who has no skill in becoming a sage but who is competent in other things. She goes on this journey in order to escape her father's expectations of her and the prospective marriage for political gain.  With them is the Prince and three guards. 

I really loved the adventure that this band of people go through during the course of the novel. Things don't run very smoothly but it is the way in which these events shape the characters and how they react to them that made everything much more interesting.  I really enjoyed reading the way in which Taisin was trying to gather more information and evidences about the weird occurrences on their trip and also the way in which Kaede began learning to protect herself and the others from the guards. Their goal of meeting the fey queen and solving the issues that have affected the world they live in was always the number one priority for Taisin, Kaede, and the others and the feelings that crop up between the two girls becomes and secondary story line.  I liked that about this book. That this lovely, slowly built-up romance appears in the book but that character development and the main plot always continue as the main focus. 

Having said that, Kaede and Taisin's relationship is utterly sweet and I was really rooting for them throughout. A lot of barriers to their relationship are brought up initially - rules of becoming a Sage and also the pressures of making political alliances - but I really was hoping for the best for them both! 

Huntress was a wonderful and adventurous fantasy novel filled with the great characters and relationships. I found it quite easy to believe in the world-building and the situations and problems they had to face. I will continue to look forward to reading anything else by Malinda Lo...

Saturday, April 19, 2014

My favourite UKYA characters #UKYADay

As you know, I'm a big supporter of UKYA! So, you'll not be surprised then that I am happily taking part in Lucy's April Extravaganza! You can check out the  Project UKYA or Project UKYA Twitter feed for other information about all the fun UKYA inspired things going on this month and for future projects. 

And while I think Lucy does a great job being at championing UKYA if you're interested in further supporting efforts by other lovely people, I would recommend also checking out the UKYA website run by the lovely Keris Stainton, Susie Day and Keren David for information about past, present and future UKYA books.

I would also strongly urge you to join the British Books Challenge run by the lovely Sarah from Feeling Fictional. Link up your review to ANY book written by a British author and be in the chance of winning monthly prizes.  The British Books Challenge has been running for four years now and is highly successful. It's a great way to motivate yourself to becoming more aware of what you are reading and to read more by British authors if that is what you wish to do!

I'd also check out Jim's Countdown YA website for more information about his upcoming blog tour highlighting the amazing UKYA books that are being published on the 5th of June.

Today, Lucy has deemed it #UKYAday and the task for every UKYA fan is to shout from the rooftops about UKYA. Why we love it, how we support it, who and what are our favourite authors and books.

Today, I'm going to be talking about some of my favourite characters that I've discovered from reading amazing UKYA.   Please do share in comments which are your favourite UKYA characters!

Poppy Sinclair from the Poppy Sinclair series by Sharon Jones

I really love Poppy Sinclair. I love that in both Dead Jealous and Dead Silent we see Poppy on a mission to get to the bottom of things. She's pretty stubborn and wonderfully straight forward and I really just want to rip her out of the pages of these books and turn her into my real life best friend. I really do think she's fantastic.  I love how these books aren't just murder mysteries but that they also deal with Poppy handling a new romantic relationships, juggling her (sometimes) difficult relationships with her parents and that they see Poppy exploring her own faith whether that be her mom's paganism or her father's Christian faith.  It's all incredibly fascinating and edgy and I am desperate to read more. Please let there be more Poppy Sinclair stories! 

Micah Grey from Pantomime and Shadowplay by Laura Lam

Another character who I absolutely love! I really love everything both about Micah Grey and about Ellada, this fictional fantasy place that Micah lives.  I absolutely adore every detail that I've read so far about Micah and about Ellada and his adventures there but with the circus and with the magicians.  I really love all of his relationships as well, not just the romantic ones with Aenea and Drystan, but also with his brother and new friends met in Shadowplay. I've found that I grew to care for Micah very quickly and now he lives in my heart. 

