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Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow by Siobhan Curham – Empathy Blogswap

In order to celebrate the release of Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow by Siobhan Curham, Walker have organised a blog swap. Throughout August a number of bloggers are hosting guest posts from our peers. Something to give us an insight into an issue we might not otherwise have come across. To step into their mind and empathise. I encourage you to visit other posts across the month to expand your experience.

Today I’m hosting Alba with her post on Acts of Kindness. You can read more from Alba on her blog Alba in Bookland here.

Acts of Kindness

One thing I love about the football World Cup is how it manages to bring people from all over the world together. Last month, we decided to organize an office pool in which you would select several teams and earn points every time one of your teams would score or win a match. Quite simple. But then in the middle of it, a colleague had a brilliant idea: let’s also collect acts of kindness.

So every day, we would check the news all over the world to find those little acts. It was amazing to see how this world event had affected the daily life of so many people, all from different nationalities and backgrounds and brought them a little happiness.

We even started printing our favorites and putting them in our office board, so everyone could read them. They definitely sparked more than one smile and even a few tears between our colleagues. So today I decided to share with you three of these acts of kindness:

1) How a deafblind fan is enjoying the World Cup thanks to his friends. Here is the video, if you haven’t seen it: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/world-44657259/icymi-how-a-deafblind-fan-is-enjoying-the-world-cup

I actually studied sign language in university and met such vibrant and active people in the deaf and deaf blind community. We used to have weekend excursions to different places in Barcelona and it was always such a especial moment to be able to sign for the deaf blind so they could experience new places too. So this video definitely brought a lot of nice memories back. I should start volunteering again.

2) Mexican and Colombian supporters lift Egyptian fan in wheelchair so he can see screen in fanzone. Here is the photo, if you haven’t seen it: https://www.thesun.co.uk/world-cup-2018/6553124/world-cup-mexico-colombian-egypt-disabled-fan/

3) Japan and Senegal fans help to clean up World Cup stadiums. Here are the photos, if you haven’t seen them: https://edition.cnn.com/2018/06/20/sport/senegal-world-cup-stadium-clean-up-spt-intl/index.html

And a special mention to the fans that created the pride flag with football shirts to let Russian LGBT community know ‘they’re not alone’ (https://www.standard.co.uk/sport/football/worldcup/world-cup-2018-activists-in-moscow-create-pride-flag-with-football-shirts-to-let-russian-lgbt-a3885161.html)

I hope these kind images brought a smile to your face too. And remember, acts of kinds cost nothing but are worth a lot.

Thanks for sharing these wonderful positive stories Alba. I often think of the more negative side of football so it’s great to see how a common interest can bring people together. Definitely relevant to my job as an Occupational Therapist.

Book Synopsis

Fourteen-year-old Stevie lives in Lewes with her beloved vinyl collection, her mum … and her mum’s depression. When Stevie’s mum’s disability benefits are cut, Stevie and her mother are plunged into a life of poverty. But irrepressible Stevie is determined not to be beaten and she takes inspiration from the lyrics of her father’s 1980s record collection and dreams of a life as a musician. Then she meets Hafiz, a talented footballer and a Syrian refugee. Hafiz’s parents gave their life savings to buy Hafiz a safe passage to Europe; his journey has been anything but easy. Then he meets Stevie…

As Stevie and Hafiz’s friendship grows, they encourage each other to believe in themselves and follow their dreams.

An uplifting story of friendship, unity and hope that highlights the important and topical issues surrounding young carers and young refugees.

I really enjoyed Siobhan’s Moonlight Dreamers and Tell it to the Moon (which I’m just about to loan to a friend’s daughter) so I think this will be a fabulous read. Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow is out now.

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Landscape with Invisible Hand by M.T. Anderson – Book Review

Synopsis

We were all surprised when the vuvv landed the first time. We were just glad they weren’t invading. We couldn’t believe our luck when they offered us their tech and invited us to be part of their interspecies Co-Prosperity Alliance.

Several years on, jobs are scarce due to the rise of alien tech and there’s no money for food, clean water or the vuvv’s miraculous medicine. Adam and his girlfriend, Chloe, must get creative to survive. Since the vuvv crave “Classic” Earth culture, recording 1950s-style dates for them to view seems like a brilliant idea.

