January Classic – Pride & Prejudice

Pride-and-Prejudice

I know we’re in February but I’ve been meaning to post this for ages for the 2016 Classics Challenge (such a shame schoolwork gets in the way!). This is my first time doing the Classics Challenge run by Stacey over at The Pretty Books blog (check it out!) and so far, so good!

For my January classic I selected Pride & Prejudice because a) it’s been sitting on my shelf for almost 2 years now (!) and b) I’ve been looking for an excuse to read Jane Austen books since I finished Emma (fantastic!) a few months ago. Obviously, I already knew about Pride & Prejudice – it’s one of the most famous romance novels ever – but I didn’t really start to become interested in reading it until I watched the Lizzie Bennet Diaries web series on YouTube which acted as a modern retelling of it in the digital age. It was witty, funny and just overall amazing, so I decided to give the classic a go. Because I’m broke pretty much all the time though, I didn’t buy it until I was on holiday with my friend in West Wales and I discovered it for 25 pence in a charity shop (bargain!). I was certain I would read it there and then, but I didn’t, so here I am almost 2 years later!

Anyway, I digress! I think the main reason why Pride and Prejudice has remained a classic years after its publication is because firstly, everyone is a sucker for a love story and also, Lizzie Bennet was the original BAMF before the term was even coined! It serves as your guide for navigating early 19th century, and all the social cues that go with it. Austen turns something that could so easily have become forgettable (like a lot of love stories) and turned it into pages of hilarity, satire and frank truths about female friendships, what happens when your parents interfere with your love life, and not to judge a book by its cover! Also, Mr Darcy is the ultimate book boyfriend (who doesn’t love a man who’s dark and broody?) although I do have a soft spot for the lovely Mr Bingley! In fact, I challenge anyone who reads this book to not fall in love with Mr Darcy (it’s pretty impossible!)In short, you can keep your Augustus Waters’ and Cedric Diggorys – I’d pick Fitzwilliam Darcy every time!

In case you haven’t guessed yet, I loved Pride and Prejudice as even though it was published hundreds of years ago it still seems relevant in the 21st century. In fact, I think it’s more relevant than a lot of modern romance novels at the moment and because if this, I think it will stay a classic for many years to come!

So, in summary, I would recommend this book to everyone who loves a good romance novel that’s full of vivid, memorable characters, a kick-ass heroine (who doesn’t actually need to kick asses to be awesome) and needs something fresh after they’ve been in a stale reading slump for far too long!

Happy reading!

To find out more about the 2016 Classics Challenge, click here.

 

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Why ‘Our Shared Shelf’ is a Good Thing

Following the recent news that Emma Watson is launching an online book club focused on feminism I was sceptical at first. Firstly, how would it differ from women’s book club focusing on feminist literature from world renowned academics? I wondered about the cost for others, including myself, to buy a new book every month for an online discussion. I wondered whether Watson would focus on intersectionality. Luckily, my worries were quickly quelled by the Goodreads thread specific for Our Shared Shelf. There were tips for getting your hands on the book of the month, guidelines for behaviour and everyone seemed passionate about gender equality.

I hope through Our Shared Shelf, more people are encouraged to read feminist literature and broaden their horizons and we all develop a respect for it because many books that have paved the way for feminism have been left, never to be acknowledged again, until now. Through an online community led by someone who is respected and idolised by many teenagers, Watson can encourage intelligent discussion between feminists of all ages without the stuffiness and superiority of more mature feminists.

In a world where feminism is a dirty word, Watson has brought it into the mainstream and words written by some of the most influential, and forgotten, women of our past and present will become popular for the greater good. Our Shared Shelf is going to become a book club powerhouse and I hope to be a part of it when it happens. I’ll be joining next month with a review of the book they focus on in February.

Unbecoming Review

unbecoming

 

Firstly, I’m back after my blogging hiatus (due to mock exams) so yay! I thought I’d kick my return off with a review of what has to be one of my favourite books of 2015 – Unbecoming, by the brilliant Jenny Downham.

