Mapping the Stars: The Girl of Ink and Stars

*Mild Spoilers Ahead*

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Isabelle is a young girl which you both love, and despise at the same time because she is portrayed as the hero of the story throughout, but ultimately, she is not. She tries to stay true, but in due course, she endangers the lives of everyone she loves which makes you despise her. In my mind, it is the villain’s daughter that saves Joya for she sacrifices herself to anoint her for her father’s sins, similar to the story of Arinta which is a continuous motif repeated throughout the novel.

 

The book opens you up to a world of mystery and new possibilities in the shape of cartographer, an archaic term for map making by the stars. Isabelle is the daughter, and only surviving family of the last cartographer in Joya, a town bullied by its governor. Her best friend is Lupe, the governor’s daughter who is oblivious to the wrong doings by her father. The build up to the climax is a little slow but when it happens you are thrown into a world which is unknown and you’re left wanting more. You fear for the characters as if they were real people facing these monsters and do not want any of them to die, whilst the stories Isa and her Da tell others feel as though they are real and part of our own history.

 

Whilst I feel this book is directed to teenagers, I believe that it could be enjoyed by all ages, especially young adults because it has the childhood feel packed with action and adventure that young adults and adults alike can enjoy.

 

Kiran Millwood Hargrave’s first novel is a great debut to her writing career and I cannot wait to read more of her work.

Living to the full: Everything Everything

*Mild spoilers ahead*

One thing I will tell you to do either before, during or after reading this novel is to do something you have never done before (even if it is something you are frightened of). The reason why I am telling you to do this is because if you do, then you will truly feel how Madeline feels in Everything Everything.

 

Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon is a love story, but one that differs to others that are on the market. Madeline is a young girl that has never been outside, she is kept indoors with filtered air because she has the rare condition SCID which means she is allergic to everything. It never bothered her that she did not live like normal teenagers until she met Ollie, whom she soon falls in love with and wants to do all the things her mother stopped her doing before, even if it means she loses her life.

 

The ending is especially surprising and I certainly wasn’t expecting it, though it is satisfying for the reader. Whilst I will not give it away, you will not be disappointed and you will cry (just a fair warning).

 

Madeline is a protagonist you can genuinely feel for and not due to the usual trivial thing you find in novels. As though you may not have her exact condition, you can relate because most of us have some condition (be it mental or physical) that restricts us to doing something. Which is why I told you to do something new, exciting, and or scary that you may or may not have wanted to do before. Ollie is also a character which you can appreciate, understand, and sympathise with, but for different reasons.  The other characters are minor and few but they add their own dimension to the story in subtle but great ways.

 

Nicola Yoon has presented this story in a unique way that I have never seen before. Instead of it all being in prose, she has added in ‘pictures’ in a sense. She added the IM conversations between Madeline and Ollie, the hospital records among other important documents. Whilst it may confuse you to begin with, you soon learn to understand, enjoy and love this style.

 

Overall, the book will make you cry, smile and feel things you may never have experienced or wanted to but in the end, you are happy you went on this journey with Madeline. The story leaves you hanging and wanting more. So all in all, it is another must read.

Selling myself short

A small rant on what it is like working in retail. Though I am no longer a full time retail worker, only holidays.

I wrote this for my reflective writing log over Christmas and my partner came up with the title.

After working in retail for around four years (kind of) it has changed me and how I do my shopping. I hate the annoying people who stand in the middle of the aisle, and take most of it up, choosing what they want. It does not matter how many times you say excuse me, they will not move. Then when you push past them because you have been called over the intercom several times, they get angry with you.

Then there are the people who magically expect a refund on a ‘faulty’ item with no receipt or other proof of purchase. It does not matter if we are the only store that sell the item you are trying to return. If you do not have proof that you purchased this item, from this store, we cannot refund you. 28 days to return and bring proof of purchase is our policy, do not like it? Then do not buy (or steal) from us. Please feel free to take it up with my manager, they will say the exact same thing as me. Another note on returns, it does not matter if you only found out it was faulty after washing it/using it, you have clearly used it and damaged it yourself. Therefore, I cannot refund your dirty and stained oven glove.

This Christmas I found out that I truly hate shops (at Christmas time) and probably Christmas. After doing six days straight the week before Christmas (Including Christmas Eve) it ended up like my worst nightmare and I never want to do it again, though I probably will. How can people seriously justify spending £300 on one child out of four? Like how? And why would you wait until 5pm Christmas Eve to come and get your shopping? All shops are closed before then and if you have a retail job and you do not finish until then, you know the struggle. Do not do it to others. Get your shopping done a few days before then.

As for those who talk down to us because we ‘only work in retail’ how do you expect to get your shopping if there’s nobody to serve you? Or assist you? Or stock the shelves? Yes, we may not work in a great big office, doing 9 until 5, Monday until Friday like you. But we help you a lot more than you think and contribute more to society. And no this is not my long-term career, I am at University and using this to pay my way through it and to get the things I need (such as food), I do not use the money to get wasted every weekend.

All we expect is a thank you from you for the service we offer you daily, because without us, you would not have food, clothes and other necessities.