Feyre Archeron: Cosplay

Ever since the title for A Court of Wings and Ruin released I’ve been itching to cosplay at least one character from the ACOTAR series by Sarah J Maas. It only took two people to say that I looked like Feyre for me to fully accept that “challenge” (haha, but really, as a first time cosplay-er this was a lot more fun that I had expected it to be). Finding all of the gear and accessories was the fun part… walking through a public hiking trail and an arboretum wearing elf ears and a ball gown was a bit awkward to say the least.

So without any further delay, here are all of the photos we shot over the week! I definitely plan on cosplaying my favorite character this coming fall– LUCIEN. I’m already teaching myself how to properly use prosthetic makeup and apply colored eye contacts. And with a possible Lucien novella lurking just around the corner, I really can’t wait!

Ears: Geekling Creations on Etsy
Headpiece: NebulaXCrafts on Etsy
Dress: DHGate
Bow & Arrow: Bounty Bunker on Etsy
Book: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, BookDepo
Arm Jewelry: Heartichoke (Huntington, NY)

 

Slut Shaming in YA Literature

“i want to apologize to all the women i have called beautiful
before i’ve called them intelligent or brave
i am sorry i made it sound as though
something as simple as what you’re born with
is all you have to be proud of
when you have broken mountains with your wit
from now on i will say things like
you are resilient, or you are extraordinary
not because i don’t think you’re beautiful
but because i need you to know
you are more than that”
― Rupi Kaur, Milk and Honey


In a time where unity sounds more like a fable than a fact, fighting oppression is vital for survival. Two of the most prominent oppressors of our generation are racism and sexism, both of which are constantly being disputed yet still remain an uphill battle. It’s easy to question why nothing has changed when you’ve put such effort into making a difference, but the fact of the matter still stands to reason that each little movement makes up a part of one giant revolt. The minimal things you do to help support equality will carry on to inspire others around you. Which is why I find proper representation in Young Adult literature to be essential for teaching readers how to be accepting and understanding, and to reassure them of their worth in this war-torn world. And while I promise to write another post about the racial inequality in YA, I wan’t to focus firstly on the gender bias that exists.

There is a certain stereotype that in retrospect appears harmless but can cause grave amounts of damage which can be found in plenty of novels, especially ones in the contemporary genre. The so called “mean girl” antagonist that materializes in a book is often depicted as someone who wears a lot of makeup, revealing clothing, lacks intelligence, and is outwardly racist and/or homophobic. However many prototypes of this character exist, they all seem to have the same overlooked trope in common— their reasoning for being antagonistic. From my perspective, it would seem as though they have every right to be hostile towards the main characters, what with the blatant slut shaming these women are facing. Authors tend to use the downfall of one character to elevate the innocence and uniqueness of their main character— and these two are typically the a) high school mean girl vs. b) victimized leading protagonist.

This is incredibly sexist.

slut-shame-3

slut-shame-2

 

 

 

 

 

 

Without understanding the way in which these authors are portraying their main character, they want to utilize the antagonist’s pain as a way to support the protagonist’s “goodness.” Regularly the bully finds herself in a definitive position where “her strawberry blond hair was combed into low pigtails, and like always, her skin was concealed under half a bottle of foundation. I (*the protagonist) was fairly certain I’d guessed the right amount, since there wasn’t a trace of her freckles in sight (….) There was three-quarters of an inch between the hem of her skirt and the start of her underwear…if she was even wearing any.” The prior is a direct quote from Becca Fitzpatrick’s Hush Hush young adult series. It was the first introduction of Marcie Millar, a character who is only further slut shamed and then disgraced even after her death.

I would like to first point out that the usage of makeup on any given person does not equate to their beauty or self-worth. The choice of wearing the products is for personal gratification ONLY. If it makes someone feel more confident to conceal a blemish with a remedy, so be it. If it makes someone feel empowering to wear hues of golden eyeshadow, dark lips, and wonderfully painted cheekbones, so be it. If someone feels beautiful without wearing makeup at all but respects that others feel the opposite, so be it. By demonizing a woman because she wears “too much” makeup, or because she dresses a certain way, we are objectifying her character simply because of a choice she made to feel better about herself—one that has nothing to do with anyone else. Using this stereotype in a YA setting, where readers are looking to enjoy the story but also learn from these characters, an author is misguiding their audience into believing that shaming another person because of the way they appear is alright.

It is interesting how the bully becomes the bullied the further you read these stories.

Slut-shaming is an atrocity that can be defeated by speaking out whenever you see or hear it occurring. Let the accuser know why they are in the wrong, and help them see that by degrading another person for the way in which they decide to decorate themselves, they are only hindering their own appearance.

slut-shame

“Many believe that the usage of these derogatory terms online through memes, social media accounts, and music videos all contribute to a rape culture, where women are blamed and men excused in cases of sexual assault or rape.”— Foothill Dragon Press

If you see this happening in any book, I highly encourage you to talk about it. Inform others of what you notice, and respectfully contact the author with your concerns. They most likely wont be able to fix something in a book that has already been published, but they certainly can learn from their mistakes so to not repeat them in the future. Help put an end to girls shaming girls, and we can start to unite women by uplifting one another instead of tearing us down because of how we look.

