Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Happy Bisexual Visibility Day!

So, I'm still snowed under with work because fitting everything around a personal statement that needs to be in in two days, four hundred characters shorter than it currently is while still conveying everything I want it to, is making me lose the will to live. Still, I need a break, and I thought I'd do a little post. And it's Bisexual Visibility Day (at least for the next three two hours-it took me a long time to write this). I could do a thoughtful post of what I want or don't want in bisexual representation in fiction/the media, or other analyses. But as I'm kind of tired, so here's a few of some of my favourite bisexual (using my definition of characters  "has the ability to be attracted to 1)people of our own gender and 2)people of other genders") I've encountered in books.

Micah and Drystan from Pantomime by Laura Lam (my review here)
They're really intriguing people-we meet them in a circus,  in book two, they're magicians, Drystan's funny, and Micah's genearlly awesome.  Also, their relationship is adorable (if only Laura hadn't done -that- to Aenea!!!)

Kitty and Delilah from Hollow Pike by James Dawson (my review here)
The last time I read Hollow Pike was a few years ago, and my memory is kind of hazy, but I remember loving how  Kitty stands up for herself,  while Delilah is eternally sweet, and they make a brilliant couple.

Professor Lyall from The Parasol Protectorate by Gail Carriger
I think I remember Akeldama saying that Lyall was bi... If he is, he makes this list- werewolf beta who gained a professorship from studying sheep breeding, makes sarcastic remarks and

Magnus Bane from the Infernal Devices/ Mortal Instruments series  by Cassandra Clare
Once again, another character whose sarky comments make me love them. Also, his magic, his adventures, and his fashion sense.

Olivia, Orsino, and Viola from Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare
OK, it's not officially stated, but Orsino does fall for Viola while he believes she's a man, Viola's soliloquy never says she's rejecting Olivia, she just seems to be "argh we're all in love in a A loves B loves C thing", and I don't think  Olivia would have minded too much to have married Viola (believing her to be a man), then later found her a woman, having already fallen in love.

I've also read other books featuring bisexual characters- Far From You, Grasshopper Jungle, Adaptation... I can't make my mind think of them right now- but I wouldn't be putting them on this list because the characters weren't as memorable. And sorry for such a short post! I hope to be able to concentrate on blogging soon... *needs sleep first*

Saturday, 5 September 2015

Book Review- This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp

Title:   This is Where It Ends

Author:  Marieke Nijkamp
Series:   N/A
Published:    5th January 2016
Length:  292 pages
Source: The #TIWIEUKTour organised by Luna of Luna’s Little Library
Summary :  10:00 a.m.
The principal of Opportunity, Alabama's high school finishes her speech, welcoming the entire student body to a new semester and encouraging them to excel and achieve.

10:02 a.m.
The students get up to leave the auditorium for their next class.

The auditorium doors won't open.

Someone starts shooting.

Told over the span of 54 harrowing minutes from four different perspectives, terror reigns as one student's calculated revenge turns into the ultimate game of survival.

Review: This is the story of a school shooting, told as it happens from the perspectives of the shooter's sister Autumn, Autumn's girlfriend Sylv, Sylv's brother Tom├ís, and the shooter's ex-girlfriend, Claire. 
I wanted to read this because it's an amazing setup, and Marieke is brilliant on Twitter.
This was a would-be-one-sitting-if-life-didnt-get-in-the-way book.  It starts normally, setting up friendships and relationships (quite a few, and it’s a little confusing   because there’s lots of people introduced at the same time but you pick it up as you carry on)  to start with it’s just a normal school day  but after 10.05 it's full on until the end. There's books where you can't stop reading, then there's this.
I liked the multimedia approach, showing tweets, blogs, and texts from those involved and on the outside. The helplessness of everyone on the outside comes through, and I liked the way Marieke showed how tragedy doesn’t just affect those there.
Emotions. All the emotions for everyone. Particularly on page 212 of the proof, where one character slips into the conditional and that’s one of the most heartbreaking parts in the book (there's a few). But everywhere you see characters you know and don't know and fear for them and need to know what's going to happen.
I think the biggest thing about this book for me is how immediate it is. I’m  someone who’s grown up in the UK, where the last school shooting happened in 1996, before I was born, and was followed by pressure groups and the banning of handguns. As a result, when we hear of things like this happening, it’s horrifying and upsetting but you still feel distanced because, despite knowing that this could happen anywhere, living in the UK with its strict gun control laws makes it  harder to imagine a society where there’s the possibility of something like this happening and you practise what to do if it does, despite knowing that this is some people’s reality.
 TIWIE does one of the things I like most about reading contemporary/realistic fiction: make different situations real. The fully diverse cast of victims, survivors, and shooter is developed, and we see their dreams, their experiences, and lives. We see the people involved as people, not just names in a news report, which is, I think, why TIWIE is so hard hitting.

Overall:  Strength 5 tea to one of the most intense books I've ever read.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Theatre Review: Secret Shakespeare by William Shakespeare and The Handlebards

So, my Edinburgh Fringe theatre reviews are ready to be posted! They’ll come as often as I can, but I have a lot of school work to do, plus I’m doing work exp
erience at a law firm and ugh travelling is tiring. They’ll come though. And book reviews will resume shortly, and maybe some other things. Thanks for sticking around!   

