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Review: Doing It – Hannah Witton

It has been a long time since I did a book review (and I’m making no promises that this is the return of the reviews), but this book is SO good it deserves a review.

Doing It – Hannah Witton 

If you don’t know, Hannah Witton is a YouTuber (and ex-UoB student like moi) who posts videos about sex and relationships, and has compiled all her knowledge (and the knowledge of others with different experiences and more knowledge than her own) into a great, easily readable book.

Doing It is the guide I wish I’d had when I was a teenager and super confused about sex, my body, and what to do with it – because to be honest, you actually don’t want to turn around to your mum or even your best friend and say ‘hi mum, is it normal to masturbate?’

But even now that I’m 23, I still have questions and I know that I still have much to learn (especially about LGBTQ+ relationships, and Hannah does a great job of integrating the voices of that community). So I’m glad that I picked up Doing It to educate myself and even to learn more about the things I thought I knew about. I will 100% be recommending it to teenagers, parents, and anyone in between who wants to know more about sex and relationships, without resorting to uncomfortable internet articles or those textbooks we had in schools with anatomic diagrams.

What I especially love about the book is how relaxed it is, how non-judgemental it is, how open Hannah is about her experiences and her lack of knowledge about some things. She never pretends to be an SRE expert, just someone who is interested and experienced and who wants to share. So it really does feel like you’re having a chat with a wise older sister who wants to guide you down the Yellow Brick Road of sex and relationships in a healthy and informative way.

I definitely agree that SRE is seriously lacking in schools, and when Hannah wrote about being shown images of STIs in order to dissuade you from having sex, I could totally relate. I don’t ever remember being taught about consent (which to be honest, I could have used), and in biology class when a girl asked if you could get pregnant from oral sex, I wish we had all taken her a bit more seriously and I wish our teacher hadn’t tried to hide the question under the rug.

This is a way more honest book about growing up as a teenager and experiencing sex and relationships than the TV shows many of us learnt about sex from. Skins isn’t real life for many teenagers, and no-one lives their life like 90210 or Gossip Girl. So, Hannah tells it like is really is and the result is a helpful, friendly, welcoming guide to sex and relationships.

A great read and I hope to see this book becoming widely acknowledged as a go-to read on s&r.

A thumbs up from me (and Emma Stone – incidentally, Easy A is also a great film about sex and relationships in high school).

The Ginny Weasley Story

So a couple of times recently people have come up to me to talk about Ginny Weasley. Which happens when it’s part of my Twitter bio.

I categorise myself firstly and fore-mostly as a Ginny Weasley. I was never a Hermione. Whilst young girls growing up were delighting over her bushy hair and how smart it was to be brave, I got it, I understood it (I mean, I used to take carrier bags that were full to breaking point home from the library), but I never felt like a Hermione. I was a Ginny. Which I think is rarer.

But let me be clear, I was – and still am – a very specific Ginny (which you’ll see up there in the bio). BOOK GINNY. Who we all know is very different to Movie Ginny. No disrespect to Bonnie Wright (and we may never know if it was Bonnie or the writers that totally destroyed my second favourite Harry Potter character. (Ron, in case you were wondering)) but Movie Ginny is a completely separate entity to Ginny on the pages, the Ginny I knew from my childhood.

Book Ginny is fiery and determined, passionate and fearless, she leads with her heart and feels everything keenly on that page. She didn’t let her crush on Harry Potter stop her from doing the most awesome Bat-Bogey Hex and she didn’t let his crush on Cho Chang stop her from storming down to the Ministry and testing the waters with dating other guys.

These graphics say it perfectly. Everything I’ve ever been annoyed about.

Ginny is so much more than a love interest and I hate that the films reduced her to a shadow of her former self.

So I stand up, proud to be a Ginny, with all of her heart and her dynamism and the proof that if you just live your best life and try and be the best version of yourself, that will probably win the hero’s heart more than ‘meep meeping’. And if not, just be the hero yourself.

Let’s discuss this please? Comment below or on Twitter and tell me what you think? Are you a Ginny or am I talking nonsense?

