Bookish Oscars

Juvenile Award: Favourite Bookish Kid – Katniss Everdeen

The majority of the books I read are YA and since most of those novels consist of characters that are 18 and under I deal with a lot of kids. Okay, that last part kind of sounds like something a school guidance counsellor would say so let’s rephrase. I spend an unhealthy amount of time invested in the love lives of children – nope, that’s not any better! Moving along swiftly… what I’m trying to say here is that making this decision was much harder than I thought it would be. However, *clears throat* after much deliberation I decided to go with, Katniss Everdeen from the Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins.

Yes, let’s take it back to 2008 when this dystopian world was all any of us were talking about. With the harsh setting, cruel leaders, dire straits and a mandatory game where kids kill other kids – it’s no wonder we couldn’t stop raving about this book.


But another reason – a very big reason – why this trilogy was so successful  were the characters, specifically Katniss. She was a strong, no nonsense kind of girl, which I think stemmed from the forced responsibility of taking care of her family. When her father died, instead of falling apart like her mother did, Katniss rose to the challenge and taught herself how to hunt and survive so she could fend for her family.


Survival was her priority which left no room for the irritating whining and pettiness we sometimes get with a heroine. However, her need to survive never overrode her humanity. Even after the Hunger Games she always strived to do what she thought was best for everyone, in spite of how the games physically and emotionally scarred her.


Katniss taught me that even against all odds and bouts of hopelessness I can choose to be good. With life throwing so many curveballs at us it’s easy to shut it all out and numb ourselves, until eventually we get to the point where we’re unaffected by most things. The problem with that is that we expect others to follow suit. Stop being a cry baby, grow up, get up and move on; if pieces of your humanity get lost in that rushed process then so be it. It shouldn’t be this way and when I feel like I’m about to fall into that pattern I remind myself: Katniss managed to still have goodness and empathy after killing to survive and having her loved ones be killed. My life may be shitty at times, but at least I’m not leading a revolution, you know.

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Bookish Oscars

Best Dramatic Picture: Favourite dramatic scene – Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Trigger Warning: the contents of this post might affect some readers as it discusses sexual abuse and torture.

As a reader, you know that I could make a list (which would be equivalent to ten monthly grocery lists) of scenes that crushed my soul, so which one to pick as my favourite? Also, I love how this category is named the “favourite” dramatic scene, as if we enjoy our insides being grinded into small pieces while simultaneously not being able to breathe. Brilliant, right?

Alas, I had to pick just one and I kept coming back to the only scene that really stayed with me long after I finished reading the book – I give you a soul-crushing scene from Outlander by Diana Gabaldon.

Despair dragged at me like an anchor, pulling me down. I closed my eyes and retreated to some dim place within, where there was nothing but an aching grey blankness…

First, let me start by saying that this author’s writing is absolutely wonderful. Her writing style doesn’t fall under lyrical, but the way she describes her scenes really hits you so that you’re able to truly experience things at the same time the characters are. And not to mention the way she transports you to 18th century Scotland. Never before has an author made me feel like I was actually there; standing on a misty green hill, barefoot and watching the rising sun cast the endless blue sky aglow. It’s fantastic, which is why her dramatic scenes are so heart-wrenching, like the one I’ve chosen for this category; Jamie being raped and tortured my Jack Randall.

She managed to describe Jack Randall torturing and raping Jamie in a way that leaves you aghast and queasy from what you’ve just read – which is what a scene like that should do. I cannot tell how many times I’ve come across a book that glorifies or romanticises these actions, instead of showcasing the brutality of it and the real effects it would have on the victim.

Gabaldon explored the many ways Jamie was “damaged”, so to speak, without diluting the violence of the act for the readers. We got to see Jamie go through a kaleidoscope of emotions. From being broken and feeling hopeless to giving in to the anger he had tried to suppress and finally to opening himself up to healing.

My throat was left dry and scratchy after reading Jamie express his guilt for how his body responded to Randall, despite his disgust for what was being done to him.  While the fact that he couldn’t bear to be touched without being reminded of what had been done to him in that dungeon left me feeling absolutely hollow.

That my fellow nerds, is how to execute a rape scene. It should evoke nausea and clenched fists and the aftermath of it all should be handled with the same amount of time and care.

That’s about all I’m going to say for this category, the last part of Outlander ruthlessly clawed at my heart and I think that’s reason enough to win the title of Favourite Dramatic Scene.

Bookish Oscars

Best Cover – Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

We like to pretend that looks don’t matter, but that just ain’t the truth! Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration. Let’s try again… looks don’t always matter, but none of us can deny the power a beautiful book cover has on all of us bookworms.

