Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race

Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race

By Reni Eddo-Lodge

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Stars: 5/5

Ideal for; White People. Especially those who do not think they are racist. White People that are racist, you’re going to need more help.

Avoid if; you’re a racist and proud. You’re lost already.

Age; YA and above

Chapters and pages; Seven chapters and 247 pages.

Published; 2017

First off, for all those offended by this books title, read it.

This book is incredibly honest, accurate and hard hitting. In all honesty, there are moments I felt uncomfortable reading this. Because it addresses so many issues that I, as a white woman, would never have acknowledged.

Reni Eddo-Lodge presents a thoroughly researched account of black history, politics and feminism. With interviews from the creator of Black History Month to Nick Griffin, Reni explores all aspects of Britain’s racism.

I’m ashamed to admit that prior to seeing this book on Our Shared Shelf, I wouldn’t have picked it up. I would have thought “but I’m not racist! Racism doesn’t affect me, I don’t see colour, etc.” And for all of you who think that, that is exactly why we need to read this book. We refuse to acknowledge racism in our society because we think by ignoring it, that by viewing everyone as “just humans”, the problem will go away. It won’t.

Each chapter discusses a different aspect of racism; history, system, white privilege, fear of a black planet, feminism, class, and the future. So I will review this book by its chapters as each raises so many discussions, of which I shall summarise each chapter in bullet points with my views alongside.

Black History

Like most people in Britain, my education with Black History started And ended with Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks. Not that this part of history is invalid, its just not the full picture.

I knew Britain had a sinister history in regards to people of colour. From the slave trade, to the British Empire ans to the more recent Brexit and BNP/UKIP parties. But there is quite a jump between those periods, thus missing our own civil rights movement.

“Racism does not erupt from nothing, rather it is embedded in British Society. It’s in the very core of how the state is set up. its not external. its in the system”.

This history is vital to our understanding of racism in Britain. Here are some of the key facts I discovered from this chapter.

  • Abortion of slavery introduced 1833, less than 200 years ago, It had been operating for 270 years.
  • 1987 London begins to celebrate black history
  • The Windrush Generation of 1948
  • Over a million Indian soldiers fought for Britain in WW1. Despite the war having nothing to do with India. They were told India would be freed from the colonial rule. This was revoked.
  • Newport Riots 1919: rumours of a black man slighting a white woman circulated.
  • In 1919 Charles Wootton, a black sailor, was thrown into Kings Dock and pelted with Bricks until he died. This followed by any black person in Liverpool being attacked by white people on site.
  • League of Coloured Peoples established 1931
  • Dr Harold Moody; a black doctor who was in a relationship with a white woman of whom he had children with.
  • Anthropologist Rachel M. Fleming researched “hybrid children” aka, mixed race children.
  • British Nationality Act 1948: a law that gave all commonwealth victims the same rights as British subjects.
  • LandLord Peter Rachman, creator of “Rachmanism” a concept which is still around today in which landlords exploit their tenants and subject them to slum like living conditions. Black people were mainly subjected to Rachman as he was the only landlord who would let property to them.
  • 1958 Notting Hill Teddy Boys begin rioting, hunting and attacking any black person they saw.
  • In 2002, government documents revealed that the police had successfully convinced Home Secretary Rab Butler that the Nottinghill riots of the late 50’s was nothing to do with race.
  • Labour MP Archibald Fenner Brockway and the Race Descriminations Act 1960
  • Oswald Mosley, founder of the British Union of Fascists, returns to politics.
  • 1962, Commonwealth Immigration Act, essentially revoking the British Nationality Act of 48. Those from the Commonwealth and beyond who wished to live in Britain had to have a job secured.
  • 1965 Britain’s first ever Race Relations Act. Stating that overt racial discrimination was no longer legal in public spaces -but excluding shops or private housing.
  • 1965 Guy Bailey and the Bristol Omnibus Company.
  • 1970 Police Officers often wielded a section of the 1824 Vagrancy Act, of which they could harass anyone who looked “suspicious”. Nine times out of ten, this meant anyone of colour.
  • 1982 John Fernandes, a black sociology lecturer attempted to teach the police force how their behaviour was racist.
  • 1985, police officers burst into the Groce Family home, shooting the mum, Cherry, in the chest whilst proceeding to shout at her for information on her son. Cherry Groce was left paralysed from the waist down. Needless to say at this point the Groce Family is black.
  • 1985, Floyd Jarrett, a young black man is arrested for having an out of date tax disc. The Police search his home, which he shared with his elderly mother, sister and niece. They let themselves into his home with his keys because they suspect he has stolen goods. An officer pushed Floyd’s mother, causing her to fall, have a heart attack and die. Her death was labelled “accidental”.

This book taught me so much about British History I felt incredibly embarrassed to not know. From the Bristol Bus Drivers to the various laws in place that have deprived justice to victims of racism, I knew none of it. And I’ll bet not many other people do too. We are all vaguely aware of black history in Britain. Much like we are aware of events around the world but realistically know nothing. Being aware and knowing are two very different states I have learned.

The System

  • Stephen Lawrence, 1993
  • 2012, nineteen years after Lawrence’s murder, his killers are finally punished.
  • Systematic Racism; how our relationship with racism has distorted and infected equal opportunity.
  • How laws have not benefited but work against people of colour.

We live in a world that is against non-white people. That’s the truth.

We have always associated racism with white extremism and nationalism and use of the N word. But the harsh reality is, its in our every day lives. We assume that because the N word hasn’t been used, the action cannot be called racist. We cannot recognise racism because we have trained ourselves to ignore it. If it does not affect us, we will not care.We think that by eliminating racism, by refusing to acknowledge it, it will go away. It is a childish, stunted way of tackling racism. But sadly it is the approach that so many of us are taking.

“I don’t see colour”

Prior to reading this book, I thought it was the best method. I thought that if I didn’t discuss race, if I didn’t see it, it would cease to exist. Yep good one Harriet.

But seeing Race is what we need to change the system. Like we want men to acknowledge we are women who are different to men, yet we should be celebrated as different, I believe this is the approach we need to take to ensure that racism is changed.

White Privilege

  • What we, as white people, take for granted. The opportunities that we are offered, the lives we lead, the choices we are able to make.
  • Fact: white people have not, and cannot experience racism.
  • White privilege is the automatic sense of trust that is extended to you in any situation. Reni draws on an experience in a job interview, of which she was interrogated over her tweets about racism. I on the other hand, routinely tweet Donald Trump a whole variety of insults and political questions. Yet I have never once been questioned over it.
  • White privilege is being seen as “diverse” and “intersectional” when we talk about race. Whilst anyone who isn’t is seen as the “angry black man/woman”.
  • White privilege is feeling angry when the “race card” is played.

Reni says that racism and black identity are very different things. Racism is a white identity. Racism is this bizarre fear white people have inherited over the centuries against people of colour. If there is one thing to take away from this book it is this distinction. White people are racist. It is a white identity.

“Racism’s legacy does not exist without purpose. It bring with it not just a dis-empowerment by those affected by it, but an empowerment for those who are not.”

I went to university with a guy whose family was from Pakistan. He had a “foreign” sounding name and couldn’t get a job. Thus he began the process of legally changing his name to a more western sounding one. At first, I found this baffling. Surely, surely in 2015, this was not the case? This is London! The home of diversity! In my white privilege, I could not imagine a world in which my name would exclude me from opportunities. But in hindsight, I understand his concerns and I wish I could have understood sooner.

“The idea of White Privilege forces white people who aren’t actively racist to confront their own complicity in its continuing existence. White Privilege is dull grinding complacency.”

An aspect that this book heavily discusses, and has indeed been discussed many times before is, can white people be on the receiving end of racism?

Once upon a time I would have thought yes. To me, racism was discriminating against someone because of the colour of the skin. In one very basic form it is. But, and this is a big but, as a white person, you can be treated with prejudice, malice, and unkindness, but at no point in your life will you ever experience racism. It is not as simple as being judged and treated differently based on the colour of your skin. Racism is a whole system. It is a system that has been brewing and evolving for years against anyone who isn’t white. Therefore, you cannot ever experience racism. Also, the only time you can take offence from being called a cracker is if you are in fact a biscuit, and even then, you need to reevaluate your life.

Fear of a Black Planet

  • Enoch Powell, 1963 “The black man will have the whip hand over the white man”.
  • An Interview with Nick Griffin 
  • Token Characters and those who are assumed to be white.
  • Black Hermione Granger
  • Black representation

Black representation is something I have become acutely aware of recently. In light of an all girls Ghost Busters remake, a new Oceans film with an all female cast, and Daisy Ridley the first ever female jedi/protagonist. It’s been an exciting few years to be a woman. Finally we are being represented as dynamic individuals! Yet, these are almost all white women.

“White people are so used to seeing a reflection of themselves in all representations of humanity at all times, that they only notice it when its taken away from them.”

I get annoyed as a woman when I don’t see other women in positions of power. I feel let down and misrepresented. I get excited when I read a book and the protagonist and I have something in common. I was elated to read Tricia Levenseller’s Daughter of the Pirate King and discover the protagonist was a red head. Since delving into the world of book bloggers and thus discovering more and more fandoms, I have discovered how white this all is. At first, I thought, why? Reading is something anyone should enjoy. But, I soon discovered that this is because so many authors write white protagonists. These past few years have seen a huge increase in women who write fantasy. They have spawned thousands of devoted fans. From SJMaas and her ACOTAR series to Marissa Meyer and the Lunar Chronicles. I explored the fan art of these fandoms and was taken aback by how white their interpretations are. These fandom’s are excluding people of colour from them through their lack of identifiable characters!

As a book blogger, I like to live the lives I physically cannot live. Yet I probably own a grand total of five books by women of colour. Why do I not actively or even subconsciously gravitate towards books that discuss race? A part of me is scared. A part of me thinks that reading books by people of colour will make me confront my own role within this very racist society. I’m not out there being your generic slim head, yet I’m not out there protesting at black lives matter either. It’s also shame. I am ashamed at the fact I haven’t explored or made an effort to learn more about the black literature. It’s like how I said with feminist reads a while ago, they aren’t hard reads, they are accessible to all. So why should reading a book by a woman of colour be any different? Maybe because I know the premise is one in which I won’t be able to physically identify with the narrator. Yet I’ve managed to read far too many series with a white straight man leading when I have more in common with a woman of colour than I do a man. It’s a mess. A confusing mess.

