Autoboyography by Christina Lauren

Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: 12th September 2017
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
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Three years ago, Tanner Scott’s family relocated from California to Utah, a move that nudged the bisexual teen temporarily back into the closet. Now, with one semester of high school to go, and no obstacles between him and out-of-state college freedom, Tanner plans to coast through his remaining classes and clear out of Utah.

But when his best friend Autumn dares him to take Provo High’s prestigious Seminar—where honour roll students diligently toil to draft a book in a semester—Tanner can’t resist going against his better judgement and having a go, if only to prove to Autumn how silly the whole thing is. Writing a book in four months sounds simple. Four months is an eternity.

It turns out, Tanner is only partly right: four months is a long time. After all, it takes only one second for him to notice Sebastian Brother, the Mormon prodigy who sold his own Seminar novel the year before and who now mentors the class. And it takes less than a month for Tanner to fall completely in love with him.

I am feeling so blessed this year.

It seems for me that 2018 is going to be a good year for books; I keep reading hit after hit, and Autoboyography is no exception. I am actually trying really hard in recent months to only read LGBTQ+ novels that are written by LGBTQ+ individuals. I like to promote #ownvoices novels but for obvious reasons, this can be a bit tricky when it comes to finding LGBTQ+ work that’s actually written by people from said community.

First of all, just because someone is not ‘out’ or public about their sexuality, does not mean that they are not allowed to write about LGBTQ+ experiences. Therefore, every time I pick up any LGBTQ+ books, I tend to check whether it is #ownvoices. If it isn’t? Fine. I can live with that; I might end up being more critical about the portrayal of the characters (especially if they’re cis bi girls) but other than that, I’m just happy that I get to read it and it’s out there in the world. If it is #ownvoices? Then I’m jumping for joy and promoting it everywhere.

This has been the case for a long time, but since the rise in popularity of mlm (Man loving man, meaning cis men, trans men, gay men, bi men. Any male identifying person who is attracted to male identifying people) ships in media, it’s become normal to find a mlm book written by heterosexual women. And hey, like I said before, it’s fine. But of course, I would argue that I would rather read mlm books written by queer men. When I picked up Autoboyography, I was a little sceptical; it was another mlm story written by women (though after a little more reading, not straight women) about coming to terms with your sexuality and falling in love. It was kind of dripping with mlm experiences, as opposed to a story with mlm characters as the focus but not about being mlm. I just didn’t want to drown out mlm voices by reading and supporting novels about them that weren’t written by them. But, after hearing praise from mlm readers, however, I was intrigued by the story about a teenage Mormon and a bisexual boy falling in love in a writing class.

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And boy, was it beautiful.

Tanner’s life, despite being completely different from my own, had so many relatable points in it that I’ve never seen them surface in other books about bisexuals. Firstly, even just seeing the words ‘bisexual’ and ‘bi’ made me feel all giddy, but then Tanner dealing with things that I barely see covered in books about bisexual characters? MIND. BLOWN.

The plot is ultimately, about Tanner and Sebastian’s relationship, however there are so many other secondary plots that are worth mentioning that resonated with me so much. The most impacting one being the relationship between Tanner and his parents. They are sweet, accepting, ex-religious liberals who move the family from California, where Tanner can be as open as he wants, to Provo, Utah near to his mother’s home town where his mother tells him to…basically go back in the closet for his safety. A lot of the interactions Tanner has with his parents are, most of the time, uncomfortable. While I’ve seen many bloggers drop stars from their reviews because of the parents, I see it completely differently.

Tanner’s parents, despite being open and accepting of Tanner, are actually problematic as heck. However, it is all a part of the process of learning to be a better parent for their LGBTQ+ son. There were so many times where I felt for Tanner, where he asked himself questions like while my parents are accepting in theory, will things change when I actually bring a guy home? (Not a direct quote). I’ve thought about that constantly, and while I’m out to my parents and they are accepting, they still refer to my future partner as always a ‘he’, and never have problems about me talking about boys in a romantic way. But, like Tanner, while they still support me (for Tanner, it’s rainbow coloured aprons and motivational bumper stickers) I do think to myself, what would happen if I dated a girl, married a girl, or even mentioned just fancying an actress on TV? It’s all personal, of course, but then again is my liking of boys personal? Or is it just the norm? Are they accepting of me, but like to think that in the end, I will ‘choose’ a boy? Tanner really struggles with his family throughout the book with these feelings of insecurity, and how sometimes he even goes as far to think that his parents are just as bad as Sebastian’s.

