Character Inspired Outfits

Olivia from Read with Pride

Hey everyone! Hope everyone’s okay, and about a year ago I did an outfit based on Tabby Brown from the Paper and Hearts Society, and with the sequel being released later this month it seemed the perfect time to revisit the series.

So, here is an outfit based on the cover of the sequel: Read with Pride coming out later this month. Check out the book on Goodreads.

Book Reviews

Invisible Differences by Julie Dachez

“The challenges she faces remain the same, but her perception of them has changed: Not only has she learned to know and love herself, but she has also developed critical opinions on the ways difference is pathologized.”

Invisible Differences by Julie Dachez was my first venture into the world of graphic novels, and I can honestly say that it’s a genre I definitely want to read more of in the future. Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with an e-copy of this book. 

Invisible Differences is the English translation of La Différence invisible and it follows the day to day life of Marguerite, who over the course of the novel learns that she has Asperger’s. This graphic novel documents her journey to both learning to love herself and better understanding herself. 

Side note: In this review I will be using the terms high-functioning autism and Asperger’s interchangeably (both are the same thing except that high-functioning autism is not a formally recognised condition but you can read more about that here). 

So, when I saw this on Netgalley, I knew I had to get it. Both my partner and some of my good friends have high-functioning autism. Over the years I have picked up on some characteristics that they share, asked a lot of questions and browsed the web for more information. However, the one thing that I’ve always felt was sorely lacking was the representation of autism in the media, so of course I couldn’t resist the opportunity to request this book.

I loved the plot, it’s quite a simplistic plot with the focus being on the main character and her journey. The main character felt very real and relatable. Her traits are highlighted and her struggles are clearly outlined. Throughout the book I just wanted to climb into the book and hug Marguerite.

This also addresses the problem where people don’t believe you are autistic because you don’t have a certain trait. Originally, Marguerite is told that she isn’t autistic because she can make eye contact with people. While not being able to make eye contact is quite common, this doesn’t necessarily apply to every autistic person. 

Another thing I really loved is the awareness of different experiences, everyone’s experiences are slightly different and no two experiences are the same. I know some people who were diagnosed as a kid, but others where it didn’t get noticed until adulthood. It’s nice to see those different experiences mentioned in this book if only for a page or two. 

There’s also a page dedicated to what people say about autistic people which I think was an eye opener for me. Even though I knew people say these things “I heard it was tied to vaccines” or “deep down aren’t we all a little autistic?” Reading them out loud made me realise how harsh people can be about things they don’t necessarily understand. 

I also found the “spoon theory” really interesting, if like me you haven’t heard of it until now, it describes the idea of having limited energy (or “spoons”), and ranking activities by how many “spoons” they require. Once a person has used up all their spoons, they will then need to recharge before performing any new tasks. 

Other than the plot, the first thing that drew me to this book was the art style. I loved the art style of this book, I loved how colour was used to draw attention to a particular part of the page. 

Overall, I’d give this novel ★★★★★ I really enjoyed this novel, and I highly recommend it whether you’re autistic or not. Definitely a book to keep an eye out for when it gets released in August! 

Character Inspired Outfits

Hope Parker from Theatrical.

Hey everyone, I hope you’re all having a wonderful day wherever you are in the world. It’s been a while since I last created an outfit, but over the weekend I went on an outfit creating spree. So, here is a Theatrical inspired outfit which takes inspiration from Hope’s technical rehearsal costume blunder.

You can read more about ‘Theatrical’ by Maggie Harcourt by clicking here for the Goodreads synopsis.

Book Reviews

Break the Fall by Jennifer Iacopelli

Break the Fall is about Audrey and her best friend: Emma’s journey to the Olympics. For Audrey, this is also her last opportunity to compete before she is forced into an early retirement due to a back injury and she is determined to make the most of it.  

Themes

One of the biggest themes of this book is sexual assault, and the book tackles this theme spectacularly well. It was a joy to read all the girls, and all the different teams coming together and uniting under a common enemy. 

