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!


Cinderella

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.



Dumbo

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

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! 

Booktube 

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. 


Sunday, March 30, 2014

Happy Mother's Day!

At the moment, I'm currently reading a wonderful book: The Bubble Wrap Boy by Phil Earle.  I'm really loving it.  It's much more light-hearted and funny than Phil Earle's previous books but there's just as much heart and emotion in this story as his others and I'm sure it won't be long at all until I've zipped right through it and I start raving about it to you all.  (It's being published on 1 May by Penguin!)

But I just wanted to talk to you a little bit today about one of the characters from The Bubble Wrap Boy.  Yes, I am only a third of the way through the book at the time of writing this and anything can happen with the storyline ... but already, Charlie's mum is one of my favourite characters ever. I love her. I do.  And I think the reason that I feel so strongly about her is that she could totally be me. Or I could be her.  And I thought that today, Mother's Day, would be the best day to celebrate her character. Let me start at the beginning.

The Bubble Wrap Boy is the story of Charlie Han, this (clumsy, small) boy who is completely and ridiculously over-protected and slightly suffocated by his mother. Who worries that Charlie will hurt himself or put himself in danger.  I don't know what Charlie's mum's secret is (that is hinted at in the product description!) because I haven't read that far. Right now, I'm just loving reading about the lengths she'll go to in order to protect her son.  And I love that Phil Earle presents her character to us in this really amusing way and how Charlie is (obviously) embarrassed about it all but mostly accepts it and then quietly rebels and Charlie's dad is all 'she's your mum, what can you do?' I laughed like a LOON at the mental image I had of poor Charlie (a teenager) riding along on a *tricycle* making his Chinese takeaway deliveries lit up in neon clothing. While in full daylight. Oh, I did laugh.  But also? I could relate.




See, I've got two children. E and the Littlest.  And it's hard for me to accept that these boys are growing up and they're doing it quickly.  E will be 9 this year (surely not possible) and standing next to me, he's up to my shoulders already.  It won't be long until he's in double digits and taller than me and heading off to secondary school. And I will sob my little heart out. Because I look at him and his brother both and I don't just see him (or the Littlest) as they are right now but I can see them as newborn babies and as toddlers and little boys on their first days of school AND who they are now.  All in a montage sometimes.  And it can be so hard to take that step back and let them make mistakes or fall over or just do stuff independently. I so badly want to let loose my inner-Charlie's-mum and coddle them both so that they never cry or get hurt or anything. But I know I can't. Not forever, anyway.

It was different with E.  E's always been a little bit over-cautious. I've had to tell him sometimes over the years to take chances and do scary things.  But not so with the Littlest. He's always been a child who threw himself into things and didn't worry too much about the danger or how much I'd worry.  He just doesn't to be the sort to think 'what's the worst that could happen?' very seriously. And why should he? We went to an indoor skydiving thing the other week and my heart was in my throat for every second the Littlest was in the tunnel because there was no fear at all from him. He's 6 and I just have to take deep breaths and let him get on with things and reign in all my impulses to (over) protect him.  Because for so many things he doesn't want or need it. 

So I get where Mrs. Han is coming from.  She wants to keep her child safe like any good parent does.  She just goes about it a little differently but probably with good reason.  I've had to work hard not to be a bubble wrap mother and I'll continue to work at it...

I can't make any promises about embarrassing my children though.  That's every parent's job, really.

I hope you all really enjoy this Mother's Day.  And if, like me, you can't share the actual day with your mother, then I hope you at least spend it with someone who understands what that means.  

Friday, March 28, 2014

Authors I'd Fangirl Over

I'm incredibly lucky in my career as a book blogger to have been able to go or been invited to some incredible events... I've met so many lovely authors that sometimes I feel like if I pinch myself I might wake up and it might not all be real.

I was at an event for a really popular author who was talking about some of her more ... enthusiastic fans, shall I say. And she was telling us about a signing she'd done previously in which one girl was almost about to faint from meeting this author and when the author went over to her to ask if she was okay, obviously really concerned and it just made things worse and the girl went into even more of a flail. And obviously at the time of hearing this story I laughed and thought yeah, that would never be me.

