Reasons NOT to read Me Before You

For months, Me Before You was little more than a blogosphere rumbling that I decided to ignore. The story sounded clichéd and cringe-worthy, and the air of tragedy surrounding its romantic lead another example of people with disabilities being reduced to one dimensional victim figures.  For anyone who doesn’t know, Me Before You is a about a recently quadriplegic man who falls in love with his carer. Even though they love each other and are happy together, at the end of the book he makes the decision to kill himself, because he sees that as a better option than living with his disability. As you can imagine, the story is deeply offensive to many disabled people and their families.

People complained when the book first came out. No one really listened.

Then the movie was released, and the dissenting voices got a lot harder to ignore. Disabled activists protested the premiere and co-opted the film’s #LiveBoldly to promote the rights of disabled people to actually live boldly instead of submit to the movie’s message, which equates the disabled body with the need for death. The #DISABILITYTOOWHITE went viral on Twitter, and a much needed conversation about representation took place. On the rare occasions disability is represented in TV and film, the actors are disproportionately white people.

And the other thing about those actors? They are almost always non-disabled.

That it is a story written by a non-disabled writer about a character subsequently portrayed by a non-disabled man is only the beginning of the problems with Me Before You.

During a conversation on the disability and representation episode of the Black Girls Talking podcast (listen here), Vilissa Thompson, disability activist, founder of Ramp Your Voice and originator of #DISABILITYTOOWHITE (@VilissaThompson on Twitter. Follow her. She’s awesome.) talks about the problematic images Me Before You promotes. She explains that:

‘A lot of people have never met a disabled person… that image of disability in a story like Me Before You can create this prototype of what disabled “is”. Just like in black media, if you see a negative portrayal in a movie for whites who may have never met a black person in their town or experienced blackness through friendships, that’s the only representation that they have. So it’s very important for groups like us, those who are minority groups – disabled or of colour, or both – it’s very important to have positive, affirmative and accurate portrayals, because for some people what they see on TV or the big screen is all they know, and if they see that disabled people live a pitiful life and want to die that’s how [they] are going to think about the disabled experience and react to disabled people when [they] meet them.’

The message of Me Before You is powerful and destructive. It is the latest chapter in the story of disability as tragedy (previous chapters include Million Dollar Baby, another tale of choosing death over disability), an ableist narrative in which the disabled can only live on the fringes of society, trapped by ‘inabilities’ to communicate (as if speaking with your mouth is the only form of communication), or to walk (wheelchair users aren’t ‘bound’ by their wheelchair. It’s how they get around) or whatever the perceived tragedy is. Stories like this aren’t helping anyone. In an article for The Independent (read it here), disabled campaigner and Trailblazers Regional Ambassador for Northern Ireland (part of Muscular Dystrophy UK), Michaela Hollywood, makes the point that:

‘Advertising disability as a fate worse than death is offensive and damaging. It’s damaging for the young people with disabilities who are watching this film. It’s damaging to the public perception of disability. It’s damaging to us – to how we live and our aspirations for the future.’

It speaks to an ableist culture that, as Mik Scarlet writes in his movie review for Disability Now (read it here), ‘If you’re suicidal and non-disabled you’re ill, but if you’re suicidal and disabled you’re making an informed choice.’

Listening to the voices in the disabled community is vital. As allies, we need to demand better. For all of us. We want stories that reflect the real, complex lives of disabled people. We don’t want a culture that supports the idea of disabled people as a burden on society.

Say the guy on Me Before You had chosen to live. Say that instead of the story of his death, we were offered the story of his relationship, and the unique challenges he and his partner would have faced together. Say actual wheelchair users had been consulted to ensure a portrayal that felt true to the experience. Imagine a disabled actor in his role. Wouldn’t that have been a way more interesting movie?

In her BGT conversation, Vilissa Thompson said the following: ‘When you write about an experience that’s not yours you have a big responsibility to portray it fairly and accurately.’

It doesn’t seem fair or accurate that, as Michaela Hollywood writes ‘Hollywood is again telling people like me that it’s better to choose death than live as a disabled person. It’s saying my life isn’t worth it.’

The popularity of Me Before You demonstrates how much disabled voices need to be heard. I hope people start listening.

5 Things I Loved About Ghostbusters

I went to see Ghostbusters this weekend and put all my anxieties to rest: It’s great, you guys. I can’t believe I let all the negativity around it make me doubt.

