Wednesday, 20 February 2019

My Top LGBT reads

Read on to find out my top LGBT reads ...



I'll give you the Sun by Jandy Nelson


“A story of two twins, Jude & Noah both of whom narrate their intertwined story of love, life and bad decisions in a realistic heart-breaking way”

__________________________________________



“A fantastic tale of a spoiled bisexual British Lord romping around Europe – a great story where the aristocracy of the 18th-century meets Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda”

__________________________________________

What if it's us? by Becki Albertalli and Adam Silvera


“A fun story of Ben and Arthur, will they, won't they? A classic story of a doomed romance, or is it. Maybe, just maybe this is the one

__________________________________________



(Albertalli's 2nd book on my list)

“It's an exciting story, intertwining the busy social media driven World of today's teens with the constant struggle for identity and self”

__________________________________________

Noah Can't Even by Simon James Green


One of the funniest books I've ever read. 

“Skittles and Haribo will solve all problems”

__________________________________________

Boy meets Boy by David Levithan


"The book takes us on the usual journey for teens; that of love, lost love and love found again only of course this time it’s two boys"


__________________________________________

Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde


“You can’t pick and choose whose equality you support. That’s not equality” 


__________________________________________



“Raunchy, riotous and real”


__________________________________________



(Silvera's 2nd appearance on my list)

“A beautifully written book, heartfelt, touching and simply amazing”


__________________________________________

Willful Machines by Tim Floreen


“A fantastic book with great characters and a central theme about life and freedom”


__________________________________________

Release by Patrick Ness


“A poignant story of loss and rebirth”


__________________________________________

And that's me done, hope you enjoy these books like I did, comment and let me know what you think?

John The Captain Ryan




Tuesday, 19 February 2019

I’ll give you the sun by Jandy Nelson (Book Review)


A story of two twins, Jude & Noah both of whom narrate their intertwined story of love, life and bad decisions in a realistic heart-breaking way. This is Book 4 in my 52-weeks, 52-books challenge.





Check out the official website of Jandy Nelson here. 

Rather than get straight into the story, just a quick comment about the artistic page scrawlings. Throughout the book some of the important lines are scrawled across the pages (at least in my version; the one with the yellow cover). I really like these, what I call … moments. Like a painting or photo with a shaft of bright light or surprising bright colour, to me, they are an attempt to enhance the story of the twins who are also artists. Another interesting tool the author uses is how Noah files away ideas for future paintings; the author perfectly captures how the mind of some artist’s work. I particularly like this and it reinforces the idea that artists and writers should always carry a notebook with them to jot down ideas and observations.

 



So, the plot.

"At first, Jude and her twin brother Noah, are inseparable. Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude wears red-red lipstick, cliff-dives, and does all the talking for both of them. Years later, they are barely speaking. Something has happened to change the twins in different yet equally devastating ways . . . but then Jude meets an intriguing, irresistible boy and a mysterious new mentor. The early years are Noah's to tell; the later years are Jude's. But they each have only half the story, and if they can only find their way back to one another, they'll have a chance to remake their world". (source Goodreads)

The intriguing thing about the book is how the author tells the story of both main characters, she gives them separate identities and styles but writing Jude’s story at age 16 and Noah’s story at age 13 doesn’t work for me. Some might think it’s a clever tool to tell the story but I didn’t like it at all. Now, I understand it’s difficult to come up with a way to tell a story without relying on the old fashioned flashbacks but in this case, I think the old fashioned method would have worked better. I also much prefer when two authors work together when writing a story focusing on two main characters like Will Grayson, Will Grayson by David Levithan and John Green or What if it’s us by Becki Albertalli and Adam Silvera.

 


Even though telling both stories at different ages is not a game changer it’s still annoying. Like when you notice a plot gap or continuity error in a movie or TV series, to some it might seem like a small inconsequential thing but to others it causes a distraction that keeps gnawing like a dripping tap. But, this is the only negative thing I can say about the book.

It’s an interesting story told in a refreshing way and you keep turning the page to get to the juicy bits;

* What’s the story with Jude’s premonitions?
* How did Noah not get into art college when Jude did?
* How did their mother die?
* AND FOR GAWD SAKE when would they speak to each other and sort things out?

