“Holding Up the Universe” by Jennifer Niven


Pro Tip: Never ever ever drop your book in the bath tub. Particular not when you are less than 20 pages before the end of a  book that you’ve been reading, pretty much non-stop, for 4.5 hours. Turning waterlogged pages may be the most delicate of all operations. I mean, what if you rip the page?

OK, so, first things first, Holding Up the Universe didn’t make me weep like All the Bright Places did. But what it did do was suck me in with its characters, in particular the main characters Jack and Libby. Niven writes extraordinary characters. In both of her books, the characters felt like real people who you’ve known for ages. Like, she writes them so well that you know everything you could possibly know about them, even things that aren’t said. Niven’s characters are so detailed that anything you don’t know can be inferred. This is a very very rare gift.
Why this speaks so deeply to me is that Niven writes challenging characters. Her characters are complex. There are infinitesimal layers to these characters that get squashed in between the pages of these stories, so that you can’t help but pick up on the why’s of every decision a character makes.

Let’s start with an innocuous one: why is it that Libby watches Supernatural marathons when she’s stuck in her house, trapped by herself and the world around her? Could it be that those Winchesters are trapped in lives they can’t control? That they constantly fight against the powers of darkness so that the world might shine a little brighter? That they never seem to actually fit into the world around them because they are different? Also, on a subtler note, could it be because Libby herself fights to stay light and funny? Because both she and the creators of Supernatural use humour to make fun of themselves? This one tiny choice for Libby’s character reveals so much about who she is as a person. (Maybe not to someone who isn’t familiar with the show, but to someone who loves the Winchesters and knows way too much about then, like I do, this decision paints a huge picture).
Now, there’s a spoiler I need to talk about because it fits into this. I am making you aware of this now. Do not come back, if you haven’t read this book, until I scream at you in capitalised, emboldened font, OK?


So Libby names her across-the-street neighbours Dean, Sam, and Castiel. When she is trapped in her house, she imagines that these boys are her friends. She creates whole worlds in her head for these boys and herself.
As it turns out, Dean, Sam, and Castiel are Jack and his brothers. Now, what does it say about Jack, that Libby allocates the name “Dean” to him? Dean, the elder Winchester who is always looking out for his younger brother. Who acts tough but has a heart as soft and squishy as a teddy bear. The guy with all the swagger and charm, but is so unbelievably insecure in himself that he never accepts happiness when it comes to him. The Winchester who sacrificed a normal life so that his younger brother could have one.

I have a lot of feelings about Dean Winchester, OK?

This teensy tiny detail reveals so much about Jack. Because no author makes a decision like this lightly. Niven could have chosen to have Libby call Jack “Sam” or “Castiel” but instead she specifically chose Dean. And that speaks volumes.


I don’t really know what to say about Jack’s character. His situation is foreign to me, as I imagine it would be to a fair few people who read this book. But he still feels real. The way Niven describes Jack’s way of identifying people is probably the cause of that. Actually, probably just Jack’s narrative voice in general. He is pretty matter-of-fact about his prosopagnosia for the majority of the book. He simply describes people as he sees them. This matter-of-factness makes some of the scenes in this book, like Jack almost kidnapping a kid because his “identifiers” (what Jack calls the details that help him to figure out who people are) are very similar to his little brother’s, absolutely heart-wrenching and terrifying. I think Niven just gets people, and that’s why she can write characters like this so well.

Niven’s works are character driven. There’s a plot, and things happen, but her books seem to be about how her characters navigate the world around them. So I could tell you the plot, but that’s not what makes this book completely unputdownable. It’s the characters. And it’s every character, not just the leads and the antagonists. It’s even Libby’s mother’s character, even though Libby’s mother is only in this story through Libby’s memories.

The only thing I take issue with in this book is that the blurb describes the book as a love story. I mean yes, there’s some romance and the whole “OMG I think I love this person” stuff, but by calling it a love story, it oversimplifies the story. Libby and Jack’s relationship with each other is not the main part of this story. It’s Libby and Jack’s relationships with themselves that matters. Their growing attraction and affection for each other acts as the catalyst for this self-discovery.