With that being said, I’ll leave you with this: A secondary character is only as secondary as you let them appear. If they’ve awaken an emotion in you that the protagonist couldn’t, then to you they are the primary. And all characters should be treated carefully, for even though you might not see their importance, someone else will, and any harmful representation can cause vast damage to a reader’s morale.

Heroine Horoscopes

Find your Zodiac sign to venture towards your next battle— whether it be by wielding an axe, spying on foreign royalty, or tricking creatures as old as the realm with your cunning mind. Zodiac definitions are from Astrology-Zodiac-Signs. Not all heroines are YA. Be adventurous!

AQUARIUS

(n.) Aquarius-born are shy and quiet , but on the other hand they can be eccentric and energetic. However, in both cases, they are deep thinkers and highly intellectual people who love helping others. They are able to see without prejudice, on both sides, which makes them people who can easily solve problems. Although they can easily adapt to the energy that surrounds them, Aquarius-born have a deep need to be some time alone and away from everything, in order to restore power. People born under the Aquarius sign, look at the world as a place full of possibilities.

Elide Lochan was born to the Lord and Lady of Perranth, an heir to a humble territory set against the mountains of a greater kingdom. After the fall of her country, Elide is taken by her corrupt uncle and locked away, left with a crippled ankle and no sunlight or warmth. Upon plotting her escape, Elide finds out she has witch blood in her veins. This revelation causes something to awaken inside the usually quiet girl— a powerful darkness to match her compassion and peaceful attitude. Elide’s only hope is to see her lost queen again, and that loyalty drives her to do things she hadn’t thought herself capable of. Along the adventure, she allies with a morally questionable man who she tricks into believing her to be a shy maiden, not a missionary carrying one of the most dangerous weapons in the whole realm. Elide is crippled and illiterate, and these traits do not undermine her character in the slightest. She is wholly compassionate with a wicked strength for scheming. She is the pretty flower who hides its thorns. Elide, although being a side character, is stronger than most leading roles. Elide Lohan proves that you don’t have to wiled a sword to be a weapon.

  • Book: Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas

PISCES

(n.) Pisces are very friendly, so they often find themselves in a company of very different people. Pisces are selfless, they are always willing to help others, without hoping to get anything back. Pisces is a Water sign and as such this zodiac sign is characterized by empathy and expressed emotional capacity. Their ruling planet is Neptune, so Pisces are more intuitive than others and have an artistic talent. Neptune is connected to music, so Pisces reveal music preferences in the earliest stages of life. They are generous, compassionate and extremely faithful and caring.

Nina Zenik is a heartrender, capable of manipulating blood and healing fatal wounds, who finds herself amongst a wayward group of outcasts on an impossible heist. She is boisterous and loud, with a quirky love for food (particularly waffle) and an endearing attitude. Her forwardness is what makes her dialogue so intriguing, but so is her charismatic behavior. Nina is vey friendly and loyal, always seeking to help others before helping herself— especially those who need help and justice the most. These traits have caused her to fall in with the dregs of society and make a home within their ranks. She has a nurturing air, one that reveals itself whenever someone close to her is threatened. Fierce and extroverted, Nina’s love is that of unending abundance.

  • Book: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

ARIES

(n.) As the first sign in the zodiac, the presence of Aries almost always marks the beginning of something energetic and turbulent.They are continuously looking for dynamic, speed and competition. They are always first in everything – from work to social gatherings. Thanks to its ruling planet Mars, Aries is one of the most active zodiac signs. People born under the Aries sign, are meant to emphasize the search for answers to personal and metaphysical questions. This is the biggest feature of this incarnation.

Adelina Amouteru, the White Wolf and founder of the Rose Society, had always known she was born to be more than who she was. Her abusive childhood taught her not to trust, and to take action whenever she saw fit. Adelina is cold, calculative, and decisive. Those who have double crossed her will not be forgotten, for the White Wolf is not your average redemption story. Adelina is the grey area between good and evil, a character who slowly declines into a state of antagonism. She is relentless and unapologetic. She is entirely of her own making, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Having only one eye, no home, and a heart full of anger, this heroine is unlike any other written before her. She is symbolic for tragedy, but also should be recognized for her inner strength in facing such events and coming away with a lightened heart. Adelina does what many of us seem to forget when reading these adventurous tales— she focuses on her own well being. And that in itself is something to take pride in.

  • The Young Elites by Marie Lu

TAURUS

(n.) Powerful and reliable, Taurus is the first when it comes to harvesting the fruits of his labor. They love everything that is good and beautiful, and they are often surrounded by material pleasures. People born under the Taurus sign are very sensual and tactile. Touch is extremely important for them, both in business and in romance. Stable and conservative, Taurus is among the most reliable signs of the zodiac. Stubbornness is a trait that is forcing him to expel things to the end, in order to comply with the standards.