I’m not going to spill the beans, you’re going to have to read the book yourself to find out which (if any) of these plots will be resolved. All of the characters are relatable and real, the author does a fantastic job of allowing the reader to empathise with each of them, whilst the twins do horrible things to each other at the end of the day they’d still give up so much to make the other happy and eventually forgive each other. It’s also a great story following the lives of two artists, Noah confident in his abilities and Jude not so much but the way their individual struggles are captured is artistic and real. For me Jandy Nelson perfectly captures the inner thoughts and worries most artists (and writers) experience at some stage. The book covers all the usual topics; love (hetro and homo), heart break, death, loss, life struggles and forgiveness. All of these stories are well told and avoid cliché except for the homo relationship of Noah but the artists can’t get everything right. The book has won numerous awards and been shortlisted on several occasions. The highest accolade being the The Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature, awarded in 2015 by the ALA.

This is a book I will definitely be rereading to see can I get over MY  flashback issue, now that I know the ending I should be able to concentrate more on the style and content. The fact I’m willing to reread a book is probably incomprehensible to some people but to me it’s a high accolade, I read so much but there are few books I will reread. For now I’m giving this book a solid 8 out of 10 planets. After a reread it may climb to the lofty heights of 9.




John The Captain Ryan

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

As Brexit looms, let’s look at WHEN the BBC banned Star Trek The Next Generation


 Yes, you read that correctly … I used the word WHEN … not if or maybe … It already happened.




Space, the final frontier, these are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise, Its continuing mission: to explore strange new worlds. To seek out new life and new civilisations. To boldly go where no one has gone before!




EXCEPT the BBC weren’t willing to boldly go with us.

Episodes of the Original Series had been banned (those with torture or difficult story-lines involving children - remember it was the 1960's) but this was the first time an episode of The Next Generation was banned...


(source - IMDB)


Stardate 43510.7

(Season 3, Episode 12 – On High Ground – original airing should have been in 1992)

This episode see the Enterprise at Rutia IV and getting heavily involved with a violent civil war. Lieutenant Commander Data notes that the Irish Unification of 2024 was an event that resulted in the creation of a single unified nation-state controlling the entire geographical island of Ireland. This unification came about due to the use of terrorism rather than peaceful acts to bring about political change.

We need to look at this in context. The "Troubles" were still ongoing and since 19th October 1988, when the Home Secretary, Douglas Hurd, issued a notice under clause 13(4) of the BBC Licence and Agreement to the BBC and under section 29(3) of the Broadcasting Act 1981 to the Independent Broadcasting Authority prohibiting the broadcast of direct statements by representatives or supporters of eleven Irish political and military organisations.

(source - NY Times)


The BBC were not alone, such a ban also existed in Ireland from 1981 - 1994. The logic was to not give those groups a voice on the airwaves to defend the use of violence. Both the BBC & RTE got around this on the news by having a voice over segment if someone like Gerry Adams was on, but many interviews and documentaries could not be aired (or in some cases not even made). Born in 1976 one of my abiding memories is the 9 o' clock news reporting on yet another bombing, revenge attack, punishment beating or killing by both sides. We all knew the names of the different groups, the areas and streets where the action was happening but couldn't really comprehend what was going on. When you're ten you don't really understand what's happening and unfortunately you even become immune to the daily announcements. More than 3,500 lost their lives, 52% of them were civilians. Whichever side of the conflict you lie on, I think we can all agree it is a dreadful part of our history. Some families are still waiting for the remains of their loved ones to be found.

But this doesn't answer why the episode was banned, it didn't fall under the censorship ban of not giving terrorists a voice on the national airwaves so I wonder what the BBC was afraid of, the idea of a unified Ireland or the fact it (fictionally) came about due to the use of terrorism. And now the old adage the more things change the more they stay the same.

If you are under 20 years of age and you see a picture like this, you wouldn't be blamed for thinking it was a photo from Russia or Israel. But you'd be wrong. Are we going to see British army on duty like this on the island of Ireland again - hopefully not.


But to get back to the topic and let's give some props to journalists and the job they do. It most cases they want to tell the important stories and those involved with television programming and planning want to bring us the viewer a wide variety of ideas and shows. It doesn't matter if some of us don't like it, you can always switch station. BBC staff at the time staged a one-day strike in protest that the BBC's independence was being undermined and we still see today where the press is being curtailed. 