I’m not saying there aren’t “THIS IS SO ADORABLE” moments. But what I’m saying is that neither character moons about for chapters on end. Niven writes characters with so much going on, that the romance only flavours the rest of the story; it’s not the whole thing.


P.S. And just because Supernatural is a recurring theme in this book, I give you Team Free Will:


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“You’re Never Weird on the Internet (almost)” by Felicia Day

As an aspiring writer (because I can’t actually remember the last time I wrote something that I completely came up with on my own), I am aware of how hard the conversational, stream-of-consciousness writing style is. I’ve tried it many times and it always comes off stilted and weird. Like I’m having a conversation with someone who can only understand every second word.

Felicia Day does not have that problem. At all. She’s a genius.

(And before you say anything, yes I changed my bookmark to compliment the theme of this book. I have an insane collection of bookmarks, OK? I own more bookmarks than I do pairs of shoes).

So, OK, this book opens on an anecdote that essentially sums up every single theme of this book in seven-ish pages. I just … the mind boggles. I don’t even want to give you any of the details because it’ll detract from the magic of this tiny snippet into Felicia Day’s life. And because of what I just said: if I gave away these first seven pages, I’d be giving away the whole book.

Reading You’re Never Weird on the Internet (almost) was basically like having a really long conversation with a good friend. But in a movie. Everyone has long conversations with friends every now and again. They’re needed. But only in the movies do those conversations loop back around and make connections to something you may have said two hours before, to reinforce an important theme.

I am trying to hold back from gushing too hard so that you guys take me seriously enough to read this book. Felicia Day wrote this book in a way feels like you’re sitting across from her in your favourite café, drinking way too many cappuccinos and eating way too many tiny, delicious biscuits.
I don’t know how she did it, but it feels like you’re speaking back to her. Somehow, the words on the page get into your head, like they were meant just for you. This is super important. Because this book, while hilarious, also makes you think. Day will tell this completely far out anecdote that you’d never think in a million years you could relate to, but then she brings it back around and boils it down into one pure idea that everyone can relate to.
Case and point: Day recounts a very one-sided friendship she had with the girl next door when she was growing up and segues into the idea that her “weirdness is turned into [her] greatest strength in life”. Incredibly inspirational, and something we should all keep in mind more often.

The voice and tone of the book is probably helped along by the use of memes. But, Felicia Day memes. I just…like, instead of having photos in the middle of the book like most memoirs/autobiographies have, Day sporadically threw them into her prose, whether they were photos of herself, homemade memes, or photos from things from her life. This book is kind of like a hardcopy of Tumblr.

I read this book in two days. It’s the end of semester and I should probably have my final assessment finished by now, but instead I read this book. Simply because this book makes you feel good. It’s like carrying around 261 pages of happiness. It’s one of the most honest things I’ve ever read.
Despite the feel good nature of this book, there was a point where I was brought to tears. Day was in the middle of describing her fan experiences at conventions when this happened:

I wept for this guy, who was so vulnerable in front of me, and who, for some reason, felt the need to put himself down when he presented something he’d made from scratch. I don’t let people get away with putting themselves down anymore. There are enough negative forces in this world – don’t let the pessimistic voice that lives inside you get away with that stuff, too. That voice is NOT a good roommate.

Not gonna lie, I welled up typing that. This scene happens after a bloke turns up to a convention and hands Day a poster that he 100% designed himself. And then he proceeds to tell her that it’s probably rubbish, but he wants her to have it anyway.

Ahh, so many feels.

Another beautiful part of this book is how open Day is about her mental health issues. Anxiety, depression, gaming addiction. She talks about it all. As someone who is all about raising awareness for mental health issues, this was amazing. She did not hold back. Day even delved into her difficulty in admitting that she needed help. Because she was convinced she had to do it alone. And that, right there, is a huge problem in the mental health world. Mental health issues are still seen as a weakness. They are NOT. There’s another quote for this:

Imagine saying to someone, “I have a kidney problem, and I’m having a lot of bad days lately.” Nothing but sympathy, right?