The Feminism Question

  • White feminism
  • “Feminism, at its best, is a movement that works to liberate all people who have been economically, socially and culturally marginalised by an ideological system that has been design for them to fail. That means disabled people, black people, trans people, women and non-binary people, LGB people and working class people”
  • Intersectional Feminism

The topic of White Feminism is what drew me to this book in the first place. Emma Watson was dubbed a white feminist and thus set out to explore that entire concept. As someone who religiously follows Our Shared Shelf, and who looks to women like Emma Watson for guidance on her feminist literature, I knew I had to follow suit.

White feminism is the horrible part of feminism that doesn’t fight nor acknowledge the rights of people of colour.White Feminism sees racism as another issue, something that feminism shouldn’t be involved with. It’s the “We will come back to that one later…”. White Feminism is concerned with a very narrow minded view of what women’s rights means.

Reni draws on experiences where she has been in feminist discussions and has pointed out the lack of black representation in the world of modelling. The white women in the room awkwardly bumbled over the subject and tried to make it out like it wasn’t an issue. They later took offence at Reni and some other women of colour having their own separate feminist group. It is in my personal opinion that these white feminists do this because they are naive. Like many of us, they assume that if they don’t talk about race, racism will cease to exist.

“Your silence will not protect you. Who wins when we don’t speak? Not us.”

For a long time I really resented the notion of “intersectional feminism”. This means that you support the rights of all humans from all corners of the world. I hated that the word feminism wasn’t for everyone. I hated the flaw in such a beautiful word. But as Reni says, feminism has a long way to go. It is still learning, still evolving, still adapting to this world. As a result, we feminists must go with it. We must learn more, we must keep up and be aware. So, I am an intersectional feminist and I am proud.

Racism and Class

  • examining the relationship between working class people who are black and those who are white.
  • “white working class communities”
  • the offence white people have taken over the increasing people of colour in industries and the opportunities they receive.

This chapter really highlighted how many people associate working class and white to be the same thing. When in actual fact, the majority of working class people are black. This is because Britain still associates working class with the 1940’s rose tinted lenses view. They are seen as the backbone of the country, which they are, but what they aren’t is exclusively white. Given how our society has organised itself against all non-white people, it is no surprise that the majority of our low earners are people of colour. They are simply not given the same opportunities. White privilege at its finest again.

Reni also highlights how the assumption of rich immigrants coming here and stealing “our” jobs is actually a very very low percentage. This also draws attention to the frequent confusion by a lot of white people that the world beyond ours isn’t all tribes tents and medieval garb. There was a lot of upset when some white people saw refugees from Syria with Iphones. SMH.

There’s No Justice, There’s Just Us.

  • How to end racism
  • Racism cannot be countered by white guilt.
  • Stop wallowing in self pity.
  • Get out there and do something.

This book isn’t a blue print on how to stop racism 101. That’s down to us, the readers, the bystanders, the people who are blinded by their privilege. But this book will educate you more than a class room ever can.

To everyone who has taken offence by this books title, you are the exact person who needs to read this. Once upon a time I probably would have thought along the same lines as you; “not all white people are the same FYI” or “please don’t give up on white people”. but the harsh reality is that we are all guilty of turning a blind eye to racism. Racism isn’t just the verbal and physical abuse we associate the word with. It is a system. It is something so entrenched in our society it’s maddening! We have all benefited from being white, whether we want to admit it or not. That is what has happened. You might think you have never stood by and watched but you probably have and you probably haven’t acknowledged the scenario let alone watched.

Reni emphasises the importance in talking about race. The moment we brush it under the carpet, we become an enabler of it. Yet at the same time, this doesn’t mean asking insensitive questions. Nor does it mean heaping on the white guilt in conversation. Just talk. Discuss the topic. Ask questions. Be a normal person.

But as Reni also says; stop feeling guilty. Stop wallowing in the self pity of white guilt. Get out there and be angry. Talk about race. No matter how scary it might seem at first. Don’t shut down conversations, explore them.

Just do something!

I am far from perfect, my education is far from over. I am nowhere near being the perfect feminist. My ideas and beliefs are still evolving. Reading this book is not admitting defeat, you are not resigning yourself to being a racist or a bad person. You are opening yourself to the possibility of being a better person.

So please, give this book a chance.

Love,

HRH xox

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Feminist Reads

My Top 5 Feminist Reads

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Good Afternoon dolls,

I am back at work after my wonderful Christmas break and am feeling the pain.

Not just the pain of my sheer lack of sleep, but the pain of watching the Golden Globes the other night.

As we all know, the #TimesUp Movement, hosted by numerous Hollywood women to raise money, hope and power for those who have been victims of sexual assault, is in full swing. The stars wore black in solidarity to their cause, and brought activists with them to the ceremony to preach their message loud and clear;

Time is Up. 

However, it was the journalists of the evening that truly let us all down. Instead of discussing the biggest topic of the evening, the Times Up movement, they awkwardly tried to ask about fashion choices and the films of the evening.

I can appreciate it is tradition to treat award ceremonies like a live exhibition of gorgeous clothes, but there are occasions where one can deviate from tradition. Instead of asking the stars who designed said black dress, perhaps ask them why?

Cosmopolitan’s Amy Odell wrote a fantastic article of the sheer madness that this ceremony became because of the media in attendance. I think its fair to say that E! News was the most shocking with their decision to cut away from activist Tanara Burke, creator of the #MeToo movement (!!) when she began to discuss her work.

Now, I read books for escape. Like everyone else, I like to immerse myself in a world that can provide a sanctuary from my day to day life. However, books are also here to teach us. Learning isn’t always tedious and reminiscent of school, learning is often a subconscious journey, one we suddenly emerge from as a new and better person.

Reading Feminist literature is like that.

It’s very easy to assume that “Feminist Literature” means cock waving, boring, angry speeches, with references to the first feminists that none of us knew. I know because I once thought like that.

I once assumed Feminism meant women before men. That it was about blaming men for everything and condemning them for crimes of the past. I was surrounded by men who had never embraced feminism and only saw its bad side. They were the men that saw the statistics of innocent men punished for crimes they did not commit. They were the men that assumed all women were lying and attention seeking, the kind of men that called Kim Kardashian only famous for having tits and a sex tape. They were the men that spawned the hashtag “Feminism is Cancer”.

But I am here to tell you it isn’t like that.

Reading Feminist Literature is like reading any other novel, except you are guaranteed that wonderful moment of “hey, I think like that too, this character totally gets me!”. I emphasise, feminist literature isn’t gruelling, boring, guilt trip inducing material. In fact, they often read like blogs and will connect you, your experiences and your thoughts to women around the world who you never knew existed.

So I am here to introduce to you my top 5 feminist reads that have made a lasting impact on me.


Best for Epiphany:
I Call Myself A Feminist: 25 women under the age of 30.

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Stars: 5/5

Ideal for: anyone under the age of 30!

Avoid if: you are dealing with trauma. This is a raw read.

Age range: 13-30

Chapters: 25

Pages: 269

Published: 2015

As far as feminist Reads go, this is very easy and is broken down into very small chapters per author. The language isn’t difficult or academic. It’s like you’re sitting in the room with them and chatting about their experiences.

As a 22 year old woman, the aspect that I enjoyed the most was having the opinion of someone from my generation. Someone who understood what it was to be a young adult in the 21st century. To anyone who isn’t a “lazy, self indulgent millennial” you might laugh. What horrors do us millennials know! How can women of today possibly understand the true horrors of the past? Well, we can’t. There are many things us western girls take for granted. We have the ability to vote, speak out minds, wear whatever we like and hold hands with other girls without being arrested.

So with this in mind, its easy to feel guilty when we experience 21st century sexism.

The whole “We don’t have it as bad as they did” argument is poisonous. It makes it easy for us to forgive and forget, to allow behavior that realistically shouldn’t be permitted.

I Call Myself A Feminist explores what it is like to be a present day feminist, helping you to not feel so alone and naive. It validates your experiences and your identity as a feminist.

“The F Word is Fairness.” -Kate Mosse

This book enabled me to connect with a part of myself I had kept hidden for years. It was Louise ONeill’s account of sexual abuse and how it affected her relationship with the women around her that helped me to forgive myself. When you’ve had someone force themselves on you and get away with it, you are consumed with so much anger and hurt.

For me, disappointment in myself was big. I was ashamed that I hadn’t spoken louder, that I hadn’t screamed or called for help or even tried to lash out. Instead, I froze up. I was 13 years old and I had my first boyfriend. I wanted to just hold hands and be cute at school. He said to me “there isn’t a thing I wouldn’t do for you” I said “me too”, my thirteen year old mind couldn’t comprehend what he really meant. He pulled my top down. The my shorts, tights and pants. I was wearing Mr Men pants from Topshop. I barely felt comfortable in the gym changing room let alone with a boy.

He said “you’ll like this trust me” I said “I’ll pass thanks”, he did it anyway. Naturally, word got out, rumours flew around about me at school, everyone was furious, with me. He was commended as some kind of war hero, whilst I became the school slut. I had boys making up rhymes about me, girls giving me filthy looks. Even my own friends were dumbfounded. No one asked me if I was okay. Because no one asked, no one knew. Because no one knew, I felt irrelevant and that how I felt was wrong.

You’re probably asking “well, why were you alone with him?” Because at that age I never imagined what would happen. I was young, naive and childish. People have said to me since “what did you expect! being alone with a boy” I didn’t expect it. But he did. And that’s the problem.

Somehow, somewhere along the line, children are assuming that its the done thing. They are assuming that it is a rite of passage to touch someone up and that if they say no, being called frigid is the worst thing imaginable.

I’m not sharing this story to receive sympathy or attention, I am sharing it because sexual abuse doesn’t always mean being dragged into a bush late one night on the way home, kicking and screaming. I want people to realise that when someone takes advantage of you in a vulnerable position, you are not at fault. Because in your terror you froze up and didn’t fight, it does’t make you a coward or to blame.

YOU ARE NOT TO BLAME.

It took me such a long time to realise that I had no fault in what happened and if sharing this can help anyone else realise that they are not at fault then I will gladly preach this.

I was angry at him for a long time. But, it is in my opinion that he was as much a victim as I was. Society taught him that he could help himself to my body. That is the chain feminism wants to break.