Journey to Employment

I am beyond delighted, excited, thrilled, overjoyed, and any other euphoric superlatives you can think of that this week is my first week of work in publishing!

And as you’ll know if you read this blog or follow my Twitter, that this has not been an easy journey – in fact at times it has been terrible. Of course, it is not easy for anyone going into publishing, one of the most notoriously difficult industries to get into. And yet, I daresay you will not find a more determined bunch of people trying to get in.

I want to document my journey here, with no frills, and pure emotions, to demonstrate the realities of getting a job in publishing and to show you that with tenacity and determination, it is possible.

(no names of companies I applied to will be mentioned nor names of their employees)


The preliminaries 

My first insight into publishing came in 2014, when I was lucky enough to do two weeks work experience in the Marketing department at Hodder & Stoughton. I fell head over heels immediately for the industry and knew this was where my future lay.

I followed this up with two weeks at Penguin General the following year, before finishing my degree in English Literature and Hispanic Studies.

Throughout my final year, I nurtured my blog, volunteered twice for the Bookseller, and kept my toes in the publishing water by being active in the community on Twitter.


The journey 

I began my applications on the 26th of April 2016 (which I remember because it was the day I handed in my final dissertations). My job was offered to me on the 16th of September 2016, which makes a total of 143 days of applications, interviews and rejections.

The process began quickly; I sent in the first application on the 3rd of May and was invited the very next day for an interview on the 10th of May. It was a job I was terribly excited about and, understandably, I was devastated when I got that first rejection, because it had appeared to be going so well.

What followed was a phone interview with another company, who then rejected me based on my not being able to start straight away (I had to finish my degree, of course) and then a very long dry spell.

I made the huge mistake of rejecting an interview for a 6-month internship at a Big Company, because in my words I was ‘looking for something more permanent’. What could have been more permanent than a brilliant paid internship at a leading publisher? I was naive and still thinking I could walk into a job following my graduation.

I began documenting my applications at the end of June/beginning of July on an Excel spreadsheet – which really helped because it made my applications really clear to me, especially the dates of application and when the position closed.

As we know, lots of companies don’t respond to your applications after 2 weeks if you’ve not been successful, so having a spreadsheet helped me to keep track of these closing dates to know if it had been 2 weeks and I should just give up waiting for the email.

screen-shot-2016-09-18-at-15-27-54

As you can see, it was a very long process, with lots of red (and brown, which was when I made those assumptions that I had not been accepted).

At one point I had two interviews in one day for internships, and when I was rejected from both of these, I began to panic and wildly sent in applications for anywhere and everywhere (including fashion brands I was not particularly enthusiastic about), and speculative applications where I could.

I began to realise my applications would only be good if I was really passionate about the position, and to stop wasting time sending such half-hearted applications. I also realised that if I believed in myself, other people would too, so I followed advice I had been given at London Book Fair, to apply for positions that on paper I might not be qualified for (such as those asking for 1 year’s experience). It could not hurt to send in an application and see where it led me… and it led me to my job.

Eventually, I was lucky enough to get a chance and someone decided I was good enough.


So is the point of all this?

  • Don’t give up on your dreams
  • It will happen
  • If you believe in yourself, someone else will
  • Treat every application like it’s the one you will be hired for
  • Be proud of your achievements
  • Life is what you make it
  • (Other clichés)

As the great Miley Cyrus once said, it’s a climb, but the view is great.

Happy to read CVs and Cover Letters, and always to talk about our experiences.

Rapid Fire Book Tag

I nabbed this from SnowlyRamble’s page because I love a good book tag and if I’m reading one, I can’t help but answer them in my head, so here goes! Thanks to Leanne for sharing and credits go to A Girl Reading’s YouTube.

 

 

E-Book or Physical Book?
Physical Book. E-Book. Both. I don’t know. I LOVE reading on trains and planes so e-books are easier for me to have a whole library in my bad. But I love the covers on physical books and the way the pages feel and the smell. So both.

Paperback or Hardback?
Paperback. Hardbacks are so heavy and annoying to carry.

Online or In-Store Book Shopping?
In-store. I buy online if I know what I want to read, but browsing is so much better in-store. I get all these kind of endorphins from walking around and looking at books I like.

