A Book and Film Blog

Sunday, 24 December 2017

chick lit, another term we should leave behind in 2017

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A couple of years ago, a friend of mine said I didn't strike him as someone who reads chick-lit. And yes if you were wondering, it was meant to be shady.  It's no secret that I love me some Sophie Kinsella, Nicholas Sparks and Emily Giffin. But in that moment, I was really embarrassed and I imagine, tried to salvage the situation by talking about more "serious" books I read.

Anywho, I literally just googled "Define Chick Lit" and got "Noun, derogatory: literature which appeals to young women" ....... 😒😒

This isn't news though is it. We all know the connotations the genre has. For instance on Mostly Lit (fab podcast would 100% recommend) Derek essentially trolls Rai for liking Jane Austen. c So yes, chick lit is used in a derogatory way. It's not "real" literature. It's "fluffy". Oh and not only is it an insult, it's also like a legit category you'll find in bookshops. What takes all of this bullshit to the next level, is that all this negativity is because chick lit is often by women, about women and understood as exclusively for women.

Another definition: "the genre often addresses issues of modern womanhood – from romantic relationships to female friendships to matters in the workplace – in humorous and lighthearted ways." If it's funny why not just put it in the humour section. Men enjoy humour too? I could simply replace women with men and the connotations wouldn't be derogatory.

Now I'll hold my hands up and say that while I enjoy the genre, a lot of chick lit (much like rom-coms) are trash. I've had to read a lot of it before finding books or author s I absolutely love. But couldn't you say that about a lot of genres? Why is it, that if a story is about women, it is trivial and one dimensional? There is an entire genre, considered subordinate to other genres simply because it has women in it. And why are we trying to box in what all women should be reading anyway? Women obviously read and write genres other than fluffy romances so why try and limit us to one genre.

It is void and does nothing productive for the book industry. Can we just leave it in 2017 please, thanks.


Favourite Blogs in 2017

 I've read more blogs this year than any other year and it has been the greatest motivation ! I'd definitely recommend getting Blogosphere Magazine too, you really get a showcase of some of the best blogs out there and, I think this month's edition as a book blog chapter which wasn't there before ! Can't wait to get it. Anyway, while I've been reading and loving all kinds of posts throughout the year, these are the ones I've been going back to time and time again. 

Sian, who runs A Film Club, also has a blog where she writes about life, travel, mental health, creativity and well being. And this blog is honestly one of the most genuine blogs I read. Sian it seems , is really in touch with herself and writes so articulately and with insight on mental health. I personally find it really hard to talk about my mental health, which I've been struggling with for the best part of a 10 years and this year hasn't been any easier. But I feel like her blog has been a  sort of safe space for me ♡ She's also like the nicest online person I've met and, takes the most beautiful photos. Do check it out, and join A Film Club why the hell not?!

I was reading Becky's blog last year but only really started paying attention this year and all her content (Becky has a fab YouTube channel too) has really changed the way I think about how my choices impact the environment. I still think that cruelty-free makeup options for people of colour are very limited/almost non-existent which is such a shame. But the biggest change is now being conscious of how I shop, particularly with clothes and books. And I've definitely been looking at those "I spent £1000 on ASOS !" videos in a whole new light. Becky's videos and posts are also both practical and so aesthetically pleasing.

Lucy's back blogging !! If you haven't heard of Lucy Moon, she's a 20 something year-old YouTuber who essentially chronicles what it's like to be a 20 something thorough really creative and different videos. She started blogging again as well and I really love her writing style. It's so personal and chatty and I'm always on there, waiting to see if she's written anything new. 

This is the only beauty blog I'd actually consult because Jasmine really knows her stuff when it comes to skincare and makeup. Her posts are so indepth and not only do I feel like I'm learning stuff all the time, she gives a good range of drugstore to high end beauty.

Another blog I talk about a lot. Lifestyle blogs aren't really what they used to be. Nowadays it's a lot more about escapism - everything is ultra glam and I'm just not convinced that a.anyone lives like that or b. it's attainable. And it's hard to know who's being authentic and who isn't. Anyway with Imii's blog, I feel like she keeps it 100% while at the same time giving you top quality beaut content.

Novel Ink
Novel Ink is fab if you want diverse book recommendations. They don't just talk about 1000 YA romances (though I do dabble in the occasional YA romance don't @ me). Madalyn and Bee I think do good in showcasing all sorts of genres and writers ! 

