Category Archives: Discussion

Ctrl, Alt; Delete: Social Media and Me

26085734If you’re wondering what Ctrl, Alt; Delete is, you’ve been living under a rock and/or haven’t used Twitter in a year. Emma Gannon, social media whizz, blogger and writer has written the memoir everyone from the Internet age needs to read. It’s a fantastic book – I couldn’t wait for it to come out, and I devoured it.

It’s a brilliant insight into Emma’s life, her online world, and how she’a turned her love for social media and online content into a highly successful career. She started off on Myspace, and now writes for huge media outlets, alongside running her highly successful blog and podcast.

Although I’m only 16, like Emma Gannon I have grown up with the Internet. I can’t really remember a time before it was a daily part of my life. So inevitably, I adored reading about Emma’s online experiences – so much of it was (sometimes painfully) relatable. Ctrl, Alt; Delete is hilarious and entertaining, but also raises some very interesting discussion points. Where do you draw the line between personal life and what you share online? How can you tell if people are real? How on earth do we discover small, talented bloggers when there are so many sites out there?

One of the things I love most about the book is that it’s essentially a timeline of Emma’s online life.  It made me think a lot about how my internet use has changed over the years. I thought it would be quite funny to make a timeline:

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I think it’s so fascinating to think about how much of my life has been shaped online. I used to write and draw in diaries up until age ten, and now virtually everything I do is written on a blog, an online notepad, drawn with my graphics tablet, programmed onto a Calendar.

I think I’m very open on the internet, and there is quite a blurred line between my online life and my ‘private’ one. If I go out for a day with friends, I won’t necessarily talk about it online, but I will turn my photos into a blog post. If I’m struggling with school, I’ll complain on Twitter and Tumblr. I switch between talking to my friends to sending them gifs on Tumblr, when we’re both in the same room. Heck, even my Media Studies coursework is entirely virtual, written on a private school blog.

A lot of people probably view my largely-online life as a bad thing. My eyes are probably so bad because I’m on the computer all the time. I don’t really like socialising IRL. I’m not very good at holding a conversation, unless it’s through social media, and I probably should get out more.

But I love it. I love growing up online. The Internet has given me so many opportunities that never would have been presented to me otherwise. I’m studying Photography and Media because I’m fascinated by editing images and online culture. I’m gaining work experience and networking just by running my blogs. I’ve met the most incredible people in my life, whom I talk to every day. I don’t know how I’d live without all of this.

So, I want to know what you think. How much of your life is online? Do you control what people see on your social media, or are you an open book?

THANK YOU | UKYABA 2016

So, a few weeks ago, I got a Twitter notifcation. I clicked on it, wondering why on earth I’d been tagged in a thread about UKYABA – and it turns out, to my disbelief, that I had actually been nominated for an AWARD.

I was convinced someone must have nominated the wrong person, but then the awards ceremony (which I sadly couldn’t make it to!) came and went, and people began tweeting me congratulations for winning. I was still convinced they had the wrong person when the lovely Andy Robb, founder of the awards, said he was going to send out my prize to me.

So this turned up today, and, whoa okay it’s real whoa whoa whoa.

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So. I won a UKYA Blogger Award, in the Champion Teen Blogger category. IDK HOW EITHER. My prize was this really awesome trophy, plus a lovely £25 personalised book token.

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I am so, so thankful to the people who made this possible – it’s such a surprising achievement for me, and the people running this award are the loveliest, kindest people in the publishing world for recognising bloggers. I’m so grateful people read and enjoy my blog, enough to award it!

This blog, The Bibliomaniac Book Blog started in 2011, known then as Book and Writers JNR. It’s been through many changes since – in a way, it’s grown up with me. This blog has enabled me to reach so many people and become interconnected with an industry that I adore. I’m very honoured to have even one person read a post – let alone hundreds.

So, to everyone who reads this blog, and of course to the lovely people who nominated me – THANK YOU!

Congratulations also to everyone else who was nominated for/won an award. You’re all awesome and the shortlists were full of so many wonderful people that I’m lucky to be associated with.

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Book Review and Film Discussion: The Drowning of Arthur Braxton

Today’s post isn’t a conventional review! I was kindly sent a copy of Arthur Braxton, a book I have wanted to read for months, and given that the movie adaptation is out soon (and that this new edition of the book has just published), I thought I would make this review a part-discussion, too!

