The Grey Area

Fore-note; this article contains topics that many readers may find distressing.

It goes without saying that 2018 has been a long year…

It’s hard to think that it has been around 12 months since #MeToo and #TimesUp movements began. During that time, numerous people within positions of power have been called out for their abusive behaviour, from Harvey Weinstein to Steve Wynn to actors on film sets and directors of established businesses. This year has seen a huge resurgence of victims of sexual abuse coming forwards to not only name and condemn their attacker, but to pave the way for others in their situation, to show them that not all hope is lost.

Yet one aspect of this year that has been even more prominent is the fact we are now all talking about consent. I think one of the biggest achievements these movements has caused is the discussion it has opened up amongst us all. From opening up over past experiences to learning about others struggles, and for some even identifying how their own behaviour is problematic, this is a conversation that is long overdue.

One aspect of this conversation I think caused a great deal of division was what counts as abuse/an assault, and as a result of this, how can one determine whether consent was indeed given.

Introducing, The Grey Area.

What is the Grey Area?

The grey area has been dubbed the place between sex and rape. The part where consent isn’t 100% sure. Be this a result of a person saying “this person has raped me” and them replying with “you never said no”, or during sex, someone changes their mind and wants to stop but doesn’t say anything. It is has frequently been assigned to occasions where sexual assault has taken place but isn’t “bad enough” to warrant the “R” word. At what point during these moments of passion, does our consent “expire”?

 

My mind has turned to the Grey Area after Aziz Ansari made his return to work. We are all aware of the Babe.net article of which Grace* accused Ansari of assaulting her. This article caused a number of issues.
First and foremost, a division amongst all of us and what we class as rape. Secondly, criticism of the 21st Century Feminist movements. Finally, it made us all question our own experiences of consent.

What is Consent?

Through all of this we find ourselves asking what consent even is. by definition, Consent means giving permission.
Does that mean express permission? Is it an explicit yes? Is it the ability to read these very chemical, hormonal and sophisticated signals and body language? At what point can we withdraw our consent in a situation and claim we were unhappy about what has happened?

My understanding of consent is this; in the absence of no, you cannot assume yes.

Whilst I am not suggesting that in the heat of the moment you both ask each other continuous questions on what you can and cannot do, what I am suggesting is that there is some level of intelligence in the situation. Has that person had too much to drink? Are they clearly not in a good place mentally? Are you at this moment in time in a dominant/superior position to them?

Communicate. If in doubt just ask. Still in doubt, stop.

If you are not 100% into the sex you are having, you need to stop. Yeah sure that’s easier said than done, I myself have allowed my body to be used because at the time it felt easier than telling the person to get off. Equally there have been times where I have told them to stop and either they haven’t, or their reaction is so horrible I wish I never said anything.

During my 23 years, I have experienced a variety of different sexual experiences, some good, some bad, some better than others and some I have categorized as sexual assault.

But why do we do this? Why do we feel it is easier to let ourselves be used than fight?

When Grace’s article came out, we all found ourselves comparing it to the victims of Harvey Weinstein and others who have been assaulted by men in positions of power.  

Comparison was the first mistake we all made.

When a person is murdered, we don’t immediately compare it to Jack the Ripper. we accept that a horrific thing has been done and we do not put it in a hierarchy. We accept straight away that this is wrong. We do not think; it wasn’t as bad as so and so’s murder, that was much worse and if anything this was just an unfortunate death!

So why do we treat sexual assault differently?

I think the main thing we have to understand, no matter how difficult it is to process and thus punish, is that;

sexual assault affects different people in different degrees.

To one person, being touched up in a nightclub by a stranger may class as merely inappropriate, to others it can be debilitating.

The issue at heart is this; if explicit consent for that moment is not given then it is an attack.

Many said Grace’s experience was purely bad sex. Which to some it may have been. But she left Ansari’s home feeling violated and hurt. This is the problem. It is this feeling that he made her feel that is wrong. No one should feel like this, especially after such a vulnerable moment.

But what is the difference between bad sex and an assault?

Once again, it is consent. If in that moment you are not being respected, to the point where, like Grace, you asked the person to slow down and they carry on regardless, your consent has been withdrawn. Because they have done something you have asked them not to do.

Why didn’t she run out of the house screaming? Why didn’t she hit him? As the entire Time’s Up movement has been demonstrating, men in power abuse their position. Grace most likely felt that the repercussions of rejecting someone as prolific as Ansari would be worse than just getting it over and done with itself.

Resignation and consent are not the same thing.

Likewise, many of us who have been having sex with a person and suddenly things start to go into a direction we aren’t comfortable with, it often feels safer to wait it out.

We must all do better.

There needs to be a better level of communication between us all during sex. Even when sex finishes, be it a one night stand or in a relationship or friends with benefits, we need to give each other that space to talk about it. As the next generation, we must empower one another to feel confident and able to discuss our sexuality, so that we don’t feel guilty for saying no or ashamed for saying yes. I think that with conversations on sex being more open, we all might feel a little more wiser on how to not be a total arse hole***. 

Am I suggesting that you need to keep up a narrative between each other to check if what you’re doing is okay? Absolutely. Until you have both clearly established your boundaries and wants, you cannot assume them.

Outside of having sex, we need to give those of us who have had experiences that leave us feeling unsure are listened to and respected. Many who have experienced sexual assault feel that they won’t be believed or respected should they want to talk about it. The entire Babe.net debate truly fuels this notion.

If a person claims to have been sexually assaulted, you do not compare it to other cases to work out whether their claim is legitimate. You help them work out what has happened and what they want to do about it. We need to stop this ridiculous victim shaming and blaming and start with the victim supporting and protecting.

If anything, Gracie’s article highlights just how many “minor” cases are swept under the carpet and how this fuels the notion of silence means yes.

The bottom line is, it is down to the individual if they want to class their experience as an assault. In my eyes anything less than me being 100% is a no.

Does consent expire?

But this is where the grey area gets into a plethora of shades…

For example, I was once in gay club in Soho. The person I was with had gone to the bathroom and I was by myself. 

A man comes up to me and asks me to dance, I initially decline but he asks again and I agree. He is probably in his 40s and he is grinding against me. His hands are on my hips and suddenly he grabs my bum.

Then I can feel his erection.

He whispers in my ear “it’s ok I’m gay” as he proceeds to reach under my clothes and pull my nipple. I am frozen. The worst part of it was I felt like I was in the wrong. When the song finished he pulled away and I quickly walked off. I immediately told my friend, asking if by agreeing to dance I had in fact agreed to being touched up. She assured me I hadn’t. The moment he went from dancing to helping himself to my body, my consent expired. Why didn’t I run away? Because I didn’t feel able to. At that moment I felt as though I had agreed to this without really understanding it. As though this was the small print of dancing. But he knew what he was doing. His actions were predatory and harmful.

I got home that night and had a cold shower purely to stop myself from feeling the way he touched me. Was I violated? Yes. Was it just a “bad dance” no it wasn’t.
What I was wearing, how much I had had to drink had nothing on my body language or my sheer lack of “yes please touch me up”.

Yet on average, there are 11 people per hour sexually assaulted in the UK, with only 15% of those accounts being reported to the police. Some of these incidents no doubt started with some mutual flirtation but ended with one member of that exchange feeling unable to say no or stop.

Consent is not like lending someone a fiver; we can retract it.

The problem is, many of us feel unable to change our minds. When really our minds change all the time and we make different choices based on that. Yet as soon as we are in a vulnerable position we seem to have signed away our rights.

This business of consent is like being offered a cup of tea;

You say yes, and they suddenly come back with a whole afternoon tea and then they become frustrated when you decline the food. Or sometimes you will feel you have to eat it out of guilt. You clearly aren’t enjoying it and when you go to say “no more” they suddenly start stuffing your mouth full of food. Then afterwards you are sick and they are confused as to why you are sick.

When boiled down, consent is a very basic concept.

Where does this leave us now?

Well I am hoping it has given room for discussions of consent and what we classify as an assault to be considered.

If there is one thing I want everyone to realise is that you CAN change your mind. You can retract your consent. In addition to this, when you are with a person in any context you need to be attune to them! And if you don’t know, just ask. In fact, ALWAYS ASK.

Love,

 

HRH

xox

 

 

*** to clarify, I am discussing the aspect of sexual assault that is the grey area, where consent is unsure of because one person cannot read body language and another doesn’t feel able to say no. I am not suggesting that rape statistics will go down as a result of us all being more vocal, merely the discussion of consent would be more educated.

Myth Busting: Anti Depressants

Hey Dolls,

As today is World Mental Health Day, I’ve decided to do a bit of myth busting on the old Anti-Depressants front.

Previously I have spoken about my own mental health and the journey I am on. I know you are all avid followers of my life, of which I don’t blame you; my life is very exciting and I’m basically the Kardashian we all deserve.