It’s the same with Tanner’s friend, Autumn, too. She makes comments about how she doesn’t understand, because he’s dated girls in the past. It’s a part of the whole misunderstanding and blatant ignorance surrounding bisexuality. It’s actually quite an easy concept, but people still confuse it with greediness, indecision, promiscuity, attention-seeking or just hiding the fact that you’re gay. And while I have read books with bi characters, Autoboyography has been the only book where they’ve actually said the stuff that a lot of us bi folk deal with.

Boy, this review is getting long now. I think it’s time to wrap it up. Overall, this story was a mixture of fluffy and super cute, to a real dissection of what it means to be bisexual in today’s supposedly progressive society. Of course I’m gonna be gravitated towards a book about an LGBTQ+ couple falling in love in a writing class, it is the perfect contemporary novel, and there were many times where my heart fluttered delightedly and watching this quiet and gentle relationship form. I’m sure people will say it’s insta-lovey, but they amount of books I’ve read with heterosexual insta-love and adored, I have no problem with making room for this trope but for LGBTQ+ people. Let us have our romantic fluff!

 

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Tin Man by Sarah Winman

PUBLISHER: TINDER PRESS
PUBLICATION DATE: July 27th, 2017
RATING: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
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It begins with a painting won in a raffle: fifteen sunflowers, hung on the wall by a woman who believes that men and boys are capable of beautiful things.

And then there are two boys, Ellis and Michael, who are inseparable.
And the boys become men, and then Annie walks into their lives, and it changes nothing and everything.

If only I could erase my memory and appreciate this story for the first time all over again.

This story was absolutely beautiful, and just how I like it, the blurb doesn’t tell you much about the plot. Sometimes, this can indicate what type of story it’s going to be – it’s going to be character-based, atmospheric, told over decades, feeling timeless and almost dreamy. And it was all those things. But for some of you who like to know a fair bit about a book for dipping in, I’ll elaborate on the blurb.

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The story is set over 4-5 decades, with two perspectives, Ellis and Michael. They both tell the story of their lives, with events intertwining, as well as events spent apart. To me, one narrator came across as more truthful and reliable, while the other definitely left parts and feelings out. I love unreliable narration, and the fact that these characters are telling the same story with wildly different perspectives. The story unfolded so beautifully, without giving anything away until it did and you realised everything about what had happened and cried your eyes out alone on a Monday night.

I would highly recommend Tin Man if you loved Call Me By Your Name, which is a book that’s getting a lot of publicity at the moment because of the film adaptation that just’s come out (and is amazing!). I didn’t enjoy Call Me By Your Name as much as Tin Man, but it’s similarities are not ones to ignore. Both are set (and partly set) in hot countries, depicting a fleeting romance between two men. They are both told during a time when homosexuality was illegal in said countries, and yet not considered ‘historical’ fiction because the sixties/seventies/eighties are not that long ago. So, there’s your comparison.

Please read this book. It’s just shy of 200 words and will stay with you for a really long time.

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An Amateur’s Guide to Travel Essentials

So I had a real talk with myself about whether or not I was going to make this post.

After starting my Amateur Guide series, I had often thought about what other travel related posts I could write. I still feel a bit too amateur to really go into specifics about things, and only feel comfortable telling you what I have learned from travel rather than being the ~travel guru~. That being said, I’ve already learnt so much from the little travelling I’ve done. And so I wanted to share with you my travel essentials; things I’ve realised I need, things that have been so helpful, and things I’ve forgotten in the past and seriously regretted!

When I think about packing for a trip, I just want to have a little cry. It is honestly the most boring thing you can do when it comes to planning a trip. I love figuring out where I’m going, where I’m staying, learning the basic phrases in a new language. But packing? It’s not my cup of tea. I’m bad at it, and I’m very forgetful and often have to buy things while I’m already there. It costs to forget stuff, so before I even think about putting something in a suitcase, I start a list.

First off, I start with the big (and perhaps obvious) things:

  • Clothes. Appropriate clothes that I will wear more than once. I might take another pair of shoes but usually I stick with a pair of Doc Martens or other thick and sturdy shoes. I do a lot of walking on my travels, but this is obviously different depending wear you’re going. If you’re going somewhere with a beach, take flip flops!
  • Towels. This could be just the one, but I like to have a big’un and a littl’un. Sometimes the hostels I stay in only provide towels if you’ve paid extra. For a broke amateur traveller, that doesn’t sit well with me. However, if you’re staying in a hotel or Air BnB, they usually provide them!
  • Travel documents, money, passport. If I didn’t take these I think I would be too amateur to travel!
  • Straighteners. Probably not an obvious thing and not too essential. But I just like to have them with me since hostels don’t usually provide, yet they sometimes provide a hairdryer. Plus, you’ll be everyone in that girls’ dorm’s best friend!