Harriet Manners from the Geek Girl series by Holly Smale

Harriet Manners has to be one of the best characters I've come across in a really long time. I love how geeky and awkward and just how fantastic she is.  I love the really uncomfortable situations that she gets herself in but I also love how incredibly lucky she is to be able to travel around the world with her modelling and how she has some incredible people fighting her corner like her dad and step-mother and her stalker, Toby. 

I'm so glad that there is so much more Harriet Manners in all of our futures!

Rubeus Hagrid from the Harry Potter series by JK Rowling

I know.  You see a list of favourite UKYA characters ... you scan the list of books mentioned ... you see the Harry Potter series ... and you probably imagine to see somebody like Hermione Granger or Luna Lovegood, maybe even somebody equally amazing like Neville Longbottom or  Dumbledore.  No. For me, my favourite character in Harry Potter will always be Hagrid.

Do you know how I know this definitively?  Because as I was reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows for the first time and that last scene before the prologue happens. It's the Battle of Hogwarts and I know characters have to die, right? It's the Battle of Hogwarts, the biggest show down between Harry Potter and Voldemort once and for all.  And I could barely see straight from the tears anyway and for some unknown reason, JK decides to place Hagrid in the midst of things before the duel between Harry and Voldemort. WHYYY? I had to ask N to read the final pages for me so that he could reassure me that no harm comes to my beloved Hagrid.

There's just something about him.  I love how fierce his love and loyalty is for Dumbledore. How that carries through to Harry and Hermione and Ron. I love how gentle and loveable he is and how much he cares for those who have nobody else to care for them.

Saba from the Dustlands trilogy by Moira Young

I just finished reading the final book in the Dustlands trilogy, Raging Star, so Saba and her adventures are still really fresh in my mind. I absolutely tore through this series.  It's so action-packed and tense. I love the world-building and the relationships in this book. But especially I love the force of nature that is the main character Saba.  She's so determined and capable.  I loved her wild and focused pursuit of her brother in the first book. She was so determined to survive and to rescue him that she became the Angel of Death. But she certainly isn't perfect. She makes huge mistakes and isn't very nice, especially to her little sister.  She reckons she can do everything on her own when clearly she can't. And yet over time she begins to realise all of this and change in ways for the better. Everything may not work out how she wants it, but she tries her very best.

Lyra Belacqua from His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman

Lyra is one of the first main characters that I read when I started properly reading YA. For many, many years I was mostly a literary fiction reader, so I was not expecting to fall so hard for this scrappy girl from a YA fantasy novel. But she really captured my heart right from the first page and I love how adventurous and wonderful she is.  You can really see her growing throughout these three books and I loved taking this journey with her.  It's been too long now since I last read these books. I think it must be time for a re-read! 

Who are your favourite UKYA characters?

Friday, April 18, 2014

Some of my favourite LGBT YA #LGBTApril

Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan

One of the first books I remember reading with LGBT characters was Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan.  I really love this book when I read it and I will continue to look back on it and remember the wonderful feelings it made me feel when reading.  I loved this community that  Paul lives in which gay characters are embraced and supported in a way that exists absolutely no where in reality. It made me really happy when I was reading it of the possibility that we could work towards something like this though (and this is balanced out by Tony's experiences with ultra-religious parents).  I thought Paul's relationship with Noah was incredibly sweet and I loved Infinite Darlene.

This was the first book by David Levithan that I picked up to read and I have since read many of his others and have three books of his that I would like to read on my April TBR pile!

Pantomime and Shadowplay by Laura Lam

Pantomime and Shadowplay are relatively recent additions to my list of favourites and it would appear not only on my list of favourite books with LGBT characters but also my list of favourite books in general!  Micah Grey is one of my favourite ever characters. I really love witnessing the exploration of identity that goes on with Micah and witnessing Micah's journey and the relationships that are formed in both of these books. I really enjoyed both Micah's relationships with the aerialist, Aenea and the white clown, Drystan and how Micah's feelings for both a female and male character progress throughout both of these novels.

The author, Laura Lam, is planning on released some self-published novellas/short stories based in the fantasy world of Ellada over the summer and I for one am very much looking forward to reading them! 

