Wednesday, 31 December 2014

2014 in Review- The End of Year Book Survey

So, I wanted to do a roundup of this (rather quiet) year.  But I didn’t know how I’d put it together. And then I remembered that there was a giant survey from Jamie (The Perpetual Page Turner). Anyone can do it and I’m sure I should have started earlier as it’s 5 pages spaced and empty, but hey. Let’s try!


2014 Reading Stats
Number Of Books You Read: 110
Number of Re-Reads: 6 (Harry Potter & The Philosopher’s Stone, Chamber of Secrets, Frankenstein,  The Huger Games, Mockingjay, and The Hobbit)
Genre You Read The Most From: I don’t know because I don’t keep track. I plan to work it out some day though, so watch this space.

Monday, 29 December 2014

2015 Books I Am Highly Looking Forwards To

Hey. I have no excuses any more. I just haven’t updated the blog in a month because of the books I’ve been finishing, I haven’t felt  excited enough about a book to post about it. This should be changing soon though, if you don’t mind my attempts to review non fiction!
Despite this, I was lucky enough for Megan (The Book Addicted Girl) to name me in a list on the Guardian Teen Books site of some of the best book bloggers! Many other brilliant people were named, so go check it out and add to your blogroll!

Anyway, as a result of my year-and-a-bit half-blogging period, I’ve been quite out of the loop with upcoming releases. So I went on Goodreads to find 2015 releases and...there’s many many awesome ones! I was going to release this on New Years Day, but I was excited about finishing a decent post and so you get it right now. Here are some of the favourites for 2015 that I found in the last half hour.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Book Review- The Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley

Title: The Mirror Empire
Author: Kameron Hurley
Series:  Worldbreaker Saga #1
Published:  26 August 2014 by Angry Robot
Length: 569 pages
Warnings: semigraphic sex, assault, graphic gore
Source: Netgalley
Other info: Hurley has written many things, like God’s War and We Have Always Fought.
Summary : On the eve of a recurring catastrophic event known to extinguish nations and reshape continents, a troubled orphan evades death and slavery to uncover her own bloody past… while a world goes to war with itself.
In the frozen kingdom of Saiduan, invaders from another realm are decimating whole cities, leaving behind nothing but ash and ruin.
As the dark star of the cataclysm rises, an illegitimate ruler is tasked with holding together a country fractured by civil war, a precocious young fighter is asked to betray his family and a half-Dhai general must choose between the eradication of her father’s people or loyalty to her alien Empress.
Through tense alliances and devastating betrayal, the Dhai and their allies attempt to hold against a seemingly unstoppable force as enemy nations prepare for a coming together of worlds as old as the universe itself.
In the end, one world will rise – and many will perish.
Review: Two worlds exist, mirrors of each other, and two versions of people exist, one in each world. Doorways can be opened between them, but you can only cross into the other world if your double in that one is dead. In one world, the Kai, the leader of the magic workers,Kirana, dies mysteriously, leaving her ungifted brother Ahkio  to take her place. In another story line, Lilia was pushed through a door to escape death. Many other stories weave together to form the story of this mirror empire.
I read this because Kameron Hurley's  blog posts are really good and Angry Robot had this on offer from Netgalley and I'd heard of really good diversity  and so I read this.
I haven't read high fantasy for some time,I think, and it shows. I did infer lots of things about this world  and my head picture is probably completely different to Hurley's.
I also think I missed something crucial as to how everything fits together in terms of plotlines. There's Zezeli,an army captain, who goes campaigning and then.has to find her husband Anavha (who we followed for a bit then I think we stopped following him which was sad because I liked him). Other characters I liked include Roh, Ahkio, Taigan, Gian and many others. Most of the main characters really.  They were all developed, and their stories were intriguing and I wanted to carry on reading about them despite me not fully understanding the links between them all.
The worlds are well developed. Polyamory and female led relationships and strong belief in magic and a  coherent magic system can be found, and settings range from army camps to cities to frozen areas.
The writing is descriptive, even in the very gory areas. It felt like  a long book, but it didn't feel slow. i didn't want this book to end!
characters' storylines clearly overlap in places, but in others, it felt like we were just following someone without it feeding in to a main thing.  I didn't mind, because the small plots were well written and interesting, but I would like to see more convergence in any future novels.


Overall:  Strength 4 tea to a book I enjoyed for its characters' individual plots, despite them not all coming together.


Monday, 24 November 2014

Book Review: Purity by Jackson Pearce

Title: Purity
 Author: Jackson Pearce
Series:  N/A
Published:   6 March 2014 by Hodder
Length: 224 pages
Source: publisher
Summary : A novel about love, loss, and sex -- but not necessarily in that order.
Before her mother died, Shelby promised three things: to listen to her father, to love as much as possible, and to live without restraint. Those Promises become harder to keep when Shelby's father joins the planning committee for the Princess Ball, an annual dance that ends with a ceremonial vow to live pure lives -- in other words, no "bad behavior," no breaking the rules, and definitely no sex.
Torn between Promises One and Three, Shelby makes a decision -- to exploit a loophole and lose her virginity before taking the vow. But somewhere between failed hookup attempts and helping her dad plan the ball, Shelby starts to understand what her mother really meant, what her father really needs, and who really has the right to her purity

Review: Shelby promised her dying mother that she would listen to her father, love as much as posible, and live without restraint. She's done quite well in the five years since then, but when her father wants to arrange her part in a purity ball, in which she promises her purity to her father, which is essentially no drugs, drink or sex. Shelby doesn't want this. So she tries to find a loophole; if she has sex before then, she won't have purity to give. Thus begins a five week search for someone to lose her virginity to.
I wanted to read this obok because commentry on the value of virginity and women in society is an important one to me, and I quite liked Sisters Red, even though I knew from the presmise that this would be completely different. 
The characters are funny, not particularly bright, but the friendships are nice and supportive, even if the end “revalation” isn't that surprising or enjoyable. I liked watching the relationship between Shelby and her dad develop.I think Shelby could have developed more.
I like the fact there's humour throughout, without which Purity would be much less lighthearted, and either too sad or too serious.
I find it a bit weird that Shelby goes from not really caring about sex to wanting to do it without caring about who it is as long as they're not diseased. Sure, the possiblity of lack of sex for years is obviously going to make her try and find someone, (it would me if I were in that situation) but there are other ways she could have dealt iwht it, and other parts in the novel when she could have done something else.
I like the fact that faith is a theme. It's not there too much to make it into a preachy book, but it did add a bit of depth to Shelby.
Finally, I just want to ask; since when was “listen to” synonymous with “completely obey”?

