Sunday, 31 May 2015

Monthly Wrap-Up | May 2015

Wow, May flew by! It was a very busy month for me, so I didn't read as much as I might have liked, but I certainly made up for it with other stuff.

Rolling in the Deep
by Mira Grant

Reviewed here!

The Great Zoo of China
by Matthew Reilly 

Reviewed here!

Rat Queens, Vol.2: The Far-Reaching Tentacles of N'rygoth
by Kurtis J. Wiebe, Roc Upchurch and Stjepan Sejic 

Reviewed here!

May was a bit of a slow reading month for me, but that's alright. It was very busy at work and I figured it's about time I stop making myself feel bad for 'not reading enough'. The Great Zoo of China was a little bit of a disappointment, but it wasn't the worst thing I've ever read, and everything else I read I really enjoyed - especially Jane Eyre's Sisters, which was my first non-fiction read of the year. I really need to read more non-fiction because that book was amazing.

I continued to watch Game of Thrones, until a certain episode I'm sure many of you have been hearing about. A little further down I link to a post all about sexual violence in epic fantasy that basically sums up why I was so upset with the way Game of Thrones went; Sansa is one of my favourites and the show treats her like garbage. I also wasn't impressed with the way things were going for Daenerys this season; Benioff and Weiss don't seem to understand that a woman doesn't have to be unlikable to be 'badass'.

Never say never, but for the foreseeable future I won't be watching Game of Thrones. I'm so sick of the gratuitous sexual violence that there really is no need for.

On a brighter note, Penny Dreadful returned this month and it's great! I really enjoyed the first season, and so far I'm really enjoying this one, too. Helen McRory makes for a very cool villain, and I still love Ethan Chandler. He's such a cutie.


I also got into The March Family Letters this month. I tried getting into it about a month or so a go but I wasn't really feeling it, then I discovered they were doing some really interesting things with the sexuality of their versions of these timeless characters and now I'm hooked! I think it just took a little while for the show to find its feet.
For those of you wondering, The March Family Letters is a webseries similar to The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, and it's a modern day version of Louisa May Alcott's
Little Women. I really like what they've done with it so far (although their version of Amy does take a little getting used to!) and I recommend checking it out. You can find it on YouTube here.

Oh, and this month my parents and I went to see Far From the Madding Crowd. I really enjoyed it and so did my parents. This is a very important factor, as Far From the Madding Crowd is my Dad's favourite book and he's INCREDIBLY sceptical of adaptations, but he said it was a very faithful adaptation so I'm glad he liked it. Carey Mulligan was an adorable Bathsheba Everdeen (it was a little odd hearing that surname when it wasn't preceded by 'Katniss') and I thought they cast Gabriel Oak, William Boldwood and Sergeant Troy really well, too. It's a great film - I recommend checking it out if you're a lover of period dramas!

Here are a few posts I wrote in May that I'd love more people to check out!

As I said before, May was a very busy month!

It was my Dad's birthday right at the beginning of the month, on the 1st May, so that weekend my family and I - me, my parents, my sisters, my brothers-in-law, my nephew and my nieces - took a trip up to Derbyshire, where we went to The Heights of Abraham and Gulliver's Kingdom.

It was a nice trip, but I was glad to get back home. It was a very family-orientated trip, and while both my sisters are married with children and in their 30s (there's 10 years between me and my oldest sister) I'm still finding my feet in my 20s after uni, so big family holidays aren't really my thing. It was nice to see everyone, though - particularly my youngest niece, who is 6 months old.

This month I finally succumbed and bought myself a kindle, and I love it! For years I was convinced I wasn't going to get an eReader because I love physical books so much, but I'm literally out of shelf space and to be honest there are a lot of books I want to read but don't want to read enough to buy a physical copy of. Plus now I have a netgalley account and I've got the opportunity to read and review books before they're released!

It was the Eurovision Song Contest in May. Last year I was in uni, and my best friend and I watched it together through Skype which was a lot of fun. This year I went to my friend's Eurovision party in Swansea; there were around 10 of us there, and each of us had to pick a country and bring a themed snack. I chose Greece - I love that country - and took around a bowl of Greek salad, complete with cherry tomatoes and feta cheese, and a couple of pots of honey Greek yogurt.

