The Lonely City: My Review

IMG_20171110_213412_285

I hadn’t done a book review – or a post here actually – in quite some time, so I thought it was time to say hey, I’m still there. This book was lent to me by a friend because she thought I would like it, and let me tell you she was absolutely right: I loved it.

Full title: The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of being Alone
Author: Olivia Laing
Publication: March 2016
Genre: Non Fiction, Art, Memoir
My rating: ★★★★★

What this book is about:

In The Lonely City, Olivia Laing talks about her experience living in New York, about being alone and feeling lonely, about how social media can make you feel alive, and even more imortantly, about the lives of many artists – including Andy Warhol – who lived and struggled in New York.

Why I loved it so much:

What I really love about big cities (I’m thinking about Paris and Berlin, because I have lived there, and the situation can compare to New York in many aspects), is how you can be anonymous when you move there. I don’t mind being alone, I sometimes love it, and I love feeling that the city belongs to me in many aspects. And this is something I found in this book and could relate to. A city like New York is full of opportunities, but also full of loneliness and lonely people, and I believe Olivia Laing perfectly caputured this in her book.

Another reason I really loved this book is that I learnt a lot about various artists, including Warhol, Solanas and Wojnarowicz. Some artists I had never heard of, some I had, and all had something fascinating to tell through this book. Laing chose to talk about artists who suffered of social exclusion because of various affects of their lives (poverty, AIDS, mental illness among those reasons) and she does it in a very fascinating and beautiful way. Every chapter deals with differents artists and different aspects of loneliness, and reasing this book is a wonderful journey.

And finally, something else I can’t not mention when talking about this book, because it was probably the most relatable aspect of it: Laing’s relationship to social media. In several occurences, she mentioned how important it is in her life, and how she could spend days only talking to people online. She makes the internet feel like home, and she shows how social media can help in situations of loneliness, and this is honestly the kind of talk I live for. I grew up with parents and professors telling me how bad and dangerous the Internet was, and how social media should be avoided. But I have met many amazing people online, I have found a platform to express myself, and just like Laing, I could spend days not going out and only talking to people online. Social media can have a very big impact in the lives of introverts (and other people) and I believe this is something we could talk about more, so thank you Olivia Laing for that aspect and every other aspect of The Lonely City.

*

This review grew a lot more personal than I thought it would be, but thank you for reading if you came this far! I can only recommend this book, it was absolutely fantastic, and definitely one of my favourite reads this year.

IMG_20170916_143159_647   IMG_20170923_130114_102

Advertisements

A New Reading Update!

This is about the books I read between mid-September and now. Honestly my overall life schedule is so messy and busy I have entirely given up on proper monthly wrap-ups however I still want to do some reading updates on what I have read, what I’m reading, and what I will hopefully be reading soon! Let’s be real, the next one will most likely be at the end of the year, but here we go for now, and if I did my thing properly, I hopefully didnt forgot to mention anything!

Why I’m Not Doing NaNoWriMo This Year

For the past two years, I have tried and failed at NaNoWriMo, though I love writing and I know it. Both times, I wrote about 13K of a story I never touched again. Things got too complicated, there were some plot holes, and I lost the courage and the inspiration to finish the story and fill in the blanks. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about my love for books and writing, partly through this blog which proved me that I did love books more than anything in the world, and also that I could write things even if it was not books. At least for the time being. Writing on this blog is also writing, and I love it, though I haven’t been very active lately. I still keep coming back with new ideas, and I’m not leaving any time soon.

I figured that maybe, it was just not the time yet for me to write a novel. I’m not giving up entirely. But I still have so much time ahead of me. And so many ideas. It’s just that maybe, the time hasn’t come yet, and I need to mature a little bit more. Maybe I have issues to solve first, and it would be better to take care of my mental health first. When I am better, I can start this big giant step, this huge project. The day will come. It’s just not now. And maybe it will be through NaNoWriMo, maybe it won’t. I don’t even have a novel idea this year, and I don’t have time to write.

However, there is something I want to do this November when it comes to writing. Through the past year (and more actually) I have been writing a lot of short poems so express mostly what it feels like to have depression and anxiety. Most of them are gathered together in a notebook, some are left in my phone or my diary. My plan for this month is to type and arrange all of them, because I want to publish them. So this month, I won’t be writing a novel, but I still wanted to do something that on the one hand, has to do with writing, and on the other hand, means a lot to me. I’ve had this idea on the back of my mind for a while, and I think the time finally has come. Fingers crossed!