Friday, 22 December 2017

The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel

This is going to be another short and sweet review because I think you have to go into this one knowing as little as possible. I actually got this because I'd seen the cover everywhere, I really knew nothing. And what you end up finding out is so unexpected and twisted ! Like, Dr Phil level twisted.

Where do I even start with The Roanoke Girls?! We follow Lane Roanoke, a fifteen year old who's mum commits suicide meaning she has to move to a rural Kansas estate and live with her grandparents and cousin Allegra. And for the first couple of years everything seems great and she's really embracing her new life. But at the same time, something about her family and the town doesn't quite sit right. A few years later after her cousin has run away, she discovers a really dark family secret. And all of a sudden, everything begins to unravel
... and that's all you need to know !

Amy Engel wrote a dystopian YA series which I reviewed and honestly, it was alright. The plot wasn't that original and I had nothing striking to say about her writing style. The Roanoke Girls was a vast improvement. If you go in knowing very little I think the twist will shock you. And rather than explicitly telling us the twist, we find out through chapters authored by earlier generations of the family.  Even when I started to realise what had been happening for years in this family,  I did still think ... surely not?! No ...

But like I said, I really had no idea what the book was even supposed to be about, and didn't really expect a book like this from Amy Engel. Most readers I reckon will clock on pretty quickly. And that  won't necessarily ruin the reading experience because it is quite nicely executed, very much a slow burn with a lot of unexpected details you won't guess.

I'd say my main hangup about the book was it's ending. WE HAD SUCH A GOOD CREATIVE BUILD UP AND THEN ... everyone just reacted exactly how we'd expect them too. That would've been the perfect opportunity to have some characters do some crazy shiz. Instead the whole story just fizzled out and justice isn't really served. SO unsatisfying.



it's Disney's world and we're all just living in it

unsplash-logoSaksham Gangwar

Those of us who enjoy a good Disney movie binge on Netflix are going to have to make other plans because as we all now know, Disney are trying to take over the world. In August of this year, CEO Bob Iger announced the company’s plans to launch its own streaming service and all of its properties – so yes that’s Marvel and Star Wars are going with it. And then a couple of weeks ago they bought Fox for $52 billion. I can't even imagine what that number would look like. Anywho this is all quite quite exciting because it might mean XMen and Fantastic Four go back to Marvel !! I don't know does it?!

I digress.TV has undeniably changed. And that’s not only due to Netflix and the introduction of binge-watching but also the growing number of Hollywood execs, directors and actors making their way back to the small screen in favour of high quality, long form story telling. Now, the calibre is higher than it was even 5 years ago. And so when streaming services produce original content, a lot of us are willing to pay.

Now the only Disney films I watch are the ones I find for free on YouTube, and I don't know if parents would fork out for the service when they already pay for say Disney Channel. But with additional talk of exclusive TV series and plans for 4 never-before-seen movies exclusive to the service, some of us may feel inclined to sign up. This live action Mulan film we’ve all been waiting for? A Star Wars TV series?! These are just a few possibilities that we could find are only available on the service. Obviously Disney is no longer just Mickey Mouse, ya know?

If you’re an avid Netflix watcher you’d have also noticed the rate at which its been bringing out original content this. And with Apple recently announcing its own plans to invest $1 billion in original movies, it would seem that while cinema experiences a slump in creativity – bringing out reboot after reboot (and a sequel thrown in here or there); studios and companies are starting to see the value in investing in smaller more original projects – and audiences are responding.

While we can’t exactly map the future of TV, it would seem the possibilities are endless. What is perhaps less clear is what digital, would mean for satellite TV.

For instance in 2016, the BBC and ITV announced their plans to merge and create a subscription service highlighting the best of British TV, arguably an attempt to tap into international viewership of shows such as Doctor Who and Broadchurch and, keep up with the digital world. What isn’t helping their cause is at the same time, both channels tightened their regulations on iPlayer. So now as you may be aware, if you’re not living at home where your parents likely pay TV licencing, you can’t legally catch up online. Students are arguably then, more likely to pay for a Netflix/Amazon Prime account and carry that habit even after we graduate. If we’re all getting used to having access to BAFTA and Emmy award winning shows, we can skip titles and watch them at our own pace, will we ever go back to satellite?

I don't know why I wrote this but I'm just very excited about the future of TV 🎉 There have been seen so many amazing shows this year and, Disney buying Fox I reckon has started a trend whereby we're going to be seeing a lot more blockbusters on the small screen. 