Title:  Secret Shakespeare (A Shakespeare play, but I can't say which one)
Writer: William Shakespeare
Director: James Farrell & Emma Sampson
Performed by: The Handlebards
Major cast:  Calum Hughes Mcintosh,  Callum Brodie, Tom Dixon, Paul Moss
Seen at:  ...somewhere pretty.

Review: The Handlebards are four actors who have been cycling up from London to Edinburgh, carrying their costumes and props, and stopping every so often to perform a show. Secret Shakespeare is where the audience joins them to meet up in the city centre, get given bikes, ride out about 5 miles-ish, and then enjoy the show. I'm not allowed to tell you much about the play in specifics, due to the secret thing, but I'll say what I can.
The ride was easy, even for someone who hasn't ridden for years, and led by professionals. We cycled through parts of the city I probably would never have seen if I'd spent all my time in the centre, so that was nice.
The location was beautiful. Beautiful behind the audience, beautiful behind the stage, it was a great place to be. It's an open air show, with tents providing the wings and gazebos for the audience to sit under. Oh, and the rain wasn't too bad!
When they said what play they were doing, I was very happy. I hadn't seen it before, but I was familiar with the storyline.
I love the puppetry. It's first used to illustrate the exposition speech, which was very useful because it is a confusing set up. It's later used to represent characters in some scenes where there's meant to be more than four characters on stage. Other ways of getting around the "only four actors" thing includes holding out key identifying costume pieces, audience participation, and plates.
The multiroling is superb. All four actors have to switch costumes and characters very very quickly, sometimes speaking back to themselves. Costume, voice, and movement changes make clearly defined characters. I really enjoyed the characterisation, especially of the women.
I did find it going a bit too fast in places, and I'm not sure if it's because of the Handlebards format or the writing. Probably both. Despite this, I really enjoyed the show.

Overall:  Strength 5 tea to an inventive take on an old play, and a great evening out.

Links:  Company

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Edinburgh Fringe 2015

You may have noticed from Twitter and Instagram, I'm at Edinburgh Fringe!! I'm having a brilliant time and I've seen some wonderful shows. Now, I've promised reviews to all the plays I've seen, and they are being written. But formatting and dealing with pictures does not work on my phone, so I'll post the properly formatted theatre reviews when I'm back at home. In the meantime, my reviews are uploaded to the Fringe ticketing website, so you can look at them there. 

Friday, 31 July 2015

Mini Reviews: Rainbow Boys and Shades of Grey

Title: Rainbow Boys
 Author: Alex Sanchez
Published: October 2001 by Simon and Schuster
Source: Bought
Review: A look at life for queer teens at the turn in the millenium. I like how some things, such as pressures of coming out, falling in love, and dealing with bullying, are themes that are still relevant today, but it really does seem firmly set in its time place. I also like the fact it shows people in different stages of accepting their sexuality, and various questions related to all of them.
 It felt like a gentle story of exploration. Our three main characters discover sexuality, new love, and new experiences.I feel it was probably a great book when it was first published, when the market of books featuring queer characters was very very small. Reading it today, when we have a lot more representation, with a lot more nuanced characters, I felt it was very very tropey- Nelson especially seemed like the archetypal flamboyant gay, with not much else going for him. On a much less serious note, “chartreuse” hair....  Then again, this was written in the early 2000s, so Rainbow Boys might be an originator of these tropes. Or maybe all that could get sold at that time. I don’t know. Despite this, I did enjoy following the characters and their emotions.  I also like how it did bring up the issue of safe sex well
My favourite thing is that whoever chose the models for the cover I got does not appear to have read the book.

Overall: Strength 3 tea to  an early LGB YA novel.
Links: Goodreads

Title : Shades of Grey
Author: Jasper Fforde
Published: December 2009 by Penguin
Source: Bought
Review: I picked this up because of the cover, and bought it because a review said it was "full of witticisms, wordplay, and puns", and was described as a cross between Douglas Adams and George Orwell. For me, it didn’t live up to the fun I expected from the comparison with Adams, but the Orwellian aspects were strong.
I most enjoyed reading about this new society Fforde created. Extracts from the Rulebook head every chapter, and we got a good look at the workings of the society as we learnt bits about it gradually. The characters were interesting, but I didn’t really connect.
I felt that plotwise, it took a long time to get going, and when it did, it was often really confusing. It did clear up towards the end, providing a clear set up for later books in the trilogy, but for this book, it was quite late. There’s many different strands, with a murder mystery, marrying to improve social status but maybe being in love with someone who you can’t marry, finding out about the Something That Happened. Normally, I like mixes like these, but for some reason, it felt really confusing here.

Overall: Stregnth 2 tea to a book with a great concept, but was less fun to read.

Links: Goodreads

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Snapshot reviews- Firestarter, Only Ever Yours, Firewallers, The Crane Wife

Hi everyone! Firstly, I had a brilliant time at the Sunday of YALC. I got more books than I should have done, and met so many wonderful people. Thank you everyone for a great day!

Second, Rebecca is the winner of a signed, unpersonalised copy of The Lost and the Found! I will post it some time this week/  There’s still one unsigned copy to be won... if you're reading this on Saturday 25th, there's a twitter giveaway going on... 

Third! I have a giant pile of books I’ve read that I don’t feel I can write fully about.  So I asked Georgia, aka the Bibliomaniac, if I could use her format of very mini reviews (such as here) and she said yes! Thank you, Georgia!  Here’s a very quick snapshot at some things I’ve been reading...