Monday, September 11, 2017

REVIEW: If You Could See Me Now by Keris Stainton

I absolutely ADORED If You Could See Me Now by Keris Stainton! It was so fun and funny and sexy and empowering and I absolutely loved every second of it.  I'm no stranger to Keris Stainton's stories (I've read almost all of them!) but this is her adult debut and I was seriously impressed with it.

I did not know very much about the book before I sat down to read it.  All I knew about it, really, was that it was meant to be funny.  So it came as a major shock when the actual plot line of If You Could See Me Now was revealed. Because the plot summary I read (after it happens I went back to read the plot summary!) makes absolutely no mention of The Thing That Happens.  So I won't mention it either. But ...I was very surprised.  It's a bit weird, isn't it?

I loved Izzy as the main character.  She's incredibly relate-able. I felt very much like Izzy in so many aspects of my life.  Izzy is in a relationship with a man who doesn't treat her right, she's lacking in self confidence which means she's unsure if she should go for this promotion at work, she doesn't stand up to (nor does she know how to stand up to) the sexual harassment she faces on a daily basis.  And it makes absolute sense that Izzy should feel absolutely invisible and inconsequential in her own life.

But then things begin to change.  And I loved seeing the transformation of Izzy in this book.   With the help of her best friend and good-looking intern at work, Alex, Izzy is able to break up with her shit boyfriend and dives into this really important pitch at work that could land her that promotion.  Honestly, what I loved about this book more than anything is that there was combination of it being hugely funny at the same time as it being really feminist.

But I also really loved the relationships. I loved the friendship between Izzy and her best friend and the way the two women were totally in support of each other during a time that's stressful for the both of them.  Women friendships are something I'll always cheer about.  I think Izzy and Alex have so much chemistry, their zing was delicious to read.

But in the end, it's Izzy and her relationship and view of herself that was the main sell for me.  She's amazing and she makes me realise we're all amazing and we should all strive for the best in our own lives.

Saturday, September 09, 2017

New Additions To My Netgalley Shelf

So, this has become sort of a regular feature on this blog.  I like to closely keep track of the books on my Netgalley shelves and what I need to be reading and reviewing in order to maintain my high feedback ratio percentage.  And I do that pretty well.  But I'd noticed that I rarely remembered to share during my book haul videos (on my booktube channel) the new e-books that I've accumulated over time.  So I'll do that here on my blog.  I hope you find this enjoyable?



The Taste of Blue Light by Lydia Ruffles

An incandescent, soul-searching story about a broken young woman's search for a truth buried so deep it threatens to consume her, body and mind.

'Since I blacked out, the slightest thing seems to aggravate my brain and fill it with fire'

These are the things Lux knows:
She is an Artist.
She is lucky.
She is broken.

These are the things she doesn't know:
What happened over the summer.
Why she ended up in hospital.
Why her memories are etched in red.

'The nightmares tend to linger long after your screams have woken you up ...'

Desperate to uncover the truth, Lux's time is running out. If she cannot piece together the events of the summer and regain control of her fractured mind, she will be taken away from everything and everyone she holds dear.

If her dreams don't swallow her first.
 


I don't remember where I first heard of The Taste of Blue Light by Lydia Ruffles but I love the idea of reading more about mental health issues and ...synathaesia? and the cherry on top is that it's by a UKYA author.  So I'm pretty excited for this one! 


This Book Will (Help You) Change the World by Sue Turton

Protest injustice.
Campaign for change.
Vote for your future.

Featuring contributions from C4 anchor Jon Snow, Avaaz.com founder Jeremy Heimans, leader of Hong Kong's Umbrella Revolution Joshua Wong and more, this is the powerhouse guide to politics and activism you've been waiting for.

Award-winning journalist Sue Turton explains the political system that rules our daily lives while also pointing out its flaws - and empowers readers to change the status quo. Disrupt the system from within by joining political parties or inspire change through protest. Either way, this guide shows you how to avoid fake news, triumph in debates and grab the spotlight so your campaign can change the world.