Far From You by Tess Sharpe

I recently re-posted my review of Far From You and I am definitely not yet finished absolutely raving about this beautiful book.  I love it so wholly and completely.  Not just because of the strength of feelings between the two (female) characters, or because the main character identifies as bisexual but also that this story is written in such a way that all of the strong and complicated feelings of guilt and grief are so apparent that it was hard not to be pulled into this story and to feel all of these emotions as the reader. 

I love that this book is about addiction as well. I thought that aspect of the story was really well done.  It's really amazing that this book is the author's debut as well and I'm hugely excited to read more by Tess Sharpe.

A Love Story Starring My Dead Best Friend by Emily Horner

I really loved this story. It's a story about love and friendship as well as grieving and finding a place to belong.  It contains a crazy road trip and I loved the fiery relationship between Cass and her arch-nemesis, Heather, but also the exploration of Cass's feelings for her dead best friend, Julia.

I love how much ground this book covers, from being okay with yourself and moving on from events in the past, looking forward to the future and the celebration of both friendship and love.  I've not seen that many reviews of this book around but would definitely for it to reach more readers!

Keeping You A Secret by Julie Anne Peters

Keeping You A Secret is a book that I read only a few weeks before the start of #LGBTApril but I really loved it.  I felt very emotional when it came to reading Holland's story.  She is a person who has it all, great grades, popularity, a good boyfriend. Until Holland falls for a new girl at school and her world quickly crumbles. I think that Holland's relationship with her mother is the most heart-breaking aspect of the story but I also loved witnessing the unexpected support that Holland receives from the other people in her life.

And special mention goes to the awesome character that is Tiny Cooper in Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan. 

What are some of your favourite YA novels with LGBT characters?

Thursday, April 17, 2014

REVIEW: Ask the Passengers by A. S. King

After reading Please Ignore Vera Dietz and now Ask the Passengers, A. S. King is quickly becoming one of my new favourite authors.  What I loved so much about this book is how philosophical it became. I loved Astrid's thoughts on love and equality and respect especially and how she connected different events with her family, her friends and her schoolmates at school together to form really interesting conclusions about these different things.  I thought it was a really interesting book and it was definitely a book that made me sit up and really think about things. 

Ask the Passengers is a story about Astrid, a teenage girl living in a small town. At the start of the story, it's pretty apparent that Astrid's family isn't one that is very conducive to opening up about Astrid's thoughts and feelings, especially about her feelings for Dee, a female co-worker at Astrid's weekend job.  Astrid's mother is a bit overbearing and her dad is very laid-back and uninterested and Astrid pretty much dismisses her younger sister. And instead of confiding in them or with her best friend, Astrid spends the majority of her time in the background staring up at the sky and sending love to the planes that pass by overhead because she feels her love is going to waste in her own life.  

Like I said, I really enjoyed this story.  I found the whole situation with Astrid and her family to be really interesting to witness as throughout the story Astrid begins to question her place in the family and to question the conditions of her family's love towards her and to also demand more respect.  Their family dynamic was one of my favourite parts of the book and I was really glad to see that there was more love and support from them than Astrid had known of or believed.

I was less certain of Astrid' friendships.  Her best friend, Kristina, was all kinds of pushy and demanding and I wasn't sold on the strength of Astrid and Kristina's friendship at all. Kristina is gay but still in the closet and drags Astrid to a local gay bar regularly but seems to bail on Astrid when things get tough.  While Astrid is still pondering the definition of being gay and trying to process what it means to have feelings for another girl, the people in Astrid's life seem to have so many demands on her. To have definitive answers, to be out, to tell her parents, to tell the world, to go further in their relationship than she's ready to go.  It's all a little bit much for Astrid and I really felt for her throughout. 

This is a very thinky book, with a lot of philosophical questions thrown in and even the embodiment of Socrates himself towards the second half of the book.  Sprinkled throughout Astrid's narration are excerpts from the passengers in the planes that Astrid is sending love and questions to.  I get what the author was trying to do with these passages - highlight the fact that what we send out to the universe has an effect on other people - but about halfway through the book I started skimming the passengers stories as I felt like it was taking away from Astrid's story and her perspective.

