Les Mis: A Crash Course

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This April marked two years since I fell down the rabbit hole of Les Miserables, and by extension many other musicals. TWO YEARS. It feels like a long time ago. I’ve changed a lot since then. Les Mis became, and still is, a really important part of my life!

Thus, to mark the occasion I bring you my guide to Les Mis, for people who know nothing about Les Mis. I am currently listening to the musical and I am READY FOR THIS.

so what is it???

Les Mis refers to the book Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, covering a failed revolution and a reformed convict in 19th-century Paris, and its subsequent adaptations, most notably the Broadway/West End musical.

les misérables, the book

les miserables book

Our journey begins with the novel Les Misérables-with-the-e-acute novel by French author Victor Hugo, published in 1862. The main characters are:

  • Jean Valjean, an escaped convict leading a life of extreme coincidences. Stole a loaf of bread.
  • Javert, the policeman hunting him for breaking parole. He was born with scum like you. Lawful but…well. Misguided.
  • Fantine, a kind & lovely girl who got abandoned by this guy and ended up in prostitution.
  • Cosette, her blessed daughter and my wife. Sappy, but hates not being told stuff. Deserved better from the musical.
  • Marius Pontmercy, a rich boy who get thrown out by his family and then lives as a poor student in Paris. He’s an absolute nerd and he loves Cosette. One time he hit his head for two hours against a tree.
  • Eponine Thenardier, a girl born into a not good family but doing her absolute best to kick your ass and overcome her unrequited crush on Marius.
  • Also some students called Les Amis de l’ABC. If you’ve seen the musical, you’ll probably only know their leader, Enjolras. (He’s the guy in red.) However, if you go into the book internet fandom, you’ll probably find it focuses more around these students. If you only know the musical you probably haven’t heard of them, but never fear. I’ll cover them in more detail later.

It’s a pretty long book, but I do think if you love Les Mis then it’s worth it! Lots of people call it The Brick due to…well, its very brick-like nature as a book. (That is to say, it’s very long.) Other things you might need to know are the Infamous Waterloo Section, which is an essentially an essay about Waterloo,  and the time that Valjean broke out of a convent in a grave. There are many different translations, ranging from modern (Donougher, ose) to old-timey but free (Hapgood). You can even do a Les Mis tour of Paris in which you visit the original sites. DON’T WORRY, I’M COMING TO THE STUDENTS.

les amis de l’abc

Yeah, I’m giving them a separate section because I LOVE THESE KIDS. The main things you need to know are that they have an extremely minimal/sometimes even non-existent part in the musical and…still quite a comparatively small part in the book. HOWEVER THEY ARE VERY IMPORTANT SYMBOLICALLY. (Or so I hear.)

Anyway. They all like jokes, and their name is a French pun (for l’abaisse which is apparently like the abased/degraded, thanks internet). They have so many French puns. I don’t even understand them most of the time. From the sometimes few information Victor Hugo gives us, the fandom has sort of interpreted personalities, which somehow absorb into one’s brain through Collective Fandom Knowledge, which is pretty epic.

  • Enjolras, who as Victor Hugo goes to great pains to tell us about is Very Very Handsome. His girlfriend is France. (I’m telling you. This is a canon joke.)
  • Combeferre is very chill, but will outsmart you. His main book attribute is just be SUPER SMART.
  • Courfeyrac sometimes acts like a douchebag but has a good heart. (This part is also actually canon. Maybe paraphrased, but.) Probably would be the lead singer of an indie band if he was alive today. Ray of annoying sunshine. These first three make up the ‘triumvirate’, which seems to basically just be a fancy word for group of 3.
  • Grantaire, the drunk cynic who goes on long drunk rants about intellectual things that I don’t understand. In unrequited love with Enjolras. (I don’t want to spoil you, and you know, interpretation and all, but there are some pretty gay moments.)
  • Jean Prouvaire, or Jehan, is the shy poet who actually has Many Opinions, probably would wear a flower crown.
  • Bahorel, who would probably either get in a fight or do other dumb stuff for the memes.
  • Feuilly, an optimistic orphan who works super hard. (Not actually a student, but still part of the group.)
  • Bossuet, whose name is based on another obscure French joke and can’t grow any hair. Always smiling but has terrible luck. Also known as Lesgle, L’aigle de Meaux… I mean, I don’t eve know how we got here.
  • Joly, a hypochondriac medical student who is a cinnamon roll.
  • Musichetta, a ‘superb and literary girl’ whom Joly is wild over. She can wreck you.
  • Oh yeah, Marius is also part of this gang but he’s definitely not the leader as the musical suggests. He’s a TERRIBLE revolutionary.

Excuse me whilst I feel a bit emotional here. This hasn’t included Eponine, Gavroche, and Cosette, who I sometimes group with them just for ease even if they’re not technically of the ABC, but OH WELL. MY KIDS. ;-; And just for good measure, here is an amusing post of “Les Amis as stuff the students living next door to me have done”.

les mis, the musical

les mis musical.png

This is probably the more well-known and accessible form of Les Mis. It’s a very popular sung-through musical now, but when it was released the critics were like OMG NO IT’S TOO SAPPY AND TRAGIC. I Dreamed a Dream and Do You Hear the People Sing? are among the best-known songs. The Confrontation, a duet between Valjean and Javert, is also very much a jam in my personal opinion. However, the musical does cut a lot of the book, in particular Les Amis, the details of Valjean’s life and Cosette being an absolute badass.