I’ve been a fan of Luke Cutforth on YouTube for a long time, so when I discovered he was making his first feature film, I was jumping around in excitement. I can’t wait to see it.

Review and Discussion:

Written by Caroline Smailes, published by 4th Estate; adapted into film by Luke Cutforth.

Goodreads Synopsis: Arthur Braxton runs away from school.

He hides out in an abandoned building, an old Edwardian bathhouse.

He discovers a naked woman swimming in the pool.

From this point on, nothing will ever be the same.

My Review: It’s hard to put how I felt about this book into words. It is equal parts strange and wonderful and messed up, but that’s why I liked it.

Reading this book was an incredibly weird experience. Although I enjoyed it, it didn’t instantly blow me away, but it properly hit me after I’d put the book down and began mulling it over. The story, to anyone going in unknowing of the plot, is bizarre, but captivating; teenage Arthur Braxton finds his way into an abandoned bathhouse on a desperate night, and what he finds in there changes his life forever.

I couldn’t like Arthur very much at all, which was sad – but the characters I did adore were the ones that he finds in the swimming pool. Without giving away anything, I’ll say that their stories brought me to tears, and were told in such memorable ways. Lots of people adore Arthur’s character for how brutally honest the representation of his character is, but for me I couldn’t enjoy it too much. I’ll admit that I found it a bit crude in places (even though that is how it’s supposed to be!). Despite being an accurate depiction of a teenager, I just wished he had some qualities I could’ve liked.

I can’t wait to see how the film adaptation presents all of the characters on screen. I’m not sure how accurate they can be (given that there’s a lot of nudity and swearing, and I’m assuming the producers will be aiming for a 12/15 rating) but it’ll be really exciting to see how they appear. The casting looks fantastic so far, and features lots of upcoming talents, so I’m really excited!

The format of the book was really interesting, and not what I had expected! Different characters told their stories in varying styles – parts were in script, parts were conventional storytelling, and a couple of chapters were simply just dialogue. I adored the way in which the plot was told and presented – it felt very refreshing and kept me engaged. I’d love to read more books told in quirky ways like this.

What I also enjoyed about the book was the setting, and how there’s a lot between the lines to read into. Most of the book is set within the Oracle, an abandoned bath house set to be demolished and rebuilt. I envisioned it as a really haunting looking place, but the BTS photos of the set so far are very different – though it looks awesome!

If I am completely honest, I was not blown away by this book whilst reading it – not every aspect appealed to me, and parts were very unsettling. However, I think part of the reason I didn’t fall in love with it was because I wasn’t taking in the mythological aspects of the book – it flew right over my head! I read up on it after reading, and began to appreciate the story much more. There are many layers to this unique story, and it’ll be really interesting to see how Luke, director, translates these from page to screen.

Overall, The Drowning of Arthur Braxton left me in a very weird state after reading. It’s unlike anything I have ever read before; strange, haunting and weirdly wonderful. I’d recommend it to anyone who is looking for a very unconventional story; one that will make you laugh and cry.

I think Luke is the perfect director for this film. By looking at his YouTube channel, anyone might think he’s a strange choice – most of his videos are on the bizarre, funny side – not serious. But I think he’ll bring the brilliant crudeness to the film that the book has; and also, from his directing of various music videos on YouTube in the past, I can tell he’s definitely made for this sort of thing. It will be awesome to see his skills adapting to a much bigger project.

The new edition of this book (cover pictured at the top of this post!) also contains a new introduction written by him – so it’s definitely worth checking that out!

My Rating:

three and a half

I received a copy of The Drowning of Arthur Braxton from the publisher, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.

YALC 2016: Recap and Book Haul

YALC YALC YALC YALC YALC!! YEAR THREE!!

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I was so pumped for YALC this year, though admittedly, slightly less pumped than usual -I haven’t been to a book event in such a long time (was my last book event YALC 2015…? OH NO) due to exams and stress and life being ridiculously busy and draining. So I was pretty nervous about going and talking to (or not being able to talk to) the many lovely bloggers I know online but haven’t talked to in so long because, as mentioned, life is busy and draining.