Then pretend to say, “I have severe depression and anxiety, and I’m having a lot of bad days lately.”
They just look at you like you’re broken, right? Unfixable. Inherently flawed. Maybe not someone they want to hang around as much?
Yeah, society sucks.
My mental problems made me feel ashamed. I felt like I had to hide them until I could “work through it” on my own. Which I never did, because I didn’t know how.

And that, right there, is a huge problem with invisible illnesses like depression and anxiety. Because there aren’t any visual symptoms, people dismiss it. Mental illness isn’t something that can be shaken off. You wouldn’t shake a broken leg, right?
As important as all of this is, what I loved was how Day detailed her addiction to video games. This is another thing that gets dismissed, but is an actual thing that can have huge, negative impacts on people’s lives. This particular chapter of You’re Never Weird on the Internet (almost)  was called ‘Quirky Addiction = Still an Addiction’.




People can be addicted to anything. But things like game addiction are brushed off as not being real. Day goes into detail about how her addiction affected her life. THIS IS IMPORTANT. I can’t stress that enough.

One of the most genius things about this book though was how Day paints the gaming community in the earlier parts of the book. Gaming was a coping mechanism, a way to connect with people during her pretty lonely childhood. Gaming was a good thing (which is how it can be so easy to get hooked). But then, right at the end of this book, Day talks about #GamerGate. I do not game that much. I’m terrible at video games. Because of this, I didn’t really understand the whole #GamerGate thing. I do now. And that whole chapter made me so angry and sad at the state of the world. Why people can think it’s OK to spit vitriol at people based on gender (or, really, any superficial thing like that: appearance, sexual orientation, the differently abled, religion, all of the stuff that makes us unique individuals. These things should be celebrated, not hated) will always baffle me. And to experience a lifetime lover of the online community’s version of what #GamerGate meant to her really opened my eyes.

I’m going to leave this review here because, let’s face it, there are only so many ways to say that Felicia Day is a gift to us all and everyone should read this book. So, here:


NB: My first experience with Felicia Day was her character Charlie on Supernatural. When Day vaguely mentions a certain scene from the show in this book, I can pinpoint the episode. But upon reading this memoir, I am now about to binge watch as much of The Guild as I can.

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“If You Feel Too Much” by Jamie Tworkowski

I’m not entirely sure how to start this post. If You Feel Too Much wasn’t so much a book as it was an experience. How do you explain an experience? Experiences are different for everyone.

I suppose I should start with the author. Jamie Tworkowski. If you had a close look at the cover of the book above, you’ll see that Tworkowski is the founder of To Write Love On Her Arms. If you haven’t heard of Tworkowski, you’ve probably heard of that particular non-for-profit organisation. TWLOHA has exploded beyond its American origins and into a global phenomenon.
One day, while walking through an O Week set up at my first university, I saw a TWLOHA stand. At the time, I couldn’t afford to buy anything. But I Googled and signed up for newsletters.

Then, one day, I saw that there was a book coming. I preordered it well in advance. When it finally arrived, I put it on my shelf and waited for the perfect opportunity to read it.

It took two years. And I am sorry for that.

If You Feel Too Much is a collection of blog posts, stories, and poems. But more than that, it’s as the cover says, “thoughts on things found and lost and hoped for”. This book, and the man who wrote it, are gifts to this world. We need more people like him.

[N.B., throughout the book, Tworkowski mentions his detractors. People who tear him down for doing something as beautiful and meaningful as helping people whose insides are tearing them apart. For those people, I have no words. What is it that Tworkowski says?
People love to hate, love to be cynical, love to tear down the thing that rises.
There are some people who are so filled with hate that they let it spill out of themselves and into people who have done nothing to deserve it.]

Tworkowski invites us into his life, into heartfelt discussions with his estranged father, into his thoughts on friends who have gone, into his struggles with his own mental health, and into his faith. His unconquerable faith in love and the power it holds to do good in a world where love is sorely needed.

He talks about the film Inception in a way that I have never thought to think about it before.

