Friday, 30 November 2012

The Faults in Our Stars - John Green


Blurb:
Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never beenanything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten. 
Synopsis:
Hazel has cancer, but she wouldn’t want you to trouble yourselves with it. In her opinion she was fine, watching America’s Next Top Model and reading all day. Not going to school because, being pulled out of education is a side affect of cancer- and (alas) a symptom of dying. That’s when her Mum puts her foot down, and insists on her cynical sixteen year old going to a kids with cancer support group. Long dull meetings about fighting and winning and living and being grateful for what little they have. Well that’s until she met Augustus Waters at the group, they become friends quickly and when Hazel shares with him her favourite book, ’An Imperial Affliction’ it will lead them on a journey which will change everything.
Notes:
This book is something to be treasured and kept close to the heart. It holds messages which we could all use in life, nothing lasts for ever and love is everything. John Green’s use of language is something that makes him so appealing, the correct use of the word ‘literally’ and the effortless comedy in the book is faultless. The characters have such personality and the quirks of their personality are so amazing you would think they were real people who John met one day and wrote a book about. For example Augustus holding an unlit cigarette in his mouth as a metaphor of power. It remaining unlit means you aren’t giving the killing thing the power to kill. Also I adore how the whole book is based on a book, and even more amazingly (to my disappointment) the book the plot is based on doesn’t actually exist anywhere else but in Mr Green’s head. I now long for ‘An Imperial Affliction’ to exist because I would love Hazel’s whole-hearted devotion to the book and the way it shapes her thoughts. I think the use of this fictional book in this fictional novel is a clever way of John Green slotting in thoughts and morals without it twisting the original plot. One of such quotes (which I can use regularly in a morbid fashion) is: “That’s the thing about pain- it demands to be felt.” Much praise for a fantastic book.
Cover: The cover is a bright blue colour with a handwritten title in a black cloud shape, the authors name in a similar style in a white cloud and references to John Green’s literary success faded in the back ground.
Five Stars.
(Audiobook- Audible)
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The faults in our stars cover

Monday, 26 November 2012

Transexual Teen, Beauty Queen - Body Beautiful Season


First Shown: Tue 20 Nov 2012, 21:00, BBC Three
Online (available until 27 Nov): http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p00w09yg/Transsexual_Teen_Beauty_Queen/

'Transexual teen, beauty queen' was one of these programmes that I probably didn't really need to watch, as it had dominated my Facebook newsfeed like wildfire. So, out of curiosity, I got it up on iplayer and watched for myself.

The hour long film follows the story of Jackie Green, age nineteen, who was born as Jack Green. Jackie is a gutsy, confident average teenage girl by all accounts, but her expression shifts as she explains how things used to be. Jackie, like many transgender children, knew who she was and what was wrong. As she said in the programme: "It's like a birth defect". Throughout the documentary there was a large focus on the past, how she had attempted suicide several times as a child and when she told her Mum for the first time at age four that "God has made a mistake, I should be a girl.". Jackie was started on hormone treatment at the age of just 14, preventing her going through male puberty and meaning that her voice remained high. To Jackie these puberty blockers gave her hope for the future, and (she admits) saved her life.

It wasn't easy though, to get this controversial treatment at age 14 she needed to get treatment in the Boston Children's Hospital, where they could legally administer the treatment. Jackie suffered constant, malicious bullying from her peers at school, which eventually caused her to steal a packet of paracetamol and overdose. This made it clear in her Mother's mind that she couldn't go on being physically a boy. At 16 Jackie pushed the boundaries again by becoming the youngest person in the UK to have gender reassignment surgery,  by travelling to Thailand where a surgeon was willing to operate on her on her sixteenth birthday.

Now 19, and comfortable in her rightful gender, Jackie Green wants to be a beauty queen. The documentary follows Jackie and her Mum through two heats of 'Miss England' and then onto the semi finals. In the first heat Jackie chose to tell the judges in the interview round about her past, a brave choice, but the judges didn't seem to respond anything but supportively. However she unfortunately did not get through to the next round in this heat. The BBC producer seemed persistent in asking her if she felt that telling the judges about being transgender had disadvantaged her in the competition. She was, frustratingly, asked the same ignorant question throughout the programme but her answer remained the same. It seemed that the interviewer wanted some admission that being transgender was a disadvantage- but he wasn't going to get one. I admired Jackie enormously as she smiled and replied that; no, it shouldn't do, because she is a girl like all the other contestants.