These are the things that fill up most of my suitcase. Everything else? Small, but essential bits that make the trip easier, nicer, and stress free!

I realised whilst packing for Copenhagen that carrying a lot of stuff was really going to bother me. I wanted to keep it to a small suitcase and my backpack and was a bit nervous that I wouldn’t fit everything in, especially since I have make-up and hair care and skin care products. I didn’t want to over pack; I liked the idea that I can just get-up and go with things that may not be needed in every day life, but a necessity whilst travelling.

One of the things that helps you with that is the 100ml limit of each liquid you carry on board a plane. This doesn’t count when you have luggage in the hold, but remember! A broke amateur never pays for space in the hold! And so I’m forced to really downsize my makeup and my whole wash bag kit. However, this does NOT mean buying ‘travel size’ items. They’re always more expensive than the larger size, even if it doesn’t seem it at first, you’re not getting enough for your money because they know you have to buy it if you want to take it with you. Yes, everyone has that one product that you just have to have with you and can only buy a travel size version of such as aerosol cans (for me it’s dry shampoo), but for everything else, there’s small, empty travel containers!

I use them for:

  • Moisturiser
  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Shower gel

There’s so many different shapes and types of containers that can fit your needs. You can use them for much more than I do. Some have spray handles or pumps. I’m thinking of getting a small one for toothpaste. I have a super small toothpaste at the moment, but after I use it all, I don’t really want to buy another one!

But it also means that I don’t have to spend loads of money on little shampoos and little creams when I can just put my own in these reusable containers!

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I’ve also gotten a little obsessed with foldable things. This includes foldable hairbrushes. You know, the ones that you used to receive in a gift bag after a birthday when you were a kid, or you won out of a Christmas cracker? It folds and pushes out into the shape of a normal hairbrush, but takes up much less room. Also pictured is my foldable toothbrush, which I haven’t used for travelling yet and I’m kind of nervous because when it’s completely folded it looks like a switchblade. Oh well, I’ll let you know if I get stopped at security because they think I’m carrying a weapon!

Now that your wash bag is nice and light, it’s time to pack the things that make your travels that little bit more pleasant and smooth. As I like to take as little as I can with me, I do find it hard not to accumulate things like this. You know, little things that you might not need and could potentially get lost in your many, many bags. But I find that having these brings me a little more comfort. And hey, they’re also things that if you find you don’t have them, you can pick them up at a pharmacy, convenience store, or petrol station!

  • Earplugs. These are great for when you’re staying in a hostel, but they’re also good for overnight trains, and long plane journeys. I tend to lose mine, so it’s best to get the ones with a little snap shut box included, rather than ones that come in plastic packaging.
  • Sleep mask. For all the same reasons as the earplugs, but I would only wear it if I was going to sleep on a plane or in a hostel. I hate sleeping on public transport because I always worry that I’m going to miss my stop. Wearing a sleep mask will make it more likely! Great for when someone still has a lamp on in your hostel dorm, or if you’re on a plane and feel sick and the lights are too bright and you wanna die.
  • Headphones. But the small kind. I’ve taken my large over ear ones before and it was a big mistake. They take up too much space. Little ones that you can wrap in a loop and store in a bag’s pocket are perfect enough.
  • Hand sanitizer. Look, things are gross ok? Train station toilets. The little ‘stop’ buttons on buses. Theme parks. Nightclubs. DIRTY.  Just a little hand gel, that’s obviously 100ml or under ,will go a long way for you. Your friends will also love you.
  • Padded plasters. I had never thought about this until my last trip to Stockholm. My travels usually involve me walking around cities (which I’m hoping to shake up soon) and my go-to shoes are my Doc Martens. Docs are great; they go with anything, are nice and sturdy, and STILL haven’t broken since I got them when I was 17. However, I do need to wear them with thick winter socks because they are just that little bit too big. Turns out, that ain’t good to my heel, and so the blisters begin. When you’re in that situation, all you want to do is elevate your feet and never walk again. But there are places to see! People to meet! Cobbled streets to walk! Get padded plasters, they are cushions for you feet. And yes I will wear better shoes thanks MUM.
  • Kindle. You’re reading a book blog right now, why wouldn’t I suggest bringing reading material? The only reason I prefer reading a Kindle is because of how much less room it takes up. You can also store more than one book on it. You can take three books on holiday and take up no less room than one very thin book.
  • Padlock. I haven’t needed to use one as of yet, but having a padlock handy is great for staying in hostels. Hostels are perfectly safe and usually, when I’m there, I don’t lock my stuff away. Anything super valuable I end up taking with me anyway and things that stay in the room are just clothes, food and toiletries. However, if you’re travelling alone or just want that little bit extra security, bring a padlock for any lockers or storage. Sometimes hostels provide them, but most of the time they cost to rent one.
  • Travel adaptors. Almost nowhere has the same plug sockets as the U.K., but depending on where you’re staying, they may be able to sell you a plug adaptor for your country at reception. However, most countries in Europe have the same type of socket or are slowly changing to use the same as the rest of Europe, which means you really only need the ‘European’ plug adaptor. You can also get ones that contain multiple plug adaptors and USB ports too, which can sometimes be pricey, but are fab!

