Reading Recap: Blanca & Roja, The Wicked King, Mary Renault

The words 'reading recap' in a white brush script over a blue patterned background, with the words 'at twist in the taile' and an illustration of an open book below.

Hi everyone! I haven’t written a books-related post in like…A Good Time. (By which I mean a very long time.) Perhaps because recently I have read more non-fiction books for school which don’t lend themselves as well to blogging. However, I’ve been on a very  good streak for books in the last month, so I wanted to share a few mini-reviews and a small TBR with you!

Cover of Blanca & Roja. Abstract illustration of a swan turning into petals and the title in fairy-tale font.

Blanca & Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore

This book has affirmed yet again that McLemore writes some of the most breathtaking YA fiction I have read in recent years. I can’t believe I didn’t read this sooner. The writing is so poetic and beautiful, and I fell in love with all four of the characters — the book features two Latinx sisters Blanca and Roja, who fear the family curse that one of each sister will be turned into a swan, and two other characters from the town, Yearling and Page. (I don’t want to reveal too much! ‘Tis so hard!) Personally, it was just so incredibly wonderful for me to read a story with a trans character who uses both he/him and she/her pronouns. Basically, I adored the cast, the relationships, the writing — it was just THAT GOOD.

Cover of The Wicked King. A side view of a crown splashing down and sinking into the water. The title is half-submerged in water.

The Wicked King by Holly Black

I’m not going to lie, I had a pretty limited memory of what happened in the previous book when I picked this up. But it was all good! Although I very much enjoy all the political intrigue, I’m more than happy to let it just pull me along without trying to figure out what’s going on, who’s behind this particular event. I also give it to Holly Black: she is very good at writing this hate/love relationship dynamic. I don’t want to spoil too much (again) but, like, I NEED the next book.

Cover of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. A person wearing red lipstick, red nailpolish and a green shirt with a low neckline poses. Her eyes and the rest of her face cannot be seen.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

I am SO glad I finally got to read this book! It came on sale on the UK Kindle store so i was finally able to get hold of it. And like…WOW. I loved the form of it — how it used present day narration from a journalist, Monique, looking to interview the famous movie star Evelyn Hugo, as well as Evelyn’s own words to Monique and newspaper headlines from the events Evelyn was describing. I was drawn in so completely to Evelyn’s story. I really needed this book at a time when I needed an escape from everything in my life. . I’m definitely interested in Jenkin Reid’s new book, Daisy Jones and the Six, which sounds like it further develops the form used in Evelyn Hugo. Also, just to say, it was way better than The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle.

Cover of Fire From Heaven by Mary Renault. Gold and black geometric patterns with illustrations of men on horses at the side.

Fire From Heaven & The Persian Boy by Mary Renault

These are the first two books in Renault’s series about the life of Alexander the Great, covering up to his death at the end of The Persian Boy. I’m talking about them together because they are technically part of the same series, but in truth they felt more like standalone novels that just happen to follow on chronologically. The first book is written in a 3rd person narrative that switches from person to person — sometimes a little jarringly during a passage, though that could be my eBook format — whereas the 2nd is in the 1st person, exclusively from the point of view of Bagoas.

But, anyway, even if they are somewhat fictionalised, I found them both to be a very interesting and immersive introduction to Alexander the Great (and this period of Ancient History in general because I didn’t know much about Ancient Greece or Persia!). Also, I think Renault gives a good take on Alexander’s potential romantic relationships that isn’t just ‘these 2 bros are VERY close friends’ whilst also not transposing modern ideas of sexuality too much? (I mean, it’s hard for me to say. But I’ve read some books with extremely bad takes, so, it wasn’t that.)

on my tbr

There are several books that I’m looking forward to reading at the moment: Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan, which I FINALLY managed to buy as an eBook, I Wish You All the Best by Mason Deaver (non-binary main character!!! by a non-binary author!!), and Baker Thief by Claudie Arseneault which I picked up from the Gay’s the Word bookshop in London. Also so many more books! But these are the fiction ones that I’m planning to pick up in the very near future.

have you read any of these? do you have any recs for me? i’d love to hear!

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My 2018 in Books

The text 'My 2018 in books' on an old-fashioned illustrated banner, over a spread of open books.

Can I let you in on  secret? I first wrote ‘2017’ instead of 2018 when drafting this post. I think that gives you a good idea of what’s going on with my brain haha. You can also check out my 2017 and 2016 in books if you are so inclined.

overall summary

So this year I read exactly 100 books, meeting my Goodreads reading challenge. This is a bit less than other years, and I think that’s a combination of a) not reading as much due to being more busy and b) reading denser books that take a longer time to read. It also does include a lot of comics, perhaps contributing to the fact that I’m about 10,000 pages lower than previous years according to Goodreads. Ah well! That’s life!

The longest book I read this year was, unsurprisingly, Les Miserables, which I reread over the summer. (I would by far recommend the Donoghue translation over the Hapgood which I read first time already.) Les Mis was also the most popular book I read, and Attis by Tom Holland the least popular at 16 other Goodreads ratings.

favourites

It was so difficult for me to pick these! I realised that I’ve actually read SO MANY good books this year, oh my goodness.