Overall though, I really enjoyed Ask the Passengers and I found it really interesting to read Astrid's story and see how she faces the different relationship problems that she has in her life from her parents, her sister, her best friend, her girlfriend and from other people in her life. I love how many different versions of love that Astrid comes across and how she deals with each of them. I really liked this one and can definitely recommend it.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A Disney Education...

Last year, as the boys and N and I were wondering around a shopping centre doing our Christmas shopping, the boys and I were talking about Disney films.  I don't remember exactly how the conversation went, but I think we'd just been into HMV and possibly passed a display on Disney films.  N doesn't like the film The Lion King AT ALL, whereas that film sums up a large part of my childhood and somehow that led on to us all talking about our favourite Disney films.

The boys have never seen some classic Disney films. And I realised that I had been failing my job as a parent to provide them both with an all-round Disney education.  So, I decided that in 2014, the boys and I would have a weekly date set aside for curling up and watching some good old-fashioned animated films. 

We haven't quite stuck to the original once a week film, but here is what we've been watching.  I'll try to update regularly on more Disney films we've been watching together!


E wanted to start off by watching Cinderella.  He'd never seen it and in his Year 3 class they were talking about fairy tales and in particular, Cinderella. I was thrilled that this was the first choice. I remember one fantastic Christmas when I was very little and Santa had brought me (VHS) copies of both Cinderella and Bambi. It was a magical day.  

The boys thought this film was fantastic as well.  The two mice? Jaq and Gus-Gus were huge hits for both boys.  And the cat and the dog always fighting? Nothing but laughs. There's nothing I love more than hearing E's loud, barking laughter. I don't think they were that bothered about the ball or the romance at all, but they loved the humour in this film more than anything else. Two big thumbs up from all of us.

The Aristocats

Oh, god. I don't remember who decided to stick on The Aristocats to watch but I realised part of the way into this film how deathly dull I find this film.  I *think* the boys enjoyed this film, but I'm pretty sure that I fell asleep before the end and by the time I woke up everyone else was doing other things.  This is just not my film at all.  Sorry fans.


Wow. Dumbo.  I never remember how truly horrific the bullying in this film is until I watch it again. The way that people and animals treat both Dumbo and his mother in this film makes me incredibly, incredibly sad.  In fact, there's a lot of animal cruelty in this, isn't there?  I think that this might have been the first time I've seen Dumbo since becoming a mother so I found the scenes between Jumbo and Dumbo really hard to witness. 

I'm not sure that the boys really noticed the not very niceness of the film. They seemed pretty oblivious to the whole thing, really.  They did think the weird psychedelic scene was weird even saying 'Uh.... this is weird.' After it was finished. I think it left us all a bit speechless.

The Sword in the Stone 

I think this was the first time that I had seen The Sword in the Stone. It had completely passed me by when I was growing up.  The boys had seen it recently (in school? at Nana's? Where did they see it without me?) so throughout the showing of this film, E kept saying how repetitive it was ... the boy changes into some animal and things go wrong and then he changes into something else and things go wrong. 

I found E's commentary to be quite distracting. But also, is that what the story is?  I thought it would be something entirely different only now I don't know what I was expecting when I sat down to watch this film. 


Frozen has now officially been crowned My Favourite Disney Film Ever. The boys absolutely loved it as well.  E keeps pestering me to buy the DVD and we listen to the soundtrack while we're eating our dinner most nights.  Sven and Olaf tie as being the boys' favourite characters.  But I loved Anna and Elsa and their relationship and how they manage to save themselves, each other and the world they live in.  What a fantastic film.  I really must watch it again. And soon. 

What is your favourite Disney film? Which classic Disney animated films should the boys and I watch next?

Monday, April 14, 2014

REVIEW: Adaptation by Malinda Lo

Oooh, I really enjoyed Adaptation by Malinda Lo.  I've been reading quite a few books about teenagers exploring their sexuality a lot this month and it was nice to also read about that in this book where the focus is less on 'gay issues' and more about the science fiction elements and the government conspiracies but also include some questioning of sexuality  as well.  While it is always interesting (and important) to read books about coming-out I think books like Adaptation are important too.  Because while Reese does question her attraction to both a male and female character and while it is important to the story, that also isn't the direction of the main storyline. 

