REVIEW: Call Down the Hawk by Maggie Stiefvater (2019)

In November 2019, I wrote a review article for my university’s student-run online news outlet, Nerve Now, about one of my most anticipated books of the year.

Read it here: https://nervemedia.org.uk/nerve/book-review-call-hawk-maggie-stiefvater/

Bloggers Made Me Buy It // Books

For some reason, as of late, my love of books has skyrocketed. Right up there, into the cosmos, floating around and taunting me above my head (mainly singing “Ha ha, you love books but can’t afford them!” and things to that effect). Like it really has hit the roof. I’m eight away from reaching my reading goal for 2017, and it’s only August. If that doesn’t tell you how much I love it, I don’t know what will.Read More »

REVIEW: If I Was Your Girl – Meredith Russo

Honestly, I don’t know where to start with this. I’ve always just told myself that I’m awful at reviews, and to leave them far far away, for other people to write, and honestly I’m a little scared to attempt this. But you know what? 2017 is the year of facing fears, I think (maybe) and I’d like to start writing reviews. So here goes (cue superior-sounding and intimidating review-er voice)…

If I Was Your Girl – Meredith Russo

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If I Was Your Girl tells the, frankly overdone, story of a young girl who has to start a new school, and her struggles through making new friends, first loves and parent troubles. It’s one of those basic story premises that’s been done and done a thousand times over, the world over. I’m sure that no matter the culture, religion, race, every teenage girl has once wanted to read about the life of another teenage girl.

But with this, there’s something different.

And it’s not something that you have to wait until the last page for, either (which is something I personally don’t have the patience for). From the get-go (even the blurb, actually), we – the audience – are aware that Amanda, our beautiful, smart, nerdy and mysterious protagonist, used to be known as Andrew.

Meredith Russo’s debut novel details the post-transition Amanda’s life as she tries to make it safely from high school to the World Beyond – something of which I’m sure we can all relate to. But Meredith’s life as a trans woman has enabled her to transform a somewhat over-done story into one that I think – honestly – everyone should read. Or at least read about. The simple fact of the matter is: there aren’t enough stories about trans people.

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Now, as much as I could, I’m not going to make this post about trans issues. It is not my place, nor my right to address issues faced by those in the trans community.I have never faced gender identity issues, and I can’t imagine ever doing so, and that is where I will leave my knowledge on the subject. However, if a trans person, or someone struggling with gender identity issues is reading this: I support you, you are brave and amazing and you are not alone. If you need someone to talk to, I am here.

Now that that is out of the way, I’m going to continue by saying that this review is not going to address the serious matters of gender identity, transgenderism and social inequalities, as I simply haven’t got the words – or the authority – to do so. I will, however, review this book as a book. 

If I Was Your Girl, while hugely important and eye-opening for someone who is cis-gendered and uneducated, could have been better, book-wise.

The subject matter, while fascinating and wonderful in its modest glory (Amanda’s brief descriptions of the transition process I felt were a nice way to satisfy reader’s curiosities, while remaining steadfast in her secretive nature, and were well played-down by the author), could have been paced much better.

My biggest problem with IIWYG was simply the pacing. I felt this book could have been light-years longer. It felt rushed, and because of this, characters and their actions often felt unrealistic, and it could sometimes feel as though Meredith – the author – knew things that the audience didn’t, but forgot, and described scenes and emotions as thus.

While I can see the advantages of trying to write a book – particularly a YA book, as this is intended – that is long enough to be a story, while being short enough to keep young reader’s attentions, I felt this was just not long enough. There simply wasn’t enough space to put all the emotions of someone who has been through so much, on paper in just under 300 pages. I often felt as though, if I were in Amanda’s situation, I’d need a hell of a lot more time to digest some information and make some decisions, than she did. But that’s just me.

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Some may complain that IIWYG was too shallow. That it only tread the very shortest of depths that LGBTQIA+ fiction could do, but I think that’s enough. For now, at least. The general public may still be wary of literature that dives too deep into the minds and bodies of those who aren’t “normal” (and I use that term sarcastically, if you didn’t guess), and, while some of us may be ready to dive deep, the world might not be yet. Baby steps.

But, If I Was Your Girl did exactly as it was supposed to, and for that I commend it. It made me laugh. It made me sad and angry. It made me love Amanda and Virginia and Layla and Grant. It made me hate others. It made me feel that first-love, first-kiss, first-everything feeling that we all crave sometimes. And it made me more aware. 

And for a mainstream, published, printed and talked about book (If I Was Your Girl has actually been featured in Zoella’s book club with W H Smith for this year, which is incredible and huge for the author, to have someone as influential as Zoe recommending this story to her millions of avid fans…) to hold such power and knowledge. The power to turn attention towards this issue that the world faces (by issue I mean transphobia and homophobia, etc), is fantastic.

I urge you all to pick up this book (or download it.. whatever you fancy), and just try it. Your age, your gender, your sexuality, your reading preferences do not matter. You should read this, for your own education.

Thanks guys, let me know if I did OK for my first book review (that’s been published on this site). Also let me know what’s on your reading lists for 2017, I need recommendations!

