Frank(er) thoughts.

My Hero Monday: Nimona

my hero monday This month, I’m starting with something a little different – I’ve decided to participate in Chloe @ The Book Hugger’s My Hero Monday linkup! My Hero Monday celebrates female heroes in our society. This month, we had a free topic, so I decided to go with Nimona from my the webcomic Nimona by Noelle Stevenson. nimona cover

Nimona

When did I first hear about her? Nimona is the protagonist of the fantasy-scifi-monkpunk-I-don’t-even-know-what-genre webcomic Nimona, which I literally cannot recommend enough. (Especially since it’s finished now, so you don’t have to go through the agony of waiting for updates.) I was introduced to Nimona by a friend around a year ago, and have been completely hooked on it ever since. It’s written and drawn by Noelle Stevenson, who also writes The Lumberjanes, contributes to Wander Over Yonder and even drew the illustrations for Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl. What makes her one of my heroes? Nimona is an an awesome character for a lot of reasons.

  • Nimona is a shapeshifter. She could look like anything she wants. In a world where the media tell us that we should be skinny if we can, Nimona doesn’t – and she’s still awesome. She is still beautiful, and I think that it’s great she has started to show a greater diversity in comics and books. (In fact, the characters in the comic who most fit society’s norms are probably the guys.) And she also has the best hair, which changes colour quite frequently
  • She’s also a really strong heroine; she’s way more villainous than the supposed villain, Ballister Blackheart, who is basically just a big softie. She’s impulsive, fierce, and she doesn’t ever wait around to get saved (she does most of the saving herself). However, when I say ‘strong’ heroine, I don’t just mean kick-ass, because that’s not just what I want: I want shy heroines too, and clever heroines, and heroines who sometimes make the wrong decisions. I want well-crafted and flawed characters. Nimona has flaws, too, and I really like that she isn’t just a two-dimensional character.
nimona goldenloin

Goldenloin, who runs like an idiot.

  • There’s absolutely no romance between her and the male lead, Ballister. They have a great friendship instead! There is some romance, between Ballister and Goldenloin (yep, I promise that’s his name) but I feel like a romance between Nimona and Ballister would have been really awkward. And wrong. So I’m just glad, for once, that there’s no romance for the protagonist.
  • She’s had a dark past, but she doesn’t let that get in the way of stuff (mostly). I really admire how she overcomes things.
  • She has the best way of playing Monopoly ever:

Nimona comic, copyright Noelle Stevenson So, those are the reasons my Nimona is my hero. If you haven’t already read the webcomic, then hopefully this has persuaded you to do so! Be sure to check out Chloe’s blog, and be on the look out for more MHM posts. I really enjoyed participating, so hopefully I’ll remember to do it next month! All of the images used are credit to Noelle Stevenson.

In Which I Obsess Over Poetry

poetry title page

You thought that my obsessions had come to an end at books and movies and comics and TV shows? Well, I hate to say it, but apparently not. I have since discovered the wonderful resource of Tumblr to feed my poetry addiction, and I think it’s fair to say that I now have more quotes written in my school calendar than ever before. So, yeah, I wrote a poem about how I’m obsessed with poetry.

I feel like I’m getting a tiny bit better at this writing lark in relation to decent stand-alone lines, but I still find it hard to make a cohesive piece of work. I have about a gazillion half-finished poems on my computer and in the backs on notebooks. As ever, though, comments are completely welcome; I apologise that you have to see this somewhat cringe-inducing writing, but hey! *self-motivational mode activates* This is the only way I’m going to improve, right?


I Fall Asleep With the Pain of Poetry Staining my Fingers

What they don’t tell you is that this gift is really a curse,
a chemical equation set to carbon that will
stab at your nerve endings
until you don’t know who you are except for the pain.

What they don’t tell you is how before long you’ll be addicted to this ink;
how before long you’ll be begging it to carve into your skin
its truths that aren’t really truths at all.
(Because I don’t know what the truth is, darling,
but I don’t think it tastes of starlight.)

Well I’m sorry if you were looking for
the heroine that preached a different lexis, but I only tell the story how it is:
me, smoking poem after poem into the fading evening light.

I Meet Malorie Blackman & Patrick Ness

love hurts book launch malorie blackman

At the beginning of February, I attended my first book event: the book launch for Malorie Blackman’s romance anthology, Love Hurts. It was an amazing experience to hear actual published authors and I’m definitely hoping to attend an event like it again (it helps that it only cost like £5 a ticket.) Read on for my adventures, though don’t take them as an actual exact account because I’m writing from memory and not a recording or anything. ha my organisation skills


I am antsy throughout the whole train journey. Granted, it’s partly because of my Chemistry test tomorrow (which I haven’t yet revised for) but it mostly because I have no idea what to expect of this evening. I’ve never been to a proper book event before, let alone with Malorie Blackman and Patrick Ness, i.e. superhuman beings.

