Friday, 30 October 2015

Books And Their Theme Songs - Volume 30

Because I took July off (and I listened to very little music while reading throughout that month and August), I decided to merge the 2 Books And Their Theme Songs posts (end of August and end of October) together to, hopefully, create one huge blog post of music!

Well... that was the plan... *hands you the music and hopes you love them*

THE SECRET FIRE by CJ Daugherty and Carina Rozenfeld
"Shoot And Run" by Josef Salvat

"Thousand Miles" by Tove Lo

FANGIRL by Rainbow Rowell
"Cool for the Summer" by Demi Lovato

"Various Storms and Saints" and "Queen of Peace" by Florence and the Machine & "Endless Dream" by God is An Astronaut

And in case you're curious over the music used in my Worrying about Failing blog post, the songs used are "Save Me" by Nicki Minaj, "Don't Be So Hard on Yourself" by Jess Glynne and "Wings" by Delta Goodrem.

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Out of Orbit Tour - Tunes to Type To!

Today, I would like to welcome Chele Cooke onto the blog! Chele is the author of the sci-fi dystopian series, Out of Orbit, and the celebrate the release of the third and final book in the series, Rack And Ruin, Chele is taking over my blog today, chatting about music she listened to while writing this trilogy.

But before I hand it over to Chele, I just want to give you guys a heads-uo. Chele (and the tour PR person, Faye) wanted me to point out that there is a contest happening AS WE SPEAK! One winner can will the trilogy in paperback (with a £25 Amazon credit) and ten more will win the trilogy in eBook format. So, if you fancy entering, go for it! Go to and goo luck to you!

Also, before Chele takes over, I want to thank Chele for taking time out for writing this post and pointing out new music for me to discover (always like new music) and for Faye to asking me to be involved. Ok, all done so all yours, Chele!

When I was a teenager, I could write to anything. These days I look back and wonder how in the world I managed it, as I certainly can’t do that now. For the last few years, my writing environment has been a lot more regimented and I get a lot more done when I’m in my own little bubble. Whether it’s having a more office orientated work space, or writing at the ideal time (which, for me, is in the evening,) I am a lot more productive when I have organised the right environment for myself.

This includes having the right music for the project I’m working on. I have a number of playlists set up, not only for the mood I’m in (and they are named as such: Happy, Chilled Out, Dark,) but also for specific projects. The playlist for my paranormal series, TEETH, is vastly different from Sci-Fi dystopian OUT OF ORBIT. I have a lot of crossover, and favourite albums that will always get me in the creative mood, but in general, whenever I open the word document for a novel, I’ll already have my playlist ready to go.

The OUT OF ORBIT playlist is an interesting one. The story is very character driven, and while I have music that reminds me of the setting and story, I also have a lot of songs that are specifically related to the characters I’m writing. It’s now gotten to the point where I hear that song and I can’t stop thinking about the character I’ve attached it to.

For the most part, the music for the series is on the gritty side, but it comes from a wide selection of sources, music genres, and artists. The playlist is actually somewhere in the region of 50 songs, but I thought I’d give you the most significant 10.

  1. This Means War by Nickelback
This Means War is a perfect anthem for Out of Orbit as it is a song about a vastly uneven battle. The rhythm in it is perfect for getting in the mood to write a rebellion.

  1. Born to Lead by Hoobastank
This song is all about people who have been beaten down and trodden on and have now had enough. They’re fighting back, and I don’t think I could come up with a better song for the Belsa if I tried.

  1. Do you Hear the People Sing from Les Miserables
Again, I’m just on all the revolution anthems with this playlist. I use the version from the 2012 movie (I love Aaron Tveit’s voice singing Enjolras.)

  1. If I Didn’t Know Better by Sam Palladio and Claire Bowen
I’ve watched the show ‘Nashville’ since the beginning, and the partnership between Sam Palladio (Gunnar) and Claire Bowen (Scarlett) creates some stunning music. This song makes me think of a devil tempting an innocent, and inspires me for those dark and sinister conversations where Maarqyn tries to tempt Georgianna to save herself.

