The Shakespeare Series || The Tempest

* The Shakespeare Series is a new series I’ll be doing here on Reading in the Rain and will involve my good self looking at Shakespeare plays, telling you why you might like to read said play, and then briefly reviewing them! I hope you enjoy 😊 *

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The Tempest

What’s it about?
Prospero – the magician, rightful Duke of Milan, and father to Miranda – employs his spirit Ariel to bring on a tempest in order to gather the men who betrayed him onto his island, to seek revenge for himself and a love for his daughter.  We follow the character’s as they set out on their respective journeys of punishment, love, forgiveness and the fantastical.

Why should you read it?
○ It is beautifully lyrical – Not only does Shakespeare create a vivid image of the island through reported speech but also the recurring references to the environment, the metaphysical, and the mythological are wonderful to read.

The clouds methought would open and show riches
Ready to drop upon me, that when I waked,
I cried to dream again.      

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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!

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Delving into… Crime

Delving into… is a new series I wanted to start here on my blog to give book recommendations for people wanting to start a new genre!

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You may know that I am currently studying the genre of Crime at school – we’ve read Brighton Rock by Graham Greene, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by S.Coleridge and  When Will There Be Good News by Kate Atkinson. Before I started this course I really wasn’t a huge fan of crime novels myself; I’d pick them up from time to time and I did enjoy them but they weren’t the books I would naturally gravitate towards. However I decided to read some more before I started the school year and now it’s safe to say I’m hooked! (Last year around 10 of the 50 books I read were crime!) Before I came a crime-fiction-addict (Crifidict? No? Okay then…) I remember feeling this dread, “Which author do I begin with? What type of crime do I want? WHERE DO I START?!” This genre is so wide and so can definitely be pretty daunting. If you feel like this then fear not, I’m going to give you 5 recommendations to help guide you into this weird and dark world of crime!

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

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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.

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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.

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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!    

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5 Graphic Novels You Should be Reading

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I have loved graphic novels, comics, and manga ever since I can remember. My childish enjoyment of picture-books has stuck with me and has since developed as I’ve got older. There are so many brilliant things about graphic novels; the main for me being how easy they are to read without sacrificing a decent story. In recent years there has been a sort of boom in the popularity of graphic novels which is so pleasing to me! So I thought I would share some of my favourite graphic novels!

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1. Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

This quirky debut graphic novel started out as a web-comic and since it’s physical publication has gained masses of praise, and rightly so! The art is gorgeous, the colours work so well with the story and the plot is utterly gripping. Not to mention it’s also bad-ass, feminist and absolutely hilarious!

2. Anya’s Ghost by Vero Brosgol

This ghoulish graphic novel takes some really interesting twists and turns. Following Anya, a girl just trying to get through high school, meeting and befriending Emily, a ghost. The friendship takes a darker road and yet Brosgol takes the story in such interesting directions and pretty much avoids all the clichés!

3. Saga by Brian K Vaughan

I think this graphic novel series is a perfect example of how far my graphic novel journey has come! This series is utterly mind-blowing. Targeted at young adults+ these graphic novels contain everything you might want from a Sci-Fi / war / love series. There are hardcore fights (involving a lot of blood!), pretty strong language and nudity!

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4. Through the Woods by Emily Carroll 

Now this one is definitely darker; in both the graphics and the story. I should really say stories as this graphic novel actually contains five different bone-chilling stories all based around the woods. The stories are all so distinct from one and other so there will definitely be personal preference. The art style is really unique and the colour palate of darker shades with the occasional pop of blood red is so creepy!

5. Beautiful Creatures: The Manga by Kami Garcia, Margaret Stohl and Cassandra Jean

I’ve never read any of the Caster Chronicles books but this graphic novel is absolutely fantastic! It has a wonderful manga art style and there’s a sort of beautiful roughness to it that mimics a sketchbook. The story is very gripping but the art is definitely the stand-out aspect of this graphic novel!