Some things you should know about various different forms and productions:

  • The original French concept version is SUPER different and even features a…disco version of Red and Black? Which is pretty hilarious to be honest.
  • Original cast is rad. I would recommend.
  • Other cool things to watch/listen to are 10th anniversary and 25th anniversary, although a word of warning: Nick Jonas plays Marius is 25th anniversary and he is nOT GOOD.
  • The 2012 movie made the musical a lot easier to follow than just listening to a cast album, which is great! Personally I think that after listening to cast recordings, the musical singing definitely isn’t as good *coughs*Javert*coughs* but you can get a solid idea of the story. (I saw this before I saw anything else.) I actually think Eddie Redmayne is a solid Marius. Sadly they cut some parts from the musical, but. Grantaire has a veeery small part in this but his actor George Blagden appears to be, like, a complete Les Mis nerd? which I still find amazing? (Like, is that an Enjolras/Grantaire fansong on Youtube? IS IT??)
  • It did produce this TRULY EXCELLENT VIDEO, which I am just going to embed for good measure:
  • I’ve also listened to some of a Spanish version, Los Miserables and I liked it a lot! I still think this version or Red and Black is super excellent. (I’ve fallen into the hole of watching Les Mis in different languages, and now I’m watching Daniel Diges in Les Mis Brasil? I mean, who even knows anymore.
  • I haven’t watched many Les Mis Broadway things since of course I’m nearer to the West End production, but this performance at the Tonys is wonderful! I particularly think Eponine, Marius, Enjolras, and Valjean are great. ❤ (That was like…half the people haha. THEY’RE ALL GREAT.)
  • There’s probably a lot more stuff I could say, to be honest, and I will undoubtedly regret not putting something in later, but OH WELL. Here’s an In The Heights/Les Mis mashup.

tv series???

Last year the BBC announced they were making a (non-musical) Les Mis miniseries, written by Andrew Davies, and in February this year he stated that he had just finished writing the first draft. It’s due to air next year, and for one I am very interested to see what it comes up with! I even wrote about the stuff I’d love to see them put in if you want to check it out. 😉 Other Les Mis-related content of mine includes a Jehan cosplay tutorialLes Mis v Hamilton fandom battle, and the Les Mis book tag.

There are, of course, many other adaptations, including several movies, radio plays, and TV series, and it’s very easy to fall into the hole of internet searching. As you can perhaps see by my myriad of links and 1.5k post on this topic. (Me, a Les Mis fan? I mean, maybe a bit.)

do you like musicals? what do you think about les mis? is there a particular fandom which is important to you?

The Wicked Book Tag

wicked book tag.jpg

I was thinking about my Les Mis Book Tag shameless plug there and then I was thinking…WHAT IF THERE ARE OTHER MUSICAL BOOK TAGS? A quick Google search picked up the wonderful Wicked Book Tag by What the Hell is She Reading? and now I am here with you today. When I do tags I tend to write rather a lot about the stuff I pick, so I decided it might be better for all our sakes for me to edit a few questions out — I hope you don’t mind!

spies-michael-frayn

No One Mourns The Wicked

no one would feel bad if this character died

Man, I have to say… I think I’m going to go with Keith’s father from my really weird GCSE text Spies by Michael Frayn. Although Dolores Umbridge is also a really solid choice, I thought I may as well be creative, and to be quite frank I don’t think I would miss any of the characters in Spies that much. (Okay, that might be a little cold-hearted. But Mr. Hayward actually is a sinister bastard.)

am-i-normal-yet

The Wizard and I

a book that gives you hope

Holly Bourne’s whole Spinster Club series make me feel really good about activism, and about the passion and power of young people to change things. They make me want to KEEP ON FIGHTING against all the crappy stuff in the world. They also remind me how wonderful friends can be.

when-mr-dog-bites

What Is This Feeling?

a book you loathed

(*whispers* this song…so not gay…ahahaHAHA OF COURSE NOT. NOPE NOPE NOPE.) (Upon relistening, Wicked was a lot more gay than I realised at the time.) This one is a little difficult because whenever I hate a book, I just don’t finish it and hence it isn’t on my Goodreads. I really rely on my Goodreads to remember stuff, okay?!? But I didn’t particularly like the book When Mr Dog Bites from 2015’s Carnegie shortlist; it just annoyed me a looot. It wasn’t terrible, but…yeah. I just didn’t get on with it.

lumberjanes

Dancing Through Life

a carefree, light book

Definitely the comic Lumberjanes! I’m not completely up to date with the series, but they’re just really fun and fluffy and they make me feel warm inside. Even if it’s kind of insane. But I LIKE THAT.

white-cat

Popular

a book that needs more recognition

Ooh look, a handy link to my 2016 books recap featuring some hidden gems! 😉 No, okay, I have SO MANY CONTENDERS for this but I’m picking the Curse Workers series by Holly Black. (The first one is called White Cat.) I absolutely ADORE this series — magic! except also contemporary?!? just in general awesome worldbuilding! crime! self loathing! great writing! Seriously, READ IT FOR THE PREMISE. THE WORLD IS SO FRIKKIN COOL. I am endlessly confused by the fact that no one seems to have read it.

trouble-non-pratt

Defying Gravity

a character that basically says screw the world I’m doing my own things

Hannah from Trouble by Non Pratt! SHE IS JUST GONNA DO HER THING AND EVERYONE CAN GO STUFF THEMSELVES. Although the book is about her trying to overcome what everyone says and find out what she wants, I think she gets there. 🙂

carry-on-new-cover

As Long As You’re Mine

a scene from a book where your OTP couldn’t keep their hands off each other

Would it…be really bad if I said Carry On? Because DUUUDE this is Simon and Baz. Any of Rainbow Rowell’s books could be here, to be honest, because somehow she managed to write romances that I’m really invested in. Simon and Baz are just super in love with each other. I don’t want to spoil loads, but there is FIRE and KISSING. And because I’m nice, a bonus feature with the new paperback cover.

golden-son

Wonderful

a character who’s full of themself

I’m currently reading Golden Son by Pierce Brown and I think I have to say Darrow. I like him! He’s cool! But he does think he is the special saviour come to morally cleanse everyone or whatever. Like, dude. (And eVERYONE SPEAKS INCORRECT LATIN I DON’T UNDERSTAND SOMEONE SAVE ME FROM ITTTT)

les mis deluxe cover

For Good

a book that has changed me for good

I am going to be the Most Predictable And Annoying Person Ever by choosing good old Les Miserables by Victor Hugo for this one. WHAT CAN I SAY? I think it has changed me a lot; it might sound stupid but getting into Les Mis and musicals has actually made me more into social activism, I think. And in general has just changed my fandom & interests.