  1. If I Lose Myself by One Republic
There are a few revelations about the pasts of various characters in Out of Orbit, and Edtroka is no different. I can’t help but think of him when I hear this song about a man willing to risk it all as long as he has that one person next to him.

  1. Carry on my Wayward Son by Kansas
I don’t think I can hear this song without thinking of Supernatural, but it also reminds me of Keiran. He’s been a wayward son for a long time, and he deserves a little peace.

  1. Highway to Hell by AC/DC
For a character who was originally meant to be in about 5 chapters over the course of the series, Dhiren Flynn grabbed hold and wouldn’t let go. He’s a fire-cracker character and I enjoy writing him because he breaks my heart and makes me laugh in the same scene. But there is no doubt that, with his stubborn and occasionally murderous nature, he’d drive himself straight to hell if he could.

  1. How Far We’ve Come by Matchbox Twenty
Another of those end of the world anthems, Matchbox Twenty is the easiest music for me to write to. I’m so comfortable with their music that it drifts into the background, giving me something other than silence while my mind runs free from distraction.

  1. Accoustic #3 by The Goo Goo Dolls
I adore this song. It’s beautiful and heart breaking and makes me think of Jacob Stone, who is one of my quiet favourites.

  1. Everybody Hurts by R.E.M
This song is one that will make me tear up pretty much every time I listen to it. There is a such a relatable pain in the lyrics and slow and gentle melody. I had this song on repeat while writing two scenes in Rack and Ruin… but obviously I’m not going to tell you which ones until you’ve read it.

There are a lot more songs on the Out of Orbit playlist. I even have an entire album on there, but these were the ones that have stood out for me, bringing the different characters and the setting of the story to a different medium, and making it a lot easier to lose myself in a completely different world.

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

GoodRead - Life And Death

Of course I was going to read this. Of course I would! I read Twilight nearly ten years ago (just before New Moon came out. I couldn't buy the hardback - it had an awful cover!) and now, here we are, celebrating it being published for 10 years. And, out of nowhere, Stephanie drops Life and Death on the fandom and the fans are freaking out over it. A new Stephanie Meyer?!

Well, technically, yes and no. It's a reimagining of Twilight, but nearly all the characters have been gender-swapped (Bella is now Beaufort or Beau and Edward is now Edythe). The only characters that have stayed the same are Charlie and Renee (Stephenie explains why in her foreword). But, interestingly, we have more words/pages. And it might not be the words you'll be expecting.

But let me come to that later.

So, most (if not, all) of us know the story of Twilight. But Life and Death follows Beaufort (or Beau, for short), as he moves to Forks and, not long after that, he meets Edythe Cullen, a girl unlike any he has met before. But, on their first meeting, without even saying a word to him, Edythe reacts like she hates him. Only to act normal and, even pleasant, the next time they meet a week later.

As Beau tries to figure the mysterious Edythe out, he doesn't realise that he's putting himself in danger. His frenzied first love makes him blind to the dangers crashing towards him. Soon, there will be no turning back...

Ok, I am going to start by saying this: I forgot how much fun reading a Stephenie Meyer book was. Yes, she gets some stick for her writing, but she's fun. I was planning to read this as a side project while I read my "real" book, but this took over my life for a week. Stephenie still knows how to hook her readers.

The story itself was interesting. While gender-flipping characters isn't anything new to fan-fiction writers, this is new for published author and it was fascinating to see what the story would have been like if the roles were reversed. If it was a human boy that fell in love with a vampire girl? I get why Stephenie did it - she got sick of people saying Bella was a damsel in distress all the time and wanted to see if this would be the case if the genders were flipped - and there are elements when this works really well.

However, there are times when this doesn't work or it feels jarring. At times, the characters were saying things and I would stop for a moment as what that character said didn't feel right. It didn't feel true to these "new" characters. For example, The whole of chapter 13 - the famous Meadow scene - just felt out of place with the rest of the book. And what the characters - Beau and Edythe - were saying never felt right. It felt like they should be saying the others's lines. I wonder if it's because I am so use to this chapter, I just expected it to flow the same way.

I wonder if I would have the same reaction if it was a LGBT reimagining. With the love story being Bella/Edythe or Beaufort/Edward? Or maybe even a Jacob/Edward?