To summarise, I have been on antidepressants for over two years. I have taken the odd break and had my dosage and medication changed, I’ve had the odd hospital stint and a a few rough patches. For me, my depression is a response to something I cannot handle. Be it a stressful situation or experience or something traumatic. when I am depressed I am in a silent cocoon, withdrawn from the world for self preservation. Not because I am weak, but because I need to take a step back.

I’m somewhat of a professional at mental breakdowns. 


Depression.

It’s a big, loaded word. A word that is either whispered as a scary melancholia or tossed around in conversation, romanticised as a trait of a tortured artist or eye rolled as a “drama queen”. It’s never addressed as it should be:

A condition that is REAL

Saying the “D” word is a big step. For me, I felt as though I wasn’t allowed to say it. That my life wasn’t bad enough or I needed a medical professional to diagnose me. When I was “diagnosed” and given medication, I was a mixture of relieved and scared. On one hand, it was great to know I wasn’t going mad and that the way I felt was real. On the other hand it was like;

“well shit.”

So for all of you having your shit moment, here are some myths, facts and experiences on medication for depression.

What do they do?

By an large, most people take Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitors (SSRI’s) and they quite literally make your brain increase itself production of serotonin, which is the hormone/neurotransmitter that tends to affect sleep and appetite the most. Hence why those of us who feel depressed have fluctuating diets and insomnia patches.

Thus the first two weeks of this medication are difficult as your body is basically as war with these new hormones. In theory, once your hormones have levelled out, you can start to work out how to function again. Whether that’s through therapy, additional help or just getting back to your normal.

The way I see it, I take antidepressants like a diabetic would take insulin.

Not because I am weak or dramatic or making something out of nothing, but because chemically, my body doesn’t seem capable of being on neutral without help. just like a diabetic cannot produce enough insulin. it doesn’t mean they’re wrong or weak, its just how it is.

Are the side effects of medication worth it?

I think with any medication there are going to be side effects that you have to work through. Obviously some side effects are vicious and are a sign that you are not on the right treatment, whilst some are more of a bedding in period.

In my experience, when I first started anti depressants back in 2016, I was aware that the first two weeks would be difficult, but I was already in a bad place so I didn’t see how it could get much worse. I already had insane insomnia but the tablets I was taking made me wired. My head felt like an out of tune radio and I had the shakes to rival Phil Mitchel in his cocaine and booze binge. But I chatted to my doctors and after some trial and error I was placed on something that worked for me.

Likewise, if the side effects are unbearable, then talk to your doctor.

They make you suicidal:

No. Whilst the tablets can exacerbate your feelings to begin with, they do not suddenly inspire suicidal thoughts.

However, in some cases, people will feel the want to end their life and if you find yourself there, just remember this: the fact that you are taking medication and therefore taking steps towards making your quality of life better is a sure sign that you can beat this.

That being said, it is important to give yourself a support network** be that an online community, your friends and family or even your GP. If you feel at risk of making a very final decision towards a temporary problem, reach out for help.

Do they work best with Therapy?

I think everything works best with therapy. Coffee. Cocktails. Baths. It depends on what your idea of therapy is! But the general talking it all out with a therapist is a good one.

I myself am on a waiting list for LGBTQ+ therapy (apparently when you tell your GP what you like in bed, they send you to a specialist. Going to tell them about my foot fetish next and hopefully get a free pedicure).

Your sex drive dies:

I think this is different for everyone, but it doesn’t kill your libido entirely. Sure, you might notice a decline in how horny you get, but look at all the other factors in your life; I am very sure they are having an affect on you as much as medication is.

But don’t use this as a reason not to go on them. For a long time I refused to take medication because I was worried how it would affect my relationship, when in reality the only thing that was affecting it was how unwell I was. I wouldn’t put my sex drive down to my medications, but to my situation itself.

They make you gain weight:

Like sex drive, these tablets affect everyone in different ways. For me, I had no energy to cook or eat or look after myself so my weight really fluctuated because I had gone from nothing to suddenly rediscovering my appetite and wanting to eat again.

But once again, there are so many other contributing factors to your life that are affecting you physically as well as emotionally. So do not use this as a reason to not take medication if you need it.

They stop you from being depressed:

Contrary to their name, they do not literally stop you from feeling depressed.

To be honest, you have honestly got to want to change. therapy and medication and any other remedy to combat this is not going to help if you don’t want it to.

These are merely the ingredients, you have to be the one to mix them and bake them. Be the cake you want to be bish.

How long do you take them for?

As long as you need. given they take up to six weeks to get ingrained in your system to make a difference, and then as you come off of them you have to withdraw slowly, I think the shortest time you can take them safely is 4-6 months.

I tried to stop once last year and I managed around 4 months. And they were deeply uncomfortable months as I had constant feelings of vertigo, itching and a gnawing sensation in my stomach. For me, it wasn’t worth it and there is no shame in that.

Do you have to tell the world?

Nope. You are not legally obligated to tell anyone about your mental health, especially your employers etc. But equally, no one can legally persecute you for not telling them. It helps to have a support network and for people to understand you, but that’s up to you to decide.

Are they worth it?

Absolutely. When I compare myself in my super bad phase before I started meds to how I am now, the difference is amazing. Sure there are good days and bad days, but in comparison to what my bad days used to be, its nothing.

So if you find yourself needing a mental paracetamol, go chat to your doctor. And if they don’t work for you, you can stop. the bottom line is, it is perfectly okay to feel how you feel and to do something about it.

What isn’t okay is to suffer in silence. 

Love,

HRH

xox

 

Useful Links

Elefriends App on Android and Iphone** this is an online community run by MIND that is there for everyone to talk about their mental health. It’s basically anonymous facebook where you can ask questions, help others and get help yourself. Honestly this app has kept me sane.

Mind.org A UK based mental health charity

Medication Information on what drugs are available and what they do.

NHS  Information on how to access help through the NHS

CALM the app is also good for some free sound effects and meditation (aka mini naps)

 

 

Bi-visibility Day

Am I Visible?

 

I have been bisexual for as long as I can remember…

Whether it was Natalie Portman’s midriff or Ron Weasley’s long hair that awoken my sexuality, it has been a constant presence in my life since my first kiss.
I don’t think I ever had an epiphany with my sexuality, more just gradual ups and downs of trying to find the words to express it, which is really difficult in a world that is very “label” orientated.
Which is why bi-visibility day is important to me; for a long time I felt unable to identity and express my sexuality without scorn, so today is celebrating the acceptance of myself.

However it is 2018 and the world seems to have a few mixed feelings about us bisexuals…
Frequently bisexuality is likened to being promiscuous or unfaithful or just there for the attention of men. In reality that is not the case. My bisexuality has no baring on my moral compass and it has even less bearing on my relationship with men.

FYI, I don’t want a threesome with you and some other girl because lets face it, it will be as exciting as 7pm missionary you actual dish.

But how do we improve Bi-Visibility?

Short of wearing a combination of blue, purple and pink, how will others know where we stand? Do they need to know? How to we break the Bi stigma? It is my bi-lief that we do this through having more open and honest conversations about sexuality.

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So in order to be V I S I B L E, I am going to give you the lowdown on this bisexual life.

Is it limited to men and women?

Feel free to fight me on this, but I don’t think so no. If you’re attracted to someone who is trans, non-binary or anything outside of the male/female brackets, I think that its fine to identify as bi.

Will everyone assume I am undecided?

Yeah they probably will but that’s a them problem.

Does being Bisexual mean I am 50/50? 

NO! the percentage will change so often throughout your life, and better still, it means nothing and no one. I have no idea what my ratio of men to women is and it doesn’t matter. Image result for the limit does not exist

My sexuality is fluid and frequently changes. Right now I am dating a man and have no interest in meeting someone else. Likewise when I have dated women, my attention is fully focused on them. Does this mean I will shag anything that moves? Not always but ask me again after I haven’t had sex for a while and I might fuck you.

When you’re in a relationship, do you miss the gender you aren’t in a relationship with?

The moment I start lusting to a degree of “missing” in a relationship, there are bigger problems than my sexuality at hand. But otherwise no! What I am attracted to in a partner is such a whole entity that gender doesn’t factor into. Sure the attributes I like in a partner do change and perhaps there are times where I want something that only one gender can typically offer (beeeeewbs) but by and large no.

Can being bisexual be confusing?

No more confusing than it is to be straight or gay. Sexuality is a fluid notion, what we fancy one day could change the next. Funnily enough I am a very “picky” person when it comes to who I want to date so if anything it’s confusing working out whether I like them enough!

Whats the best part of being bisexual?

UNLIMITED POWER.

Image result for unlimited power

Does being bi mean you’re poly?

Look I hate dating, its far too time consuming and the admin is ridiculous. My phone has actually predicted what my “tell me about yourself” answer now is. So the concept of having multiple dates sounds exhausting to me, so no. It just doesn’t fit in with my Champagne lifestyle on a lemonade budget life. That being said, many people are poly and bi, but once again that’s on par with many people being poly but strictly into blondes.

