Tag Archives: women

Flame in the Mist by Reneè Ahdieh. Review 

I want to clear something up with regards to this book. It is not a Milan retelling despite what’s been going around. For one it’s set in Japan not China and for two other than cross dressing it has no similarities at all. Disclaimer: I will be using Mulan Gifs in this review because I can 😉 

Now that’s out of the way, let’s move on to the review. 

I received Flame in the Mist in my May Fairyloot box and instantly fell in love with the cover. I’m a sucker for a beautiful cover and this one is one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen! The premise interested me as well, I’ve not read much about Japanese folklore or myths and legends and my entire experience of any kind of Japanese literature is the novels of Haruki Murakami. So I was admittedly very interested to step out into the unknown. 

I’m really glad that I did! Mariko is travelling to the imperial city in a litter when it is attacked, all her samurai and servants are killed and Mariko, convinced it is the work of the infamous renegades, The Black Clan, sets out to find them, infiltrate them and find out why they wanted her dead. I loved the character of Mariko or at least the idea of her, not once was she described as particularly beautiful apart from in the view as a prize for the Emperors son. Instead she is smart, a scholar, a whiz with her mind and with inventions and you know what? That’s really cool and makes a nice change. Lots of books feature smart girls but often the focus is on the fact that they are beautiful and smart. It was nice to see something fresh here. 

I liked all of the characters who all had a lot of story, I’d certainly like to know more of their stories though as it feels a bit like we were fed titbits. This combined with the ending is definitely making me hope for a second novel! 

I also really liked that Mariko didn’t become some fearsome warrior because that would have just been too Mulan inspired for words. In fact she is an individual in her own right completely separate from any other fictional character I’ve read and I loved her the more for it! 

The storyline was well played if a little slow to begin with. It soon picked up the pace and we were treated to folklore, culture, division between rich and poor, man and woman, dark magic and most importantly what I viewed as the moral of the story that the lines between good and evil are not always that well drawn. 

In summary I really liked this book and feel that it is off to a promising start for a series or at least a second book, so fingers crossed there will be one! 

Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy. Review. 

As most of you know, I’m not a huge fan of the classics but hallelujah I seem to have found an classic author I can actually get on with. 

Thomas Hardy’s novel Far From the Madding Crowd is not a great tome of a book and neither is it a difficult read in terms of language or content. But the messages it gives are big ones. 

Bathsheba Everdeen is a headstrong young woman with no less than three suitors. First there is Gabriel Oak who proposes to her first when he is attempting life as a gentleman farmer, then there is an actual gentleman farmer Mr Boldwood who also proposes marriage and is asked to wait. Finally there is the seductive soldier Frank Troy who is completely unsuitable but hey, everyone likes a bad boy right? 

Literally though, Bathsheba is the worst! She’s so annoying! So conceited, so arrogant, she clearly thinks herself to be stunning and strong and usually I’d love the idea of such an apparent feminist but in this case she doesn’t even come across as a feminist. What she comes across as is selfish and at times just a little bit bloody stupid! 

I did enjoy the novel because the prose is excellent and the storyline well put together. It is not a criticism of the author’s work to say that Bathsheba is what she is, it is more that I think Hardy probably wrote her that way. She could never discover the error of her ways after all if she didn’t make errors in the first place! 

The Queen of Wishful Thinking by Milly Johnson. Review 

I’ve loved Milly Johnson’s novels since I picked up a sample of Its Raining Men in Waterstones, Meadowhall a few years ago. I was really excited to receive my copy of The Queen of Wishful Thinking from the publishers Simon & Schuster in exchange for an honest review. 

As usual I really enjoyed the book. This one deals with a lot of sensitive issues, as is expected with the romance/chic-lit genre it focuses on two people who are unhappy and find happiness with each other. But it also deals with the more serious issues of infertility, abortion, infidelity and euthanasia. I also love that there are funny anecdotes at the beginning of several chapters which are extracts from The Daily Trumpet as usual posting hilarious misprints. Being a Yorkshire lass myself I found the one about a 12 year old called Beyoncé-Jane particularly funny, because I know for a fact that there’s probably kids called that in S.Yorks. 

Anyway, back to the storyline; Bonnie is in a loveless marriage with Stephen who controls everything about their lives, to top it off she’s also unhappy in her job, until she unexpectedly lands a job at a new antique store called Pot of Gold and gets more than she bargained for when she falls for her boss Lew. Lew is having problems of his own with his golddigger wife who is fast becoming unrecognisable. Having just recovered from a heart attack, Lew just wants a quiet life. And his feelings for Bonnie are developing as well. 

Alongside the love story, as aforementioned there are lots of other issues going on, but it all comes together very nicely. Milly has a skill of putting together novels which make you equal parts laugh along with the characters and fall apart with them as their world comes crashing down around them and they struggle to pick the pieces up. But friends are on hand, support is there and these friends go to outrageous lengths to protect their own. 

