Saturday, 19 April 2014

UKYA Day: Why I Love UKYA



There are many reasons why UKYA is the best thing ever. And in honour of the Project UKYA April Extravaganza held by Lucy, here are my top reasons why UKYA is awesome:

- The community we’re a part of is incredible. The support, enthusiasm, and friendship between readers, bloggers, publishers and authors aren’t one I’ve noticed in any other book-fandom-type-place.

- The authors of UKYA aren’t afraid to tackle anything and everything they feel they need to.

- UKYA has the freshest, quirkiest and strongest humour of them all.

- We aren’t afraid to champion UKYA to the death!

Make sure to take part in the upcoming UKYA chats, check out the Project UKYA blog and keep involved with community!

Sophie

Friday, 18 April 2014

LGBT April: Pantomime, Laura Lam


Pages: 400
Publisher: Strange Chemistry
Release Date: 7th February 2013
Edition: UK e-book, purchased

R.H. Ragona’s Circus of Magic is the greatest circus of Ellada. Nestled among the glowing blue Penglass – remnants of a mysterious civilisation long gone – are wonders beyond the wildest imagination. It’s a place where anything seems possible, where if you close your eyes you can believe that the magic of the vanished Chimeras is still there. It’s a place where anyone can hide.

Iphigenia Laurus, or Gene, the daughter of a noble family, is uncomfortable in corsets and crinoline, and prefers climbing trees to debutante balls. Micah Grey, a runaway living on the streets, joins the circus as an aerialist’s apprentice and soon becomes the circus’s rising star. But Gene and Micah have balancing acts of their own to perform, a secret in their blood that could unlock the mysteries of Ellada.

I’ve been hearing amazing things about Pantomime since it was published over a year ago, and I still wasn’t entirely sure I wanted to read it, but I bought it when it was on a Kindle deal to give a go. LGBT Month provided the perfect opportunity; I’m so glad I took it.

Pantomime is set in a fantasy world that feels a lot like an alternate Victoriana with the outfits, the stereotypes and constrictions, the social class hierarchy and the disdain of lower class pursuits such as the circus. Gender roles was a strong theme behind Pantomime - why however, I can’t reveal without ruining the book! – but they especially reflected the old-fashioned ideals of a demure, sociable, pliable lady who’s main aim in life is to secure a husband. Laura Lam questioned what it is to be female, male, a girl and a boy in both obvious and unexpected ways. She also prompted the idea that there are differences between sex and gender which I don’t think I quite got my head around, but it most definitely made me think. Pantomime took on a tough and sensitive subject that I honestly don’t think I’ve ever come across in a book before and it did it brilliantly.

Under the gender struggles lay daily life at the circus. I loved how much danger, disquiet and corruption hides under the magic and illusion; I imagine learning about the behind the scenes of a circus is a lot like seeing your childhood crumble in front of you! I loved how much attention was paid to Micah’s training, the shows and how the other performers treated him, even if it was mostly horrible. Alternating chapters between Gene and Micah gave both the high-class society and the working class circus grounding in the highs and lows of both situations and explore the themes of the novel.

I thoroughly enjoyed Pantomime: it’s unique, beautiful written, engaging and thought-provoking. I bought the sequel before I’d even finished the novel – I’d say that’s a good sign.

Sophie

Thursday, 17 April 2014

LGBT April: My LGBT Wishlist

There are some really amazing LGBT books coming out this year, and here’s the four that I want the most:

The Summer I Wasn’t Me, Jessica Verday
1st April 2014

Lexi has a secret.

She never meant for her mom to find out. And now she’s afraid that what’s left of her family going to fall apart for good.

Lexi knows she can fix everything. She can change. She can learn to like boys. New Horizons summer camp has promised to transform her life, and there’s nothing she wants more than to start over.

But sometimes love has its own path...


Everything Leads to You, Nina Lacour
15th May 2014

A love letter to the craft and romance of film and fate in front of – and behind – the camera from the award-winning author of Hold Still.

A wunderkind young set designer, Emi has already started to find her way in the competitive Hollywood film world.

Emi is a film buff and true romantic, but her real-life relationships are a mess. She has desperately gone back to the same girl too many times to mention. But then a mysterious letter from a silver screen legend leads Emi to Ava. Ava is unlike anyone Emi has ever met. She has a tumultuous, not-so-glamorous past, and lives an unconventional past, and lives an unconventional life. She’s enigmatic. She’s beautiful. And she is about to expand Emi’s understanding of family, acceptance and true romance.