At some point we’ve all been lured in by a stunning book cover that tricked us into thinking the book would be just as good. I know I’ve fallen into this trap many, many times. At this current moment, just from a basic glance, I can tell you that I’ve got at least 30 books on my bookcase that I purchased because of the cover with a desperate hope in my heart that the book would be even halfway decent so I could justify what I spent on it.

However this is not one of those times! When I first saw the best cover category I immediately knew there was a clear winner – Strange the Dreamer by my idol, Laini Taylor

She had inherited a story that was strewn with corpses and clotted with enmity, and was only trying to stay alive in it.

I’ll be honest and admit that I haven’t actually read this book yet, but I’m not worried. It’s Laini Taylor and she doesn’t know how to be anything other than incredible. Like this cover for example. Dark blue, gold and the most gorgeous illustration of a moth I’ve ever seen.

I turned my nightmares into fireflies and caught them in a jar.

Clearly it’s extremely beautiful and gives off an air of mystery, just like her writing. Regardless of which one of her works you’re reading, one thing becomes clear – her writing is like poetry. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again! She has a gift of writing in a style that is almost lyrical; weaving together a world of incredible characters, magic, mystery and strangeness. A true testament to her skill is that never once does it feel like she’s overdoing it and this is clear in her writing and her book covers.

It happens quite often that you’ll see a cover that is so dramatic and has so many things going on you almost don’t know where to look. Or God forbid it’s got the classic young lovers caught in an embrace. These are the typical and forgettable covers we’re used to – but not this time! Strange the Dreamer is simple, stunning and memorable and that is why it’s our winner.

Bookish Oscars

​Best Cinematography: Best World Building – Harry Potter by J.K Rowling 

I once saw a joke on Pinterest about how writing is harder than open-heart surgery because surgery can be taught, but nobody can teach you a world that no one else has created, and I was like, “damn right!” Writing a half decent book set in reality is no easy feat, but when you start going into the fantasy side of things it’s like shooting yourself in the face and having to pretend that you’re totally fine. It’s painful and crazy and will leave you feeling like your brain is leaking out of your ears.

So to give credit where credit is firmly due, I give you the winner of the Best World Building category… Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling.

Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic. Capable of both inflicting injury, and remedying it.

The wonderful thing about the world of Harry Potter is how perfectly Rowling managed to create a magical equivalent of the real world, and yet still made it incredibly unique. More than a decade after the publication of the final book and people are still combing through the books trying to discover every possible facet of information they might have missed. That is ludicrous! And completely awesome!

And it’s not only the magical uniqueness of the world that is amazing, but also how we as the readers got to experience it. The first time we picked up The Philosophers Stone we were all 11-year old Harry walking through Diagon Alley with our jaws dragging on the ground, and if you dare try and tell me you weren’t amazed you’re a damn liar!

We didn’t just read about Hogwarts – we lived it! We all had chills playing our first quidditch match. We felt the basilisk fang pierce our flesh. We felt the cold pain of the dementors on our soul, gorged on Honeyduke’s chocolate, and we survived the Tri-Wizard tournament! We felt the pain of every loss and we bear the marks of every adventure on our souls. There is nothing that happened to those characters that we didn’t feel and that is why Harry Potter takes the chocolate frog!

J.K. Rowling gave us a world so incredible that it brought everyone from 9 to 90 together in unadulterated joy, and can I just say – you know you’ve created the best possible world when your readers refuse to leave it. In fact, I think it’s time for a reread. If you’ll excuse me, I’m off to buy my first wand…again. 

Bookish Oscars

Best Animated Film: Favourite manga – Orange, Ichigo Takano

Hello again, awesome nerds! Before we dive into this category that I’m super stoked to be writing about, there are a couple of things I think you should know about me. Number one – reading is my escape and my haven. Two – music helps me understand the pieces of me I haven’t figured out yet and three – I’m the kind of person that tries to make light of most things; whether it be a broken heart, my congenital heart condition or my constant battle with depression.

Well… that took a rather morbid turn, but let’s just get that out in the open – I promise there is a reason I dumped  all that in here. I like to think of my mind as the enchanted forest; not only because I love how mysterious that sounds, but whenever someone says “enchanted forest”, my mind immediately thinks about the one in Snow White. The forest that one minute appeared to be attacking her, pulling her here and there and then the next it brightened and cute fluffy animals came to keep her company. My mind is a lot like that, both a friend and a foe to me. And the cycle is constant. It doesn’t end.

This brings us to the point of this post – Favourite manga and why I chose Orange by Ichigo Takano for the winner of this category.

Maybe it’s impossible to live life without any regrets. Even when you know the future… you still mess up.