I honestly can’t believe I read Autoboyography by Christina Lauren in 2018 because it feels like an absolute AGE ago. This book just really took me in and pulled at my emotions. The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore was another book that got me extremely invested, and like all her other books I adored it. I can’t believe I haven’t picked up her newest yet! I was so excited to read I Was Born For This and it didn’t disappoint, bringing me a whole new set of characters to love. I loved Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman so much and I’m incredibly excited to read more of her work (I also loved her second book Summer Bird Blue! I just had too many books already!) I also devoured A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi and WOAH. Also, the cover is so pretty oh my goodness.

My second lot starts with the Hawkeye comics, which I’ve reread about 4 times since I first picked them up and continue to absolutely delight me. The art is just SO GOOD and I love Kate and Clint SO MUCH. Far From the Tree by Robin Benway absolutely blew me away with the characterisation and story (and also can we just appreciate a beautiful cover). I very recently finished Run, Riot by Nikesh Shukla and it was so gripping and powerful. A Thousand Perfect Notes by CG Drews was very different but also very absorbing; it felt like a book that spoke to my childhood self but also one that current me loves a lot. . Finally, We Are Okay by Nina LaCour was a nuanced and beautifully written book that really got me feeling those emotions.

hidden gems

The Summer of Jordi Perez and the Best Burger in Los Angeles by Amy Spalding is an EXTREMELY cute and excellent f/f rom-com and I adored it. Noteworthy by Riley Ridgate is about cross-dressing and accapella which is an extremely rad combination. Long Macchiatos and Monsters by Alison Evans is a short queer novella that I loved very much and I have reread because I sometimes I just gotta read a happy trans story to get by.  I’m putting Attis by Tom Holland here more for the experience than to actually recommend it, because it was so difficult to find that I ended up going to the British library to read it? But it was VERY RAD and surreal. I also feel like it represents the fact that recently I have got…very into Classics I guess? Finally, Indigo Donut is a beautifully written story about belonging, family and growing up, set in London, from the wonderful Patrice Lawrence.

There are so many books that I’m excited to read in 2019 — but I shall leave that for another post!

have you read any of these books? what were your favourite books of 2018? anticipated reads for 2019?

I Talk About Comics: Traditional Comics Edition

‘WHAT IS THIS?’ I hear you say. ‘An actual blog post????’ To which I say: yes, I think so?  Today I thought I would talk about comics! Over the last year or so I’ve gotten more and more into tradition comics but I realised that I haven’t actually written much about them. (You can also check out the rest of my comics series where I recommend some other comics.)

Anyway. Despite my love of webcomics, for a long time I found it very difficult to actually enjoy traditional comics. (Not only superhero but just like, traditionally published comics in general.) But now I derive a great deal of joy from them and I want to share it with you! So here I am!

Firstly: how does one read comics? Frankly, I’m not sure how much help I can be here, since almost every comic I’ve read comes from my local library. I am so thankful that my local library is free, and I am able to read the well-stocked collection of trade paperbacks, which I recognise is not something that’s available to everyone. If you are able to use your local library, then I really recommend you check out what they have. Otherwise, you can buy trade paperbacks which come in volumes, subscribe to issues (I’ve only bought like 1 issue of comics and honestly that’s a hidden world to me) or some companies have ways to read comics online like Marvel Unlimited.

Also, I want to acknowledge that both comics and webcomics are not very inaccessible in their current form for blind, visually impaired and other disabled readers. Although there are a few scripts out there, for example on the Comic Book Script Archive, and fan transcriptions (which I have here linked to if possible) these are not common. Thanks to this post by Michael Shifrin for some information on that. Additionally, Comics Empower previously sold audio comics but according to their twitter it’s no longer running. Although comics companies do sell digital copies they don’t provide any kind of transcriptions, scripts or audio comics which is extremely frustrating.

But, yeah, I personally get most of my comics out from the library. The comics section always seemed intimidating for me, so I’ve found it useful to research at least one thing I want to get out before searching for it.

Maybe this is a weird thing to say but…I kind of feel like I had to adopt a new attitude when reading comics. It’s a very odd place in which characters appear in different universes and are constantly reincarnated into new adventures. Sometimes I’ll be reading two different series about the same character and it’s WILD. I can definitely see myself getting annoyed at this inconsistency and lack of understanding but I just like…accept it and move on. I find that treating it like fanfiction helps a lot. I find it difficult to articulate but I just get a very strong fic energy from all the different universes and characters and things that are similar but not quite similar; like fic, a bunch of the comics I’ve read just tend to blur into one haha. I’m sure there’s some more interesting stuff to get into, but there we go.

So where should you start? Well, I read a couple of comics at the start but didn’t enjoy them loads so didn’t take too much of an interest. But once I found some I loved it was like ‘OHHH so now I get why people like this’. Anyway, what I’m trying to say is there are a lot of different comics and genres out there (even within the ‘superhero genre’).

The comics that I’ve most enjoyed have been recommendations from people I know; once I can tell we have a similar taste I can go and find some others! I’m just, like, going to share comics I enjoy the most now, depending on other things you like. (I have been toooo far away from blogging for this)

ms marvel
Image description: The cover of Ms Marvel: No Normal. Kamala stands on the cover wearing a t shirt with a lightning bolt on it, defiantly clenching her fist with one hand and holding schoolbooks in the other.