Except that it totally could have been me. With the right authors.  Say, for instance, these authors...




Neil Gaiman is such a rock star, isn't he?  I've loved everything of his that I've read so far, especially his books that I consider 'for children' - Stardust, Coraline, The Graveyard Book, but also American Gods, Anansi Boys, Neverwhere.




I think Meg Cabot is an absolute genius about writing funny, romantic stories. I love her craziness and her outlook on life.  I think she's amazing and I would lose it if I met her.  I haven't been keeping up with her latest books but The Princess Diaries books will always be amongst my favourites.




I absolutely love the Chaos Walking trilogy by Patrick Ness ...and also A Monster Calls. I love it the most when stories are written in such a way that I feel everything very strongly too and that's just what happened when reading The Knife Of Never Letting Go and The Ask and the Answer and especially Monsters of Men.  I didn't think I'd survive getting to the end of that trilogy!




I'd love to meet the author whose stories have destroyed me so completely as Melina Marchetta's stories have. Every single one of her books felt like they've changed me in some way. And especially Jellicoe Road and The Piper's Son have broken my heart into so many different pieces that I don't think that I'll ever recover. 




Surely it goes without saying that JK Rowling would make my list, right?  She did events recently in the UK and I was instantly jealous of absolutely everyone who was able to go because I couldn't!


Are there any authors you'd fangirl over? Have you ever fangirled over an author you've met in person?

Thursday, March 27, 2014

LGBT Month Sign-Up Post



LGBT Month is hosted by Cayce at Fighting Dreamer and Laura at Laura Plus Books. It runs throughout April and it’s here to celebrate LGBT readers, LGBT authors and of course LGBT books!
Introducing… LGBT Month! Throughout the month of April, Laura and Cayce decided that we should celebrate the LGBT+ community (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) through our love of books. 
This event has no real rules. All you have to do is read and share LGBT+ books. At least one book or one post! Try to spread the acceptance of LGBT+. You don’t need to have ablog. You can have a YouTube channel, you can review books on Goodreads and/or you can use the hashtag #LGBTApril on Twitter!
Different things we’ll be doing during April are reviews, giveaways, guest posts, discussions, everything! We really hope you can too! There will also be Twitter parties! At the beginning of each week, we’ll post a Linky. There, you can link-up all your different posts. You can read all the things other people are posting too.


I've decided to take part in this LGBT month in April! I love setting myself challenges or reading goals and this reading event really calls out to me. I really do want to see more LGBT story lines and characters in the books that I read. So I've combed through my TBR shelves/Kindle and picked out this list of books that fit.  I'm not sure if I'll make it through this entire list but I'm hoping to review any book I read for this challenge during the month of April as well as (possibly) writing one or two posts about the previous books I've read and loved with LGBT themes and characters.




1. Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
2. More Than This by Patrick Ness
3. Shine by Lauren Myracle 
4. Huntress by Malinda Lo
5. The Gravity Between Us by Kristen Zimmer
6. Ask the Passengers by AS King
7. The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth 
8. Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan
9. A Kiss in the Dark by Cat Clarke
10. Adaptation by Malinda Lo
11. Every Day by David Levithan
12. How they Met by David Levithan

Will you be taking part in this challenge, too?  I'd love to hear what you'll be reading as well. I would also love for you to share your own recommendations in the comments... Sign ups for this are here.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Songs to (embarassingly) belt out...

As a teenager, I was pretty into really cheesy, romantic songs. I'd listen to music constantly and record songs off the radio so that I could play them again and again.  There were two songs in particular that I was obsessed with. (There really is no accounting for taste!)




I'll Make Love To You by Boyz II Men 




My Heart Will Go On by Celine Dion

I'm pretty sure that at one point, I'd jumped up onto the footstool in the living room, this song blaring from the stereo and I was singing my heart out ... when my brother and his best friend walked in.  It was hugely embarrassing and I think it took me years to get over it.  But still, every time I hear these songs now I get that same urge to sing loudly and as out of tune as I possibly could get.