No One Needs to Know, Amanda Grace
8th September 2014

Sometimes, the cost of love is too steep.

Olivia’s twin brother, Liam, has been her best friend her whole life. But when he starts dating, Olivia is left feeling alone, so she tries to drive away Liam’s girlfriends in an effort to get her best friend back.

But she meets her match in Zoey, Liam’s latest fling. Call-it-like-she-sees-it kind of girl, Zoeysees right through Olivia’s tricks. What starts as verbal sparring between the two some changes into something different, however, as they share their deepest insecurities and learn they have a lot in common. Olivia falls for Zoey, believing her brother could never get serious with her. But when Liam confesses that he’s in love with Zoey, Olivia has to decide who deserves happiness more: her brother or herself?

Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel, Sara Farizan
7th October 2014

High school junior Leila has made it most of the way through Armstead Academy without having a crush on anyone, which is something of a relief. Her Persian heritage already makes her different from her classmates; if word got out that she liked girls, life would be twice as hard. But when a sophisticate, beautiful new girl, Saskia, shows up, Leila starts to take risks she never thought she would, especially when it looks as if the attraction between them is mutual. Struggling to sort out her growing feelings and Saskia’s confusing signals, Leila confides in her old friend, Lisa, and grows closer to her fellow drama tech-crew members , especially Tomas, whose comments about his own sexuality are frank, funny, wise, and sometimes painful. Gradually, Leila begins to see that almost all her classmates are more complicated than they first appear to be, and many are keeping secrets of their own.

And, of course, anything else David Levithan and Emily M Danforth EVER WRITE.

What LGBT novels are you waiting on? Have you been lucky enough to read any of these yet?

Sophie

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

From Page to Screen: Divergent


DIVERGENT
Adapted from Divergent by Veronica Roth (Katherien Tegan Books, 2011)

APRIL 2014 


SHAILENE WOODLEY ~ Tris Prior
THEO JAMES ~ Four
ANSEL ELGORT ~ Caleb Prior
JAI COURTNEY ~ Eric
ZOË KRAVITZ ~ Christina
MILES TELLER ~ Peter
MAGGIE Q ~ Tori
BEN LLOYD-HUGHES ~ Will
KATE WINSLET ~ Jeanine Matthews
RAY STEVENSON ~ Marcus Eaton

Trailer
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What’s it about?
In a world divided by factions based on virtues, Tris learns she’s Divergent and won’t fit in. When she discovers a plot to destroy Divergents, Tris and the mysterious Four must find out what makes Divergents dangerous before it’s too late.

Summary from imdb.com

How does it hold up?
I don’t really know how I felt about Divergent. I enjoyed it, but there were also quite a few things that I really didn’t like and other that I was completely apathetic about.

As the film opened, I was quite taken with the way they how closed off the city was, the towering, wired walls and the desolate, brokenness of the surrounding Chicago, and the endless blank fields of beyond that. As a reader, it wasn’t something we got to hear about until later in the trilogy, but I think it really set the tone of the film and was essential in establishing the type of society Tris had been brought up in. The sense of being penned in and controlled came across instantly.

I was slightly disappointed with Tris, however. Though I could see her fear and confusion at taking the Test, choosing her future faction and figuring out who she is, I didn’t feel it. I rarely felt anything from her in the film, the only exception being in final fight against the controlling serum when Tris lost her mum. Then briefly at the very end when they were on the train out of the city. That was one of the few times I felt a spark between Tris and Four as well. Their attraction and relationship didn’t seem to have any foundation other than that they’re both hot. There wasn’t much chemistry there at all. Shailene Woodley isn’t my Tris.

I liked Theo James as Four though. He was cold, harsh and untouchable for most of the film. There were only glimpses of the human underneath and I loved the way that they became more and more frequent as the story evolved. I especially liked it when sarcastic and funny Four escaped and made me laugh; it was definitely needed. I was struck by how much older than Tris Four looked. I know he was supposed to be older than Tris at 16, but he looked like 24/25. Gotta say though, he’s BEAUTIFUL.