BUT. To the fun stuff; let’s ignore my brain for a sec. I was very excited to go, and see how the convention is developing even further in its third successful year. So, onto a messy recap/book haul post!


I arrived at around 8.30 to YALC – earlier than the starting time, because I was very honoured to have been invited to this year’s blogger’s breakfast before the opening. I was really excited for this, as each year of YALC a few authors come and do a small, more intimate talk with bloggers and vloggers – this year, to celebrate You Know Me Well and #BookPride, it was David Levithan and Nina LaCour!

29848950Being me, I didn’t take photos, because I’m stupid. I was also a little in overdrive at the prospect of my two favourite authors in the same room as me. I adore their books more than anything, they’re all so important to me – reading titles from You Know Me Well, to Wide Awake, to Everything Leads To You have been pivotal moments in my life, no exaggeration. David and Nina discussed YKMW, then opened up to the bloggers for questions – and there was a short signing after, in which I was much too shy to say a huge thank you to them for such beautiful books.

It was incredibly cool of them to do the press junket the day after their big YALC appearance, especially as they must have been a lil jet lagged. Thank you to the both of them for the great morning, and to the YALC team for organising the press junket and inviting me!

The first things I did when YALC started officially was sit in on the first two panels. The first was a range of authors mostly with their debut novels releasing this year, celebrating new talent in YA. It was really interesting to hear from a lot of them, as I don’t think I would have otherwise. Claire Hennessey was on this panel, and Nothing Tastes as Good is set to be an awesome release –  in fact, I read an early manuscript of this so can vouch for it!

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The second panel of the day was ASK YALC, with Holly Bourne, Juno Dawson and Rosalind Jana, hosted by Gemma Cairney of BBC Radio 1. I loved this panel so much! It was probably my favourite. It had a little twist to it, as beforehand audience members wrote down questions they wanted advice to – and the panel members answered them on stage. I loved hearing all of the advice – they’re all such brilliant, intelligent and funny people. I was also introduced to Rosalind Jana through this panel, whom I hadn’t previously heard of (ok I probably have, I just have an awful memory). I rushed to buy a copy of her book afterwards!

As I went to Juno and Rosalind’s signings after the second panel, I’d missed a lot of the next one, which was a fantasy one including Philip Reeve. I was a little sad about that, but I decided midday to take a lil break from YALC, and hop down a floor to LFCC to see what was going on there!

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Having spent most of my money on books, it wasn’t the best use of my time; LFCC is mainly a place for buying merch from stands, and queuing for paid autographs and photos with Sci Fi icons. (Very cool, but less so for a broke student like moi)

I did enjoy wandering around a lot, though! It was so different to YALC. The cosplay that I was was amazing (note: a small six y/o-ish Harley Quinn that outdid EVERY other Harley Quinn I saw, like, whoa) and I loved looking at artists’ stands of prints and comics.

I then went back to YALC, to watch the Morally Complicated YA Panel. Even though I was basically winging the whole day, going to panels on a whim, I knew I had to go to this one. It was set to be fantastic – Louise O’Neill and Melvin Burgess, two authors very well known for their controversial but life changing fiction, were joined by Monsters author Emerald Fennel (which I am still yet to read!) and Girl, Detached author Manuela Salvi (this looks SO GOOD).

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So many interesting points were raised about censorship in young adult fiction – from where we draw the line, to banning books, to comparisons with movies. This is a topic I’ve been quietly interested in for a while – and, as I’m currently looking for EPQ ideas (an essay project for extra UCAS points in sixth form) this has actually inspired me to consider writing about YA and censorship for my project!

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The only author photo I got at YALc was with Louise O’Neill, but that was incredibly cool – I’ve been to one of her signings before, but I only bought Asking For It today and I cannot wait to read it. I have a feeling I’ll have an in-depth discussion blog post following reading.

I didn’t actually spend as long at YALC as I did the last two years – I left before the last panel (a Harry Potter Party!) had ended. But I still had a fantastic time!

Similarly to my smaller amount of time at YALC, I also got surprisingly few books (I mean, look at 2014…). However, they’re some pretty awesome books. I can’t wait to delve into them asap. Also pictured: a tote bag and poster from the lovely Hot Key Books, and some postcards of books I must keep and eye out for!

