why i became vegan

Recently, I made the massive decision to convert to veganism. But thinking back to two years ago, when one of my best friends became vegan, I had scoffed and thought that it was a stupid idea, merely because I didn't understand it. Why would someone cut out dairy and eggs? Vegetarianism I could understand (who really likes shoving dead animal flesh into their graveyard of a body?), but cheese doesn't feel pain when you eat it, right?

As much as I would love to show you Peta videos of cows on dairy 'farms' (the things that they reveal concerning animal slaughter is both terrifying and revolting) and traumatise you all into becoming vegan, I'm just not like that. We all have free will, you can do want you want. But, I believe that this is an important issue and it needs to be addressed. Also, I would like to educate you all on what Veganism really is - it's not a breach into anorexia (like my cousin stated), it's not because I hate humans and want to make an alliance with farm animals to turn hamburgers into humanburgers, and it's definitely not because I want attention. Well, I suppose that it is attention that I want. But, I want said attention to focus on the living skin stretched across your sofa, the wriggling piglet ground into your burger, and the cow, the mother, who had her calves ripped away from her and her udders tied up to painful machines all so you could enjoy your rennet cheese (fun fact - cheese also has a special chemical in it to help it curdle - calves' stomach). What I really want is to raise awareness for these poor animals, not the insides of an animal cooked and put inside a burger for me to eat, nor the skin of a bull peeled off and bent into a coat for tomorrow's outfit.

love at first type ("oh amy you're so punny")

So guys, you may have noticed that I haven't blogged in a whole entire week. That's because the day after I last posted, my padre ordered me a Macbook Air from Amazon and I decided that I wouldn't post until I had this swanky new piece of technology to actually post on. After literally waiting by the window for days on end, my glorious new Mac was finally delivered. 

As if obvious from my (hilarious) blog title, I am utterly shallow and in love with my Macbook... so much so that I could eat it all up - all 4,294,967,296 bites of it! *laughs at my own hilarious pun* 
I'm so glad that when the delivery guy came he didn't RAM it through the door! 
Okay, I'll stop now.*

How much would you guys judge me if I gave it a name?

female chauvinist pigs

Recently I had another one of my famous Amazon fits where I order a scary amount of products from Amazon. Victim to this weeks' shopping haul was the novel Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture by Ariel Levy which, to quote, "critiques the highly sexualised American culture in which women are objectified, objectify one another, and are encouraged to objectify themselves." When it turned up in the suggested section of my account, I was a bit dubious about it would have to say, but nevertheless, my inner feminist threw it into my shopping basket. The book arrived, I started reading it, and here I am today to ask you guys a question or two.

According to the Urban Dictionary, a chauvinist pig is "an extremely disgusting male gendered human who would use a women as a sex tool" who "also thinks their gender is more superior than the other, usually a man who thinks he can do as he wishes to a women." That's a pretty gender-biased way of looking at it, but that's the simplest definition I could find.

So guys, let me reintroduce myself. My name is Amy-Anne Williams, I live in London, and I am a feminist *someone in the distance gasps*. I personally don't think that it is a massive thing to believe in gender equality, as it is an obvious non-balanced factor in today's patriarchal society. I want equal pay, equal jail sentences and for women to be equally represented within the government (thank you Margaret Thatcher), but when I state this to people on a matter of topic, they don't always agree (and, as someone arrogantly stated the other day, this apparently makes me a 'feminazi'. Yes, this term is awful and unjustified). I'm aware that people have different opinions, and that's okay, but one thing that really annoys me is when females are degraded just because of their gender. Am I so naive as to think that this is a worldwide stance on things? No I'm not, but that doesn't make it right. 

the beneath, sue ransom

I was super hyped to start reading The Beneath, as Sue Ransom has been one of my favourite writers ever since I first read her debut novel, Small Blue Thing. In fact, my first, second, and third book reviews to ever feature on this blog were of Ransom's. Granted, they aren't the best reviews written, due to the fact that this was almost three years ago and I'd never read a book review in my life, but nevertheless these books marked the beginning of my blogging progression. I also interviewed Ransom when my blog was first set up, and I wrote not one, but two Queen of Teen posts about her. Yes, Small Blue Thing really was that good, leaving me with high hopes for this fourth novel.

"It’s an ordinary school day, but Lily is about to step into a nightmare. The girl rushing out of the Tube tunnel tells a crazy story about an underground community and a charismatic leader with an evil plan. How can Lily trust her? It’s only when Lily finds herself in the labyrinth beneath London that she learns the horrific truth – about the Farmer, the Crop and about herself."

This is the first ARC (Advanced Reading Copy) that I have received in a while now, meaning that this is equally my first review in a while. Therefore, despite the fact that my review skills might be a little rusty, I am determined to do The Beneath justice.