Blue Sargent is an aesthetic of her own design. She speaks her mind freely with little remorse or patience for ignorance. She’s quirky, and has moments where she appears vulnerable, but if you get on her bad side she’s quite a force to deal with. Her sass is astounding, as is her huge role as a feminist (and she doesn’t let the other four male protagonists forget that). Blue comes from an incredibly dynamic home of psychics, all of whom have told her that if she were to kiss her true love…he would die. But she doesn’t let this bother her as much as the fact that she cannot see the future as the rest of her family can. She has incredible potential but is lost as to where she should begin her story. In this, I think we can all relate to Blue to some degree. She is stubborn, but relies on her family to help guide her through her struggles. By surrounding herself with empathetic women, Blue in turn is empathetic towards her friends. She uses the caring and considerate nature of her home and reflects it upon her newly acquired friends, who definitely needed her understanding and adventurous attitude to join their circle. Touch is also extremely important to her, for she has limitations for what she can and cannot get to near; mainly being the boy she loves, and the dreams that seem to far away to come true.

  • Book: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

GEMINI

(n.) Expressive and quick-witted, Gemini represents two different sides of personality and you will never be sure with whom you will face. Gemini can be sociable,communicative and ready for fun, while on the other hand it can be very serious, thoughtful, restless and even indecisive.

Alina Starkov undergoes one of the craziest transitions in all of YA heroine history. Growing up an orphan in a tiny village within Ravka, she had no aspirations in life other than becoming a better cartographer for the Second Army. She is a melancholy type of girl, dreary and silent with unlocked potential buried beneath her own fear of a power she subconsciously knows she might posses. After unleashing her unique Sun Summoning powers, Alina is thrust into a war full of folklore and slow-burning vengeance. The Darkling tries to wield her as his own person weapon, but Alina turns the tides of battle once she leaves his stronghold and devises an army of her own. Going from an orphan with no ambitions to Sol Koroleva, the Sun Queen who would defeat the darkness that plagued her realm and stop injustice towards Grisha, Alina Starkov is both sides of a coin. She is unpredictable, which leads her to become a threat to her enemies. She represents the oppressed Grisha as well as those who have become lost within their own splendor. She wants to defeat the Darkling, but she knows that what he stands for isn’t necessarily wrong. In fact, Alina begins to think like her enemy through her own understanding of the war at stake. Her ability to see both sides of the story and sympathize with either has caused her to become stronger than what meet the eye.

  • Book: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

CANCER

(n.) Deeply intuitive and sentimental, Cancer can be one of the most challenging Zodiac signs to get to know. Cancer is very emotional and sensitive, and they care about family and home. Cancer is sympathetic and is very attached to the people who surround him.
People born under the Cancer sign are very loyal and empathetic people, able to empathize with your pain and suffering. Because of the ruling planet the Moon, the many phases of its lunar cycle can deepen Cancers internal mysteries and create fleeting emotional patterns that the sensitive Cancer cannot control, especially when a child. This can show itself as mood swings, selfishness, manipulation and fits of rage. Cancer is quick to help others and avoid conflicts. One of his greatest strengths is persistent determination. Cancer doesn’t have great ambitions, because they are happy and content to have a loving family and tranquil and harmonious home. They often take good care of their co-workers and treat them as family.

Agnieszka, a peasant living in the quant village of Dvernik which borders the deadly, malevolent Wood, is a highly sentimental and empathetic character. Her dearest friend, Kasia, emits strong beauty and bravery―qualities of which the Dragon sees fit enough for a new servant. The Dragon is an immortal wizard who protects the villagers against the dark magic of the Wood, yet each decade he takes the most promising girl to live with and serve him for the next ten years of her life. He des not harm the girls, and each one never returns to their meager lifestyle in the valley once they are put back into the world―instead going off to greater cities pluming wealth and prosperity. Kasia has known since she was a child that she is more than likely to be chosen by the Dragon. Agnieskza has known as well, and the thought of losing her aquatinted-sister is maddening. Until the day of the harvest comes, and the Dragon does not choose Kasia. Agnieskza’s love for her family is what powers her throughout this story. She is deeply intimate and empathetic because she has a connection with nature that can only be explained by her adoration for the unknown. To defeat the trees that come alive and haunt her fellow villagers, this heroine must become part of the forest.

  • Book: Uprooted by Naomi Novik

LEO

(n.) People born under the sign of Leo are natural born leaders. They are dramatic, creative self-confident, dominant and extremely difficult to resist. They can achieve anything they want, whether it’s about work or time spent will family and friends.

Camilla Macaulay is a “bramble rose”, a feature of society that is both disturbingly alive and also something of the past— as if she is a goddess reborn to wreck havoc in an innocent girl’s body. She is often described as such, and is lusted after by many—including her own twin brother. Camilla is a melancholic, tragic character that is so lost within her own misery that she goes along with the dangerous events surrounding her because they bring her closer to feeling awake. She is entirely compelling, and has qualities of a leader. Her looks may be what initially draw you in, but her quick whit and clever mind only further her role as the sensible and strong member of her group.