After hearing bloggers and critics alike rave about this book I knew I had to give it a try and it did not disappoint. It is centred around 17 year old Katie battling with a secret she can’t bear to tell anyone, her mother Caroline who’s trying to escape a past catching up with her and her grandmother Mary who suffers from Alzheimer’s and is hell-bent on revealing every family secret they had all so carefully buried. Flashbacks are intertwined with present day drama, creating mystery and distrust with every character, between every character, Downham knows how to keep a reader gripped (I read it non-stop over 2 days) and delivers a satisfying ending that isn’t all sunshine & rainbows but rather ties loose ends up in a bow but still leaves room for the reader to come to their own conclusions.

One aspect I simply adored about Unbecoming is Katie’s storyline. Katie is in love with a girl and while so many writers would have made that the central storyline, Downham didn’t. She made it important but not overpowering. She explored an area previously undiscovered by others in YA by writing about an LGBT character but didn’t turn her story into an LGBT book (not that there’s anything wrong with an LGBT book of course!) Katie’s storyline was both heart-breaking, as she learnt the truth about her family, and hopeful, as she came to terms with herself and looked forward to the future.

Downham has a history of dealing with tough topics through her writing and tackling Alzheimer’s, particularly in a YA novel, took some guts. She didn’t glamorise it, and made it feel like she had done research to tell a story as truthful as she could. There were some aspects of Alzheimer’s which she could have used, and had ample opportunity to, but ultimately this was a book about a variety of things, not just one.

This book was a carousel of motherhood, secrets, lies, love, guilt and familial loyalty and served as a rollercoaster of a read. Unbecoming is definitely one of my top YA reads.

Rating:  5 stars.

 

 

 

 

Top 5 Nonfiction Books

Seeing as November is Nonfiction Month, this week I’ve decided to compile a list of my top 5 nonfiction books at the moment. I have to admit, because I’m not a big nonfiction reader, compiling this list was quite difficult!

  1. The Establishment by Owen Jones

the establishment

This is the book I’m currently reading and at the moment it’s the Guardian Teen Book Club Book of the Month. It’s a brilliant book on the imbalance of power in modern day Britain, the changing face of politics, inequality and it challenges these issues perfectly. Injected with bursts of humour, The Establishment is frank, funny and a damn good read. It will open your eyes to the world around us and how we need to take action.

  1. Girls Will Be Girls by Emer O’Toole

girls will be girls

I previously mentioned this book on my top 5 Feminist Reads and it’s such a good book I had to mention it here. It explores issues that contemporary feminism are struggling with and attempting to tackle in a hilarious way that makes the book read like a conversation you would have with your best friend. It explains the issues clearly without being patronising and O’Toole slips her opinion in so subtly you don’t even notice.

  1. Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class by Owen Jones

chavs

I know this is the second Owen Jones book on the list, but what can I say? Jones speaks the truth. Like The Establishment, Jones tackles the inequality of the class system and focuses on the demonization of the working class. Jones is ruthless with his observations and it makes you realise how slowly, the position of the working class has fallen dramatically in more ways than one. Jones discusses the media depiction of the working class, the lack of representation and brings light to a topic never really spoken about before.

  1. Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

into the wild

I only just got around to reading this a few months ago after being given it as a gift a few years ago. I wasn’t that impressed to begin with, but it’s worth sticking with it. It follows Krakauer as he explored the obsession with solitude after reporting on a young man who attempted to walk alone in the wilderness of Alaska but who unfortunately died. Krakauer examines his story with compassion, truth and clarity and has created a nonfiction book that will move you as much as any novel. It also gives you serious wanderlust so check it out!

