Book Review: A Quick & Easy Guide To Queer & Trans Identities – Mady G & J.R. Zuckerberg

We live in an incredibly diverse world, one that should be celebrated. That said, to celebrate it we must first understand the people in it. The LGBTQ+ community are, in my experience, wonderful people but often people don’t know or understand much past the L (Lesbian) and G (Gay) parts of the spectrum. That’s where this graphic novel comes in.

When searching through Netgalley, I came across this graphic novel and was curious as to how educational it would be. It covers such a wide spectrum to help people understand the way that people identify. Importantly, this also covers the difference between sexuality and gender – something many get confused.

I’ll admit, when I was younger I didn’t know much about Transgender people and the variations of gender before I was 18. It wasn’t something that myself or anyone close to me had gone through. Of course, I understood about identifying as Gay, Lesbian or Bisexual but beyond that, I had a lot to learn.

This is a fantastic resource for anyone who wants to learn more about complicated topics without being bogged down in history and politics. While those things are incredibly important, they can seem very overwhelming. This is a good place to start and is easy to digest for a beginner.

I gave this a huge 5 stars. This is a really accessible graphic novel that could educate a lot of people. The fact that this is a little different and has fantastic art style adds to the experience of reading. Being taught about gender and sexuality by snails? Why not. Honestly, why not? This would be a great gift for someone who wants to learn more but doesn’t know where to start.

Thank you to Netgalley, the author and publisher for the opportunity to read this in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Book Review: Dreadnought – April Daniels

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After witnessing a superhero fight between the ultimate hero, Dreadnought and a new unknown villain, Danny’s life is going to change forever. As Dreadnought dies he gives Danny a gift like no other, his powers and the body he’s always longed for. Daniel, becomes Danielle.

Yes everyone, we have a transgender superhero and about time too! I heard about this book from CeCe at Problemsofabooknerd over on Booktube and immediately went and put in a request to Netgalley,which I was lucky enough to be granted. I wanted to read this on holiday and did so in less than 24 hours. If that’s not enough to get you excited for this book, then I don’t know what is.

Daniels is a brilliant writer, she doesn’t make this a disney-type happy story. Danny has to deal with a lot through the novel and her transition. She deals with transphobia, an abusive parent and sexism after transitioning, all of that on top of getting some of the most powerful super powers ever known. Just what a 15-year old needs to deal with while going to High School.

One of the best things about this novel, which has been mentioned before, is that this sets out to show that superheroes aren’t instantly good and uncomplicated people. Within the novel Danny does struggle with the judgements of others because of their own prejudices because her transformation includes a transition of gender. This was really interesting as it challenges the idea that superheroes all being instantly accepting. On the other hand, Daniels also explores that not everyone with powers wants to be a well known super-hero, something that not many of us would have considered.

I have so much love for Danny and another character, Calamity, although I won’t spoil too much other than she’s an amazing character and persona, I could see her in my head so clearly. The relationship that evolves between them is just something that the novel needed. I cannot love it any more than I already do.

If you love superheroes, action and diversity then Dreadnought is one for you. I gave this wonderful novel five stars, a rare score but it truly deserves it. So much has been packed into this book to set up a series and I can’t wait to get my hands on the next in the series, Sovereign which is released THIS MONTH. I honestly can’t contain my excitement to see what’s going to happen next to Danny after that ending.

As always thank you to the publisher and April Daniels for this copy in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Book Review: The New Girl: A Trans Girl Tells It How It Is – Rhyannon Styles

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Imagine feeling lost in your own body. Imagine spending years living a lie, denying what makes you ‘you’. This was Ryan’s reality. He had to choose: die as a man or live as a woman.

Rhyannon is brilliant, to put it simply. Throughout her life she has been a light in what sounds like quite a bland place to live for someone so fabulous. After being assigned male and named Ryan at birth, Rhyannon knew she was different. From her earliest memories she wanted to be a girl. At the age of 30 her dream finally came through, this is her story.

I’m a huge fan of reading about people’s journeys and how they have faced adversity. I listened as Rhyannon narrated her story, the highs and the lows and what it was like growing up in a small town and labelled ‘gay’ to living in the city and realising who she really was.

