9 Jun 2015

Dive Into Diversity: Understanding Pride Month

After announcing Simon’s Most Holy Awesome Pride Month Agenda (if you're a Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda fan, check it out!) yesterday, I thought a post about Pride Month was in order. And here it is. Maybe you know a lot about what this month is all about, maybe you don’t. For me, I was the latter, having only heard of Pride Month in passing. So to fix this, I took to researching and discovering what I could. Here’s what I learned:

So...what is Pride Month?
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month (LGBT Pride Month) is currently celebrated each year in the month of June to honor the 1969 Stonewall riots in Manhattan. The Stonewall riots were a tipping point for the Gay Liberation Movement in the United States. In the United States the last Sunday in June was initially celebrated as “Gay Pride Day,” but the actual day was flexible. In major cities across the nation the “day” soon grew to encompass a month-long series of events. Today, celebrations include pride parades, picnics, parties, workshops, symposia and concerts, and LGBT Pride Month events attract millions of participants around the world. Memorials are held during this month for those members of the community who have been lost to hate crimes or HIV/AIDS. The purpose of the commemorative month is to recognize the impact that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals have had on history locally, nationally, and internationally. - taken from loc.gov/lgbt/about.html

What happens during Pride Month? Are allies allowed to join in?

There are a ton of amazing events, parades and festivals going on in the US, from a Pride pageant, to a concert for love and acceptance, to a Pride comedy night. And yes, allies are welcome to join in. If you’re an Aussie reading this post you might be wondering, do we have Pride Month here in Australia? We don't, but there are LGBT events held throughout the year. If you're interested, this list of worldwide events is helpful!

Apart from going to festivals and such, what are other ways to celebrate Pride Month?

Maybe you can’t get to an event or maybe you live outside the US, but still wish to join in and show support. Here’s a few suggestions, good for anytime of the year:

1. Learn the history and become more aware. Being informed is always a good way to show support. Here's a short video on Pride Month for visual folks. It's worth a watch!
2. Volunteer at a local LGBT youth centre.
3. Buy, borrow, read, discuss and share your favourite LGBT books.
4. Support LGBT bookstores. There aren’t many around, but there are a few in Australia. Giovanni’s Room in the US looks a great please to visit. Just look at that beautiful display!
5. Support and follow great LGBT blogs like Gay YA. If you haven’t checked them out, they post fabulous guest posts, interviews, reviews and even run a book club!

I hope you enjoyed this post and learnt some new things, I know I certainly did! Here’s to a great Pride Month. Link up and happy reading!

8 Jun 2015

Simon’s Most Holy Awesome Pride Month Agenda


By now, you've probably heard of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda. It's one of my favourites of 2015 and has become a beloved book by many. And if you haven't checked it out yet, I hope you do! 

Now, I'm sure you're wondering what Simon's Pride Month Agenda is all about, so I'll quit raving (for now) and get down to business. I'll pass the mike over to Simon who has kindly joined us today and let him fill you in! Just give him a minute to finish off his Oreo and then we're good to go.
*wipes Oreo crumbs out of the corners of my mouth*
*clears throat*

Hi, guys – Simon Spier here, and I’m pretty excited to dive into diversity on this freaking amazing blog. Sit back and relax while I tell you all about my Most Holy Awesome Pride Month Agenda. It's pretty epic if I do say so myself. Oh, wait, I just did.

So, here in the US, June is a pretty big deal for the LGBTQIA+ community. It’s National Pride Month, which means it’s an entire month dedicated to the utter badassery and amazingness of LGBTQIA+ kids, teens, and adults.

And let’s be clear. LGBTQIA+ people are pretty freaking badass and amazing.

So, in honor of Pride, I’m teaming up with two of my favorite Rebeccas with an epic scheme to support some of my favorite organizations. Want to participate and win some cool stuff? Here’s how!


1. Buy a shirt!  
Look awesome and feel awesome by purchasing one of these extremely cool shirts, designed by Rebecca from Reading Wishes! 100% of profits will be donated to GLSEN (http://www.glsen.org)! Buy your shirt here!

2. or… Donate!  

