Review: SLAM! Vol. 1 by Pamela Ribon

SLAM! Vol. 1 2-- bookspoilsIn the fast-paced, hard-hitting, super cheeky, all-female world of banked track roller derby, two young women will have to decide if their budding friendship is stronger than the pull of a team when a win is on the line.

SLAM! Vol. 1 6-- bookspoils

Reading this comic right after having watched the Netflix series GLOW felt like the perfect thing to get into next.

Similar to the above, not only do we have the badassness of derby to keep us entertained, the visuals in SLAM! are remarkably eye-catching. From the illustrations to the color palettes, it was hard not to get caught up in the world of roller derby.

And bonus points, the dialogue was actually engaging and even had its memorable laugh-out-loud moments here and there. We also have discussions about the difficulties of balancing your personal life with sports. Mom friends. Supporting friends holding posters with puns in the crow. Maintaining your friendships on and off the track. And a bunch more is included over the course of these four issues.

Also, I loved spotting the many feminist shirts in the panels:

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On that note, here are some of my favorite illustrated moments:

SLAM! Vol. 1 3-- bookspoils

SLAM! Vol. 1 5-- bookspoilsThose witty commentaries:SLAM! Vol. 1 7-- bookspoils

And those cute budding romances:SLAM! Vol. 1 8-- bookspoils

Which then leads to Maisie (aka “Can-Can”) being on cloud nine, similar to how Noora Sætre acted when she also got laid towards the end of Skam season four.SLAM! Vol. 1 10-- bookspoilsI mean, this is just a huge parallel:

Cute 2.0:SLAM! Vol. 1 11-- bookspoils

The dude even prepared a cheesy supportive poster:SLAM! Vol. 1 13-- bookspoils

And last but note least, I’ll always shout-out my fellow mom friends:SLAM! Vol. 1 12-- bookspoils

All in all: I’m ecstatic to see what’s in store for these badass ladies in the near future. I’m just sad that I have to wait nearly two months to find out what happens in the next issue.

4/5 stars

Note: I’m an Amazon Affiliate. If you’re interested in buying SLAM! Vol. 1, just click on the image below to go through my link. I’ll make a small commission!

April 2017 Reading Wrap Up

This month I went back to rediscover some more favorites in the nonfiction genre. From feminist collections to essays and short stories, I tried my hand at a handful of them.
In total I read 19 books in April:

Favorite current listen:rookie-- bookspoilsI’d been looking for the perfect podcast for awhile now when I gratefully stumbled upon Rookie’s announcement of launching their first ever podcast at the start of this month. It premiered on April 4th, and I’ve been hooked and tuning in every week since.

On the Rookie Podcast, hosted by Tavi Gevinson, we’ll interview people we admire: artists, writers, musicians, filmmakers, activists. We’ll also have teenagers ask semi-qualified grownups for advice, feature work by our readers and listeners, share some life skills and pop culture recommendations, and discuss the human experience through the teenage lens. Then, we’ll all know how to be people! Or at least not know, together.

Not only is Gevinson’s voice eerily soothing and relaxing, the wide range of evergreen issues and topics discussed ring true than ever for me. I also cherished the addition of the interviews in here. We get to hear people from all walks of life talk about those aforementioned subjects and add in their own point of views. From Lorde and Hilton Als to Heben Nigatu and Tracy Clayton of Another Round, Rowan Blanchard, Winona Ryder, Olympic medalist Ibtihaj Muhammad, and so many more influential individuals that graciously imparted their wisdom.

New episodes release on Tuesdays via iTunes and the Panoply platform. You can subscribe to the podcast and listen to it here!

Honorable Mention:
The one thing I’ve been anticipating for months and months has come back into my life: Skam with its brand new season.

This newly released (and sadly last) season revolves around one of my all-time favorites: Sana Bakkoush. And I truly couldn’t have been more grateful and joyful. I hold a special place in my heart just for her, because she was the one that made me initially interested in watching this phenomenal series, as I mentioned in my December Wrap Up.