I’m tagging Elly @ A Hufflepuff’s Thoughts and anyone else who likes Wicked or wants to do this tag! The full list of questions can be found here for anyone who doesn’t want to be lazy and pick some out like me haha. (I’m at 800 words. Sorry. I don’t think I can make it to 1.5k.)

One Page More! E03: Fun Home & Cameron Post

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Remember I still make these? Remember me? ‘Tis I, a tiny awkward person trying to podcast! Here I am with another episode of One Page More! in which I talk about YA, musicals, and social issues. This episode I discuss two things I like a lot — the graphic novel and musical Fun Home, and the book The Miseducation of Cameron Post.

Er, yeah. *hides* I hope you enjoy, as ever, and if you want to guest then let me know! (I super need to sort out guest things for the next few episodes, so.)

Some parts of this make me cringe slightly, and I wish I had phrased them differently, so SORRY ABOUT THAT. Also, every time I talked about queer stuff I either said it a) very quietly or b) too fast because my mum was in the other room and y’know, not out to the parents yet and all that jazz.

how are you? have you read/listened to either of these?

The Hamilton Book Tag

hamilton book tag

This tag has been a long time coming. I’ve been obsessed with the musical Hamilton for about a year now, and I’ve professed my love frequently on both this blog and social media! (Along with many other things. :P) A while back I did the Les Mis Book Tag, so I think it’s only fair that I now give centre stage to the revolutionaries across the Atlantic! Although I wasn’t actually tagged for it, I found this on Chasing Faerytales; it was originally created by Maureen Keavy.

carry on uk cover

The Room Where it Happens: a book world you would put yourself in

Well, I probably should say Harry Potter. Because I love the Wizarding world, and I also love magic, and the Ministry of Magic also SUPER needs reforms. (Has anyone noticed the utter lack of democracy? Yeah, no.) But I have to confess that I think I’d go to Watford from Carry On! Because the spells are based on popular idioms, and I am a language nerd. And also because I like cherry scones.

The Schuyler Sisters: an underrated female character

*waves hands around frantically* I HAVE SO MANY CHOICES FOR THIS GUYS. I’m frequently upset by the lack of love given to girls in books. (Ginny Weasley! Agatha Wellbelove! Blue Sargent!) But I think I’m going to go for Cosette Fauchelevent from Les Mis, because I have been in love with her since forever. Asdfjkl she is just an amazing kind goddess person and I find it difficult to express my affection. ❤this savage song

My Shot: a character that goes after what they want and doesn’t let anything stop them

This description definitely fits Kate Harker from VE Schwab’s This Savage Song. (I know it’s Victoria Schwab in the US, but my UK version says VE. So I AM GOING WITH THAT.) I mean, she definitely has a lot more depth beneath her cold ambitious exterior, but she is still a very scary girl. You know, killing monsters and all that.

Stay Alive: a character you wish was still alive 

I mean, this applies to every single character from Les Mis, but that’s a given. 😉 I don’t want to spoil too much so I’ll put it in white, but: ALED’S DOG FROM RADIO SILENCE BY ALICE OSEMAN. Literally the most heart-breaking thing, oh my goodness. (And yes, that counts as a character.)

fans of the impossible lifeBurn: the most heartbreaking relationship you’ve ever read

There are rather a lot of contenders here – particularly Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park — but one that sticks out to me is Fans of the Impossible Life. It’s not the most well-known book ever, but I ADORED it and I 100% recommend it if you’re looking for an awesome contemporary YA with queer characters. Anyway, all three of the main characters are (kind of?) in a relationship and you sort of know it’s coming, but… you feel the pain anyway. And I swear this isn’t much of a spoiler. IT’S ON THE FIRST PAGE.

You’ll Be Back: sassiest villain

Man, I’m going to have to go with another Schwab: Victor Vale from Vicious this time! Aside from the obvious awesomeness of this book, Victor has a lot of great angsty cutting lines.there will be lies

The Reynolds Pamphlet: a book with a twist that you didn’t see coming

There Will Be Lies by Nick Lake is the most plot twist-y book I have ever read. Not only is there one crazy twist, but multiple. I even forgot they were coming when I re-read it. PROPS TO HIM FOR THAT.

Non-Stop: a series you marathoned

I read The Mortal Instruments + Infernal Devices over the summer two years ago (wow, that sounds so long!) but more recently I marathoned the first three books of The Raven Cycle. I finally gave into the hype and got out all three from my public library! It’s safe to say that I fell in love and haven’t looked back. 😛

ghostwrittenSatisfied: favourite book with multiple POVs

Yes! That is a non-YA book you see! Although David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas is probably more well known, I was astounded by his ability to differentiate no less that 9 (9!) first person perspectives in this. All writers should take notes on character voices. *nods* Each story has its own flavour, and you wish that they didn’t finish so soon! I’m always so interested in fleeting connections with other people’s lives, so this was perfect for me.

Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story: a book/series you feel will be remembered throughout history

Harry Potter is the obvious answer for a modern book here. And I’m pretty sure that it will be remembered for an awfully long time! But, you know, I’d also hope that Shakespeare’s plays and Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables would also make it through. (I know this is the Hamilton and not the Les Mis book tag. I JUST HAVE A LOT OF FEELINGS ABOUT MUSICALS. As I’m sure you all know by now haha.)

are you a hamilton fan like me? which song is your favourite? and if you enjoyed this, check out my les mis v hamilton fandom battle!

One more thing: I’m going to be away with absolutely zero wifi between 24th July (Sunday) and 4th August. Unfortunately I won’t be able to talk to you during that time, but I’ll be catching up as soon as I get back!

May Favourites!

AAH MAY IS DONE. Which means…EXAMS! *freaks out* But it’s okay, they’re not actual big scary exams for me. I am constantly amazed by all of you who are doing those, and I wish you all the best of luck.