It made me realise why I am a feminist: to break this chain of abuse.

I am a feminist.


Best Comedy:

How to be a woman

By Caitlin Moran

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Stars: 5/5

Ideal for: all women

Avoid if: you don’t want to risk laughing until you cry in public. Messy business.

Age range: 16+

Chapters: 16

Pages: 309

Published: 2011

For any of you who don’t know, Caitlin Moran is hilarious. She has five books now, How To Be A Woman was her second, published in 2011. This book serves as a memoir with a focus on being a woman. From periods, to orgasms, to naming your vagina, to dating, to children and abortion, and to career. It covers a whole range of experiences, each one of them relating back to feminism and delivered with so much gusto and humour that it is impossible to not laugh! (See section on naming your daughter Cunt)

The most redeeming thing about this book, outside of how much it will make you laugh, is how it simplifies feminism.

Do you think everyone should have equal rights?

“Congratulations! You’re a feminist” -Moran

Also, my favourite moment in this book will always be when Moran’s sister is told that she will want children when she finds the right man, to which she replies

“When Mrya Hindley met her right man, it was Ian Brady.”

Nothing will ever shut up those pesky baby boomers quite like the uttering of a child killer.

It discusses all aspects of sexism, such as appearance, work and porn. With regards to the first two, Moran essentially says, Girls, do what ever you want to do. Be a lap dancer, be a porn star, be a model. Flaunt your bodies or don’t. Just whatever it is, do it for YOU. Moran states how porn isn’t inherently bad. Only the way it is portrayed. The moment we get some decent porn that isn’t all about some woman having an explosive orgasm upon entry then we are good.

Although, if you are one of those women who can achieve an orgasm from penetration alone tell me your secrets.

This book gave me the confidence I needed to wear my feminism on my sleeve. It brought me out of the feminist closet and taught me to not be afraid.


Best Short Read:

We Should All Be Feminists

by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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stars: 5/5

Ideal for: E V E R Y O N E.

Avoid if: it’s simple, don’t avoid it.

Age Range: All

Pages: 52

Chapters: N/A

Published: 2014

Arguably one of the most famous books on this list. We Should All Be Feminists is a very short book, the kind that can be read in your lunch break or on your commute. It’s also pocket sized! So not only is it feminist, but its practical! Tah-Dah!

Dimensions aside, this book really pulls a part what is is to call yourself a feminist.

Adichie asks; ““Why the word feminist? Why not just say you are a believer in human rights, or something like that?” Because that would be dishonest. Feminism is, of course, part of human rights in general—but to choose to use the vague expression human rights is to deny the specific and particular problem of gender. It would be a way of pretending that it was not women who have, for centuries, been excluded. It would be a way of denying that the problem of gender targets women.” 

Which is exactly right. Feminism is a word that acknowledges all dimensions of this movement. Its past, its presence and its future. To just be a human rights advocate is akin to being a casual.

Of late, there has been a lot of discussion over the various feminist subtitles… Intersectional Feminist, White Feminist, Feminists who hate men, Feminists who don’t hate men and like wearing lipstick. The whole thing is a bit of a mess.

Adichie ends up calling herself:

“A Happy African Feminist Who Does Not Hate Men and Who Likes to Wear  Lip Gloss and High Heels for Herself and Not For Men”

Then there is a bigger issue all together; White Feminism. In short, White Feminism is a form of feminism that focuses on the struggles of white women alone. It forgets and often ignores the issues that women from other parts of the world are also feminists. White Feminism is naive and inherently racist. It follows that classic western mindset of “If it doesn’t affect me then I won’t affect it”.

I hate the concept that this belief in women being equal to men is exclusive to non-white people. Its embarrassing to think my beliefs are discriminating. Feminism should be a united front, its concept and motto plain, simple and universal. I don’t want to come across as ignorant, nor saying that there isn’t a problem, because there clearly is one, else why would this even be a discussion?

I want this fight to benefit and include everyone.

The one thing I took away from this book was that Feminism still has a way to go. Just because we now call ourselves feminists it doesn’t mean we are exempt from stupidity. We need to keep learning, supporting and empowering one another until the word feminist becomes non-existent.

We will know we have won then.


Best Fiction:

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

and

The Power by Naomi Alderman

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Stars: 4/5

Ideal for: Men! In a non threatening way, The Power will help you understand what it is like to be in a woman’s shoes.

Avoid if: you don’t enjoy dystopian fiction

Age range: Young Adult

Chapters: The Power N/A , THMT 44

Pages: The Power 339, THMT 324

Published: The Power 2016, THMT 1996

I have included both of these books because 1. they are both fantastic pieces of fiction and 2. they are the opposite of one another. One asks; what if women had no rights? The other asks; What if men had no rights?

These novels switch and play around with gender roles in their most extreme form.

The Handmaids Tale portrays women at their most subservient point; used as nothing but baby making machines. Their identities are stripped from them both mentally and physically. Made to bare the same name as the man they serve and made to dress in the uniform of their class. There is no freedom for anyone, man nor woman under this regime.

Meanwhile The Power tells the story of multiple women and one man from around the world. They are all dealing with the fact that women have evolved to have a “power” allowing them to rule the world. This power is in the form of electric, living in a skein under their collarbones/chest  allowing them the upper hand in any conflict. Thus men are no longer safe. They are scared of walking home late at night, of being around women in large groups, even their own partners. The story deals with the rising of this power, to how it changes the world, the end of the book ultimately showing the world at its lowest point. There is Allie, who is abused by her foster parents, she runs away and becomes Mother Eve, the leader of a women’s only cult. There is Roxy, daughter of a prolific crime boss in England. she joins forces with Mother Eve after realising her power. There is Margot an American Politician who appears as a Hilary esque figure, fighting for control over this ever changing power dynamic. Then  there is a Tunde, a young Nigerian man reporting on all he see’s around the world.

The writing style aside (which I personally struggled to enjoy) The Power, is indeed a powerful read that will encourage you to look beyond the broader statement of being a feminist and draw attention to the little details. It shows the reality of extremism irrespective of your gender and beliefs.

The aspect of this book that struck me was how it shows that Men and Women are not evil. Feminism is not evil. Instead, it is extremism that can be evil. Neither one of the genders alone in this story project hate. It is a select few that abuse their power in the world that is ultimately the downfall.

With this in mind, not all men are evil. Not all men will hurt you, just like not all women are good and some women will hurt you. It isn’t our gender that defines us, it is our choices as individuals.

So men, without me sounding like Mr Burns from the Simpsons in his alien form, don’t be afraid of Feminists. We aren’t all bad.

P.s. If you enjoyed these books, try Louise O’Neill’s Only Ever Yours  It is a dystopian Mean Girls.


Best Essays:

The Bad Feminist 

By Roxane Gay

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Stars: 5/5

Ideal for: If you want a structured read

Avoid if: the word essay brings you out in a rash

Age range: 16+

Pages: 320

Chapters: 42

Published: 2014

Author of The Black Panther graphic novel series to writing numerous autobiographical feminist tales, Roxane Gay is sensational. Bad Feminist is a collection of essays broken down into five sections. Within each section is numerous chapters/headings.

1. Me

2. Gender and sexuality

3. Race and Entertainment

4. Politics, Gender and Race

5. Back to Me.

Don’t be put off by the word “essays” they’re not the kind you’re used to writing crying at 4am because its due in 4 hours time and you haven’t read the book. like with the previous feminist texts, this reads more like a blog post, just with the structure of an essay.

Each “essay” is short, snappy and straight to the point. There is no fluff or waffle as my old Professor would say. Gay hits the nail on the end with so many points she raises, such as “How to be friends with a woman”: Abandon the notion that all female relationships are bitchy.

Like Moran, Gay perfectly sums up what being a feminist is;

“I believe feminism is grounded in supporting the choices of women even if we wouldn’t make certain choices for ourselves.” –Roxane Gay

It is the acceptance that everyone is different yet united in their belief of equality.

On the topic of White Feminism, it has a whole chapter dedicated to the discussion of white people who depict black history, primarily in regards to the film/novel The Help. Gay essentially says the problem with these adaptations is how assuming they are. How they don’t tell the full story and how they portray western people as saviours. Its all very narrow minded and ridiculous.

I am going to do my best not to be a hypocrite here, I am only trying to phrase the scenario in a way us white chicks might understand. White portrayals of black stories are akin to a man with no medical knowledge or experience explaining how a period works. Its frustrating and insulting. Imagine that his explanation alone is hailed as genius. A genius piece that is heart warming and emotional and sums it all up. He is rewarded and commended for his brilliant intuition into the female sex. When in reality, he is barely scratching the surface and is 99% wrong. That is how I can only imagine women on the other side of white feminism feel.

Overall, this book is incredibly powerful, Roxane Gay is a fantastic writer and I urge you all to start reading her work!


Bonus! My Current Read:

Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race

By Reni Eddo-Lodge

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#OurSharedShelf ‘s book for January and February!

So, I am still reading this, so my full review is a little way off. But from what I have read so far of the book and its reception, we all need to read this.

As I mentioned with Adichie and Gay, Feminism shouldn’t be an exclusive club. It shouldn’t be a place where you have to fit certain criteria. It should be open for all and an identity for anyone to adopt.

One thing I have noticed is how a lot of white women, feminists or not, have been offended by this book. Honey, the fact you are offended alone means you need to take a step back and get some perspective. I wouldn’t consider myself to be a “white feminist” but the fact remains I no doubt will exhibit the behaviour of one. I am not a racist person but I am a person who is guilty of not thinking. I am a person who can make assumptions and be naive. I will frequently put off reading a novel written by a woman of colour to indulge in some western woman’s fantasy fiction. This is because I assume I won’t be able to identify with these women. But, I am wrong. At the end of the day, we are all human. We are all women and as such we have the same experiences. So It’s time I stepped out of that mindset and gave myself an education.

For those of you who think you don’t need to read this, or perhaps don’t want to read this, take a step back and consider the bigger picture.

Start by reading this book. It’s not a guilt trip, its an eye opener.


And finally, my message to the boys, and particularity my brother.

Just because there are some women in the world who believe that feminism should be women triumphing over men, it doesn’t mean that that is its definition. If you believe that we should all have equal rights, welcome to the club.

