Posts Tagged ‘YA’

I recently read “Red Queen” by Victoria Aveyard.  

The blurb reads:

“This is a world divided by blood – red or silver.

The Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god-like superpowers. And to Mare Barrow, a seventeen-year-old Red girl from the poverty-stricken Stilts, it seems like nothing will ever change.

That is, until she finds herself working in the Silver Palace. Here, surrounded by the people she hates the most, Mare discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy the balance of power.

Fearful of Mare’s potential, the Silvers hide her in plain view, declaring her a long-lost Silver princess, now engaged to a Silver prince. Despite knowing that one misstep would mean her death, Mare works silently to help the Red Guard, a militant resistance group, and bring down the Silver regime.

But this is a world of betrayal and lies, and Mare has entered a dangerous dance – Reds against Silvers, prince against prince, and Mare against her own heart…”

It is an interesting read and feels like a mixture of several things put together: one huge dollop of “The Hunger Games” (a dystopian world of segregation where people fight each other), a tiny pinch of “Twilight” (a girl discovers she has supernatural powers and is in her element), a bite of “Noughts and Crosses” (a world of segregation of the elite and the commoners) and a chunk of the X-Men (people born with special powers).

Mare is an interesting character who had no idea she was special and was just struggling through life knowing she hasn’t got a promising future. Then everything changes and her world becomes full of secrets and power struggles. There is plenty of promise in this novel, especially as it is the start of a series, although it’s not as good as “The Hunger Games” so far. It’s a good read and is fairly easy to follow. The ideas are intriguing with all the special powers and the fact that certain people have red blood and others have silver blood is quite weird.

It seems to end fairly quickly but if there’s more books to come then it isn’t too bad. I recommend it if you liked “The Hunger Games” as it’s got a lot of similar features but then that could be a downside to this novel!

I give this book 7 out of 10.

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Hello!

My Monday has been a bit dull so far, although the weather has been sort of sunny and bright.

Today is called “Blue Monday” because it’s supposed to be the ultimate come-down day after the excitement of Christmas and New Year and means that you are now broke and depressed.

I’m actually feeling fairly cheerful, despite today being the first day of 2015 that I am unemployed again. I was working a temporary job leading up Christmas, which got extended into January, and unfortunately came to an end yesterday due to there being too many applicants and not enough posts to fill for a permanent staff position. It wasn’t my fault, I just got unlucky. Lots of people at work were surprised I didn’t get a job and their comments were really lovely and supportive. I’m gutted to have left such a great place and team.

I’m now looking towards the future and planning my next move. Who knows what 2015 has to offer me?!

Today has been compiled of catching up on a bit of telly, eating chocolate biscuits and looking for jobs. However, I started my day by reading a book, something which I managed to re-introduce into my mornings while I was still working (reading while eating my breakfast).

My choice is an old favourite “I Capture The Castle” by Dodie Smith. I don’t care that it’s supposed to be a YA novel because I adore this book.

“I Capture The Castle” by Dodie Smith (via Goodreads)

Even though it is quite gloomy in places, I still love this book because it is so original and full of interesting characters. I read it about once a year, and January is a good time to read it as it lifts my mood! It is one book I will always keep on my bookshelf.

I hope Blue Monday hasn’t got you down too much, and that you have found a good book to distract you!

I recently had a discussion with someone about what type of books we want to be publishing during our careers, and I said I wasn’t hugely keen on Children’s but preferred teen and Young Adult fiction. I said I prefer fiction for adults, but I don’t mean dodgy erotic stuff like Fifty Shades of Grey (the less said about that bizarre hit, the better!) of course, I mean General Fiction which is not for young people or children!

It’s so easy to be misunderstood, especially as in the film industry “Adult films” means porn.