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1. Teeth by Hannah Moskowitz I was lucky enough to win this from Chiara Sullivan and AAAH IT WAS SO GOOD. I’ve been wanting to read one of Hannah Moskowitz’s books for ages and this was such a good first impression. I’m definitely going to be picking up more of her books soon. YES WEIRD MERMAID FAIRYTALES. Although my heart is kind of broken, but whatever.

2. Billy Elliot Also a film I have been meaning to watch for way too long. IT WAS SO GOOD?!? Now I feel like so motivated about dancing, even though I have never been a dancer in my life and I’m not going to be. Like, I don’t really know what to say other than insert a lot of superlatives here.

3. MCM London YAY CONS. I always put them here, but they’re always awesome. So. I cosplayed as Jehan from Les Mis for this — you can check out my costume here — and I now have NO MONEY. Mwahaha. I bought an absolute ton of Japanese sweets, arty things, and also several pairs of cute socks. (They were Totoro and cats.) Plus, I finally got round to buying Lucy Saxon’s Take Back the Skies which I’m enjoying so far!

4.Inception Okay, so I finally watched this movie. I mean, I wish it had more female characters but I did love the premise. ( I’M SORRY. I’ve read Inception AUs already. I think they gave me a lot better idea of what was actually happening.) But YAY heists and weird mind bending stuff! Also, Arthur is the shy dude Cameron from 10 Things I Hate About You and I spent the whole movie trying to figure out where I recognised him from.

5. Witchy Yay webcomics! I’ve been reading a lot of excellent ones lately, but I’m loving this in particular. It has such beautiful art and colouring, as well as an awesome fantasy world and adorable characters. (The longer your hair, the more powerful your magic.) (I would fail in this world. BUT IT’S COOL ANYWAY.)

6. Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812 I started listening to this musical adaptation of a (very small) part of War & Peace purely because Philippa Soo is Natasha. But IT’S FABULOUS. I really love the mix of operatic and electronic styles! Now I’m kind of thinking I might have to read War & Peace. (Why do heavy classical books make such good musicals? Is that a rule? *shrugs*)

7. Half Mystic I DIDN’T HAVE A PICTURE. But anyway. I’ve been spending some wonderful evenings appreciating this journal. I FEEL SO INSPIRED. There’s an absolute ton of amazing creators in there aah. I really recommend you go get yourself a copy! ❤

Stuff from around the internet:

  • An Overthinking Teenager and I wrote a collab review of Lauren Aquilina’s new music! You can read my review here and AOT’s here. 🙂
  • VE Schwab’s A Conjuring of Light got a cover, and it is SUPER beautiful.
  • AAAH my first ever publication (!!) was this month. (Sorry. I’m kind of excited.) I’m honoured that my poem transit features was in the new issue of Werkloos, in limbo.
  • Aentee @ Read at Midnight and Victoria both discussed shipping!
  • In the latest episode of Eve Tries To Analyse Fandom™, here is an article about fan entitlement. I mean, I don’t agree 100% with everything the author says but it’s definitely a worthwhile read.
  • Also, there was a surprisingly good programme on Radio 4 about non-binary identities. (I KNOW. Radio exists online?!? I don’t know if people from all countries can listen, but there’s definitely going to be some stuff I’m checking out.)

In the diary:

  • I did my clarinet exam and I got a distinction! 😀 YAY I’M SO HAPPY. I thought I’d really worked hard for this grade, so I’m super glad it payed off.
  • CARNEGIE BOOK CLUB IS FINISHED. *falls to floor* This year was so good! I was really impressed with the standard, and I found a lot more that I liked compared to other years. My personal favourite is probably still Lies We Tell Ourselves, but One and The Lie Tree are both in second.
  • I saw A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Globe, which was insane but also fun. THE MUSIC WAS GREAT. Especially the Puck music. I’m also off to see Romeo and Juliet, which I think should be fun. I’ve studied it in quite a lot of detail so I think it’d be cool to see acted…?
  • We are singing Carmina Burana in choir and it is Very Very Fun and also Very Very Difficult. *laughs manically*
  • Boris Johnson is no longer Mayor of London. We can celebrate. No, I’m actually pretty pleased with Sadiq Khan. He isn’t perfect but he’d probably have been my choice if I could vote. And I definitely appreciate how somebody has finally managed to get their act together and join across parties in support of the Remain campaign.

how has your month been? have you been taking exams? or are you still? if so, good luck from me! ❤

The Les Mis Book Tag

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If at this point you didn’t know I have an obsession with Les Mis: I HAVE AN OBSESSION WITH LES MIS. And very recently it was the one year anniversary of my becoming obsessed with Les Mis, so this is my celebration post! *showers confetti* Also, I was upset that a Hamilton book tag existed but a Les Mis one didn’t, so. I MADE ONE MWAHAHA. It may have resulted in me bursting into song/tears at random intervals whilst writing, but those are basically common occurences anyway ahaha 😛

I Dreamed a Dream

i had a dream my life would be so different from this hell i’m living: a book that didn’t live up to your high expectations

My mind is very much on French history as I write this post, so I’m going to with Liberty’s Fire by Lydia Syson. I WAS SO HYPED FOR THIS: Paris! Revolution! Queer characters in history! Alas, it was not to be. The romance bored me immensely, and it was such a significant part of the book that it basically ruined the whole thing for me.

vicious ve schwabThe Confrontation

i’ve hunted you across the years: your favourite literary duo

I just reread Vicious by V.E. Schwab, which is possibly one of my favourite books of all time. Obviously I have to choose Victor and Eli. I CAN’T BELIEVE IT’S GETTING A SEQUEL ASDFJKL. (Although Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton are a close second.