Don’t be afraid to call yourselves a feminist.

 

Love,

 

HRH xox

 

Mental Health Reads

My Top Five Mental Health Reads

New year, new blog post! So Happy new year one and all!

I am not one for making grand new years resolutions, after all, you can’t improve perfection. However, there are a few things I learned in 2017 that I want to take forward into 2018.

The first of these is mental health. As you might have gathered from my previous posts, I am very aware of how tumultuous mental health can be, especially as a recent Graduate.

So today I am going to share with you the top 5 books I have read that have had an impact on my mental health. These books are very personal, so with this in mind, they might not resonate with you as much as they did for me. The impact of these books is sometimes positive, at times a little negative but they have always led to an epiphany of some sorts. I won’t list them in chronological order of my life, more in random order, mainly because one of these books is very embarrassing.

A Court of Mist and Fury
S J Maas

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By now, I think everyone is aware of ACOTAR and the world of the fae by S J Maas. I only discovered her in March 2017 so I was a little late to the party, however, this book is the one that hit me the most.

The general gist of the plot (it is the second book in the trilogy) is that Feyre has Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. She has gone through a terrible ordeal and just isn’t coping, that is until a certain someone swoops in and helps her help herself.

First of all, I wish I had read this back in 2016 when I was going through my worst patch, as it was exactly what I needed to hear.

Secondly, although Feyre is rescued, she saves herself. The book details her bad days and her good days and all those in between. Although the book emphasises the importance of friendship, Feyre only learns to survive through her own gumption. It shows how the only person who can help you is yourself. It teaches strength of character and independence. I think a lot of the time we do just roll over and wait for someone to fix us. After numerous attempts and failed relationships, I realised only I could fix myself and it was no one else job.

Finally, its a story about survival. Sure, you won’t ever be rid of the emotions and that part of your mentality. But you learn to adapt. As someone who has experienced PTSD, this book was such a blast from the past. I recognised my own experiences, mistakes and emotions through Feyre, and honestly, it was pretty good to see just how far I had come since those days!

Honestly my favourite part of this book was the descriptions of the baths, the pjs and the various settings around her that slowly bring her to life again, because they mirrored my own. Trust me, it works wonders!

The Space Between 

Meg Greham

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This was a book I read very recently (last week to be precise) and it was lovely. this book is written entirely in verse, but it isn’t a snobbish verse if that makes sense? In that I mean its not going to remind you of GCSE English classes. It is more a stream of consciousness that mirrors the internal narration we all have -especially during bad patches.

It tells the story of Beth, a young woman who lives by herself. It begins on New years day. She has decided to spend the year entirely alone without speaking or interacting with anyone. So far it is going well. She has her food delivers, doesn’t have a phone, hides any mail and hasn’t gone any further than her front door. That is until, she hears a scuffling one day. She goes to her window and sees a dog. Each day, this dog comes back and licks her window. She soon discovers the dog is called Mouse and belongs to a girl named Alice. Soon, she and Alice become friends, spending every day together.

The most adorable and heart warming thing about their bond is that Alice never asks questions, she just looks after Beth. From making pillow forts/nests, to playing with Mouse, to bringing her books to reads and cooking food with her. You can argue that Beth needs to fix herself and not rely on Alice, but I think we sometimes need that person to show us how to love ourselves until we are ready to begin again.

You never find out Beth’s backstory, you only see things through her mind. Even when she goes to remember painful memories you see her internal conflict and repeated lines of ;

“Shut up Shut up Shut up”

The aspect of this that I enjoyed the most was how honest it is. It mirrored my own journal which turned into my physical stream of consciousness, with all my ugly and conflicting thoughts in.

Speaking of which, I encourage everyone to keep a journal. It doesn’t need to be a work of art or coherent in any shape or form -I haven’t ever read mine and I know most of it isn’t legible, but it has allowed me to vent, which is what it is for.

New Moon

Stephanie Meyer

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Alright, okay, this is embarrassing. Essentially, I read this book when I was 13, aka hormonal, emo, angst and going through my first ever break up. This book became my therapy.

For the sake of context, I will recap. In New Moon, Bella is dumped by her Vampire Boyfriend Edward. He is her first ever boyfriend and basically her entire world. this breakup is harrowing for her and leaves her a shell of a woman. She spends the novel slowly trying to get over him.

I think we all go through a Bella Swan phase when we break up with someone. Whether it is a platonic or romantic relationship, the loss of that closeness you shared with someone is so debilitating.

Granted, Bella Swan and the entire Twilight Saga has a lot of issues, but I will always remember this book as the one that got me through my first break up. It was my Ben and Jerry’s! Bella’s emotions -or lack there of, mirrored my own. The self inflicted isolation and mourning somehow gave me life… I am not sure the exact science behind the epiphany of my 13 year old self realising that my life wasn’t over and that I would meet my Edward one day, but alas it happened.

I do look back on this time of my life and smile and think “Oh you sweet summer child!”

But I think we all go through a hormonal teenager phase where we think the world has come to an end and that nothing is worth it anymore. But we soon learn we are made of tougher stuff. If we can survive puberty I think we can survive anything.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

J.K. Rowling

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Fact, I re-read Harry Potter at least once a year annnnnd re-read this one when I am depressed. I think it is the Hogsmede aspect of it that revives me…

So, we all know the plot to this one, but it wasn’t until I re-read this in the past couple of years that I realised how much it is a story of overcoming depression.

Firstly, the dementors represent depression; sucking the happiness from a person, making us remember our worst memories, cold, and unfeeling. But Harry’s own experience with them is hat stuck with me; this is the first time he is consciously aware of being an orphan.
Whether it is because of Sirius Black or the dementors, or the two combined, but for the first time we see him dealing with the grief he has never before really acknowledged.

Secondly, the use of Expecto Patronum as a method of expelling the physical form of unhappiness with your happiest memory is perfect. It shows you will overcome the dark times, that happiness will triumph over misery. You just have to have faith in yourself.

Finally, Harry’s own neglect of his emotions is something I think we can all identify with. As humans, we frequently bury our feelings down deep and refuse to deal with them, then suddenly they resurface in such an ugly and explosive way we have no choice but to address the issue at heart. Eventually Harry does come to terms with his fears and what the dementors mean to him and he learns to cope. There are times where he is unable to perform a patronus but it is never the end of the world. I think this is something we should all take away from this book;

Just because you can’t cast a patronus right now, it doesn’t mean you never will. 

Also, I love how HoneyDukes chocolate is seen as the cure for a depression  dementors attack! Plus its Harry Potter, I have grown up with these books, they have seen me through thick and thin, how could I not turn to them when in a bad time?

The Bell Jar

Sylvia Plath

Okay, so I really wasn’t sure if I wanted to include this one. I have only read this novel once, and that was for my A Level English Literature coursework. So naturally, I have a lot of negative emotions attached to it!

But I can’t deny its importance to the representation of mental health in literature.

For those of you who don’t know, this tells the story of Esther, a young woman trying to establish a life for herself in New York. She has recently graduated and has a boyfriend who she doesn’t really love. She finds herself at a loss with the world around her, and her mental health declines rapidly.

This isn’t a book I enjoy, I tried to re-read it, but I think it just hits me a bit too hard… Esther’s role as a graduate and trying to establish herself as a working woman is something I have experienced. It handles all of my ugly moments and failures which realistically I don’t want to relive!

Esther’s narration of her lowest point is something I could really identify with… Not that I am a suicidal person, but the sickness of her mind and total revulsion of the world around her is exactly how I can feel. I can’t quite put my finger on it but it is a type of manic phase where my thoughts are not my own and I become indifferent and just not myself.

For me, the Bell Jar is the embodiment of me at my worst. It is a reminder of what I can be, but it is also a reminder that I can overcome it, in time.

Bonus: The Yellow Wallpaper 

Charlotte Perkins Gillman

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I first read this when I was 16 and didn’t understand its impact until I reread it as a 19 year old. By this point in my life, I had moved out, gotten a job and learned to support myself. I was also in the ups and downs phase that firstly, becoming an independent adult gives you and secondly growing emotionally gives you.

The Yellow Wallpaper is a short story about an unnamed narrator who has been confined to bed rest since the birth of her child. As a modern reader we can tell she has post natal depression, but to its original audience, it would have been pinned as female hysteria. So, our narrator is left to a nasty bedroom with horrible yellow wallpaper that seems to come alive. She is not allowed visitors as she might become over excited and thus deteriorate.

It is the epitome of madness and like the Bell Jar, is the extreme of my dark phases.

When I first started taking antidepressants, I hasn’t slept for days. I had snippets of rest but nothing like the good nights sleep we all take for granted. I was hearing voices, I was aware that they weren’t real, but my head felt like Waterloo station during rush hour. It was exhausting! The Yellow Wallpaper would have been my “final form” if I didn’t get the help I needed. I’m not saying I was a danger to myself and those around me, or creeping around the bedroom trying to find a woman in the wallpaper, but I wasn’t well.

I think an issue we all have is that we don’t take ourselves seriously. We assume that there are those worst off than we are and we should be thankful what we have. Which yes, we should be. But we should also be aware that mental health is a part of our physical make up as much as your general health. You wouldn’t ignore chest pains, so you shouldn’t ignore the pains you experience mentally.

Overall, these books have taught me that I am strong. That I can survive whatever this world throws at me and that one bad day doesn’t mean the world is over.

There is always tomorrow.

I hope these books have encouraged you to seek solace in a good read, or have given you something for your TBR piles! If not, let me know what your go to books are for a bad patch, you know me I’m always looking to expand my bookshelf…

 

Love,

 

HRH xox

Assassins Fate

Assassins Fate

By Robin Hobb

4/5*

Stars; 4****

Genre; fantasy

Age range; young adult

Pages; 900…

Chapters; 50

Series; third in the Fitz and the Fool trilogy but 16th in the Realm of the Elderlings series.

Ideal for; any fan of high fantasy, game of thrones or just Hobbs writing in general!

Avoid if; you can’t hack long reads, at 900 pages it’s a big’un.


So I have just finished the final of Fitz and the Fool, aka the latest (and possibly last) instalment to Robin Hobbs Elderling universe.

I met Hobb briefly in London this year where she held a book signing in Forbidden Planet for the release of this book. Naturally, I fan girled and she was very good about it and lovely as one can imagine.