One thing I actively disliked in this documentary was the post production, the voiceover in particular was increasingly irritating. For example after the judges verdict was delivered we follow Jackie as she silently cries in her beautiful dress, and her Mum consoles her. When they turn to go back inside the voiceover announces "We decided to give Jackie and her Mum some privacy". I don't feel, that in fly on the wall documentaries this is a very good thing to say. We are blood thirsty viewers! We want emotion, tears, screams, we want to know what next! The next thing we hear is "When we join Jackie again she is on stage". Woah, if you are filming a documentary on an event, you need to actually be at the event to capture what happens. Surely that is just simple logic? The BBC director actually has to ask someone what's going on. Turns out that the lovely Miss Jackie Green had won 'Miss Personality' while the BBC were kicking their heels. How wonderful it would have been to see her amazed reaction as her name was announced. *sigh*. She seemed delighted with the result of 'Miss Personality' but was still disappointed not to make it through to the next round.

The second heat was a second chance and Jackie chose not to tell the judges about her past during the interview round. Naturally, she was sprung upon by the BBC producer as to why. She patiently explained that it is one thing for people to know her story and accept her, however she wants to be accepted as just Jackie. Not transgender Jackie or anything else. I think this is a great attitude to have and she even gained an all important place in the semi-finals in this heat. Strangely, the shortest part of the film was when Jackie was in the semi finals, a bizarre editing move, but sadly she didn't get through to the finals.

Overall, I think this was a very inspiring story and it really full filled Jackie's aim- to raise awareness of transgender people. However I think the writing, interviewing and post production was just generally clunky and inadequate.





Friday, 23 November 2012

Noughts and Crosses - Malorie Blackman


Blurb:
Sephy is a Cross – a member of the dark-skinned ruling class. Callum is a nought – a ‘colourless’ member of the underclass who were once slaves to the Crosses. The two have been friends since early childhood. But that’s as far as it can go. Until the first steps are taken towards more social equality and a limited number of Noughts are allowed into Cross schools…Against a background of prejudice and distrust, intensely highlighted by violent terrorist activity by Noughts, a romance builds between Sephy and Callum – a romance that is to lead both of them into terrible danger…
Synopsis:
A taboo romance is never a good thing for the daughter of the deputy Prime Minister, but for her to go out with a cross boy? It just can’t go on. Persephone Hadley is irreversibly in love with her childhood best friend Callum, growing up together in a child’s world of make believe where race and politics were irrelevant. Sadly they grow up and have to face the music, where Callum is no longer a suitable friend. In fact, he’s not suitable to be or do anything. Crosses run the country, take the top spots and Noughts pick up what’s left. And that is how Persephone Hadley and Callum McGregor (rather forcibly) grew apart.
Notes:
I love this book, it reminds me strongly of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ but reversed. The fear and taboo around race is so sureal compared to the mostly accepting society we live in. In the book it takes a while to figure out that noughts are white people and crosses black. Noughts are second class citizens to the crosses. The book is timeless, it is hard to tell if it is set in the future, past or present or an imaginary country far far away. Another thing that this book has done for me is made me absolutely fall in love with the name Persephone! Noughts and Crosses is also now a play, which I can imagine really well and would love the opportunity to see it if it ever came near me. I think the plot is so intricate yet seamless and lots of hidden meanings (which I love)! For example, Noughts and Crosses in the game, if a nought and cross are in the same line neither can win. They are always destined to be at loggerheads. Heart wrenching, heart warming and heart breaking.
Cover:
A simple but affective cover, half black and half white with a firm split in the middle. In the black section is a white nought (representing the white people known as noughts) and in the white part a black cross. ‘Malorie Blackman Noughts and Crosses’.
Four stars.
(Audiobook)
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Noughts and Crosses cover

I Want to Change My Body - Body Beautiful Season

The Body Beautiful Season Programme Banner
First Shown: Monday 19th of November, 21:00pm, BBC Three
Iplayer (available to 26th November): http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p00tt4fr/I_Want_to_Change_My_Body/

Being the documentary nerd that I am, and someone who is passionate about encouraging self acceptance, BBC Three's new 'Body Beautiful' season seemed right up my street. So with my recorder set, I vowed to review and share my thoughts on each episode of the season. The series began with "I want to change my body". 