To give you some context on the atmosphere and themes being explored in this new season I’d like to voice this on-point post: up until now, sana has been painted as this incredibly fierce, strong, unapologetic girl who doesn’t tolerate any kind of ignorance. she’s consistently portrayed as confident and outspoken throughout the past three seasons. then BAM. s4 airs, we’re seeing things from her perspective, and there’s this dramatic shift, almost instantly. 

she’s still the same sana. she stares down the woman on the bus. she snaps at vilde when vilde won’t shut up about how much sex she’s having and corrects her when vilde says “you can’t have sex”. she tells the girls that she thinks it’s their responsibility to tell noora about william’s new girlfriend considering william won’t tell her himself. these are all very sana-like traits. 

but now, we see just how much she has to put up with, too. it’s the more subtle things. the rushing to silence her phone when she was on the bus because shit shit shit, it’ll freak some people out. the fact that yes, her friends ordered another pizza without any pork on it, but the meat was still haram. but it was a kind gesture of them to think of it in the first place, right? so she doesn’t complain, she just silently picks the meat off, not wanting to seem ungrateful despite the fact that really, don’t they know by now?

and it’s so subtle. things that we would only get from seeing life through her eyes. but it’s chipping away at her, bit by bit, these little instances of being excluded, of her friends not quite getting it. and it’s so heartbreaking to see, but so, so clever, too. because suddenly i just feel like we – like the characters on the show – have misjudged sana completely. she’s still strong, she’s still fierce. but she swallows a lot down, too. she’s hurting more than we originally thought. she feels more misunderstood than we originally thought. and i am so impressed that in a clip that was less than 8 minutes long, we have already seen a completely different side to sana than we got throughout the last 3 seasons.

Getting to see things from Sana’s perspective profoundly changed my outlook on so many things. I started to become aware of all the cracks and the constant little hurts that she has to put up with almost daily, especially those from the girl squad. Also, now that I got to see it all play out from Sana’s pov, I quickly started picking up on how inconsiderate and at times even ignorant people – strangers, classmates, etc.- came to be around her. Sana Bakkoush deserves the whole wide world, so it continually crushed my heart to see her being under appreciated.

But I was interested to see how the show – a known barrier breaker – would handle said situation with the utmost care and expertise, as it has done with significant topics in the past three seasons.

Which leads me to the next point that I want to talk about: Skam portraying their Muslim main lead. Religion is such a crucial part of my everyday life as a practicing Jew, so I was beyond ecstatic to have a young Muslim woman of colour represented in this season. And it defied my exceptions in all aspects, to say the least. The utter respect and admiration I have for Sana Bakkoush – played by the effervescent Iman Meskini – is difficult to articulate, so I think it’s best if I let this next post sum it up:

It made my heart soar to see this on television.

And just a few more things I’d like to vent about:

  • I adore the fact that I became smitten with Sana and Yousef before they’d even spoken more than one sentence to each other. Their eye contact alone was reason enough to give me butterflies.

So you can only imagine how utterly alive I felt when those two finally had some dialogue. I was living vicariously through them, to be quite frank.

I also feel compelled to share this next gifset because there’s no going back with my love for Sana and Yousef:

thumbs up while choking back tears This is how I like my flirting.

  • Also, Sana’s season had barely even started and it was already the most iconic Skam season for me. That first episode alone covered so many vitally important topics, which consequently reminded me exactly why this remains to be my favorite tv series. Nothing quite compares to it.
  • The soundtrack is as always eerily on point with the characters.
  • An uplifting and healthy mother-daughter relationship represented between Sana and her mom had me all that more enraptured.
  • Sana Bakkoush is an incredible positive influence in my life. Just seeing her be herself genuinely inspires me. And if I am half the person she is, I’ll consider myself to be fortunate.
  • The balloon squad (called by that name because the first time we saw them was in a behind the scenes photo and they were holding a bundle of balloons) are the ultimate #squadgoals.

They come off like a bunch of funny, loving, handsome, wholesome, complex characters. And I was won over one line at a time. Also, I high-key cherish the fact that they have a Youtube channel where they post videos throughout the week.

  • I love the intricate attention paid to details in Skam. Absolutely everything is there for a reason; things are never as simple as they first seem. But then this also leads to me overanalyzing each episode. Oh, and the fact that this was the first season where I kept up with the release of each clip and episode only added to the immense thrill and excitement.
  • Honestly, I could go on and on about how season four has quite quickly become my favorite Skam season, but I think you get my point. Plus, I’m still in denial that it’s the last one… I can’t quite wrap my mind around the fact that they’re ending it on such a good season.

P.S. since we’re less than a handful episodes into season four, I wasn’t anticipating to write so much but hey, what can I say? I love this show with all my heart. And I imagine I’ll have a lot more to say about the remaining episodes left, so if you’re interested in keeping up with my fangirling you’re more than welcome to follow my Tumblr here or my Twitter here.

That was my April wrap-up, thank you for reading!

Review: Does My Head Look Big in This? by Randa Abdel-Fattah

With Sana Bakkoush – played by the effervescent Iman Meskini – recently announced as the main for Skam season four, as I’d so fervently hoped for back when I created my original Skam book tag, I wanted to immerse myself in some much-needed fiction told from the point of view of a Muslim hijabi girl as the main character. Does My Head Look Big in This? seemed to be the perfect starting point.