So, you’d rather be naked, but still want to support a LGBTQIA+ organization? Consider donating to one of my favorites!

- GLSEN: https://donate.glsen.org/page/contribute/Donate 

- The Trevor Project: http://www.thetrevorproject.org/section/donate 

- Human Rights Campaign: http://shop.hrc.org/membership-1.html

- GayYA Blog: http://www.gayya.org

No donation is too small – give what you can afford! And if you can’t afford a donation…

3. or… Share!  

Spread the news by sharing this post! It’s a great way to raise awareness, whether or not you’re able to donate.

4. Email! 

Don’t forget this step! If you buy a shirt, donate, or share this post, please send an email to becky.albertalli@gmail.com. This is totally on the honor system. WHY SHOULD YOU DO THIS? Because…

Everyone who buys a shirt, donates, or shares this post (AND emails Becky) will receive an actual deleted scene from the end of Simon Vs.! It’s a short email exchange between Blue and me, and it’s freaking embarrassing and romantic and UGH. Don’t hate us. (NOTE: SPOILERS. MAD SPOILERS. READ THE BOOK FIRST, OKAY?)

One random emailer will ALSO receive a signed copy of Adam Silvera’s More Happy Than Not AND a signed/personalized copy of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda. Open internationally. Whoa.

Got it? Excellent.

Til next time,

*brain explodes from awesomeness* Thanks so much for reading and I hope you'll donate, buy a shirt and/or spread the word! Becky and I would so appreciate it! You can buy the shirt by clicking here.

20 May 2015

Nerding Out: Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
April 7th, 2015 · Penguin
Source: Publisher
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 303
Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met. 
First off, let me start by saying Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda was my most anticipated releases of the year. So as you can imagine, I was expecting some really big things from this book. By now, you've probably heard all about it and have read countless rave reviews. Well, all I can say is this: buckle up because you’re in for another one. Raving ahead.

Where to start? How about at the heart and driving force of the story: the characters. I loved them all (minus one. blackmailing is not cool, man) and Simon is a new favourite character of mine. With his love for Oreos and obsession with Harry Potter (which similarly expresses how I feel about Buffy. Nerds unite!), he’s such a loveable character with heart. I only wish Simon and his friends existed outside the confines of Becky’s imagination because I’d friend them in an instant; they are my kind of people. Also, Drunk Simon is the absolute best.

I enjoyed the emails between Simon and Blue. They were lovely glimpses of two friends slowly becoming something more, as they exchanged stories, thoughts and support. Of course, all while staying anonymous. Most of all, I loved how they got to know each other over time. It made for such a great slow-building, not-your-average love story and was lovely to watch unfold. And when they finally do meet? I was just as excited and nervous as Simon was, with my heart in my throat. Let me say, much like this novel, it didn't disappoint!

The support Simon receives from his family, friends and teachers after coming out was so great and I only wish this was the kind of response all LGBT teens experienced. Unfortunately, that isn't always the case, so I'm SO glad that Simon exists in the world and hope that it finds the people who need it the most. Some might say Simons’ coming out experience was too neat and perfect, but I think it's just what the doctor ordered and what LGBT YA has been lacking. Regardless of sexuality, everyone deserves to read books that give them hope; light at the end of the tunnel; and the chance to feel not so alone in the world. I feel Simon accomplishes just that.

But don't be fooled, Simon is more than just a pretty face! In particular, I like how the book addressed the default that exists; that until proven otherwise you are straight and white. I mean, just imagine if everyone, gay or straight, had to "come out”. It’s reasons like this that makes me wish Becky Albertalli ruled the world.

A sweet, relevant, heartfelt story that will capture your heart! In case it isn’t clear enough by now: Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda is a book you should get in before the year ends because I guarantee it’ll be one of your best life decisions of 2015. This was an absolute blast to read and I can’t wait to see what Becky writes next. Check her out because I have no doubt that she is going to be one to watch!

P.S. I highly recommend you read this in style and pick up some Oreos to further the experience! I'm sure Simon would fully support this, and knowing him, he'd probably even make it mandatory. ha!