A girl with dark hair holds an orange card with 'Is it Normal?' written on it. BBC Three told thirty body conscious young people to film themselves as they make attempts to change their bodies forever. From boob jobs, to nose jobs, to diets, to hair transplants - this 1.5 hour insight was set to be an eye opener. What stood out to me instantly was the variety in the personalities of the contributors, some were stereotypically vain, whilst others were shy. I think that this, for me certainly, hit home that these days cosmetic surgery is not just for the rich and the vain, it is available to just about anyone with their payback plans and endless lists of performable procedures. Whether this is a good thing or not is another matter, statistics show that Britain is in body confidence crisis- and the amount of surgery available means that if you want it, you can have it. Raising the question: is it OK to be aesthetically real anymore?

One of the more unusual procedures that the programme covered was hair implantation, I had never heard of this before but I think it is great that it was featured in the film. Hair loss can really knock people's confidence, as we saw in contributor Matt. Matt's implantation was very successful and he described a huge boost in his self esteem. Awareness of these minor procedures could radically improve somebodies quality of life, and let them gain the self esteem they need to enjoy life like they used to. 

However it wasn't all merry and fine. One point I had to question the programme on was the inclusion of two young ladies, Chloe (19) and Alice (16). Chloe's hair caught alight in a traumatic accident earlier this year and since she has been confined to wear pressure garments 23 hours a day. I find her story really upsetting, and I admire her bravery enormously, but I don't understand what her role in the film was supposed to be. She wasn't wanting to change her body like her fellow contributors, she wanted to get it back. It wasn't a 'want' or a 'tweak' it was a medical and physical need. Perhaps her role in the film was to be a reminder that we should be grateful in our own skin, but if it was then this moral was put across very poorly. Likewise, Alice suffers with Alopecia, a medical condition which in her case has caused total hair loss. If Alice and Chloe went through a journey like the others did, such as seeing specialists, then it would of been nice to see that in the episode. These two brave girls seemed to be the odd ones out in this film. 

Another contributor who concerned me was 18 year old Chloe, who wanted to lose weight in order to be able to pursue her career as an actor. To do this Chloe was going to be going on a liquid diet in an attempt to lose four stone in four months. Liquid diets are highly discouraged by dietitians, due to the lack of nutrients in the drinks and the affect it has on the body's metabolism. However, they do cause fast, but temporary, weight loss. I was worried that if the film only showed Chloe losing weight successfully, and didn't show that very often when the liquid fast is stopped the weight is rapidly gained again, it would encourage this unhealthy lifestyle. I needn't have worried though, Chloe gave up on the diet after a few weeks and chose a healthier option of eating less and exercising more, and we even saw it work for her! It's great to see that the healthiest dieting technique was promoted.

A selection of images from the programme, including Chloe in her purple facial pressure garment.


Overall I found this programme very interesting, but I can't help questioning some of the BBC's choices regarding contributors. I think it is a great start to a, hopefully, eye opening season of insights into Britain's body confidence crisis.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Kiss - Jacqueline Wilson


Blurb:
Sylvie and Carl have been friends since they were tiny. They’ve always played together, eaten with each other’s families, called each other boyfriend and girlfriend… They even have a fantasy world that belongs to them alone. But as they become teenagers, things are starting to change. They each have different friends. Sylvie would still rather spend all her time with Carl. But Carl has a new friend, Paul, who is taking all his attention. And he seems much less happy to be called Sylvie’s boyfriend. Sylvie can tell his feelings have changed, but can she guess at the true reasons behind it all?

Synopsis:
Sylvie and Carl like many other pre-teens are finding their feet romantically. Though they have only ever been close friends they have always called each other ‘boyfriend and girlfriend’. This had never been put to the test until Sylvie finds herself telling white lies in the girls toilet, and soon she realises that she wants nothing more than that lie to be true and Carl to be her real boyfriend. Then Miranda -despite their startlingly different personalities- becomes Sylvie’s best friend, and she’s after Carl too- despite believing Sylvie and Carl are together. Carl has a new friend too, Paul likes football and bowling and is nothing like Carl either. The everything comes to a head in a game of spin the bottle, but will anyone’s dreams come true, or will they all be smashed to smithereens?