When I arrive, it is actually a very civilised event: wine and orange juice are on offer, and there’s a small group of chairs set out in one end of the bookshop. The first thing I do is a buy a copy of the book; I start to read it whilst sitting in my chair until the authors are announced and I blanch slightly: in my fangirling, I actually kind of forgot about the other members of the panel, Catherine Johnson and James Dawson. I haven’t read anything by Catherine Johnson, but I read James Dawson’s book Say Her Name for my book club and it’s fair to say that I strongly disliked it. I feel a bit guilty.

However, my nerves are mostly eased when the authors begin talking. The first question asked is of why they wrote the love stories they did, and I am pleased to note that Viola from Chaos Walking is pronounced Vy-ola not Vee-ola. “There is no debate,” Patrick Ness says when asked about the pronunciation. “I wrote the book.” He continues, in answer to the question, to say that he wanted to break a stereotype he often say in YA novels: that of the brave, foolish boy (sometimes also a werewolf) and the shy girl who’s beautiful behind her glasses. “Why can’t they both be brave? Why can’t they both be foolish? I tried to write teenagers like the teenagers I knew, not the ones I read about.” There are nods of assent. Patrick adds that whilst there are some great ‘should-be’ writers like David Levithan, he tries to write books showing more how the world ‘is’. James Dawson steps in to admit that in his first book, he wrote a relationship how he would have liked to have in his teenage years rather than what it would probably actually be like. “It was too perfect, too neat.” I agree strongly with this, because to be honest I really disliked the romance in Say Her Name. I decide to try another of his books at a later date to see if it’s any better.

The next topic we talk about is controversy and hope in YA novels. Patrick Ness jokes that some of the darkest stuff he’s read was in a children’s writing competition, and I kind of agree; writing darker things is my default setting. There are also some pretty dark YA novels out there (I’m looking at you, Kevin Brooks) so I am interested when The Bunker Diary is mentioned. Whilst I personally quite liked it, there was a lot of controversy when it won the Carnegie Prize. I am therefore very pleased when Patrick says that it is a hopeful book: “Even the bleakest books can be hopeful, because they tell the reader that they’re not alone, and that’s the most hopeful sentence there is.”

Malorie and James go on to mention Melvin Burgess’ Junk, another controversial Carnegie medal winner, saying that it knocked down the doors for authors to write freely. I haven’t yet read Junk, but I read The Hit by the same author and that was a book that didn’t skip over any sort of dark subjects. It was frighteningly real. Patrick agrees with James and Malorie, and adds that he doesn’t think there are any taboo subjects. “It’s all about how you cover them,” he says.

It is brought up that Cassandra Clare was turned away from publishers because of Alec’s sexuality. Have the authors ever been told what they can and can’t write? “No,” Patrick says, “but that might just be because I’m quite imposing. I think that spite is necessary for an author.” He goes on to say how he’s actually surprised at how little criticism he has received for Seth in More Than This, and was slightly miffed when school reading list including it was banned – but because of a different book. Malorie Blackman says that she hasn’t ever been told to write something or take something out either: “I write what I like.”

Then, questions open up to the floor. The first is about writing about people you don’t know about, especially if they have a different background or sexuality. Malorie says that you don’t, because then she would only have written one half of Naughts & Crosses, and I am pleased because then I’d only be writing about unsporty girls who do nothing but sit in their rooms on the computer. (To be honest, I do think I need to get out more. Experience stuff.) Catherine Johnson jokes that if that were the case, she could only write about Welsh Jamaicans. There is general agreement over this, though Malorie does note that you have to get your research right as with any character.

Someone else asks what book the authors would give to their teenage selves if they could. Patrick Ness immediately steps in and says he hates those kind of questions, because he can’t go back and give himself that book, but says he would have liked the Harry Potter Manuscript: “So I could publish it,” he says. James Dawson answers with Andrew Smith’s Grasshopper Jungle, because it is about LGBT characters without being specifically about LGBT issues. He also adds that the idea of giant praying mantises would probably have appealed to his teenage self. Catherine Johnson supplies the author Sarra Manning, and I take note because I’m feeling a little thin on the ground in reference to good romantic books at the moment.