An important thing to know about Jamie Tworkowski is that he is a man of faith. He believes in God and this faith comes up a lot in this book. This made me uncomfortable as all mentions of God make me uncomfortable. My family’s and my experiences with the Christian faith have been less than great. The Christian faith is was underlies the denied fundamental human rights of many of my loved ones. When I hear Christianity, I think of marriage inequality, the horrors outside of family planning centres, and the denial of people who are different as human beings. These have been my experiences. However, there is a quote from Tworkowski that sums up this phenomenon:

We are known to the world as something like the [yelling] guy outside. We tell people how to vote and think and live. We shout our judgements. We are quick with our answers and slow to confess our questions, maybe slower even still to meet other people in theirs.
A shouted “You’re going to Hell” is an awful introduction to a God who desires to love and know His children.

But what if we were known as a people in true pursuit of love, a people committed to representing it well? What if we were known for constantly showing up to wrestle the needs and questions around us, and what if we took it so far as to be honest about our own?

Religion is a dirty word in this day and age. It’s the excuse for atrocities committed against fellows human beings, whether internationally or in our own towns and cities. But Tworkowski represents what religion should be. It should bring out the best in people and help them to reach out and help the less fortunate.
There are people like Jamie Tworkowski in the world, people of faith who care about people more than judging people by rules written thousands of years ago that no longer fit our modern society. Unfortunately, it’s the people like the Westboro Baptist Church and ISIS that take centre stage. If we focused on the people who have religion and let it help them help others, rather than the religious aspects of the absolutely terrifying things that happen around the world daily, we may have a different reaction when someone says “I have faith” than to brace for an ugly tirade.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed yet, but this post is not a review. I just wanted to share my thoughts on this book with you all because many people out there struggle with the demons in their heads, or know of people battling those demons. I urge you to share If You Feel Too Much with them. I am lucky enough to be classed as neurotypical. My brain does not turn against me. But for many people I love and cherish, this battle with their brain is their daily life. If You Feel Too Much drips with love and acceptance and understanding for everyone. I believe this book is important.

The only thing that I will say that could be classed as a ‘review’ is to talk about Tworkowski’s stylistic choices when he writes. Well, just the one. He never capitalises his “i’s”.  At first this bothered me, grammar purist that I am (or that I try to be), but then I saw it for what – I think – Tworkowski was trying to say. The words “you, us, together, them” are not capitalised. So to keep himself on the same level as everyone else, he keeps his i’s in lower case. It’s an act of modesty that is so quiet that it is very nearly invisible. But this tiny change speaks volumes about the man who wrote this book, and founded an organisation based purely in love.

If You Feel Too Much defies a star rating. It will cheapen this book to label it with such. Instead, I will just say that this book is hugely important. And I urge everyone to read it.

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“The Awakening” by Kate Chopin


There aren’t many books where my first thought upon finishing is “wow, I wish I could study this book”. But The Awakening is one of them.

I originally bought this book after reading Melissa Marr’s story ‘Awakened’ in the Rags & Bones  anthology. As Chopin’s book inspired a story about selchies, I thought that it would be more supernatural than it was. But, at its core, The Awakening is about a woman discovering herself in a time period where, if a woman’s personality didn’t include the word “subservient”, people were concerned.

The reason that I wish I could study this book is because there is so much going on, and so many ways in which this book can be interpreted, that I want to have a place where I can discuss my opinions and listen to other people’s.

The Awakening opens on a family holiday abroad where we are introduced to our heroine, Edna Pontellier. She’s a strange woman for her time, to be sure. Edna’s not really interested in keeping her home or looking after her children, or pleasing her husband. Instead, she has an iron streak of independence that can’t be shaken. Her close friendship with a man named Robert Lebrun awakens (see what I did there?) in Edna the possibility of a future that Edna never before thought possible.

The blurb for this book has a line that to me, both sums up and disregards the main theme of the story:

Poignant and lyrical, it tells the story of a New Orleans wife who attempts to find love outside a stifling marriage.

As this line suggests, Edna falls in love with a man outside of her marriage. And yes, this man is Robert. However, I feel that this summary doesn’t quite capture what I thought the crux  of this story was.
I read this book two different ways. The first of which was that Edna, upon becoming infatuated with Robert, discovers her feminine sensuality. In a time where a woman’s job was to please men for their own sake, Edna discovers that the love and touch of a man can please women just as much as it pleases the man in question. Throughout the story, although Edna is head over heels for Robert, she experiments a little with affection from other men, namely a gentleman named Alcée Arobin. Chopin explains the effects of this affection perfectly in The Awakening:

When he leaned forward and kissed her, she clasped his head, holding his lips to hers. It was the first kiss of her life to which her nature had really responded. It was a flaming torch that kindled desire.