What makes this stand out for me is how Rhyannon adresses her family and their reaction to her transition. I appreciate the honesty that she has about how she and her family differed about her being Trans, how families can struggle and feel the need to grieve the person they thought they knew. I feel this could really help young people who go through a similar experience not feel so alone.

The only issue I had with this book is that it seems to be divided in two, but not in an obvious way. Rhyannon has decided that she would first tell her story in relation to happiness and light-heartedness but later reveal her ‘b-side’ as she calls it. With this there was a bit of a risk that people would give up before that point, I know I wondered if the story was sugar coated until I got to this point. It’s not a case of wanting misery, rather I wanted to know more about how Rhyannon felt prior to transition.

I gave this 4 stars. I found Rhyannon to be intelligent, insightful and show her feelings well throughout the book. There is also humour in the book as Rhyannon looks back and considers both the good and the bad in relation to her experience. I’d definitely recommend for an informative read.

Feminist Fridays: Including All Women

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Feminism is about equality. Equality for all women to be treated the same as women. There are two key words in that sentence equality and all. When I was 18 I wrote a project on ‘The image of African-American women in post-1900s literature’, while writing it I read a lot about black feminism, I found it interesting but didn’t really understand it at the time. Recently I’ve noticed the distinct lack of inclusion of women of ethnic minorities when I read about feminism. So many of the great feminist writers and speakers are white, and often middle class. There’s nothing wrong with hearing their experiences, but they cannot speak for all women. I am also a white, educated young women and the important thing is that I realise other women have opinions and stories and we need to listen to them. We need more diversity.

For a long time I thought wearing a hijab was oppressive, how dare a religion tell a woman what she can and cannot wear. That was until I met a friend of mine at university, Salma, as well as speaking to other girls in my class about why they chose to cover their heads. Now Salma is one of the most kick ass people I met at uni, we spoke a few times and it isn’t a big deal to her. She wears a scarf because she wants to. Good for her. It doesn’t stop her being who she is, funny and kind, but instead of feminism trying to tell her what she does it wrong, we should stand up for the right for women to wear what they like. I’ve heard countless accounts of black women I’ve known being treated unfairly because they are black and female, or I’ve read about black women not being allowed to wear their hair naturally at work. We should be working together to beat this discrimination.

I also can’t understand why some people,I’m looking at you Germaine Greer, won’t accept Trans women into feminism. They are women, they have been born into the wrong body. Hell being a woman is hard, anyone who’s willing to go through the immense pressure and change of making your body how it should be is a kind of hero to me. Why can’t people accept these women into feminism and fight for their rights, the right for them to use the damn bathroom or get access to good medical care.

I completely understand that different women will have difference issues and opinions but we’re all women. If we work together, respecting each others choices and personal feminism think of how much we could get achieved and how much we could learn too. I’m a feminist and I care about ALL women’s rights, regardless of race,choice or sexual orientation. Who’s with me??

Hey North Carolina, Hate Won’t Win.

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The internet has been flooded today with people’s anger and disgust at North Carolina’s new Bathroom Law, a direct attack on Trans people that dictates the bathrooms that they can use. Aside from this, the run up to the law being passed was was filled with hatred and lies about the Trans community. An outcry of uneducated people stating that Trans people will molest others in bathrooms, lead to a lot of people freaking out and hating on the Trans community even more. It was another lie for transphobic senators to get their own way and gain power over a minority.

Although I’m still very shocked that this bill could have even gone through, the reactions of the rest of the world has made me feel better. Concerts have been cancelled, conventions have been cancelled and companies are pulling out of activities and sponsorships related to the state. These actions send a powerful message to the government, hate will not win. It also says that we stand with the Trans community.

We will keep fighting and hate will not win.

Image from Pinterest

Book Review: The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson

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David Piper has always been an outsider. His parents think he’s gay. The school bully thinks he’s a freak. Only his two best friends know the real truth – David wants to be a girl.

David has been longing to come out to his parents as Kate for a long time, but each time he tries there’s something stopping him. While trying to get through school with the help of his two best friends he takes an interest in Leo, a new guy who’s rumored to have been thrown out of his old school. While no one else will even look him in the eye David wants to get to know him better and not just because he’s gorgeous.