It's a European feast!
The party was a success, and a lot of fun!

For the first time ever I went to The Hay Festival this year. For any of you who aren't familiar with it, The Hay Festival is an annual literary festival that takes place in Hay-on-Wye - the town of books - and it's somewhere I've been meaning to go for a while now. Luckily for me I got to go with work this year, which meant I actually ended up organising a drinks reception for the centenary of WW2 writer Alun Lewis and it meant I got to go to the two Alun Lewis themed events for free!

omnomnom reception nosh
I also saw Malorie Blackman. Malorie Blackman! Only one of my favourite authors from my childhood/pre-teens and only the author of one of my favourite books of all time which was also the first book that made me cry. I knew she was going to be there, sadly I couldn't go to her event as it was on at the same time as one of the Alun Lewis events, but I did take my copy of Noughts & Crosses just in case. I did see her signing books, but the queue was huge and sadly I was too busy with work stuff to wait to meet her. But one day I will!

stealthy shot
I had so much fun, and I'd love to go back to Hay next year for a shameless book festival holiday, there was such a lovely atmosphere and it was such lovely weather and it was just lovely.

This is a new little section of my monthly wrap-ups. I've seen a few bloggers sharing posts they've really enjoyed by other bloggers, and I decided it was about time I did the same because I follow some amazing bloggers and their posts deserve to be read!

Lisa @ Bookshelf Fantasies wrote about the tropes and genres she's So Over

Cristina @ Girl in the Pages wrote a brilliant post about whether or not we're Too Hard On Our Heroines

Cait @ Paper Fury wrote a great post on Writing Diversely

Mallory @ The Local Muse wrote a great introduction to European Romanticism

So how was your May?

#TBRTakedown Readathon | TBR

Over on BookTube Shannon @ leaninglights has announced a casual reading challenge to run throughout the first week of June, and as May was very busy and something of a slow reading month for me I thought I'd join in!

The TBR Takedown Readathon is all about crossing books off your TBR. Shannon has created five challenges that you don't have to follow if you don't want to, but I'm going to see if I can at least tackle one or two of them. 

A book that's been on your TBR shelf for over a year

by Jerry Spinelli

I'm pretty sure I've owned this for at least two years, if not more, after I found it for just 99p in a local charity shop. I've heard lovely things about it and it's not even 200 pages long, so I think it'll be a good read for a readathon!

An unread sequel sitting on your TBR shelf

by Robin LaFevers

I got this for Christmas and I still haven't read it. I'm terrible at finishing series no matter how much I love them, and it's about time I finished this one!

A first book in a series on your TBR shelf

by V.E. Schwab

I've heard nothing but amazing things about this one and I've owned it since February, so it's about time I read it.

An "out of your comfort zone" book on your TBR shelf

by Samantha Ellis

I'm not sure if this is out of my comfort zone exactly because the last book I read was a non-fiction book about heroines and I loved it, but I still don't tend to read much non-fiction. I'd like to cross this one off my TBR!

A book from your most recent book haul

by Jenny T. Colgan

This is the most recent book I hauled after I pre-ordered it. This is probably the book I'm least likely to get to, only because it's been on my TBR shelf the shortest amount of time!

Are you taking part in the readathon? What are you planning to read?

Friday, 29 May 2015

Review | The Great Zoo of China by Matthew Reilly

by Matthew Reilly

My Rating:

It is a secret the Chinese government has been keeping for forty years.

They have found a species of animal no one believed even existed. It will amaze the world.

Now the Chinese are ready to unveil their astonishing discovery within the greatest zoo ever constructed.

A small group of VIPs and journalists has been brought to the zoo deep within China to see its fabulous creatures for the first time.

Among them is Dr. Cassandra Jane ‘CJ’ Cameron, a writer for National Geographic and an expert on reptiles.

The visitors are assured by their Chinese hosts that they will be struck with wonder at these beasts, that they are perfectly safe, and that nothing can go wrong.