Now I think about it, gender-swap Ghostbusters was really the only way to take the franchise forward. Casting four women allowed it to break free from its previous form. Remaking the film with four new guys would have been a pointless endeavour. Four poor, overwhelmed actors would have been forced to try and imitate the magic that Harold Ramis, Bill Murray, Dan Ackroyd and Ernie Hudson created.

No one wants to try and be the new Bill Murray.

Nope. The only way forward was the do something completely new.

There is so much to say about this movie. But for now, here’s a brief overview of the five things I liked the most:


Lady scientists taking on the (ghost) world

I’m pretty sure by now everyone has seen the picture of Kristen Wiig and the grinning little girls at the Ghostbusters premiere. If not, Google it. That shit will make you emotional.

The fact is having four women take on a paranormal threat and save an entire city is not something we have seen before. And it’s so awesome to watch.

I grew up watching films that were mostly about boys, rewriting them in my head so that there was a girl involved. It makes me so happy that girls now don’t need to do that, because this movie exists. They can see that women can kick butt, improvise under extreme circumstances and be freaking hilarious ghost busting scientists!

The secretary

I don’t like the Thor movies, so I’ve never thought much of Chris Hemsworth. As Kevin, the guy is hilarious. Like tears-running-down-my-face funny. What they are doing with his character is obvious as hell, but worth mentioning. In having a male clueless receptionist, Feig and co. are turning years of gender stereotypes upside down. Placing a man in the Stupid But Funny role usually played by a woman emphasises the work that McCarthy, Wiig, Mckinnon and Jones are doing.

The cameos

I had read nothing about the film going in, because the amount of hate it received online made me depressed, so I had no clue these were going to happen until Bill Murray rocked up. I thought having the guys, Annie Potts and Sigourney Weaver make brief appearances was the best way to reference the fact of the remake.

The squad

The movie starts with Dr Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) getting back in touch with her high school bestie Dr Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy) because Abby has put a book she and Erin wrote together on Amazon. The book is about ghosts and how to find them, and the sort of thing Erin really doesn’t want the higher ups at the university she now lectures at to see. When Erin arrives at Abby’s lab she is pulled back into the world of the paranormal and finds the part of her that believed never really went away. Abby is clearly one of those friends with zero tolerance for bullshit, and watching her drag Erin out from under her rock and into the life she is supposed to be living is fun.

Dr Jillian Holztmann (Kate Mckinnon) is the wonderfully weird Spengler equivalent. She builds all the gadgets (and the occasional nutcracker). Throughout you get the distinct sense she would sleep with any Ghostbuster who was up for it. She’s one of those characters living on another plane of strange I only wish I could access. Last week I had no idea who Kate Mckinnon was, and now she’s my favourite Ghostbuster.

Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones) joins the group after being chased by a ghost at work. She is a New York history buff, and her know-how completes the team. What happens to Patty is pretty much what I dream of happening to me every day. She sees an extraordinary situation, decides she wants a piece of it and dives right in.

Sidenote: I really liked that there wasn’t a romance in the movie. Lately I’ve started to feel that Love Interest is the only role available to women, so seeing a movie without that was refreshing. In the end what was most important to the Ghostbusters was ghost busting.

The fight scene

There is an epic fight scene at the end of this movie. The ladies kick some serious ghost butt. They are fierce, resourceful and effective, mowing down ghosts using a combination of improvisation and gadgets created by Holtzmann. Who, incidentally, has my favourite moment in the entire battle. There is this incredible slow motion clip where she takes down a bunch of ghosts, cow boy style. Again, watching women be the aggressors rather than the victims is SO important.

Special recognition: Kate McKinnon

The whole internet is going on about it because it’s true: Kate McKinnon makes this movie. Her performance is weirdly mesmerising. Something about the combination of her frenetic facial expressions and general unpredictability make a character so bizarre you can’t help but fall in love with her.


Let’s Talk TV: Shows I’m Watching Now


I like my TV on the far side of ridiculous, so this was always going to be the show for me. Empire, for anyone who doesn’t know, is about a family warring over who gets control of the Lyon family record label, the show’s namesake, Empire. It could also be known as How To Fuck Up Your Children (throw your gay son in the trash, be openly ashamed of your bipolar son and turn the remaining kid into an egomaniac who doesn’t find it weird to sleep with his ex-stepmother).