This was the first book I read in 2015 and as I mentioned in my top books of 2015 post, I absolutely adored it. This is the first book I have read with a trans character as the main character. I picked this up because it was on offer and I’m so glad I did, although written for a YA audience this is a great book and Williamson has cemented herself as a great writer. There are twists, turns, happiness and sadness in this novel. It is an emotional rollercoaster, but most great books are.

There is so much I wish I could tell you about, but a lot of my favourite parts come after a twist. The story builds really well to the twists and is pretty unputdownable. I will say though that while I liked David, he wasn’t my favourite character, he was a little too nice and acted younger than he was. I absolutely adored Leo though, even as you get to know more about him he’s just a great character which a much richer back story and he develops throughout the novel into someone I really liked.

This book is the kind of book that needed to be written, the title says it all really, there’s an art to being ‘normal’. When I say that I mean that I think there is a certain act that people put on to try and appear how they think they should and how others want them to be. The book eventually gets rid of this, as the characters grow stronger and more certain in themselves there is a moment of simply not caring about being ‘normal’ and that’s a really important message for young adults. Williamson can’t have known before she wrote this that 2015 was going to be a huge year for the Trans community, which is what makes this novel even more special. She gets it.

Of course I’m giving this novel 5 stars *****. Not only does this tackle a subject that isn’t spoken about enough, it’s talking about it to young people who can change the future for the Trans community. The characters were relatable and so was the plot. I think for many this will let them empathise and understand a little more about what it’s like to feel born into the wrong body. I also can’t wait to see what’s going to come next from Lisa Williamson, I cannot stress enough how much of a brilliant writer she is.

Book Review: This Book is Gay – James (now Juno) Dawson

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‘This is a manual for everyone – no matter your gender or sexaul preference’

When I saw this book at a YA lit fair I was intrigued. The bright and beautiful cover attracted me and then I read the cover. I thought this would be a novel about someone who is gay but this is something much better. I would even go as far to say this is one of the best books of a generation. This Book is Gay is a book which covers a lot of ground that the author thought was missing after teaching PSHE (health class for my American readers) but not just from one opinion, there are stories from so many different people all with different experiences.

When this was published, James Dawson was a gay man, in the time since James has announced that his real self is Juno, a transgender woman and I celebrated along with the rest of twitter. None of that matters because the writing is funny, interesting and highly educational btu in a way you feel like you’re chatting to a friend. I only mention this incase people are confused when trying to find ‘James’ on Twitter later.

I don’t believe in someone being 100% gay or 100% straight. It seems to me, even more so after reading this, that there are so many different parts of the spectrum that slapping an either/or label on everyone is just stupid. I’ve never had a girlfriend but I feel that I’m the person who falls in love with someone because of who they are, not because of what’s in their pants. I fell in love with a male, I’m going to marry him at some point but that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate a good looking female. If people want to label me after that, then so be it.

The book has both serious and funny chapters throughout as well as some brilliant illustrations. Some of the chapters include; Stereotypes are poo, Where to meet people like you, Nesting, Hats, The ins and outs of gay sex and Welcome to the members club. There is even a bit for parents and carers, lists of charities and organisations and notable gay and LGBTQ celebs and allies (named: A guide to recognising your gay saints). There is so much in here and I learnt so much I will just shout my love for it from the rooftops!

I 100% feel that this book should be given out at all schools as an important tool for learning and accepting LGBTQ youth. Dawson is right, there isn’t enough sex education for young  LGBTQ people. I thought long and hard after reading and we didn’t cover safe sex for anyone who wasn’t straight which, frankly, is just ridiculous. How can you just ignore the needs of people just because they’re not ‘the norm?’, they can still get STI’s like anyone else? They still have questions and worries like anyone else. If I was in charge of a school I’d make sure everyone was given a copy and there were copies in the library too. This is superbly written and has a lot of great info from a variety of people, not just Juno herself.

There have been arguments that there isn’t as much information for the Lesbian community. I can see the points people have made but I do feel there is a good amount of content in here, after all there are only so many pages here. The part about lesbian sex is a little thin, and maybe that’s what people are upset about and I can understand that. Other than that though, I feel like this is a good and inclusive guide.

Of course I’m going to give this book 5 stars *****. I was truly inspired by Dawson, her writing, her style and the way that the book itself was put together. I think everyone should read this, because everyone will learn something from it. A truly phonomenal book, not one to be missed.