 

Bookish Boxing Day Buys

Before we start,

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I hope you are all having a wonderful day; enjoying quality time with the people you love, sharing gifts and, of course,  eating lots of lovely food! Christmas has always been something I’ve loved dearly. I take such enjoyment in giving gifts, every gift has so much thought put into it and I love seeing people’s faces as they open them! But of course the day goes so quickly. So I’ve decided to give you ___ bookish recommendations for those Boxing Day Sales! Go on, treat yourself!

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1. Asking For It, Louise O’Neill 

 

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I’m sure you’ve already heard a lot about this book; it’s been winning award after award and rightly so! This harrowing YA novel following the life of Emma O’Donovan after being raped is so important and so incredibly well written. Definitely one for you shopping list!

2. Read Me Like a Book, Liz Kessler

 

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Firstly Liz is such a lovely person (she was kind enough to do a Q&A with me for my review which I’ll link here) and this book is a very endearing novel about Ash in her last year of college trying to deal with school, family and her own sexuality. The writing is beautiful and the characters are so relatable; it’s just wonderful to watch them all grow! And of course, how can you resist that stunning cover!

3. Nimona, Noelle Stevenson

 

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This graphic novel works as both a really sweet and moving introduction to graphic novels as well as a powerful and beautiful story for graphic novel enthusiasts. This is kick-butt, feminist, subtly subversive and utterly hilarious!  If you’re looking for a light read to aid you through the journeys to family in every corner of the world then this would be a perfect choice.

4. The Power and the Glory, Graham Greene

 

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I had to include this fantastic classic novel as it has one of the best settings I have ever read! (Full review here) The “whiskey priest” travels around a poverty stricken Southern Mexico in attempt to escape the Red Shirts whilst pursuing his own redemption and humanity. This book is honestly breath-taking and is just so different. I’d also recommend this book as a little escape from the après-Christmas blues!

5. Some funky Funko Pops! 

 

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I love these little guys but for almost over £10 each their sometimes hard to justify. So Boxing Day sales are the perfect excuse! You can find characters from fandom; Harry Potter, Hunger Games, Game of Thrones and they are only some of the bookish ones! They’re so adorable and are lovely little decorations for your shelves.

6. A Court of Thorns and Roses, Sarah J. Maas 

 

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This book is seriously steamy! The connection between the two main characters -Feyre and Tamlin- is so adorable! This YA Novel is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast featuring faeries, curses, dangers and incredible world building! The plot is rich and perfect for fans of Disney, high-fantasy, and forbidden romances! Nothing more needs to be said!

7. Nerdy Notebooks 

 

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Personally I’ve been trying to cut down on buying notebooks as I have a HUGE collection of beautiful (but empty) notebooks. But how am I expected to walk past all these lovely notebooks with Wonderland prints, Hogwarts crests and Game of Thrones sigils at half-price?! Notebooks are always useful of course; this year I’ll be buying one for the sole purpose of planning out blog posts!

 

 

Don’t Read These in the Dark!

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It’s Halloween! The vampires will be on the prowl and the ghosts will be flouting about in the darkness; so if you’re planning on staying safe and hiding in your homes (which is where you’ll find me!) then here are six creepy reads to get you through the night:

Through The Woods by Emily Carroll

This graphic novel tells five different scary stories that are centred in or around the woods. Each one is told in a slightly different way but are equally eerie. Initially you might find yourself a little confused after finishing the stories but that’s the real horror of it; the ambiguity lets you fill in the blanks with your own fears and you won’t be able to stop yourself thinking about it!

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Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Although this isn’t necessarily a ‘horror’ there are a lot of elements in this book that are quite horrific. Shelley writes with such detail; a lot of it is utterly beautiful but some will chill you to the bone. This well known story follows the life of Victor Frankenstein as he creates – and later hunts – his monster and by the end you’ll wonder who the real monster is.

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Hollow Pike by James Dawson

I read this book years ago but there are some bits that still haunt me now. This story about nightmares, forests and witches is bound to keep you up all night. It is written brilliantly and is so sinister and addictive. It reads with this spooky purple hue (which I think comes from it’s awesome cover) and it’s so easy to imagine yourself there in the forest with Lis.  If you’re looking for a book that will give you shocks rather than nightmares then this one’s for you.