When you date men doesn’t it make you a  failed lesbian?

Now this one does upset me. Earlier in the year I concluded my long term relationship with a man and decided to focus on dating women for a while.
Primarily because I wasn’t attracted to many men, but just because you don’t fancy eating meat for a while it doesn’t make you a vegetarian. Or a vagetarian in this scenario.

🌮🌮🌮🌮🌮🌮🌮🌮🌮🌮

ANYWAY, after a while I started to date men again and someone called me a failed lesbian which really hurt, because that person has no idea how much work you have to put in to be a successful lesbian. There are numerous application forms and interviews you have to go through.
But no, being bisexual and dating one gender doesn’t make you any less bi or a failure on any level!

But isn’t it impossible to be attracted to men and women simultaneously?

We all thought it would be impossible for America to all vote for Trump but its 2018 and here we are.
But also just no. That is utter bollocks. It’s honestly like saying you cannot be attracted to blondes and brunettes at the same time! For so many people its just not a factor, in my most radical opinion, being bisexual is totally natural and we are all probably a little bit bi underneath it all and its just social conditioning that has shut off that level of freedom in our sexual expression.

In conclusion…

Don’t ever question someones sexuality. They have probably done it enough by themselves without you adding to it. If someone is bi, cool, if they’re straight great, if they’re gay marvellous!
Just encourage and nurture everyone to be loud and proud in their sexuality. Never use it as an insult nor make them feel that their sexuality puts them at risk. If you are genuinely unsure to the point where it is disrupting your daily life, just ask questions.

But don’t ask for a threesome, most likely not going to happen.

Love,

Your Bisexual Queen. xox

 

P.s. Fancy reading more bisexual material? Check out my bi-reads and wonderful coming out story...

Mermaids, Men and Baes

Hey Merbaes,

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As with every summer, it is the hottest on record in London. Yay for global warming!

So, as I sit slow cooking in my flat, I think of the beach and how lovely it would be to swim in the sea… But I can’t do that as I am stuck in London and British beeches have all the tropical charm of Theresa May. So as always, I turn to books.

It is no secret that I am firmly on the mermaid hype. I went as a mermaid for Halloween last year…

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my nails…

 

my bed and pjs…

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I know I am the most basic person of all time. I’ve got to do what I can to survive this heat until PSL season begins.

Overall it took me quite some time to find some decent mermaid reads. by that I mean those that aren’t picture books, The Little Mermaid or called “Indigo”.

And given that the past year has seen a whole mermaid uprising in literature, I thought I would do you all a favour and show you which ones are actually worth it!

I am a benevolent god I know.

Because believe me, the word mermaid is thrown around A LOT and rarely means sexy underwater ladies singing “Under the Sea”.

So I am rating this out of 5 mermaids! Five being the most mermaidy shit since Hans Christian Anderson himself and One being about as mermaidy as a cat in water.


The Mermaid

By Christina Henry

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Mermaid Aesthetic: 🧜‍♀️🧜‍♀️

Publication: 2018

Themes: historical figures/events, romance, circus, and magic

Length: 325 pages

Ideal For: lovers of historical fiction

Avoid if: you want something totally out of this world

So this was my first Christina Henry novel, and whilst I really love her style, I am not hugely in love with her mermaid story. Henry is mostly known for her Alice in Wonderland and other fairy tale retellings. The Mermaid tells the story of Amelia, a mermaid caught by a fisherman and through some weird stockholm syndrome falls in love with him. Their romance is a very brief part of the story with the remainder focusing on the rest of her life with P.T. Barnum, a historical “freak” showman.

This screams American Horror Story vibes albeit without the crazy killings, but if you’re into that creepy kind of stuff, you are in for a treat!

The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock

By Imogen Hermes Gowar

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Mermaid Aesthetic: 🧜‍♀️

Publication: 2018

Themes: high society, historical fiction, Georgian London, Fiji mermaids and romance

Length: 496 pages

Ideal For: fans of histrorical fiction

Avoid if: you didn’t enjoy the mermaid by Christina Henry. This is its annoying little sister.

The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock is Gowar’s first novel, and what a strange one it is! So like The Mermaid this focuses on the more historical telling of the mermaid cult. Whilst this is a fantastic historical novel that would do well to be adapted into a Downton Abbey style TV series, it has about as many mermaids in it as the UK Cabinet.

So this tells the story of Mr Hancock and the Fiji Mermaid he is given. He does what any sensible Georgian businessman does and reluctantly exhibits it and enlists the help of the courtesan Angelica Neil to make his millions.

The Seafarers Kiss

By Julia Ember

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Mermaid Aesthetic: 🧜‍♀️🧜‍♀️🧜‍♀️🧜‍♀️🧜‍♀️

Publication: 2017

Themes: Feminism, romance, sexuality, coming of age, LGBTQ+

Length: 212 pages

Ideal For: those of you who crave A Little Mermaid retelling that doesn’t involve selling your voice for love.

Avoid if: you want a mermaid book that screams “under the sea” at you. This is in the cold cold arctic.

Well anyone who has had the misofortune to be around me when reading this book knows that I bloody love it. I met Julia Ember at YALC this year and probably scared her a wee bit. The sequel is due out in October 2018 so yaaaaaaaaaaas.

Anyway, this is our usual Little Mermaid plot, but instead of being in the tropical seas, its in the arctic! We have beluga whales and ice and mermaids of all shapes and sizes. But this mermaid Utopia is ruled by and evil king who is trying to enslave all the mermaids and make them subservient to the mermen. Our mermaid breaks free and begs the god Loki for some legs. She fails to specify what kind…

The best bit about this novel is the LGBTQ ROMANCE. Instead of a Prince, we have a brave Princess Warrior and it is everything I could ever want it to be.

Lorali

By Laura Dockrill

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Mermaid Aesthetic: 🧜‍♀️🧜‍♀️🧜‍♀️🧜‍♀️

Publication: 2015

Themes: YA, coming of age, growing up in Hastings, fantasy, romance

Length: 352 pages

Ideal For: lovers of all Dockrills’ novels, she brings a unique voice to the mermaid fiction world!

Avoid if: you want a more “serious” novel. This is a very fun and light read.

Laura Dockrill is a babe. She knows how to write about food. If you all thought Big Bones made you hungry, you’ll find yourself craving fish and chips and birthday cake whilst reading this.

Basically, young Lorali washes up on the beach of Hastings(!!) with next to no memory of anything. She enlists the help of Rory, a human boy who tries to keep her safe and protect her from all who want to hurt her.

Daughter of the Siren Queen

By Tricia Levenseller

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Mermaid Aesthetic: 🧜‍♀️🧜‍♀️🧜‍♀️

Publication: 2018

Themes: pirates, romance, coming of age, fantasy, girl power

Length: 341 pages

Ideal For: anyone who wants a fiery protagonist to lead them through the pirate infested waters!

Avoid if: Daughter of the Pirate King wasn’t your cup of tea. This is its sequel

So this is the sequel to Daughter of the Pirate King, and follows the story of Alosa as she uncovers thje secrets of her fathers reign, her mothers existence and what it is to be half siren half human.

A really fun novel and filled with as much adventure as the first. Ideal for anyone who wants a mermaidy Throne of Glass type read.

The Surface Breaks

by Louise O’Neill

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Mermaid Aesthetic: 🧜‍♀️🧜‍♀️🧜‍♀️🧜‍♀️🧜‍♀️

Publication: 2018

Themes: coming of age, feminism, girl power, unrequited love

Length: 320 pages

Ideal For: all girls.

Avoid if: you want a story that’s going to fill you with optimism. O’Neills writing is well known for the unhappy endings and gut punching feeling.

Arguably the biggest mermaid release of the year. Louise O’Neill is the feminist god we all needed and deserved. As one can imagine, the feminist retelling of The Little Mermaid is INTENSE, but so so worth it.

So we have the basic little mermaid story, but O’Neill highlights every troubling aspect of the original. From the daughters having to sing for their father, how Ariels sisters are jealous of her, how beauty is everything and of course, selling your voice for love.

It teaches the one lesson that the original failed to teach: If you have to sell your voice for someones love, it isn’t love at all.

The Pisces

By Melissa Broder

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Mermaid Aesthetic:🧜‍♀️🧜‍♀️🧜‍♀️

Publication: 2018

Themes: mer-MEN, Comedy, falling in love, re-bound, self-discovery, magic, erotica.

Length: 288 pages

Ideal For: anyone who wants a bit of mermen in their lives! This is a beaut!

Avoid if: You like your mermaids all sparkly, covered in sequins and firmly in fantasy.

So this book is an absolute GEM. Instead of mermaids, we have a very emotionally manipulating Merman who seduces our protagonist, Lucy.