Overall:  Strength 3 tea to a book that opens discussions for lots of things.


Friday, 24 October 2014

Book Review- Tanith Low in the Maleficent Seven by Derek Landy

Title: Tanith Low in The Maleficent Seven
 Author:  Derek Landy
Series:  Skullduggery Pleasant 7.5
Published:  8 May 2014 by Harper
Length: 283 pages
Source: publisher
Other info: Landy has also written a lot of Skullduggery Pleasant novels, the world of which this book is set.
Summary : This time, the bad guys take the stage. Tanith Low, now possessed by a remnant, recruits a gang of villains – many of whom will be familiar from previous Skulduggery adventures – in order to track down and steal the four God-Killer level weapons that could hurt Darquesse when she eventually emerges. Also on the trail of the weapons is a secret group of Sanctuary sorcerers, and doing his best to keep up and keep Tanith alive is one Mister Ghastly Bespoke. When the villains around her are lying and scheming and plotting, Tanith needs to stay two steps ahead of her teammates and her enemies. After all, she's got her own double-crosses to plan – and she’s a villain herself.

Review: Tanith Low has a remnant inside of her, which made her stronger and more powerful and more suited to . Two teams of seven want a set of God Killers, and
I was very excited to read this. I've been recommended Skullduggery Pleasant for years, (and apologies, I still haven't read it) and one of the key things I’ve noticed people like is the world. This being sent to me for review, and this being set in the same world, I was looking forwards to this.
The world building lives up to its hype, incorporating a mix of the folk tales, and more traditional fantasy staples.
I liked Tanith's backstory and the meaning for her name. I l liked all the major characters, especially Tanith, Sabine and Jack, and they were well fleshed out,  and I'm looking forwards to seeing more of them when I (eventually) get round to reading the Skullduggery Pleasant books.
The book is short (well, nearly 300 pages, but it feels short) and pacy, and I feel the overall story was quite simple, but I liked fact that the characters and their views on what they were doing add conflict and interest. I thought the  dialogue felt quite samey, sassy, and funny, in some places, especially  when comparing the two teams' interactions, but I liked the characters too much to mind. 

Overall:  Strength 4 tea to an action led novel in a world I’d love to return to one day.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

We Need Diverse Books Display

A levels come with crazy amounts of work. So, I'm going to make it clear that I am not going to be stopping blogging any time soon (hopefully). It just can't be the priority of my life. I am still always going to enjoy books and reading though!

Proof I still love books: I got permission from my school librarian to make this display, and Sarah, Rebecca and I did. In one of the main corridors. There’s also a display inside the library, with bookstands of the books we have in stock (photos to follow).

These books I have either read and enjoyed, or I know many people who read and enjoyed them.

This list is in no way complete, I just chose the books that were either in the library or were likely to be in major bookshops in the UK and that would be suitable for people 11-18 years old.

I'm really proud of this display. For one, it was hard to decide which of my favourite books would be appreciated by many others, and find some other books (there are very few books with middle eastern and muslim characters that I know of).
Then there was the decisions on how to arrange it. We were thinking of intersectionals in the middle, then groups around the side by what kind of characters each book had (queer characters, Asian characters, disabled characters etc.) We decided against it because composition was more important than information for this display, as we have a list organised by type printed. Then we just started arranging with major intersectionals in the middle and by colour around the outside and by chance the symmetry and colour worked out really well. Also, Sarah really likes the centre of Hollow Pike and The Night Itself and and that they're facing in opposite directions.

The empty space is for people to come into the library, and fill out a heart with recommendations of their own on. What else would you add?

Close ups and list of books under the cut.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Book Review-Adaptation by Malinda Lo

Title: Adaptation
 Author: Malinda Lo
Series:   Adaptation #1
Published:  April 3 2014 by Hodder
Length: 432 pages
Source: publisher
Other info: Malinda Lo has also written Huntress, Ash (review here), and Inheritance.
Summary: Flocks of birds are hurling themselves at aeroplanes across America. Thousands of people die. Millions are stranded. Everyone knows the world will never be the same.
On Reese's long drive home, along a stretch of empty highway at night, a bird flies into their headlights. The car flips over. When they wake up in a military hospital, the doctor won't tell them what happened.
For Reese, though, this is just the start. She can't remember anything from the time between her accident and the day she woke up almost a month later. She only knows one thing: she's different now. Torn between longtime crush David and new girl Amber, the real question is: who can she trust?

Review: It all starts when  Reese Holloway is waiting for a plane back from debating and  birds fall out of the sky. Stranded, she and the debate team decide to head home in a rented car, and things change even more. With no idea of the events after a crash, nor the later happenings or procedures, Reese finds some anwers that will change her life, and humanity, forever.
Huntress, I didn't enjoy especially, but Ash was one of my favourite books due to the writing style and the new take on an old story. Adaptation leaves the fantasy route and goes down the scifi men-in-black route, and it does this really well.
I love the characters. Amber's probably my favourite, because she's adorable and funny and I fell in love with her. I also liked that you had to constantly question her and her loyalties. David- CHINESE MC HECK YEAH (I get excited by chinese main characters) was also really adorable and smart. Reese isn't one of my favourite characters, she seemed a bit ordinary compared to a cast full of scientists and government agents and conspiracy theory website runners and things which I want to say but that's kind of spoilery, but I did like the fact that she constantly questioned things. Oh, and love to Reese's mum. See the lawyering badass love for her daughter and reaction to her coming out as bisexual. 
Nowhere in this book is a good place to stop reading-most certainly not the end.. Every point in Adaptation was either too intriguing or too exciting or too adorable to let you even think about putting it down, and I've had the must-never-stop-reading-this-feeling for very few books before.