Adaptation, right from the first page, left me feeling really disturbed and uneasy about this world that the main character, Reese, is in and what she goes through.  At the beginning or the story, Reese and her debate partner, David, are in Arizona having just competed in a debate tournament. They're at the airport when they see on the news that birds have simultaneously brought down airplanes across the United States and in Canada and Mexico. Reese and David and their debate coach decide to rent a car and try to drive back to San Francisco themselves and I found it really disturbing to witness the birds in this whole situation. Who knew birds could be so creepy? On their way home, David and Reese experience some really horrific things and find themselves in a car accident in the middle of the desert. When they wake up, it's a month later and they are being treated in this secure, private government medical facility.  Reese and David are sent home with lots of questions and no real memories of the past month.  And strange things start occurring back at home that bring up yet more questions...

I really enjoyed Reese as a main character.  I really connected to her as a character, I thought her crush on David and the embarrassment of what happened between them in Arizona was something that come across really strongly right from the start. Through her, we can really feel how much the world has changed with all of these bird problems. And while she obviously feels uneasy about it all, Reese also doesn't let that stop her from pursuing answers. I loved her partnership with her best friend, Julian, and how Reese ends up being pulled into his conspiracy theories with his connections to those with more knowledge and equipment and everything. Plus, Julian and Reese together are both super geeky and I love super geeky. 

And then there's Reese and her feelings for both David and Amber.  I really loved how very different David and Amber are in their personalities but also how different Reese's feelings for both of them are as well.  With David, it's more of a slow burn as they've known each other for years and Reese admits to it being more scary to be involved with someone with such a history together. And with Amber it's more of an immediate explosion with Amber sort of barging through the walls that Reese has put up around herself. I feel like the back and forth between David and Amber will be something that continues in the sequel and I really look forward to seeing if my opinion on both David and Amber will change. 

Overall, I thought Adaptation was a really exciting and tense read. I loved all of the characters and relationships together. I thought the story line involving the government and the different changes in David and Reese after they're home were really interesting and I thought the developments in Reese's romantic relationship went in very satisfactory directions. I am really excited to read more in this series!  Bring on September and the UK publication of the sequel, Inheritance!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Bisexual characters #LGBTApril

I don't watch a lot of television. I've started watching several television programmes over the last few years but I've come to realise that I prefer to immerse myself in stories where I control what everything looks like in my own head.  So there are few programmes that I stick with.

One of those programmes lately has been Revenge (although I'm nearly at the end of my tether with it!) about a girl seeking revenge on a powerful family in the Hamptons.  One of my favourite things about this show? Is the main character's best friend, Nolan Ross. 

Nolan Ross is very loyal to the main character. I love his wit and humour. I love that he's handy with technology and is able to help out with his quick-thinking.  I also love his outlandish fashion sense. There's a real vulnerability about him though. You can tell throughout the entire span of this programme that he wants to feel included. As Emily's friend and as her family. And I can relate to that need to belong. 

But the thing I like the most is that throughout however many seasons it's been, Nolan has had significant relationships with both men and women on the show. I don't often come across openly bisexual characters either in television, film and definitely not many in the fiction that I read. 

And this is definitely something that I would like to see more of in YA. I don't admit to knowing that much about things like biphobia (which is a term I've only just discovered when searching for YA books involving bisexual characters) and I don't feel like I am a very knowledgeable person when it comes to issues concerning lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender people or how the representation of these people appear in fiction in different, sometimes harmful, ways.  But I would definitely love to see more sexual diversity within YA including more bisexual characters.  I was also recently talking with an author on Twitter about how we need more bisexual characters on TV/film as well.