There was a dull pang of regret because it was not the kiss of love which had inflamed her, because it was not love which had held this cup of life to her lips.

To me, this reads like those times where you kiss a stranger upon knowing them for all of a day or night. When you spend hours talking to a perfect stranger and then lean in and kiss them afterwards. That kiss is not full of love, but full of possibility of new things. It fizzles with all that the kiss could mean. Does that make sense? The kiss exciting, and usually passionate, but it’s not love. This emotional response is very nearly commonplace in this day and age but for a woman in 1899 these emotions are scandalous. And for a married woman to be kissing a man who is not her husband? String her up for high treason against the patriarchy!

So, to me, Edna is experiencing that thrill of the new, but is regretting that this discovery of new emotions is not happening with Robert.

But what about Edna’s husband? Well, he spends a lot of this book absent, travelling for work. So Edna goes through this miraculous journey of self-discovery alone. Her children are staying elsewhere and Edna is left alone in her huge house with her household staff. As such, Edna finds different ways of occupying her time; some of which give her money. Edna is an artist and starts selling her works for small fees. She also goes to the racetrack and (according to the story) knows horses so well that she is capable of making successful bets and coming home with substantial winnings.
These lucrative pastimes give Edna a sense of independence that she has never had before. And what does she do with it? She moves out! She moves out of her husband’s home and into a small house, with no man to help her. She brings only her own belongings and one servant and sets herself up. Like, that’s not so much a big deal now, but for back then? A woman living alone? Perish the thought. This streak of independence is incredible to me. The strength it would have taken to go against the grain like this boggles the mind.

I did mention a second way of reading this book. And I think this might be because of my current studies in psychology. But, Edna’s erratic behaviour could be due to an undiagnosed mental illness. Back in the good ol’ days (so much sarcasm) whenever women exhibited real emotions, they were branded as hysterics and dealt with by negligent or cruel means. I feel like, and this could just be me reading way too much into this book, that when Edna’s emotions are awakened by Robert, love isn’t the only one that comes through. I think Edna may have been exhibiting signs of bipolar disorder. I mean, look at this quote:

There were days when she was very happy without knowing why. She was happy to be alive and breathing, when her whole being seemed to be one with the sunlight, the colour, the odours, the luxuriant warmth of some perfect Southern day.

There were days when she was unhappy, she did not know why, – when it did not seem worth while to be glad or sorry, to be alive or dead; when life appeared to her like a grotesque pandemonium and humanity like worms struggling blindly toward inevitable annihilation.

Edna acts erratically and is “fine” for long stretches but also ends up despondent for no apparent reason and lying in bed all day until the feeling passes. To me, it sounded as though Edna needed to be talking to a psychologist. Obviously I am no expert, and if this offends anyone with bipolar disorder, please tell me. As a neurotypical, all I have to go on is what I’ve read in textbooks and heard from friends.
The reason I have read this book this way, is because of the ending. I’ve given away a lot about this plot of The Awakening but I don’t want to give away the end. In essence, I feel like if someone had sat Edna down and had an actual conversation with her about what was going on in her life, rather that spouting unwanted advice, the ending may have been different. Or if the doctor character in this book had spoken to Edna about her state of mind, rather that just going off of Edna’s husband’s account, the ending may have changed.

There’s so much I want to talk about, but I’ve already written a post that is nearly three times as long as what I usually write, so I’ll leave it here.

As per usual, I do not give star ratings to classic novels, but what I will say is:



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“The Boy Who Lost Fairyland” by Catherynne M Valente

You know when a favourite author releases a new short story or novella or even a single damned scene that involves a minor character from a favourite series and you just start squealing all over the place?

Yeah, this was that. Only the series isn’t over yet.

What blows my mind is that Catherynne M Valente somehow managed to convince her editors, publishers, and everyone else involved in creating a book that writing a Fairyland book not about September was going to work.