Now, it’s time for your essential essentials. If you’re as paranoid as I am, your brain loves to tell you you’ve forgotten things. Cue you pulling everything out of your carry on to look for that one travel document at the bottom of your bag. So, for peace of mind, I bought this super dorky, yet super essential…bum bag. Amazon calls it a ‘travel money belt‘, and I guess you can say it has many differences to a bum bag. I mean, is there anything wrong with a bum bag? When I was at Reading Festival, everyone had one, from the colourful to the plain. But, I guess the largest difference between this travel money belt and a bum bag is that other people aren’t supposed to know it’s there when you’re wearing it. It’s supposed to go under your clothes where thieves and pickpockets can’t see it.

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I bought it in that sweet spot between panic that I was gonna get robbed, and more panic that I would just lose stuff myself. So, instead of using a bum bag that’s bulky and kind of just a large red arrow to all your essentials, I got the travel money belt, and it’s great. It’s quite thin, so it’s not for bulky items. It’s got two pockets however, one larger than the other, and fits passports, travel documents, tickets, and even headphones in quite comfortably. When walking through Rome after reading Wikitravel and reading about the problems with pickpocketing (hey, I’m an amateur remember?), I felt so safe knowing that no one would be able to get close enough to me to steal anything important. I also took it to places that I knew pickpocketing wasn’t a problem, and used it more like a wallet for bus tickets and money so that I didn’t have to bring my whole purse with library cards and railcards and other things I didn’t need in another country.

And that is about it! I’ve listed almost every single thing I take with me on a trip! Of course, you should tailor every piece of luggage to where you’re going, how long for, and if you’re putting luggage in the hold. For me? I keep it light, I keep it accessible, because one day, I would like the amateur in me to become a bit more of a pro. One day. Not any time soon, probably.

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When you’re travelling, what’s the one thing you have to take with you?

 

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A Thousand Perfect Notes by C.G. Drews

PUBLISHER: Orchard Books
PUBLICATION DATE: 7th June 2018
RATING: ☆ ☆ ☆  .5
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Beck hates his life. He hates his violent mother. He hates his home. Most of all, he hates the piano that his mother forces him to play hour after hour, day after day. He will never play as she did before illness ended her career and left her bitter and broken. But Beck is too scared to stand up to his mother, and tell her his true passion, which is composing his own music – because the least suggestion of rebellion on his part ends in violence.

When Beck meets August, a girl full of life, energy and laughter, love begins to awaken within him and he glimpses a way to escape his painful existence. But dare he reach for it?

This book was intense.

I’ve mentioned before in blog posts about reading habits and tastes, that I really struggle with stories about abuse. Whether it’s depicted in tv, film, or books, I’m not one to watch/read it if I know it has scenes in it that’ll make me feel uncomfortable. But a part of me thinks I might be missing out on a lot of stories because I don’t like leaving my comfort zone. I am not a victim of child abuse, but I think it’s especially important to talk about content that some people may find triggering, even if it’s something you haven’t experienced. So, if depictions of violent, physical abuse does trigger you in any way, I would read more about this book before just going straight in (like I did). I wouldn’t tell you not to read a book, that is your decision to make, but at least you know this now and can make a more informed decision.