Lucy is a character we can all identify with. She has reached a point in her life where her job sucks, shes broken up with her boyfriend and shes having shit sex via Tinder. So she goes to her sisters house on the beach for the summer to decompress and reevaluate. Her sister makes her join a self help group full of women who have problematic relationships with men. Lucy’s narration of the absolute weirdos in this group is fantastic.

This book is such a laugh and you will not regret it.

To Kill a Kingdom

by Alexandra Christo

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Mermaid Aesthetic: 🧜‍♀️🧜‍♀️🧜‍♀️🧜‍♀️🧜‍♀️

Publication: 2018

Themes: fantasy, YA, romance, vengeance, sirens, pirates, family

Length: 358 pages

Ideal For: those of you who enjoyed Daughter of the Siren Queen. This is her bigger and more intense sister.

Avoid if: you find YA fantasy a bit melodramatic. This books story line is predictable but still fun.

First up, thank you Tina from Bonnier Publishing UK for sending me a copy of this book! I absolutely adored this and if anything, am gutted its a stand alone! So Alexandra, if you happen to read this, please write a sequel!

to Kill a Kingdom tells the story of Princess Lira, a siren who is renown for killing human Princes. However, after disobeying the orders of her evil mother, the sea queen, she is ordered to kill Prince Elian, but as a human.

This book is an absolute delight and filled with such a rich mermaid tapestry.


Well now that your TBR’s have suddenly grown, here are some other mermaidy books that didn’t make the cut based on me not having read them or on their mermaid vibes not being as strong as others.

As always, any book suggestions or general points, hit me up in the comments. Anything to make it look as though this blog is an actual success so my mum doesn’t look at me in disappointment.

Love,

HRH xox

 

Others:

In Other Lands

Mermaid

The Mermaid’s sister

The Little Mermaid

Moon Bright Tides

Sea Witch

The Gloaming 

Aurabel

Lost Voices 

Eternity in the Tides

Poor Unfortunate Soul: A Tale of the Sea Witch

Coming Out

Originally published on The Hairy Potato 

DUDE, I’M LIKE SO BISEXUAL

Hey, so, before we all start throwing purple and blue streamers around, let me clarify a few things. No, being Bi doesn’t mean I am on the way to gay town, hanging around waiting for the right man, just curious or trying to seem edgy; I am genuinely into both men and women.

It has taken me longer than I would like to admit writing this. Almost as long as it took me to come out I suppose. The biggest difficulty I found was trying to pinpoint when I ‘came out.’

What even is coming out? How do we decide when someone is out? Is it the moment they publicly voice their sexuality? Is it when they start to tell people? Does one have to tell a select number of people to be considered ‘out?

Am I even out?!

What I soon realised was that I had been coming out every single day for as long as I can remember. I also realised that my coming out story was no different to anyone else’s. All of us have experienced that self-doubt, fear, anxiety, awe and wonderful happiness mixed with a plethora of other emotions that self-discovery encompasses.

One thing I found very hard throughout this coming out period was finding the words. Was I bisexual? Pansexual? Bi-curious? A-sexual? Lesbian? Femme? Futch? Tomboy? Even now I am unsure what word I would use to classify myself within this ever-growing community. So let me reintroduce myself:

Her Royal Highness Lady Harriet Portman Who Likes Men and Women in a Bisexual way most days but sometimes women more as she is a gay gal but loves herself every single day like the true narcissist she is. 

Yet throughout this process I have been desperately trying to find others in my situation. From visiting bookshops like Gays the Word to going on Tinder and Meet Up and online forums to try and find those that I could relate to.

So here is for all the girls in the UK, in their twenties, who may or may not identify, who are trying to find the words to express how they fee, I hope this inspires you all.

The Coming Out Saga:

Volume 1

You are 18 years old. You have been in a relationship with a man for 3 years. He was your first boyfriend, the first person you had sex with and the first person you envisaged a future with. During this relationship, you have grown and changed. Through sex, you have realised that there is more out there, you realise you really want to act on your love for women. You meet a girl; her name is Ellis. She is beautiful. She has amazing curves; thick red hair and she makes you laugh. You start to fall in love with her.
One night, you are walking home with your best friend and boyfriend, you are drunk, you have embarrassed yourself at a bar wearing gold hot pants and ordering cheap whiskey. Needless to say, your liver is pickled at this point and while you are arguing with your boyfriend, you scream at him,

“I’m gay you fuck”

Naturally, your best friend is shocked, and your boyfriend is far from pleased. You call things off.
But your hometown is far from diverse, you may quite literally be the only gay in the village, let alone. You and Ellis drunkenly kiss at a party, but you are so drunk you have no memory of it. So, you do what your best at; men. A string of one-night stands and you start dating a guy in your friend group. He is the definition of macho man. This is what you think you need to straighten yourself out.

Volume 2

You have been dating the macho man for 2 years. You are at university in London, yet no one else in your social circles is gay. All the girls you have a crush on are very comfortable in their straight sexuality.

-A right of passage for queer women everywhere 

You start having wild sex. You feel nothing through having sex with men so the wilder it gets the closer to feeling you get. Eventually, you break up, you tell your friends you like women and you start to try and date girls. Your friends at university are also very shocked and don’t react favorably to you being gay. Apparently, you never seemed the type.

So, you start dating men again, because it’s easier than trying to deal with being gay in a straight world. You meet a guy. He’s different, for the first time in a while you feel confident in being yourself around him, you feel sexy and strong and powerful and vulnerable all at once. You fall hard and fast for him, and he for you. Then you begin to peel back the layers of each other and you’re eventually faced with something you didn’t want to see.

You’ll try to deny this for a while now.

Yet you remember the person you fell in love with, so you spend the next few years hunting for them. They appear every now and then, but you’ve been together for 18 months now and whilst searching for the face you love most; your own face has faltered. You become weak and haggard and there is no life in your eyes anymore, it is as if your spark has gone.

By the time you realise you can’t love anybody without loving yourself, it’s too late. 

It’s been five years since you first came out. Five years, numerous one-night stands, two relationships, one full-scale mental breakdown, 150mg of antidepressants a day and four counselors. Five years of losing those that you love through your own inability to fight.  Five years of waiting. Waiting for what?

You decide it’s now or never.

Volume 3

You go away for a weekend- back to your mum’s house. You ask her how she would feel if you were gay and she tells you she doesn’t care as long as they have good manners. Not quite what you expected but you go with it, she helps you see that it’s time to move on to the next chapter, that you can’t keep re-reading the same story in the hope something new will happen.

You go home, and you tell him it’s over when he asks why.

You tell him you’re gay.

You phone your friends-your true friends and they are elated. They are so happy you are finally out and not hiding anymore, but if only it were that easy. That night, it hits you, you become so scared, not just of being alone but being gay. You worry that people won’t believe you, that you will be rejected or told you aren’t enough. You really panic that this isn’t you and it’s all been a huge mistake, add in the weight of homophobia, knowing that there are some people out there that will hurt you for what you are, it all becomes too much. So you find your now ex-boyfriend and curl up next to him, he holds you while you cry it all out and you realise it will be the last time you are held like this for a long time.

The next day the panic sets in. What if you’re not gay? What if you are throwing a relationship away with someone you love for nothing? You don’t want to be gay, you never did. You want to marry a man and have his children and for that to be your happiness. You want that “normal” life so badly it hurts. You almost talk yourself into making it possible.

But then a little voice in the back of your head goes; Oh honey no.

You call Switchboard

The wonderful counselor on the end of the phone helps you realise that sexuality is fluid and how you feel today might be different tomorrow and that it’s perfectly okay. He also helps you realise that the only person in charge of you is you; that no one can force you to make a decision that is yours alone to make. So, you head home and you and your ex talk, you agree to give it one last go, but soon you both realise that this isn’t right and that the spark has gone. Things end peacefully; you begin life again.

It’s now three months later.

You’ve come a long way since those days of uncertainty. For every good day there is a bad day and for every bad, a good, but you are okay. Your sexuality is fluid and you are dating men and women happily. No matter what part of the LGBTQ community you want to belong to, first and foremost you belong to yourself.

Some days you are Gay, some days you are Bi and others you are A-Sexual. 

But every single day, you are YOU and that’s the best label to be.

Love, HRH xoxo

The number to call for Switchboard an LGBTQ+ helpline in the UK; 0300 330 0630 10am-10pm every day.

Lesbian Reads

Hey Dolls,

Happy Lesbian Pride!

I am slowly working my way through the Pride Alphabet and we are now onto Lesbian fiction!

Although today I identify as bisexual, there have been times, and no doubt will continue to be times, where I identify as a lesbian. Sometimes men just don’t do it for me and that’s okay.

A large part of me exploring my sexuality has been my gay gal side. As I was in a relationship with a man, the only way I could explore this was through literature! Which tbh, we all know is better than reality… most days.