Of course it can’t…

I wasn't expecting much from this book, but I still really wanted to read it. It was described as 'Jurassic Park with dragons', and it'd been so long since I'd read a shameless, action adventure story - the closest I'd come to recently was Mira Grant's Rolling in the Deep (reviewed here!), which I read just before this - and I was really in the mood for a story that I didn't have to think too much about.

This story is no masterpiece, and if you decide to read it then you really have to suspend your disbelief. If you've got your eye on this because you're a huge fan of dragons, don't go into this expecting regal, handsome creatures who guard treasure and princesses or fearsome steeds that can be trained and ridden. These are animals and they're treated as such, but as someone who's never been much of a dragon person I quite liked that. I like it when dragons are looked at as creatures that might have existed rather than mythical beings from fairy tales, but that could just be because I was obsessed with dinosaurs as a child.

The history and the science behind the dragons Reilly created was one of the things I most enjoyed about the book, though as someone who's completely right-brained I'm not sure how much that says in the book's defense, but for the most part I just wasn't a fan of this one.

Firstly, Reilly used WAY too many exclamation marks within the narrative. I hate it when narrators use exclamation marks, especially third person narrators; I think it looks and sounds pretty juvenile, and the majority of the time there would have been so much more suspense and drama within his prose if he'd dropped the exclamation marks altogether.

I also wasn't entirely keen on the way China was portrayed. There were certain things I liked - for example, I loved the way that the zoo was being built to try and surpass the western world and basically become China's answer to Disneyland - but it seemed as though almost every Chinese character was 'bad', and many of the American characters were often commenting on how unethical China was. No offence to any of my American friends, but I really don't think America of all places has the right to criticise anywhere else for the way it treats its own people.

One of the biggest criticisms of the novel I saw in other people's reviews was that they disliked the protagonist, CJ. Personally I really liked her! The criticism she seemed to get most was that she was a Mary-Sue who could do everything, but isn't that what every action hero has been like for decades? If CJ had been a man, would he have received the same criticism? I'd like to think so, but I'm not so sure.

However, this book certainly isn't a feminist masterpiece, although I can't really mark it down for that because it doesn't claim to be. There are a couple of other minor women characters, but they're two of the first to die when the dragons attack, and the rest of CJ's party is made up of men which was a little disappointing - it would have been nice if CJ had a sister rather than a brother, or if the politician in their group or even the villainous director of the zoo was a woman rather than a man.

Ultimately this book was a bit of daft fun, and if you're in the mood to read something action-packed and bordering on the ridiculous I'd recommend checking it out, but don't expect it to blow your socks off. The action never stops and I enjoyed it enough to read it to its, sadly rather weak, ending, but I just found the whole story and Reilly's constant exclamation marks too frustrating to rate it any higher.

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

This Week in (e)Books

This Week in Books is a feature created by Lipsy @ Lipsyy Lost and Found which gives bloggers an opportunity to share what they've read recently and what they're hoping to read next. I didn't take part in Top Ten Tuesday this week because Tuesday was a very busy work day for me - I went to the Hay Festival! - so I wanted to do something else this week, and I love any opportunity to talk about what I'm reading.

Perhaps you guessed this by the title, but I bought myself a kindle this month! I never thought I'd get an eReader; I'll admit when eReaders first came about I'm afraid I was one of those awful people who hated them and thought they 'weren't real books', but I've since learned the error of my ways and come to appreciate how useful eReaders can be. I'm always going to love physical books - I love the feel of them and the smell of them and the pretty covers - but since buying my kindle I've loved it, and I've found it so much easier to carry around in my bag when I'm on the bus or the train. So all the books mentioned this week are kindle editions!

At the moment I'm about a quarter of the way through Jane Eyre's Sisters: How Women Live and Write the Heroine's Story by Jody Gentian Bower and I'm really, really enjoying it. I don't read as much nonfiction as I should - in fact this is my first nonfiction read of the year - and I guess a lot of the reason behind that is I find it very difficult to read nonfiction that doesn't have a really casual, readable quality. Dry, dense nonfiction books tend to remind me of the books I had to turn to at university whenever I had to write an essay, which in turn makes me incredibly sleepy.