I had some idea about it just from the blurb, but I like going in blind to a book if I can; I seem to enjoy content more that way without having so many expectations of what it should be. I think for the most part, I did really enjoy this book’s depiction of the internal conflict of striving to be the best while feeling like the worst. Beck is considered by many (outside of his own family) as one of the best young piano players out there. He has a legacy to uphold since his mother was a world renowned classical piano player and his uncle a famous composer. However he’s constantly beaten and bruised by his mother’s desperation for him to be the best, despite thinking he’s terrible. Beck, because of this, also thinks he’s terrible, and I like how we don’t truly know whether he’s good or not.

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I’m gonna assume he is though. When you work hard on something, you get at least a little better at it, even if you’re not ‘born with the talent’.

The book on the whole is so sad as we peer into Beck’s inner lack of self-worth. I really felt for him, and was shouting when he made bad decisions. When you’re looking from the outside in at a bad situation, it’s very easy to say ‘do this! say that! just leave!’, but A Thousand Perfect Notes makes you really think about what you would do, and whether or not that would make the situation any better.

The writing was a bit strange in some places. There were a lot of similes and metaphors that were always taken to the extreme that seemed a little out of place. I can’t really explain without giving some examples:

“She whirls and Beck half expects wings made of frost and longing to sprout from her back and fly her home.”

Most of these strange sentences are either descriptions of August or speech from August. And I get why; she’s a bit of a stereotypical manic pixie dream girl. She’s kind of considered kooky because she doesn’t wear shoes often and has dreadlocks and is vegan. The story overall is a fairly stereotypical story but with more depth. Rather than Beck just being a mopey, alternative guy who needs a bit of colour in his life à la 500 Days of Summer, it’s all a bit more sinister. And rather than rolling my eyes at a lot of the cliches, I was more invested in Beck’s life. Unfortunately though, August still came across as a bit two dimensional.

This is a great debut from someone who has read far and wide about what makes a good book. Seriously, Cait’s reviews are on EVERY SINGLE BOOK PAGE ON GOODREADS. So congratulations Cait and can’t wait to read all your future books!

 

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I Still Support You! Fan Culture & Cognitive Dissonance

Blind faith is one helluva drug, ain’t it?

I’m almost 25, and throughout my life, I have loved, obsessed over, and blindly followed celebrities and shows and films to the point where my life had been consumed by them. It got easier and easier when the internet became more accessible, when I finally was allowed to have a computer in my room, when we could use the internet while my mum was chatting on the phone. It became easier when social media rolled out, when I got a smartphone, when I was so wired into what my faves were doing, where they were going, and who they were dating, that I could literally find out anything I wanted at the swipe of a screen.

While this celebrity obsession may have died down for me, it certainly hasn’t for teenagers and many adults across the globe. The internet is now rife with celebrity information and a new type of person who is there purely for you to adore. But of course, with an overexposure of information (and misinformation), comes nowhere to hide. Social media and the internet have created new ways in which people can clash with each other, whether that be in opinions (Twitter) or actions (Youtube). Things you might not have known about your favourite celebrity are surfaced, and thus you are faced with cognitive dissonance.

Cognitive Dissonance has been around since always, and I remember trying to learn about it during a sociology class about cults. It never truly stuck into my head until we all started having conversations about blind faith towards celebrities. Blind faith is usually linked to religion (the reason we were talking about it during a class on cults) but it can easily be adapted to celebrity and fandom culture.

Note: From now on, when I use the term “fandom”, I am not including communities who share their love of television shows, films, books, or fictional characters/couples.

Cognitive Dissonance is is the mental discomfort (psychological stress) experienced by a person who simultaneously holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values. People experience cognitive dissonance when someone they love does something that goes against their values. So, you love or ‘stan’ a celebrity. You would do anything for them. You consume all  their content whether it be music, movies, or Youtube videos. However, they then go against something you believe in; you find out they take drugs, for example. There are many that would find this behavior to not be against their own beliefs. I mean hey, it’s not hurting anyone but themselves and it’s their body. What’s the problem? You end up justifying it to yourself and continue to believe this person is perfect.

This cycle continues on for a lot of people who blindly follow this celebrity and the celebrity will notice, eventually. For many celebrities, this is as far as it goes. Nobody is perfect, despite what your brain tells you when you look at a picture of Harry Styles. But there are some who will push and push your cognitive dissonance so far that eventually your blind faith will be shattered. And to be honest? This is a minority. If you’re already following someone’s life to this dangerous degree then I believe you’re more likely to let larger things slide… say, watching your favourite Youtuber film the body of a suicide victim in the Japanese forest of Aokigahara?

