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I'm taking a break from reviewing books and everything YA related.

It used to make me so happy and now I'm just angry all the time. I'm sick of seeing friends and fellow reviewers be smeared and bullied by anonymous cowards playing the victim card as they post personal details online and claim to be the good guys. I'm sick of people claiming I'm a bully or a jealous hater or anti-feminist because I dare to think that romanticising domestic abuse is a bad idea. I'm fucking fed up of 50 Shades of Grey and Beautiful Disaster (which just got a publishing deal with Atria, did I mention that?) and spending my time trying to get someone to understand why all this shit is so problematic and why "it's just fiction" is no excuse only to be blocked or cyber-stalked or just ignored. It's exhausting and aggravating watching the bullies and the hacks climb to the top of the tower and be heralded and rewarded for perpetuating the worst stereotypes about women, relationships and what constitutes romance while those with genuine talent and creativity are ignored. I don't want to deal with this shit for now so I'm taking a hiatus. I'm not quitting forever or anything. That'd be too easy. I just want to get some fucking perspective back and do things that make me happy for a change. 

So if anybody has any cool ideas for new hobbies or things to try out I would seriously appreciate it. I still have a few parts of the Orwell Project saved on my laptop to be posted, which I'll do in due course.

After the Games - The Orwell Project


The Summer I began the Sparkle Project, my YA review venture into the world of Twilight inspired paranormal romance and its reoccurring problematic elements, saw the release date for the 3rd and final book in the wildly popular Hunger Games series, Mockingjay. I must admit that it took me far too long – until this February, just before the movie was released – to read The Hunger Games, and that was for a number of reasons. One, I have become pretty averse to hype in young adult literature due to having been immersed in it for almost two years now. Two, I was extremely annoyed by publishers heavily promoting a YA series once again through a Team [insert man here] strategy, dumbing down any complexities the series and its heroine may have into one rehashed love triangle. And three, I’m a huge dystopian fiction fan. The Handmaid’s Tale proudly sits on the list of my all-time favourite books. When a writer of particular skill or imagination tackles the topic of a twisted society, the results can be extraordinary, eliciting genuine fear and understanding from the reader, and reminding us a little too much of the possibilities that could spring from our own world. I know I’m not the only one who viewed the recent contraception debate in America and thought about Offred. The jargon of these novels have entered everyday language, from Newspeak to Big Brother and beyond. It’s not hard to see why the genre is so alluring to readers of all ages.

So why has it become so popular in YA? In my opinion, part of that has to do with the excitement element. There’s just a whole lot more happening in dystopian YA novels than most of the romance centred paranormal reads that have dominated the bookshelves and continue to do so. The possibilities are endless. Whereas the paranormal romances present a somewhat fetishized image of love conquering all, dystopian fiction offers something else; tough decisions, although the same heightened emotions are there. These novels also have strong connections to contemporary socio-political commentary, acting as mirrors to the world they inhabit. Of course, there’s also romance. While PNR presents forbidden love surviving the boundaries of mythology, dystopian pushes romance head first into societies that forbid it. The role of romance still plays a heavy part in the marketing of these novels in a similar manner to the Team Boy publicity that I oh so despise, because it’s still profitable. Whether it appeals to me or not, there’s something appealing to the demographics about forbidden love in all its forms, and this is a new outlet for it. Given the rumblings that Suzanne Collins was asked to add more of the pointless love triangle element into her series by the publishers, I can’t help but feel as if we’re stuck in a rut, even if we have moved on from sparkles. I have found myself disappointed with the dystopian YAs I have read so far (Delirium, Wither, Enclave and The Pledge), but this fad still has some steam left, so I am announcing my new blog venture:

 After the Games: The Orwell Project. 

(Thanks to Paige for the name suggestion).

I have picked 10 dystopian YA novels that have received varying levels of publicity, acclaim and commercial success. Some of you may notice that a few notable novels are missing, which is explained in the rules below. I have reviewed each of these novels and will include mention of them throughout the various discussions. I also wish to note that this project will not take on the same form as the Sparkle Project. I’m afraid my days of snarky recaps are over. I am extremely grateful for every view and comment these reviews received, and if it wasn’t for them I would not still be blogging today. However, I’ve grown as a reviewer since then and feel the more straightforward analytical approach would work best here. Besides, I wouldn’t want to subject you all to the pain that is my attempts to be funny! If you wish to read along with me, that would be great!


·         Each book must have been published post-Mockingjay.

·         The book must either be a stand-alone or the first in a series.

·         It must have been advertised, hyped or otherwise described in terms of being the next Hunger Games, or a twist on the novel, or any sort of emphasis on its dystopian elements.

·         It must be something I have not read before.