I also loved the ideas they came up with. Sometimes we don’t need to scream and shout, sometimes even the smallest pebble can cause a ripple

Romance

There is some romance in this book, primarily between Audrey and Lee. However, in my opinion you could’ve taken this out of the book and it wouldn’t make much difference. I would’ve much preferred this story to have focused more on friendship rather than needlessly forcing romance between two characters. 

Other subplots

For a relatively short book there was a lot going on, the book opens up with Audrey talking about her back injuries and how this is her last opportunity to compete. There is also some romance, jealous teammates and of course the character’s are dealing with the aftermath of sexual assault. In my opinion there was way too much going on and this in my opinion detracted from the main message.

Gymnastics 

I’m not a gymnast, but clearly Jennifer Iacocpelli knows her stuff when it comes to gymnastics. However, for me a lot of the detailed descriptions somersaulted over my head. The descriptions were detailed, and despite having no gymnastics knowledge I found it pretty easy to follow and picture what was happening in my head. 

One problem I did have was that it started to become a tad repetitive towards the end, especially since naturally the competitions consume a large portion of the book.

Setting

The primary setting of this book is the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, and whilst we won’t be able to watch the Olympics, it was exciting to read about Audrey and her teammates’ journey! I only wished it occupied a larger proportion of the book, I would’ve liked to have seen more of the Olympics.

Characters.

Reading this book I didn’t really like Audrey. I found her to be quite boring and a stereotypical YA character. I think I just found her narrative of other people’s performance during the competitions a bit grating. However, she is determined and she has a strong moral compass which I appreciated. I also loved  the diversity of the cast.

Final Thoughts

Overall, I’d give this book ⋆⋆⋆ I loved that it showed some really positive representation of women in sport, and I loved that the setting was the Olympics. However, I didn’t really like the main character Audrey and I thought that there were a couple of unnecessary subplots which detracted from the main story. 

Book Reviews

It Sounded Better in my Head by Nina Kenwood

Everyone knows you can’t really trust any feeling you have at night- the later the hour, the less trustworthy it is. Anything you feel after 10pm is suspect, anything after midnight should be discounted altogether. 

It Sounded Better in my Head is the debut novel by Nina Kenwood and I really enjoyed it. It was raw and honest, and it depicts being a teenager perfectly. Thank you for Netgalley for providing me with an e-copy of this book!

The novel opens up with our main character: Natalie being told that her parents are breaking up. Narrated by Natalie, we get to see a glimpse into her mind, from how she can’t understand why her parents are so calm to teenage angst over crushes. 

TL:DR In the Goodreads synopsis it says ‘when her two best friends hook up, leaving her feeling slightly miffed and decidedly awkward.’ And while this is true, I find it misleading as it implies they have just started dating but we quickly learn that her two best friends have been together for eight months. 

Anyway, aside from that the novel focuses on Natalie and her opinions on her parents divorce, her relationship with her two friends and an unexpected romance. The book also deals with important topics, such as the fear of leaving school and body insecurities. 

What I loved: 

  • Honesty. As mentioned previously this book is raw and honest. When it comes to puberty Natalie felt like she was hit by a truck, she had a near constant scattering of spots and bad skin, and found herself becoming very self conscious. She became shy and anxious and during that period personality emerged. I really appreciated the raw honesty, I found that it made the characters seem more real and relatable. 
  • Funny. There were a lot of instances where I found myself laughing at Natalie’s inner monologues. She asks a lot of questions that I and many others have probably asked at some point at another. 
  • Realistic. This book is incredibly realistic, and the themes help keep it grounded. It deals with impending divorces, as well as the looming question of what happens when you leave school. The main character also has no idea what she wants to do after school, which I definitely related to in sixth form! 
  • Portrayal of romance. I loved all the different romances in this book, and how romances come in all different shapes and sizes. From Zach and Lucy’s steady relationship to a spark of romance and even to Sal and Mariella’s relationship there’s plenty of romance. 
  • The characters. There wasn’t a single character I didn’t like, I loved all the characters and could see bits of myself in both Lucy and Natalie (and even Zach!)
  • Representation. I love representation in books, but equally I hate it when a character being gay is the only thing I can remember about the character. Whilst it’s not explicitly stated it’s implied that Lucy is bisexual. 