And the names. I liked most of the names used, but some characters names were either "Huh?" or just laughable. I mean, Royal? Royal?! Are you actually kidding me?

Another thing that I had problems with was Beau's and Edythe's actions. In Twilight, both Bella and Edward don't exactly do sane actions in their relationships. But when Beau and Edythe do them, these actions take a sinister turn. There were several moments I thought it was going to go Single White Female on us. If you were reading this for relationship advice, what you would been reading is a love story about one dangerously unhealthy relationship.

Now, I have read some blogpost about the ending. I won't go near that as... well... spoilers. But fans will love it, while casual readers might find it a bit rushed and maybe wanting an extra 50 pages.

But my biggest rant is how you can read Life and Death. You have to buy a special hardback edition of Twilight: Ten Year Anniversary Edition. So you get one HUGE bind up, which isn't necessary as most/all fans will have at least one edition of Twilight. This is the same if you buy the eBook edition of the audiobook edition. You have to get both Twilight and Life and Death. This could be seen by many people - myself included - as a money-making ploy - not exactly the best way to thank fans for their loyalty nor to show respect to a book that many people see as the book that truly kickstarted YA.

I read this as bonus content, and while I had fun enjoying it, it still has issues and with that price tag... am quite torn over my feels on whether you should buy this or not. If only you could buy Life and Death SEPARATELY...

I think my reaction is mostly this: as a fan, I had a fun time reading this and I want to reread the series again (maybe next year. Or maybe just Twilight and New Moon. Maybe even The Host and this rumoured adult thriller that is in the works). But as a reader, I feel a bit disappointed. So very mixed feels on this, I'm afraid, dear blog readers.

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

The Addams Family Book Tag!

I saw this tag on YouTube last month ago (I think) and I knew - KNEW - I had to put this on my blog during this week! I had to! It looks like a fun, Halloween-y tag! So, if you don't know about this tag, it was created by Hannah from Hannah Books and Beauty (aka see the first video below!) 

Now, I am going to admit this now: I am not the biggest fan of Halloween and of Horror! So, this is a weird double-negative tag for me so... LET'S GO! 

1. Morticia Addams the mother and a witch. What is your favorite witch book? 
I can say Harry Potter for every one of these answers (though it is strongly TEMPTING!) but, technically, Harry isn't a witch. He's a wizard so I can't use that. So I should say Hermione, Ginny, Luna, Mrs Weasley, etc. But I won't. I am going to say Gabriel from the Half Bad series. I like him as he's such a sweetie but he's a badass witch as well. No, wait, I change my mind! MILDRED HUBBLE! If you don't know The Worst Witch series... *shakes his head*
2. Gomez Addams is a loving father. Who is your favorite fictional dad?
The thing about YA, I've noticed, is that father figures don't exactly exist. Parents seem to be non-exist in YA (though this is changing, thank goodness!). But I can't really think of one expect for those who are dead. But I am going to say the Abhorsen from Sabriel by Garth Nix. I always found him a fascinating character. 
3.Uncle Fester Addams can generate electricity. What books makes you light up so much that you cant stop yourself talking about it?
I have far too many books that I can do this with. Harry Potter, Twilight Saga, His Dark Materials, Half Bad, The Old Kingdom... there is far too many! When we meet in real life, dear reader, grab me and dare me to talk about books for five minutes straight.

4. Wednesday Addams is obsessed with death. If you could have killed off a character in any book who would it have been?
DOROLES UMBRIDGE!!! Need I say more?!

5. Pugsley Addams has a vicious nature and plays nasty pranks on everyone. Who is your favorite villain?
Now, this is a hard choice. I like villains that are either flawed or are just pure evil. So, while I could very easily picked Lord Voldemort or Bellatrix from the Harry Potter series, I am going to pick Kerrigor from Sabriel. He is just creepy! There is a few times that, when I first read the book, creeped me out.

6. Lurch is based on Frankenstein and a zombie. What is your favorite adaptation of a story?
Because I'm not a fan of horror, I haven't watched any real adaption of a "horror" novel so this might have to be a "Veto" from me. I always look at films and TV shows on books that I like and I will like them - but I will criticise them to hell and back.