Includes hilarious tongue-in-cheek illustrations from activist-illustrator Alice Skinner.


I saw this awhile back on Netgalley actually, immediately requested it and at the time it didn't have a 'send to kindle' option so I let the publisher know I wouldn't be reading it or reviewing it and I added it to my Amazon wish list instead. Randomly, exploring Netgalley the other day meant that I was able to see that this book now has a Kindle option.  So hurrah for me. I love the idea of this book, I'd love for my young people to be politically aware and do what can be done for social justice. 


Trans Mission by Alex Bertie
Being a teenager is difficult enough, but having to go through puberty whilst realising you're in the wrong body means dealing with a whole new set of problems: bullying, self-doubt and in some cases facing a physical and medical transition.
Alex is an ordinary teenager: he likes pugs, donuts, retro video games and he sleeps with his socks on. He's also transgender, and was born female. He's been living as a male for the past few years and he has recently started his physical transition.
Throughout this book, Alex will share what it means to be in his shoes, as well as his personal advice to other trans teens. Above all, he will show you that every step in his transition is another step towards happiness. This is an important and positive book, a heart-warming coming-of-age memoir with a broad appeal.
Trans Mission was a bit of a whim request, but I like to support LGBT+ stories and narratives when I can.  I like the idea of more trans voices, I'm looking forward to this one. 


36 Questions that Changed My Mind About You by Vicki Grant

Two random strangers. Thirty-six questions to make them fall in love. 

Hildy and Paul each have their own reasons for taking part in the psychology study (in Paul's case it is the $40, in Hildy's the reasons are significantly more complex). The study poses the simple question: Can love be engineered between two random strangers?

Hildy and Paul must ask each other 36 questions, ranging from "What is your most terrible memory?" to "When did you last sing to yourself?" By the time Hildy and Paul have made it to the end of the questionnaire, they've laughed and cried and lied and thrown things and run away and come back again. They've also each discovered the painful secret the other was trying so hard to hide. But have they fallen in love?


I read the article that this book is based on and I've read another book that followed the same concept. Still, it's an intriguing idea and I like the idea of reading more contemporary love stories so I'm sure this book won't stay unread on my Kindle for long.

What books have you been downloading from Netgalley lately? 

Friday, September 08, 2017

Feminist Literature + TBR

One of the things that I've most enjoyed in my reading throughout 2017 is this exploration into other types of literature outside of YA.  I love YA, I'll always love YA, but there's so much fun and excitement in reading other types of literature too.  One of the ways in which I've broadened my reading this year is by reading more feminist non-fiction.

I think I've always had an interest in reading more feminist types of books and narratives but it's only been during this year that I've really made a concerted effort to educate myself a little bit more and to find the types of books that I wanted to read on this subject.  I'm not vastly knowledgeable nor have I read everything I possibly can so far ... but what I do want to do is continue reading more.  Here are some of the books that I have read this year and also some of the books I'd like to read in the near future.



Read

Men Explain Things To Me by Rebecca Solnit

Eat Sweat Play by Anna Kessel

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Nasty Women by 404 Ink

Everyday Sexism by Laura Bates

If You Could See Me Now by Keris Stainton


I've really enjoyed the books I've read this year.  All of the above are non-fiction books apart from the adult novel by Keris Stainton but which I've included because it is such a feminist and empowering novel.  I started off the year reading essays by Rebecca Solnit and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie which I found really inspiring and which I believe ultimately kick-started this whole idea.  The strength of the words in Rebecca Solnit's essays in particular were absolutely fascinating and really spurred me on to reading more.  And I just think Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is just a goddess in general and I need to read every word she's written. The book by Anna Kessel was such a huge surprise to me, because I didn't really think I'd enjoy it as much as I did.  It's a book about women and sport and I've always been the sort of person who felt like 'it doesn't count' my interest in sport but Anna Kessel really changed my mind while reading her book.  I found reading Nasty Women to be interesting but like with any anthology with an array of contributors I liked some essays better than others.  And Everyday Sexism just broke my heart with statistics and personal experiences in the modern day.