Overall:  Strength 5 tea to a book I recommend to everyone, especially mystery, scifi, thriller, romance fans.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Book Review- We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

Title: We Were Liars
 Author: E. Lockhart
Series: N/A  
Published:   13 May 2014 by Hot Key Books
Length: 240 pages
Source: library
Summary : A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.
Review: Cady is one of the Liars, the younger end of a family that meets every summer to spend the holiday at the summer home. At some point, she loses her memories.  Two years later, she wants to find out what happened.
I was really looking forwards to this and everyone really enjoyed it and watching somep ople's reactions during the liveread made me think it was going to be amazing. Sadly for me it wasn't.
I think I missed something at the start but I really don't get why everyone loves this. It's slow. The writing, while stripped back in places, seems boring too. The story doesn't seem to go very fast, and the forbidden love aspect is not my favourite as a trope anyway and this book didn't change my mind on it.
I didn't connect or like any of the characters. They seemed too detached from me and I didn't really care what happened to them. Cady is a bit whiny and the rich WASP background comes through and she comes off as pretentious in places, something I'd had enough of with Leo from The Go Between which I read at the same time.
I really enjoyed Gat's comments on race and racism, being Indian and surrounded by white people. The repeated retellings of fairy tales were also really good.
I also think that the style, full of metaphors and winding around, is the kind of thing that could be praised in a literary sense. It just wasn't my kind of thing.
The ending is good, I suppose. It didn't seem like a huge thing to me though, and when it was revealed, I just shrugged and read on. I think it's because I disconnected with the whole story so I didn't really care.
Overall:   Strength 2 tea to a book I didn’t get into at the start which meant I didn’t enjoy the whole thing.

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Book Review-This Book is Gay by James Dawson

Title: This Book Is Gay
 Author:  James Dawson
Series:  N/A
Published:  4 September 2014 by Hot Key Books
Length: 271 pages
Source: publisher
Other info: James Dawson has written many things. 
Summary : Former PSHCE teacher and acclaimed YA author James Dawson gives an uncensored look at what it's like to grow up as LGBT. Including testimonials from people 'across the spectrum', this inclusive book explores everything anyone who ever dared to wonder wants to know - from sex to politics, how to pull, stereotypes, how to come-out and more. Spike Gerrell's hilarious illustrations combined with funny and factual text make this a must-have read.

Review: I don't normally review nonfiction, but this is a hugely anticipated book by a brilliant author and a topic I have an interest in. There’s so many things that make this book wonderful.
First, there’s the fact that this book exists, with a bright rainbow cover and direct information and not hiding.  I can only think of one other sex-ed book that addresses queer people as well as cishet people, and that's Scarleteen's book, which I read  once in a library but it later disappeared. The fact  there's a book that speaks directly to a group of people ignored by almost every school when it comes to sex-ed, is brilliant, and I hope this book finds its way into the hands of everyone who needs it.
Then here's the breadth of topics covered; labels and common definitions, biological theories, stereotypes, coming out, dating, sex, marriage, and children, as well as more serious, less happy topics, such as religious opposition, homophobia, transphobia, HIV/AIDS.
James gives clear advice that hopefully will be hopeful to people of all genders and sexualities about how to combat homo&transphobia, coming out,  and many other things.
I love the range of voices from the online survey, especially the longer studies, that talk about experiences such as living with HIV, transitioning, and having children via surrogate mothers. They give a snapshot into many different lives, and, after reading about things like this in fiction, it's fascinating to see real-life perspectives.
My favourite thing is James's voice tying it all together. I read the book straight after James did a reading from this book, and it's so easy to imagine him reading it aloud. There's a lot of laughs in appropriate places, highlights including "a very bad lady-let's...call her Maggie....some years later [there was] a slightly less evil man let's call him Tony",    "what I felt for Dean Cain (whose name I did not change for this book- I mean, I think it's time he knew of my love", and (in the first edition) bullet points 2 and 3 on page 45.
Now, this is going to sound really picky, but I did notice that it sometimes reinforces the gender binary (yes, I'm aware one of my contributions does too, and I apologise for younger, less informed me and cis-centric language) and uses ciscentric language when talking about sex (e.g. a label of a  woman being accompanied by a diagram of a female-bodied person, or the words "gay women get turned on by vaginas" (here not taking into account e.g. gay women with preop transwomen). I do get that it is impossible to cover the full range of identities in one book, and my noticing this is probably a result of me getting used to sites where gender and sex are strictly separated, and this book is wonderful in its existence, but still, a couple of word changes here and there could make this book absolutely perfect.


Overall:  Strength  5, tea to a book that needs to be everywhere.


Thursday, 28 August 2014

Blog Tour Book Review- A Dark Inheritance by Chris D'Lacey

Title: A Dark Inheritance


 Author:  Chris D’Lacey
Series:   UNICORNE Files #1
Published:  7 August 2014 by Chicken House
Length:270 pages
Source: blog tour
Other info: Chris D’Lacey has also written the Last Dragon Chronicles.
Summary : When Michael Malone discovers his supernatural ability to alter reality, he is recruited by an organization dedicated to investigating strange and paranormal phenomena. He joins in hopes of finding his father, who mysteriously vanished three years earlier. Michael's first task is to solve the mystery of a dog he rescued from a precarious clifftop -- a mystery that leads him to a strange and sickly classmate and a young girl who was killed in a devastating accident. Stakes are high as Michael learns to harness his newfound ability and uncover the deadly truth about his father's disappearance.
A bold and thrilling tale of alternate realities, paranormal mystery, and extraordinary adventure.
Review:  Michael’s going to school via a non-normal route when he senses the thoughts of a suicidal dog, and somehow manages to stop her going over a cliff. This brings him to the attention of UNICORNE, who say they can tell him what happened to his father, who disappeared. They set him on the task of finding out what the dog was doing on the cliff, and this leads him to a mystery involving a classmate, a dead girl, and his newly discovered powers.
I’ve heard great things about Chris D’Lacey’s other work (which I have never read) so I was hoping this would be good. The blurbed concept isn’t particularly original, but I really liked the idea of cellular memory and the way it played out in the book.
There’s science-fiction elements, fantasy elements, and some thrillery elements too. It could have been a good mix, but in parts it goes so quickly that things don’t get explored as much as they could have been.
I like the characters, especially Josie, Michael’s ten year old sister, Chantelle, a UNICORNE agent, and Freya, Michael’s sick classmate.
The plot twists and turns, sometimes well, and sometimes in convenient places. I like the mix of more normal things that Michael has to deal with, in between the paranormal. I think the start of it was stronger than the way the setup played out though; it started with a strong hook, but then got a bit confusing. The main mystery did get played through well looking back on it, but with side elements being created due to Michael’s powers, it is harder to follow than it needed to be.
Overall:  Strength 3 tea to a genremixing thriller.
Blog tour!

26th August - Book Zone For Boys
8th August - Death, Books, and Tea
29th August - Fiction Fascination
1st September - Booktrust
2nd September - Teen Librarian
3rd September - Book Angel Booktopia


Sunday, 24 August 2014

Does YA Challenge or Reinforce Gender Stereotypes?