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Anticipated 2018 Reads

I've got a little list here of books coming out next year that are on my radar:

The Multi-Hyphen Method by Emma Gannon

A book about navigating this new technology age and using it to your advantage to tap into the entrepreneurial spirit, and become a jack of all trades. 

Heads of the Colored People Stories by Nafissa Thompson-Spires
A collection of stories about black identity and the middle class in this "post-racial" era. 

Well, That Escalated Quickly: Memoirs and Mistakes of an Accidental Activist by Franchesca Ramsey

A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership by James Comey
In his forthcoming book, former FBI director James Comey shares his never-before-told experiences from some of the highest-stakes situations of his career in the past two decades of American government, exploring what good, ethical leadership looks like, and how it drives sound decisions. His journey provides an unprecedented entry into the corridors of power, and a remarkable lesson in what makes an effective leader.

Are there any books you're looking forward to next year? I think I've finally accepted that the majority of my reading will be non-fiction 😊 But I'm really really excited about Heads of Colored People and Freshwater !

Friday, 15 December 2017

Best Podcasts on Relationships #2

unsplash-logoBen Rosett
Relationship podcasts make the most mundane of tasks that much more interesting. They're just the best to have on in the background because when you have to really concentrate on a task, they're often so chill with docile tones ya know? Just sets up a great vibe. the best re the best to have in the background when you have to really concentrate on a task, because they're often so chill, with docile tones ya know, sets up a vibe? At least mine do.

More Serious
Dear Sugar Radio
Sheryl Strayed and Steve Almond wrote the very famous New York Times column of the same name, Dear Sugar and have essentially carried the concept on into  podcast form. The structure is as follows: Steve and Sheryl pick a letter they've received, read it, give their advice and get another perspective from someone, often in the public eye, who has experienced a similar issue and can offer some insight. Who doesn't love an advice column! Dear Sugar has also had the likes of Oprah and Hilary fricking Clinton giving their advice so ya know, the advice is good. 

Sheryl Strayed and Steve Almond have also had so much life experience between them and, I really get the sense that they understand and value the importance of their work here. Each response is treated with so much care and compassion, no matter the issue. They've had episodes on bullying, a really three part series on cheating from the perspective of all parties involved 👀👀👀 all the way to PTSD from childhood trauma. 

Where Shall We Begin by Esther Perell
I'm actually really nosy, which is why Where Shall We Begin is perfect for the likes of people like me ! Each episode is a real life counselling session with her clients ?! It is  honesty and vulnerability  in it's purest form is what makes this podcast so fascinating. There was one about a couple who wanted to stay together but the husband wanted kids and his wife didn't ... so she suggested having an open marriage. And then it turned out she actually did want kids but felt too old to an essentially, she had some deep rooted issues that all came to the surface in this counselling session ! What's also great about this, as opposed to getting letters, is that no-one has had time to filter or edit what they want to say or how the wanna to be perceived. So you're getting real time emotions and reactions. 


Anna Faris is Unqualified
This is possibly my  favourite podcast of 2017. I know, big claims. Anna, and her best friend and producer Sim will have a guest on every week. They play a series of situational games that involve a lot of improv on Anna's part. And then they move on to callers ! The first part is definitely the more fun, chilled section. Because the callers actually have legit problems and Anna and her guests take it quite seriously and try to give good, well thought through advice - and they do succeed I should add . A personal favourite was Sharon Stone's episode because noone expected her to give such incredible insightful advice, I think everyone in the room and everyone listening was shocked. Who knew?!

You Had Me At Hello 
This is more of a rom/com podcast ... but the two are loosely related I suppose. It's presented by a couple, who take film couples and analyse and give a breakdown of their relationship. So in doing so, we do end up with an analysis of relationships in general. And I personally love it. 

I've just realised pretty much  all the podcasts I listen to are American so do leave some recommendations below if you have any, especially if they're British !

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Will I ever write a novel?

I've noticed a lot of bookTubers and book bloggers plan to or have started writing a novel. And I guess it makes sense? The more you read, the bigger your love of literature, the more likely you are to be inspired to write yourself, especially if you're creative anyway. And the advice is you want to write a novel is to read a lot right?

It's something I've been thinking about a lot over the last few months because I've never had an urge to write, even a short story. Or even a paragraph of a story. In fact writing stories was my least favourite thing about English lessons, literally from the first time I had to write one in Year 4.