12 May 2015

Dive Into Diversity: How Diverse Are Your Shelves? Experiment

For today's post, I wanted to do a little bookish experiment. Basically, I wanted to examine my shelf with a critical eye and see how diverse they really are. After all, if we want more diversity, we have to support it, right? The results were certainly interesting...
The facts: 
- All up, I have 191 books. (This is only counting books I keep on my shelf. I also have others in cupboards that I’m finished with, on loan, ect.)
- After sorting through, I found 31 books that counted as diverse, including QUILTBAG, POC, authors of colour, nerodiversity, ect. I went off what I knew and Goodreads, so it’s a rough estimate, give or take a few.
- So to sum up, my shelves are 1/6 diverse.

Now for some picture evidence...

Now, the first picture is my shelf with any diverse titles removed. And the second drastic picture, where-did-all-the-books? go are the diverse titles I own:

Quite an eye-opener, huh?

Was I surprised by the results?
Yes, but also, sadly, no.
No, because you have to counter in the diverse books available/published vs. all the other books. That is, the latter dominates.
Yes, because I thought my shelves were more diverse than they are. So to see photos and numbers showing otherwise was quite a realisation.

What did I learn?
Well, my shelves are definitely not as diverse as I’d like them to be. I wouldn’t say I make a special note to buy them, but I’m learning it’s very important to do so. Because the bottom line is: If we buy and borrow and request them, publishers will print them, libraries will have them and bookshops will sell them. It’s as simple as that.

So…what did you think of my little experiment? 
How diverse do you think your shelves really are?

11 May 2015

I spy with my little eye: Far From You and Prep School Confidential reviews

Today I’m reviewing two YA mysteries - one light and the other dark - so whatever you’re in the mood, I’ve got you covered.

Far From You by Tess Sharpe
March 10th, 2014 · Indigo
Source: Purchased
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 343
Nine months. Two weeks. Six days.

That's how long recovering addict Sophie's been drug-free. Four months ago her best friend, Mina, died in what everyone believes was a drug deal gone wrong - a deal they think Sophie set up. Only Sophie knows the truth. She and Mina shared a secret, but there was no drug deal. Mina was deliberately murdered.

Forced into rehab for an addiction she'd already beaten, Sophie's finally out and on the trail of the killer—but can she track them down before they come for her?
Far From You sat on my shelf for well over a year before I picked it up. And considering that it was one of my most anticipated 2014 reads? Well, that’s just quite sad. I put off reading it after hearing how dark and gloomy it was. While true, it was also a breath of fresh air to read; in the way it read and with its’ cast of flawed, interesting characters - along with Sophie, the first bisexual MC I’ve come across. So yes - if you ever think we have enough diversity in books, just read that last sentence again. Quite an eyeopener, huh? It even surprised myself. One thing I admired about Sophie was that she was messy, grappling with an addiction . I feel like a lot of characters these days are clean cut or perfectly perfect

Far From You is a murder-mystery done well; it certainly kept me on my toes. But it’s main focus, and where its heart really lies, is in the darker, deeper side of things, as we watch Sophie struggle with grief, loss and sobriety, all the while, fighting for justice to bring Mina’s killer to light.

Part of the reason I’ve been away is that I’ve been in a book slump. But thankfully, this book is very forgiving. It took me a while to read, but no matter how much time passed, whenever I picked it up, it was effortless to jump back into, which is a rarity. An impressive debut, it was exactly the book I’d hoped for; I look forward to seeing what Sharpe writes next. And if like me, this caught your eye when you first heard about it, but you haven’t got round to it? I think you may want to pick it up!

Prep School Confidential (#1) by Kara Taylor 
July 20th, 2013 · St. Martin's Griffin
Source: Purchased
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 310

In this breathtaking debut that reads like Gossip Girl crossed with Twin Peaks, a Queen Bee at a blue-blooded New England prep school stumbles into a murder mystery.

Anne Dowling practically runs her exclusive academy on New York’s Upper East Side—that is, until she accidentally burns part of it down and gets sent to a prestigious boarding school outside of Boston. Determined to make it back to New York, Anne couldn't care less about making friends at the preppy Wheatley School. That is, until her roommate Isabella’s body is found in the woods behind the school.