Orange tells the story of a high school girl, Naho Takamiya, who receives letters from her future self to help her prevent the suicide of her friend, Kakeru Naruse. At first Naho is hesitant to follow the instructions given in the letters, but as more events mentioned in the letters start to occur she makes it her personal mission to create an alternate reality where her friend can still laugh with her a decade later. As the story progresses, we learn that Kakeru and Naho’s other friends – who also care deeply for him – have the same mission. To give a little background info without giving too much away, Kakeru blames himself for the death of his mother and as readers we see how the guilt and depression slowly chips away his smiles, laughter and strength to move on.

This manga is a beautifully crafted heart-wrenching tale about depression, friendship and romance. Sure, it has the usual tropes like: a love triangle, troubled guy falls for quiet girl, a best friend who’s in love with her and has always been there for her, but it’s twisted in the most earnest and sweetest way possible. The romance doesn’t take centre stage in this manga and Kakeru’s depression isn’t a mere plot device to push him and Naho together. Instead Orange is a painfully realistic story about a teenage boy dealing with clinical depression and we learn that even with all the love, acceptance and friendship it sometimes isn’t enough.

As a person who goes through depression, I know how frustrating it can be when I literally count all the positive things I have going in my life, but still can’t get out of that black hole and Ichigo Takano conveys that feeling brilliantly. Kakeru’s story shows that high school life can be filled with laughter, sadness, hopelessness and amazing friends; not only the stupid, pettiness the media loves showing us.

Lastly, I’ll leave you with this, PLEASE READ IT! Honestly, whenever I find a movie, TV show, book or manga that does a good job representing mental illness I feel like I have to hand them out like pamphlets to everyone. So… here (hands you the “pamphlet”) Take it and read it.

Bookish Oscars

Best Costume Design: Favourite outfit – Cinder’s ball gown

How ironic is it that I look like an angry raccoon, that’s been dragged through the mud a couple of times, yet here I am talking to you guys about fashion? Honestly… *shakes my head along with all of you who are reading this* Nevertheless, you nerds are stuck with me so let’s just get straight to it then, shall we?

When I read the title of this category I immediately thought about Belle’s bellowing, yellow gown, Jesper Fahey’s colourful pants paired with his snazzy suspenders or even Aelin’s sexy black dress with the golden dragon. However, none of them made quite an impression the same way Cinder’s ball gown did in Cinder by Marissa Meyer. A muddy and wet gown with grease-stained gloves; Cinder’s outfit had definitely seen better days but to be honest she freaking rocked it!

I’m sure I’ll feel much more grateful when I find a guy who thinks complex wiring in a girl is a turn-on.

Only a true queen could slay in a dirty, ripped dress with delicate gloves and Prince Kai agrees with me. His reaction was one of the most adorable things in that book because he took one good look at her and thought, ‘yeah, this is exactly what I expected from her’ and smiled at her like she was better than chocolate cake. Seriously guys, where can I find a man like that?

Yes, it probably would have made more sense to pick one of the classically beautiful gowns and we all know there’s no shortage of those – especially in YA novels, but I really love that Cinder broke out of the YA box. I remember reading that chapter and thinking, ‘YAAAASSS! I need to find a ball so I can do this!’ The truth is that we can go round and round for days, but for me – nothing tops Cinder’s ballgown!

Bookish Oscars

Best Short Film: Favourite Novella – Night of Cake and Puppets by Laini Taylor

I’ve never really seen the point of novellas, to be honest. Largely because I’ve never come across a decent one.I mean, if the mini story you’re telling is that good you should’ve just stuck it in the original novel, right? I was 100% a firm believer of this. Until… Night of Cake and Puppets by Laini Taylor smacked me in the face.

I am a rabid fairy. I am a carnivorous plant. I am Zuzana. And violin boy’s not going to know what hit him.

This was the novella that made me realise sometimes a plot is just too big or complicated to fit in all the smaller bits and pieces the fans crave. I finally understood that novellas are just the authors’ way of being good to the fans who stand beside them and who passionately love the characters they created as much as they do. It’s like a little gift from them to us.

The reason I fell in love with this specific novella comes down to two things: 1- Laini Taylor is the best thing since sliced bread and could rewrite the phonebook into a bestseller and 2- she created the kind of characters you seriously can’t get enough of. I’m talking about the scarily, wonderful Zuzana and the adorably, shy violin-boy Mik who appear in the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series.

Night of Cake and Puppets grabbed my attention right from the beginning with the mischievous title and then completely stole my heart with its freaking spectacular plot. This is a brief, yet perfect, story about the first date between Zuzana and Mik that is so unbelievably awesome I couldn’t have dreamt up a better one if my life depended on it. Hence why she’s the writer and I’m the fangirl. Also, it drastically raised my standards for first dates so now I’ve got a lot of underwhelming dates to look forward to. Thanks a lot, Laini.