TBR

(I've only included books on this list that I already own in a physical copy or digitally on my Kindle)

Girls Will Be Girls by Emer O'Toole

The Power by Naomi Alderman

Girl Up by Laura Bates

The Geek Feminist Revolution by Kameron Hurley

Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu

Things A Bright Girl Can Do by Sally Nicholls

I Call Myself A Feminist by Victoria Pepe

Asking For It by Louise O'Neill

Whereas my 'Read' section felt very samey in that they were mostly all non-fiction, my feminist TBR pile has a little more variety to it.  I feel like I'll be more comfortable reading the YA books: Moxie has been garnering lots of positive feedback having been chosen for the Zoella book club, I'm looking forward to (continuing to) reading Things A Bright Girl Can Do about suffragettes, and I've put off reading Asking For It for way too long that I'm almost embarrassed. The Power is, of course, a dystopian story about women having the power to kill at their fingertips but it's a little outside my comfort zone.  The Geek Feminist Revolution and I Call Myself a Feminist are both collections of essays so should be easy to dip in and out of.  And I know very little about Girls Will Be Girls or Girl Up.

I like the idea of continually reading more feminist stories. I'll definitely be looking for suggestions of what other titles to read or look out for.  Do let me know!

What are some of your favourite feminist reads lately?

Thursday, September 07, 2017

REVIEW: History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera

Oh this book absolutely broke me.  There's such a sense of intensity in this book, so much so that I ended up needing breaks to just recover from how very sad or beautiful or honest it all felt.  I love books like this that make me feel so entirely.  History Is All You Left by Adam Silvera was such a heart-breaker of a book about love and friendship and grief.  I loved every second of it.

History Is All You Left Me is told in two parts.  The first part is in the past where the main character, Griffin, tells us of the progression in his relationship with Theo: from best friend, to boyfriend and eventually to ex-boyfriend.  This part of the story was so sweet and romantic and is filled with so much adorableness.  The second part tells us Griffin's reactions to the tragic death of Theo and the ways in which he deals with his grief.  Obviously these sections made me feel like my heart was being forcibly ripped out of my chest as the reader ends up mourning this huge loss together with Griffin.

I think what I loved so much about this book is how much Adam Silvera made me feel about all of the characters.  I ended up falling in love with both Theo (through Griffin's perspective) and also with Griffin.  I felt really emotionally connected to both these characters right from the start and I thought it was really skillfully done.  So much of the book is about remembering the details of this past relationship but also trying to work out a way in which to move on and dealing with tremendous emotions, especially those of guilt that Griffin feels.

The introduction of Jackson, Theo's new (and current at the time of Theo's death) boyfriend complicates everything further.  Because Griffin is sort of lost in his own grief and the only person who he feels understands that specific feeling is Jackson.  So while there are elements of competition (who feels stronger for Theo, who might Theo have loved more, who knew Theo better than the other) they end forming this rather odd and very unlikely friendship.

This book says quite a lot about relationships and the ways in which friendships and relationships vary wildly from different people and how they really aren't comparable in any way.  I loved the nerdiness of the boys involved and I love the ways in which Griffin and Theo's relationship impacts on the friendship with their other best friend.  Also, major bonus points for including a main character who is both gay and suffers from OCD. Intersectional stories make my heart happy.

History Is All You Left Me was such an incredible story: sad, beautiful and emotional.  I can't wait to read more by Adam Silvera.

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

A Disney Education

Earlier this year, our family went to Disneyland. I haven't really talked about it on this blog, have I?  It was a really wonderful holiday and we all had an amazing time.  But before we went and while we were there, the boys had said some really appalling things ... like they'd never seen certain Disney films. Disney films that I felt were classics. And must be viewed by everyone everywhere.