7. Grandmama is an old classic witch. What is your favourite old classic horror book?
I mention it in my next question but am going to say The Woman in Black by Susan Hill. Ok, it's not a "old classic" but it's the oldest horror ghost story I have read. And I don't think my GCSE reading of Shakespeare's Macbeth counts, seeing as it's been a VERY long time since I read it and it was for school and nothing "scary" really happened if I remember the story right... 

8. Show us some of your horror books.
I could... but as this is a blog, I would have to hunt them down and take a photo. And I am a lazy so-and-so. So, let me tell you want I have. Like I said, I am not the biggest fan of horror, but I seem to own all of James Dawson's horror stories (I haven't read Say Her Name and Under My Skin... yet). I also have an ARC of Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke (again, haven't read it yet). On my kindle, I do have The Small Hand and The Man In the Picture by Susan Hill (and I own The Woman in Black in audiobook form). 

Not sure if these counts as I haven't read these at the time of writing this post, but Welcome to Night Vale: A Novel by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor, Monsters by Emerald Fennell, The Savages by Matt Whyman and The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo. 

Plus, I am pretty certain I own a copy of The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson. I remember reading this late a few nights and the idea of going to get a glass of water at gone midnight freaked me out. I feared that the ghost of Jack of Ripper was under my bed and grab my ankles. That old childhood fear came flooding back! 

9. What are you going as for Halloween this year?
I'm not the biggest fan of Halloween and Trick-and-Treating isn't my thing. So I will be staying in (or going out for food!), hiding behind my book.

10. Favorite Halloween films!!!
I am awful with horror films. I get myself freaked out (I watched The Woman in Black movie - starring Daniel Radcliffe - and I hated every second of it. Hiding my face into my other half's shoulder, going "THIS IS NOTHING LIKE THE BOOK!!!"). I like fun, silly movies. But I think I might watch The Nightmare Before Christmas - it's a Halloween/Christmas movie! If I can find a cheap copy, maybe Hocus Pocus

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Happy Illuminae Day!


I am really excited to read this (have been saving this read - CURSE YOU REAL LIFE!) but to celebrate this exciting read (it is insane! Trust me! I have read several pages as it's nuts!), I have been allowed by the UK publisher, Rock the Boat, to do a tiny giveaway.

I have five copies to give away to five lucky UK readers (sorry, International readers! I lack funds to do international contest but I PROMISE YOU, I WILL DO A SMALL INTERNATIONAL CONTEST IN THE NEXT FEW MONTHS)! All you have to do is fill in the form below.

The contest will end at midday this coming Sunday (25th October) so you only have a few days to enter! All the winners will be chosen via and they will be emailed for their home addresses so the publisher can send them their winning copy!

Good luck everyone! And hang on - it's going to be one insane ride!

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

“Gentrificapocalypse Now” by Sad Receptionist

I am excited to welcome the Nick Bryan onto this blog. The third book in Hobson and Choi series, Trapped in the Bargain Basement, has just come out this month. One of the characters I was curious over when I read the first two books in the series was the Sad Receptionist (Nick is going to talk about him a little further down) so when I was asked if I wanted Nick to come on the blog, I jumped at the chance to know more about this character. And this post below is what I got!

Before I hand this post over to Nick and the Sad Receptionist, I must thank Nick for taking time out to write this post and to Faye for asking if I wanted to be involved.

[AUTHOR'S NOTE – Sad Receptionist is a fictional character from the Hobson & Choi darkly comic crime series by me (Nick Bryan, hi). He is a bored young man who posts meaningful yet juvenile poetry on social media. Follow him on Twitter as @SadReceptionist or check out the H&C books (especially the second one) to discover his secret origin. He also has two 'collections' of poetry on Storify.

Now it's time for his first full length blog post: an epic poem about the relevant social issues around gentrification. Well, mostly it's about him. Big shock.]

Every day I wake up
and go to work in London,
amidst reams of free newspapers
for tramps to wipe their bums on.

I live and work in Peckham
which used to be quite shitty
but now it's full of coffee shops
just like the whole damn city.