But still, I am incredibly emotional! This is like finishing Harry Potter all over again for me. I started these books when I started university in 2013. I distinctly remember starting “Dragon Keeper” (yes I read them in the non chronological order) in my tiny halls room on a very sunny January afternoon and being engrossed from the get go. look at me being a little bookstagram newbie.

If you haven’t divulged in this series yet you are truly missing out. They are such a delight.

As George R R Martin says; robin hobb is a diamond in a sea of zirconias.

Anyway, mine and Martins praises aside, you need to get yourself into this series!

It has the magic of Harry Potter, the politics of Game of Thrones, the lore of Lord of the Rings, the dragons of Brisinga and the life and soul that only Hobb could give.

But if you’re still undecided I will make it easy for you…

Do you like dragons?

Do you like fantasy?

Do you like magical powers?

Do you like blood thirsty assassins?

Do you have a guilty pleasure for romance? Especially that that isn’t vomit inducing?

Do you long for characters that are not the white hetero protagonists we have become bored to tears with? (Presenting at least 2 transgender characters here and numerous people of colour, life and vibrancy)

Do you love a series that will last you a good year or four?

Do you need a series that will reduce you to tears at 1am as I just have been?

If you answered yes to at least one of these; step right in.

If you’re actually thinking of divulging in the series now, maybe leave this review and is miiiight give too much away.


Positives

Firstly, I loved how this book brought all the characters together. It was akin to that moment in Game of Thrones where all the Starks join forces. It was just wonderfully done and so satisfying!

Each trilogy within the series has its own set of characters and plot. All of which are interwoven in a very rich tapestry but this book sews together the final pieces. The dragons, the liveships, the monarchs, the servants, the pirates, the prophets, the warriors, new friends and old friends all join together to finish this story. Naturally, some die, but their endings are so just and well planned.

Secondly, it’s very difficult to successfully conclude a series. But I feel as though Hobb did this without killing the heart of the story. Each character that we have followed since childhood has grown and found their path, their personal endings were right. There was no forced romances or conclusions, everything settled as it should.

Thirdly, the stakes were real. One thing I find very irritating that a lot of series tend to do is removing the consequences (yes I am referring to you SJ Maas with your Rhysand nonsense).

I think this is why Game of Thrones is so successful because you know there is always a consequence to an action (unless it’s where Jon snow and Jamie Lannister are concerned). No one is safe! This is true for Hobb too, you know that any wrong move by any character will result in their downfall.


Negatives.

However, I do feel as though Hobb was a little soft on some characters. There are a few who I genuinely thought she would kill off or punish more severely. There is a moment where one character is assumed dead but then makes a bizarre and somewhat unrealistic return. If they’re going to die, kill them, if they’re not, don’t even bother with a red herring!

I was a little disappointed with what was done with Chade… for those of you on the same page as me (or closed book now) will understand…

I also thought that Fitz would go ham in Clerres… given what he is capable of and how it was built up throughout the previous book, I felt Fitz was quite tame. I was expecting a full on Sweeney Todd moment. Instead we got Ned Stark…

I do feel as though the ending was a little rushed. Hobb is known for her books being very well paced and somewhat slow. For example, she tells roughly a few weeks of their lives over a good 500 pages then rushes a couple of months over a chapter and then the final chapter where one can argue the most important moments occur, there is less than 100 pages. For such a massive book this was a little disappointing. Those last few pages had me in tears yet I felt the situation could have been drawn out further and more could have been said…

As mentioned, this book is very, very long and heavy. At 900 pages, this is a beast. In hind sight, I think Hobb could have separated it into two books. Perhaps concluding one where The destroyer arrives and resuming the next when Fitz comes along. However, that aside this book took me 8 months of on and off reading and 1 month of solid reading to finish. Primarily because I couldn’t carry it around with me! But I got there in the end. I think it is one you just have to resign yourself to and just make time for in your life… trying to read this book of biblical proportions on the tube in the morning was hard work.


However, criticisms aside, as far as finales go this was perfect. It was the deathly hallows without any compulsory romance stories, everything fitted together as it should do.

Thank you so much Robin Hobb for bringing this series to life! It is such a treat. Now to reread them all again.

Love,

HRH xox

Taste Film: Beauty and The Beast

A Night with Taste Film:

Beauty and The Beast 

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Ever started to watch a film without snacks?

I physically cannot watch Harry Potter without a supply of pic and mix. I always need a snack of some shape or form when watching a film. Especially if its a film about food… Charlie and The Chocolate Factory… Alice in Wonderland… Ratatouille…

Then there are those films that you see once at the cinema and never really have a chance to see again in all of its big screen glory.

So I present to you; Taste Film, the answer to your food and film related woes. This is your chance to watch some fantastic films that are no longer on the cinema, with a menu inspired by the film itself!

This is the next in my series of blogs of trying to survive as a post grad in London… You can catch my previous posts here.

This time last year, I was a mess. I was between jobs, I had no money, I was living with my boyfriends family… I wasn’t living my best life. I wasn’t leaving the house much, let alone to socialise with people! But since then, I’ve gotten back on my feet and have started to make an effort.

I think the most important part of graduating is learning how to live.

For a long time I didn’t really live, I just sort of drifted from day to day hoping for the best. In my mind I just didn’t think I could afford to, I always just assumed it would be far too expensive -which it isn’t. I also assumed the night would end in clubbing -which it also doesn’t. I loathe clubbing, except for once in a blue moon where I think it would be great and then it really, really isn’t! So my social life was well and truly dead with this attitude.

So I am here as living proof to you all that if someone as miserable, salty and bitter towards the living as me can find fun, then you certainly can. 

The first thing to remember, especially if you live somewhere like London, is that not everything is expensive. You don’t need to use you kidney as a down payment on a cocktail. Yes if you perhaps go out in Mayfair, you might need to look into it, but overall, London isn’t that bad.

As Hagrid says: If you know where to go…

So, if you’re like me and abandoned society for a few months and are now ready for your reintroduction, hit up sites such as Design my night, A Curious Invitation, Taste Film, Meet Up. Because I can guarantee, you will find something. For the most part, I am a recluse. I like my private time, I don’t like going out in huge crowds, and I certainly hate any event in which I will be subjected to straight men pawing at me. There is also the fact I hate absolutely everyone. So if I managed to find a night out, you can too.

The Premise for Taste Film is this;

“Have you ever watched a film that made you hungry? Have you ever wished to be part of the filmic world you are seeing on screen? Been so immersed in what you are watching that you want to experience every aspect of the film? Food has always played a big part in cinema and as a self-confessed foodie; I started to wonder what it would be like to merge these two elements together and bring the filmic world to real life. Taste Film allows you to do just that.

In an age where creatives everywhere are finding innovative ways to deliver both forms as separate entities, there couldn’t be a better time to unite these common comforts together, and fill a void on the London pop-up scene.”

I attended the Beauty and The Beast Taste Film night, with my G MsBelleBonBon, you can read about her take on the night, including her outfit here. in which we watched the new, Emma Watson version of the film, not the one from the 90’s.

We donned our finest black dresses because we abhor colour. And yes, I did get a temporary golden tattoo on my breasts. Thank you Primark.

And it was amazing!

The menu;

Provincial Life 
“The goes the baker with his tray like always. the same old bread and rolls to sell”
Whipped Duck Liver Parfait with Sauternes Jelly and Herb Palmiers

“Roses… I completely forgot, I promised Belle a Rose”
Rose En vie! Vanilla Vodka,Lime and Rose Petals

Be Our Guest
“Monsieur, Mademoiselle, it is with deepest pride and greatest pleasure that we welcome you tonight”
Poulet en Croute, with a light Chicken mousse and Caviar and Champagne Sauce

The Snow Fight
“There’s something sweet, and almost kind, but he was me and and he was coarse and unrefined”
Pear Granita with Poached Pear and Vanilla Custard

Tale as old as Time
“Oh Beautiful! but Something is missing… ahh yes… the finishing touch!”
Golden chocolate Tart to Share.

The food was gorgeous, and made even better by the timings and the relevance each dish had to parts of the film. The starters was lovely, I’m not usually one for parfait, but even I enjoyed it.

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The cocktail was absolutely amazing. I have been trying to recreate it ever since! It wasn’t too strong, it was a beautiful rose pink colour and it just tasted fantastic. God damn.

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The main dish of chicken was okay. Chicken isn’t my preferred meat and I found the portion to be a little too large and bland in comparison to everything else. I also thought there should have been a hint to “Try the grey stuff, its delicious!” especially when the song is all about food and so much food is mentioned, it seemed like a missed opportunity.

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The first dessert was okay; the sorbet was more frozen ice with a hint of flavour than it was a scoop! served in a cocktail glass, it was beautiful to look at, but a little bit impractical to try and eat!

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The second dessert was a m a z i n g. Incredibly rich, beautiful to look at and melted in your mouth. I wish that had been the main dessert and then with another starter to make up the four courses.

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Food critique aside, this was a fantastic night. the atmosphere was fabulous, everyone was dressed up, we had a great view of the screen and I actually really enjoyed myself!

It also helped that I am madly in love with Emma Watson and any film she is in I think is fantastic. I only wish Taste Film would do a Harry Potter night…HINT HINT

Think of how amazing a great hall inspired feast would be?!?! Pumpkin juice… Butter Beer… Chocolate Frogs… Bertie Botts Every Flavour Beans… Pumpkin Pasties… Cauldron Cakes… Honey Dukes Chocolate… Mrs Weasley’s Toffee Easter Eggs… IT WOULD BE MAGIC. 

This night was hosted at the Parlour restaurant in Kensal Green, North West London area, which was easy enough to get to, but they have these nights at a variety of restaurants across the city.

Tickets were £45 each, but, considering this was to watch a film on a big screen, a four course mealand a cocktail, it was pretty damn good! (baring in mind, cinema tickets are almost £15 for an adult in London, and one can rarely get two courses let alone four for £30…)

So the moral of this story is…

There are some fantastic things to do in London, especially as a graduate. I know how difficult it is to stop wallowing in self pity and to feel inspired to keep going. I myself had a good wallow last week in which I shut down and just gave up. its okay to have those days, they are needed, but what is also needed is the epiphany that follows where you suddenly find your fight again. No matter how hopeless it all feels, you will get there.