I have decided to break this down into four sections as there were quite a few books that really resonated with me for different reasons. By no means are these the only books, so head over to my LGBTQ list on Goodreads for more xox


Young Adult:

These books are written for Young Adults and tend to focus on coming out. They are very easy reads and incredibly relatable to anyone in our age group! These books not only entertain, but they help you understand yourself and others around you, an education to say the least!

Girl ❤ Girl

By Lucy Sutcliffe

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Stars: 3*

Genre: YA

Publication: 2016

Themes: coming of age, coming out, lesbian relationships

Length: 271

Avoid If: you want something more fictional. This is an autobiography told in a story like format.

Ideal For: any young adult in the UK

So if you are like me and managed to avoid YouTube and Vloggers for the past decade, you won’t realise that Lucy Sutcliffe is kind of  big deal. She and her girlfriend accidentally released a holiday video of them together and it sparked a whole following of fans who lived off of this LGBTQ couple. This book is a very easy read and focuses on Lucy’s upbringing, her life, coming out, homophobia and how she became the woman she now is. But it is told in such a way that it doesn’t feel like you’re reading an autobiography, it’s like one long blog post and its great!

It’s a very endearing story and really lovely to read as someone from the UK as her experiences are my experiences.

Juliet Takes a Breath

by Gabby Rivera

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Stars: 3*

Genre: YA, coming of age

Publication: 2016

Themes: Puerto Rico, Culture, LGBTQ+ society, Coming Out, first love.

Length: 276 pages

Avoid If: you know I don’t actually have a reason why you should.

Ideal For: All young women trying to come out

Juliet Takes a Breath tells the story of Juliet, a young Puerto Rican woman who on the tight before leaving for a summer internship, tells her whole family she is gay. Her mother doesn’t react well, her little brother is adorable and her dad is strong. Growing up in a traditional household Juliet feels alone in her sexuality. But upon moving to Portland for the month, she not only learns more about the community she is desperately trying to be a part of, but also the values of her home.

This taught me a lot about the coming out process that I didn’t experience. I was lucky enough to be surrounded by supporting friends and family who didn’t bat an eyelid when I came out. So for me to read this and realise how lucky I am, really humbled me.


Adult Fiction

These books are written by adults, for adults. Although YA are of course, welcome to read them, the themes may feel a little mature in comparison. For me, these books helped me feel more grounded in my attraction for women. They were past the stages of curiosity and more focused on knowing my attraction for women.

Under the Udala Trees

By Chinelo Okparanta

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Stars: 3*

Genre: potentially YA… otherwise coming of age and out!

Publication: 2015

Themes: love, lust, family, betrayal

Length: 328 pages

Avoid If: the bible brings you out in a rash. There are lots of quotes.

Ideal For: anyone whose family isn’t supporting them, this book is very relatable.

I find it very difficult to not give spoilers about this book, but the general plot is this; Ijeoma is a young girl growing up during Nigeria’s civil war. During this time, she discovers her sexuality and the worlds intolerance to it. From her days as a school girl, to a young adult and finally to a mother, we follow Ijeoma’s entire journey. This book covers the many highs and lows of coming out as a gay woman in a society that considers it to be an “abomination”. From secret parties to attempts at conversion, this book is sweet and hard hitting in equal amounts.

On a personal level, I found Ijeoma’s wish to be “straight” very relatable. I went through a time where I wish I didn’t have the feelings that I had and found myself in utter misery. Reading this helped me to realise I wasn’t alone in how I felt and showed me how to work through them.

The Mammoth Book of Lesbian Short Stories

Edited by Emma Donoghue

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Stars: 2*

Genre: Short stories, fiction, literary fiction

Publication: 1999

Themes: romance

Length: 624

Avoid If: you hate short stories

Ideal For: if you want something small to get you into reading.

Very self explanatory, this is a collection of short stories by lesbians for lesbians. They really sate that need for relatable romance! no more hetero-nominative bollocks here.


Erotica

I’m not blushing, you’re blushing. To any girl who has said to me, I think I might fancy other girls, I send them straight to Sarah Waters. I mean, obviously if you read these books and get turned on, it doesn’t mean you are “gay” but 9/10 it will help you understand your sexuality on some level.

Plus, porn is pretty rubbish and with erotica, your mind can roam free!

Also, E.L James, this is how erotica is written, please take notes. #fiftyshadesofuttershite

Tipping the Velvet

By Sarah Waters

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Stars: 5*

Genre: EROTICA and historical fiction

Publication: 1999

Themes: sexxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Length: 472

Avoid If: you don’t like reading about sex or if you need to read something more civil in public. I mistakenly read this at work and had my colleague wink at me.

Ideal For: anyone who is curious. I think its safe to say that this is a sexual-ity awakening.

So, Tipping the Velvet tells the story of Nan King, a young girl who leaves her life as an Oyster girl and her family home to travel Victorian London with the dance hall woman she loves; kitty. On one level this is a really great story about growing up in Victorian London, early suffragettes and just a fantastic piece of historical fiction (trust me walking through London now you notice places you didn’t before!) but its also the best erotica you will ever read. I highly recommend it to EVERYONE I know, be they gay, straight, somewhere in between or somewhere else entirely. It’s fantastic.

Witches, Princesses, and Women at Arms; Erotic Lesbian Fairy Tales

Edited by Sacchi Green

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Stars: 3*

Genre: erotica

Publication: 2017

Themes: fantasy, lesbian and bisexuality, sex, magic, all the good stuff

Length: 212 pages 

Avoid If: you don’t like fantasy

Ideal For: fantasy lovers!

So this book is perfect. It’s basically all of your favourite fantasy elements plus sex. The writing is good, the stories are engaging -some of which would make amazing full length novels, but overall it’s smut ha. This collection features some well known fairy tale spin-offs and other general myths and legends. There is fun to be had.


Alternative Fiction:

To me this fiction doesn’t fit into any of the previous catergories. I feel that these pieces of literature deal with the more serious aspect of coming to terms with ones sexuality such as mental health. Coming out is a huge step, one we often don’t think about before we do it (I know I certainly didn’t), therefore we often aren’t prepared for how it can affect us. I spent a good few days crying, wishing I wasn’t gay and that I could be happy with just men and lead a fulfilling life married to a man, like “normal” girls. But that wasn’t me and it took me a very long time to accept myself.

So these two books really helped me to cope and understand my mental health during this time.

We Are Okay

by Nina La Cour

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Stars: 4*

Genre: YA

Publication: 2017

Themes: mental health, coming out, family secrets, university

Length: 234 pages

Avoid If: mental health stories are triggering rather than cathartic for you.

Ideal For: anyone who needs a story that focuses on the impact of coming out and your mental health.

This is a very sweet story about Marin who is spending her Christmas break at university alone. She is in her first year of university in america and is grieving the death of her grandfather, her guardian. Since his passing, Marin has uncovered numerous secrets of his that have shook the very foundations of their relationship.

Whilst this is gong on, she is also dealing with the fact she likes girls. Que the arrival of her best friend, and ex lover, Mabel, who tries to help her friend heal and give her a place to call home.

Overall this is incredibly heart warming and perfect to read in winter.

The Space Between

by Meg Grehan

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Stars: 3*

Genre: Contemporary, YA, verse

Publication: 2017

Themes: mental health

Length: 180 pages

Avoid If: Verse isn’t your idea of good literature

Ideal For: anyone wanting something a little different!

Like We Are Okay, The Space Between is a story about coming out and the affect of mental health alongside this. Beth has decided to spend this year entirely alone. She does not leave the house. All of her groceries are delivered to her. She turns her phone off and cuts the world off. Until one day she meets Alice and her dog, Mouse. This book becomes a perfect balance of healing, heartache and falling in love with yourself and those around you. It has this fantastic ability to capture exactly how one feels when going through a mental health crisis. From endless pages writing “I am not okay” to lines of swearing, o blank pages. I felt so able to identify with this book on all levels.


So girls, I hope  this collection of books entertains you, enlightens you, warms you and overall brings you happiness. When I first began to address my “gay” feelings, I went to books because that was my solace.

These books not only gave me the safe space to explore these emotions but they gave me a sounding board for my own development as a gay woman.

They taught me I wasn’t alone, showed me I could find happiness and best of all, taught me it is okay to be me, which for a long time I could not accept.

 

So, happy Pride gals!

 

Love,

HRH

xox

Bisexual Reads

Hey Dolls,

Happy Pride Month!

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This past year has been a whirlwind for me. Sexuality wise, I am finally out and about and most importantly, accepting of myself.

I identify as bisexual. To quickly clear things up, that does NOT mean I want to have a threesome (men of tinder pay attention), it does not mean I am on the way to gay town, it does mean I find men and women attractive, and no it does not mean I am promiscuous or polyamorous. It quite literally means I find both attractive thank you very much.