  • Book: The Secret History by Donna Tartt

VIRGO

(n.) Virgos are always paying attention to smallest details and their deep sense of humanity makes them one of the most careful signs of the zodiac. Their methodical approach to life ensures that nothing is left to chance. Virgos are often tender but also very careful.

Marya Morevena gives a clear example of what it means to be a well-developed character. She starts her journey as a meek, young girl, the youngest of four sisters, who spends her days staring outside her bedroom window, watching birds fall from trees who then turn into suitors for her siblings. Her cherished red scarf, a sigil of her loyalty to her home, is taken from her after she dares to share her discoveries with the rest of her schoolmates. She grows to hope for little, and dream of more. Sharing her home with refuges of war is only half of her worries, for Marya desires to see the naked world when it is stripped bare. It isn’t until Koschei falls from her tree that her wish is granted. In a setting where each phrase is more like a lyric, paying close attention to detail is vital. Marya has a deep sense of humanity, for how else could she defeat the inhumane being that becomes her future husband?

  • Book: Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente

LIBRA

(n.) People born under the sign of Libra are peaceful and fair, and they hate being alone. Partnership is very important for Libra -born, and with their victorious mentality and cooperation, they cannot stand to be alone. The Libra is an Air sign, with expressed intellect and a keen mind. They can be inspired by good books, insurmountable discussions and interesting people.

Rebellious princess Mayavati has lived her whole life under the shadow of a horoscope that promises death and destruction through her marriage. Her kingdom befalls upon a crisis that can only be resolved through an arrangement between the princess Maya and her mysterious husband, who hails from a dark realm made of nightmares and folklore. Maya is cunning and uncompromising. She is a profound reader, and from her passion she has the ability to think cognitively about a great many things. This trait has led her to defeat enemies by using quick whit and intelligence. In regards to her position of power, Maya undergoes a transition from a quant royal living amongst secrecy and safety, to a queen of the underworld. In this Indian retelling of Persephone and Hades, you would wish to be wiser than to mess with Mayavati.

  • Book: The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi

SCORPIO

(n.) Scorpio-born are passionate and assertive people. They are determined and decisive, and will research until they find out the truth. Scorpio is a great leader, always aware of the situation and also features prominently in resourcefulness.

Karou is the apprentice of chimera Brimstone, collecting teeth to create wishes and resurrecting other beings of her kind. She is eccentric and very aware of her surroundings, though the more secrets that are unraveled, the more she becomes intwined with the dangers of her true nature. She rises to the occasion whenever others are feeling defeated, and her assertive nature helps to piece together centuries-old myths.

  • Book: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

SAGITTARIUS

(n.) Curious and energetic, Sagittarius is one of the biggest travelers among all zodiac signs. Their open mind and philosophical view motivates them to wander around the world in search of the meaning of life. Sagittarius is extrovert, optimistic and enthusiastic, and likes changes. Sagittarius-born are able to transform their thoughts into concrete actions and they will do anything to achieve their goals. Like the other fire signs, Sagittarius needs to be constantly in touch with the world to experience as much as possible. The ruling planet of Sagittarius is Jupiter, the largest planet of the zodiac. Their enthusiasm has no bounds, and therefore people born under the Sagittarius sign possess a great sense of humor and an intense curiosity. Freedom is their greatest treasure, because only then they can freely travel and explore different cultures and philosophies. Because of their honesty, Sagittarius-born are often impatient and tactless when they need to say or do something, so it’s important to learn to express themselves in a tolerant and socially acceptable way.

Delilah Bard, a thief from Grey London, survives through stealing and lurking in corners her whole life. Yet she is full of wanderlust and dreams of becoming a pirate who travels the uncharted seas and wreck havoc wherever she goes. Her adventurous traits are almost childlike in their enthusiasm, but Lila has always known what she wanted, and so she has always worked towards her goal. She has an open mind, waiting to be fed with knowledge of worlds untouched by others. She would rather “die on an adventure than living standing still.”

  • Book: A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab

CAPRICORN

(n.) When it comes to professionalism and traditional values, Capricorn is the first. Capricorn is practical and is considered to be the most serious sign of the zodiac, who possess an independence that enables significant progress both on the personal level and in business. As an Earth sign, for a Capricorn there is nothing more important in life than family. Capricorn is a master of self-control and has the potential to be a great leader or manager as long as it is in the sphere of business.