What I didn’t like: 

  • The length. Personally, I could’ve read another 100 or so pages of this book. This was a very quick read, but I also loved the way it ended. 
  • Natalie’s romance. I did really love the romance, but it did seem to go from one extreme to another in a relatively short period of time. I do understand that they were thrown together, so in a way it was expected. However, it was still a very fast paced romance and while I enjoyed it I feel like it would’ve been more realistic if it was more of a slow burn, especially when taking into account Natalie’s body insecurities. 

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I found it funny, heartwarming and an honest portrayal of teenagehood. It tackled important topics such as divorce, and body issues really well. However, my only gripe was that the romance was too fast paced for my liking, overall I’d give this book 4 stars. 

Book Reviews

Yes, No, Maybe So by Becky Albertalli & Aisha Saeed

Do you know what’s really ironic to read when in isolation? A book that revolves around the two characters canvassing and knocking on doors in preparation for a local election, which just so happens to be the premise of ‘Yes, No, Maybe So’.  

In all seriousness though I was going to read this book anyway, but the fact that it was 99p on iBooks was definitely a nudge in the right direction. 

Ever since reading ‘What if it’s us’ by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera, I have fallen in love with Becky Albertalli’s writing, so when I saw this book at Waterstones I knew I had to get it. (Unfortunately I never actually got round to buying it, so I had to resort to the eBook instead). 

TL:DR I did find it harder to get into this book compared with her other books. However this was largely due to the storyline being focused around elections and American politics, which I don’t really understand. 

The story revolves around two teenagers, both of whom have been roped into canvassing. However, after learning what’s at stake, they quickly realise that this is the perfect opportunity to try and make a difference and unbeknownst to the other develop feelings for each other. 

Characters.

This book had such a terrific ensemble of characters, and I feel like it would translate perfectly into a TV series. 

  • Jamie. I fell in love with Jamie after the incident with the Tangelos. Forget the ‘bad boy’ trope, I’m here for the ‘awkward, clumsy and slightly nerdy boy’. 
  • Maya. I really liked Maya, like Jamie I love her passion and determination.
  • InstaGramm. If you read this book I dare you to not fall in love with InstaGramm. I loved the scenes with Jamie’s grandma, and it was honestly really cool having a grandma who’s not a technophobe!
  • Sophie. Sophie is Jamie’s twelve year old sister, and I don’t know what it is about YA novels but there always seems to be a sassy, smart younger sister. 

Politics. 

As I mentioned previously the premise of this book is that the two main characters are canvassing for a local election. I did originally find it hard to get into , I can barely keep up with British politics let alone American politics!

However, I soon found myself gripped with the storyline, and whilst it is a work of fiction, the sad truth is that it’s based on reality which you can read in the author’s note. 

I think the most important take-away, and the message that is highlighted throughout the book is that no-one is too young to make a difference. Even if you (like the main characters) are too young to vote, you can still make a difference.

Religion.

Like politics, religion is one of the major themes of this book and it is something that I think doesn’t get explored a lot in the YA genre. Jamie is Jewish and Maya is Muslim. However, both their respective faiths are intertwined with the story and neither get pushed to the side or feel like they’ve been shoehorned in. Jamie and his family are celebrating Sophie’s Bat Mitzvah and Maya and her family are celebrating Ramadan.

Pop culture references.

One of the reasons why I loved ‘What if it’s us’ was due to the pop culture references, and this book doesn’t disappoint on that front! There are references from things like Super Mario Odyssey to The Office which lead to some pretty hilarious moments.

The relationship.

I loved Maya and Jamie’s relationship; it was adorable, and it felt so real. It was during the last portion of the book, where I think the dual perspective really shone. I loved reading from both Maya and Jamie’s perspectives. I also loved seeing their relationship evolving, without them knowing. 