Ms Marvel

This series is popular for a reason! It follows Ms Marvel AKA Kamala Khan, a Pakistani teenager in New Jersey. There are so many characters to love (not in the least Kamala herself! She starts off as a superhero fan which is such a cool angle) and it’s rad to see a more diverse cast in a superhero comic. Plus, it ties in with Civil War II and actually helped me to, like, actually understand that whole storyline.

Patsy Walker AKA Hellcat!

I have 100% talked about this series before but I LOVE IT SO MUCH. It’s super cute and queer! I enjoy character development and interaction more than a billion fight scenes and a complex plot and this is just…SO GOOD for that. The art is super wonderful and I adore the characters. I am endlessly disappointed that this was cancelled after 17 issues, to be honest. (you may sense a theme here because a lot of comics I enjoy stop after only a few volumes or get cancelled…)

 

Young Avengers

I confess, I still haven’t read the first incarnation of Young Avengers. (Sorry. If it’s not in the library I probably won’t get round to reading it for AGES and that’s just life.) This was maybe the first superhero comic I loved? Again, I adore all the characters, and it’s queer!! It has America Chavez!!! (Among many other rad people including Loki.) It really got me hooked to figure out what happens next – but alas, once again it is only three issues. Transcriptions by Auden Granger of the first 7 volumes can be found for free on Google Drive here, along with some transcriptions of Daredevil, Ouran High School Host Club and Runaways (2003).

hawkeye my life as a weapon
Image description: the cover of Hawkeye: My Life as a Weapon. Hawkeye stands with his bown drawn on a building. Stylised purple and white targets overlay the buildings.

Hawkeye

I LOVE HAWKEYE SO MUCH. It’s one of my favourite series I’ve ever read! Hawkeye is an actual ‘mainstream’ superhero series I like a lot, which I was surprised by. Again, it deals more with Clint Barton’s personal life than it does his official superhero one (though there’s still action in here) which, again, I prefer. This Hawkeye is a human disaster and I love him so much. Also, the art is actually INCREDIBLE. I can’t even. Bonus: Kate Bishop’s solo Hawkeye series is also pretty rad if you want to read more about her. (She’s a Young Avenger too.)

DC Bombshells

All my suggestions so far have been Marvel, since I’m not that familiar with the DC Universe, but I love this one! Thank you Michelle @ The Writing Hufflepuff for recommending it to me. It’s World War II but in a world with no male superheroes, just a diverse group of ladies being rad and IT GIVES ME LIFE.

If you’re looking for non-superhero comics, I can recommend Saga and Lumberjanes. I’ve also read part of The Wicked and the Divine which was an interesting concept but kind of got me down, so. If it seems like something you’d be interested in then do check it out.

Series I am looking to read more of are: The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl (because they never have the 2nd volume in the library and I am SAD), Spider-Gwen, Black Panther, and Iceman, in addition to MANY others.

Sadly I can’t list every single one of the comics I’ve enjoyed in one post! But I hope you enjoyed this, and please do let me know if you have any tips or recommendations. Also, I hope to be putting up a few more posts over the holiday period so look out for those. 🙂

YALC 2018 Recap

The words 'YALC 2018 recap by twist in the taile' next to a 'Five Years of YALC' tote bag and a pile of books. The top book is Run, Riot.Hi everyone! Over the last 3 days I’ve been attending YALC (Young Adult Literature Convention) in London and I wanted to share my recap. Before you say EVE, THIS POST IS SO PROMPT: I’m actually going away this evening so I had to write it right now. Nothing like working under a deadline, right?

I’ve been to YALC twice before, but instead of going only on Saturday, this year I went for all 3 days on my own. It was quite a different experience! I don’t know if I’ll go for 3 days next year since I did get pretty tired and I’m an awkward bean so sometimes I didn’t have anyone to talk to. But I did have lots of fun too.

Friday

The spines of the books Only Love Can Break Your Heart and Starfish. An enamel pin with a cactus and a broken heart is in the foreground.

My first signing on DAy 1 was with Non Pratt. I’ve loved Non’s books for AGES and I’d sadly missed her at the last YALC so I was very happy to get mine signed here! Along with an early copy of her new novel Giant Days, I picked up Only Love Can Break Your Heart by Katherine Webber. I actually read it all in one sitting this morning!

Eve and Non Pratt. Eve wears a yellow t shirt that reads 'maybe some people are just meant to be in the same story'.

Next up was the Can we be friends? panel with Alice Oseman, Gayle Forman, and Lauren Price, moderated by David Owen. I’m so glad there was a panel on friendship, since although I enjoy reading romance, my friendships are far more important in my own life and sometimes I feel like I’m doing something wrong for not having an epic romance. (Not every teen falls in love, folks!)

I got my books signed by Alice Oseman and David Owen who drew a cool alien in the front. 🙂 I also picked up a sampler for David’s new book, yay! It sounds so good!

The books Giant Days, Done Dirt Cheap and Run, Riot spread out on a flowery duvet.

After wandering around for a bit, I went to the Where will you be in 5 years? panel with Katherine Woodfine, Non Pratt, Sara Barnard and Sally Green. It was really interesting the about the origins of YALC and the careers of all the authors. On a similar topic, I’d also like to note that this weekend we saw some more statistics showing that the number of author of colours in the UK has decreased since 2006, following findings by CLPE that only 1% of children’s books published in the UK featured a BAME main character. You should read this thread by Wei Ming Kam on Twitter on the situation and writers of colour to look out for in the coming years.