When everyone else is oddly silent, Anne becomes determined to uncover the truth no matter how many rules she has to break to do it. With the help of Isabella’s twin brother Anthony, and a cute classmate named Brent, Anne discovers that Isabella wasn’t quite the innocent nerdy girl she pretended to be. But someone will do anything to stop Anne’s snooping in this fast-paced, unputdownable read—even if it means framing her for Isabella’s murder.
Another book I was highly anticipating from 2013 and guess what, it’s a murder-mystery. What can I say? I like my mysteries. That, and they also happen to be a great genre when you’re trying to get out of a book slump. Mysterious, engaging and entertaining, what’s not to love? Now, while Far From You was dark and gritty, this was the opposite. Fun and lighthearted, its the kind of book that uses words like shenanigans. Which you must admit, is a pretty great word, no? Shenanigans! Sorry, what was I saying again?

Anne reminded me of Veronica Mars, heavy on the snark, minus the prep. Determined and smart, when she set her mind to something, there was no stopping her. Haters of love triangles beware - there are two guys in the picture vying for Anne’s heart. Story of everyone’s life, right? But to honest, I never came to care for either much. I definitely feel the story led more with the mystery element, which worked in its favour.

Prep School Confidential was a pretty good story, but I felt like it started off stronger than it ended. Or maybe it was to do with my slump and in that case, sorry book for the accusation, my apologies. Either way, it was a quick read and provided some entertainment.

Have you read either of these? Let me know if you have or plan to.
And let me know your fave YA mystery's! Any I should add to my list?

14 Apr 2015

Amongst the Shelves Interview - Dive Into Diversity

Hello there! I hope you’ve been reading some great books lately. I just finished Far From You and look forward to sharing a review with you guys. But you should know I really enjoyed it! I know I haven’t been around of late (hello, book slump), but I have something special for you guys today. Last month I got in contact with Lauren, a library worker for an interview on diversity and today I get to share it with you all! I hope you enjoy. 

From being a reader and working in a library, what’s your thoughts on diversity and the WNDB campaign?

For me personally I have spent most of my working life with books – either in the bookstore or at the library where I currently work. I greatly admire the motivation behind the WNDB campaign and it is something of great importance for discussion but I think it means something else/more to me.

 We recognize all diverse experiences, including (but not limited to) LGBTQIA, people of color, gender diversity, people with disabilities*, and ethnic, cultural, and religious minorities. Our mission is to promote or amplify diversification efforts and increase visibility for diverse books and authors, with a goal of empowering a wide range of readers in the process.

While I admire and support the aim of the WNDB campaign above, my interpretation of diversity means so much more. At the library, we have a responsibility to represent the needs/demands/interests of our local community. It is not only the responsibility of a public library to be a source of information and resources but to make sure they are relevant and most importantly, accessible. So from the point of view of a library, diversity also means materials produced in a variety of languages that reflect the various nationalities of the community. Not only must the languages reflect our clientele, but they must also be accessible to a variety of reading levels – English as a second language, beginner readers – and abilities – large print, audio, Braille – and I think that these can sometimes be areas where there is great potential to fail our goals.

We as a library are as affected by availability as a purchaser. We must ensure that we have a wide variety of large print books, of audio, and of books printed in a variety of languages and the smaller the client base the more difficult and more expensive it becomes to source such material. Balancing the demand for a particular genre or format from your clientele and what publishers are willing to provide can be quite difficult.

As I am a storyteller (and also because they are just awesome) I read a lot of picture books. I am very conscious of the content of these books. While I tend to select books that are full of crazy adventures involving aliens, monsters, pirates, Santa Clause and IMAGINATION, I am very keen to make sure those books include books with both boys and girls and books that are not reduced to gender stereotypes. My favourite books will have as many girls wrestling dragons as there are boys doing craft. But my ideal picture book would be one that isn’t tokenistic and doesn’t draw attention to its diversity. The greatest picture books are the ones that just ARE. That show kids of all nationalities that have varied interests, that have varied talents and abilities and that represent the different dynamics and makeups of a family unit without declaring loudly and proudly ‘I AM THE ISSUES BOOK! LOOK AT ME, BEING POLITICALLY CORRECT ABOUT ISSUES!’