Spoils of war

Spoils of war

The talk is concluded with a signing. They tell us we’ll be sent up in lines, but everyone gets up immediately and I figure I’m the only one who has to be at school by 8 the next morning so I go and get in the queue. I feel quite bereft at forgetting my copy of A Monster Calls, but I did bring Malorie Blackman’s Noble Conflict (and of course, the actual Love Hurts book). The people in front of me seem to be book event veterans and that eases my anxiety slightly, but I’m also exceedingly nervous because HOLY COW IT’S PATRICK NESS AND MALORIE BLACKMAN. The only thing I say when Patrick Ness asks how I thought the talk was is “Great” but to be honest I’m standing within like a metre of four actual published authors so I don’t feel too bad.

Though it pains me, I leave the bookshop without once taking a look in the Teen section. I do read Love Hurts all the way home, though.

Snooping Around #2: Movember Express

snooping around

(I can’t believe I’m actually writing a number two in the title.)

Snooping Around is a series where I spot cool things on my travels and share them with you. This time, we’re taking a look at the Movember Express.

movember express

It’s a train! Made in Movember! Look! The internet informs me that it had a moustache on the front, but I was too busy running to the end of the platform to catch it to notice.

Movember is the name for the month of November (surprise surprise) when men are invited to grow a moustache to raise awareness of health issues. Many trains around the UK also grew moustaches.

Have you spotted any Movember trains around, even though it’s not November any more?

I’m trying a bit of a internet-free week at the moment, considering I’m away and I don’t really have WiFi to begin with. So far it’s not that different…? I’m basically just reading loads. I should be back to usual posting, commenting and whatnot at the weekend. Hope you’re having a nice week! :-)

The TBR Tag

The TBR tag

I was tagged for the To-Be-Read tag by Sabrina @ Books and Bark, and now I’ve finally got round to it. (Only 2 months late…)
princess and the frog gif
Anyways. Ignoring that, let us proceed with this documentation of my (frankly scary) TBR pile.

How do you keep track of your TBR pile?
I only just got GoodReads, so now I’m trying to use that, but I just made a mental note and/or took a photo with my phone and hoped I remembered.

Is your TBR mostly print books or e-books?
I don’t differentiate between print or eBooks, unless I’m after a specific cover or edition. I usually only buy eBooks for holidays or on-the-day release. My primary source of books is the library so I don’t get to keep all the books I read anyway! I do have a stack of library books that I like to get through every month, though. Oh, and I just got a whole lot of Ursula Le Guin books free from the library because they were replacing them with new editions, so I guess that adds some more print books to the pile.

How do you determine which book from your TBR to read next?
If I’m scouting for holiday books or in a bookshop, I just look at the blurb/first few and decide from that, but mostly it’s based over what’s available in the library. I am also not averse to a pretty cover.

A book that’s been on your TBR the longest?
Um…The Fellowship of the Ring? Every book in the Throne of Glass series? (Also, though I hate to admit it: I’m kind of interested to see what Twilight is like.)

A book you recently added to your TBR?
Broken Skies by Theresa Kay. All set on my Kindle and ready to go.

A book on your TBR strictly because of its beautiful cover?
The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton. Awesome title, awesome cover (especially in hardback *swoons*). I mean, look at it!

ava lavender


A book on your TBR you never plan on reading?

The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There by Catherynne M. Valente. I love the titles and covers of this series, and two of my friends adored it, but I had to DNF the first one. I didn’t dislike it, but I wasn’t really invested in the story and didn’t see the point in continuing.

An unpublished book in your TBR that you’re excited to read?

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell. I swear, this is the best thing that has ever happened to me. I AM CRAZY EXCITED OKAY I JUST CAN’T EVEN see I am reverted to Fangirl mode ha look at that sneaky reference
kermit flail
No, but seriously. My feelings are too much for words. But other books I’m looking forward to are: Queen of Shadows by Sarah J Maas (I didn’t forget you, Celaena), Morning Star by Pierce Brown, Trial of Tears by Josephine Angelini, Winter by Marissa Meyer, the print edition of Nimona by Noelle Stevenson because hey IT IS NOT OKAY TO END LIKE THAT AND TELL US THERE WILL ONLY BE AN EPILOGUE IN THE BOOK… Really, the list could go on.

A book in your TBR that everybody recommends to you?
I actually, um…can’t think of any? I do have one friend that is absolutely insistent I read The Kane Chronicles, though. Someday, someday.

Number of books in your TBR?
My Goodreads only tells me 75, but since I started using that a month ago I’m going to go with 125. It never hurt to be generous, right?

*shivers* I’m scared already. I’m tagging:
Small Town Bookworm
A Hufflepuff’s Thoughts
And anyone else that feels like having a go! Now I’m off to try and become Ronan Lynch whilst doing Latin homework. (Ha. If only. Fluency in said language would be a massive bonus.) Just a heads up: I’m away for the half term holiday, so though there’ll probably still be a post I might not be replying to comments. I’m trying to take a break from the internet, scary as that sounds.