Some YA fiction that I've read recently that I would recommend that contain bisexual characters include Adaptation by Malinda Lo, Empress of the World by Sara Ryan, Far From You by Tess Sharpe, Pantomime by Laura Lam (does this count?) and Pink by Lili Wilkinson.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

REVIEW: Far From You by Tess Sharpe

This review was originally posted in October of 2013 but is being republished today for #LGBTApril which I've been taking part in this month! Far From You by Tess Sharpe was recently published. Get your hands on a copy now!

Far From You by Tess Sharpe was combination of absolutely everything that I love about YA. The story felt real and emotional. The characters were wonderfully created and relateable. The relationships between the characters was messy and complicated which made it heartbreaking to read. There was a diversity of characters which I always enjoy reading about, an interesting look at a difficult subject and a thrilling mystery that had me at the edge of my seat.

I really shouldn't have tead Far From You when I did. I was studying for an important exam and this book isn't being published until April of next year. I didn't even fully know what it was about due to the vagueness of the product description (which I do have issues with, more on this later!) But on a whim, I clicked on this one to read on my Kindle and I just couldn't put it down once I'd started. I don't always love stories that are told for differing timelines and Far From You is told from THREE. But everything fit together really well with no confusion and I came to really enjoy the emotional impact that came with telling Mina and Sophie's story split over three sections.

Sophie Winters has nearly died twice. The first was when she was 14 and she was involved in a car accident involving her best friend, Mina, and Mina's brother, Trev. That accident affected Sophie in many ways but two major consequences of that accident include... a limp that she'll have forever and an addiction to painkillers that will take years to kick.  Then, at 17, Sophie nearly dies again. This time she's attacked in the woods alongside Mina ... who does not survive that attack. The third section of this story relates to several months after the death of Mina in which Sophie is finally released from a forced stint in rehab. Nobody - Trev, Sophie's parents, the police - believes Sophie's version of events or the fact that Sophie did not relapse. So on top of battling an addiction that will stay with her forever, grieving for the loss of her best friend, and without the support of friends or family Sophie is on a mission to track down Mina's killer and finally put to rest what happened that night. This mystery while a very large portion of the story is very interesting and twisty turny but at the same time, for me anyway, take a backseat to the main thing in the story - Sophie and Mina's friendship.

Honestly, I went through so many feelings during the course of this book.  Sophie and Mina's relationship is so beautiful and complicated and messy. And Sophie's grief over her death is so palpable. I felt her grief on every single page of Far From You. I also felt her anger at how little belief that her parents or anybody place in her. While it is understandable to have a shattered sense of belief in Sophie after she lied for several years about her oxy addiction it is also quite horrible how badly treated she is from the people who she expected to love and support her. I loved that this is a story about the consequences of addiction. The lying and concealment of it, the battle to fight it, and the destruction that it has caused in Sophie's life and in her relationships.

And as Sophie recalls memories of her friendship with Mina, I experienced them too. I felt like I was part of this story, I felt like a member of this little trio between Sophie and Mina and Trev. I felt the heartrending betrayal and the grief and especially the different types of love. It was all in there. My only gripe with this story is that the product description is ambiguous about the secrets that Mina and Sophie share. I won't spoil it for you, but I don't believe this type of story needs to be misleading about what it is.

Far From You is a beautiful and emotional story about friendship and love. It's a story about honesty and addiction and the aftermath and grief of traumatic experiences. I'm so glad that I picked it up to read and I couldn't recommend it any more than I do. I will be looking out for more by Tess Sharpe.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

REVIEW: Obsidian by Jennifer L Armentrout

It's now the Easter holidays and things will be busy for me. I'm in the middle of finishing an important uni assignment, something rather .. major is happening tomorrow that I hope to blog about soon and of course, I have my boys to entertain over the next two weeks.

I just wanted to share this review that I've done on my booktube channel of Obsidian by Jennifer L Armentrout.  I'm afraid that I didn't love it as much as the rest of you seem to have done.  Also, my plan in future is to review the books I bought or acquired myself as video reviews, so please do subscribe to my YT channel so that you don't miss out on those!

What was the last book you read and didn't enjoy that everyone else loved?