Shahrzad, a young girl having just lost her closest friend, martyrs herself to be the Caliph’s next bride…and next kill. Every dawn brings new death in the realm of Khorasan. A new girl is married to Khalid, the monstrous King of Kings, and by sunrise she is strung up with a cord of silk around her neck. It has been this way for years, and the people live in turmoil and anguish for the loss of so many sisters, daughters, and friends. Shahrzad’s determination and adventurous charisma leads her to wed the Caliph with the hope of finding his weakness and using it to end him. However, neither of them expect his weakness to be her. Shazi is ridden with determination— to seek justice, to find answers, and to abolish the pain that has struck so many beloved of her. Her bravery and strong-wiled actions are what make her one of the most renowned YA heroines ever written.

Book: The Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh

Soundtracks to Literature: How a Reader Becomes a Composer

Soundtracks to Literature: How a Reader Becomes a Composer

Happy Tuesday everyone!

I’ve finally gotten the time to myself that I so desperately needed and deserved, and what better way to use that time than to write another blog post? I’ve got many fun things planned for autumn, but since we still have about a month to go, I’ve decided to write about something I think hasn’t been given proper attention lately (or ever, really). Book playlists.

This sounds strange, as do most of my posts, but it’s strange for a reason—it’s unusual in it’s awesomeness. How many times do you watch a film or a T.V. show and stop paying attention to the plot when suddenly you hear a heart-pounding music sequence in the background? I do it constantly whenever I get the chance, even during the gymnastics floor routines of the recent Rio 2016 Olympics. I believe my obsession for compiling literature-centric playlists started around the same time the Twilight movie soundtrack was born. You don’t have to love those books or those movies to fall in love with their OSTs and playlists. It’s that good.

When I read, I’m directing the scenes of a movie in my mind. The author is my screenwriter, her/his words shape the character’s mouths and move their bodies into battles, but the colors, the tones, the feeling of being near a fireplace or stranded on a shipwrecked island of sirens..those are mine to create. As is the music being played in the background.

Perhaps I’m talking in circles now, but if you don’t understand what I’m typing, just try listening to one of my playlists (preferably one that coincides with a book you’ve read so)! Just follow these links here for whichever series you’ve read, and close your eyes, turn up the volume, and let your mind walk wonders….

(Of course, this is better on the 8tracks free APP)

Uprooted by Naomi Novik

1. x

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

1. x

A Court of Thorns & Roses by Sarah J Maas

  1.  x
  2.  x Lucien
  3.  x Rhysand
  4.  
  5.  x Feyre
  6. x

The Star Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi

  1. x

The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater

  1. x Gansey
  2. x Noah
  3. x Adam
  4. x Ronan
  5. x

The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo

  1. x Nikolai 
  2. x
  3. x

Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas

  1. x
  2. x Kaltain
  3. x Aelin 
  4. x The Thirteen
  5. x

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

  1. x

Shadowhunter Chronicles by Cassandra Clare

  1. x
  2. x
  3. x
  4. x

 

Not only can you create a playlist dedicated to a book series, but you can also compose one made just for an individual character. Theoretically, you can do whatever you want. But these are just a few ideas for beginner composers! I know a lot of my friends use Spotify, but I don’t particularly feel like paying monthly to create playlists when I could use other APPs that are free…like 8tracks. Now before you get any ideas, I’m not a sponsor for 8tracks. I just really love the APP…aside from the fact that they now have a few commercials popping up every now and again. That I could gladly do without.

But aside from it being free and easy to use, you get to create your own cover for the playlists, your own tags for the playlists, and you can follow other composers who share similar music taste! My account is under the username SeelieKnight. Feel free to hit me up whenever!

I’m always saving song ideas for when I have enough to compose a playlist. Music comes hand in hand with literature for me, as does the strong sense of imagery from both creations. There’s plot in both, but enough freedom to find your own stories. I hope I could persuade you to try making your own playlists, or to listen to them the next time you need a little extra initiative to read. Let me know if you already have some book inspired tunes, I’d love to listen to them!

Genre + Age Shaming

Genre + Age Shaming

Books have genres so that readers can archive what to read next. Easy enough— they’re literally meant to help sort out the likelihood of what you would rather enjoy. So then why is it that some people shame readers for trying a book with a designated audience when it’s practically like a subsequent use of genre? The easy thing to say would be to not care about what others believe and read whatever the hell pleases you, but words often don’t carry the same amount of power as our emotions do—especially in regards to feeling embarrassed over something we love.

The most prominent example of this age shaming is, obviously, the Young Adult genre.

What defies a young adult? Perhaps he/she is a person between the ages of thirteen and twenty-five. Fine, that seems reasonable, right? However, what many people don’t seem to grasp is the fact of the matter— YA Literature is an offered category meant to suggest books for a certain audience. It’s not an ultimatum. Reading YA Literature does not mean you must be considered a young adult by societal standards. It simply means you enjoy books written for juveniles.