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Books purchased:

-Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Finally, it’s here! I can’t wait to go back to my childhood again.)

-The Yellow Room by Jess Vallance (Loved Jess’ debut. This looks very mysterious.)

-Notes on Being Teenage by Rosalind Jana (Rosalind was fantastic on her panel and this sounds nice!)

-Asking For It by Louise O’Neill (I’ve needed this book in my life for. so. long.)

-[FREE PROOF:] Girl, Detached by Manuela Salvi (This sounded very interesting, and I don’t read much translated fiction)


A HUGE thank you to the organisers behind YALC for putting together such a fantastic event – the whole weekend looked amazing, and the day I visited was really enjoyable. Thank you also to the authors and publicists for putting together such cool panels! Bring on next year 🙂

Beautiful Books (#1?): Just My Type

It’s not just the stories between the covers that I love – it’s how a book is presented and designed. If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you might know that I’m really interested in cover design. I really love taking the time to admire what effort has gone into making the outside (and inside) of a book look awesome – whether that’s the colour, the artwork, the fonts or something like a slip-cover.

I thought it would be a nice idea to make some kind of feature on this blog, where I talk about all of this! So, in the hopes I do make more posts like this – here’s my first one, all about typography!

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I adore pretty fonts – there’s just something really aesthetically pleasing about brush fonts and handwritten ones especially. I’ll admit sometimes I do judge a book by its cover – if it’s got a really cute font on it, the likelihood is I’ll pick it up and have a look! Here’s a few titles I love.

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First up – The boy Who Swam with Piranhas. This book is illustrated and designed by Oliver Jeffers, who is one of my favourite illustrators. The title is in his handwriting and I just love it so much. I don’t really know how to describe it properly – I just adore the uneven capitals and childlike joined-up letters. It’s really pretty!

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Here’s Paperweight by Meg Haston. The cover is quite similar to the US edition, though this UK (Hot Key) version uses a different style for its title. I really like the ‘paper’ part, as it’s so bold and three-dimensional, and connected to other elements of the cover. The ‘weight’ font complements it really well, despite how different it is.IMG_8689

The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer is a book I picked up just because of the cover. I’d seen it around online as it won the Costa prize, but hadn’t actually looked into what it’s about (I only read the blurb after admiring the cover for aaaaages in a store). I really love the brush font, and it reminded me a bit of Oliver Jeffers’ whimsical style. It’s really eye-catching!

If you enjoyed this post, please leave a comment or share it around and let me know! I would love to do some more posts like this in the future, talking about cover design and artwork.

Also, if you’re aware of the artist behind these covers, please do let me know so I can add them in! I did try to research, but found it pretty hard to find them.

Bookstagram: Bookish Photography and Accounts I Love

2016-01-31 (11)I really love Instagram – After neglecting my old account for ages, I set up a new one connected with this blog a year ago. Although admittedly I don’t post as often as many people (my phone’s camera isn’t great, so I upload my DSLR photos using a computer client) – it’s probably my favourite social media app. I adore books, and I adore photography, so the ‘bookstagram’ community, a combination of the two, is the coolest thing.

A lot of accounts on Instagram that I follow have beautiful feeds, following colour schemes and styles. I really admire the artistic effort that goes into many Instagram feeds I follow – as weird as it may sound, Instagram has made me very aware of aesthetics in photography and how to master them.

Here are some accounts I follow that I really love!

@therainingwords – Madiya’s account is just so simplistically gorgeous. Every photo is minimalistic but eye catching, composed really nicely and many are Harry Potter themed, which is a plus 🙂

@themilelongbookshelf – Amber’s Instagram captures such a wide range of books and I really love her creative shots.

@hawwaetc – although more art, not just books, I have to include Hawwa’s account in this post! Hawwa’s journaling and photography and just everything is so beautiful.

@blueeyedbiblio – I love the aesthetic of Emily’s Instagram feed, and it’s no wonder she has over 100,000 followers. I love the range of b&w and warm photos. It feels so cosy and autumnal!

@lucythereader – Lucy’s Instagram is definitely one to follow, as she shares many photos of lovely UKYA titles, and often her guinea pigs with said books. I have no idea how she manages to get her guinea pigs to stay in the shot (my pets would never), so kudos.