Celebrity culture, fandoms, ‘stanning’, the whole thing has become a marketable way of making a shit ton of cash for your faves and their team. And while I think it’s great to find friends who have the same interests as you (e.g. I’ve found a lot of friends through blogging and our love of books), I think there is a lot of ways in which celebrities, but more commonly social media influencers, do this.

  1. A collective fan name. The Jake Paulers, The Logang, Cumberbitches, Beliebers. Some of these are created by the fans, for the fans, and that’s as far as it goes. But it’s also a clever way to create, rather than a community, a ‘popular clique that you can only get in to if you buuuuuuy….
  2. Merch. T-shirts, hats, bags. This isn’t the same as a singer who sells albums. This would be if that same musician then brought out like…fidget spinners, or biros. A lot of the time, an influencer only brings out merch because there’s a demand and fair enough. But merch is a great way to influence your fans into thinking that they are a part of this group, but only if they have merch.
  3. Targeted tweets. This one is particularly popular with male viners/music.ly stars. You know the tweets, the one’s by Jacob Sartorius that say ‘You look so good today’ where it comes across that he’s speaking to you personally. While I feel Jacob Sartorius is quite young and maybe has a team of adults who does this for him (I mean he might understand how to exploit his fanbase but I’m not sure), I feel people like Cameron Dallas, Nash Grier and other white boy names I don’t know are especially guilty of it. You can also get targeted song lyrics, One Direction songs are full of them.

So, you are a part of the group, the clique, the fanbase. You have the merch, and you have made friends who are just as obsessed as you are.

And your fave does something horrible.

Of course, being a fan of something/someone is all apart of the experience of entertainment. My dad gets excited when a new Star Wars comes out, my mum is in love with Cillian Murphy in Peaky Blinders and even bought a coaster with his face on. My brother loves watching angry white guys scream at games and use the N and F words liberally and experiences cognitive dissonance constantly. I have had my experiences being obsessed with things and people like Tom Hiddleston, Benedict Cumberbatch, Glee, Marvel, Disney, the cast of SKAM, you name it.

I am a firm believer of enjoying something you love. Do not be ashamed of listening to music that a lot of people hate, read that book that people have been saying is shit. But please, please be aware of the people you are a fan of. My advice? Don’t become obsessed. It’s hard, the internet is so accessible now that it’s very easy to be whisked up in the madness that is fandom and celebrity culture. But the consequences are dangerous. You’ve seen the defense against Logan Paul from his fans, the way fans of footballers and rockstars send sexual assault victims death threats because they dared speak out about their experiences. The environment is too toxic at this point and I just don’t want to contribute to it anymore.

The best thing is to remind yourself that this person is a human. It may seem ridiculous to say it, to even think it because of course you know that. Don’t talk down to me Hollie! (I know I’m sorry). But reminding yourself of this small fact is such a powerful tool to combat this blind faith.

Person is a human.

Person may say and do things I do not like.

Person is a someone I do not know. (As much as you think you know Person, you really do not know them).

You have to know when to stop supporting someone, when to identify what they did was wrong, and not to change the rules because it’s Person. I’ve started to really embrace this new way of thinking about celebrities. I used to see them for the first time in a film, and then Google them for the rest of the night. This sort of came to a halt after SKAM ended, and people started doing the same to the actors, some of whom were underage. I began to feel uncomfortable knowing so much about these kids. I didn’t want to know the names of their siblings, or what school they went to, or if they were out shopping right this second (???).

Maybe I just don’t care about it all anymore, maybe I’m not cool anymore. But I do love stuff, and I love supporting artists on Patreon and ‘liking’ Youtubers videos when I’ve genuinely enjoyed their content. I will support and enjoy being entertained by actors/musicians/Youtubers. But I cannot be a ‘big fan’ of a person anymore. And if a person who’s work I have enjoyed in the past turns out to be awful, I will remain critical and mature in my decision to stop supporting them or not.

I hope this post does not come across as a preachy way of telling you not to like things, or to stop liking someone because they’re a bit of a dickhead. Stan whoever you want, buy all the merch, do whatever makes you feel happy. But don’t fall down the rabbit hole. They see what you do, and if they truly are a horrible person, they will use your love to their advantage.

 

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The A-Z Bookish Survey

So I get tagged in a few posts and I hate so much that I ignore them. I get so overwhelmed, and then they disappear in my mentions. So, if you’ve ever tagged me in something and I haven’t responded, I apologise. But this year, everything changes. 