Castle on Cloud

i know a place where no one cries: a book you have read that made you comforted + happy

I think I could go for Fangirl, but I also adore Jandy Nelson’s I’ll Give You the Sun as a pick-me-up book. Fangirl feels like a warm hug, but IGYTS feels like a ray of rainbows and sunshine and happiness to be alive beaming down on me. It just makes me want to art and love and dance and asdfjkl I REALLY LOVE THIS BOOK. I encourage absolutely everyone to read it. *nods*

the rest of us just live hereRed and Black

red, the blood of angry men: a book you have an unpopular opinion about

I’m doing a shadowing group for the Carnegie medal right now, and there was a very…well, interesting opinion on Patrick Ness’ The Rest of Us Just Live Here. Everyone complained that it was too boring and the satirical excerpts of Satchel and the indie kids would have made a better book. Which I thoroughly disagree with. It was just a mash-up of everything I hate in dystopian YA. *coughs* I don’t think The Rest of Us is for everyone, but personally I did love it!

Do You Hear the People Sing?

will you get up and follow me?: a book you read due to hype

I read The Secret History by Donna Tartt purely because I saw about a million aesthetic edits for it on Tumblr and I wondered what all the fuss was. I did like it, but…I was very confused for a lot of it. I think this post explains it quite accurately.

http://falloutgirlongirl.tumblr.com/post/133172279912/what-is-the-secret-history-about

One Day More

one more dawn, one more day: a book that kept you reading into the next chapter (and the next and the next)

I couldn’t tear myself away from A Gathering of Shadows from V.E. Schwab. I read it at every available opportunity, leading to various spillages of toothpaste and food on my Kindle. (That thing has seen a lot of wear and tear but it’s still alive.) IT WAS DEFINITELY WORTH IT. And it’s definitely worth choosing for my second Schwab book in this tag. Ahem.

On My Own

still i say there’s a way for us: a ship of yours that isn’t canon

I was planning on trying to…well, keep out of using Les Mis as actual answers for the Les Mis book tag. Since I thought it might provide a nice sense of irony. But I don’t think I can let this one go: Eponine/Cosette. I was reminded of my love for this ship when I saw this excellent Grease AU art and asdfjkl. WHY IS THERE NOT MORE GOOD FIC. Marius is an adorable dork, but Eponine and Cosette are like the even more adorable/scary power. I SHIP IT SO MUCH & I DON’T CARE IF THERE IS NO BASIS FOR THEIR RELATIONSHIP IN CANON AT ALL.

radio silence alice osemanDrink With Me

let the wine of friendship never run dry: your favourite bookish friendship

Frances and Aled from Alice Oseman’s Radio Silence have SUCH an awesome friendship. (And yes, I am going to keep talking about this book forever and ever until you all read it because it’s literally so fabulous.) I feel like they’re so honest with each other! It’s great to be able to be yourself. Also, yay for girl-boy friendships that don’t turn into relationships. 🙂

Bring Him Home

let me die, let him live: that one character you will do anything to see protected

Agatha Wellbelove, obviously. I am distraught at the fandom hate she gets. My friend said she had the personality of a wet dishcloth. SHE IS AMAZING AND BADASS AND SHE IS NOT TAKING ANY OF SIMON’S CRAP. She’s a canonical Doctor Who geek. Support Agatha Wellbelove 2k16. (Although I’m still hoping Gansey doesn’t completely die in The Raven King. I’ll probably know by the time this is published, oh god.) (Edit: I can confirm this I have finished TRK as we speak but NO SPOILERS.)

Empty Chairs at Empty Tables

now my friends are dead and gone: a character death you don’t think you’ll ever recover from (spoilers beware!)

Maybe Sam Cortland from Throne of Glass. Until Queen of Shadows I still had my theories that he somehow wasn’t dead, but… I don’t think so. And I know I said I’d keep Les Mis to a minimum, but obviously I’m going to have to talk about the very major character deaths of many significant characters in that. *coughs* WHY, VICTOR HUGO, WHY. Let’s just pretend those parts didn’t happen, okay? would it be cruel to put a GIF of everyone lying dead here yes it would

AND THAT IS THE END. *dramatically sweeps hands* Sadly I couldn’t do all the Les Mis songs, although I did start with almost that number so be impressed at my restraint. I’m not super sure who’s listened to/likes Les Mis, but I’m tagging my usual musical theatre partner in crime Evi @ Adventuring Through Pages. (And here is my reminder that we wrote an excellent fandom war between Les Mis and Hamilton. Which I thoroughly recommend you read.) But feel totally free to do this tag, pick and choose questions + use the title image yourself! My only request is that you link back to this post and keep the image credit. 🙂

Just to recap, because I know how annoying it is to keep copy and pasting, the tag questions are:

  • I Dreamed a Dream: a book that didn’t live up to your high expectations
  • The Confrontation: your favourite literary duo
  • Castle on a Cloud: a book that comforts you
  • Red and Black: an unpopular bookish opinion
  • Do You Hear the People Sing?: a book you read because of hype
  • One Day More: a book that kept you reading into the next chapter (and the next and the next)
  • On My Own: a ship of yours that isn’t canon
  • Drink With Me: your favourite bookish friendship
  • Bring Him Home: that one character you will do anything to protect
  • Empty Chairs at Empty Tables: a character death you don’t think you’ll ever recover from

what books do you love? do you like any musicals? how would you answer my questions?

what’s it like in new york city?

new york

As you guys might know, I was lucky enough to visit New York over Easter! This was a really big trip for me, and I was crazy excited beforehand. And now I am lying in bed and listening to Hey There Delilah on repeat. But whilst I was away I wrote in my travel diary — yes, I did actually remember, gasp — and I thought it would be fun to share everything I did! (To flail about New York, mostly.)

To reduce the chance of me relaying every single detail down to you in a very very long post, I put my pics + words into some handy little categories.