But this book is brilliant so far. Jody Gentian Bower has a great narrative voice, and I've highlighted so many passages and quotes already. For any of you interested in the idea of the heroine or just writing women in general, I definitely recommend checking this fairly new release out!

The Great Zoo of China by Matthew Reilly was my very first completed book on my kindle, and it was okay. It was fun enough for me to read to the end, but I had too many issues with it to rate it highly - my review will be going up on Friday if you want to know my thoughts on it!

I've never been a big fan of the question: 'what do you plan on reading next?' because that totally depends on my mood. After finishing Jane Eyre's Sisters I could decide to read more nonfiction or I could turn to some fluffy contemporary or I could read a collection of short stories. It all depends on my mood. I do have Katherine Addison's The Goblin Emperor on my kindle, though, and I've heard nothing but amazing things about it; it has an average rating of 4.10 on Goodreads, which is pretty damn good, and not too long ago I was talking about how I've been eager to get back into high fantasy, so I think I might give this one a try!

But I also have a few other books I'm in the middle of that I'd like to finish soon, too!

Lolly Willowes by Sylvia Townsend Warner
Monstrous Regiment by Terry Pratchett
Fingersmith by Sarah Waters

What are you reading?

Monday, 25 May 2015

Review | Rat Queens, Vol.2: The Far-Reaching Tentacles of N'rygoth by Kurtis J. Wiebe, Roc Upchurch and Stjepan Sejic

by Kurtis J. Wiebe, Roc Upchurch and Stjepan Sejic

My Rating: 

This booze-soaked second volume of RAT QUEENS reveals a growing menace within the very walls of Palisade. And while Dee may have run from her past, the bloated, blood-feasting sky god N’rygoth never really lets his children stray too far.

You can check out my review of Rat Queens, Vol.1: Sass and Sorcery here!

As I'm sure many of you know I read the first volume of Rat Queens back in January and absolutely adored it, and I've been anticipating the release of the second volume ever since. Volume 2 takes off immediately from where Volume 1 left off, and I still love this world and these characters - not to mention the humour!

More than once I genuinely laughed out loud while reading this curled up on my sofa, meaning I got a few odd looks from my family; Hannah is the Queen of Sass and her attitude warms the cockles of my cold, black heart. I love her relationship with Sawyer too, because I'm weak for a good ol' fashioned OTP. The same goes for Violet and Orc Dave - in fact I love Orc Dave.

As is usually the case with graphic novels, the plot of Volume 2 was a little bigger than that of Volume 1; I can tell this is a series that's going to continue to expand and grow, and I like the direction it's going in. I really enjoyed the glimpses into Hannah and Violet's pasts we were shown in this volume, and I'd really like to know more about Hannah's mother who seems like a very cool lady, but what I loved most was that we saw a little more of Dee. I look forward to continuing to learn more about her in future, because what we learned in this volume was pretty darn cool; I particularly loved the way she talked about how the religion she was raised with is still a part of her, and she doesn't have to discard her entire culture just because she disagrees with a part of it.

Honestly, the only real flaw I found with this volume was that it wasn't long enough. I want more, and I want it now!

If you haven't read this series yet, read it!

Friday, 22 May 2015

Review | Rolling in the Deep by Mira Grant

by Mira Grant

My Rating: 

When the Imagine Network commissioned a documentary on mermaids, to be filmed from the cruise ship Atargatis, they expected what they had always received before: an assortment of eyewitness reports that proved nothing, some footage that proved even less, and the kind of ratings that only came from peddling imaginary creatures to the masses.

They didn't expect actual mermaids. They certainly didn't expect those mermaids to have teeth.

This is the story of the Atargatis, lost at sea with all hands. Some have called it a hoax; others have called it a maritime tragedy. Whatever the truth may be, it will only be found below the bathypelagic zone in the Mariana Trench… and the depths are very good at keeping secrets.