So I reinstated my 'Disney education' in which once a week, the boys and I would sit down and watch a Disney film together. Something preferably that at least one of us hadn't seen before.  Some films can be a bit of a struggle (E in particular heavily resisted watching The Little Mermaid with me!) but it's been mostly a success.  I thought today I'd share with you some of my thoughts on some of the films we've watched as a family together recently.



The Lady and the Tramp

The first film we chose was The Lady and the Tramp.  I'd seen this film but N and the boys hadn't.  But to be honest, all I really remembered was that there was some reason (but I couldn't remember the reason!) that Lady left her house, met up with the Tramp and they had the spaghetti and meatballs together. That was it, that was all I remembered.  So it was kind of like watching the film for the first time all over again.  It was sweet.  I liked the two neighbour dogs, I was a little surprised by the whole baby story line (but it made sense!) I was actually a little scared/horrified by the rat angle and also the creepy/horrific Siamese cats and their weird dance.  So, all in all, it was a sweet film.  Nice to watch again.



Sleeping Beauty

I can't remember who in the family hadn't seen Sleeping Beauty but this was our second choice.  I believe I had watched this film very recently so most of the details of it didn't surprise me.  I think the thing with this film is that it's now so tainted by having watched Maleficent.  It's really changed my perspective! Especially in regards to the flightiness of the fairies.   It's a classic Disney princess film but of course I'd prefer a more feminist version where Princess Aurora and ...the prince spoke more often etc. Still, the whole pink dress/blue dress made me smile.


Mulan

Mulan is one of my favourites.  I think it was N who hadn't seen this film before? But I love it so much.  The songs in this are wonderful. I love Reflections, I'll Make a Man Out of You, and Girl Worth Fighting For especially. Plus, Li Shang? What a hottie. It's all about honour and gender but the boys loved the fighting and the dragon.  Something for everyone.  BRB I'm going to go listen to the soundtrack again...


Pocahontas

Oh good lord, Pocahontas. I'm sure that I'd seen this film as a teenager when it was first released but I think all I actually remembered of it was a snippet of Pocahontas singing Colors of the Wind ...and that was it.  And it being several weeks now since I've seen it, honestly nothing about the film sticks out for me or makes me watch another watch.  I hated all the songs, I didn't love the simplified version of events.  I was mostly just enraged by it all.  I think the boys wandered off mid-film as well.  Not a family favourite in our house, unfortunately.


Hercules

Hercules was the biggest surprise for me, because I had never seen it before.  I don't know how I missed it when it was first released but I'm absolutely positive I had never seen this film before the other day.  The Littlest had. He's seen it three times and seemingly enjoyed it all three times.  I was mostly just surprised all the way through.  I don't know very much about Hercules or Greek mythology and I sure didn't know what to expect from this film.  It was cute though. There were bits I didn't quite get, like the gospel choir, but it definitely kept everyone amused throughout. So I call that a success!

No idea what to choose next for our Disney education.  Any suggestions?

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Books I Struggle With

This will be kind of a different type of Top Ten Tuesday from me today.  Only I've been thinking quite a lot about the ways in which my reading habits have changed and the types of books I really love reading and the types of books that languish on my shelves. And as today's topic is 'books you struggle with' I thought I'd explore that a little bit more.

So what I've come to realise is that the types of books that I really enjoy reading are emotional contemporary stories. This can be dark, gritty emotional or intense, romantic stories, 'issue' stories, family or friendship dramas.  I'm just all about emotional stories set in realistic settings. Therefore the books I struggle with are anything outside of this.