And of course in the end they all get to live happily ever after which is the best part about all of Milly’s novels! 

The Austen Escape by Katherine Reay. Review. 

I read The Bronte Plot last year and really enjoyed it, so it made sense to give The Austen Escape a try, and it did not disappoint. 

Katherine Reay writes novels about American’s who love English Literature. As the title may give away, this one is about all things Jane Austen. 

Mary is an engineer for a start up company called WATT, she loves her job and she’s in love with a colleague Nathan who never seems to look at her that way. On top of that she’s beginning to fear that the new hardcore CEO Karen is going to fire her. Unrequited love and fear of losing her job come to a head when her latest project becomes a failure and she snatches up the opportunity to visit Bath, England with her friend Isabel who is writing her dissertation on Austen’s novels. Cue adults playing dress up at an old regency style house and many shenanigans going down. 

But things take a sinister turn as well and then a very unexpected one. The plot twist is cleverly laid out. One of those that makes you go ‘doh!’ For not realising it was obvious what was going on all along. 

The novel is well written, it’s very light and fun, it’s not by any means a serious book but that doesn’t stop it from being enjoyable. Sometimes light and fun is exactly what a reader needs! I love the play on the historical literature in a modern day setting as well and it’s definitely inspired me further to visit Bath! Another lovely read from author Katherine Reay. 

What does feminism mean to me… 

Remember that time you were standing your ground in your battle against racism and you said ‘there are good and bad in all people’ or ‘just because one person of a certain race or religion did something terrible it doesn’t make them all the same?’ 

It’s a great philosophy to have and one that I use myself. What I don’t understand is why this doesn’t apply to feminists as well. 

People choose to be feminists because they want to stand up for something they believe in. Namely equality. This comes across in different ways dependant on the person. Some women like Tess Holliday choose to celebrate feminism using body positivity and the right to choose to be whatever size you want to be without conforming to the standards of beauty the Western World expects of us. Other feminists like Malala Yousafzai fight for the rights of women in 3rd world countries to have the right to education and a voice. Then there’s Kim Kardashian but I’m not getting in to that… 

My point being that I’m getting a little tired of everybody using social media as a platform to try and destroy the feminist movement. I’m sick of going on Facebook and seeing these new videos and vlogs by men using feminism and misconstrued quotes from feminists to slander and drive women back under the rock we’ve spent hundreds of years crawling out from under. 

Not everyone is going to agree with your brand of feminism. Not every feminist wants to grow their armpit hair, put on ten stone, win a Nobel peace prize or post a naked selfie on Twitter but they should still have the choice to do that if they wish. Feminism is about equality. It’s not about man hating or burning bras or not respecting the fact that men have issues too. In fact it’s just the opposite. 

Feminists want to get rid of the idea that men have to conform to a certain masculine expectation. They want to respect that men don’t have to go to the gym everyday or have their beards shaved in a certain way to be attractive or live to unrealistic body standard set by the media and celebrities. If your a guy I bet your nodding your head and saying hell yeah right now because why should you be expected to do that? But then maybe you’re also the sort of guy who thinks that women should wear makeup and bras and shave their body hair in order to be attractive. 

We might not all agree on the semantics of person specific branches of feminism but that is exactly what they are: person specific. Not every feminist believes in the exact same particulars but overall we agree that certain things need to be made more equal. That if men can choose to either shave or keep their body hair and still be attractive then women should as well. You can’t complain that your other half takes 3 hours to get ready when society dictates that she has too in order to be feminine. 

So this is what feminism means to me: 

  • Where I hold the same qualification or same role as a male colleague I would expect to be paid the same amount of money. That means a base salary not inclusive of overtime or annual leave. – I am lucky in my job that this is the case but I know at least one male who is paid £3,000 a year more than his female colleague for working the same role.  So yes in some cases the pay gap does exist. 
  • I want to be able to feel comfortable wearing what I want including makeup. – I still feel despite all my views against it that I cannot have the confidence to go to work without putting makeup on. 
  • I want to be able to look after my own body without people disdainfully telling me that I have lost or put on weight. 
  • I want to educate people on how feminism stands up for women in the 3rd world who are not as lucky as us. Women who still can’t vote, can’t show their skin, are forced into arranged marriages often with violent men many years older than them, women who are not allowed an education or who are mutilated, murdered and raped. They need feminism even more than you and I. 
  • I want to promote gender equality and the idea that if genders were equal there would be no necessity for this pathetic and pointless competition that is battling out on social media. I want to promote body confidence whether you are male or female or a person with gender dysphoria. 

I’d love to hear people’s views on what feminism means to them so please get involved and let’s share the love and the fight for a better and most importantly equal future! 

