Passion…It lies in all of us..

During difficult times its basic human nature to seek solace. Our own little thing that gives momentary relief from the pain or distress we may be suffering. For some it’s carnal pleasure, others a large glass of wine or a double whiskey. For me it’s the written word.

It’s always been the way for me. As a child I dealt with being bullied by my peers by escaping and seeking comfort in between the pages of a book. Fictional characters from fictional worlds giving me the strength to believe I could and would be okay, that it was more important to be a good person as opposed to being pretty and popular (though you can find some lucky people who embody all these traits) I have spoken previously on my blog, albeit very briefly, that I lost my way with reading for a couple of years, then when my dad passed away I threw myself back into it, seeking comfort in The Deathly Hallows the evening before the funeral (I spent the whole night reading it as I couldn’t sleep and still feel it’s responsible for giving me the strength for one of the hardest days of my adult life)

I haven’t read much since November when my life took something of a turn and it’s taken me a while to get my head around things. Although I am reading more now than I was, I still have bouts of time where I just feel my head feels too fuzzy for anything to sink in properly. But one thing that helps is passion. This weekend my friend Fiona came to visit and I passed her a few books to try out (Fangasm, Fangirl and The Great Gatsby) and there was a moment where I got so excited gushing about what I loved about each of the books that it made me want to re-read them all right there and then. It gave me that fire, that passion that ignites in me whenever I discuss one of my nerdy loves (Buffy…Supernatural…books…to name but a few) and it made me realise that this is perhaps what I should do when I find myself losing my way. I should talk about the book with someone or re-read a book that set a fire in my soul.

I find comfort in the written word so much, and right now I need it so much. I need that escape to ease my mind and quieten down the chaos going on in there…So perhaps I’ll blog more when I’m feeling lost, about the books that mean a lot to me.

Watch this space and happy reading.

G.

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Fangasm:Supernatural Fangirls – A Review

Fangasm: Supernatural Fangirls by Katherine Larsen and Lynn S. Zubernis.

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Ok, so at this point I think some of you must be rolling your eyes and saying “Another Supernatural book…Get a grip woman!” but honestly I’m enjoying the fandom and any fangirl out there knows when you fall for a fandom you fall hard. You want to be consumed in it, learn all about it, all the things related to it. So this book was perfect for me.

The book documents what happened when “two responsible college professors, Lynn the psychologist and Kathy the literary scholar, fell in love with the television show Supernatural.”  but what it really does is peels back the layers and asks lots of important questions about fandom, the rules of fandom, the dos and don’ts at conventions but above all it looks more specifically at females within a fandom and the way they are perceived by, not only the general public, but the stars of the show itself, their families and friends.

I knew as I soon as I started reading that this was going to be I need my sticky post its and my pencil handy. Lynn and Kathy start off by researching the psychology of fandom, why are we drawn to it.

“..watching or just thinking or talking about our favourite show can create an experience of belonging that makes us feel less lonely and buffers us against feelings of rejection.”  – Researchers at the University of Buffalo’s Center for Addictions.

Lynn and Kathy found that by retreating to a fictional world it helps people relieve stress and “shores up self-control” something I can completely relate to. After many a stressful day, my head loud with anxiety and exhausted, I’ve gone home put on my pajamas, tied my hair up in a messy bun, turned off all the lights and binge watched at least 4 episodes of Supernatural before retreating to bed.

Earlier on in the book they reference the incident involving the image of “Twilight Moms” that received online ridicule, the women receiving comments like “creepy” “unnattractive” and accusing them of being horrible parents. Thus showing already how “wrong” it is viewed for women to gush or objectify men in any fandom. The ladies look into this a bit more as the book progresses, they touch on the “flying fangirl” incident at the first Asylum convention in the UK, that saw Jensen Ackles being jumped on by a fan who proceeded to cling to him.

“Fanboys are no strangers to fan shame. But while male media fans fear being perceived as not sexual enough (the stereotypical fanboy virgin living in his mother’s basement) female fans seem fearful that being a fan makes them too sexual.”

As Lynn and Kathy say fangirls are viewed by the media/general public as crazy stalkers who can’t see the line between fantasy and reality. They propose that fan shame for females is linked to shame about sexuality. And I have to say I kind of agree with them. I’ve been around plenty of guys growing up (I have an older brother) and I’ve made friends with male colleagues over the years. I’ve been privy to plenty of conversations where a female celebrity has been the topic of discussion and I’ve heard plenty of explicit comments made about said celebrity, however the few times me and other women have discussed male celebrities in front of men and been nowhere near as explicit I have had men roll their eyes and actually look shocked and been like “Alright ladies, calm down!” I’ve even heard the phrase “pack of animals” used.  It’s a shame to say that in 2017 this is still the case. Women are objectified continuously by men and advertising companies, but goodness forbid that a man be objectified or woman objectify a man verbally. *rolls eyes* Anyway before I digress and pull out my soapbox, I will move on…

The ladies look at the role of fanfiction within the Supernatural fandom and the various types and what it means to the people who write it. Surprisingly, and again something I can relate to, they found that people who started reading fanfic and then writing it, made them feel more liberated and in touch with their desires and needs. It opened them up more sexually and made them realise that some of the kinks, they perhaps, hadn’t vocalised before, weren’t as strange as they thought because there were others out there with the same kink. When they asked various cast members about their opinion on the fanfiction the reaction was mixed, but generally it was something no one wanted their Mum or Grandmother to find.