The only thing left to say is that if you’re looking to read something that’s going to make you laugh and want to fall in love, then this is the novella you need! 

Bookish Oscars

Best Foreign Language Film: Book in foreign country – Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini

So technically most books take place in a foreign country for me since I live in South Africa, but for the sake of trying to be exotic (I usually fail in this department so bear with me) I’m going to pick Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini which takes place in Afghanistan, America and in Pakistan—whoop, whoop triple threat!

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There are a lot of children in Afghanistan, but little childhood.

All jokes aside, there are a number of other reasons I chose this novel out of the enormous pool of books that take place in another country, the biggest one of them being the heartbreaking themes that take place in this novel.

You will experience Hosseini’s emotionally draining story through the eyes of Amir, a 12-year-old Pashtun boy, who grows up in Afghanistan with it’s rich and alluring culture and social hierarchy. Beginning with a rocky father-son relationship, to the unusual friendship of two boys, this incredible tale will take you through the unforgettable journey of betrayal, guilt and finally to a realistic redemption.

I guarantee the Kite Runner will have you ugly crying more than once as you walk in the shoes of these characters and come face to face with their harsh reality.

Bookish Oscars

Best Screenplay: Favourite Book – Daughter of Smoke and Bone Series

Here’s the thing about this category, Favourite Book – it’s a freaking nightmare to pick just one! I’m sure you’re like me and so you’ll know I’m not lying when I say I’ve got several favourites in almost any genre. The task of picking just one out of my complete list practically sent me spiralling into a bookworm freak out.

After I calmed down from my freak out I realised that my mind kept going back to one specific series and so I decided to officially make it my choice for this category (and yes, I know  instead of picking one book, I picked an entire series, but you know what I have to say to you, judgey bookworm? You try picking just one). I give you – Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor.

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Wishes are false. Hope is true. Hope makes its own magic.

Anyone who knows me, or has even mentioned the word “book” around me, knows how much I adore Laini Taylor and for very good reasons. She’s extraordinary and her writing style is hauntingly beautiful. It’s almost poetic, but never turns into purple prose that’s trying too hard. All in all she is simply exquisite.

Case in point – Daughter of Smoke and Bone. Taylor embraces the classic plot of good versus evil, angels versus demons and let’s not forget – forbidden love, but retells it in the most original way. You’ll go on a journey where you discover that there is no such thing as wholly good or evil, there are villains on both sides of a war and at the end there are no winners; only death and the long road to recovery. Unfortunately, I think I’m painting this as quite a dark story, but believe me when I say that this is the kind of story that will give you hope and make you believe in the power of good in the world. In all worlds.

I could go on and on and on about this story until the sky falls, but there is nothing I can say that will adequately describe just how brilliant this series is and there are no words to describe my utter and pure love for Laini Taylor.

Bookish Oscars

Best Supporting Actor/Actress: Favourite sidekick – Ron and Hermione (Harry Potter series, J.K Rowling)

Let’s face it, being called someone’s sidekick is kind of the last thing you want to be known as, but I really feel like we’re taking it the wrong way. To me, being a sidekick implies a strong bond and unbreakable loyalty. And let’s not forget that there is a distinct difference between loyalty born out of love and blind devotion, and I think this is where the confusion comes in. People tend to associate being a sidekick as being nothing more than the hero’s lapdog, so let’s just myth bust this right now.

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We are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided.

You want to know why sidekicks are not lesser characters or lapdogs? Look no further than Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley – the best sidekicks the world has ever known.

Sure a lot of us can argue that they’re not sidekicks and instead are heroes in their own right with dynamic personalities and their very own set of unique skills. By dynamic, I don’t mean gloriously perfect. I mean flawed and real; like the sometimes irritating, know-it-all Hermione Granger who was downright uptight and bossy, and Ron Weasley with his many quirks and seemingly so-not-suited-for-these-crazy-situations appearance. Let’s keep it honest – these traits just made these characters all the more lovable and relatable.

However, back to the point at hand… they are sidekicks! There I said it, and you know what? It doesn’t leave a bad taste in my mouth and the world didn’t go up in flames. Being appointed the task of standing by the chosen one’s side no matter made them our heroes, teaching us that there is something uniquely heroic in loyalty.

As a last thought – just bear in mind that a hero is only as great as the people who stand beside him, and that is the difference between a sidekick and a follower. They are not less than! At the end of the day being a sidekick just means that that particular story is not yours to tell and there’s no shame in being someone’s sidekick as long as you remember to be the hero in your own story. So stay calm and sidekick on!