Jess x

Summer Favourites! 2016

It’s finally here. To quote Panic! at the Disco, summer’s on its deathbed. It’s over. The warm weather may remain, the we might see the sun for a few more weeks but… in the eyes of every one around: summer is over. About bloody time. For some reason this summer has dragged for me? Anyone else know what I’m on about? No? I mean I’ve loved the sun and the heat, but I’m ready for my jumpers now. Okay?

So, as the end of summer is upon us, and all the young people sigh as they pack their bags for school, I thought I’d share with you some of my favourite bits and bobs that I’ve collected over the summer months. I’m in no way a beauty blogger or a fashion…y person. But I personally love reading and watching posts like this, so I’ll spare you the waffle and get straight into it!

Make-up

Makeup Revolution Sculpt and Contour Kit 

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My friend Sophie actually bought this for me as it came free in a Superdrug 3 for 2 and I definitely don’t regret letting her! (Thanks Soph, love you) If you’re anything like me and are an absolute dunce when it comes to make-up, this is perfect. It’s super cheap at £3.50, and comes with three shades of face powder: bronzer, highlighter and blush. I love the blush and highlight shades, they were perfect for summer and for my holiday, both with flecks of gold. And, while the formulas aren’t perfect, they’re definitely worth the bargain. Recommend!

New Look Pure Colour Matte Liquid Lip 

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Now this is the first and currently only liquid lipstick that I own, so I can’t say much in terms of comparison, but I really love this product. Again, it’s perfect for summer. I chose the shade ‘Sweet Rose’, which was lighter than I originally thought but turned out well! The formula definitely is long lasting, it takes a good long scrub from a make-up wipe before it even budges. While it is a matte lipstick and therefore is drying, it’s definitely not debilitating, and if you can pull this colour off (I don’t know if I can tbh) then it’s perfect for a summer evening.

Books

Rainbow Rowell – Fangirl

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Okay so I know I’m a million years late with this one and every teenage girl under the sun has read Fangirl but I decided to take it to Athens with me and it was so perfect! I’ve read Rainbow’s Eleanor and Park previously and thought it was good, but not amazing. But I was so pleasantly surprised by Fangirl that I actually started re-reading it after I finished it on the plane home. I fell in love with literally all the characters and, as a previous serial fangirl myself, I can definitely relate! Love love love.

Nicola Yoon – Everything Everything

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I actually read Everything Everything a lot earlier this year, but I could not resist including it in this post. It is probably one of my favourites this year, and the phrase is overused but I was hooked from start to finish. I’m a lover of a quick easy read, and this was that, and more. Towards the end, I was literally gripped to the pages, and the twists and the sense of danger and caution you feel for protagonist Maddy is one of a kind. Everyone should read this book. I’m not kidding.

Movies

Suicide Squad

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Yes, I know what you’re thinking. How could this be a favourite? How could you consider this a favourite, Jess? What’s wrong with you? Well, readers. I will bloody well tell you.It may have something to do with the fact that this is the only new film I’ve actually watched this summer. That is part of it. But, at the risk of vocalising an unpopular opinion, I actually quite liked this movie. I liked the feel of it, as weird and emo as it was. I loved the characters (apart from Leto’s Joker.. we won’t even go there with how appalling it was) and I loved the visuals. I just enjoyed it. Shoot me.

Clothing

Bomber Jacket – New Look

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Unfortunately, the last few items won’t have links to purchase due to them no longer being sold, being sale items from the beginning of summer. Sorry! But this first one I am literally obsessed with. I found the last one left in my local New Look on a random trip, in my exact size and it was clearly fate. I was meant to be with this jacket. It’s legit. It’s so silky and light-weight and perfect for summer, for something to chuck on and it’s definitely in style and has been for a while.

Light wash jeans – New Look

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These were another sale item, spontaneously found in my size, last of their kind. Sorry for being that annoying person. But, I’ve loved these jeans for the summer. The colour and style is very me at the moment and they actually look slightly ankle-swingery on me!! As someone who is very, very short, it’s a struggle to find jeans that don’t ruffle up at the ankle like some kind of weird elephant leg. But these don’t! And I love them for that. Also, they make my butt look good. (Always a bonus).

Accessories

Purse – Primark

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This summer I’ve been slightly obsessed with the colour blue. If it’s in a shop and it’s blue, I’ve probably considered buying it. Don’t ask me why, I’ll be the last to know. Maybe it has something to do with my first car being navy. Anyway. I saw this purse floating around the fitting rooms when I was at work one day and made it my mission to find it on my lunch break. It’s exactly the style of purse I love, skinny and a single zip. And it’s pretty. This will definitely outlast the summer and at £4 (full price), I really can’t complain.

 

And there it is! My first ever favourites post! It was fairly long so I’m sorry and well done if you’ve stayed for the whole thing. Please like and give me a comment if you enjoyed the post and if there’s stuff I can improve on for the next one!

I hope you all have had a fantastic summer and are looking forward to the next part of your lives, whether that’s school, university or just another great autumn. Til next time.

Jess x