I love writing and of course love writing on this blog but writing I find is such a labour. I was talking to a couple of blogger pals at Blog Soc and we were all lamenting over how unnecessarily long it seems to take to write even a blog post. A bit like this one, which I'd envisioned myself writing in my 25 minute break from coursework, and that was 3 days ago. To enjoy writing you have to enjoy, have an appreciation and have patience for the process itself. And I imagine that in being consistent you've got to be prepared to write even when you don't feel like it.

So the short answer is yes, one day I will try writing something. Unlikely that it'd be a novel given that I've never been drawn to exploring that whole art form. I actually really want to write a collection of essays ! I have no idea what they'd be about but I love writing essays in general (even though writing them doesn't come naturally to me at all) and as is probably evident from the reviews on this blog, they're my favourite genre to read. I'm also really intrigued by plays and screenplays - because I just love the idea of being able to just write dialogue that then goes through this whole production process and the end product being something so visual.


tv chats on Screen Lounge

Hope the weekend is treating ya well ! I've been doing this thing where I wake up suuuuper early every day at the same time and by super early  I mean 6.45 but ya know, early for me. It was torture in the beginning but now it's great  because by 10 am you've already got so much done and the day has not even begun like wot?!

Anyway, a more interesting thing I do on Saturdays is Student Radio! This is a bit of a doss post but I just wanted to do a bit of shameless plugging and fill you in. It's pretty clear by now that my TV chat on this blog is pretty non-existent, mainly because of laziness. But TV is still one of my greatest loves and I actually have a lot to say, which is why Screen Lounge (my live show) is so fab.

Every Saturday at 3 pm on the URN website, we talk all things TV news, reviews, trailer thoughts, and hidden gems. Today's actually our last show before Christmas (boooo) and we're talking about our favourite episodes of series in 2017. So do listen to find out what mine were !

Sunday, 3 December 2017

The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas

"Pac said Thug Life stood for 'The Hate U Give Little Infants Fucks Everybody'"

I finished The Hate You Give a little earlier in the year and was so moved and so impressed by Angie Thomas' debut book. Months later, it was announced that the book is being adapted into a film with a cast including Amandla Stanberg, Anthony Mackie, Common (!!) and Issa Fricking Rae?! Sooo I essentially need you to read this book if you haven't already before the end of this year so we can all get excited about the upcoming release ! And besides, we'll probably all be hearing the whole "the book was better than the film" speel so let's all do better and read the book first.

The Hate You Give is about Starr Carter, a 16 year old growing up in a working class neighbourhood, and schooling in a middle class, predominantly white neighbourhood. The story is told from her perspective and the very beginning, she seems perfectly well adjusted. Everything changes after one evening when she's in the passenger seat of a car with her older friend Khalil driving. He's inexplicably stopped and searched by a police officer during their journey and, in an unfortunate set of events we know all too well, is shot and killed by the police. Khalil was unarmed.

His death becomes a headline and again, in a narrative we know all too well , the press call him a thug, a drug dealer and these names are used as justification for such violence at the hands of the police.

The story isn't about the shooting itself but rather what follows. We really get to understand the very complex ramifications this shooting is going to have on two different neighbourhoods in terms of, how it's interpreted and how it affects gangs, the media and local families. But because we get this beautiful first person narrative, all of this is portrayed through Starr's eyes. At 16, she's learning to navigate the world and trying to figure out who she is and where she belongs given that she's been growing up in 2 completely different neighbourhoods. And now, has to also deal with the really violent death of her best friend, one that she witnessed. Thrown into the mix are all sorts of funky family dynamics. And so what Angie Thomas gives us is a really well fleshed out story, with incredible attention to detail and feels so authentic.

Often, stories like these (either in the press or in literature) would focus on the event itself. And while I'm so fortunate to have never experienced anything like this, the book is like stepping right into Starr's life at this moment in time. Because of course when someone dies (and I imagine especially in this way) there are about 1000 emotions those they left behind would be going through, and this story is really faithful to that.

There are quite a few people who are significant to Starr's world who hence, we have to get to know quite well, but everyone is given a lot of attention by the author which meant I get a really good insight into who everyone is, flaws and all. The author is also a big Tupac fan and I loved loved loved how both he and the story of hip hop form are interwoven into the story and the fabric of Starr's character and the relationship she has with her dad. 

It was just one of the most emotional books I've read this year I think because Angie Thomas' writing is incredibly visceral. The Hate You Give is about family, family, community, finding yourself and also empowering those around you.  I say do yourself a service and pick it up before the end of the year. 

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