You may have remembered a few months ago, I begged for responses to a long thing about gender and stereotypes and then a few weeks later I begged for responses to a shorter one. HUGE THANKS TO ALL OF YOU FOR GIVING ME RECS OF WHAT TO READ AND THINK ABOUT AND/OR DATA TO QUOTE HERE! 
This was for a level two project, also known as a higher project qualification or HPQ. We got to choose anything to research and come up with a 2000 word essay on it. It was finished in February 2014, and came back with an A* :)
 Anyway, I chose to write about YA and how heavily gender stereotypes feature in it. A googledoc of this essay can be found here; the essay is uncut here, but there you can find the whole bibliography, and results of the shorter surveys. What do you think? Does YA challenge or reinforce gendered stereotypes, or is it changing? Share your thoughts in the comments.


Does Young Adult Fiction challenge or reinforce gender stereotypes?

Introduction
Gender stereotypes invade every aspect of life. From the moment a child is born and pronounced a boy or a girl, they will have the trappings of gender thrust upon them.  However, by the time they are teenagers, they will have started questioning these, and many other things about the world around them.   Literature written for teenagers, also known as Young Adult literature (YA), addresses many issues such as grief, bullying, drugs, suicide and rape. However, in my years reading a wide range of books on the market, I have not found many books that prominently challenge gender stereotypes, unless it is one of the few with a main character on the transgender spectrum. I have also often thought about the more general representation of gender throughout YA-the characteristics, traits and ideas attached to characters of different genders. In my time as a book blogger, I have also grown to know the methods of marketing YA literature, and I am going to analyse these, and if and how gender plays a part in these.  Gender stereotypes are rife throughout all forms of media, not just young adult literature. But as teens question and explore life, and are influenced by the media they consume, the books they read challenging or reinforcing gender stereotypes will help form their ideas that will stick with them throughout their lives.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Theatre Reviews: I Need a Doctor and Shakespeare's Avengers Assembleth

Title: I Need a Doctor: The Whosical

Director: Benjamin Occhipinti
Major cast: James Wilson-Taylor and Jessica Spray
Seen at: Pleasance, Edinburgh Fringe
Review: Jamie and Jess are two Whovians who want to perform a Doctor Who themed musical. Who have recieved a Cease and Desist notice from Stephen Moffat. Oh well-changes can be made so copyright infringement can be avoided, right? With this in mind, Jamie and Jess take on the roles of a companion, A Doctor, and multiple villians, and journey through time and space in the TARD- Phone Box. I wasn't sure if I was going to see this, but then I got told they make fun of Moffat and I was sold.
Its a very clever parody. Yes, they do  make fun of Moffat, using fairy godmother Amy Wand, who continually advises Jess to obey the Doctor and stay where she is. Like companions of a better time, Jess ignores her and goes and has adventurers.
Both performers, and the pianist, are very good at what they do. The multiroling that Jamie does is brilliant, especially when portraying A Doctor and Da Master simultaneously.
Jokes come continually, a mix of Who-related, musical related, generally awesome lines, and one thing that was set up from the start just to include
which just made the whole show better.
 [if you can't see it, that’s the BARROWMAN gif]
The original songs are catchy, and funny. I also likes how they included changed bits from other musicals like The Ballad of Sweeney Todd (the Exterminators), Confrontation (from Les Mis, A Doctor and Da Master), and Music of the Night Phantom of the Opera  [edited] (from Phantom, Da Master and Jess, leading to "sing for me, angel....bloody hell!")

Overall Strength 4 tea to a really fun show that every Whovian and every fan of musicals (that catches most of you guys, right?) must see.
Links: Company

Title: Shakespeare’s Avengers Assembleth
Performed by: Drake's Drummers Theatre Company
Seen at: Greenside Theatre, Edinburgh Fringe
Review: Queen Elizabeth is about to be crowned, making England Protestant. Knowing that The Pope will try and keep England Catholic she commissions William Shakespeare to write a play with his greatest heroes,  warning of Catholicism. The Vatican's High Inquisitor is not happy about this, and he in turn summons Shakespeare's greatest villains. This results in a cobbled together play starring Cardinal Dave, William Shakespeare, and his greatest characters (and Brutus).
I was very excited about seeing this play. I knew it wasn't going to be Marvel's characters in Shakespearean (though that would have been awesome too), and was excited to see how they'd all interact.
There were lots of running gags that always made me laugh, such as Hamlet  always talking to Banquo, Ophelia's offstage actions, Brutus being very stabby and the High Inquisitor's grasp on his religion.
Interpretation of characters was a mix of brilliant and...interesting. I loved the characterisation of Brutus, Macbeth, and Juliet.
The plot wasn't great, and the play within a play was impossible to follow. I think that might have been intentional though, judging by the jokes about it within the script. This play should be judged more on its jokes; the oneliners, physical things, and ones that take a bit more time  to set up.
The cast multiroled and played off each other really well. The lighting and stage were kept very simple, and I think as well as a riff off Shakespeare, it's also a comedy about very amateur productions and how they get produced (that is, badly organised, lots of arguements, and lots of laughs, which is highly highly accurate). 
Overall Strength  4 tea to a fun story and spin on Shakespeare's characters.



Theatre review- Travesti

Title: Travesti
Director: Rebecca Hill
Performed by: Unbound Productions
Major cast: John Askew, Dominic Attenborough, Aled Bidder, Hugo Bolton, Stanley Elridge, James Lawrence
Seen at: Pleasance, Edinburgh Fringe

Review: Six men tell women's stories about things such as makeup, pressure, sex, and assault.
The set of six revolving mirrors is very effectively used throughout, as ironing boards, kitchens, display boards, and hanging spaces for the suits the actors wear at the start.
For a cast that all works very well together, I found it a shame that they put some actors out of action at various points in, the play, and they don't return until the end.
At times, they used songs to transition to the next topic. Props to Francesca Fenech, musical director, for putting in some really nice harmonies. Also, the actors have very good voices.
In parts, there's two or more stories being told at once. I have mixed reactions to this; it works at times when two contrasting opinions on one topic are being related, but sometimes it seems like they're talking over each other and interrupting in midsentence just for the sake of it  which made both stories disrupted and harder to follow.
They talk about a good range of topics, and it's interesting to see lots of perspectives on things.
Each individual actor is very good at using movement to emphasise the point that is being made. This is especially clear at the points when they strip, the way they do so and their expressions showing how the person being objectified at that point feels.
The concept of Travesti is a very good one, and does make you think about the differences between expectations and perceptions of genders in society; for example, people were laughing when the men were grinding and singing Do What You Want With My Body, while if it were women doing it then it wouldn't be anything out of the ordinary. It's a very good play to see starkly the way different genders are treated in society, in situations ranging in seriousness.