And for a long time, I probably thought that I might have grown out of this habit? There certainly hasn't been any songs that have really captured my attention or have captivated me in the same way as the BIIM or Celine Dion song.

Until now.

Now, I'll quite happily listen to any song on the Frozen soundtrack over and over again. Especially, Let It Go.  I can't get enough of Let It Go.



Let It Go from the Frozen original soundtrack

I'm usually listening and singing along to this song in the kitchen as I'm making dinner ... on my ipod during the school run, in the car.  When I'm writing blog posts. I'm listening to it now, in fact.

Are there any songs either currently or historically that inspire you to jump on furniture and sing at the top of your lungs? Let me know.

Monday, March 24, 2014

New YA Fantasy series by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare!

Random House Children’s Publishers UK (RHCP) are excited to announce the acquisition of a powerful new YA fantasy series from global bestsellers, Holly Black and Cassandra Clare. 




To see Holly and Cassie talking about the series, please watch this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i4iJIHbiW88

About Magisterium Book 1: The Iron Trial

Callum Hunt has grown up knowing three rules by heart. Never trust a magician. Never pass a test a magician gives you. And never let a magician take you to the Magisterium. Callum is about to break all the rules. And when he does, his life will change in ways he can’t possibly imagine. The Magisterium series is a five-book series of fantasy novels, one book for each year of Callum’s life as he struggles between the forces of good and evil, and discovers his true destiny.

Information about the authors

HOLLY BLACK:

Holly Black is the bestselling author of contemporary fantasy novels for teens and children, including Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale and the #1 New York Times bestselling Spiderwick series. She has been a finalist for the Mythopoeic Award and the Eisner Award, and the recipient of the Andre Norton Award. Holly lives in Massachusetts with her husband, Theo, in a house with a secret library. Her website is www.blackholly.com

CASSANDRA CLARE:

Cassandra Clare is the author of the #1 New York Times, USA TODAY, Wall Street Journal, and Publishers Weekly bestselling Mortal Instruments series, The Infernal Devices trilogy, and The Bane Chronicles. Her books have more than 30 million copies in print worldwide and have been translated into more than thirty-five languages. Cassandra lives in western Massachusetts. Visit her at CassandraClare.com. Learn more about the world of the Shadowhunters at Shadowhunters.com

Pretty exciting news, no?

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

My thoughts on New Adult books

I've been sitting on my thoughts about the New Adult genre for awhile.  It's something I felt a bit uneasy about since it became a 'thing' but I thought to myself that I should really try out some of these books and authors before I judge the label/genre too harshly.  It didn't start out well.  The first several NA books I read were really, really not my thing at all and I was confused (and more than slightly bewildered!) as to why these same titles were getting such support and enthusiasm from other readers.  I still am, to be honest.

And that feeling of 'wow, this isn't for me' has carried on.  There are, of course, exceptions. I absolutely adore Easy by Tammara Webber. I recently read Deeper by Robin York and really loved it.  I enjoyed Denise Grover Swank's Off the Subject books. I really enjoyed Jessica Park's Flat Out Love and also some of Samantha Young's books (though they felt like adult romance as opposed to NA)

And based on the many, many New Adult books I've read over the past year or so, here are some of my thoughts.  (To give you some context of my New Adult reading experience: out of the top 200 NA books on this list, I've read 53)


I don't think it's necessary as a genre


I really can't see the point of it as another genre.  A lot of people argue about this time period of 18-23 as pivotal and that both YA and adult fiction isn't giving this age group enough exposure. Or whatever. And I don't agree at all. Which is partly why I've now seen books by authors like Katie McGarry and Gayle Forman trying to be included under a New Adult label even though (as far as I'm aware) they've only ever been marketed as young adult books.  YA has always had a wide range of books aimed at a younger teen audience and an older teen audience and they've always covered more mature topics. And while I don't know very much about adult fiction, I'd think it would be similar. There are some great adult fiction writers who are writing for the 20-something reader. Like Sarra Manning.