That being said, cheers to all of you who are taking part in NaNoWriMo this month, you have no idea how much I admire you! And I wish you all the best, whether you’re taking part or not!

Bisexual Representation in TV Shows: A Rant

Today I’m here with a topic that is a little bit different but has grown very dear to me. I know it has already been discussed but I still wanted to give my opinion on things that I, as a bisexual person, find good or offensive or anything in between.

This is me, being offended and trying not to be offensive.

Before you go any further, I just wanted to let you know that I am going to discuss four different shows: Friends, Outlander, The 100 and Orange is the New Back, so in case you want to avoid spoilers on any of those, you might want to stop reading. Now you have been warned.

In a world where we need more diverse representation, it’s even harder to get the good kind of representation. There’s also the question of whether it’s better to have bad rep than no rep at all which is also quite problematic but I’m not going to discuss that question because I’m just here to talk about the problematic stuff I may have encountered. TV shows have often been blamed for killing off their gay characters (as well as people of colour) for schock value, and while it is a big problem, it’s far for being the only one when it comes to representation. While shows tend to include more gay characters (though let’s not get too excited about that, because we’re not quite there yet) there is something else that fails to be as common – at least in my opinion – and that is good bisexual representation.

The first show I wanted to discuss is Friends because I absolutely love this show, and I am currently rewatching season one. As much as I love it, I also recognize it has many flaws, the lack of diversity definitely being one of them. And there is one that particularly bothers me, and that is Carol, Ross’s ex wife, who left him for another woman. The thing is, this whole situation includes a lot of amazing elements. I absolutely love Carol and Susanne, and I love the fact that they get married and raise a kid together. All the more so considering Friends started some twenty years ago. There is however something that is overlooked: the fact that Carol is most likely bisexual. Like, come on, she clearly used to love Ross, and they have been together for eight years. They got married. She tells him at some point when she is pregnant that she did love him, but moved on. And it’s not even implied that she might be bisexual or pansexual? Ross keeps saying stuff like “Carol has become a lesbian” which I find incredibly offensive. First of all, you don’t “become a lesbian” like you become, say, a teacher for example. (There is also this episode when the Geller parents are saying that he should have guessed long ago that she was a lesbian or something… I call bullshit. She did love him. But love doesn’t always last forever.) And second of all, tell me if I’m wrong, but the sheer possibility of Carol being bisexual or pansexul isn’t even mentioned in the show, while she clearly is? Sexuality is fluid, it can change, it just happens. But “becoming a lesbian” is a very, very bad formulation. Carol loves men and women. She is most likely bisexual, or pansexual, and it’s a pity it’s not mentioned in the show.

When you are bisexual, or pansexual, and you fall in love with someone, you don’t choose a gender, you choose a person. You don’t stop loving women because you’re dating a man, and vice versa. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

The second show I wanted to discuss is Outlander. I have watched the first season and I do not plan on continuing any further because so many things about it make me uncomfortable. I am also reading the first book, but I’m not sure I will even finish it. I absolutely love the concept of the story and the whole time-travel thing but it has so many things that make me uncomfortable, I just can’t anymore. Of course Claire’s situation is intense and complicated and I’m not going to discuss that. But the show includes romanticized rape and I have no time to deal with that. It is just disturbing. And then there is the matter of Captain Randall, the arch-villain of the story, who SPOILERS rapes or attempts to rape (I don’t even know anymore at this point) both Claire and Jaime, which again is disturbing. So yeah, the guy really seems to like sex. And is a super villain. And is really into raping people apparently. There is too much disturbing things when it comes to him though I thought he might at least partly be misunderstood (though this doesn’t excuse any of his deeds. Again, I only base myself on season one.)

Anyway. What I wanted to discuss is the fact that Captain Randall, the (presumably) bisexual character of the show, is the villain. He is the bad person who wants it all and who wants to have sex with both men and women. (Just like Carol is the bad woman who broke Ross’s heart.) And we fall into this trope again, where bisexual are villains, are most likely to cheat, and just want to have sex. This is because of representations like this one that there are so many prejudice about bisexual people (admitedly when people accept that we exist). And it’s a pity.