Trilogies or Series?
I like both – at least with a trilogy it has a defined end and you don’t feel too burdened by book after book after book. But then, Harry Potter.

Heroes or Villains?

I like heroes or anti-heroes. I like underdogs.

A book you want everyone to read?

Asking For It by Louise O’Neill. You seriously need to read this book if you haven’t. Like where have you been??

Recommend an underrated book?

I think I read a lot of mainstream books, so I might not be the best person to suggest these. But oh! One of my favourite books from the last year, which I do not understand why it hasn’t got more praise is The Good Liar by Nicholas Searle.

The last book you finished?
November 9 by Colleen Hoover. Swallowed that up like a hoover. (Pun intended)

The Last Book You Bought?
Hmm, toughie. My mum and I share a household account on Kindle so she’s bought the last few I’ve been reading and the book I’m currently reading was a freebie. So that would make the last books I bought the ones for my holiday and I cannot remember which was the last one. So all of these and these.

Weirdest Thing You’ve Used as a Bookmark?

I am a terrible person, I’m a corner-turner-downer. Hate me now, I’m a monster. But I think I’ve used a receipt before as a bookmark.

Used Books: Yes or No?
Yeah sure! I got used books all the time for studying and they’re usually cheaper. But tbh, I tend to buy new books just because of Kindle.

Top Three Favourite Genres?
YA contemporary, Psychological Thrillers/Domestic Noir (though I count those as separate, but whatever), and Dystopian YA.

Borrow or Buy?
Buy. I lent my Malory Towers books to someone in Year 4 (aged 8) and got them back all tattered. NEVER AGAIN.  And ditto wouldn’t want to borrow someone else’s because I’m selfish and want my own.

Characters or Plot?
I think a story needs plot but I have read so many good books where the plot is more a series of events that exposes the characters’ personalities and emotions i.e. The Great Gatsby and Catcher in the Rye. 

Long or Short Books?

I tend to read more short books because I like to swallow them all in one go. And there’s nothing worse than reading a long book that just drags. Having said that, there’s also nothing better than reading a long epic book like Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. 

Long or Short Chapters?

Shortish I think is better. It breaks up the book more easily and is easier to stop and start a book if you’re travelling or busy.

Name The First Three Books You Think Of…

 

Tender is the Night – Fitzgerald (because I’ve been thinking of it all day)

Into the Darkest Corner – Elizabeth Haynes (because my Kindle is open next to me and it was the book I read before November 9)

One Day – David Nicholls (because One Day and November 9 have a similar premise, even though Fallon strictly says in November 9 that their story is different)

Books That Make You Laugh or Cry?

I’ve only ever cried at one book (Me Before You) so books that make me smile. I love reading a good romance and having a goofy grin on my face.

Our World or Fictional Worlds?

Both! I love YA Contemporary, but I also love new worlds or Dystopian futures. I also think the Wizarding World parallel to our world is the best thing ever.

Audiobooks: Yes or No?

Yes! Love them. Only a recent convert and there has to be a good narrator. I find it quite off-putting when there’s an American narrator because I read in an English accent in my head. But I prefer audiobooks of something I’ve already read.

I find audiobooks really soothing because they remind me of being read to as a child. My love-affair with audiobooks began about 5 years ago, when I was really sick and all I wanted was someone to read to me. Since then I’ve listened to Harry Potter (Stephen Fry obvs.) pretty much every night as I fall asleep.

Do You Ever Judge a Book by its Cover?
Yes. Some covers are really cringy. I love David Nicholls covers and David Levithan covers.

Book to Movie or Book to TV Adaptations?

Tbh I haven’t seen many Book to TV adaptations, only really Shadowhunters, and I’m liking that so far. I guess movie, if it’s done properly. Adaptors need to take tips from whoever did The Fault in Our Stars and Paper Towns because those were two perfect adaptations I think. Also Me Before You was stunning.

A Movie or TV-Show You Preferred to its Book?