I just suggest that you start off with a night out with Taste Film…

love,

HRH xox

All Souls Trilogy

A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES,

SHADOW OF NIGHT,

THE BOOK OF LIFE,

By Deborah Harkness

4/5*

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Genre: Fantasy & Historical Fiction

Books: 3; A Discover of Witches, Shadow of Night and The Book of Life

Adaptations: soon becoming a TV series!

Ideal for: any lover of twilight, vampires and witches

Avoid if: the Twilight franchise made you question all things holy.

Age range: Adult

 

So, I first purchased  A Discovery of Witches back in March 2017. Given my edition is the most BORING cover art ever, I ignored it for months. The sheer size of it was also pretty intimidating. But, in October I decided to embrace all things witchy as I realised there were not as many witchy novels as I first thought.

I will do my best to avoid spoiles for the first part of this review, then the end will be me ranting and raving about the books.

Synopsis;

Diana Bishop is a professor of Alchemy in 21st Century America. She moves to Oxford to begin research for her next paper. However, Diana is from a family of powerful witches. Raised by her Aunts after the murder of her parents, Diana abandoned her magic, forever haunted by the power her parents were killed for. But in a world inhabited by Witches, Demons and Vampires, she cannot hide from magic forever. And when she accidentally summons Ashmole 782 from the Bodleian library, aka the mystical book of origins, she becomes the most wanted witch in the world. However, with the help of Matthew Clairmont, an ancient Vampire, she begins to evade those who wish to capture her and her repressed magic. But, Vampires and Witches aren’t supposed to be friends, let alone fall in love, and soon, Ashmole 782 becomes the least of her worries.

The World.

This world is built up in two half’s; the first of humans, the muggles who are oblivious to the magic around them, the second is full of witches, vampires and demons. They coexist with the humans and live side by side with them, but they are governed by the Congregation, a coven of three vampires, three witches and three Demons who enforce the rules that under no circumstances can the three species interact with one another, especially fall in love.

Vampires are immortal, with most of the books vampires being born in 500AD which was actually really fun. I often find “ancient” vampires to be saturated in Victorian eras and nothing really that exciting.

Witches, though mortal, are the only ones with magic. They can command the elements, the occult, become necromancers and time travel. The witches are both men and women but sadly do not use a magic wand.

Demons basically have super abilities that borderline on insanity, so the gift of foresight, super intelligence, IQ, art etc. I suppose they represented every dyslexic, autistic, dyspraxic, ADHD, Biopolar person in the world.

Firstly, I need to fan girl over how the character of Diana is revealed to be a redhead at the end of the series. Her hair colour isn’t mentioned much until that point but it made me so so happy when I found out!

#TeamGinge. 

Other than that, I adored the writing style of Harkness. She is genuinely fantastic. I frequently find authors who try to use long words tiring; especially when the words are so out of place. You know what I mean, when authors like E.L. James and Stephanie Meyer say something with a big word to try and sound intelligent but it sticks out like a sore thumb? Or those authors who write like they’re Jane Austen? But Harkness’ vocabulary was truly fitting with the eras and subject matters at hand. The whole plot was beautifully composed and a joy to read.

I could almost see tiny flowers blooming from the pages!

Secondly, when I was at university, I did an entire year based around the Early Modern period, (15th-18th century). So to read a book that is set entirely within this time frame, was amazing. I loved how much Harkness resents Christopher Marlowe! Then bringing in the School of Night and Shakespeare popping up followed by afternoon tea with Queen Elizabeth and her decaying teeth! It was just amazing.

A criticism I noticed many readers had was how this book didn’t follow the Elizabethan speech that one normally finds in Early Modern plays. Firstly, I think it is well known that the general public of the 21st century do not enjoy reading line after line of dost and thou and thee and art. Secondly, ARTISTIC LICENSE.

If you’re concerned about a novel that explore witches and vampires but doesn’t write in full Elizabethan speech, why are you even here?!

Thirdly, It was so nice to finally read a novel about two star crossed lovers that did not revolve around a love triangle or a bunch of teenagers! This series has been described as Twilight for adults, which I wholeheartedly agree on. It is mature and deals with matters in a more adult manner without the constant teenager whining. Yet it still manages to maintain the fantasy world it has built.

I’m 22 years old and there is nothing I loathe more than YA fiction which is full of whining emos. I am out of that phase I need adults! -Side note, this is my one gripe with SJMaas, not all of us are 17 year olds! On the note of gripes, I did find the descriptions of sex and various details absolutely revolting.

LESS IS MORE! 

I do not need to know about appendages and soft curves and hissing and moans and groans. I have an active enough imagination to know what it is they are up to. there is nothing sexy or romantic about “her breast, full with fertile promise” JUST STOP!

Anyway.

The addition of Alchemy as a background theme was a really great choice. I found myself becoming obsessed withe Medieval Alchemy pictures (You know the generic images from medieval times of penis trees and random severed heads? Yeah that’s alchemy).

from www.timeshighereducation.com

It made the plot richer and more diverse in comparison to most fantasy’s. I love fantasy series that have their own world completely, but reading one that stems from our world and has its roots in our history and culture, was a really nice change. It also added depth to Diana’s character. Yes she is a powerful witch, but her role as a professor of Alchemy was just brilliant. It was great to see some female academic love!

Finally, the fantasy world. Oh my goddddddddd. So I am predominately over the vampire phase of my life. House of Night, Twilight, Vampire Diaries and The Interview with a Vampire nailed that coffin shut for me. lmao. But I am onto my Witch phase and this truly fit the bill. The mixture of Witches, Vampires and Demons and their various powers working together was amazing. My only criticism is how underplayed the Demons were…

Outside of the immediate world of magic, the settings themselves were glorious. Set in oxford, London, France, America and Eastern Europe, there was a plethora of cultures and places. Some of which I am familiar with, other not so much. I routinely found myself google imaging landmarks in Oxford to immerse myself further.

Spoilers coming up!

I know a lot of people found the final novel, The Book of Life,  to be the weakest of the series. I can see where this view comes from, especially with the role of Benjamin and how rushed that whole aspect was… but I didn’t hate it.

A part of me really resented Diana having twins and naming them after their grandparents *yawn*… As a woman who 1. hates children and 2. hates when people seem to only feel validated by having children, this ending frustrated me. I understand that it was somewhat imperative to the alchemy wedding that they have children, but it just felt that the characters became defined by their roles as parents to two children whose characters were non existent.

I also found the timing of their birth to be all off. It should have been the final aspect to the story not midway through. Given that Diana’s status as a Weaver and mother to half vampire babies is illegal in the eyes of the Congregation, how was there so little drama! she was most undesirable no.1 to them, why weren’t they out there trying to get hold of her! It was all a little too convenient. The demise of Benjamin was so rushed in comparison to its build up. Especially given how horrible and evil he was, it just all became too nice and easy by the end of it. I’m also still undecided on the role of Jack and his evolution as a character.

Matthew was a great vampire, but I did find his OTT brooding nature to be another Edward Cullen. Not all vampires are like that and I don’t know where this assumption has come from. I also don’t know why I’m saying “not all vampires” like I know a load.

I am ginger and in Ancient Greece, red heads were thought to be vampires. You never know. 

I found Diana and Matthews “down time” to be a bit off kilter too. Yes its horrible being away from those you love but they made it out to be such a huge betrayal when it really wasn’t? It was very hormonal and not at all alike the story thus far.

My favourite book was definitely book two, The Shadow of Night,  that was absolutely spectacular and I have next to no faults with it!

Spoilers over.

 

Overall, this is a fantastically magical series, only made better in its approach to adults not teenagers. It offers an original world and a fresh take on the whole vampire/witches genre. The language is sophisticated, the settings rich and the characters perfectly flawed.

I would highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to delve back into a witch enthused world, or who likes alternative historical fiction!

Love,

 

HRH xox

 

 

 

 

 

A Company of Swans

A COMPANY OF SWANS

BY EVA IBBOTSON

2.5/5*

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Summary 

Stars: 2.5/5

Genre: YA, coming of age

Author: Eva Ibbotson

Series: Stand alone

Pages: 392

Chapters: 18

Ideal for: any ballet fan!

Avoid if: you want a story with some depth, this is a simple read.

Review

So I bought this book because it was fate. My name is Harriet and I do ballet. This book is about a girl called Harriet who is a ballerina.

Oh snap.

Written by Eva Ibbotson, The first book I read by her was The Beasts of Clawstone Castle, which is a fantastic ghost story. Coincidentally, it was the first book I ever stayed up past midnight to finish. This Book is definitely one for her more older sides of YA. It details and explores a lot of issues that are more adult than the average YA story.

AcofS was a really nice read. Some aspects of it could have been better, but overall it was a heart-lifting story. I think I enjoyed it more than another just because of how much I identified with the protagonist!

Harriet dreams of being a ballerina, but her misogynistic father and cruel aunt have other ideas. They want her to be a nice wife to a nice academic husband. So Harriet runs away to join a ballet company touring the Amazon. But little does she know, her father and fiance-to-be, are hot on her tail.

So, I am estranged from my biological dad and went through the classic running away from home spiel that she does. Overall had some pretty strong emotions towards her entire story!

I can’t help but think Ibbotson was writing about me…

Aside from Harriet, one of the most wonderful parts of this story is how it feeds off of numerous ballets.

Firstly, it takes on many aspects of Swan Lake. There is the gathering of young ballerinas who are protected by the swan queen, aka the Prima Donna of the group, Simonova. There is the mirroring of black and white swan and the various crescendos that character embodies. There is also the character of Prince Siegfried shown through Rom, and later in the book, the whole shift of characters in there swan lake representation.

Secondly, there are elements of Giselle here, through insanity and dancing forever to protect your love and embracing death.

There is even some Sleeping Beauty with kisses breaking an insomniac like spell. There are also some glimpses of Cinderella through the cruel family and sneaking away to be the prince who ultimately saves her.

There are so many ballet elements in this, as a ballet enthusiast this was so lovely to read.

The ending was something I didn’t expect; the ballets this book follows all have so many different endings. Whether it is the swan dying, Giselle going insane, the prince and swan queen conquering evil… I really didn’t know which one it would choose. In some ways, it does them all at once. So at each turn, I thought that would be the ending but another surprise was thrown up!