While I’m on the topic, this also doesn’t not mean you are a “better reader” (whatever that implies) if you avoid reading YA. It’s true that there is a common trend amongst YA books where the writing, albeit clean and concise, may seem a bit mundane in comparison to other genres. That much I will grant the opposing view. But I’ve also read a multitude of YA that was written better than many adult fiction novels, and no one ever complains about that. There’s a certain impression that YA books have poor writing, lack creativity, and consist of mainstream plot devices. Yes, I’ve heard of and read books that fall to these accusations—but I would never define an entire genre based upon a few lousy novels. It goes for every written work out there.
Likewise, we shouldn’t shame young adults who dislike YA literature and would rather read other genres. Your age doesn’t exemplify what you read, and it doesn’t restrict you from enjoying what you want to. Choose a book as though you have no age—no designated reading level. Save that bullshit for elementary school, and make sure you leave it there.

And although I mostly witness age shaming in regards to judgmental readers, another prejudice I’ve encountered is genre shaming. Like YA, the biggest genres that faces animosity are the romance and erotic genres. Is someone less for wanting to read about love? Does it make them perverted or desperate? Because for many, it would appear that way. And I’m here to tell you enough is enough.

Customer: Oh my lord, there’s an adolescent in the romance department reading erotica. Oh, the blasphemy. Someone find her mother and have this child exorcized of her foul thoughts!!

Me: Excuse me for treating myself to some divine smut and lemon(ade). I didn’t realize I wasn’t allowed to have sexual thoughts as an eighteen year old human being. Uh-oh. They’re going to toss me in the asylum again for this one.

Sigh.

I, for one, am a platonic-asexual women who has dated before and never really been into the whole idea of love. Don’t ask me why—I just never feel attracted to people I meet. I’ll develop strong friendships and kinships, but thats about it. Ironically enough, romance is one of my favorite genres. I always hope for some kind of love fest in any book that I’m reading. However, I always feel hesitant to go near the romance section of a bookstore because of the judging looks I’d more than likely receive. It also doesn’t help the fact that 90% of romance books have sultry covers with half naked women swooning into the arms of a disheveled looking man, muscles flexing and all. Oh no, I won’t even get into that matter. But I will remind you that authors have little to no say over the cover art of their stories. The industry just sees one thing and they paint the other million books the same. Don’t be like the industry. Be an individual, with cognitively complex thoughts.

Let it be known that good writing doesn’t always come with a good plot, and vice versa. You can have the most epic storyline of all time…with basic and bland diction. Or, a medical journal with the best diction you’ve ever beheld. Read whatever you want, whether it be one or the other. But don’t judge others by thinking them any less for their preferences! Truly, we should be happy people are even reading at all. It’s obviously not a secret that technology has taken over what used to be a huge golden age for literature, and no I don’t mean #bookstagram, blogging, or booktube. Out of all my friends, maybe two others read? It’s not as popular as you think. So definitely don’t discourage it!?

Another aspect to consider is the diversity amongst YA books when it comes to writing style and plot. While it’s generalized together, there are absolutely series that host explicit content which will make you question whether it’s truly YA or NA (New Adult). This is because YA doesn’t necessarily mean age-restricted material. Rather, it’s a type of writing that mostly consists of material that is relatable and considered beneficial for development. And by development I mean exactly that—for are we so different than the characters we read about? Do we not all go through change at young and old stages? We’re constantly developing. YA just so happens to heavily emphasize the importance behind development. That’s honestly how I perceive the genre.

YA is for everyone. Romance is for everyone. Reading is without limitations or oppressions. Let’s not place judgment where freedom would rather reign, shall we?

Genre shaming and age shaming are completely unacceptable. Don’t discriminate what you don’t understand, and certainly never subdue someone’s happiness with your misguidance.

Read what you want and don’t you dare feel ashamed about it.

Bookstagram Tips

Bookstagram Tips

I recently posted a poll on my Twitter account (@OakwaldForest) asking you guys what you’d like to see next on the blog, and “Bookstagram Tips” won by a landslide. I hope this can help at least one person! Let me know if it does! // Instagram: SeelieKnight.

Lighting— this is almost as important as what you’re taking the photo of, because not only does it help the quality of the picture, it also makes the whole image seem a thousand times more pleasing to the eye. Dusk and dawn are the two best times to take photos, whether it be inside or out. Those times of day offer a hazy light that intensifies the HQ of your photo without even needing a filter. Also, even if you are taking the photo indoors—utilize the sunlight. Open some windows and take advantage of the natural lighting. Otherwise using devices such as lamps can cause the photo to turn a yellow/orange tone. I might love those colors when it comes to aesthetics, but not in that context.

Environment—I get it. White bed sheets are very pretty to look at because they’re great for a minimalist background. But enough is enough! I wont hark on using your bedroom as your main source of photography (because I’ve recently moved and god only knows how many pictures I will be taking of my new home decor), but it’ll do some good to throw in an outdoorsy setting once in a while. A little “something” to zest up your Instagram feed. And if you post mostly outdoor photos…then perhaps try some indoor ones? They don’t necessarily have to be in your bedroom. They can be inside of a cafe, a kitchen, or even a bathtub. Go for it! Explore your settings and think creatively.