You'd think I'd be all about
CostaNeroBucks desecration
as I am the core demographic
for endless gentrification.

But I work on a reception desk
for about two pounds an hour.
I glare at all the residents
but have no actual power.

So despite being a white male
with floppy hair and a cardigan
I live in constant terror of
Subway declining my card again.

Every time my school friends
post another picture of cats
I know my cheap shared house
moves closer to becoming flats.

I either drink in cheap pubs
crying over all I lack
or get laughed out of coffee shops
for not having an Apple Mac.

I always get lost in Shoreditch.
I don't know how to twerk.
I can't justify cool glasses
because my eyes actually work.

I explained this to my Mum
struggling not to cry.
She said “Hashtag first world problems!”
and now I want to die.

I tried befriending other poets
but even that didn't stick.
They said “Your work doesn't scan
and also you're a prick.”

Sometimes I start to worry
that a new Twitter follower
isn't quite enough to
stop life seeming ever hollower.

But I shall not give up
the endless struggle to cope.
A hardback comedy book deal
remains my only hope.

No, no-one ever reads them.
They're just token Christmas presents.
But I do not give a single damn
about wasteful spending by peasants.

For I must realise my dream
of moving somewhere cool.
The tworld of twendy Twitter
can be so horribly cruel.
-- a poem

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

GoodRead - Trigger Mortis

If you have read a post I wrote at the beginning of September (click here if you haven't), I have had a bad run with audiobooks of late. It was a number of things, but for one reason or another, I just couldn't click with them. So, when the lovely peeps at Midas PR asked if I want to review some audiobooks for them, I have been quite hesitant because of the audiobook nightmares I have encountered.

But, with Trigger Mortis, I was intrigued. I have tried (and failed) to read James Bond before but I do like Anthony Horowitz and I knew he can write spy novels well - I mean, Alex Rider, anyone? Plus, you have David Oyelowo reading. It can't be that bad... right?

Set after the events of Goldfinger, Bond is on his next mission. He is asked to go to the Grand Prix, driving on one of the most dangerous tracks in Europe, trying to stop the Russians from sabotaging the race. But when he sees an agent of SMERSH with a rich Korean - Jin Seung Sin - who people dub as Jason Sin (because they either can't pronounce his name or are too lazy to learn it), Bond's mission turns a turn that will see him racing against the clock because what started as a car race could actually be the biggest race of them all...

Like I said earlier, I haven't read Ian Fleming's books (only the movies - don't judge me), but I enjoyed myself listening to this. It had the essence of Bond from the books (I'm not sure if this would work if it was movie Bond) where he smokes too much, drinks too much and enjoys women (I am going to talk about this a little later). It was exciting, fun thriller, which made me remember that Anthony is good at writing thrillers.

Also, Anthony wrote a villain - Jin Seung Sin - that creeped the heck out of me, then made me feel sorry for because of his back story (how ironic that his backstory is reflected with the recent events happening in Syria  and refugees in general) then back to "This guy is nuts and doesn't care who he hurts!". I, weirdly, found him a fascinating character.

There is some problems with this book. But I can't decide if they are big problems that would ruin the book for me or problems with Bond as a whole. With two of them, I have a feeling it's Bond that's the problem.

The first is David Oyelowo's reading of Trigger Mortis. Now, I liked it. I could tell the characters apart, David gave the characters depth. But I can understand some write-ups that I have read where they aren't not happy with the pacing of David's reading. At some point, he does reading very slowly and then, in high action scenes, his reading gets faster so the listener has to change how they listen to the story.

Another thing that true Bond fans might have issue is that Trigger Mortis does try once or twice to make Bond more human - a product of our time rather than a product of Ian Fleming's time. Bond has conversations with people about homosexuality (which at the time was illegal - Pussy Galore was a lesbian in Goldfinger but Bond "turned her" straight by the end of the book) and he is still racist at times. But then, there are moments Bond does act a tiny bit out of character. There is a moment when Bond, about to nearly kill someone, decide to let him live after the man pleads for his life, telling Bond about his family. Now, Bond is a killing mission - nothing matters but the mission - so showing mercy is hugely out of character for him.