Overall: Strength 4 tea to a thought provoking, well performed piece that everyone should watch.

Links: Company

Monday, 11 August 2014

Theatre Review-Lysistrata by Christopher Adams and Aristophanes

So, I went to the Edinburgh Fringe festival. It was brilliant-most shows. I’m only going to review the shows I really enjoyed though-I don’t really see much point in spending time writing a 250 word review saying “this was okish.” So over the next week, here’s my pick of shows.

Title: Lysistrata
Writer: Christopher Adams and Aristophanes
Director: Christopher Adams
Performed by: DEM Productions
Major cast: Lousia Holloway, Charlotte Mulliner, River Hawkins and Robert Willoughby
Seen at: C Nova
Review: It starts with Lysistrata's birthday party and her friends have bought her a stripper. But prices are rising, they can't pay and so he leaves. Lysistrata, angry with the austerity measures and work exploitation and the state of Greece in general, convinces her friends to withold sex  until the men of Greece sort out the situation.
I've read Lysistrata by Aristophanes and I thought this was a very clever adaptation. I love the relavence of the Greek  financial crisis and the use of social media as a rallying call to women.  The transitions between rhymed verse and normal speaking is quite jarring  and the tone set up at the beginning means the verse sounds really out of place.
It starts off a faithful modern adaptation, as much as you can do with four actors, distilling choruses down to single people and using sound effectively to create crowds. Then about the 2/3 mark I think (I’m not entirely sure) it gets very different, a lot darker, and by the end I'm thinking two things: this was meant to be a comedy and the writer seriously thinks Greece is screwed. I left thinking “woah. Not expecting that.” and I think it worked in this version [possible spoiler-highlight to see] as the war on austerity would obviously take time to fix and not be sorted by a sex strike in one night, as opposed to a war being fought by men who could easily stop. [end spoiler]
All four actors are very good. Louisa Hollway is Lysistrata throughout, doing well as a drunk angry woman who wants change, but also good at showing a more vulnerable side. The other three actors multirole, often crossdressing, creating very different characters through voices and movement.
The logistics could have been better. I sat in the centre of the third row, but a few scenes were on the ground, an unraised stage, so only the front row could really see, and the actors didn't have microphones so it was really hard to hear them when music was playing, meant to be in the background but drowning the actors out.


Overall: Strength 4 tea to a strong modernisation and adaptation.




Thursday, 31 July 2014

Book Review- Bombmaker by Claire McFall

Title: Bombmaker
 Author:  Claire McFall
Published:  1 February 2014 by Templar
Length:  336 pages
Source: publisher
Other info:  Claire has also written Ferryman, which I reviewed here and won the Scottish Booktrust Award.
Summary : The English government have closed the borders with their Celtic neighbours. Any Celt found in England is branded with a tattoo, found twice they are executed. Scottish Lizzie is the 'property' of psychopathic London gang boss Alexander. Can Lizzie escape Alexander's deadly grip and at what price her betrayal?

Review: Following bad economic times, England closes the borders with Scotland and Wales  and brings in  a new policy: Celts found in England are branded. Branded Celts in England are killed. Lizzie is one such branded Celt, who is the "property" of Alexander, a gang boss in London, who keeps her around for her bombmaking skills. as time goes on, Lizzie realises she might like a life outside the gang. Which is something that Alexander does not like at all.
I read McFall's Ferryman last year and really enjoyed it. I was looking forwards to this, especially with everything going on about the Scottish Independence referendum. Extreme nationalist governments make good reading (not real life), and so do gangs. Add in promises of a clever awesome female character and I'm sold.
You very quickly get pulled into Lizzie's world, both the political climate and the gang life that she’s part of. It’s a world that is believable, if you imagine that a yes vote leads to extreme xenophobia on the  English peoples’ part (ie just a huge ramp up of how it is now).
I love the fact that all the characters are well fleshed out really well. You really get close to them, even if that closeness is not something that you really want to be. Alexander’s creepiness seems to know no bounds. Lizzie, I liked a lot; she’s resourceful, and you want things to go right for her, even though they tend not to. I loved reading about them and how they got where they are and where they want to go.
It’s very very different to Ferryman. McFall writes well in both softer afterlife stories and gritty thrillers. I’m looking forwards to see what she does next.


Overall:  Strength 4 tea to a fast paced relevant  dystopia.


Thursday, 17 July 2014

Book Review- Run by Gregg Olsen

Title: Run
 Author: Gregg Olsen
Series:  Vengeance #1

Published: May 2014
Length: 256 pages
Warnings: off-stage past rape and killings
Source: publishers
Summary : What if you discovered that everything you thought you knew about yourself was a lie?

Rylee is fifteen. She comes home from school one afternoon to find the most shocking thing possible - her father dead, with a knife through his heart, and a key clutched in his hand. Her mother's purse is on the counter, but she appears to be long gone. A message in blood is written on the floor... RUN.

With her brother in tow, Rylee begins a dark journey, one that will uncover horrific and chilling crimes and lead her to an unexpected and gruesome discovery about her real father and what - or who - is behind his insatiable desire to kill. By the journey's end Rylee's childhood is a long way behind her...

RUN is the first title in the new Vengeance series, following Rylee as she begins to piece together the story of her life and to avenge unpunished crimes - starting with her own. This is DEXTER with a feisty female protagonist unlike any other in contemporary young adult fiction.
Review: Rylee, having come home from school to find her father dead, her mother missing, and message that just says “RUN”, gets her brother and runs.
I was excited to read this because I’ve read bits of Olsen's Envy, and liked it, and the trailer that HKB made was quite good (music win).
It starts off very quickly, the set up from the summary happening in the first chapter, and the running happening in the second. This pace is kept up throughout, which was good, and I read this in one sitting.
The mystery as to what happened is quickly partially  revealed in favour of a thriller story, which I didn't mind. I liked the fact that we get to meet lots of characters as Rylee tries to discover how things happened to others that fits into her current situation (not very well worded in comparison to the book, but I can't explain it better without spoilers), who each brought clues to the table. The way it developed was good, but the twist at the end was predictable.
The  main reason I didn't enjoy this was Rylee. I don't know why I disliked her so much, but I just didn't care for her or her story or the way it turned out. Maybe it was her narration; there's some interjections and thoughts which are kind of obvious. Maybe it was her, she seems a little too conveniently prepared to know what to do, and I didn't think she developed. It was probably the romance; there's a short flashback and a facebook conversation with a guy in the middle of the book (and why are you even worrying about facebook when all this is happening?) and the ending just comes out of nowhere and the book could have easily done without it because it just seems like an afterthought that wasn’t properly explored.
Overall:  Strength 2 tea to a turny fast thriller, that I didn’t get into as much as I’d hoped.