I was tagged in the A-Z Bookish Survey by Natalie over at Teen Literati, and I’m gonna do it! It’s long but I’m gonna do it! So thank you Natalie and here we go:

Author you’ve read the most books from:

I checked Goodreads, not realising they had a function where you can do that, and it’s Holly Black! I’ve read The Curse Workers Trilogy, The Darkest Part of the Forest, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, and The Cruel Prince.

Best Sequel Ever:

Honestly, if I’ve fallen in love with a book, the sequel will probably tear me to pieces. But, I always find sequels magical when I like it even more than the first one. That crown will always go to Now I Rise by Kiersten White. While I enjoyed And I Darken in hindsight, straight after I’d read it I wasn’t sure whether I was happy and excited or confused and annoyed. I had fallen in love Radu, but he was making horrible decisions that pissed me off throughout the whole book. But then the sequel came and everything became so epic, so much bigger that I decided that this was gonna be one of my favourite series.

Currently Reading:

Tin Man by Sarah Winman.

Drink of Choice While Reading:

Literally any soft drink, but if I’m feeling fancy, chocolate milkshake.

E-reader or Physical Book?

I flip flop a lot. I love the feeling of a physical book; curling up on the couch and turning the pages. However I also do a lot of travelling and I like to keep my baggage nice and light – can’t really do that with a physical book. Having an e-reader means I can read a 100 page or 900 page book and my bags don’t get any heavier. So I can’t answer this.

Fictional Character You Probably Would Have Actually Dated In High School:

At the moment, I am loving soft boys, and I would like to think that when I was younger, I would have fallen in love with them and dated them. But no. I was knee deep in the Harry Potter fandom during the majority of my teen years, so Draco Malfoy had my heart entirely. I don’t think I had a crush on any other character; even when Twilight came out and I became obsessed with that, I still didn’t waver from my favourite blonde Slytherin.

Glad You Gave This Book A Chance:

The Good Immigrant by Nikesh Shukla. My non-fiction shelf is non-existent, save for this book. I used to try and read non-fiction when I was younger, trashy autobiographies that made me realise I was not a big of a fan of these celebrities as I thought I was, and some memoirs during uni as required reading. But I’ve never picked up non-fiction of my own accord, as an adult, until I was recommended The Good Immigrant.

It’s a collection of essays written by BAME (Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic) bloggers, actors, writers, teachers, singers etc discussing life in Great Britain as a person of colour. Not only was it insightful, it was funny, sad, heartwrenching and anger-inducing, and has not only opened me up to many more books on the topic of race in the United Kingdom, but to also appreciate non-fiction more.

Hidden Gem Book:

No one talks about The Arsonist by Stephanie Oakes enough. NOBODY TALKS ABOUT IT AND I DON’T GET IT. IT WAS FABULOUS.

Important Moment in your Reading Life:

When I finished The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. It was the first book where I decided to take a picture of it, put it on Instagram, and write a review on my tumblr book blog. It was the catalyst to starting my whole online adventure of book blogging.

One of my oldest Instagrams!

Just Finished:

A Thousand Perfect Notes by C.G. Drews

Kinds of Books You Won’t Read:

I’m just not a fan of horror, in any aspect. Thrillers and things I’m not bothered with, but I hate horror films and jumpscares, so if a novel has those, I’m not for it. Non-fiction books that talk about child abuse and sexual abuse are also books I just cannot pick up. A friend from school used to read them all, and while they were all quite similar, they were so harrowing that she was traumatized. Just…not for me.

Longest Book You’ve Read:

I don’t know how to find the longest book I’ve ever read, but the longest one I read in 2017 was A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab at 666 pages.

Major book hangover because of:

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. I think this was one of the largest hangovers I’ve ever had. It was a night or two before my birthday, I was home alone, and just bawling my eyes out. I’m not great with tragedies but I still read them in a masochistic sort of way.

Number of Bookcases You Own:

Just the one! With three shelves. I tend to put books in cupboards as well but I’m very good at unhauling and getting rid of books I didn’t like or don’t care about anymore.

One Book You Have Read Multiple Times:

I’ve never read a book more than once, but I plan on reading Song of Achilles again (see above) and maybe some that I felt luke warm about and should try again!

Preferred Place To Read:

We have a large armchair in the conservatory that can almost fit two people on – but I like to spread out. It’s got the perfect lighting during the day, and it means I’m not reading on my bed (which I don’t like to do unless I’m about to go to bed).

Quote that inspires you/gives you all the feels from a book you’ve read:

I rarely find quotes that I give time to. Usually I just can’t remember them, but I do like this one from Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff:

The heavens grant us only one life, but through books, we live a thousand.