Saturday

Saturday began with a rocky start when I forgot to check the trains and realised one of them wasn’t working so had to improvise with public transport. Note to self for future: ALWAYS CHECK THE TRAINS ARE WORKING.

The first panel I went to was Politics on the Page with Alice Skinner, Karen Gregory, Sarah Shaffi, Tom Pollock, Tomi Adeyemi & Yaba Badoe. This was one of my favourite panels of YALC and I found it very inspiring. I’m now keen to read the books of the other authors who I didn’t already know! I wanted to get my copy of Children of Blood and Bone signed but the queue was really long (which is awesome!) so sadly I didn’t get round to it.The books Far From the Tree and A Closed and Common Orbit. The cover of Far From the Tree has illustrations of falling leaves.

Next was the Amongst the Stars, a panel with Becky Chambers, Lauren James, Samantha Shannon & Sasha Alsberg discussing all things space and sci-fi. *whispers* I actually love sci-fi a lot and I wish I read more sci-fi books.

I bought a whole bunch of books today which you can see above and throughout this post! They are: Giant Days, Only Love Can Break Your Heardt, Starfish, Done Dirt Cheap, Run Riot, Far From the Tree, A Closed and Common Orbit, Floored, and Noteworthy.

Finally, I went to the Loud & Proud panel with Josh Martin, Keris Stainton & Simon James Green which discussed LGBTQ+ representation. I’d have liked to see more discussion of identities beyond gay characters but I did get some good recs.

Sunday

On Sunday it RAINED! Finally! The workshop I’d intended to go to was full, so I went to a panel on travel with Cecilia Vinesse, Clementine Beauvais, Emily Barr & Rutendo Tavengerwei which was super interesting. Then I had lunch and headed off to Real world, real me with Akemi Dawn Bowman, Eve Ainsworth, Holly Bourne, Lisa Williamson & Lydia Ruffles. (Okay, I know this is getting rather factual but trust me, it was good, I’m just tired.) I saw the cover reveal for the Proud anthology which sounds great!

The books Floored and Noteworthy. Floored shows 6 pairs of feet and 1 pair of feet at the side as though lying down. Noteworthy shows a hand holding a microphone.

I also got to meet many online friends like Elm, Helia, Megan and also some wonderful new people! I’m so glad that I got to do this and it was one of the highlights of YALC this year. 🙂 Thanks everyone I met!

Aand that bring me to the end of my YALC recap. I’d also like to point out that there were serious issues with accessibility at YALC (see this thread by @redrocketpanda on twitter for some details) which is completely unacceptable and needs to be improved for next year.

Once more, I’m going away until the 20th without any internet and I won’t be able to reply to any comments, emails or tweets and such. But I do have 2 more posts scheduled, and I look forward to talking to you when I get back!

 

YALC 2018 TBR

A bookshelf with the YALC logo on top and the text '2018 TBR'.

At the end of this month I’m going to be attending the YA book con YALC and I CANNOT WAIT. I had so many wonderful experiences last year and I hope that it will be just as fun. And for a new year, there are new authors with new and exciting books! Honestly, I’m not sure I’ll make it through this TBR before YALC, but we can always hope.

Cover of A Closed and Common Orbit. Two silhouettes looking up at a red and white star-streaked sky.

A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers I ADORED the first book in this series so shh, please don’t tell anyone I haven’t read this sequel yet. (And I believe the 3rd book is due to come out just before YALC.) Thank you to Becky Chambers for giving me the space gays I deserve!! (Note: after I wrote this post, I read this review on CandidCeillie which points out issues with the book, in particular with the disability rep.)

Cover of Hope is Our Only Wing. Illustration of a yellow wing next to an orange-tinted photo of a person's face looking outwards. The title is in large block letters.

Hope is Our Only Wing by Rutendo Tavengerwei This is set in Zimbabwe! And it sounds excellent!

Cover of Floored. The subtitle reads 'When seven lives collide'. The legs of 6 people wearing shoes at the top and one pair of legs on the side as though fallen over.

Floored by various authors I nabbed a sampler of this at last year’s YALC and found it very intriguing, so I’m keen to read the rest of the story. Also, WHAT A COLLAB?? I’ve never seen a book co-written by this many people so it’s very exciting.

Cover of A Jigsaw of Fire and Stars. A paint-like illustration of a dark skinned figure in the centre, with flames and waves curving around, and a starry night sky above. In the flames there is a ballerina on a white horse, in the waves a boat, and in the sky a yellow bird.

A Jigsaw of Fire and Stars by Yaba Badoe I’ve barely seen anything about this one but it sounds incredible?? The MC Sante is Ghanaian and she has a pet golden eagle and there’s possible some fantastical elements? Also, the cover is beautiful.

Cover of Noah Could Never. A photo of 2 bananas and the title in a crayon font.

Noah Could Never by Simon James Green I just bought this on Kindle and I am very ready. I’m not going to lie, there were some VERY cringey moments in the first book, but I know that it was supposed to be cringe haha, I’m just bad at coping. I saw Simon James Green at an event earlier this year and he made it sound very good.

Cover of The Belles. A glamorous brown-skinned person with flowers in their hair looks back at the camera. The subtitle reads 'the revolution is here' and the title text is disintegrating.