"I also want to know that those books are well written and are about something more than ticking a box in an attempt to be politically or culturally aware.”

 Having worked in books for years, when did you first notice the lack of diversity? 

I think having my own blog and getting involved in all the social media was probably what made me question what I’d read and taken for granted. Probably the first big wakeup call would have been the scandal surrounding the casting of Rue in The Hunger Games. I hadn’t read the books until after the movie, but I remember being so fascinated by the unfolding drama surrounding people insisting Rue was a little white girl. The next was probably that the scifi book by Beth Revis had had the cover rereleased with a much less ethnically diverse couple than were represented in the story. 

We Need Diverse Books campaign is US-based, but hopefully spreading all around the world. Since then, have you noticed a difference in books being loaned or in readers requests?

I’m not sure that social awareness has been of great concern to our borrowers. In terms of the youth of our library, I’m usually so delighted when they DO borrow that what they borrow doesn’t really matter. As far as I can recall, I have not received a complaint about a lack of diversity in the content of our collections. As I said, social awareness hasn’t really cropped up in the conversations I overhear from the teens that come to the library. Perhaps, sadly, rather than make a complaint or request, such borrowers would simply stop using our services. 

One of the most common requests would be for books in other languages which I do count as a request for diversity and we cater to those requests by ordering material from the State Library in the language of their choice. The more we have promoted this service, the more awareness our borrowers have and we are certainly seeing more, not less, of these requests. 

"the concept of diversity will be so commonplace it won’t NEED mentioning."

For readers wanting to do their bit to support diversity in books, what can they be doing personally/in conjunction with their library?  

If people think that a certain section of the community or of a collection is being underrepresented or excluded, definitely raise that with the staff. A member can always put in requests for particular titles or collections and the library in question should do their best to fill that gap or purchase appropriate titles to the best of their budget ability. The aim of anyone working in a library is (hopefully) to promote knowledge and information, to be accessible and to make sure what’s in the collection is being put to good use.

If they find a particular book they think deals fantastically with a particular subject – PROMOTE IT – tell the staff, tell them they do a great job in selecting material, ask your teachers to include it as part of a reading list or on the syllabus, tell the staff how it relates to an HSC topic, check to see whether the subject headings appropriately reflect what the book is about, tell your friends to borrow the book, ask the staff if you can write a review of it somewhere. Libraries routinely look at what’s being borrowed as a measure of success, if a book has a lot of loans, we’ll buy more from that author or buy more copies for the other branches or make sure we buy more books like it. 

And last but not least, do you have a diverse book recommendation for us? 

I think one that I haven’t seen get much attention from bloggers is Ambelin Kwaymullina’s The Tribe series which is set in a post-Apocalyptic Australia and features an Indigenous girl as the main character and draws much of its strength and from the Dreamtime lore. It is a dystopian novel with a government determined to weed out those with powers and has the fear of the ‘Other’ story that has been so big the last few years but I found this story to be such a refreshing new take on the genre.


10 Mar 2015

Dive Into Diversity: Love Has No Labels

No comments:

I recently saw this beautiful video on the weekend and it warmed my heart to say the least. It further goes to show why diversity is not only important but so, so great.

When I see this, I see in words:
and most of all…

There isn’t really much else for me to say, so I’ll leave it there. Enjoy it if you haven’t already had the pleasure of viewing it and if you have, why not watch it again and brighten your day! Until then, happy reading and don’t forget to link up your diversity posts and reviews. I can’t wait to see what you've been up to this month! P.S. Watch out for an upcoming interview with a library worker - I can't wait to share with you all!

9 Mar 2015

The Secret Side of Empty by Maria E. Andreu

No comments:
I have so not been in a reading/blogging mood of late, thanks to my terrible book slump and a little thing called life. But I read a book a while ago that I’d like to tell you about. A little book called, The Secret Side of Empty. It also happens to be a diverse and underrated title! Shall I continue?

As a straight-A student with a budding romance and loyal best friend, M.T.’s life seems as apple-pie American as her blondish hair and pale skin. But M.T. hides two facts to the contrary: her full name of Monserrat Thalia and her status as an undocumented immigrant. 