The Railway Man by Eric Lomax

the railway man

WARNING: THIS BOOK WILL REDUCE YOU TO TEARS. No book has ever distressed me quite as much as The Railway Man. It is an account of Lomax’s experience as a Prisoner of War in Japan during World War Two where he was forced to work on the Burmese-Siam Railway and was ruthlessly tortured. However, after he meets his wife, he is able to recover from his trauma and comes face to face with ne of his tormentors. The Railway Man is a gripping read and I highly recommend it!

What are your favourite nonfiction reads? Comment below.

 

 

Bookish Spinsters – What is Feminism? What Does Being a Feminist Mean to You?

Firstly, sorry I haven’t posted in a while – school has been hectic (yay for GCSEs!) and I’ve had a ridiculous amount of tests to revise for etc. but I’m back and I’m excited to be taking part in a new blogger response topic called Bookish Spinsters over at Once Upon a Bookcase. You can find out more about what it’s about here, but the lowdown is that Bookish Spinsters is a weekly link-up to discuss feminism and feminist ideas. Every Friday there will be a different feminist topic for bloggers and booktubers to respond and reflect on.

This week’s topic:

What Is Feminism? – What does being a feminist mean to you as an individual?

My response (Trigger warning)

Feminism to me is fighting for women, and men, to be treated equally socially, politically and economically in all parts of the world. To me as an individual however, feminism means that I’m not shut down for having an opinion about contemporary social/political issues, that I’m not told that the girls can’t play rugby like the boys because ‘we have a special job later in life’ (i.e. have children) by our teachers (who have since reversed their decision), and that I’m not faced with comments such as ‘girls can’t do ——–‘ by male classmates. It means that I’m not faced with impossible beauty standards to succumb to and then judged if I do or don’t. Feminism means that whatever career I choose for myself, I will be treated the same as any man in the same position. It means that my sanitary products are not taxed as luxuries. It means that girls all over the world will not have to undergo FGM, or to be sold into prostitution or child marriages but instead can access an education and make a life for themselves. It means that girls as young as 9 are not catcalled by people old enough to be their grandparents. It means that boys are not faced with impossible body standards so they develop body image disorders, just as girls do. It means that boys can freely express their emotions, and if they want to cry, they can cry without being met with comments like ‘man up’ because only girls are supposed to cry because femininity is seen as a sign of weakness. It also means supporting victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, regardless of gender. It means that everyone who is not just a victim of sexism, but of racism/ableism/homophobia/transphobia etc. is supported and their voices are heard. Feminism means a lot more, but if I listed them all I’d be here all day!

What does feminism mean to you?

All the Rage Review

all the rage

I received a proof copy of All the Rage from Pan Macmillan in exchange for an honest review.

The first thing I will say about this book is that it will make you feel, as the title suggests, all the rage. And I mean All the Rage. You will want to throw this book across the room because certain characters’ actions will repulse you. You will want to cry and scream until you’re blue in the face because this book exposes a reality that we, as a society, don’t want to deal with. It talks about rape culture, slut-shaming, vulnerability, victim blaming and so many important themes that just aren’t being discussed in mainstream media to a great extent.

It follows a teenage girl, Romy Grey, as she deals with the aftermath of being raped, and how not only is she ridiculed by boys, she is also ridiculed and humiliated by her female classmates and faces verbal abuse. But when another girl comes forward, saying she was attacked by Kellan, who attacked Romy, Romy has to decide whether to speak up or remain silent and her decision has shocking consequences.

I can’t praise this book enough. It examines the shame inflicted upon victims of sexual assault and their decisions which are judged no matter what. Courtney Summers has written an incredible novel breaking down stereotypes, prejudices and a previously taboo topic that so few authors write about. Summers writes with an edge, her characters are flawed and occasionally unlikeable but they are real. Their stories are real. Summers does not glamourise the topic of rape and sexual assault and does not soften what she is trying to say, but instead writes it so it’s loud ad clear. All the Rage will make you uncomfortable in parts, and it will cause shock and it will enlighten you. Although it’s not released here in the UK until January 2016, when it comes out please read it. You’ll be all the better for it.

Rating – 5 stars.