So I have decided to share with you the books that really helped me accept my sexuality as representation is an important thing for anyone in this LGBTQ+ community, and sadly bisexuality is frequently forgotten or demonised.

So here is a mighty fine selection of bi-books for all you “indecisive” people.

Bi: Notes for a Bisexual Revolution

By Shiri Enser

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Stars: 3/5*

Genre: Non-Fiction

Publication: 2013

Themes: Bisexuality in pop culture, history, society and self.

Length: 345 pages

Avoid If: Non-Fiction bores you to tears

Ideal For: If you want the fact and figures of bisexuality. E.g. research paper wise.

So first up, do not be put off by this books non-fiction status. I am frequently guilty of approaching these books like some GCSE research paper; with fear, dread and presumptuous boredom. But this book is far from it. Split into numerous chapters and sub chapters, this book is a must read for anyone curious about Bisexuality.

Whether you feel bisexual, want to learn more, or are curious or are straight up angry about how you are told being bisexual is not a thing: this book is for you.

“If you identify as bisexual, the only person who can define what your bisexual identity means is you” 

This book explores bisexual history, rights, statistics, society and community, even with a dashing of psychology. The bottom line is, this book embraces every asset of our sexuality and it is beautiful.

 

Ash

By Malinda Lo

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Stars: 3.5*

Genre: Fantasy Fairy Tale/ YA

Publication: 2009

Themes: Cinderella, coming of age, first love

Length: 291

Avoid If: You are entirely over these fairy tale adaptations

Ideal For: Every little girl waiting for her beautiful princess and prince.

So I’ve written about this book before over in my post on fairy tales. Originally, this book was classified as lesbian only, but the main character, Ash, has a relationship with a mysterious elf/fairy Lord as well as our lovely huntress. Given that she enjoys both relationships, I am inclined to argue that this book is in fact bisexual rather than completely gay.

In short, this is your classic Cinderella story but with our girl Cinders called Ash. Whilst she does meet the handsome Prince Charming, she also meets his Huntress and her magical fairy Godmother is in fact some sexy fae Lord in the woods. It’s a fun read, not too long and satisfies that bisexual rep itch.

Girls Made of Snow and Glass

By  Melissa Bashardoust

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Stars: 3*

Genre: Fantasy Fairy Tale/ YA

Publication: 2017

Themes: Mother and Daughter, coming of age, first love, Snow White, Sexuality and self discovery.

Length: 372

Avoid If: You want something more heavy on the romance

Ideal For: if you’re looking for something on self discovery

Like Ash, this is a fairy tale retelling I have discussed before. Whilst Ash was on Cinderella, The Girls Made of Snow and Glass is more Snow White. Whilst we don’t have our seven dwarves here, we do have a wicked stepmother, a princess who falls into an enchanted sleep, but no handsome prince. Whilst our Snow White doesn’t explicitly say her preference in sexuality, she does have a romance with a woman.

I think the one aspect of bisexuality in literature we frequently search for is that telling moment. When in reality, none of us need to have that telling moment.

When I am out with a man, I am assumed straight, when out with a woman, assumed gay.

So I think it is appropriate during some books to allow them that space to be bisexual when they are not blatantly declared as otherwise. Of course this is all down to personal interpretation so by all means, fight me 😉

Queens of Geek

By Jen Wilde

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Stars: 4*

Genre: YA

Publication: 2017

Themes: Nerd culture/pop culture, fame, first love, starting over

Length: 262

Avoid If: you find Comi-con and nerd culture obnoxious

Ideal For: any nerd who can’t make it to comicon.

Admittedly, this book is very very sweet. I genuinely did not think I would enjoy it as much as I did as I am very snobby and 9 times out of 10, hate teenagers. But this one was different. Whilst the writing wasn’t breathtaking, the story and inclusivity truly was.

Queens of Geek tells the story of three best friends from Australia travelling to America for Comicon. One of the best friends, our bisexual gal Charlie, has recently been in a big sci-fi film and is attending Comicon for fan sessions. Charlie was dating her co-star Reese, but they broke up. This trip is a chance for Charlie to get over Reese and start over. Throughout the novel she overcomes and tackles numerous instances of bi-phobia and champions her sexual identity and all those who share it.

“In one brief conversation, she made me see that there’s nothing wrong with me.” 

Whilst Taylor, our other protagonist, is attending to meet her all time favourite author. However, Taylor has very intense social anxiety, exasperated by the fact she is fat and this is something the world feels the need to punish her for. Taylor’s story explores her first taste of romance, coupled with embracing herself and learning how to cope with her anxiety.

This is a great little YA novel for anyone who loves nerd fandom and of course, is bisexual, but perhaps those who experience fat shaming and social anxiety.

The Seafarers Kiss

By Julia Ember

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Stars: 5*

Genre: YA, Mermaid

Publication: 2017

Themes: Mermaids, First Love, coming of age, and girl power

Length: 212

Avoid If: you associate mermaids with basic white girls.

Ideal For: basic white girls.

My name is Harriet and I am obsessed with all things mermaid. In the past six months, I have been on the hunt for as many mermaid novels as humanly possible. And I have found some absolute GEMS. Such as The Seafarers Kiss, a retelling of the little mermaid.

In short, our young mermaid is of age where she needs to marry. Her best friend would marry her in a heartbeat, and would him but she knows deep down marriage won’t make her happy. Thus, she goes to the surface and saves a beautiful human girl from death. As expected, the duo fall in love and their happily ever after is tested and fought for.

“What we had might not be forever, but it was now, and it was everything I needed.”

I am classing this as bisexual as firstly, our little mermaid has had a relationship with both a man and a woman. Secondly, it is mentioned that sexuality is fully explored in mermaid land (or waters…?) and not a taboo, the only issue is the patriarchal world of marriage in which women are regarding as mermaid making machines. And finally, Julia Ember, our lovely author is a polyamorous Bisexual woman, so it feels fitting that this novel is representative of our sexuality.

In Other Lands

By Sarah Rees Brennan

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Stars: 4*

Genre: Dark Humour, Fantasy, YA

Publication: 2018

Themes: coming out, mermaids, elves, harpies, magic land in conjunction with reality

Length: 437

Avoid If: within the first two chapters you cannot hack the sense of humour.

Ideal For: anyone who wants anything different.

I initially bought this book thinking it was a mermaid novel. Which I guess it kind of is, but like Harry Potter is a novel about romance; it’s there but not a focal point.

Anyway. In Other Lands is a fantasy novel about a boy called Elliot being told he is able to enter the Other Lands, aka magic world. Elliot is an odd ball to say the least. Hugely irritating and socially awkward, he somehow manages to secure the beautiful elven Serene-heart-in-the-chaos-of-battle as his friend and some strange alliance with the school heartthrob Luke Sunborn. The trio have numerous adventures both of the magical kind and the growing up kind. Gender roles within this novel are flipped and the results are hilarious, such as;#

“Do not have a catfight, boys, even if it is that time of the month,” said Serene, and when she saw them staring at her, she explained: “You know—women shed their dark feelings with their menses every month? But men, robbed of that outlet, have strange moodswings and become hysterical at a certain phase of the moon?” 

This book doesn’t take itself seriously in the slightest and it is truly hilarious if you can embrace the very niche humour.

So, sexuality wise, there is a lot of good representation. I don’t want to give any spoilers with regards to which character identifies as what, but I will say that numerous characters identify as gay and it is perfectly okay for them to do so in this world, and some identify as bisexual. Our Bi folk face a little stigma from those around them not being able to understand their love for all genders, very much like our current world, but they persevere!

I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants something a little bit different.

The Colour Purple

By Alice Walker

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Stars: 4*

Genre: classic/ historical fiction

Publication: 1982

Themes: racism, feminism, sexuality, friendship and relationships

Length: 244

Avoid If: you need a book that is lighthearted.

Ideal For: anyone who need shaking to their core.

Okay, so this is classed as one of the greatest Women of Colour Lesbian novels of all time. And quite rightly so as it is phenomenal. If the first few pages don’t break your heart then you have no heart to break.

As I have previously mentioned, we shouldn’t assume a character, nor books sexuality unless it is directly stated. Room should be left for bisexuality even if it is not fully explored.

To summarise, The Colour Purple tells the story of Celie, a girl who is raped by the man she knows to be her father and essentially sold to the man who became her husband. Her life is a constant battle of inequality towards women in a very patriachal society. However when Celie meets the beautiful Shug Avery, her world changes.

“Who am I to tell her who to love? My job just to love her good and true myself”

I always interpreted Celie to be bisexual. Although she is shown to predominantly enjoy sex with women and any interactions she has had with men have been non-consensual, I still felt she had the ability to be with both. Meanwhile Shug Avery is most definitely bisexual. Enjoying men and women simultaneously, she embraces all aspects of her sexuality and the world eventually learns to just leave her to it.