I started reading The Mortal Instrument series after I saw the film and the TV show, but so far I’m preferring the TV show. I find the narration really irritating in the books, and I prefer the character development in the TV Show. The relationships seem more genuine and I love the Clary/Izzy relationship that seems to be missing in the books.

Series or Standalones?

Oh gosh I don’t know. They both have their merits. But a series can be annoying if you’re stuck in it and want to read something else. I think I prefer author collections. Like all of John Green’s books are standalones, but they live in the John Green Collection. I like that.


So that’s my tag! Do join in and tag me if you do, I want to see all your answers!!

Musing Mondays – Monday 8th August

 

 

Wooee, welcome to August! Here’s another Musing Monday, courtesy of Books and a Beat.

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme that asks you to choose one of the following prompts to answer:

  • I’m currently reading…
  • Up next I think I’ll read…
  • I bought the following book(s) in the past week…
  • I’m super excited to tell you about (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I’m really upset by (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I can’t wait to get a copy of…
  • I wish I could read ___, but…
  • I blogged about ____ this past week…

THIS WEEK’S RANDOM QUESTION: Name a book that you hope to re-read some day.

 

I’m currently reading Foxlowe by Eleanor Wasserberg, which I was lucky enough to receive at an interview last week. Though I didn’t get the internship, I think it was so generous of HC to give me a couple of books just for coming to interview with them.

We were the Family, and Foxlowe was our home.

There was me – my name is Green – and my little sister, Blue. There was October, who we called Toby, and Ellensia, Dylan, Liberty, Pet and Egg. There was Richard, of course, who was one of the Founders. And there was Freya.

We were the Family, but we weren’t just an ordinary family. We were a new, better kind of family.

We didn’t need to go to school, because we had a new, better kind of education. We shared everything. We were close to the ancient way of living and the ancient landscape. We knew the moors, and the standing stones. We celebrated the solstice in the correct way, with honey and fruit and garlands of fresh flowers. We knew the Bad and we knew how to keep it away.

And we had Foxlowe, our home. Where we were free.

There really was no reason for anyone to want to leave.

Make sure to check back in in a couple of weeks and see if I’ve reviewed it. Though no immediate promises as I still have three other books I haven’t reviewed yet. It may end up that they come in another Mini Reads.

Also, slightly cheating but I had to put in a plug for my previous blog post, so this past week I blogged about Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Check out my review here and please note, it’s NOT spoiler free.

THIS WEEK’S RANDOM QUESTION: Name a book that you hope to re-read some day.

I am a huge fan of re-reading. In fact for great article on re-reading, have a look at this NPR article on ‘The Transformative Joy of Re-Reading.’

So because I re-read so much, I don’t really hope to re-read too many because they’re always there. I think for me books I hope to re-read are the classics where I feel like you don’t get the most out of them the first time.

I never quite got around to finishing Tender is the Night (Fitzgerald), but I’d like to re-read it/finish reading it. I also think Catcher in the Rye deserves a second reading, because it’s still sticking with me almost a year after I read it and I’m sure I can even more from it a second time.

 


And that closes up Musing Mondays for this week! Check out all the other responses on Books and a Beat’s page!

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – The Review #KeepTheSecrets

THIS IS NOT SPOILER FREE. I REPEAT, NOT SPOILER FREE. IF YOU HAVEN’T READ CURSED CHILD, TURN BACK NOW. (and then come back later)

I’m in a difficult place with this review. There are so many wonderful things about Cursed Child and a few not so wonderful things, and above all, I really think it needs to be seen on stage to truly appreciate it and I currently have no idea where I will be next week, never mind next year, when the current tickets are selling for. (You can buy them here if you are interested).

I’m going to try and break it down, and bear in mind that this is my childhood and it’s Jo’s world, we just get to read it.

The General Complaints 

  1. It’s too difficult to read as a script 

Just no. It’s not. You knew it was a script when you pre-ordered it. It says on the cover ‘Special Edition Rehearsal Script’. You knew it was a play in the West End, so what on earth would make you think it’s a novel??

It’s not too hard to read and you can quite easily forget that it’s a script, and if it helps (which I certainly think it does when reading a play) read it aloud.

