How To Be a Woman

How To Be a Woman

INFO | Goodreads

BUY | The Book Depository

How is it possible that I’ve only just discovered Caitlin Moran?  I feel like a whole new world of woman has opened up to me after reading her memoir, How To Be a Woman.  I’ve dabbled in feminist literature before – The Forbidden Body by Shelley Bovey was an eye-opener when I read it in my early 20s, and The Vagenda equally so – and so adding another book to my repertoire was long overdue.

How To Be a Woman is a mash of genres – part memoir, part feminist rant.  I loved Moran’s views on current inequalities, and it was refreshing to see someone who shared many of my own opinions.  She also brought up topics that I hadn’t really thought too much about before.  The sections on being a parent and abortion were some of the best in the book – she really touched me with some of the experiences she’d had, and I feel like I’ve been educated on some things I’d never considered before.  She is refreshingly honest about what has happened in her life, which makes this an important read for any young woman.  I was constantly sending quotes from the book to my friends, with her ideas forming excellent points for discussion.

When a woman says, ‘I have nothing to wear today!’, what she really means is, ‘There’s nothing here for who I’m supposed to be today.’

This isn’t to say the book was without flaw.  While some chapters had my feminist blood raging in agreement, my interest did wane around the halfway mark, which is why it took me a couple of months to finish.  I think this is for a number of reasons: firstly, Moran is excited by an era that I am just not engaged by (I don’t know or care for most of the people and music she loves, though this is just a conflict of personal taste), and secondly, I just can’t find much interest in her constant mention of drugs and alcohol.  Though we share a common goal of female equality, the fact is that I just didn’t find her stories all that extraordinary or engaging – perhaps it is an imbalance between the elements of memoir and feminist thought.  Personally, I was hoping for a little more of the latter.

There’s also a lot of unnecessary CAPITALISATION OF SENTENCES FOR EMPHASIS, and my major pet peeve of way too many exclamation marks in succession:

BRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!

All her talk of Lady Gaga, drag queens and over-priced weddings make this book a fascinating and often hilarious read, but some of her jokes just don’t hit the mark, and I know it wouldn’t be to everyone’s tastes.  What I would probably recommend in its stead is the audiobook, which Moran narrates herself – this is how I first started my reading journey, before switching to the book when my library loan ended.  She delivers the text in the way it was certainly intended, and her reading better encapsulates the “chattiness” of her book, without the seeming randomness of thought sometimes found when experiencing it as a lone reader.

However you experience the book though, it will no doubt stir the feminist inside, and make you hungry for equality.  Or in my case, make me realise I’m not alone in thinking that weddings are a waste of money… there’s something for everyone!

Star Rating: ☆☆☆☆ (4/5)

Happy reading!

Emma

Follow me on: Twitter | Tumblr | Instagram

October 15, 2017
/

Wednesdays

Palm comes crashing

down onto the table

as you thrust your papers

into my face.

“What is this?”

you demand,

spitting in your fury,

mouth frothing.

Yet I’m the one in the cage.

“It’s all wrong,

why is it wrong?”

We stare at each other.

Both red-faced.

Both a little alarmed

by what you do next.

You tear away

from the desk,

like the shreds of paper

you leave behind

for me to clean up.

You roar,

slamming the door,

as you go.

I take a deep breath.

Smile, of course.

Whose next?

“Hi, how can I help?”


Customer service.

Whilst this is fiction, I draw on the sort of experiences I’ve faced working in customer service for a number of years.  I find from a psychological perspective (oh, there’s me utilising that A-Level) the behaviour of a customer to a cashier fascinating – I’ve been shouted at, sworn at, lied to, harassed. I’ve even heard of friends being attacked and stalked.  Always take a moment to remember that those figures behind the counter aren’t mindless drones – they’re just people.