@booksandquills – Sanne’s Instagram feed is full of pretty books, much like her YouTube channel. Bonus: lots of photogenic food and London scenery.

@teaplusbooks – I really love this account because all of the photos are equally simple and bursting with colour, which is lovely!

@penguinplatform – Penguin’s new YA platform for teens is so great, and their Instagram feed is always bustling with the latest news about Penguin books, events, and just beautiful photos.

I really admire everyone’s artistic photography skills on Instagram. I can never stick to a ‘theme,’ even for a few photos, so my feed is always quite bizarre. But what I do often try to do is take photos of my favourite books with settings or objects that I relate to them – for example, Keren David’s This is Not a Love Story is set in Amsterdam, so just after I came back from visiting there, I photographed it with my boarding pass and map. Here’s a few other favourites!*

I’m hoping, in the future, to post more of these types of photos, as I really love matching the backdrop or surrounding props with photos. It’s a fun challenge!

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*please note that this post has been scheduled months in advance so these are not the most recent photos on my Instagram. (Right now I’m 99% likely to be sobbing underneath a pile of textbooks / in an exam hall) 😛

Do you use Instagram? What do you like about it, and whose posts do you enjoy following?

Reading and Revising: How I’m Balancing Both in Year 11

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Most people probably know, because I moan about it enough on this blog and social media – I’m in year eleven. And exam season is approaching. And that’s pretty scary.

Whilst I’m so eager to revise lots and get my grades, because they mean a lot – I’m also eager to read lots and get blog posts up, because to me, that’s an equally big part of my life (and the more fun part). Last year, I took a couple of GCSEs early, and found it incredibly hard to just put those books down and revise, dammit. I spent the entirety of April/May of 2015 either revising and being annoyed that I wasn’t reading, or reading and being annoyed that I wasn’t revising. A vicious cycle, you’ll agree, but an unavoidable struggle for any bookworm.

As the majority of my GCSEs (and the most important ones, to me) are happening this year, I’ve decided that I need to approach exam season with a healthy, balanced way of doing both what I love, and what I need to do. Many people are great at making schedules and timetables, but I find it hard to stick to allocated times, and would panic if I didn’t commit to a set order.

I realised (after tumblring about my revision methods and a lot of people saying it was useful) that it may be worth sharing my goals, tips and ideas on how to balance reading and revising. Hopefully, this might come in handy to you, if you’re taking exams!

Set a realistic reading goal:

If I neglect reading for ages, I only get into a reading slump, which saddens me more than anything else. Over the past few years, I’ve read 2/3 books a week on average. This exam season, I’m restricting myself to one book/graphic novel/etc a week. A manageable number for me, and it’ll keep me kinda sane whilst studying and sitting exams.

Use reading as a reward:

 I read this thing online where you can treat yourself with something small like a jelly baby or a piece of chocolate for every page of a textbook you revise from. I try to eat on revision breaks instead (otherwise I just stare blankly at a page while stuffing my face with chocolate) so I’m replacing the edible reward with a chapter of a book. I’m a person who has to write out stuff in order to revise – so for example with my science revision, I’ll let myself read a chapter once I’ve written out the key info, or answered example questions, for one topic.

Use online time wisely:

I have online science, maths and languages work on apps such as Duolingo, and blogging is always the much more fun alternative, so I’ll procrastinate online work by doing that (cough, definitely not what I’m doing by writing this post – oh the irony, cough). I’ve set myself a goal for each online revision app I have, and for my blog. At the time of writing this, my current goal is to write a blog post a week, and visit each revision app once a day. It’s working so far!

Novellas!

Over the past few months, I’ve been hoarding saving some short reads for the next couple of months. If I start a really long book just before an exam, I know I’ll just binge-read it instead of getting some crucial revision in. With novellas, I find that I usually read them quite quickly, and I know that I can put them down and just finish them in a second or third sitting. This also applies to graphic novels and comics – I’m hoping to buy a lot of series I’ve been behind on (Ms Marvel!!) so I can read issues between studying.

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If you’re also currently studying – how are you balancing it with your hobbies? What methods do you use to make sure you’re studying enough, but also enjoying your hobbies?