The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton I know I’m super late to this one!! I really want to read it! It feels like I haven’t read a dystopia in absolutely AGES.

Cover of The Hazel Wood. Illustrations of blue leaves and the text 'Stay away from the hazel wood'

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert I knew this one was on the NYT bestseller list but I still don’t really know what it’s about? A spooky forest? Anyway, I’m sad it’s not in the library but it sounds cool.

Cover of Before I Let Go. A photo of ice which is broken at the top. A red glove lies next to the broken ice.

Before I Let Go Marieke Nijkamp  From the blurb, I’m not sure if this will quite be my thing, but I’d really like to give some of Marieke Nijkamp’s work a try!

Cover of Starfish. Drawings of a jellyfish, turtle and small fish over a starry sky.

Starfish I’ve heard great things about this book and once again I’ve been meaning to read it for AGES. It’s actually on sale as an ebook right now if you’re interested! Alas, I think want to buy it in paperback since it’s a) super pretty and b) I love getting books signed.

Cover of How Do You Like Me Now? Illustration of a person with long hair and red lipstick sitting on the floor next to a mobile and coffee cup.

How Do You Like Me Now? by Holly Bourne I very much enjoyed Holly Bourne’s other work so I’d love to read her first adult novel.

OK, in summary I just think ALLL the books sound incredible and exciting. I’m going to YALC for the whole 3 days and I’m not going with any IRL friends so do let me know if you’re going too and would like to meet up. 🙂

have you added any new books to your tbr lately? do you know any of these?

 

The Pride Flag Book Tag

A hand holding up a rainbow pride flag over a clouded sky, with the words 'the pride flag book tag'.

Hi there! It’s almost at the end of Pride Month and I really wanted to write a post to celebrate before June finished. I was inspired by reading May @ Forever and Everly’s Pride Flag Book Tag and I thought that it would be great fun to do this tag — thanks so much for bringing this to my attention! The tag was created by Common Spence on Youtube, with an added prompt for black/brown by May.

  1. red (life) 

a book with a spirited protagonist totally proud of who they are. someone who gives you LIFE!

Cover of Queens of Geek. The title over long pink hair.

I would like to pick Charlie from Queens of Geek! I think she’s awesome and I love that book so much. Not sure what else to say except that. (I’m just getting started with blogging again, please cut me some slack haha.)

 2. orange (healing) 

a book that made you, as the reader, find a deeper meaning or catharsis in your own life

Cover of When the Moon Was Ours by Anna Marie McLemore. Illustration of a silhouette of a water tower at night. Moons hang down from the top of the book. A silhouette of a boy pointing to the sky on the right, and a girl lifting her hand towards him. Illustrations of roses decorate the title text.

 

I know I talk about it ALL the time but When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore came into my life at a really important time where I was first exploring my gender identity, and although my experience does not align exactly with that of Sam, his story made me feel so seen. I can’t emphasise enough how much of a relief it was to read about what I was experiencing. This is actually one of the only books that’s ever made me cry. Also, it’s just a damn beautiful book and you should all read it.

 3. yellow (sunshine) 

a book that fills you with so much joy it could brighten even your darkest day

Cover of The Summer of Jordi Perez. Photo of a girl with pink hair and sunglasses eating a burger.

I just finished reading The Summer of Jordi Perez (and the Best Burger in Los Angeles) by Amy Spalding and IT WAS SO DARN CUTE. Please give me all the soft f/f rom-coms!! It starred a fat gay girl being happy and awesome in summer! Man, it was just so wonderful.

 4. green (nature) 

a book that is set out of this world—a reality different to our own

Cover of Labyrinth Lost. The silhouette of a figure standing before gates with a skull on.

I picked up Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova as a during-exams treat and I ended up finishing it in like a day — it was so readable! I didn’t realise it was going to be queer before I started so I was like HECK YEAH. I can’t wait to read the sequel Bruja Born.

 5. blue (peace) 

a book where one of the characters finds peace with a difficult truth

Cover of Wild by Hannah Moskowitz. The title in blue over a photo of a forest.

I admit, I struggled a little to think of a book that fitted this one, but I went with Wild by Hannah Moskowitz. Both the main character and the love interest are bi, and for a lot of the book the MC Zack basically goes running to try and solve his problems. I don’t want to spoil it but I do feel like he finds some peace in his life, of a sort.

 6. purple (spirit) 

a book that deals with LGBT+ themes and religion

Cover of I Was Born For This by Alice Oseman. Illustrations of many small people on an orange background. The title in a brush font.

Although of course I love Autoboyography, I thought I’d go with something different — I Was Born For This by Alice Oseman. One of the MCs, Jimmy Kaga-Ricci, is a queer trans guy, and he’s also a Christian. I don’t want to give too much away, but religious imagery does feature quite heavily in here. There are also several other LGBTQ+ characters and the other MC Angel is a Muslim.

7. black/brown (inclusivity) 

a book where one of the characters is a queer character of colour / queer indigenous character

Cover of Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert. The words 'Little & Lion' over a flat line illustration of a palm tree, a magazine, a flower, a coffee cup, and a book.

I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert here before but I really enjoyed it! The MC Suzette is a black, Jewish bisexual girl which is awesome. I thought the writing style was wonderful and writing this actually makes me want to reread it.

how’s your pride month? did you know about the history of the pride flag? got any lgbtq+ book recs? i would LOVE to hear them!