Regardless of whether this novel explores being a gay woman or bisexuality, it is a truly amazing book and is one of those classics that is worth giving a try.


By no means are these the only bisexual books out there, more this is just my selection that I have enjoyed the most so far.

If you have any suggestions, please drop my a comment as you know me, I am, forever looking for an excuse to buy more books.

Happy Bi-Pride!

 

 

Love,

HRH xox

 

…To Cry It All Out To

Book Playlist:

“Sometimes you just need to cry it all out”

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By Marion Bolognesi

 

No words have ever been truer. When life throws you a spiked metal curve ball that knocks you for six, the best method is to just release your inner Kim Kardashian and bawl.

Of recent, my own life has taken a change;

I’ve separated from my long term partner, I’ve moved house, I’ve “come out” to my family, and overall I have had to take time to adjust.

Whenever a relationship in your life ends, be it a romantic, platonic or familial relationship, you are consumed by loss. Never mind the very logical explanations behind this decision, nothing else can possibly counter this overwhelming sense of failure this brings. Which is interesting that we often feel like failures when something naturally runs its course… But I will avoid tumbling into a Freud themed post of why we react the way we do, and instead focus on how to help yourself through these reactions.

So whilst going through this big life change, I cried a bit. I had a couple of days where the shock of it all just stung. Then for a couple of weeks I became stoic and withdrawn.

I felt as though if I pretended everything was fine, it would be.

It goes without saying this method did not work and instead I was left with a lot of bottled up mixed emotions and not a lot of time to sit down and let myself be.

In hindsight, there are things I would have done differently; like immediately giving myself private space to bawl, eat ice cream, be held by my friends and watch a sappy film.

However, one thing I did allow myself was the solace of books.

As we all know, books are the one way we can live out our most private fantasies and emotions without doing any damage! So I present to you my list of books for helping me uncork that bottle of repressed emotions, allowing me to sob uncontrollably and to then pick myself up!

All will be marked out of 5 😦 faces. One being the least tearful, I’m talking RuPauls insincere tear shedding in Drag Race and five being Kim Kardashian losing a diamond earring in the ocean level of sadness.

Before I Die

By Jenny Downham

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Tears Rating: 😦 😦 😦 😦 😦

So Before I Die was the book I read after my first ever break up as a teenager. My heart had been broken, I was a hormonal whirlwind and I just needed to cry.

This novel tells the story of terminal cancer patient Tessa. She has months to live and has created a bucket list of all she wants to accomplish before the end. From falling in love, to getting drunk to experiencing the trivial parts of life the majority of us take for granted, Tessa sets out to live life to the full.

All I will say is that this book broke me and I sobbed uncontrollably. I haven’t been able to read it since (a good ten years ago now), but there is still a special place in my heart for the emotions this story made me feel.

So if you’re in need of a cry but can’t seem to get the muscles to work, read this and I promise you Alice in Wonderland sized tears.

One True Loves

By Taylor Jenkins Reid

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Tears Rating: 😦 😦

One True Loves is an odd one for me. I don’t often read romance novels or “chick lit”, but I joined a book club in 2017 and this was one of the chosen books. Within the first few pages I was hooked.

Told between two narratives, OTL tells the story of Emma, a woman windowed after one year of marriage trying to move on with her life. From slowly learning how to live again to finally feeling able to fall in love again, she suddenly discovers her husband isn’t dead.

Thus Emma must chose: The man she mourned as dead, or the man who taught her to live again.

Some chapters are told from Emma’s current perspective and others and are told through pre-widowed Emma. Showing all the highs and lows of her relationships and how she heals as a person. Its honestly heartbreaking. Especially if the kind of heart ache you are experiencing is relationship based, it will give you that kindred spirit we all need in those times.

The Book Thief

By Markus Zusak 

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Tears Rating: 😦 😦 😦

Now, it goes without saying that The Book Thief is an incredible story. Like all literature set in and around World Wars, there is a tremendous amount of emotion and heartache. From dealing with the sheer amount of loss and pain, to learning to rebuild your world, stories set in and around war zones are hard hitting. Yes there are more WW novels out there that no doubt break your heart harder than this book, but I really didn’t want to make this a list about WW2 fiction that broke me… that’s a whole other category.

Anyway, I chose The Book Thief  because of the characters and their relationships to one another rather than the World War II German backdrop. This is the story of Liessel, a young  orphaned German girl who has been fostered by an elderly German couple in Berlin. Like many of our protagonists whose lives have been tipped upside down, Liessel begins to rebuild hers. From learning to read and write, to making friends, to loving her new parents, to slowly learning the harsh reality of the Nazi Regime, Liessel’s story shakes you to your core. There were many moments when reading this that I cried from happiness, and many in which I cried from sheer agony. But I cried and that’s what matters here.

Naughts and Crosses

By Malorie Blackman

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Tears Rating: 😦 😦

For those of you who have managed to go your entire life without reading this novel and its subsequent sequels, N&C is a racial re-telling of Romeo and Juliet. Crosses are black and superior, whilst Naughts are white and secondary citizens.

Sephy is a Cross and Callum is a Naught. They are childhood friends as Callum’s mum works for her parents. As they grow up, they become increasingly aware of how the world isn’t ready for a couple such as them.

Needless to say our interracial star crossed lovers, do not live happily ever after and author Malorie Blackman does a stunning job in crushing your heart into tiny little pieces.

Outside of tears, this is honestly one to get on your currently reading list as it is so moving and thought provoking.

Childhood reads

So if all else fails and nothing else will jump start the water works, retreat to the ever trustworthy childhood reads.

I’m talking Harry Potter -especially The Deathly Hallows, and specifically the battle for Hogwarts. Lets not forget Lord of The Rings when Frodo leaves Sam, and hell, The Twilight Saga: New Moon. I mean, if Edward leaving Bella and her full scale mental break down doesn’t make you cry then just take strength from the fact you are stronger than her.

Sometimes you just need a reliable tear jerker such as these novels tucked up in childhood memories.

It Will Be Ok.

Overall, no matter how horrible it all seems, no matter how numb you feel, when the time is right, just cry it all out. Don’t bottle it up, reach out to those in your life who you feel able to talk to, if not, call the Samaritans. Good god those poor souls over there have had to put up with my meltdowns so often.

For those of you who identify within the LGBTQ community, call SwitchBoard, they support you in matters that are associated with your identity and the genuinely understand.

And if your situation gets to a point where no good book is reviving you, see your doctor. I am on the highest dose of anti-depressants that I have ever been -that doesn’t mean I am unhinged, it just means that right now i need all the help I can get. One day my dosage will go down and one day it will go up again. If medication isn’t for you, seek counselling.

The most important aspect I have learnt over the past few months is nothing is ever normal. Without sounding like Fiat 500 Twitter, each day you are different, and sometimes will need more help than most and that is perfectly okay.

Love,

 

HRH

xox

 

Fairy Tale Novels

The Top Five Fairy Tales:

In New Skins

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Hey Dolls,

It came to my attention last year that we have a significant lack of up to date fairy tales. and by up to date, I mean tales that still follow the whimsical plot that the old ones did, but instead were more inclusive and preached our values of the 21st century.

So I set out to find some fairy tales for us all.

Now, I have had to sift through a lot of shit to find the good stuff here, and by no means is this the definitive list, more this is the collection I have found where if I was asked for a recommendation, these are what I would give.

What makes these tales different? They all either have strong LGBTQ relationships instead of the prince and princess, and they all have strong feminist messages that are pumped full of girl power.

All of these are the “novels” whilst my list of Short Story collections within this genre can be found here.

So, let us begin through the forest with our trail of breadcrumbs…

 

The Seafarers Kiss

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Based on: The Little Mermaid

By: Julia Ember

Publication: 2017

Length: 212 pages

Avoid if: you want a tropical story, this is set in the arctic and does not inspire any rendition of “Under the Sea”

Ideal for: LGBTQ+ fiction lovers!!

About: So the Seafarers Kiss is a retelling of the little mermaid. It is set in a mermaid ice kingdom in the arctic, filled with beluga whales, seals, viking explorers and of course, actual mermaids. It tells the story of Ersel, a young mermaid who is now of age. Within her kingdom, those of age must be put forwards for the mating ceremony, a prospect that terrifies her. She plans to swim away with her best friend but he instead betrays her by enlisting in the evil kings guard. In her despair, Ersel swims to the surface where she meets Ragna, a human girl who is stranded on the ice. (As you can imagine, the romance blossoms).

In the face of a life as a fish wife, breeding merchildren for all eternity, Ersel summons Loki the god of lies, and makes a pact with him; she will steal a voice to gain some legs in order to be with Ragna. But he never specifies who’s voice… and she never specifies what legs…

This has genuinely been one of the best mermaid books I have read. There is no lame hetero-normative  romance or misogynistic selling out, it is mermaid power, mermaid love, and overall mermaid magic throughout. Honestly I highly recommend this for any merbae.