But it’s hard for Adam and Chloe to murder sweet nothings when they hate each other more with every episode. Soon enough, Adam must decide how far he’s willing to go – and what he’s willing to sacrifice.

Author

M. T. Anderson is the author of Feed, winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the National Book Award-winning The Astonishing Life of Octavia Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume 1: The Pox Party and it’s sequel, The Kingdom on the Waves, both of which were New York Times bestsellers and Michael L. Printz Honor Books. He is also the author of Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dimitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Lenningrad. He lives near Boston, Massachusetts.

What I Thought

This is a short book of around 160 pages with short sharp chapters. It is a social satire and comments on inequality in healthcare (especially relevant to the American healthcare system), advances in technology and how that affects the job market, the meaning of art, and even the concept of programmes like the current smash hit Love Island.

Although told from Adam’s perspective I didn’t really connect to him all that much. He’s clearly in a bad situation, living in crowded accommodation, having to pretend to love his girlfriend for the entertainment of others. At his heart he’s an artist and in the story he enters a competition where he ignores advice to sugar coat his art. He uses it as a protest.

He did describe his mother in a way that made me feel for her. Desperate to be employed but with jobs so scarce there is too much competition.

For the vuvv Love is a commodity. It is something outside their experiences so they crave examples of it. But only the positive side of it. Filtered love. I would have liked to perhaps get to know the vuvv a little better but they are kept at quite a distance within the story.

This is a clever book but unfortunately it was too bleak for me and I therefore didn’t find it a particularly enjoyable read.

Thanks to Walker Books for the free copy of the book for the purposes of this honest review.

Honor Girl by Maggie Thrash

With London Pride being yesterday I thought that time was right to finally review this Graphic Memoir by Maggie Thrash.

Synopsis

Maggie is fifteen and has basically spent every summer of her life at one-hundred-year-old Camp Bellflower for Girls, where her days are full of a pleasant, peaceful sort of nothing. Until one confounding moment of innocent physical contact catapults her into gut-twisting love with Erin, an older, wiser, and surprisingly – at least to Maggie – female counselor. When it seems as if Erin might feel the same way about Maggie, it’s too much for either Maggie or Camp Bellflower to endure, let alone understand.

Author

Maggie Thrash is a staff writer for Rookie, a popular online magazine for teenage girls. This is her first book. She lives in Delaware.

Honor Girl was first published in 2015 and was a Los Angeles Times Book Prize Finalist.

What I thought

This is a non-fiction book, based on true events and is presented as a graphic novel. It is about a girl discovering her sexual attraction to another, older girl at summer camp.

I thought it was excellently done and a great use of the genre. The book is illustrated in watercolour pencil and pen images which were finished digitally and even the font was designed by Maggie. The art is fairly simplistic but there’s something powerful in its simplicity especially in the close up images like below.

I’ve seen some criticism of the ‘ending’ but I really liked the fact that is was realistic. Nothing against fictional coming out stories but the happily ever after they often portray does not often represent the stories of many teens in this situation. I also thought Maggie’s confliction was represented powerfully.

I read some of the one star reviews of this book on goodreads and whilst I agree with some of the concerns highlighted over this being about a relationship between an older 19 year old camp counselor and a 15 year old girl I can’t help but wonder how vehemently those concerns would be expressed if the counselor had been male and the 15 year old female. In fact I’ve seen many older boy/younger girl stories like this fictionally and in real life that are seen as ‘part of the norm’.

This is set in a summer camp in southern America a ‘few’ years ago so usual camp activities take place including shooting guns and the safety around such activities is more lax than I think it would be now. This was again a criticism I read from others, though I think we need to take care to read stories in their context not just applying today’s standards.

I liked the use of humour and ‘silliness’ when describing the typical teen girl behaviour such as lusting over the backstreet boys, being mean to each other and scaring the younger girls. As such I do think that teenagers will relate to the story whatever their sexual orientation. It’s about growing up, discovering yourself, falling in love and heartbreak. What is more universal?

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher Walker for the purposes of an honest review. I read it a year ago so apologies for the delay in reviewing.

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