But my main issue - which is a huge thing I have with James Bond in general - is the way he treats women. We see him treating women badly time and time again in both the books and in the movies. He enjoys the chase, sleeps with them and then discards them without a moment's thought. And in any form of adventure (movie, book, etc), do we see him decide to be safe and use a condom? Of course, this is Bond!

But in Trigger Mortis, we have three "Bond Girls" (I am trying not to use that term. It's a bit degrading, isn't it?). We have Pussy Galore from Goldfinger, who Bond "turned" straight. She came back with him because she was in danger in New York. But the thrill was gone and, after she was in danger, she ends things with Bond after a few chapters. He wanted her gone for a while but she ends it, basically calling him out on being a coward when it comes to relationships. But, barring this, what exactly was the point of her being in this story? Was her appearance a nod to fans of the book series or was it to show us that Bond is a bit of a sexist pig? Whatever it was, her appearance was lacking and it would have been nice if she was more involved in the story as a whole because of the location of where the book ends. I thought she was going to be in the whole story, not for a few chapters... And with the other two, Logan Fairfax and, the main "Bond girl", Jeopardy Lane, Bond uses them and then dismisses them once their use is over. Logan leaves after she teaches him how to drive a Grand Prix car and Jeopardy... ok, that's spoiler territory but you can guess.

Bond treats these women badly - actually, he treats all women badly - and yet, here we are, kinda celebrating it.

Sorry, that is a rant for a later date, me thinks.

But yes, Trigger Mortis. It was a love letter from a fan to the author and it was a lot of fun. I do hope Anthony Horowitz is asked to write another Bond novel.

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Brief History of Seven Killings - Chapter 1 Audio

A few days ago, A Brief History of Seven Killings won the Man Booker Prize. I have this on my TBR pile (I was allowed a copy when I went to the Rock the Boat Blogger Brunch as I kept picking it up and putting it down) so was excited when I was asked to put this audio clip of the first chapter on my blog. 

Now, I have been warned that this clip is quite intense and this goes on throughout the book so, a nice little heads up in order. There is dark scenes that some readers might find upsetting. 

But I can't wait to get my teeth into this book when I finally move my TBR pile about to fit this in. I hope you like the audio soundbite! 

However, if my blog is being weird and it isn't showing up, you can go to Soundcloud and listen to the first chapter there at

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

The A to Z of Railhead with Philip Reeve: Letter N

N is for Nova

The Motorik looked back at him with what he supposed was meant to be an encouraging smile. She had a cheap, generic face he'd seen on others of her kind; the eyes too big and too wide apart, the mouth too long. But there were patterns of freckles on her cheeks and across her small, straight nose. Whoever heard of a Moto with freckles?

In the previous entry I wrote about Motorik, the android underclass of my Railhead universe. Nova is one of them, a servant to the character named Raven who employs my hero at the story’s start and draws him into danger. I originally had another heroine in mind; Nova was just there to open doors and dump some exposition. But when I started writing about her I found that she had a sense of humour, and a story of her own, and she quickly started to take over. She seems more curious than other Motorik, or maybe just more open about her feelings (and about the fact that she has feelings). She doesn’t mind being a machine - she knows that she’s a very superior model - but she’s fascinated by humans. In the abandoned beach resort of Desdemor she whiles away her time watching ancient movies from Old Earth, and wondering what it would be like to be human. She’s trying out facial expressions, and she has worked out how to alter the pigmentation settings of her artificial skin to give herself freckles, of which she is very proud. She isn’t trying to pass herself off as human. She isn’t some Pinocchio character, yearning to be a real girl. She just wonders what it would feel like…

(Railhead by Philip Reeve is published by OUP. For more information, you can click here and check out Philip's website. The sketch used on this post was drawn by Ian McQue. You can check him out here to see more of his artwork. My thanks goes to Liz for asking me if I wanted to be involved in this tour - Thanks Liz!)

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

GoodRead - Fangirl

IT FINALLY HAPPENED, INTERNET! I must be one of the last YA bloggers I know who has only got round to reading this - my first Rainbow Rowell book and the big mama of her books, Fangirl! And I have known about this since its publication date and I have own (ok, won) a copy since the end of last year. But two things happened that made me go "Ok, I need to read this now".