My favourite element of the film, other than Theo James’ face, was the fear landscapes. I loved them in the novel so I was really looking forward to seeing how they translated to the screen. They seemed so real to Tris and I loved how integral they were to the film; I was worried they may not be made as important as they were in the novel. Those scenes were also some of the few parts of Divergent where I thought Tris and Four’s relationship had a clear opportunity to develop. Their romance wasn’t the overpowering presence in the film which was refreshing.

I really liked all of the supporting characters, particularly Eric. He was genuinely creepy and intimidating, and I liked that there was a sense of history and competition between him and Four. Then came the friendship between Four, Christina and Will which felt genuine and there was a real connection between them, especially between Tris and Christina.

Overall, I think the film as a film alone was really good, though as an adaptation, it wasn’t quite what I wanted. Saying that, I saw it with my younger sister who hasn’t read Divergent as she felt a lot of the same things about the film as I did. I’m sure they will follow this up with an adaptation of Insurgent and I’m intrigued to see how I fell about that as I was disappointed by the novel.

Rating: 6/10

Book or film?
Hmm, this is a difficult one. I loved the book, I really, really did, but the rest of the trilogy didn’t live up to it and that seems to have marred the whole series for me. And though the film was enjoyable, I don’t know if I’d watch it again, but I’m going to go the book, purely for my initial love of it.

Sophie

Monday, 14 April 2014

LGBT April: Ask the Passengers, AS King




Pages: 293
Publisher: Little Brown
Release Date: 10th September 2013
Edition: US paperback, purchased

Other Titles by this Author: The Dust of 100 Dogs, Everybody Sees the Ants, Ignore Vera Dietz, Reality Boy

How do you give your love away when no one seems to want it?
You send it to the sky and hope the right person catches it.

Astrid Jones spends hours lying on the backyard picnic table watching airplanes fly overhead. She doesn’t know the passengers inside, but they’re the only people who won’t judge her when she asks them her most personal questions...like what it means that she’s falling in love with a girl. Astrid can’t share the truth with anyone else in her life – her pushy mother, uninterested father, and over-interested friends that wouldn’t understand. But little does Astrid know just how much even the tiniest connection with the people at thirty thousand feet will affect their lives – and her own – for the better.

In this truly original portrayal of a girl who refuses to be labelled, Printz Honor author AS King offers hope to those struggling to break free of society’s boxes and definitions.

I read AS King’s debut, The Dust of 100 Dogs when it was released in 2009 and it was so delightfully weird that I’ve bought every one of her subsequent novels, though it wasn’t until Ask the Passengers that I picked one up. I glad I chose it.

AS King’s writing is beautiful. Everything about it sucked me in and held me there: the characters, the emotion, the language, the pain, everything. I especially loved the snippets of the lives Astrid touched when she sent her love up to the overflying planes. I didn’t expect to get something like that and instead of interfering with the narrative as it could have done, it broadened the story. It wasn’t just Astrid suffering the pain of love, the judgment of her sexuality; she wasn’t alone in her struggles. It made a powerful impact and I just generally loved the stories within a story.

The reaching of the story beyond Astrid continued in her Humanities class. First of all, I wish this class was an option in my secondary school; I would have loved to spend some of my week discussing philosophers, thinking and theories. I liked that it had a strong, solid presence throughout the novel as well – it affected her and made her strong enough to question the reactions of those around her and her own feelings and then act on them. The class affected Astrid intensely; so intensely that she conjured up Frank S. (ie Socrates) in her mind to help her talk through what she was going through. I loved this spike of magical realism in the novel, and he really helped Astrid.

Underneath the beauty and the literary-ness of Ask the Passengers is a seventeen-year-old girl in love and in pain. I can’t count the numbers of times I was made angry by the people in her life for their pushiness, their lack of understanding and how they felt a right to own Astrid’s feelings and actions. Lots of these moments were ones that you don’t realise how bad they are until you see them laid out and happening to other people. King knows how to deliver subtle shocks that alter the way you think, even just for the duration of the novel.

AS King feels like a sort of Meg Rosoff to me. Her work is original, thought-provoking, every book delivers something different, has elements of magical realism and is unfailingly beautiful. And we all know how much I love Meg Rosoff...

Ask the Passengers is a gorgeous exploration to society’s boxes, the need for love, what friendship really is and the power of making your own decisions. I can’t wait to go back and read the rest of AS King’s books.

Sophie