Zoom/Lens— not everyone takes their photography using professional cameras. I certainly don’t. It’s true that while I do own an old Canon that shoots just fine, I often take photos right from my iPhone 5se. What really makes a difference is the way in which you’re shooting the photo. In other words: use your lens wisely! I prefer when things are dead center with clean cut angles (but that’s just my own personal preference) so when I’m taking a photo, I like to adjust everything to my stance and the distance of the object to my camera lens. It sounds obvious, but believe me…I’ve seen things.

Quantity— this is an easy tip. Just take a ton of photos. Even when you’re shooting a picture of a book propped against a white wall, take at least ten photos from different angles so that later you can review all of them. This will help improve not only the quality of your photos, but also give you a better understanding of where you are as a photographer. The more you study these small, annoying details, the better you will be at avoiding the nuisances during your next shoot.

Aesthetic— now for the fun (and worst) part! An ‘aesthetic’ for those that have heard the phrase thrown around but never truly researched the meaning is essentially the way in which a group of things comes together to give off a vibe(s). For instance, you can have a plant aesthetic on Instagram if you post a bunch of greenery photos. I’ve even seen people come up with their own aesthetic terms such as “pale gold” and it’s actually wonderful. I really enjoy the whole concept! However, it get’s super aggravating when you try to stick to one aesthetic, because your photos are bound to look different each time you take them. Especially if you’re mixing seasons (autumn cannot come soon enough).

  1.  choose a tone (warm v cold)
  2. find a pleasing color palette (lots of pink? green? rainbow?)
  3.  use basic colors (white, black, grey) to balance out the others
  4.  have fun

Filters— there are many filtering apps out there, but the best by far is VSCO. Almost everyone uses it, and with good reasoning. Much like keeping a consistent aesthetic is great to have, also using the same filter can help maintaining that theme. VSCO offers many filters, most of which you won’t have to touch up once you’re finished. It’s definitely worth getting. My personal favorite filters on the app are A6 and HB2.

Time— okay, so this “tip” has two parts. First, pace yourself. If you start feeling overwhelmed by the need to constantly be posting photos, then it’s time to take a slight break, otherwise known as a hiatus. Just tell your followers you need space to rejuvenate the creative flow, and they’ll understand. I can’t express how often I see this happening. // Two, I try to post my Instagram photos around a time when I know many people will be actively on the app. Usually class gets out around 2:30-4:30 in Est US. I figure that’s a good enough time gap to try and post something for everyone, even my international friends, to see. This also leads me to another reminder—don’t freak out if your photos isn’t getting as many likes as your previous ones. A lot of the time people don’t take into consideration that out of the however many followers you have, perhaps only half of them are active at the moment. Chances are when the others finally go on Instagram, their feed will be full of other photos from the present time, and they’ll have to find your post by scrolling all the way down through everything else. (This is why notifications are amazing!!)

Socialize— most of the above tips are about taking photos, but since this is a post on Bookstagram tips in general I figure it would be appropriate to throw this in as well. Of course tags are a great way to find other accounts, but socializing is what really does the trick. Comment a lot. Get to know other people. By default, those people will probably introduce you to their online friends..and thus group chats are formed and suddenly you’re being mentioned on five different accounts AND you’re getting to meet new people. This really cannot go wrong unless you make it a mission to invite trouble (so never create unnecessary drama. This is a community of readers for fuck’s sake).

Enjoyment—if you’re not having fun, you’re not doing it right.

P.S.

  • If you don’t love a particular book cover but feel inclined to post about the book because it was simply wonderful and you just can’t fathom why such a treasure got paired with such an awful cover…just post the title page! A white/beige tone will blend in with any theme. Better yet, you can post a photo of the center of a chapter with the title header at the top. As long as you mention the book in your caption, I don’t see the problem with not posting the cover image? Unless of course you’re promoting a book and the publisher specifically asks for clear coverage, in which case you can use the above methods while perhaps accommodating the tones of the cover (ex: bright yellow) with your surroundings (ex: pumpkins? A rundown barn? Rustic looking vintage car? Etc…) Bottom line: don’t feel pressured into posting the obvious. Do what you want and be happy about it!

 

  • If you happen to post a photo that literally doesn’t have a single thing relevant to books or reading…don’t freak out about it. Sure there will be those people who act like you’ve just posted a live video of someone being brutalized, but you can’t let them sway your inner artist. If you wanted to post it so badly, it’s because you know the photo is great. So don’t feel ashamed that ONE picture in every ten or so doesn’t include a book. If anything, I think it lets us see another side of the person behind the account.

Feminism In Literature

Feminism In Literature

When I first started reading at the age of thirteen, I didn’t pay any attention to who the authors of those books were. Granted—I didn’t really care. I was young (considerably) and my parents encouraged me to read anything I could get my hands on. However, once I truly began a collection of novels, ones that piled up on the floor next to my bed and spilled from the rickety shelves in my living room, I glanced at the writers names and realized nearly all of them were women. Much like who the books were written by, the gender of the authors didn’t phase me either. It didn’t strike me as odd, or normal, I was simply platonic on the matter. Who cares, anyway?