Monday, 7 July 2014

News! I'm back! And...off again.

Hi, people. So for the last few weeks I have been failing to blog. I've done it occasionally, but felt like I didn't really want to.  But now I've been reading some quite good books that make me want to tell you all about them and so review writing is happening again!
I am going on holiday for  a week. Typical for me to get my mojo back the days before I lose internet connection (I think. I have no idea on the wifi situation where I'm going). I will be planning lots of things while I am gone!  And here's things  for you while I'm gone.

Books for free(ish).
I'd like to draw attention to my pile of books that I've finished with. This is because they are overrunning the area under my bed. I charge for postage and packaging. Normal payment details apply- £3 for one or two books, £1.50 for every book hereafter. This can be payed by Paypal or in the form of an Amazon voucher. Email me with your choices and we'll sort something out. Books will be sent by Royal Mail or MyHermes (thanks, Emma Maree!)  Books in the first two columns (ie the finished copies) will be going to charity at the start of September!



UK ARC share Database
I was thinking-is there anywhere where all us UK bloggers can list books we want to pass on, at a central site? Apparently there used to be one, but it got shut down. Would people be interested in me setting one up? It would be a googledocs based spreadsheet document, one sheet with all the books, and bloggers by the side of it who have that book, and another sheet with bloggers' names, contact details and any of their comments regarding postage. Should I start one? Comment with thoughts, please!

Bard to Bookshelf
This is still going ahead! I have just been lazy. I propose we move it to September. I'll email the people who signed up in the next few weeks. What is Bard to Bookshelf? A celebration of Shakespeare, and his work's influence on YA.  More info and a signupsheet can be found here.

Events
So I'm going to Edinburgh for the Fringe *dances with excitement* I'll also be at the Cat Clarke and David Levithan event, which I'm looking forwards to.  Londonwise, I might be going to either the Angry Robot Forbidden Planet Night (13th August) or the James Dawson and David Levithan event (14th August). I can't go to both and it's really hard for me to decide which one I want to go to...because LGBT YA or fantasy (ANNE LYLE!!), so I'm going to base my decision on whichever one more people I know are going to. Anyone going to either? Tell me now!

That's it from me for now.  I will be extremely jealous of everyone at YALC and LFCC. I might be reachable on facebook, email, goodreads or other internet haunts. Might. Have a great week,everyone!

Friday, 4 July 2014

Book Review: The Young Avengers: The Children's Crusade by Allan Heinberg

Title: Young Avengers: The Children’s Crusade
 Author: Allan Heinberg
Series:   Young Avengers, Avengers,
Published:  March 28 2012 by Marvel
Length: 248 pages
Source: library
Summary : The Young Avengers return in an epic saga by series creators Allan Heinberg and Jim Cheung. When Wiccan's reality-altering powers begin to rival those of the Scarlet Witch, the young hero sets out on a quest to find her that spans the Marvel Universe and pits Wiccan against both the Avengers and the Young Avengers. But will Wiccan's desire to solve the mystery of his parentage be his salvation or his undoing? With three words, the Scarlet Witch changed the world forever...and now with her return, nothing will ever be the same for the Marvel Universe. This self-contained Marvel event reintroduces and redefines the Young Avengers and the Scarlet Witch for the Heroic Age, and is essential reading for any Avengers fan. COLLECTING:UNCANNY X-MEN (1963) 526 (B STORY); AVENGERS: THE CHILDREN'S CRUSADE 1-9; AVENGERS: THE CHILDREN'S CRUSADE - YOUNG AVENGERS 1
Review: The Scarlet Witch, who once cast a spell that took powers from millions of mutants, is wanted by the Avengers and the X Men. To find her, they decide to use Wiccan and Speed, who they believe are her sons. This results in a clash with a lot of groups from the Marvel universe.
I wanted to read this because I really enjoyed most of Marvel's cinematic universe, wanted to read the comics, and the general consensus of the internet on where to start in the wide world of Marvel is pick up any book and roll with it. But, among other things recommended by Georgia(The Bibliomaniac) and Cicely (Loves Books), I was recommended Young Avengers and this was all my library had in that respect so I started with this.
It had short character introductions for each of the Young Avengers, which was useful. It also told us simply or let us easily infer the past events of the Marvel timeline.
I liked all the characters. Wiccan, aka Billy, is the main one for this storyline, and you got to know him quite well. Also features heavily was Wanda Maximoff, the Scarlet Witch. I liked her story. I think some of the characters came in a bit too late in the story to knoew them in this one, but I suppose it matters les when they have extensive stories of their own. The team of the Young Avengers I liked, and I'd like to see more of them, especially Kate Bishop/Hawkeye.
The plot brings in a lot of characters from the Marvel universe. There's also a bit randomly in a future timestream, which I had to go over a few times to understand. Otherwise, it was easy to follow, and quite quick.
The art was consistently good. I liked the fact it was all in full colour (I'm used to black and white manga where colour story pages are rare) and the action pages looked really good.


Overall:  Strength 4 tea to a fast story that made a great introduction to the Marvel comics universe.


Links: Amazon | Goodreads

Friday, 27 June 2014

Theatre Review- Avenue Q

Title: Avenue Q
Writer: Robert Lopez, Jeff Marx and Jeff Whitty
Director: Cressida Carré
Performed by: Sell A Door
Major cast:  Tom Steedon, Lucie-Mae Sumner, Stephen Arden, Richard Morse,Jacqueline Tate ,  Ellena Vincent, Jessica Parker,
Seen at: Wycombe Swan
Other Info: They're still touring! Try and catch them if you can. More info here.