Worry About Weight is Stupid, Right?

This is not something that I ever thought I would be talking about – it’s one of those things that I’ve locked up in my never-to-be-mentioned box, you know? But I’m feeling okay at the moment and I think that right now might be a good time to take it out again.

I never thought that I would be someone who would worry about weight. I still don’t really consider to have worried – I don’t know, it’s just a scary thing to label something. It’s just a thing that happened to me, and it wasn’t even that big an event. I never did anything because I was too scared.

You see, when I was younger I didn’t have a lot of self confidence. I started getting spots from around the age of 10, when the majority of my friends still had very clear skin. I briefly turned to makeup, but even then there were people in videos telling me that I shouldn’t have to use makeup because I had perfect skin. I didn’t. I also became quite self-conscious about weight about a year later, when I was 11.

I feel so guilty for spending that summer swinging my legs under the desk because I thought it would burn calories and jumping up and down in the evenings. I feel bad that I have given in to the media and expectations. I don’t know if I should feel guilty at all, because I never acted on the voices inside of me. Yes, when I read warning tales like Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson, I kind of secretly admired the heroine, but I never did anything. I don’t know if that makes it better of worse.

To be honest, I don’t really know anything. I don’t want other people to feel that way at such a young age (and I’m so young even now to be thinking about this). I don’t want my friend to eat almost nothing for lunch after skipping breakfast. Me? At the moment, I feel alright about myself, but when I wrote the first draft of this post a month and a half ago I was not alright. It was a post full of self-hate and it hurts to read it. I know that the doubt is still within me somewhere, however hard I try to erase it.

I used to think that worrying about weight was stupid and that I was invincible. I know that I’m not. I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do with my experiences, because my feelings are so complicated that it’s trying to sort out grains of sand. I guess I can just tell people and hope that they find something they recognise…?

Top Ten Fantasy Books I Can’t Believe I Haven’t Read

toptentuesday
Yes! I did it! I finally participated in a Top Ten Tuesday! *fist pump* As I’m sure many of you know, Top Ten Tuesday is a feature created by The Broke and Bookish. (Because seriously, it’s everywhere.) I don’t think I’ll be participating every week – I mean, I only write about 3 posts per fortnight as it is – but I’ll be popping in every now and again to see if the topic interests me.

I’ve chosen fantasy as my genre for this one. Whilst I love fantasy, I still haven’t read a lot of the books which are considered staples of the genre. A book I just want to read snuck in there at the end, but I almost made it.

fellowship of the ring
1. Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien I got the whole series one year for Christmas and didn’t get into the first one. I’d like to have another go, though, because a) it’s Lord of the Rings and b) all my fanatic friends have been pestering me.
clariel
2. The Old Kingdom/ Abhorsen series by Garth Nix I read my first book ever by Garth Nix in November: it was sci-fi, and it was great. I really don’t know how I’ve managed to miss this particular series.
the farthest shore
3. The Farthest Shore by Ursula Le Guin I started this series and never finished it; this is where I ended. (I seem to remember that I was the first person to borrow a Wizard of Earthsea from the library in over 10 years.) Anyway, the library has now gotten rid of its old Ursula Le Guin books so I’ve taken the last books in the Earthsea series for me to finish off.
the colour of magic
4. Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels I am sorry. I do not know how I have missed these.
stardust
5. Any Neil Gaiman I’ve only read The Graveyard Book and seen the film adaptation of Coraline. The Graveyard Book was awesome – it had that aura of confidence, you know? – and now I just need to read his other works. Anything. (I’m out to get you, battered copy of Stardust that’s on the display rack.)
game of thrones
6. Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin It’s one of the big fantasy books. I really ought to read it. (But they’re just…so…long.)
the eye of the world
7. The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan This sprawling epic takes up a whole shelf at our school library. I made a bet with my friend whilst we were calculating its approximate amount of words (Wikipedia tells me it’s 4.4m). I have now consigned myself to reading the entire fourteen novels, none of which are under 650 pages.
once and future king
9. The Once and Future King by T.H. White And I call myself a Merlin fan. (I mean, they’re not that similar, but still. Merlin is based off the legend.)
hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy
8. The Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams Shh, shh, I know this is technically science fiction. But it’s just one of those books that a lot of people tell me to read.
the sending
10. The Sending or whatever they’re calling it in the UK by Isobelle Carmody This should not really be on the list, but I have a lot of pent-up anger. YOU CAN’T JUST PUBLISH A SERIES AND THEN NOT PUBLISH THE LAST BOOK IN ONE COUNTRY, okay? I would get my family in Australia to send a copy over, but for some reason they’ve changed the titles for different countries and I have no idea which ones my UK titles correspond to.

And the big question: have I missed any out??


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