1. I wanted to read Carry On. I mean, wizards. Kissing. Magic. And it's same sex kissing. But I was told that if I might want to read Fangirl before I consider buying Carry On to "get" it.
2. It felt like time. I felt ready to tackle it. I mean, the book must be good to get the hype and attention it's getting. But the hype worried me a little - what if the book didn't live up to my standards? Well, I won't know if I don't read it, will I?

So, *deep breath* here we go...

Cath and Wren used to do everything together. But they're off to uni now and Wren wants to be dance, drink, meet boys, leave Cath behind. But Cath would rather write her Simon Snow fanfic.

But going to uni will have to force her to be more open. Whether she wants to or not, life isn't going to stand still.

Ok, that's not the best description of this book. I'm sure a ton of blogs have written it better, but I don't want to talk about Cath's fan fiction writing. I want to address that later.

Once I got into the story, I liked it. I didn't hate it - but I didn't love it either. I liked it to see why everyone I know loved this book. I get why you love this book, Internet! I do! But, I did have issues with this book - and I will blame the hype around this book for this.

Let's talk about the positives of this book. I liked the characters. Well, all bar one - but I got why he was the way he was. I liked these characters because these characters were refreshingly flawed. They were flawed to a point which, at times, I did go "No one can be this messed up". And that's nice to read about. Humans are flawed and messy and we have more than one flaw. And the characters in Fangirl are flawed. I had mixed emotions over these characters - at times, I was totally on their sides and on others, I wanted to throw the book across the room (I feel sorry for Lucy aka LucyTheReader for, when we met at the Young Adult Weekender a few weekends ago, I had a rant at her about one of the characters. Did I, Lucy? Or was I quite kind? I can't remember - too nervous over our talk)

And I really liked Rainbow's writing. Once I found my stride, I sped through.

But it did take time to get into her writing. Now, I can't tell you if I had problems getting the hang on Rainbow's writing or if I had trouble getting into the book in general (aka the hype around this book). Let me explain. This book has been sold as the book to read if you have been inside a fandom. That this book gets a fandom. And as someone who has/is still part of the Harry Potter fandom, I should be totally on board with this.

But this book ISN'T about fandom. Let me make this perfect clear. This book is about a girl who is figuring out her life - trying to figure out her life and her place in the world now. And oh, she writes fan fiction. The fandom has NOTHING to do with this book - it's part of this girl's life but it isn't the driving force of this book - Cath is.

Now, I have one tiny nitpicking thing which annoyed me - it's no biggie. But it bugged me and I have no idea why. In my edition, it has bonus content. On the inside cover at the start of the book, there are cartoon drawings of the main characters in the books (see right). Which is cool. I like seeing them. Up to a point. I like imagining the characters in my head, but these drawings pushed themselves into how I saw these characters. The only character that fought tooth and nail to be different from the cartoon was Reagan. In my head, she was black (so was Professor Piper, actually). But she wasn't in the cartoon - she was white. Maybe these drawings should have been at the back (but then, where would that cartoon strip on the back inside cover go? It's revealing a scene and that could be seen as a spoiler...).

So, yes. I have read this book and I liked it. Not loved it like the rest of you guys (sorry - actually no. I'm not sorry. We are all allowed to have our own opinions). But I am going to read Carry On sooner or later. Maybe I can be brave and read one of Rainbow's other books *eyes Eleanor and Park...*

Monday, 12 October 2015

Let's Talk Sex Education

Before I go further into this blog post, I just want to make one or two things clear. First, it has been YEARS since I was in secondary school. YEARS! I can barely remember what I was taught, so I might be misremembering those classes. And second, any mistakes or errors made in this post are not the fault of the outside forces/help, but my own.

Ok, now we have that out of the way, let's talk sex education. Now, this subject has been on my mind for a while. Weeks/months, really. I don't know what made me sit down and think about sex ed, but I began to wonder. Wonder how sex education are taught in the UK. I'm not sure why exactly, but it became a germ in my brain. I had to find out more about this subject. Try and understand it, while trying to turn this into an out discussion.