The next show I wanted to discuss is Orange is the New Black which is, again, a show that I have not finished yet, but unlike Outlander, I haven’t given up on it so far, I just didn’t get the time to carry on. I am honestly bothered by several things that come up in Piper’s portrayal when it comes to her sexuality: on the one hand, there is Alex saying “I shouldn’t have fallen for a straight girl” and on the other hand we have Larry saying “I didn’t know you used to be a lesbian”. And again, sexuality is fluid, and you don’t necessarily have it all figured out, and it’s not a bad thing, and it doesn’t make what you feel invalid. (If you have it all figured out then kudos, you’re doing amazing sweetie!) It is so obvious that Piper is bisexual (or pansexual obviously) and yet it hasn’t really been mentioned, and there are so many clichés, it’s frustrating. Now I know I haven’t seen everything yet, and I’m planning on doing so, meanwhile hoping it gets better.

And finally, one more show I wanted to discuss is The 100. It has been called out for killing off POC and gay characters as well as a bunch of clichés which definitely are present, and I won’t deny no matter how much I love this show (sometimes I’m not even sure why I like it to be honest but anyway). One good thing about The 100 is that it has an openly bisexual lead character, and while it has never been officially stated in the show that she is bisexual, she has been romantically and sexually involved with both male and female characters on screen without her sexuality being questioned (like Carol or Piper) and this is something I greatly appreciate. I know this show can have many problematic aspects but at least it is doing okay when it comes to bisexual rep as far as I’m concerned, and it feels good to have a character I can identify with, at least to some extent.

And that’s about it for what I wanted to discuss today. It has been a bit longer than I expected at first but I got a bit carried away and I hope you enjoyed anyway. Maybe this article was offensive (I hope not), but I am offended and I feel like this needed to be discussed. I just wanted to add a little perspective on all of this. These shows overall contain a lot of great stuff, but there is still the matter of the bisexual representation that bothered me and I wanted to let it out. Please feel free to comment if you want. Let me know if you know of any show with good bisexual representation that I should watch! And that being said, I hope you have a wondeful day ♥

Passenger: My Review

IMG_20170903_101958_338

For some reason I was in the mood for time-travel adventure reads in the summer, and along with The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig (which I reviewed here) I also read Passenger by Alexandra Bracken. I had heard a lot about this book on Bookstagram and in the bookish community in general, so it raised high expectations for me, and I was slightly worried it would be overhyped, but I absolutely loved the story.

Title: Passenger
Author: Alexandra Bracken
Publication: January 2016
Genre: YA, Time-travel, Historical fiction
My rating: ★★★★☆

The story:

Etta Spencer lives for her violin and puts it before everything else until one night she is thrust away from everything and everyone she cares about, only to discover that not only is she away from them through both time and space, but also that this was something her mother knew was going to happen.

Nicholas Carter has been trying to avoid the Ironwood family for most of his life, and dreams of living his independant life at sea with the help of the man who raised him. But again and again, the time-traveling family crosses his paths and destroys things he cares about. When his path crosses Etta, he is once again forced onto the path of time-traveling, in an adventure that could change the way the entire world functions.

My opinion:

Let me start by saying I absolutely loved this book. It was fantastic. It was a book that had been on my TBR for quite some time (ever since it was released I believe) and I am so glad I finally read it because it most certainly did not disappoint.

I’m a sucker for time-travel novels even if I often find the concept of time-traveling a bit confusing, and I absolutely loved the way it was executed here: it was rather well-depicted, and the fact that it could have heavy consequences was also made clear, which perfectly makes sense, and was well-inserted into the story. Kudos to Alexandra Bracken for creating such an amazing, well-crafted universe.

I really loved both main characters. Etta is a 21st century young violin prodigy, and Nicholas is an 18th century captain who also happense to be the illegitimate son of a slave (something that obviously has a major impact on his life, but I also believe it was quite well-depicted in the book. Let me know if you think I am wrong, I may have missed something).