➝ sights & art (statue of liberty, ellis island, empire state building, moma, the met, the guggenheim, the natural history museum)
➝ wanderings (the west village, lower east side, new york public library, the high line, various cute shops)
➝ broadway (the phantom of the opera, fun home)
➝ events (winner’s kiss launch with marie rutkoski & renée ahdieh, mocca fest)

sights & art

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The Guggenheim Museum

We got a pass which allowed us to go to most of the major sites & museums for a slightly reduced price each. Except for the Empire State Building, the queues were actually pretty good and we got to see some amazing buildings + views! I hadn’t known the Statue of Liberty was a gift from a French guy, so that was cool to find out. (Even if the audioguide narrator was intensely irritating. Please go away, Cynthia.) There was a museum about immigration on the nearby Ellis Island — we had to take a ferry between Manhattan + Liberty Island + Ellis Island. It was an immigration centre until about the 1950s, so we got to hear a lot about immigrants coming over to America.P1000237[1]

 

THE ART WAS HONESTLY SO COOL GUYS. I saw Van Gogh’s Starry Night! IN PERSON!! There were so many famous works of art, particularly in MoMA & The Met — argh, it was absolutely amazing. I wish we’d had more time to look around. The Guggenheim had a slightly odd main exhibition but the building was stunning. The Natural History Museum was pretty similar to the one here in London, but we saw a beautiful video with photography of National Parks in the USA.

wanderings

We were staying in the West Village, which is basically where Manhattan starts to become a lot less grid-like. I hadn’t realised the city was so near the water! Because mostly the streets are straight, you can see water at most points — it was really cool. And the area we were staying was lovely and old, as well as being home to a) the flat from Friends and b) a house from Sex and the City. I don’t watch either but there was a surprising amount of people taking photos.

 

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New York Public Library, AKA the prettiest library I have ever seen
The West Village is also at the end of the High Line, which is a park walkway along an disused railway track above the city. IT WAS SO COOL. I can imagine it would be absolutely boiling in summer.

 

There were various cute shops around, like a lovely stationery one, and we also passed the Stonewall Inn. (Overall very cool.) I visited Strand Books, which had SUCH high bookshelves and asdfjkl it was amazing. I was definitely wrong in thinking that books are cheaper in the US, though. Most of the books on the shelves were hardbacks! Whereas here the hardbacks are mostly reserved for display.

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Wall Street. Ahaha.

The other area we spent some time in was Lower East Side, where we took an all too brief visit to the Tenement Museum. We ended up there having taken the wrong subway to Brooklyn Bridge, but we decided to wander around anyways.

broadway (!!!)

So. No, I did not see Hamilton whilst I was in New York. Trust me, no one’s more sad about it than I am. I tried super hard to get tickets, but they were completely sold out except for $2000 dollar resales and I didn’t win any of the lotteries.

P1000221[1]HOWEVER I did go and see two other stunning shows! I GOT MY BROADWAY EXPERIENCE GUYS. The first one was Phantom of the Opera, which I’d listened to but not in great detail. It was on a pretty loud train journey and even from the start of the show I knew that I’d missed a lot. The set was so cool and asdfjkl the Phantom’s mask and PARIS and GHOSTS and OPERA it was all amazing.

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The other show I went to see is Fun Home! Fun Home was pretty different from Phanton — I mean, it isn’t really your classic Broadway musical. It was set in the round, and the songs aren’t exactly your tradition Andrew Lloyd Webber style. But I think I actually preferred this… I mean, I’ve talked about it a lot. It’s based on Alison Bechdel’s autobiographical graphic novel Fun Home, and there are three Alisons (child, college, and now) throughout the show. There are upbeat songs and super gay songs and sad songs. I just…I really want to be back there watching it.

 events

In addition to those Broadway shows, I also went to two events! That was a book event at the bookshop McNally Jackson with Marie Rutkoski and Renee Ahdieh. I actually was sitting next to two of Marie’s college students which was pretty cool. (Can I get please an author as a teacher?) I got both authors to sign my books and eep it was very fun and they were lovely.

I also went to MoCCA Fest, which was a sort of mini-con for illustrators! I did already talk about it in my March Favourites, but it was sososo amazing to have Noelle Stevenson sign my stuff eek. I was slightly overcome with adoration. There was a TON of other awesome art (including lady knights, which is my aesthetic) (have you seen Morgana in armour? HAVE YOU?) and asdfjkl it was very fun.

I’ve basically been jetlagged for the last two weeks, but I WOULDN’T GIVE NEW YORK UP AT ALL.

are you filled with wanderlust like me? any places you’d love to visit? any new york themed-songs to share!?

Les Mis v Hamilton

les mis v hamilton final

Two musicals, alike in revolution-ing… Which one is the better? Today I’m joined by the wonderful Evi @ Adventuring Through Pages to present to you the arguments for superiority of two fandoms featuring real historical revolutions: Les Misérables and Hamilton!

team les mis

Hi there! It’s Evi from Adventuring Through Pages! Eve is amazing, and I’m so eager to do this with her. I am covering Les Misérables, as you can see, though it was kinda hard to choose because asldkhflsdk THEY ARE BOTH AMAZING. (Note: this is all, obviously, in good fun. We’re just both massive geeks. 😀 )

1. While Les Mis is set canonically later than Hamilton…we’ve been around a lot longer

Les Misérables was published in 1862, and the musical opened in Paris  in 1980 – its very first performance – and has been around and loved since then. EVERYBODY has heard of Les Mis. It has performed in 44 countries, schools all over the place, and 347 cities. It’s even been made into the 2012 movie! So I think that we technically get authority credit for being so well-loved as compared to these young whippersnappers with their rapping and odd dance moves.

2.The characters are THE BEST

Okay, so maybe it doesn’t say it outright in the book…but Marius is a huge dork, Cosette is the literal cinnamon roll™, Valjean is the best father figure, and the Amis- even though they’re totally epic revolutionaries- all have so many intense personalities. Javert himself is one of the most complex characters on the planet- like, he’s a good guy…but he also wants to get rid of the main character, so that proves a bit difficult. The Thenardiers are an odd bunch as well, because literally everybody hates them but they are also massive comedic relief in the musical & movie. There’s more adorableness and less sass-and-relationship-drama-and-battle-issues-and-people-who-are-literally-the-phrase-“fight-me” as seen in Hamilton.

(Also tiny Cosette is adorable let’s face it she is)

3.The style of music is more classic and appeals to a larger crowd

While there is a lot to be said about Hamilton’s uniqueness in music style, Les Mis has a more classic, traditional style that appeals to a larger crowd than just those who enjoy rap/hip-hop. There are love songs, there are angry stirring fight-y songs, there are saddening but hopeful finale music, and there are dramatic self-reflection songs that may or may not result in you falling into a river. There’s music for everyone in it!