But it’s harder to hide now that M.T.’s a senior. Her school’s National Honor Society wants her to plan their trip abroad, her best friend won’t stop bugging her to get her driver’s license, and all everyone talks about is where they want to go to college. M.T. is pretty sure she can’t go to college, and with high school ending and her family life unraveling, she’s staring down a future that just seems empty. In the end, M.T. will need to trust herself and others to stake a claim in the life that she wants.

Author Maria E. Andreu draws from her personal experience as a (formerly) undocumented immigrant to explore an issue that affects over one million children in the U.S. But while the subject matter is timely, it is M.T.’s sharp, darkly funny voice and longing for a future that makes this story universally poignant.
I heard about this title last year, but no one I knew or followed had read it. Yet…it had glowing, 5-star reviews on Goodreads. So you can see why I had to pick this one up and discovered it for myself! I’m glad I did; it’s definitely underrated. And I didn’t expect it to get under my skin the way it did. You know how you usually have a fair idea if a book will make you cry? Well, if you'd asked me if I wanted to borrow some tissues I would have politely declined. Suffice to say, it took me by surprise.

To be honest, the whole subject matter of immigration and illegals isn’t one I know much about or have knowledge on, only related-bits and pieces I’ve heard on the news. But for something so big and worthy of discussion, it’s hard to believe this is the first book I’ve come across on the subject.

The Secret Side of Empty is such a quiet, somber book, but it packs a punch; one I wasn’t expecting to be so hard. Was it a little too quiet? Maybe. But it was thoughtful, eye-opening and it completely snuck up on me. It was worth the read.

Have you heard of The Secret Side of Empty before? What diverse books have you read lately? And tell me, how do you pull yourself out of slumps and get back to reading?! Stop back tomorrow to have your day brightened and for some more diversity goodness! I'm looking forward to chatting with your lovely faces again! 

21 Feb 2015

Love-A-Thon: Get To Know Me

Welcome to Love-A-Thon - the good-vibes, sharing-the love event, hosted by Alexa Loves Books. If you aren'y familiar with it, it's "dedicated to exploring the blogging community, leaving a comment or two, meeting new friends and fostering positivity among the bloggers of the community."

I took part in this last year and had a blast, so I’m glad to be back for a second time. I think it’s also the perfect way to get back into blogging. FYI: if you’ve been wondering where I’ve been the last few weeks, I've been in a terrible book slump and have also had problems with the internet, which has now been resolved. I’m still working on the former. Participant or not, I hope you enjoy the posts and I look forward to chatting with you guys. Don’t forget to spread the love x
Lightning round: 
What’s your name?
Rebecca. And you are?
Where in the world are you blogging from?
How did you get into blogging in the first place?
I stumbled upon Goodreads, which led me to some Aussie blogs. I loved the idea of reviewing books and having my own space on the net to chat books. And as they say, the rest is history.

How did you come up with your blog name?
I went through such a long process, it was like naming a child, ha! I finally decided I wanted ‘Wishes’ in the title, but also knew I wanted to associate it with something bookish. And so, Reading Wishes was born.

What genre do you read and review the most on your blog? 
Contemporary, without a doubt.

What other types of posts do you do on your blog, apart from reviews?
Just random bookish things, I suppose? Anything that comes to mind, really. And I try to get some discussions in, too. That is, when my brain actually works! You’ll also see diversity on the blog as I’m hosting the Dive Into Diversity challenge with Rather Be Reading blog!

Best blogging experience so far?
I don’t think I can just choose one. But I have to say, being able to connect with so many authors has been such a pleasure. If you’d asked me 5 years ago I’d be chatting, tweeting, emailing and even interviewing them, I would’ve looked at you like you were nuts.

Favourite thing about the blogging community?
The people I've “met" is definitely the best thing about blogging. Over the years, I’ve made friends with bloggers and readers from all around the world. It’s pretty damn amazing.