Emma

Follow me on: Twitter | Tumblr | Instagram

October 12, 2017
/

The Wolf Among Us

The Wolf Among Us

I was recently lent The Wolf Among Us series by my other half, possibly in response to my moans that nothing was comparable with Saga.  Although I still stand by that statement, The Wolf Among Us was definitely still something to shout about.

The series is just two books long, based on the Tell Tale game of the same name.  Both were inspired by the original Fable comics, about characters from fairy tales who now live in modern day New York after being forced to leave their old world.

The Wolf Among Us follows Bigby (previously known as the Big Bad Wolf), who has left his past behind and reinvented himself as the sheriff of Fabletown.  When a Fable gets murdered on his watch, Bigby and Snow White team up to find the culprit.  But as they find the situation quickly spiraling out of their control, all the residents of Fabletown are forced to face some home truths about themselves, and about who they used to be.

The plot probably dragged just a little longer than it needed to, with one too many samey fight scenes.  But the number of brilliant characters constantly being introduced truly overrode any real flaws.  I was pleasantly surprised to see faces from Alice in Wonderland and Bloody Mary, as well as so many traditional fairy stories too.  Characters were rarely how I would have imagined them, which kept things unpredictable and fun.  The plot itself was also full of twists and turns, as secrets were slowly revealed.  By the end I had no idea who to trust, and where to place my sympathies.  Villainous characters always had a backstory and something to support their actions, leaving the task of picking a side a wonderful challenge.

I’m desperate to play the game now – I’m waiting (im)patiently for a Steam sale at the moment, as it sits at £18.99 full price.  The game allows the player to make decisions, which affect the outcome of the story – considering the complex themes of justice and morality in the comics, I can only imagine how thrilling the game is to play.  Check out the trailer for the game below:

Happy reading!

Emma

Follow me on: Twitter | Tumblr | Instagram

October 5, 2017
/

The New Bohemians

The New Bohemians

If everything goes to plan, I’ll be moving into a new house next year.  It will be an exciting development in my life, and one that I feel should be marked with a shift in lifestyle.  I’ve been working hard this year on self-care, creating a healthier me, with a longing to connect to the world in a more natural, less technological way.  My research led me to bohemianism, a lifestyle that puts greater focus on spirituality and artistic pursuits.  While I can’t say I’ll be taking on a total bohemian existence, I love the bohemian ‘spirit’ and the idea of a freer, more creative approach to life.  So, after discovering the beautiful lifestyle blog Jungalow and being instantly inspired, I swiftly went on to buy The New Bohemians: Cool and Collected Homes, written by the blog’s owner, Justina Blakeney.

The New Bohemians

The book explores different types of bohemian lifestyles – from modern and earthy, to romantic and folksy – by looking at twenty homes.  At the end of each home there is an ‘Adopt an Idea’ section, where the author reveals tips for recreating some of the features in a cheap and easy way.  I was glad for these, as many of the homeowners had design/creative backgrounds, and the means to really mould a space into what they wanted; it was nice to know that quick fixes were available!

The New Bohemians

The quality of the paper is high, though really you’d expect nothing less of a book filled with textiles.  The photographs are fascinating to look at, even though many of the rooms look suspiciously tidy and staged.  I think I would have liked to have seen more spaces that reflected day-to-day living a little more, though I guess I would have hoovered the floor too if I’d known a photographer was coming over… I got the impression that some of the participants were using the opportunity of being featured in the book to self-promote their businesses, which takes away from the whole whimsy feel a bit for me.  Saying that though, I understand that a bohemian lifestyle often blends work and leisure within the same space, so maybe I’m just nitpicking.

The New Bohemians

I’ve never owned a book like this before, and I am so happy with my purchase.  As well as a source of inspiration for my new house, it is also motivating to see people who have been bold enough to take spaces and make them work for their daily lives.