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Jekyll’s Mirror by William Hussey

Okay now this book is scary. Strange, and scary. As a modernised re-telling of Jekyll and Hyde there are some really unexpected gruesome moments that seemingly pop out of nowhere -but are later explained- that, for somebody like me who is pretty squeamish, made me put the book down and just breath for a little bit. This is a nice short book and would be a perfect read on a Halloween eve. As long as you’re up for a good fright!

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Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

This is another book that I’d recommend to people who aren’t huge horror fans. This books has such a unique story; following a mysterious family tragedy occurs, sixteen year old Jacob makes his way to Wales to uncover some ghostly secrets. One of the best and spookiest parts of this book is Riggs’ use of weird photographs. Each one ties in to the story and – here’s the creepiest bit – were merely found by Riggs at car boots and the like. Take a look at some and then proceed to freak out.

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Dracula by Bram Stoker

A halloween recommendation list is not complete without the infamous Dracula. This frightening tale of the solicitor and the vampire is a classic. It is truly terrifying but absolutely fantastic! As it was written such a long time ago it’s old-time language really transports you there into the Transylvania Castle and with such vivid descriptions you half expect to see the notorious vampire every time you take a glance from your book. Fingers-crossed that he doesn’t actually appear though!

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Let me know what your favourite books to read at Halloween time are and I hope you survive the night! Mwahahahaha!

Web Series You Need to be Watching

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YouTube as a platform for content creating has expanded incredibly over the past few years.  The best thing to come from this has to be the web series that are being made by some amazing people. I’d absolutely love to be able to get involved in making a web series but for now I’m satisfied just watching them. So I thought I would share my top five web series that you really need to watch!

I only actually came across Carmilla yesterday and I binge-watched the entire 36 episodes. Most ones are only 3 minutes long – with the exception of a couple 6 minutes episodes – so there’s no excuse not to watch them. And what’s even better than that is that the story is so compelling! Based on the book of the same name (which I also bought yesterday) it follows a student called Laura who takes it upon herself to investigate the disappearance of her roommate, when the mysterious Carmilla becomes her new roomie. I loved this so much; the characters are brilliant and relatable and it manages to be so funny as well as exciting and mysterious!

Aww what can I say about The New Adventures of Peter + Wendy…it’s just wonderful. I have always loved Peter Pan and this adaption is just perfect. Filmed by Tink herself as well as Wendy’s Darling Videos the series is just magical and heartwarming. The characters are exactly how you’d want them to be; everything is a lot of fun but with some twists and turns along the way you may potentially be left in tears. Be sure to watch this one!

The only web series I’ve watched that hasn’t been based on a book happens to be about living life as if in a book. Classic Alice is a ‘documentary’ of a student called -you guessed it- Alice who decides to live her life according to classic novels and gets caught up in a load of crazy stuff along the way. I love how this is filmed but it’s the story that really stands out for me. Alice is just this adorable bubbly character who loves her books and her writing (just as I do) and you really feel for her and almost come to see her as a friend. And of course there’s a potential love interest involved and he just makes everything better! Watch and share this series, it really deserves it.

Frankenstein, MD is so intense!! Seriously!! I somehow found this series just before the final episode came out. This lead to me staying up all night watching all the episodes and then frantically waiting a whole week for the finale which was definitely worth waiting for – even though I almost cried. As you can guess from the title this series is a modern adaptation of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. I can’t sum up how much I love this web series. It’s beautifully filmed but the story is so tragic and argh. Love it. Just love it!  I even had my haircut inspired by Victoria’s!

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries is an adaptation of Pride and Prejudice – which you probably guessed already. This is the first web series I watched and just like most of these I watched them all in one go. The show uses costume drama in the videos which helps to show more of the story without having to move the camera around. It’s great fun but can go deadly serious and emotional when it wants to. What I and many others love about this serious is that it really helps show some of the ideas that the book and other adaptions struggle to show; other characters offer different perspectives on different situations which helps the viewer see all sides of the story! Also, Jane’s style is second-to-none!

What are you waiting for? Get watching!

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