I know it's all I seem to talk about, but after reading Feed last year I'm basically making it one of my goals to read everything Mira Grant/Seanan McGuire writes. I don't tend to read much mermaid fiction, for the simple reason that a lot of mermaid books don't spark my interest, but when I learned Grant had written a horror novella featuring mermaids I had to have it.

Rolling in the Deep reads very much like a found footage horror film, though it's more along the lines of Trollhunter than The Blair Witch Project. There's a big, ensemble cast of vibrant characters who are doomed from the beginning, and even though there were a lot of characters, and the story is only 122 pages long, I felt as though I got to know all of them really well, and I was never confused about who was who. In fact despite not having much time with these characters I was still sad when they began to get bumped off this mortal coil.

I wasn't sure how well a found footage story would work in literary form, but Grant pulled it off by following so many different people, never lingering too long, and by intersecting each chapter with a segment from a documentary about the expedition. From the first page we're told none of the characters survive, which is really quite clever - knowing these characters are doomed makes us care for them more, while also making us not too disappointed that this isn't a 400+ page novel detailing their life stories. We're given just enough, and that's why this story works.

One of the things I love about Grant's fiction is that she unapologetically fills her SFF to the brim with a whole array of women, and Rolling in the Deep is no exception. We have a woman captain, a troupe of 'mermaids', a TV personality, and plenty of lady scientists, too. Basically, if you ever feel that the SFF you read is lacking ladies with agency, check out some of Grant's fiction.

If you're new to Grant's work, then I'd say this novella is a pretty great place to start! I read it in a couple of hours, and it was a really entertaining read. It wasn't absolutely amazing, which is why it missed out on 5 stars, but it was still pretty darn good, and Grant's still one of my favourite authors.

I recommend it!

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Top Ten Tuesday | My TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature created at The Broke and the Bookish. Each week you compile a list of ten books which coincide with that week's theme. You can find everything you need to know about joining in here!

This week's theme is a FREEBIE! So I decided to talk about ten books on my TBR I'd really like to read soon.

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke: This book is a bit of a beast - my edition is so heavy, it's like a brick - and I've owned it for a while now, but I'd like to read it soon because the BBC have adapted it for TV and it looks so cool. I'd like to try and read the book before I watch it, though!

The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison: One of the things I've realised recently is that I'm not actually the biggest fan of high fantasy. I can watch it, but reading it I just get so bamboozled by all the different names and just the idea of an entire different world. I'm dumb, and I love fantasy that's in our world. I want to get back into high fantasy, though, and I've heard some amazing things about The Goblin Emperor.

This Strange Way of Dying by Silvia Moreno-Garcia: Silvia Moreno-Garcia's debut novel, Signal to Noise, is my favourite book of 2015 so far, and now has a firm spot amongst my favourite books of all time. This Strange Way of Dying is her first collection of short stories, and I'm dying to read more of her stuff - plus isn't that cover stunning?

The Sundial by Shirley Jackson: So far I've read The Haunting of Hill House, The Lottery, and We Have Always Lived in the Castle and loved them all. Shirley Jackson has quickly become one of my favourite authors - she's definitely my favourite horror writer - and The Sundial sounds fantastic. I've been getting really into modern classics recently, particularly modern classics written by women, and Shirley Jackson's gotten me really into southern gothic stories. I'm looking forward to this one!

This Book is Gay by James Dawson: This is a piece of non-fiction I've seen around on Booktube a lot recently. James Dawson's a YA author, and this book talks about what it's like to grow up as LGBT+. I think this book will be really interesting.

Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout: I've heard this is one of those really addictive YA series that's bordering on the ridiculous, and I'm totally ready for a guilty pleasure kind of read.

Denton Little's Deathdate by Lance Rubin: I saw Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight review this book about a month ago, and the premise just really intrigued me. It's been a while since I read any YA and this sounds fun despite the rather dark premise!

Rat Queens, Vol.2: The Far Reaching Tentacles of N'rygoth by Kurtis J. Wiebe and Roc Upchurch: I'm so excited for this! I pre-ordered my copy and I'm hoping it'll here at the end of this month.