When a gloomy diagnosis leads him to question his mortality, Lucious Lyon (Terrence Howard) must decide which of his three sons to leave his Empire to. The situation gets a lot more complicated when his ex-wife, Cookie Lyon (Taraji P. Henson) gets out of prison and demands her slice of the pie.

There is music, murder, and hostile takeovers.

Most of the time it’s hard to tell whether Lucious loves his family, or just sees them as chess pieces of differing value.


Cookie Lyon

cookie 2

She is one of the best female characters on television right now. I just adore her. She is strong, manipulative, loving, hilarious and one of the only people I can genuinely say carries off an animal print dress. She has never beaten Lucious yet, but we’ll all keep watching with the belief that she’s going to take him down eventually.

People burst into song, all the freaking time.

I only wish everything was a musical where people produced hit singles from prison.

Jane The Virgin

Jane decided to stay a virgin until she got married. Then she was accidentally artificially inseminated with a random man’s sperm and everything got complicated.

That man was Rafael, cancer survivor and reformed playboy. The doctor who did the insemination? His sister, Louisa.

Jane’s adorable policeman boyfriend, Michael, doesn’t deal so well with the whole thing.

A love triangle ensues.

Things get a lot more complicated when it turns out that Rafael’s step-mother is a world renowned drug dealer.




Jane lives with her mother and her grandmother. I love their set up. There are still very few positive portrayals of single parent households on TV, and I like that the show doesn’t waste time on shaming Jane’s mum, Xo, for her life choices.


Rafael’s ex-wife, and at the beginning of the show, the villain of the piece. As time has progressed, however, it basically became impossible to not like Petra. She is needy, weird and frequently irrational, but you can always kind of see why.


She’s just a socially inadequate weirdo. We can all relate to that.

(or maybe that’s just me)


Jane The Virgin has a Pushing Daisies style storyteller narrating every episode. His presence serves to enhance the melodrama and dramatic irony of the show. It’s a show that wants its audience to be conscious of the storytelling, both as a nod to the telenovela it’s based on and because its central character aspires to be a novelist.

That, and he’s very funny.


This is a new one for me. This past week I have binged my way through season one.

A creation of Rob Thomas and Diane Ruggiero-Wright, it’s a lot like Veronica Mars. But you know, with zombies.

Over achieving Junior Doctor, Olivia Moore’s (her name is Liv Moore. They really want us to get that joke) life is changed forever when she attends a party that ends in a zombie outbreak. Newly zombified, she is forced to break up with her fiancé, Major (one of the many delights of zombie-ism is that it can be sexually transmitted) and swap the wards for the mortuary, where she becomes a medical examiner (morgue = easy access to brains). Once she starts eating brains, Liv discovers that zombies have visions of the lives of the dead brains they’ve consumed.

Her next move? Start solving their murders, obviously.


The opening credits.



We all know how I feel about a charismatic bad guy. Blaine is a drug dealer turned zombie with a monopoly on the brain market. He has no morals to speak of and is driven by megalomania, daddy issues and greed.

And he’s the only thing standing between Seattle and the zombie apocalypse.


Blaine: I don’t know if you’re hungry, but you know what my mom always said?

Major: Why’d I stop using birth control?

Blaine: No! There’s always room for soup!


Given the rest of this pro-bad guy list, that I am a fan should come as no surprise.

Watching unREAL is an exercise in disgust.

unREAL tells the behind the cameras account of the fictional, Bachelor-style TV show, Everlasting. Producer Rachel is a natural empath with high ambitions and underlying mental health issues. She is a master manipulator, and winds the contestants (and the bachelors) tightly into her web of control. Mostly without them noticing. Rachel is in turn controlled by show runner Quinn. Together they will create drama, no matter the consequences.



Rachel and Quinn

They have a complicated dynamic. They might be the only people capable of understanding each other. Instead, they spend most of their time trying to destroy each other, despite the matching Money. Dick. Power. tattoos they both display on their wrists.


He is a disgusting menimist-leaning joke who never saw a good idea he didn’t want to steal. He is also hapless and hilarious and I still can’t quite get over how much weight he lost out on his manly summer camp.

Reality TV

This show really is a horrifying satire of reality TV and the culture surrounding it. It’s the only non-violent show I watch that sometimes gives me the urge to cover my eyes. In the first season one of the Everlasting contestants killed herself. This season, Quinn is all about getting those ‘suicide ratings.’


What shows are you watching right now? Do you have any recommendations for me?

Let’s talk TV.