Set in Melbourne, Amal is a 16-year-old Australian-Muslim-Palestinian teen with all the usual obsessions about boys, chocolate and Cosmo magazine. She’s also struggling to honour the Islamic faith in a society that doesn’t understand it. The story of her decision to “shawl up” is funny, surprising and touching by turns.636219512759788439178163785_tumblr_ohgtdtguew1sp02wlo1_500(Fun fact: I started reading this right after having rewatched the above iconic episode in Skam season two, where the girls go to a remote cabin and Sana defies all their exceptions.)

  • Does My Head Look Big in This? started out incredible with following Amal’s decision to wear a hijab as a full-timer.” I particularly loved getting to read her thought process leading up to that moment:

“I’m terrified. But at the same time I feel like my passion and conviction in Islam are bursting inside me and I want to prove to myself that I’m strong enough to wear a badge of my faith. I believe it will make me feel so close to God. Because it’s damn hard to walk around with people staring at your “nappy head” and not feel kind of pleased with yourself – if you manage to get through the stares and comments with your head held high. That’s when this warm feeling buzzes through you and you smile to yourself, knowing God’s watching you, knowing that He knows you’re trying to be strong to please Him. Like you’re both in on a private joke and something special and warm and extraordinary is happening and nobody in the world knows about it because it’s your own experience, your own personal friendship with your Creator. I guess when I’m not wearing the hijab I feel like I’m missing out. I feel cheated out of that special bond.”

  • However, I quickly came to notice a number of problematic phrases thrown in here that rubbed me the wrong way, like describing someone angry as “psychotic” and the like. And I especially detested how this next conversation was handled:

“Anyway, back to your attempt to wear the hijab without the assistance of Revlon. I hate to disappoint you, but there are only a few women in this world who can get away with the natural look. Don’t you read New Weekly? “Stars without their make-up”, etc.? Hello? Do you have a big modelling contract you haven’t told me about? Are you co-starring in Brad Pitt’s next movie? If your answer to either of these questions is no, then go out and buy some cosmetic products this instant.”

I feel like Lilly Singh said it best when she talked about said topic:

  • Plus, I couldn’t for the life of me why understand why Amal was so infatuated with Adam Keane. To borrow Scaachi Koul’s superb phrasing, this boy was the epitome of “forgettable, something that even now makes me think of warm, soggy bread, or crackers with the salt brushed off.” So when the book focused on those vapid white boys more than I liked, I was gone.5f6019a45220e3a2ffaa1497c1cc7852_if-i-could-be-a-meme-it-would-meme-guy-disappearing_540-538
  • Another thing I want to mention is that I feel like the author had this great opportunity of discussing body-image and taking care of oneself with Simone’s character, who’s described as: “incredibly self-conscious about her body. She doesn’t understand that it’s all in her mind. OK, so she’s not a size eight, can’t feel her ribcage and doesn’t have toothpicks for legs. She’s about a size fourteen and really voluptuous and curvy and gorgeous with big blue eyes, creamy, radiant skin and lips that look like she has permanent red lipstick on.” But that lesson of accepting yourself never really came… The only thing that came out of it was a lot of harmful and triggering sayings spewed, such as this next paragraph that made my head spin:

“Or I see all these model shoots of gorgeous beach babes with their bones poking into my hand when I turn the pages and I think, what’s the point? Even if I lost ten kilos and was in my weight–height ratio, people would still consider me fat. I wish I could become anorexic. How sick is that, huh? But I don’t have the self-control to live off a lettuce leaf a day. And I’ve tried the whole bulimia thing but I can’t even throw up. I’m just pathetic! Abnormal!”

… How is this in the final version of the book??? This ignorance and insensitivity consequently led to a lot of girl-on-girl hate while comparing herself to others. Speaking of which, those “mean girls” were never really given any characterization, so that blew off as well for me.

After all that I really tried giving this book multiple tries to impress me again, but I just kept getting disappointed time and again. So in the end I decided to give myself a break, in particular after reading this next horrible thing spit out of Amal’s mouth about her friend’s mom, who wouldn’t let her daughter leave the house to go shopping:

“I’m just about ready to report Leila’s mum to immigration.
Grounds for deportation: stupidity.
Alternative country: none. No nationality deserves her. Send her to Mars.”

I just… how do you rollback from that???

So unfortunately Does My Head Look Big in This? was a DNF around the half-way point for me.
In the meantime, however, you can catch me rewatching these two recently released Skam clips until season four is out there in the world:

(I’m still amazed by the usage of the song.)

no rating

Note: I’m an Amazon Affiliate. If you’re interested in buying Does My Head Look Big in This?, just click on the image below to go through my link. I’ll make a small commission!