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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Hollie’s Favourite TV Shows 2017

Gosh, TV is great isn’t it?

Every year I compile a list of my favourite shows of the year. They could be new, they could be old, but what groups them all together is that I found them this year and I love them and I want to share them with you. If you want to see last year’s list, click right here.

Merli (2015 – )

Merli has been on my radar for some time but, since my entire being was consumed with SKAM at the time, I thought it best until the show was over and I could invest my time in a new foreign language show, this time, Catalan.

Merli is about a philosophy teacher who, in a similar vein as Dead Poets Society, has a class of students whom he inspires and teaches the ways of the world. Of course, Merli is not perfect and we follow his daily dramas along with his son, Bruno, a member of the class and his classmates at a college in Barcelona. While there are definitely serious topics in the show, it’s far better to watch for the harmless drama and romantic entanglements of the classmates, rather than looking for serious messages.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a trailer for Merli in English, so instead, here’s a wholesome photo of the cast together.

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SKAM (2015 – 2017)

Of course, would it be a Hollieblog post without mentioning my favourite show of all time? But alas, this year SKAM broadcasted it’s final season with Sana, a young Muslim student at Hartvig Nissen who struggles balancing her faith with a typical Norwegian teenage lifestyle. It’s got romance, friendship, drama, and important topics that you rarely see in television at the moment. But SKAM has revolutionized that, depicting characters of different faith, sexuality, and with mental illnesses. It is truly one of the best television shows out there, and I implore all of you to give it ago. (Plus, the Norwegian language is gorgeous!)

The Good Place (2017 – )

This was a show I had no intention of getting into. It looked too American; cheesy and full of weird dialogue and bright colours. But of course, this was a bit of a stereotype. I started watching when my parents started, and then carried on watching the whole of season one by myself. It’s hilarious, and very self aware. I love all of the characters (which doesn’t usually happen for me) and it perks me right up whenever I’m feeling down. Yes, the trailer is also super cringey but I promise, just give it a go!

Stranger Things (2016 – )

Guys, I did it. I caved. When it comes to shows, while I accept recommendations (and certainly give them out like they’re candy and I’m Willy Wonka), I’m not great at actually giving in and watching the shows I’m recommended. Especially when I’m constantly told they’re amazing. It’s why I haven’t watched Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad…I haven’t even watched The Great British Bake Off because people won’t shut up about it. But something was a little different about Stranger Things. It seemed the whole world was watching it, and I thought maybe I would like it. A rag tag group of kids trying to defeat the monster that’s invaded their town? Set in the 80s? It sounded perfect.

So I would constantly ask people; is it scary? Are there jump scares? I loathe jump scares, and more often than not they’ve given me panic attacks. But the only thing I could do was watch it myself. And thank goodness I did. Turns out, it is scary, but the jump scares were so obvious from a mile off that I could watch them without hiding behind the sofa. I have to admit, season one is better than season two, and I do have a bone to pick with The Duffer Brothers (the creators and writers), but overall, it’s an incredible show with some fantastic acting in it.

 

Please Like Me (2013-2016)

This is a terrible thing to say, but I almost forgot about Please Like Me. I can’t for the life of me remember if I watched it late 2016 or early 2017, and yet I didn’t put it in my 2016 favourite shows which I definitely would have otherwise. Did I watch it so early in 2017 that it feels like a year ago? Who knows. But it’s here now, and you should all give it a watch.

Set in Melbourne, Australia, Please Like Me explores serious and often sad themes through humour and a realistic plot. Josh is a twenty-something gay man, living with his best friend and figuring out what he wants to do with his life. His father is recently re-married, and his mother’s mental health is spiralling. While sometimes fairly dark and miserable, I found Please Like Me both realistic and hilarious at the same time. The awkwardness of some scenes reminded me of British shows like The Office, while still remaining a dramedy rather than a sitcom. The opening theme is also super infectious.

All of the trailers that I could find for this show have weird voice-overs and call suicide an ‘awkward moment’. But don’t punish the show for the trailers it clearly had no involvement in – the show is good. The trailers are bad.

Let me know what you’ve been watching, and let’s see if I actually watch it!

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The Joys Of Learning A Language (And How You Can Do It Too)

I really love languages.

Vague, I know. But I end up saying it to myself and to other people a lot. I just really like languages. My own language, languages I’m learning, languages that I’m not, dead languages, languages that hardly anyone speaks anymore. I just…*clenches fist*.