A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab: I've owned this since February, heard nothing but amazing things about it, and yet I still haven't read it yet. What the hell's wrong with me?

White Trash Zombie Apocalypse by Diana Rowland: I love this series, and I want to read more of it. If you're a fan of urban fantasy or you want to read a series with a really original take on zombies, I recommend picking up these books!

What did you guys talk about this week?

Monday, 18 May 2015

My Problem with Peeta (AKA The "Nice Guy" Complex)

Time and time again on my blog I've mentioned my dislike for Peeta, and then immediately said something along the lines of 'but that's a discussion for another time' or 'but I won't get into that now', and I figured it's about time I got into it. 

Now if you're a big Peeta fan you're most welcome here - people can like whichever characters they like as far as I'm concerned - but if you're the kind of Peeta fan that can't bear to see any criticism of your perfect baby angel, then it's probably best that you stop reading now. Because I don't like Peeta Mellark.

(I'd also recommend you stop reading now if you haven't read The Hunger Games/haven't finished the trilogy yet - I don't want to spoil anything for you!)

First thing's first, I think it's important to stress that I don't hate Peeta, in fact there are quite a few things about him that I really like. For example, I love that Peeta plays around with gender stereotypes in much the same way that Katniss does; I think it's fantastic we have this couple in YA who are completely opposite to what we might expect from a stereotypical couple. It's Peeta who likes to bake and paint, Peeta who doesn't like violence, Peeta who wants to fall in love and start a family, while Katniss enjoys hunting - she's good at it - and she'd much rather be left alone than have anyone fawning all over her. The two of them completely subvert common gender stereotypes, and I love that, because as much as it's important for women to know they don't have to like typically feminine things, it's just as important for men to know they don't have to like typically masculine things.

I can also appreciate that the two of them do make a good team in the arena. While Katniss handles all the brutal stuff within the arena, Peeta handles all the political, backstabby (it's totally a word) stuff outside the arena. He knows how to win over a crowd, and he does it well.

And perhaps most importantly in terms of this post, I understand why Katniss and Peeta make sense as a couple. Ultimately no one's really going to understand what the two of them went through like the other can, and this series is all about surviving through the consequences of war and these two need each other to survive because without each other their mental state can fall into a dark, dark place.


I'm personally not a fan of the two of them as a couple. Don't worry, this isn't going to be a post for Team Gale or any of that crap - screw Team Peeta and Team Gale, I'm on Team Katniss.

First and foremost, I read Katniss as aromantic: someone who doesn't experience romantic attraction. Someone who is aromantic isn't necessarily also asexual, but unfortunately, like asexuality, it's something which is often overlooked. That's not to say she is aromantic - the only person who knows that for certain is Suzanne Collins - but she always felt that way to me; she kisses both Peeta and Gale when they're upset because she doesn't know how else to comfort them, and she's aware that people kiss the ones they love. There's no denying that she loves Peeta, in the same way that she loves Gale, but in my opinion it's not necessarily romantic love so much as it is companionship. For me, Katniss's most important relationship is always going to be her relationship with Prim.

Even when Katniss claims to be in love with Peeta, it still doesn't feel quite like romantic love to me so much as it feels like the plea of a young girl who needs the one person around her who can understand her.

As much I'm not a member of Team Gale, just as I'm not a member of Team Peeta, I do hate the way Gale is treated by a lot of fans. Gale and Peeta are pretty shitty towards Katniss, particularly in Catching Fire when both of them are pressuring her into being in love with them when frankly Katniss has bigger fish to fry. On top of struggling with PTSD, she's also a 16 year old girl who has accidentally started a rebellion and because of that the President himself is threatening her friends and family. But neither of them take that into account at first, despite the fact that Peeta wouldn't be alive if it weren't for Katniss. How can he expect feelings she had to develop to stay alive to be completely true? How can he expect her to even think about something like romance when it's a struggle for her just to get out of bed on a morning? Still Gale's the one who seems to get the most hate. Why? Because Peeta's nice.