The list of books I shall be reading, in no particular order, are as follows:

·         Divergent (Veronica Roth)

·         Matched (Ally Condie)

·         Glow (Amy Kathleen Ryan)

·         The Selection (Kiera Cass)

·         Shatter Me (Tahereh Mafi)

·         Legend (Marie Lu)

·         Possession (Elana Johnson)

·         XVI (Julia Karr)

·         Eve (Anna Carey)

·         Blood Red Road (Moira Young)

I have not yet compiled my dystopian bingo card to accompany each review, but I will provide one as soon as possible. Each review will be posted simultaneously on my blog and my LiveJournal page, then will be added to GoodReads at a later date. Stay tuned for my first review – Divergent by Veronica Roth – next week! 

My top 5 films of 2011.

#YAMafia - my response.


I wasn’t going to respond to the #YAMafia thing (although I do wish I’d come up with a much more creative phrase) because everyone else already had an opinion on it and there were a lot of great blog posts on it already without me throwing my towel into the ring (check out Justine Larbalestier’s post, where my GoodReads friend Phoebe North was quoted). After the Bitch Media discussion that quickly turned into a fiasco, I wanted to avoid trouble. So I said I’d keep out unless I was mentioned directly. I was and, well... it was interesting.

So I’m responding.


Read more...Collapse )


I’m cross-posting this to my LJ because the blogger commenting system is apparently dodgy on my blog.

So this is what having a social life is like?

I'm not used to it at all!

Last week I had 4 straight days of socialising, a new experience in my life. Last Friday I went out clubbing (try and get the mental image of me dancing in a nightclub out your head!) with friends, Saturday I went to watch the rugby match in Teviot (wherein Scotland was well and truly humped by Wales), Sunday was BAFTA night at Nat's flat with lots of tweeting and nerd complaining then Monday was regular quiz night and we won! There are some truly atrocious photos of me from the clubbing night which I will not be posting here for everyone's good. Dancing is something that cannot be captured with dignity in still form, although the jury's still out on whether or not it can be captured with any dignitydull stop! My friends do have some wonderfully entertaining dance moves too, I wish I could share them with you all! 

On the health front, things are really looking up. I've got the doctor's letter sorted out, the appointments booked and everything should hopefully be sorted out soon! I'm feeling so much better about this already, although I am still embarrassed that it took me this long to get it sorted out. I also got a huge confidence boost on the education front when I got back the Old Irish exam I didn't panic in. I got 75%! I'm so chuffed with myself for that one.

So I celebrated by donating blood. It's something I've always wanted to do and Daryl did it a couple of weeks ago so I went ahead and donated myself. It didn't hurt at all which surprised me since I'm a total wimp with pain, although my arms were a bit sore afterwards. The nurse also said I was very pale but that was okay since I was pale (and interesting!) when I came in. I do have rather large bruises on both arms though (first try in left arm went wrong - nurse hit the vein or something - so I had to switch arms. I also bruise like a peach anyway.) Once the blood was pumping, it was over pretty quickly and I got a ton of free biscuits out of it! If you are able to give blood I seriously urge you to go ahead and donate. It's a great cause that needs all the help it can get.

Next week's going to be a lot of fun. I'm going to see an all male production of The Comedy of Errors with my gender & theatre class and since it's gender awareness week at the uni next week one of the girls in my class wants us all to cross dress for the occasion. I am completely up for that although I'm not sure I have anything in my wardrobe to do a drag day justice. I think I left my Franz Ferdinand tie at home. I also really want to buy a bowler hat for the occasion but they're surprisingly expensive. Style has a hefty price tag apparently, which is probably why I've remained so inept in that area.

I posted at the blog a couple times, including a review to the sequel of the book that made me the angriest I've ever been at a book, HERE. I've been reading a lot more lately, especially since my course demands it, so I haven't been writing as much of my book lately. To be honest, I've been at a mental road block on it for a couple of weeks now. Everytime I sit down to write more of it, I just go blank in the head and instead of seeing what I want to write all I can see are the mistakes I've made and the stuff that I desperately need to fix. My original intention was to do a first draft then sort out the problems with the completed story since otherwise I'd just be repeating myself over and over again, but I may need to rethink that situation. Hopefully I'll get a burst of creativity soon, preferrably once my essays are done. If not, I'll just have more time to read and that's never a bad thing! 
QI Stephen

In the course of reading and writing the Sparkle Project, I’ve received a lot of very kind, funny and interesting replies in relation not only to my reviews but to the content of the books and the wider YA genre, not to mention some less than positive comments. It’s made me think that people may think I’m ripping apart the genre for the sake of criticising something but the truth is I love the genre and wish to write paranormal YA in the future. I just feel like there are issues I need to address because if people don’t talk about the problems and misjudged comments made within this genre, especially since it’s aimed at an impressionable audience, then it becomes okay to say these things and these horrible things, like the perpetuation of rape culture in young people, become accepted as part of the norm. As I’ve said before, we’ve got to do better. Luckily, there are people out there doing a damn good job so I thought I’d give them some time to shine. Here 5 YA books that I loved.

See, I like books!Collapse )

Right, your turn now! Recommend me some books please; you can never have too many recommendations. Non YA books are welcome too, go nuts!


The great work begins...

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