I imagine the conversation happening in some office somewhere where all of the publishing house staff come together and form an intervention. They sit down around Valente, and very calmly, ask her if she has LOST HER GODDAMNED MIND? ARE YOU KIDDING? THIS BOOK WON’T SELL. WE NEED MORE SEPTEMBER. Valente then smiles and says to them”No. You’ll publish this” and sashays away.

I mean, that’s probably not how it went down. But that’s just how I picture it. Because Valente takes a lot of risks in her work, but they absolutely always pay off.

As you have probably already guessed, if not from my tirade, then by the title of this post, this particular book in the Fairyland series does not follow September. Instead, it follows a Changeling called Hawthorn, and what his life is like before he finds his way back home to Fairyland.

I think Valente just understands what it’s like to be young and not feel right in your own skin. She perfectly captures every awkward feeling you’ve ever had, whether it was when you were surrounded by the “normal” kids at school, or somehow not being able to find your niche in the office. Somehow, Valente makes a Changeling who is actually a troll in children’s clothing feel as relatable as anyone in any teen drama you’ve ever watched.

What broke my heart, though, is that Hawthorn (when he was Thomas in the human world) tried so hard to fit in because he desperately wanted to make his parents happy. He wrote down the odd rules of humanity in his notebook, Inspector Balloon, and tried to follow them to the best of his ability so that his father would stop comparing him to the other kids.
The main reason that this broke my heart is that there are so many people who are just as dazed by the rules of society in our very own reality. And to read about Hawthorn’s struggles made me feel as though I was reading about someone’s real life struggle with understanding the world around them.

Valente’s books, while sublime and wacky and whimsical and heart-wrenching in the extreme, are about so much more than their plots. She has just an incredible way with mood. And not many authors can get mood right, let me tell you.

It’s the feeling of these books that stays with me, long after the plot has been resolved. (Which is why I never talk about the plot, pretty much. It’s not the most important part of these books. More like the delectable icing on top of a delicious cupcake).


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“The Sign of Four” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

I do not review classics. If you’ve been hanging around this blog for a while, you will know that I do not review classics. These are books that have been around for lifetimes before me and will probably be around for lifetimes after me, so my opinion is simply irrelevant. What I like to do instead is to basically recount the experience of reading the book.  This becomes even more relevant when it’s one of the classic books on which one of my many fandoms is based. I am a huge, huge, HUGE Sherlock Holmes fan. I love the stories, the characters, and the modern reincarnations (except Elementary. Don’t even get me started on Elementary). So, I am very slowly collecting all of the BBC reissues of the  original Sherlock Holmes stories. I’m nearly done now!

The Sign of Four is where the beautiful episode of BBC’s Sherlock, ‘The Sign of Three’ got its name. However, the original story is not quite as light-hearted. In fact, it’s not light hearted at all.
The story starts when a lovely young woman, Miss Mary Morstan (!!!) approaches 221B Baker St to discover who has been sending her annual priceless pearls every year and why they now want to meet her face to face. In true Sherlockian style, this case seems absolutely open and shut until a surprise twist (*coughmurdercough*) leaves Holmes and Watson at a loss and with a very intriguing case to solve indeed.



“Ah, the wall had it coming.”

Now, I took away a few things from this story. The biggest one was Holmes’ drug use. This story both begins and ends with Sherlock’s drug habit. He takes cocaine, or morphine, when work has been slow and his brain begins to “stagnate”. This is something we’re familiar with from the BBC’s Sherlock, in a lesser form with his cigarette patches and his firing guns at walls. However, this story takes such a cavalier attitude to the use of cocaine that it is quite jarring. In fact, the last exchange between Watson and Holmes goes like this:

“The division seems rather unfair,” I remarked. “You have done all the work in this business. I get a wife out of it, Jones gets the credit, pray what remains for you?”
“For me,” said Sherlock Holmes, “there still remains the cocaine-bottle.” And he stretched his long white hand up for it.

The language in Conan Doyle’s work is so modern compared to many of his 19th century colleagues that sometimes I forget these stories are set before cocaine was made illegal in the UK.  This is something that is lost in modern reincarnations of the stories. Holmes wasn’t a criminal. He used cocaine in much the same way as alcohol or tobacco. It was simply another substance back then. There’s isn’t really  way to bring this aspect of Holmes’ London in to the modern era.