2. It’s not what I was expecting 

No, and it wasn’t what I was expecting either. But cast your mind back to getting Deathly Hallows in 2007 and your expectations for that. Did any of us expect Hedwig to die? Or Dobby? Or FRED?? Did we expect Snape to be the good guy all along? Did we expect half the things that Jo wrote?

No. But you just have to trust in Jo’s ideas. After all, in 2007 she was the only one who knew what happened 19 years later. We’re just beyond lucky that she chose to share it with us.

3. It reads too much like Fanfiction 

Okay, this I agree with in part. It does feel like its something that ‘iluvRonmione96’ might have conjured up to satisfy their cravings for more of HP. But maybe that’s because reading it in script form doesn’t allow it to fully shine through the way a performance would. I really and truly think that the real magic lies in the spectacle.

Which leads me nicely to…

My Complaints 

  1. Who the hell is Delphi Diggory?? 

Okay, I know that the story needed a BIG BAD so we could have a BIG BATTLE and a BIG ENDING. But Delphi Diggory/Love-child of Voldemort and Bellatrix feels just a little bit ridiculous. When it was revealed that she was Voldemort’s child and there was another prophecy, I just felt a little bit like ‘rly????’.

I trust in Jo completely, and I support this. And I especially support the finding of the Time-Turner and going back in Time, because it’s a really nice way to pay homage to the original series. And we all know that story can work because we’ve seen AVPS.

But there are other ways she could’ve brought it full-circle, by ending it at Godric’s Hollow in 1981. Of course, she couldn’t totally rip off AVPS because that’s plagiarism and very very wrong. But I would’ve liked to see another Death Eater, maybe Rowle or Nott, trying to influence Scorpius, and going back to 1981 to Kill Harry (gasps).

That would’ve made more sense to me, and no need for Delphi Diggory, the most un-Mary Sue Mary Sue. (Does anyone know what the name is of a completely negative Mary Sue, whose purpose is to be the bad guy?)

2. Where are all the other children? Where are all the other characters? 

Seriously, this play needed more Rose. She’s barely in it! Hugo Granger-Weasley doesn’t even seem to exist. And where o where is Teddy Lupin? He could’ve sorted all this trouble out.

If this is a play about the Next Gen, we could’ve seen more of James Potter Jr., Rose Granger-Weasley and Lily Potter Jr.

And we could’ve seen Sirius in the past. And we could’ve seen Professor Longbottom. SERIOUSLY.

Let’s continue shall we?

Things I liked that other people probably didn’t 

1. Emphasis on Ronmione 

This lovely little script proves that Ronmione just make sense. So all you Harry/Hermione shippers, just get over yourselves. They didn’t have an affair in the future, it is and always will be Ron/Hermione and Harry/Ginny.

2. Albus is in Slytherin! 

Yep. Loved it. For a moment you think ‘But that doesn’t make sense, generations of Weasleys have been in Gryffindor and Harry Potter is the greatest Gryffindor since Dumbledore, how can his and Ginny’s son be a Slytherin?’

Well. Look at Sirius Black. Defied his parentage didn’t he?

And here is the ultimate, definitive proof that not all Gryffindors are good and not all Slytherins are bad. The lines of House Sorting aren’t always clear. Gryffindors can be smart and ambitious as well as brave. And Slytherins can be brave and loyal as well as cunning. Pettigrew and Snape are our Original Canon examples and Albus and Scorpius are our New Gen examples.

Jo has always been adamant that good and bad aren’t as clear as people think: Dumbledore did some awful things in his time and Draco was not always terrible.

Albus being in Slytherin keeps this narrative alive and proves that being Harry and Ginny’s son doesn’t mean he isn’t his own person.