Friday, April 04, 2014

REVIEW: A Kiss in the Dark by Cat Clarke

I was super excited to read another book by Cat Clarke. I've loved all of her previous books and I love how emotional everything she's written has been.  I especially loved the idea of this book.... the idea of a large secret that comes between two people starting out in a new relationship. 

 I don't fully understand why the official product summary is vague about this secret that threatens this relationship between Alex and Kate, especially as the secret is revealed (to the reader) fairly quickly.  I wish that books such as this would be a little bit more open about the topics that it covers as I now feel like revealing the secret in this review will spoil something for others in their own reading experience.   So I will have to keep the rest of this review slightly vague.

I think the thing that I loved about this book is that it is a book that showcases the strength and beauty of love. I absolutely adored both main characters in this book, but especially Alex.  Alex carries around this huge amount of guilt and for that I really came to care more for Alex than I ever expected despite the lies and deception that takes place.  Alex is a person who believes that this relationship with Kate is an opportunity for happiness and love that could potentially be missed out for good if this secret is revealed.  So things carry on with Kate far longer than they should and while Alex and Kate slowly fall in love with each other, their happiness is tinged with this awful foreboding for what will happen when all parties learn the truth.  I felt really bad for both Alex and Kate.  My heart absolutely broke for them both and while I hoped for a happy ending, it really didn't seem at all possible.

A Kiss in the Dark is told in two parts, before and after, and we are able to see this relationship from both Alex and Kate's perspective which I think was really interesting, especially as in both parts each of these characters is dealing with some pressure and guilt for their own actions.  I think it was definitely important to see things from both points of view in order to get a clear picture of everything that has happened though I did find it a little harder to connect with Kate's narration. 

The other thing that I really loved about this book is the support from Alex's mother and brother.  I really love both of these characters and the ways in which Alex's mother and Jamie go out of their way to voice their love and acceptance of Alex both in subtle ways as well as in more explicit terms. 

A Kiss in the Dark was a really interesting book to read.  I loved the way in which perceptions of gender and sexuality are challenged and explored.  I found it interesting to see both main characters dealing with an awkward situation and carrying it on longer than necessary even when it becomes apparent how hurtful the consequences are because of how difficult it becomes to tell the truth.  But more than anything else, I thought Alex and Kate's love was a really beautiful thing to witness and I'm so glad that I took this journey with them.

Well done, Cat Clarke, for writing such a beautiful, emotional, and heart-wrenching story! Highly recommended.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

March in Review

March is officially over! And I've had a great reading month... Some of my goals for 2014 are to finish books in series that I've already started. I want to catch up on Netgalley books. I want to be on top of review books. And I want to read more of my own books. And I did all of those things during the month of March.

Books Read in March:

1. Amy and Matthew by Cammie McGovern (4 stars)
2. Requiem by Lauren Oliver (4 stars)
3. Goddess by Laura Powell (4 stars)
4. One Foot in the Grave by Jeaniene Frost (3 stars)
5. Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout (3 stars)
6. Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John (4 stars)
7. Severed Heads, Broken Hearts by Robyn Schneider (3 star)
8. The Eternity Cure by Julie Kagawa (4 stars)
9. Trouble by Non Pratt (4 stars)
10. Storm by Brigid Kemmerer (4 stars)
11. Deep Blue by Jennifer Donnelly (4 stars)
12. Played by Liz Fichera (4 stars)
13. Don't Even Think About It by Sarah Mylnowski (4 stars)
14. Torn Away by Jennifer Brown (4 stars)
15. The Bubble Wrap Boy by Phil Earle (4 stars)
16. Hothouse Flower by Becca and Krista Ritchie (4 stars)
17. Gold Rush by Jordan Lynde (3 stars)

Total: 17

Total for 2014:53

Sadly, none of the books I read in March were 5 star reads but I've found that it takes a lot more for me to award a book that many stars lately.  I did LOVE so many of these books though. I thought Amy and Matthew was a beautiful story of two wonderful characters.  It was nice to finish the Delirium trilogy. Storm and Deep Blue were great starts to what I think will be really interesting new series. I adore Jennifer Brown and I thought Don't Even Think About It was such good fun...