The Unexpected Everything

Before the scandal, Andie had important plans. And zero of them involved walking an insane amount of dogs, being in the same house as her dad or hanging out with Clark. Now there’s a whole summer stretching out in front of Andie without a plan. And Andie always sticks to the plan.

But here’s the thing – if everything’s always mapped out, you can never find the unexpected. And where’s the fun in that?

The Unexpected Everything (2)

The Unexpected Everything was my first Morgan Matson. It’s a cute, romantic, heartfelt and emotional read that had me thinking Matson has been praying at the altar of Sarah Dessen for at least as long as I have.

Five years before the start of the book, Andie lost her mother to ovarian cancer. After that her father, a politician, withdrew from her and disappeared into his work. As you can imagine, these events left Andie with some pretty serious abandonment issues. They also made her into a total control freak. She plans every aspect of her life according to how it will appear on her CV. She has learned to be carefully expressionless during her father’s speeches. She’s never had a relationship than lasted longer than three weeks.

So, when her father gets embroiled in political scandal and Andie ends up losing her summer internship, she doesn’t handle it well. But those events, it turns out, are only the beginning. Once there’s a crack in her carefully constructed control, it’s not long until the whole thing comes crashing down around her.

Watching it come crashing down is the fun part.

The way Matson handled Andie’s insecurities really made the book for me. It felt very authentic to watch Andie build meaningful relationships while contemplating the loss of them. Andie lives in terror of the people that she loves leaving her, and this leads her to make some very bad decisions

When we first meet her, we see that with most people she only lives on the surface, refusing to answer meaningful questions and never asking any herself. Even with those she’s closest to she can be distant, and is immensely conflict averse. She would rather manipulate friends into lying to each other than deal with the possibility that they might fall out, and as a result, leave her.

She sometimes drives people away because she’s afraid of how they make her feel.

While I didn’t necessarily agree with her actions and actually found myself groaning ‘Andie NOOOOOOO’ out loud on at least one occasion, everything Andie did made sense to me from within her worldview.

I think characters like Andie challenge us to be compassionate readers. It’s really hard to engage with the insecurities of other people, because 99% of the time, they make absolutely no sense to us. What Matson does is challenge us to become Andie for a little while. To ask ourselves: if we had grown up like Andie did and had the experiences she has had, would we have made different choices?

Probably not.

While I enjoyed getting into Andie’s psyche, everyone else in the book, I found myself wanting more from. This isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy Andie’s friends. I totally did. Andie has a very solid girl group who became her surrogate family after the collapse of her own. Their interactions were sweet and funny… but that was it. They all had summer jobs that seemed to relate in some way to their future plans but we never really got to see that side of them. Mostly they just talked about boys. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this – talking about boys is fun – but I just wished there could have been a couple scenes where they talked about anything else.

Clark, Andie’s boyfriend is the typical cute nerd who just happened to start publishing books when he was fourteen. Again, I enjoyed him enough, but he didn’t especially interest me. I am not, for example, fantasising him into existence now the book is over. When I wasn’t reading, I didn’t really think about him at all. As with Andie’s friends, I feel he could have been more complex. The resolution to his problems happened on the fringes of the story. We only knew about them if Andie happened the mention them. This all meant I wasn’t as invested in his character as I would have liked to be. Even the one great revelation of his past trauma didn’t really land. Mostly because Andie didn’t really respond to it and then they never spoke of it again. Weird, no?

Probably my favourite relationship in the book was Andie and her dad. After getting suspended from his job, he and Andie have the opportunity to get to know each other again. Initially, they have an awkward time trying to establish their roles. Alex doesn’t exactly know how to be a father, and suddenly adopting the role of disciplinarian after five years of anything-but does not go down well. Andie, on the other hand, has to adapt to actually being someone’s child again. They also have to start talking about Andie’s mother, and the grief they kept them distant from each other for years. Whether you’re close or not, so much of the parent-child dynamic is about renegotiating your relationship as you grow up. Watching Andie and her dad go through this gave me the serious feels.

If you’re looking for a light summer read that’ll sneak up on you with a surprise kick to the emotional butt, The Unexpected Everything is for you.

How To Cure Book Review Block

Shake the book angrily. Maybe the right words will fall from the pages and into your head.

Read articles about the sexist media portrayal of Taylor Swift

At the heart of the coverage of Tay-Tay/Hiddleswift are themes as old as the Bible: suspicion of successful women, resentment of unapologetic women, a need for women to know their place.’