Notes:
I think that this book is a great example of feeding kids some good morals through reading, it’s accurate, interesting, hard-hitting and emotional. However I do believe that for anyone over the age of twelve this book may get you cringing like nothing you have read before. Sylvie’s obsession with Carl is frankly toe-curling at times and in some places she is hopelessly naive. I think with homophobic bullying at an all time high, it is great for pre-teens but to see another book on a similar subject aimed at a higher age group would be fantastic. Bringing sexuality into a pre-teen/children’s book was a daring move but in this case it really did pay off well. Overall I found it enjoyable, but not the best book i’ve clapped eyes on.

Cover:
The cover is classic of Jaqueline Wilson’s books, brightly coloured with a prominent title. On an orange background a red heart shape is surrounded by broken glass, above it ‘kiss’ is written in large red letters.

Two stars
(audiobook)
* *Kiss by Jaqueline wilson

Teatime Reads Weekly

I am writing to you from the past... *ghost face*... just kidding, I am but there's nothing paranormal about it - I just discovered post scheduling. I have decided (as I said in my 7,000 views post) that I will put book reviews up on this blog, so everything is in one place. But, so as not to spam my lovely followers, I have set up a timer that once a week a book review will be uploaded here. The timer is set for Friday's at 6:30pm hence the name 'Teatime reads'. I am quite pleased with myself because now I can just add books to the feed as I go along and there is less pressure.
Lets see how it goes shall we?

Ladies and Gentleman, you will receive a review in exactly half an hour...


A hot chocolate in a delicate cup

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Before I Die - Jenny Downham


Here is a classic Young Adult novel – Before I Die. The miserable title is enough to make any teen want to flick through the pages. It has a lovely saddening cover of a girl lying morbidly in a field which will most certainy appeal to the target market.
Tessa has leukemia, a cancer of the blood. It is fatal in most cases and to live, agonising chemotherapy is needed. Tessa is like any other teen, she lies in bed most of the day – but she is held down by pain not laziness. She quit her hospital treatments and has made a list of things she wants to do before she dies. So the book follows her as she works through her list which includes: shoplifting, sex, going back to a family holiday home, driving, falling in love, riding a motorbike, drugs and alcohol. There are high’s and lows, and the book faces a lot of issues head on.
The ending is incredibly sad, well… the title gives it a way some what. This book makes your heart flutter and your tears flow! I give it a five star rating for it's brilliant plot, excellent characters and amazingness from the first to the last page!
Don't miss "Before I Die", which is now in cinema's as a motion picture entitled: "Now is Good". 
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cover

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Blog Ideas :) 7,000 BLOG VIEWS!! *Party Popper*

Hello!
We did it guys, 7,000 blog views :) YAY!
So to celebrate I thought I would attempt to step things up a little here on Small Print Larger to get the most out of all of your support.

Some of you may be aware that I have a book reviewing website- www.blurbcatcher.net - where I review books for both freelance and publisher's requests. I am toying with the idea of slowly, emphasise the slowly, moving blurb catcher over here to small print larger. It came to me while I was writing an Advanced Reading Copy request to a publisher, and typed: 'Blurb catcher demonstrates all that books have to offer, showing only books that can be enjoyed by everyone'. I stopped and thought for a bit: "Hmmmm... isn't that sounding a bit small print larger-ish?" and yes, it really was. So I am going to schedule a feed of book reviews to be sent from blurb catcher and published onto here (a schedule will stop me forgetting!). Then I possibly will carry on reviewing here, or on blurb catcher- who knows.

Next comments, comments are now screenreader accessible everyone!! They are also so much easier to publish as you don't need an openID anymore. I am ashamed that I failed to notice that commenting on my blog was so difficult, but it's all fixed. So forgive me please?

More Audioboo imbeds coming up, lots of crazy stuff is happening over at audioboo and I am lucky enough to be involved! I will post about that shortly, but I am very excited! I am passionate about accessible media so why not fit the two together? Blogger and audioboo go hand in hand nicely, and being able to boo my posts will help me upload more.

Q&A's, ah good old question and answers. I am thinking of doing some of these on several topics to attempt to boost my audience participation and readers. I'll let you know when I'm up for starting that.

If you have any ideas, do let me know in my NOW ACCESSIBLE comments :D
And thank you all so much for getting me here!

Imi :)

Work Experience Audio Diary!

I had a wonderful week at the Guide Dogs Office in Beverley, follow this audio diary to see what I got up to!













I'd like to also say a huge thank you to everyone at the Guide Dogs Office (dogs included) for making me and Laila so welcome. Also thank you to everyone who liked my Facebook page, and it's not too late to get involved in my awareness raising page!