Book Review: Honor Girl by Maggie Thrash

DSC_8172

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

“I could tell I was standing too still and breathing too silently. I prayed she didn’t notice, but she must have, she was so close to me.”

DSC_8177

I was sent this book by Walker Books a couple of months ago and I was immediately intrigued by the the idea of it as a ‘Graphic Memoir’. I know that this isn’t the first graphic memoir, in fact there are many that I’d love to get my hands on, but this is actually the first one I have ever read and boy did I enjoy it! If I had read this a while ago it most certainly would be on my list of Top 5 Graphic Novels. It has everything you would want from a graphic memoir; a compelling and moving story, beautiful artwork, and hilarious writing. Let’s briefly sum up the story:

Continue reading

Why you shouldn’t be intimidated by Moonlight | Film Review

moonlight

 

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Director: Barry Jenkins

Starring: Alex Hibbert, Mahershala Ali, Ashton Sanders, Trevante Rhodes, Naomie Harris

Running time: 111 minutes

Certification: 15

Based on Tarell Alvin McCraney’s play In Moonlight Black Boys look Blue 

 

 

 

 

“Who is you?”

*A quick preface: this is just going to be a fairly brief review as, rightly so, this film has been everywhere and there are much better reviews to read such as this one by Empire or this one by the New York Times.


I don’t really know where to start in this review because it is such a delicate, moving, and unique film that has caused so many new and exciting conversations – even if some were caused by that Oscars blunder! In fact the reason I decided that I would post a review on the film, despite there already being so many, was because of a conversation about it that I had with my friend in which she said: “I’m not sure if I’ll go see it, it’s kind of intimidating”. 

Continue reading

Some Thoughts on Sex and Relationship Education

You may or may not know this but almost a month ago now Conservative MPs voted against plans to make SRE (sex and relationship education) compulsory in schools. In other words they voted against making teaching pupils about LGBT+ issues, the importance of consent, online sexual content, as well as the emotional and social aspects of sex and relationships compulsory. I know all schools tackle SRE differently; some cover a wide range of topics in an inclusive manner regarding religion and the LGBT+ spectrum. But at the same time some schools will only teach it from a biological point of view.

I myself experienced the latter. In year 6 all the girls in my year sat together in a small room with our head of year and the biology teacher; we discussed (and when I say discussed I mean they spoke, we listened and were too embarrassed to ask any questions) periods, body changes, and how we might start “seeing boys differently”. That was it until year 9, when we had one lesson in which we were shown a presentation showing symptoms of different STDs, shown how to put on a condom, then given condoms which were promptly taken off us. Honestly, I still don’t know why they bothered giving them out in the first place. In fact, there is a lot I still don’t know regarding SRE full stop!

Continue reading

Book Review: The Last Beginning + Chat with Lauren James

DSC_6489.jpg

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

As Clove watched a petal slowly fall from the flower, she made herself a promise. When she was older, she was going to work here with the machine – even if it meant spending all her free time between now and then studying. Then one day, when she’d helped to get the machine working, she was going to be the first person to travel through time.

I was trying to think of a way to briefly describe The Last Beginning, the sequel and final book in The Next Together duology, but with the amount of plot twists, interesting new characters and jumps through time and space (all that wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey…stuff) I couldn’t figure out what to say! Thankfully Lauren James, author of the fabulous book, managed to sum it up in precisely five words:

Lesbian romance with MANY JOKES.

Continue reading

5 Reasons Why You Need to Read The Raven Cycle RIGHT NOW

DSC_6469.jpg

I recently finished The Raven King, the final book in The Raven Cycle Series by Maggie Stiefvater and I smiled and cried and laughed and cried some more until the very last page. When I sat down to write a review for it I found that I couldn’t. I have so much love for this book and this entire series that my review turned into:

“ The writing was incredible, with a magical feel to match that of Harry Potter.

  The characters were incredible, I want them all to be my best friends.

  The  story was incredible, so intense and emotional.

  EVERYTHING WAS INCREDIBLE! ”

So instead I thought I’d summarise what makes The Raven Cycle so wonderful and in doing so persuade anybody who hasn’t already begun this gem of a series to go and get started straight away.

DSC_6471.jpg

The Raven Boys / The Court

I very rarely read books in which I really love every main character there is but for some bizarre reason I found myself caring for practically each and every one in the series. I even enjoyed the antagonists, especially Greenmantle and Piper! But above all The Raven Boys – Blue, Gansey, Ronan, Adam, Noah and one late addition who shall remain nameless – were just phenomenal! Their characters were all so three-dimensional and no single one of them seemed more important than another, just like in their friendship. I wouldn’t be able to pick which one was my favourite and I wouldn’t want to, they felt so real each with their own strengths and weaknesses. Is it weird that I do think of them as my friends?