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish


Fantasy Books

Like, fantasy books.  I recently cleared out an entire shelf of fantasy books that I had hoarded over the last year or so but when I really asked myself if I was even excited to read these books anymore ... my answer was a firm 'no'  I do still have some fantasy books on my shelves unread that I haven't quite gotten around to abandoning yet.  Mostly by big-name fantasy authors.  A Court of Mist and Fury and A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J Maas. Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard. Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare. The Sleeping Prince by Melinda Salisbury. Will I get around to reading these books at some point? Possibly.  Is it more likely they will be donated to a local secondary school? Yes. But we shall see.


Science-fiction


I also struggle with science-fiction books.  But unlike fantasy books, I'm much more inclined to abandon science-fiction books, therefore there aren't as many books on my unread shelves that fall into this category.  I think the only book I'm aware of that counts as science-fiction on my shelves unread right now is The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James.  And I am hoping that I'll read that by the end of this month.  I hear good things but that doesn't always mean that it'll be enough.  I hope so though!


Middle Grade books


The other largest collection of books that are unread on my shelves include books aimed at sort of 8-12 year olds.  I think sometimes I hold onto these books thinking that I'll read them with the boys but usually that's just wishful thinking.  I have books I'm still excited to read amongst them though: Beetle Boy by MG Leonard, The Dreamsnatcher by Abi Elphinstone and some classics like A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle.  I'm not giving up though.


Funny Books

This one might be a little strange but ...I struggle with funny books.  Usually the type of book that's really awkward about the funniness. Like ... Noah Can't Even by Simon James Green or Super Awkward by Beth Garrod. I have to be in the exact right frame of mind to get into these types of books and I really just don't think they're right for me.  I lean more towards intensity and these books are all about humour and light-heartedness.  Not to say I won't read these books and love them ... eventually. Hopefully.

What books do you struggle with, if any?

Monday, September 04, 2017

REVIEW: Here We Are Now by Jasmine Warga

I absolutely adored Jasmine Warga's debut novel, My Heart and Other Black Holes, so when her latest, Here We Are Now dropped through my letterbox, I didn't wait very long before reading it.  Even though it isn't published until early November.  I just felt drawn to this story and the author's writing style.

It's such a wonderful book, this one. Taliah Abdallat gets the biggest surprise of her life when she opens the door one day to find Julian Oliver, rock star, standing in front of her house.  It shouldn't be such a surprise: he is her father. She's just never met him before.  But still she decides to get in the car with him and jet off on this long weekend to finally meet her dad and the rest of his family.

I love how this book is about family and identity and missing chances.  But it's also about friendship and love, as we get a glimpse into Taliah's parents' early relationship and what led to Taliah not knowing her father at all.  We see Taliah and Julian try to bond with each other as father and daughter. We see Julian struggle in saying goodbye to his dying father. It's all sorts of complicated family drama and I was here for all of it.

There's this lovely stream of music and music references throughout this story that I just really loved.  From the music lyrics of some of Julian Oliver's songs to the idea of Taliah and her best friend Harlow making their own music together. Everyone's music influences being mentioned and explored.  Despite having a pretty poor taste in music myself and having no musical talent whatsoever, I still find myself pulled like a magnet towards books involving music and Here We Are Now really satisfied that for me.

What I also really loved is getting into the skin of Taliah's mother, an immigrant from Jordan, and to really see how things were for her moving to the US for university.  Being home-sick, juggling her parent's expectations with her own hopes and dreams.  There was some really beautiful truths in this part of the story.  I don't want to copy the text as the book I read from was an ARC and could be changed by the time the actual book is published but the main gist of it was that you have to want more, everything if you move halfway around the world, away from family and friends and your home, in order to find something else. That one small section of the story really struck a chord with me. I could really relate to that.

This book is also a book about second and third and fourth chances.  In relationships, with family, in life.  It seems everyone involved is sort of stuck on this idea that they'd messed up in the past or didn't do things as they probably should have. But there's no time like the present to make up for it. Here We Are Now.

I loved this book and highly recommend you look out for it in November!