While I know I’m not the only one (obviously), I still often feel like the only person who wants to at least try another language. Usually, people just find it to hard. Ok, I get that. Language is woven into every single part of your life and so, to understand a whole other language is to understand a whole other life, a society, a history and culture. But, usually, the rejection of other languages comes from ignorance and the desire for there to only be one language; English.

Yeah, we won’t get into that.

I wanted to talk a bit about my language learning experiences and how you, if you’re interested, can get into the wonderful world of language and how it’s not as hard as you think!

First, take it out of your mind that you have to be ‘gifted’ or have to be talented from a young age at language learning. Yes, there are going to be people who find it easier than you because they were brought up in a bilingual household or moved to another country and was forced to learn the language etc. If you want to learn, are ready to learn, and love the language you’re going to learn then you too can do it!

Next, choose your language! There are so many reasons why someone embarks on this journey; maybe your job needs a multi-lingual person? Maybe you’ve got plans to travel to multiple places and want to at least try when speaking to locals? Maybe you’re packing up and moving to a whole new country (lucky you)? Maybe there is a new part of the family who you want to get to know but they don’t know English? Or, like me, you’re a bit of a language nerd. Most of the time you won’t have a reason, and that means the pick of the litter. What language appeals to you the most? The easiest? The most challenging?

While I’m always trying to learn French and Spanish for practical reasons, the language I’m focusing on and having the most progress I’ve ever had with a language is Norwegian (Bokmal). The reasons why are actually quite simple, and I hope you can implement them into your language learning too!

memrise-appRookie mistake? Using Duolingo. I hear you all shouting ‘WHAT?’ at me while you have Duolingo open and ready. For many it is a treasure trove of language tips and tricks, but for me it’s just trying to remember weirdly worded sentences that you’ll never use. Multiple times I’ve had to translate ‘The dog is in the house’ or ‘I read while I cut oranges’ while I haven’t grasped how to ask for directions or introduce myself yet. If you’re going to use a language learning app, I’d recommend Memrise which was recommended to me by my travel buddy Anna whose Swedish is already coming along very well with the help of this app. Now, I know there’s a Duolingo app for your phone, but I always found it worked better on desktop which, to be honest, isn’t ideal. Memrise not only teaches you relevant things, it tests you over and over so that the translation comes naturally. You can use it anywhere too (hence the purpose of apps), meaning if you’ve got a few spare minutes on the bus or in the dentist waiting room, you can brush up on your vocab. There’s also an option to watch little videos of actual native speakers saying phrases normally, so you can get used to the speed and pronunciation of the sentences you’re learning.

Consuming the entertainment of another culture is also a fantastic and vital way to learn a language. The easiest way to learn a language is to surround yourself with it, and if literally moving to that country isn’t an option, the best way is to watch, listen, and read the language. For Norwegian, I’ve been soaking up the culture through television and music. Watching SKAM has opened me up to slang and with matching it with language apps and standard language learning, I’ve started to understand bits here and there without subtitles (it’s honestly a magical feeling when that happens). I’ve listened to popular radio channels too just to hear speed. I know that dialect changes depending on where you are in Norway which is normal in most languages (English in Newcastle and English in Somerset aren’t the same, for example), but I believe in Norway it’s even more so, and so I’m trying to just conquer the dialects in Oslo and the dialects used predominantly in the media. Music is great too; trying to decipher what the lyrics are is actually just as fun as singing along (and getting it royally wrong). Hearing the language constantly makes my accent and pronunciation more confident, and so I urge you to look for films in the language you’re learning, shows, youtubers from that country, podcasts, anything where you can hear and take it all in.

Learning a language by yourself begins to suck when you have no one to practice on. My dad, a language lover too, has no problems having small chats with me in French and Spanish, but completely shuts down when I talk in Norwegian. So what’s a girl to do?

Pets.

(If you don’t have a pet, skip this paragraph)

I talk to my dog, Barney, a lot. I didn’t realise how much I did until I said “Er du en godt gutte?” and he wagged his tail happily because yes, he is a good boy. I know dogs don’t respond to actual language; I know my dog doesn’t understand Norwegian, but to have someone actually reply to me in their own way that isn’t blank stares is actually really useful. So now, I just chat with him, make sure he’s good and happy, ask him if he wants a treat, and I try to make sure to do it all in Norwegian. So, if you chat to your pet (which I know you all do), see how comfortable you feel talking to them in the language you’re learning until you’re having full blown conversations about politics and the economy with them. Me and Barney haven’t got there yet, but I know he’s interested.