The Ladies of 300 Fox Way

Consisting of Blue -when not at school, serving pizza, or out hunting Glendower- Maura, Calla, Orla, Jimi, Persephone and more, the ladies of 300 Fox Way were always hilarious to read about. They, like The Raven Boys, all had a very distinct personality and their skills and flaws balanced each other out making them a perfect psychic team! Including the shenanigans of Fox Way added a complete other aspect to the series and I’d give anything to have a cup of tea with them and let them predict my own future!

The Magic

Fantasy novels can often get a bit same-y in regards to the Magic used but Maggie managed to discover her own unique style of it and presented it in an equally unique way! The little details of it were the parts that had the most power, I mean trees that speak Latin?! ( On a more personal note I would always get incredible excited when I was able to translate the Latin before one of the Raven Boys did!) Over the course of the four books the magic develops quite substantially and comparing it in The Raven Boys and in The Raven King you can see how naturally it progresses, never becoming unbelievable! Sometimes you forget that it is a fantasy series because it seems so unusually normal.

DSC_6472

The Writing

Maggie is such a talented writer. To be able to write characters that are incredibly alive, magic that is so unique, and settings and images that are almost cinematic is astounding. She knows how to balance a modern YA style with a folk-lore style. There’s not much I can say that will justify the magnificence of the writing in this series. Also, thinking about it, these books are oddly feminist. All the ladies are absolutely bad-ass; I mean Blue can always hold her own with the Raven Boys and despite the fact we rarely see her in a friendship with another girl we have all the Ladies of Fox Way to make up for that! That mis-matched homemade family cares deeply for one another and although they know how to get on one another’s nerves they really just want the best for each other.

The Quest / Story

I don’t want to say too much about the story as I’m so worried about giving away any spoilers. ( Fun fact: The Raven Cycle is one of two series which I was not spoiled for by the Internet! )   There is one overarching plot that carries the series on and that’s their quest for Glendower; the team is constantly trying to find clues as to his whereabouts in both time and place. In doing so they create a lot of trouble and so there are also a number of sub-plots, some of which only last the length of one book, other more emotional ones, last a number of books. This only makes their resolutions that much more satisfying! The story is much like the magic in the sense that it progresses very naturally and logically. Even though there is a large aspect of fate and destiny in this series it seems that the characters are what really drive the story on!

This series is one that will stick with me for a very very long time; I expect to be re-reading it multiple times in the future! But having heard there may be a Spin-off series focused on Ronan’s character I am more excited than ever! I wouldn’t want to leave Cabeswater and that magic behind!    

Screen Shot 2016-08-13 at 08.54.57

LGBT Characters and their Role in Literature

DSC_4972.jpg

I was recently reading about the upcoming film adaptation of Becky Albertalli’s fabulous Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda -which I am very excited for- and started thinking about LGBT characters in books.  More specifically their roles in books. I was thinking about how LGBT characters often tend to be the protagonists and the story seems to revolve around their sexuality or gender-identity. Obviously this is a brilliant thing; literature and YA in particular is becoming so much more diverse and are telling stories that perhaps used to be “taboo”.  More people are being represented and that is always a good thing.

* * *

However I was also thinking about how there are not as many books that have LGBT characters, either major or minor, whose stories do not revolve solely around their sexuality or gender-identity. I really enjoy it when I’m reading a book and I find out that a character is gay and then it’s almost disregarded, in the sense that it’s just accepted rather than being ignored or the focus of the plot. Again I will say that I don’t think that books that do have that as the focus are bad, absolutely not! But personally I do find that there are very few minor LGBT characters which I think is a shame. I’ve compiled a list of books that do include these types of character and if you know of any other books please do let me know:

The Mortal Instruments Series by Cassandra Clare

The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

The Next Together by Lauren James

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

A Song of Ice and Fire Series by George R.R. Martin

More Than This by Patrick Ness

Hollow Pike by Juno Dawson

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness (although this one is slightly debatable)

* * *

There has definitely been a positive shift in the attitude towards LGBT fiction in recent years and I do believe that it can only continue to get better. With more publishers of children’s and young adult books wanting more LGBTQ characters and even children’s TV shows including same-sex relationships. One of my bookish resolutions for 2016 is to read more LGBT fiction, many of the recommendations I will be taking from George Lester’s fantastic video. But if you have any then please let me know!