But I wonder if a disastrous Brexit happens, coupled with the growing force of right-wing politics across Europe what other freedoms will be curtailed. At least with the advent of technology and the internet we can see what we want even if the established broadcasting companies refuse to air controversial shows. It's still a sad state of affairs when a geek's daily fix of Star Trek is limited due to some stupid small minded ideas. In the same way that schools across America are refusing to teach LGBT history, will schools in the UK stop teaching children about the different European cultures and faiths? Will the right-wing conservative xenophobic agitators win or will the UK figure a way out of this mess before they start down a path of cutting themselves off from the rest of the World, because if they get far enough down that path they may not be able to backtrack.

In conclusion, it's a mess and if it leads to the British Army enforcing a border that nobody wants on the island of Ireland ... well all bets are off.

John The Captain Ryan.



Friday, 8 February 2019

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee (Book Review)


A fantastic tale of a spoiled bisexual British Lord romping around Europe – a great story where the aristocracy of the 18th-century meets Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda. This is Book 3 in my 52-weeks, 52-books challenge.




In The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee  we follow the adventure of Henry “Monty” Montague who was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men.

As Monty embarks on his Grand Tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy. His sister Felicity is along for the ride – she is also one to buck convention, always has her head stuck in a book and wants to become a scientist or doctor when society expects her to be a “lady”.



We embark on a break-neck speed journey around Europe detailing a “Grand Tour”; the aristocracies 18th century version of finding who you were, “one” got drunk, slept around and had fun. "One" spent the time schmoozing with other well-to-does around Europe, nurturing family ties and basically having a ball. But for Monty this goes spectacularly wrong – he gets drunk and rips the bodice from the wrong lady, he has to escape naked across a well manicured lawn but not before he steals a memento, something small that won’t be noticed – except it proves to be very valuable.


What follows is a marvellous chase death-defying chase; they are attacked by highwaymen, lose their chaperone, get jailed, drugged and then kidnapped (kind-of) by pirates. Then to Venice, a sinking island and finally … hang on there … you’ll have to read it yourself. Along the way in this historical accurate story we learn about class & racism in a unique and interesting way. We feel Monty’s heart breaking when he learns about his best friend – Percy – who has epilepsy and when their tour ends will be locked up in an insane asylum. They’ve never slept together but have loved each other for many years; their life and awkward love for each other is intelligently intertwined within this story – will they, won’t they – will it ruin their friendship – and will Monty find a cure or stop Percy being locked up for the rest of his life.

This book for me straddles the YA book World really well, for an experienced reader; it’s over 500 pages long, it’s historically accurate and the plot meanders a little but it’s still a fantastic, perfect for an avid reader that isn’t quite ready for the massive epics like Stephen King’s The Stand, or fantasy epics by Brent Weeks or Brandon Sanderson.



It’s an exciting read with a vivid picture of 18th century Europe, a forbidden romance and pirates, frankly what else do you need. It’s definitely the case that the three main characters were born in the wrong century and this book if read in the classroom would generate lots of interesting debates and discussion.It is very well researched and written. 

The verdict, a great read for either adults or advanced young adult readers, I give this book an 8 out of 10 planets. For me there was a little too much history and not enough attention given to the plot, but, then again, I always hated history in school. It’s still a great read.




John The Captain Ryan

Thursday, 31 January 2019

Leather Pride – what’s it all about?

“From hence forth, every January you shall shed those Christmas pounds, you shall sheen that leather jacket and spit n' polish those boots and gather in Dublin for a weekend of fun”. 


Just a quick blog and a few photos of a great night out in Dublin last Saturday.




This year marked the third year of the Mr. Leather Ireland contest – WTF is that I ask you … Well, like in any cultures there are many subcultures and in the gay community in Ireland the number of boys and men that like a little bit of fetish and kink are ubiquitous and come in many shapes and sizes. Geared Ireland brings all these reprobates together and organise events throughout the year. With me so far?

So, within the fetish scene there are a lot of people that like wearing and showing off their leather … three years ago an amazing group of guys .... you know who you are ... got together and declared:


“From hence forth, every January you shall shed those Christmas pounds, you shall sheen that leather jacket and spit n' polish those boots and gather in Dublin for a weekend of fun”.  