I never realised how much language learning had always been a large factor in why I love education in general. Maybe not the education system, but learning that through a language is a whole new world, culture, and people, living on the same polluted spec of a planet that we live on.

Let me know what languages you’re learning and how you do it if I’ve missed anything!

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On Feeling Successful (As Told Through A Trip To Copenhagen)

Two middle aged men sit across from me on the train home from Gatwick Airport.

“So what’s your youngest doing now?”
“He’s just been signed to a modelling agency! He’s only eighteen! What about your Sarah? She still at uni?”
“She graduated with a 1st, and now she’s a top marketing executive in London!”

It’s strange that this story starts at the end, when I’m tired and greasy and starving. The flight from Copenhagen to Gatwick was only 1 hour 40 minutes but adding on the waiting and the queuing and the scanning of tickets and passports I’d say it feels like an all day shindig. I rarely eavesdrop on people’s conversations, even if they’re sat so close on an empty train in the middle of the night, but the conversation between the two proud dads got to me.

As a young person who can find fault in everything I do, I find it difficult to feel like I’ve achieved something. I’m unemployed, living at home, with dreams and ambitions that can often seem out of reach. While these things aren’t things to be ashamed of, they certainly pale in comparison to others.

The feeling of success is subjective and ever changing. It can be measured in so many ways, so many little intricate threads that make you proud of the person you are. Success moves with time, and changes depending on the decades, years, months, minutes. I haven’t felt successful in a long time, but on the late night train journey back home from a few days in Copenhagen, overhearing a conversation about the large successes of others in my generation and younger did not stoke the fires of my insecurities, but allowed me to process what I had just been through, or for a better term, what I had achieved.

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Copenhagen was spontaneous. I’d been cooped up in my house, in the little bubble of my life for far too long. I wanted to leave, even just for a long weekend, to experience something else. My friends made excuses (but also valid reasons) as to why they could not come with me. While going to another country on my own is always an option, to me, that was a step too far. But Twitter wasn’t. I tweeted indirectly that I wanted to go somewhere but just had no-one to go with, and hoped someone, if anyone, would take the bait (preferably mutuals of course).

And it worked!

I’d found friends online who wanted to join me and even an old work colleague who heard about my trip. The dates were set, deposits were paid, the flights booked. And then, the anxiety kicked in. Having a ton of responsibility suddenly be hitched onto your shoulders takes a lot of getting used to, and as an impatient worrier such as myself, I found the only thing to calm myself down was to research city maps, how to get from one terminal to the next, what trains to take, where to visit and how long it will take to get there, and to research more into the hostel we were staying in (and try not to let my friend’s exclaims of ‘hostels are dangerous you’re gonna die!’ get to me).

When the morning of the flight came I was a wreck. However, when I’m that nervous, I sort of turn into a shouty army officer who wants things to be done quickly and efficiently without any mucking about. It was that morning that I realised I wouldn’t just be responsible for myself, but also for my work colleague who is younger, less experienced in travel, and just all around a bit dopey with no sense of urgency. Don’t worry, she agrees with all these things.

The feeling of pride and achievement didn’t really set in until we’d checked into our hostel and I lay on my bunk bed and took in a deep breath. I’d done it. I’d gone through the awful experience of airport security unscathed and I’d traveled to another country without any adults whilst also looking after another human. I’d gone on the metro, found the way to the hostel and walked through a city with luggage (a big fear of mine is getting mugged).

And then beyond that; I was able to find my way around a whole new city which was in a different language, tried new foods, met new people, slept in a room with strangers, made decisions for where to eat (because my friends can’t make decisions), and made sure my friend didn’t walk into the many bicycles around the city. I also counted her money for her, made sure she didn’t accidentally shop lift, checked her bag was closed, and got her to stop asking me permission to do something/go somewhere. I was an independent traveler and also a mum.

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I visited a beautiful city in a beautiful country, experienced something new, and looked after myself in a way I haven’t in a really long time. I felt strong, I felt independent, I felt capable. And that to me, is a success. So, while I may not have a top job in London, a fancy apartment, or a million followers on Instagram, I was able to sit on the night train back home and feel just as proud as the dads sat opposite me.

And don’t worry, there’ll be a guide to Copenhagen coming soon!