GCSE English Literature | A Call for Diversity on the Curriculum

NOTE: Although this post references the English Lit syllabus as a whole, I have not researched fully into the poetry and short stories lists so cannot comment on these.

I really enjoy studying English Literature at GCSE – many people detest dissecting fiction and digging for deeper meanings – but more often than not, I actually find it quite interesting.

I’m in year eleven and the two books I’m studying are Of Mice and Men and An Inspector Calls (the only other pieces of literature I have studied at GCSE are two Shakespeare plays). I enjoy the books outside of the classroom – I think they’re important, touch on interesting themes, and are unforgettable.

However, recently I started thinking about what I would have loved to study, alternatively, at GCSE. Out of curiosity, I checked out all of the prose and drama books on the syllabus on the BBC Bitesize website and made a list of the writers currently on the curriculum.

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These stats are quite sad. And the curriculum is subject to change for the next exam series, but it is in fact reducing the amount of foreign literature.

I know that the literary works on the syllabus are all there for very valid reasons – many are life-changing, controversial and important books to talk about. Of the ones I’ve have read, they’re fantastic – take An Inspector Calls, which might well be my favourite 20th Century work.

However, the diversity is really lacking. For example – schools in England and Wales couldn’t even talk about LGBT* books until 2003, when Section 28, barring ‘positive portrayal’ of homosexuality, was repealed. Sadly, it’s clear that the English curriculum hasn’t made huge steps to become more inclusive after this.

There are so many books that could make the syllabus better. I know that most teenagers in my school and others dislike studying English Lit. Would the enjoyment and engagement in the classroom not be improved if we changed it up a bit?

How fantastic would it be to see some modern YA fiction? More books by PoC and LGBT* authors – and/or books with these minority characters as protagonists? Most works on the curriculum, although yes, incredibly important books and plays, all fall into very similar categories in that they are largely 20th Century / Shakespeare / written by people of similar backgrounds.

I talked to some friends in my English class about what they thought, and everyone seems to share the same opinion: if we had a more diverse range of books, students would be more interested in the classroom. Having a wider range of fiction available to study could make a huge impact. Everybody knows that representation of different groups of people can get more students interested in reading, as people can relate to and resonate with writers and stories – which can encourage people to enjoy literature outside of the classroom and later in life. And, at least in my school, I’m aware that people would like to study more books from recent years.

Isn’t it time we looked at some books that would be awesome in classrooms?

I took to Twitter and asked for suggestions. Here’s the fantastic responses! (The picture below is hyperlinked to my original tweet, in case people have replied after I put these together)

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(yes i like drop shadows fight me)

Of the ones suggested that’s I’ve read, I 100% agree. I think if I had the power to put any book on the curriculum, I would choose Lies We tell Ourselves by Robin Talley. Lies We Tell Ourselves is a stunning, conversation-starting book about race and sexuality in the 1950’s, which would be fantastic to write about and discuss in class.

I would love to know your opinion on the English Curriculum, as I think it’s a topic worth discussing more. Do leave a comment, or contribute on Twitter!

Thanks to Ellen for providing feedback and some facts about Section 28.

2016 Releases: Books on my To-Read List!

Here’s a list of some books coming out in the next few months that I can’t wait for.
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Also on this list (but with no final cover art yet, so I couldn’t make matching graphics!) are The Last Beginning by Lauren James, When She Came Back by Michelle Harrison and As I Descended by Robin Talley.

What new books are you looking forward to reading this year?

15 in 15: What I’ve been Loving this Year

I hope you had an awesome Christmas and/or holiday!

In 2014, I made a huge infographic of my favourite reads of the year. It took ages, and I read a ridiculous amount last year, so that list was pretty big. I like summary posts, and I thought – why not write about just my top fifteen books of 2015? And, while I’m at it, why not throw in some other things too… So here’s a post of my top fifteen books, albums and movies/tv series of the year! Most of the things mentioned in this post are relatively new (out this year) but some are recent discoveries I’ve made.

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(shhh the Blue Neighbourhood music video trilogy totally counts)

Have you enjoyed any of the things I’ve mentioned above? What’s been your favourite discovery of this year?

Have a great 2016!