Reading Regret:

One word; Cara-fucking-val.

Series You Started And Need To Finish (all books are out in series):

I have the last book in The Lunar Chronicles called Winter, and I STILL haven’t finished Dreams of Gods and Monsters from The Daughter and Smoke and Bone trilogy…I fear I’ll never read it because it’s so big and I can’t remember what even happened in that story.

Three of your All-Time Favorite Books:

Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

I hate questions like this! This is only three of my fave books, not my three faves! I have more!

Very Excited For This Release More Than All The Others:

I am very, very excited for Bright We Burn by Kiersten White, the third and (I think) final chapter in the The Conqueror’s Saga. I’m on edge thinking about it, we were left on such a cliffhanger I’m afraid of what’s going to happen to my babies!

Worst Bookish Habit:

For me, learning too much about a book is my worst habit, because it puts me off bothering with reading it. I’m the same with shows and films I want to watch; I’m not sure I’ll like it, so I look it up, then read the whole plot. Rinse and repeat. I read way too many reviews too, spoilery ones, to the point where I know I won’t pick it up. A lot of books have been ruined because of my impatience.

Your latest book purchase:

Autoboyography by Christina Lauren!

ZZZ-snatcher book (last book that kept you up WAY late):

It was always Harry Potter.

If you read all of this, then I’m proud of you.

I’m tagging:

Kate @ Reading Through Infinity

Lauren @ Wonderless Reviews

Alice @ Ardently Alice

 

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The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

Publisher: Little, Brown Books / Hot Key Books
Publication Date: January 2nd 2018
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Goodreads

Jude was seven years old when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.

To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.

In doing so, she becomes embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, discovering her own capacity for bloodshed. But as civil war threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.

This book gave me two very different feelings; indifference and complete investment.

I was thankfully gifted The Cruel Prince as an ebook from Hot Key Books, and wasn’t surprised at how much attention it got when I ran a poll with what books I should read while making the long journey to visit extended family over Christmas. It won by a landslide, and while Holly Black books are usually a hit or miss for me, I got excited at the thought of being whisked away to a faerie land where fairy is spelled like ‘faerie’ and the creatures of the land are not cute with magic wands and wings.

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Unfortunately, that’s not what I got in the first 67% of the book.

The Cruel Prince, to me, could not decide what kind of book it wanted to be. At first, it seemed like a self-aware novel; a faerie land living alongside the human realm, where the protagonist felt apart of both. She would shop with her sister at Target, say stuff like ‘lighten up, jerk!’ when in conflict with magical creatures, but then she would also ride a giant toad with a saddle around it and wear dresses made of leaves and feathers. Her step-father has green skin and her baby step-brother can glamour her into slapping herself until she’s red in the face. I kind of liked it; Holly Black’s novels always have the mundane and the strange walking side by side. It was the same with The Darkest Part of the Forest (which I adored) and The Coldest Girl in Coldtown (which was a bit meh) – like I said, Holly Black’s books are a hit or miss.

This concept of Jude feeling out of place in both worlds went on for quite a long time, and didn’t in fact stop. This, thrown in with being severely bullied by Carden (the cruel prince in question) and his awful friends also goes on for so long that I started to feel really uncomfortable. It got to the point where I felt like a bystander just letting it happen. I’ve never been bullied this severely, but I think I have a responsibility to say that if you’re affected by seriously and severe bullying in entertainment you consume, and you’re going to read this book, now you know.

This goes on for most of the book, and I found myself wanting to DNF it a few times. When I’m reading a book and I can feel myself wanting to put it down, I know it’s not going well. I don’t like to waste my time, and it felt like I was doing exactly that. But THEN, as it read 67% on my Kindle, when my mother was calling me in because the Sunday roast was ready, I couldn’t stop reading!

The story completely turned around and the drama started, the political intrigue, the distrusting of characters all reared their beautiful heads. And it was like, where the hell were you all when the grip of my kindle was getting weaker and weaker? It’s not a plot twist or anything, I’m not spoiling it when I say it got interesting, but it’s a bit weird that I have to say that. The whole book should be interesting!

After tweeting about it a few times, I saw that I wasn’t alone. Many felt like it was worth sticking to until the end where it leaves you wanting the next book as much as how you just wanted any other book when you began reading The Cruel Prince. So, if you’re just starting out or even a third into it, keep going, there is something about this book that’s meant for it to blow up in popularity come the second one.

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