What is feminism?

I was astounded on Friday of last week to hear a girl at my work offer the following sentence ‘my cousin is a feminist and she hates it when I wear this t-shirt because she says I am showing that I am not a feminist. But I don’t care because I’m not a feminist. I’d happily let a man look after me, it’s what I want and she says if I’m not a feminist I shouldn’t bother wearing trousers’.

I had to bite my tongue. I’m new to the job and an argument that would have made it clear I thought she was an idiot probably wouldn’t have gone down too well. I’m unsure what annoyed me most, the fact that she was boasting about not being a feminist or the fact that she clearly has no idea what being a feminist means.

The Oxford definition of feminism is ‘the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes’ I think however that this is only the tip of the iceberg. People like the girl at work make presumptions that feminism is just about women being equal to men. They think of feminists as bra burning lesbians who to put it bluntly wish they had a penis between their legs. They think it means that women want to be able to go out to work and not have to stay at home looking after children and cooking tea for the man who is the breadwinner. Yes it is in many ways about those things but for me and many other people who identify as feminists, feminism is about CHOICE.

The girl at work who we’ll call Sarah presumed that because her desires and ambitions lead only to being at home to cook and bake for a husband she hasn’t met yet and to look after their children that she can’t be a feminist. She thinks that to be a feminist would be to betray these ambitions and that she would have to change who she is and what she wants. What she doesn’t realise is that just making that choice alone makes her a feminist. Her choice to be a housewife makes her no less a feminist than my choice to want a career and an education.

So to the Sarah’s out there I think it’s time you found out exactly why you and every other woman (and man as well) should identify as feminist:

  • The Suffragettes – known mostly for their protests and work which led to women obtaining the vote. To name a few of the sufferings the Suffragettes were subject to: imprisonment and force feeding, chaining themselves to fences and throwing themselves in front of carts. Their militant protests enabled women to be granted the vote and therefore allowed women across the country to make decisions about how they wanted the country to be run.

So why is that point relevant? People like Sarah openly admit that they don’t vote and so feel that the suffragette movement had no effect on their lives at all but this is in fact not true. Firstly the choice is available to take if you want it. If you want to vote you can. That word CHOICE is so important by choosing not to vote you are still having that choice made available to you. However to deny your choice to vote implies you have no political opinion. You can’t talk about being unhappy with your wages or your children’s school and education. You can’t complain about the wait in the NHS A&E department or how often the council collects your bins. If you don’t vote then you are making the choice to allow the things you are unhappy with to continue.

  • You get to dress however you want! – if you want to wear skirts, trousers, crop tops or a burkha you’re welcome to put on whatever clothes you want. 100s of years ago women were denied that choice. They couldn’t wear short dresses or have their arms bared. Men often dictated what they could wear right down to the way they could wear their hair. Even having your hair down instead of pinned up was seen as unseemly.
  • The pay gap and career inequality – do you think it would be fair if you found out that Bill who sits next to you at work gets paid a £1 for every 77p you earn? If you found out that women don’t get promoted to high positions as often as men because it is presumed that they will be unreliable and decide to leave to have children
  • Rape and domestic violence – to stop people presuming that because you’re wearing a short skirt or getting drunk means that you are ‘asking for it’ or that because you burnt your partner’s tea it means that you deserve to be punched in the face or pushed down the stairs and that nobody will care because they still believe in the old fashioned beliefs that a man is entitled to beat on his wife. Here’s a few statistics about rape for you:
  • 85,000 women and 12,000 men are raped in the UK every year that’s 11 rapes an hour and only applies to adults not to mention children
  • Half a million adults are sexually assaulted each year.
  • 1 in 5 women between 16 and 65 have experienced some form of sexual assault in their lifetime
  • Only 15% of sexual violence cases are reported to the police
  • 90% of the victims know the their attacker prior to the attack
  • Most women in the UK do not have access to a rape crisis centre
  • Only 5.7% of reported cases end with a conviction

(Information taken from www.rapecrisis.org.uk further statistics can be accessed there)

Feminists do not think they are better than men or that they should have any special treatment. To be a feminist just one special ingredient is needed: to believe that all humans are equal regardless of sex, race, colour, political, religious and social beliefs.

To reiterate: feminism is about CHOICE. So you’re a feminist if you:

  • Choose your own clothes in a morning
  • Have sex when you want with who you want or choose not to have sex at all
  • Have an education of some description be it secondary or higher education
  • Choose your career path whether it be a housewife or an entrepreneur

I couldn’t fit every single reason for being a feminist into one blog post but I hope that the few reasons and examples I have used will help the doubting Thomas’ to see exactly why they ARE in fact a feminist and identify with the movement.

Why it’s great to be you!