As I'm reading New Adult books, I've never thought to myself 'wow, yes. This IS what we've been missing, these books that discuss what it means to live independently, or go off to university and cope with different changes or what it's like to apply for that first serious job' Because so many New Adult books aren't doing this. We might get a university setting but instead of focusing on the real life issues that do come up around this time period, we're instead seeing a great deal of sex and relationships. I'd really like to see less of this.  Everyone who is a fan of New Adult fiction cries out on a regular basis that NA isn't YA + sex, but it's hard to make this argument successfully when there are so few exceptions.


I think there are far too many unhealthy relationships


There are far too many relationships in these books in which (usually) the male partner is controlling or  there is some instance of a power imbalance.  Of one person being in awe of the other person's appearance, wealth, power, charm, or whatever leaving one person in this 'relationship' with a feeling of inferiority that the other person can (and does) take advantage of. There also seems to be fairly common for the relationship to consume the main characters entirely. So while (sometimes) there is an interesting university setting or friendships that a reader might care about towards the beginning of the book once the ball gets rolling on a relationship, that seems to be the end of everything else. And it certainly isn't healthy at all for one person to become anyone's centre of the universe for which everything revolves. Let the main characters maintain their own sense of identity and independence, please.


I think there are far too many instances of gratuitous sex


I'm no prude. Sexytimes in books are welcome occasions ... up to a certain point. As long as there is something else to a story other than the sex. I don't want to read any more books in which the entire story line or set-up is in place in order to showcase the passion and heat and sex between two people. It gets nauseating.


I think many new adult novels show a skewed view of what it means to be a man or a woman


One of my biggest peeves when reading ANY sort of novel are the ideas that men have to act a certain way and women have to act another.  I see too often NA books that continue to push these stereotypes. In particular the idea that men have to be macho and 'manly' and fight for a women's honour and so on.  One popular NA book I read recently had the male main character and love interest immediately get a job as a mechanic and some 'manly' tattoos in order to balance out this hit his masculinity took after he did some modelling gigs. I nearly rolled my eyes out of my head.

There is also a great deal of slut-shaming going on and virgin-shaming by both men and women.  I don't appreciate that some authors think that this is acceptable behaviour from their characters whatever gender they identify as. So many NA books I've read find it acceptable for the female characters to call other women 'whores' and 'sluts' and be really mean about other women's sexual preferences or clothing. And in a lot of cases this is (possibly) put into the narrative in order to highlight the 'perfection' or 'goodness' of the main character. But really? Tearing other women down in order to make your main character look 'good'? I don't see it that way.


I'm seeing far too many storylines that rely on an experienced man who is in a relationship with a virgin


This is a story line that I've come across far too frequently when I'm reading New Adult books.  I'd like to ask the question, who is enjoying this story line, really? Who are the readers that are enjoying this chain of events?  The thought of it really makes me queasy. It seems to continue these outdated ideas about women and sexuality. Why shouldn't women have sexual partners? Why shouldn't they have had and enjoyed sex before now?

And really, first time sex is something I would normally expect to come across in a YA novel as opposed to something supposedly more mature. Obviously with an older character and a NA label an author could get away with making it more explicit and racier, but why? And it goes back to the idea of giving a false sense of (first) sexual experiences. Too many of these first-time experiences are amazing and multi-orgasmic, I'm assuming because of the (ick!) great experience of the male partner but that's hardly realistic, isn't it? (I think it's gross.)


Too many New Adult books make light of serious topics 


I've left this point to the last but really it is the thing I like the least about the New Adult books that I've read.  I find it really abhorrent that so many New Adult books are using serious topics (like rape, attempted rape or childhood physical or sexual abuse) and they're using these topics that should be treated with understanding and compassion and instead these are the roadblocks in a relationship, or these are things that cause tension or drama or cliffhangers.  And I hate how much detail is gone into exploring the trauma of these events on a character. Why is that even necessary? We don't need to hear every single gory detail. Rape and abuse victims should never be used for their supposed entertainment value.


What do you think of New Adult books?