Another aspect of the time was casual racism. Political correctness wasn’t a thing when Conan Doyle was writing these stories, so perfectly lovely characters were at ease calling people of different ethnicities by their atrociously racist ‘titles’. Both Holmes and Watson are guilty of this. However, what I did notice was that, although Holmes and Watson may use these horrific nouns to describe people of other nations, they never talk about the nationalities in a derogatory manner. These words are used like we would use “Spanish”, “Irish”, or “Indian” today. The villains, on the other hand, don’t do this. They use these terms exactly like racial slurs. I think this is an interesting distinction for an author to make during a time when racism was non-existent, because it wasn’t recognised.

NB: I could be being completely biased here. Watson and Holmes could have been just as terrible as the villains, but I just refused to notice. Feel free to point this out to me in the comments. Though, I have never claimed to be impartial during this recount. I love Sherlock Holmes too much to be objective.

Finally, I want to leave you with this excerpt that left me fangirling for hours after I read it. If you are as massive a fan of the Watson/Holmes friendship as I am, then prepare your minds:

“…Look here, Watson; you look regularly done. Lie down there on the sofa, and see if I can put you to sleep.”
He took up his violin from the corner, and as I stretched myself out he began to play some low, dreamy melodious air – his own, no doubt, for he had a remarkable gift for improvisation. I have a vague remembrance of his gaunt limbs, his earnest face and the rise and fall of his bow. Then I seemed to be floated peacefully away upon a soft sea of sound until I found myself in dream-land, with the sweet face of Mary Morstan looking down upon me.


#johnlock 😍


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“The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two” by Catherynne M Valente

It’s been a few days since I finished this Fairyland book, so this could be a very short one today, because I really just want to talk about the impression that this book has left on me, rather than the story itself. Which was, as per usual, a whimsical, heart-wrenching, and marvellous story.

The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two, to me, was a story about growing up. September is fourteen in this instalment. Remember being fourteen? A very weird time that never feels weird at the time until you look back and reminisce when you’re a little bit older. So September is dealing with all of her fourteen-ness when she goes back to Fairyland to find that Saturday has grown up too. He’s coming into himself and he’s simultaneously more Saturday and less Saturday all at once. Valente has explored what it’s like when your friends grow up without you. Like, when I left my primary school to go to a different high school to my friends, I’d come back for birthday parties and things and find that all of the friends I knew so well had changed in very subtle ways that made them more like themselves but also like strangers. Valente totally nailed this.

But she also, as always, took this to another level. Saturday, as a Marid, constantly runs into different versions of himself from different times. In this book, he runs into his adult self and doesn’t like what he sees. Here, have a quote:

“You see him and you think me and I knew if you saw him first you would be afraid because it is frightening! I am frightened! I have to turn into him! He’s already been all the Saturdays it takes to be that Saturday, but whatever happened is still coming for me, I still have to stand up for the hurts and the grief that made him and I can’t not do it, but knowing I will is like looking at a hot stove and knowing you’re going to touch it, knowing you’re going to burn, and feeling the blisters and the peeling before even you reach out your hand. I have to feel it now, all the time, and I don’t even know what the stove is.”

He doesn’t like it, but he understands it. Something, or a lot of somethings, must have happened for Saturday to turn into the adult that he sees throughout this story. The scary thing for him is not knowing what those things are and being unable to stop those things from happening.

No one really knows how they’re going to grow up because we live our lives in a straight line. So we always know what’s happened to make us how we are at any given moment. But seeing a future you and not knowing what’s making you act in a certain way? That would be terrifying.

See what I mean, when I said this would be short? I feel like this impression of the story is kind of more important than what I thought of the plot and the characters and the language (which were all, as usual, exquisite; Valente is a magician with words). I will say that Valente is a genius with misdirection. She can make characters seem one way and then reveal a detail, or a story, about them and make us see them in a new way. A lot of authors do this, but not a lot of authors do this well. Valente does.

I’m going to leave it here. But the only take away you really need is this: Read this series.


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