Feel outraged on Taylor Swift’s behalf.

Wonder why your feminist self can’t get excited about the new, female prime minster. Remember that she is unelected and serves a party that is destroying the country and killing poor people. Ignore lingering sense of concern at total lack of good feminist feelings.

Get really excited when books arrive in the post.


Type and delete at least ten paragraphs.

Look up recipes for overnight oats.

Lament that you can’t have overnight oats right now.

Just write the bloody thing.

Hate every word that you’ve written.

Wonder whether how much you struggled to find something to say about the book is a reflection of the book, or your shitty writing.

Go for a lie down.





A Case For Cheating In YA

Earlier this week, in my Top Ten Tuesday post, I wrote that I am bemused by the blogging community’s response to cheating in YA books.

Today, I am going to discuss exactly what I meant by this.

I have noticed that a lot of people will give a book a bad review, or perhaps not even read the thing at all, if it features characters cheating on their partners.

I totally accept that different people have different sensitivities. For example, while some people dislike Stephanie Perkins because of Anna and Etienne’s cheating, I dislike her because of her tokenistic use of Asperger’s in Isla and The Happily Ever After. Well, for everything about that book, honestly.

(Today is a day of unpopular opinions, apparently).

That said, I find the total rejection of books featuring cheating puzzling.

We all read and enjoy books about murderous vampires, heists, wars and identity-stealing shapeshifters without blinking an eye. But if one of those murderous vampires, criminals, violent soldiers or identity-stealing shapeshifters happens to cheat on their boyfriend…. Well, then a line has been crossed.

Weird, right?

It might be oversimplifying, but I think part of the reason for the resentment that comes with this particular moral waver might be that, for some people at least, cheating addresses the elephant in the room. That elephant being the probability of two seventeen year old’s staying together forever.

(it’s low, guys)

Spending your life with your high school boyfriend is an extremely unlikely outcome that the enjoyment of most YA romances is predicated on. Just Listen couldn’t be Just Listen if Annabel and Owen broke up five months after.

(they totally didn’t and I won’t even entertain the possibility).

The introduction of a character cheating on an existing partner shatters this illusion. The presence of a cheater is an acknowledgement of the fact that new people come into our lives all of the time, new people who might actually be a better fit for us than that boy from our physics class ever was.

None of this is to say that cheating is okay, so much as it’s kind of inevitable. And that fact does not sit well with the unconditional ‘forever’ love of the YA couples we think of as our OTPs.

As such, I would argue that cheating is a totally natural – maybe even obvious – subject for YA fiction to delve into, because books are a safe environment to explore these concepts.

Approach it like you might a really violent TV show. We witness the horrors (or, if you’re me, close your eyes until the worst is over) in the entirely safe environment of our couches. Most of us are in the very privileged position to be able to process the existence of real life horror by fictionalising it. We’re pretty much doing the same thing with cheating. Whether it’s an abject criticism of the concept of monogamy as a whole (the idea that someone would actually publish a YA book that does this is, admittedly, laughable, but bear with me), or an exploration of sexuality, or even just a way to analyse what does and doesn’t work for you in a partner, fictional cheating is a safe no-heartbreak way to explore a concept without, you know, wreaking havoc on your actual life.

In addition, isn’t the very point of reading to explore a life that’s different from your own? To me at least, reading a constant stream of books about girls who look and think in the exact same way as me couldn’t be more boring. I want to feel my personal limitations being stretched and to immerse myself in moral relativism before heading back into my day of trying not to be mad at strangers who jostle me on the train. I don’t think that it is a story’s job to make us comfortable. Stories make us think, stimulate us and broaden our horizons.

People don’t always make what we perceive to be the right decisions, in life, or in fiction. One of the key arguments against cheaters in YA I’ve seen is that readers don’t feel that they are learning anything from the experience.

I call that the no lesson lesson. And it’s one of the hardest ones to take. Sometimes the people that we love (and the people that we hate) will do things we think are wrong. Sometimes, they will do them over and over again. Sometimes they will even continually express the same pain over having made the same mistake. Again.

Realising that we ultimately have no control over the actions of others is something we learn to live with every day.

It makes a lot of sense to me that people would want to write books about the phenomenon.

That people wouldn’t want to read them? That idea, I struggle with.

(because I too, am still learning to cope with having no control over others)

In the end, all you can really do is throw in your own two cents.