Name the 5 books you’re most excited for this 2015!
The Devil You Know, None of the Above, The Start of Me And You, No More Confessions, Pieces of Sky (and of course, this is only a handful. I showed much discipline here…)

What’s an underrated book or series that you think everyone should read?
Friday Brown by Vikki Wakefield. This book and Jellicoe Road are two of my absolute favourites. If you love beautiful contemporary, you must read this! OK? OK.

Apart from reading, what are your other hobbies or interests?
I love creating; dancing; binging tv shows.

Apart from book shopping, what else do you like shopping for?
Clothes shopping! Funny thing: I actually used to hate shopping for clothes when I was younger. I also love browsing for a tv series or movie.

At a party, the DJ suddenly changes the song – and it’s your song. What song would be playing?
Anything with a good beat. One of my recent faves: Uptown Funk.

Pick out either a book you want turned into a film/TV show, or a film/TV show you want turned into a book. 
Jellicoe Road, which is in the works of becoming a movie. Fingers crossed!

Until tomorrow! Now, I'm off to catch some zzz's... 

10 Feb 2015

Diverse Books That Changed Our Outlook + Feb Linky

No one likes books that have undying (or not so subtle) lessons and motives. But I’m always up for discovering a new side of things or go in with an open mind - in books and in life. And today, we have some readers (and authors) stopping by to share how a diverse book changed their outlook and impacted them. Happy reading and don’t forget to link up your reviews and more below!

The book that immediately jumps to mind when I think of one having changed my outlook is OCD Love Story by Corey Ann Haydu, which is a fantastic contemporary YA about a girl named Bea who suffers from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. A big gamechanger for me was actually when I heard Corey talk about the book at a panel, and she mentioned that OCD is an anxiety disorder, which I hadn't known. The book is so intense, I actually had to put it down several times, but having read it and knowing that about anxiety actually helped me put my own anxiety issues into perspective. For a long time after reading it, whenever my anxiety was really flaring up, I'd think, No, you don't have major anxiety; Bea had major anxiety. That's what that looks like. You are fine. You can handle this. And being able to have that thought process was indescribably huge for pushing through things I don't know that I could have otherwise. It also made me way more conscious of the way the term is thrown around to basically mean "a little neurotic" or "likes things orderly," and while I'm sure I misused it that way before reading it, I know I've never, ever done it since. Like, if you throw that term around casually, I pretty much know you haven't read it. You couldn't have. But you should. -- Dahlia Adler, author of Behind the Scenes

I recently read Hostage Three by Nick Lake (review), and it opened my eyes up to the other lives people lead. The main character’s family is on a summer vacation on their yacht, sailing around the world, when they are taken hostage by Somali pirates. While on board, we get to know a lot of the pirates in addition to the English characters. Their lives are so different and just as compelling, and it made me think about those who are in a situation that may lead to a life of piracy, crime, or anything else, and how it may not be their fault, or they may be doing it to protect loved ones. It was a wonderful eye-opener to how others live that I had never thought of before. -- Cassie, blogger @ Happy Book Lovers

When Rebecca asked me to talk about a diverse book that had an impact on me, I immediately knew I wanted to mention FAR FROM YOU by Tess Sharpe. Anyone who has ever asked me for a LGBTQI book recommendation knows how much I love this book. It's non-linear and follows the lives of two best friends. FAR FROM YOU features a disabled main character and LGBTQI characters. My experience reading it was singular.

Growing up, I wasn't able to put a name to what was different about me. I knew I wanted to read books with characters like me, but I was too afraid to ask. I think if I'd had FAR FROM YOU as a teen, I could have come out sooner. Even though I read it as an adult, I still credit Tess Sharpe's beautiful, tense, haunting book with healing part of that scared girl I used to be. -- Molli Moran, author of As You Turn Away

For me, one of my most recent reads comes to mind - The Secret Side of Empty by Maria E. Andreu. I’d never read a book on an illegal immigrant before this and it just completely opened my eyes to what they go through and face; especially the emotional turmoil, guilt and how they feel ostracised, even as they go undetected, like M.T does. I wasn’t particularly familiar with the subject or the in and outs, only things I’d heard on the news, but I actually couldn’t believe it was the first book I’d read on the matter. Again, this is why diversity in books is so important - it lends a look into the looking glass.

So tell me, which diverse book changed your outlook?