Review: Princeton has just completed a BA in English. He now doesn’t know what to do with his life. Moving into Avenue Q and meeting a range of colourful characters, puppets such as Kate, Rod, Nicky and Trekkie, and humans like Christmas Eve and Brian. Oh, and Gary Coleman. Avenue Q follow them all as they all wait for their dreams to come true. 
I wanted to see this because...hello, Avenue Q! It’s a brilliant coming of age show, with a few songs for which it's well known but some others that are also really good, and I was looking forwards to a night of comedy and music and adorableness.
The show started with a cute little animation to the short opening theme. The screens occasionally came on between scenes or during songs, providing extra comedy.
All the cast were really good. Lucie-Mae Sumner's Kate voice was annoying to start with, because it's quite squeaky in places, but her Lucy was really good. Tom was good as both Princeton and Rod. I would have liked to see more of Ellena Vincent/Gary. Jacqueline Tate and Richard Morse's Christmas Eve and Brian were both cute and funny and paired well together. My favourites were Stephen Arden and Jessica Parker, who are Nicky, Trekkie and the Bad Idea Bears. They worked together really well, Parker's facial expressions as... well, everyone, were really good, and I loved the range of voices that Arden did (normal for Nicky, growly for Trekkie, and quite high for the Bad Idea Bears).  All the actors put a lot of energy in, the very skilled puppeteers made the puppets come to life, and this really showed.
The music was very good. The arrangements were a little different to the one on the recording (of a different cast), which I liked, though it's a shame they only got licensed shorter versions of Schadenfreude and The Money Song. Trekkie's song was very good, with an added pause after Kate's “Normal people don't sit at home” line  which worked really well for comedy. You Can Be As Loud As The Hell You Want (When You're Making Love) was really well staged, showing off the whole cast  (and the puppets' inventive sex).  I also really liked the way they did My Girlfriend Who Lives in Canada, Fantasies Come True, Schadenfreude, and The More You Ruv Someone. 
I liked the staging, and the use of lights in windows to show where on the street each scene was taking place in.  The book is very good (someone else must have thought so too because it won an award for it). It touches on lots of themes, like acceptance,  friendship, relationships, in a way that is funny about 90% of the time, emotional the other 10%, and brilliant throughout. 

Overall: Strength 5 tea to a wonderful show with a very strong cast that made for an excellent night out.

Links: Company | Writer | Theatre

Friday, 20 June 2014

Book Review- Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith

Title: Grasshopper Jungle
 Author: Andrew Smith
Series:  N/A
Published:  27 February 2014 by Electric Monkey
Length: 394 pages
Source: won from FictionThirst
Summary : In the small town of Ealing, Iowa, Austin and his best friend Robby have accidentally unleashed an unstoppable army. An army of horny, hungry, six-foot-tall praying mantises that only want to do two things. This is the truth. This is history. It's the end of the world. And nobody knows anything about it.
Review: Austin and Robby accidentally unleash an army of giant praying mantises. They also find somewhere where they might be able to survive the end of the world.
I wanted to read this because I was told queer protagonist plus laughs plus weird stuff and this looked right up my street.
It started with one of my favourite ever opening passages. Then an introduction to Robby and Austin, and the people in their town. Then lots of weird weird things.
A lot of things happen in Grasshopper Jungle, which would seem crazy on their own, but just about work when combined into the story.
This is definitely funny in places. Austin is a sex obsessed teenager questioning his sexuality and other things in life. He's also attempting to record everything as a historian. This makes for a unique writing style, with many funny parts such as “Even though we dutifully archived elaborate records of everything we've ever done, we’ve also managed to keep on doing dumber and dumber shit” and the chapter titles. However, this also comes with a lot of annoying things. We are told every time  he gets horny, and we also get repeated things like names and histories of people which he's already explained. Both these things get irritating after the first few instances, and  they carry on throughout the entire book.
I like the fact we get a lot of information about everything, which I think works because 1)it's interesting and 2)some things are so bizarre that not knowing as much as we can about a thing can make it impossible to understand. It felt like I was reading slower than usual, maybe to make sure I caught everything, maybe because the of the style. I don't know.
The characters are well fleshed out, though I felt I didn't really get to get close to them, maybe because of the blunt writing style. Also, regarding Austin's sexual confusion: this is why bisexuality and options of nonmonogamy need to be openly offered. (I might do a post on bisexuality and nonmonogamy and why that would solve so many problems in literature and life. More on that later maybe).
The plot developed slowly, which meant we got a chance to take it in. we also got a full history of each generation of Austin's family from leaving Poland down to Austin, which I liked.
Andrew Smith's imagination is wonderful.


Overall:  Strength 3 tea to a book which was weird in an awesome way, but not entirely my thing.


Saturday, 7 June 2014

Book Review- Love Letters to the Dead

Title: Love Letters to the Dead
 Author: Ava Dellaira
Series:  N/A
Published:  1 May 2014 by Hot Key Books
Length: 327 pages
Source: publisher
Other info: This is Ava’s debut
Summary : It begins as an assignment for English class: write a letter to a dead person - any dead person. Laurel chooses Kurt Cobain - he died young, and so did Laurel's sister May - so maybe he'll understand a bit of what Laurel is going through. Soon Laurel is writing letters to lots of dead people - Janis Joplin, Heath Ledger, River Phoenix, Amelia Earhart... it's like she can't stop. And she'd certainly never dream of handing them in to her teacher. She writes about what it's like going to a new high school, meeting new friends, falling in love for the first time - and how her family has shattered since May died.

But much as Laurel might find writing the letters cathartic, she can't keep real life out forever. The ghosts of her past won't be contained between the lines of a page, and she will have to come to terms with growing up, the agony of losing a beloved sister, and the realisation that only you can shape your destiny. 
Review: Laurel's sister died. Laurel is told to write letters to someone dead as an assignment. Laurel writes to Kurt Cobain. And then  to Elisabeth Bishop. And then to Amelia Earhart. And then to lots of other dead people as she tells the stories of ger life and those of others around her.
I was expecting this to be good because I'd heard lots of people say how brilliant it was.
This is very similar to Perks of Being a Wallflower, which kind of make sense considering Chbosky is "a dear friend and mentor" of Dellaira. And considering Perks broke me with its beauty and feelings, I should have enjoyed this.
sadly,  I didn't. It's repetitive. Laurel goes on a lot about what X dead person is doing or what their family is doing or what a situation would be like if that person was involved. it's ok to start, boring by the end.
The writing style goes from really simple like the part where she describes getting dressed and eating lunch at high school, and random words and metaphors and things to describe something that is being made to seem much more important than it actually is.
The Perks similarities. Oh my gosh they were endless. Coming of age angst? Check.  Epistolary form? Check. Queer friends in hiding? Check. Even the thing with Billy, which  while I understand it's important to not gloss over these things, didn't work for me because I just wanted to scream "this is a female led attempted copy of Perks and it isn't working at all."
Why didn't it work? For one, it's hard to imagine it happening in these modern times, at least since Amy Winehouse died, and there's something about the tone that puts it in a weird time setting. Then there's the fact that the plot didn't hold my interest.
The romance was of the "he's cool and doesn't talk but he will to me" variety, and ugh no. I didn't feel like anyone really developed. I just didn't care for the characters and felt no emotions for any events at all.