It’s not often that we manage to be wholly happy with ourselves as women. I’m not saying for one minute that men don’t suffer insecurities too but as women I think we are a little more open about it. We’re the first ones to criticise ourselves be it our appearance, our personalities or our working/personal life.

So as a celebration of women and being a woman I decided to find 50 things that are great about being a woman. I researched some points using facebook friends and others are ones I came up with myself. So the next time you’re feeling a little down about yourself, take a look at this list and have a feel good moment!

  1. Your bra has a second function as two extra pockets. A great place to store your phone, cash, cards etc when you don’t have a bag or purse handy.
  1. We have far more erogenous zones than men which means we are guaranteed more pleasure!
  1. The option to wear high heels, yes they hurt our feet sometimes but there’s nothing like the feeling they give you of looking like a million dollars
  1. Different hair styles we can have both short or long hair, do plaits, buns, ponytails etc without getting stick like men with long hair do
  1. Dying our hair any colour we want to!
  1. The difference between able to have a load of handbags and shoes (both high and flat) is acceptable – Natalie via facebook
  1. Being a woman is great because it means I get to be a mummy to my son – Fay via facebook
  1. We can be moody and use the excuse of being hormonal – Emily via facebook
  1. You can have a PJ day without being called lazy – Karen via facebook
  1. Buying excessive amounts of shoes and handbags with the excuse of being a woman – Katie via facebook
  1. I can do anything a man can do and still look good naked! – Hayley via facebook
  1. Drinks bought for you, car doors opened for you. Its great being female! – Karen via facebook
  1. The feeling of life growing inside you, the fact we have an ability to grow life inside us and nurture that exact same life outside with courage, wisdom, strength and compassion. A feeling that is only gained to strong capacity because we have the ability in the first place – Lora via facebook
  1. Multiple orgasms! – Emily via facebook
  1. I’m happy to be female as it means having the most important role ever; and that is to be a mum – Amanda via facebook
  1. We get the last say! – Kim via facebook
  1. I get to play with my own boobs! – Noor via facebook
  1. Women have more opportunity where equality is concerned. We are still fighting to get more while men are actually losing slowly as women in high powered jobs etc are on the increase – Jenni (work colleague)
  1. We are always right! – Kathryn via facebook
  1. We have an excuse to spend a ridiculous amount of time getting ready – Natalie via facebook
  1. Creating an initial shock factor when we do something ‘manly’ i.e constructing a bookcase (using instructions) kicking ass at paintballing, winning at FIFA. – Jade via facebook
  1. We can throw a tantrum and blame PMT – Karen via facebook
  1. Makeup shopping at MAC! – Amy via facebook
  1. We can bring the most precious thing into the world: a child – Kim via facebook
  1. Being Grandma; it’s the best job in the world – Gwen via facebook
  1. The hours it’s acceptable to spend getting ready – Becki via facebook
  1. The female community. we seem to combine more, for example; complimenting each other, men don’t do that – Amy via facebook
  1. Showing we have just as much power as men and are very capable of looking after ourselves. Gone are the days when we need a man to look after us! Independence rules! – Jade via facebook
  1. If my skin is bad I can cover it with makeup! I’d hate to be male and not be able to put makeup on – Jenni (work colleague)
  1. We can change our look with hair and makeup – Karen via facebook
  1. Because I get to be a mum at some point in my life – Noor via facebook
  1. More chance to be individual – Natalie via facebook
  1. Because you get to be a mum and nothing breaks the bond as they already know the sound of your heartbeat from the inside – Helen via facebook
  1. Being the example of those before me and being an example for those after me – Jodie P via twitter
  1. Women are always sat on a fortune – Della (work colleague, very tongue in cheek!)
  1. Because of how close we are with friends. Women talk and share things with each other that men won’t discuss – Emma via facebook
  1. We have boobs and cracking asses! – Siobhan via facebook
  1. I love being female because I enjoy doing my hair and makeup when I’m down to cheer me up! – Tia via twitter
  1. Feeling life grow inside you – Becki via facebook
  1. Women and children always go first i.e. on the Titanic – Jenni (work colleague)
  1. I find it hard to think of things which make being a woman great. It can be so much effort, but I guess being a mum one day is a good thing – Jodie L via twitter
  1. I love being female because maybe one day I will feel the sensation of creating another human being inside my own body – Jodie P via twitter
  1. Being able to scare men to death with ‘the look’ – Kate via facebook
  1. We are allowed to cry at films – Karen via facebook
  1. We have much cooler shoes than men! – Deborah (Auntie)
  1. Boobies! – Alice via Snapchat (with accompanying picture! haha)
  1. There’s more choice of clothes to wear – Natalie via facebook
  1. We’re not a man! – Irene (grandma)

We can multitask which is something men are never able to do! – Irene (grandma