3. Ron as Comic Relief 

Anyone who thinks that just because Ron went through all the struggles of his teenager-dom means he must have changed by middle-age is just wrong. These characters might be 20 years older but they are still inherently themselves. Ron is still loyal and humorous just as Hermione is brilliant and strong-willed and Harry is the hero. Plus, now Ron’s a Dad so he’s bound to be even funnier and in an even more embarrassing way. Ron Granger-Weasley is peak Dad Jokes.

yay dad jokes

Other things I liked 

1. Albus/Scorpius relationship 

Anyone who didn’t love this (Scorbus? Is that what we’re calling it? I approve) is just being ridiculous. It’s Harry/Ron all over again except with less jealousy and more homoeroticism. I’ve always said that the most important relationships in Harry Potter are the friendships, and Jo continues this in Cursed Child. Yes, I see the homosexual undertones as well as you do. But to be fair, the boys are 14 and might not be comfortable expressing their love for each other yet.

Let it flow, what will be will be. And all those people that were crying for Rose/Scorpius at the end of Deathly Hallows (you know who you are, I’ve seen the fanfics), got a little bit of what they were hoping for. Though I’m sure a solid 80% have jumped ship to the Good Ship Scorbus now.

2. Scorpius himself 

Scorpius is such a loser. I LOVE IT. Malfoy thought he was all that and a bag of chips, but his son is a total loser. Which proves that people are made not born. In a world where being a Malfoy isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, Scorpius ended up at the bottom of the food chain. But he still managed to be a hero.

Scorpius is the Neville of Cursed Child. And we all know how great Nevilles are.

3. The characters are not perfect 

Because Jo’s characters never are. Those people who are complaining that (MAJOR SPOILER ALERT, LOOK AWAY NOW, IN FACT WHY ARE YOU STILL READING???) Harry told Albus that he wished Albus wasn’t his son are forgetting that Harry is one of the most imperfect characters in literature. He often gets in rages and says things he doesn’t mean. He is an angry and impulsive character. Remember all those times he screamed at Ron and Hermione? His best friends? His only family? That horrible way he spoke to Lupin, when he said he’d be ashamed of him if he were Lupin’s son.

This actually makes sense for Harry, especially because he allows himself to get wound up so easily. This is the boy that was so wound up by Malfoy that he went off on a midnight mission round Hogwarts aged 11 and nearly got eaten by Fluffy.

Of course his own son is going to push his buttons. But part of Harry Potter is about owning your mistakes and correcting them. Which he does. Parent/child relationships aren’t always easy and they are rarely perfect. And in a Next-Gen story which is about this kind of relationship, Jo deals with it ideally.

Also, Rose is a little bitch at times and really needs to sort her act out. But again, not perfect. Lord knows Hermione could be a bitch at times, especially to the ones she loved. Poor Ron never got over the bird attack.

4. Its themes and heart are true to the Harry Potter narrative 

At its core Cursed Child deals with what it means to be a hero. Or the son-of-a-hero. Or the son-of-an-evil-little-shit.  Throughout Harry Potter Harry dealt with the pressure of being James and Lily’s son, the Chosen One. Here, Albus deals with the pressure of being Harry’s son.

The lines of good and evil are blurred, just like in Harry Potter and always, always, in HP love was the heart of the narrative. And Cursed Child maintains these themes and ideas until the end.

Also this bit:

Harry Potter in a nutshell.

Even post-Voldemort (2020 PV) Harry still has the burden of being the Chosen One, and in one single line Jo encapsulates what it means to be Harry Potter.

Reading it I was like:


So who is the Cursed Child? 

I know sources say that the Cursed Child is Albus, but I think arguments can be made that the Cursed Child could be Harry, Albus, or Scorpius.

All three were burdened with names and expectations that they felt they couldn’t live up to. They never asked to be a Potter or a Malfoy or the Chosen One.

You could even say that Delphi was the Cursed Child.

Maybe Jo herself is the Cursed one, because she’ll never satisfy everyone.

Jo, John, and Jack’s story isn’t by any means perfect, but that doesn’t stop it from being nostalgic, complex, and iconic.

I, for one, am just grateful that Jo gifted us with the Eight Story and a play that will hopefully run for many years on the West End, a play which is ‘easily the most wizard piece of theatre to hit the West End in years’.

I think it needs to be seen to be believed.

So I just need to get my hands on some tickets.

Oh, and I totally cried at the end. It was just beautifully heartfelt and emotional at the end. I’m positive there will be buckets in the theatre.

And remember: #KeepTheSecrets