What was the best of the bunch though?

March Book of the Month:

Trouble by Non Pratt

My book of the month has to be Trouble by Non Pratt. I really loved the two main characters and the way in which they developed throughout the story. I loved the secondary characters, I loved the friendships and definitely the fact that everything felt so jagged. If that makes sense.

Books reviewed in March:

Poppy by Mary Hooper
The Year of the Rat by Clare Furniss
Goddess by Laura Powell
Requiem by Lauren Oliver
Deeper by Robin York
Amy and Matthew by Cammie McGovern

Non-review posts during March:

More Book Turn-Offs
My Thoughts on New Adult Books
New YA Fantasy Series by Cassandra Clare and Holly Black
#LGBTApril Sign Up Post
Authors I'd Fangirl Over

Songs to (embarrassingly) belt out
Happy Mother's Day! 


Top 5 Friendships
Heart-Shaped Bruise and Follow Me Down by Tanya Byrne
Top 5 Fictional Parents
Top 5 Sequels
April TBR 

 Michelle's Book Turn Offs
5 Books Michelle Read Because of the Film
Trouble by Non Pratt | Bookish Brits March Book Club

UKYA in 2014

WOW - The 100 Society by Carla Spradbery

This is a feature that I hope to continue with in 2014. If you are an author of UKYA (or MG!) being published this year who would like to guest post (or interviewed, though this is less likely!) on Fluttering Butterflies, do let me know!

British Books Challenge update in March

Goddess by Laura Powell
Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John
Trouble by Non Pratt
The Bubble Wrap Boy by Phil Earle

Total in March: 4
Total in 2014: 18

At some point this year, I definitely will have a month in which I will read nothing but books by British authors. I promise. Still, 4 isn't too bad, I suppose. And I am proud of the 18 overall this year. Hopefully I'll make it to at least 20 by the end of April!

Personal challenge to read 10 non-review books a month:

Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John
Severed Heads, Broken Hearts by Robyn Schneider

Total in March:  2
Total in 2014: 5

As well as these two books, I did also read 4 ebooks I bought myself. But those don't count :( Still, let's remain positive. At least I did read 2 books this month. Which almost doubled my yearly total.... Which just makes me feel worse again. Again, I pledge that at least one month this year will be dedicated to reading only my own books. Let's clear some space...

What was your favourite book that you read in March?

REVIEW: Gold Rush by Jordan Lynde

Gold Rush by Jordan Lynde is an ebook that is being published this month by Random House. I find it really interesting that books such as this, which was originally published on Wattpad by the teenage author, are attracting the attention of mainstream publishers.  I can't say that I loved Gold Rush, but I did enjoy parts of it, especially the diversity of sexualities within the book. 

Gold Rush is the story of a girl, Iris, who is charged with showing around new classmates, Noah, Luke and Rian at the private school they all attend.  Iris is class president and really focused on her studies and doesn't need any distraction. And she also seems to be the only person in her school who doesn't lose her head and sensibilities around the new boys ... as they are the members of hot new boy band, Gold.

While I did feel like there needed to be more character development and something else to the story besides Iris and her friends' interactions with the members of Gold, it was still a fun book to read and I read it in a very short period of time.  A lot of the story revolves around Iris and her two best friends and how they become friends and love interests to the three Gold band members. We do see a little bit of the fan-frenzy that Gold face on a daily basis and we do see a little bit of them trying to be normal teenagers doing normal things. I thought it was great that the tables are turned slightly in the second half of the book where it's Gold who become a little starstruck by another band.  Overall though, it was a little bit too cheesy and slightly immature for me.  It's a bit too much 'OMG, you want to buy me a donut?' in parts and there's very little conflict.

What I did enjoy about the book the most though is the fact that there is a character who identifies as bisexual. He's open about it and accepted by his peers and because of the reactions this character has had about his sexuality, it pushes another character to come forward and tell people that he is gay.  I don't come across enough bisexual characters in YA, so this story line really kept me reading despite my problems with the rest of the story.