 

Ash

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Based on: Cinderella

By: Malinda Lo

Publication:

Length:

Avoid if: you want a more straightforward adaptation, this is very much “inspired by”

Ideal for: bisexual book lovers!

About: So Ash tells the story of Ash, our poor version of Cinderella whose mother dies. Shortly after this, her father remarries and then dies too, and as the fairy tale dictates, she is left at the mercy of her step mother and sisters who treat her like a slave.
However, Ash has magic. magic that allows her to connect to the fairy world. Thus she meets her “fairy godmother” an elfish prince who will grant her wishes.

We expect she will meet and fall in love with the prince and loose her shoes, but here Lo mixes things up, having Ash fall for the Prince’s Huntress, with the duo having an illict romance. But Ash is also falling for her elfish prince, and has to decide between the human world and the world of the fae…

Overall this was a fun and somewhat empowering adaptation of the story. It had its highs and lows, but Malinda Lo has also released a prequel to this about the huntress, who was easily the best character!

A Court of Thorns and Roses

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A Court of Thorns and Roses

 

Based on: Beauty and The Beast

By: S J Maas

Publication: 2015-present

Length: 3 books with a 4th on the way!

Avoid if: you loathe YA fiction

Ideal for: everyone who needs a fairy tale Katniss Everdeen like character

About: I think its safe to say everyone has heard of Maas and her world of Fae? In short the trilogy tells the story of Feyre, a human who stumbles into the world of Fae and must become the High Lord of the Spring Courts prisoner. The first book, (ACOTAR) follows the plot of Beauty and the Beast, with our High Lord even taking the form of a Beast. However, unlike the tale as old as time, our beauty Feyre does not sit back and wait for Gaston and the Beast to get over themselves, Feyre rushes to her Beasts aid and saves the world from the evil Queen.
The sequel to this, A Court of Mist and Fury, is essentially Persephone, but sadly the final novel in the trilogy does not follow any particular fairy tale…

Overall this trilogy is truly fantastic. It is magical, easy to read and such a wonderful indulging story. Its truly a treat for any fairy tale fan.

Girls Made of Snow And Glass

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Based on: Snow White

By: Melissa Bashardoust

Publication: September 2017

Length: 374 pages

Avoid if: if the dwarves are your favourite. They make no appearance here!

Ideal for: anyone craving a fairy tale about the relationships between women.

About: Girls Made of Snow and Glass is a Snow White adaptation, minus the seven dwarves. It focuses on two different narrations; our snow white, and our “evil” queen, with Snows being present and the Queens being past. One of the most enjoyable aspects of this novel is how romance is not forced down your throat. Yes there is some lovely romantic side plots (some even for those of us in the LGBTQ community!) but it is primarily a story of mother-daughter relationships. This is definitely a unique spin on the original tale, no handsome prince or pretty princess breaks the spell, no magic kissing, just good solid GIRL POWER!

The Lunar Chronicles

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Based on: Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

By: Marissa Meyer

Publication:

Length

Avoid if: you want a quick read… these books are quite long -and that’s not including the novellas…

Ideal for: sci-fi lovers

About: So I couldn’t quite pick just one of these books! The whole collection is so wonderfully adapted into a sci-fi retelling of these classic tales.
Starting with Cinder, our retelling of Cinderella, Cinder is a cyborg girl who like Cinderella, lives with her step mum and sisters who are awful to her. However, her feelings for the prince aside, she is on a quest to save him from making a terrible mistake. However, the prince does not know she is a cyborg, who are essentially scum of the earth. With the help of her robot bffl, Cinder must save her world of New Beijing from a terrible plague that is rapidly spreading…
Followed by Scarlet, our retelling of Little Red Riding Hood. So Scarlet lives in France on a farm. Her Grandmother has gone missing and no one is taking her seriously. That is until she meets Wolf. Thus her and Wolf embark on an adventure to save Grandma, but along the way Scarlet discovers things about her Grandma, and in turn about her new love Wolf, that she never thought possible.
Thirdly we have Cress, the retelling of Rapunzel. Cress is imprisoned on a satellite above the moon by the evil queen. She is a master hacker and desperate to escape. Like Rapunzel, the cost to her rescue from the handsome “prince” is more that any of them could comprehend.
Finally, we have Winter, our very own Snow White, whose beauty rivals the evil Queen of Luna. All of these books tie in together with all our disney princesses joining forces to overthrow the evil queen. They are wonderfully strong, independent women who save the world and get the boy.

I hope these books have made it onto your TBR… especially you mermaid lovers out there 😉

Love,

 

HRH xox

 

 

 

Fairy Tale Short Stories

The Top Five Fairy Tales:

In New Skins

The Short Story Edition!

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Hey Dolls,

Continuing on from my last post, which focused on the novels that retell our fairy tales, here are the selection of short stories that re-tell fairy tales in a whole new way…

As always, this is not the definitive list nor is it the only list, this is a collection of the short stories that struck me as different within this fairy tale retelling genre.

 

So, let us head back through the forest with our trail of breadcrumbs…

The Bloody Chamber

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Angela Carters Book of Fairy Tales

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Based on: Little Red Riding Hood among many others.

By: Angela Carter

Publication:

Length:

Avoid if: you want a long story, these are all very short.

Ideal for: all fans of the Gothic and of course, feminists!

About: Angela Carter is the Queen of fairy tale re-tellings. She primarily focuses on the lessons and symbolism of these old tales and what they really should be. SO many of them focus on the colour red, the wild woman and our menstrual cycles. These stories make me feel sexy and seductive, it awakens my most carnal, ferocious inner goddess.

And honestly, these stories gave me Period Pride. Yes, I am a woman, yes I bleed each month, no it does not make me dirty, no it does not make me angry or irritable, yes I would like a tampon, and I REFUSE to hide my most natural bodily function. I am not ashamed of my periods!

Kissing The Witch

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Based on: your usual childhood fairy tales

By: Emma Donoghue

Publication: 1997

Length: 228

Avoid if: You want a direct adaptation and are not an erotica fan…

Ideal for: If you just want something a little different

About: So Kissing the Witch was the first book I found that claimed to retell fairy tales with an LGBTQ spin. However this was published a good 20 years ago now so I am not 100% if they’re as out and as loud as we would like them. But that aside, this is definitely a fun collection of stories.

Witches, Princesses and Women at Arms: Erotic Lesbian Fairy Tales

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Based on: Your generic prince saves the princess and her kingdom plots

By: Ed. Sacchi Green and A variety of authors contributing

Publication: 2017

Length: 210 with 13 stories

Avoid if: erotica isn’t your thing. There are clits and tits galore!  This makes fifty shades seem like pride and prejudice. (note* I think P&P is more erotic than 50 shades but you get my drift) 

Ideal for: anyone who wants some PROPER GOOD SMUT.

About: So as you might have gathered, this is a collection of erotica within fantasy settings. Most of the stories are inspired by your usual George and the Dragon esque legends and fairy tales. Most involve some princess or other who needs to save her kingdom. But it is so refreshing, inspiring and damn right sexy having a woman doing it and then going home to ravage the woman she loves -who is often a fairy or some kind of witch. I have a very specific type ok.

All Out

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Based on: Little Red Riding Hood and other random fairy tales.

By: Ed. Saundra Mitchell and written by numerous authors.

Publication: 2018

Length: 353 and 17 stories

Avoid if: legit got no reason for this… if you’re a homophobe I guess?

Ideal for: anyone who is coming out and needs to know they are not alone through the medium of good old YA fiction!

About: All Out is a collection of short stories by some of the bets YA authors within the LGBTQ community. Some of these are personal stories about the authors own coming out, some are adaptations of fairy tales, and some are just stories that will support you. These aren’t just the “Mum I’m Gay” comings out, they cover all aspect of Coming out as a member of the LGBTQ community. Whether that is trans, queer, a-sexual, non-conforming, gay, lesbian, bisexual, all sexual! It covers a lot of unique stories that we all need to hear.

The Sleeper and The Spindle

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Based on: Snow White and your usual fairy tale troupes.

By: Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Chris Riddel

Publication: 2013

Length: 66 pages

Avoid if: you want a story of more substance, this is more of a bedtime read.

Ideal for: anyone who needs a kick ass woman to save the world and inspire! Plus the illustrations are GORGEOUS.

About: I have chosen to feature this story in this section as A. it is a short story and B. it is just beautiful. It is your usual story of a young Queen destined to be married, a gaggle of dwarves and an eternal slumber, but this features a woman who saves them all. There is a bit of romance between the two lead female characters, but it is primarily a story of our favourite words: GIRL POWER!

Once more, I hope you’ve found some short stories that inspire you and give you the lessons you need in life!

 

If there are any books I seem to have missed let me know in the comments as I am always up for broadening my already bowing shelves.

Love,

HRH xox