Publisher: Nosy Crow
Published: 4th March 2015
Pages: 359
Book: For Review
Format: Uncorrected proof
Contains: Mild violence
Genre: Contemporary thriller with dystopian undertones

The first thing that I would like to mention about The Beneath is that it's not read as being written by a mother with children of her own, but of a genuine teenage girl. Ransom was very good with manipulating her poise into that of a character of a different generation to herself, and I believe that this really helped me connect with the protagonist, Lily.

You jump straight into the main plot of the storyline of The Beneath which was initially quite confusing (and aggravating as I didn't understand anything about Aria). It was like being thrown in at the deep end. However, once one of the main characters had explained a few basic facts about the Farmer, Community, Elders etc, I felt right at home and easily got absorbed in the novel. The diversity of the novel helped the overall storyline along and kept the reader immersed, so in the end I was thankful that Ransom plummeted the story into the main plot.

Ransom invented a whole new world which I could fully step into, which was amazing and not something that happens all too often. She's a really great storyteller - not just building on the world that we have all come to know like in most books, but instead disorientated it and created a whole new one on top of that (or should that be 'under that'?)*. The Beneath is right up there with Hogwarts, the Shire and the Arena.

Spoiler alert (mild)
I was internally screaming at Lily when she doesn't ask Dane about the entrance to the Community and I literally tutted when she finally realised what she should have done (oh no... I've realised that I should have asked Dane that one vital question that's STOPPING ME FROM DOING ANYTHING, but.. it might be too late.. RUN LILY WHAT ARE YOU DOING YOU MUST FIND DANE AND GET HIM TO TELL YOU!). This just goes to show how much I got into the storyline, especially as the plot thickened and tension rose.

Things soon became suddenly very dramaticTension spiraled crazily up and down - it was almost unbearable. So much so, in fact, that I had the urge to flick to the last few pages of the novel to check that the characters were okay. Luckily though, I restrained myself, gritted my teeth and bared the rest of the novel, sighing and tutting and murmuring things like what are you doing stop that no don't and I can't believe you just did that nope turn around start again why under my breath. That was only halfway through. I actually wrote on my notes as I read a particularly good scene; "half way through and I can't comprehend how Ransom could write this, explaining the storyline properly, writing through the plot. The tension - how could she bear to not suddenly cut it short and make Lily wake up from a bad dream?"

I like the chapter design and hope this is something which continues in the final draft of the novel.

I know this may be a weird thing to comment on, and again I'm not sure if this will be in the final draft, but I love the font of the books contents. It makes the main body of the novel really clear and easy to read, leaving you to just focus on the storyline itself. It's more appealing than fonts with too much going on (~cough~ Indie Flower ~cough~), and has nice rounded edges which are easy on the eyes.

Another thing that I particularly liked about this novel was that it was told in first person perspective. I like stories told this way as I tend to connect more to the character if I read the events from their point of view - and in this story there were two protagonists. Normally, however, I usually don't like double-person narratives, but Ransom executed it well, leaving the reader with no confusion or discombobulation.

Spoiler alert (mild)
Not too far from the middle of the book, you learn the lifestyle of a member of the Community. The basics are as such; you get Assigned to a job which you start at the age of 16, and you continue that job for the rest of your life. Or, to be more exact, when you reach approximately the age of 40, when you are considered an Elder and you are re-Assigned to undertake your final task. You become a Feeder to the Corp. Interpret it literally and this is your final destination. Before that, however, you have been Assigned to the job of, say, a Breeder. You don't choose who you are Assigned to, you just know that it's an Elder and you will have around 15 children, most of which will die. Then you will die. The Corp needs it's nourishment, after all.

The cover itself I couldn't help but love. You can't see the face of the girl, balancing just below the break of water with everything but her face submurged. This helps me build my own image of what I think the characters should look like, as anyone with a face on the cover has the ability to alter my perception of what I think they should look like. When you see the faces of potential characters on the cover I think that it ruins the story itself a little bit, deadening your imagination. The Beneath's cover has a darker theme to it than that of the Small Blue Thing (unless we're talking about the foreign covers which are a whole different matter!), which ties in with the story nicely. The colours and fonts all fit together well, creating a pretty appealing cover.

The characters are all vividly different from each other - from the good, Aria (awesome name!), to the vile, cruel and downright foul, Farmer. The contrast worked well and Ransom pulled it off. 

As a book drew to a close, I began to get worried. There are too many loose ends, I though to myself. She can't do it. But, thankfully, Ransom tied together the end plot neatly, with no questions left unanswered. The ending wasn't rushed, as it so often is with YA novels (which almost always ruins the whole book for me), but instead was properly thought-out and well delivered. It all made sense in the end, and that was great - I love the feeling you get when you've read a really good book and the end doesn't disappoint.

All in all, I would rate this book 5/5. Easily. Did favouritsm have something to do with it? Maybe, but that doesn't take from the fact that this was a really, really good read and I would happily recommend.

"And suddenly everything is gone. There is no roof, no ceiling and the light burns my eyes. For the first time in my life I am Above."

*Get it? Under that? The book is called The Beneath? Oh whatever, you guys are no fun.