Throughout the rest of the book, the ladies look at different things such as what happens when a fan “breaks the rules” or what happens when other fans become jealous of BNF (Big Name Fans) they look at the relationship between the powers that be and the people actually producing/writing the show and the fans. How, often, TPTB don’t seem to know or understand what the fans actually want or how to necessarily market a show or engage with the audience the right way. The ladies often found the answers to these questions through first hand experience, flying to conventions and meeting the cast and crew, even giving us an insight into how their experience of being fangirls impacted on their personal lives and the consequences of allowing themselves to indulge in their love of the show.

Needless to say I delved into this book thinking it was going to be one thing and then found it to be a variation of a lot of things. But I devoured it in no time, it’s provocative and insightful and whilst, for me anyway, it didn’t fully answer some of the questions, it certainly made me think about things differently and come to some realisations.

Star Rating out of 5: 4

“I felt like myself for the first time.”

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I’m actually attending my first con this year, and honestly I am already having low-key anxiety about it. I tend to dry up when I meet someone I admire and say nothing at all, wish me luck, although knowing the SPN Family, they’ve got my back! ❤

Happy reading.

G.

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The Luckiest Girl Alive – A Review

The Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll.

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As some of you know who follow my blog, I run a monthly Book Club and it’s been a good four months since we had something (in my opinion) that has captured my interest and kept me turning pages. So I was pleasantly surprised with this month’s selection and even more surprised when I started reading it and didn’t roll my eyes or give up twenty pages in.

This book first came onto my radar through Instagram last year believe it or not when Sarah Michelle Gellar (I’m a Buffy fangirl so of course I follow her) and Reese Witherspoon couldn’t stop gushing about it. I kept meaning to pick it up but just never got round to it, so it seemed that serendipity played a hand somewhere.

It follows the story of  Ani FaNelli a stylish and sophisticated woman who seems to have the perfect life. An amazing career, respect from her peers, a handsome fiance and a glamorous wedding to look forward to. But beneath the shimmery surface is a darkness. A past that Ani has tried to distance herself from through years of practice, but as the date fast approaches to participate in a documentary about that very past, Ani begins to fray at the edges.

I’ll admit Jessica’s writing of Ani certainly kept me intrigued and guessing, she was always teetering on the edge. On the edge of what I couldn’t tell you, but the book seemed to be building to a pivotal moment. Fortunately there were quite a few moments like this in the book. *SPOILER ALERT* Perhaps it’s because I’m a woman but when it reached the part in the story when Ani recalls the rape at the hands of three boys, I wasn’t surprised, because I could see it building up to that, I could sense the uncomfortableness and danger. It was dealt with well by the author, it reminded me of reading Louise O’Neill’s 2015 novel ‘Asking for It’ I don’t think I’ve read anything so powerful, emotive and raw that deals with rape and life after that and it’s effect on the victim. Things like this are important for a YA audience and beyond, so I’m glad the author acknowledged them here too.

What did come as a surprise was the way Ani dealt with it, and the way she continued to try and ingratiate herself to her attackers. Later on in the book one of the boys tries to attack her again only this time it seems like she will no longer be part of the clique. She confides in her friend Arthur who seems to be her only protector at the school. But as I mentioned previously this book has plenty of shock moments *SPOILER ALERT* So I was not expecting the gun shooting at the school, it completely knocked me sideways. The aftermath of that event and the way Ani dealt with it, made the rest of the book and her actions make much more sense, however it was after this point that the book started to grow quite convoluted, something I was hoping wouldn’t happen after being so strong.

However it was page turner for the majority of the time and there were plenty of moments that made me audibly gasp, I feel that there are things Jessica could have done to make it more interesting for the character and I think it could have ended better, but all in all not a bad read.

Star Rating out of 5: 3.5

Happy reading.

G.

x

Heart of the Dragon – Supernatural Book #4 – A Review

Supernatural Book #4 – Heart of the Dragon by Keith R.A. DeCandido.

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The fourth book is set during the fifth season of Supernatural and crosses generations. And honestly that’s one of the things I loved the most about this book. It opens in 1859 and shows the betrayal and death of a much respected Samurai at the hands of a demon. Moving forward to 2009 it shows the boys being alerted by Castiel (forever known as Cas by the fandom even though they will insist it’s spelt Cass) to the return of the Heart of the Dragon, the spirit of the samurai warrior from the beginning of the book. With the war between heaven and hell raging it’s important for the boys to stop the spirit before it can be controlled or manipulated by any demons.