Constantly Katniss is told that someone like her should feel lucky that someone like Peeta loves her, that she doesn't deserve someone so nice and good and sweet:

"You could live a thousand life times but you will never deserve that boy."

Now obviously other characters saying that isn't Peeta's fault, but it doesn't make me like the guy anymore. Katniss is such a compelling, fantastic heroine; she's flawed and selfish and selfless and brave, and yet all anyone cares about is how much of Peeta's love she's earned.

The thing that makes me dislike Peeta most, however, is the epilogue to Mockingjay. The epilogue made me so uncomfortable. Obviously this isn't a light, fluffy trilogy so perhaps it'd be weird if I didn't feel uncomfortable, but it didn't make me uncomfortable in the way I expected it would. Don't get me wrong, I love the way Collins writes characters who are never going to be okay again; Katniss and Peeta have been royally fucked over by war, and no amount of medication or therapy is going to make them better. I love that realism behind the series. Yes, Katniss began the revolution that will prevent the annual deaths of hundreds of children in years to come, but at what personal cost?

What I hated most was the way Katniss talked about her children. In the very first book Katniss tells us she doesn't want children. For the most part we can assume that's because there's the chance they'd be reaped and have to compete in the Games. I'm sure we can all understand that. However, there may be something deeper to it - perhaps I'm looking into it too much, but maybe Katniss never wants to have children period. It could be marriage and children is not something that interests her, which further supports my theory of her being aromantic.

To me it felt as though Katniss did NOT want those children, regardless of how much she loves them now they've been born. Let's look at the way she talks about them, shall we?

'It took five, ten, fifteen years for me to agree. But Peeta wanted them so badly. When I first felt her stirring inside of me, I was consumed with a terror that felt as old as life itself. Only the joy of holding her in my arms could tame it. Carrying him was a little easier, but not much.'

Not 'we'. Peeta. Katniss had children because Peeta wanted them, because over the course of 'five, ten, fifteen years' he finally managed to wear her down and he got what he wanted. I'm not trying to suggest that Peeta's an abusive husband - I don't think their marriage is an unhappy one, though I doubt either of them are ever really happy either - but it is possible for people who don't want children to basically be bullied into having them, and those lines just made me so uncomfortable.

I hate this idea that because Peeta's nice, he gets to have everything he wants. I'm not saying he doesn't suffer because the poor guy really does - he gets tortured by the Capitol, for heaven's sake - but there are a lot of fans out there who think he can do no wrong when actually, you know what, he can. He's not an angel, he's human. Yes we can argue that Katniss just happened to change her mind about having children, but the fact of the matter is she's so broken by the end of Mockingjay it probably wouldn't have been too hard to get her to do pretty much anything if you kept going on and on and on about it. All throughout her teens she was surrounded by people who were constantly telling her how much of a terrible person she was compared to Peeta, so it's no wonder she ends up giving the guy what he wants. 

I don't think people shouldn't like Peeta - I completely understand why he's a fan favourite - I just wish some fans would look at the trilogy a little more critically. I'm not suggesting we should purposefully read things to talk about what we don't like about them, that's not what it means to read critically, and I'm also not saying you have to read critically. Read however you want! But sometimes just look at something a little differently. Look at this trilogy, not as a series of books about a teenage girl who has to choose between two boys, but as a series of books about a teenager whose life is literally threatened by her government, who's been feeding her family since childhood after the death of her father sent her mother into a severe depression, who tried so hard to protect her little sister and still wasn't strong enough to protect her from a bomb because how could she be? Then reread that epilogue, and see how it makes you feel.

My perfect ending for Katniss was for her and Prim to go and live somewhere peaceful and quiet, selling cheese from Prim's goat and enjoying the tranquility of the countryside while Prim became a fantastic doctor and looked after Katniss when the nightmares came. If not that, I'd've loved to have seen Katniss and Johanna together romantically or not, I don't care travelling Panem and smashing the patriarchy. But that's just in my own little fantasy...

Katniss: my precious baby angel.
So there you have it. That's why I don't like Peeta. I'm sure you're all just willing me to shut up, but I figured it was about time I actually talked about this.

So, what are your thoughts?