BBC Les Mis: Opinions! Predictions! Old posts revisited!

All the way back in 2016, when the new TV adaptation of Les Mis was first announced, I wrote a post called 7 Things I Want to See in BBC Les Mis. It’s taken a LONG time, but finally we’re getting some more news about it, and it’s due to air at the start of 2019. And my Les Mis obsession seems to be rising from the dead, because now I check for the imdb page and talk to people about it all the time. SORRY.

Anyways. I thought it would be fun to revisit my old wishlist, see what’s changed, and add some of my current thoughts on information we had so far. (Because I can only jabber on at my IRL friends so much. They get a bit tired.) I hope that it’ll still be entertaining even if you’re not quite a Les Mis obsessive like me. Although it’s been like 3 years now since I read Les Mis itself so I have to admit, I don’t remember it as clearly as I could in 2016…

But before I look back through my list, I want to talk a bit about my thoughts so far!

Firstly, it’s written by Andrew Davies, who did War & Peace and Pride & Prejudice (the one with Colin Firth). In the interviews I’ve read with him, he seems to very vehemently hate the musical, describing it as a ‘shoddy farrago’. He seems to really want to show people that Les Miserables is a lot more than that, etc. etc. Personally I enjoy the musical and the book so, you know. We’ll see what comes of his desire to show the true character of Les Mis. I do hope that it means he’ll get some good stuff in there but who knows.

Next, the main cast — Dominic West as Valjean, David Oyolewo as Javert, Lily Collins as Fantine, Olivia Colman and Adeel Akhtar as the Thenardiers, Ellie Bamber as Cosette, Josh O’Connor as Marius,  Erin Kellyman as Eponine and Joseph Quinn as Enjolras.

Frankly, I barely know any actors, so I don’t have much to go on, but I’m super excited for David Oyolewo as Javert!  And I didn’t realise until just now that Dominic West played Jonathan in the movie Pride (it’s a great movie, you should go watch it) and now I feel more excited. I’ve written more in deetail about some of the castings below, in my response to what I wrote in 2016.

The cast list hasn’t been updated loads, but there are a few more characters lurking on the IMDb page if you care to look. We’ve also been seeing some pictures from filming, which I’m greatly enjoying  — you can see updates on this BBC Les Mis updates tumblr if you so wish.

Here’s some pictures of the set for the Barricade, with all the French flags out:

However, I was saddened by the announcement that it won’t be airing until 2019. PLEASE, I NEED THIS TO HEAL MY SOUL. Maybe to heal my soul through raging at it. Who knows.

1. Valjean’s James Bond convent escape
2. Nuanced Cosette
3. Non-hunky Enjolras
4. Les Amis de L’ABC
5. Thenardier’s botched robbery (starring Marius)
6. Marius being a nerd
7. The Thenardier family

I mean. I still agree with these. P L E A S E I crave Cosette content so badly! Ellie Bamber seemed cool in an interview I read so…? Who knows? In reference to Enjolras: I don’t know anything about this actor, but they should have cast a black actor. (Read this excellent thread by @JEHANCOURF on twitter and also check out their zine, The Case For Black Enjolras.) Archie Madekwe who plays Courfeyrac seems GREAT though, I’m so excited to see him.

For a while I was Very Stressed that they had cut out the Amis (since the IMDB cast list doesn’t have many of them on) but then we saw some set pictures and it looks like they’re at least present. Although there was also an interview with someone who said they were playing an unnamed student extra, so maybe not.

I mean, I have no idea whether they’ll put in any of the scenes I mentioned here. (And yes, I do know that there are many adaptations out there with various different scenes in! But, you know.) In addition, to this, I really would like to see this adaptation maintain the theme of social change and revolution. Yes, it’s an excellent story, but that message is also a key part of it!

I’ve just spent AGES doing practice Chemistry paper so excuse me if my brain is a little tired. Ah well. In the meantime, I desperately await more news and continue to check the IMDb page every day. Oops.

do you like les mis? what do you want to see in the adaptation? what’s your favourite tv adaptation?

 

 

Spring/Summer Releases on my TBR

Hi everyone! I feel like I haven’t done a bookish post in a while, so here I am. I’m talking about the YA releases of this spring and summer which I’m getting really excited for. This is by no means an exhaustive list, and I’m sure there’s more wonderful books that I’ve left off — these are the ones that came to my mind.

City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab

Okay, I only just realised this was being released in summer, and it sounds excellent. Please give me the haunted Edinburgh ASAP.

Run, Riot by Nikesh Shukla

There’s some great UKYA being released in the next few months! I’m very excited for Run Riot, a crime thriller which looks at gentrification and police brutality.

Floored by various authors

And a second great UKYA! Floored is a collaborative novel by some of my favourite authors like Non Pratt and Tanya Byrne. It’s such a cool concept, right?? I read a sampler of it last summer and it really got me hooked.

Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli

This is another book by an author I love; I’m so excited to see more of the characters we say in Simon Vs, and also YAY a bi girl MC!

Clean by Juno Dawson

Okay, I know this is technically already out, but shhh. It wasn’t out when I first drafted this post. I might have to prepare myself mentally before I read this but I’m also very interested in this since I’ve enjoyed several of Juno Dawson’s other books.