So that’s what I’m doing.

You Know Me Well

Mark and Kate have been sitting next to each other for an entire year, but have never spoken. Until one fateful night, when their lives collide. Kate is running away from a chance of meeting the girl she has loved from afar, while Mark is in love with his best friend, Ryan, who may or may not love him back. They are both lost, and finding each other is the last thing on their minds.

But they don’t realise how important they will become to each other – and how, together, they will navigate the joys and heartaches of first love, one truth at a time.

you know me well

You Know Me Well, by Nina LaCour and David Levithan is a freaking joyful read. Set in San Francisco during the week of pride (and the final week of high school), the story is alternately told through the eyes of Mark and Katie.

A theme that I enjoy – and one that really isn’t addressed as often as I’d like – is that of falling in friend love. That moment when you meet someone and recognise that they are built out of the same materials as you. That’s what happens to Katie and Mark. In a moment of desperation and confusion and loneliness they come together and build life rafts out of each other’s hands.

It’s awesome.

Mark and Katie also deal with a lot of change throughout the book, in themselves, and the people around them. You Know Me Well looks at the unique and acute pain that happens when people change at different speeds. Entire relationships get turned on their heads when the issues that have made parties a little awkward for the past few months suddenly become un-ignorable. Mark watches as his mostly in the closet sometimes-boyfriend, Ryan starts dating. Katie’s friends get passive aggressive as she withdraws from them and into her relationship with Mark, not realising that the whole process is as painful for her as it is them.

They both resist the changes – Katie by running from them and Mark through flat out denial.

What they learn should be obvious: change can’t be resisted.

‘“Right,” I say. “If you find yourself in hell, keep walking. That seems to be the theme of the night.”

She says, “Could be. Or maybe, if you think you’re in hell, open your eyes. What you see may surprise you.”’

So, as much friend-love as there was in this book there was also a considerable amount of romance and heartbreak. Let’s discuss.

It should first be noted that this is a short book in which a lot happens. As such, I am willing to forgive the massive insta-love moment that occurs between Katie and Violet. But, all the same, it was a little disappointing. Violet was one of those love interests who served as a symbol for the Future, The Great Unknown that is the subject of all Katie’s fears, rather than being an actual character. I think this would have bothered me more if Katie’s story hadn’t so strongly engaged me otherwise. But her panic and confusion struck a chord with me like I haven’t experienced since I read First and Then. Katie felt real to me, even if her relationship didn’t.

As for Mark, his heart, I felt. Reading Mark and Ryan hurt. Waiting and waiting for a person to be ready, only to have them finally arrive only to speed right past you, is the ultimate heartbreak. Too often I read stories where relationships come easy, feelings are always mutual and people ultimately knowable. In reality however, this isn’t always going to be the case. Perhaps the difficulties in Mark’s relationship are the reason behind the simplicity of Katie and Violet. Pain was amply covered already.

As I mentioned, all of this takes place the week of gay pride in San Francisco. All I have to say about that is that I really want to go to pride in San Francisco because it sounds like so much fun. The book is full of characters who fade in and out – like you always meet at any celebration – and feels authentically hectic. Pride is a joyful time of everybody embracing and showing off their beautiful selves (and their beautiful loves).

‘Hiding and denying and being afraid is no way to treat love. Love demands bravery. No matter the occasion, love expects us to rise…’

I hope this one makes it onto everyone’s summer reading lists.

Ten Facts About Me

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. Check ’em out!


I am basically obsessed with watching Youtube beauty gurus, but rarely wear more make-up than a bit of mascara. I don’t even own foundation.

I listen to Harmontown every night to help me fall asleep.

Despite Now You See Me 1&2 being highly questionable movies, I would totally go to see a third, because I am in love with Daniel Atlas. Apparently arrogant, emotionally unavailable magician is my type.

daniel atlas

I am totally bemused by the blogging community’s response to cheating in YA.

I meet a lot of guys who like to give me unsolicited life advice – usually without knowing me at all. The response I always want to give runs along the lines off pleasefuckoffthankyou. Instead, I usually smile, say nothing and hate myself for it.

Sometimes I feel like the things that I care about in life are beginning to shift considerably, and I’m not sure how the new concerns and old concerns are going to live together.

I have been known to classify a certain type of YA story as ‘suicide books’ in my head. I feel bad about this.