Overall:  Strength 2 tea to a book that had everything I should have loved, but just didn’t work for me.


Thursday, 29 May 2014

Book Review- Spireseeker by E.D.E. Bell

Title: Spireseeker
 Author: E. D. E. Bell
Series:  Spireseeker #1
Published:  October 2013
Length:472 pages
Source: author
Summary : Spireseeker is an epic fantasy tale by debut novelist E.D.E. Bell in which the heroine, Beryl, is forced from the only home she's ever known and must discover her true identity in order to confront one of her own kind, before the evil Aegra is able to enslave all of Fayen’s creatures.
Please join us in sharing this creative new novel about Beryl, a young elf who discovers that she is not who she thinks she is but instead is looked to as the one remaining hope to save her home. Communicating with the diverse creatures of the land, Beryl and her unlikely companion march through mountains, forests, and deserts to defeat evil—even as that evil seeks to destroy them first. Though a classic fantasy tale, we promise this one will be unlike any you've read. Experience it today!

Review: Beryl believes herself to be a normal girl until she is able to heal her grandomther when she is badly wounded, and she is told that  she is an elf. And not just any elf. She  has a unicorn’s blessing, enabling her to do the healing, and is also believed to be the one to  free the land of Fayen from the grasp of Aegra, who uses her blessing to manipulate loyalty to help her eliminate the other elves.
The fantasy world is different to those I’ve met before. Each elf can be blessed by an animal that gives them a unique gift, which I liked learning about. 
I really liked the characters. Beryl and her healing powers and Kick, the human companion, were fun to read about and get to know. The culture ofthe elves was fully developed and so were all the other cultures of animals. I quite liked the fact that the nonhumanoid characters played a larger part than they often do in other high fantasy stories.  
The writing style is simple, with more formal language during the council meetings  and more modern language occasionally that feels out of place.
Pacingwise, it starts off well, introducing new powers, new ideas and new quests for Beryl quickly. The middle is quite slow, It picks up towards the end, when Aegra finally appears more after an introduction at the very start followed by 70% of Beryl’s adventures. I think it would have been nice to see her a bit more, to break up the  sameness of the visiting various groups of animals and the discussing in the council, which does get a bit boring after some time. The action scenes were better  written than the talky ones.  

Overall:  Strength 3 tea to a fantasy with great characters but was really dragged out in the middle.

Author interview- E.D.E Bell on Gender in Spireseeker

 
Today, we have author E.D.E. Bell talking to us about her novel, Spireseeker

, the review of which is coming soon.  We’re talking about gender identity, both in the real world and her fantasy one,

Did anything specific make you want to present gender as a theme in your work?
Growing up with two engineers as parents, I wasn’t introduced to gender rules as a child. As a toddler, I was bald and wore overalls, and people thought I was a boy. Then I had two brothers, and we played together with the same set of toys. You get the idea. I played low brass in high school. I went to electrical engineering school surrounded by mostly men, and was one of four women out of sixty-four students in my graduate program. I ended up working with the military, while my husband became a stay-at-home dad. And so I’m fascinated by society’s strict definition of gender. Once you’re really tuned into it, you see rules, expectations – as well as artificial limitations – everywhere. It’s a subject I feel passionate about and wanted to explore in my writing.

What bugs you about gender and stereotypes in the real world world?
Where should I start? I don’t think we should program children with the pink and blue toy aisles in the store, but it’s so much more complex than that. It’s dismissing men as stupid, or women as emotional. It’s, “boys will be boys” and “girl power.” It’s being overly impressed by a woman repairing a car, or making fun of a man who likes to sew. It’s insulting phrases like, “Mr. Mom,” women labeling themselves as “strong,” or people dismissing a heterosexual transgender woman and a gay man as the same. And then if you question these things, then you get accused of denying science, which I’m not. I know men and women are different. I just don’t think people want to be pushed into artificial boundaries. If people are so into nature, then just let people act how they naturally are and stop forcing it. Society just won’t fall apart if some men like flowers.

 Does Beryl, the main character, being an elf in a world identifying as female where the elves’ default setting is gender-neutral, affect the story? I initially wanted to write a story with a female lead, but then—and honestly I don’t remember the moment I came up with this—changed the elves to instead be genderless. At first, I worried the story may lose credibility with those seeking female protagonists in fantasy literature, especially female role models for their young daughters. What I found was that most people reading the story identify with Beryl as a female, whether she physically is or not. This made me wonder – if I were to reprint the story with Beryl called “he” how would that change the reader’s perception? I also wonder if I would have written Beryl differently under that premise.

How have your readers reacted to your gender neutral characters?
Rikian is one of my favorite characters, and out of respect, I managed to avoid all gender pronouns while describing the elf, which was not an easy task. So, yes, I’ve heard, “You said he was genderless but instead he was just a flamboyant gay man.” What, quoting RuPaul is gay? But, yes, I did worry about this unintended effect after that chapter was written, but the people who read it told me not to change it. So I do think Rikian’s persona was a bit over-the-top but I also think that people (or elves) tend to exaggerate themselves when they grow tired of their perfectly reasonable choices making people so uncomfortable. Perhaps once treated a bit more normally, Rikian would put the raspberry robes away and tone down the flamboyance. Or not. Either that, or I fell victim to the same stereotypes I was trying to dismiss. But I still love the character, and that chapter (A Garden Walk) remains my favorite.


Do you regret challenging gender norms in Spireseeker?
No, not a bit. It makes some people uncomfortable, but if it makes others think (or even better, just enjoy the story), then it’s worth it to me. I am so interested by the many facets of gender in our culture, and plan to work a diverse cast of characters into all of my novels – both in terms of gender identity as well as issues of attraction. And all the blurring in between.

Anything else you’d like to say?
Yes. I’m sorry to my friends and family who are tired of the phrase, “genderless elves.” But not too sorry. And thanks, Nina, for the opportunity to talk with you. This has been great.

Thanks for the interview! I enjoyed Spireseeker, as you’ll see later.

Find E.D.E. Bell online at her website, her blog, on facebook, and on twitter.