 

The Brightsiders by Jen Wilde

I loved Jen Wilde’s Queens of Geek! And this book also looks SUPER BISEXUAL! Yay! From my look at the reviews, it also seems like it has a genderqueer character? I can’t wait to see. And it’s about a band, which brings me onto my next book…

I Was Born For This by Alice Oseman

You all know that I am actually obsessed with the work of Alice Oseman and I simply cannot shut up about her books. This is a about band fandom, the internet, and the danger of fame. It has two MCs who I am already in love with — Angel, a hijabi Muslim girl, and Jimmy, the lead singer of her favourite band The Ark. I crave trans characters so badly, I can’t wait to meet Jimmy! (Also, side note, but I can’t think of any other UKYA with trans characters of colour. Are there any???)

From Twinkle, With Love by Sandhya Menon

I loved Menon’s first book so I can’t wait to try this one. It’s about an aspiring filmmaker, and also from the blurb I think it has some internet romance? Anyways, I am READY.

 

Theatrical by Maggie Harcourt

I am SO READY in my SOUL for Theatrical. When I read the author’s other book about conventions, I said that someone should write a book about theatre tech, and NOW IT’S HERE. Or it will be.

Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers

I admit, I haven’t actually yet read the second book in the Wayaferers series… But I’m super excited for this nonetheless, because I adored the first one. I love good good queer space books.

Oh dear, I am rather tired today, but reminding myself of all the wonderful books out there cheered me up.

what releases are you excited for? did I miss any crucial ones out? what are you reading right now?

The Orchestra Book Tag

The words 'orchestra book tag' with a music note icon beside. A photo of the books The Loneliest Girl in the Universe, Radio Silence and Warcross in a pile on a checked blue duvet cover.

I love creating new tags even more than I enjoy doing them so I HAVE A NEW TAG EVERYONE. It’s a book tag based on instruments in the orchestra, because I am kind of a music nerd and definitely a book nerd.

Unfortunately I couldn’t include every instrument since a) I didn’t want the tag to be too long and b) I probably couldn’t think of that many things but no personal offence is intended to any instruments. I couldn’t find any tag similar to this so I just decided to go for it — I have no intention of copying another tag but if you find another one around let me know!

How the tag works: link back to this post, if you were tagged then link back to the person who tagged you, do some or all of the questions, and then tag as many more blogs as you like. 🙂 You can also tag it on WordPress with ‘the orchestra tag’ so that it can be found more easily. I’ll put all the questions in a nice, easy-to-copy list at the end.

Conductor

a character likely to mastermind an evil plan

I mean, Kaz Brekker is an obvious answer, but it’s CLEARLY Kaz Brekker. He literally already did this in Six of Crows.

Cover of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. Half-burnt matchsticks arranged in a simple house shape (a square with a triangle on top). The title in a brush font inside the house.

 

Violin

a popular book you enjoyed

I read Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine (which I believe is a Sunday Times bestseller) for my school book club and I actually…liked it a lot? It’s one of my favourite books I’ve read for school book club.

Cello

a character who surprised you

Daniel from Radio Silence by Alice Oseman! I mean, I love this book DEEPLY so obviously must include it in as many posts as possibly. I didn’t pay too much attention to Daniel at the start of Radio Silence but as the book continued some stuff happened and now I love him a lot.

Viola

an overlooked book

The comic Patsy Walker, AKA Hellcat! written by Kate Leth and illustrated by Brittney Williams. I absolutely ADORED this comic and I’m so upset that it got cancelled?? I understand it might not be for everyone but I can’t understand the multitude of negative Goodreads reviews because, man, it just clicked with me SO MUCH and I deeply wish more people would know about it so they can love it too.

Cover of Teeth by Hannah Moskowitz. Two fish hooks arranged in a heart shape over a white scaley background. The title within the heart and the tagline 'Miracles aways come at a price.'

Oboe

a book with an unusual premise

This immediately calls to mind Teeth by Hannah Moskowitz, which is about gay magical fish. It sounds weird, and it definitely is weird, but it’s also VERY good. Just trust me.

Clarinet

a book you’d recommend to anyone

(I am personally a clarinetist so obviously I had to include us. Clarinets are very versatile, folks.) The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James. I think this could apply to so many books (and versatile doesn’t necessarily mean a book is better or  anything) but The Loneliest Girl was just such a gripping read for me. Sci-fi has a reputation for being a bit dense but I think this is super easy to understand and enjoy. (Bonus piece of music: have you heard the Saint-Saens clarinet sonata? Isn’t it lovely?)

Flute

a character who stands above the rest

I just read Indigo Donut by Patrice Lawrence and I loved Indigo, she was such an engaging & interesting character. (Bonus piece of music: Carillion from L’Arlesienne by Bizet. You might have already heard bits of it but it has a Very Nice wind section in the middle which I played in my orchestra.)

Cover of Love, Hate & other filters by Samira Ahmed. A person with brown skin and dark hair in a bun taking a photo with the camera pointed at the reader. They stand in front of a red wall with colourful tessellating patterns at the bottom. The title and author above.

Trumpets

a talked-about book on your TBR

I’ve heard so much about Love, Hate & Other Filters by Samira Ahmed and I just downloaded the eBook to read this week! I’m super excited! (UK readers, it’s on sale on Amazon for only £0.99 which is an amazing deal. This isn’t sponsored, I just love a bargain haha.)