The author’s stunning lifestyle blog is well worth a visit: https://www.jungalow.com/

Emma

Follow me on: Twitter | Tumblr | Instagram

September 29, 2017
/

My Week In Photos: Cornwall

Cornwall

I got home from Cornwall at 7.30am on Saturday, bleary-eyed, with my stomach full of nothing but Watsits.  A pretty standard British holiday, if you ask me.  I had flu/allergies/whatever-that-thing-was all week, but still managed to do some wonderful things while I was away…

Cornwall Polperro

We visited Polperro, a gorgeous fishing village that was just down the hill from our accommodation.

Cornwall

Cornwall

We followed the narrow streets round to the Model Village.

Cornwall

We stole a day to revisit Newquay. Parking was still extortionately priced, but we had an amazing fried breakfast and enjoyed lounging on the beach.

Cornwall Bodmin Jail

Bodmin Jail was an interesting afternoon trip. Curiously, I thought it wasn’t quite as atmospheric as I was expecting, but the exhibits were fascinating!

Cornwall Bodmin Jail

Cornwall Bodmin Jail

Cornwall

Cornwall Bodmin Jail

There was a big blue, terrifying room full of cells, each one housing a different crime. Some were pretty grotesque, and scary… (this photo is of one of the nicer stories!)

Cornwall

Cornwall

Cornwall Bodmin Jail

Cornwall Reading

It wouldn’t be a holiday without getting in some reading time.

We also did a lot of swimming, eating, board gaming and laughing. And trudging through the rain, of course!

Want to see more Cornwall?  Check out what I got up to last year!

Emma

Follow me on: Twitter | Tumblr | Instagram

September 13, 2017
/

Flash Fiction Winner: ‘Game Over’

I’m pleased to share the winning entry of August’s Flash Fiction Competition!  The theme this time was ‘Game Over’, and Jess Larter has been chosen as August’s winner for her short story about a queen at war.

You can read her winning story below:


The Queen has lost count of how many times they have stood here, ready to play war as if they are children about to play a game.

She stares out across the battlefield and observes the army on the other side. It is as if she is looking in a mirror, the other army a reflection of her own except for the colour of their armour. Her soldiers stand in front of her in a neat row, all dressed in the white garb of their kingdom. They are restless and eager to fight; ready to sacrifice their lives for the crown, for her. It’s likely they will do just that.

One of them takes a tentative step forward and his reflection does the same. Within seconds the playing field becomes a thunderstorm of black and white as more troops from both sides rush into the fray. The Queen doesn’t hesitate to join them.

After what feels to her like hours, she is finally able to stop and catch her breath. When her eyes find the King, his white armour a beacon gleaming in the sunshine, she is surprised to see she is not the only one eyeing him. A Knight clad in black armour sits atop her horse, a shadow ready to charge. The shadow waits just a second longer then spurs the horse forward.

She is almost upon the King when he finally hears her racing up behind him. He only has the time to take a single step to the right and out of the reach of her sword. At least this time it will not be that sword that deals him the killing blow. Or perhaps this time he won’t be dealt any fatal blow and instead it will be the King in the black cloak who dies.

It is a hopeful thought, but a fleeting one. Both the King and Queen realise too late that the Knight was intended to be a distraction so that other enemies could surround him. He frantically searches for a way to escape; the Queen resigns herself to the fact that there isn’t one.

Every other player on the field pauses their fighting to watch the situation unfold. Silence falls as they hold a collective breath, waiting to see what happens next although they already know what will. It won’t be long now before they are tidily arranged back on their own sides of the battleground, about to repeat this all again. There is comfort in the inevitability.

A single word booms out above their heads, louder than cannon fire. The absence of the sounds of war makes it even more startling.

“Checkmate.”

In the end, it isn’t clear which foe is the one responsible, but the result is the same.

The Queen watches. The white King falls.

Game over.

The Queen has lost count of how many times they have stood here, ready to play war as if they are children about to play a game.


Congratulations to Jess for winning!  The Flash Fiction Competition is returning on Friday 1st December 2017.  Check the Flash Fiction page for more information.