AND that’s basically it, 250 people gathered at a number of venues all weekend, congregated at Fibber McGees on Saturday to vote for Mr. Leather Ireland and had a blast. My phone died so I didn’t get to take any photos but here is a selection I’ve chosen from friends pages …

One of the highlights was dinner in Wuff. They have hosted the leather guys for years now, with an amazing menu, lovely wine, a great burger and I got to meet loads of new friends.




We then went to The George which was so much fun. All the leather men were in one area and it was so funny to see all the little baby gays staring over at us, trying to figure out what was going on but being a little too intimidated to come over and speak with us. They were probably afraid the would get harnessed and collared. We wouldn’t have bitten their heads off (it was still early and we had just eaten that lovely dinner). Cody Elkin was very popular and got loads of photo requests.

We moved on to Fibber MaGees then where people had a chance to change, some put more layers on, others took layers off, rubber, camo, chest harnesses and lots of skin was on show, everywhere you turned you met people you hadn’t seen in ages. Here are two of my good friends, (left) Kevin (Ciaran) Murphy and (right) Robert Byrne …



The main event of the weekend was well on it's way by about 11pm and by midnight the basement of Magees was jammed. For those who could only come on Saturday evening, it was great value night for a meagre €10 and the drink prices were okay too. (not like Temple Bar). 

From left to right - one of the main organisers Eamon Redmond, 2019 Mr. Leather Ireland Fionn Scott in the middle and another of the main organisers Conor Vaughan Buggy.


Tallymaster and all-round lovely guy for the Mr Leather Ireland 2019 contest was none other than Cody “Codybear” Elkin, Mr. San Francisco Leather 2016:




And here's another couple of snaps during the night.











(Be still me beating heart Cody)



Finally I got to meet the wonderful Jackie Thompson American Leatherwoman 2017, she was another of the judges and an absolute dote. 



Find out more about Geared Ireland on their facebook or website and Leather Pride Dublin on their website and facebook pages.

I normally only give books or movies a rating but to change from tradition I'm giving the event a 10 out of 10 planets. Out of this World!


John The Captain Ryan




Wednesday, 30 January 2019

Snow Storm in Castlebridge, Wexford. (2nd March 2018)

The Beast from the East and Storm Emma causing havoc in Wexford.


So, I was out and about in Castlebridge on Friday 2nd March 2018 and took these photos during our trek. 

(Reading Rooms, Castlebridge, Wexford. Photo copyright (c) John Ryan)
(Reading Rooms, Castlebridge, Wexford. Photo copyright (c) John Ryan)


(R741 towards Gorey from Castlebridge, Wexford. Photo copyright (c) John Ryan)
(R741 towards Gorey from Castlebridge, Wexford. Photo copyright (c) John Ryan)


(Porter House, Castlebridge, Wexford. Photo copyright (c) John Ryan)
(Porter House, Castlebridge, Wexford. Photo copyright (c) John Ryan)



(Michael Sinnott Drive, looking towards Glasganny Road,Castlebridge, Wexford. Photo copyright (c) John Ryan)
(Michael Sinnott Drive, looking towards Glasganny Road,Castlebridge, Wexford. Photo copyright (c) John Ryan)


(Garden of Remembrance, Castlebridge, Wexford. Photo copyright (c) John Ryan)
(Garden of Remembrance, Castlebridge, Wexford. Photo copyright (c) John Ryan)


(Freddies Post Office, Castlebridge, Wexford. Photo copyright (c) John Ryan)
(Freddies Post Office, Castlebridge, Wexford. Photo copyright (c) John Ryan)


(Cottage, Glasganny Road, Castlebridge, Wexford. Photo copyright (c) John Ryan)
(Cottage, Glasganny Road, Castlebridge, Wexford. Photo copyright (c) John Ryan)


(Trekking into Castlebridge, Wexford. Photo copyright (c) John Ryan)
(Trekking into Castlebridge, Wexford. Photo copyright (c) John Ryan)



(If you like the photos, please don't be stealing them. Contact me by email for terms of use and high-res versions.) 

John the Captain Ryan

My Top LGBT reads

Read on to find out my top LGBT reads ... I'll give you the Sun by Jandy Nelson “A story of two twins, Jude & Noah...