Horn

 

a historical book

I don’t read much historical fiction, but the last historical thing I read was the novella Caroline’s Heart by Austin Chant. It’s a historical fantasy which really gave me Howl’s Moving Castle vibes. Also! I love reading books with multiple trans characters! Please give me all the sweet sweet trans books!!

Tuba

a book which strongly informs how you are as a person

(Because tuba is the bass, like a basis for you, get it? I don’t know. Maybe that’s a bit tenuous.) Probably Les Miserables by Victor Hugo? That might sound pretentious but getting into Les Mis has had a really big effect on my life in terms of affirming my own beliefs and identity.

Cover of The Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman. An old-timey engraving-esque illustration of a boat with two figures riding a wave under a stormy sky. Two animals climb over the gold title text.

Piano

a very long book

I mean, I already banged out the longest book I’ve ever read which was Les Mis (oops), but I wanted to keep this one open for both already read books and those on your TBR. So I’ll go with The Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman. I loved His Dark Materials when I was younger but I haven’t yet got round to this because I’d like to reread the original trilogy first. I guess I’d better get going… (Bonus piece of music: we’re doing this movement from the Beethoven Pathetique sonata for GCSE music and it is a TUNE.)

Timpani

book which finished with a bang

Hmmm. HMM. (Don’t you just love it when I have to think real hard about answering my own questions?) OH OH I KNOW. Warcross by Marie Lu! This one had me VERY shook. Obviously I don’t want to spoil it but you should 100% read it.

Anyway, during the course of writing this post it has become apparent to me that the left and right alignment of images does not work on my actual blog webpage anymore which is rather annoying. Anyone else getting this?? Or is it just my super old theme?

Never mind — I do hope you enjoyed this tag! Once again, the questions are as follows:

Conductor – a character likely to mastermind an evil plan
Violin – a popular book you enjoyed
Cello – a rich, nuanced character
Viola – an overlooked book
Oboe – a book with an unusual premise
Clarinet – a versatile book you’d recommend to anyone
Flute – a character who stands out from the rest
Trumpets – a talked-about book on your TBR
Horn – a historical book
Tuba – a book which strongly informs how you are as a person
Timpani – a book which finished with a bang
Piano – a very long book

And I’m tagging Lia @ Lost in a Story, Michelle @ The Writing Hufflepuff, Jess @ Bookends and Endings and anyone else who wants to do it! But there’s absolutely NO pressure, please don’t worry. 🙂

Middlemarch: the Webseries and Novel

Hey everyone! I hope you’re doing well. Exams are really taking it out of me at the moment, to be honest, so I decided to do something fun which is just going to be lots of talking about a thing I’m into recently! And that’s the webseries (and also novel) Middlemarch.

I don’t normally read classic books, particularly ones that were written before the 20th century. In fact, the only other ones I can remember reading are a few Sherlock Holmes stories by Arthur Conan Doyle and Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. I can name a few more books that might be considered ‘modern classics’ but in general I do stick to YA and comics.

My love for Les Miserables and Middlemarch have one a lot in common — and one big thing is that I was inspired to read both of them after become a fan of an adaptation. For Les Mis, as you might have guessed, this was the musical adaptation. I love musicals, and I love that musical a lot, but the book was a pretty different experience! In a good way. I don’t think I’d ever have had the motivation to continue reading through these (frankly rather long) books if I wasn’t already invested in seeing more of the characters. I usually fall in love with things for the characters, and that was no exception here.

I decided to read Middlemarch because I had begun watching the wonderful webseries adaptation, Middlemarch: The Series. It’s a super queer modern adaptation set in college which is told through vlogs. You can absolutely watch it without reading the book (as I did for about the first half) and I’d highly recommend it! It gives me SO MANY FEELINGS and it’s now complete if you don’t want to wait around for updates. You can find it here and watch the trailer below.

Having previous knowledge of an adaptation also helps me to get a better understanding of the overall plot and characters. It allows me to pick up on more subtle characterisations which I might have missed or to go ‘ohh, I see which bit this is!’ when I realise what it corresponds to in the adaptation. It makes it just SO for me to connect with the characters I’m reading about.

To be honest, I found the novel rather slow and difficult at the beginning. I missed the queer characters from the webseries and I found the language hard to understand. However, I think a big reason I started enjoying it more is that I put more into the reading. I’m a pretty bad skim reader and especially during books with small writing I find myself turning page after page only to realise I’ve been absorbing absolutely nothing. THIS DOES NOT WORK FOR ME WITH BOOKS LIKE THIS.

Once I made myself read more slowly, take stuff in, and actually think about how that section resonated with me, it worked a lot better, and by the end I was invested and feeling for the characters all over again.

Reading classics is a very different experience for me from reading YA. (Well, I’m sure it is for many people haha.) Some people try to give the sense that you’re only a “proper reader” if you read classics or whatever but that is TOTALLY INCORRECT and you should read whatever you want! Or even not read at all! Personally, I don’t see myself reading lots more classics in the future, but I found reading Middlemarch to be a rewarding and different experience to my normal reading fare. Now I’m back to catching up on the webseries. 😀

As I said, mock exams have been pretty tough for me, so please forgive me for posting with less frequency than usual. I send you good vibes from this rainy day where I am. ❤

do you enjoy classics? what do you think of modern adaptations? have you watched any webseries?