I read My Life On The Road by Gloria Steinem a few weeks back. It was probably one of the most incredible books I have ever read, and I feel like my reviewing skills are too inadequate to even attempt to have a meaningful discussion about it. Watch this space, I guess.

I once bit a chunk out of a drinks coaster because I thought it was a biscuit. It was during a meeting with mum was having with my brother’s school principle. He had briefly left the room and I guess I saw it as my opportunity. I should add I was a toddler at the time.

I am re-watching Scrubs right now and have realised that Doctor Cox and I share a similar worldview.

dr cox





The Dead Ladies Project

When Jessa Crispin was thirty, she burned her settled Chicago life to the ground and took off for Berlin with a pair of suitcases and no plan beyond leaving. Half a decade later, she’s still on the road, in search not so much of a home as of understanding. A way of being in the world that demands neither constant struggle nor complete surrender.

The Dead Ladies Project is an account of that journey – but it’s also much more. Fascinated by exile, Crispin travels an itinerary of key locations on its literary map, of places that have drawn writers who needed to break free and start afresh. As she reflects on William James struggling through despair in Berlin, Nora Barnacle dependable for James Joyce in Trieste, Maud Gonne fomenting revolution in Dublin, or Igor Stravinsky starting over from nothing in Switzerland, Crispin interweaves biography, literary analysis and personal experience into a meditation on the interactions of place, personality, and society that make escape and reinvention such an attractive, even intoxicating proposition.

Personal and profane, funny and fervent, The Dead Ladies Project ranges from nineteenth century to the present, from historical figures to brand-new hangovers, in search, ultimately, of an answer to a bedrock question: How does a person decide to live their life?


If that summary hasn’t sold it to you, I don’t know what will.

Through this blog I have been casually putting together a list of books you should read in your twenties. This one shot right to the top. It’s required reading for any of us who ponder the possibility of getting on a plane and abandoning our lives on a semi-regular basis.

I know that is quite a few of us.

‘I was tired of being the person I was on an almost atomic level. I longed to be disassembled, for the chemical bonds holding me together to weaken and for bits of me to dissolve slowly into the atmosphere.’

I spend a lot of my time searching for models on how to live. I think we all do it. I’m not even just talking about scrolling through Instagram and admiring all the #lifegoals either. Sometimes it happens in the briefest of encounters. A few weeks ago at work, a lady walked over to me and my colleague and gave us a pep talk on how we shouldn’t let the world get us down, and the advantages of not giving too much of a shit (there are many) and when she was done she left and we’ve never seen her again, but behind her stayed this impression. All I could think was: that lady is doing life right.

In her travels through Europe and her various deep dives into the lives of the artists whose adventures took place there, Jessa Crispin is doing the same thing. She’s searching for comfort in other people’s struggles, for self-acceptance if not actual happiness (because what even is that, anyway?).

‘We both sit quietly, drinking the dregs of our tea and feeling the long expanse of years before us. The weight of uncertainty. Whether it’ll be a late blooming or whether the soil will prove to be infertile.’

She looks through that acceptance by studying a litany of delightful weirdos from history. This book is a fascinating study of characters we all know – William James, W. Somerset Maugham, Stravinsky – and those most of us might not – Nora Barnacle, Claude Cahun, Margaret Anderson.

They aren’t all stories of escape, although those are the ones I enjoyed the most. I like the optimism involved in escape. Some of them are tales filled with misery, or of betrayal, whether that’s by your own inability to leave a shitty situation, or the people of the island you live on selling you out to the Nazis (yes, I am being specific).

One the aspects of this book I truly loved was how Crispin looked into the idea of being a bit of a social reject as an adult. When you’re a teenager (and if you’re reading this as a teenager, I’m sorry), and kind of a strange one at that, all you’re told is that it gets better with age and by the time you’re a grown up you find your people and it’ll all make total sense.

Thus far, this has not been my experience.

(again, teenagers, ignore me. It gets better. You’ll be fine.)

So to read of a lady floundering at thirty, and not in the self-conscious I’m-such-a-weirdo non floundering-floundering with the perfect rom-com ending way, either, was both comforting and painful to read.

‘…it would be nice if a god did come down and say, This is that thing, stupid. The thing you have stared at the horizon waiting for for years now. It is standing right in front of you.’

At the end of Breakfast at Tiffanys, after Holly has decided to ditch the cat and her entire New York existence, Paul, exasperated yells at her that running away is pointless ‘Because no matter where you run you just end up running into yourself.’