Well anyway that’s probably enough of me rambling, and I think talking (well writing) about it has made me reconsider my original rating of four stars, and increase it to 4.5/5 stars. I definitely want to read more books by both of these authors in the future!

Book Reviews

Noughts + Crosses by Malorie Blackman

Hello everyone, first of all before I dive into the review I hope that you’re all doing okay. I’m from the UK and like many other places right now, we’re all under lockdown. So, I’m not sure about you but right now I’m struggling to stay sane right now! 

But what can you do during lockdown? 

Obviously, because this is a book blog I’m going to recommend reading- feel free to check out my Twitter thread of currently reduced books on iBooks, Google Books and Amazon. However, aside from that you can also watch the BBC adaptation of ‘Noughts + Crosses’ on BBC iPlayer.

I personally really enjoyed the series, and it inspired me to re-read the book which quite fortunately I had already bought and downloaded on my iPad. (Which is incredibly lucky considering I’m at my parents house right now and don’t have any books with me).

“Sephy is a Cross — a member of the dark-skinned ruling class. Callum is a Nought — a colourless member of the underclass who were once slaves to the Crosses.” – Goodreads.

The two protagonists are childhood friends Sephy and Callum, who at the start of the novel are prepping for Callum’s entrance exam to the previously Cross exclusive school. From the get go you can see how the upbringing of the two characters has affected their view of society. Sephy is quite naive and has lived a sheltered life, whereas Callum has been hardened by the reality of a world where Noughts are mere pawns in the Crosses’ chess game.

The story rotates from both Sephy and Callum’s perspectives, which helps contribute to the flow of the story, as they are from two different pillars of society. You can see the hardships the Noughts face, and the luxuries that the Crosses’ can afford.

The novel takes place over the course of several years, with the novel starting when Sephy is just fourteen and ending when she’s nineteen. The timeline of this novel helps contribute to making the reader feel like they are on this journey with Callum and Sephy. You can quite clearly see and understand how their views and opinions of society changes over the course of the novel. 

The central theme of the novel is Sephy and Callum’s forbidden romance. Personally, I’m not a big fan of the forbidden romance trope, however, I found myself rooting for Callum and Sephy throughout the novel.

The characters:

  • Sephy. Sephy is the younger of the two protagonists and is only fourteen, naive and oblivious to the unfairness of society. While the naivety of Sephy’s character may be an annoyance to some, I personally found that it was one of her traits that really showed how young she was. I also admired her courage, and how she wanted to make a difference. 
  • Callum. Callum is the older of the two protagonists, and he is jaded as a result of his upbringing. He, like Sephy, wants to make a difference, and plans to attend Sephy’s school, despite misgivings from his family. 
  • Jude. Jude is Callum’s older brother, and he is a perfect example of how two people of the same upbringing can have vastly different opinions. Jude wants to join the Nought extremist group, and get some well deserved revenge. He hates Sephy and all Crosses. There were times when reading where I wanted to climb into the book and yell at Jude, yet I still respected his character as it highlights the different ways in people want to go about changing the world.
  • Lynette. Lynette is Callum’s older sister, and her backstory really sets the scene for what’s in store for Sephy and Callum, and how dangerous it can be being in love with a Cross. I would honestly love to read a novella about her and McGregor’s pre Noughts + Crosses.

Even though this book is marketed as YA, the themes are quite dark. Malorie Blackman doesn’t shy away from the difficult topics, for which I applaud her for. The book focuses on the harsh realities of life, and these issues don’t get glossed over, but rather become the epicenter for some of the decisions made in this book. While I will admit that some things that happen are quite extreme, some of the hurdles that the characters face are still just as prominent today which helps this book stay grounded.

Overall, I really enjoyed this novel, my only criticism was that I felt like it was a bit of a slow burn (or at least for me), but due to the characters and the thought-provoking storyline I would rate it four stars.