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The Four Star Crisis

I did not realise that the star rating system was something I used so much in my life.

I use it for books, films, restaurants, hotels, years (2016 got 0 stars obviously), nightclubs, makeup, I could go on. But recently I’ve been having trouble try to explain myself as to why I’ve given a book a certain number of stars.

Goodreads doesn’t exactly force you to use their star rating system, but enough people still complain about it, one of the biggest complaints being that there aren’t half star ratings. I get it; you’ve signed up to a website where you want better explain yourself as to why you loved/hated a book. You want to be a little more precise, and sometimes a star rating system doesn’t really do it justice.

And while I haven’t really had a problem using it before, I’ve noticed a trend in the books I’ve been rating.

I bloody love to use four stars.

A lot of people on their blogs have a set of guidelines as to what they mean when they give a book a certain amount of stars, but I’ve never done that. I didn’t want to be so rigid in my rating, but it now comes across as slightly confusing, especially to myself. The only star ratings that seem to explain enough are one star (fucking awful) and five stars (fucking incredible), and while I rarely use two stars because I might as well just knock it down to one and only use three if the book was average, I use four stars to the point where the books rated do not have the same opinion from me anymore.

Four stars, for me, has been the ‘could have been five stars, but wasn’t just quite there’, which is a good enough explanation. But recently, the lines have blurred. The books aren’t mediocre, but they’re probably not something I’d read again. Some are strong four stars and some are weak four stars, but does that mean I’m using four stars too liberally? Is a four star a watered down five star or a heavily concentrated three star?

Why must you torture me this way, four stars??

Am I being too nice? Too cruel? Looking at my Goodreads, there’s far too many four star books; some I read the sequels eagerly, and some I have given away almost instantly. I turned my back on those books.

Maybe it’s time for something different. Maybe the star rating system is not good enough to explain how I feel about a book. Not all the books I read can be four stars. Otherwise, what’s the point in rating them if they all have the same rating?

How do you go about rating books, if at all? What do you think about when deciding how many stars to give a book? What makes a book receive a half star, or even lose one? What’s your opinion on the dreaded four star dilemma?

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La La Land & The Way I’m Consuming Entertainment

There is really something about going to the cinema on your own.

There is no quarrel with what you’re going to see, nor what food you’re going to eat. You can choose exactly where you’re going to sit, and you are most definitely going to be on time. Everything works in your favor when going to see a film alone, with the only problem being that you can’t actually discuss the film with anyone afterwards. You’re left there, with your thoughts, until you go home and find someone to talk about it with, and this is probably someone who hasn’t seen the film anyway.

Seeing La La Land was my first experience seeing a film alone, and it wasn’t until half way through that I realised something was wrong.

I suffer from depression, and one of the main symptoms is lack of focus/interest. Sometimes I do struggle to watch a whole film or I take a long time to read a whole book, but in this scenario I was entirely focused; I had no other stimuli to distract me from what was on screen, and I nearly teared up right there in the cinema because I thought my mental health was destroying this lovely experience I was supposed to be having.

But, this is ridiculous! I’ve been to the cinema before, watched a film before, and been disappointed with the film. It wasn’t my lack of interest to blame, it was the film in those instances. So why was it different now?

I realised I knew exactly what it was, and I was a mixture of both grateful and sad.

La La Land should be a film that I fall in love with. Not only is it about artists who struggle to do what they love while understanding that ‘doing what you love’ doesn’t always pay the bills, it’s musical, colourful, and has stunning cinematography. I’m known to be a fan of this kind of film-making. Films like Moulin Rouge! Scott Pilgrim vs The World, and Her. Shows like Pushing Daisies, The Get Down, and Sherlock. Visually stunning media is my jam, and La La Land should have been a perfect addition.

It had a love story, music, dancing, heart-breaking moments. But this thing that I’d realised about the way I was now consuming media had upset me so much because I had thought it had ruined my enjoyment of the things I love. But it hadn’t. What it had actually done is brought me more awareness about the issues regarding who wins and who doesn’t when it comes to the film industry.