When doing the research it seems that the Heart of the Dragon has been on their families hunting radar since 1969 when their Grandfather Samuel and their mother Mary hunted it. Through the use of flashbacks we see the dynamics between Mary and her father, the hunting dynasty and gain a better understanding of Mary (which is always nice considering her minimal yet present impact in the show) unfortunately the Campbells are unsuccessful in stopping the Heart of the Dragon completely and only end up banishing the thing for 20 seasons.

Which brings in John Winchester confronting the spirit, leaving both Dean and Sam with Bobby Singer whilst he does so. Again we’re offered more of an insight into the kind of man John Winchester was, the relationship between John and Bobby and a look at the boys as children separated from their father whilst he was off hunting. Now in 2009 the boys are faced with doing something their ancestors haven’t seemed capable of and as the body counts rise, it’s a race against time.

Although the ending was slightly anticlimactic and all seemed a bit too easy, I did really enjoy the flashbacks to Samuel and Mary, and John and Bobby’s strained relationship in regards to the boys. There’s not a WHOLE lot of the boys in this book, but it makes up for by giving us more insight into some of the key people from their past.

Star Rating out of 5: 4

Happy reading y’all.

G.

x

 

Bone Key – Supernatural Book #3 – A Review

Supernatural Book #3 – Bone Key by Keith R.A. DeCandido

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I’ve fallen for this show pretty damn hard, and like most things you fall in love with you want to learn more about it, absorb yourself in it, learn more about it. So it made perfect sense to start buying all the tie-in books. I used to do the same with Buffy the Vampire Slayer when that was on, I have quite an extensive collection and still continue to buy titles to this day. Indulging my inner nerd, a guaranteed way to make me feel better when everything else seems to be going so wrong…Anyway, as per usual, I digress and find myself falling into some weird hole where I gush like a fangirl (which I am and proud) anyway moving onto the book.

Bone Key takes place a week after A Very Supernatural Christmas and sees the boys heading for Key West, Florida where ghostly activity seems to be rife. At this point in the TV show Dean’s time is running out before his soul is claimed by the Hellhounds, so there are some great moments of angst between the brothers, and of course humorous bravado from Dean. It also features their father figure Bobby Singer, which made me squee because I love the relationship he has with the boys.

The boys go around the place investigating, getting themselves into the usual interesting situations as they begin to realise the thing they face is hundreds of years old and will mean working alongside a demon to defend it.

Needless to say this is a great tie in and I really enjoyed the way the characters were written because they felt authentic, whereas I didn’t feel they were in book 2 (Witch’s Canyon) so Keith R.A. DeCandido did another great job.

Star Rating out of 5: 4.5

Happy reading.

G.

Short and Sweet.

I’m not going to give reasons or details about why I have been on something of a hiatus from blogging, but I have been. Things have been tough but I’m hopefully back and will be blogging more often. I just lost the concentration to read but it looks like it’s coming back.

Book review or two coming your way really soon.

Thanks

G.

x

More Than a TV Show…

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Supernatural was always one of those shows that people used to tell me to watch but I never did until last year (I know, I have regrets about not watching it sooner but life kinda got in the way) Last year was tough, across the board for everyone and I was going through some personal stuff, to help take my mind off things going on I started watching the show and by some miracle (working crazy hours at my full time job and still finding time to fit everything else in) I managed to finish Season 11 a week before Season 12 started.

During the 5 or 6 months that I started watching the show, I have befriended so many people through the fandom and can honestly say, with my hand on my heart, that I’ve never known anything like it. I won’t name other fandoms that I’m part of as I don’t want this to be a whole ‘this fandom is better than that’ or anything but sincerely I have never known anything like it.

My life turned upside in November and I’m still not in the best place. Yesterday I had to have one of the toughest conversations of my life. I put out a call for help on Twitter to the #SPNFamily asking for some positive vibes and was inundated with messages of love and support. Complete strangers offering their time ‘day or night’ and lending an ear. Supernatural isn’t JUST a TV show, it’s a way of life. It’s created a place where during your darkest days you have an entire family supporting you and holding you up. It gave me the strength to do something I didn’t think I could. I have no words for what it meant to me, none that will do it justice.

The cast and fandom embody the the aspects of all that is good in this world and through their generosity and authenticity it encourages others to follow suit and live by the same principles and values. The show, the cast and the fandom mean so much to me. Because sometimes in life you’re blessed with something special, Supernatural isn’t JUST a TV show, it’s a family, it’s a way of life and one I am thankful to be part of.

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Thank you, here’s to hoping 2017 is a better year for the world.

Georgina

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