Emma

Follow me on: Twitter | Tumblr | Instagram

September 12, 2017
/

Literacy In a Digital World

International Literacy Day

This year’s theme for International Literacy Day is ‘Literacy in a digital world’. Although it sounds like the title of an essay I might have written at university, it is a topic I find really interesting.

…at least 750 million adults and 264 million out-of-school children still lack basic literacy skills.

How can literacy be promoted in a changing, increasingly digital world? I see two sides of the coin all the time – on TV talk shows, especially in my job – where there are those who refuse to accept technology and those who embrace it. And I myself can see both arguments too. I know dyslexics who benefit enormously from digital support, but I do wonder about the deterioration of my own literacy skills when I find myself relying on autocorrect for the most basic of sentences.

What I do know is that my sister refuses to pick up books in any form, and has relied heavily on the digital world to increase her literacy skills. I’m a real believer that any reading (e.g. e-magazines, blogs) is useful for literacy development, so I’ve always encouraged her digital pursuits. Interestingly, her vocabulary is excellent, and she is often more articulate than myself, who has always devoured books.

Personally, I live and breathe the digital world. Not because it is often a necessity of being a 20-something in this era, but because I feel there is so much to gain from it. I don’t spend all that much time Facebook scrolling, but I do read blogs (Almost Amazing Grace and BluChickenNinja are two of my current favourites) and find it the most convenient way of staying in touch with current events. I’ve also found that running my own blog has developed my writing skills as well as forcing me to learn basic coding and even business skills.

It might be the millennial in me talking, but I think there is much the digital world can do to support literacy, if we are sensible and continue to develop our other skills too. On the whole, I think it offers more opportunity than it takes away, but whether this argument translates to other cultures, I’m not so sure.

I wish everyone a happy International Literacy Day, whether you spend it in the digital world or the real one.

You can find out more about International Literacy Day here.

What are your thoughts?  Can the digital world support literacy?

Emma

Follow me on: Twitter | Tumblr | Instagram

September 8, 2017
/

Ten Years of Letters

10 Years of Letters

Recently, when looking through old letters, my friend realised that we had been writing to each other for ten years.  Ten years!  That’s almost half of my life!  Though for much of that time we have lived within the same county, life has often taken us to the other end of the country, and sending mail has always been a simple yet personal way of touching base with each other during those months.

Learning of our decade as pen pals, I was inspired to read through my own box of mail from my friend, full of everything from dozen-page letters to handmade postcards cut from magazines.

10 Years of Letters

It really was a trip down memory lane – mail from holidays, mail following break-ups or sent during periods of homesickness for a bit of comfort.  Many of the letters I can barely remember, recalling times I had long forgotten.

It’s been a year since we last wrote to each other, but reading our old letters has rekindled our longing to be pen pals again.  With life constantly changing as it does, it is nice to feel grounded when a message from an old friend is pushed through the letterbox.

Emma

Follow me on: Twitter | Tumblr | Instagram

August 31, 2017
/

The Man at the Station

Broken Mannequin

I see your legs

bent and broken,

and I think:

Thank God

I can still walk.

Thank God

I can run,

if I wanted to.

I return to the sofa.


I was musing today about the marvels of movement, after seeing an elderly man being overtaken by speedy commuters on their way home from work.  It was very humbling, though I still spent the evening in front of the television.

Emma

Follow me on: Twitter | Tumblr | Instagram

August 22, 2017
/

Little Terrors

Writing, and rewriting, scenes about monsters seemed like a good idea at the time.  But now, lying in the dark, duvet pulled up past my chin, I hear the pitter-patter of tiny feet outside the door.

Tiny, furry feet.

Up and down the stairs, they disturb the floorboards and baby’s toys; I hear the giggle of a plastic, smiling child.

The door creaks open…

Not quite terrifying beasts, but still little terrors.


They leave me alone all day, until I open a book or newspaper.  Then they come running.

Emma

Follow me on: Twitter | Tumblr | Instagram

August 15, 2017
/