So, I emailed the Department of Education. I went to the website and emailed them, asking questions about sex education. I asked when sex education is taught, how many lessons of sex education is taught and whether sex education includes sex education for same sex couples?

I got a reply back, but it didn't exactly answer the questions in a way I was happy with. While the Department of Education stated that sex education is important that secondary schools MUST teach it (it is compulsory) and teachers themselves decide when their students should be taught sex education.  No answer was given about how many lessons are taught nor is there is sex education for LGBT teens.

But there are problems with this. The first is that that teachers themselves decide when their pupils should be taught. But in most secondary schools, students have several teachers, one per subject. So, which teacher decides that the students in the class is ready for sex ed? And what happens if one teachers feels the class is ready and another disagrees? What happens then?

The second is that if you a gay teen, sex education for same sex couple isn't compulsory, though people would like this change. It depends on the school is question. But if the school decides against this, gay teens have to look elsewhere.

And this is where the problems lies. Sex education is about teaching teens about sex and safe sex in a safe environment. The word here is safe. If students don't feel like that they can be taught sex in a safe way and could open discussion, again in a safe way, teens will look elsewhere and in a world where sex is everywhere, it becomes unfiltered and might be unsuitable for those trying to understand safe sex.

Now, before you guys start going "Are you saying sex education is useless?", I'm not. I think it is hugely important. But, in a world where sex is everywhere - and I mean, EVERYWHERE! - what could sex ed do in the future to reflect the world around us? How can we be more open and discuss sex ed in a way that doesn't make us want to cringe and be all British and prudish?

Like I said earlier on, there is a ton of outside forces talking to us about sex. Sex sells in advertising, hence why we see men and women wearing very little clothing. But sex is in everything - we see sex in soap operas, TV shows, films, radio programmes, web series, advertising, video games. It's not exactly hard to find porn online - a quick Google search and you're away.

But let's look at sex in soap operas. How many soap operas show their characters having sex or one night stands? Quite often. Ok, how many of these are unprotected and led to unwanted pregnancies or STDs? Again, quite often. How many characters, after having a one night stand or leaving a long term relationship, goes to their doctors and ask for an STD test? Er... not many. And if they do, it's only after they are told that they might have an STD? No character, to my knowledge, gets tested because they think it's safe. How many characters in soap operas do we see buy condoms or other safe sex protection?

But we see characters go buy pregnancy tests or have the morning after pill. So, why is this ok, but not characters buying stuff to keep them safe?

While we're talking about soap operas, these and other medias could be seen as putting pressure of both young men and women to, not only be "perfect" but also degrading people in a way that young people could very easily see members of the opposite sex as not people, but as sexual objects.

For example, these two videos from Feminist Frequency show how certain well known video games treat women. Just look at how the Resident Evil treats their lead female characters and outfits that players can unlock.

Young men are being pushed this ideal of what the "perfect" man should be also, though this seems to be far more recent development. An example of this is in popular films and TV shows such as Captain America, Thor, Magic Mike, New Moon, True Blood and X-Men to name a few. 

Because of this, some people would point out that teens developing eating disorders and body dysmorphia have been on the increase. In male teens, this has increased sharply compared to ten years ago. 

If this is the case, why isn't this taught in sex ed classes, where students are told that they don't need to change to fit what the media or outside forces are telling them is "perfect" and "normal". 

And if this is the case, should we bring in another subject that is kinda important to sex education: consent. 

Consent is important in sex. Hugely important. It's important for teens (and adults - because there are some adults out there who seem to forget this fact) that when someone says no, it means no. So, in sex education classes, should consent be taught? 

Like I said earlier on, I am not saying sex education is failing students. It isn't. But sex education in schools needs to reflect the world we are currently living in. Opening up the discussion about sex education to teachers, parents and teens (maybe even doctors and GPs) in a way that makes sense to everyone involved but to show that safety is important. 

I want to stress again that I might be wrong - and if I am, I am sorry for getting information wrong or coming across like someone who doesn't know what they are talking about, but we need to open up the discussion.