Friday, 15 May 2015

An Interview with Sam Roads and Kat Nicholson!

I had the pleasure of chatting to Sam Roads and Kat Nicholson, the creators of the brand new comic Silicon Heart.
  1. First off, tell us a little bit about yourselves and Silicon Heart.

    Sam: I'm Sam, the writer. My background is in game development, including some award-winning The Lord of the Rings products. My first graphic novel, Kristo, told The Count of Monte Cristo, set in Soviet Russia. Silicon Heart is my second.

    Kat: I'm Kat, the artist. I work as a freelance comic-artist/illustrator and have worked on titles such as Transformers, Spiderman, Thunder Cats, Dream Works Tales, Moshi-Monsters, The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack and more. :)

    January is a bullied teenager who finds solace in the embrace of Synthetic Being Rho. Her friends and family are unready to accept this, but when January takes a stand against the prejudice of the law, no-one is prepared for what happens next...

  2. How did the two of you come to work on this project together? Was it an idea that you initially developed together, or was it something one of you thought up and then went out looking for an artist/writer?

    Sam: I generally write stories with some socio-political aspect. Silicon Heart was a direct response to an internet meme, which showed inter-racial marriage protestors from the 1960s, gay marriage protestors from the modern age and a slogan saying “Imagine how stupid you are going to look in 40 years.”

    I wondered what a 2045 society might be prejudiced against, and human/synthetic relationships seemed to fit the bill.

    I was really impressed with one particular piece Kat had uploaded to Facebook and I cold-pitched the story to her. She draws with great expressiveness and even her storyboards jump with emotion and energy.

    Kat: Having worked on kids comics for a good many years I was looking for something a bit more grown up, with more substance to it to sink my teeth into … Sam pitched Silicon Heart at exactly the right time, and I've been loving working on it so far! :D

    Here's the picture that caught Sam's eye if you're interested. 
    It's a very personal piece, which again gave me the impression that Silicon Heart was the right project for me. :)
  3. What have been the most enjoyable and the most challenging aspects of putting this together?

    Sam: The best part has been watching Kat exceed my imagination with her depictions of Jan and Rho. The challenging part has been raising the funds. We put together issue 1 ourselves, but we're going to need backers for a Kickstarter to get issues 2-4 made.

    Kat: For me one of the most challenging parts of the project has been capturing Rho's expressions! He's a very low-emoter, and coming from an animation background I tend to draw BIG emotions, so even when I thought I was toning things down with Rho I was still often giving him too much emotion for Sam's vision. Drawing him is just so much fun though, the two of them (Rho and Jan) together are just so sweet. :)The great bit for me is always getting feedback; both from Sam and from our readers, it's wonderful to hear of people enjoying the world you've helped to create. :)
  4. What have been the benefits of working on a project with another person?

    Sam: One person can play a melody. Harmony requires two.

    Kat: (Sam's yet to hear me sing) ;) Seriously though, Sam's right - I could never have written a story like Silicon Heart, but I'm glad to be able to contribute to the project with my art. :)
  5. What are your future plans for Silicon Heart? Would you like to see it become a long-running project or is it more of a standalone piece?

    Sam: The first goal is to get the whole story made. If that happens, I'll look into whether the art-house indie publishers are interested, both in the UK and in the US. A goal beyond that might be to seek an adaptation to radio or TV.

    Silicon Heart is a complete story, but we know of at least one of the secondary characters whose story might be worth telling. Several of our fans have expressed an interest in hearing more about the world of Silicon Heart!
  6. It's so important to help out independent projects in the arts. Tell us how we can help Silicon Heart!

    Sam: Please check out our kickstarter. :)

    Kat: And if you like it, please tell your friends about it! The more people see the project the more chance we have of being able to complete it :)
Thanks very much to Sam and Kat, who are both lovely and have both worked so hard on Silicon Heart. It can be so difficult for artists to create what they love - especially in a society that believes artists should work for free - so if Silicon Heart interests you and you're in the mood to support an independent project, head on over to their kickstarter!

Find out more about Sam and Kat here and here!