A year later, once I started to review books and read other commentary on popular novels, I noticed that, although I’d been reading many books written by women, a vast majority of the big titles out there were by men.

Was it that Young Adult literature is dominated by women? Perhaps. But while I was excited to read at that age, many of my friends could’ve cared less. It’s true that while I am surrounded virtually by friends near my age who also read YA, there is also the rest of the world to consider—particularly those who, like my friends, don’t enjoy reading. On the spectrum of the population, those who read, and those who read YA…we’re a fairly limited bunch.

VIDA, an organization for women in literary arts, releases each year an authentic representation of the men to women authors ratio in regards to publications and advocations. I planned on skimming through the webpage because usually heaps of numbers in a written document reminds me of writing papers for class…not something I’d enjoy doing in my free time. But as I continued skimming, I wound up spending two hours going through their site and finding myself no less disgusted with the matter on hand. Essentially VIDA proved to me what I was beginning to understand—women are shadowed by men in the literary world.

Just to make you feel my contempt, here’s a direct quote from a recent article (9/16) in The Guardian: “In the UK, the LRB (London Review of Books) reviewed 68 books by women and 195 by men in 2010, with men taking up 74% of the attention, and 78% of the reviews written by men. Seventy-five per cent of the books reviewed in the TLS were written by men (1,036 compared to 330) with 72% of its reviewers men.”

Well damn, it’s no wonder female authors aren’t as popular as male authors when their work isn’t being properly displayed or equally advocated for. It seems that the problem doesn’t lie in the amount of publications, but rather by the way in which those books are being promoted. While YA has a staggering amount of female authors, it’s merely a genre in the entirety of the literary field. And big name magazines, such as all those stated above, will probably never write about YA because they believe they have a particular audience, one in which only reads adult books (apparently written by adult men).

And if you think finding a female author in the review column is hard, try searching for a female author of color. You’d be luckier finding Venus in the afternoon sky.
I did my own research, seeing as I work in a bookstore, and while I was restocking some titles I took the time to look at the authors names. Not surprisingly, more than half of them were men. Not only that, but the ones I had to place on display tables were almost entirely male authors. Now that I have a deeper love and respect for literature, the things that once didn’t phase me are the issues that press deeply and leave a mark.

If you’ve ever been inside a Barnes and Noble cafe, you can look above the barista bar and see a painting of many famous writers from the dawn of the 20th century. It’s not hard to miss, and it’s in every store. I work as both a barista and a bookseller (but at the moment, mainly a barista because of how understaffed we are) and I never pay much attention to the massive piece above my head. Not until one customer came up to me and pointed out the lack of women depicted in the painting. At the time I didn’t really know what to say other than politely agree with her, but once I had the space to examine the piece that hung above me shift after shift, I saw what she meant.

Even today, in a society that is trying to be more progressive than any other period in America, we still place value on the past. Of course, I understand that there’s a certain nostalgia to the notion in regards to the classics. But then we also must place that same value on the success of our future—specifically the female authors of our time.

While I rant about an issue that’s been plaguing this country for decades, I also want to offer up some solutions that we can perform to overcome this injustice.

  • Blogging— I can’t express enough how influential blogging can be. Not only are you preaching to people who live long and far away, but you’re getting your own opinions out there through a method that can spread farther than a mere review column in a newspaper. Talk about books that no one knows of. Mention women of color whose works have been overcast by the frequent names of men and white women. Acknowledge the movement, and make it happen. The more voices we have, the louder we will be. It sounds easy, but there isn’t nearly enough articles or videos depicting the seriousness of this issue. And it is serious, because if you think it isn’t—you’re inadvertently helping the opposing view. So blog about it.

 

  • Recommending— You don’t have to have a blog or channel or page to recommend a book to another person. You just have to have read that book and happen to be in conversation with another being. Simple enough. So next time you read a spectacular novel written by a women, no matter if it’s on the bestseller list or something you could hardly find in the biggest bookstores, recommend it. Get the word out there. You need to be the missionaries for this movement if you want to make a change.

 

  • Writing— I’ve met many people over the internet in the past few years, and probably interacted with them more than the ones I’m surrounded by in real life. I’ve found that plenty of them express the same passion for reading as I do, and excitingly enough they also express an adoration for writing—wether it be through blogging, creative freeform, or simply jotting down a heated meta on Tumblr regarding their favorite characters. Never be afraid to get your voice out there. You’re only truly writing when you think it’s the worst thing you’ve ever read. Remind yourself that you are your worst critic, and that there are a million people out there who’ve never heard of the sentences you can paint together.

 

+ Recent Books I’ve Read by Female Authors (* = authors of color) :

The Star Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi *
Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur *
The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie *
A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Maas
Girls on Fire by Robin Wasserman
This Savage Song by Victoria Shwab
The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater
The Rose and the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh *

Important References:

VIDA
Rupi Kaur //