The Dead Ladies Project is an entire book about that phenomenon. Jessa Crispin, William James, Margaret Anderson, Jean Rhys… all of them, they all had the same problem.

Some of them were okay, some not so much.

Which is just sort of what life is.

This book will make you inspired and depressed and introspective.

But, like, in a good way.

5 Reasons to Love Daredevil’s Karen Page

(spoiler heavy)

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She is a total subversion of the ‘innocent girl’ stereotype

Karen arrived at Nelson and Murdock as a victim. After accidentally being sent a work email she shouldn’t have seen concerning some Wilson Fisk level dodgey accounting, she was set up for the brutal murder of one of her colleagues. Nelson and Murdock scooped her up and saved her, and thus began a pattern of hero worship that established Karen as the typical one dimensional Marvel woman we are all used to being disappointed by.

But then she went rogue. Fuelled not so much by her crush on Matt as her dogged and insistent demand for the truth, she went after Wilson Fisk, murder crime boss extraordinaire, alone. When one of his henchmen, Westley (RIP) came after her, I think we all expected yet another rescue from Daredevil.

Instead, Karen shot the guy with his own gun. A lot. We were all like… Karen? He’s dead now.

karen page gun

It was at this moment that Daredevil started to interest me beyond Matt’s shirtless scenes.

It’s after Westley’s death that we start to see the effort Karen has to put into playing the ‘innocent’ role Matt has assigned her. Throughout season two their every conversation occurs at cross purposes. In episode 5, Kinbaku, when Matt and Karen finally go on their (totally adorable, btw) first date, all they do is lie to each other. When Karen asks Matt how his day was, he says he was working (actually he was chasing his psychopath ex-girlfriend around New York City) and Karen says she was doing nothing at all (she spent the day at The New York Bulletin, working with a journalist to uncover Frank Castle’s past). Karen’s deep need to uncover the truth – no matter the cost – is probably the most significant thing about her. It is her passion and her obsession. And she feels totally unable to share it with Matt. Her drive and determination and the crimes she is sometimes pushed to commit are in total opposition to Matt’s idea of her. So she hides herself from him. This active pretending reveals the ‘innocent’ girl for the imaginary thing that she is. Everyone is more complicated than that.

I found watching such a tired trope toyed with in this way delightful, in case you couldn’t tell.

She’s an accidental journalist

Karen finding her new home at The New York Bulletin has been heavily criticised as unrealistic. Mostly by journalists. To them I say this: you are watching a show about a blind guy with super powers. Get over yourselves.

I adore how separate Karen’s character development is from Matt’s. Yeah, it was through being a legal assistant at Nelson and Murdock that she was able to channel her truth-seeking skills, but in the end it was only outside the constraints of the firm that she would really be able to realise her talents.

(Though this didn’t make the demise of Nelson and Murdock hurt any less.)

Karen Page: Badass Investigative Journalist is a story I could watch for hours.

She’s got sass.

One time a client asked her to give her a kiss before he stepped onto the battlefield (a police sting that would earn him witness protection) instead, she gave him the finger.

And then this happened:

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Karen and Daredevil are basically the same person

Watching season 2 of Daredevil is a lot like losing your mind. It is so frustrating watching Matt and Karen run circles around each other, both of them using their secret identities like invisible suits of armour.

Karen Page and Daredevil both care about justice above all else. They both know that they’ll never stop, even if it kills them. They both believe the people in their lives would never understand this. They both lie to the people they love, freaking constantly.

In so many Marvel movies the love interest is established as a foil to the hero. Where he is irrational, she is sensible. Where he is a playboy, she is dedicated and monogamous. Where he is brave, she is afraid.

Not Karen Page. She’s just as much of a daredevil as Daredevil is.

She’s got secrets

The main thing the past 2 seasons of Daredevil have taught us about Karen Page is that we know nothing about her.

Part of the whole ‘innocent girl’ trope is that she is taken at face value. She acts sweet and dresses girly and we assume there is nothing more to it.

There is so much more to it.

This past season, we found out she has a dead brother. What made this all the more intriguing was the conversation about said brother she had with Matt during with she failed to mention that he’d died.

We have seen Matt’s life through flashbacks, Foggy is an open book and Frank Castle had an entire season dedicated to his personal mysteries. The only person hiding from us is Karen Page.


Karen Page has quickly become one of my favourite characters of all time. There’d better be a Daredevil season three. I need to know where her story goes next.


karen page gif