Book Review: Birthday – Meredith Russo

Two kids, Morgan and Eric, are bonded for life after being born on the same day at the same time. We meet them once a year on their shared birthday as they grow and change: as Eric figures out who he is and how he fits into the world, and as Morgan makes the difficult choice to live as her true self. Over the years, they will drift apart, come together, fight, make up, and break up—and ultimately, realize how inextricably they are a part of each other. 

After reading Meredith Russo’s first novel and absolutely adoring it I knew I had to pick up this one as soon as I could get my hands on it. And, as I hoped, the book did not disappoint.

The fact this book is spread out across 5 years just adds to how impressed I was by it. It’s not easy to have characters show growth in such a short space of time and it was pulled off really well. Both Eric and Morgan evolve throughout the novel but also keep the essence of who they are when we meet them in the first chapter.

I think the book could have been double the length and I’d still have loved it. I can understand why it wasn’t but the issues within are so complex I wanted to know even more. In particular, I wanted to know more about the relationship between them both when they were small, more about Morgan’s mother and their relationship.

It’s undeniable that this is an incredibly tough read at times, I fought back tears while reading and wanted to reach through the book and hug both of the characters. That said, most of my love went to Morgan, I can’t imagine what it’s like to live in a body that isn’t mine and have to pretend around the people you love. It also made me consider the fact that we really don’t know what’s going on in a someones head and the need to be kind to people.

Meredith Russo herself is a trans women and I think this only adds to what we can learn as a reader. Russo is writing Morgan’s struggle with her body through the lense of someone who has been through it. We definitely need more own voices novels and Russo is one to watch.

I don’t think it’s going to be any surprise that I gave this 5 stars. This was incredibly well written and I felt very emotional reading. While I am not trans, I can appreciate that as Russo writes, she is writing from the heart. I’ve recommended this to so many friends already as soon as I finished it.

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

cover97312-medium (2)

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

34209827

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

girls-women-happy-sexy-53364-large

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.

fc22972a79d572e1e7197269e0793285

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

23058402

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.