Books and films can warn of containing “adult themes” and “explicit content” and say they’re not suitable for younger audiences, but I’m afraid that many young people have been exposed to and/or actively seek out the bad stuff. I myself sought to rebel in my teens by buying the music with explicit lyrics (because, let’s face it, the spots of silence or bleeps get really irritating after a while!), by watching the films for an older age rating, and read adult fiction. I was curious, which is something most teens can relate to in the search to find out what sort of person we are, to find out what life is like as an adult, and to satisfy our craving to learn more about the world around us.

Of course, as an teenager we feel neither like a child or an adult, but we are young enough to use it as an excuse to feign ignorance and innocence if things get difficult, but we can pretend we are grown up and want adults to take us seriously.

The weird thing is that girls try to look older when we’re teens so we can be treated like adults and get into clubs or be found attractive by boys and men, but later on we just want to look young forever and not get old. I look back at my teens and think how awful it was that we tried to be sexy and how inappropriate it was that we did this at what seems to me such a young age, too young in fact. I wasn’t as bothered about my looks and my actions as my peers, but looking back I’m glad I didn’t think it was cool to smoke or wear loads of make-up and sexy clothes. I just read books about teens struggling to find their way in life and watched TV shows like Friends. I kept my dignity because I was careful about how I behaved (most of the time anyway!) after reading about when things  wrong for people who make mistakes. I still managed to have fun though!

The reason I bring this up is because it was on the news today that a large percentage of young people have seen porn before they were 14, and it’s affecting their sexual relationships. A lot of people come into contact with by accident – I did once and it was horrible – or are forced into it by their peers, and quite a few, mainly boys, look for it deliberately. The article and more information can be found on the BBC Radio 1’s Newsbeat page: http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/26927580. These inappropriate and unrealistic videos can damage how you see and treat both men and women, and more needs to be done to combat these attitudes and to show young people how real relationships are meant to be.

Sexism is everywhere you look these days, and current generations are forced to grown up quicker than than our parents’ and grandparents’ generations. Famous people aren’t helping, with their desire to run around semi (or fully) naked in music videos, making sex tapes which are then leaked (or deliberately shared) for all to see, and we are shown images of these people who look like models and which we aspire to look and be like because they have perfect hair/nails/skin, are slim and beautiful and have a seemingly perfect relationship with another beautiful person.

I follow a campaign on Twitter called @EverydaySexism which retweets stories of people being treated in a sexist way or shows images which are clearly sexist. It’s shocking what people think they can get away with these days. There is a website where you can read people’s stories and even submit your own about sexism: http://everydaysexism.com/There is also a book about this as well, now available from shops like Waterstones: http://www.waterstones.com/waterstonesweb/products/laura+bates/everyday+sexism/9895753/

“Everyday Sexism” by Laura Bates (via Waterstones.com)

I also recently became aware of a campaign called “Let Books Be Books” which tries to stop children’s publishers putting “boys” and “girls” labels on their books and to let children pick whatever books they want to read without being subjected to gender-bias. This is important because otherwise children will grow up thinking that they have no choice but to read, for example, “girly” pink books about ballerinas, or “boyish” books about tractors and trains.

Examples of gender-biased children’s book covers (via Let Toys Be Toys at http://www.lettoysbetoys.org.uk

This campaign leads on from the original “Let Toys Be Toys” campaign about stopping people marketing toys specifically at boys or girls. To find out more, go to the website: http://www.lettoysbetoys.org.uk/letbooksbebooks/.

“Let Books Be Books” should also apply to other genres, especially as I’ve recently learned that some books by women are still being marketed as “chick lit” even though they are not, and that they sometimes have a cover with naked women on it or something typically “chick lit” appropriate, instead of a more serious cover which matches the content and true genre of the book.

Sexism is just unacceptable! But with the use of sex everywhere these days, using sex to sell things, and old-fashioned attitudes about men and women, even in this day and age  where women can vote and do anything they want, we are still still subject to sexism, whether it’s in books, films, or even just in everyday life.

What do you think of these issues? Let me know!