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In regards to YA, the protagonist is 18, but a very young 18. In addition to this, she is seen as a child through quite a few characters. Which I suppose at that point in time, an unmarried woman would be. But it was a little bit of a juxtaposition of her maturity and infantile ways… I suppose it truly embodies the coming of age aspect that not many books can grasp. But then again, I don’t really think I am classed as a member of the Ya audience anymore so I don’t know what the level of sex is or maturity level?! I read a mixture of things when I was growing up and even now some books that are classed as YA seem a bit more mature?

God I am getting old.

What is YA fiction?! When is it young and when is it old?!

There are a few chapters where sex is referenced and insinuated. But it is referred to in a jokey way as being “ruined” it was funny a couple of times but after a while I was like come on Eva, stop preaching connotations of sex and ruin.

But I did appreciate how sex was insinuated rather than vividly described. As much as I adore SJ Maas and Deborah Harkness, I don’t need blow by blow details of appendages and hisses and growls. WHO HISSES?!

Less. Is. More.

My only gripe is the occasional use of the ‘N’ word when trying to embrace 1912 Amazonian culture… it just didn’t sit right. It wasn’t used in a form of speech, it was just referring to a character in passing. I just don’t understand why Ibbotson did it. It added nothing but negativity.

Overall, I’ve given it 2.5 stars because it was fun, I did enjoy it, but there are various moments where Ibbotson lets herself down. But overall, this is a lovely read for a fellow Harriet or ballerina!

Oh plus I bought this book when out and about with the Sisterhood of Travelling Bookworms so it makes it even more special!

(left to right) Nicola, PaigeAna and me

Love,

 

HRH xox 

Heartless

Heartless

by Marissa Meyer

5/5*

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Stars: 5/5

Ideal for: all lovers of Wonderland and the Lunar Chronicles

Avoid if: re-tellings and adaptations aren’t your jam

Pages: approx 448

Chapters: 54 all a few pages each

Genre: fantasy, fairy tale, adaptation

Synopsis

“Long before Alice fell down the rabbit hole… and before the roses were painted red… The Queen of Hearts was just a girl, in love for the first time.”

Review

So this is ideal for anyone who, like me, is going through a Fairy tale phase. I adore fairy tale re-tellings, especially when they get dark and gritty. Angela Carter is my main girl for this, but I do like having a novel or a series to get my teeth into. Which is why, Marissa Meyer is my current bae. If you are new to Meyer, you need to check out the Lunar Chronicles. I am only half way through but daaaaaaamn. A TV series needs to be made out of those.

I digress.

Prior to reading this book, I was a bit of a Wonderland novice. I had seen the films and visited the British Library’s exhibition of it in 2015, but had never read the full novel, making me fairly new to Wonderland and all its whimsical ways. With that said, I don’t think it hindered my enjoyment of the novel.

Heartless tells the back story of the Queen of Hearts. Unlike many backstories that seem to jump from the authors idea of who this character could be to who the character is, the transition here is very smooth.

Catherine’s journey from a nobleman’s daughter to the most feared Queen in all of Wonderland, is believable and inevitable.

I will refrain from spoiling any of this novel for you, but due to it being an adaptation of a Villain from a very old and well known book, we all know something bad will happen. Its just the case of when. In fact, it is this knowing that makes it all the more heartbreaking. I found myself guessing throughout the novel at what her breaking point would be;

When would the first head fall?

The novel begins with Catherine baking; it is her passion. The most dangerous aspect of this book is how you will constantly want to eat. This story is littered with intense descriptions of truffles, rose macaroons, salted caramel, lemon tarts, pumpkin pies and many more.

It inspired me to break out the scales and whisk myself… I am fantastic at burning things.

Its only ever sweet treats I burn. Savory food I can do great, but I just annihilate anything with sugar in it. Paul Hollywood, you know where to find me.

Cath then meets Jest, the new court Joker of Hearts. She finds herself becoming more and more drawn to him despite her Mother wanting her to marry the king. I always envisioned the king of Hearts as a cross between the Candy King from Wreck it Ralph and the Sultan in Disney’s Aladdin… He is the actual worst. Not in a Joffrey way, in a blithering, spineless, immature kind of way. Just wait.

Meanwhile, the mythical Jabberwocky has been sighted in the Kingdom, casting a shadow across the sugar coated lives the people of Hearts lead. The people of Hearts are fickle, vain and infuriating at best, living for the Kings balls and various parties, ignoring the real problems in their world.

I adored this novel. I was in love with it within the first few pages! Meyer is a fantastic writer and she really adopts Carroll’s style of Wonderland with her own twist.

I really enjoyed keeping an eye out for the various famous plot features of Wonderland… From Tweedle-dum and Tweedle-di… the Vorpal Sword… the Jabberywocky… Chess… the Mad Hatter… the March Hare… Eat Me… Drink Me… Croquet… Roses… The Looking Glass… its all there and its all fantastic.

The thing that gripped me the most was the amount of feeling in it.

I haven’t felt this deeply about a book since A Court of Mist and Fury!

I found myself deeply in love with Jest and Cath simultaneously. This was such an emotional roller-coaster; I became heartbroken at the slightest twist and ecstatic at any moment of hope.

By the end of the novel, I had become so engrossed in it I felt as though I had become the Queen of Hearts. If anyone at Kings Cross Station finds themselves being threatened with decapitation, please ignore me. I work long hours and I have the patience of a toddler during rush hour.

As always, if you have any book recommendations for me, especially in the Alice in Wonderland vein, please let me know in the comments!

Love,

HRH xox

 

 

Terry Goodkind

Terry Goodkind

The Sword Of Truth Series

3.5/5*

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Stars: 3/5 Overall (Each book/arc I would rate differently)

Age: Adult (This has very adult themes, language and scenarios. I read these when I was 15 and they were quite heavy going)

Ideal for: Game of Thrones Fans, High Fantasy Lovers and anyone who enjoys a “serious” and intense Fantasy series.

Avoid if: you’re not a fan of big series. This series has many arcs and novels within said arcs. Its a long slog.

Genre: High Fantasy

Books: At least 16 now…

The general plot; (Note: this is for the first book, I do not want to spoil anything so have been very careful!) Richard lives in a peaceful village until one day his father is murdered thus, he investigates. During this, he finds and saves a mysterious woman, Kahlan, from four men trying to kill her. She  reveals her home world has been invaded by Darken Rahl and she needs the help of a Wizard and the Seeker of Truth.
The world is divided into three sections; the Westlands, The Midlands and D’Hara. The Westlands (current location) is magic free. Richard realises this wizard must be his friend Zedd. Kahlan and Zedd then proclaim Richard to be the seeker of truth and bestow a sword upon him. The trio then set off to save the world. It is revealed that this world is controlled by the Three Boxes of Orden. Darken Rahl has activated the magic of these boxes which will in short mean eternal damnation.
However, he does not have the third box, thus sparking a race against time to find this box before he does.

Okay, so I think it would be best to explain these novels in their Arcs. I don’t want to say much as these books are MASSIVE and so much happens in them… and I don’t want to spoil anything! So At this stage, if you want to read these books step out now, if you’re still curios, plow on.

Arc One: Darken Rahl 4/5*

  1. Wizards First Rule
  2. Stone of Tears

    Arc Two: Imperial Order 4/5*

  3. Blood of the Fold
  4. Temple of the Winds
  5. Soul of the Fire
  6. Faith of the Fallen

    Arc Three: Pristine Ungifted 3/5*

  7. The Pillars of Creation
  8. Naked Empire

    Arc Four: Chainfire 2/5*

  9. Chainfire
  10. Phantom
  11. Confessor

    Arc Five: The Darklands 2/5*

  12. The Omen Machine
  13. The First Confessor
  14. The Third Kingsom
  15. Severed Souls
  16. War Heart

Arc One, deals with the introduction to the world. Here Richard learns of magic and all its weird and wonderful creatures. This is also where he must deal with the first villain, Darken Rahl.

Arc Two, at this point, we are very much immersed in this world, but the arrival of the Imperial Order and their Genghis Khan-esque leader threatens the peace that Richard has established.

Arc Three, with the two biggest forces of evil overcome, Richard now must deal with magics greatest enemy; the pristinely ungifted. these are people who are immune to magic and posses none in turn. This is a much darker Muggles vs Pure Blood style powerplay.

Arc Four, A chainfire curse is set off on the Mother Confessor, erasing her from history. Richard must break the curse in order to restore the peace keeper of Kings and Queens.

Arc Five, with the wars of the past put to rest, only one enemy remains; magic itself. Magic is both light and dark, good and evil, but when one dominates, the balance is affected. Richard once again has to maintain the precious balance of light and dark to magic.

In all honesty, I gave up at Phantom but picked the series up again at the Omen Machine, partly due to spoilers and partly due to the fact the series does plummet at this point and becomes profoundly useless. However, each Arc functions as its own “series” so one can read an arc and finish it satisfied.

I personally loved books 1-6, they were phenomenal. Incredibly gripping, a plethora of characters and high stakes, I was gripped.

The most fantastic part of these novels is the various characters.

Firstly, the Mother Confessor. The Confessors are women a little like witches who have the ability to make a victim confess and become their slave. with one touch they can make their victim forget everything but wanting to please them. There is a hierarchy of confessors with the Mother being their leader. The Mother wears white whilst those below her wear black. In addition to this, the Mother Confessor is higher than Monarchs.

She is the emperor. And as such, only she is allowed to have the longest hair.

Everyone else must cut their hair per the station whilst the MC never ever cuts hers. As a result of their power, they are kept separate from society. Feared by the public, envied by Queens and witches, the confessors live a solitary life. A final crux to their existence is that because of their power, they can never have a full romantic relationship as during the “heat of the moment” they could lose control and kill their partner. One of the most memorable moments is when one Mother Confessors discovers the man she loves has been killed so she slips into a “Con-Dar”, a blood rage, where she essentially kills the men around her and writes symbols on her body in their blood, but not before she makes them confess their crimes, castrate themselves and eat said member. Its intense.

Secondly, The Sisters of Light. These are a group of Nun like women that live “beyond” the boundary in another part of the world, known as The Old World, in the Palace of Prophets. At the Palace, time moves slowly. So a number of weeks there is almost years int he rest of the world. They serve the creator by training Wizards to use their gifts. However, when a wizard begins to show signs of magic, he experiences lethal migraines. The only way in which these migraines can be cured is by wearing a collar called a “Rada’Han” this collar absorbs their pain and allows them to channel their magic, and for their partnered Sister, to control them.