A lot of people said the book was slow-paced and that it took some time for the pace to pick up. I honestly wasn’t bothered by it. I just really liked that the setting and the concept were well-described. One thing that I regretted though was the development of the relationship between Etta and Nicholas. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE them together. I think they really match and that it’s beautiful they managed to find each other through space and time. However, I do think that the relationship was a bit rushed and honestly happened way too fast. It seemed to much of an insta-love, while it could have been much more slow-paced. On the one hand, this is something that I often see in YA and even if I don’t like it, I can understand that it is for the purpose of the story. And on the other hand, this book was not your typical YA, so I guess that makes up for it. (And honestly, Etta and Nicholas are a match made in heaven, and they have so much to learn from each other, it’s beautiful).

As I just said, this book was not your typical YA novel, and I think it’s one of the things that made me fall in love with it. If you love time-travel, pirates and adventures, then this is something I can only recommend to you. Feel free to share your opinion if you also read (and loved!) this book ♥

Similar recommendations:
The Girl from everywhere by Heidi Heilig
Inherited by Freedom Matthews (review)

The Girl From Everywhere: My Review

IMG_20170902_114136_737

I haven’t written a book review (or a blog article for that matter) in a while so I figured it was really time I fixed that. I read The Girl from Everywhere back in August, not really knowing what the story would be about, only that it was about pirates and time travel – something I am always up for.

Title: The Girl From Everywhere
Author: Heidi Heilig
Publication: February 2016
Genre: YA, Adventure
My rating: ★★★★☆

The story:

Nix has been raised on a pirate ship, traveling through time on an impossible quest to help her father save her own mother from death, an event that could alter her timeline and prevent her own birth. The Captain is obsessed with finding a 1686 map of Honolulu to achieve his goal, and to succeed, Nix and her shipmates have to go through time and space, both real and fictional. But does she really want to proceed with something that could make everything she knows disappears?

MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS

(You have been warned, carry on at your own risk!)

My opinion:

I was definitely attracted by the premise of this book because it contained time-travel and as I said, I’m always up for that, and it didn’t disappoint, especially considering the ship could access pretty much anywhere as long as they had the proper map, which means they could also go to fictional places, something I didn’t expect and absolutely loved. Honestly it was really hard to put this book down. It has great twists and goes to great places, both story-wise and in ther characters’ journey. The only thing I didn’t like was the love triangle aspect of it, which is something I couldn’t honestly do without (especially because I would rather concentrate on all the adventures at hand).

That being said, I really like the main character Nix. She is facing a pretty hard dilemma but still helps her father even though she knows it might affect her entire life. The Captain is also a pretty complex and extremely well-made character which I really appreciated. The ship has a few other shipmates who are all unique and coming from different places. My personal favourite, of course, is the ever-charming Kash, but I also really liked Bee.

Another absolutely amazing aspect of this book is the fact that Nix has a mixed-race heritage, (her mother was Chinese and living in Honolulu, and her father is American) which is something she can suffer from, but was also (in my opinion) very well included into the story. The other members of the crew also come from various places around the globe, which makes it a very realistic pirate ship, and also manages to include rep that is very rare in fiction, again something I loved. For example Kashmir comes from Persia and also speaks a bunch of foreign language including French which was the direct way to my heart. When I’m reading, I love to see different things, and this book is the perfect example of that. I live for it and I can’t wait to pick up the sequel.

Before you ask, I didn’t really like Blake to be honest. His (sort of?) relationship with Nix felt forced. I liked however how cultured he was and all the things we got to learn through him. And I loved that this book mentioned historical and cultural elements I didn’t really know about, that was super interesting.

I feel a bit rusty writing this review, but I hope you enjoyed it anyway. If you have read the book as well, I would love to hear your opinion on it. If you haven’t, I definitely recommend it. And if you love time-travel, then what are you waiting for?

Finally A Reading Update

I haven’t uploaded anything on my channel for a month or so, and I finally took the time to film something and here we go! I talk about the books I read in August and since the beginning of September (aka since my last reading wrap up for the month of July).

Ratings:

Geekerella by Ashley Poston ★★★★★ (review)
Passenger by Alexandra Bracken ★★★★☆
The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig ★★★★☆
Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali ★★★★★
Homecoming (The 100 #3) by Kass Morgan ★★★★☆ (review)
The Up Side of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli ★★★★★
School of Deaths by Christopher Mannino ★★★☆☆
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates ★★★★★

Currently reading (among others):

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
The Lonely City by Olivia Laing

Hope you all have an amazing day ♥