Also, one of my personal favorite things about Les Mis is how much there are common musical melodies that get repeated over and over in different ways. Leitmotifs are a common theme in musicals, I just think it’s really evident in Les Mis and that’s something I love.

4.The fandom is kind of ginormous and also really friendly

Because the Les Mis fandom has literally been around for nearly 200 years…it’s kind of huge. People of all ages and backgrounds love it (in fact, the musical has been translated into 22 different languages)! And because there’s not much to argue about, the fandom as a whole is really nice. There’s amazing fanart and funny textpost compilations and fan-made videos of people singing medleys. There is just so much to explore that Hamilton doesn’t yet have (though personally I hope it gets there).

les mis fandom post
source: imgur

(so maybe it attempts to consume your entire life hahaha it’s alright you’ll be okay)

5. You learn A LOT from the book

I…knew very little about French history and their failed revolutions and basically ANYTHING until I read Les Misérables. So it’s a history lesson AND a book of ginormous emotions and pretty words all in one! I mean, we have a book (Les Mis is separated into volumes, then books, then chapters) on France’s historical sewer systems. I know what every character looks like and how much Bishop Myriel spends on his charities and personal expenses (15,000 livres, if you’re curious). I know that Marius Pontmercy apparently has “well-opened and passionate nostrils” (Chapter One of the sixth book of the third volume). I know that Jean “Jehan” Prouvaire plays the flute. Essentially, if you take away the fact that it is the basis for the musical and all that, Les Misérables is the book every fan wants- an in-depth discussion of EVERYTHING that happened and WHO each character is and WHAT they like to do in their free time and EXACTLY HOW well-opened their nostrils are. It’s a ginormous companion book that isn’t, y’know, actually a companion book. Let it never be said that you don’t come away from Les Mis learning a lot.

team hamilton
This is Eve here! MAN AM I READY FOR THIS FIGHT. *cracks knuckles* Although like Evi said, I absolutely stress that I don’t actually want to physically fight you or anything. I love both fandoms like crazy. (As you all probably know by now!)

1. The music and lyrics are AMAZING

Hamilton is just an exceedingly well-composed musical. And exceedingly well-written. Not only does each character have their own musical motifs; they also have a distinctive style of lyrics. It makes my musical side extremely pleased. *sighs happily* Hamilton just has such a unique style of music and lyrics and sooo many fabulous songs asdfjkl. They’re CRAZY DAMN CATCHY.

JEFFERSON: I’m in the cabinet. I am complicit in
Watching him grabbin’ at power and kissin’ it
If Washington isn’t gon’ listen
To disciplined dissidents, this is the difference:
This kid is out!

Have you seen these lyrics?!??? I CAN’T EVEN IT’S SO GREAT.

2. It appeals to a wide audience

Musical theatre people? History people? Students? Teachers? HAMILTON APPEALS TO ALL THESE PEOPLE. And it’s also brought in a more mainstream audience — I mean, you could hear its songs on the radio. And hopefully you will. It’s so great to see people who wouldn’t normally be interested suddenly LOVE something. (I, at least, have developed a weird interest in US history. *coughs*) I think this fact — the transformation of what is for some an incredibly boring subject into something everyone can enjoy — shows something very special.

3. Lin Manuel-Miranda is super cool

Victor Hugo was…a bit of an egotistical asshole. He thought he was an amazing prodigy. He probably wrote his own memoir under his wife’s name. Obviously I don’t know LMM (the writer/Alex Hamilton) personally, but he just seems like a Genuinely Nice Guy™. He makes nerdy musical references! He responds and joins in which the fandom! He makes stupid vines ! He has also written another great musical called In the Heights! He and the cast give us Ham4Ham shows with cheap tickets and free fabulous music when they really, really don’t have to. It feels a lot better to like something made by wonderful people doing wonderful things.

ladies of hamilton ham4ham
LOOK AT THE AWESOME CAST BEING AWESOME (source)

4. The revolution survives, as do (some of) your faves

i’m not crying there’s just rain on my face Les Mis details the July uprising of 1832, which…well. It failed. Everyone died. Yep. Hamilton is about the War of Independence in the USA, which obviously didn’t fail because it’s still independent. This particular band of revolutionaries actually manages to get its act together and you’re not (immediately) left crying. I mean, everyone has to die in the end because this was 200 years ago and even asshole revolutionaries are not immortal. But within the musical, a decent amount of people survive! Hurrah for less emotional scarring!

5. Actual history = SO MUCH CANON

Les Mis was published in 1865? ALEXANDER HAMILTON WAS BORN IN 1755, SUCKERS. HA. Les Mis is based on a novel? So is Hamilton. (It was inspired by Ron Chernow’s biography.) You can read historical documents; letters from Hamilton to Laurens, Jefferson to Madison, Angelica to Hamilton; the actual Federalist papers; years and years of historical analysis. You might even study him at school! (Alas, not I, but I live in hope.) Hamilton’s legacy is visible in the USA today. He’s on the 10$ bills. I refuse to believe there is more Les Mis fandom to explore, thanks.

thanks so much for writing this with me, evi! now it’s your turn: whose argument was more persuasive? which fandom do YOU choose?

November Favourites! + Story Mash Up

November has been a rather slow month, because NaNoWriMo. And also school. (But on the bright side, I saw no ghosts.) (WHAT? *shakes head* Basically all horror stories are set on dreary November evenings. November is super creepy.) Across the world, there were also a lot of saddening events — I know I didn’t post about them in full, but I send my thoughts to all those caught up in violence. ❤

1. NaNoWriMo I didn’t achieve my original goal of 30k, because I was away for the entire final weekend. (For a Girlguide training camp! I was lucky to get into an international trip for next summer, and it was super lovely to meet all the other girls going. I had some awesome fandom conversations, hehe.) My writing was positively awful, but I love that NaNo forces me to write… Otherwise it genuinely doesn’t yet done. And the plot bunnies have given me a ton of new and exciting ideas, hehe.
2. Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell Dude?? This was AMAZING? I feel like such an inferior writer right now.

crying doctor who

The writing was honestly so beautiful. Every time I got into a story, it finished, though… Yeah. The middle story was the only one I found quite difficult to get through, actually. (Also: I see what you did there with the Eva cameo in Black Swan Green, David Mitchell. HOW DARE YOU. *cries* Dammit, why did I have to get so attached to the perennially annoying composer?)