(La La Land spoilers ahead)

La La Land does not actually have a plot. Like many films that are just made to win awards, the film has a basic premise with the distractions of fun musical numbers and pretty colours. But, because of what I’d learned through listening to people discuss the racism in certain books, I could only see Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) obsess over Jazz and how it should be played/listened to while everyone else around him (the people in the band, in the jazz clubs) was black. Jazz is a genre of music derived from the black communities of New Orleans. It was played in speak-easies and in clubs and at parties and has grown into a whole genre that can be enjoyed and played by everyone. But it irked me so much that, this large part of black culture was so prevalent in this movie…and we still focused on the one white guy in the room. The only speaking role a black character had was John Legend’s character, and he was painted as a little bit like an antagonist who wanted to ‘ruin the jazz sound’. It was Sebastian who we were supposed to be rooting for; that one white guy who we’re supposed to consider a visionary when actually he’s just doing what all the black extras are doing, but also throwing hissy fits because things aren’t going his way.

I’ll watch things and the first thing I’ll notice is ‘everyone is white’, and you don’t realise how prevalent it is when you can do it with almost all films and shows. Sherlock is set in London, where 40% of the British Muslim population lives, but according to Sherlock’s London, they just do not exist. HBO’s Girls is set in Brooklyn, where half the population is POC, and all the main girls are white.

Race is not just the issue, but sexuality too. I can watch a show, a film, or read a book and the first thing I will notice is ‘everyone is straight’. Everyone. No matter how many couples you throw in there (I’m looking at you, Sarah J. Maas and Stephenie Meyer), every single one of those couples is straight, and it’s so frustrating because I’m disappointed. How can you thoughtfully write a book, a show, a film, and just completely disregard a whole group of people so easily?

I think, when you grow, and your tastes change, and what you look for in entertainment changes, you always get a little bit annoyed. If you re-read a book that you loved in the past but then realise it wasn’t what it was cracked up to be, or watch a film that looks right up your street but it’s just not the same, I think you do feel a sense of loss. But, to think that this awareness has ruined my taste is a very ignorant way to think. In fact, I want to see it positively, because it’s enlightening. I feel like the blinkers have finally come off, and I’m now seeing the screen in wider definition.

I am tired of seeing/reading the stories that are constantly being told about the same groups of people, written and created by the same groups of people. And this is from me, a cis, able-bodied white person where most of western entertainment is about me.  I cannot even imagine being a young child and consuming so much media and never seeing yourself represented, never seeing the black actress in the main role, never reading about a girl in a Hijab saving the world, or never watching a boy fall in love with another boy. Entertainment plays a large part in forming opinions and views of the outside world, and while the film industry is changing and progressing into something more inclusive, it baffles me that films with the same plots still take all the awards for being revolutionary.

La La Land has won a lot of awards, and I can definitely see why. While the storytelling is a little different and is definitely a homage to the golden age of cinema, it is still the same story being told. It is still two white, straight people falling in love. It is still a story of struggle where there is no struggle, just handouts and connections.

Go see La La Land. Go and enjoy yourself. Laugh and cry and sing a long with it; I am not saying it cannot be enjoyed (clearly, it can be), but for me, this film has definitely been a turning point in the way I am going to enjoy books and films and shows from now on.

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NANOWRIMO 2016 IS A GO!

Welcome to November.

November, for many writers, is a time to get that story rolling around your brain onto the page. It turns out, deadlines are a great way for me to actually get shit done, and so every year I try my hand at National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), a competition that gets you to write 50,000 words in one month, with the reward being the first draft of a novel that YOU wrote.

I plan on chronicling my four weeks of writing with a little mini series where I wrap up the week. Kind of like my ‘Road to Publishing’ series, but on steroids. In this post, I just wanted to share the plot of my novel this year, as well as links and things where I talk about writing and where you can connect with me!

So far, my novel has the working title Royal Blood, which I wouldn’t mind keeping anyway. I don’t have a fancy, clean, worked out summary, so here’s a little ramble of ideas;

Set in a kingdom where winter dominates, a king is slowly dying. His two children, Marika and Gabriel Noskov, will never be ready for the throne. Gabriel, a soft-hearted, weak, and timid prince, prefers friendship with the servants and keeping his power of persuasion to himself. Marika, his younger sister, is soulless and uncaring, enjoying the presence of no one and reveling in the myth that she is a monster.

When other kingdoms hear of Gabriel Noskov’s inevitable rise to the throne, three princesses arrive to court with the determination to become his wife and Queen of Kamarov. But the positions of power are shifting, when Gabriel recognizes the power he holds, and Marika discovers her heart in one of the princesses.

Feel free to add me on Nanowrimo, and I’ll be tweeting a lot about writing and Nano-goodness over on Twitter. Happy writing!

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