Due to the fact they are all locked in this palace for decades together slowly training, it just turns into a massive sub/dom orgy.

Their are also the Sisters of the Dark, who basically serve the devil instead of the creator and frequently have orgies with the devils minions to gain power… Its all quite mental but fantastic.

Thirdly, the Mord Sith. Not quite affiliated with the Sith Lords in Star Wars, but they do have red weapon. The Mord Sith are the Lord Rahls personal group of assassins and bodyguards,

but are essentially dominatrix’.

Renown for their cruelty, their vindictive nature and narcissism, they torture and break any who their Lord commands. They’re a bit like the Bolton’s in GoT only worse as they make their victims wear a collar and essentially keep them as pets. The Mord Sith are renown for wearing skin tight leather in brown for when they are “free” and blood red for when they have a “pet”. They are all armed with an “agiel” a slim leather rod which inflicts pain. Its kind of a wand that constantly tasers/ cruciates victims.

Finally, the Wizards. The Magic in this book is almost a science. It has a positive and Negative balance, some wizards can only do one or another. E.g. they can make something appear but cannot take it away.

This series is a huge exploration of magic, racism, prejudice, and power play. It is immensely entertaining and will make Game of Thrones seem like a walk in the park. Sadly, the TV adaptation that came out a few years ago does not do it justice and is borderline appalling to behold! As intense as the books are, there is something in their for everyone… fantastic, strong, iconic women who lead armies and fight in battles and become Queens… resilient, powerful and complex men who surprise you at every turn…

Villains who are so evil they make Voldemort seem like a misunderstood teenager.

There is romance, there are battles, there are battles for the throne, there is crime and mystery and above all, High Fantasy.

This is truly a fantastic series, although it seems daunting, it is well worth giving it a go!

 

Have you read this series already? Let me know in the comments as SoT lovers are far and few between!

 

Love,

 

HRH xox

Halloween 2017: Century Soho

Once Upon a Midnight Dreary… I decided to do Halloween as an adult.
Last year, I was too busy in my wallowing in self pity to get dressed let alone don my witches hat. So this year, I went all out.

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Firstly, doing Halloween as a post grad, aka adult, is weird. On one hand, you can stay in and give Haribo to the brats that live on your road (very mature), or you go clubbing in honour of your old student days. At this point, you realise your adult body doesn’t handle clubbing as well as your student body. But nevertheless, you find a cool hip party known as Once Upon a Midnight Dreary Halloween Ball, hosted by A Curious Invitation  at Century, in SohoA Curious Invitation seem to host nothing but gothic/alt. events. They are my new BFFL.

Soho is expensive. I won’t lie. drinks are roughly £10 per person, entry is £20. But, it is worth every penny. My girl Belle, (who blogs over here) and I found this venue over at Design My Night  a website quite literally for finding nights out.

And here is Belle emerging from her coffin. She is now safely back in place for next Halloween.

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Century is known as Sohos best kept secret, it is a tall, narrow building on Shaftsbury Avenue, from ground, to top floor there are 100 steps, hence, Century. Each floor had a different activity.

First Floor; Cloak Room -which was free and genuinely secure! Other venues take note.

Second floor; Welcoming drinks, life drawing and BDSM dungeon. Before anyone starts blushing profusely, I wasn’t watching a live sex show. It was basically a professional Dom, flogging and whipping any willing participants. This was a learning curve for me as I had never been to a sex club or anything close. I have read Fifty Shades and various other erotica, I am well aware of the various debates surrounding the BDSM lifestyle. But it was truly mesmerising to watch… after each flogging segment, the Dom would massage and whisper to the Sub. I believe that was the aftercare in which Fifty Shades so famously managed to miss.
I did partake in some life drawing. I currently have a lovely charcoal sketch of this woman’s beautifully pert bum at home.

Third floor; Coffins, Band, and, the Seance. Sadly I missed the Seance -although that is on my to-do list- I did however, lay in a coffin. Headphones were on offer to have your own silent disco inside the coffin which was pretty cool. The band were fantastic, they were a folk/mariachi hybrid and truly fitted the Gothic theme. There was no aggressive clubbing music, no lame dubstep, just great music to dance to. I am the kind of person who loathes club dancing. Looking around, everyone was dancing in any style that they liked, there was none of the usual nightclub peacocking or slut dropping. The scene reminded me of The Corpse Bride bar in some ways… everything was so eccentric and just emanated its own personality.

Fourth Floor; Fire eaters, burlesque dancers, Drag Queens, singers and a DJ. When I had had enough of the dancing, I moved on to the performances, which were breath taking. I am still in awe of the fire eater… watching something like that after a few cocktails certainly leaves an impression.

The Roof; This is its crowning glory. The rooftop was adorned in lanterns, candles and fairy lights and overlooked the whole of soho. seating all around, it was gorgeous.

When I arrived, everyone was wearing black. It was like walking into a vampire coven! All around me people were in floor length gowns, lacy face masks, red lips and emanating class and sophistication. I stuck out. Mainly because I was dressed as a MERMAID.

Yes, I attended a gorgeous, glitzy, glamorous Halloween Ball, dressed as a bloody mermaid. Literally, bloody.

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For anyone who has been following my social media, will know I have spent weeks perfecting this costume…

Firstly, my skirt. I got in the river island sale. I bought this instead of a proper mermaid skirt because, firstly it is stunning and secondly I am a strong believer in having clothes for all occasions. I wanted something I could wear again and again without always looking like a mermaid.

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Secondly, the bra. So this required the most work. Initially, I just bought a lilac crop top. Except this didn’t look right. So, I bought one of those MAXIMIZE YOUR ASSETS XXX bras from Primark for £6 and pimped it out. I cut the crop top apart and sewed it onto my bra. Then, with a trusty glue gun, I glued clam shells to it, two on each cup. Admittedly, I didn’t really think this part of my costume through when buying supplies. So I ended up using various necklaces I owned. Cutting up several pearl necklaces, a wreath of shells I had and pinching shells from a friend, I glued them to the top. I then covered with glitter paint and glue and shakers. It my childlike glee of using glitter, I accidentally put too manly colours together when I should have stuck to a palette. I kept the straps of the crop top on the bra and used them as additional support around my neck as the addition of shells made this incredibly heavy!

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Here’s Ivy helping me out.

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Thirdly, the shoes! I bought these in Primark for £6 primarily because they were comfy. Heels that are chunky, with a big wedge and an ankle strap are a solid bet when going out for the night. I proceeded to paint these hot pink as they were initially baby, and cover them in glitter to give them a more ~merbae~ look.

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Extras!
The crown. So I bought a generic plastic tiara for £1 then a pack of pipe cleaners. I then wrapped the pipe cleaners around the crown and glued pearls, shells and star fish to it. Admittedly, it wasn’t as fantastic as the shell headbands I had seen on Pinterest, but realistically, how are they going to stay up!?

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The Trident. So this was very much a spur of the moment creation. Having seen this on Pinterest, I knew I needed one. I bought a cheap devils pitch fork and sprayed it gold. Now, things to remember, which I didn’t, when spray painting:

  1. It goes EVERYWHERE
  2. It smells really really bad.
  3. You’ll need to wait until its dry and do numerous layers

I spray painted this on my balcony with only some paper to protect it. There is now a very nice gold square on my balcony.

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After spray painting, I glued a clam shell to the fork part and then any other shells that I had*. Following this, I draped a ripped section of a fishnet tight around the fork followed by a small string of pearls. Overall, it looked quite good!

*I ran out of shells at this interval. Having gotten some of the poor ladies I work with to help me brain storm, we decided to make these out of fimo.
Why not buy some more shells you say? It transpires that when you need shells in London, NO ONE HAS THEM.
Now, I used basic tutorials on fondant icing crafting found on Pinterest for this. After many trials, errors and spray paint, I had shells.

The Bag. Ebay once again was my saviour, I bought this for less than £10 and it has an adjustable strap allowing me to have it around my waist rather than shoulder.

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Jewellery is another Ebay find, with a couple of shell necklaces (Conch & Clam) and some very cute dangling shell earrings found for less than £5 all together!
The finishing touch was a plastic fork dinglehopper.

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Hair and Make up.
My hair
was loosely curly from spending the day at Comicon as Merida, so I just twisted some of it back to help hold my crown in place.
For my make up, I followed this tutorial on Youtube. 
I basically did my usual foundation/base routine then put a fish next stocking over my head and dusted blue power to create that scaled look. It worked so so well! I proceeded to do this on my arms, legs, chest and stomach so I looked suitably fishy. Followed by dabs of glitter blue and a lot of glitter eyeliner, I looked fresh out of Neverland.
However, this is Halloween. So this mermaid needed to scare people. I removed a section of my make up where I would put my hooked wound. The idea was I was caught by a fisherman. The whole procedure is explained in that YouTube tutorial. My only tip would be is to use stronger medical tape and make sure your skin is actually clean for liquid latex to go on, as I had a little trouble getting things to stick. Also, use a hair dryer on low heat/speed to gently get the latex to dry.

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I then tipped a load of blood all over myself and strutted down to the tube station, gaining a few odd glances but nothing out of the ordinary as this is London and the mere concept of interacting with anyone is abhorrent. So I safely made it to Soho!

I may have stuck out horribly among the gorgeous vamps, but I did receive many compliments so it was well worth it.

The finished piece:

Possibly the best aspect of this night out coffins, music, performers aside, was the people there. Not once did I feel nor experience a drunken man coming onto me. I don’t know if this is a byproduct of going to a club with actual adults, or if it was because I was in a LGTBQ friendly place, or if it was the club itself. The bottom line is I have never felt so safe in a nightclub. Considering I was wearing very little which left even less to the imagination, no man harassed me or even gave me an invasive sizing up. I spent the time chatting to various other guests and having a laugh. So it just goes to show if you find the right venue, you can have a really good time clubbing.

Me and bae are attending the Curious Invitation Winter Ball in November! Its over at the Vaults by Waterloo station and it will be Masquerade!

 

Love,

 

HRH xox

 

P.s. Here is my Pinterest Board for all thing Halloween and Mermaid. Most of which gave me the inspo and guidance for this outfit.