3. Winter I READ IT AND I CAN’T BELIEVE THE LUNAR CHRONICLES ARE OVER WOW. *sobs* It’s so weird… Please, allow me my moment of reflection on the life-changing moment I picked up Cinder from the school book fair. (Just kidding. It’s cool.) I think I actually enjoyed it more than Cress! Maybe Scarlet, too. Hmm. It could have dragged a bit less, though. I’m also not sure why there are no queer people in the future. *shrugs* The book in itself was good, but it was kind of weird how there weren’t even any LGBTQ+ side characters. (I think I’ve come to expect quite a lot from diversity. But all the couples and true-love-as-a-teenager-ing got rather repetitive.

4. Musicals *manic laughter* OH MY GOODNESS I haVE FALLEN SO FAR INTO THIS HOLE. I’ve had the Hamilton soundtrack on repeat for the last month, and now I can tell you far more than you probably ever wanted to know about the founding fathers.

hamilton gif
YEAHH HISTORY  Image via source

And also I listened to Rent. I started watching a version of it with Renee Elise Goldberry (aka Angelica Schuyler) like?? During summer??? But I just listened from the beginning. I attempted Into the Woods but I had no idea what was happening. More updates to follow, but I’ll probably have collapsed with all the impromptu singing by then.

I’m sorryyyy I haven’t been reading many blogs this month! But I’ll try and get round to it now, I swear. I also am slightly running out of time to write this post hence that lack of literally anything to make it look pretty but AAH I PASSED MY THEORY EXAM, yay! 🙂 I was kinda worried about it, so that was super nice to hear.


storymashupicon

Also! I’m joining up with the Story Mash Up, which is an awesome collaborative Harry Potter fic-writing thing hosted by Joan @ Fiddler Blue, Trisha @ The Bookgasm and Michelle & The Writing Hufflepuff. Also participating is Ash @ Teabears & Co. and Veenith @ The Lousy Design. We’re each going to be writing a short piece from our character’s perspectives… And I’m first up, eek! I’m really excited to be connected with all these other lovely bloggers, though, and you should totally go follow everyone else.

Here’s the intro… *drumrolls*

The wizarding world has been quiet since the day Harry Potter defeated the evil wizard named Voldemort. For seventeen years, the magical community continues to live in harmony and secrecy among the Muggles. The students, fresh from their summer vacations, are returning to school with nothing but excitement for the coming year in their minds. Truly, nothing could shake this era of peace ever again…or so they believe.

AND HERE. My character form! dammit I spent the last 20 minutes looking for a stock photo and this one is still not quite right eh

image
• BASIC INFORMATION
o Name: Indira Marshall
o Age: 15
o Blood Status: Pureblood
o Occupation: Student
 (if a student) Hogwarts House: Slytherin
 Year Level: 4
• (if Year 3 & above) Extra classes2: Care of Magical Creatures, Divination.
o Wand: Spruce, dragon heartstring, 8 inches.
o Pets: A family tawny owl.

• APPEARANCE (a description, a picture, or both) Dark brown hair, shoulder-length and bluntly cut, with brown eyes. What she lacks in height, she makes up in manic speed and energy.

• INTERESTS
o Hobbies: Quidditch is pretty much her main passion. A lot of other activities get pushed aside for that. She does enjoy Herbology more than she’d like to admit, though.
o Likes: Quidditch. Food. Puns, bad jokes, and good pranks. Winning.
o Dislikes: Anything she thinks is wasting her time. Cauliflower. People who always follow rules to the letter; people with naïve and idealistic expectations of the world.
o Strengths (skills, personality, talents): Indira is highly competitive, and will work tirelessly to achieve her goals. This applies to smaller tasks too. She’s outgoing and on generally good terms with her fellow pupils.
o Weaknesses (skills, personality, talents): As a result of her competitive nature, other things can be pushed aside to achieve her goals. She doesn’t deal well with defeat. Though can strike up a conversation with ease, she habitually lies and will rarely discuss anything of importance (especially in reference to her own feelings). She doesn’t excel in or enjoy more theory-based subjects. She chose Divination more based on amusement factor than as a serious subject.
o Strongest / Favourite Subjects: Potions, Herbology.
o Weakest / Least Favourite Subjects: History of Magic, Astronomy. She finds both useless. Transfiguration can also be somewhat emotionally stressful.
o Quidditch player (Yes / No): Yes
 if yes, which position: Chaser

• BRIEF HISTORY OF THE CHARACTER (including family history)
Indira has one sister, presently age 10. As far as she knows, Indira’s family did not actively participate in the Second Wizarding War, but she suspects they were somewhat sympathetic towards Voldemort. She was bitten as a very young child by a werewolf that had escaped death during the war; obviously, her parents were not pleased with this, but there was nothing they could do. They discreetly obtained Wolfsbane for her when she was younger, but at Hogwarts she is required to take it to continue at the school so they provide it for her. She tries to hide it and reduce its interference as much as possible; she hasn’t told any other pupils, though it’s possible they suspect the cause of her monthly absences. She had always been very enthusiastic about Quidditch, and that was the main thing she was excited for in Hogwarts. During her school years, she’s kept up that ambition and played for the Slytherin team in Years 2 & 3.

*wipes sweat off brow* Look out for the first instalment, which I@ll be posting on the 13th!

How was your November? Are you feeling Christmassy? Omg I HAVE A TEA ADVENT CALENDAR, IT’S SO LOVELY. ❤